Atlanta Temple Dedicated
Outside, a light rain fell gently on the newly completed building and grounds. But inside, tears of joy and gratitude flowed freely as President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Atlanta Temple as a gift of consecration and love.
“We dedicate it to thee,” he prayed, “and in so doing dedicate anew our lives to thee and thy purposes.” President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve led the Hosannah Shout. Then, as the choirs sent the final amen of the “Hosannah Anthem” heavenward, the clouds parted and sunlight streamed through the brilliant faceted windows of the celestial room. To the Saints gathered there, it seemed a beautiful symbol of divine acceptance of their gift.
This newest temple, dedicated Wednesday, 1 June 1983, is the twenty-first now operating. It will serve an area containing some 150,000 Saints who live in eleven southeastern states and on the islands of the Caribbean.
In the cornerstone service earlier that day, President Benson reminded the Saints that temples are “the universities of the Lord,” recalling that he has found answers to difficult problems there “in clear and unmistakable terms.”
With ten additional dedicatory sessions, almost fourteen thousand members of the Atlanta Temple district were able to hear the dedicatory prayer and messages. General Authorities present at the services were Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve; Elder G. Homer Durham of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elders Paul H. Dunn and Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Bishop J. Richard Clark of the Presiding Bishopric. President Spencer W. Kimball and President Marion G. Romney were not able to attend.
In addition to the congregations at the dedicatory sessions, more than sixty thousand visitors toured the temple in a three-week open house period. “The impact of the Atlanta Temple will be felt for years to come in the South,” predicted President Brent Edman of the Georgia Atlanta Mission. “The efforts of the open house have gone a long way in overcoming misunderstandings about our beliefs.”
“The temple is beautifully simple and simply beautiful,” said Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve. And the need for a temple to be a place of beauty and peace was mentioned in the dedicatory prayer: “May all who enter these holy precincts feel of thy Spirit and be bathed in its marvelous, sanctifying influence. … May their minds be lifted above the mundane affairs of the world to a higher and more heavenly plane. … May it be … a place of holiness to all who enter its portals.”
Throughout the dedication, a beautiful spirit of peace, both inside the temple and on the temple grounds, made this holy place lovelier still. As each session of the dedication ended, the Saints lingered to feel the Spirit a little longer—to share it with family and friends—before returning to the world beyond the temple gates.
Indeed, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve noted, the Saints of the Atlanta Temple district have many reasons to rejoice. The temple is “a needed sanctuary away from the world,” a place where “the window of the soul is opened widely to the light of the heavens.”
For those who assembled from throughout the South, the dedicatory service was also an invitation to dedicate themselves to the work of the temple. President Hinckley prayed that it be so: “May they come in ever-increasing numbers,” he petitioned, “to partake of those blessings which are offered only in these holy houses. May they come with clean hands and pure hearts and in a spirit of love and dedication.”
Flooding, Other Disasters Call Forth Service, Love
The months of May and June brought disaster to many parts of the state of Utah. From Ogden in the north to Mayfield in the south, Saints battled against flooding and mudslides, trying to contain the forces of nature. A state of emergency was declared in nearly half the counties in Utah.
Most of the people in those counties were relatively unaffected. But others felt the full force of the crisis. More than 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes; dozens of those homes were damaged, and some were totally destroyed. Several streets in various cities became rivers as officials tried to control the spring runoff from the mountains; at one point, water channeled down State Street in Salt Lake City rose to a level of four feet. An estimated 30,000 acres of farmland were damaged, and the entire town of Thistle, south of Provo, became a lake when a landslide dammed up the river that flowed through their canyon home.
When the flooding began, wards and stakes quickly swung into action. Some assigned members to help with sandbagging efforts, having them work in shifts around the clock. Many members volunteered on their own. By early June, the Red Cross had served in excess of 40,000 meals to volunteer workers. Wards, schools, and other community centers were opened to provide shelter to the homeless. Most flood victims, however, were able to stay with friends and relatives.
One of the hardest-hit areas was Bountiful, where homes suffered from mudslides, floods, and backed-up sewage. Thousands of man-hours were spent sandbagging before the flood and cleaning up homes and yards after the damage was done.
Amazingly, no one was killed. Two-and-one-half hours before a huge mudslide swept its way through a portion of Bountiful, the bishop of the Bountiful 16th Ward, Bishop Neil Fabrizio, called the brethren to a special priesthood prayer meeting. It had been raining, and many of the brethren had been sandbagging—they were invited to come in their work clothes. They knelt, over one hundred strong, as one of the brethren offered a prayer, asking not that they would escape calamity, but that they would be protected.
“I felt very good about it,” Bishop Fabrizio said. “I felt calm—and so did everyone else. I feel that prayer meeting is what saved our ward from any loss of lives.”
After the mudslide, the Saints in the ward began to clean up their homes. But they weren’t alone: help poured in from all over. Priesthood quorums, young adult groups, and Scout troops came, as did families and individuals. The stake and region organized the manpower. Two communications centers were set up by ward members—one on each side of the flooding creek—to keep track of the whereabouts of both members and nonmembers, keeping them informed about evacuations and safety measures, and to coordinate cleanup and surveillance efforts.
A group of sisters set up tables and chairs in a family’s carport, dubbed it “Shirley’s Sidewalk Cafe,” and, for over a week, freely fed three meals a day to scores of disaster victims. Food was donated by area businesses, wards, and families.
Sister Shirley Tuttle, one of the “proprietors” of the makeshift neighborhood cafe, said, “Having a place to eat like this is group therapy. It gives our people a chance to get together and mingle and share and laugh and cry. It means a lot to be able to get away from the smell and the mud and come to a clean area where you can sit down and find normalcy. And hot meals count for a lot, too.”
Ken and Gigi Madsen’s home was hit with all the force of tons of mud and water. It was completely ruined and has since been demolished by wrecking crews. The Madsens are staying in a motor home belonging to a nonmember. “We’ve received lots of offers from people outside the ward to stay with them,” Brother Madsen said. “But we feel it’s important to maintain our identity with the neighborhood. The bonds that have been established as a result of this disaster really can’t be found elsewhere.”
Gale and Diana Martin’s basement was filled to the ceiling with mud. “When we left one night after several long days of cleaning, mud was still packed high in some of the rooms,” Sister Martin said. When she and her husband returned the next morning, they found a houseful of people cleaning up. “The mud was gone, and people were washing the walls. It was a very bright day.”
Sister Elaine Holbrook commented, “They’re down scooping up that heavy, slimy mud. They’re doing things you couldn’t pay them to do, for any amount of money. And they’re doing it willingly!”
Farmington was another area that was greatly affected. Nearly two dozen homes were either damaged or destroyed by a giant mudslide that swept down a nearby canyon; another two dozen had mud and debris in their yards and will require relandscaping.
Sister Karen Sims, a member of the Relief Society presidency of the Farmington First Ward, tells of the “ominous sound” of boulders crashing down the hillside toward their home. She and her husband, Don, quickly gathered their seven children and left in their car. “When we left, we knew in our hearts that our home was gone. But as we looked at each of our children in the car, we were just thankful that we were all together and safe. We decided the house didn’t matter.”
After the initial damage was done, people in the area faced the arduous task of cleaning up. Yet they weren’t left alone. As Bishop Cammon Arrington of the Farmington First Ward says, “The response has been marvelous. … We’ve had up to six hundred brothers and sisters and youth help clean up for several days in a row.” The helpers made no distinction between members of the Church and nonmembers. “We’ve put crews in every home that needs help,” the bishop said.
“Inactive brothers are putting their arms around ward leaders and saying, ‘I don’t know what we would have done without you.’ Nonmembers are saying, ‘It’s incredible! We can hardly believe what we’re seeing,’ when fifty people walk in to help them clean up their basement—and stay three days until the job is done.”
Sister Sims agrees. “People have been just wonderful,” she says. “The emotional support we’ve received from our neighbors has just been great! … And we’ve been so close since this happened.”
Of course, Utah isn’t the only area where disasters have affected Saints in the past few months. Members have experienced severe storms in California, flooding in parts of the southern U.S., flooding in Ecuador and Argentina, food shortages in Ghana, a severe earthquake in Colombia, an earthquake in Japan.
In March and again in April, Tahiti was battered by hurricanes. More than two hundred member families had their homes damaged or destroyed. Members banded together to help each other, providing shelter for the homeless. And, with some money donated from Church headquarters, members are in the process of helping one another rebuild.
In May, Coalinga, California, suffered an earthquake. Again, the Church was a strength. Virtually all of the members’ homes had some damage, and some of those will probably have to be razed. Families set up housekeeping in tents on their own property or moved to the meetinghouse grounds. Meals were served in the meetinghouse. Members from neighboring wards and stakes came in droves to help clean up, assisting both members and nonmembers. As one sister in the area put it, “They made sure we knew we weren’t alone. And that meant an awful lot.”
Later that same month a tornado hit Topeka, Kansas. Seventy homes were damaged by the storm, including four belonging to Church members. As in other areas, Saints were quick to come to the assistance of those who needed help.
In response to the volunteer effort in Utah, the First Presidency issued a statement in early June saying, “It is gratifying to see the tremendous response to the call for assistance in battling the forces of nature. … From all indications, the wards and stakes of the Church in the afflicted areas, and even those in areas not directly affected by the flooding, have quickly and efficiently responded with thousands of volunteers who have logged an untold number of man hours in what has become a virtual around-the-clock effort.”
In concluding the statement, the First Presidency said, “Our hearts go out to those whose homes have been lost or damaged. They are in our prayers and we are confident that they will, with the continued outpouring of love and concern and assistance from their neighbors, be able to rebound from what we trust will be only a temporary setback.”
That “outpouring of love” is what many Utah Saints remember most from this disaster. The horror of a mudslide rumbling down the mountain is an image hard to eliminate from one’s mind. But the help that followed creates just as strong an image. As Bishop Arrington said, “I think we’re going to see much good come out of this. Certainly it’s a tragedy that none of us wanted, but I think the good will come.”
Sister Diana Martin said, “In the midst of this tragedy, so many beautiful things have happened. There has been so much love. When you see people come to be a moral and physical support—to me that’s what really makes the gospel live.”—Jay Parry, with Marvin Gardner and Jan Underwood.
Missionaries and Their Families Respond to Disaster
The wall of mud and water that washed through the Bountiful 16th Ward severely damaged the homes of four recently called missionaries. One of the missionaries had just reached the mission field; one was in the Missionary Training Center; and two were scheduled to enter the MTC shortly.
Ken and Gigi Madsen visited their son Aaron in the MTC after their home was destroyed. “He was wondering if he should still be there or if he should come home to help us,” says his mother. “Of course we told him that this wouldn’t affect his mission at all. We said, ‘You’re on your mission and that’s where you should be. You concentrate on learning French; we’ll take care of things at home.’”
Some friends of the Madsens’ called to say they wanted to relieve the financial burden by paying for Aaron’s mission.
“We thanked them,” says Sister Madsen, “and told them that we had set aside funds for his mission before he left—and those funds won’t be touched for anything except his mission.”
“There’s no question about it,” agrees Brother Madsen. “Whatever else is sacrificed, Aaron’s mission won’t be.”
Did Gale and Diana Martin ever consider asking their daughter Tawna to return home from her mission? “Absolutely not,” says Sister Martin. “Knowing Tawna, she would come if we asked her to. But there’s no way we would want her to. She’s where she should be.”
Mud completely ruined everything Lisa Holbrook owned—including luggage, clothes, scriptures, and other personal belongings she had readied for her departure the following week. “For half a day I questioned whether I should still go,” she says. “But I believe that the Spirit which prompted me three months ago to serve a mission knew we would be given this test before I left. And we’re going to live past this.”
Knowing how supportive the people are back home makes it a little easier. “All my brothers—and a lot of friends—will be here to help after I leave,” says Jerry Miller, who enters the MTC in a month. “My parents are still encouraging me to go.”
Indeed, the ward has already begun to help the families clean up and rebuild. “Those missionaries know their families are in good hands here,” says Max Tolman, counselor in the bishopric. “We’ll take care of their folks while they’re gone.”
Genealogy 1983: A Conversation with Elder Royden G. Derrick
Elder Derrick, of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and Executive Director of the Genealogical Department, answers a number of questions on genealogy.
Ensign (E): Two years have passed since the July 1981 target date for submitting documented four-generation pedigree charts and family group records. How many forms has the Genealogical Department received?
Elder Derrick: As of March of this year, 143,600 pedigree charts and 883,000 family group records had been received. We’re continuing to receive approximately 1000 sets of forms each month. Some of these records go beyond four generations even though we have not yet called for them to be submitted.
E: Can members still submit their records if they missed the 1981 target date?
Elder Derrick: Yes. Every family should send their four-generation records in if they haven’t already done so.
E: What happens to this material after it has been submitted?
Elder Derrick: We assign a number to each set of records and advise the submitter what his number is and how he can make corrections or additions to the material he has submitted. If a person wants to make a change on a sheet he has submitted, he should fill out a new sheet and place the number assigned at the top of the page. Then when it arrives at the Genealogical Department we simply take out the old sheet and put in the new one. Whenever possible the person who submitted the forms originally should be the one to submit the change.
E: If a family representative doesn’t know his assigned number, how can he find it out?
Elder Derrick: Write to Ancestral File, Genealogical Department, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah.
E: Are these family records accessible now to other people to aid them in their own research? For example, if I want to tap into the research a distant relative did, is it possible for me to do so by writing to the Genealogical Library?
Elder Derrick: Not at the present time. We plan to microfilm these records and make them available in that form. Later we will enter them into a computer, so eventually they will be accessible in printout form.
E: If we’ve submitted our four-generation records, what other genealogical responsibilities do we have?
Elder Derrick: Every family should do all they can to research their genealogy back as far as they can go. Then they will be able to submit it to the Ancestral File when invited to do so.
Furthermore, we should attend the temple as often as possible to see that our progenitors and others receive their temple blessings. In order to do so, we must determine which individuals on our genealogical records have not had their temple work done previously—and then submit those names for temple work. We should keep a personal journal and write personal and family histories. Of course, we should establish family organizations and support their genealogical projects and activities.
E: Five years ago, in 1978, stakes began to be involved in the name extraction program. How successful has this program been?
Elder Derrick: It has met our every expectation. Approximately six million names for endowments and two million marriage entries are extracted annually. Of the total number of names receiving proxy ordinances in the temple, approximately 78 percent originate from the extraction program, and 22 percent from patron submissions. We have on hand—waiting for temple ordinance work—about ten million names. So you can see that the extraction program has worked extremely well—and that we have a need for more temple work to be done. We must be careful, however, not to permit extraction work to replace family genealogical research. The extraction program was designed as a support to family research. We are pleased that in addition to the success in the extraction program, patron input from family research continues to increase.
E: How many languages are being extracted?
Elder Derrick: Languages assigned so far are Spanish, French, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch. And we have projects under development for Portuguese and Italian.
E: How many people are involved?
Elder Derrick: We have extraction programs established in more than 715 stakes around the world, with more than ten thousand volunteers involved. Ordinarily these people are called for eighteen months, but we’ve found that when their tenure is up, they don’t want to leave. There is a great spirit in this extraction work, which is consistent with what one would expect from the spirit of Elijah.
E: Does the Genealogical Department continue to film records around the world for name extraction?
Elder Derrick: Yes. The number of names we are now acquiring each year has increased almost threefold since 1978. We have 103 cameras operating in forty countries, filming about fifty million exposures a year. Each exposure usually takes in two pages of a book.
E: Are names then extracted from these records and processed for temple work?
Elder Derrick: Yes. We have Genealogical Service Centers operating in various countries around the world to accomplish this work. Everything doesn’t have to be processed in Salt Lake City any more. These service centers are located near temples outside the United States and Canada. Our objective is for each temple district to become self-sufficient in furnishing names, processing them, and performing temple ordinances for them.
E: Ground has recently been broken for a new genealogical library to be built west of Temple Square. What will it offer that the present library doesn’t?
Elder Derrick: The new library, to be completed in the fall of 1985, will have five floors totaling 136,000 square feet, plus an adjacent 6,000-square-foot underground storage area to house lesser-used microfilm and books.
The new library will feature humidity control and special lighting fixtures to prolong the life of the collections, and is designed to accommodate future developments in library technology.
In selected areas of the new library, patrons will have access to sound/slide and video training presentations. This will enable a minimum number of staff to more efficiently assist patrons needing instruction and special help.
Our present library has instituted some forward-looking changes that will be incorporated into the new library. For example, we have developed two new sound/slide orientation presentations, along with a tour and printed library guide to teach visitors where to find information and how to use it. Those who use these new helps will find their research easier and more productive.
The library staff has also improved our collection of research papers and other written reference aids. And they offer at no charge an ongoing selection of classes covering use of the library and various aspects of genealogical research. The general public is invited. Details can be learned by writing the Genealogical Library, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.
One of the most successful things we’ve done in recent years is the expansion of our voluntary service program. Thirty couples are now serving in the Genealogical Library on a full-time Church service basis. We also have approximately 250 part-time people in the library. In addition about thirty couples are serving in various parts of the world as full-time missionaries assigned to genealogical activity. These missionaries are organizing efforts to teach members in new temple districts how to prepare their family names for submission to the temple. They are also negotiating for name acquisitions and are assisting in the microfilming process.
E: As you contemplate the Church’s future efforts in genealogy, what do you see?
Elder Derrick: The family records submitted by members—our ancestral file—will become a lineage-linked computerized file, compiling and organizing mankind’s pedigree. This genealogical history of man will be available to individuals for their own genealogical research. We also anticipate having a family registry service that will enable people to know who else is working on the same family lines—so they can coordinate their efforts and reduce duplication of research. We anticipate expanding our international genealogical index far beyond its present size, incorporating the names of every person for whom proxy temple work has been performed as well as names which have been processed and are awaiting proxy work. Currently this International Genealogical Index includes over seventy-five million names and will become an increasingly valuable research tool.
The object, of course, is to simplify the process of genealogical research for the average person and reduce duplication of research. As it becomes more simplified, more individuals and families will get involved in direct-line research. Through this we hope to see a larger ratio of member-submitted names going to the temple. As local priesthood leaders give more emphasis to these matters, we expect more progress to be made in research, temple attendance, and personal and family history writing.
Increased support is also being given to the branch genealogical library program. An updated edition of the computer-produced genealogical library catalog on microfiche is being distributed to all branch libraries. Library reference aids are being adapted for use at branch libraries. Key resources such as the 1880 and 1900 U.S. censuses and the family group records collection have been made available for microfilm circulation. A selected portion of the main library’s book collection will be distributed to branch libraries on microfiche. In the years to come several major research tools and more of the main library’s research materials will be made available to all branch genealogical libraries.
E: Elder Derrick, what are your personal feelings about genealogical work and the spirit that is involved?
Elder Derrick: There is a growing understanding in the Church as to the importance of temple and genealogical work. When President Kimball stated that redeeming the dead is one of the threefold missions of the Church, members gave this work a higher priority. When members understand the spirit of this work, they realize that it is an essential part of the plan of salvation which the Lord has given us. There is a spirit in this work that is exciting beyond what words can express. Nearly everyone who gets involved feels the spirit and becomes excited about temple and genealogy activities.
I feel that the work we’re doing now is laying a foundation for the great work which is to be done during the Millennium, and that the very things we’ve been talking about today are paramount to building that foundation upon which the work can go forward.
Samoa, Tonga Temples to Be Dedicated
The First Presidency has announced that dedicatory services will soon be held for temples in Samoa and Tonga.
Dedicatory services for the Samoa Temple will be held August 5–7 in seven separate sessions. The Tonga Temple will be dedicated August 9–11, also in seven separate sessions.
Both temples were opened to public tours during open houses held July 19–30.
The Samoa Temple will serve 28,600 members of the Church in Samoa, and the Tonga Temple will serve some 20,600 in Tonga. The temples will be the twenty-second and twenty-third temples in operation worldwide. Other temples are under construction in Idaho, Texas, Mexico, Guatemala, South Africa, Taiwan, Philippines, Peru, and Australia.
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve recently visited the Caribbean to dedicate Haiti for the preaching of the gospel. He also dedicated the site for the first meetinghouse to be constructed on the island. The brief ceremony was held April 17 on a mountain overlooking Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Elder Monson’s trip to Haiti and later to Jamaica represents the first visit to the two islands by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Ground was broken on 9 May 1983 for the Church’s thirty-seventh temple—the Korea Seoul Temple. Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who turned the first shovelful of dirt and spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, noted that there are thirteen stakes and three missions (and about 40,000 members) in Korea. Other speakers included Elders Adney Y. Komatsu and William R. Bradford, both of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
The Relief Society recently announced their 1983 song contest, which opened on July 1 and closes on December 1, 1983. The contest is open to all women of the Church, and is to provide Relief Society choirs with music and to foster creativity among women. A copy of the contest rules, which have been changed from previous years, may be obtained by writing to the Relief Society General Presidency, 76 N. Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Prizes are: first place, $300; second place $200; third place $150. Winners for the 1982 contest were: first place, Kathryn J. Lowry of Oroville, California; second place, Mary Amelia Covington of Hurricane, Utah; and tied for third place, Mrs. H. Hiller of Queensland, Australia, and Esther Megargel of Springfield, Oregon.
Larry Nielson, priests quorum adviser in the Olympia (Washington) Fourth Ward, is the first Latter-day Saint to reach the summit of Mount Everest. On 7 May 1983, Nielson scaled the 29,028-foot peak the world’s highest. Throughout the arduous climb Brother Nielson clung to promises in a blessing he received before setting out on his journey—promises that his family would be safe and protected, that he would return to them, and that he would ascend to the summit. He is the first American to accomplish the climb without supplementary oxygen.
New Sports Officiating Manual Released
The Church has prepared a new Sports Officiating Manual for officials in Church competitive sports activities. The manual gives guidelines for training officials in their callings, and also explains the rules and techniques of softball, volleyball, and basketball. Optional quizzes are included to help the officials stay current on game rules and officiating techniques.
“The General Activities Committee is encouraging ongoing training clinics for all officials,” said Brother Clark T. Thorstenson, physical activities specialist for the Committee. “This manual helps provide that training. As sports officials are trained properly, they can have a great impact on sportsmanship, friendship, and fair play, consistent with the principles of the gospel.”
The Sports Officiating Manual (PBAC0238) is available from Church Distribution Centers.
Concert Series Inaugurated at Assembly Hall
On May 20 President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Robert E. Wells welcomed guests to a Gala Inaugural Concert at the newly renovated Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Fourteen artists performed in this first concert of the Temple Square Concert Series.
In welcoming guests to the concert, Elder Wells, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and chairman of the Temple Square coordinating committee, noted that activities such as the inaugural concert have long been an LDS tradition. President Hinckley, of the First Presidency, added that “this kind of concert satisfies a need in the community and evidences the love of our people for that which is beautiful and good.”
The Temple Square Concert Series is held each Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 P.M. in the Assembly Hall, except on conference weekends. Tickets are free to those eight years of age and older and can be obtained at either visitors’ center on Temple Square.