News of the Church

By Kerril Sue Rollins

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    Morality Is Stressed at Fireside for Youth

    “That the Church’s stand on morality may be understood,” said President Spencer W. Kimball, “we declare firmly and unalterably, it is not an outworn garment, faded, old-fashioned, and threadbare. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and his covenants and doctrines are immutable; and when the sun grows cold and the stars no longer shine, the law of chastity will still be basic in God’s world and in the Lord’s church. Old values are upheld by the Church not because they are old, but rather because through the ages they have proved right. It will always be the rule.” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 96.)

    Such firm counsel has been characteristic, through the years, of President Kimball’s views and sermons on the subject of morality. Significant recorded excerpts from his many addresses dealing with the law of chastity have been included in Morality for Youth, a new Church film which served as the focal point for a special fireside held December 5 for youth and young adults.

    President Kimball presided at the meeting. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, introduced the film and afterward spoke to the youth concerning its important message.

    The fireside, originating in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, was broadcast on local television and by satellite to more than 500 stake centers across the United States. Preceding the broadcast, youth at many of these locations heard talks on the subject of morality from priesthood leaders and their own peers. It was estimated that well over a quarter of a million youth and young adults participated in the fireside.

    Following music by the Mormon Youth Chorus and a viewing of Morality for Youth, President Hinckley reviewed the story line of the film—a river trip—and its symbolism in terms of life and its temptations, particularly with regard to sexual morality. He spoke of the caution that should be exercised when temptations becomes a problem:

    “It’s one thing to be brave and strong when you are thrown into trouble you cannot avoid. It is something quite different to be so foolish, for the sheer adventure of it, as to invite trouble and expose yourself to its hazards. …

    “The problem is that most of us don’t pause to think. … We are challenged by friends and circumstances. No one wants to be thought of as “chicken.” No one wants to admit that he is too weak to handle himself in difficult circumstances. But let’s face the facts. The rapids can bruise and injure and kill. They are not something to be played with. They are something to be avoided.” His caution reinforced President Kimball’s observation, excerpted from a previous address and included in the film, that “I believe our young people are wholesome and basically good and sound. But they too are traveling … where great disasters can come unless warnings are heeded.”

    Citing some of the “boulders that trouble the water and make it dangerous,” President Hinckley discussed smoking, drugs, drinking, pornography, petting, and immorality. “Every one of them is fraught with danger. They are like great hidden boulders in a river that cause the waters to boil and foam.”

    To refrain from sin, he observed, one must control unworthy appetites and desires. (“Here, more than almost any other place,” reminded President Kimball in the film, “we must exercise self-control.”) Counseling youth on this matter, President Hinckley said, “Self-discipline was never easy. It is perhaps even more difficult today when sexual transgression is made to appear so common as to be acceptable and even expected. …

    “If you are tempted toward immorality, run from it. Pray for strength to avoid it. I promise you in the name of the Lord that you will be glad that you did so.”

    President Spencer W. Kimball and Second Counselor President Gordon B. Hinckley

    President Spencer W. Kimball, left, and Second Counselor President Gordon B. Hinckley rise with congregation to sing “Shall the Youth of Zion Falter?”

    “Is there a valid case for virtue?” asked President Gordon B. Hinckley. “I believe with all my heart,” he affirmed, “that it is the only way to freedom from regret.”

    Citing the scriptures, President Hinckley told the audience that “the peace of conscience which flows from moral virtue is a sweet and rewarding peace. The Lord himself spoke of this when he taught the people saying, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’ (Matt. 5:8.) This is a promise made by him who has the power to fulfill. Have you ever hoped that the time will come when you can look upon the face of God? The condition which the Lord Jesus Christ gave for qualification to do that is that we be pure in heart.”

    He counseled young people of the Church to remember who they are. “Never forget,” he said, “that you were chosen and brought to earth as a child of God for something of importance in his grand design. He expects marvelous things of you. He expects you to keep your lives clean from the sins of the world. You are the line through which will pass the qualities of your forebears to the posterity who will come after you. Did you ever see a chain with a weak link? Don’t you become that weak link.”

    Concluding his remarks, President Hinckley expressed his faith and confidence in the youth of the Church: “I think you are the best generation we’ve ever had in the Church. You are better educated. You know the gospel better. You pray and you read the scriptures. For the most part, you are clean and decent and exciting. As you are running the river of life, I only wish to warn you of the rapids. Row around them, and have a wonderful time. May God bless each of you with a happy and productive life.”

    His words echoed President Kimball’s kindly reassurance during the film’s closing moments: “Brothers and sisters, we love you. We’re proud of you. Most of you have lived beyond reproach. We’re grateful for that. If there are any who have had problems, they are solveable. We ask the Lord’s blessings upon you … all the days of your life.”

    [photo] Photography by Eldon Linschoten

    [photo] Youth gather to view Morality for Youth film, receive counsel from General Authorities.

    BYU Admissions Policy Has New Emphasis

    Brigham Young University’s Board of Trustees has approved a shift in admissions policy designed to emphasize more extensive academic preparation by high school students as they look toward higher education at BYU.

    Although traditional standards of evaluation—grade point averages and ACT scores—will continue to influence admissions and scholarship evaluations, BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland has indicated that completion of basic courses in high school will enhance a student’s prospects of being admitted to the university.

    “High school courses taken in college preparatory and advanced placement subjects,” explained President Holland, “will be given greater weight than the sometimes superficial attaining of high grades in less-than-substantial courses. We want to reward the serious students who have best prepared themselves to make the BYU experience count.”

    He said that admissions and scholarship evaluators will be “more impressed” with a “B” in a challenging college preparatory course than with an “A” in some less strenuous discipline. He observed that “we want to counter the attitude of some college hopefuls who say, ‘I can’t jeopardize my academic future by taking tough courses.’”

    BYU public communications director Paul Richards described the shift in policy as part of the university’s general education program. “Students should not spend time at college taking courses they could have had in high school,” he said. “We hope to encourage students to be better prepared for college before they arrive at BYU.” He pointed out that if students have taken college preparatory courses in high school, they will be able to move more quickly through general education requirements and enter their major subject areas.

    The new policy may also allow more students to attend BYU, according to Brother Richards. Although the Board of Trustees has placed a limit on enrollment numbers, “students will be able to graduate sooner if they don’t have to spend time in preparatory classes. We hope to be able to admit more students in the future because it won’t take as long for continuing students to graduate.”

    “President Holland emphasized that flexibility will be a key factor in admissions considerations. The program will be based on “strong recommendations” rather than strictly standardized requirements: “For example, prospective students who have not fulfilled all of BYU’s recommendations but have done well in ACT scores and grade point average will still receive the fairest of reviews. We strongly encourage such students to apply.”

    Part of the “strong recommendations” will be an emphasis on student preparation in two basic areas—language and numbers. In the language area, four units of English are recommended. In numbers, the recommendation is at least two units of mathematics beyond basic algebra, preferably in geometry and intermediate algebra. Further, solid courses in social sciences, laboratory science, foreign language, and other college preparatory subjects will give applicants an advantage.

    Keeping in mind the wide diversity of educational experience and quality available to high school students, President Holland indicated that each student’s record will be evaluated according to the curriculum offered at the particular high school attended. “We certainly will not discriminate against students from schools where the curriculum may be limited,” he said.

    University admissions officers will continue to recognize students with special talents, exceptional creativity, and other unusual preparation not otherwise revealed in standard admission data.

    The president also emphasized that because BYU is sponsored by the Church, the new admissions program has been structured to serve a broad spectrum of prospective students; but moral worthiness and adherence to Latter-day Saint standards will continue to be crucial to the student’s application. “We will make no compromises here,” he said. “A bishop’s confidential recommendation will still be basic to our admission procedure.”

    Returning to academic considerations, President Holland shared his hope for the new policy’s effectiveness. “What we are saying to prospective BYU students,” he observed, “is that their high school years are very important and that they can have fine, strong learning experiences in secondary school. The responsibility for preparation,” President Holland said, “is placed squarely on their shoulders and the shoulders of their parents.”

    “We hope our new policy will give senior high and even junior high school students additional incentive to enroll in challenging and advanced courses without fear of jeopardizing their admissions chances because of possible lower grades.”

    The Book of Mormon in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu

    Translation of the Book of Mormon into languages spoken throughout the world has reached another milestone. Recently this latter-day testament of Jesus Christ was published in three of the most widely spoken languages in India, the second most heavily populated country in the world.

    The 224 million who speak Hindi as a primary language, and the many others who speak it as a second language, now have access to a translation of the complete Book of Mormon. Translations of selections from the latter-day scripture are also available to the 55 million who speak Telugu and the 55 million who speak Tamil.

    “Translation of the Book of Mormon and the other standard works of the Church, along with other Church-related materials, upon approval of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, is one of the most effective ways of opening doors to peoples of other cultures who need the gospel,” says Eb Davis, director of the Church’s Translation Division. As soon as the scriptures and other Church materials have been translated and printed in a particular language, people who speak that language begin clustering around them. Soon they and many others with whom they come in contact become converted to the gospel.

    Already the Church has a number of Indian members, some in Samoa, England, and Fiji. The Church is not now actively proselyting in India, however, and missionary work is therefore primarily one of preparation and pioneer effort.

    Languages spoken in countries such as India are relatively new to the Church, which has brought about a need for Book of Mormon Selections in some cases instead of the full translation. “Book of Mormon Selections is a compilation of different parts of the book that have been approved by the Quorum of the Twelve,” explains Lowell Bishop, one of the supervisors of the Emerging Languages section of the Translation Division. The selections relate the basic story of the Book of Mormon and include chapters that deal with the Atonement and other major teachings of the Church.

    In some of the languages in which the Church has just begun work, translators as well as members are few, making the translation process a rather difficult and lengthy one. The full Book of Mormon generally has taken anywhere from five to ten years to complete, including the time required for printing. Selections can be produced much more readily and allow for feedback and revisions more easily than the full book. Until a complete translation is made available, the approved selections make it possible for new members and investigators to gain access to the Book of Mormon’s basic teachings of the gospel.

    Groundwork for the Hindi translation was laid in the mid-1970s. Upon approval from the Brethren, Vijendra Sharma, a nonmember linguist living in Fiji, was asked to help with a translation of the Book of Mormon and he began his work in 1975. The text was then reviewed by several others and the polished translation, completed early in 1980, was typeset sometime later in New Delhi, India. Three thousand copies were printed in 1982 in Hong Kong, where most of the copies are stocked at the local Church distribution center.

    Daniel K. Shanthakumar, a member of the Church from Coimbatore, India, was asked in 1979 to translate the Book of Mormon into Tamil for Selections. After the text was reviewed in 1980, it was prepared for typesetting and printing in Sri Lanka, where it came off the press in mid-1982. Copies of this translation are stocked in Sri Lanka.

    The Telugu translation was one of “spontaneous effort,” according to Brother Davis. Translation of Church materials into Telugu was approved in 1980, and by early 1981 the entire Book of Mormon had been translated into that language by Reverend P. Sreenivasam, an ordained Baptist minister. The reverend became aware of the Book of Mormon after his daughter Elsie became interested in the Church and was baptized with her husband, Dharmaraju Edwin, in early 1977 in Western Samoa. Although eighty-two years of age and seriously ill, Reverend Sreenivasam felt a strong urge to translate into Telugu what he felt was a book of great value, and he began to do so immediately—at the rate of a little more than one page per day.

    As soon as the translation was completed, Brother and Sister Edwin typed the 700-page manuscript and delivered it to the First Presidency in March 1981. The text was then reviewed by others, and selections from this translation were approved by the First Presidency. These were taken to Osmania University Press in Hyderabad, India, for typesetting, after which the typeset pages were returned to Salt Lake City, where the Telugu Selections was printed. This translation is available through area Church distribution centers.

    Because of Brother and Sister Edwin’s devotion to the gospel, more than twenty of their own family members are now members of the Church in India. At the time of their baptism, Brother Edwin, a government scientist, was stationed in Apia, Western Samoa, to help local agriculture experts control tropical insect pests.

    Prior to teaching their family members in India, the Edwins sent them by air cargo almost 500 pounds of Church materials—among them copies of the Book of Mormon, Bibles, hymn books, pamphlets, and tapes. The materials were donated by friends in Western Samoa. Ralph G. Rogers, Jr., Regional Representative for Samoa, at that time, coordinated the effort.

    In December 1977, several months following their baptism, the Edwins returned to India to celebrate the marriage of their daughter Lata in Hyderabad. Here they had the opportunity to talk to family members about the Church and distribute copies of the Book of Mormon. Their families took an active interest and wanted to know more.

    Upon their return to Apia, Samoa, the Edwins began receiving letters from their families in India asking for more information about the Church.

    Several months later the Edwins were called, much to their surprise, to go to India as the missionaries they had requested for their families. They were set apart 22 October 1978, and Brother Edwin was given the authority to baptize and ordain to the Aaronic Priesthood and to organize small units of the Church. The Edwins arrived in India around the middle of December of that year and immediately began teaching their families. By December 28, Brother Edwin had baptized twenty-two family members and later ordained four to the Aaronic Priesthood. Soon after, a branch of the Church was organized in Hyderabad, with Victor David as branch president.

    Members of the Church in India are, like Brother and Sister Edwin and their five children, very faithful. About half of the members there are of Indian extraction. According to Brother Edwin, the Church’s strong belief in the family and its strict standards concerning total abstinence from alcohol will help the Church to be accepted in India. The people of that country are known for their strong family ties, for their preference for simplicity in living, and for their deep devotion to religious principles.

    Both Dharmaraju and Elsie Edwin feel that their part in the Telegu translation is their “greatest, single humble contribution to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in India.” Brother Edwin has emphasized that “we just cannot visualize the impact this book will have on the more than 40 million people living in Hyderabad State [alone]. … Whatever work we did in India is just a minute droplet in the ocean. … There is a vast potential for the Church in India.” (History of the Telegu Translation, photocopy in the Translation Division, pp. 6, 7.)

    With the full Book of Mormon in Hindi and Selections in Tamil and Telugu, translations of the Book of Mormon into languages spoken around the globe now number fifty-two. Still others are in process. The Indian translations of this latter-day testament of Christ are bringing about an even greater opportunity for Church members to realize more clearly than ever that the gospel is universal in its nature, and the scriptures worldwide in their scope.

    [photo] With publication of the full Book of Mormon in Hindi (center) and Selections in Tamil (left) and Telugu (right), translations now number fifty-two.

    Policies and Announcements

    The following items appeared in the December 1982 Bulletin.

    Ancient Writing and the Book of Mormon (English Language Only). A new filmstrip, Ancient Writing and the Book of Mormon (VVOF3186, $2.50 each), is now available (in English only) at the Salt Lake City Distribution Center. It shows the consistency between ancient record-keeping practices and Joseph Smith’s account concerning the gold plates. It shows many examples of ancient writings on metal and of stone boxes where ancient records were stored. It can be used in missionary work, seminary and institute classes, family home evenings, and firesides, and wherever the Book of Mormon is being taught.

    Latter-day Saint Student Association. The Latter-day Saint Student Association functions on most campuses where an LDS Institute of Religion exists. It provides meaningful activities for LDS students and can be an effective missionary tool.

    Sigma Gamma Chi and Lambda Delta Sigma are also a part of the approved Church program for LDS students. These programs strengthen college-age men and women and allow LDS students to have an influence in student affairs through their representation on interfraternity councils.