Volcano’s Eruption Finds Members Coping
Interviews with three stake presidents in the wake of Mount St. Helens’s eruption in Washington find the members coping well, helping their neighbors, and rethinking their preparations for the future.
President W. Lee Robinson of the Longview Washington Stake reports that his stake, very close to the volcano, suffered the greatest physical damage from the first eruption on 18 May, when mudslides reshaped rivers’ courses and demolished homes like matchsticks.
Kelso Ward, aware of the danger, had prepared contingency plans to move members from low-lying areas to higher ground if the need arose. “When that wall of water started coming down the river, the contingency plan went into effect,” he says. “There were a few problems when bridges were either washed out or closed because they were unsafe, but the plan basically did work. By late afternoon all of our people were either accounted for or located.” He praised the priesthood for its organization, particularly the home teachers.
No attempts were made to transfer food storage items to high ground. “We relied on what the hosts had, and it was more than adequate,” he says. “But we’ve been doing some re-evaluation since then and most of us have decided that we wouldn’t be prepared for a long emergency. Water was one of our most critical items. We were never without water but we were being rationed. It made us think again about what we needed.”
In addition to the shock of the physical destruction, President Robinson reports depression because of “the ash and the darkness. When the sun doesn’t shine, you start to think pretty gloomy thoughts.”
The bright side of the situation was the greater unity of ward members. Bishop Steven H. Pond of Kelso Ward set an example for his people by taking in his nonmember neighbors when they found themselves in difficulty.
And plans for the future? “We’re going to reevaluate what happened and make it the subject of one of our leadership meetings with the elders quorum presidents and bishops.”
The Spokane Washington Stake is “290 miles away from Mount St. Helens as the crow flies and we could never have imagined that something that far away could spew so much material so far,” marvels Stake President Mark R. Bickley. The Spokane area, more fortunate than some of the areas south, received about .8 inches of ash.
“I’d been in personal priesthood interviews all day and hadn’t even heard that the volcano had erupted,” he recalls. “Someone finally told me that a big black cloud was headed our way. When I went home at three, it was starting to get dark and I turned on my headlights. In a few minutes, it was pitch black.”
For the next three days, Spokane was in a state of emergency with all of the businesses closed down. “After the initial shock,” he says, “we realized that the real damage was around the volcano and that we could cope with it. The major problem is the ash. It just won’t go away. It’s so fine and so heavy that even rain won’t soak it down.”
The problems were complicated by an initial shortage of information. First came a report that the ash would produce a sulphuric acid that would take the finish off cars. “That turned out to be false. Then they said it was abrasive. That turned out to be true. When we wiped it off the cars, we had to be careful of the finishes.” Another report suggested the possibility of silicosis from the silicon content; presently it seems that the silicon content is not high enough to constitute a danger.
“After it was all over,” summarizes President Bickley, “we realized that we had had a surprising experience and a frightening experience, but the Saints in the area took it very well. Most of them were prepared to stay home for a long period of time and their food storage was in good shape; it’s something we’ve stressed here for a number of years.
“But at a stake conference soon after—Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve was a visitor—it was discussed a great deal and we decided that the Lord was trying to tell us something—that we needed to be better prepared to cope physically and spiritually with disasters.”
For Lew Judd Allsop, president of the Yakima Washington Stake, the eruption also came as a complete surprise. A civil engineer by profession and an apple grower on the side, President Allsop was stunned by “the amount of material that blew out.” His area, about eighty miles from Mount St. Helens, received between a half and three-quarters of an inch. Stores were closed for a week. There was a heavy fall of the tiny apples. President Allsop, on the outskirts of the dustfall, “rigged up my sprayer and got my trees cleaned off right away and I haven’t noticed any particular damage, but they tell us that the color will be affected later.”
Disposing of the ash, a gritty and grimy job, actually brought the people closer together. “The city officials set cleaning up the downtown as the first priority and told people in the residential areas to get organized before they got there. People were asked to elect a block captain, clean off their roofs and sidewalks, push the ash into the parking lanes (away from the curbs, so the equipment could come and pick it up), and keep it wetted down. People were out on the streets with brooms, shovels, wheelbarrows, and hoses. They did more talking to each other and got to know each other better.
“And people worked together. There was some concern about food because the roads were blocked. We couldn’t drive faster than five or ten miles an hour with our lights on and the windshield wipers going all the time. But people worked together with a real good spirit and there were very few emergencies.”
Meanwhile, nearly every vacant lot has an ash mound on it. “It took between sixty and seventy people five or six hours to get the ash off the top of the stake center and piled up from the parking lot. There are thousands and thousands of tons.”
President Allsop feels that the people in his stake “really feel with the people who were in America at the time of the Crucifixion. We knew what it was, we knew what was causing it, but it was still frightening. If you hadn’t known, it would have been terrifying.”
Record Number at Southern California Area Conference
(S. Dilworth Young, “Area Conference at the Rose Bowl”).
The largest gathering of Latter-day Saints in this dispensation took place May 17–18 at the Southern California area conference in Pasadena, California. Coming from areas named after the old Spanish Missions—San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and Santa Monica—the Saints streamed into the historic Rose Bowl for four conference sessions. An estimated 25,000 women and 30,000 men, respectively, attended the women’s and priesthood sessions on Saturday with 75,000 at the Sunday morning session.
General Authorities in attendance were President Spencer W. Kimball, President Marion G. Romney, Elder Howard W. Hunter and Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Presiding Bishop Victor L. Brown, Relief Society General President Barbara B. Smith, and Young Women General President Elaine A. Cannon.
The conference had a sense of historical significance. Sunday morning, Elder Hunter reviewed the history of the Saints in California, beginning with a group of Mormon immigrants who sailed into San Francisco Bay on 31 July 1846, a year before the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. And in January 1847, the Mormon Battalion, after a 2,100-mile march, arrived in San Diego. They later traveled from there to the little Spanish village of El Pueblo de Los Angeles, where they stayed for a short time before most rejoined their families in Utah.
The Saints established themselves more permanently in California when in 1851 Brigham Young sent a group of about 450 to establish a colony at Fort San Bernardino under the leadership of Elder Charles C. Rich and Elder Amasa Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve. Although this group was recalled in 1857 with the impending invasion of Johnston’s Army, the Latter-day Saints had firmly established ties in California.
Thus, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, at a Sunday luncheon, presented President Kimball with a proclamation recognizing the Church’s role in colonizing early California and the contribution Latter-day Saints have made to the quality of life in the Los Angeles area.
Several of those who addressed the area conference mentioned their ties to the area. Elder Hunter, who was called to the Quorum of the Twelve from the Pasadena area, said, “I feel I have come home,” and President Kimball recounted how he and Sister Kimball began coming to southern California “approximately fifty years ago” to obtain treatment for their son Edward who had been stricken with polio at the age of three.
Demonstrating the dramatic growth of the Church in this area, President Kimball said that when he first came to southern California there were only 17,000 members of the Church living in two stakes and 23 branches. Elder LeGrand Richards was one of those stake presidents. Today there are 77 stakes and 500 wards, with a total membership of over 250,000.
The conference seemed to have something special for everyone. Words of comfort and consolation were given to the handicapped, to single people, to childless couples, to the aged and infirm, and to those suffering from physical and emotional illnesses. One touching sight was a long line of members in wheelchairs.
The conference for this international area was translated into eight languages: Spanish, Tongan, Samoan, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), and sign language; and the Spanish-speaking members drew special attention from President Kimball. “More than thirty years ago, while in Arizona I caught something of the vision of the future of our Hispanic brothers and sisters. … In my heart and in my mind’s eye I could see a better day dawning for them.” Speaking of their “excelling in many areas of business, industry, and education,” President Kimball said, “But this is just the beginning. They are but the vanguard of the vast numbers who will follow in their footsteps.”
Bishop Brown, encouraging the Saints to be honest in their offerings, told of a blind woman in her seventies who borrowed money to pay the tithing on the income from the family farm during the time that her inactive father was alive. “I’m not sure exactly how her payment of her father’s tithing will be transferred to his benefit in the hereafter, but I am sure what it will do for her,” he added. “Most assuredly the windows of heaven will be opened wide for her.”
Elder Haight, recognizing the presence of many investigators in the audience, spoke of the principle of revelation and testified that he knew the Lord had preserved President Kimball “to preside over his Church at this critical period of Church and world history.” Emphasizing President Kimball’s capacity for hard work, Elder Haight described meeting President Kimball at the elevator at 6:30 A.M. one morning. Elder Haight was carrying “a thin, executive-type briefcase.” President Kimball was carrying an old Mexican leather “trunk,” bulging with papers. Looking at Elder Haight’s case, President Kimball quipped, “David, are we working you too hard?”
The tone for the women’s session was set when President Kimball walked into the stadium. Tenderly the sisters watched the Prophet as he was helped to the speakers’ platform. Sister Cannon, speaking to that feeling, cited the “second great commandment” and women’s special capacity for love. She recounted courageous, loving acts of extraordinary women.
Sister Barbara Smith urged all women, married and single, to reach beyond themselves. She expressed concern for the spiritual tests created for women by current life-styles, and added, “It is my conviction that women have never faced more challenges to their faith than they do today. The very fact that so many choices and options are now available to women … increases our solemn obligation to understand the gospel and make choices in our lives consistent with revealed truth.”
Elder Featherstone, area supervisor for southern California, used the metaphor of the homing pigeon to symbolize the instinct we all have to return to our homes; he spoke of “a mother’s love,” the first “essential element” in nurturing that instinct, as he addressed the women’s session.
President Romney, in speaking to the women, encouraged them to “establish good habits”—the habit of daily secret prayer, the habit of “daily reading,” and “the habit of cleanliness.” Keep in mind that the Lord has said that no unclean thing can enter into his presence. Be clean housekeepers, clean in body, clothing, speech and action, in thought and feeling. Remember the Savior’s declaration, ‘Blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God’”(3 Ne. 12:8).
Speaking in the general session, Elder Featherstone encouraged those in attendance to make a special effort to reach out to the inactive. He retold the parable of the prodigal son. “In a very real sense,” he said, “we are the keepers of the light … We gaze steadily down the road, anxious for your return. We will run with open arms, our hearts filled with compassion. We extend our deepest expressions of love—come home.”
President Kimball reaffirmed basic principles: holding family prayer and family home evening, doing missionary work, keeping personal records, living Christlike lives. He said, “We have the potential of becoming gods and we are perfecting ourselves now. The Savior lives and he tells us what to do in his holy scriptures and by the revelations of himself and his father to his prophets, past and present.”
The Lord sent his disciples into all the world, said President Kimball, and added, “I can see his arm outstretched to all the world, to the millions of people in Europe, South America, and the Orient and the hundreds of millions in India, China, and Russia and other areas of the world. And he was seeing the day when he would inspire his people so that they would go forward and spread the gospel to those people.” In a poem written for the conference, S. Dilworth Young captured the spirit of that vision:
Area Conference in Historic St. Louis
St. Louis has a spirit that is genuine, tangible, and real—a kind of electricity that gives the city an energy all its own.
We sensed this spirit in the places we visited, in the people we met, in the things we saw, in the early morning sunlight across a city skyline dominated by the Gateway Arch.
And we felt that same spirit as hundreds of members of the St. Louis Stake cheerfully made St. Louis “a gathering place” on 7–8 June for over 10,000 members from 120 different wards and branches in twelve stakes in Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, and Arkansas. They gathered at the Checkerdome to hear President Spencer W. Kimball, his second counselor President Marion G. Romney, Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Ronald E. Poelman of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Jack H Goaslind, Jr., of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Sister Marian R. Boyer, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, and Sister Arlene B. Darger, first counselor in the Young Women’s general presidency.
A special mother-daughter session opened the conference.
Elder Ashton urged all women in the Church to become “quality ladies in whom God is well pleased.” A “quality lady” is someone who is not offended and “has no time to be petty,” has the capacity “to love more than to be loved,” and is “the first to emphasize the good qualities in others and the last to find fault.”
Also, “quality ladies exhibit real faith.” They know the power of prayer, maintain a close, personal relationship with their Heavenly Father, and take the time to report to him every day. He urged women of the Church to oppose any social or legislative action that could adversely affect the home and the family.
Sister Boyer reminded the sisters that “loud voices” were telling women what they should be and do. “The time has come for the women in the Church to raise their voices” because “being a women is truly a calling from God.”
Sister Darger said a woman “being committed means there will be times when we’ll have to stand alone—when those we care about most may turn their backs on us. It is during these times when we must stand firm and call on our Heavenly Father for strength, for courage, for faith, and perseverance.”
Doing this depends on “a long series of individual choices. Some are large, but most are small,” infinite in number and character. But each leaves its own imprint on our immortal souls. “Too many of us,” he warned, “willingly expose ourselves to evil influences” in order to appear broad-minded or progressive, yet “righteous self-control isn’t a big price to pay for the things we really want.”
President Romney urged all young women to avoid doing anything that could bring regrets later on and added that every LDS woman should desire to marry and raise a family and to establish and maintain “an LDS home for her children.”
During the priesthood session Saturday night, Elder Packer emphasized that leaders in each priesthood group have the right to divine inspiration and the obligation “to provide each member with guidance.”
He urged all priesthood holders to “obey their parents” and to understand that they, too, are “often guided by inspiration” and cannot always explain why they feel as they do.
Elder Goaslind urged young men to think of going on a mission “not just as a duty, but as a sacred obligation.
“Jesus Christ used his early years to prepare for his mission,” he emphasized. By age twelve, he astonished the temple workers with his “knowledge.” He also developed the ability to get along with others. “When the time came, Jesus Christ was physically, mentally, and spiritually prepared.”
After extending his love and personal greetings, President Spencer W. Kimball told priesthood holders that it wasn’t important “what position they held in the priesthood as long as each priesthood holder honored his priesthood. The priesthood is something that every man in the world would want if he understood what it meant.” All the money in the world cannot buy it.
When President Kimball addressed the first general session on Sunday morning, he reminisced about his mission in the St. Louis area and pointed out St. Louis’s prominent role in early Church history. “Thousands of converts from Europe and Great Britain arrived in New Orleans by sailing ship and traveled up the Mississippi by paddleboat to St. Louis, where they found temporary employment to earn the means necessary to continue their journey. St. Louis also served as a sanctuary for hundreds of families driven from their homes in Nauvoo.”
He urged every member to “lengthen your stride” so the work of the Lord can go forward at a more rapid pace. He challenged every family to bring in one additional family some time during the coming year. “The Lord has commanded that this work be done—and not at our convenience,” he warned. “Those who fail to do so must understand that they are not doing what the Lord has commanded.”
President Edwin B. Jones, former Regional Representative of the St. Louis/Champlain, Illinois Region, assured members that if they kept the covenants they have made with God, they will find the means to meet the challenges they face.
Elder Poelman told those attending the general sessions that when we read the scriptures regularly and ponder and pray about them, we will receive the divine messages contained in them and be able to cope with the complexities of modern life.
Elder Packer counseled, “the scriptures make it clear where we should stand on every issue.” He added, “What is the greatest thing parents can do for their children? To teach them to read the scriptures.”
President Romney reminded parents that “nothing will ever replace the home or its ability to teach family members righteous principles. For a home to be successful, it must be filled with love, respect, and understanding.”
Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, who accompanied the official party, testified of the blessings of his association with President Kimball “both as an individual and as the Lord’s chosen representative for his church here on earth.” A typical day for President Kimball begins at 4:30 A.M. and continues far into the night. On one rare occasion, when he advised President Kimball to get more rest, President Kimball replied, “Your job is to help me keep going at the pace I want to go.”
He told of an experience in Bolivia. After an exhausting trip and an equally exhausting day, President Kimball decided he wanted to shake the hand of every one of the 2,900 Lamanite people in attendance. When advised of the possible medical consequences, President Kimball replied, “I don’t think you understand. I don’t want to be saved in this world. But by good deeds and hard work, I want to be exalted in the life to come.”
Elder Ashton said, “A home should be a safe harbor in difficult times. It should be a place where we can be our best, a happy place where we can love and be loved, a place where our best friends are, a place where problems can be solved. Thank God for mothers who listen, believe, and have time for their children.”
After the closing prayer, a gentle hush fell over the giant Checkerdome. It was strangely quiet. No one moved. It was obvious no one really wanted to leave.
As President Kimball rose from his chair, everyone in the Checkerdome rose in respect. Somewhere in that huge crowd, a single voice began to sing “God be with you ’til we meet again.”
President Kimball stopped and turned. Thousands of voices joined in. President Kimball looked at the congregation for a few moments and then began to wave his handkerchief slowly in all directions. Tears began to fill the eyes of those on the speakers’ stand as well as those in the audience.
Regional Meetings—On Strengthening Families
Their purpose is to discuss local problems and pool local strengths. And the regional meetings held throughout the Church this year, themed to individual and family growth, did just that.
No two meetings were alike. Brief instructions from Salt Lake City indicated that “department sessions should be organized to meet local needs.” So the presentations, given by local people, dealt with local needs and local ways of filling those needs.
Talks and workshops focused on a group of goals approved by the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. The goals, entitled “Basic Points of Emphasis for Individual(s) and Family,” encourage individual progress and family preparedness and togetherness. Leaders discussed ways of helping members select goals and follow through with them. The four goal areas are missionary work, genealogy, temporal and spiritual welfare. (For specific goals, see “Basic Points of Emphasis,” Ensign, June 1980, p. 70.)
Lyle K. Porter presides over both the Albuquerque New Mexico and El Paso Texas regions. “But although the theme was the same in both regional meetings,” he says, “the ways of presenting it were different.” The planning committee for the El Paso meeting decided to choose one goal from each of the four areas of emphasis (getting out of debt, for example), and center plans and discussions around them. During the general sessions of the regional meeting, individuals gave ten-minute presentations on each of the selected goals. During departmental sessions, each group again concentrated on those goals, discussing how their quorum, auxiliary, or ward could best help people implement them.
The Albuquerque meeting was different, Brother Porter says, in that no specific goals were singled out, and no group goals were set—all of the goals were discussed on a more general level. But in that region, local leaders felt a need to devote time to workshops on leadership training. So they prepared workshops on ten leadership skills and scheduled them so that each person could choose and attend three of them.
“I’ve received a lot of favorable comments about the meetings this year,” Brother Porter says. “Because of the specific training and discussions that took place and the goals that we set, we’ll feel the good effects of the meetings all year long.”
Sidney B. Henderson, who presides over the Chico, Santa Rosa, and Napa California regions, says he’s amazed at the people’s ability to take the brief instructions from Church headquarters (less than 1 1/2 pages) and come up with such wonderful departmental sessions. At first, he says, some of the leaders were concerned that the meeting outlines didn’t give detailed instructions for the departmental sessions as in years past—only general suggestions were given. But as they studied the “Basic Points of Emphasis” and considered ways their organizations could adapt them to local situations, they became excited about tailoring the discussions to their own needs.
In the Toronto Ontario and Montreal Quebec regions, much attention was also given to ways the “Basic Points” could strengthen families. But in addition, leaders discussed the consolidated meeting schedule, the youth programs, and implementation plans for the new bishops’ central storehouse in the area. The mission presidents from local missions were there to give encouragement and training on missionary work. Regional Representative Elden C. Olsen says that the meetings were especially successful this year because instead of programming too heavily, discussion leaders allowed plenty of time for questions and answers.
A regional meeting is planned for every region in the Church—but missions that are comprised only of branches and districts are not part of the regional structure. Mission leaders have three options to choose from regarding regional meetings: to attend a regional meeting in a nearby region, to hold their own meeting on a missionwide basis, or to present the material to members at regularly scheduled district conferences.
Leaders in the Canada Halifax Mission decided to have their own meeting this year, and, appropriately, the theme of sacrifice played a big part in it. Over one hundred leaders gathered from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. For some, it was quite a journey. Some of them drove eight hours across Newfoundland, rode all night on a ferry from Port Aux Basques to Sidney, New Brunswick, and then drove another seven or eight hours to Moncton, New Brunswick, where the conference was held. And then they had the same two-day trip back home. They stayed with local members overnight.
According to mission president James A. Kenning, mission leaders did all they could to make the excursion worth it. They planned the meeting so that everyone would have something specific to contribute, and round-table presentations and discussions also involved everyone. The mission conference lasted longer than most regional meetings, but there was a lot to discuss: they talked about the difference Relief Society could make in the lives of women; they planned activities for the year for Young Men and Young Women; they taught clerks their duty; they discussed how to improve family and home life. Elden C. Olsen, Regional Representative of a neighboring region, presided at the conference and spoke about how to lead like the Savior leads. The feeling afterwards was that the meeting was going to make a big difference.
One side benefit of having all the leaders gather to one place, says President Kenning, was that it was the first time many of them had ever seen an LDS meetinghouse. Their ohs and ahs over the brand-new chapel in Moncton, complete with piano and organ, indicated their motivation to go back home and work for meetinghouses in their own areas.
But there’s more to regional meetings than just talk. Philip F. Low, who presides over the Indianapolis Indiana Region, says highlights of his meeting were the musical and cultural presentations. During the opening session, members of local stakes presented a twenty-minute musical program about families. And in the closing session, they had a twenty-minute slide presentation, complete with music and sound effects, about the history of the Church in Indiana—beginning with Zion’s Camp and Joseph Smith’s travels through the state. Those in attendance were happy to know how their state figured into the Sesquicentennial history of the Church.
Brother Henderson says he also encourages music and skits. In the three regional meetings under his direction, fifteen-minute skits emphasizing something taught or discussed during the meeting were part of the concluding sessions. Each of them was different—written and produced by the local members.
The 1980 regional meetings were characterized by dedication, originality, and inspiration. “I’ve heard only good comments about our meetings,” says Brother Henderson. “Of course, the meetings weren’t perfect, but this was my fifth year of regional meetings, and I can say that these were the best ones we’ve had.”
Magazine Subscription Rates to Rise
Effective 1 September, subscription rates for all three of the Church magazines will go up. The Ensign, now $6 a year, will be $8; the New Era and the Friend will go from $4 to $6 a year.
This change has been made necessary by rapidly rising publication costs, according to Verl F. Scott, business manager for the magazines. The three magazines are, and always have been, self-sustaining. Since neither advertising nor general Church funds underwrite current production costs, subscription income is the basis for funding the operating budget.
Costs have risen about fifty percent on the New Era and the Friend since the last subscription increase in 1975, and “very substantially” since the last price increase for the Ensign in 1978. Annual postage increases have been between fifteen and twenty percent. Paper and printing have averaged a ten to twelve percent increase annually, with other costs rising by about the same percentage.
Not Too Late to Register for World Conference on Records
There is still time to register for the World Conference on Records, August 12–15, in Salt Lake City. Registered attendance is climbing, and Genealogical Department planners are encouraging last-minute fans to sign up by dropping the late registration fee previously announced.
Registration for the four-day conference is $50 for the four days or $17.50 per day; students twelve through twenty-five may register for $25. Information on registration and housing is available from World Conference on Records, Genealogical Department, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Those interested may call from within Utah at 1-531-3335 or toll free from outside Utah at 1-800-453-3222.
Activities include over 300 lecture hours presented by 235 speakers from North America, India, Peru, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Sarawak, Italy, Scandinavia, central Europe, and Great Britain.
A Show-Me-How Fair, open each afternoon at the Salt Palace, will feature eighty different demonstrations of “old-time” activities like using a kerosene curling iron, making homemade butter, and trying out the softness of a feather bed. Other activities include how to preserve an ethnic heritage through songs, dances, and food, how to search a cemetery systematically; how to bind books yourself; and how to raise money for family history projects.
Some demonstrations will be repeated at least three times every afternoon. They include how to interview for oral histories, how to produce a tape and/or slide show, and how to analyze handwriting.
A highlight of the conference will be drill and marching routines by Mutual-age Young Women, dressed in white and carrying their homemade banners every afternoon on the Church Office Building plaza. Selected Young Women will give three-minute addresses on their heritage.
Church Policies and Announcements
Guidelines on Political Activities: As U.S. election campaigns build their momentum, the First Presidency has issued a letter to Regional Representatives, stake, mission, and district presidents, and bishops and branch presidents in the United States. The letter was to be read in sacrament meetings, and was dated 5 March 1980:
“Inasmuch as citizens of the United States are in the midst of prolonged election activities on local, state, and national levels, we reiterate our long-standing policy of encouraging members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be involved as citizens in the political process.
“We repeat the scriptural injunction that honest, wise, and good men and women should be sought for diligently and upheld in the performance of their civic duty.
“It is incumbent, therefore, upon Church members and all citizens, to study the issues, carefully consider the candidates and to exercise their right to vote after prayerful and intelligent consideration. This will insure support for such candidates and measures as will protect freedom and justice and strengthen the moral fiber of our communities and nation.
“In urging this devotion to good citizenship, we reaffirm that we take no partisan stand as to candidates or political parties, and exercise no constraint on the freedom of individuals to make their own choices in these matters. It is, however, contrary to our counsel and advice that ward, branch, or stake premises, chapels or other Church facilities be used in any way for political campaign purposes, whether it be for speech-making, distribution of literature, or class discussions. Needless to say, we are unalterably opposed to the use of our sacrament or other Church meetings for any such purposes, and those who attempt to use the Church facilities to further their political ambitions are injuring their cause and doing the Church a disservice.
“We ask that bishops and branch presidents read this message in a sacrament meeting now and later during the year as may be deemed necessary.”
The following items appeared in a recent Messages, sent to stake/mission/district presidents and to bishops and branch presidents:
“The Use of Church Buildings as Polling Places. With the approach of local and national elections, local leaders are advised that the use of Church buildings as polling places is discouraged. Such use is permitted in emergencies, provided that voting officials supervise the conduct of the public to assure that Church standards are maintained. This includes posting ‘no smoking’ signs and making other arrangements as necessary.
“Naming and Blessing Children. The naming and blessing of children should generally be done in fast and testimony meeting in the ward where the parents are members of record. The ordinance should not be performed in the regular weekly sacrament meeting. In the case of a critical illness of an infant, a worthy father, acting under the direction of the bishop, may perform the ordinance in the hospital or home.
“Confirmation. The ordinance of confirmation should generally be performed during the fast meeting. When a baptism precedes the fast meeting by more than one day, the confirmation ordinance should be performed at the baptism service.”
The following item appeared in a recent letter from President Ezra Taft Benson to heads of Church organization and departments: “Dear Brethren and Sisters:
“In order to communicate more effectively and to simplify and reduce the administrative burden on local leaders, effective immediately bulletins from Church headquarters will be included in a single Church Bulletin to be published on a monthly basis.
“This bulletin will replace Messages and all priesthood and auxiliary bulletins and general correspondence sent from all Church agencies and will contain statements on policies and procedures, training resources for stake conferences and stake and ward priesthood and auxiliary leadership meetings, suggestions and ideas for leaders, as well as reminders and other instructions. Special or confidential items will continue to be communicated occasionally by letter from the First Presidency, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric.”
The Arizona Temple has a new presidency. L. Harold Wright of Mesa, Arizona, is temple president, with counselors Marion I. Vance of Kyrene, Arizona, and Leo B. Hakes of Phoenix. Leah Thomas Wright, wife of President Wright, is temple matron.
Two counselors have been named for the Tokyo Temple. They are Yukus Y. Inouye, American Fork, Utah, and Yashuhiro Matsushita, Kawagoe, Japan. Temple President Dwayne Nelson Andersen’s appointment was announced several weeks ago.
Elder Marion D. Hanks of the First Quorum of the Seventy has been elected to the advisory council of the Boy Scouts of America.
October sees another in the series of Reader’s Digest inserts. This one will deal with the Church’s missionary efforts, describing the purpose and procedures of missionary work.
Canadian Studies is a new program at Brigham Young University, and the newly appointed chairman, Ken L. Cutts, president of Fort Garry Trust Co. and Bestland Development Ltd. of Winnipeg, will juggle that job and his present professional responsibilities.
Canadian Studies is part of the BYU Center for International and Area Studies. An average of 780 Canadian students enroll each year at BYU, more than at any other university in the United States. BYU is one of about twenty officially designated depositories in the U.S. for documents distributed by Federal Supply and Services Canada, and is the only such depository between Minnesota and the west coast.
The program will prepare students for government, business, and educational careers that require knowledge of Canadian affairs. Brother Cutts will work with business, civic, and educational leaders in Canada to help create a financial base for the development of the Canadian Studies Program.
The Cody Wyoming Stake plans to begin rebuilding its stake center immediately on the foundations that are still reusable. The $1.8 million-dollar structure, scheduled for completion by 1 October, was nearly destroyed by arson on 28 May.
Between ten and twelve million Japanese viewers saw a ten-minute broadcast on Latter-day Saint family preparedness. The family of Bishop Lex De Azevedo of Studio City Second Ward, Los Angeles California North Hollywood Stake, canned cherries and ate a meal prepared from food storage items before the cameras in May on the World ’80 show. The network asked for another segment, this time twenty minutes long, for an estimated sixteen to twenty million viewers. Again family food storage was featured.
Mark W. Cannon, administrative assistant to the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke at Morris Brown College’s commencement exercises, its first white man in years to be a graduation speaker and probably the first Latter-day Saint to receive an honorary doctorate of laws degree from any university with a predominantly black enrollment. The college choir sang, “Come, Come Ye Saints.”
American Latter-day Saints who serve in the armed forces can have gravestones marked with the special emblem of Moroni blowing a trumpet. Catholic graves have traditionally been designated by a cross, Jews by the star of David, Buddhists by the wheel of righteousness, and so forth.
These emblems are placed on the headstones at government expense; Latter-day Saint families have been required to pay for any distinctive marking they might have wanted up to this point. Brother Donald L. Wardle, director of the Veterans Administration, Department of Memorial Affairs, was instrumental in securing approval for the emblem which had been authorized by the First Presidency.
Austria has its first stake. The Vienna Austria Stake, the first one created in that country, was formed April 20 from the Austria Vienna Mission. Austria was opened for missionary work in 1865, and the first branch was formed there in 1901. The first Vienna branch was organized in 1909. The Church was officially recognized by the Austrian government in 1958. There are more than 2,750 members in the new stake.
New President for BYU—Hawaii
Dr. J. Elliot Cameron, Brigham Young University’s student services vice-president, has been named president of the BYU—Hawaii campus effective 1 August.
Dr. Cameron replaces Dr. Dan W. Andersen who is joining BYU’s College of Education faculty after serving since 1973 as BYU—Hawaii’s academic dean, executive vice-president, and president. Under his leadership, enrollment has increased from 900 to 1,800, and academic standards and performance have been significantly raised. The school, celebrating its silver jubilee, has thirty-two countries and twenty languages represented in the studentbody.