News of the Church

By Don L. Searle


Temple Will Bless Saints in Guatemala

Guatemala City is a pleasant place, with its delightful blend of European and Indian heritage and a tropical climate tempered by its elevation, nearly 5,000 feet (1,493 meters) above sea level.

Guatemaltecos will tell you proudly that it is a fine place to live. But for Guatemalan Latter-day Saints, it will seem a truly blessed place with the dedication of the temple there in December.

Many members have waited a generation for this blessing. Some are early converts, now in their later years; some are their children, baptized as youngsters and now parents themselves. For them, the temple will mean the opportunity at last to partake of eternal blessings.

The first missionaries to labor in Guatemala in modern times were sent in September of 1947. Their coming was a result in part of the efforts of John F. O’Donnal, a United States government agricultural employee who had been sent to Central America in 1942 in an effort to find sources for rubber. The nation’s rubber supply had been cut off by World War II fighting in Asia. In Guatemala, Brother O’Donnal, formerly a resident of the LDS colonies in Mexico and fluent in Spanish, found a people ready to accept the gospel.

Arwell L. Pierce, president of the Mexico Mission, visited Central America in September of 1946 to investigate the possibility of sending missionaries there. In December that year, Brother O’Donnal visited President George Albert Smith in Salt Lake City, requesting that missionaries be sent to Central America. The First Presidency approved. The first four missionaries were sent to Guatemala in September of 1947. President Pierce accompanied them, dedicating the land for missionary work.

The Central American Mission, with headquarters in Guatemala City, was organized 16 November 1952, with Gordon M. Romney as president and John F. O’Donnal as first counselor. The mission included Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

In prayer as the mission presidency was installed, Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Council of the Twelve asked a “special blessing upon the Lamanite cause and … that the seed of Lehi in these Central American countries, and the gentiles among them, may see and hear and understand and have the courage and fortitude to accept and to live the exalting program of thy divine gospel.”

The Church-built Guatemala City chapel was dedicated early in 1955 by Elder LeGrand Richards of the Council of the Twelve. Planned when there were fewer than one hundred members in the capital city, it had been built to hold one thousand five hundred.

By the mid-1960s, district conferences were filling that chapel regularly. In 1965, when the mission was divided, Terrence L. Hansen remained as president of the Guatemala–El Salvador mission, with approximately fourteen thousand members, and Canadian Ted E. Brewerton took over as president of the Central America Mission, with 4,200 members in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

In the mid-1960s, missionaries began teaching Guatemalan Indians in two of the major Mayan dialects, Quiche and Cakchiquel. Through the years, many of them have accepted the gospel readily after receiving spiritual witnesses that the Book of Mormon is a record of their ancestors and that the gospel is true. Daniel Mich of Patzicia, for example, was baptized after seeing President David O. McKay in a dream—before the missionaries had ever shown him a picture of the prophet.

The first stake in Guatemala was organized in the capital city in May of 1967. That stake was split in 1975, and, in the same year, the first stake was organized in Quezaltenango.

The Guatemala City Temple’s first president is one who has watched Church progress in Guatemala from the beginning—John F. O’Donnal. The temple district will include 54,500 members, from nineteen stakes and four missions in Central America.

The dedication of the temple in Guatemala means that many more Latter-day Saints in that country will be able to receive their temple blessings. Wages for a Guatemalan laborer average $3 to $5 (U.S. currency) per day. Until the dedication of the Mexico City Temple last year, only a relatively few privileged Guatemalan members could afford the $400 to $500 cost of bus fare and food for the round trip to the temple in Mesa, Arizona. Even the trip to Mexico City cost nearly $100. Now, the round trip bus fare from Quezaltenango to the temple in Guatemala City—$5 to $6—will cost only two or three days’ wages.

Eriberto Israel Perez, president of the Quezaltenango Stake, says the Guatemala City Temple, a blessing of “immense” significance, began to make a difference in the lives of members from the day it was announced. Many faithful Saints have worked especially hard to prepare to enter the house of the Lord, and many who were struggling have changed their lives. One father, for example, conquered a drinking problem when he was challenged by his bishop and realized he would be the only one in his family unworthy to enter the temple.

Many more Guatemalan young people are serving missions, President Perez reports, and more are preparing to serve as a result of the temple.

Ana Julia Chew Pena, who completed a full-time mission in November of 1983, commented, “I feel a great urgency to work on my personal preparation,” and to be always worthy of the opportunity to help provide eternal blessings for her ancestors. While she plans to continue her activity in genealogy, “Now my greatest desire is to help my living family” so they may realize the blessings of the gospel. “And I know that if I am faithful, soon they will be able to be members, and we will be able to be sealed as an eternal family.”

Carlos Gustavo Quiroa Meza, who completed a full-time mission in his home country in July of 1983, speaks of the blessing of seeing the Lord’s promises to the Lamanites being fulfilled. “I know how much responsibility we have, and how blessed we are here, in Guatemala and Central America. This says to me that we are acceptable before the Lord and that he is pleased with this people.”

“Now it is up to us to faithfully follow the words of Jesus Christ when he said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’”

Correspondent: Rudy Lopez, second counselor in the Guatemala City Stake presidency.

Photos by Don L. Searle

BYU Hosts Symposium on JST

It was the first ever of its kind—a two-day symposium devoted entirely to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. Students and scholars met at Brigham Young University November 2–3 to discuss the origin, contents, and contributions of the JST.

Only a few short years ago, there was a common feeling of uncertainty among Church members about the completeness and accuracy of the JST. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve, in commenting on this feeling of uncertainty, indicated that this has largely passed away since the publication of the new Church edition of the King James Version with its repeated references to the Joseph Smith Translation.

During the symposium, Robert J. Matthews, dean of BYU’s Religious Education, addressed the question about the reliability of the printed JST—does it accurately reflect the changes Joseph Smith made on his own manuscript? “If the manuscript is correct,” he said, “then the published Inspired Version is correct, for they [the RLDS Church, owners of the copyright] have followed the manuscript very, very closely. A few corrections, such as spelling and grammar, were made. I have gone over that manuscript several times, and my judgment is that it has been published very accurately.”

Brother Matthews spoke about major doctrinal contributions of the JST—truths that are only hinted at in other Bibles. “Why aren’t these things in the Bibles the world has?” he asked. “I cannot believe that the ancient prophets and Apostles didn’t have a clear understanding of the gospel, or that they didn’t tell it. What I do believe is that the writings as found in all known, ancient manuscripts have been altered and diluted so that what presently is regarded as their writings no longer contain many of the plain and precious and more particular parts of the gospel that once were there. … Much of this has been restored now through the Joseph Smith Translation.”

Robert L. Millet, assistant professor of ancient scripture at BYU, gave a historical review of the JST, indicating that it consists of (1) “inspired prophetic commentary—insights provided by Joseph Smith to assist a latter-day world to better understand a former-day message”; (2) “a harmonization of doctrinal concepts that were revealed to Joseph Smith independently of his work with the Bible, but proved to be the means whereby he came to recognize a biblical inaccuracy”; and (3) “a restoration of content material—ideas and events and sayings once supplied by the biblical authors but since deleted from the collection.”

Several speakers at the symposium dealt with insights the JST gives into various books in the Old Testament. George A. Horton, Jr., associate professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, discussed in detail eight gospel themes “which are either obscure or completely missing” in the King James version of Genesis and which “suddenly come into focus” in the JST: the role and mission of Jesus Christ, the role of Satan, the fall of Adam, the nature of man, the gospel of Jesus Christ taught in the beginning, God’s ways versus man’s ways, the priesthood, and covenants.

“We now recognize,” he said, “that reading Genesis without the benefit of the JST would be something like chewing on a T-bone with much of the steak already cut off.” Brother Horton also discussed insights from the JST into Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Monte S. Nyman, associate dean of Religious Education at BYU, looked at the contribution the JST makes to the twelve Old Testament historical books and the books of the Old Testament prophets. Although it is obvious that Joseph Smith didn’t complete his work on the Bible, “one must not overlook the importance of the changes which were made,” he said. “The Church has done a great service for its members by footnoting many of these significant changes in its new publication of the Bible.”

Joseph F. McConkie, associate professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, turned to the JST’s insights into the book of Psalms, such as latter-day contexts to prophecies (including allusions to the Apostasy, the First Vision, and the Book of Mormon); the doctrine that God manifests himself to the righteous; and references to the first and second comings of Jesus Christ and to premortal heavenly councils.

The JST has also made significant impact on the New Testament. Looking at the literary style of the Synoptic Gospels, Robert L. Millet concluded that the JST changes and additions are consistent in every case with each Gospel writer. The revisions made in Matthew, for example, are consistent with the major themes in Matthew; the JST changes in Mark reflect Mark’s emphases and style; the same is true in Luke. These examples of “restoration of content” witness that the JST is the work of a true prophet, he said.

In other papers, Clyde J. Williams, curriculum writer for the Church Educational System, addressed the “significant contributions in doctrine and clarity” that the JST makes to the New Testament epistles; and Robert A. Cloward, director of the LDS Institute of Religion, University of Tennessee, discussed the Sermon on the Mount as elucidated by the JST and the Book of Mormon.

Gerald N. Lund, director of Curriculum and Instruction, Church Educational System, discussed the Prophet’s work on the book of Revelation. Without the JST, he said, and without other Latter-day scripture (especially D&C 77) and certain non-scriptural sermons and writings by the Prophet, the book of Revelation is “a book covered by a veil, hidden from our view. But with what the Prophet has revealed, it becomes understandable. It fulfills and justifies its title as a book of Revelation.”

Keith W. Perkins, chairman of the department of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, said that the JST teaches a truth about the Second Coming “that is found nowhere else in scripture,” and “which has not only been ignored by biblical scholars but also has been almost entirely overlooked by Latter-day Saints.” JST Luke 12:41–42 refers to Christ’s coming in the first, second, and third watches of the night—indicating that although “there will be an actual time when Christ will return to earth again to greet those in the flesh who are so privileged to meet Him in that day,” Christ comes “in every watch of the night.” In other words, “no preparation that we make for the Second Coming of Christ is in vain, for in effect he comes in every generation.” For example, if we die prior to his coming, the joy of our reunion with him “will be just the same as if we were living on the earth when he finally does return in great glory. … With this knowledge may we not worry so much about the day of his coming, but rather about our preparation to meet him regardless of the day.”

Summarizing the feelings of the symposium speakers, Brother Robert J. Matthews said: “We now have a second chance to use the JST. The JST was offered to the Saints during the days of Joseph Smith. They did not reject it, but they did neglect it. After Joseph Smith died, the Church lost the manuscript, and for over a hundred years we didn’t have access to it. Now we do; that’s why it was available to be included in the new edition of the Bible. We should be careful not to neglect it again.

“I believe that with the Church’s increase of emphasis on the scriptures and doctrine, it is the mind of the Lord that we should also have access to this great work which the Prophet Joseph Smith did in giving us a clearer understanding of the Bible. The JST is a witness for Jesus Christ. It is a witness for the divine calling of Joseph Smith as a prophet and an Apostle of Jesus Christ.”

Church Sends Aid to Ethiopia

The Church has contributed funds to relief efforts designed to aid starving Ethiopians.

Glenn L. Pace, managing director of the Welfare Services Department, explained that the funds came from fast offering contributions.

“At the direction of the First Presidency and the Presiding Bishopric, we are contributing through an international relief agency with the stipulation that the money be used to buy food for those people in Ethiopia who have the greatest need, and/or for use in transporting available food to them.”

Church members who have a desire to participate in this relief effort are encouraged to maintain or, if possible, increase their fast offerings.

Church Marks A Milestone—1,500 Stakes

Antofagasta, Chile, is a mining and fishing city located in an arid land where almost nothing grows. Yet the Church is growing well there, as evidenced by the organization of the Caliche Chile Stake—the 1,500th to be organized in the Church—on 4 November 1984.

The Caliche Chile Stake was created through a division of the Antofagasta Chile Stake. Located about seven hundred miles north of Santiago, Antofagasta is situated in an area where there was no city at all 150 years ago, when the Church’s first stake was organized.

The Caliche stake is another milestone in the rapid growth of the Church. The Kirtland Ohio Stake was organized in 1834. It was 136 years before the 500th stake was organized, in Fallon, Nevada, in 1970. Nine years later, the Church marked the 1000th stake milestone when the Nauvoo Illinois Stake was organized. And now, just over five years later, the Church has added another 500 stakes.

Presiding over the organization of the Caliche Chile Stake was Elder A. Theodore Tuttle, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the South America South Area.

The members in the Caliche area are “really grateful for the gospel, which gives them spiritual answers to socio-economic problems,” Elder Tuttle commented. “The thing that is really critical in their lives now,” he said, “is the spiritual strength that comes from the scriptures and covenants and priesthood.”

Ricardo Palma Fuentes was called as president of the new stake. Called to preside over the reorganized Antofagasta stake was Alleman Rivera Arredondo.

1,500 Stakes in 150 Years

Year

Number of Stakes

Location of Stake

1834

1

Kirtland, Ohio

1928

100

Lehi Utah

1952

200

East Sharon (Provo, Utah)

1960

300

Toronto Canada

1964

400

Medford Oregon

1970

500

Fallon Nevada

1973

600

Southampton England

1975

700

Veracruz Mexico

1977

800

Veracruz Mexico Reforma

1978

900

Cedar City Utah North

1979

1000

Nauvoo Illinois

1980

1100

Arica Chile

1980

1200

Hermiston Oregon

1981

1300

McMinnville Oregon

1983

1400

Piura Peru

1984

1500

Caliche Chile

Cleaning Up O.U. Stadium Pays Off for Oklahoma Saints

Not long ago, a young educator visited the campus of the University of Oklahoma to interview for a job on the faculty. As he was being driven to the campus, his sponsor, who is not LDS, called attention to the Norman Oklahoma Stake Center sitting atop a knoll and commented, “This is the church that football built.”

Puzzled, the visitor asked what he meant. His host explained that Latter-day Saints clean the university stadium each Saturday after home football games in Norman, under a contract with the school; that is the way funds were accumulated to pay the local share of the building cost, in the days before the Church paid the major cost of meetinghouse construction.

Members in the Norman area have been cleaning the stadium for the past fifteen seasons. (Since they no longer need all the funds to pay building costs, they now use them to help support missionaries.) During that time, the cleaning work has helped reactivate members and bring a number of other people into the Church.

The project began in 1970 when some of the graduate students in the Norman Ward came up with the stadium-cleaning idea to help them contribute their share toward the building fund for the new stake center. The plan was approved by the bishopric and by ward members. University officials accepted the LDS ward’s proposal because it meant the stadium could be cleaned immediately, without letting the debris blow around over the weekend, and landscaping crews would not be tied up all week doing the job.

Now, members of the Norman First and Second and Noble Wards arrive at the stadium gates at 5:30 P.M. after home football games, prepared to push, sweep, blow, or rake the discard left behind by 72,000 football fans.

Sections of the stadium are assigned to families. Rakes and brooms used to clean under the seats and a large funnel to pick up the trash were especially engineered by some of the members in the early years of the project. The rubbish is pushed to the aisles, where it is bagged and moved down to waiting pickup trucks.

Baby-sitters are provided for children too young to work, but youngsters usually begin to contribute to the cleanup effort at age five.

The cleanup after each game involves some three hundred people for an average of three and one-half hours each—or about nine hundred to one thousand man hours. The three wards share equally in the funds the cleanup effort brings.

The project develops unity within the wards, helps families gain a sense of accomplishment together, and has offered a fellowshipping opportunity for many inactive spouses and nonmembers.

Will and Glenda Mattoon participated in the stadium cleanup before being baptized in 1978. Brother Mattoon, now first counselor in the Norman First Ward bishopric, was deeply impressed with the dedication of Church members. Sister Mattoon, now the ward Young Women president, recalls: “The members of the Church were practicing what they were preaching. They were teaching their children the work ethic, and everyone was willing to get their hands dirty to accomplish the goal that had been set—a new stake center.”

Favorable publicity about the project has generated an image of Latter-day Saints as dependable, hard-working people who practice what they preach. It has also led to other fund-raising opportunities for Church units and members.

For fifteen years local Latter-day Saints have cleaned the Oklahoma University stadium.

Sister Land is a member of the Norman First Ward, Norman Oklahoma Stake, and Oklahoma Region public communications director.

Policies and Announcements

The First Presidency issued the following statement in connection with National Anti-pornography Awareness Week, which was October 28–November 4 in the United States.

Over the years leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have repeatedly warned in plainest terms of the growing deluge of pornographic material that is pouring across the world. Our counsel and warnings concerning these sordid and lascivious elements have been clear and consistent.

We again take this opportunity to encourage citizens of good will to be aware of the dangers posed by the production and distribution of obscene and pornographic materials, under whatever guise, and to join in thoughtful, appropriate opposition to this evil in our society, and to support goodness, decency, and virtue.

Our efforts, of course, will not influence others in the direction of virtue unless we ourselves also live lives of virtue. Adults must not only discipline themselves against the pornographic onslaught to which they may be exposed, they must also strengthen the rising generation by example and by teaching in the home.

Parents must cultivate within the young an appreciation for the best books, reading to them the great stories which have become immortal because of the virtues they teach. Patronage of appropriate movies, viewing of suitable television programs, and expressions of appreciation for what is good and displeasure for what is bad should be part of the family experience.

In such ways, people of good will, united in a worthy cause, may stand successfully in defense of those virtues which, when practiced in the past, have made men and women and nations strong and free.