News of the Church


Elder G. Homer Durham Dies

Elder G. Homer Durham

General Authorities, family members, and friends from his wide circle of associates bade a mortal farewell to Elder G. Homer Durham of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy at funeral services on Temple Square in Salt Lake City January 14.

Eulogies for Elder Durham, who died January 10 after suffering a heart attack, were marked by a theme of reunion—reunion with a loving Heavenly Father and loving ancestors, and a future reunion with earthly family members for whom he will be preparing a welcome.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the funeral. He noted that President Spencer W. Kimball and President Marion G. Romney, First Counselor in the First Presidency, could not be present but were listening to the services.

President Hinckley spoke of long association with Elder Durham, through youth, through their missionary years in Great Britain, and through Church service. G. Homer Durham, he said, had grown to be “one of the ablest educational leaders of the nation, certainly of the West.” President Hinckley described him as a man of great faith and understanding of the things of God.

After paying tribute to Elder Durham’s faith and integrity, President Hinckley bore his testimony. “I give my witness of the immortality of the soul,” he said, “of the certainty of life beyond the grave, of the living reality of God our Eternal Father who loves his children and who has provided for them, of the Savior of mankind through whose atonement has come the blessing of eternal life.”

President Hinckley also read from a tribute prepared by George H. Durham, Elder Durham’s son.

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve recalled Elder Durham’s great capacity for service and love, illustrating with the example of a man who might prepare to share his wealth with his posterity by converting it all to cash. Unable to decide how to apportion it among those he loved, he might determine to will it all to his beloved wife—and then will the entire amount also to each child, and again, all of it to each of his posterity in turn.

Of course, lawyers and accountants would tell him that is impossible.

“But should we repeat that illustration and change only one word, all at once it would become very logical. Substitute the word love for the word money. Now it makes sense,” Elder Packer said.

There are other words that could be substituted for money, he said—care, concern, conviction, and testimony. All of those could be shared equally and in full by a loving parent and grandparent.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, also a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, recalled Elder Durham as a longtime friend and role model who had ordained him an elder before young Russell Ballard went on a mission. “He spoke at my farewell, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to speak at his today.”

Elder Ballard quoted testimonials of other General Authorities and of professional associates who had been touched by Elder Durham, along with warm remembrances by Elder Durham’s children of his wisdom and love.

“Every one of the family that I have visited with have confirmed that memories of their father would be incomplete without the memories of his love for music. What the First Quorum of the Seventy will do now that Elder Durham cannot lead us [in singing] every Thursday morning I do not know.”

Elder Durham served for nearly eight years as a General Authority. In addition to his position in the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, he was Church historian and recorder and managing director of its Historical Department at his death.

“I pledge to the Lord, to these brethren of the General Authorities, and to you, my life, labors, and whatever talent I possess,” Elder Durham said in the priesthood session of general conference on 2 April 1977, shortly after being sustained as a General Authority. “There is no greater privilege, no greater joy, no greater opportunity than service to our fellowmen in the name of our Lord and Savior.”

He had served as a high councilor in both Utah and Arizona, and as a stake president in Salt Lake City. He served also on the Sunday School General Board. He was called as a regional representative on 31 March 1976, just one year prior to his calling as a General Authority. He had been serving as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 3 October 1981.

Elder Durham had a long career as an educator before being called to full-time Church service in 1977. He served as a faculty member at Utah State University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Utah, and as a visiting faculty member at UCLA.

He was more widely known for his administrative service. He had been chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Utah, director of its Institute of Government, and a university vice-president before being named president of Arizona State University, at Tempe, in 1960. He served for nine years in that position while the school grew from 10,640 students to 26,000. Then he returned to Utah to serve as the first commissioner and executive officer of the Utah System of Higher Education. He retired from that position in 1976 to return to the University of Utah as a research professor.

For twenty-four years, Elder Durham was a contributing editor to the Improvement Era, forerunner of the Ensign. Among his publications are five books concerning Presidents of the Church and a biography of President N. Eldon Tanner. Elder Durham also wrote numerous Church lesson manuals.

He had served as a consultant in public administration to the states of Utah, Montana, and Nevada, and was the author of numerous works on public administration, government, and taxation. He had received numerous awards and several honorary degrees from educational institutions.

A son of George Henry and Mary Ellen (“Nellie M.”) Marsden Durham, he is survived by his widow, Eudora, and by two daughters and a son—Carolyn, Doralee, and George—and by twenty grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Missionary Training Center to Be Established in England

A new missionary training center has been established near London.

The England Missionary Training Center, situated on the property where the London Temple is located, in Lingfield, Surrey, will provide training and orientation for ten to twelve missionaries per month. It received its first group of missionaries in February.

J. Talmage Jones, of Leeds, Utah, presides over the center, which handles missionaries called from Great Britain and Europe to serve in the English-speaking missions of that area.

The newest missionary training center is one of eight in locations around the world. In an average month, these centers give spiritual preparation and other instruction to some 1,550 missionaries.

The largest of the centers is located in Provo, Utah, adjacent to Brigham Young University. It serves an average of 1,216 missionaries arriving each month. Many of them are called to serve in areas where another tongue is spoken and their stay at the center includes a course of intensive language instruction.

In addition to the England Missionary Training Center, other centers, operated under the direction of their area presidencies, are located adjacent to temples in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Manila, the Philippines; Mexico City, Mexico; Santiago, Chile; Hamilton, New Zealand; and Tokyo, Japan. These centers serve local missionaries who do not need language instruction.

Spiritual, Temporal Aid Follows Mine Disaster

Priesthood and Relief Society leaders, along with concerned individuals, continue to care for families left grieving in the wake of a disastrous coal mine fire near Castle Dale, Utah, in late December.

The Wilberg Mine fire killed twenty-seven miners, approximately two-thirds of them Latter-day Saints; some of the others were married to LDS women. But Church affiliation didn’t matter when it came to offering aid and comfort. People in the affected communities turned to each other as friends and neighbors; Latter-day Saints helped as individuals and as organized units.

Some of the comfort for bereaved families came at a memorial service sponsored by the Church’s Castle Dale Region on December 26. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, presided and spoke. Other Church leaders who spoke included Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the First Quorum of the Seventy, president of the Church’s Salt Lake City South area; Pat B. Brian, regional representative; and President Charles Bradshaw of the Wellington Utah Stake.

Ann Bell, mother of Phillip Bell, who died in the fire, expressed the feelings of many family members when she bore testimony that her son’s existence did not end inside the mine, and expressed gratitude for the love that had been shown to those who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

President Hinckley assured Sister Bell and others grieving for their loss that though their loved ones’ mortal bodies may have expired, “the spirit lives on. They are as much individuals today as they were a week ago.

“No one can discount your loss,” he said, noting that millions had been touched by the tragedy.

President Hinckley assured the families that a loving God will “comfort and sustain you, and, as the years pass, the sharpness of today’s pain will soften and a divine balm will heal your broken hearts.”

Elder Pinnock commented on the unselfish love and desire to serve he saw in those who helped with rescue efforts.

That same spirit was evident everywhere. Many Relief Society groups and individuals took food not only to those who were awaiting word about their trapped relatives, but also to rescue workers. The Church helped by contributing items from one of its storehouses to help feed rescuers.

There were numerous stories of generosity. Members of the East Carbon Ward, Wellington Utah Stake—an area hard-hit by unemployment and economic setbacks—purchased a Christmas turkey for each of the bereaved families. Primary children from a ward in Mapleton, Utah, sent hand-painted Christmas cards and $150 they had collected. Several families cashed unemployment checks and gave part of their money anonymously. President Wesley R. Law of the Castle Dale Utah Stake received an unsigned letter from St. George, Utah, containing two $20 bills to help out, with the explanation, “Our love is more important than our names.”

But even more important than the financial support the families received was the love and encouragement they were given. And Church members gave that willingly and constantly, said Mickey Cochran, first counselor in the Huntington Third Ward, Huntington Utah Stake. Widows in his ward “were visited frequently” for several days after the disaster. Now, “they get perhaps a visit a day. Things are taken care of as well as we can.”

One of those who felt the love of other members is Sherry Johansen of the Ferron Fourth Ward, Ferron Utah Stake. She had been home from the hospital with their first child for just three days when her husband, Lee, was killed.

People from her ward, she said, “supplied me with plenty of wood so I would have fuel” for her stove. They continue to check on her periodically. But sometimes Church representatives who call have found that Sister Johansen is out—visiting and encouraging others who lost loved ones. “I’ve gone and offered them friendship, and that’s all you can do,” she said.

A returned missionary, Sister Johansen said she has been “at peace” because of the blessing of her temple marriage and the knowledge of eternal life the gospel provides.

[photo] Smoke billows from the Wilberg Mine, where twenty-seven miners perished.

Christmas Devotional Theme: Follow the Master in Service

“So many of us use our lives as if they were our own,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, at the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional. He pointed out that there is a higher and far better use of our lives—service to others and, through them, to God.

Ours is the choice to waste our lives if we wish, he said. “But that becomes a betrayal of a great and sacred trust. As the Master made so abundantly clear, ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s … shall save it.’” (Mark 8:35.)

The December 23 devotional was broadcast via satellite from the Salt Lake Tabernacle to satellite receiving stations at chapels in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It featured a First Presidency Christmas message, with addresses by President Hinckley and by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve. Christmas music was performed by the Tabernacle Choir and the congregation, and Sister Joanne B. Doxey, second counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, read 3 Nephi 11:1–12 [3 Ne. 11:1–12], an account of the Savior’s visitation to the people in America.

The program focused on Christ—his birth, his divine mission, and his example.

“He, the Son of God, condescended to take upon himself a mortal body. His mother … gave him mortality. His father, the Eternal God, vested him with power over death. No other man, or woman, ever was born into the world so endowed. He came in the humblest of circumstances. He died the most painful and ignominious of deaths to rise again the third day as ‘the first fruits of them that slept,’” President Hinckley said.

Recalling his recent visit to Guatemala for the dedication of the temple there, President Hinckley spoke with feeling of the Saints in Central America and of the missionaries who work with them and teach the gospel.

“Why are missionaries happy?” he asked. “Because they lose themselves in the service of others. … May the real meaning of Christmas distill into our hearts, that we may realize that our lives, given us by God our Father, are really not our own, but are to be used in the service of others.”

Elder Nelson spoke of the prophets who had foretold Christ’s birth and atonement. “Jesus was known … as ‘the Anointed One’ even from the foundation of the earth.”

“The herald angels in heaven and the trusted prophets on earth all knew the necessity of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus …

“The Restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the restitution of the priesthood, the universal proclamation of the gospel to the living, and the redemptive work for our kindred dead in temples throughout the world—all are part of the preparation for the Second Coming of the Anointed One,” Elder Nelson said.

“We await the day when there will be ‘Joy to the world,’ when the Lord will come, and earth will receive her King,” he added.

Ricks College Tuition Reduced

A drop in tuition at Ricks College—the Church’s popular two-year college at Rexburg, Idaho—will save students nearly $300 each during the 1985–86 academic year.

Tuition of $685 per semester had previously been approved for the coming school year, but that figure has been cut to $550 per semester, which will mean a savings of nearly 20 percent per year.

The decision by the Board of Trustees will not only save the students and their parents money, it may also mean students who could not afford to attend an LDS school can now enroll at Ricks, noted President Bruce C. Hafen. “The recent growth in our physical plant has made room for 1,000 more students than we are currently enrolling.”

Henry B. Eyring, Church Commissioner of Education, said the decision to reduce tuition is consistent with the mission of the school. “One of the most important roles Ricks plays in the Church Educational System—in addition to its traditionally strong academic role—is to offer educational opportunities to those with special financial or academic needs.”

The change makes tuition at Ricks about 75 percent of the tuition at Brigham Young University. Prior to the change, the cost to enroll at Ricks was about 90 percent of the tuition at BYU.

“The new ratio is more consistent with the typical ratio between two-year and four-year colleges across the country,” President Hafen said. “I am grateful to our trustees for their generous support and for this reaffirmation of our mission within the Church Educational System.”

BYU Football Success Spotlights School, Church

It was a snowy day in the spring of 1984, and LaVell Edwards was wondering if his Brigham Young University Cougar football team should be outside practicing in weather like that. But the student athletes were working hard and having fun, so he let them continue.

This group had some outstanding qualities; for one thing, they were “a bunch of unselfish people” who seemed to be doing their best to work with and for one another, the coach recalls.

So after the practice Brother Edwards told them that if they continued to play that way, “something special” might well happen during their football season. He was thinking they might be able to capture the football championship again in their own Western Athletic Conference (WAC). BYU’s football team had been champions or co-champions eight years in a row, but they were not expected to win the title in 1984.

The final result went far beyond what the team or coach had hoped. By the end of the football bowl games on New Year’s Day, the Cougars had not only won the WAC championship, they could also claim the title of U.S. national football champions.

How did it happen, and what does it mean? Sportswriters and fans were puzzling over those questions at the end of the season, but from different perspectives.

Many sportswriters wondered how a team from the unheralded WAC could be rated number one in the United States. An introspective feature article in the January 14 issue of Sports Illustrated concluded that the world of football has changed. Teams which formerly were also-rans are downing traditional powerhouses regularly, and that trend is expected to continue. Aided by National Collegiate Athletic Association efforts to achieve “parity” through limiting every school to the same number of football scholarships, these teams have gained a more equal foothold with some of the old giants. Many of these new football powers have done it through systematized passing of the football, a strategy BYU has mastered. It can be expected, said Sports Illustrated writer John Underwood, that along with the Cougars, other unsung teams will rise to the top in the future.

It’s a new world of uncertainty, but “the fans like it because it’s fun,” he wrote. “A tip of the cap to BYU, and may the 1985 season come soon.”

“What does it mean?” is a different question for fans, or even for those who simply have an allegiance to BYU but have difficulty following the intricacies of North American football. It is a complex, often confusing game that seems a social phenomenon as much as a sport. For many members of the Church, the question really becomes, “What does this mean for BYU, and for the Church?”

The answer to that one is much clearer than the answer to the sportswriters’ dilemma.

“I suppose there’s nothing in the history of the university that has brought us the attention in the media that this has,” reflects BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland. The attention has brought into focus for many people around the country the school’s other good points, including its high moral and academic standards rooted in gospel values. A letter from one football enthusiast was typical of many; the writer, excited by BYU’s performance, wanted to know more about the school where champion athletes follow a Code of Honor, live clean lives, and do not feel the macho obligation to “party” as do their opponents at some other schools.

Brother Edwards expressed gratitude for the BYU administration’s support of the football program in its role as part of the academic experience for student athletes. Characteristically, he insists that the credit for the program’s success must be shared with his hard-working team and talented coaching staff. He says he believes in putting together a good staff and letting them do their job. “The importance of organization can’t be overemphasized.”

Not only did the 1984 team win thirteen straight games (its twenty-four-game winning streak is currently the longest in the nation), it was ranked number one in every major poll—Associated Press, United Press International, Sports Illustrated, Washington Touchdown Club, and Cable News Network/USA Today. The Cougars won the Grantland Rice Trophy from the Football Writers Association and the MacArthur Bowl from the National Football Foundation; both are emblems of national superiority.

At the same time, BYU’s coach was receiving national recognition. He was named coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association, United Press International (also in voting by coaches), Kodak, and the Washington Touchdown Club. The culmination of a trip to Washington, D.C., to collect some of those honors was a brief meeting in the White House with the nation’s Chief Executive, President Ronald Reagan.

More important than the honors, perhaps, is Brother Edwards’ reputation as a moral, compassionate man. Frequently when BYU games are televised, announcers respond to closeups of LaVell Edwards on the sidelines with comments that there indeed is a fine man, one of the nicest coaches in football. Washington Post staff writer John Ed Bradley wrote of him January 13: “Edwards was honored in Washington last night for being the nation’s college coach of the year. But another award of merit should have been bestowed upon him for the strength and courage and graciousness he displayed throughout this long year of malcontents and crybabies,” a reference to those who opposed BYU’s number one ranking at season’s end because the school was not from a league with a well-known football tradition.

Brother Edwards’ reputation is due in large part to the values and standards he upholds. He has consistently maintained that there are things more important than football in his life—notably, being a good Christian and having a family strong in the gospel. Much of his philosophy as a coach sounds as though it’s rooted in the gospel:

—Athletic prowess, like any talent, is just a form of expression.

—One of the most important things an athlete needs is concentration, the power to focus in closely on what must be done, shutting out doubt and fear, which keep one from reaching full potential.

—Athletics, like any other earthly pursuit, must be kept in perspective. It is when one loses sight of gospel principles that problems occur in other areas of life.

—Young men can spend two years serving a mission without giving up an athletic career. (When Brother Edwards spoke at the priesthood session of the October 1984 general conference, he pointed out that there were more than fifty returned missionaries on the BYU football team. “If I could draw one general conclusion, it would be that if an athlete could play well before he went on a mission, he will definitely play well when he returns.”)

In a Washington, D.C., fireside shortly before receiving one of his coaching honors, Brother Edwards gave the congregation, especially the young people, three points of counsel which apply in the lives of athlete and nonathlete alike: (1) Recognize that you have potential and then “extend yourself” in achieving it. (2) Be responsive to the needs of those around you. (3) “Above all, be honest with yourself. Stop—reflect about yourself and what you’re really doing.”

It may be that counsel like that and the influence it has in the lives of the young men he coaches is at least partly responsible for the team’s national championship. BYU had many critics in connection with its national ranking, but it also had its defenders. In addition to the Cougars’ football performance, a number of commentators spotlighted the high moral values of the school and took pains to explain the religious commitment of team members who had served missions. Wrote Wally Provost of the Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald: “I have a feeling that confirmation of BYU as a team worthy of the national championship might be good for what ails college football and many other sports.” Dallas Times Herald writer Frank Luska said: “I want BYU to be national champion so that, just for once, it won’t go to a campus where football has become heavy industry.”

[photo] BYU’s widely known passing game, in quarterback Robbie Bosco’s hands during 1984, has helped propel the team to prominence.

[photos] Michigan players try to bring down a BYU runner in Holiday Bowl action. The Cougars proved too much for the Midwestern team; BYU won, 24–17. National honors extended to BYU coach LaVell Edwards after the end of the 1984 football season included some given by vote of his fellow college coaches. (Photos by Mark Philbrick.)

Relief Society Offers Home Management Resource Booklet

Designed as a reference manual for home management, Creative Homemaking for Happy Living, a new booklet recently published by the Relief Society, offers 228 pages of homemaking ideas.

The booklet includes information on food preparation and storage, sewing and stitchery, home management and beautification, nutrition, disaster preparedness, weight loss, teaching children to cook, writing a resume and entering the job market, plant care, and self-protection for women and children. “It’s a potpourri of ideas,” says Joan Spencer, general secretary-treasurer of the Relief Society, who helped compile it.

In addition to homemaking ideas and information, the booklet includes a number of organizational aids, among them a sample format for a successful homemaking meeting, suggestions for developing minicourses, and a goal achievement survey sheet.

The booklet (stock number PCRS5728) is available through Church distribution centers for $2.25.

[photo] Photography by Wes Taylor

Young Women Second-Year Manuals Available

The second-year curriculum manuals for Young Women classes are now available through the Salt Lake Distribution Center.

The lessons in these new manuals, like those in the first-year manuals, are grouped by topic to meet specific needs in each of the Young Women program’s six areas of focus. The manuals contain color pictures and duplicating masters to be used with the lessons.

They are $3.25 each. The stock numbers are: Beehive Manual 2, PCYW24G9; Mia Maid Manual 2, PCYW28F5; Laurel Manual 2, PCYW32G8.

New Dance Manual Available

“Recreation and diversion are as necessary to our well-being as the most serious pursuits of life,” said Brigham Young. (Journal of Discourses, 13:61.) In this spirit, the General Activities Committee of the Church has introduced the Dance Manual (PBAC0078). Part of a series of such manuals, the new Dance Manual is now available at Church distribution centers for $4.25.

The manual provides instruction on dance parties, square dancing, folk dancing, social dancing, round dancing and mixers, and dance festivals. Reflecting the international nature of the Church, the folk dancing section contains dances from Denmark, the Philippines, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Scotland, England, Taiwan, and the United States.

Among the helps included with the new manual are three audiocassette tapes which provide almost ninety minutes of music. The tapes can be used as helps in learning individual dances or as the basis of a dance festival. Copyrights and royalties on all the music have been cleared.

The manual can be used to instruct groups of all ages. It also gives suggestions for the planning and conducting of floor shows and dance exhibitions on a ward, stake, or regional basis.