News of the Church

By Tim Nakamura

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    Japanese Saints Celebrate Eightieth Anniversary

    In 1901, Elder Heber J. Grant of the Quorum of the Twelve arrived in Japan from Utah with three companions and a commission to begin missionary work in that country.

    Now, eighty years later, Japan has a temple, dozens of fully organized wards, and thousands of members. In 1980, some 10,500 converts were baptized, a 200 percent increase over 1979. Approximately 1,300 missionaries are laboring in Japan, and 1,018 converts were baptized in the Tokyo south mission alone in March 1981.

    And the Japanese Saints are celebrating with a year of sports activities, leadership seminars, and special conferences—but especially sports. A ski meet, a marathon, a martial arts championship, and a pingpong tournament have already taken place with other, more spiritual events, scheduled through November.

    The Japanese have a passionate interest in sports, and by having a variety of sports events hosted by different regions, members can pick favorite sports and meet others who share the same interest.

    The year’s festivities began with a “White Conference,” a February ski meeting sponsored by the Nagoya Region in the central part of Japan, near Okuhida, about three hours from Nagoya and five from Tokyo and Osaka. About a hundred members attended, accompanied by investigators. Participants learned how to ski, if they were first-timers, from qualified instructors, danced, and had apres-ski seminars and discussions.

    The Mormon Marathon, sponsored by Fukuoka Stake on March 21, drew about four hundred runners. The location, participants agreed, was “ideal”—Shikanoshima Island in Fukuoka. This event, a countrywide championship, drew runners from Hokkaido, Takasaki, Tokyo, Okayama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Leaders plan to make it an annual event.

    A week later, the kendo (“way of the sword”) martial arts champions squared off in Hiroshima with twenty-seven men and five women competing from Hiroshima, Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Machida, and Tokyo. Judges were Atsuo Horikawa and Hiroshi Muraoka, high-ranking black belt holders. (Approximately a hundred members of the Church in Japan are blackbelt holders of various degrees.) This championship competition will also continue in the future.

    May’s pingpong tournament in Nagoya drew about 120 participants from Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka regions.

    April’s event was a “Scarlet Fair” sponsored by Osaka Region which brought young singles from Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Hiroshima together for dance and seminar programs. This three-day event was designed to let young Latter-day Saints meet each other for serious discussions about the importance of temple marriage. Each region in the area will follow up with August summer conferences for their single adults for three days of sports, seminars, and discussions on subjects such as missionary calls and temple marriage.

    Another important regional event is Eightieth Anniversary Training seminars held on successive days in Sendai, Sapporo, Nagoya, Tokyo, Okinawa, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, and Osaka under the direction of Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Administrator for Japan and Korea. A few general officers have been invited for the instructional sessions.

    This leadership conference culminates on September 1 with a commemoration of the original dedication of the land of Japan for the teaching of the gospel, a spiritual highlight that the entire membership is awaiting.

    Two subsequent events will round out the year’s festivities—an October Music Fair in Osaka, in which each regional choir and popular music group will meet to compete nation-wide for top honors, and a November speech contest in Tokyo, open to any age in either Japanese or English.

    [photo] A March event was the second annual Mormon Marathon, held in lovely Shikajima Park.

    [photo] Approximately 120 pingpong enthusiasts arrived in Nagoya in May for the All-Japan LDS Pingpong Championship.

    Japan Eighty Years Ago

    Eighteen-year-old Alma Taylor was among the first missionaries to arrive in Japan in 1901, a mission that lasted nine years, including five years as mission president. The party left Salt Lake City on July 24, and Alma noted in his journal: “We were indeed going pioneering on pioneer day.” They sailed from Portland, Oregon, to Yokohama. Tickets cost $100.

    News of their arrival had preceded them, and they found it difficult to find lodgings or obtain any information from the religious ministers who were already proselyting in Japan. Reading the English newspapers, largely printed for the foreign communities in Japan, Alma noticed “severe and slanderous” articles about Mormonism but optimistically noted that “we are getting advertized freely.”

    On Christmas, which the missionaries celebrated together with presents from home, he wrote in his journal, “I hope that by the next Christmas that I will have received from my Heavenly Father that gift which I so much long for, namely, the knowledge of this language so that I may preach the Gospel of the man whose birth these days commemorate.”

    Elder Taylor was an interested and appreciative observer of Japanese customs and left lively descriptions of his first rickshaw ride, his first Japanese bath, a typical New Year’s Day celebration, and his chagrin at inadvertently attracting marriage proposals from young women.

    The first baptism was 8 March 1902 of a former Shinto priest, Hajime Nakazawa, on the beach at Tokyo. “This was the first baptism [Elder Heber J.] Grant had ever performed in the mission field, consequently his joy was all the greater.” A second baptism of Brother Kikuchi (his relationship to Elder Kikuchi, if any, is unknown) followed on March 10. The first all-member gathering was sacrament meeting on April 13, followed by the first cottage meeting in the Orient on April 20.

    In July, Elder Taylor was assigned to translate the Book of Mormon. He confided to his journal, “While my heart throbs with gratitude unspeakable for the honor conferred upon me, yet everytime I contemplate the magnitude and importance of the work before me and the responsibility it places upon me, I fear and tremble from head to foot and sense a weakness such as I have never before known.” He took courage from a powerful blessing that set him apart, and labored faithfully on the project for almost five years until it was finished.

    Despite Elder Taylor’s cheerful optimism and loving work, the progress of the gospel in Japan was not smooth, Between 1901 and 1924, when President Heber J. Grant closed the Japan Mission due to international conditions, there were seven mission presidents, eighty-eight missionaries, and only 166 baptisms.

    The interruption in missionary work lasted until 1948, after World War II, although some Latter-day Saint soldiers in the army of Occupation between 1945 and 1948 had begun unofficial proselyting and had organized meetings and Sunday School classes in several cities.

    Japanese members now regard their bumpy beginnings with affection as a “difficult seed time,” appreciative for the devotion of the few members who were baptized despite cultural and linguistic obstacles and who remained faithful despite decades of isolation. The work of each new generation of missionaries has cultivated “increasingly fertile soil,” and the current success of the Church is due to the combined efforts of diligent missionaries and equally diligent members.

    Dedication of Jordan River Temple Scheduled

    The First Presidency has announced a schedule of events leading to the dedication of the Jordan River Temple in Salt Lake Valley.

    15 August 1981, 10 A.M. Cornerstone service and placement of the Angel Moroni statue.

    September 28. News media preview and tours for specially invited guests.

    September 29 to October 31 (except during general conference, October 3 and 4). Open house for the general public daily from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.

    November 16 to 20. Dedicatory services. On Monday, November 16, only one service will be held, at 9:30 A.M. On the other four days, additional services will be held at 1 P.M. and 4 P.M.

    [photo] Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten

    Policies and Announcements

    The following items were printed in the Bulletin, June 1981.

    Family Home Evening.

    The First Presidency frequently emphasizes the importance of weekly family home evenings as a prime opportunity for parents to teach and strengthen their families. In addition to family gospel study on Sundays, Monday nights are reserved for family home evening, which may include instruction in gospel principles, expressions of love, activities to promote harmony, and other family activities. The family home evening manual should be available to every family.

    Binder for Young Women Mementos.

    A scrapbook binder is available to help young women keep personal journals. The binder, which a girl could use for the mementos of her teen years, could be given to her when she enters the Young Women at age twelve.

    You may order the Treasures of Truth binder (PXYW0103, $2.35) and the Treasures of Truth filler (PXYW0114, $.90) from the Salt Lake City Distribution Center, 1999 W. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104.

    Primary Answers “Most Popular Questions”

    Changes in the Primary program because of the consolidated meeting schedule and the change in the curriculum year to January have produced a torrent of questions. Here are four of the most popular questions with clarifying answers.

    QUESTION: Some of our teachers want to leave Primary during opening exercises and sharing time to attend other auxiliary meetings. What ideas can we share with them to help them understand why they need to stay with their classes for the entire period?

    PRIMARY: There are several reasons for staying with the class, and the first is the security it provides for the children. Young children especially may be frightened at leaving their parents. When the teacher leaves too, they may become very upset. A second reason is that the teacher, by staying, communicates to her children that nothing is more important than being with them.

    Furthermore, sharing time and opening exercises are times to reinforce gospel principles taught in class, just as class is a time to reinforce the principles taught during opening exercises. This gives the children’s total Primary experience an important element of unity.

    We also think it’s important for the teacher to see the children under a variety of situations, thus learning more about their needs.

    Some teachers feel that their need for spiritual growth cannot be met in Primary. We testify that actively studying the gospel in preparation for teaching it, and then putting those principles into action can lead to spiritual growth.

    QUESTION: Why should the eleven-year-old Scouts meet separately from the twelve- and thirteen-year-old Scouts?

    PRIMARY: Because they’re not deacons and cannot participate in quorum activities. Until they are twelve, they are the Primary’s stewardship. It doesn’t matter if a patrol of eleven-year-old Scouts is small. The individual attention gives each boy a better chance to learn skills, attitudes, and ideals; and he has more leadership opportunities.

    Some of the older troop’s daytime activities might be appropriate for the younger boys. In those cases they could be included. Also, if distances are a problem, the meeting place could be rotated among the boys, the leader, and the meetinghouse.

    QUESTION: Why do the ten-and eleven-year-old children need weekday activities twice a month?

    PRIMARY: They need chances to live gospel principles they have learned on Sunday, opportunities to expand their talents and interests under Church leadership, and the strengthened relationship between teacher and child that comes from additional contacts. These weekday activities are also valuable opportunities to fellowship inactive and nonmember boys and girls.

    QUESTION: How can ward Primary leaders use the ward activities committee to help with the all-Primary quarterly activity days?

    PRIMARY: The ward Primary presidency organizes and supervises these activity days with the assistance of the ward Primary board, involving children in the planning and preparations wherever possible. The activities committee can assist when it is necessary. For example, if the activity were a dance festival, the activities committee could provide a specialist to teach the dances to the children for the festival.

    BYU Group Performs Worldwide

    Within the past season, BYU’s Modern Dance Team has toured the southern United States and Puerto Rico. The Ballroom Dance Team has come back from England. One group of Young Ambassadors visited Scandinavia and a second toured Romania, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. And the BYU Folk Dancers received enormous coverage in their five-city tour of the People’s Republic of China, not only performing for large audiences but being televised for an estimated 150 million people.

    The Folk Dancers were accompanied by BYU President Jeffrey Holland and Elder Boyd K. Packer and their wives. According to Susan Hall of the BYU Daily Universe, Chinese officials “repeatedly told us that in the length and breadth of China, BYU is the most famous university.”

    Three BYU groups have toured that nation and several groups of Chinese government officials have visited BYU campus. President Holland commented that the performers and accompanying officials were “very open about the Church’s sponsorship of the university.”

    The six week tour was sponsored in China by the All-China Youth Federation, a government organization. The dancers also performed in Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Even before the tour was finished, officials from the People’s Republic of China invited BYU to send “another performing group to their country next year,” according to tour director Bruce L. Olsen.

    The Modern Dance Team, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, taught classes, workshops, and gave concerts throughout a tour that included Texas, Louisiana, and a two-week stay in Miami. They also performed at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaquez.

    The Ballroom Dance Team went to Blackpool, England, to compete in the world’s most prestigious ballroom dance competition. They placed first in both modern dance and Latin American categories, the third time that American teams have garnered such honors in the past fifty-six years. Lee Wakefield, director of BYU’s Ballroom Dance Team, had directed the two California teams that had previously won the awards. He and his wife placed second as a couples team. The dancers also performed for thousands of Latter-day Saints between London and Blackpool as part of the tour.

    One group of Young Ambassadors toured Scandinavia for five and a half weeks. The tour included Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, and Reykjavik, the first time the Young Ambassadors had gone to Iceland. The group also performed on Finnish National Television, visited hospitals, and took its show to factories and schools.

    The second group toured Romania, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia for five weeks. They were accompanied by Elder and Sister Gordon B. Hinckley, with Jae R. Ballif, BYU provost and academic vice president, and former BYU basketball star Kresimir Cosic of Yugoslavia.

    BYU’s Folk Dancers also toured the Orient for a month in June and July, performing in Korea, the Philippines, Japan, and Hawaii. In addition to twenty-four folk dancers, the troupe also included two Indian dancers and a five-piece western band. For the first time, the dancers performed in USO shows in Korea; they also performed five times in Manila’s largest auditorium under the personal sponsorship of Imelda Marcos, first lady of the Philippines, and represented the United States at “Portopia 81,” an event similar to a world’s fair in Kobe, Japan. In each show, they included a folk dance from the country in which they were performing.

    [photo] Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve hefts a water yoke at a farming commune near Canton during a recent tour of BYU folk dancers in China.

    [photo] BYU folk dancers and members of their audience greet each other during a recent tour in China.

    LDS Scene

    President Kimball recently returned from Chile where he broke ground for the temple in Santiago. He was accompanied by Elder Robert E. Wells of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder W. Grant Bangerter, also of the First Quorum of the Seventy and executive administrator of the chile area, Carlos A. Cifuentes, Chilean Regional Representative, and President Kimball’s secretary, D. Arthur Haycock.

    President Kimball and his party, including David M. Kennedy, special representative of the First Presidency, had earlier met with the president of Peru, Fernando Belaunde-Terry. While in Chile, the leaders met with Admiral Jose Toribio Merino Castro, senior member of the ruling junta and commander-in-chief of the Chilean Navy.

    The University of Utah at its commencement exercises in June presented honorary doctor of humane letters degrees to President Spencer W. Kimball and his wife, Camilia Eyring Kimball.

    Sister Belle Smith Spafford was honored in May by the National Council of Women, with whom she has been associated for over fifty years. At its regularly scheduled meeting in New York, the Council announced the establishment of the Belle S. Spafford Archival Fellowship at New York University. The fellowship is to help its recipient search out, protect, and make available archival records and materials relating to woman’s work.

    In a separate ceremony, the council president, Louise McLaughlin, presented a written citation to Sister Spafford, former general president of the Relief Society, at the eighteenth annual Woman of Conscience meeting, honoring her as “a leader, teacher, humanitarian” for her “pioneer-to-present work on behalf of women.”

    The first full-time missionary from the country of Sri Lanka has been called. Elder Minto Rasiah will serve in the Philippines where there is a sizeable community of Sri Lankans.

    James B. Conkling, a member of the Church from Sherman Oaks, California, has been named director of Voice of America by President Ronald Reagan, an appointment that requires Senate confirmation. The Voice of America broadcasts news, commentaries, discussions, drama, and music to a worldwide audience in English and thirty-five other languages over more than a hundred transmitters.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates sponsored its third annual “Mormon Family Day” recently. Among the events were the presentation of an inscribed silver tray to Brother Vernon Law, a team member for seventeen years; a family genealogy presented by Elder Paul H. Dunn of the First Quorum of the Seventy to Pirate manager Chuck Tanner.

    Columbia space shuttle astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen were honored in May at a special program in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. The program featured several musical numbers by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a large-screen film presentation of the space shuttle, with live narration by the two astronauts.