News of the Church


Saints Throng to Temple in Mexico City

Mexico, a land of many ancient structures that men call temples, now has a temple of the Lord. It is a house dedicated to our Heavenly Father by “thy thankful people,” as indicated in the words of the dedicatory prayer offered by President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.

“We must recognize that this day in Mexico is one of the most important in the history of the nation,” President Hinckley said at the first of nine dedicatory services for the Mexico Temple. While previous events in the nation’s history have been only mortal in scope, dedication of the sacred edifice brought the beginning of accomplishments that will be “everlasting, as eternal as God is eternal,” he explained.

It was the sixth temple dedicated during 1983.

In offering the prayer of dedication December 2, President Hinckley expressed thanks for a living prophet and asked for the blessings of God on President Spencer W. Kimball. “Bless thy faithful Saints throughout the world. Leave us not alone. Prosper us as we walk in obedience to thy commandments,” he added.

“Father, we thank thee for the many thousands in this part of thy vineyard whose hearts have been touched by the power of thy Spirit and who have taken upon them the name of thy son Jesus Christ and entered into solemn and binding covenants with thee and with him.

“May the harvest that we have witnessed here foreshadow greater things to come as thy work rolls on in power and majesty in this the dispensation of the fulness of times,” he said.

He pronounced the dedication of the structure, then added, “Wilt thou accept it as the gift of thy thankful people, presented and dedicated unto thee as thy house. We pray that thou and thy Son may visit it according to thy will and that thy Holy Spirit may always dwell here.”

Some 3,200 Saints attended the first dedicatory service for the temple, which was televised by closed-circuit broadcast to several rooms in the building. In all, more than 30,000 attended the nine dedicatory services. Many local members served as ushers or sang in choirs.

“As I look over the faces of this great audience and choirs who have sung so beautifully, I can see the expressions of Father Lehi,” President Hinckley said in his address prior to the dedicatory prayer. “I feel that he must be weeping tears of joy on this day in contrast to tears of sadness that he must have shed over the centuries.

President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve also spoke at the first service, emphasizing the importance of the temple in the lives of individuals and families.

“Members of the Church have been commanded to stand in holy places, such as this temple, in order to withstand the evils of the latter days. This temple will serve as a remembrance to Mexican members that families are to be eternal.

“God has not left man alone in this world. This temple is a place of personal revelation where man can learn the order of heaven,” he said. “There is a power here to thwart the forces of evil through covenants made by worthy Latter-day Saints.”

Several other General Authorities also attended the temple dedication, including Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve; Elders J. Thomas Fyans and Richard G. Scott of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elders W. Grant Bangerter and Teddy E. Brewerton of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Bishop H. Burke Peterson, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. Elder Scott is Executive Administrator for the Mexico South/Central America Area, and Elder Brewerton is Executive Administrator for the Mexico North Area. Elder Bangerter is Executive Director of the Temple Department.

With more than 126,000 square feet of floor space, the Mexico Temple is the fifth largest in the Church. It includes four ordinance rooms and twelve sealing rooms. Situated near Bosque de Aragon, one of the principal parks of Mexico City, the building is faced with white cast stone covered with a design described by Church architect Emil B. Fetzer as “a modern adaptation of ancient Mayan architecture.” A statue of Moroni tops its center tower.

Its architecture and construction have drawn favorable comment from the President of the Church and from Mexican citizens alike.

Brother Fetzer, who also spoke at the dedication, recalled receiving the assignment to design the temple from President Kimball. As he undertook the task, Brother Fetzer’s thoughts turned to a book on Mayan architecture given to him by Heber Grant Taylor, a grandson of President Heber J. Grant, eighteen years ago. The book had come from President Grant’s library and was important to his family, but, Brother Taylor explained, he and his wife felt impressed to give it to Brother Fetzer.

When the assignment came to design the Mexico Temple, Brother Fetzer reread that book and determined that he should produce a design to harmonize with Mayan architecture, the “classic architecture” of the New World. But in order that Church leaders could have a choice in the design, he also produced four other designs. As the First Presidency examined each of the proposed designs, they agreed that the Mayan plan was right for the temple.

The new temple has been the focus of favorable attention from the school of architecture at the University of Mexico, which frequently sends students to study it, and from the office of the mayor of Mexico City, where it has been cited as an example of both attractive design and quality construction.

More than 110,000 people toured the temple during its open house period, November 9–19. Among the visitors were thousands of government, business, and civic leaders. Many requested more information about the Church. Mission presidents in the Mexico City area estimate that as a direct result of the temple open house, missionaries have made nearly 2,900 requested visits.

One prominent lawyer, who brought his wife, daughters, and their families to the temple, commented that he was awed by the “sanctity and tranquility” of the building. Members of his family asked many questions and expressed interest in learning more about the Church through the missionaries. Another visitor reported that he toured the temple not necessarily to see the building, but to experience the feeling of peace and tranquility he had heard was present there.

Among the Saints attending the temple dedication was a group of Central Americans who had traveled by bus for more than thirty hours, at great personal sacrifice, to reach Mexico City. Because of their travel schedule, before returning home they participated in ordinances and sealings during the temple’s first sessions, which began the afternoon of December 5.

Mexico City Temple

Mexico City Temple.

Mexico City Temple Visitors’ Center

Mexico City Temple Visitors’ Center.

[photos] Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten

Theme of Christmas Devotional: Love Is the Best Gift

Members of the Church throughout the United States and Canada caught the true spirit of Christmas through a satellite-broadcast fireside December 18 which featured addresses by General Authorities and music by the Tabernacle Choir.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the service, which was also broadcast by KBYU-TV, and offered a Christmas message. Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve also spoke.

“What a glad season this is when we remember the coming of the Christ child,” President Hinckley told those listening in their homes and in receiver-equipped stake centers.

He read short excerpts from the New Testament accounts of the birth of the Savior, then from Book of Mormon testimonies of him and the testimony of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. [D&C 76] “To all of these testimonies we add our own,” President Hinckley continued, listing the many roles of Jesus Christ in the plan of salvation.

He spoke of the Master’s promises to those who keep the commandments, and noted particularly the Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. 7:12.)

“May I remind us at this Christmas season that if only each of us would reflect on that Christ-given mandate and make an effort to observe it, this would be a different world,” he commented. Then he read from a letter which, he said, “better than any feeble words of mine breathes the spirit of Christmas, exemplifies the Golden Rule, and speaks with eloquence of the love of him who gave his life as a sacrifice for all.”

The letter writer, heeding promptings of the Spirit, had sent a check for $3,000, with a promise of $1,000 more, to help some unknown worthy young man serve a mission. The writer, the text made clear, was a former resident of Beirut, Lebanon, who had won the opportunity to attend medical school in the United States despite the dismal prospect of that happening. Many times, he reported, he and his family had been spared death and injury during the strife in his native country. In the United States, he had found the gospel, been married in the temple, and, though struggling through medical school with his family, answered the prompting to share his blessings with others.

President Hinckley spoke too of the kindness of President Spencer W. Kimball years ago in Chicago’s busy O’Hare Airport, where he took time to help a tired young pregnant woman, unable to carry her crying child because, her doctor had said, she might easily suffer a miscarriage. Recently, President Kimball received a letter from that then-unborn baby, who had completed a mission in Germany.

President Kimball, President Hinckley noted, lives as an example of service in the spirit of the Golden Rule, a spirit all should remember at this time of year.

“God bless us during this glad season with an increase of love, with a decrease of selfishness, with an enlarged sense of service, and a greater desire to be helpful to those in distress.”

Elder Faust recalled the most memorable Christmas of his childhood, a holiday without presents during the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s. The family celebration took place at his grandparents’ home in rural Utah. The weather was suitably frosty, the home was warm and cozy, there was delicious food from the farm, but there was almost nothing under the Christmas tree.

“As I look back on that special Christmas over a lifetime, the most memorable part was that we did not think about presents,” he recalled.

“There was the gift of boundless love. We knew God loved us. We all loved each other. We did not miss the presents because we had this glorious gift. It made me feel so wonderful and secure to belong and to be part of all that went on.”

That kind of love, Elder Faust said, can be given to the Savior as a gift at Christmas time, or any time, by extending it to others. This may be accomplished through unheralded personal service and through sharing the products of our talents. “This Christmas and every Christmas will be richer by sharing and enjoying gifts that cannot be held, but only felt.”

Music was furnished by the Tabernacle Choir and Lucie Didier, wife of Elder Charles Didier of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Ardeth Kapp read Luke 2:1–14.

[photo] Nativity scene from Temple Square Christmas presentations.

Elder Mark E. Petersen Dies

Elder Mark E. Petersen

Nearly forty years ago, as a 43-year-old newly sustained Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder Mark E. Petersen stood before the April 1944 general conference of the Church and testified of his faith “in the message which [my parents] received in a foreign land, the message which I shall … take great pleasure in declaring … for the remainder of my life.”

Wednesday, 11 January 1984, Elder Petersen, 83, died of cancer in Salt Lake City. His great faith and strong voice of certainty in the gospel of Jesus Christ were known and loved throughout the Church. This great Apostle was a dynamic leader who sincerely shunned the spotlight. He was marked by a gracious manner and boundless energy.

A prolific writer, Elder Petersen was well known for his many missionary pamphlets and tracts, for more than forty books, and for the numerous editorials he wrote for the Church News, part of the Deseret News.

Born 7 November 1900 in Salt Lake City, he was the son of Danish converts to the Church. He served in the Canadian Mission from 1920 to 1922, and married Emma Marr McDonald in the Salt Lake Temple in 1923. They were the parents of two daughters. Sister Petersen died in 1975.

Elder Petersen’s call to the apostleship came while he was general manager of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News. During his service as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Petersen directed the Church’s public information program, oversaw the establishment of numerous visitors’ centers, served on the Military Relations Committee, and was an adviser to the Music Committee, Indian Affairs Committee, and Relief Society. He served as West European Mission president for more than six years. Recently he has served as chairman of the Correlation Committee.

Elder Petersen’s death came as this issue was ready for printing; an account of his life and of the funeral proceedings will be printed subsequently.

Keeping Pace

New Sunbeam Manual

The Primary has produced a new Sunbeam manual (PCPR96CA) designed as an aid to both teachers and students.

It is intended that the manual will provide the often restless three-year-old with a transition between the nursery program and the Sharing Time of Primary. Instead of joining the other Primary children in the regular Sharing Time this year, for the first six months Sunbeams will have their own class Sharing period with their teacher. Then they will join the rest of the children for the regular Sharing Time.

The manual offers several ideas to help create an atmosphere of involvement, learning, and companionship for these Sunbeam Sharing periods, along with a variety of lesson aids. The latter include: large illustrations and photographs; duplicating masters which can, without being removed from the book, provide up to one hundred copies; two sound sheets (flexible phonograph recordings), with accompanying piano scores, containing songs recommended in the lessons; and pictures with flannel backing for use in flannel-board stories.

In addition to the teaching aids, each lesson includes hints on how to involve class members and several activities designed to keep children’s interest.

Revised Scouting Supplements

To aid in implementing Scouting programs in the Church, the Primary has revised two supplement booklets dealing with the Cub Scout and Blazer Scout programs.

The Cub Scouting (Revised) supplement (PXPR0165; cost 45¢) contains organizational information about programs for boys between the ages of eight and ten in the Cub Scout and Webelos groups. Guidelines for advancement, graduation, and parental involvement are included in the booklet, as well as information on duties of den leaders and chiefs, pack leaders, and other Cub Scout helpers.

Information about the Blazer program, for boys eleven years old, is found in the Scouting for the Eleven-Year-Old Boy (Revised) supplement (PCPR26D6; cost 35¢). The booklet contains guidelines on registration, training, advancement, awards, overnight campouts, and Scouting for the handicapped.

New Young Women Manuals

New curriculum manuals for Young Women classes are now available at the Salt Lake Distribution Center.

The manual for each class contains enough lessons for one year, so advisers do not need to supplement the curriculum with their own presentations. The lessons are grouped in units designed to meet specific needs in each of the Young Women program’s six areas of focus. Each manual also contains color pictures and duplicating masters to be used for quizzes and handouts.

The manuals are $3.25 each. Stock numbers: Beehive Manual I (PCYW24F8), Mia Maid Manual I (PCYW28E4), and Laurel Manual I (PCYW23F7).

Women’s Council Sees LDS Welfare at Work

For the first time in its one-hundred-year history, the executive board of the National Council of Women held its monthly meeting in Salt Lake City.

As part of their activities, board members saw how Church members help themselves through LDS welfare programs and through individual preparedness.

At the invitation of Elaine Cannon, Young Women general president and vice-president of the National Council, the board visited the city in November for four days of meetings and presentations focused on improving the lives of people everywhere through personal preparedness. Nancy Barker, president of the Council, set the tone for the meetings, referring to the Church’s heritage as she said, “We are still today pioneer women dedicated to improving the world.”

When they visited Welfare Square, Bishop H. Burke Peterson, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, joined the council members to explain how Church welfare programs help people help themselves. He pointed out that certain basic needs must be met before people can be taught to help themselves or to make Christian principles part of their everyday lives. It is impossible to teach people “about the Master and what he stood for” if they are shivering in the cold or aching with physical hunger, he said.

During the Salt Lake City activities, Sister Cannon, acting in her role as vice-president of the International Council, outlined a plan designed to improve “the physical conditions of homes and the health and well-being of families throughout the world.” She will report on it formally at meetings of the International Council of Women this spring in Germany.

The plan, in the form of a booklet called “A Network of Women: Personal Preparedness Across the World,” responds to the International Council’s concerns for children, water, shelter, food, health, sanitation, and personal peace. It calls for selecting a critical need, giving support to existing programs dealing with that need, locating specialists in the appropriate field, and assigning these specialists to teach local women leaders how to teach their communities.

“This is a capsule program to teach how women can organize themselves to help other women in personal preparedness,” Sister Cannon said. “The concept of networking among women in home economics is exciting.”

During their stay, members of the executive board attended workshops demonstrating several successful Church preparedness programs. In a session at Brigham Young University, John M. Hill, associate professor of food science and nutrition, and Mary Ellen Edmunds, assistant director of special training for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, showed how education and problem-solving programs have improved conditions in other countries. Brother Hill noted that education is the critical factor in improving the quality of life; too often, he said, children and adults in underdeveloped countries die of food and vitamin deficiency, infections, and other sicknesses simply because the parents are unskilled in nutrition or are untrained in recognizing and curing sicknesses.

He also told of the success of several programs which have used doctors, nurses, and many volunteers to help implement improvements in villages of underdeveloped countries. “We always go to their local leaders to ask them if they would feel good about using our program,” Brother Hill said. “Then, with their support and help, we begin to train the people.”

Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Public Communications Department of the Church, addressed the board members at a dinner in their honor. He spoke on the need for greater commitment in helping others and for greater personal responsibility in meeting one’s own needs. He also explained the purpose of the Thrasher Foundation, organized in 1977 to support research and projects which promote the health and well-being of children.

Board members also had time to enjoy some of Salt Lake’s LDS heritage. Their activities included a Tabernacle Choir broadcast and a tour of Temple Square conducted by Elder Marion D. Hanks of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Salt Lake Temple. They also attended a reception held in celebration of the 114th anniversary of the Young Women’s organization and toured the Relief Society building.

The Relief Society and the Young Women organizations have been part of the National Council of Women since it was first chartered.

Policies and Announcements

The following items are from the November 1983 Bulletin.

Message from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve: Strengthening Priesthood Quorum Members. The Lord gave instruction in the revelations that holders of the priesthood should be organized by quorums. The Presidency of the quorum is responsible for the activity of each quorum member. Home teaching, wherein quorum members “visit the house of each member” (D&C 20:51), is one of the most effective means by which the members of the quorum are cared for and strengthened.

The bishop, as presiding high priest and chairman of the ward priesthood executive committee, which is the home teaching committee, in consultation with Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidents and group leaders, should assign families for home teaching purposes to quorum and groups. Generally, members will receive home teachers from their own quorums. However, where there is a special need, inactive Melchizedek Priesthood bearers and prospective elders and their families may be assigned to the quorum or group that can provide the most effective fellowshipping and teaching. Home teachers will report to their own quorum presidencies or group leaders.

Brethren who have special talents in teaching the inactive should be assigned by the bishop as home teachers to selected inactive families. When those families are brought back into activity, the teachers may then be assigned to work with other inactive families.

When an inactive elder or prospective elder who has been assigned to the high priests is brought to priesthood meeting by his home teacher, he may attend the high priests or seventies group or the elders quorum, depending upon his needs. The bishop makes this decision in consultation with the Melchizedek Priesthood quorum and group leaders.

When it is appropriate for a prospective elder to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, he should be ordained an elder and then become a member of the elders quorum. Age is not the determining factor for Melchizedek Priesthood ordinations of these brethren. Men are ordained to offices of the priesthood when their calling requires it and by inspiration and according to their worthiness.

LDS Scripture Stories for Children and Youth. To help children and young people understand the scriptures, 178 scripture stories are available in three different formats. These items can be ordered from the Salt Lake Distribution Center on the standard order form or on the Family Resources Order form found in the October 1983 Ensign.

Book of Mormon Stories. Twenty-five stories from the Book of Mormon presented in three separate formats as listed below:

1. Book, illustrated in color with captions under each illustration. Reading level for beginning readers (second grade). (PBIC0325, $1.75 each.)

2. Two audiocassette tapes with narration identical to the wording of the book listed above. Especially good for young children and many handicapped. (VVOT0697, $2.00 for set of two tapes.)

3. Set of six filmstrips with six accompanying audiocassette tapes, portraying the twenty-five stories contained in the book above. (VVOF4032, $16.50 for set of six filmstrips, and six audiocassette tapes.)

Old Testament Stories. Forty-eight stories from the Old Testament presented in three separate formats as listed below:

1. Book, illustrated in color with captions under each illustration. Reading level for beginning readers (second grade). (PBIC0336, $2.50 each.)

2. Three audiocassette tapes with narration identical to the wording of the Old Testament book listed immediately above. Especially good for young children and many handicapped. (VVOT0992, $4.00 for set of three tapes.)

3. Set of six filmstrips with six accompanying audiocassette tapes, portraying the forty-eight stories contained in the Old Testament book listed above. (VVOF4054, $16.50 for set of six filmstrips, and six audiocassette tapes.)

New Testament Stories. Fifty-one stories from the New Testament presented in three separate formats as listed below:

1. Book, illustrated in color with captions under each illustration. Reading level for beginning readers (second grade). (PBIC0347, $2.50 each.)

2. Two audiocassette tapes with narration identical to the wording of the New Testament book listed immediately above. Especially good for young children and many handicapped. (VVOT1044, $2.75 each.)

3. Set of six filmstrips with six accompanying audiocassette tapes, portraying the fifty-one stories contained in the New Testament book listed above. (VVOF4043, $16.50 for set of six filmstrips, and six audiocassette tapes.)

Scripture Stories. Fifty-four stories, primarily from the Bible and Book of Mormon, available in the following two formats:

1. Hardback book. Written as an intermediate reader (sixth grade level) to help prepare and motivate children to read from the standard works. Carefully selected scripture wording helps readers become familiar with the vocabulary and style of the scriptures. A full-page, high-quality, full-color picture accompanies each story, with smaller fill-in art work included. (PBIC0358, $3.95 each.)

2. Seven audiocassette tapes with the narration of the actual texts of the fifty-four stories in the book listed above. (VVOT1135, $10.00 for the set of seven tapes.)