News of the Church

By Kerril Sue Rollins


“Meet the Mormons” in Movies

From Canada to Korea, the Andes to Australia, Norway to New Zealand, people are getting to know the Church and its members in movies.

A mark of the Church has always been its commitment to take the gospel to all people. Among the impressive modern approaches is the “Meet the Mormons” documentary film series, produced by the Church’s Public Communications Department.

Beginning in 1976 with Takin’ Care, which focuses on Latter-day Saints in Canada, Public Communications moved next to Britain with Mormons: Fact and Fantasy, to Korea with Mormons: People of Confidence and Joy, and to the Philippines with The Mormons, completing these in 1978. Since then the Church has produced films in Italy, Spain, Latin America, the Andes, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. Three more still in process are being filmed in Brazil, Venezuela/Colombia, and Japan.

“Meet the Mormons” films are produced to be marketed internationally to television stations, to educate broadcasters who might inadvertently promote erroneous concepts about the Church, and to motivate broadcasters to produce other television programs on the Church. The films are also to be used in non-broadcast situations—open houses, firesides, and other special presentations—by missionaries and members to gain the interest of nonmembers.

Already one of the films has achieved recognition. Mormons: Fact and Fantasy, narrated by non-Mormon radio personality Richard Baker, also features Lord Thompson of Fleet and Lord Cannon Bates of the Liverpool Cathedral, also nonmembers, who state the Church’s position in a positive, accurate manner. Out of 63 entries, this film placed second in the 1978 Canadian film festival. It also received a complimentary review in the Autumn 1980 issue of the British Journal of Religious Education.

Nonmember participation in the films has proven especially effective in attracting the attention of other nonmembers. The New Zealand film, Profile of a People—New Zealand, is narrated by Sir Edmund Hillary, a nonmember. The narrator in the Australian film, Profile of a People—Australia, is nonmember Ron Barassi, a nationally known rugby player and TV sportscaster.

What the film series does to accelerate missionary work is particularly noteworthy. The Canadian film, Takin’ Care, has become by far one of the most suitable means in Eastern Canada of introducing friends and investigators to the Church. It can prove especially effective if viewed by investigators early in their introduction to the gospel, as protection against erroneous concepts. The film brings many questions to mind and thus gets investigators interested in learning more.

The Korean film, produced along with the Philippine film, by Universal Studios for the Church, has also gained similar response. Shown at a fireside attended by 250 investigators, it made the difference in helping some of them commit to baptism.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the documentary films is their spontaneous straightforward approach. They provide an honest portrayal of members of the Church in their own culture and in some of their daily family and professional endeavors as well as in numerous Church and gospel-related activities.

Among the members featured in various films are a glass blower, an automobile repairman, a ballet teacher, a musician, a converted drinker, a chemistry teacher, a climatologist, a bride getting ready for a temple marriage, a dentist, a farmer, an older couple sharing a family history, a vice president of a corporation, and members working on a Church stake welfare farm.

Some of these members take part in explaining programs and organizations of the Church and give meaning to the Word of Wisdom and the Church’s emphasis on physical fitness and general good health; the welfare program and our belief in self-reliance through honorable work; self-realization through education, professions, and the development and sharing of talents; the importance of family, temple marriage, genealogy, and unity.

“Meet the Mormons” films show the basic sameness of people throughout the world as they react to the Church and its members, learn more, become converted, and share testimonies about the happiness they have found in living the gospel.

“Mr. Krueger’s Christmas” to Be Televised

The Christmas television program “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas,” which was broadcast in the United States and Canada during the 1980 Christmas season, will be rebroadcast during the 1981 Christmas season. The program stars Jimmy Stewart and the Tabernacle Choir and relates the heartwarming story of how a widower’s Christmas is brightened by a young child. Surveys following the 1980 showing indicated that the program has great appeal for television audiences and can be an effective missionary tool.

Ward mission leaders are encouraged to cooperate with full-time missionaries in contacting and encouraging members to invite nonmember friends to watch the program. The film, which is also available for purchase at $120 from the Public Communications Department, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150 (Attn: Supervisor of Purchasing), might also be used for firesides and other noncommercial events to which members invite their nonmember friends.

[photo] Jimmy Stewart, in “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas.”

BYU Participates in Syrian Dig

BYU is cosponsoring a six-year archaeological excavation in Syria with the Catholic Biblical Association and the Zion Research Foundation under the sponsorship of the American Schools of Oriental Research, an old and prestigious American research organization focused on the Near East.

John M. Lundquist, instructor in ancient scripture and anthropology at BYU, has been appointed its director. He has already left to make preparation for the dig, which begins in the spring of 1982 at Tell Qarqur and the surrounding area, about forty miles west of Ebla where Italian archaeologists discovered some 15,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments dating from about 3,000 B.C.

Brother Lundquist was a member of the team that first explored the Syrian side of the Yarmuk River, leading to the discovery and mapping of more than forty heretofore unknown ancient sites of human occupation.

“By its participation, BYU joins an elite group of American universities, including Yale and UCLA, on the frontier of research in this important field,” comments Brother Lundquist.

He points out that the Ebla discoveries are providing important background to the book of Genesis and will be particularly important in explaining Abraham’s world since it is not far from his homeland of Haran.

Tell Qarqur is one of the largest and most important unexcavated sites in the Near East, and Brother Lundquist’s preliminary research survey indicates that it was a major city at the same time Ebla flourished. “It is also the traditional location of the biblical city of Karkar, where in 853 B.C. a great battle was fought pitting King Ahab of Israel and several of his allies against the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III,” Brother Lundquist notes.

“Our preliminary reconnaissance indicates that Tell Qarqur was a major city in this period. Every major period of antiquity and of the middle ages is represented in the occupation debris in the surrounding Orontes Valley. Excavation at this key site would present great potential for discoveries that illuminate the Bible as well as other aspects of ancient history and culture.”

Policies and Announcements

First Presidency Issues Statement on Sadat Death. Upon learning of the death of Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat on 6 October, the First Presidency issued the following statement:

“We are grieved by the assassination of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. This lamentable and tragic act has silenced a powerful voice in the councils of world peace.”

Teaching of inactive members. The First Presidency, in a letter dated September 18, 1981, issued the following statement regarding missionary activities:

“The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve has given approval for full-time missionaries, when specifically authorized by the mission president and the stake presidency, to teach inactive members at the invitation of the bishop or branch president. Such instruction is to be given only in groups and should take place in meetinghouses or homes.”

The following items appeared in the Bulletin for October 1981.

Missionary Release Date. Mission presidents, local priesthood leaders, and parents of missionaries should be aware of the policy that “no missionary is to be released more than two or three weeks early or extended more than two or three weeks beyond his [or her] release date. Any exceptions must be approved by the Missionary Department.” (Mission President’s Handbook [PBMI4287], p. 31.)

Pamphlet, Your New Baby. The pamphlet Your New Baby (PXRS1329; $.15 each) is available at the Salt Lake City Distribution Center. The pamphlet will help parents enjoy their new infant, help them understand frustrating periods, and acquaint them with the growth and development of their child at different ages. It includes an immunization chart, safety tips, and a list of activities to do with their baby during the first year.

Appropriate Attire to Enter Temples. The conduct, clothing, and grooming of temple patrons should show their reverence for the temple and its ordinances. Members should dress to enter the temple the same as they should dress to attend sacrament meeting. However, brethren should wear clean white shirts and ties when they enter the temple to witness a marriage. A suit jacket is encouraged but is optional in hot climates.

LDS Scene

President Kimball, President Benson Continue to Recuperate. President Spencer W. Kimball has been released from the hospital after more than six weeks and is continuing his gradual recovery after undergoing surgery in early September to remove blood and scar tissue from under the skull. He and Sister Kimball have taken a suite at the Hotel Utah, where he will continue to receive nursing care.

Several unexpected complications had weakened the eighty-six-year-old president and slowed his progress, but his determination to “get back to work” has been unflagging. It is not yet known when he will be able to return to his customary schedule in the Church Administration Building.

Interviewed briefly before his release from the hospital, the president and Sister Kimball expressed deep appreciation for the many get-well cards and messages they have received from around the world during his hospitalization. They also expressed gratitude for the faith and prayers exercised in their behalf.

President Ezra Taft Benson, who for many months had walked with a painful limp, underwent surgery on October 12 to relieve pain and restore function to his hip, which was severely damaged in July 1978 when a horse knocked him to the ground.

President Benson, 82, underwent a total joint arthroplasty, which provided him with a plastic hip socket and metal ball hip joint. The operation was successful, and President Benson, who was released from the hospital on October 24, was in good spirits and looking forward to increased mobility. He was expected to undergo six to eight weeks of physical therapy, which will allow him to progressively increase his activity and walking ability.

Now That You’ve Written a Wonderful Article

A few months ago we mentioned that the Ensign welcomes freelance contributions. If the idea of writing for us sparked an interest, perhaps you’ve already put your mind—and typewriter—into gear. And you just might be wondering what to do now. Here are some nuts-and-bolts pointers for submitting a manuscript.

First, even before you commit anything to paper, ask yourself if the article you have in mind merits a query. You can save time and effort by writing us to determine if we would be interested.

When actually preparing a manuscript, type on good paper (not erasable bond, colored, or lined paper). Always double-space. Type your return address in the upper right-hand corner of the first page. Always allow a good margin (generally at least an inch on all sides).

Then send your manuscript to: Ensign, 50 E. North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, USA.

We receive hundreds of submissions monthly. If yours fits our needs, it will be accepted. But the review process takes from four to eight weeks. If you wish to have a rejected manuscript returned to you, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope with the manuscript; otherwise, do not expect a reply.

Articles on a wide variety of subjects, poetry, fiction, humor—all are welcome at the Ensign. We’d like to hear from you.