News of the Church

By Elizabeth A. Shaw

Smorgasbord of Genealogical Insights

When the thousands of professionals, amateurs, and interested bystanders converge on the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, August 12–15, for the World Conference on Records, they’ll be sampling a smorgasbord of 300 lecture hours that include 340 papers on personal and family history, including introductions to the sources available in areas as diverse as the Ukraine, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

The 247 speakers will come from thirty states of the Union and thirty-two countries.

This offering was the result of countless manhours on the part of the seventy members of the program general committee and its ten subcommittees: personal and family history; demography; U.S. and Canada; British; Europe; Scandinavia; Spanish; Asia and the Pacific; Africa, South Asia and the Middle East; special presentations, and “Show-Me-How.”

The “Show-Me-How” 20-minute mini courses—about thirty of them—will be running concurrently with the lecture sessions in three different rooms in the Salt Palace, repeating two or three times on topics as diverse as how to use a tape recorder and how to dip a candle.

The program committee stresses that everyone is welcome—whether their background is professional, scholarly, family historian, “I really should get started,” or even “what’s genealogy?”

In addition to the program committee, dozens of other people worked on the executive committee, putting up exhibits, preparing advertising, working with public relations, providing hosting services, and so forth. Over eight hundred proposals for papers came in for screening, and many of those whose papers were accepted requested that they be lodged with a host family in the Salt Lake area so that they can “see what a Mormon family is really like.”

In addition to the specific sessions, general assemblies will hear addresses from President Spencer W. Kimball, Alex Haley, Elder G. Homer Durham, and the Osmond family.

Here’s a sampling of what you might hear passing the doors of lecture rooms in the Salt Palace, Hotel Utah, or the Capitol Theatre:

Armigerous. That’s an adjective meaning arms-bearing ancestor—not the two that everyone usually comes equipped with, but the coat of arms frequently peddled by “unethical heraldic firms” to an unsuspecting American public who does not know that there is no such thing as a family coat of arms. Armorial beatings are granted to an individual, not to a family, and can only be used by direct descendants with appropriate differentiating marks, explains Lowell A. Barker, city treasurer of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and an ardent genealogist.

—A thirty-five-year old husband and father living in Salt Lake City noted in his journal in 1858: “Found a dime.” “Contemplate that for a minute,” says speaker Eliot Butler, professor of chemistry and dean of BYU’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. “Think how much that tells me of my ancestor’s economic status.”

—An unexpectedly fruitful source for genealogical information might be industrial records. Patrick Cadell, assistant keeper in the manuscripts department of the National Library of Scotland for the last eleven years, points out that a coalminer’s wife and children were a vital part of the mining operation. Each miner or “hewer” had a “bearer” who moved coal from the seam to the bottom of the mineshaft where an elevator could pick it up—or even to the top if there were no machinery. This bearer was normally a female relative, usually the wife. Both of them had apprentices, often their children. “Whatever we may think of this arrangement in these more enlightened days, it has the advantage for us that it offers useful genealogical information that might otherwise be lacking,” noted Mr. Cadell. He reconstructs the family tree of a Johnstone family from 1667 to 1767 to show how it could be done.

—If Quakers appear among your family background, you have a doubly good chance of finding genealogical information because two sets of minutes of Church meeting were kept—one by men, called The Minutes, and another by the women. If one set has been lost, the other set usually makes up the difference, notes Willard Heiss, a certified genealogist, Birthright Quaker, and Clerk of Lanthorn Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Indianapolis.

—Do you know the difference between a customary court, a leet court, and the court baron? Cecil R. Humphery-Smith, director of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies in Canterbury, England, explains that a customary court was responsible for assessments and tenant lists; a leet court was, for all practical purposes, the police court; and the court baron made sure that the lord of the estate received his just fee in connection with tenants moving, marrying, inheriting, and so forth.

Seventeenth and eighteenth century Chile, socially and politically unsettled, gave wide scope to colorful vagabonds who were typically nomadic horsemen, living off the abundant cattle in a frontier region. This group reached its peak in the middle of the eighteenth century, at about one-third of the country’s adult population, points out Ann Hagerman Johnson, an expert on Latin American studies from Davis, California.

—In the Ga society of West Africa, it’s expected that three generations will share a household. But you’ll only find one gender among the occupants. Both men and women are heads of households; thus a home headed by a woman will include her daughters, sisters, niece, and granddaughters, but the male relatives will live elsewhere, in households headed by men, says Marion Kilson of Radcliffe College.

—Linda King Newell, co-author of a forthcoming biography of Emma Smith, discusses the sources used to construct the life of that important woman of the Church. “Emma lived in five states spanning three-quarters of a century,” Sister Newell explains, and Latter-day Saints know relatively little of her life after the death of the Prophet. “She was married to Joseph for seventeen years. She lived thirty-five more years after his death. For thirty-two of those years she was the wife of Lewis C. Bidamon.” She or her coauthor, Valeen Tippetts Avery, in addition to examining primary sources and other documents, visited the places Emma had lived and tracked down and interviewed the grandchildren of Lewis Bidamon.

—Have you ever checked a cadester? That term refers to a land census, usually initiated by a regional or national government with the idea of levying a new tax on the basis of how much land was available. It sometimes included information about livestock; types of crops; the proportion of arable land to pasture, wasteland, or marsh; and the inhabitants, according to Andrejs Plakans, of Iowa State University’s Department of History in his presentation on premodern Baltic sources.

—When your great-grandfather is described in a family record as a milkman, what did he do? Elizabeth Simpson, a professional genealogical researcher in Nottinghamshire, England, and a lecturer in family history at continuing education centers in the East Midland regions, explains that it largely depends on the century. In the early nineteenth century, a milkman sat in a London park beside a cow and sold milk by the cupful on demand. About fifty years later, he was a live-in servant tending and milking cows on a farm. And today, he drives around in a truck delivering milk, “totally divorced from the cow.”

—Knowing the name for something doesn’t necessarily mean you know what it looks like. Frank Smith of the LDS Genealogical Department points out that a “forest” once meant a reserved hunting area—not necessarily wooded; that a dresser used to be in the parlor or kitchen and was a board or table on which drinking vessels were placed; and that the window was once a “wind hole” in a Saxon or Norman hovel. Furthermore, the blanket is named for a fourteenth-century Bristol man named Thomas Blanket.

[photo] Thomas E. Daniels (right) and Wayne J. Metcalfe of the Genealogical Department oversee work of inputting names of thousands of conference registrants into a computer. (Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten.)

Jeffrey R. Holland Named New BYU President

Dr. Jeffrey R. Holland, Church commissioner of education, has been named president of Brigham Young University, succeeding Dr. Dallin H. Oaks, who has served since 1971.

The announcements of Dr. Oaks’s honorable release and of Dr. Holland’s appointment were made in May by President Spencer W. Kimball, who is chairman of the university’s board of trustees.

Dr. Oaks’s administration has upgraded scholarship, expanded campus facilities, and clarified legal decisions relating to private institutions and federal government. Dr. Holland said at a May 9 press conference that while change is inevitable, “we will go cautiously and carefully in building on the immense strength that already exists there in terms of the strong leaders and the committed faculty that make this great university what it is.”

“We will try to continue in the tradition that President Oaks has so beautifully established,” Dr. Holland said. “I am very committed to academic excellence within the context of LDS values and ideals. We will also try to make the best possible case and be the most public voice we can for the rights and the contribution and the place of not only private education per se, but in this case Church-related private education.”

Dr. Oaks has been granted a release with highest commendation for exceptional service. He had confidentially told the Board of Trustees more than two years ago that it would be “in the best interest of the university to have a policy of regular turnover in the office of president.” He recommended an optimum service of six to seven years. President Kimball, announcing Dr. Oaks’s release, explained that the officers and the executive committee of the board of trustees considered it desirable at that time to have President Oaks serve for an additional time.

The board has granted Dr. Oaks a six-month professional-development leave in which he may pursue research and writing in government regulation of private institutions and the laws of church and state. He will continue to serve as a professor of law in BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.

Dr. Holland commented that succeeding Dr. Oaks “is an honor and a humbling thing. I felt much the same way at being asked to succeed Elder Neal Maxwell in the commissioner’s office.” Dr. Holland, who is 39, has been commissioner of the Church Educational System since April 1976. Before that he was dean of the College of Religion at BYU. As commissioner of education he has directed the worldwide education program of the Church, which involves more than 750,000 students, including those involved in seminaries and institutes of religion.

His undergraduate studies were at Dixie College at St. George, Utah, and at BYU, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1965 with highest honors. He received a master’s degree with distinction from BYU in 1966. He was awarded a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University in 1973 and was elected a Yale University Fellow. He belongs to Phi Kappa Phi, a scholastic honorary fraternity.

Dr. Holland served as an instructor or director at LDS institutes of religion at Hayward, California; Seattle, Washington; New Haven, Connecticut; and Salt Lake City.

He is on the governing boards of LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and the Polynesian Cultural Center at Laie, Hawaii. He is on the advisory board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Read-a-Thon Committee and has completed a term as chairman of the Scottsdale Conference on Church-Related Higher Education. He is the Church representative to the National Congress on Church-Related Colleges and Universities. BYU recently awarded him the Distinguished Alumni Service Award.

His Church service has included being a stake high councilor, a bishop, and a counselor in three stake presidencies. He has served as director of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA program of the Church and was chairman of the Church’s Young Adult Committee.

He served a mission in Great Britain from 1960 to 1962. The son of Alice B. Holland and the late Frank D. Holland, Dr. Holland is from St. George, Utah. He and his wife, Patricia Terry Holland, also from St. George, are parents of three children.

Church Policies and Announcements

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

“1. Use of Sunday School Period. Please keep the Sunday School period free from all other types of functions, such as administrative meetings and choir practices. Also, organize only classes for teaching the approved Sunday School curriculum. These include Course 12 through 17, Gospel Doctrine, Family Relations, Genealogy, Gospel Essentials, and the Teacher Development Basic Course. Please ensure that each class uses only the approved course of study.

“2. Use of Scouting. Wherever they are available, Scouting, Venturing (Varsity), and Exploring activities are an important part of the program for Aaronic Priesthood quorums. They are a valuable resource for providing a fully developed activity program for young men of Aaronic Priesthood age. Unless travel is restricted or other limitations exist, these activities should be held weekly. They should always be held on a weekday other than Monday.

“3. Aaronic Priesthood Camping Trips. The present camping policy remains the same with the change in the meeting schedule. Camping trips for Aaronic Priesthood quorums are a vital part of the program for our boys. They should be encouraged in every ward and branch in the Church. Under the direction of wise leaders, high-quality camping experiences convert, inspire, and strengthen our boys in ways that classroom teaching situations cannot.

“4. Daily Seminary Study. The recently announced consolidated meeting schedule will not affect the need for daily seminary study. Inasmuch as seminary is intended to be a weekday experience, times for weekly home-study seminary classes should be arranged on days other than Sunday. Released-time and early-morning seminaries should continue to function as daily instructional programs.

“5. Men Serving in Primary. The Primary guidelines for the consolidated meeting schedule state: ‘Consideration should be given to calling men to teach in Primary, especially for the older boys’ classes.’ Some ward and stake priesthood leaders therefore may be inclined to call men to the Primary presidency. Men should not serve in Primary presidencies but only as teachers in the Primary organization.”

Mississippi Area Conference: The Message Was Love

“Mississippi,” goes the saying, “is like coming home.” And there in early May, against a backdrop of magnolia blossoms and honeysuckle, members of the Church gathered together with a prophet of God, in a mood unmistakably “family”: brotherhood and sisterhood.

They came to the area conference in Jackson, Mississippi, from six southern states—Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. But they left reminded of their common citizenship in the Lord’s church and unified by counsel to strengthen one another and nonmember friends and neighbors. Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the First Quorum of the Seventy gave this summary of the meetings: “The message of this great conference has been one of love.”

In addition to President Kimball and Elder Pinegar, other general Church leaders at the May 3 and 4 area conference were President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency; Elder Mark E. Petersen and Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Presidency Of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Sister Shirley W. Thomas, second counselor in the Relief Society; and Sister Norma B. Smith, second counselor in the Young Women.

It was clear from the Saturday afternoon women’s session that a singularly tender feeling would come often and easily throughout the conference. Elder Faust, suggesting that current desires for “liberation” might not be limited to either sex, spoke of universal “human concerns” for fulfillment, recognition, and achievement. He listed the particular gifts of women: sensitivity, insight, special talents for teaching and rearing children, the Creation of ideas and things of beauty, and “their supreme trait”—their great capacity to love. “Surely these womanly traits need to be recognized and valued more highly, for, in my opinion, there are none greater.”

Also in the women’s session, Sister Thomas referred to President Kimball’s admonition to the women of the Church to be “sister scriptorians.” She noted the efforts of early Relief Society sisters to gather and store grain and asserted that, similarly, we today must also “glean, gather, and store the word of the Lord against a time of need.”

Sister Smith counseled mothers to examine their “language of love.” “Our young people need to know in plain language that they are loved,” she said, “that you care about them, not just the things that they do.” Speaking to the young women, she urged them to so live that they could have “all the happy surprises that living the gospel can bring.”

The women in the audience seemed particularly grateful and eager for counsel on their roles and responsibilities. Elder Asay discussed Doctrine and Covenants section 25 as the Lord’s “voice unto all.” From that section he named ten specific instructions of the Lord to women.

Reminding each to be “a comfort unto … thy husband” (D&C 25:5), he cited the example of Sister Camilla Kimball at the time of President Kimball’s calling to the Quorum of the Twelve. President Kimball described her great capacity for understanding and encouragement during that intense time by saying, “My wife was my salvation” (Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977, p. 191).

Paying tribute to a special grandmother (a “queen of women”), to his mother, and to his wife, President Tanner said, “I often wonder if women realize what it means to a husband to have a loving wife encourage him and express confidence in him. … A mother must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, and every mood—even her appearance and dress—affects the lives of the children and the whole family. She must be strong, joyful, sweet, kind, loving, and considerate, always showing great faith in God.”

The same warmth pervaded the powerful testimonies borne in the priesthood session Saturday night. Elder Petersen reminded the brethren that they are “custodians of a great, new revelation from God”—the restored gospel. Continuing in the theme of the earlier meeting, he said, “It’s remarkable how many times [Christ] tells us that we must have love in our ministry, love in our hearts.” The key to priesthood power, concluded Elder Petersen, is love at home; it is “basic to our success as priesthood ministers in the church of Christ.”

Elder Pinegar urged each father not to be a “casual leader,” but to organize his time so he could have regular interviews with his children and evaluation periods with his wife. He concluded by quoting the prophet’s words at the missionary meeting earlier that day: “We’re not just fooling around,” said President Kimball; “we’re really engaged in the work of the Lord.”

Recalling how his parents had prepared him for baptism at age eight, President Kimball counseled fathers in the priesthood session to teach their sons the value and honor of the priesthood. “Sometimes we find people who make light of it,” he said, “who speak of it in disparaging terms.” But the priesthood is “holy and sacred; it is glorious above expression.”

In a touching, fervent conclusion Saturday evening, President Kimball stressed again: “This is very important—very, very important. I hope that you will remember that that was one of the last things I ever told you: Keep the commandments and keep your boys working toward the priesthood.”

In his opening remarks at the Sunday morning session, President Kimball reminisced briefly about Church growth in his lifetime, and then called for the members to “arrange to see” that there would someday be a “chapel on nearly every corner” throughout the world. He encouraged them in their “proselyting adventure,” but added this sobering admonition: “We think there is a great possibility … that the members of the Church may not have been doing their whole duty” as missionaries. “Every man and woman should return home from this conference with the determination that they will take the gospel to their relatives and friends. If they do not, they must consider that they are not in total favor with their Heavenly Father.”

Noting the South’s tradition of strong families and respect for parents, Elder Pinegar related several stories about the blessings that come from honoring our parents, he counseled the sons and daughters in the audience to “recognize the love our parents have for us” and to “have faith in our parents. … Obedience,” he said, “is the greatest measure of our faith” in them.

Elder Mark E. Petersen discussed the meaning and responsibilities of being the Lord’s covenant people. “As the covenant people of the Lord,” he asked, “what is our present status?” Are we keeping our commitments or have we yielded in part to the adversary? “We must ever be on guard against the devil—he is real and he is mean.” Elder Petersen reminded the Saints in some detail of the physical and spiritual dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. The Word of Wisdom, he said, is “the Lord’s order of life” for his covenant people.

Speaking eloquently in the Sunday afternoon session, President Tanner considered the growth of the Church and the opposition it faced in its early years, opposition that came, he said, because Satan “knew that this was the church of Jesus Christ … and the effect it would have on people throughout the world.” Then he said, “Brothers and sisters, … how would we stand up under that persecution? … What kind of people are we? Are we true to the faith?”

As he concluded, President Tanner outlined briefly why the Church holds area conferences: “To let you mingle together. To let the President of the Church, the prophet of God, be in your midst.” And so you can “know that the work of the Lord is going forward.”

Elder Asay spoke of the “grandchildren grove”—long-lived pecan trees planted by one generation and not fully enjoyed until two generations later. Seeds of righteousness, he said, should be taking firm root in our families now, so that future generations will have a heritage of example, prayer, regular home evenings, and missionary service to build on. “Don’t forget that we owe a debt to those who have gone before. And the best way to repay them is to do for our children what our fathers did for us.”

Noting that these are unsettling times economically, Elder Faust asked, “What is the best thing to do in the worst times?” His answer was an explanation of the blessings of keeping the law of tithing, “a money law” but, more importantly, “a law of faith and obedience.” He also reminded the Saints of “the great companion law of tithing—the law of the fast,” from which come “blessings that are unique and different and separate” from those of tithing.

Elder Faust bore testimony of “the most solemn and complete knowledge I have—that God lives, that this is his work, and that President Kimball is his prophet.”

President Kimball began his brief concluding remarks by thanking the audience for coming. “My beloved brothers and sisters, whom I love with all my heart,” he said, “again we express affection to you—because we feel it very deeply.” That affection, multiplied by eight thousand Saints, came back to him as he stood to go. They stood, too, and waited as he looked and waved. Love of the gospel, of the prophet, and of the Lord was more than enough reason for coming to mingle together at the Mississippi area conference.(Photography by Fredrick W. Rich.)

[photo] Brethren from six southern states attend the priesthood session of the Mississippi area conference.

Mormons Meet on History

In a scholarly celebration of the Sesquicentennial, the Mormon History Association held its fifteenth annual meeting in Canandaigua, New York, in May, focusing on the New York origins of the Church.

The sessions began with an excited buzz over the discovery of the Anthon Transcript, announced only three days before in Salt Lake City. Danel Bachman, LDS Institute of Religion instructor in Logan, Utah, reviewed the finding of the transcript (Ensign, June 1980, p. 74) and then compared the characters on the transcript itself with the two other known copies of the characters, the Whitmer manuscript in the RLDS archives, and a Book of Mormon poster (see his article, p. 69).

The next two days were crammed with twenty-nine concurrent sessions and five plenary sessions in addition to the presidential address, given by Jan Shipps of Indiana-Purdue University in Bloomington.

Leonard J. Arrington, director of the LDS History Division, focused in some detail on the little group of Saints from Colesville, New York, who attended the founding of the Church in Peter Whitmer’s farmhouse, then moved en masse to Ohio and on to Missouri, and finally were absorbed into the larger community life in Nauvoo. But New York beginnings, despite their briefness, were “the building blocks” of the next 150 years. They included important revelations, the Book of Mormon, the organization of the Church, the beginning of missionary work, and a commitment to cooperation and mutual service.

Richard G. Oman of the LDS Arts and Sites Division gave a slide-lecture on the paintings and stained-glass windows of the First Vision showing how the idea has been depicted over the years. He had found seventy separate pieces of art in chapels, temples, tabernacles, and mission homes that featured Joseph Smith, usually in connection with a vision, 75 percent of which had been made in the last thirty years.

Joseph Smith and crossing the plains are the “two great traditions” in Latter-day Saint visual art; and he hypothesized that the mission of Joseph Smith would become even more important as the Church becomes more international.

Another presentation on the First Vision was that of James B. Allen of BYU’s History Department. Members of the Church now see it as “the most central event” of the restoration of the gospel, but he reviewed how missionaries used the Book of Mormon much more than the First Vision to prove Joseph Smith’s prophetic mission and that the First Vision did not receive strong emphasis until the 1880s when “George Q. Cannon set the tone for the next hundred years” by suggesting it be taught to children. Dr. Allen concluded his presentation with a list of thirty-four statements by various General Authorities from the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries about what the First Vision proves, including: the Father has a body of flesh and bones, he is approachable, and he answers prayers; Jesus is a being similar to the Father; and revelation is continuous.

A highlight of the conference was lectures by two scholars who had received grants from the O. C. Tanner Foundation to “take a fresh look” at Mormonism’s New York beginnings from their own perspective as nonmembers.

Timothy L. Smith of Johns Hopkins University found that the Book of Mormon strongly reinforced biblical teachings at a time when skepticism about the scriptures was rampant. “I just learned last night how to pronounce Nephi,” he quipped, and listed some of the Book of Mormon’s contributions. Its Christianity was grounded on both the Old and the New Testament, and its blend of Hebraic and Christian teachings “linked prophecy to history, memory to hope.” It also “reinforced the ecumenical movement” in a “country rushing toward racism” by affirming that both Jews and Indians were of the chosen people. The Book of Mormon also issued a “call to ethical righteousness,” according to Dr. Smith, helped “revitalize the expectation of pentecostal experiences” by promising the gifts of the spirit.

A particularly distinctive feature, he said, was that the Latter-day Saint insistence on literalism actually produced “a freedom,” because the scriptures, taken literally, promised continuing revelation.

Similarly, Gordon S. Wood of Brown University found that the Book of Mormon “cut through controversies and brought the Bible up to date.” He noted that the Restoration occurred at “the fight moment.” American society was still disorganized and unintegrated from the Revolution but was beginning to “reconstitute” its authoritarian structure.

Paul L. Anderson of the Church Arts and Sites Division traced the interest in Church historic sites. Sites became important after many of the participants in those events had died. The first site acquired by the Church was Carthage Jail, purchased in November 1903, followed by the birthplace of the Prophet in time for the centennial of his birth in 1905. The trip President Joseph F. Smith and his party of thirty took to dedicate it was the “first official pilgrimage,” with evening songs and prayers and a general testimony meeting at one point.

The first shrines to the trail west did not come until 1936 when President Heber J. Grant dedicated a monument at the Winter Quarters cemetery and stopped near Independence Rock to mark the trail. Brother Anderson noted that most historic sites show a compromise between the sometimes conflicting goals of restoration, attracting the interest of nonmembers, and providing inspiration to the members—who usually outnumber nonmember visitors to these sites.

Ned C. Hill, Finance Department, Indiana University at Bloomington, looked at the statistics of “150 years of growth.” One of the best modern estimates for 1846, when no formal membership census had been taken, finds approximately 30,000 members. Today, with a growth rate of 3.2 percent, the Church is growing much faster than the population of the United States, which has a growth rate of approximately 1.2 percent. In 1979, the Church was the fifth largest church in the United States. About 40 percent of that growth is from children born to Latter-day Saint parents; 60 percent is converts. If rates of growth remain constant, areas with a 3 percent growth rate will double their Church populations in twenty years. If the general Latter-day Saint growth rate is about 20 percent (in South America it ranges from 39.6 percent to 19.5 percent in some countries), the number of Latter-day Saints will double in eight years.

We “know more of what Joseph smith did than how he felt,” said Dr. Kenneth W. Godfrey of the LDS Church Educational System as he analyzed Joseph Smith as a son, a husband, and a father in an “attempt to probe his feelings.” He used an analysis of three New England patterns of child-rearing to give insight into the Prophet’s leadership methods. Brother Godfrey also examined Lucy Mack and Joseph Smith, Sr.’s, marriage to see the kind of home Joseph Smith had grown up in, then discussed his own relationships with Emma, his children, and his brothers. The prophet’s relationships were characterized by “unusual love and loyalty,” he concluded.

Other presentations ranged widely, including literature, anthropology, sociology, and theology as well as history. The organization, now numbering over a thousand members, plans to hold its next meeting in Rexburg, Idaho, May 1–3, 1981, with its 1982 meeting scheduled for Council Bluffs-Omaha.

Church Establishes General Church Building Fund

The First Presidency has established a General Church Building Fund to which members may contribute for meetinghouse construction worldwide.

The fund gives those in areas with less demand for building construction an opportunity to assist those who live in an area of greater demand. While many stakes have no current building needs, other stakes have pressing needs for meetinghouses.

The need for new buildings has increased dramatically with the growth of the Church throughout the world. As 1979 ended, 750 new buildings or major additions were under construction, a 20 percent increase over a year ago and 30 percent increase over two years ago. In many areas of greatest growth, financial resources are limited.

Donations to the General Church Building Fund will be made through wards and branches, which forward contributions to Church headquarters. Donations also may be made directly to Church headquarters.

Establishment of the general fund will not replace the need for local building funds. And to meet those needs, another change has been made: stake building funds will be established for any construction within a stake. Raising funds for any meetinghouse construction within a stake will now be the responsibility of the entire stake, not just of members who will use the building.