News of the Church

New Nauvoo Stake—Number 1,000—Marks Growth of the Church

When the original Nauvoo Illinois Stake was formed in 1839, it was only the fourth in the Church. Although that stake was dissolved by 1846 when the Saints trekked westward, the Nauvoo Stake is making history again. Newly formed, it has become the 1,000th stake in the Church.

President Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, conducted the Nauvoo Illinois Stake organization February 17–18. More than 1,000 people—including Church leaders, former mission presidents in the area, former missionaries, and friends of Nauvoo’s restoration projects—attended the stake organization.

Meetings were held in the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center. A platform was built over the central desk area, and eight hundred chairs were set up surrounding it on the main level. The proceedings were carried by closed-circuit television to the two theaters in the visitors’ center.

The former district presidency over the Nauvoo area became the presidency of the new stake. Sustained as president was Gene Lee Roy Mann of Quincy, Illinois, with counselors Parley Edgar Holliday of Nauvoo and Melvin Lee Norton of Burlington, Iowa. The branches in the district became wards in the new stake; bishops were sustained. The new bishop of the Nauvoo Ward is Walter H. Pierce, also mayor of Nauvoo.

With several feet of snow on the ground, members of the Church in Nauvoo did more than roll out a red carpet for the visitors—they cleared snow and threw salt on walkways. A warm spell had melted some snow into slush, which later froze into ice on streets and sidewalks.

Undaunted by the weather, the members of the stake and their out-of-town visitors, both members and nonmembers, participated in a full day of activities February 18, including the stake conference, a dinner at the Nauvoo meetinghouse, a meeting for missionaries in the area, and sacrament meeting.

The formation of the stake was given generous coverage in the Burlington newspaper and on Quincy television stations. Of course, the stake formation was not only a landmark for Nauvoo, but also for the Church.

President Benson reflected on the growth of the Church since his great-grandfather, Ezra T. Benson, evacuated from Nauvoo, leaving a “good brick house” he could not sell, and borrowing a wagon and horses to accompany Brigham Young in the first company west. Brother Benson traded his wife’s shawl for about two hundred pounds of flour, a few bushels of Indian cornmeal, twelve pounds of sugar, and some bedding and clothing.

Both of Ezra T. Benson’s two wives were pregnant as they left Nauvoo in February 1846. One baby was born with only a tent to cover the mother and child, and the other—President Benson’s grandfather, George Taft Benson—was born on the trail in a wagon box at Garden Grove, Iowa.

The Bensons were among thousands who had built up Nauvoo between 1839 and 1846, when the Mormons settled the town of Commerce and renamed it. “Nauvoo, as the name implies, became a place of beauty,” said President Benson. “It was a city set on a hill which was not hid from the world. Symbolically, it gave the western frontier a light to follow by way of educational development, industry, and community planning.

“But it was in the religious realm where Church membership provided an example to their neighboring communities. This was demonstrated by their unswerving loyalty to the Prophet Joseph Smith, him whom God had appointed as prophet of this dispensation, and their sacrifice and dedication of time, talents, and lives.

“The temple, erected by the consecrated time and energies of the Saints, became a symbol of their industry as well as their religious faith.”

The new stake is considerably different from the one in Nauvoo in the 1800s. Leadership responsibilities, meetings, and circumstances have changed.

When the Nauvoo Stake was organized 5 October 1839, the Saints met twice every Sunday as a stake. Meetings were held in a grove, with the West Grove, west of the temple site, the most common meeting place. Those attending stood, or sat on horses, in wagons, on bleachers or stumps. On Sunday evenings Saints met in homes for a fireside sacrament meeting.

At its height, Nauvoo had about 12,000 residents. When the original stake was created, about 3,000 people lived there.

Although the city of Nauvoo was at first divided into four wards and then into ten, with a ward and two districts outside the city, members did not meet in wards as they do now. A bishop from each ward or district was responsible for the care of the poor and needy, but generally did not organize ward meetings.

The original Nauvoo Stake high council also functioned differently than will the high council of the new Nauvoo Stake. Meeting weekly, the council acted from October 1839 to February 1841 as the government of Nauvoo. It was responsible for setting ferry rates and issuing licenses for schools and mills. Later, in Winter Quarters, the council again acted as a municipal government.

The high council heard cases on Church disciplinary action and was thought to be an appellate court for other high councils and branches in the area.

While those things have changed, the new stake faces as many opportunities and challenges as did the earlier Saints. “The new Nauvoo Stake must arise now and shine—and demonstrate faith and dedication,” President Benson said.

He quoted D&C 115:5–6: “Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;

“And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from the wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.”

President Benson explained, “This stake will now be a refuge from the difficulties which lie ahead, some of which will be more serious than we imagine.” He assured stake members that the Lord is mindful of their progress. “As you keep his commandments, he will bless and protect you from some of the evils of our times.”

With the formation of the Nauvoo Stake, membership in the Church worldwide is about 4.2 million. When the first Nauvoo Stake was formed, the Church had 20,000 members, many of them in England. The 500th stake of the Church was organized in 1970—which means that the Church has doubled its number of stakes in nine years.

The 900th stake was organized 19 March 1978 in Cedar City, Utah—thus the last one hundred stakes were formed in only eleven months. Ninety-eight years passed before the Church had its first one hundred stakes. It was another twenty-four years before the 200th stake was formed.

The first stake of the Church was organized in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1834, after members of the Church moved from western New York, where the Restoration began. Two stakes were organized during the Saints’ brief stay in Missouri—and then the first Nauvoo Stake was formed.

The new Nauvoo stake includes nearly 2,000 members in congregations in Nauvoo, Quincy, Macomb, Canton, Galesburg, and Kewanee, Illinois; Burlington, Iowa; and Hannibal, Missouri. All except the Hannibal congregation were part of the Iowa Des Moines Mission. Hannibal was in the Columbia Missouri Stake.

President Benson’s trip to Nauvoo was the first leg of a journey to Paraguay, where he organized the first stake of the Church in that country. He also met with leaders and members in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile.

[photo] More than 1,000 members and guests gathered at the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center for the stake organization. (Photography by Jed A. Clark.)

[photo] President and Sister Ezra Taft Benson and the new Nauvoo Illinois Stake presidency—Parley Holliday, first counselor; Gene Lee Roy Mann, president; and Melvin Norton, second counselor.

First Paraguayan Stake Organized

The first stake of the Church in the tropical Latin American country of Paraguay was organized February 25.

President Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, presided and spoke at the organization of the Asuncion Paraguay Stake. Some 3,000 members of the Church live within the country, with more than 2,000 in Asuncion, the capital city. The stake was formed from eleven branches. One district remains under mission direction.

The Church in Paraguay has baptized record numbers of converts since the Paraguay Asuncion Mission opened in June 1977. For the three years prior to the opening of the mission, while the country was in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission, an average of 211 persons were baptized per year. In the first full year of the Paraguayan mission, 400 converts were baptized. Within the next six months, 269 were baptized.

The 80 missionaries in Paraguay, some one-third of whom are Latin Americans, are meeting the challenge of teaching a bilingual people. People living in Asuncion speak Spanish, but the further they live from Asuncion, the more likely they are to speak Guarani, an Indian language. In the country’s interior, some people know only Guarani—“so to reach the masses of the country, we’ll have to know Guarani,” says Mission President Mearl K. Bair. The missionary lessons are being translated into Guarani by Paraguayan Saints.

Members of the Church in Paraguay have been preparing for the organization of the stake. Through an extensive building program, each of the eleven branches that became wards either had “a nice building” constructed or had one in some phase of construction or planning. “All will be well housed in the very near future,” says President Bair.

This is not the only sacrifice the Paraguayan Saints, “a humble, spiritual people,” has made. They exceeded their quota for donations to the Sao Paulo, Brazil, temple fund, and many sacrificed to attend the temple dedication and area conference in 1978. Now, “they sacrifice greatly to attend the temple and to send their missionaries on missions,” says President Bair.

Members in Paraguay participate in a full range of Church programs, including Primary, Relief Society, seminary, and institute. “Quite a number of people have had their patriarchal blessings,” says President Bair. “I feel they have been well prepared to become a stake.”

Coping with Change Themes Conference

Elaine Cannon, general Church president of the Young Women, commented, “There’s great wisdom in forcing ourselves to think about the realities of change. And coping with change is the challenge.” She was keynoting BYU’s Fourth Annual Women’s Conference, “Challenges in Change.”

During the next three days some of those challenges were outlined—death, divorce, the empty nest before and after children, careers, education, living in the world without becoming part of it, dealing with the ideal, adjusting to return from a mission, and parenting with or without partners.

Max and Donna Clark, parents of eleven children, spoke about the great education that parenthood represents, while Sandra Covey shared some of the things she and her husband Stephen do to help their children feel excited about learning. A dinner-table centerpiece from another country can spark a vigorous discussion on that country. “Season tickets to plays and concerts in a university community are available at a fraction of Broadway prices,” she noted. Their children set their own goals a couple of times a year. She and her husband squeezed in a philosophy class together.

Emma Lou Thayne, a writer and mother of five, urged women to think “beyond children and calamity” in planning their own education. Education gives you other senses in addition to the usual five, she claimed, and enumerated a sense of history (“history is human weather”), a sense of humor (“we have to savor some silliness”), a sense of proportion, and a sense of immediacy.

Grethe Ballif Peterson teamed with Leona Holbrook, professor emeritus of physical education at BYU, and David S. King, former congressman, ambassador, and Washington D.C. attorney, to discuss “LDS People: In the World.”

All three stressed the respect other people gave their values when they themselves took them seriously—values of family life, commitment, education, justice, and excellence.

Commenting on her family’s experience in the Church in New England, Sister Peterson said, “Our children were needed. My son was one of three priests, my daughter one of two Laurels, and they had marvelous experiences with their advisers. They were probably the only Mormons their friends had ever known. At an early age they had to know who they were and what they stood for. Of course, they shared many similarities with their friends; but the differences and similarities came together to give them a kind of self-confidence I didn’t have at their age.”

Mary Bishop, a young Relief Society president, addressed the problem of childlessness, the subject of a later panel as well. “Sometimes I used to feel picked on because I didn’t have a baby yet. But this experience has made me less critical of others, less apt to jump to conclusions using only myself as a standard.”

Belle S. Spafford, former general president of the Relief Society, commented on the “empty nest syndrome.”

Wallace F. Bennett, retired senator from Utah, quipped, “Our children didn’t leave us; we left them to go to Washington,” and termed “membership in the Church the finest resource of all.”

The careers seminar touched on the important role of volunteer service for community organizations, the kinds of stereotypes career women and homemakers sometimes have of each other, and some hard facts about “the real world of inflation and taxes.” For instance, pointed out Robert F. Bohn of BYU’s Family Resource Management Department, if current U.S. inflation rates continue, it will cost United States members $1,000 a month to support a missionary in the field in twenty years. Maren Mouritsen, BYU’s assistant dean of student life, noted that “Seventy-two percent of LDS women will be single at some point of their adult life—never-married, divorced, or widowed.”

A panel of six widows, widowers, and divorced women bore sometimes emotional testimonies about how the Holy Ghost and the loving support of friends and family give us power to survive wrenching grief, rejection, and loss of identity.

Summarizing some themes of the conference, Lowell L. Bennion, administrator of Salt Lake Community Services Council, pointed out, “Change is a good thing if it doesn’t undermine your stability. It can be synonymous with creativity. The way to cope with change is to find things that don’t change on which to anchor your life—intelligence, creativity, integrity, love and faith.”

People Around the World “Meet the Mormons”—in Their Own Language

It started in Canada, spread to Great Britain, jumped around the globe to Korea and the Philippines, and is coming to Spain, Italy, and Argentina.

In each of those countries, the Church has produced or is producing a film about the members of the Church—based on the people, the culture, and the experiences of the members of the Church in that country.

The first film, Takin’ Care, was filmed in Canada by Karl Konnry and shown to Canadians. The second, Mormons: Fact and Fantasy, was filmed in Britain and produced in Canada. It is designed to be shown on television, in theaters, and in Church open houses in Great Britain and other parts of the English-speaking world. Recently the thirty-minute motion picture won second place of sixty-three entries in the Canadian International Film Festival competition.

Mormons: Fact and Fantasy features British Saints in their family and Church settings. Informative—and accurate—doctrinal explanations are made by Lord Thomson of Fleet and Bishop Canon Bates, head of the Liverpool Cathedral, neither of whom are members of the Church.

“We tried to make an honest, uncontrived documentary without resorting to the negative, says John G. Kinnear, director of broadcasting and films for the Church’s Public Communications Department. “The film was a straight-forward approach, designed to get broadcaster acceptance.”

The strength of the film, he says, is in its spontaneity and honesty. In fact, those are the strengths of similar films that have been produced in Korea and the Philippines.

The Korean film, The Mormons: People of Confidence and Joy, was produced by Universal Studios. It moves at a slower pace than the British or Philippine film, but it is equally effective in its message. It, like the British film, shows members of the Church involved in family and professional life. It explains teachings of the Church that help members build happy lives.

The Philippine film, The Mormons, also produced by Universal Studios, takes the viewer from a Philippine Church welfare farm through the numerous activities of Church members.

Similar films are in process about the Church members in Spain, Italy, and Argentina. “We hope over the next three years to cover all the key areas of the earth,” Brother Kinnear says.

The films are all documentary in format, designed for marketing internationally to television stations. Even if the films are not shown, they have proven effective in motivating broadcasters to produce other television programs about the Church. They also orient and educate international broadcasters who might otherwise inadvertently contribute to erroneous concepts about the Church presented to their audiences.

The motion pictures are also used, following television marketing, in nonbroadcast situations such as open houses, firesides, and other nonmember presentations. They also can be used by missionaries.

Of course, they are designed—frequently, with non-Mormon in-put—to tell nonmembers about the Church in their own country. “In this sense, they are produced for the external audience,” Brother Kinnear says. “But if you produce something that is good communication for the external audience, it will often be appreciated by the internal audience as well.”

LDS Scene

The renovated Logan temple has been opened for public tours for a month prior to its March 13–15 rededication. An annex was added, and the building was completely refinished inside, with a new electrical system, fire sprinkling system, new heating and air conditioning system, and new furnishings.

A temporary visitors’ center for those visiting the temple prior to its rededication was set up by members of the seventies quorums of the Logan area stakes.

The capacity of the temple has been increased seventy-five percent with the remodeling. Some trees were removed to expand parking facilities and twice as many trees were planted to enhance the grounds.

The temple’s major rooms include four ordinance rooms, a celestial room, eleven sealing rooms, a chapel, a baptistry, and a priesthood room. The annex includes a chapel, 924 lockers for patrons, laundry facilities, a cafeteria, and offices for the temple presidency, recorder, and matron.

The original stone of the temple exterior was cleaned and repaired.

A fifth Church-sponsored advertising insert is being published in the April Reader’s Digest. The insert—“Seven Beliefs That Make a Mormon”—concentrates on doctrines of the Church more than the previous four booklets did. The last page of the insert contains the Articles of Faith written by Joseph Smith.

Alexander Schreiner, retired Tabernacle Organist, plans to help the University of California at Los Angeles celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. Brother Schreiner, who retired in 1978 after nearly fifty-four years as Tabernacle organist, will play a recital May 20 at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. He started as an organist there in 1929 and played the organ at UCLA for nine years.

[photo] The celestial room in remodeled Logan Temple. (Photography by Eldon Linschoten.)

News of BYU

The topic was the Doctrine and Covenants, but the testimonies were of Joseph Smith. More than 1,500 teachers and students of the gospel attended the seventh annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium on the Scriptures in January at Brigham Young University. And although the topic was “Understanding the Doctrine & Covenants,” a main theme pervading all sessions was a unified testimony of the verity and import of the Prophet Joseph Smith, through whom most of the D&C revelations were given. Many of the eighteen papers presented were on detailed aspects of the D&C.

Featured speakers were Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve, Church Commissioner of Education Jeffrey R. Holland, and Robert J. Matthews, chairman of Ancient Scripture in BYU’s Religious Instruction Department.

Elder McConkie explained that “singled out from among the hosts of heaven were certain who were foreordained to be the heads of dispensations— … and all the seers, and all the administrators, and all the apostles of that period are a reflection and an exponent of what came through the dispensation head.

“What this means is that the head of the gospel dispensation stands as one of the ten or twenty greatest spirits who have so far been born on earth—ones who had special spiritual talents and capacities to come to earth in periods of turmoil and wickedness, and rebellion and evil, to be lights and guides to the world.

“Now this gives us a little perspective on what is involved in the life and status and position of Joseph Smith.”

BYU has given the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare input on proposed interpretations of Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments. BYU sent comments to the department’s Civil Rights Office in February, responding to an HEW request that educational institutions across the nation give input on the application of Title IX.

The BYU comments stated that Title IX should not be interpreted to authorize HEW to regulate intercollegiate athletics. BYU President Dallin H. Oaks said the university was commenting because of the threat such a policy could be to higher education.

He said that BYU has a large, thriving athletic program for both men and women and neither practices nor tolerates prejudice against women, minorities, or others. The university expressed concern that HEW was attempting to go beyond its regulatory powers.

The David O. McKay Building, remodeled and enlarged, was rededicated in January. President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, who also served as a counselor under President McKay, gave the dedicatory prayer.

Tuition at Brigham Young University will be raised seven percent this fall to help offset rapidly rising operational costs. BYU President Dallin H. Oaks announced the increase in December, explaining that the increase is proportionately less than the increased cost of operating the university. The new rates go into effect in fall 1979.

The increase in tuition for students who are members of the Church will be from $420 to $450 per semester for undergraduates; $470 to $500 for advanced standing; $770 to $825 for law school; and $600 to $645 for the Graduate School of Management. Tuition for spring and summer terms will be half the fall semester rate. Non-Latter-day Saint students pay fifty percent higher tuition in each category.