News of the Church


Church Representatives at Reagan Inauguration

In January, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve represented the Church at the inauguration of United States President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was also widely featured at the inaugural.

President Benson, designated as the Church’s representative by the First Presidency, was accompanied by his wife, Sister Flora A. Benson. He attended the swearing-in ceremony on Capital Hill January 20, met privately with President Reagan that same day, spoke at several Church gatherings, and addressed temple workers in the Washington, D.C., Temple.

The Tabernacle Choir performed during the opening ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial and rode a seventy-foot parade float in the inaugural parade. At the request of Nancy Reagan, the float stopped at the presidential review box and the choir sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

This was the choir’s third appearance at the inauguration of a president.

In addition to its inauguration performances, the choir broadcast its “Music and the Spoken Word” program from the Hebrew Temple in Washington, D.C.

The inaugural opening ceremony was planned and directed by Osmond Entertainment/Tommy Walker Spectaculars International, headquartered in Orem, Utah.

[photos] Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten

[photo] Tabernacle Choir in concert with U.S. Army Band, in front of Lincoln Memorial

[photo] Tabernacle Choir broadcasts Sunday program from Hebrew Temple in Washington, D.C.

[photo] President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan respond to Tabernacle Choir during inaugural parade.

Latter-day Saints Appointed to Reagan Cabinet and White House Team

The Utah commissioner of higher education, T. H. Bell, fifty-nine, has been selected by President Ronald Reagan to serve as United States secretary of education. A former member of the Sunday School General Board, Brother Bell was recently released as stake Sunday School president in a Salt Lake stake.

His appointment follows two previous appointments in Washington, D.C. In 1970, he was named acting commissioner of the U.S. Office of Education, serving one year before returning to Utah. In 1974, he was chosen U.S. Commissioner of Education, and served for two years.

Born in Idaho, Dr. Bell has coached in rural schools, taught at universities, and supervised school districts in Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.

Richard Beal, thirty-four, an associate professor of political science at Brigham Young University, has been named first director of the Office of Planning and Evaluation for the White House. This new office is responsible for briefing President Ronald Reagan daily on decisions that need to be made and options for those decisions. Part of Brother Beal’s job also involves structured discussions with cabinet members.

[photo] T. H. Bell, new U.S. Cabinet member

Policies and Announcements

New Guidelines for Missionaries with Additional Assignments. The First Presidency has released a set of guidelines for missionary couples and lady missionaries who receive assignments in addition to proselyting. A letter to all priesthood leaders accompanied the document.

The letter reads: “We are pleased with the ever-increasing numbers of stable and sound converts who are joining the Church, and we commend you and all who labor with you in the missionary program of the Church.

“We have approved changes in policies concerning missionary couples and lady missionaries. Under the new guidelines couples and lady missionaries will be assigned to proselyte and may be given additional assignments: leadership/member work, welfare services, visitors’ centers, public relations, mission office staff, genealogy, education, temple, International Mission.

“The guidelines for this expanded program accompany this letter. We trust that you will familiarize yourselves with the guidelines so that the skills and experience of couples and lady missionaries will be used in establishing the kingdom and perfecting the Saints.

“We encourage all priesthood leaders to give specific consideration to couples who could serve in the missionary effort and be blessed through that service. By effectively implementing this program you can help us spread the gospel throughout the world and meet the pressing needs of Church growth.”

The letter was signed by the First Presidency.

The guidelines which accompanied the letter state that “all missionaries are engaged in sharing the gospel with nonmembers so that they might repent and be baptized. In addition to this basic proselyting assignment, missionary couples and lady missionaries may be assigned to perform a variety of additional functions that contribute to establishing the Church and perfecting the Saints (see Alma 1:26–30).”

The following missionary activities were then listed:

1. Finding and teaching. All missionary couples and lady missionaries are responsible for seeking out interested nonmembers and teaching them either the standard proselyting discussions or support material in the missionaries’ area of expertise that may assist in the conversion process.

2. Leadership and member work. Missionary couples may serve as leadership trainers in member districts and branches or, with the approval of the Executive Administrator, in stakes and wards. In missions where qualified leadership is not available, they may serve temporarily as officers in member districts and branches. …

3. Welfare services. Missionary couples and lady missionaries may be assigned to work with ecclesiastical or temporal officers to help them analyze and solve temporal problems affecting Church members. They may also work with government and other officials to improve local living standards and make friends for the Church.

4. Visitors’ centers. Missionary couples may be assigned to serve at a visitors’ center, information center, or historical site within the mission area. …

5. Public relations. Missionary couples may be involved in the public relations effort of the mission, working in close harmony with the local public communications council.

6. Mission office staff. Missionary couples may serve in the mission office by working with or in place of the mission secretary, the mission recorder, the mission financial secretary, or the mission supply manager.

7. Genealogy. Missionary couples and lady missionaries may be involved (when specifically assigned) in contacting officials of governments, genealogical and historical societies, and other churches to locate genealogical records, negotiate for acquisition, microfilm records (in selected situations), and cultivate friends for the Church. They may also teach genealogical skills to members in districts and branches or, with the approval of the Executive Administrator, in stakes and wards.

8. Education. Missionary couples and lady missionaries may be involved in a specific assignment, under the supervision of the local Church Educational System director, relating to a Church school or other educational opportunities to benefit members in areas of need.

9. Temple. Missionary couples and lady missionaries may serve in a temple under the direction of the temple president.

10. International Mission. Missionary couples may serve in opening the work in international areas outside the boundaries of existing missions.

“All lady missionaries and missionary couples, regardless of their additional missionary assignments, are referred to as missionaries. In some instances outside a Church setting, they may be referred to, when necessary, as representatives of the Church. Such previous titles as welfare services missionaries or visitors’ center missionaries are no longer used.”

The guidelines also requested that priesthood leaders “encourage all qualified couples … to prepare for missionary service when they retire or are otherwise available.

“Couples who are recommended should be willing to accept any kind of missionary assignment. Although every effort is made to make use of the candidate’s interests and abilities, priesthood leaders should make no commitments concerning specific types of assignments. The assignment will be based on inspiration, the missionaries’ interests and abilities, and the needs of the missions. …

“When they attend a missionary training center, these missionaries with additional assignments will receive training in proselyting and in their specific additional assignments. Except for those serving in temple assignments, all missionaries will become familiar with the regular proselyting discussions. Couples and older lady missionaries will not be required to memorize the discussions word-for-word, but they will become familiar with the concepts in each discussion so that they can teach the standard discussions in their own words.”

Instructions were also provided in the document regarding requests for missionaries, supervision and in-field training of missionaries, and attending to the special needs of missionary couples. Mission presidents were told, for example, that “missionary couples should not be required to compete with younger missionaries in proselyting hours, memorization requirements, or other missionary activities. Rather, they should be encouraged to set moderate and meaningful goals relating to their missionary assignments. They should not be required to memorize the missionary discussions, since they are authorized to teach the discussions in their own words from an outline.”

New Curriculum Year and Interim Lesson Materials. The First Presidency announced in a letter dated 30 September 1980 that the Church curriculum year would be unified worldwide to coincide with the calendar year beginning 1 January 1982. This change has prompted the following questions.

1. Who will be affected by this change? Wards and branches whose present curriculum year ends 31 August 1981.

2. What materials will be used during the interim period from 1 September to 31 December 1981 and how can they be ordered? Primaries will continue to use the lesson materials outlined for the Sunday meeting schedule. No adjustments are necessary now. Instructions for lessons to be taught during the interim period will be listed on the distribution center preprinted order forms that will be sent to all wards and branches in February and March 1981. All Sunday School classes, both adult and youth, will use Gospel Essentials (PCMP36C7) as the teacher’s manual and Gospel Principles (PBIC0245) as the student manual. Class members will use Gospel Principles extensively to supplement the Gospel Essentials lessons. This instructional approach will provide an excellent opportunity for parents and children to study the basic gospel principles together at home and at Sunday School. These materials will be listed on the distribution center preprinted order forms. During the interim period, Aaronic Priesthood quorums will use Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part A (PBIC0256). Advisors will select the lessons to be discussed according to local needs and the interests of quorum members. This excellent manual, which deals with basic priesthood duties and blessings, will be listed on the distribution center preprinted order forms. Young Women will continue to use lessons selected from the Young Women manuals and from The Latter-day Saint Woman, Part A (PBIC0278). A new booklet is being prepared to give examples and to help teachers prepare lessons from these resources. These manuals and this booklet will be included on the distribution center preprinted order forms. Melchizedek Priesthood quorums will study lessons from Temple Preparation Seminar Discussions (PBMP0101). These lessons should enhance member activation efforts. They will provide an especially appropriate time to invite inactive members to attend quorum meetings. This manual will be listed on the distribution center preprinted order forms. Relief Society lessons during the interim period will be based upon selected general conference talks and talks from the general Relief Society meeting. The theme for these lessons will be “To Develop the Bond of Charity.” A basic teacher outline is being prepared to assist the teachers. This outline will be included on the distribution center preprinted order forms.

The Four-Generation Program. As part of the four-generation program, all families in the Church have been asked to submit an accurate pedigree chart and corresponding family group record forms to the Church’s Ancestral File. Adult brothers and sisters, together with their parents, should compile and submit one set of records for the family.

It is important that families work together on this assignment, that all family members agree that their records are accurate, and that they submit just one set of records for the family.

Before submitting their four-generation records, each family must decide to what extent they need to verify and document these records. In deciding this, families should be guided by these suggestions:

1. Be thorough but reasonable. If in spot-checking previous research you find that it is accurate, you do not have to redo all the work.

2. Be cautious of evidence based solely on memory. Whenever possible, try to cite an official record, such as a birth or marriage certificate, but avoid undue expense to obtain copies of such records unnecessarily.

3. List your sources of information in the space provided on the form, using the back if necessary.

4. When listing sources, give enough information that someone else seeing the form could find the original source of information.

5. You may use footnotes to indicate which item came from which source, as is done in the manual From You to Your Ancestors, but you do not have to use this method of documentation.

Monthly Home Teaching Messages. Under date of 1 December 1980, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve issued the following message to all General Authorities; Regional Representatives; stake, mission, and district presidents; bishops; and branch presidents in English-speaking areas:

“Effective January 1, 1981, we suggest that the First Presidency Message carried in the Ensign magazine be considered for use as a monthly home teaching message. These messages enable the First Presidency to communicate regularly with Church members on important subjects. To assist home teachers in using the message more effectively with the families they visit, each message will be accompanied by some suggestions entitled ‘Ideas for Home Teachers.’

“Because the May and November issues of the Ensign contain the addresses given at general conferences, no special First Presidency Message will appear in those issues. One of the conference addresses would be appropriate to discuss in those months.

“We suggest that instructions be given to the home teachers by their priesthood leaders on the use of the monthly message in the Ensign. We encourage home teachers to have access to the Ensign magazine in their homes.

“We appreciate your effort to put into effect this valuable aid to the home teaching program.”

Relief Society Visiting Teaching. Visiting teaching is not a social or an activity, but is a fundamental part of the Relief Society program. A visiting teacher is called to her position, assigned to a visiting district, and required to submit a report following her visits. Visiting teachers may, and in some cases should, visit sisters more than once a month.

Advancement of Young Women. There have been questions about whether young women should advance to the next class on their fourteenth and sixteenth birthdays the way young men do. Their names stay on the attendance roll with their class, even though their age changes during the year.

LDS Scene

A recent honor recognizes the achievements of President N. Eldon Tanner, a member of the First Presidency since 1963.

President N. Eldon Tanner

A $1 million endowment fund, established at the University of Utah College of Business by friends and admirers of President Tanner, will fund the N. Eldon Tanner Chair of Business Administration, along with several graduate-level scholarships and research fellowships for faculty members.

According to B. Z. Kastler, a member of the endowment committee, “The intent of the endowment fund is to imbue future business leaders with the vision, honor, determination, self-reliance, and high ideals that led President Tanner to contribute so unselfishly to a better community and world. Throughout his life, President Tanner has demonstrated that the application of the highest principles of ethics, integrity, and personal conduct contribute greatly to the success of any worthy endeavor or business undertaking.”

Now eighty-two, President Tanner has recuperated from recent hospitalization for tests, medication changes, and minor surgery. He has been a General Authority for twenty years.

Both the Jordan River Temple and the Mexico City Temple are on schedule and moving towards completion, according to Wallace G. McPhie, director of temples and special projects construction division of the Church. The Mexico City Temple foundations should be finished in February so that the precast exterior walls can be fastened up. The Jordan River Temple, more than half-finished, is scheduled to be completed by the middle of 1981.

The Book of Mormon was recently translated into Fiji, the forty-fourth language the scripture is now available in. Translation required four years.

President Ezra Taft Benson organized the San Juan Puerto Rico Stake on December 14, the first stake organized on this Carribbean Island. The first Spanish-speaking branch was organized only ten years ago in 1970. Now there are four branches and six wards, all but one directed by Puerto Rican leaders.

The recently distributed Activities Committee Annual Guidelines (PBAC0136) for 1980–81 contains information to help local priesthood leaders and activities committees adjust to the changed role of the activities committee in the consolidated meeting schedule. A revised Activities Committee Handbook (PBAC0012) is also available from distribution centers.

More than 75,000 viewers who saw Jimmy Stewart play the appealing Willie Kreuger in the Church’s Christmas special have written or called the Church requesting the eighteen-page color brochure featuring the similarities between ancient and modern baptism, blessings given to the ill, the sacrament, and missionary service. A postpaid card lets recipients order more free brochures, check a box requesting missionaries, or order a copy of the Book of Mormon.

Brigham Young University’s football team won its first bowl victory in December at the Holiday Bowl against Southern Methodist University in a “skin-of-the-teeth” victory. The Cougars were trailing 45–25 with only four minutes remaining. Their final touchdown tied the game with literally no seconds remaining, and they won the game by making the point after touchdown. This was BYU’s fifth appearance in a bowl game. BYU finished the season ranked twelfth in the Associated Press poll and eleventh in the United Press International poll.

Sister Bonnie Morgan, a recent convert, was named Oregon Teacher of the Year at a Portland conference of state school boards and superintendents in November. For eight years, she has been teaching at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, Oregon, where the student newspaper she advises received the highest honor in the country.

The visitors’ center at the Hawaii Temple, totally remodeled and enlarged, was recently rededicated in Laie by Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Administrator of Hawaii. An average of a thousand people visit the center daily. About 85 percent of them are not members of the Church.

A special display on the 1844 arrival of the first Latter-day Saint missionaries in Tahiti has been opened at the Musee de Tahiti et des Iles in Punaauia, about five miles from Papeete. The display was prepared by S. George Ellsworth, professor of history at Utah State University, with the help of Paul Foulger of the Church Historical Department and at the request of Rev. Patrick O’Reilly, a Catholic priest who works with the French government as a historian. It includes such documents as early Church records and facsimiles of the journals of Addison Pratt, Benjamin F. Grouard, and Noah Rogers, the missionaries who opened the mission.

Paradise Regained, a novel about a convert to the Church written by Icelandic author Halldor Laxness, has now been made into a movie. Laxness won the Nobel Prize in 1955 and wrote Paradise Regained in 1960. The novel tells the story of an Icelandic farmer in the nineteenth century who is driven restlessly by the search for happiness. He encounters a Mormon missionary, is converted, emigrates to Utah, and eventually returns to Iceland as a missionary.

Paradise Regained was largely filmed on location in Spanish Fork with the technical consultation of Dr. George S. Tate of BYU’s Comparative Literature and Humanities Department and an expert on Halldor Laxness. The film, a three-part series totalling a little over five hours, has been shown in Denmark, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Austria, as well as in limited public showings in Utah.

Rolf Hadrich, director of television plays for the North Germany Broadcasting Network, commented after his visit to Utah: “From the Mormons you can learn how to believe in something vehemently without being a fanatic; without bothering others with wise sayings which for them might be vapid; cordial without being obtrusive—in short: to make fertile land out of a salt desert, for vegetation as well as for hearts.”

He added: “All of us believe that we did not exaggerate when, at parting, we said we shall come back. And this is why: A paradise which you may leave at liberty and where you can come back at any time has become a rare thing on this planet.”