News of the Church

By Marvin K. Gardner

Highlights of the Regional Representatives Seminar

President Spencer W. Kimball opened the seminar for Regional Representatives on Friday, October 5, by expressing appreciation for the many prayers offered in his behalf. “I am so thankful the Lord has heard those prayers,” he said. “I now want to do my part to be worthy of the fresh wave of blessings that came to me during my recent illness.”

He spoke for only a few minutes, but his message was clear. Reminding the assembled General Authorities, Regional Representatives, and other leaders of the current emphasis on Church councils and on simplification, he explained reasons behind those moves: “We see ourselves as positioning our people so that the Latter-day Saints can give greater attention to family life, can focus more on certain simple and basic things, can render more Christian service, and can have greater effectiveness in all these things.”

He then illustrated qualities of leadership by recommending his counselors in the First Presidency as good examples. He praised President N. Eldon Tanner for his economy of words, his insightful contributions to discussions, and his humility. President Marion G. Romney, he said, is expert at evaluating problems and situations in light of the scriptures, and at asking appropriate clarifying questions. Both are “men of good humor as well as good will.”

“Further,” said President Kimball, “we are not only the First Presidency, we are friends!”

President N. Eldon Tanner then cautioned the leaders against mistakenly viewing simplification measures as “a slackening of our basic goals and commitments when, in fact, these simplified efforts should speed us along the path toward achieving the desired basic outcomes.” He expressed the hope that members would use the resulting extra time to good advantage—“spending their time even more wisely than they spend their money.”

Referring to President Kimball’s vision of major Church growth, President Tanner spoke of the importance of welcoming and loving new members: “The Church is ‘for the perfecting of the saints,’” he said, “not merely to enroll the already perfected! Therefore, as the Church welcomes additional tens of thousands who are worthy and ready, our capacity to love, to accept, and to train others will be freshly tested. … We must do as well at enfolding all these new friends in our love and fellowship as we do in enlisting them through our missionary work. We must be as quick to welcome them as we are to witness to them about the Church.”

Elder J. Thomas Fyans, a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, explained how priesthood councils can help strengthen members of the Church. He urged leaders to help individuals and families choose and commit to measurable, attainable goals in the areas of missionary work, genealogy, and temporal and spiritual welfare—goals toward personal development, family love and unity, and self-reliance.

Turning to ways the ward can help families, he said that high priests often “are not used to their full strength or best advantage” and emphasized that “bishops may call on these high priests and seventies to home teach inactive members of Melchizedek Priesthood quorums or prospective elders. This is not a new policy, but is one re-emphasized by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.”

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve spoke on ways to improve home teaching. He reminded leaders that home teachers really are called to be teachers—and, as such, should have a clear idea of who, how, and what they are to teach. They need training in these areas, he said: “A priesthood bearer is not a ready-made home teacher just as the result of a priesthood ordination.”

Elder Perry encouraged leaders to send messages and instructions to members through their home teachers, thereby strengthening the home teacher’s role in the eyes of his families.

He also encouraged leaders to keep the number of families assigned to each home teacher to three to five, and urged the equalization of workload among priesthood quorums: “It is not efficient to assign 70 or 80 percent of the families of the ward to the elders quorum, unless they have the strength and the ability to effectively accomplish that workload.” The bishop can assign prospective elders and single sisters to any of the three Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, he said—whichever “has the best capability of producing a result.”

Elder A. Theodore Tuttle of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy recommended several steps for “strengthening the less active,” including:

  • Identifying the most receptive men and working with them first, assigning them strong home teachers.

  • Using a direct approach with some: “Probably 10% of the inactive men would answer a call to repent right now and become an elder or get married in the temple. We must invite them.”

  • Using a more indirect approach with others, building a personal relationship through frequent informal visits. Then after good communication exists, “when the golden and prayed-for moment comes, you can talk soul-to-soul about the things of God.”

  • Holding reactivation and temple seminars; praying for them; giving them a Church assignment; and following through with a “united, sustained effort.”

Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve spoke of a need to teach Church members to pay “a full and honest tithing.” “The payment of tithing,” he said, “is always a powerful factor in building faith and testimony”; it is also the Lord’s way of financing the growth of his kingdom. He then explained ways leaders can teach tithing to the members.

Elder Petersen said that tithing is a law of God—that it is “a debt and an obligation which all are required to meet.” After discussing some of the blessings that come from obedience to that law, he summarized: the Lord “will prosper you and protect you. What more can we ask?”

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve reviewed some of the activities planned for the 1980 sesquicentennial of the Church. Calling it “a great jubilee for modern Israel,” he said: “We hope that all across the Church the people will awaken to a knowledge of their history and the challenges of the future—to have a season of fun and rejoicing and to give expression to their talents and capabilities.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Ezra Taft Benson, who conducted the seminar, announced that “a pilot effort has been approved relating to the consolidation of meeting schedules. … At the conclusion of a pilot test, the results will be carefully compiled and evaluated. In the meantime, there will be no action taken beyond the pilot effort.”

President Benson also announced that the following seven men have been called as full-time Regional Representatives, that their wives will be set apart as missionaries, and that they will live in their assigned countries:

Edward L. Howard, Jr., of Spokane, Washington, is assigned to Santiago, Chile; James A. Jesperson of El Cajon, California, to the Andes area; Charlie R. Lewis of Clovis, California, to Santiago, Chile; A. James Martin of Boise, Idaho, to the Europe West area; Eugene F. Olsen of La Mesa, California, to the Andes area; Dorrell C. Vickers of Longview, Texas, to the Europe West area; and Lester B. Whetten of Provo, Utah, to El Salvador.

The following seventeen men were also introduced as new Regional Representatives: Carlos Humberto Amado of Guatemala City, Guatemala; Lafayette R. Anderson of Monticello, Utah; Tufuga Samuelu Atoa of Apia, Western Samoa; Raymond E. Beckham, Sr., of Provo, Utah; Juan Casanova of Yutepec, Mexico; Frank W. Chamberlain of Salt Lake City, Utah; Eli K. Clayson of Provo, Utah; Eldon W. Cooley of Mesa, Arizona; Hugh A. Daysh of Auckland, New Zealand; Enrique Moreno of Cuernavaca, Mexico; Rudolfo W. Mortensen of Phoenix, Arizona; Russell M. Nelson of Salt Lake City, Utah; Sterling Nicolaysen of Fremont, California; John F. O’Donnal of Campestre de Churubusco, Mexico; Boanerges Rubalcava of Atizapan, Mexico; Lee K. Udall of Thatcher, Arizona; and Keith W. Wilcox of Ogden, Utah.

This brings the number of Regional Representatives currently serving to 194.

194 Regional Representatives heard messages from Church leaders at the Regional Representatives Seminar preceding October conference. (Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten.)

Saints Hold Washington, D.C., Area Conference

“This conference has been a real success,” President N. Eldon Tanner proclaimed at the close of the Sunday afternoon session of the Washington, D.C., area conference.

The nearly 18,000 Saints who had gathered at Maryland’s Capital Center could agree with his conclusion. On September 8 and 9 they came from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia to hear leaders of the Church and to feel the strength that comes from gathering. Their presence confirmed that attendance is its own reward.

Visiting authorities for the conference included President Tanner and President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency, Elders Marvin J. Ashton and L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, Elders Neal A. Maxwell and Hugh W. Pinnock of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Sister Barbara B. Smith of the Relief Society general presidency, and Sister Elaine Cannon of the Young Women general presidency.

At the Sunday morning session, which 17,639 persons attended, President Tanner recalled how his parents had taught him the vital importance of prayer. “I remember very well my father saying, ‘Let thy blessings attend us this day, help us to do what is right and be successful in our righteous endeavors, and we will report to you tonight.’ Now that was a great strength to me because I knew we were going to report to the Lord at night, and I wanted to be prepared for it. It gave me strength to overcome temptation and evil.”

President Romney first spoke to the 5,700 women assembled at the Saturday women’s session. His topic was the example of Eve, and he noted that sisters can strengthen their families and their marital relationships by following her example.

The next afternoon he spoke again, also bearing a fervent testimony of prayer. “God assists every soul who learns to walk the path of prayer,” he said. “Through prayer we may … gain from him the guidance that will lead us successfully through this mortal life.”

To a priesthood gathering of 5,400 men, Elder Ashton spoke of the way to “joy, success, and happiness,” addressing his remarks especially to the Aaronic Priesthood youth. He concluded his address by issuing the challenge, “May we … resolve that hour by hour and day by day we will … become more Christlike in our conduct and more Christlike in our dependence upon our Heavenly Father.”

Elder Perry’s Sunday talk was on the priesthood and on priesthood quorums. He bore testimony that the priesthood is “a precious gift,” saying, “I have felt its vitality. … There’s something real I cannot define that passes through me when I administer to the ordinances of the gospel. I know the virtue there is in the priesthood. It is a power. It is divine.”

In an address to the women assembled on Saturday afternoon, Elder Maxwell warned, “We must not expect uninterrupted peace or prosperity. Tribulation is a part of discipleship.” But even though we would be faced with “fiery trials,” he said, they were not designed to overwhelm us. “God will not give us more than we can bear. He will carefully calibrate the challenges that come to us.”

Elder Pinnock spoke in the Sunday morning general session of the significance of the location of the conference. “In the area represented here,” he said, “the Book of Mormon was translated. Fifteen revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants were received in this area. Both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood were restored here.” He then emphasized the importance of today. “A righteous life is built on living one righteous day after another, yes, by enduring one day at a time.”

President Tanner concluded the conference with an expression of appreciation to all who had helped make the experience a success. The choirs, a different one for every session, had done much to create a spirit of worship and unity. The ushers, those responsible for the facilities, the interpreters for the deaf—but most of all, the members who had come to the conference with prayers in their hearts—all had contributed to the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment that marked the end of the area conference.

18,000 attended the Washington, D.C., area conference, held in the Capital Center. (Photography by James Reese.)

Southern Saints Rejoice at Atlanta Area Conference

Over 10,000 Saints from throughout the South attended the area conference held September 22–23 in Atlanta, Georgia. A few had spent weeks cleaning up after hurricane winds and rains before traveling to Atlanta, and the day before the conference, several Georgia counties were informed that another hurricane might hit that night. But the conference weekend was calm and peaceful.

President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, presided at the conference in the absence of President Spencer W. Kimball. Sunday morning he challenged parents to teach their children the gospel as his own parents had done. As he was growing up, he said, he never doubted the reality of a living God or the effectiveness of prayer, because “when we had family prayer, my father actually talked to God.”

President Marion G. Romney told the congregation Sunday afternoon that although “there is a direct relationship between the strength of one’s faith and the effectiveness of his prayer,” requests must be “in harmony with the will of God.”

Speaking to 3,291 mothers and daughters in the women’s session, President Romney said that God has honored women by giving them “the exalted task” of being mothers. He told mothers that the “observance of every principle of the gospel by the youth of the Church is largely in your hands. Sorrow and despair shall follow the shirking of this God-imposed responsibility.”

Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve quickly endeared himself to the congregation as he related favorite experiences he had in the South as mission president from 1934–1937.

Speaking in a powerful, unwavering voice, Elder Richards charged the Saints “to live, that your neighbors and your friends will recognize that you’re different than the rest of the word, that you can live in the world and yet not be of the world.”

The Saints responded enthusiastically to Elder Richards’s love for them. “We were glad to have one of our own come back,” one man said after the conference.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve explained Sunday afternoon that since everyone can read the Bible, everyone can have the word of the gospel. But it’s even more important to have the power of the gospel. That power, he explained, is found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has “every key and power, right, grace, gift, and prerogative that had ever been held by any people in any age in the whole history of the world.”

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke Sunday morning of Christ’s preparation for temptation: “In solitude Jesus prepared to meet Satan. In solitude—pondering, meditating, praying—we can get close to the Lord to receive the help we need to live as we should. In the quiet of our pondering, we can listen to the Spirit.”

Elder Rex D. Pinegar, also of the First Quorum of the Seventy, counseled the youth—and all the Saints—Sunday afternoon to honor, have faith in, and be obedient to their parents. “As a parent,” he said, “I know that no greater honor can come to a parent than to see his children living the commandments of God.”

Also addressing the conference were Sister Marian R. Boyer, first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency; Sister Arlene B. Darger, first counselor in the General Young Women Presidency; Francis M. Gibbons, secretary to the First Presidency; and Regional Representatives Marshall Lee Miller, William T. Brannen, Jack F. Joyner, and Robert N. Brady.

The Atlanta Civic Center auditorium, with its red carpets and plush red theater seats, was a comfortable, quiet setting for the conference. Floral arrangements in fall colors decorated the blue-carpeted stage. Acoustics were excellent for the 425-voice choir which provided inspiring renditions of hymns arranged by conductor Marlene Ledet.

As the last session ended and strains of “God Be with You” died out, people seemed to linger in the auditorium as long as they could before leaving. “I wish I could just stay here,” said Ella Van Huss of Paris, Tennessee, who, with her family, had driven eight hours to attend.

But they did all eventually leave, determined to do as President Tanner had charged at the close of the conference: “Let those who were not able to attend feel of your spirit and your testimony. … Live as you’ve been instructed in this conference. The Lord will bless you and strengthen you.”

10,060 attended the Atlanta area conference, where they received instruction from General Authorities and other Church leaders. (Photography by Ken Kennedy.)

Church Policies and Announcements

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

“New Year’s Eve. Because New Year’s Eve falls on a Monday evening, all families should be encouraged to have their family home evening before engaging in any other activities. Appropriate New Year’s Eve activities include family gatherings and stake and ward dances and socials. To allow enough time for family home evenings, Church activities should not start before 9:00 P.M.

Pilot Stakes Testing Consolidated Meeting Schedule

The Church is initiating a four-week experimental program in fifteen stakes to study the most effective meeting schedules for meeting the needs of individuals and families. One reason for the study is the increase in transportation costs.

A spokesman for the Church explained that the pilot stakes have been assigned to experiment with various meeting schedules and formats. After the pilot programs have been completed, all the various experiments will be evaluated by the General Authorities, who will then determine what—if any—program will be approved and announced to the Church at large for general implementation.

Generally the plans involve scheduling all priesthood, sacrament, and auxiliary meetings within a three-hour time block on Sundays with fewer activities being held on weekdays and evenings.

The spokesman emphasized that no action will be taken until the experiments in the pilot stakes have been completed and thoroughly evaluated.

The stakes assigned to participate in the experimental study are: Salt Lake Monument Park, Sandy Utah Crescent, Orem Utah Windsor, Orem Utah South, Salt Lake Ensign, Ogden Utah East, Bountiful Utah East, Sandy Springs Georgia, Portland Oregon, Los Angeles California Granada Hills, Meridian Idaho East, Rapid City South Dakota, State College Pennsylvania, Fallon Nevada, and Boston Massachusetts.

The pilot stakes started the program on September 30.

Members in International Areas Asked to Write

Members of the Church living in or moving into areas outside the boundaries of established stakes and missions are encouraged to contact the International Mission presidency, 50 East North Temple St., Salt Lake City, UT 84150, USA. Members who have LDS friends or family living outside mission or stake boundaries also are asked to provide those names to the presidency.

The International Mission cares for members and helps build up the Church in these areas. When members move into areas within the jurisdiction of the International Mission, but the mission presidency is not notified of their location, the presidency cannot provide the support and assistance these members may need.

LDS Scene

President Spencer W. Kimball has been back at work in his office since the last week in September. He underwent surgery for evacuation of a subdural hematoma, an accumulation of blood and fluid in the skull, September 7. After several weeks of recuperation he returned to his office for half-days of work, later increasing that to full working days. President Kimball, who is 84, had experienced increasing weakness prior to being admitted to the hospital.

He had been scheduled to undergo surgery for removal of a cataract from his left eye September 8, but that surgery has been deferred.

The Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City has been closed for repairs and maintenance. Inspections of the century-old building turned up evidence of structural deterioration. An engineering study is being made to determine what repair work will be needed. Meetings traditionally conducted in the Assembly Hall will be rescheduled to other facilities nearby.

The Sao Paulo, Brazil, Temple has a new president. Jose Benjamin Puerta has been called to succeed Finn B. Paulsen, who died August 1 in a Salt Lake City hospital after a brief illness. President Puerta has served as first counselor in the temple presidency during the past year. The temple was dedicated 30 October 1978 by President Spencer W. Kimball.

Angel Miguel Fernandez, former second counselor to the temple president, is the new first counselor. Robert Kenneth Flake of Mesa, Arizona, who has been serving as a temple missionary in Brazil, is the new second counselor.

The Parksville, British Columbia, branch of the Church is floating high. The branch’s float won best-all-around-float and best-adult-float awards in the annual Parksville Pageant Days festival parade. The float, designed around a theme honoring children, depicted several generations of a family.

The Mormon Festival of Arts is looking for art. Latter-day Saint artists are invited to enter work in the Sesquicentennial exhibition, “Latter-day Saints’ Festival of the Arts,” to be displayed at Brigham Young University. Work should demonstrate excellence in an aesthetic depiction of gospel principles.

In addition to the juried art show, a photography contest is planned. The “Patterns of Mormonism” contest will be a juried exhibition of photographic images dealing with the aesthetic dimensions of Latter-day Saint life. Photographers should “search out and isolate motifs which can stand on their own as visual equivalents of gospel principles,” says J. Clyff Allen, BYU Art Gallery director. The photographs should not be narrative in nature but should “communicate beyond the storytelling level.”

Entry information is available from Art Gallery, F-303 HFAC, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602; telephone (801) 374-1211 ext. 2881. The entry deadline for art and photography is 22 February 1980. Entries will be juried 29 February 1980, and exhibited 14 March–18 April 1980.

BYU’s American Folk Dancers recently returned from Europe—triumphant. They won a gold medal in an international dance festival in Bulgaria during their six-week tour of six eastern European countries. The thirty-member troupe, accompanied by Elder Robert L. Simpson, also performed American folk and other dances in Romania, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland.

The dancers produced two ninety-minute television specials for national television networks in Bucharest, Romania, and Moscow, the Soviet Union. The Romanian special was aired three times on Romanian national television August 23, that country’s equivalent of the United States’ Fourth of July. Television releases of the two specials were planned for Bulgaria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

The gold medal, naming the troupe the best in the festival, was awarded at the conclusion of the Second Annual European Youth and Student Festival in Primorsko, Bulgaria.

The site of a new activities center on the BYU—Hawaii campus was dedicated this summer. Elder Marion D. Hanks, a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, dedicated the site where a 5,600-seat activities center is under construction. School officials hope the center will be finished early in the 1980–81 basketball season, which will be the third year the school has participated in intercollegiate basketball competition.

The arena of the new building will have an upper concourse with 2,000 permanent seats and a ground-floor level with fold-out bleachers to seat 2,600 people. About 1,000 chairs can be placed on the main basketball court area to increase potential attendance at some activities to 5,600. The present campus gymnasium has seating for about 1,000, and the school auditorium seats 700.

The title of the chief administrative officer at BYU—Hawaii campus has been changed. Dr. Dan W. Anderson, formerly called executive vice president, will now be called president. He has been serving as the chief administrative officer since 1974 and was academic dean for one year prior to that appointment.

A BYU film has been selected for showing at the American Museum of Natural History’s Margaret Mead Film Festival. Fiji: The Great Council of Chiefs was shown at the New York City film festival in September. It was the first time a BYU-produced film has been shown at the festival.

A BYU film crew was the only crew invited to attend the rare Great Council of the Fijian Chiefs. The council is held every one hundred years. Production was sponsored by the Institute of Polynesian Studies, which is funded by the Polynesian Cultural Center near the BYU—Hawaii Campus at Laie, Hawaii.

The size of the school had changed, the speaker said, but the spirit hadn’t. The school in mention was BYU, and the speaker was President Spencer W. Kimball, addressing more than 24,000 BYU students and others at the opening devotional assembly of the fall semester.

“This is a city set on a hill which cannot be hid,” he said. “What you do here is noted far and wide.” He encouraged students to maintain high standards. He said many in the world “stand in wonder at what we have here set ourselves to achieve. The Lord’s standards, which we strive to meet, are high indeed—so high that we are likely sometimes to fail. But temporary setbacks are no disgrace if we try without ceasing. Never, never give up in well doing!”

The donation came in an envelope, accompanied by the usual form, neatly filled out to show a $114 donation to the Church Missionary Fund. The donor’s name, however, was unusual—it was from a Sunday School class of children in Saudi Arabia.

The eight members of course six in the Dahran Saudi Arabia District held a carnival in March, with proceeds going to the missionary fund. In April, their teacher sent the money to the Church.

“The children have been learning of the work missionaries do. They are very interested in being helpers of the Church and helping our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia,” says Sister Betty J. Kleinbeck, their teacher. “This money is given with all the love in their hearts for their Heavenly Father so that his word can be spread throughout the land.”

A collection of heirloom-quality quilts, handmade by volunteer women from the Relief Society in Alberta, Canada, has been donated to the Canadian Red Cross Society. Wards were asked to produce one quilt a year, with materials provided by the Red Cross and by the women. The quilts are offered for public sale, with proceeds going to international relief and other Red Cross programs.

A Church-sponsored television advertisement has been named tops in its field. “Try Again,” a public service message on marriage solidarity, was awarded three CLIO awards at the 1979 CLIO awards banquet. It was named top entry in the television public service category and was honored as the best-edited and best-directed of all advertisements in all categories of the international competition. This meant that it won over more than 11,000 entries in television, radio, print, and packaging. The awards were the first television CLIOs won by a Church entry. “Try Again” is shown on some 140 television stations. “Homefront” radio announcements have won six radio CLIOs since 1972.