Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve
“My first feeling was one of total shock, almost unbelief; then I felt deep humility,” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin replied when asked about his reaction to being called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve. He was sustained as a member of the Twelve on 4 October 1986 during general conference.
Elder Wirthlin was working in his office Friday morning, the day before conference began, when he received a phone call from President Ezra Taft Benson’s secretary. She said, “President Benson would like to know if you have time to come and visit with him.”
“Would I have time to see the prophet of the Lord? I would travel around the world to have that privilege,” Elder Wirthlin said. “This is just one example of the graciousness of President Benson.”
Prior to his call to the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Wirthlin had served as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy for nearly two months, and for the same period he had also served as Executive Director of the Curriculum Department and Editor of Church magazines.
He began full-time service to the Church on 4 April 1975 when he was sustained and set apart as an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve. He later was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1976.
“My reaction at President Benson’s call was similar to that when I was first called as a General Authority by President Spencer W. Kimball,” Elder Wirthlin said. “The shock was almost as great then. Three hours and thirty-seven minutes after I had met with President Kimball, an earthquake was felt in Salt Lake City. This brought questions to my mind whether the Lord approved of my call,” he said with a grin. “But when the quake was over, everything seemed to smooth out, and my confidence waxed strong once again.”
Elder Wirthlin, whose father served in the Presiding Bishopric, was born in Salt Lake City to Joseph L. and Madeline Bitner Wirthlin. He was active in athletics and was a halfback on the University of Utah football team. He graduated from that university with a B.A. degree in business management.
As a young man, he served a mission to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Upon his return, he served in stake and ward auxiliary positions and as a counselor in the Bonneville (Utah) Ward bishopric. Later he became bishop of the Bonneville Ward and served in that position nearly ten years.
“I remember with special fondness those years I served as bishop,” Elder Wirthlin said. “My most rewarding Church experience was to see the many fine young men and woman pass through the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women programs into adulthood, many of whom occupy prominent positions in the Church today. The programs of the youth had high priority in the Bonneville Ward.”
After being released as bishop, Elder Wirthlin became a member of the Bonneville Stake high council. President Russell M. Nelson selected him as a counselor in the stake presidency and in 1971 as a counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency.
Throughout these years of Church service, Elder Wirthlin was very much a part of a family-owned wholesale food business, eventually becoming president of the company. Through the years he has also served as president of a business and trade association in Utah.
“My father established the business in 1916 and managed it until he was called as Second Counselor to Bishop LeGrand Richards in 1938,” He said. “I took over then as president of the company until my call to be an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve in 1975. At that point my son, Joseph Jr., took over the business.
“One of the things I enjoyed most when managing our company was dealing with people,” Elder Wirthlin recalled. “We had an outstanding group of loyal employees, and we had customers who really appreciated our service to them. I enjoy working with people.”
When asked about the most powerful influences in his life, he replied, “In my early youth and teenage years, I noticed the total faith my parents had in the Lord and Savior and in the anointed leaders of the Church.
“In addition, I saw many miracles of healing that occurred in our family and witnessed the power of the priesthood that was responsible for these miracles.
“One incident I recall vividly. My father jumped over a fence and broke his ankle. It was a severe break, and we all expected it would be several weeks or even months before it healed. But Father was administered to by his two counselors in the bishopric, and two days later he was walking normally. As a young boy, this impressed me mightily.
“Since early childhood I have never doubted nor had a question as to the divinity of the Church,” Elder Wirthlin said. “My faith and testimony have grown ever since.”
Elder Wirthlin served as Area Supervisor for the Europe Area from July 1975 to April 1978 and as Executive Administrator for the Southeast Area of the United States and the Caribbean Islands from 1978 to 1982. He then served as Executive Administrator for Brazil until 1 July 1984.
He has served as Managing Director of the Melchizedek Priesthood Department and as Managing Director of the Military Relations Committee of the Church.
From July 1984 to August 1986, Elder Wirthlin was President of the Europe Area, with headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. There, he was in charge of Church activities in the British Isles, continental Europe, Scandinavia, and Africa.
He and his wife, the former Elisa Young Rogers, were married in the Salt Lake Temple and are the parents of seven daughters and a son.
“My family was pleased when they heard of my new calling,” Elder Wirthlin said. “They realize the sacred nature of the call of an Apostle, and they have been humbled by it.”
He added, “My goal is to live as much as possible an exemplary life and to truly walk in the paths of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy
Elder Hugh W. Pinnock will enjoy his new calling as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy—because it brings increased opportunities to serve others.
“I love my fellow quorum members,” he says, adding that, administratively, “the First Quorum of the Seventy is completely dedicated to serving the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.”
Elder Pinnock was sustained as a member of the quorum presidency October 4 during the Church’s semiannual general conference. He succeeds Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, who was called to the Quorum of the Twelve.
Elder Pinnock has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 1 October 1977. From experience, he knows that the meaning of the pledge to serve the First Presidency and the Twelve is to help serve all of Heavenly Father’s children.
“There are so many different ways to serve, ” he says, noting that those who really carry the burden of service in the Church are loving mothers and fathers, dedicated teachers, missionaries, home and visiting teachers, quorum and class advisers. Their work goes on consistently, long after special visitors leave and talks are, perhaps, forgotten, Elder Pinnock explains.
The efforts of the General Authorities are aimed at strengthening the kingdom, just as in the days of Jesus Christ, he says.
One way they try to do this is to encourage Latter-day Saints to follow the admonitions of President Ezra Taft Benson to study the Book of Mormon and other scriptures more thoroughly. “When people are dedicated to reading the scriptures, they live better. Their lives as a whole improve,” Elder Pinnock comments.
“We hope our people will turn to good reading material, particularly because of the spread of so much distasteful communication that can lead to evil, worldly thoughts and actions,” he says. Church members cannot expect to indulge in inappropriate books, magazines, films, and television programs and still enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit, he adds.
If Elder Pinnock sounds enthusiastic about the role of Church curricular materials in strengthening members, perhaps it is because of his association with the Curriculum Department—twice as a Managing Director and now as its Executive Director—and with the Sunday School, as its president for much of the past seven years. “We have the finest curriculum in all the world, as it deals with thinking clearly about spiritual things.” He loves the term “Sunday School,” he says, “because that implies gospel scholarship.”
“My life pretty much is the family and the Church, and I also have a deep interest in our environment,” both physical and spiritual, Elder Pinnock comments.
Elder Pinnock has been serving as a member of the North America Southwest Area Presidency. He has also served as President of the Utah South Area and as a Managing Director in the Priesthood Department. He has been a bishop, mission president, and regional representative and has served the Church as chairman of the Home Teaching and Family Home Evening Committee and as a member of the Priesthood Leadership Committee.
Elder Pinnock says his service in the Church has been possible in part “because I have a wonderful wife who is totally supportive.” He married Anne Hawkins of North Hollywood, California, and they have four sons, two daughters, and three granddaughters.
Before his call to full-time Church service, he was in the life-insurance industry in the Mountain West. He was an officer of several professional organizations and has also served in a variety of administrative and advisory positions for civic, corporate, charitable, educational, and governmental organizations
Born in Salt Lake City on 15 January 1934, he is a graduate of the University of Utah. He interrupted his university education to serve a mission for the Church. After graduation, he served for a time as an officer in the United States Army.
Stake Seventies Quorums Discontinued
Pursuant to the announcement made by President Ezra Taft Benson at the conclusion of the general priesthood meeting of October conference, we outline the following to provide a renewed impetus in missionary work throughout the stakes of the Church:
Stake Seventies Quorums to Be Discontinued
In harmony with the needs of the growth of the Church across the world, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles have given prayerful consideration to the role of stake seventies quorums in the Church and have determined that the seventies quorums in the stakes of the Church are to be discontinued. The brethren serving as seventies in these quorums will now be members of the elders quorum in their ward. Stake presidents, in an orderly fashion, will determine who among such brethren may be ordained to the office of high priest.
Stake Missionary Work
The members of the stake presidency coordinate missionary work in the stake. They are assisted in this responsibility by a high council adviser to the stake mission.
A missionary-minded Melchizedek Priesthood holder should promptly be called as the stake mission president. His two counselors should likewise be missionary oriented. The members of the stake mission presidency train the stake missionaries and assist in the coordination of missionary work in the stake.
Bishops of wards will recommend to the stake presidency those individuals who might be extended calls to serve as stake missionaries. Stake missionaries are called by the stake president and are set apart under his direction. Generally, at least two stake missionaries should be called from each ward. These missionaries may or may not be asked to serve in their own ward, depending on the needs of the stake mission and the number and distribution of nonmembers.
The primary responsibility for teaching the gospel rests with the full-time missionaries. However, stake missionaries may assist as needed to extend the teaching force of the full-time mission by serving in a team-teaching capacity as temporary companions with the full-time missionaries. It would be advisable for stake missionaries to be trained in teaching the discussions to ensure that their effectiveness is not impaired when full-time missionaries are not available.
Under the direction of the stake mission presidency, the stake missionaries cooperate with the full-time proselyting missionaries in finding, friendshipping, fellowshipping, and fostering member participation in all missionary activities.
Ward Missionary Work
The members of the bishopric coordinate missionary work in the ward. Depending on the number of nonmembers available, they may be assisted in this responsibility by a ward mission leader who is a Melchizedek Priesthood holder serving as a stake missionary. The ward mission leader is a member of the ward priesthood executive committee and the ward council where he assists in the coordination of missionary work in the ward.
The operating funds of stake seventies quorums should be forwarded to Church headquarters to become part of the General Missionary Fund of the Church.
In the event that a stake seventies quorum operated a project or owned property, the stake presidency should, after prayerful consideration, submit its recommendation to the First Presidency concerning the disposition of such projects or properties.
Additional information that may be required regarding missionary work in the stakes and wards will be provided through the Bulletin, revisions of the General Handbook of Instructions, and other handbooks and/or guides.
At this time, we express our appreciation to all who have served as members of stake seventies quorums of the Church and commend those who have so ably given of their time, talents, and resources in spreading forth the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Preach to the Living, Redeem the Dead, President Benson Urges
Speaking to two separate groups in southern California on Sunday, September 7, President Ezra Taft Benson underscored the importance of temple work to redeem the dead and missionary work to spread the gospel among the living.
Redeeming the dead is part of the Church’s greatest work, President Benson told more than twenty-three hundred temple workers and Church leaders in the solemn assembly hall of the Los Angeles Temple. The congregation had gathered for the sustaining of Jack B. McEwan as the new temple president, succeeding Allen C. Rozsa. Wayne A. Reeves and Glen H. Walker were sustained as first and second counselors, respectively. The meeting was conducted by Elder John K. Carmack of the First Quorum of the Seventy and North American West Area President.
President Benson related incidents from his past that emphasized the importance of temple work. He recalled living at the home of his grandmother when he was a freshman at Utah State University. His grandmother spent most of her time in genealogical research and temple work.
“I came home late one night from a party, and as I opened the door, I heard someone speaking in Grandma’s bedroom,” he related. “Drawing closer, I heard the voice more distinctly. I realized it was my grandmother, and she was praying, thanking the Lord for extending her life a few years after her husband’s passing so she could complete her temple work and see the last of her thirteen children married in the temple. This had been accomplished, and now she was ready to join her husband.”
President Benson noted that temples are the “gateways to heaven,” and added that temple work is an activity being pursued on both sides of the veil.
“It is not important whether we serve here or over there as long as we do it with all our heart, might, mind, and strength,” he said.
In conclusion, President Benson told his audience, “The Book of Mormon is for our day. Don’t ever forget that.”
Later that day, President Benson spoke to 177 missionaries from the California Anaheim Mission.
“The greatest responsibility placed on this church is to preach the gospel,” he told them. “Joseph Smith said that, and it’s true. That’s why you’re out here.”
The prophet noted the spirit of missionary work his father brought to his family and said, “I stand here today because my father thought enough to serve a mission.” He expressed gratitude for the young men and women of the Church serving missions and stressed the need for more young men in the mission field.
President Benson advised the missionaries to strive for the Spirit, have humility, love the people, and work. “Don’t be ashamed of the gospel,” he said. “There isn’t anything like it in the world.”
Two weeks earlier, on August 19, President Benson and his Counselors, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, addressed new temple presidents and their wives at the opening session of the annual Temple Presidents’ Seminar in Salt Lake City.
The temple presidents and matrons were told that temple work is a great and consummate work of the Church and that it should be done with love and spirituality.
“This is part of the greatest work in all the world,” President Benson said. “I know it is as I know that I live, and I pray you feel the same way.”
He promised them great experiences and urged the temple presidents to stay close to their wives. “They are choice spirits and great souls,” he said.
President Hinckley noted that the Church is in the greatest era of temple-building in history and pointed out that “it has involved tremendous effort and a tremendous sense of urgency to make temples available to people across the earth.”
As the volume of temple work has increased, the volume of animosity against the work has also increased, he said, adding, “If it were not true, the adversary would pay no attention. … [But] the adversary is taking note of this people, and [because] he is, there must be something to this work.”
President Monson advised that “spirituality needs to be the underpinning of all that takes place in the temple. Spirituality can radiate from the president of the temple to every person.
“How far is heaven?” he asked. “It is not very far: in the temples of God, it is right where you are.”
President and Sister Benson Celebrate 60th Wedding Anniversary
On September 10, President and Sister Ezra Taft Benson celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary in Salt Lake City with a family luncheon at the Lion House.
“We’re still in love,” the Bensons affirmed after sixty years together. “We loved each other when we were married, and we still love each other.” President Benson and his wife, Flora Amussen Benson, were married 10 September 1926 in the Salt Lake Temple.
President Benson recalled that he was spending a weekend with his friends in Logan, Utah, when he first saw his future bride. “We were out near the dairy barns when a young woman—very attractive—drove by in her little car on her way to the dairy to get some milk,” he remembered. “As the boys waved at her, she waved back. I said, ‘Who is that girl?’ They said, ‘That’s Flora Amussen.’ I told them, ‘You know, I’ve just had the impression I’m going to marry her’.”
His friends laughed and told him, “She’s too popular for a farm boy.” Young Ezra simply said, “That makes it all the more interesting.”
After a “wonderful courtship,” he was called on a mission to Great Britain. Flora had graduated from Brigham Young College (which offered a high school curriculum from 1909 until it closed in 1926) and would be attending Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University).
“When I came back, we resumed our courting,” President Benson related. “Then, to my great surprise, Flora received a mission call to go to the Hawaiian Islands. I was really pleased to see her have this opportunity to go. She saw it as an opportunity for me to graduate from college.”
Brother Benson graduated from Brigham Young University in 1926, the same year Sister Benson completed her mission. They married when she returned, and the couple moved to Ames, Iowa, where President Benson had been granted a seventy-dollar-a-month scholarship to study agriculture at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University).
After Brother Benson finished his graduate studies and received his master’s degree in 1929, the Bensons moved to an eighty-acre farm near Whitney, Idaho. Brother Benson became a county agricultural agent, an Extension Service economist, and a marketing specialist for the University of Idaho. In 1939, he was appointed executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and moved with his family to Washington, D.C. His call to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1943 took him back to Salt Lake City. Elder Benson returned to Washington in 1953 to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for the next eight years.
In Washington, both Elder and Sister Benson were known for often forgoing social affairs of state to be with their family. “That was true,” he admitted with a smile. “And even more so with my wife. I saw her turn down many White House invitations because the children needed her at home.
“The greatest blessing of our lives has been our children,” he added. “We set our goal for twelve, but the Lord sent us only six—two sons and four daughters—and they’ve been a delight and a joy.”
He served as stake president in Boise, Idaho, and later became the first president of the Washington D.C. Stake. President Benson was ordained to the Council of the Twelve on 7 October 1943. He was sent to reopen the European Mission in 1946, with the additional assignment to help alleviate postwar suffering there. He was named President of the Council of the Twelve on 30 December 1973 and was ordained and set apart as President of the Church 10 November 1985.
“We’ve had a very happy life together,” President Benson pointed out. “I hope I can always live to be worthy of my eternal companion. She says to the children and grandchildren, ‘I am so thankful for my wonderful husband. He is so kind and thoughtful of me.’ As I hear her say this, I have the prayer in my heart that I can always live to be worthy of this choice daughter of our Heavenly Father, whom he has given to me as my eternal companion.”
Relief Society Organization Simplified
Major adjustments in the Relief Society organization, to be implemented 1 January 1987, were recently announced by Acting President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve in a letter to priesthood leaders.
Stake Relief Society boards have been eliminated. Beginning in January, only four women will be needed to staff a stake Relief Society: a president, two counselors, and a secretary-treasurer.
While this change greatly simplifies the structure of stake Relief Societies, additional women may be called to chair special events or serve certain assignments on an ad hoc basis, with prior approval of the stake president.
At the ward level, Relief Society boards will continue to function, although some board positions may be eliminated or combined. The number of women called to staff a ward Relief Society presidency and board will depend on local needs and resources. This flexibility allows the number of callings to be reduced in small wards, while in large wards, many women may be invited to serve. However, only those filling the basic board positions are considered board members.
Only stake and ward Relief Society presidencies and secretary-treasurers will attend quarterly stake leadership meetings. “This will reduce time, expense, and travel required for many of our women with assignments in Relief Society,” said Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society general president.
Information obtained at the quarterly meetings will be conveyed by those in attendance to all ward board members at the monthly ward board meeting.
The changes were made to better meet the needs of Relief Society women worldwide, according to Sister Winder. “We’re simplifying staffing and making the programs more adaptable to various countries,” she said. “In most areas of the world, it’s difficult to staff the stake board. With the added flexibility of the organization, the women of various cultures and age groups can adapt the program to their circumstances.
“The ward board is structured so it may expand or contract as needed,” Sister Winder pointed out. “In large wards, the standard Relief Society organization could be augmented by many positions, such as homemaking specialists, nursery assistants, special events chairmen, and enrichment specialists for optional midweek activities. This would give as many sisters as possible a chance to serve. Yet in very small wards or branches, the organization is designed to function with only a president—adding counselors, secretary-treasurer, and teachers and board members as needed and available.”
Single women ages eighteen to thirty may meet with the regular Relief Society or in their own Relief Society meetings and activities that are part of the ward Relief Society. They meet with the regular Relief Society at least monthly.
Further information about these changes may be found in the new Relief Society Guide for Priesthood Leaders (PBCT1400) and in the forthcoming (1987) revision of the Relief Society Handbook.
Stake and Ward Relief Society
A Conversation about the Sunday School
The Ensign recently talked with the new Sunday School Presidency: Elder , President; Elder , First Counselor; and Elder , Second Counselor. All are members of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Ensign: Do you have any new plans for the Sunday School curriculum?
Elder Simpson: One innovation that will be introduced in Gospel Doctrine classes next year is a scripture study guide for the New Testament. This will be a small booklet designed to be placed inside the scriptures. Too many times students come to class having done little or no advance reading or preparation. The new study guide will help Gospel Doctrine students keep current and prepared to participate in the next lesson.
The study guide will have a number of sections for each lesson. These will include selected scriptures, parallel accounts, and a glossary to aid understanding. The glossary is particularly helpful to students whose native language is not English.
Ensign: What are your feelings about the current teaching plan in which adults study the scriptures in rotation every four years?
Elder Simpson: The success of this four-year teaching cycle is a tribute to the approved curriculum plan, and we will continue to use it.
Elder Tuttle: It’s a good system. We have had some people complain that there’s not enough time to teach the New Testament in a single year. Of course there isn’t! It has never been our intention to fully teach the scriptures in forty minutes on Sunday. The goal is to interest people in the scriptures and inspire them to study at home. Sunday School isn’t where you go to learn it all—it’s simply a place to be introduced to the wonders the scriptures have to offer.
Elder Komatsu: The features about the Old Testament and gospel studies that have appeared in the Ensign and the Church News this past year have been a great help. They’ve done much to increase interest in the scriptures and have given our teachers more reference material.
Ensign: Are teacher development classes being emphasized or deemphasized?
Elder Tuttle: Our greatest challenge in the Sunday School is to teach teachers to teach the gospel. We don’t have career teachers. Everyone in this position is temporary and will be called to a new assignment one day. It’s the responsibility of the bishop to see that Teacher Development classes are taught, so that new teachers know how to be effective. This is an area that needs more emphasis, not less.
Ensign: In addition to teacher training, what other kinds of specialized courses are offered by the adult Sunday School?
Elder Tuttle: There are temple and genealogy classes, Gospel Essentials classes, Family Relations classes, and Member-Missionary classes for people with special needs. These classes are offered to meet a special situation and seldom run longer than twelve weeks. In the adult Sunday School, people generally belong in the Gospel Doctrine class.
Ensign: How is Sunday School attendance holding up under the three-hour block meeting plan?
Elder Komatsu: In some stakes, attendance at Sunday School is way up. In others, it’s down. We’ve discovered that there are two things that make a ward Sunday School successful: quality teaching and dynamic leadership. If teachers are properly trained and motivated, and if steps are taken to see that members are in class and not in the halls or in other meetings, the Sunday School can operate as intended. In support of this, bishoprics are being encouraged to schedule member interviews at some other time, and not during the Sunday School hour.
Elder Simpson: Our goal in the Sunday School is to be as effective as possible in teaching the gospel. We can have good teachers, but we have to pay the price. We have to see that they’re well trained and have good materials. In this church, every member is a teacher. In following the Savior, we are all teachers. It’s one of our most important callings.
Gospel Doctrine Study Plans to Be Broadcast
A program introducing the 1987 Gospel Doctrine course of study will be broadcast by satellite on Sunday, November 9, beginning at 6:05 P.M. (MST) and again at 8:05 P.M. that same evening. The prerecorded program will be broadcast over the Church satellite network to stake centers for viewing by high council advisers to the Sunday School, stake and ward Sunday School presidencies, Gospel Doctrine teachers, meetinghouse librarians, and other interested adults.
The announcement of the broadcast is from President Howard W. Hunter, Acting President of the Council of the Twelve. The hour-long telecast will detail the Church’s 1987 scripture reading program, which features the New Testament. New study materials will also be introduced.
A 26-minute videotape, “Where Jesus Walked,” will follow the broadcast. This portion of the program may be viewed by those present then or at a later date.
The program will be broadcast in English only. It should be recorded by stakes or wards for viewing later in 1986 or early 1987 by Gospel Doctrine class members or others who wish to see it. The taped recordings can be used to stimulate interest in the New Testament and to inform Church members of resources that are available to them.
300,000 Young Women Send Balloon Messages of Hope Worldwide
At sunrise on October 11, some three hundred thousand LDS young women gathered at assembly points in ninety-five countries to release helium-filled balloons. Each balloon carried a personalized message of hope, peace, and love.
“The messages these girls sent up in their balloons were indicative of a rising generation of young people who are concerned about a world where love of fellow man and woman is at times hard to find,” said Ardeth G. Kapp, general president of the Young Women.
Each twelve- to seventeen-year-old girl decided on her own what to state in her message. The girls were advised to make their messages a personal wish for the world. Many participants wrote about the love of God, hope, peace, kindness, faith in Jesus Christ, or thankfulness. Each girl identified herself as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and included her name and age. Some also included the address of her meetinghouse and an invitation for whoever finds the message to write back.
Once the messages were attached, the balloons were released. The balloons were expected to be airborne for from twenty-four to thirty-six hours, and travel up to three thousand miles, depending on weather.
The launchings took place in thousands of communities around the world, with many launching sites near famous local landmarks. In the United States, these landmarks included the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, the St. Louis Arch in Missouri, and the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Some twenty-seven hundred young women gathered in Santa Ana, California, and there were other launchings with large crowds in attendance. In some parts of the world, LDS Young Women varied the launching routine. Daughters of American member families in Cairo, Egypt, placed their messages in bottles and launched them into the Red Sea. A group of nineteen girls living on Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean also used bottles to carry their messages.
In the South Pacific, young women in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu, Tonga, lofted their messages in balloons but also sent duplicate messages to Salt Lake City to be included in balloons launched from various areas in the United States. The reason? They stated they “wanted to make sure someone besides the fish” would read their messages.
The theme for the event was “The Rising Generation,” taken from the words of President Ezra Taft Benson: “We say to you, ‘Arise and shine forth,’ and be a light unto the world, a standard to others. You can live in the world and not partake of the sins of the world. You can live life joyously, beautifully. … ‘Look to this day, arise in all your splendor, and bear the standards of a world-to-be.’” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 32.)
“We wanted our young women all around the world to feel the strength that comes from being united in a good cause,” Sister Kapp said of the project, which was known as the Young Women Worldwide Celebration. “These young women have committed to values in their lives that let them know they are of great worth and that they have great potential. Sending the messages gives our young women a chance to express their willingness to work to improve the world.
“We wanted them to realize that they can be a powerful influence on the world.”
First-ever Regional Conference for Ireland
On Sunday, 7 September 1986, 1,350 people packed Belfast’s Ulster Hall for the largest-ever gathering of Irish Saints in the Church’s first Regional Conference for the whole of Ireland. Presiding at the Sunday session was President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.
In a land bitterly divided by sectarian differences, these were people from both North and South who discarded those differences in favor of their faith. Borders became secondary to beliefs, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve made manifest in his dedication of that land on 23 October 1985:
“We acknowledge, Father, that we are mere mortals and so we see nations and we see borders; however, Thou seest but one flock … all of they children. We know, Father, where we see races, Thou seest one people, and all are thine.”
Also present at the regional conference were Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve and President Russell C. Taylor, First Counselor in the Europe Area Presidency. Local leaders present included John Keogh, regional representative; Charles R. Lowry, Belfast stake president; John Connolly, Dublin District president; William Corbett, president of the newly formed Munster District; and Don Gull, president of the Dublin mission.
The day before, on Saturday afternoon, a priesthood leadership meeting was held at the Holywood Road chapel, with 250 local Church leaders present. Elder Nelson presided at that session, and President Taylor conducted. A priesthood choir from the Dublin mission area sang, and direction was given on how the Church might grow and prosper in Ireland.
In the Sunday session, President Monson elaborated on that theme, urging the Saints, “Live the gospel!” Elder Nelson spoke on the need to maintain a balance in life, and the hundred-voice Belfast stake choir provided the music.
Since the dedication of the land last year, the pace of the work throughout Ireland has increased. President Don Gull, the Dublin mission president, reports that missionary activity has increased dramatically in recent months. “There was a 150 percent increase in discussions taught in September, compared with the previous month, with a further 50 percent increase expected in October.”
The conference itself seems to have had its effect on the work. President Gull said that “some fifty investigators attended the conference, and the feedback from them was very good. The influence of conference on a number of baptisms since then has been evident.”
Belfast stake now has twenty full-time missionaries in the field serving as far away as Australia, New Zealand, and Salt Lake City. “I served a mission in Northern Germany,” said President Lowry. “When called to be stake president, I knew that special emphasis should be given to getting our young people on missions. The activity rate for the sixty or so returned missionaries we have so far is incredibly high—a powerful reminder of the beneficial effect this sacred service has on the life of an individual.”
A year ago, an Apostle of the Lord stood upon Ireland’s soil and prayed: “Father, we plead with thee to look with fresh favor upon all of Ireland, to the end that this Emerald Isle will know further greening through the fulness of the restored gospel.”
Today, that prayer is being answered through a people united by a flowering of faith and fellowship.
Correspondent: Bryan J. Grant, director of the Church’s Public Communications office in Great Britain.
Smoking Draws Increasing Fire as Moral, Health Issue
“I think the harmful effect of cigarette smoking is a moral issue because tobacco companies are well aware that cigarettes kill and injure people,” said Dr. John Holbrook, a member of the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Surgeon General on Smoking and Health and associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
“These companies will not acknowledge in public that their products harm people,” he noted. “For the sake of profit, they are marketing a product that is killing more than a million people a year in the world and more than three hundred fifty thousand a year in the United States. Over a thousand people a day are dying prematurely.”
Dr. Holbrook, a former chairman of the American Heart Association Subcommittee on Smoking, added that individuals with heart or ling disease need to be warned against inhaling cigarette smoke from other people. “If an individual has serious coronary artery disease, emphysema, or bronchitis, secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke can cause a worsening of that condition,” he says. Many people, he notes, are not informed about the hazards of an individual inhaling “secondhand” smoke.
“Cigarette smoke is the product of a chemical reaction,” Dr. Holbrook says. “When the tobacco leaf burns at a very high temperature, the result is the production of hundreds of compounds that are not originally present in the tobacco leaf. Many of these compounds are harmful.
“Some of the compounds are carcinogens (cancer-producing substances). Some are toxic gases, such as hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and many others. Some are mutogenic, meaning substances that alter the genetic makeup of cells. These harmful substances are taken by the smoker directly into the lungs, them they enter the bloodstream and pass rapidly throughout the body.”
The involuntary, or passive, smoker is also exposed to these substances, but in different concentrations, Dr. Holbrook says. Being exposed in the workplace forty hours a week to significant amounts of smoke may be comparable to actually smoking a few cigarettes a day.
The recent death from lung cancer of a renowned plant pathologist who had never touched a cigarette is an example of the serious consequences of breathing secondhand tobacco smoke. Though not a smoker himself, he had worked side by side with smokers for many years.
More than forty thousand research studies on active smoking are on file in a U.S. federal library in Washington, D.C., and another thousand studies have been published on passive smoking.
“The Church has been teaching for a century and a half that tobacco is harmful,” adds Dr. Holbrook, who is a member of the Monument Park Fourteenth Ward. “The scientific evidence concerning the harmful effects of smoking has been in for thirty years.”
Dr. Holbrook noted that the Coalition on Smoking and Health, an organization made up of representatives from the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society, is pushing for action on many levels.
“We’d like to see a striking increase in the excise tax on cigarettes,” he says, “and a restriction of all advertising and promotion of tobacco products. We’d like to see stronger clean-air laws to protect nonsmokers. And we’d like our government to help tobacco farmers get out of that business and retrain them to grow other crops or to take up another career.”
Policies and Announcements
The following items appeared in the September 1986 Bulletin.
Birth Certificates for Missionary Candidates. As part of the recommendation process, each missionary candidate should obtain a certified copy of his birth certificate. If he does not already have one, he should request one from the clerk of the county where he was born or from other appropriate government agencies (such as the Department of Vital Statistics or Department of Health). He should specify that he needs a certified copy. By obtaining this certificate at the time of recommendation, the candidate can save considerable time in obtaining a visa and thus avoid frustrating delays in entering the mission field if he is assigned to a mission outside his own country. The candidate should keep the certificate and, if he is assigned to a mission outside his own country, use it in applying for a passport or visa according to the instructions received from Murdock Travel.
Appropriate Music for Church Meetings. Hymns are the basic music for Latter-day Saint meetings. Other songs, anthems, and musical selections should be in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the Church. Some religiously oriented music in a popular style can be uplifting and motivating for some of our members but may lack the dignity and propriety suitable for a worship service. Also, music which might be suitable in a concert setting may not be appropriate for a worship service.
See “Guidelines for Appropriate Music” in the Music Guide for Priesthood Leaders, 1986.
Music Copyright Violations. Sometimes members of the Church, because they are involved in a worthy cause, feel it permissible to make copies of material bearing a non-Church copyright. Members are free to copy and use (1) material with a Church copyright or (2) material bearing a notice specifically stating that the material may be copied. Other copyrighted materials must not be copied.
Promotion of Books or Products in Church Meetings. In harmony with long-established policy, we reaffirm that individuals must not promote privately published books or other creative works in Church meetings.
When authors or sponsors of creative works participate in Church meetings, they should be counseled to refrain from promotion of their creative work. The announcement or introduction of such participation must also avoid any such promotion.
The following item is from the August 1986 Bulletin.
Youth leaders are to ensure that all activities planned for young men and young women comply with Church standards. Youth leaders have a responsibility to both the youth and the Lord to see that dress standards, music, movies, videocassettes, and other entertainment are in keeping with truth and righteousness.
Activities should be planned with a purpose—to help youth experience the joy of putting gospel principles to work in their lives. Appropriate activities enable youth to interact with each other, build relationships with friends, leaders, and parents; enjoy health; serve others; and exert an influence for righteousness.
Church Opposes Government-Sponsored Gambling
The First Presidency has issued a statement opposing gambling, including the legalization and government sponsorship of lotteries. The Church has also recently produced radio and television documentaries showing the damaging effects of gambling on people’s lives.
The statement, which was signed by President Ezra Taft Benson, President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor, said:
“There can be no question about the moral ramifications of gambling. As it has in the past, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands opposed to gambling, including government-sponsored lotteries.
“Public lotteries are advocated as a means of relieving the burden of taxation. It has been clearly demonstrated, however, that all too often lotteries only add to the problems of the financially disadvantaged by taking money from them and giving nothing of value in return. The poor and the elderly become victims of the inducements that are held out to purchase lottery tickets on the remote chance of winning a substantial prize.
“It is sad to see governments now promoting what they once enacted laws to forbid.
“We urge members of the Church to join with others with similar concerns in opposing the legalization and government sponsorship of lotteries,” the statement concluded. The statement was contained in a letter sent to general, regional and local leaders of the Church.
The Church’s television and radio documentaries feature interviews with a compulsive gambler who is attempting to piece her life back together. Others interviewed include Arnold Wexler, a reformed gambler who is now vice-president of the National Council on Compulsive Gambling; Dr. Ricque Brister, a psychiatrist who treats compulsive gamblers; Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve; and several other authorities on the ills of gambling.
“We have produced these programs because of the Church’s concern about both the moral and economic ramifications of gambling,” said Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of Public Communications and Special Affairs.
“We are offering these half-hour documentaries to radio and television stations and cable systems throughout the country as free public affairs programs,” he said.
Bible Film Series Offered on Videotape
A group of non-Church-produced films depicting biblical events will soon be available to Church members.
The films, which deal with events in the book of Genesis and the book of Luke, are part of the New Media Bible series. The series is being produced by the Genesis Project, Inc., a nondenominational, international group dedicated to putting the Bible on film in order to awaken interest in the Bible and to bring its message to people of the world who cannot or do not read.
While producing the films, the group has tried to avoid interpreting the Bible according to the doctrine of any particular religious group. Research by an international group of Christian and Jewish scholars contributed to the cultural, geographic, linguistic, and historical detail in the films.
“Everything was filmed on location in Israel and Egypt,” said Tim Taggart, manager of Audiovisual Services for the Church’s Curriculum Department. “The costuming is incredibly detailed,” both in color and style. Actors speak in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or Egyptian Coptic, but they are heard only in the background as a narrator reads the text from the King James Version of the Bible.
Production of the series has been under way since 1976. Plans call for a twenty-year project that will eventually produce 225 hours of biblical films.
According to Josiah Douglas, director of Curriculum Planning and Development for the Church, the Genesis Project allowed the Church to purchase film masters from which the videotapes have been produced. The films were then edited in spots where knowledge available through modern revelation suggested the need for changes.
The six English-language films will be available on VHS and Beta format videotapes in the United States and Canada in October. They may be ordered individually, for $15.00 each, or as a set for $90.00. The films and their stock numbers (with VHS listed first, then Beta) are:
“Beginnings through Abraham” (Gen. 1–22), VNVV1604, or VNVB1603;
“Isaac and Jacob” (Gen. 23–36), VNVV1615 or VNVB1614;
“Joseph and His Brothers” (Gen. 37–50), VNVV1626 or VNVB1625;
“The Savior: Early Years” (Luke 1–8), VNVV1637 or VNVB1636;
“The Savior: His Ministry” (Luke 8–17), VNVV1648 or VNVB1647;
“The Savior: His Crucifixion and Resurrection” (Luke 18–24), VNVV1659 or VNVB1658;
The films may be ordered through the Salt Lake Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104.
In other English-speaking countries, it will be possible to order the films from distribution centers in the PAL videotape format, compatible with videotape players used locally. Stock numbers of the films, listed in the same order as above, are: VPVV1605, VPVV1616, VPVV1627, VPVV1638, VPVV1649, VPVV165A, and VPVV1660.
Denver Saints Claim Spiritual Blessings
Records show a Latter-day Saint family was the first pioneer family to settle near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River, the site that later became Denver, Colorado. In 1858, the S. M. Rooker family, traveling eastward from Utah, learned of the good fortune of a few gnarled prospectors. New dreams shaped their plans as they detoured down the eastern slope of the snow-covered Rockies. The LDS family arrived at the Cherry Creek diggings 30 August 1858. Others quickly followed.
As stories of gold drifted eastward, the rush to the Rockies gathered force and the isolated colony in Denver was invaded by thousands who came in wagons, on foot, or by horse.
LDS colonies were well established in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado by that time, but in Denver the Latter-day Saints were still scattered and loosely organized. They remained that way for decades, until President Wilford Woodruff called Elder John W. Taylor of the Quorum of the Twelve on 14 December 1896 to open the Colorado Mission. Elder Taylor started east by train the next day.
A little over forty years later, in 1940, the first stake in the area was organized, covering a distance of 250 miles from Cheyenne, Wyoming, on the north to Pueblo, Colorado, on the south. Today, that region contains seventeen stakes, ten of which are centered in the Denver metropolitan area. Church membership in the city approaches forty thousand, more than triple the membership in 1960. Recently, Denver’s southern suburbs were among the fastest-growing areas of Church membership in the English-speaking world.
Several Denver-area stakes have helped pioneer the Church’s name-extraction and data-entry programs, which have dramatically helped to increase temple ordinance work.
The members of the Church in Denver have long wanted a temple of their own. They have fasted and prayed toward that end, and one stake put those prayers into action by starting a temple fund years before plans to build the Denver Temple were announced. Members donated enough funds to meet their temple assessment long before it was set.
After the decision to build the temple was announced, local members intensified their efforts. Thousands of Primary children sold baked goods and pizzas, produced talent shows, and participated in walkathons to raise money for decorative benches where newly married couples can pose for photographs. Young women made quilts and toys for the temple nursery, and young men helped plant flowers on the temple grounds and aided in the general cleanup.
The “temple spirit” currently typical of Denver Saints is evident in the lives of many members. John Wheeler, who lives with his wife, Patt, and six children in a suburb north of Denver, is one of many who has donated time and talents to the establishment of the Lord’s house. Brother Wheeler, a welder, volunteered to work one or two days a week to help in the construction of the temple. He began working on the temple in February 1985, driving thirty miles to the site after finishing his weekly shift at his regular job.
“The contractor thought I was crazy to offer to work free,” he recalled. The builder didn’t know it was a dream come true. “I had wanted to work on a temple since the time my wife and I went to the Manti Temple years ago,” Brother Wheeler said. “I had prayed about it, and had a real desire to do it.”
Cliff Rencher, marketing manager at a computer firm, contributed in another way. He learned the art of clockmaking while living in Arizona and has made custom clocks for LDS Church buildings in Arizona, Connecticut, and Colorado. While the Denver Temple was under construction, Brother Rencher approached supervisors with samples of his work, hoping to be permitted to build a clock for the house of the Lord. Instead, he was asked to build twenty-seven, the total number needed for the temple. The clock frames were crafted from scraps of cherrywood trim left over from the temple’s construction; Brother Rencher spent from twelve to fifteen hours building each frame.
When the 27,000-foot Denver Temple is dedicated October 24–28, it will be the realization of a long-held dream for thousands of Saints in the area, including many who have been personally involved.
Grizzled prospectors with gold fever founded Denver, but more than a century and a quarter later, Latter-day Saints seeking eternal riches are staking the most lucrative claims.
Correspondent: Twila Bird serves on the Church’s Denver area public communications council and as a historian on the Denver Temple committee.
BYU Receives Academic Reaccreditation
Brigham Young University has been reaccredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC).
Various programs in BYU’s eleven colleges and professional schools are accredited by more than twenty specific organizations, but the NASC accreditation covers the entire university and is of major importance in maintaining BYU’s status as a respected institution of higher learning.
BYU was first accredited in 1923 by NASC and has received a major reaccreditation review every ten years.
The accreditation committee was very complimentary to the university and its faculty. Their report commented on the strong support given by the Church. From 70 to 72 percent of the operating costs for educating each student comes from Church appropriations; without this support, individual tuition costs would have to be increased by that amount.
NASC was also favorably impressed with the long-range planning at the university, and remarked on the functional, yet attractive, buildings and grounds. “The 630-acre Provo, Utah, campus of BYU with its 472 buildings … provides a remarkably beautiful and adequate campus to support the institution’s mission and programs,” the report concluded.
Church Museum Features Utah Artists
A major exhibit featuring work by seventy-five Latter-day Saint artists of Utah is now on display in the Museum of Church History and Art, just west of Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
The exhibit, “1986 Invitational: Latter-day Saint Artists in Utah,” will run through 16 February 1987.
Oil paintings dominate the exhibit, but other media are well represented, said curator Robert O. Davis, an art historian at the museum. “At least half of the works have religious content of some kind,” Brother Davis said. “All of the pieces in the show were selected because they are artistically significant, because they make a creative statement.”
In addition to religious works, the exhibit features landscapes, portraits, and western Americana.
Brother Davis said an exhibit of contemporary LDS art is being planned for late 1987.
The museum is open 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. weekdays and 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter Sunday.
You’re a Reporter for the Ensign
So your stake recently completed a large-scale service project that made friends for the Church throughout your community. Or a member of your ward won an important honor. You feel that others in the Church ought to know about it, but who can you tell?
Tell the Ensign.
If you have news that Church members throughout the world ought to know, we want to know, too. We’re happy to publish appropriate news of exemplary service and achievement by Church members and groups, especially where their accomplishments might motivate others to serve.
So if you think members of the worldwide Church would benefit by knowing about someone or something in your area, please let us know. Write to: Ensign News, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, or call (801) 531–2950 Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Mountain Time.
Chiclay and Trujillo, Peru, regions: Romulo J. Casos, institute director, Church Educational System, Peru, former president of the Peru Arequipa Mission, stake president, high councilor, and bishop.
Computerized Guide to Scriptures Developed
A computerized guide designed to facilitate scripture study by enabling readers to quickly locate chapter and verse references is now available. The program, called DSEARCH™ Computerized Topical Guide, was recently developed by researchers at Brigham Young University’s Computer-Aided Manufacturing Software Research Center.
DSEARCH™ offers a complete index of the scriptures on floppy disks. The software can be used on IBM-PC or compatible computers.
“The program enables a user to choose a word, a combination of words, or a phrase, then have the computer list all chapter and verse references containing the chosen words,” said Ron Millett, one of the developers.
For example, to find all scripture references containing the phrase “God so loved the world,” the operator would enter the words in the phrase (leaving out the word the, which is not indexed), and the computer would display the two scripture references that contain those words: John 3:16 in the New Testament and Doctrine and Covenants 34:3. [D&C 34:3]
The actual text of the scriptures is not displayed by this program; instead, the user looks up the references in his or her personal scriptures after the computer lists them.
The New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants/ Pearl of Great Price are stored on separate disks intended for floppy disk systems. Users with a hard disk and 512K memory can order larger-capacity disks containing the complete Bible or the Quadruple Combination, which indexes the entire four standard works. A copy of the DSEARCH™ Topical Guide Program is necessary to run any of the topical guides.
The DSEARCH™ Computerized Topical Guide program is priced at thirty dollars; diskette guides to the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants/ Pearl of Great Price sell for six dollars each. The larger Bible and Quadruple Combination disks for use on IBM-PC or compatible hard disk systems are fifteen dollars each. The program and disks are available at LDS bookstores. They can also be ordered through local Church distribution centers or by writing the Salt Lake Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104.
Two New Albums Released by Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus
The Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus have released two new albums. “O Divine Redeemer” is an instrumental album performed by the symphony featuring sacred pieces arranged by director Robert C. Bowden. “Songs from the New Mormon Hymn Book” features both the orchestra and chorus.
The Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus consists of one hundred musicians in the orchestra and three hundred singers. The members range from eighteen to thirty years in age. The group has performed nationally on television and in concert halls, and in 1980 received an Emmy Award for a one-hour television special that was broadcast in more than thirty-five countries.
The new releases are cassette stereo recordings. They can be ordered by contacting the office of the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.
The first New York/ New Jersey bi-regional conference was held September 14 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, urged members from seven stakes to “keep the faith.” The conference was simultaneously translated into Spanish, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese. Talks were also “signed” for deaf members. Other General Authorities present were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve and Elder Derek A. Cuthbert of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
All of New Zealand’s regional representatives, stake presidencies, mission presidents, and temple presidents gathered for the first time in Auckland recently to meet with two General Authorities. Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve and Elder F. Arthur Kay of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Second Counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency discussed with the priesthood leaders matters pertaining to the Church in New Zealand.
Sister Beverly Johnson Call, wife of President Waldo P. Call of the First Quorum of the Seventy, died in Salt Lake City October 7 after undergoing open heart surgery. Sister Call had been living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where President Call serves in the South America Area Presidency. She was born in Los Angeles, California, 31 March 1930, to David Ellis and Donalea Robinson Johnson. She served a mission in Mexico and married Brother Call 30 August 1950, in the Arizona Temple. Sister Call is survived by her husband, seven children, and a number of grandchildren.
President Franklin L. McKean of the Brazil Recife Mission died 3 October 1986 of a heart attack. President McKean, 67, had served as mission president since March 1986. Prior to that, he and his wife, Eileen, had been missionaries at the São Paulo Temple since June 1985. He retired from the University of Utah as dean of student affairs and services in 1983 and was also a retired major general in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president, received Lambda Delta Sigma’s Elect Lady Award at that organization’s annual Founder’s Day Luncheon recently in Salt Lake City. This award is presented annually to a woman in the community or in Lambda Delta Sigma whose life has been one of service and exemplary womanhood. Lambda Delta Sigma, the Church-sponsored sorority for college-age women, has fifty-nine chapters on various college and university campuses in the United States and Canada.
A weekly one-hour radio program designed for Latter-day Saints in Hawaii recently began to be broadcast on radio station KORL in Honolulu. The program, titled “More Good News and Music,” features LDS music and performers, excerpts from the Church’s Broadcast News Service, and dramatizes episodes from the Book of Mormon. The program, which was developed by public communications missionary Bart Tollefson, airs every Sunday at 8:00 A.M.
More than six hundred members from the Kowloon Hong Kong Region participated in track and field events at a regional sports day held September 19 in Hong Kong. Family-oriented games and activities involved Saints of all ages, from Primary children to parents. During the opening ceremonies, young women from the region released hundreds of balloons carrying written messages of hope and faith.
Eighty seminary students from several wards in Caracas, Venezuela, recently held a “Super Saturday” to give them a sample taste of missionary life. Approaching nonmembers on the streets, the students acquired 110 missionary referrals in thirty minutes. The students later met at a chapel, where a testimony meeting lasted an hour as student after student bore testimony about the event. The Saturday “mini-mission” inspired many of the students to plan for full-time missions.
Rota, a small island in the Northern Mariana Islands, was opened for missionary work September 5. President Deloy Gardner, second counselor in the Micronesia-Guam Mission presidency, offered the dedicatory prayer. Elders Kamealoha Kaniho and Stephen D. Jones are the first missionaries to be assigned there.
All full-time missionaries in the El Salvador San Salvador Mission are from Central America. The mission was disbanded temporarily in January 1980 because of political unrest and reopened in October 1984. None of the missionaries were harmed by the earthquake that hit the area recently.
Karen Gerdes, a former health missionary to Taiwan and Thailand, has been chosen as one of three Volunteers of the Year by the Peace Corps. She is currently working to get a health center built in Orani, Philippines, a small fishing town two hours from Manila. She also conducts health and nutrition classes for the townspeople.
In southern California, two thousand students and school officials of San Fernando High School met recently to pay homage to Mel Smith and dedicate the school’s math and science building to his memory. Brother Smith, who was a member of the Simi Valley Fifth Ward, Simi Valley California Stake, died last year of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He had served in many Church callings, including that of counselor in two bishoprics. Bother Smith was a teacher for twenty-seven years, and continued to teach his math and Spanish classes until three weeks before his death. When he contracted the degenerative disease, which progressively affects the nerves and muscles, he was forced to use a cane, then a wheelchair. When he could now longer control his throat muscles, he used a microphone to continue teaching until he finally had to be hospitalized. The request to name the building after Brother Smith came from teachers and students at the high school. He becomes one of only a few teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District to have a building named for him.