News of the Church

By Lynda Bakker and Majorie Newton


New Mission Presidents Receive Instruction from Church Leaders

You will look upon this experience as the sweetest, the richest, the most rewarding of your lives,” President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, told seventy-four mission presidents and their wives at the keynote session of the annual Mission Presidents Seminar in June.

He was one of a number of speakers during the four days of seminars; others included all of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve (except Elder David B. Haight, who was excused because of schedule conflicts); all members of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; two members of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and some of the wives of the General Authorities.

President Hinckley thanked the new presidents and their wives for the willing response to their calls, even though they did not know at the time of their calls where they would be serving.

He also explained the function of the new system of Area Presidencies (See August 1984 Ensign, “News of the Church.”) Every mission president, he said, would have an Area Presidency to whom he could look for direction and guidance in the details of the work. “We can’t make every decision in Salt Lake City. We have to do something about decentralizing authority,” he told the new leaders.

In his keynote address, President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve testified that “we have the answers to the problems of the world,” and we in the Church have a responsibility in acting as ambassadors for Jesus Christ to share that knowledge.

The greatest help mission presidents and their wives will have in this new stewardship, he said, is their own spirituality.

He cautioned them that “it was never intended for this Church to be popular with the worldly.” But “to the honest in heart, the Church is the most attractive religious body in the world. There are tens of millions of these honest in heart who are awaiting our message.”

President Benson then gave four suggestions for effective missionary work. First, he said, obtain the Spirit through personal worthiness, the prayer of faith, and a daily searching of the scriptures. Then acquire humility, which is not timidity or weakness, but is an essential ingredient of success. Next, love the people. “Point them up to a higher, finer life and, eventually, to exaltation.” And finally, work diligently. “If a missionary works,” he said, “he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. Work, work, work: there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”

Leaving his blessing on the mission presidents and their wives, he said: “God bless us that we may serve so that we will never have any serious regrets, that we will know we have been magnified even beyond our natural talents.”

The other General Authorities addressed a wide variety of subjects, many emphasizing the need to develop spirituality, bear testimony of the Savior, seek out those who will accept the gospel, and work hard.

General Women’s Meeting Set for September 29

Women and girls of the Church ten years of age and up have been invited to a General Women’s Meeting September 29. It will originate from the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and will be broadcast by satellite to stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

Scheduled to address the sisters are President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Dean L. Larsen of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Sister Dwan J. Young, Primary general president; Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president; and Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society general president.

The theme of the meeting will be “Striving Together,” taken from Philippians 1:27 [Philip. 1:27.] It will be broadcast in English, Spanish, and French.

The program will begin at 5 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time that Saturday afternoon, and will end at 6:30 P.M. It will be rebroadcast beginning at 7 P.M. MDT. Local leaders may choose the most convenient time for viewing in their areas.

In areas where satellite reception is not available, stake presidents were advised to request videotapes of the meeting from the Church’s Satellite Programs Division and hold meetings later so their women may view the program.

Temple Crowns Growth in Australia

On 20 November 1851, John Murdock, one of the first Latter-day Saint missionaries to Australia, left the town of Parramatta, near Sydney, after his first visit there and turned into the bush to pray. He had intended to revisit Parramatta on his way back to Sydney, but, as he wrote in his journal, “the Spirit witnessed to me in power not to do so but to bear witness against the rebellious in that place.”

Now, 133 years later, the dedication day is approaching for the Sydney Australia Temple, built within the boundaries of the Sydney Australia Parramatta Stake. It is an indication of the great changes that have taken place.

The first members of the Church arrived in Australia in 1840 and 1841. They had limited success in sharing the gospel, but at least ten people had joined the Church by 1844.

Elders John Murdock and Charles Wandell, the first full-time Latter-day Saint missionaries, arrived on 31 October 1851, and Elder Murdock preached his first sermon on 2 November 1851 in Hyde Park, the site of the Old Sydney Race Course. By the end of the year, they had baptized twelve people, and on 4 January 1852, the Sydney branch was established with Elder Wandell as branch president.

Missionary work in those early days was hindered by a lack of funds, books, and materials. However, the work went forth.

New converts, following the counsel of Church leaders, left Australia, both in groups and as individuals, to join the Saints in Utah. Elder William Hyde, another missionary, said of these Saints that “we have many ordinances to attend to which pertain to our salvation, and also the salvation of our dead, which we cannot attend to in our scattered condition.” (Zion’s Watchman, I, 4 March 1854, p. 73.) Even then, the Australian Saints were seeking the blessings of the temple.

Because of this gathering to Utah and the difficulty of missionary work, the number of Saints in Australia at the turn of the century was small. But about this time Church leaders began to encourage members to remain at home and build up the Church in their own lands.

Growth was slow. Australian government officials, who were trying to increase the country’s small population and had seen many Saints leave, limited the number of missionaries until 1918.

The Brisbane chapel, the first LDS chapel built in Australia, was dedicated in 1906. It was followed by seven other chapels and a recreation hall, but the Church population remained small through the First and Second World Wars.

Then, in 1955, President David O. McKay visited Australia, ushering in a great period of growth in the Church. By 1958, the Church had substantially increased its missionary force and had built or was building nineteen new chapels with sites for another fifteen. On 27 March 1960 the Sydney stake was organized. It was the 293d stake of the Church, the second outside the continental United States, following the organization of the Manchester England Stake by just hours. Within six months, stakes were created in Brisbane and Melbourne. Today there are sixty-five thousand members of the Church in Australia and New Guinea, with sixteen stakes and five missions.

Ian Mackie, chairman of the temple committee and Regional Representative for Melbourne and Tasmania, in considering the history of the Church in Australia, says the increased spiritual growth of the Saints as a result of the dedication will be just as significant as numerical growth after the prophet’s 1955 visit.

This increased spirituality is already becoming evident. P. Bruce Mitchell, Regional Representative for the Sydney and Brisbane regions, reports that the members in Australia are experiencing their “greatest upsurge in genealogical work, with more members currently holding temple recommends than at any time in Australian history.”

The work done at the new Genealogical Service Center is one evidence of this excitement. “We are one of the top areas for name submissions for temple work,” says Napoleon Trujillo, genealogical service director. Within the first ten months that the center was open, it received 27,000 names and about 2,500 submissions for the Ancestral File. In addition, Brother Trujillo says, Australia has pioneered the concept of calling missionary couples to do microfilming and genealogical work.

Members who have spent years researching their ancestors are excited about the opportunity the temple presents. Ethel Parton, seventy-year-old member of the Sydney Australia Mortdale Stake, has been working for many years, gathering the names of her ancestors and sending them to the temple. “How wonderful it will be,” she says, “to do the work myself.”

Along with the increased interest in genealogical work, the temple is bringing blessings to the lives of individual members.

Anne Orro of the Sydney Australia Hebersham Stake recalls her early days in the Church. “I joined in 1954,” she says. “I used to travel for one hour on two trains to attend Church. It was a wonderful thing to have more chapels built, but to have a temple nearby is a miracle.”

Nita Ehman, a member of the Sydney Australia Greenwich Stake, shares those feelings. “My family joined the Church in 1918, and my mother was a great genealogist. We thought we would have to go the Salt Lake City if we wanted to attend the temple, but then the Hawaii Temple was opened. War came and my mother died, and later the New Zealand Temple was built. We were the first family from our ward to attend that temple. How wonderful it is now to have a temple nearby so we can attend regularly. It is too wonderful to put into words.”

[photos] Photography by Brian Kelly

[illustration] Illustrated by Robert Noyce

Gospel Flourishes in Soil of Filipino Faith

A detachment of artillerymen from Utah who arrived during the Spanish-American War, near the end of the last century, are the first Latter-day Saints known to have set foot on Philippine soil.

It was a curious harbinger of the part war was to play in bringing the gospel to this nation of Pacific islands after World War II.

By then, the Philippines were ripe for the gospel. Years of United States government after the Spanish-American War had spread the English language throughout the islands. In addition, Filipinos have a long history of Christianity and a love of learning.

The Filipinos’ first contact with Christianity came in 1521, when Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived on Samar, one of the central islands. It was the beginning of nearly four hundred years of Spanish rule, and Spanish administration brought with it the Roman Catholic church, making the Philippines the only Christianized nation in Asia. Explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos gave the nation its name, in honor of the Spanish prince who was to become King Philip II.

The restored gospel first came to the Philippines through LDS military personnel stationed there during World War II. Among those who prepared the way were the late Peter Grimm, a resident of the Philippines from the 1920s (and a U.S. Army colonel during the war), and his wife Maxine Tate, who was in the American Red Cross hospital service.

Dean Franklin Clair, a U.S. Army medic who married Filipina Leona H. Seno, was another LDS pioneer in the Philippines; the Clairs reared their family in Cebu, then settled later in Davao. Brother Clair presided over the first branch and district in Mindanao, and tutored numerous converts in the ways of priesthood leadership.

Full-time proselyting began in 1961 when two pairs of missionaries rented a house on Taft Avenue in Manila. On their first tracting day, one pair walked out the door and turned left, while the other pair turned to their right. That proselyting has seen Filipinos baptized at the rate of a stake a month during peak periods in recent years.

Today, it is expected that there will be more than 85,000 members in the Philippines by year’s end. There are sixty-four Church-built chapels, with requests coming in continually for more.

Several major milestones highlight the recent growth of the Church in the Philippines. The first was the establishment in 1983 of the Manila Missionary Training Center, a satellite of the Missionary Training Center at Provo, Utah. There are now about four hundred full-time Filipino missionaries.

Another major indicator of Church advancement in the Philippines is the new Manila Genealogical Service Center, in the Church Administrative Offices in Makati. Most family group records on file are up to two generations only. Members will have to use available genealogical resources, through their local branch libraries, to complete four generations.

The genealogical center’s volunteer staff is gearing up to service branch genealogical libraries which will be organized in the country’s sixteen stakes and twenty-two districts, providing a decentralized name extraction program.

The Manila center’s microfilm collection includes nearly ten million pages of raw data from Catholic parish and Spanish civil records, containing about seventy million ancestral names and other bits of information pertinent to the present generation of Filipinos.

LDS students of high school age from Laoag, in northern Luzon, to Zamboanga, on the southern tip of Mindanao, highlight a third major milestone for the Philippines—early morning seminary. Some students slip into school uniforms and walk to seminary at 4 A.M. because they cannot afford to ride.

The Home Study Program—the forerunner of seminaries and institutes—was first introduced in the Philippines in 1972, and enrollment leapt to 4,000 by 1979. Introduction of early morning seminary in 1981 was a surprise for Filipino homes, where many students’ parents were not Church members, and enrollment dipped by 19 percent. By the following year, it was back to the 1979 level. Most of the new generation of instructors are parents who were students themselves when the program was initiated.

Meanwhile, one floor of a building in the middle of Metro Manila’s “University Belt” (the student population is estimated at half a million) has been remodeled into a facility for institute classes. LDS students from Metro Manila’s six stakes, enrolled in one of the belt’s three dozen universities, colleges, and vocational schools, take their choice of morning, afternoon, or evening institute classes.

And now there is the temple!

The view is especially stirring at dawn or sunset, when the Far Eastern sun daubs the spires, walls, and grounds with varying hues of amber. A nine-foot gold-leafed statue, witnessing angelic visitations of the last days, stands in heraldic majesty atop the temple’s 114-foot spire, a beacon to nonmember and member alike. When the 13,000-square-foot sacred edifice is dedicated this month, it will cap nearly forty years of gospel growth in the Philippines.

[photos] Photography by Kurt Soffe and Richard Romney

Genealogy Family Registry Now Accepting Inquiries

The Family Registry, a service of the Genealogical Department launched in late 1983, is now accepting inquiries from genealogists.

More than 60,000 registrations have been entered into the computerized indexing system so far, and it continues to grow.

Microfiche copies of the index are available at the main genealogical library in Salt Lake City and at branch genealogical libraries in the United States and Canada. New registrations are welcomed. Registration forms are available at any of the libraries or by mail. Write to: Genealogical Department Family Registry; Fourth Floor, West Wing; 50 E. North Temple St., Salt Lake City, Utah 84150; USA.

Using the Family Registry index, genealogists can locate others working in the same research areas with whom they can share information and coordinate work. Representatives of family organizations can also communicate with one another about existing or planned research efforts.

The Family Registry is already producing success stories. One participant received the names of thirteen children and sixty-two additional descendants of her great-great-grandfather.

Church members and the general public are encouraged to make use of the Family Registry index at the main library or any of the branch libraries.

Both new registration and inquiry services are free.

LDS Scene

An office and retail shopping complex will be built on property across the street from the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City, the First Presidency has announced. The project will include a twenty-two-story tower and a low-rise building on the corner of State Street and South Temple, where the old Bank of Utah Building now is. Zion’s Securities Corporation, the Church’s property investment subsidiary, will develop the project. Construction is expected to begin in September and to be completed in 1986.

The First Presidency has announced the calling of presidents for three missions: Sidney B. Henderson of Santa Rosa, California, to preside over the West Virginia Charleston Mission; Weymouth D. Pew of Mesa, Arizona, to preside over the Ohio Columbus Mission; Scott H. Taggart of Kirkland, Washington, to preside over the Canada Montreal Mission.

The Relief Society has announced winners of its 1983 song contest. First prize was awarded for “To Serve,” with music and lyrics by Janice G. Bishop. “For the Bridegroom Cometh,” with music by Janice Kapp Perry and lyrics by Val C. Wilcox, won second place. The third place winner was “Lord of the Chamber That Holds the Rain,” with music by Marybeth R. Jones and lyrics by Marylou C. Leavitt. “She Shall Be Praised,” with music by Sheryl J. Martineau and lyrics by Sherrie Johnson, won an honorable mention.

Hawaii Statehood Parade officials liked the combined Brigham Young University-Hawaii-Polynesian Cultural Center entry so well that they put it first among all the units that marched July 4. The entry included a float depicting native immigrants, students carrying large United States and Hawaii flags, and the Polynesian Cultural Center’s marching band.

A Brigham Young University professor is heading a three-year project to microfilm 3.5 million pages of Coptic manuscripts in nine monasteries and seven churches in Egypt. S. Kent Brown says the project will establish a major resource at BYU and “extend a helping hand in preserving the literary heritage of the most important Christian minority in Egypt.” Most of the manuscripts are medieval, but some go back to earlier copies which will reflect the history and religious life of early Christians in Egypt, he says.