Elder and Sister G. Homer Durham
It was the first time that all the Saints in the British Isles had been invited to one great conference, and in June 1935 hundreds of Saints from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland assembled in the town of Kidderminster, just south of Birmingham, for an MIA conference. The conference had been months in the planning. And behind the project, from the first dream of such a conference to the last detail of its execution, was Elder G. Homer Durham, a missionary serving as president of the British Mission YMMIA.
He had gone throughout the entire mission, exciting the Saints about the project. Then other missionaries had tracted out the entire city of Kidderminster—not for investigators, but for room and board for conference visitors! And the three-day conference was a success, especially because it was the first time that the British Saints had been able to gather in one place and feel each other’s strength.
It was during the depression, and the seven shillings and sixpence for each night’s lodging cost dearly—but it was worth it when the Saints gathered in the town meetinghall and sang “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise.” Elder Durham retells the story now with tears in his eyes: “I think it was the first time they had heard all those voices. It seemed to raise the roof. A great experience, feeling the testimonies of so many others along with yours.”
His mission was the foundation on which the rest of his life was built. During a train trip with European Mission President Joseph F. Merrill, the apostle said, “You must go get a Ph.D.”
“But President Merrill, do you think I could really qualify?”
Elder Merrill answered, “No question about it.”
No question indeed! Since that interview, Elder Durham not only earned that Ph.D., but also went on to preside over Arizona State University after years of service in teaching and administration (including service as academic vice-president at the University of Utah). From 1969 to 1976 he served as the first commissioner and executive officer of the Utah System of Higher Education.
Elder Durham was born on 4 February 1911 in Parowan, Utah, but was raised in Salt Lake City, where his father, George Henry Durham, came to teach after five years at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts. The whole Durham family was musical, and though Elder G. Homer Durham pursued a career outside of music, he helped support himself during his undergraduate years by playing trumpet and later piano in small dance bands. Also, he used his musical training throughout his mission.
Not only did his mission launch his long career of Church and educational service, but also it was the start of what he considers the most important part of his life: for there he met Leah Eudora Widtsoe, youngest daughter of Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of the Twelve who was then presiding over the European Mission. They corresponded after Elder Widtsoe returned to Utah, and less than a year after Elder Durham came home from his mission the young couple were married. The parents of two daughters and a son, they now have eighteen grandchildren.
Elder Durham has long been known in the Church for his more than two decades of columns in the Improvement Era and for his excellent compilations of the writings and addresses of Church Presidents John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Heber J. Grant, and David O. McKay. He has also served on the high councils of the Emigration, Maricopa, Tempe, and Bonneville stakes, as president of the Salt Lake Central Stake, on the Sunday School general board, and as a Regional Representative of the Twelve.
After a lifetime in education, Elder Durham urges young Latter-day Saints to “get as much education as you can afford—and profit by. The world needs no ‘professional students’ but workers, and the time must come for students to get out of the academy and serve.
“The benefit of education to the individual is unquestionable, and the benefit to society is enormous. We need trained people who can think straight and do the work of the world and the Church. Whether this requires a lot of education or a little depends on the individual’s needs and the direction in which he is going. But one of the great glories of this church is its support of education.”
Elder James M. Paramore
“Real joy is giving total commitment to the gospel,” says Elder James M. Paramore, and quotes one of his favorite scriptures: “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. For the power is in them. …” (D&C 58:27–28; italics added.)
“I’ve seen people turn around on the street to look after missionaries who had that kind of total commitment—they could feel it in them. President Kimball has accomplished the work of many lives because he’s totally committed.”
And he bears testimony from his own life to the joy of commitment. “I’ve been blessed to accept and understand that every calling requires a total commitment. I think it’s a gift of the Spirit, a gift that anyone can have who is willing to pay the price of preparation and love.” In the more than fifty callings he has had since his mission, he said, “I’ve had that feeling that each assignment was the right one and important, and that a total commitment to those assignments always brings peace, real joy, and personal and spiritual growth. Even though I graduated from college, the Church has been my education, and I’m most grateful—most grateful.”
He tells of being released as a bishop and called as a home teacher. One of the families had a nonmember father, and he remembers seeing that man baptized. “It was as great a joy as being a bishop—and that’s what the Lord would have us understand: it really is how you serve and not where.”
And he has served across a wide range of callings, always with the support of his family. Born 6 May 1928, he was called to a bishopric when his oldest child was about a year and a half old, so the children grew up with Church service and social activities as “a way of life.” He was counselor in two bishoprics, Provo Sunset Second and Orem Fourteenth Wards, then served from 1959–63 as bishop of Orem Fourteenth Ward, and subsequently as a high councilor in the Brigham Young University Third Stake. He was then called as a member of the general Church Missionary Committee and served there until he was called to preside over the Franco-Belgium Mission; His wife, Helen Heslington Paramore, gave birth to their sixth child, Paul, six weeks after arriving in the mission field. “She had six children to take care of,” he stressed, “but she attended conferences with me and the children—week after week, even when she couldn’t understand the language—supervised the auxiliaries, and learned sufficient French so that she could conduct the auxiliary meetings required. She was a real inspiration to the people.”
The children also participated, helping the missionaries with the printing, office work, and gardening. They used to sing as a family, and Elder Paramore’s duets with his three-year-old daughter, Lisa, were especially heartwarming for the members.
After they returned, he taught the deacons quorum in the Orem 29th Ward, and then presided over the Orem Utah Sharon West Stake until 1972, when he was called to serve as a Regional Representative of the Twelve. He was serving as a Regional Representative to the Roy Region in Utah at the time of his calling to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Professionally he worked in the engineering department at U.S. Steel for nearly eight years, as a seminary teacher, executive director of the Utah Committee on Children and Youth, and for the Church in various positions in the Missionary Department, Internal Communications Department, Office of the Council of Twelve, and the Church Leadership Training Executive Committee. “Each of these work and Church assignments has been a blessing and preparation in my life, and I’m grateful for all the fine people who have trained and helped me,” says Elder Paramore.
The calling was “overwhelming” to his family, he said, “because of its magnitude.” Sister Paramore had had a premonition of the calling several weeks earlier but had “driven it out of her mind.” Elder Paramore himself had had a similar experience earlier: two weeks before he was called as Executive Secretary to the Council of the Twelve, he had dreamed of sitting by President Kimball’s side—a dream so vivid that it woke him, though he dismissed it from his mind. It came again the same night, and he found it literally fulfilled when he accepted the calling. “I felt so inadequate—I didn’t have the technical skills necessary for it—that it was really a blessing that I had received that witness beforehand.” Those past seven years of weekly contact with the Brethren give added emphasis to his commitment to serve. And it’s a total commitment.
Elder Richard G. Scott
“I have a deep feeling of reverence for the Brethren,” said Elder Richard G. Scott, newly called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. “I have looked up to them and deeply respect them, and I know that I will continue to look up to them. It is very difficult to realize that this call is to serve with them.”
Elder Scott was born November 7, 1928, in Pocatello, Idaho. At the time of his call, he was serving as Regional Representative to the Capitol, Potomac, and Richmond Regions in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, an area he has called home for forty years. He and his wife, Jeanene Watkins Scott, daughter of the late U.S. Senator Arthur V. Watkins (R-Utah), are the parents of five children: Mary Lee, 22; Kenneth, 14; Linda, 13; Mitchell, 9; and Michael, 6. Mary Lee, currently serving as a missionary in Spain, did not hear of the call immediately, but the other children were phoned in Washington, D.C., shortly after the sustaining vote. Upon hearing of the call, Linda, with characteristic exuberance, dropped the phone and jumped and shouted excitedly.
Elder Scott graduated from George Washington University in 1950 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He left immediately on a thirty-one-month mission to Uruguay. He recalls, “Professors and friends tried to dissuade me from accepting a mission call, counseling that it would severely hamper my budding engineering career. But shortly after my mission, I was selected for the infant Naval Nuclear Program. (The field was top secret and initial training was given by the pioneer scientists at Oakridge, Tennessee.) At a meeting I was sent to direct, I found that one of the professors who had counseled me against going on a mission was in a significantly lesser program position than I. It was a powerful testimony to me of how the Lord blessed me as I put my priorities straight.”
For twelve years, Elder Scott served on Admiral Rickover’s immediate staff with assignments to direct the design, testing, and manufacture of nuclear fuel elements for the Navy nuclear program and the Shippingport Reactor where the first extensive commercial application of nuclear power to private industry occurred.
But Church work has always taken first priority in his life. “When I was very young,” he remembers, “I secretly made a covenant with the Lord that I would devote my best energies to His work. I have repeated that covenant throughout the years, but never dreamed that an experience would ever come where I would be blessed to spend my whole life in His service. It is an overwhelming blessing for which we cannot adequately express our gratitude.”
Elder Scott’s other Church callings include serving several years as president of a quorum of seventy, stake clerk in the Washington D.C. Stake, and in the presidency of that stake. Elder Scott also served for four years (1965–69) as president of the Argentine North Mission with headquarters in Cordoba, an experience that still brings a sparkle to his eyes.
“One of the most edifying experiences of a mission is to see young boys and girls turn into mature, devoted men and women. That period of selfless service allows the Lord to build strength within them which opens vistas of unknown abilities and helps them to develop unrecognized talents as well as to acquire unanticipated knowledge and self-assurance. Another priceless blessing of a mission is the eternal friendship formed with each missionary and member encountered.”
He expressed the gratitude of his entire family for that experience and chuckled, “During the final interview with a missionary, I told him how much he had grown on his mission. He said, ‘You know, President, you have too!’”
Missionaries in their own neighborhood, the Scotts took advantage of the Washington D.C. Temple dedication to have “temple preview meetings” for nonmember friends and neighbors in their home—sometimes two or three times a week. After such a meeting, one couple from Elder Scott’s office located a bishop, asked for the missionary lessons, and were baptized five weeks later. Recently, two choice neighbors joined the Church after Sister Scott took them through the new Washington D.C. Visitors Center.
“We love the Lord and rejoice in the sacred privilege of bearing solid testimony of Him to the world, and of participating in the building of His kingdom for the balance of our lives.”
Dorthea Lou Christiansen Murdock
“I follow my leader,” says Sister Dorthea Lou Christiansen Murdock. And that’s how she was called to the position in which members of the Church sustained her April 2—second counselor in the general presidency of the Primary.
Sister Naomi Shumway, Primary president, called her out of a general board committee meeting on Thursday. Engrossed in conversation, Sister Murdock barely noticed that they were walking out to the elevator rather than going to the office and realized, only when they got out on President Kimball’s floor, where they were. Sister Shumway said, “President Kimball would like to see you for a moment.”
Sister Murdock remembers, “She gave me a little squeeze and said, ‘I’ll see you later.’ My whole life flashed before my eyes. President Kimball came out of his office and his handshake gave me strength. The first thing he said gave me strength, too—it was about my parents: it brought back the calm, quiet way they handled things, and their strength and humility.” (Her parents are the late Elder ElRay L. and Lewella Rees Christiansen.) “When I left his office I felt that with the Lord’s help, and the confidence of President Kimball and Sister Shumway, I couldn’t fail.”
She brings to the position the experience gained by being a teacher and an executive in every organization of the Church. When she was called to the Primary General Board in 1967, she had been serving in her stake Relief Society presidency. In her ten years on the Primary board, she has written lessons for the three-, four-, and five-year-olds, served on the regional meetings committee three or four times, represented the Primary on Elder Perry’s Bicentennial Committee, and chaired the Merrie Miss, the Blazer, and the curriculum planning committees.
A graduate in elementary education with an art and English minor, she authored an illustrated book, Teach Me, in 1966 with lessons, poems, and stories to help parents and teachers.
Another goal was experience in marriage and family counseling. With the support of the Primary presidency and her family, she went back to school and received her degree in June 1975 and with it the academic honor of joining Phi Kappa Phi and being given the Amy Brown Lyman Award for outstanding scholarship and promise from the University of Utah’s graduate school of social work. She began counseling at the LDS Hospital and set up a program with obstetrics and gynecology patients for in-hospital counseling that continued when they went home and helped them through adjustments to motherhood. She also helped provide individual and marriage and family counseling in the hospital’s out-patient psychiatry and counseling department.
Her husband, Robert Glenn Murdock, and their five children, “were just thrilled” by the new calling and immediately wanted to know how they could help.
“I love the Primary,” Sister Murdock exclaims. “I love it! What choicer calling could there be than helping parents teach their children the gospel?”
Report of the Seminar for Regional Representatives
“We need to consider more the establishing of the Church among the Lamanites,” said President Spencer W. Kimball in his keynote sermon to the 127 Regional Representatives, the General Authorities, and other Church leaders gathered for the twenty-second Seminar for Regional Representatives of the Twelve, held April 1, the day prior to general conference.
President Kimball focused his remarks almost completely on “establishing the Lord’s Church among the Lamanites.” “This is not new to you,” he said, “but it is very vital, and it is time that we began to emphasize this part of the work.”
He reminded all present of the purposes of the Book of Mormon and read from the title page: “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel … to show unto … the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD.”
The President reported on the recent area conferences in Latin America and particularly noted that some Aymara Indians of Ecuador sang in their native language “I Am a Child of God.” “They believed it. They felt it. They were not estranged. They felt that they were part of this great program.” He reported that “even though for decades I have been touring SoUth America and have been acquainted with the people there, this latest visit has been a revelation to me as I have witnessed the remarkable progress.”
“In this past year, the membership of the Church in western South America has more than doubled, and a very strong and important Lamanite population has emerged. There is a groundswell of interest and activity, and we are proud and pleased.” He said that there had been an increase of “more than 400 percent of the Lamanite missionaries” from these areas. The President also noted that this same pattern is evident in Mexico and Central America “where there are tens of thousands of pure-blood Indians, or Lamanites. The Mexican people are responding rapidly, not only in numbers, but in power, and in leadership and in strength.”
The President said that “the coming five years will be unbelievable if we will do our part.” He then reported that today “we have some half million Lamanite members in the Church, in the South Seas, in North and South America,” but that this represents only a small portion of the 60 million possible Lamanites in the world.
“A great many of you Regional Representatives are working in the areas of the children of Lehi,” said President Kimball. He reported that of the 840 stakes in the Church at present, “89 stakes are entirely Lamanite, 100 stakes have sizable numbers of Lamanites in them, and then we have approximately 380 stakes with some mixture of Lamanites in them.”
“The Lord certainly had in mind that there should be Lamanite branches, Lamanite stakes, Lamanite missions, Lamanite leaders, and the Church has begun to establish this kind of a program that has been touched upon but not fully completed.”
“This is a new day,” he said. “There is a new groundswell. The Lamanites have received a promise that Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. Jacob is waiting for us to help. We have made much progress. We are grateful for it, but we haven’t begun to do enough. It seems to me that a new effort, a new direction should be taken to see that the Lamanites are not only baptized but that they are organized and trained. This work will flourish and grow, and we will see the Lamanites come forward into their own.”
Following President Kimball’s address, two major presentations were made—one dealing with our part in redeeming our dead and the other with changes in the Church youth programs.
“Just a year ago, two important additions were made to the standard works,” said Elder Howard W. Hunter, chairman of the Temple and Genealogy Executive Committee of the Quorum of the Twelve. “I’m sure we’ve all sensed the great significance in this historic action. These two revelations bear a common theme—the pressing urgency of the redemption of our dead.”
“This work is close to the Lord’s heart and should be close to our hearts. We must carry it out.” Elder Hunter then observed that an excellent “foundation has been laid that makes a new day possible,” a day that will see us “move forward by leaps and bounds.”
It was to the important concerns of preparing ourselves for the work to come that Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve then spoke. He noted the staggering complexity of this divinely given assignment—“one demographic study estimates that since the beginning 69 billion people have lived on the earth”—but he stressed that with “exciting new technological advances” (progress associated with the computer), a way has been provided for us to “move ahead.”
Elder Packer noted that the forthcoming changes—“some will take several years to complete”—will open the door for much greater activity in redeeming our dead.
The first change is in the “shifting” of the emphasis that the Genealogical Department exists to do the work for the Church to a new emphasis of assisting “members of the Church across the world to do their own research and temple work.”
A second shift—“perhaps the most significant of all”—“will place the decisions of ordinance work for the dead into the hands of local Church leaders, the way it is for the living.”
To facilitate the accomplishment of these responsibilities, local leaders will need to know “if the ordinance work has already been done.” Future plans include computer terminals in temples to open the door to locally obtaining this information quickly.
Another “important development contemplated” is for genealogical and temple work “to be recorded in family files,” and for “a family organization registry” so that the Saints may “know whether other branches of the family” are doing work, and “thus eliminate wasteful duplication.”
In order to accomplish the great work of giving our dead “a choice as to whether they will or will not accept baptism,” Elder Packer said “there will need to be many temples,” so “why not select sites by the hundreds and commence to build those temples now?”
“I answer by asking some questions,” he said. “Should we commence to build those temples, what good would it do? How would we keep them open? What names would we use? Whose work would we do? Presently we rely on hundreds of full-time employees to keep our temples open.”
Elder Packer said that “behind the scenes, work is going forward on smaller temples, more economical ones that can be placed near the people,” but the low number of names submitted by the membership of the Church at Present would make it impossible for such temples to remain effectively open.
What is it that we should do? “We ask,” said Elder Packer, “that you follow up on those things you have already been instructed to do:
—“Establish a family Organization and plan meetings and reunions to keep the family ties secure”;
—Individually “gather together personal records, certificates, diplomas, photographs—everything to prepare a life history”;
—“Once we have done this, we have the substance pulled together for the four-generation program,” and we should then complete the four-generation report for each family member.
Stressing the importance of the latter assignment, Elder Packer said that if the Saints completed the four-generation program, the Church would “have the beginnings to catalog our records by families, our pedigree referral system, our family organization file, and all of the other things contemplated.”
Following this presentation, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Priesthood Executive Committee introduced programming, procedures, and administrative changes affecting the Young Men and Young Women programs of the Church. The changes (some details are still being worked out) are to be introduced in the June Regional Meetings to be held throughout the Church in a few weeks and relate to the mention of a general Young Men’s presidency which occurred during the Saturday morning general conference session. (See page 11.)
Elder Hinckley underscored the importance of the information to be given at the regional meetings by testifying that “if we save the youth, we build the future and we build the Church.”
During the proceedings of the seminar, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve announced the calling of 16 additional Regional Representatives of the Twelve, bringing the total to 127 now serving. The new Regional Representatives are: Glenn Y. M. Lung of Honolulu, Hawaii; L. Aldin Porter of Boise, Idaho; Walter Spat of São Paulo, Brazil; Guillermo Garmendia of Tampico, Mexico; Albert LeRoy Middleton of Quito, Ecuador; Samuel Boren of Mesa, Arizona; N. Earl Deschamps of Santiago, Chile; Heber J. Badger of Seattle, Washington; Robert W. Barker of Kensington, Maryland; Arthur K. Nishimoto of Tokyo, Japan; Bill B. Cowser of Altona, Australia; J. Malan Heslop of Salt Lake City; Allen E. Litster of Quito, Ecuador; Wayne A. Mineer of Provo, Utah; Milton E. Smith of Orem, Utah; Earl C. Tingey of Easton, Connecticut. Five of the brethren have served previously as Regional Representatives and are being recalled.
Latin America Area Conferences Report
That quiet word, accompanied by a hand on my shoulder a few hours before the opening session of the Mexico City Area Conference, conveyed the atmosphere we met everywhere during our month-long 22,222-air mile journey through Latin America.
The word amigo, Spanish for “friend,” sums up what happened from February 11 until March 11. In that time there were:
Eight area conferences in seven nations for Church members and guests invited from thirteen nations;
Six one-hour radio broadcasts of conference sessions over forty-two stations and into fourteen countries;
Visits with presidents of It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Bolivia, and the United States;
The cornerstone ceremony at the São Paulo Temple; and
Six news conferences and nine exclusive newspaper, television, radio, and magazine interviews attended by President Kimball, President Marion G. Romney, and others of the official party.
Our amigos were brothers and sisters in the gospel.
In Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; San José, Costa Rica; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; La Paz, Bolivia; and Bogotá, Colombia, amigos gathered at the conference in order to worship God and be taught by his servants. Those who attended are among 300,000 Saints residing in fifty-five stakes and twenty missions in those seven countries plus El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
The general sessions at Mexico City were the largest since area conferences began in Manchester, England, in 1971: 24,237 Saints attended.
Later, thousands of miles to the south, some 3,000 members and friends gathered on Wednesday afternoon, March 9, as President Marion G. Romney placed the cornerstone of the São Paulo Temple. When completed, the temple will make temple work much, much easier for thousands of Latin American Saints.
President Kimball, Sister Camilla Kimball, and President Marion G. Romney made the complete circuit from the opening conference in Monterrey to the laying of the temple cornerstone.
Joining them for all of the area conferences were Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve and Eider Robert D. Hales of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
With them in It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica was Elder J. Thomas Fyans of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, supervisor of the Mexico-Central America area.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve, the South America area advisor, and Elder A. Theodore Tuttle of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Andes area supervisor, attended the conferences in the southern hemisphere. And participating in the Santiago conference were Elder Robert E. Wells of, the First Quorum of the Seventy, supervisor for the Chile-Argentina area, and Elder William R. Bradford, also of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Santiago Chile South Mission.
Elder James E. Faust of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, supervisor of the Brazil-Uruguay area, conducted the groundbreaking ceremony and a special leadership meeting in São Paulo, Brazil.
The central themes and challenges of the conferences resounded in the declarations of President Kimball:
“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” [A of F 1:1] Christ is our master, the center of our lives, he taught, explaining that the restored Church is organized anew as Christ himself had established it in the meridian of time, endowed with the same organization, power, authority, and doctrine. “This is truly the kingdom of God on the earth,” the president testified.
President Kimball also shared what he described as “my vision for the people of the Lamanites.” He had been assigned to visit Mexico in 1946, three years after being sustained as an apostle and the same year he was appointed chairman of the Church Indian Committee by President George Albert Smith.
“I was dreaming for the people of Mexico,” he said, “and I had a dream of your progress and development. This is precisely what I dreamed. I got up and wrote my dream. Maybe it was a vision: ‘As I look into the future, I see other Lamanites from the isles of the sea and the American continents rise to a great destiny. …
“‘I see you children of Lehi with flocks on thousands of hills. Instead of seeing you work for others, I see you managing; the owners of farms, ranches, homes and gardens. …
“‘I see you as the masters of banks and businesses; engineers, builders, building lofty bridges and great edifices.
“‘I see you in great political positions and functioning as administrators over the land. I see many of you as heads of governments [and] in legislatures. …’”
He described how many of the Lamanites would become attorneys; administrators and teachers in schools and universities; doctors; great lecturers; publishers; artists; moviemakers; and playwrights.
“You have already arrived in many ways to make dreams real,” the prophet said, challenging parents to make the required sacrifices to provide educational opportunities for their sons and daughters.
In his remarks, President Marion G. Romney urged all to pray, study the scriptures, and obey the commandments of God in order to strengthen their faith. He explained that faith in Jesus Christ, the first principle of the gospel, is more than simply believing; it is conviction and confidence in the Lord’s redeeming mission that motivates us to action.
With faith comes a realization of sorrow for sins, he continued, which prepares one for the cleansing fire of forgiveness by prompting a desire to confess and forsake those sins, pardoning others, and complying with gospel teachings.
The true mark of conversion, President Romney said, is that we are healed and experience a change in understanding, thought, and conduct, with no more disposition to do evil.
Conversion and forgiveness, he said, should be accompanied by thanksgiving and gratitude, the signs of a noble soul. Gratitude is best expressed, he said, in loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, might and strength; loving our neighbor; and thanking the Lord in all things, with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that these steps, leading to life eternal, are possible because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. The Savior came to earth to undergo mortality in order to die upon the cross, to conquer death in the resurrection, and to allow all mankind to be raised in immortality.
Only Christ could do these things, Elder McConkie declared. But some things he did, we can also do:
First, Christ was obedient to every commandment and true to every trust, so perfectly doing the will of the Father that he could say to us all, “Come and follow me.” (Matt. 19:21.)
Second, Christ preached the gospel. “We are under covenant to preach the gospel and stand as witnesses of Christ in all things, even unto death. We are expected to invite all men to come to Christ,” Elder McConkie said.
Third, Jesus performed the ordinances of God by virtue of his eternal priesthood, a power without comparison in heaven or earth. And though Jesus Christ no longer administers personally on earth, he has given faithful men this power that they might perform the saving ordinances of the gospel.
Fourth, Jesus performed great miracles and promised, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12.)
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve emphasized the value of studying the scriptures, both to strengthen one’s faith and to resolve the problems of life.
“The scriptures contain the word of the Lord,” he testified. “To follow them is to follow the Lord; to ignore them is to wander in the wilderness.”
He challenged all to read the scriptures in a consistent and organized manner. He particularly urged husbands and wives to study the scriptures together daily.
One benefit of scripture study, he said, is a rejection of man’s ways of solving problems—which too often mean leaving things to chance or trying to buy solutions.
Elder Perry told how following King Benjamin’s counsel on teaching and governing children (see Mosiah 4:14, 15) solved a crisis in his family, after professional advice had only served to aggravate the ill feelings between his two young children as they quarreled over toys.
The ultimate blessing, Elder Perry said, comes when we arrive at the same conclusion that the apostle Peter expressed to the Savior: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68.)
Further stressing scriptures, President Kimball told how as a nine-year-old, he would type out scriptures on a card, which he placed on the ground and studied as he leaned his head into the side of the cow he was milking.
“I memorized the Articles of Faith and the ten commandments and could repeat them now,” he said, evoking laughter when he smiled, “but I don’t have the time.”
From homes which inspire scripture study, obedience, service, and love, will come the faithful Latter-day Saints needed for the vital work of the Church, conference speakers explained.
Elder J. Thomas Fyans issued specific challenges to members to engage in the three great responsibilities of the Church—missionary work, genealogy and temple work, and perfecting the Saints. Without personal involvement in each phase, he said, one’s life becomes precariously unbalanced, as if one were sitting on a three-legged stool that lacked one leg.
Each family, each year, Elder Fyans said, should prepare at east one other family to receive he gospel. This ambitious project is necessary if we are to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, he said.
The work of perfecting the Saints is especially a call to perfect our families, he continued. Family home evening is an instrument of teaching the virtues of faith, honesty, fidelity, virtue, kindness and patience, he noted.
President Marion G. Romney also underscored the importance of family home evening and teaching children in the home.
He recounted how one busy mother taught her child the principle of tithing. While busily engaged in preparing for guests, the mother was interrupted by her small son who brought to her his “tithing box.” But he didn’t know how to determine his tithing on money received for doing odd jobs and as birthday gifts.
After the mother completed her explanation to the boy’s satisfaction, a guest remarked, “You amaze me; not many mothers would stop their chores to answer a child’s question.”
“Don’t ever forget her answer,” President Romney counseled:
“I expect to be polishing silver the rest of my life. But perhaps never again will I be asked to explain the law of tithing to my son.”
Parents have the great duty, according to Elder A. Theodore Tuttle, of preparing their children for missionary service.
One of the most impressive moments of all the conferences came in Santiago, Chile, when 250 young Chileans, newly called as full-time missionaries, were asked to stand.
Elder Tuttle noted that they represented the highest number of missionaries called from any nation outside of the United States, It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, and Canada.
He called for many more of their contemporaries to join them as the work of the Church expands, both in Chile and elsewhere in the world. The immediate aim is to have one local missionary by the side of each North American missionary.
“Work missionaries are also critically needed in these countries,” Elder Tuttle said. Approximately 100 chapels are under construction or in the planning stages in the six nations of western South America. Work missionaries would be assigned for up to two years to assist in the construction.
“Fathers, teach your sons to save and serve. Join the missionary force that earlier included Book of Mormon giants such as Nephi, Alma, Omner, Samuel, Mormon and Moroni,” he counseled.
The mother’s role in missionary preparation is one of the most vital elements of all, President Kimball added. He told of his frequent meetings with missionaries for more than thirty years.
“One thing I noted most was these young missionaries almost invariably spoke of their mothers. Mothers can keep their sons close to the Lord.”
He also recalled meeting Church members behind the Iron Curtain after World War II. In view of atheistic teachings in the schools, President Kimball asked parents how they trained their children.
“Every day we take out what the teachers put in. Teachers feed them lies; nightly we teach them the truth. And our children are growing up faithful,” was the answer.
Elder Fyans recommended that fathers interview their sons and daughters regularly in order to teach them to follow the commandments and live worthily.
President Romney said parents must remember the advice of a forester who returned a lost child to parents who had built a fence to keep the child in the yard: “You can’t fence children in; you must teach them the dangers of the forest and to look for landmarks,” These landmarks, President Romney said, are “the principles of the gospel which guide us all back to our Heavenly Father.”
One of the landmarks that must be in view of all Church members is the temple, Elder Robert D. Hales counseled.
Living a life worthy of the blessings of the temple, he said, constitutes what Nephi of old described as living “after the manner of happiness.” (2 Ne. 5:27.) There is no happiness except in obedience to the principles of the gospel, he said.
Quoting President Brigham Young, he said the endowment is “to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father. …”
Temple marriage, he said, ensures that the family will be eternal, for neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
You are the children of God, he declared, come to earth to live by faith, prove yourselves, and take the steps necessary to return to your Maker.
These steps begin with faith, repentance, baptism and confirmation, receiving the temple ordinances and endowment and being sealed for time and eternity.
Noting that South American Saints can prepare now to go to the São Paulo Temple, which is expected to be completed in 1978, President Kimball said, “If conditions go well, we expect someday there might be a temple in Lima. The prophets have predicted there would be hundreds of temples.”
He explained, however, that first there must be hundreds of people prepared to keep a temple functioning and millions of names, gathered through genealogical research, ready for ordinance work.
“You have to work now to prepare for a temple in the future,” the president said.
Later, Elder Bruce R. McConkie described what lies ahead for the Church in Chile, declaring, “The day will come when there will be a temple in Chile. I do not say when, but it surely will be.”
He also spoke of the time when the seven stakes in Chile “will be seven times seventy,” and the “250 native Chilean missionaries will be increased by the thousands.”
Elder Robert E. Wells said that the Church has a wealth of information about Jesus Christ which the world should know. He explained that the Book of Mormon abounds with hundreds of references to the Savior.
From ancient and modern revelations, he said, we learn of the true nature of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ as separate beings; that Jesus is Jehovah, and that he visited the Americas after his resurrection.
“I’ll Do It,” proclaimed the badges worn by Chilean members at the Santiago conference. The motto provided the theme for Elder William R. Bradford’s remarks.
Think of the many times that the Eternal Father spoke, and Jesus answered, I will do it, counseled Elder Bradford. Because of that willingness to do, mankind has received the promise of eternal life.
Each of us must likewise be prepared to follow that example and that of a modern prophet. When we’re taught what is right and then live a chaste and virtuous life, the Holy Spirit will dwell within us, he assured.
The women of the Church in It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, Central America, and South America got a special treat at the conference, when Sister Camilla E. Kimball, wife of the president, addressed each of the eight mothers and daughters meetings. She spoke in Spanish, the language of It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, where she was born and lived the first seventeen years of her life.
In her opening sentence, she declared, “Os amamos”—“we love you”—and the response was electric. Tears came to the eyes of many mothers and their daughters as Sister Kimball said, “Nothing has been more pleasant than my association with my mother and now with my own daughter.”
She spoke of the special missions reserved for women and noted that each sister is responsible for her own happiness and must prepare herself for accomplishment in and out of the home.
The area conferences also had displays from the rich cultures of the nations represented.
In Lima, La Paz, and Bogota, the programs included tableaux from the Book of Mormon depicting the journey of Lehi and his family from Jerusalem; the visions and prophecies of Nephi; Samuel the Lamanite; Christ in America; Moroni’s farewell to his people; and the coming forth of the sacred record during the ministry of Joseph Smith.
The programs also featured music and dancing. And in Guatemala City, the evening was enlivened with Roman candles and other fireworks—coming from a young man costumed as a bull in the “Fiesta of Panchimilco,” presented by members from El Salvador.
Among the ancient dances was one performed to the haunting music of flutes and dried gourds by Kuna Indians from San Bias. The principal young dancer wore golden rings dangling from her nose and ears.
In Mexico City and Monterrey the music and dances reflected the influence of Indians, Moors, and Christians.
In Santiago handsome faces lent elegance to rich costumes of both folk and formal dances.
The hymns of the Latter-day Saints were also performed—by 1,000 Primary children in Mexico City; by a similar though smaller group in Bogotá; in a duet by President and Sister Waldo Pratt Call of Colonia Juarez Stake during the Monterrey conference; and by five hundred missionaries in Santiago, who sang “Ye Elders of Israel” at the special request of President Kimball.
And emotions were high in Lima, when one glorious anthem after another filled the immense Amauta auditorium, beginning with a parents-and-children choir singing “I Am a Child of God” and climaxing with the soul-stirring “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
Although Spanish was the principal language in each country, numerous native Indian languages were also represented. Ninety Saints from the high Andean plateaus sang “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” in their native Aymara language, and sixty Otavaloan Indians from Ecuador sang “I Am a Child of God” in Quechua.
At the close of the last of the conferences, President Kimball solemnly declared: “The conference is complete. We leave you with great affection. We are delighted with the progress you have made.
“Carry forward. Give time and service to the Lord.
“We love you with all our hearts and bear testimony that you have found the truth. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Until the final scene is wound up, Jesus Christ will continue to reveal his will to his prophet whom he chooses. This is true. Please remember that always. God bless you.”
The testimony of an amigo—a true friend to the Lord’s people in all lands.
Area Conferences Attendance
Mexico and Central America
South America West
5,500 7,900 7,200
Temple Begun in Brazil
In a historic occasion, the cornerstone of the São Paulo Temple was cemented into place on Wednesday, March 9, by President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency.
The ceremonies, presided over by President Spencer W. Kimball and conducted by Elder James E. Faust of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Brazil-Uruguay Area Supervisor, attracted more than 3,000 members and guests, including representatives of government in São Paulo, Brazil.
President Kimball announced that Finn B. Paulsen of Salt Lake City, former mission president and Regional Representative in Brazil, had been called as the first president of the São Paulo Temple. His wife, Sara Broadbent Paulsen, will be the temple matron. The new call brought with it her release during April conference from the general presidency of the Primary Association of the Church. (See page 11.)
During the cornerstone ceremonies and again during a special meeting for some 1,200 Brazilian priesthood and Relief Society leaders and their spouses, President Kimball and President Romney stressed the need for personal preparation as the temple opening draws near.
President Kimball recalled that King David of ancient Israel had desired to build a temple but had sinned and the Lord would not grant his desire nor accept a temple from his hands.
“That’s a lesson for us,” he said. “Make sure that we’re clean and worthy to offer a temple to the Lord.”
President Romney said that a temple is a house of God, built in honor of the true and living God.
Our challenge, he said, is to so live that we may enter the temple, always keeping it holy and not permitting evil therein. If we do this, President Romney promised, “He will be there,” referring to the Savior.
Elder Faust said that construction of the temple and placing of the cornerstone signifies the coming of age of the Church in Latin America. The highest ordinances are available in the temple, assuring the unity of family forever.
The temple is expected to be completed and dedicated sometime during 1978.
President Kimball Visits Five Presidents of Nations
“Wherefore, I the Lord … called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
“And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world …
“That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed … unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.” (D&C 1:17–18, 23.)
Fulfilling that prophetic expectation, President Spencer W. Kimball visited five presidents of great nations as significant parts of his month-long journey through Latin America and enroute home. The national leaders were:
—President Jose Lopez Portillo of It’s a Young Church in … Mexico, who delayed a cabinet meeting while hosting President Kimball in the National Palace in Mexico City on Monday, February 21.
—President Kjell Eugenio Laugerud Garcia of Guatemala, who conversed with the Church leader and his entire party in English during their visit to the National Palace in Guatemala City on Tuesday, February 22.
—President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte of Chile. General Pinochet sent a government helicopter to take President Kimball and his party from Santiago to the “summer White House” in Vina del Mar on Monday, February 28.
—President Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia, who welcomed President Kimball on Wednesday, March 2, in the National Palace in LaPaz.
—President Jimmy Carter of the United States, who greeted President Kimball in the Oval Office at noon on Friday, March 11. President Kimball had accepted the telephoned invitation to the White House while he was in São Paulo, Brazil, two days earlier.
Joining President Kimball in each of the presidential visits, except in Washington, D.C., were President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder David M. Kennedy, special representative of the First Presidency for diplomatic affairs.
Representatives of Church media and the Public Communications Department were also present briefly on each occasion for pictures, as were representatives of the national and international media. Only in Guatemala did the whole group accompanying President Kimball attend the entire meeting.
Each discussion, while private, included consideration of the doctrines of the Church, the blessings of Church membership, individual responsibilities, the building of temples in Mexico and Brazil, genealogy, welfare, and missionary programs.
President Kimball emphasized that returning missionaries become the best friends and ambassadors any nation has anywhere in the world.
He also declared his concern about the status of the family and told how the Church seeks to strengthen the family through family home evening and the teaching and observing of moral principles.
Specially bound copies of the Book of Mormon were presented to the leaders in Latin America. President Carter had received the Book of Mormon and family home evening manual in an earlier visit with the First Presidency in Salt Lake City.
In Chile, President Kimball expressed gratitude to General Pinochet for a commemorative medallion the Chilean government had presented to the Church and its members last year for their contributions to the well-being of Chile.
President Kimball also pledged in each conversation, as he also did in each of the eight area conferences, that members of the Church will be good citizens, believing “in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law,” and believing in praying for the inspiration of heaven to rest upon their national leaders.
Elder Alvin R. Dyer Dies
Elder Alvin Rulon Dyer of the First Quorum of the Seventy died recently at his home. He had served twenty years as a General Authority of the Church, since 1958 when he was called as an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve. He was 74.
At funeral services, held on March 9 (three days after his death) and conducted by President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve said of Elder Dyer, “He has left this Church a great legacy of example and leadership.”
His leadership began when he was in high school and well known for his ability as a baseball pitcher. He set the example of what a young man of the Church should strive for when he laid aside his athletic activities to serve in the Eastern States Mission from 1922 to 1924. On his return, he had the opportunity of entering the professional ranks of baseball, but because it would have meant playing on Sundays he declined the offers, and instead he became a sheet metal journeyman studying mechanical drafting and technical engineering through a correspondence course.
Elder Dyer was married in the Salt Lake Temple to May Elizabeth Jackson on 2 June 1926.
In 1934 he became the manager of the heating and air conditioning department of Utah Builders Supply. Fifteen years later he formed the Dyer Distributing Company which he owned until 1954, when he was called to serve as president of the Central States Mission. At that time, he dissolved his business interests.
During these years, Elder Dyer gained stature as a leader by magnifying his many opportunities to serve in the Church. He served as first counselor in the Fifteenth Ward bishopric, Salt Lake Stake, from 1927 to 1934; Salt Lake Stake high councilor, 1934–40; Riverside Stake high councilor, 1940–42; Sunday School superintendent, Yalecrest Ward, Bonneville Stake, 1942–44; second counselor and then bishop in the Monument Park Ward from 1944 until his call as a mission president.
As mission president Elder Dyer was active in both the Missouri Historical Society and the Jackson County Historical Society. His involvement in historical research and his knowledge of the area were to pay rich dividends for the Church in later years on yet another assignment.
On his return from the mission field, Elder Dyer was called to serve as first assistant in the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association general presidency. On 11 October 1958 he was called as an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve. In this capacity he served as European Mission president from 1960 to 1962. While in Europe he helped negotiate the microfilming of genealogical records in Poland.
In 1967, Elder Dyer was ordained an apostle, although he was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Subsequently he was set apart as a counselor in the First Presidency, and, said President Benson, “He had the blessing pronounced on him that he was to be a watchman over the consecrated lands in Missouri.”
President Benson said that in discharging this responsibility, Elder Dyer was instrumental in recommending the construction of a visitors center at Independence. “Today, it is one of our most influential centers.”
With the death of President McKay in 1970, Elder Dyer was released from the First Presidency and returned to his position as an Assistant to the Twelve, and he was then asked to oversee the work of raising missionary funds for those who would otherwise not be able to afford a full-time mission.
In 1972 he suffered a stroke that curtailed much of his activity, but he still accepted a call to serve as managing director of the Church Historical Department.
At the funeral service, Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy said, “In his wide-ranging and far-reaching ministry across the earth, Alvin Dyer has blessed many lives and lifted many hearts. He has done this with courage, with greatness, and with gentility.”