News of the Church


Eastern Canadian Saints Recommit at Toronto

It was a time for firsts, not only the first area conference in Canada—at Toronto, the “New York of the North”—but also the first visit between a president of the Church and Canada’s chief officials.

In less than twenty-four hours, President Kimball and his official party had met Prime Minister Joe Clark, Governor General Edward R. Schreyer, and Ontario’s Premier William G. Davis, presenting them with copies of the Triple Combination and bound volumes of information on their family lines.

Meanwhile, Relief Society General President Barbara B. Smith and Young Women General President Elaine Cannon hosted Her Honor Pauline McGibbon, the lieutenant governor of Ontario, and The Honorable Margaret Birch, Ontario’s provincial secretary of social services.

In a Sunday morning address to 8,259 assembled members and guests, President Kimball’s central subject was tithing. “The earth is the Lord’s,” he reminded the members. He told of one acquaintance who boasted of his land and cattle yet went to a grave which was only “the length of a tall man, the width of a heavy one.” Another friend, he said, refused to acknowledge God as his partner in a flourishing orchard business. A third man’s palatial home stood proud and impregnable until a tidal wave came. “As the great sea murmured and went back to its place, only a concrete floor marked where it had stood.”

President Kimball blessed the members and assured them of his love. The Saints fully reciprocated that love, spontaneously interrupting the prelude music with “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.”

Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve, glowing with pleasure at being back in eastern Canada where he had presided over the mission in 1960, when the first stake was organized, and presided at the organization of each of the five successive stakes, reminisced about experiences in Toronto, including the organization of that first stake, attended by 94.6 percent of the membership. He urged the Saints to “qualify to be honored of the Lord” and especially encouraged them to share the gospel with their families. He underlined the “uniqueness” brought to eastern Canada by its colonies of Ukranian, Rumanian, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian people. “I’m simple enough to believe that you came here to embrace the gospel and be benefitted by its teachings.” He recalled meeting a brother in Sydney, Australia, who claimed to be the only Estonian member of the Church. “So I told him about Hans Peets, the Estonian patriarch in Montreal. It turned out that the two men had been in the same Scout troop years before in Estonia.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a former mission president of the area, extended the Saints’ love and appreciation to President Kimball. “You probably didn’t see it, President,” he said, “but many wept tears of joy just to see you.”

He commended the Ontario Saints and urged them, “Let us not let down in any way our great prophet and the great priesthood leaders that have been called to preside over us. Let us not let down in any way the Lord. … Let us continue to stretch, to reach out, to sacrifice that the kingdom may go forth.”

Maple Leaf Gardens, the setting for the area conference, had its hockey floor carpeted in blue for the event, its stage decked with sheafs of gladioli and mounds of carnations and chrysanthemums. All speeches were given in English. Some prayers and hymn verses were in French. All addresses were translated into French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and Spanish, with a pool of about twenty missionaries and members providing simultaneous translation.

Deaf members seated together received the message by signing. The approximately 1,000-voice choir, directed by Sister Hazel McLaren, was one of the conference highlights, with its crisp articulation, brisk tempo, and powerful organ accompaniment. Dressed in blue shirts and homemade blue dresses, the choir members had been rehearsing twice weekly since March.

During the afternoon session, President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency and a former Canadian, bore a strong testimony of President Kimball: “We know we have a prophet in our midst. And I hope we appreciate it. If the whole of the Toronto area believed we had a prophet, there wouldn’t be a building large enough to accommodate the meeting. But we know, and how fortunate we are to know!”

Elder Charles Didier, newly appointed executive administrator for the area, called the conference “a launching platform to give the members energy to follow Jesus Christ.” “We must make a decision now,” he challenged them, “while we are in the presence of the prophet. When we are alone, tired, tempted, the decision will be much harder.”

Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve urged members to “stand and be counted” and recalled a “critical crossroads” in his own life when as a private in the military, wishing to become an officer so that he and his sweetheart, now his wife, could be married, he faced a board of inquiry which included a hard-bitten career soldier. The questions focused not on his military expertise but on his personal values. Did he pray? Did he think an officer should pray? Under the stress of battle could the moral code be relaxed?

Despite the temptation to “give noncontroversial answers,” Elder Faust expressed his real feelings and “left, resigned to a low score.” To his “complete surprise,” when the scores were posted he had received ninety-five percent.

President Kimball encouraged the 3,488 mothers and daughters in their session to keep journals, citing the careful record kept by “my darling wife” of her activities and the value of the “many little booklets” of his mother, an important record for him after her death when he was eleven. “Sisters, we’ve come a long way to tell you we love you and appreciate you for all you do to carry forward the program.”

President Tanner spoke glowingly of the great women in his life, including a public tribute to his own wife, Sara. “You can be sure that where we have great men we have great mothers,” he said. “Regardless of what any woman has done outside the home, no one will have a greater reward in heaven than those faithful, devoted mothers who helped their children know God and Jesus Christ, his Son, and live according to the teachings of the gospel.”

Elder Faust addressed his remarks to single women, emphasizing the “potential and horizons” rather than the supposed limitations. He cautioned, “It is a mistake to think that life begins only upon marriage,” and instead reminded them of the blessings of “daily selfless service.” He reassured single adults that “they are on an equal footing with all others in terms of their ability to keep the two great commandments: that is, to love God and to love their fellowman.”

Saturday evening 2,249 fathers and sons listened attentively as Elder Monson urged them first not to stumble in the race of life and then “to lift those who do stumble from their fallen position and to assist them that they might once again qualify for that eternal prize, even eternal life.”

Elder Didier stressed another priesthood responsibility, missionary work: “Our results should show baptisms in our wards and branches every week,” he said, counseling members to focus on “desired results rather than on programs. … Without the desire for baptisms in our heart, we will have no baptisms in our wards.”

Addressing the priesthood session, President Kimball encouraged fathers to give their children father’s blessings, “blessings that could include a mission for every son and for every daughter, if she wishes to go, and that include temple marriage for each child.” He also encouraged parents to put pictures in their children’s rooms of “the temple where it is most convenient to visit” and of missionary work.

The Saints also heard addresses from Sister Smith, Sister Cannon, Regional Representative Elden C. Olsen, and presidents Gerard Pelchat of the Quebec Ontario Stake and Harold Crookell of the London Ontario Stake.

President Kimball’s closing remarks stressed his “deep-seated affection and love” for the people “and our thanks for your coming.” He bore testimony and blessed the people “to find the truth in every matter and to honor it.”

The audience joined in a wholehearted last verse of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” then weeping, waved goodbye to President Kimball, who took out his handkerchief and responded during “God Be with You.”

After the official party left the stand, the choir applauded their indomitable director, Sister Hazel McLaren, who tried to hush them, but the audience joined in enthusiastically.

The conference took place against a backdrop of 147 years of Church work in Canada. Missionaries came to Canada in 1832. In Toronto in 1836 Parley P. Pratt baptized John Taylor, later third president of the Church. In 1905 there were 2,800 Mormons in Canada. In 1979 there are 75,000. There are now approximately 38,000 members in Alberta, 17,000 in Ontario and Quebec, and 14,000 in British Columbia.

Over 8,000 Saints attend the Toronto Area Conference at Maple Leaf Gardens. (Photography by Michael Carter.)

Madison Area Conference Uplifts Midwestern U.S. Saints

Built along the shores of four lakes, it’s a city of graceful sailboats, tempting lawns, and noisy commerce. The state capital building, hub of the town, sends out streets in all directions. Except for the lush green beauty of its setting, Madison, Wisconsin, seems comfortably like any other American city its size.

But for two August days Madison became a city of Saints, temporarily swelling its usual 785 Church members to over 13,000. And for them, the hub on August 4 and 5 was the Dane County Coliseum, site of the second area conference held in the continental United States.

The number of wards and branches represented in the city that weekend also grew—from 2 to 110. Saints came from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. Since members of the Church in this area usually get only one session of general conference on television, attending six to eight hours of major conference sessions and listening to six General Authorities and two general auxiliary presidents was a new—and exciting—experience, in spite of a summer thunderstorm during the conference weekend.

President Spencer W. Kimball, still resting under doctor’s orders, was unable to attend. But he sent Presidents N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney, his two counselors, in his place.

President Tanner, who presided at all sessions, spoke Sunday morning in a narrative style about what the Church has meant in his life. He told of his great-great-grandfather’s conversion in 1832, of the lessons of spirituality and integrity that his father taught him, and of the many times in his life when obedience to those lessons paid off.

“It’s so important,” he concluded, “that wherever we are, whoever we are, and whatever we’re doing, we realize that we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People are watching us, and their lives will be influenced for or against the teachings of the Church and the Church itself.” That afternoon he encouraged each person to “take the spirit of the messages back to those who were not able to attend and also to your neighbors by the way you improve in your actions. Without fear, live the gospel in every way you should.”

In the priesthood session Saturday night, he explained the administration, functions, and operation of the Church on the general Church level.

President Marion G. Romney challenged the women in the mothers and daughters session to follow the example of Mother Eve in five specific areas: “(1) she labored with her husband, (2) she fulfilled her mission to multiply and replenish the earth, (3) she prayed with her husband, (4) she learned, understood, and appreciated the gospel of Jesus Christ, and (5) with her husband, she taught her children.”

Sunday afternoon President Romney spoke about the importance of prayer and the spirit that should accompany it. Besides using the scriptures to illustrate his theme, he also told some personal stories of struggles, accompanied by fasting and prayer over long periods of time, to communicate with the Lord through prayer. “I do not base my knowledge of prayer solely upon the scriptures,” he said. “My knowledge that prayer is an active, moving, vital force by which we may communicate with God I have received from my own experiences. I know that prayer is the pathway to God, for I have pursued that path, and I have found him.”

Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve discussed with the priesthood brethren the three parts of the Lord’s commandment to “love thy wife with all thy heart,” to “cleave unto her” and “none else” (D&C 42:22). “Have you been married long enough so that you are no longer thrilled with your wife?” he asked. “Have you allowed some of your affection to wane?” If that is the case, he urged, “repent on this score and woo her and love her all over again—and win her back and let her win back your affection. As Latter-day Saint men holding the holy priesthood, we have no right to allow the affection for our wives to cool.”

Elder Petersen explained that there is only one other commandment to love someone with all our heart: the commandment to love the Lord. “Doesn’t this give some idea of the importance the Lord places on this commandment?” he asked.

In the general session Sunday morning, he spoke with urgency on the important role of parents—especially of mothers—in the home, and of the danger involved in delegating that work to others.

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve told mothers and daughters that “we now move into a generation when the challenge will center on the role of women.” Counseling parents to “keep their girls feminine,” and women leaders to provide the girls some activities that are “exclusively feminine,” he said: “It is against their nature to be like men.” He explained that “there are some things that women by nature can do so much better than men” and that “there are some spiritual virtues that women must protect for men, or grave will be the cost.” He urged the mothers and daughters to develop “the delicate, tender, quiet, reverent, soft things in life that are more a part of the feminine nature.”

Sunday afternoon he explained to the congregation—saddened at President Kimball’s absence—the principle of delegation of authority. Where the Lord or his servants cannot go, they send, he reminded them, and although it was natural to greatly miss the prophet, all of the power and inspiration that should be at the conference was, indeed, there.

Elder Bernard P. Brockbank of the First Quorum of the Seventy told the priesthood brethren that repentance is a commandment that we should continually bring into our lives. “When did you last use it?” he asked.

Sunday afternoon, he used the Lord’s Prayer to illustrate correct principles of how to pray and what to pray for. And he cautioned: “Answers to prayer come from keeping God’s commandments.”

Bishop Victor L. Brown, Presiding Bishop of the Church, expressed his joy Sunday morning at being back in the Midwest, where he lived until he was called as a General Authority eighteen years earlier. Telling several experiences of the faithfulness of members in paying tithes and offerings, he encouraged all Saints to faithfully observe that commandment—and to actually believe that the Lord will open the windows of heaven unto them.

He spoke to the mothers and daughters about the vital influence biblical women have had on the destiny of mankind. “Women today are equally valued,” he said. “It is important that we create the kind of home into which the Lord would be pleased to have a prophet born.”

Sister Barbara B. Smith, general president of the Relief Society, told the women that the Lord “considers us capable and worthy to be personally accountable for what we do with our lives.” Relief Society, she said, is to help women apply gospel principles, especially those of love, compassionate service, and learning, in their lives. It also gives them the opportunity to assist in the building of the Lord’s kingdom. And it exists “to help women achieve excellence in their homes, whether they be married or single.”

Sister Elaine Cannon, general president of the Young Women, said that women of the Church must have proper perspective. “We have one chance on earth,” she said. “To live our lives in a confused fashion is foolishness. Our Heavenly Father, who gave us life, gave us principles to live it by. Right perspective brings adequate performance; right perspective assures hope of exaltation.”

Two Regional Representatives, two stake presidents, and Francis M. Gibbons, secretary to the First Presidency, also spoke.

A 375-voice women’s choir, a 250-voice men’s choir, and a 625-voice combined choir enhanced the spirit of the sessions with beautiful, sensitive arrangements of favorite Latter-day Saint hymns.

There was a section for deaf members, translation for Spanish and Korean groups, audio/visual transmission of the conference into spacious cry rooms, and curtained-off nursing rooms (with bottle warmers!). Over seven hundred missionaries from four missions enjoyed a meeting with the General Authorities earlier Saturday morning.

Responses to the conference by lifetime members, recent converts, and nonmembers investigating the Church were similar: the people were grateful to hear from so many General Authorities, inspired by the messages, excited to mingle with so many Church members, impressed with the power and the spirit that attended the conference.

And they knew they’d remember those two days in Madison for a long time.

Photography by John Nutter

The Madison, Wisconsin, area conference congregation joins in a hymn.

Translation facilities assist Saints attending the Madison area conference.

Over 13,000 attend the area conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

BYU’s Young Ambassadors Delight Thousands in China

The message was love, sprinkled with Mandarin. And the response was remarkable.

When twenty Brigham Young University performers traveled to China in July, they took 1,000 pounds of lighting equipment and a message of brotherhood. They went on faith, without a schedule of performances. But when the two-week Chinese segment of their four-week tour was over, their preparation and goodwill had taken them before some 17,000 Chinese people.

From the BYU Young Ambassadors’ arrival in China July 3 to their departure July 16, they performed in major halls in Peking, Shanghai, Hangchow, and Canton. They staged nine formal shows and numerous informal, impromptu performances. Millions may hear the group through radio broadcasts of their show, taped by radio stations in four cities.

Long hours of study and rehearsal began weeks before the tour started. Once the tour was approved, the performers were tutored intensively in Chinese language and customs. While the group did not have time to learn written Mandarin, they did learn enough spoken Mandarin to introduce the numbers in their show, to sing some selections in Mandarin, and to converse with Chinese people they met. The preparation paid off.

The performers chosen for the tour were among the most seasoned from several BYU performing groups. Most were veterans of at least one foreign tour with a BYU entertainment group. Most had returned in June from a six-week tour of Poland and Germany or of Canada. The selections the composite Young Ambassadors China group put together were upbeat and varied. They prepared ethnic folk selections and Broadway tunes, mixed with popular songs, an Indian hoop dance, Samoan slap dance, and a Hawaiian fire-and-knife dance.

“The tour was immensely successful,” says Dr. Stephen Durrant, associate professor of Asian and Slavic languages who tutored and traveled with the group. “The Chinese people were most impressed that our group had taken time to learn Mandarin.” Audiences not only applauded, but gave standing ovations and clapped “with their hands held high above their heads.” The Chinese seemed as delighted with the Mandarin introductions as with the numbers themselves, Brother Durrant says.

The first performance, at the Peking Minorities Institute, was a test. Other performances on the tour were scheduled on the basis of that first show’s success. Obviously it was successful, since the group went on to perform in every major concert hall in the four cities they visited. Sometimes Chinese artists’ performances were canceled so that the Young Ambassadors could perform.

The tour included performances at the Peking Music Conservatory, the Red Tower Theater in Peking, and at the Forbidden City concert hall. Several of those performances were before the most talented, trained musicians in the country, many of them “bona fide musical geniuses,” says Bruce L. Olsen, who traveled with the group in his position as assistant to BYU President Dallin H. Oaks.

“It was amazing to me to see the response,” says Brother Olsen, “and a tribute to the Spirit of the Lord to see the way the musical elite of China responded to the performances.”

The Chinese government had been reluctant to schedule performances, possibly because of negative experiences with other United States performers whose shows had been embarrassing to the conservative Chinese people. Before any Young Ambassadors shows were staged, the lyrics and symbolism of the songs were reviewed by Chinese tour guides.

While even the informal shows received enthusiastic receptions, some of the greatest warmth came from person-to-person relationships. As the group traveled, members conversed with Chinese people on trains, in buses, in hotels, and in restaurants virtually everywhere they went. One of the tour guides told tour director Randy Boothe that he had never seen such an outpouring of friendship. The other tour guide cried as she gave a formal farewell speech.

Sometimes the performers met Chinese who had, years ago, been acquainted with Christianity. (One performer, Ken Sekaquaptewa, met his Chinese grandfather for the first time in Shanghai.) For many Chinese, the Young Ambassadors were the first United States performers—and certainly the first members of the Church—they had seen. They may not be the last: the Young Ambassadors have been invited back.

Photography by BYU Public Communications

BYU’s Young Ambassadors made many friends in China.

Chinese audiences respond enthusiastically to BYU’s Young Ambassadors.

Plans Move Forward on Mexico Temple

A building permit has been issued for construction of the Mexico Temple—an important step in the progress of the sacred building which will serve hundreds of thousands of Mexican and Central American members of the Church.

The 100,000-square-foot temple, located in Mexico City’s Aragon area, will be built near the large Aragon public park and zoological gardens.

The temple will be faced with white cast stone and white marble chips, with detailing adapted from ancient Mayan architecture style. Church architect Emil B. Fetzer, who designed the temple, studied Yucatan ruins first-hand before designing the exterior detailing.

The main part of the building will be seventy feet high, with a tower rising 155 feet to the base of a sixteen-foot statue of the Angel Moroni.

Each of the four ordinance rooms will have a seating capacity of 100. Twelve sealing rooms will be built in the temple, and a 300-seat chapel is planned. The baptismal font will feature a traditional-design basin on the backs of twelve white, cast-stone oxen.

The temple is being arranged so that, at a future date, name and recommend processing can be computer-controlled.

A visitors’ center, in complementary design, will be built adjacent to the temple. Also on the same site, a full-size stake center is currently under construction for the Mexico City Aragon Stake.

The grounds will be landscaped with traditional Mexican plants and with a fountain and water display in front of the temple.

Plans for the temple were first announced by President Spencer W. Kimball in April 1976.

The Church in Mexico: The Centennial Year for Missionary Work

The beginnings were rough. But now, a hundred years after the first missionaries arrived in Mexico, the Church is solidly established and local missionaries are teaching the gospel to their own people.

The first steps toward establishing missionary work in Mexico were made more than a century ago when President Brigham Young sent Daniel W. Jones and a small group of elders on a reconnaissance trip to northern Mexico in 1876. As part of their work they mailed selections from the Book of Mormon in Spanish to every post office in Mexico.

One such pamphlet came into the hands of Dr. Plotino C. Rhodakanaty in Mexico City. He shared its contents with others and wrote President John Taylor, requesting that missionaries be sent to Mexico. In response to that request, Elder Moses Thatcher of the Council of the Twelve and two companions, Elders James Z. Stewart and Meliton G. Trejo, went to Mexico City.

When they stepped off the train on 15 November 1879, they began a work which has several times been interrupted by civil strife and at other times been carried on by just a handful of faithful Mexicans. Now, however, this work has blossomed in the care of capable local leaders.

The limited work done during the ten years of the first mission met with little success. Usually only two missionaries were in Mexico at any one time, with their efforts confined to Mexico City and nearby small villages. Their greatest obstacle was Mexican social conditions. The native Mexicans, who had been governed by Spanish conquerors for 300 years, were still under the domination of the Creole aristocracy, even though Mexico’s independence had been declared in 1821. The average Mexican had little chance for education or economic improvement and was tied to his traditions.

These and other difficulties caused the interruption of missionary work in 1889. It was resumed in 1901, but again interrupted in 1913, this time because of the Mexican revolution, a massive social upheaval in which the Mexican people sought freedom from the domination of wealthy Mexican families. As Mormon missionaries again left Mexico, the departing mission president called local brethren to take charge of the branches.

Decades of turmoil followed. Missionaries could not return to Mexico until 1921, and five years later they left again. Once more, the direction of branches was left in the hands of local priesthood leaders. These men labored heroically to hold the Church together in the troubled country. Not only did they succeed, but they even called local missionaries to go to villages and establish new branches and groups.

In 1936 the mission headquarters was re-established in Mexico City, with many of the missionaries provided by the Mormon colonies in northern Mexico. Beginning in the 1950s, the Church in Mexico began to grow. The membership, which had been confined mostly to the Mexico City area, multiplied through missionary expansion into all parts of the Mexican republic. New cities were opened to proselyting, more organized methods of missionary work were employed, and the original Mexican Mission was divided several times.

At the same time, Mexican society was changing. Education and economic conditions improved. People flocked to large urban centers such as Mexico City and Monterrey. In this more open society, Mexicans became more receptive to the gospel.

Growth brought its own problems, though, one of the most pressing being the need to train members as leaders. Generations of mission presidents devoted themselves to this effort. Also, a system of schools, eventually numbering nearly forty, was established by the Mormon Community in 1960 to give Latter-day Saint students a better education and to provide leadership training.

As leaders developed, so did stakes. The Mexico City Stake, organized in 1961, was the first Spanish-speaking stake in the Church. By 1975 there were eleven stakes in Mexico, and since that time stake growth has mushroomed. By mid-1979 forty more stakes had been organized. Nineteen were organized from mission districts after long years of preparation, and twenty-one came from the division of existing stakes.

Mexican leaders of stature have come forward in the Church, not only to serve as stake presidents and bishops, but to fill the ranks of the regional representatives needed to supervise Church activities.

Today, the Church message has a broad appeal in Mexico. Only the doors of the poor were open to missionaries in the past, but increasingly the Church is reaching those in the middle and upper class as well, people who have to some degree developed their leadership potential already.

Increased member missionary work is partly responsible for this shift, as is the increased number of Mexican elders and sisters who served full-time missions in their own country. Sometimes these missionaries serve at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. The efforts of these young Mexicans have accelerated the pace of proselyting.

A satellite missionary training center was opened in Mexico City in January to train these full-time Mexican missionaries. The first group trained in a five-day orientation at a southern Mexico City stake center numbered twenty-four. Subsequent groups in the monthly sessions have numbered between fifty and eighty.

“There has been a great degree of support from local leaders for this missionary effort,” says Steven R. Wright, assistant director of training at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, who helped establish the Mexican MTC. “Stake presidents and regional representatives have been greatly stressing the calling of missionaries.”

As the MTC in Mexico City trained the first group of elders in the last week of January, “a strong impression came to me that it was a very historic moment,” Brother Wright says. “Great things will come of it, I’m sure.”

Moses Thatcher, first missionary to Mexico. (Photography courtesy Church Historical Department.)

Janet Brigham is Ensign news editor.

Gordon Irving is an associate in the Church Historical Department.

Sunday School Counselor Called

Dr. J. Hugh Baird has been called as second counselor in the general presidency of the Sunday School.

Dr. Baird, a professor of secondary education and foundations at Brigham Young University, was called by the First Presidency to replace William D. Oswald, former second counselor who has been called as first counselor. The former first counselor, Dr. Joe J. Christensen, has been called as president of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Dr. Russell M. Nelson continues as general president of the Sunday School.

The new second counselor has served on the Sunday School General Board executive committee and is chairman of the teaching improvement committee. He and his wife, Florence Richards Baird, have nine children.

First Presidency Encourages Help for Refugees

The First Presidency has encouraged Church members to support programs helping Southeast Asian refugees resettle.

In a letter to general, regional, and local Church leaders in the United States, the First Presidency stated:

“Since 1975, we have been deeply concerned about and involved with the processing and sponsoring of our Church members and their extended families who are refugees from the conflicts of Southeast Asia.

“While the needs of our members have been largely met, the plight of thousands of refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia is worsening. The President of the United States has recently announced the doubling of the number of refugees who will be admitted to the United States; leaders of other nations have pledged to increase significantly their efforts to aid and resettle these refugees.

“The Church will continue its program, while the need exists, in behalf of Church members and their extended families.

“In order to assist further in meeting these urgent needs, we encourage Church members as private citizens to give prayerful consideration to becoming sponsors or providing volunteer assistance for refugee families, acting in cooperation with the reputable, charitable organizations in their communities.”

The letter said that further information was available from local LDS Social Services offices.

LDS Scene

The Mesa, Arizona, Temple visitors’ center will be expanded soon. The expansion will increase by about three and one-half times the size of the center, which attracted nearly 100,000 visitors last year. The new center will include exhibits on temples, Jesus Christ, prophets, and the Book of Mormon. Four forty-eight-seat theaters will be built to present motion pictures and other audio-visual presentations. Three smaller audio-visual rooms will be provided for individual or family viewing of the presentations.

The cornerstone-laying service for the Seattle Temple will be conducted Oct. 27. President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, will preside at the service, held at the temple site near Seattle, Washington.

Construction of the temple began in May 1978 and is expected to be completed by late 1980. A public open house will be scheduled prior to the dedication of the temple.