News of the Church


The Church in the Headlines

Whether it’s a missionary winning a Korean oratorical contest or a visit by a Chicago columnist to Nauvoo, the Church has been very much in the public eye recently.

Of course, one of the biggest boosts was through Alex Haley’s book, Roots, and his favorable mention of the Church Genealogical Department on national television. Since then, some of America’s major newspapers have featured articles on the Latter-day Saint genealogy program—as well as the welfare program and attitudes toward the family.

Media coverage of the Church can have a tremendous impact. For example, in Spain, where the Church has only relatively recently begun full-time proselyting work, national newspaper and magazine articles, television and radio programs have had a noticeable effect on people’s attitudes toward the Church, in part because they have heard of “Los Mormones.”

Alan Whicker, Britain’s counterpart to America’s Walter Cronkite, with his producer and director and a camera crew of five, has been working on a one-hour documentary on “Salt Lake City and the Mormons,” scheduled for telecasting on “Whicker’s World,” one of Britain’s five most popular TV programs. With audiences not only in Great Britain and Ireland, but also in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and other English-speaking countries, it will be seen by about 40 million people.

British news media have also brought favorable attention to the Church in such programs as BBC’s “Nationwide,” which included a four-minute report on the Mormons; an intensive interview with President Otterson of the Liverpool England Stake on Britain’s ATV network, in which President Otterson explained the Latter-day Saint view of Christ to an audience of several million; an interview on BBC’s “Midlands Today” with John H. Cox, a former vice-president of one of the world’s largest airlines, British Airways, who is now serving as Presiding Bishopric Area Supervisor for Great Britain; and a great deal of favorable coverage relating to the BYU ballroom dance team, which won first place in international competition in May in Blackpool, England.

And perhaps it was not just coincidence that England London South Mission baptisms were three times the number of the year before—right after the London Evening Standard and the Bournemouth Evening Echo ran articles on the results of an opinion poll on parenthood conducted under the direction of President Richard M. Eyre of that mission. Headlines like “Happy to Be a Family” and “Help! Says the Family Man” were seen by a combined circulation of more than 586,000.

Jack Mabley, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune, wrote glowingly of the Nauvoo visitors center missionaries, who were “unwaveringly pleasant.” He praised early Mormon handiwork. Even in those early days of Church history Mormons were “making do”: Brigham Young very skillfully finished pine to look like oak! And Jack Mabley also included a brief history of the Church in the Midwest.

And the Korea Herald printed English and Korean language accounts of Elder Ernest W. Spriggs’s victory in the Herald’s Korean language oratorical contest for foreign nationals. Elder Spriggs received a trophy and citation from Korea President Park Chung Hee. Three other Latter-day Saint missionaries did well in the competition.

The impression the Church transmits through the media can make a big difference when nonmembers are approached by a Latter-day Saint. When they know who the Mormons are because they have heard of the Church in a favorable light, people are much more inclined to listen to the message of salvation entrusted to all of us by the Lord and his prophets.

Nine New Missions Formed, Fifty Mission Presidents Called

As fifty new mission presidents begin service—and five presidents already in the field transfer to new missions—a picture of worldwide growth of the Church emerges.

Of nine new missions created this summer, only three are in the United States. Four Spanish-speaking missions have been organized, matching four English-speaking missions. And the ninth new mission is Italian-speaking.

The headquarters of the new Italy Catania Mission (Leopoldo Larcher, president, transferred from Italy Rome Mission) is located on the Mediterranean island of Sicily. Joseph Coletti now presides over the Italy Rome Mission.

The new Spanish-speaking missions are the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission (DeVere R. McAllister, president, transferred from Bolivia La Paz Mission); the Chile Osorno Mission (Lester D. Haymore, president, transferred from Chile Concepcion Mission); the Paraguay Asuncion Mission (Mearl K. Bair, president); and the Guatemala Quezaltenango Mission (John F. O’Donnal, president, transferred from Guatemala Guatemala City Mission), bringing the total number of Latin-American missions to thirty-one.

The new English-speaking missions are the Philippines Davao Mission (Layton B. Jones, president), where many native dialects are also spoken; the Missouri St. Louis Mission (Norman W. Olsen, president); the Ohio Cleveland Mission (Donald S. Brewer, president, transferred from Ohio Columbus Mission); and the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission (Louis K. Payne, president).

One of the new mission presidents this year is Elder Hartman Rector, Jr., of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who now presides over the California San Diego Mission.

Other new presidents of U.S. missions are Lindsay R. Curtis, California Oakland Mission; Max C. Mortenson, Indiana Indianapolis; C. Jack Lemmon, Louisiana Baton Rouge; Jae R. Ballif, Massachusetts Boston; John R. Poulton, New Mexico Albuquerque; Roland R. Wright, New York New York; Frank D. Bailey, Ohio Columbus; Calvin G. Merkley, Oklahoma Tulsa; J. Garr Vincent, Oregon Portland; Frank A. Moscon, Virginia Roanoke; Lyle M. Ward, Washington D.C.; and Norwood C. McKoy, Washington Seattle.

New presidents of English-speaking missions outside the U.S. are Marvin W. Wallin, Australia Adelaide Mission; Keith W. Hubbard, Australia Brisbane; Bruce Mitchell, Australia Melbourne; Ramond L. Russell, Canada Toronto; Steven J. Scott, Canada Vancouver; Marvin L. Pugh, Ireland Dublin; Philip T. Sonntag, New Zealand Christchurch; and Stephen K. Iba, Philippines Manila.

Fourteen new presidents have been called to Spanish-speaking missions. Besides President Bair of the new Paraguay Asuncion Mission are Ireneo Frol, Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission; R. Chase Allred, Bolivia La Paz; Leon R. Walker, Chile Concepcion; Bruce M. Gibson, Chile Santiago South; Kirt M. Olson, Colombia Bogotá; Joseph C. Muren, Costa Rica San José; Richard L. Millett, Florida Ft. Lauderdale; Willard I. Skousen, Guatemala Guatemala City; Verle M. Allred, Mexico Hermosillo; Richard P. Gomez, Mexico Monterrey; Norval C. Jesperson, Peru Lima South; Marion C. Robinson, Uruguay Montevideo; and Alejandro Portal, Venezuela Caracas.

Eleven other nations have new mission presidents. Besides Italy (mentioned above), new presidents serving in Europe are James S. Arrigona, Belgium Brussels Mission; John L. Flade, Germany Frankfurt; John M. Limburg, Netherlands Amsterdam; and Dean T. Worlton, Switzerland Zurich.

In the South Pacific, Faasea Mailo now presides over the Samoa Apia Mission and Sione T. Latu presides over the Tonga Nuku’alofa Mission. And the five new presidents called to serve in Oriental missions are David H. H. Chen, Hong Kong Mission; Robert T. Stout, Japan Kobe; Richard D. S. Kwak, Japan Sendai; F. Ray Hawkins, Korea Seoul; and William F. Crook, Taiwan Taipei.

Today the total number of missions in the world is 158. Of those, 51—less than a third—are in the United States. Japan and Mexico both contain seven missions of the Church; there are six missions each in Canada and England (making a total of eight in the United Kingdom—the six in England and two in Scotland); and Australia contains five missions. There are four missions each in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Germany, and Italy, and three missions each in New Zealand, the Philippines, and Spain. Many of these nations with multiple missions were opened to missionary work only within the last forty years—and some of them have had missionaries for only a decade or less.

Map of the world(click to view larger)

Nine New Missions, Twenty-three New Stakes

Twenty-Three New Stakes: Honduras, Norway, and Venezuela Get First Stake

Between April conference and the end of May, twenty-three stakes were organized—eleven in the U.S. and twelve in other nations. And these included the first stakes to be organized in Honduras, Venezuela, and Norway!

The San Pedro Sula Honduras Stake, with Samuel Ben-Zion Ventura as president, is the first stake within the boundaries of the Costa Rica San José Mission—a milestone for Central America. The Caracas Venezuela Stake, with Adolfo F. Mayer as president, and the Oslo Norway Stake, with Osvald Bjareng as president, bring full Church organization to one of the newest and one of the oldest fields of missionary labor. Venezuela was dedicated for missionary work in 1966, while missionaries have been serving in Norway since the mid-nineteenth century.

Other non-English-speaking stakes include four new stakes in Uruguay: the Minas Uruguay Stake (Alberto E. Hernandez, president), the Santa Lucia Uruguay Stake (Hector Julio Vigo, president), the Rivera Uruguay Stake (Ormesindo Correa, president), and the Paysandu Uruguay Stake (Atilio Silveira, president).

The Culiacan Mexico Stake (Federico Fragoza Diaz, president) and the Minatitlan Mexico Stake (Ignacio Cruz Sanchez, president) bring the total number of Mexican stakes to twenty-nine—more stakes than in any other country outside the United States!

Two new stakes outside the U.S. are in the Philippines: the Quezon City Philippines Stake and the Makati Philippines Stake. And the Seoul Korea Stake was divided to form the Seoul Korea East and West stakes.

The U.S. stakes organized during the same short period include three in California and two in Texas. The California stakes are the Morgan Hill California Stake (Donald Russell Lundell, president) and the Santa Cruz California Stake (Edwin Reese Davis, president), both in the San Francisco Bay area, and the Mission Viejo California Stake (Nolan G. Draney, president) in southern California. And the Houston Texas East and Dallas Texas North stakes were divided to form the Friendswood Texas Stake and the Dallas Texas East Stake.

Stakes were organized in four other western states: the Redmond Washington Stake (Arnold R. Parrott, president), the Roseburg Oregon Stake (Gary Richards Lowe, president), the Salt Lake Hunter Stake (Merrill R. Dimick, president), and the Idaho Falls Idaho Ammon West Stake (Boyd R. Thomas, president). In addition, the Winchester Virginia Stake was organized from the Blue Ridge District of the Washington D.C. Mission, with Harold S. Harrison called to serve as stake president; while Americans overseas were organized into another servicemen’s stake—the Frankfurt Germany Servicemen’s Stake (Kenneth Alvin Nessen, president), formed from the Kaiserslautern Germany and Stuttgart Germany servicemen’s stakes.

Twenty-three stakes in fifty-five days, and more than half of them outside the United States: a testimony to the tremendous growth of the worldwide Church!

LDS Scene

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which develops water projects throughout the country, is now headed by R. Keith Higginson, former high councilor in the Boise Idaho North Stake and former bishop of the Boise Sixteenth Ward.

Luckily no one was injured, but the entire South Africa Johannesburg Mission home was destroyed by fire. Six missionaries and President and Sister E. Dale LeBaron lost all their belongings in the fire, which was probably caused by faulty wiring.

BYU students Curt Brinkman and Mike Johnson both qualified for a later national competition by doing well in the Pacific Coast games sponsored by the Wheelchair Athletic Association. Johnson, who took first or second in every event he entered, qualified for the nationals in javelin, slalom, ping-pong, and the hundred-yard dash; Brinkman qualified for the mile with a time of 5:50, and had the best hundred-yard dash record in the meet, with a time of 18.9 seconds. And when they got to the nationals in San Jose, California, Johnson won two gold medals (javelin and slalom) and Brinkman won two bronze medals (hundred-yard dash and mile).

The new executive secretary to the Council of the Twelve is Rulon G. Craven, for the past three years director of the Aaronic Priesthood Committee. He succeeds Elder James M. Paramore, who was recently called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Regional Representative Bryant W. Rossiter will head the U.S. delegation at the 43-nation conference of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, to be held in Warsaw, Poland, 14–21 August 1977. As chairman of the American delegation, he will address the convention.

Two Latter-day Saints have been selected as White House Fellows: Jim Jardine, a lawyer from Salt Lake City, and Bob King, assistant director of research for Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany. Both have recently served as branch presidents for the Church, and Brother King has also been a district president. They and twelve other appointees will be assigned to work for one year with a cabinet member or an agency head in Washington, D.C.

President Spencer W. Kimball was honored with the Golden Plate Award by the American Academy of Achievement in its annual Salute to Excellence in Orlando, Florida. Others honored at the same time were baseball record-holder Hank Aaron, Roots author Alex Haley, Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, famed for daring air raids during World War II, and Nobel laureate Dr. Samuel C. C. Ting.

McCammon, Idaho, wasted no time answering a call for help: Sister Thelma Dopp, a resident of the town for thirty years, was stricken with cancer of the liver. Her husband had been unable to work for many years because of ill health, and she herself, though long employed as a nurse, was recently not able to work because of a heart attack. As income ran out, neighbors stepped in. With bake sales, a walk-a-thon, a carnival and bazaar, a dance, and simple donations, the community of 700 people raised thousands of dollars on June 3, “Thelma Dopp Day,” in McCammon. Her illness was terminal, however, and she passed away; but the community’s concern and generosity also helped meet funeral expenses.

Church Gives Genealogy to President Jimmy Carter

When Thomas Carter left England in 1632, he could hardly have dreamed that the land he was going to—Virginia—would someday be part of an independent nation. Nor would he have guessed that twelve generations later one of his descendants would be the president of 220 million people in that country!

W. Don Ladd, Regional Representative of the Twelve, and Thomas E. Daniels of the Genealogical Department of the Church presented a family tree and a leather-bound volume of genealogical information on the Carter family to the President on 31 May.

The book included a letter to President Carter from President Spencer W. Kimball, in which he spoke of the Latter-day Saints’ “deep reverence and gratitude for our ancestors, which in turn gives us greater sense of responsibility to our posterity.”

President Carter found the Church’s research “very exciting to me,” and he said, “I look forward to studying the chart. This is an area of knowledge I’ve never had.” The two-inch thick volume included several 8-by-10-inch pedigree charts and family group sheets, along with a research summary of each line researched and what was still missing from those lines. This is the first time the Church has ever given such a gift to a president of the United States.

Church Services for Blind, Deaf

For deaf Latter-day Saints, a complete listing of Church units and facilities adapted for deaf members who use sign language is now available through Personal Welfare Services: and for the blind, the Ensign is now available on 8 rpm records.

The roster of meetinghouses and other facilities where services for the deaf are available can be obtained by writing to Personal Welfare Services (7th floor), 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. It is free of charge, and includes listings for the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The Ensign for the blind is also available free of charge—but because of the slow speed, special phonographs are required. These phonographs can be obtained from government regional libraries on a loan basis without charge. Those living in the West should request phonographs from the Utah State Library, Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, 2150 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115. A doctor’s certificate verifying inability to read regular print should be included. In countries other than the United States, phonographs should be obtained from government or service agencies for the handicapped.

The Ensign will be recorded each month on three flexible plastic discs, for a total of six hours of listening. This recording replaces the New Messenger, which had included Ensign excerpts along with other materials. To subscribe to the Ensign for the blind or to request a listing of additional recordings for the blind, write to Coordinator of Materials for the Visually Handicapped, 50 East North Temple Street, #2445, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, or telephone (801) 531–2475. Those who already receive the New Messenger will begin receiving the Ensign for the blind automatically.

Each set of three plastic discs will consist of readings from the Ensign, except the May and November issues, which will consist of recordings from the actual general conference, plus any additional material, such as “News of the Church” and biographies of new General Authorities, that appears in those issues of the regular Ensign.

Four New Temple Presidents

V. A. Wood, Richard B. Sonne, A. Ray Curtis, and Percy K. Fetzer have been called to preside over the work for the living and the dead in the Alberta, Oakland, Salt Lake, and Swiss temples. Their wives will serve as matrons of the temples.

President Wood, son of the Alberta Temple’s first president, Edward J. Wood, has served until his appointment as patriarch of the Edmonton Alberta Stake. He has also worked in provincial government as deputy minister of lands and forests in Alberta, Canada. His wife, Lorraine Markgraf Wood, has served as ward and stake Primary and Relief Society president.

President Sonne, son of Elder Alma Sonne of the First Quorum of the Seventy, will preside over the Oakland Temple. He and his wife, Norma H. Sonne, are longtime residents of Palo Alto, California, where President Sonne has served as counselor and then bishop in the Palo Alto Ward, and counselor and then president of the Palo Alto Stake. He is also a vice-president of Del Monte Corporation; in his last Church appointment he served as Regional Representative.

Also a Regional Representative of the Twelve, President Curtis of the Salt Lake Temple has served as president of the Southwest British Mission and the Salt Lake Holladay Stake. His wife, Elaine Broadbent Curtis, served for eleven years on the general board of Relief Society.

The Swiss Temple’s new president and matron, Percy K. Fetzer and Thelma Woolley Fetzer, are residents of Salt Lake City, where President Fetzer has served as stake president and stake patriarch. He has also been a Regional Representative and presided over the North German Mission and the Berlin Mission. Sister Fetzer served on the YWMIA and Primary general boards.