News of the Church


Every Faithful, Worthy Man in the Church May Now Receive the Priesthood

The First Presidency announced, on June 9, a historic letter addressed to general and local officers of the Church throughout the world. The letter, dated June 8, reads:

“Dear Brethren:

As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the Church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the Church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.

Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.

He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.

We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.

Sincerely yours,
Spencer W. Kimball
N. Eldon Tanner
Marion G. Romney”

President Kimball Stresses Morality, Preparation

President Spencer W. Kimball emphasized morality and preparation for times of trial in talks given to thousands of young persons in Nevada and Utah recently.

Speaking at an area conference for some 10,000 Latter-day Saint youth from the Las Vegas, Nevada, area in April, President Kimball likened the Parable of the Ten Virgins to the conditions of the world and the Church at the Second Coming. He spoke of the “oil” of prayer, fasting, meeting attendance, Word of Wisdom observance, missionary service, home service, tithing, and chastity.

Speaking of chastity, President Kimball said, “Take this away and the light flickers and indeed it may go out.”

Morality was again his theme as he asked 11,000 students, faculty members, and others at Utah State University to fight rampant sins such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, abortion, alcoholism, dishonesty, and vandalism.

“Every sin that is imaginable is upon the earth today, and I would like to enlist your help this day to pledge your unqualified support toward calling the hand of Satan and bringing repentance to a confused and sickly world,” he said.

Sister Camilla Kimball, wife of the prophet, encouraged the group to pray and to stay active in the Church:

“Your first greeting of the day should be to your Heavenly Father, asking him for his help during the day. At the close of the day, report to him what you have done.” She also counseled students to manage their time wisely.

[photo] President Kimball speaks at Logan, Utah. (Photography by Eric W. White.)

New Missions Bring Total to 160

The First Presidency has announced the formation of six new missions, bringing the worldwide total to 160.

The new missions are in Michigan, Washington state, California, Wisconsin, Mexico, and Peru.

The Michigan Dearborn Mission is being created from a division of the Michigan Lansing Mission. The Washington Spokane Mission, which will include Tacoma, Olympia, western Washington, and northern Idaho, is formed from a division of the Washington Seattle Mission. The California San Jose Mission is being created by a division of the existing California Oakland Mission. The Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission comes from the Minnesota Minneapolis and Illinois Chicago missions. The Mexico City Mexico North Mission is formed from a division of the Mexico City Mexico Mission. The Peru Arequipa Mission is being formed as Peru’s two missions—Peru Lima North and Peru Lima South—are divided.

Newly called mission presidents and their assigned missions are:

L. Flake Rogers, of Provo, Utah, to the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission.

Alva C. Snow, of Roosevelt, Utah, to the Washington Seattle Mission.

Lysle R. Cahoon, of Bountiful, Utah, to the California San Jose Mission.

Glenn T. Baird, of Logan, Utah, to the Michigan Lansing Mission.

Bill B. Cowser, of Melbourne, Australia, to the New Zealand Auckland Mission.

Previously called mission presidents whose assignments are being changed are:

F. Briton McConkie, from California Ventura Mission to California Los Angeles.

William R. Horton, from Michigan Lansing Mission to Michigan Dearborn Mission.

Norword C. McKoy, from Washington Seattle Mission to Washington Spokane Mission.

Collins E. Jones is being released as president of the New Zealand Auckland Mission.

Dedications at Seattle, Temple Square, Hawaii, and Nauvoo

You might say it’s a time of dedication. Four prominent Church buildings and sites have been or soon will be dedicated:

May 27—Dedication of the Seattle Temple site; by President Marion G. Romney, first counselor in the First Presidency.

June 1—Dedication of the new Temple Square Visitors’ Center South; by President Spencer W. Kimball. Built to accomodate increased visitors at Temple Square, the new center highlights temples and Book of Mormon themes. The center is now open.

June 13–15—Rededication of the remodeled Hawaii Temple at Laie, Hawaii; by President Kimball. The rededication followed a month-long open house in which thousands toured the temple’s interior. Following the rededication, an area conference was held Sunday, June 18, at Honolulu, the first area conference to be held in the United States. Sessions were broadcast on radio and television in Hawaii.

June 28–30—Dedication of the Nauvoo Relief Society Monument to Women; by members of the First Presidency. Some 7,500 Relief Society members and other guests were invited to attend the dedicatory activities.

[photo] Exterior view of recently dedicated Temple Square Visitors’ Center South. (Photography by Eldon Linschoten.)

Church Genealogical Record-Gathering Increases

The world’s largest collection of genealogical records is getting larger.

The Church is gathering records from many countries around the world—by filming books and other records, by purchasing copies of existing microfilms, by paying countries to do filming, and by conducting oral histories.

“This expands the project beyond our standard microfilming practices,” says Lynn Carson, administrative assistant to the Genealogical Society’s director of Library Services.

Presently, the Church has eighty-five cameras in operation around the world—fourteen of them in the United States, working their way from the East Coast to the West Coast. In the U.S., local historical societies and state agencies are giving valuable assistance.

Approved filming has been completed in Rhodesia (2,000 microfilm rolls) and Poland (10,000 microfilm rolls).

While the Church has done no microfilming on mainland China, a number of Chinese records are available. Uncounted clan genealogies have been published in mainland China, and many of these volumes have been placed in western libraries. “We have searched every western library for them and have filmed wherever we’ve found them. Now we have the largest collection of clan genealogies outside mainland China,” Brother Carson says. The books were filmed in such places as Taiwan, Harvard University, and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

In those Pacific islands where written records have not been kept, oral histories are being tape recorded.

European filming is being done in Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Filming was completed in Hungary several years ago.

Sometimes, after the Church has filmed the records, local authorities realize the wisdom of the filming. An Anglican priest in Aberdeen, Scotland, wrote the Genealogical Society asking for copies of microfilmed records that vandals had stolen and destroyed shortly after they were filmed. The East Providence, Rhode Island, city hall was destroyed by fire after its records had been microfilmed, and the Genealogical Society was able to provide copies.

Filming and other methods of acquisition are planned for other areas of the world where no records have previously been obtained.

[photo] Microfilm cameramen in Italy photograph archive rooms full of ancient records.

Church Policies and Announcements

The following item appeared in a recent Messages, sent to stake/district/mission presidents and to bishops and branch presidents:

“Welfare Services Missionaries. There is an increasing need for welfare services missionaries who arc assigned ‘to assist priesthood leaders in the developing areas of the world to resolve temporal problems among members.’ (General Handbook of Instructions, p. 69.) Individuals are needed with professional education and experience in such areas as employment counseling, financial management, physical health, vocational training, social work, and agriculture. Also needed are persons with background in administering and directing various aspects of Church welfare services such as production projects, employment centers, or storehouses.”

LDS Scene

The First Presidency is giving its support to programs to immunize children against preventable diseases. “We urge members of the Church … to protect their own children through immunization. Then they may wish to join other public-spirited citizens in efforts to eradicate ignorance and apathy that have caused the disturbingly low levels of childhood immunization.”

The statement by the First Presidency cites reports that in the United States, some twenty million children have not been immunized against potentially serious diseases:

“Reports that increasing numbers of children are not being immunized against preventable childhood diseases deeply concern us. In the United States alone approximately 20 million children, 40 percent of those 14 years old or younger, have not been adequately immunized against polio, measles, German measles (rubella), diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), mumps and tetanus.

“Every parent who has agonized when these diseases have maimed or brought premature death to their children would join us, we are certain, in a plea to mobilize against these deadly enemies.

“Immunization is such a simple, yet vital, matter and such a small price to pay for protection against these destroying diseases. …

“Failure to act could subject untold thousands to preventable lifelong physical or mental impairment, including paralysis, blindness, deafness, heart damage, and mental retardation.

“Immunization campaigns in the United States and other nations, if successful, will end much needless suffering and erase the potential threat of epidemics. Such efforts are deserving of our full support.”

Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has been awarded the Silver Buffalo, Scouting’s highest recognition. A member of the Quorum of the Twelve since 1963, he has been on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, and was a member of the Church’s General Church Scouting Committee for ten years.

The second in a series of four Church-sponsored inserts is being published in the July Reader’s Digest.

The eight-page advertisement insert discusses the diversity of roles of men and women in the family and in society. The insert runs in the U.S. and German editions of the magazine, which have a combined readership of 50,480,000. The other two inserts are scheduled for September and December.

It started when two sisters, Kelly-Ann and Sharon Nield, members of the Church in Rhodesia, heard traveling performing groups from Brigham Young University. After hearing the Sounds of Freedom and the Young Ambassadors, they decided they, too, should sing together. They did, and this year the two teenagers won the Rhodesian national talent contest. They also have performed for military groups in Rhodesia.

The Keith Christensens of Moraga, California, don’t think they want to go skiing again. The last time they wen—which was the first time they had skied together as a family—they came close to death. Brother Christensen, his wife, Beth, and their three sons—Scott, Mark, and Brad—were among fifty passengers on a tram at Squaw Valley, California, when a cable broke. Four people were killed, and thirty were injured. The Christensens escaped injury, except for a cut on four-year-old Bradley’s lip. Several young Church members attending a youth conference in the Reno Region were not riding the tram when the incident occurred.

“Our family was calm because we were okay, and we knew it. And we knew how to pray, and we did that over and over again,” says Sister Christensen. Bradley was rescued from the tram about three and one-half hours after the mishap, and the other members of the family were rescued within another three hours.

The Christensens are members of the Lafayette Ward, Oakland California Stake.

Two Brigham Young University films recently won top honors at the Industrial Film Festival at Chicago, Illinois. The Mailbox took the top award, the gold camera award; The Phone Call was awarded a silver screen award for second place. BYU was the only university with prizewinning films.

BYU’s Young Ambassadors have become the first student entertainment group from the university to perform in the Soviet Union. BYU President Dallin H. Oaks joined the troupe for part of their tour in Poland and the Soviet Union. The Young Ambassadors appeared in Warsaw, Kracow, Moscow, and Kiev.

The group is one of six major performing tours this summer. The twenty-seven members of the Lamanite Generation are performing in Scandinavia. President Oaks is guest speaker at the July 4 Ribald Festival in Denmark, where the Lamanite Generation will perform.

The American Folk Dancers are on their fourteenth consecutive tour of Europe this summer, performing in Italy, France, Israel, and England.

The 63-member A Cappella Choir performed in June in Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean.

Groups traveling within the United States are the cast of Shenandoah, which toured the Northwest earlier this year; and the Young Ambassadors national team, touring in the Eastern United States and Canada.

Historians Meet, Share Research

About 450 fans of Church history recently flocked to Logan in northern Utah, undaunted by May snow and chilly winds, to attend the Mormon History Association’s annual meeting.

Among the many sessions—some held at Brigham City, others at Logan—was a presentation by Carol Cornwall Madsen on a gallery of Cache Valley’s “unknown” women, who quietly helped others through “the rituals of daily living, including birth and death.”

Sister Madsen also described the sisters’ whole-hearted support of Brigham Young’s call for home industry—Eliza R. Snow asked the sisters in one Relief Society congregation to rise if they were wearing homemade hats. To her delight, almost everyone was. Some studied medicine and served their sisters as obstetricians; others helped build Relief Society halls and sold handmade items in commission stores.

In another session Ronald W. Walker of the Church Historical Department, in a carefully researched paper, described the tense circumstances that threatened the Church during the nationwide Panic of 1893. The Church was deeply in debt for the Salt Lake Temple, and most of its funds were distributed between Mormon finance companies and banks so interlocked that the failure of one would pull down the others. Short-term loans at high interest were coming due soon. Cash donations to the Church almost stopped during June of 1893. On July 1, the Church could not meet its payroll. At one point that summer, the main bank handling the Church accounts had only $20,000 on hand, less than three percent of its deposits. Banks officers reported that they could probably stay open only two more days.

Heber J. Grant, then a young member of the Council of the Twelve, was able to obtain financial assistance that kept the Church functioning.

Another interesting paper examined the impact on Missouri’s 1830–33 non-Mormon communities when the Saints began arriving. Thomas P. Dunning of Latrobe University, Melbourne, Australia, identified two effects: (1) the inhabitants had to articulate their self-image, now being challenged by the “outsiders,” and (2) they had to “admit their unacknowledged inner tensions.”

A paper by Douglas D. Alder of Utah State University examined a basic Latter-day Saint institution, the ward. It discussed the Mormon ward as a direct descendant of the Mormon village, that nineteenth-century community that fused “the sacred and the secular” and that still provides “instant communities” wherever they exist for Mormons newly arrived to the area or for new converts.

As part of his paper, Brother Alder traced the development of the ward from Nauvoo, where it was set up to oversee the temporal welfare of the people, to the current system of over 6,000 wards that now meet both temporal and spiritual needs.

Douglas F. Tobler of Brigham Young University’s History Department presented a “status report” of the Church in this epoch, which he termed “the age of the Universal Church.” He described it: “Immigration has ceased; colonies have been replaced by ‘multiple Zions’; conferences and leadership reflect a more cosmopolitan scene.”

“In short,” summarized Brother Tobler, “the long years in the wilderness of academic and international obscurity are drawing to a close, … giving way to a serious study of how and why Mormons in a modern world are different.”

He contrasted the vitality of the Church with the “well-known process of worldwide secularization” which has “successfully emptied cathedrals and souls,” Despite the problems and imperfections visible among Church members, Brother Tobler still sees “a sense of quiet confidence about the reality and efficacy of certain transcendent truths: that God does exist, that man has some kind of special relationship with him; that there is a timeless validity of his laws and Word; and that his larger will may be discerned in the prophetic voice.”