News of the Church

By Lorrie Perkins


Elder G. Homer Durham Called to Presidency of Seventy

Elder G. Homer Durham

In April 1977, Elder G. Homer Durham, a newly-sustained member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, bore testimony that “there is no greater privilege, no greater joy, no greater opportunity than service to our fellowmen in the name of our Lord and Savior.”

Saturday, October 3, as he lay in a Salt Lake City hospital recovering from open-heart surgery, Elder Durham was sustained by members of the Church as a new member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy. His appointment fills the vacancy created by Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Durham, 70, became a General Authority four years ago following a distinguished career in higher education. He retired in 1976 after seven years as the first commissioner and chief executive officer of the Utah System of Higher Education. He has also served as president of Arizona State University at Tempe and vice president of the University of Utah.

He has given extensive service on government and education committees, has been active in professional organizations, and has been a consultant in public administration to the states of Utah, Nevada, and Montana, as well as to various interstate commissions and municipal associations. He is the author, compiler, or editor of numerous books and monographs on public administration, government, and taxation.

Elder Durham began his extensive Church service while a young man as a missionary in England. Subsequently he served on stake high councils in Arizona and Utah, on the Sunday School general board, as president of the Salt Lake Central Stake, and as a Regional Representative. Since his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, he has served as managing director of the Church Historical Department and the Temple Department. For nearly a quarter of a century he was a contributing editor to the Improvement Era, forerunner of the Ensign. Among his numerous gospel-related works are books concerning several Church Presidents—The Gospel Kingdom (John Taylor); Joseph Smith: Prophet-Statesman; The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff; and Gospel Standards (Heber J. Grant).

He married Eudora Widtsoe, and they are the parents of three children.

A New Generation of Meetinghouses

Economy and flexibility are important concepts today, and Church members will see that the new meetinghouses are more economical to build, more energy efficient, and generally smaller than most buildings now being used for Sunday worship services and other Church activities.

Depending upon Church population in a given area, a meetinghouse will be constructed according to either the “Aspen” plan or the “Sage” plan. The Aspen, designed to be used by small branches, is a “starter” building which can be constructed in three phases, allowing for expansion as the branch grows. A multipurpose room is used for both chapel and cultural center in the Phase I design. Phase II adds a separate chapel; Phase III enlarges the building with additional classrooms and a separate cultural center.

The “Aspen” is a “starter” meetinghouse which can be expanded(click to view larger)

The “Aspen” is a “starter” meetinghouse which can be expanded as a small branch grows.

Most familiar to wards in the United States and Canada will be the “Sage” plan with some 14,000 square feet, about 5,000 square feet fewer than previous ward meetinghouses. The new building is designed with construction and energy costs in mind; it is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of the initial building expenses will be saved with the construction of each new meetinghouse, and the building will be fifteen to twenty percent more energy efficient than past designs.

The “Sage” will be a smaller, more efficient ward meetinghouse(click to view larger)

The “Sage” will be a smaller, more efficient ward meetinghouse. None have yet been built, but it will become the standard meetinghouse design.

Statistically, most wards have fewer than 200 in attendance each Sunday; hence, the Sage was designed to seat 200 persons in the main chapel, with expanded seating capacity of an additional 550 when folding doors leading to the cultural center are opened.

Visitors to the Sage cultural center (previously the church “cultural hall”) will notice the absence of a fixed stage. Rather, a portable stage is provided, offering significant advantages for theater-in-the-round productions, concerts, and lectures. And when the stage is removed, more room is available for athletics and other activities.

The Sage has been designed with thirty-one teaching stations, some divided by folding doors, to accommodate classes from 14 in number to over 75. As needed, the cultural center can also be divided into classrooms seating more than 150.

The kitchen/serving area features two special pieces of equipment—a movable serving table and a portable dry-hot table. These make serving possible anywhere within the building (except the chapel).

Harold J. Powell of the Church’s Building Division stressed the importance of flexibility within various geographical areas. “Local architects,” he said, “can certainly do some modifications to fit their own local conditions. A typical Wasatch-front building, for example, would simply not be appropriate in Florida.”

The new stake center design, termed the “Cody” plan, is larger than but similar to the ward meetinghouse design. Its 25,000 square feet are arranged in a cost-efficient rectangular shape, complete with extra insulation in the ceiling-to-roof area. The Cody stake center, which replaces all other stake meetinghouse designs, is already in use in a number of U.S. locations.

“Cody” stake centers are already in use across the United States
“Cody” stake centers are already in use across the United States(click to view larger)

“Cody” stake centers are already in use across the United States. It’s larger than the ward meetinghouse, similar in design.

According to Robert J. Little, manager of architectural services for the Building Division, the new generation of Church buildings “are designed to make form follow function.” With the consolidated meeting schedule, LDS meetinghouses will become generally smaller and more functional, thus more economical and flexible.

While the new designs will create a distinctive appearance, a sense of the traditional LDS building will be maintained by a tower built in front of the new meetinghouse. Little indicated that the new pole towers will be much less expensive than the block towers so typical of LDS meetinghouses.

Designers Lee Gray and Bruce Edwards said, “New chapel interiors will be attractive with more soft materials and less masonry, with eight-foot-high walls and wooden roof superstructure. All rooms in the buildings will be more flexible and oriented toward multipurpose use.”

Policies and Announcements

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

Touring and Performing Groups. An increasing number of touring and performing groups, directly or indirectly associated with Church organizations, are attempting to schedule tours to various parts of the world. Some of these groups apparently are soliciting support from priesthood leaders and members in the areas they would like to visit. Occasionally they ask members to arrange housing and other accommodations for them.

Touring and performing groups should not solicit support and tour accommodations from priesthood leaders and members. Local leaders should feel no obligation to respond to such requests.

Ancestral File. Many families have submitted their four-generation records to the Genealogical Department for placement in the Ancestral File. Those who have not submitted their records are encouraged to do so. Local leaders should encourage newly-converted families to learn about the genealogical program of the Church and to submit records of their progenitors to the Ancestral File if other family members have not already done so.

All members are encouraged to expand their genealogical research beyond four generations. To avoid duplication, it would be helpful if records were submitted through family organizations. A family organization might consist of a couple and their children. It may be expanded to include grandchildren. Ancestral family organizations may also be developed from descendants of any common ancestral couple. They can coordinate genealogical activity on common ancestral lines and provide resource material from which families can draw to complete family histories.

The family organization should coordinate family research and submit additional records to the Ancestral File. Families should follow the same guidelines for accuracy, verification, and documentation that were used in submitting four-generation records. (See “Policies and Announcements; The Four-Generation Program,” Ensign, March 1981, p. 78.)

The Ensign and Melchizedek Priesthood Members. It has been suggested that the monthly First Presidency Message in the Ensign magazine be considered as a home teaching message. All Melchizedek Priesthood quorum and group leaders should encourage their members to subscribe to the Ensign during the annual magazine campaign and at other times when encouragement is needed. Leaders may consider assisting quorum members who are financially unable to subscribe.

Ward Choirs. Every ward and branch should have a choir. Ward choirs continue to be essential in the Church program. Choir members may be called or invited to sing. Priesthood leaders should arrange for the best possible time and place for choir rehearsals, which may be held before or after the Sunday meetings, or at other times to fit local circumstances. Choirs should perform often—at least twice a month would be appropriate. By singing appropriate hymns and simple anthems, choirs can sing well, perform often, and broaden participation while keeping rehearsal time to a minimum.

Member Support of Deseret Industries. The mission of Deseret Industries is to provide employment and work training for handicapped members. A vital factor in fulfilling this mission is an adequate supply of usable items that can be repaired, refurbished, and sold. In areas where Deseret Industries stores are located, local leaders should encourage members to donate liberally their surplus goods that otherwise might be discarded or disposed of at garage or rummage sales, swap meets, or similar exchanges. Stake and ward organizations in these areas should not conduct fundraising activities that divert goods from the Deseret Industries program.

Picture for the Young Women. A meetinghouse library picture of a young woman and the Savior (VVOQ5531, $.30 each) is available at the Salt Lake Distribution Center. The pictures are available for purchase by individuals and meetinghouse libraries.

In letters dated 17 August, 25 August, and 10 September 1981, respectively, and all signed by President Ezra Taft Benson, the following items were addressed.

Administrative Meetings. “Ward and stake leaders should hold administrative meetings either on Sunday, at times that interfere least with family and home-centered activities, or during the week at times that require the least travel.

“If meetings are held on Sunday, the schedule should (1) preserve an adequate block of family and individual time for gospel study, personal spiritual development, gospel teaching in the home, and appropriate service; and (2) allow leaders, as often as possible, to travel with their wives and children to and from Sunday meetings.”

1982 Stake Quarterly Leadership Meetings. “Effective January 1, 1982, regional meetings will be discontinued. Quarterly stake leadership meetings will take the place of regional meetings as a time for training and inspiring local leaders. The first three quarterly meetings will be priesthood leadership meetings; the fourth quarterly meeting will be an auxiliary leadership meeting. You will receive information on the supporting resource materials for these meetings.”

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, love, and harmony, and may include other family activities. The Family Home Evening manual should be available for every family.

“Priesthood leaders should emphasize the importance of family home evening in sacrament, leadership, and quorum meetings and should set the example by holding a weekly family home evening.”

Sisters Smith, Cannon Address Conference for Women in Germany

More than 600 sisters from the Kaiserslautern, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt Servicemen’s stakes were joined by American sisters living in France, Holland, Turkey, Italy, Spain, and Belgium, together with German sisters of the Saarbrücken District, at a special conference held in Wiesbaden,West Germany, on September 4 and 5.

The conference was coordinated under the direction of Elder Robert D. Hales and the area council, and conducted by J. Paul Jensen, Regional Representative, and hosted by the Kaiserslautern Servicemen’s Stake. Two days of glorious sunshine welcomed the sisters—a rare treat in an area known for its rainy weather.

The conference theme, “Let Me Soar/Lass Mich Streben,” was the focus of addresses by Sister Barbara B. Smith, general president of the Relief Society, and Sister Elaine Cannon, Young Women general president.

Reading from Doctrine and Covenants 88:67, [D&C 88:67] the scriptural theme for the conference (“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things”), Sister Cannon reminded the sisters that they could have this light, but that they must “prepare to soar” by understanding why they were born and “make things happen in a very real sense.”

Sister Smith pointed out that “because we are women we soar at different speeds. It will take effort, but we can soar to our full potential. Relief Society can be our greatest strength. You are not here by chance,” she reminded the sisters. “The Lord has put you here with other women, to learn from them and to give to them.”

At the Saturday morning session, Sister Cannon spoke about life’s perspectives. Existence, she said, “depends on how you look at it. Find out what your perspectives are, from where they spring, and where they can take you. Know who you are. Understand you are a daughter of God, and that the Lord is always there if we seek him.”

Later in the morning, sisters chose from a variety of seminars: Learning to Love the Scriptures; Keeping Romance in Marriage; You and Your Confidence; Making Sunday the Best Day of the Week; Developing a Personal Relationship with the Savior; and many others.

Sister Smith conducted two question-and-answer sessions. Questions dealt with many of the same concerns, from making the scriptures part of everyday life to catching the vision of visiting teaching to the challenges of multiple church responsibilities. Addressing the problem of choosing between a profession and homemaking, Sister Smith advised women to “work for the right reasons,” to counsel with their husbands and the Lord. She reminded mothers that “No one loves your children like you do. You know what you want them to learn; don’t give up the great privilege of being mothers for any other profession.”

In her closing remarks, Sister Smith reminded the sisters “No matter what the adversity, we will be able to stand if we know who we are. May you soar this day and from this day on because you are daughters of God.”