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Times of Great Blessings: Witnessing the Miracles

“We are jubilant this day, our Holy Father, and have hearts filled with praise to Thee that Thou hast permitted us to see the completion of this temple and to see this day for which we have so long hoped and toiled and prayed.”

In this inspired sentence, sent heavenward by President Spencer W. Kimball in his prayer dedicating the Tokyo Temple, are encompassed the thanksgiving and joyful exultation experienced during six area conferences and the temple dedication in Asia.

Indeed, the 15 days—October 18 through November 1, 1980—of conferences and dedicatory activities in the vast populous reaches of the Pacific were a celebration of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Participants who gathered in Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, and Osaka were, in the words of Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, “witnesses of the miracle” that had begun 79 years earlier. Their hearts nearly bursting with emotion, they could understand why Tokyo Temple President Dwayne N. Andersen described the temple dedication as “the most important event in the history of Asia.”

Front view of the Tokyo Temple

Front view of the Tokyo Temple.

That sentiment echoed President Kimball’s remarks welcoming 860 members to the first of seven sessions of “one of the most significant events that have occurred in the Church, the dedication of this lovely building to the Lord.”

During the next two hours and during subsequent dedicatory sessions, those in attendance came to understand better than ever before why the Lord has declared, “My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” (D&C 25:12.)

It was a rare spiritual experience to hear the twenty-eight member choir invoke divine blessings in their rendition of “O My Father.” Tears sparkled in every eye and muffled sobs became a grand amen then and later as “Bless This House,” “This House We Dedicate To Thee,” and the glorious “Hosannah Anthem” proclaimed, “The house of the Lord is completed.” The power of heaven was truly manifest.

That power was no less evident when President Kimball declared: “God is our Heavenly Father. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer.

“We know what we are doing. We know we are members of the Lord’s true Church. … It is true and divine.”

He called upon “every man and every woman … to make a very strenuous effort to see that they are married in the holy temple … and train [their] children to love the Lord and keep his commandments.”

He expressed concern about “many young people who are not fully and properly trained in the Church.” Many parents, he said, are seeking after the pleasures of the world and are not spending as much time and attention as they should for the benefit of their children.

“I am sure that if every mother and every father will use their home evenings every Monday night—every Monday night—to teach these truths to their children, then every boy and girl will be married for time and all eternity in the holy temple. … Then we will make great progress and will have established righteous homes for all our people, and they will be happy and contented and will become devoted workers in the Church and in our holy temples.”

He called for “an immediate change to start with a reformation in the homes of all Latter-day Saints so that this would be very well established in every home and in every child’s life and in every family.”

“It would be foolish,” President Kimball warned, “for us to come to the dedication of a temple and not make up our minds that from this hour on, we aren’t just here for a visit, we are here to receive the word of the Lord, and from this hour to the end of our days, we pledge ourselves that we will live the commandments of the Lord and see that our children are properly taught so they will also enjoy the great happiness that can come only through living the commandments of the Lord.”

His dedicatory prayer reflected that concern as President Kimball pleaded, “Please bless us that we may be able to stir the youth of Zion with a desire for eternal marriage in Thy holy temple.”

President Marion G. Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, explained that “temples did not, do not originate in the mind of men; neither do the ceremonies performed therein. They are revealed from heaven by the Lord’s decree.”

President Romney recalled the reaction five years earlier to President Kimball’s announcement that the Tokyo Temple would be built:

“It was on a Sunday, and everyone broke out in a clapping spell—and well they might have.” The challenge now is that “we use this temple to its capacity,” he said.

Multistory stained-glass window in the Tokyo Temple

Multistory stained-glass window in the Tokyo Temple.

Referring to the hymn, “O My Father,” Elder Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles thanked “those who have so beautifully reminded us of the great and wonderful things of God: Father, Mother, the life before this, the reality of life to come. These are of the very essence of temple work.”

His words found ready assent from all present: “I feel so deeply grateful to be here with my beloved brothers and sisters of Japan and other nations. … You are my friends and I love you; I’m grateful to be one with you in the work of our Eternal Father.”

Another tender yet powerful moment was experienced at the close of the first dedicatory session when Han In Sang, Regional Representative from Seoul, Korea, offered the benediction. He was one of several Korean ecclesiastical authorities invited to the dedication.

Current legal restrictions largely prevent Korean husbands and wives from leaving the country together or with their children. But during President Kimball’s visit to Korea, the government had announced its intentions to review the restrictive law. And on Sunday, October 26, President Kimball had paused during his opening address to the Seoul Area Conference to state:

“Before long we hope there will be a temple in Korea.”

Later, President Kimball was to say to the Japanese Saints, “We hope it won’t be too long until every major country will have a temple.”

Thus burdened by concerns for his people, yet heartened by prophetic promises, Brother Han gave expression, first in Korean and then in English, to profound gratitude and love, especially for the sacrifices of the Japanese people in the completion of the Tokyo Temple, and pleaded for a prompt relaxation of legal restrictions and the fulfillment of the hopes of the Korean and other Saints for temples in their lands.

In the subsequent six dedicatory sessions conducted the next two days in the Tokyo Stake Center in order to accommodate larger congregations, President Kimball repeated his dedicatory address and prayer, and other General Authorities and members of the Tokyo Temple presidency were called upon to speak.

President Kimball was accompanied on the entire journey by President Romney; Elder Mark E. Petersen and Elder Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Marion D. Hanks and Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the First Quorum of the Seventy; President Barbara B. Smith of the Relief Society; President Elaine A. Cannon of the Young Women; and David M. Kennedy, special representative of the First Presidency.

Joining them in Tokyo for the temple dedication and area conference were President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder W. Grant Bangerter and Elder Adney Y. Komatsu of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

President Ezra Taft Benson described the temple as “the nearest place to heaven on earth.” He urged the Japanese Saints to attend the temple regularly on stake temple days and promised them, “the Lord will bless your labors and you as you serve him faithfully.”

Temple covenants require that we acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, our Redeemer and Savior, and embrace all of his laws and principles and comply with the ordinances of the gospel, he said.

Fundamental ways by which parents may strengthen their families, President Benson said, include spending more time in the home; practicing daily devotion in the home with family prayers, family hymn singing, and scripture study; giving more parental instruction to children in life’s problems; doing things as a family; and developing closer parent-child relationships.

The Tokyo Temple exhibits “Oriental” detailing on the pillars and spire

The Tokyo Temple exhibits “Oriental” detailing on the pillars and spire.

Explaining that all ordinances of the Church are essential to both the living and the dead, Elder Mark E. Petersen said the temple “is the gateway to celestial glory, as baptism is the gate to membership in the Church.

“Every human being needs the blessings of the temple. Let no one think the temple is optional if they hope to receive blessings in heaven.”

He reiterated the plea that every man and woman “go to the temple to be married; every young person plan to marry only in the temple.”

Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, the first General Authority of Japanese descent, spoke of the “deep feeling of joy in my heart” in the fulfillment of the long-held dream for a temple in Asia.

He told of a Japanese sister who had died recently after her eighty-sixth birthday. “She had been a member since 1914 and finally, after fifty-five years’ preparation, was able to go to the Hawaii Temple in 1969.” He expressed “great appreciation that this present generation will not have to wait so long to receive the blessings of the temple.”

Elder W. Grant Bangerter, executive director of temples, counseled, “We have prepared the temples. Now we must ask how we have prepared the people.”

There is no purpose to having temples, he said, if the people are not devoted and willing to sacrifice to receive the temple ordinances in their own behalf and for their deceased ancestors and to share the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with their neighbors and the world.

A recurring theme of the dedicatory services and area conferences was the recognition of and gratitude for the stalwart Saints who laid the foundations of the Church and carried its testimony of Jesus Christ to the world.

President Romney described the conversion and baptism of his and Sister Camilla Eyring Kimball’s great-grandfather Miles Romney in 1839 in England by Heber C. Kimball, the great-grandfather of President Spencer W. Kimball.

Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi recounted the sufferings of one of Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley’s forebears on the journey from Nauvoo to Utah. It was necessary, he said, for others to amputate her frozen limbs with an axe in order to save her life.

The expansion of the Church into Asia, Elder Kikuchi said, was one of the direct answers to the prayer of the Prophet Joseph Smith when he dedicated the Kirtland Temple and pleaded:

“We ask Thee, Holy Father, that Thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power. … And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth.” (D&C 109:22–23.) Referring also to the beginnings of missionary work in Japan, which eventually spread elsewhere in Asia, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley quoted from the diary of Elder Heber J. Grant, later to become seventh president of the Church. On August 12, 1901, Elder Grant, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and three companions introduced missionary work in Japan. His prayer of dedication, Elder Hinckley said, foresaw a slow beginning, but an eventual flourishing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Asia. He was correct on both counts.

President Grant wrote of those early years in Japan: “I have an abiding faith that this is to be one of the most successful missions ever established in the Church. It is going to be slow work at first but the harvest is to be something great and will astonish the world in years to come.”

The harvest was, indeed, slow in coming.

Alma O. Taylor, who accompanied Elder Grant to Japan and remained for nine years, reported that in that time four women and three men had been baptized, six in Tokyo and one in Hokkaido.

The passing years didn’t bring much change.

By July 31, 1925, after 24 years of labor, 166 had been baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan.

Shortly before that “when the work was not doing well,” explained Elder Marion D. Hanks, “the Lord called four young couples to come to Japan in the hopes they would be more successful.”

Among them were Elwood and Arva Christensen of Brigham City, Utah. Elder Hanks introduced Brother Christensen to the Saints gathered in the temple dedication. He was accompanied by two of his sons, one of them born in Osaka, and two of his daughters, one of them Elder Hanks’ wife Maxine.

Elder Hanks encouraged all to do their work thinking of the truth that life is eternal.

“Those who worked here sixty and seventy years ago,” he said, “could not envision what we are experiencing this week.

But they were laying the foundation of a great work.”

Stained-glass window, hazy through the drapes, and chandelier in the Tokyo Temple

Stained-glass window, hazy through the drapes, and chandelier in the Tokyo Temple.

And what a contrast it was for all those who had shared or read or heard of the early sorrows and disappointments and were now witnesses of the fulfillment of divine promises. For instance:

—The morning after the final dedicatory session for the Tokyo Temple, 1500 missionaries from the nine missions of Japan gathered in the Tokyo Stake Center for a special conference with President Kimball. Earlier, the Church leader and other Church authorities had met with 1800 missionaries in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea.

—Before returning to their proselyting duties, 150 native Japanese full-time missionaries who had not previously received their temple endowments were among the first to enter the Tokyo Temple for that purpose.

—The next evening, 122 men, women, and children from Okinawa participated in sealing ceremonies after the husbands and wives had first received their temple endowments. (The temple opened its regular schedule on Tuesday, November 4.)

—Although days and nights on this long tour were filled with travel, area conference activities, and seven temple dedicatory sessions, the organization of new stakes in Asia didn’t let up. In the days immediately before the temple dedication, President Ezra Taft Benson had organized new stakes in Okinawa and Yokohama; Elder Gordon B. Hinckley had organized the Kwangju Korea Stake; and the day after the last area conference session in Osaka, Elder Hinckley and Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi organized new stakes in Sendai and Nagoya, Japan, respectively. Elder Hinckley also ordained three new stake patriarchs in Japan and one in Korea.

—Elaine A. Cannon, president of the Young Women, told of being introduced to a tailor and his wife in their shop in Taipei. At her invitation the wife attended the women’s meeting and the husband a general session of the Taiwan Area Conference.

“Amy had been wondering how they could learn more to help their children. Together we read in 3 Nephi, chapter 11, to learn about baptism and why it was necessary,” Sister Cannon said. “After thinking about it, she wanted to learn more so her children could learn more. [3 Ne. 11]

“‘But that isn’t enough,’ Amy said. ‘The woman who tends the children must know and the neighbors must know so they can help.’”

All agreed with Sister Cannon: “What a missionary find! This is the way the gospel works, the way it spreads.”

—More than 45,000 Church members, about 35 percent of the approximately 130,000 members in the five countries, attended area conference sessions. Attendance ranged from 18,000 in Manila to 10,000 in Tokyo, 6400 in Osaka, 6000 in Seoul, 2500 in Hong Kong, and 2200 in Taiwan.

—Approximately 7500 attended the temple dedicatory sessions.

—Possibly never before in the history of Asia had such clear direction been given about the exalted role of women in the kingdom of God.

Relief Society President Barbara B. Smith said, “Our Church leaders today stand in support of Relief Society.” At her invitation in each area conference, the General Authorities present stood and expressed their total support, typified by the concurrence of Elder Mark E. Petersen. “Relief Society is not optional. It is part of our responsibility to see that Relief Society is organized in each ward or branch.

“Do not postpone this action,” he admonished. “Do it now. It will be a blessing to you.”

In his dedicatory prayer, President Kimball pleaded, “Wilt Thou richly endow the sisters of the Church, our wives, our mothers, our daughters, with the spirit of their exalted callings and responsibilities. Father, Thou knowest our great love for them. So, also, in their various needs, pour out precious gifts of wisdom, faith, and knowledge upon them.”

“Relief Society is rejuvenating, stimulating, and refreshing,” and its product is virtuous, faithful, courageous women, President Smith said.

Thousands of members of Relief Society and Young Women and hundreds of their officers from the twenty-eight stakes and twenty-three missions in the five countries met with their general presidents, most of them for the first time.

President Kimball gathered greater strength each day, blessed by answers to the prayers offered by Saints in special fast meetings prior to his arrival in Asia. He delivered thirty-one addresses to the Saints, conducted many of the meetings, and set apart temple workers in Tokyo and Hawaii (on a three-hour stopover).

In addition, President Kimball renewed acquaintances with President Ferdinand E. Marcos of the Philippines in a thirty-minute visit in Malacanang Palace in Manila, sat at breakfast with President Chiang Ching-Kuo of the Republic of China, was honored at a twelve-course luncheon by Governor and Mrs. Yang-Kang Lin of the Taiwan Provincial Government in Taipei, and attended a luncheon hosted by Tae Wan-Son, president of the Korean American Friendship Association in Seoul and former deputy prime minister of Korea.

Only twice in the course of the conferences did his voice drop to apparently fatigued whispers, but the moments passed quickly.

Thus it is understandable that these not-to-be-forgotten days richly deserve the description—“times of great blessings”—given them by President I-Ch’ing Chang of the Taipei Taiwan Stake.

Elder Hinckley’s testimony in Manila, when he invited Brother David Lagman to stand with him before the 18,000 Saints gathered in the Araneta Coliseum, could stand as a summary of the blessings felt by all who attended the conferences and temple dedication:

“I see before me a miracle. You are a miracle. Twenty years ago we held a meeting at the American Cemetery and rededicated this land to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You, David Lagman, were the only native Filipino member of the Church that we could find.

“Look up; look at these people. This one man has become a congregation of 46,000 in the Republic of the Philippines. To his great credit through all these years he has kept the faith.”

And so it is throughout Asia. All of which explains President Kimball’s parting words to the Saints in Asia:

“I leave you with regret and give to you my love and blessings.”

[photo] Both chandelier and a warm glow from stained-glass window light this sealing room in the Tokyo Temple. (© LDS.)

[photo] Saints cluster outside Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, site of the Taipei area conference.

Jerry P. Cahill, director of Public Affairs in the Church’s Public Communications Department, is a Gospel Doctrine teacher in the Millcreek Third Ward, Salt Lake City, Utah.

New Reporting System to Take Effect 1 January 1981

A new streamlined Church unit statistical reporting system goes into effect this month.

The need for a new reporting system grew out of studies showing that, for various reasons, the old reporting system duplicated efforts, was overly complex, and in some areas provided unnecessary or inaccurate information. Under the new system, the report has been reduced by two-thirds, but the essential information has been maintained, and in certain areas new and better information will now be available.

What are some of the changes? Activity reports will be submitted quarterly rather than monthly. Sunday School attendance will be reported only by the Sunday School. Only priesthood meeting attendance for men and boys, Relief Society attendance for women, and Young Women attendance for girls will be reported. The quorums and organizations will not report sacrament meeting attendance. No yearly activity records will be required. A special form will be used for recording home teaching and visiting teaching. An Action Report will focus on the needs of families and individuals, and “critical events” (such as convert baptisms, priesthood ordinations, the number of missionaries set apart, and temple marriages) will be used as indicators of over-all activity.

Each item on the new reports had to pass three tests: What information is vital and essential to Church administration? Can the information be gathered in an accurate and reliable way? And what can be done to more efficiently produce the necessary information?

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy explains that with the program comes a distinctive “philosophy of reports and administration. … [The report is] a management tool where use requires a certain amount of skill and judgement. …

“Leaders should realize that reports are not a device to put pressure on people. They are instead a source of information to help leaders better understand what is happening, make better plans to achieve important objectives, and make better informed decisions. … Reporting is primarily an administrative matter, not a clerical exercise.”

Recognizing that some leaders may feel that they do not have enough information to act properly during this transition period, he added, “We want to discourage bishops and stake presidents from generating additional or more frequent statistical reports. … Statistics are not the only way to understand what is going on. Meetings, interviews, and personal observation help to round out our information supply, and the Spirit can help us better discern the meaning in what we see.”

In the fifty stakes where this reporting system was piloted for two years, several questions seemed to come up more frequently than others. Here is a sampling:

1. Will there be a tendency for stakes and wards to slack off in their performance if leaders do not receive a report more than quarterly? No. If there is a decrease in performance, it is probably due to something other than reporting frequency. There were no activity differences between stakes reporting monthly and those reporting quarterly. The information provided from statistical records and reports should be used as tools to establish goals and lead others in efforts to accomplish those goals. When leaders use information to pressure or control others, they are using the records and reports improperly.

2. There is some information—like home teaching—that I need monthly. How can I obtain this information when I only receive a quarterly report? Home teaching information is available from priesthood quorums as frequently as needed. This information can also be requested in personal priesthood interviews and other appropriate meetings where the names of individuals are discussed.

3. I have been used to getting fast offering information, convert baptism information, and information on single members, but these items are not on the new reports. How can I get it? This information, though not included on the activity reports, is still available from other sources. Fast-offering information is found on the ward/branch monthly financial report. Convert baptism information is available from the ward ordinance and action record and from the annual ward/branch and stake/district ordinance and action statistical reports. Information concerning the number of single members is found on the annual ward/branch and stake/district membership statistical reports.

4. Why are family home evening statistics not contained in the new reports? Most bishops and stake presidents report that family home evening statistics are usually inaccurate and unreliable. Leaders are encouraged to use personal priesthood interviews and other appropriate avenues to determine the way families and individuals participate in family home evening in their homes.

5. What are some of the new items of information contained in the new statistical records? The number of temple recommend holders is on the ward/branch and stake/district activity reports. The number of single and married adults and the priesthood and missionary status of males 19–21 is on the ward/branch and stake/district membership statistical reports.

6. Why are we no longer keeping track of individual sacrament meeting attendance in the reporting system? The attendance of members at priesthood, Young Women, Relief Society, and Primary meetings compares closely with their attendance at sacrament meeting. It was therefore determined that keeping track of individual sacrament meeting attendance was unnecessary. Of course, sacrament meeting attendance is very important, but leaders can gain an accurate idea of sacrament meeting attendance by looking at attendance statistics from these other meetings.

7. Since attendance is recorded only at specific meetings, how will youth leaders administer their awards program? The requirements for youth award programs are still the same; however, leaders will ask the youth themselves whether they fulfilled their attendance requirements.

[photo] New, simplified program helps strengthen small Church units.

New Basic Unit Program Explained

In President Kimball’s address at the priesthood session in October general conference (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 46), he described a simplified procedure called the “basic unit program” that uses simpler manuals, guidebooks, reports, and buildings.

In instructions sent to Regional Representatives, stake presidents, and mission presidents in October 1980 following general conference, this program was explained in greater detail. It can operate in any place where language, culture, or distance make it difficult for individual families or groups to participate fully in the Church organization. The program enables leaders to help each family or basic unit develop its strength fully before moving on to the next step instead of trying to establish full programs immediately.

The full text of the First Presidency’s letter, stressing the flexibility and usefulness of this program, is dated 10 October 1980, for all Regional Representatives and stake and mission presidents. It states:

“Dear Brethren:

“In the recent General Conference Priesthood Session and also during the Regional Representatives meeting, President Spencer W. Kimball made pointed reference to the Basic Unit Program. He explained that this program is now available in most languages. It is ideally suited for use where numbers are not sufficient for the full Church program and particularly where there may be a language difference.

“We find that many stake and mission presidents are not fully aware how this program may be of service to them. The program was designed to accommodate members who are separated from the larger units of the Church by language, culture, or by distance. It consists of organizational handbooks for use by the family, by very small groups, or by an emerging branch organization. There are also special simplified reports and instructional manuals published for men, women, and children where numbers do not justify several classes.

“Small buildings have likewise been designed to accommodate these smaller branches. These buildings can be expanded as numbers increase and as members are able to adopt more of the Church program.

“Where this program has been used we have met with very encouraging success, particularly among the minority groups. Where before many were not enjoying full activity in the Church, we now have many smaller branches led by local leaders with increased participation.

“We continue to have concern about the weight of the full Church program. While it may serve well the larger wards with commodious buildings and adequate numbers, it becomes burdensome on wards and branches that have fewer members and may have some limitations in the buildings they are able to provide.

“We ask that you become acquainted with this program. There may be some parts of it that you may wish to introduce into units that are already established, with a desire to simplify the program and reduce travel expense.

“We thank you for your dedicated service and urge you to give careful attention to those who may not be fully served because of language, cultural, or distance problems. They have a tendency to withdraw from activity in the Church because of the complicated nature of our programs. May we invite you to study the material we are enclosing which includes sample copies of the guidebooks and such other material as may be helpful to you in becoming acquainted with this important program.

“Executive Administrators are authorized to approve new branches in stakes and missions. In order that a unit number may be assigned for proper management of membership records, reports, and finances, an application form, a copy of which is enclosed, is required to obtain Basic Unit materials. Executive Administrators should be very careful to ensure that all new branches apply for a unit number.

“May the Lord bless you in your service and give you inspiration as you look to the welfare of our minority brothers and sisters.”

Religious Values in Literature to Be Studied

Brigham Young University has established a new center to study and stimulate interest in the religious, Christian, and moral content of great literature. Funding comes from a $25,000 grant from the Marguerite Eyer Wilbur Foundation of Santa Barbara, California.

BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland said this center will conduct “fresh research, instruction, and publication in a vast body of literature that is rich in religious values but virtually untouched as yet by serious scholarship.

“We intend to stimulate interest among literary scholars nationally as well as here within the BYU faculty,” he stated. “Such a center is symbolic of the unique opportunity we have at BYU to examine and espouse under the light of rigorous scholarship the moral values inherent in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The director is Sister Marilyn Arnold, English professor and assistant to former President Dallin H. Oaks for several years. “Until now there has been some hesitancy to employ values and morals in literary criticism, feeling that the art of the literature would be lost,” she said. “But we feel that high morals and high art go hand in hand. We intend to make a very valid case for approaching literature through its religious implications.”

She said current literary trends tend to emphasize technical creativity, sometimes at the expense of solid content.

“We are looking for a blending of content and form,” Dr. Arnold said, adding that content in great works has always involved moral values. “I suspect you would be hard pressed to find a great piece of literature that didn’t have some religious content.”

In addition to trying to influence literary trends, Dr. Arnold said the center will work to generate interest in good literature among the general public.

“We would like to get people reading and understanding great literature,” Dr. Arnold said. “At the same time, we would hope to educate people who now only look at content and think that because a story makes them feel good it is good literature.”

Among its activities, the center will sponsor an annual lecture at BYU and writing contests that emphasize quality writing on subjects of moral value. The center will also publish a journal and participate in BYU’s College of Humanities’ annual symposium to bring recognized scholars in Christianity and literature to campus.

A New National Park for Guatemala?

Deep in the Guatemalan jungle a team of Brigham Young University archaeologists have been working for many months to uncover the ruins of El Mirador, an ancient Mayan city located about 225 miles north of Guatemala City.

Significant archaeological discoveries in the area recently prompted Dr. Ray Matheny, professor of archaeology and anthropology and leader of the BYU expedition, to invite Guatemalan President Romeo Lucas to visit El Mirador and ask him to declare the site a national park. “The sheer immensity of the ‘forgotten city’ in the jungle is impressive,” Dr. Matheny emphasized. “It could be the largest and oldest city yet discovered in Mesoamerica.”

President Lucas and a score of other government officials excitedly toured the ancient city just before the expedition closed camp for the rainy season. Government leaders would like to see El Mirador become a major tourist attraction, but it will take years before an airfield is built and the ruins are prepared for visitors.

One of the most recent discoveries is a huge sculptured head, described by Dr. Matheny as looking “like a jaguar and a human at the same time, with large teeth, an earspool in the earlobe as a symbolic decoration of authority, and extended jaguar claws as part of the ear decoration.” He believes that the red stucco head, discovered by BYU graduate student Richard Hansen, was carved about 2,000 years ago.

Some one and a half miles from where the sculptured head was unearthed, Dr. Matheny’s group discovered “one of the largest known buildings in antiquity found anywhere in the world.” The building stands twenty stories high with a base measuring one-fifth of a mile. It is also one of the most unusual formations found in Mesoamerica. Built on a centerline with other massive buildings in the area, the structure has a series of platforms on which smaller buildings are located. “Nothing like it is known to exist anywhere else,” Dr. Matheny said.

[photo] Students measure a sculpture at El Mirador.

January 1982 Marks Beginning of Curriculum Year

The First Presidency has recently announced a unified, worldwide date for the beginning of the Church curriculum year. In a letter to Church leaders around the world, the First Presidency said:

“In the way of unification, reduction, and simplification of Church programs, the Church Curriculum year will now be unified worldwide on a calendar-year basis.

“The change to the new calendar year will become effective on January 1, 1982. This will allow for the necessary adjustments and notifications to be made and communicated prior to implementation.” (Dated 30 September 1980.)

Wayne Lynn, director of the Church Curriculum Planning and Development Department, commented, “We’re very pleased with this decision; it indicates that we are truly becoming a worldwide church.”

He explained that the current system, keyed to the beginning of the local school year, means that the curriculum year begins on six different dates throughout the world. January 1 marks the beginning date for Guatemala, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, Tonga, and Fiji. One month later, on February 1, Australia, New Zealand, Bolivia, Chile, Western Samoa, El Salvador, Peru, and Guayaquil begin. They are followed after thirty days by Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Central America, Japan, and Korea on March 1.

Then the Philippines begins on July 1 followed by the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Tahiti on September 1.

Ecuador is a special case. All the country except Quito begins on February 1; Quito’s schedule calls for starting in October.

“With additional languages and areas being added each year, this problem would have increased,” points out Brother Lynn. The problems become particularly complicated in some areas. Portugal, on a September 1 schedule, has trouble getting its materials on time from Brazil, which is on a March 1 schedule. U.S. servicemen’s branches overseas are on a different schedule than those in neighboring branches. Minority branches in the United States have the same problems.

Other reasons for making the shift are—

1. Two annual shipments of curriculum, clerical, and administrative material can now be reduced to one, resulting in a significant savings of money and effort.

2. Producing and translating Church materials can be better coordinated.

3. Financial and activity records are already kept on a calendar year; so is master planning.

4. The consolidated meeting schedule, with a twelve-month curriculum for all age groups, will adapt easily to a calendar-year curriculum.

5. Members moving to different parts of the world will not interrupt their curriculum studies, and Church scripture-reading programs can now be unified worldwide.

Young Men and Young Women Announcements

The following information appeared in the November 1980 Bulletin:

Young Men

The Exploring Division of Boy Scouts of America provides opportunities for Explorers (sixteen-seventeen years of age) to compete for scholarships and awards in various fields. These awards and scholarships include the Law Assistant Award, the Young American Award, the American Medical Association Recognition Plan, the James S. Kemper Foundation scholarship, and the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation scholarship. Other awards and scholarships are also available. You can obtain further information through your local Boy Scouts of America council service center. Applications are available at the same source. The young men of the Church should be aware of and take advantage of the scholarships and awards available to them.

Young Women

The annual meeting for young women will take place 28 March 1981 and will again be broadcast from the Tabernacle on Temple Square. Further details will be provided later.

LDS Scene

The 1980 Relief Society Song Contest winners are as follows:

First place: Rosalind M. Crosby, composer, of Carmichael, California, and Mildred Hunt, lyricist, of Sacramento, California, for “This Place Is Nauvoo.”

Second place: Bernice Conrad of Mesa, Arizona, for “Blessed Are They.”

Third place: Dyanne S. Riley, composer, of El Cajon, California, and Ruth Watson, lyricist, of Santee, California, for “The Gift.”

Honorable Mention: Jackie F. Robinson of Parowan, Utah, for “As Gardens by the River’s Side.”

Scripture Stories, the illustrated stories for readers, is now available at the Salt Lake City Distribution Center. The 8 1/2 x 11 inch book draws on all of the standard works for its stories. The Distribution Center catalogue and an Ensign announcement had given the price as $2.50. A hard-cover book, it will instead sell for $3.95. The order number is PBIC0358, Salt Lake City Distribution Center, 1999 W. 1700 S., Salt Lake City, Utah 84104.