News of the Church

By Randy Johnson

Print Share

    17 Historical Sites Dedicated in Nauvoo

    “Nauvoo is unique among the cities of America,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley in dedicatory remarks in Nauvoo, Illinois, Saturday August 14. On this date, President Hinckley, Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated what may well be a record seventeen historical sites, all located in Nauvoo. The dedication was part of the Church’s efforts to restore important historical buildings left by the Saints in Nauvoo when they moved west to Utah.

    Nauvoo’s “entire history was a time of great testing in which some failed and walked aside, as it were, while the dross was polished from many others and a great refining occurred,” President Hinckley noted. Nauvoo, he said, was “the crucible of Mormonism—a crucible of vision, a crucible of loyalty, a crucible of integrity, a crucible of leadership, a crucible of faith.”

    The sites dedicated include the Nauvoo Temple block, the Masonic Hall, the Scovil Bakery, the Windsor Lyon Drug and Variety Store, the Times and Seasons newspaper offices, the Print Shop, and the Hiram Clark Store. The other ten sites are homes—the William Weeks home, the Joseph W. Coolidge house, the James Ivins home, the Simeon A. Dunn home, the Snow-Ashby duplex, the William A. Gheen home, the Vinson Knight home, the Chauncey G. Webb home, the Winslow Farr home, and the Henry Thomas home. The last seven of these homes and the Clark store are used as living quarters by missionaries assigned to the Nauvoo Mission. The other nine sites are open to the public.

    Close to 2,500 persons attended the dedicatory service, which was held on the temple block next to the temple site. Stephen H. Coltrin, director of the New York office of Public Communications for the Church, reported that never before had the Church dedicated so many historic buildings at the same time. Brother Coltrin’s great-grandfather was one of the early residents of Nauvoo.

    Nauvoo is familiar to most Latter-day Saints as the city built by the Prophet Joseph Smith and his followers after their expulsion from Missouri in 1838. The area had been the home of a Fox and Sac Indian settlement called Quashquema until the Indians were pushed out by the Indian Treaty of 1824. It was later inhabited by a few farmer-trappers. By 1829 a few families had moved into the area, and by March 1830 a post office was established and given the name Venus. In 1834 a new town called Commerce was laid out on the plot, and speculators prepared to sell land to new settlers. However, the great panic of 1837 ruined their hopes, and Commerce languished. In 1839 it came to the attention of the Prophet Joseph Smith; and, having few alternatives, he purchased the land for the Saints as a gathering place. He renamed the townsite, cradled in the arms of the Mississippi River, Nauvoo, a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful place.”

    The name was given more for the potential the Prophet saw in the land than for its then present condition. The flat along the river was swampy and infested with disease-carrying mosquitoes. The Saints eventually drained the swamp, but not before many died of “Miasma,” or swamp fever. The town was then incorporated as a city and granted a charter that made Nauvoo essentially a city-state with its own militia. Seven years later, in 1846, it was the largest city in Illinois, with a population of around 12,000.

    Perhaps the most important Nauvoo site dedicated by President Hinckley is the temple block where the Nauvoo Temple stood. Built at great sacrifice during a time of economic depression, the temple was barely finished before the Saints were forced from the city. In fact, it had yet to be dedicated when the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith were martyred in nearby Carthage on 27 July 1844.

    The temple measured 128 feet east and west, 88 feet north and south, and 60 feet to the eaves. The tower and spire rose an additional 98 feet. Made of limestone from nearby quarries, it took five years to build. The Saints donated china, glassware, clocks, clothing, furniture, farm products—anything of value—to compensate the artisans who labored full time on the building. Each man and boy was asked to give every tenth day to work on the temple.

    At the time of its completion in 1846, the Nauvoo Temple was the largest and most widely known structure north of St. Louis and west of Cincinnati. After the Saints left, the temple was burned by an arsonist in 1848, and in 1850 a windstorm blew down the north wall. The building was so weakened that the east and south walls were razed. In 1865 the west wall was torn down. By then, the site had become a quarry for cut and polished stone. It remained unmarked for a century, until the Church purchased the site and began archaeological excavations in 1962, then again in 1966 through 1969. Improvements were added to the temple block in 1977.

    Nauvoo is recognized not only as an important part of LDS history, but also as an important part of American history. The U.S. National Park Service, delegated the responsibility by the Historic Sites Act to identify sites throughout the United States which had had the greatest impact on the history and culture of the nation, recommended that Nauvoo be recognized as one of those historical sites. They suggested that steps be taken to preserve the city and designated it as a “place of exceptional value in our national history.”

    In its report, the Park Service stressed that “with the Mormon migration [from Nauvoo], not only the motivation of westward movement shifted, but the character of the emigrant also changed. No longer were the migrations composed solely of an agrarian people, but shopkeepers, artisans, mechanics, and skilled persons of all types made the trek. The economic motive, so dominant among the earlier emigrants, gave way to the desire to worship in peace and to live in isolation from those who would deny this right.” (Quoted in Nauvoo Restoration Incorporated pamphlet, What Is Nauvoo Restoration Incorporated?)

    The vast majority of these “skilled persons of all types” who first made the trek west came from Nauvoo. Recognizing this aspect of LDS and American history, Nauvoo Restoration Incorporated (NRI), an agency organized in 1962 and sponsored by the Church to facilitate Nauvoo’s preservation and restoration, has furnished many of the restored homes with arts and crafts of the period. Some of the homes are used to demonstrate skills all but lost to many modern Americans.

    In the Joseph W. Coolidge house, for example, one can witness the art of pottery-making and see displays on barrel-manufacturing and candle-making. In the Print Shop is a demonstration of nineteenth-century printing. The Times and Seasons office contains a display on weaving, and the Scovil bakery a display on breadmaking. Other exhibits and demonstrations include gunmaking, blacksmithing, and wagon-wheel construction.

    The Masonic Hall, used by the Nauvoo Saints as a kind of town hall and cultural center, is the spot for enjoying a play presented in the pioneer tradition. This hall saw frequent performances by famous artists of the day, as well as by local Latter-day Saints.

    Presently, over thirty sites have been restored in Nauvoo, most by Nauvoo Restoration Incorporated. NRI is guided by the leadership and enthusiasm of J. LeRoy Kimball, also president of the Nauvoo Mission. Elder Kimball conducted the ten A.M. dedicatory services on August 14 and gave one of the addresses. He received tributes from both President Hinckley and Elder David M. Kennedy, special representative of the First Presidency, for his pioneering efforts in restoring Nauvoo.

    Elder Kimball’s son, James C. Kimball, also spoke at the services. Of Nauvoo’s unique character among frontier cities, he said, “Its growth from 0 to 12,000 people in seven years was phenomenal.” He also remarked that restored Nauvoo “offers an unusual opportunity to glimpse and to feel the strong virtues and sterling habits of those who lived here. … Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo shows that man is spiritual as well as physical, that he is motivated by more than the pocketbook or easy chair.”

    “Nauvoo is a moving story,” declared Elder Kennedy, following Brother Kimball’s remarks. “It tells of the Saints and their faith, the building of testimony, their strength of character. … Nauvoo was a time of sharing, a study of community government.

    “A visit to Nauvoo will give both members and nonmembers alike a better understanding of the industry and strength of our pioneer forefathers. It will give an appreciation of the importance of religion, of faith in God, of home and family.”

    Accompanying the dedicatory services was the pageant production “City of Joseph,” first performed in 1971 for the dedication of the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center. The cast is composed of families from a four-state area who donate their time, make their own costumes, and pay all their expenses. Brother Coltrin estimated that 7,000 attended the Friday, August 13, performance, and 8,000 the August 14 performance. The pageant was held August 10–14 in an outdoor theatre just east of the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center.

    An inscription that once graced the walls of the Nauvoo Temple perhaps best describes the past and present activity at the city. “You have beheld our sacrifice,” it said; “come after us.” Of their sacrifice and integrity, President Hinckley noted, “The Church today with its strength, with its good name, with its ever-growing membership, is the sweet fruit of the solid character of the men and women who came through the crucible of Nauvoo with honesty of purpose and fidelity to a great cause.”

    [photos] Photography by Jed A. Clark

    [photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley addresses a crowd of some 2,500 in Nauvoo. He dedicated sixteen homes and shops and the Nauvoo Temple block.

    [photo] William Weeks’ home, one of sixteen dedicated August 14. Weeks was architect for the Nauvoo Temple.

    [photo] Nauvoo Temple plot with dedication crowd in background. In the foreground are remains of the temple foundation and circular stairwell. Left center are remains of baptismal font, with water well to its left.

    Ground Broken for First Temple in Australia

    On what might be “the most memorable day in the history of Australia,” according to Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Church broke ground for the temple to be built in Sydney. Cloudless, and with temperatures in the 70s, August 13 was a perfect Australian winter’s day for the open-air ceremony.

    Presiding at the groundbreaking services, Elder McConkie turned the first spade of earth, followed by Elder Rex D. Pinegar, member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Administrator for the Australia/New Guinea Area, and also Regional Representatives and stake and mission presidents.

    Plans to build the first temple in Australia were announced almost 2 1/2 years ago in 1980 by President Spencer W. Kimball, but construction has been delayed.

    Completion of the 12,500 square-foot edifice will require about 16 to 18 months, according to Earl M. Monson, director of temples and special projects construction for the Church. The Sydney temple is one of forty-one either operating, under construction, or soon to be started in various locations around the world.

    At the special fireside that followed in the evening, more than 1,500 people packed the Sydney Hebersham Stake Center to hear messages given by Elder Pinegar and Elder McConkie. “There could scarcely be a more memorable day in the entire history of this great nation,” Elder McConkie commented in his one-hour address at the fireside. “We have done something which will do more for the salvation and exaltation of the people of this great land than practically any other single thing we could have done.”

    For Elder and Sister McConkie, who twenty years earlier presided over the Southern Australia Mission, headquartered in Melbourne, it was a day of singular personal significance.

    Elder McConkie noted that the gathering of Israel referred to in Isaiah, with mention of the mountain of the Lord’s House “‘in the tops of the mountains,’ is figurative language for places where temples will be built.”

    “The gathering of Israel is into the stakes of Zion in the nations of the earth. This temple is a fulfillment, as far as Australia is concerned, of that prophecy of Isaiah. It is just as literal a fulfillment as the building of the temple in Salt Lake.

    “I cannot use language that is too emphatic. There is no way to overemphasize what we are presenting—the fact that a House of the Lord is about to rise in Australia will be the crowning event for the Church here at this time, when the blessings and ordinances of the gospel are made available.”

    The member of the Quorum of the Twelve also indicated that the temple to be built in Sydney is only one of many temples the Lord wants constructed. “We want temples in great number, and we shall have them just as soon as the numbers [of members] warrant their construction.”

    In recent years, the Church has grown steadily in Australia, which at present has a total of sixteen stakes, five of these in the Sydney Region. This is especially significant since the total national population is only fifteen million.

    The temple will rest on an elevated site in Sydney’s Carlingsford section, with clear views across the city’s western suburbs to the Blue Mountains. More than three and one-half million people live in the metropolitan area.

    [photo] At Sydney Temple groundbreaking: Left to right, Regional Representatives Ian G. Mackie, Donald Cummings, and P. Bruce Mitchell; Elder Bruce R. McConkie; Elder Rex D. Pinegar; Councillor Bernard Mullane, president of Baulkham Hills Shire Council (in whose local government area the temple is situated); and Walter B. Cottle, Director of Temporal Affairs for Australia-New Guinea and New Zealand-Fiji-Tahiti areas.

    Policies and Announcements

    The following letter, dated 1 July 1982 and signed by the First Presidency, was addressed to Church leaders in the United States.

    “In this election year we again emphasize the previously-stated policy of the Church of strict political neutrality, and of not endorsing political candidates or parties in elections, and of not using Church facilities for political purposes.

    “The Church does not favor one political party over another. The Church has no candidates for political office; we do not undertake to tell people how to vote. The voter should study the issues and the candidates carefully and prayerfully and vote for those he believes will most nearly carry out his ideas of government and its institutions.

    “It is contrary to our counsel and advice that ward, branch, or stake premises, chapels or other Church facilities be used in any way for political campaign purposes, whether it be for speech-making, distribution of literature, or class discussions. Needless to say, we are unalterably opposed to the use of our sacrament or other Church meetings for any such purposes, and those who attempt to use the Church facilities to further their political ambitions are injuring their cause and doing the Church a disservice. Church directories or mailing lists should not be made available to candidates for distribution of campaign literature.

    “We appeal to all candidates for public office to take notice of this instruction and to conduct their campaigns to comply strictly with this requirement pertaining to the use of Church facilities. We also call on all political candidates who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints neither to state nor imply the endorsement of their candidacy by the Church or its leaders.

    “Finally, we encourage Church members as citizens to involve themselves in supporting measures on the ballot which will strengthen the community, state, and nation—morally, economically, and culturally. We urge Latter-day Saints everywhere to be actively engaged in worthy causes to improve their communities, and to make them more wholesome places in which to live and rear families.”

    The following item appeared in the July 1982 Bulletin.

    Several 16-mm motion picture films with non-English soundtracks are available for use by Church organizations without charge (other than the shipping fees). Those available include The First Vision, in Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Dutch (subtitle), and Italian (subtitle); Go Ye into All the World, in French, Portuguese, Samoan, and Spanish; Man’s Search for Happiness, in Finnish and Norwegian; Where Jesus Walked, in Spanish; Johnny Lingo, in Spanish; and Worthy to Stand, in Spanish. These Church-produced films could be used for missionary activities, firesides, family home evenings, and socials. For information about the titles and languages available, write to the Coordinator, Meetinghouse Libraries, Church Historical Department, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.

    The following item appeared in the August 1982 Bulletin.

    A wealth of information, resource materials, lesson helps and ideas is available for priesthood and auxiliary leaders and others who serve in the auxiliary organizations of the Church. Materials for teaching, activation, service projects, and activities and many ideas from the field are included. Leaders may visit or write to an auxiliary or department office for information.

    Simplified Missionary Discussions, Shorter MTC Training

    Missionaries assigned to English-speaking missions are now using a new, simplified version of the discussions to teach the gospel. The content remains the same, but the approach is now shorter and more conversational. Because of this simplification, the discussions are easier to learn, easier to teach, and easier to understand. Translation of the new version into additional languages is in process.

    The current version is compatible with the previous version. Missionaries who learn the new discussions will have no difficulty teaching alongside companions who use the longer version. And missionaries who have already learned the discussions are not required to learn the new set.

    The numbering system has changed slightly: the discussions are listed by number instead of by letter, and the baptismal challenge is not considered one of the seven discussions. But the format is identical with the previous version—the lines to be learned are printed in boldface type, and suggestions for questions, scriptures, stories, and examples are printed in lighter type. The accompanying pictorial flipchart is also unchanged.

    Since the discussions now require less learning time, all missionaries assigned to English-speaking missions (except Canada) are staying at the Missionary Training Center in Provo for only two weeks instead of three. This shortened stay, which became effective in July, was also prompted by the reduced length of missionary terms for young men—from twenty-four to eighteen months.

    Stake missionaries and prospective missionaries are encouraged to learn the new version. They may obtain copies by writing Salt Lake City Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104. (Stock no. PBMI8461, $2.00 per set.)

    Church Denies Sandinista Charges in Nicaragua

    In a firm statement issued Thursday, August 12, Church officials in Salt Lake City refuted charges by the Sandinista government of Nicaragua that Church missionaries are involved in CIA-directed plots against its government.

    The statement was made after the Sandinistas had confiscated three LDS chapels and approximately seventeen other places of worship belonging to Seventh-Day Adventists, Baptists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nicaraguan officials said the property was seized because of the churches’ involvement in CIA-directed plans to undermine its government.

    “Our missionaries are sent into the world solely to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Church officials said. “They are closely supervised, and missionaries are instructed always to function in pairs.

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes it emphatically clear as a matter of policy, training, and practice that no missionary is to be involved in CIA activities, in political activities, or in subversive activities of any nature in the countries where they serve,” officials continued.

    “For more than a century, we have followed the statement of one of our Articles of Faith, which says:

    “‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law,’” [A of F 1:12] Church officials explained.

    Several years ago, during the civil war that saw the Sandinista government rise to power, all LDS American missionaries were withdrawn from Nicaragua. Earlier this year, several Protestants, including a number of Americans, were expelled by the government on the accusation that they were involved with the CIA in efforts to overthrow the Sandinistas, who have ruled Nicaragua since the civil war of 1979.

    “Families Are Forever”: New Church Film for Sharing the Gospel

    “That’s what it’s all about—reaching out and caring about others,” explains narrator Gordon Jump in the recently released Church film Families Are Forever. Focusing on the Church’s love for the family, the individual, and people everywhere, the film is a documentary on what the Church does for its several million members worldwide and on its concern about sharing the gospel with all mankind.

    Beginning with a montage of a multitude of Saints around the world, the film takes the viewer through numerous actual, representative experiences of members as narrator Gordon Jump explains its main concerns—that members are taught who they really are as God’s children; that they learn how to live healthy, happy lives; and that they share what they have with their neighbors everywhere.

    This relatively fast-paced, one-half hour film features non-professionals, mostly Church members, in actual situations. The only professional actor in the film is Brother Jump, a Sunday School teacher in his own ward.

    “One of the most fascinating things about the documentary,” says John Kinnear, director of media programming, a major division of the Church’s Public Communications Department, “is the variety of people featured, all of whom are of the same faith, have the same testimony of the gospel, but come from all kinds of backgrounds.”me faith, have the same testimony of the gospel, but come from all kinds of backgrounds.” Some of the Saints featured are highly respected in their various fields of endeavor—pro-golfer Johnny Miller, pro-football player Danny White, a champion young woman swimmer from one of the Latin American countries, a ballet adjudicator in Australia, a major professional Australian Rules football player who is a returned missionary. And of course there is the unsurpassed Latter-day Saint family, the dedicated homemaker, and many other dedicated members of the Church.

    The Church’s belief in good physical health is documented through an explanation of the Word of Wisdom. An energetic, fast-paced scene shows members around the world engaged in numerous physical fitness activities.

    Concern for a healthy sense of self-sufficiency among members is stressed, with emphasis on helping members help themselves; on food storage, Church farms, and food for the needy; and on the Church’s belief in helping people in underprivileged areas. Scenes of missionary work show missionaries, including missionary couples, carrying the gospel to many different parts of the world.

    The belief in the need for members to participate in every aspect of the Lord’s Church is documented with scenes of members giving talks in meetings, teaching, singing, and so on. Members are shown helping to construct their own meeting houses.

    Near the end of the film, an especially captivating and informative sequence documents what the Church’s family home evening program does for inmates at the Utah State Prison. The hope is that somehow this loving kind of sharing by dedicated families will change the lives of those involved for the better.

    The bishop in the film is in fact a bishop who counsels prisoners and arranges for families to participate in the Church program. What impresses the inmates most is that the families and “this man really care about them. And maybe for them it’s a unique experience to find there are no strings attached. It is really a Christlike love and they identify with it,” says John Kinnear. The prisoners are members as well as nonmembers.

    Numerous shots of Saints and families around the world, of President Spencer W. Kimball meeting many of them, of the Salt Lake Temple, with the Tabernacle Choir singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” bring the film to a fitting close.

    After viewing the film, one young woman said, “It’s the kind of movie that makes you feet good about being a member of the Church.” And it gives a boost to members in remote areas with little or no contact with other members. “Take for example, members in Australia or New Zealand, who so seldom have a chance to experience the thrill of attending general conference in person,” says Kinnear. “When they see the film, particularly young people, they realize that they are not alone. And they say to themselves, ‘I’m part of that really big, strong, worldwide organization, not just in numbers, but also in spirit, in terms of programs and activities. I’m not isolated out here alone, weak and afraid.’”

    Families Are Forever can be obtained through contacting the Public Communications Department of the Church, Floor 25, LDS Church Offices Building, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.