News of the Church

Saints Express Concern for Others during Harsh Winter

In a winter of cruel opposites, with record snowfalls and low temperatures in the Eastern United States and drought conditions in the West and in Europe, there was an almost universal feeling of concern about world weather conditions.

The members of the Church in the East were concerned for the people in the West and in Europe, who were running short of water. Saints around the world were concerned for the well-being of those in the East who were all but buried under snow. Everywhere, despite their own hardships, the Saints were concerned for others throughout the world who were struggling through a time of extreme climatic conditions.

This concern was brought into sharp focus by the First Presidency, who urged the Saints to hold a special day of fasting and prayer on February 6 “so that the ravages of hunger, illness, cold, and drought may be alleviated now and in the days to come.”

What was it like for the Saints in the Eastern U.S.?

At the height of the deep freeze that struck New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, and Florida, President William P. Cook of the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Stake said, “Our major concern is the rivers that are a lifeline to the city and the surrounding areas. At the present time they are frozen, and we are having difficulty in getting supply barges through with the fuel oil that we need and with the salt that is needed to spread on the city streets. Because fuel supplies are low, and we’re not sure when more will be coming, there have been layoffs at local factories, and people are trying to conserve energy.”

President Cook said that Church meetings were being held back-to-back in his area; in other areas, weekday meetings were canceled.

Across the border in Canada, President Eldon Olsen of the Hamilton Ontario Stake said that schools were temporarily closed because drifting snow was making driving hazardous. “In one area here,” he said, “some 400 children were kept in a school overnight when a blizzard hit, while some of the pupils had to be kept at the school for a number of days until roads were cleared to their homes.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Canada Toronto Mission reported that the missionaries in the hard-hit Niagara Peninsula area were teaching anyone they could reach on foot, but that the proselyting efforts were being conducted “pretty close to home. That’s what we have instructed them. We don’t want them to take chances in this kind of weather.”

The worst-hit city was Buffalo, New York, where more than thirteen feet of snow fell and the temperature dropped to a wind-chill equivalent of seventy degrees below zero. Dee W. West, Buffalo area public relations coordinator for the Church, provided the Ensign with this special report:

“The Saints in Buffalo were already weary of the long winter when the blizzard hit on 28 January 1977. Since October, more than 160 inches of snow had fallen, and it had snowed for forty-seven consecutive days. With three feet of snow already on the ground, the area was blasted with its worst storm in history. With wind gusts up to sixty-five miles an hour, the wind-chill factor dropped the temperature to minus seventy degrees. The new snow was blown into twenty foot drifts, motorists were stranded, and some froze to death in their cars. Thousands of people were trapped at work. The area was completely paralyzed as businesses, schools, stores, and even churches closed, including those in the Buffalo New York Stake.

“The Saints in the area made out well. Many were stranded and spent nights away from home, but Buffalo New York Stake President Ronald G. Vincent reports that there were no tragedies. Through the home teachers he was able to keep informed on most of the families in the stake.

“Though there were no tragedies, there were many potential disasters, many worries, and many lessons learned on the importance of preparing oneself and one’s family against the unexpected. There were even a few humorous moments.

“Sister Rose Simon of the Amherst Ward, who was at work, describes the sudden onset of the blizzard: ‘At 11:15 A.M. it was cold but calm. Then suddenly the sky darkened and within minutes the visibility outside was zero. The winds howled and the snow swirled. One of my coworkers tried to go home, but she returned minutes later with icicles on her eyelashes.’

“Sister Simon says that her husband was also at work, but their two diabetic children, Mark and Tanya, were at home and would soon be in need of their second insulin shot of the day. Sister Simon could not get home, and Brother Simon made it only halfway before finally spending the night in a racquet club, where shelter was offered.

“‘I was frantic worrying about the children, knowing that they had to have their insulin and knowing that there would be no one at home to give it to them,’ she says. Fortunately her married son was able to make it to the Simon home by snowmobile, and administered the insulin through instructions given by his mother over the telephone.

“Sister Simon says that her coworkers asked her to lead them in prayer, and she used the opportunity to tell them about the food storage program of the Church. ‘I know now why we need a year’s supply, and that these are the latter-days.’

“There were those who felt confident because they did have a year’s supply of food. But some, like Skip and Judy Berg, had not considered growth within the family. Since they began to store their bulk food needs, the Bergs had a baby. Because of allergies, the baby requires a special formula and paper diapers. Says Sister Berg, ‘I never thought about the baby’s needs in terms of storage. I never bought diapers or formula very far ahead. If the storm had lasted longer, the baby is the one who would have suffered.’

“Brother and Sister Berg tell of how their back door was frozen shut and their front door was blocked by a ten-foot snowdrift. For three days they climbed in and out of their home through a window to shovel snow away from the bulging picture window of their home. They had to clear away the snow every three hours. When the city’s snow removal equipment finally got through to their street, it took ten dump trucks to haul away the snow that they had cleared.

“On the lighter side, President and Sister James Pace of the Medina Branch, Buffalo New York Stake, used their family’s Saint Bernard to pull a sleigh to a neighboring farm for milk. Basil and Eve Yurcisin of the Amherst Ward were stranded while babysitting for a member, and they had to telephone a neighbor to feed their two cats, two doves, and pet tarantula. Bishop Howard Larsen of the Niagara Falls Ward, a bulk processing manager for a pharmaceutical firm, had access to a key for his company’s cafeteria food locker. While he and other company employees were stranded by the snow for three days, he became the chief cook and bottle-washer.

“The storm also provided the opportunity for families to spend more time together. The James Pace family enjoyed their confinement, and thirteen-year-old Stuart used the occasion to copy names into his own genealogical record.

“The Saints report spiritual experiences arising from their predicament. Sister Delores Silsby of the Locksport Ward got stuck in a snowdrift while visiting the school of one of her children. In response to her question as to what they should do, her four-year-old son Seth bowed his head and asked Heavenly Father to help them to get out, and to be able to pick up his daddy.

“Bishop Delos Ballard of the Orchard Park Ward opened his food storage to his neighbors, as did many families. Many neighbors were amazed that Church members were so well prepared. However, not all of the Saints were prepared, and some of those who thought they were found gaps in their supplies.

“Many members expressed gratitude for a Church that teaches preparedness. They also expressed appreciation for the concern the Church had for its members and for the effectiveness of home teachers. ‘It is comforting to know,’ said one member, ‘that you are not alone when a disaster strikes.’”

While the Saints in the East had more snow than they could handle, the Saints in the West who rely on snow for their year’s water supply experienced warm, sunny days. Millions of dollars were lost by the ski trade when the regular, heavy snowfall failed to appear, and water supplies, already depleted from low rainfall in 1975, showed signs of running out altogether.

Water restrictions are already in force in southern Utah and in northern California.

President Lorenzo N. Hoopes of the Oakland California Stake said, “We are still in a little bit of shock over the restrictions that have been imposed on water usage. Depending on the area, these restrictions range from 180 gallons a day for a household plus 100 gallons for outside use to 45 gallons per person per day with no outside water usage. The frightening thing is that unless we get some rain we are looking at a water supply sufficient only for 90 to 100 days even with the stringent controls we now have. If we don’t get rain for the rest of the year, next year the situation will be even more critical.

“However, this could be a very wholesome experience. For the first time people are becoming conscious of the importance of water, and there is a ground swell movement to determine what steps could be taken to conserve water in the future.

“The restrictions that we now face also allow for careful monitoring of water usage. For instance, should a homeowner exceed his allotment, a restricting device will be installed that will permit only a trickle of water to come out of the tap. There will be sufficient water for drinking but there will not be the force necessary to use a shower or run any kind of equipment. The homeowner will also have to bear the cost of installing the restrictor, which is about $75.

“The really disastrous result of this water shortage will be the effect on the farms. We have a Church farm in this area, and half of our water needs are met by a well on the property. The other half comes from an irrigation district, and I can see that being cut considerably.

“Many of the farm areas will have to divert their water to the tree crops, leaving nothing for the field crops. The estimates of the effect of this on the farm economy is being estimated at the $2 and $3 billion mark.

“There are other ramifications, too. For instance, public buildings such as hospitals, stores, schools, and churches have been requested to cut their water usage by 25 percent. For us that means that we won’t be having baptisms every week, but twice a month or even once a month. If there is no relief in sight we will have to consider other methods to handle the situation.”

These two reports from the Eastern and Western parts of the United States are only indicative of what could be said about a number of other areas around the world. Suddenly members of the Church are looking at personal and family preparedness with new understanding.

[photo] The owners of these cars in Buffalo, New York, were fortunate; many vehicles were completely covered with snow.

Sixty New Stakes Created in 1976

“For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened.” (D&C 82:14.)

Zion’s stakes are being strengthened as the Church exhibits steady growth throughout the free world. During 1976, sixty new stakes were created, bringing to 798 the total number of stakes at year’s end. Sixteen of the new stakes were created from former mission areas. Of these sixteen, seven were formed in It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, two each were in Canada, England, and Germany, and one each was in Hong Kong, Taipei, and the United States.

In mid-January of 1977, the 800th stake of the Church was created with the organization of the Veracruz Mexico Reforma Stake.

The number of stakes formed during 1976 was one less than the number created in 1975, but almost three times the number created just five years ago. In 1972, twenty-nine stakes were formed, just five more than the previous year. In 1973, thirty-seven stakes were created; in 1974, the number had increased to forty-four.

Last year, two Mexico missions grew so rapidly that three new stakes were created from each of them. From the Mexico Hermosillo Mission sprang the Tijuana Mexico Stake, the Hermosillo Mexico Stake, and the Ciudad Obregon Mexico Stake. From the Mexico Torreon Mission came the Torreon Mexico Stake, the Chihuahua Mexico Stake, and the Ciudad Juarez Mexico Stake. The seventh stake was the Ciudad Victoria Mexico Stake, created from the Mexico Monterrey Mission.

Across the Atlantic, the Liverpool England Stake and the Preston England Stake were formed from the England Leeds Mission. In Germany, the Frankfurt Germany Stake came from the Germany Frankfurt Mission, and the Stuttgart Germany Servicemen Stake was formed from the servicemen’s districts in the Germany Munich Mission and the Kaiserslautern Germany Servicemen Stake.

Around the globe, the Hong Kong Stake was formed from the Hong Kong Mission, and the Taipei Taiwan Stake was formed from the Taiwan Taipei Mission (Ensign, June 1976, p. 87.)

In eastern Canada, the London Ontario Stake was created from the Canada Toronto Mission, and the Ottawa Ontario Stake from the Canada Montreal Mission.

The only stake formed from a mission in the United States was the Montpelier Vermont Stake from the Massachusetts Boston Mission.

Although all the foregoing stakes were created from areas formerly administered by missions, the total growth picture also includes those stakes that were created by the division of existing stakes.

These new stakes, in the order that they were formed throughout the year, are: Palos Verdes California, Tempe Arizona South, Fairfax Virginia, Farmington New Mexico East, San Salvador El Salvador East, Salem Oregon North, St. Paul Minnesota, Mesa Arizona Salt River, Gainesville Florida, Topeka Kansas, Blythe California, Fairview Heights Illinois, Orem Utah East, Santiago Chile Republica, San Antonio Texas East, St. George Utah College, Hartlepool England, Toronto Ontario East, Camarillo California, Salt Lake Granger South, Eugene Oregon West, Dortmund Germany, Chula Vista California, Rio de Janeiro Brazil Niteroi, Monterrey Mexico Roma, Monterrey Mexico Anahuac, Sandy Utah Crescent West, Kennewick Washington, Lawton Oklahoma, Grants Pass Oregon, Guatemala City Guatemala Las Victorias, Leeds England, Fort Worth Texas North, Logan Utah University Third, Glendora California, Santa Ana California, Lima Peru Lamanite, Lima Peru Central, Lyman Wyoming, Quilpue Chile, Santiago Chile Nunoa, Columbus Ohio East, Lancaster California, Madero It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, and Ogden Utah Terrace View.

Ricks College Offers Technical Career Programs

Ricks College has created six new two-year technical programs to provide intensive training for potential owner-managers of automotive, electronic, and agricultural businesses. The six areas covered by the programs are: automotive repair, electronics servicing, beef production, farm crop management, horsemanship, and landscape nursery, the latter for those planning to own or manage retail nursery businesses.

“We feel that these new programs strongly reflect the Church’s concern on economic preparedness,” says Ricks College President Henry B. Eyring. “With these programs, those who have focused their career objectives on owning and even managing their own businesses have the opportunity to participate in highly structured internships as well as in the formal classwork.”

The training is intensive and is intended to prepare students in a relatively short time to be entrepreneurs in one of the six areas. “Consequently,” said a school administrator, “we seek mature, committed students, generally the returned missionary or someone who is contemplating changing careers.”

Additional information and registration materials can be obtained from the Admissions Office, Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho 83440. Applications should be made by the end of April, although late applications will be considered if openings exist.

Church Policies and Announcements

The following items were published in Messages, number 12, February 11, 1977.

Buying and Selling Food Storage Items

It has come to our attention that some stakes, wards, and quorums are involved in buying and selling food, food containers, and other home storage items. We remind leaders that merchandising activities not related to exempt purposes of the Church (including purchase and sale of items such as food, storage containers, nonreligious books, etc.) are not to be conducted by stakes, wards, or quorums. (See General Handbook of Instructions, no. 21, pages 107–8.) If individuals or groups wish to form independent organizations to obtain group discounts on home storage items, they are free to do so. These organizations, however, should not be identified with the Church. (Presiding Bishopric)

Spanish and Portuguese Endowment Sessions at the Provo Temple

Priesthood leaders should inform those attending April conference who may be interested that special endowment sessions in Spanish and Portuguese will be held at the Provo Temple on March 30 and 31 and April 5 and 6, 1977, as follows:

  • March 30, Portuguese

  • March 31, Spanish

  • April 5, Portuguese

  • April 6, Spanish

Those participating in living endowments, marriages, and sealings are requested to be at the temple by 9:30 A.M., and all others desiring to attend these sessions should be at the temple by 10:30 A.M.. (Temple and Genealogy Executive Committee)

The following item is from a letter of February 2, 1977, to Regional Representatives of the Twelve, stake and mission presidents, and bishops.

Organization of Ecclesiastical and Temporal Responsibilities at Church Headquarters

Within the past few months, the First Presidency has taken several organizational steps at Church Headquarters designed to strengthen and make more efficient the priesthood direction given to the affairs of the Church. Although these changes do not affect the administration of the Church at stake, ward, and mission levels, it seems appropriate to inform mission presidents, stake presidents, and bishops of the nature of these changes in order to keep them informed and in order to share some emerging patterns that will enable more meaningful priesthood correlation at all levels of the Church.

The Lord has made it clear that the Council of the Twelve, under the direction of the First Presidency, has special responsibility for administering the ecclesiastical affairs of the Church, including responsibility to direct the functioning of the newly organized First Quorum of the Seventy (D&C 107:33–34), the third governing quorum of the Church. Under the direction of the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric has been given the responsibility for administering the temporal affairs of the Church. As stated by President Spencer W. Kimball at a recent meeting of all General Authorities and representatives of Church headquarters departments:

“Therefore, pursuant to scriptural instructions, the First Presidency has felt impressed to direct a more clear delineation of the basic ecclesiastical and temporal stewardships at Church headquarters in order that the Lord’s ‘system may be kept perfect.’

“We recognize that ultimately all things are spiritual with the Lord, yet an organizational distinction between the ecclesiastical and temporal can make possible a more harmonious and efficient management of the affairs of the Church. After a prayerful review of all functions performed at the headquarters level, the First Presidency has determined that, under the direction of the First Presidency, the ecclesiastical matters of the Church, including curriculum, activity programs, and Scouting, will be administered by the Twelve. The Presiding Bishopric, under the direction of the First Presidency, will administer the affairs of the Aaronic Priesthood in temporal matters as assigned by the First Presidency. All other matters will be administered by the First Presidency.”

As noted on the accompanying chart, there are now four standing executive committees of the Twelve. The Missionary Executive Committee and the Temple and Genealogy Executive Committee continue to administer their respective affairs as outlined in the Church News, June 5, 1976. One new executive committee has also been created by a division of the duties of the former Melchizedek Priesthood Executive Committee, resulting in a Priesthood Executive Committee and a Leadership Training Executive Committee. The Priesthood Executive Committee has responsibility for the curricular and activity programs of Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood quorums and the auxiliary organizations. The Leadership Training Executive Committee is now a point of contact for General Authority Area Supervisors in matters relating to general administrative items in the ecclesiastical line, which runs from General Authority Area Supervisors to Regional Representatives of the Twelve to stake presidents to bishops. This committee is also responsible for training the key priesthood officers in the ecclesiastical line in their general administrative duties. The President of the Twelve and the chairmen of the executive committees of the Twelve will serve as a coordinating body for ecclesiastical affairs.

The Presiding Bishopric, in fulfilling temporal assignments made by the First Presidency, administers the following general departments: welfare services, financial, translation and distribution, physical facilities, management data, purchasing, and membership and statistical reports. These departments report directly to the Presiding Bishopric. Their primary role is that of serving the needs of the ecclesiastical arm of the Church.

The accompanying chart is not intended to be all inclusive since it reflects the organization and management lines for many, but not all, headquarters departments. For instance, certain departments report directly to the First Presidency. Further, the chart does not include the line of supervision involving members of the First Quorum of the Seventy in their roles as Area Supervisors.

At the headquarters level, all ecclesiastical affairs directed by the Council of the Twelve and all temporal affairs directed by the Presiding Bishopric will come together in their accountability to the First Presidency in the Church Planning and Coordinating Council. (First Presidency)

LDS Scene

New Position: Presiding Bishopric Area Supervisor

W. Gordon Christensen, Farmington, Utah, has been appointed as the first Presiding Bishopric Area Supervisor. Brother Christensen will reside in Mexico City and be responsible for Church matters dealing with temporal affairs both in Mexico and in Central America. A second Presiding Bishopric Area Supervisor, Merrill R. Petty, also from Farmington, has been assigned to serve the Great Britain and South Africa areas. Presiding Bishopric Area Supervisors will be concerned with such matters as physical facilities, welfare programs, and financial matters. All ecclesiastical affairs will be under the direction of the General Authority Area Supervisors in the ecclesiastical line.

Church Purchases Farm

The Church has purchased a 10,000-acre farm near Pecos, Texas. To be known as Deseret Farms of Texas, Inc., the land will be used to raise hay and grain. Other Church farms and properties include Deseret Farms of Florida, Inc., Deerpark, Florida; Deseret Ranches of Alberta, based near Lethbridge; Elberta Farms Corporation, Elberta, Utah; and Deseret Farms of California, Sacramento, California.

Sister Kimball Honored

Sister Camilla Kimball, wife of President Spencer W. Kimball, was awarded in mid-February the first Exemplary Womanhood Award by the women students at Brigham Young University during the second annual women’s conference there. Sister Kimball delivered the keynote address at the conference, which had as its theme “Woman: An Ever-Widening Circle” and featured three days of seminars and lectures by prominent LDS women in various areas of expertise.