Texas Tornado: Saints Lose Homes But Gain Faith

The Wichita Falls, Texas, Second Ward was holding Primary that Tuesday afternoon when the warning came: tornado.

And the tornado that tore through the city on April 10 at 6:12 P.M. left 55 dead, 1,500 injured, and 25,000 homeless.

No members of the Church died in the disaster—in fact, the only injury among members was a broken arm sustained by one teenage member. However, twelve families in the Wichita Falls First Ward lost their homes. The occupants of three homes and two apartments in the Second Ward lost their residences.

“The weather was a little bad before we got to Primary,” says Sister Maxine Carmoney, wife of Second Ward Bishop Walter J. Carmoney, Jr. “The wind was blowing, and I thought to myself during opening exercises, ‘Sisters, let’s just go home.’” They didn’t go home, though. As the meeting progressed, the warning came that a tornado was on its way.

Residents of Wichita Falls are used to thinking of themselves as being in a tornado belt. But they didn’t expect a tornado to rip through the city.

The Primary children were kept inside as the tornado approached. Several adults watched with them. Sister Carmoney relates: “The tornado came within about a half-mile of the church, headed straight for us. Then it lifted and swerved. I was a personal witness.”

One of the homes destroyed as the tornado hit a residential area was that of Stake President Ralph E. Siebach of the Lawton Oklahoma Stake. He, like the others whose homes were hit, received help from Church members in storing salvaged belongings and finding housing.

Both bishops were busy after the tornado. First Ward Bishop George G. Maw lost his home in the tornado. Bishop Carmoney, a physician, spent the night of the tornado and the next two days (except for four hours of sleep) at the hospital, helping the injured. The counselors in both bishoprics gave hours of service in helping ward members and others.

Church members not only assisted other members, but they helped neighbors as well. The full-time missionaries spent the first few weeks after the disaster helping with the clean-up. Youth from the wards also helped, as did some families. Elders quorums worked on projects to help individual families.

Many Church members felt they had more than mortal help in coping with the tornado. Those attending the Primary meeting were glad the tornado came when it did. “If we had already left the building before the tornado came, we might have been in its path,” says Sister Carmoney.

Some members who felt impending danger were able to protect themselves and their families by taking precautions before the tornado hit.

Two Wichita Falls couples visiting in Provo, Utah, had faith in prayer strengthened through the disaster. At the time the tornado hit, they were beginning a session at the Provo Temple. Each later said he or she felt impressed to list several Wichita Falls people on the temple prayer list. Since none of those listed were people the couples had known to be having difficulty, the impressions were puzzling.

As they arrived back at the home of their hosts, they learned of the tornado. Some of those persons the couples had added to the prayer list were affected by the tornado.

Such incidents, says Bishop Carmoney, were common. Knowing that the Lord helped them through the disaster has helped them since, too. “Everything has been organized and well done. It’s a matter of cleaning and establishing new goals. And rebuilding some homes.

“Everybody has responded like a good Latter-day Saint should.”

The Sunday after the disaster was Easter. The two wards met in a combined sacrament service. President Seibach spoke on the hope of the Atonement and the Resurrection. He spoke of the need to reactivate inactive members, to do missionary work, to be a good neighbor.

One-third of Wichita Fall’s residents were being relocated in permanent housing; those in hospitals were healing; the community was cleaning up and rebuilding. But people were changed.

“It strengthened everybody concerned,” says Bishop Carmoney. “And it humbled them.”

Nine New Missions Announced

The creation of nine new missions was announced in March, bringing the total worldwide to 175.

The new missions are the Taiwan T’aichung, Philippines Quezon City, Korea Seoul West, Chile Vina del Mar, Brazil Recife, Venezuela Maracaibo, Puerto Rico San Juan, Mississippi Jackson, and Connecticut Hartford.

The Taiwan T‘aichung Mission was created from the Taiwan Taipei and Taiwan Kaohsiung missions. No stakes are in this new mission, located in an area of 5.4 million nonmembers and 1,882 members.

A division of the Philippines Manila Mission resulted in the new Philippines Quezon City Mission. It includes three stakes and covers an area of 16.1 million nonmembers and 10,236 members.

The Korea Seoul West Mission was formed from a division of the Korea Seoul Mission. The boundaries of the new mission include 14.7 million nonmembers, and 3,883 members in one stake.

The western part of the provinces of Atacama, Coquimbo, Aconcugua, and Valparaiso are in the new Chile Vina del Mar Mission. Some 1.9 million nonmembers and 9,100 members live in the area.

The new Recife Brazil Mission was formed with the division of the Rio de Janeiro Mission. No stakes are within the mission boundaries, which include 35 million nonmembers and 2,630 members.

The division of the Venezuela Caracas Mission resulted in the creation of the Venezuela Maracaibo Mission. Some 7.5 million nonmembers and 2,141 members live within mission boundaries. No stakes are in the mission.

The Puerto Rico San Juan Mission was formed from a division of the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission. The new mission includes the Dominican Republic, the Antilles Islands south to and including Granada, and Puerto Rico. Four languages—English, Spanish, French, and Dutch—are spoken in the mission, which has 9.6 million nonmembers and 1,892 members within its boundaries. The mission includes no stakes.

The division of the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission formed the Mississippi Jackson Mission, which includes northern Louisiana, a part of Arkansas, and most of Mississippi. Some 2.8 million nonmembers and 9,541 members live within the boundaries, which include three stakes.

Two missions were divided to form the new Connecticut Hartford Mission. Parts of the New York Rochester and the Massachusetts Boston missions are included in the new mission, which has a population of 5.5 million nonmembers, and 8,493 members in three stakes.

Additional Reader’s Digest Inserts Planned

The Church will publish four additional advertising inserts in the Reader’s Digest during 1979. Four were published in 1978.

The first in the 1979 series, “7 Keys to Mormonism,” deals more directly with Church doctrine than did the 1978 inserts. The Articles of Faith are included on the back cover.

The insert scheduled for the June issue uses the Word of Wisdom to explain revelation and prophets. The September insert explains the plan of salvation and genealogy work. The Savior is the focus of the insert in the December issue.

Readers can send for free copies of the previous inserts as well as for free tracts. A print of a nativity painting will be available at no cost with the December insert.

22 New Stakes Organized

Twenty-two new stakes were organized in the first three months of 1979—including the first stakes in Bolivia and Paraguay.

These stakes were organized from missions: Santa Cruz Bolivia, Cranbrook British Columbia, Mar del Plata Argentina, Nauvoo Illinois, Asuncion Paraguay, La Paz Bolivia, and Palmerston North New Zealand.

Stakes organized from existing stakes were Washington Utah, Spokane Washington North, Buenos Aires Argentina North, Salt Lake East Millcreek North, Ogden Utah Burch Creek, Milwaukie Oregon, San Nicolas Argentina, Santiago Chile San Bernardo, Tremonton Utah South, Wendell Idaho, Guayaquil Ecuador Centerario, Bogota Colombia Kennedy, Murray Utah North, Kaysville Utah South, and Walla Walla Washington.

The additions bring the number of total stakes in the Church to 1,012. The 1,000th stake organized was the Nauvoo Illinois Stake, organized February 18 by President Ezra Taft Benson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve. He also organized the first stakes in Bolivia and Paraguay.

Twenty-six new stakes were formed during the last quarter of 1978. During the first quarter of 1978, fifteen new stakes were formed.

Eleven Area Conferences Planned

A revised schedule for area conferences in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia has been announced by the First Presidency.

Eleven area conferences are scheduled for the second half of 1979, including several whose schedules have been revised since they were first announced in 1978.

The schedule consists of the following conferences, for the areas indicated:

Houston, Texas, June 23–24, in the Summit, for members in all regions and missions in Texas and in the Las Cruces New Mexico Stake.

Madison, Wisconsin, August 4–5, in the Coliseum, for members in the Chicago, Des Moines, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis regions and the Chicago, Minneapolis, and Des Moines missions.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Aug. 25–26, in the Maple Leaf Garden Center, for members in the Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto regions and Montreal and Toronto missions.

Washington, D.C., September 8–9, in the Capitol Center, for members in the Capitol, Potomac, Richmond, Roanoke, Philadelphia, and Gettysburg regions and Washington, D.C., Roanoke, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg missions.

Atlanta, Georgia, September 22–23, in the Civic Center; regions and missions involved will be announced later.

Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 20–21, in the Chrysler Arena; regions and missions involved will be announced later.

Los Angeles, California, May 1980; rescheduled from previously announced date of 17–18 November 1979.

Auckland, New Zealand, November 24–25, at Wellington Park, for members in the Christchurch and Wellington regions and missions.

Melbourne, Australia, November 28–29, at Dallas Brooks Hall, for members in the Melbourne and Tasmania regions and the Melbourne mission.

Adelaide, Australia, November 30, at the Apollo Basketball Stadium for members in the Adelaide and Perth regions and missions.

Sydney, Australia, December 1–2, in the Sydney Opera House, for members in the Brisbane and Sydney regions and missions.

LDS Scene

Ground for the New Jordan River Temple will be broken June 9. The ground breaking ceremony at the fifteen-acre temple site in South Jordan, Utah, will be held on Saturday, 9 June 1979. The temple site will be dedicated by President Spencer W. Kimball.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will give nine concerts in Japan in September. The choir will perform in Japan’s five largest cities—Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Kyoto—on their first tour to the Far East. The tour is sponsored by Chukyo TV Enterprises, Ltd., of Nagoya, Japan.

The tour schedule includes the following concerts:

September 5, Yokohama; September 6, Tokyo; September 7, Kyoto; September 8, Osaka; September 10, Nagoya; September 11–12, Tokyo. The choir will leave Salt Lake City September 2 and return September 13.

A former Arizona legislator has been named director of the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute at BYU. D. Delos Ellsworth of Provo, Utah, associate and acting director of the institute since its organization in 1975, has been named director. He succeeds Dr. Lowell D. Wood, now director of production and distribution for Church Welfare Services.

A lifetime of devotion and service was noted at the March 12 funeral service for Ida Jensen Romney. The wife of President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, died March 9 at her Salt Lake City home. The Romneys were married fifty-four years.

Rulon Christiansen of Ogden, Utah, is fourth in a series of guest organists at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. He is organist at Weber State College in Ogden and teaches organ and class piano. In 1973 he won the National Federation of Music Clubs organ competition.

Previous guest organists were Beverly Decker Adams, Gordon Johnston, and Elizabeth Forsyth.

A Church member in Metairie, Louisiana, has been named 1979 State Mother of Louisiana. Beulah Burgon, a Church organist and seminary teacher, will represent Louisiana at the national conference of the American Mothers Committee, Inc., in New York City in May. She and her husband, Clive M. Larson, are parents of three sons. She has been involved in volunteer work in her community.

The Relief Society Monument to Women in Nauvoo, Illinois, is getting a good overview, literally. The room in the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center overlooking the monument’s statuary park has, in the past, held a display regarding temples. The temple display is being moved to another part of the center, and the Relief Society room is being moved so that it overlooks the monument. Guides will use small bronze replicas of the statues in the monument to explain the park’s design.

A German member of the Church has been honored by the German government for distinguished service in public office. Kurt Koehle, sixty-five, received the Bundesverdienstkreuz Am Band, or federal merit cross and ribbon, for his twenty-five years in public office. He and his wife, Johanna Lehmann Koehle, are the only members of the Church in their community of Hilzingen, Germany. He has been a member of the city council for twenty-five years and a member of the Church for twenty-nine. He serves as a counselor in the Switzerland Zurich Mission.

Church members have again been reminded not to “keep those cards and letters coming.” The mail in question is letters that some Church members have sent to the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., in defense of maintaining religious broadcasts on radio and television in the United States. Although the writers of such letters are well-intentioned, there is no need for the letters. The FCC is not considering a ban on religious broadcasting—although rumors floating throughout religious groups in the United States have said such a ban has been considered. The response to several years of such rumors has been nine million pieces of mail.

“Love at Home” took to the streets recently in Melbourne, Australia. The song became the theme for a float which Church members sponsored in a parade viewed live by 900,000 persons and on television by an estimated three million.

The parade was part of Melbourne’s ten-day Moomba festival. (Moomba is an aboriginal word meaning “to get together for fun.”) The Church float—depicting a small frame home with a happy family in the back yard—was covered with thousands of handmade crepe flowers. Relief Society members in the Fairfield, Blackburn, and Footscray wards made the flowers. Two professional builders, Igor Maksymiou and Hugh Thornton, were assisted by other brethren from various wards in construction of the float.

The float traveled a one-and-one-half-mile parade route. The songs “I Am a Child of God” and “Love at Home” were played on loudspeakers as the float proceeded. Mutual youths from the Caulfield Ward distributed four thousand reprints of a recent Church Reader’s Digest insert to persons along the parade route.

[photo] The Melbourne “Love at Home” float on parade.

News of BYU

The Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus will have a new activities center by winter 1980. Officials have announced plans for a multipurpose center, which will include an arena for gatherings of up to 5,600, and facilities for physical education classes, injury treatment, offices, physiology laboratory, press room, and band practice rooms.

Dan W. Andersen, executive vice president of the institution, says the building will provide a much-needed facility for the 1,800 students, in addition to faculty and staff. The present university gymnasium seats less than 1,000, and the school auditorium seats 700. The building is planned for completion in time for the 1980–81 basketball season, which will be the third year the institution has competed in that sport.

The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum has a new director. Dr. Richard W. Baumann, a former associate curator of entomology at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., will replace the retiring Dr. Wilmer W. Tanner. Dr. Tanner will continue research and development activities.

Two educators have received the Sixth Annual Commissioner’s Research Fellowship Award for the 1979–80 academic year. Dr. Dillon K. Inouye, assistant professor in the College of Education at Brigham Young University, and Ruth Hammond Barrus, former head of the Humanities Department at Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho, received the awards for a year of research on specified projects. The awards were announced by Dr. Jeffrey R. Holland, commissioner of the Church Educational System.

Brigham Young University is ranked thirty-first-size-wise—among four-year colleges in the United States. The ranking comes from the 1979 American College Testing Program collegiate enrollment survey.

Church Policies and Announcements

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

“1. Increasing Demands upon the Time of General Authorities. Due to the growth of the Church and the ever-increasing demands upon the time of the General Authorities, the following policy has been adopted:

“a. Regional Representatives, stake presidents, members of general auxiliary boards, and other exemplary Latter-day Saints should generally be used as special speakers for youth and single adult firesides and conferences, rather than General Authorities.

“b. On those occasions when a particularly significant multi-stake event would be greatly enhanced by a General Authority speaker, the request should be cleared by the Executive Administrator and then submitted in writing by the responsible priesthood leader. All requests should be sent to the Office of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

“c. General Authorities are regularly assigned to visit stake conferences where they can instruct and come into contact with members of the Church in stakes and wards. Thus, there would be few additional instances where it would be desirable to invite a General Authority to speak at a stake or ward function.

“d. Youth groups are not encouraged to travel to Church headquarters, particularly from great distances. Groups who come should not request General Authorities to visit with them as a part of their tour.

“e. Renewed emphasis should be given by stake and ward leaders upon family togetherness by not planning excursions, tours, and youth conferences great distances from home stakes and wards. Often financial burdens upon parents are created by such outings.

“2. Nursery Program. A self-training nursery course has been prepared under the direction of the Relief Society, Primary, and Sunday School which will provide nursery learning experiences for children between the ages of eighteen months and five years. These materials are to be used in the Relief Society to enable mothers to attend their meetings, and in the Primary and Sunday School to care for the children of leaders and teachers while they carry out their responsibilities during Primary and Sunday School. These materials will take the place of any previously announced nursery program in the Church.

“This course contains principles of early child guidance and development that will be beneficial for both brethren and sisters for family and Church use.

“Complete instructions and resource materials are included in the following four items:

  1. "a.

    Guidebook (PCRS04D0): Basic instructions and guidelines for Church nurseries.

  2. "b.

    Workbook with Audio Cassette Tape (PCRS04E1): Self-training for nursery leaders.

  3. "c.

    Resource Book (PCRS94B9): Stories, music, art activities, visual aids, and other materials.

  4. "d.

    Filmstrip with Audio Cassette Tape (VVOF2795): “To Touch a Child’s Life”—overall view of procedures in model nurseries.

“A complimentary sample kit will be sent to each stake and district. General Church Distribution order forms will be included with this mailing.

“3. Overnight Camping for Eleven-year-old Scouts. Approval has been given for two overnight camping experiences each year for eleven-year-old Scouts in the Church to help them meet Scouting requirements. Each eleven-year-old Scout participating in an overnight camping experience should have had an opportunity to learn and practice the required skills before the campout. The campouts should be organized under the leadership of the bishopric adviser upon request and with counsel from the Primary president and the Blazer Scout leader. Because these Scouts are a patrol of the troop, Scoutmasters should be invited to participate even though the, older Scouts might not be involved. Fathers should be invited and encouraged to participate with their sons and with other boys who have no available fathers. Women leaders will not participate in the overnight experiences.

Ten-year-old Cub Scouts. Cub Scouting (BSA) has an award called Arrow of Light which requires that a boy who earns the award must participate in a Webelos fathers and sons overnight or day hike. It is recommended that a day hike be planned to help ten-year-old boys complete this requirement. However, with approval of the bishopric and Cubmaster, the Webelos leader may plan a fathers and sons overnight outing to help meet this requirement. If the Webelos leader is a woman (which is possible in LDS dens), any overnight outing should be organized under the leadership of the Cubmaster with counsel from the Webelos leader, but women leaders will not participate in the actual overnight experience.”

C. C. A. Christensen and the Mormon Panorama

The remarkable series of historical paintings which make up the Mormon Panorama were the work of one man, himself something of a wonder, Carl Christian Anton Christensen (1831–1912). A pioneer in central Utah’s arid Sanpete Valley, he found time to do three complete panoramas on historical and religious subjects, murals, easel paintings, poetry, journalism, missionary work, and church and community service.

Christensen’s life story reads like a nineteenth century classic. Born in Copenhagen, he grew up in a boarding school for orphans where three patronesses sponsored him at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. At age nineteen, while working as an apprentice painter, his life changed again when he met missionaries, joined the Church, and immigrated to Utah with his Norwegian bride, pulling their possessions in a handcart for the last 1300 miles.

The idea of illustrating lectures with paintings on long scrolls apparently came to Christensen in the 1870s; the Mormon Panorama, the only surviving series, consisted of twenty-three scenes based on interviews with eyewitnesses.

Beginning in 1878, for more than a decade he and his brother would load the 175-foot scroll into their wagons and tour Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, presenting the lecture while an assistant cranked the scroll up to the correct scene. Brigham Young University acquired the Panorama in the early 1950s (though the first scene had been lost or destroyed). The panorama came to national prominence in 1970 with a showing at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art and a special issue of Art in America. It has since been displayed in many American art museums.

In 1879, Christensen expressed his special sense of mission: “I can now see that the hand of the Lord is in all this, and I only wonder why I did not begin twenty years earlier. … History will preserve much, but art alone can make the narration of the suffering of the Saints comprehensible for the following generation.”—Paul L. Anderson and Richard Jensen, Church Historical Department.