Four New Areas to be Organized in August
Four new administrative areas of the Church will be organized effective August 15, according to the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.
Appointments of Area Presidencies, who will regulate Church affairs in the geographic areas worldwide, will be announced later.
The new areas will be created by divisions of four of the existing thirteen areas.
The Philippines/Micronesia Area, to include thirty-two stakes, twenty-two districts, and six missions in the Philippines, Micronesia, and Guam, will be formed from the present Asia Area.
Remaining in the Asia Area will be forty-four stakes, twenty-six districts, and nineteen missions in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Thailand.
The new British Isles/Africa Area will include forty-four stakes, fifteen districts, and fourteen missions in the British Isles and Africa.
The Europe Area will include thirty-eight stakes, fifty-two districts, and twenty-two missions in Continental Europe, Iceland, and several islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
A new Brazil Area will be created, with fifty-two stakes, fifteen districts, and nine missions. The countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, with their fifty-two stakes, fifty-two districts, and eleven missions, will remain in the South America North Area.
In North America, the North America Central Area will be formed by a division of two areas: North America Northwest and North America Northeast.
The new North America Central Area will include eighty-nine stakes, sixteen districts, and thirteen missions in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, and western Ontario, all of the U.S. states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and parts of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming.
The North America Northwest Area will encompass 170 stakes, six districts, and six missions in British Columbia and the Yukon in Canada, all of the U.S. states of Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, and parts of California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah.
The North America Northeast Area will administer Church affairs in ninety-seven stakes, nine districts, and twenty-one missions in Labrador, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, eastern Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec in Canada; all of the U.S. states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia; parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia; and the District of Columbia.
Members of the First Quorum of the Seventy are assigned on a rotation basis to serve in Area Presidencies, one as Area President and two as his counselors. Those who serve in areas outside of North America reside in those areas.
After August 15, there will be nine areas outside of North America, including Asia, Philippines/Micronesia, Europe, British Isles/Africa, Pacific, Mexico/Central America, Brazil, South America North, and South America South.
There will be eight areas in North America: North America Northeast, North America Northwest, North America Central, North America Southeast, North America Southwest, North America West, Utah North, and Utah South.
Church membership has grown to more than 6.2 million, with wards and branches organized in ninety-eight sovereign countries and twenty-four territories, colonies, and possessions. Forty new stakes and 379 wards and branches were created during 1986.
Historic Box Elder Tabernacle Rededicated
The Box Elder Tabernacle in Brigham City, Utah, was filled to overflowing April 12 as members gathered to hear Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve rededicate that historic building. The special dedicatory program was also shown on closed-circuit television at two local stake centers.
The rededication followed the completion of a year-long project to restore the century-old tabernacle.
Other speakers included Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elder James M. Paramore of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Donna Packer, Elder Packer’s wife; and Arnold B. Gilbert, a former regional representative who has been called as president of the Ohio Columbus Mission. President Royal K. Norman of the Brigham City West stake conducted.
“There is a great and powerful spirit in this tabernacle. It is the Spirit of the Lord,” said Elder Packer before offering the dedicatory prayer.
He recalled occasions when, as a child, he had attended Church meetings in the tabernacle. At one stake conference he heard Elder George Albert Smith, who would later become President of the Church. “In my little boy’s mind came a thought that there stood an Apostle of Jesus Christ,” Elder Packer said.
Drawing on another personal memory, Elder Packer motioned to a room at the rear of the tabernacle and said, “I was ordained a seventy in that room up there by President Benson when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.”
He spoke of Lorenzo Snow, who lived in Brigham City and was eighty-four years old when he became President of the Church. Elder Packer also noted that President Wilford Woodruff delivered the Manifesto in the Box Elder Tabernacle.
Elder Scott praised missionaries who have gone into the world from the Brigham City area to preach the gospel, and urged listeners to preserve “the heritage this building represents.”
Brother Gilbert noted that as more stake centers were built in the Brigham City area, the tabernacle became less prominent. Some even talked of tearing it down. “We were all overjoyed when the Church historical committee decided to restore it,” he said.
The Box Elder Tabernacle was constructed during the period from 1865 to 1890, and was rebuilt in 1897 after being damaged by fire.
Correspondent: Bruce Keyes is public communications director for the Brigham City Utah North Stake.
Welcoming Single Adult Women into Relief Society
When Laurels reach their eighteenth birthday, they are eligible to become members of Relief Society.
The Young Single Adult representative, with the assistance of the ward Relief Society board member responsible for Young Single Adults, is responsible for making these new Relief Society members feel welcome. The Young Women president should assist in making this transition smooth.
This is how the program works: first, the board member responsible for Young Single Adults and the Young Single Adult representative visit the Laurel class to explain the Relief Society program, answer questions, and help the young women become acquainted with their new leaders.
Next, the Relief Society president arranges with the Young Women president to have the Laurels visit and participate in a Relief Society meeting and/or activity. This gives the Laurels the opportunity to become acquainted with other Young Single Adults and Relief Society members.
Each Laurel should be interviewed by her bishop on or near her eighteenth birthday. At this time she could receive the Relief Society brochure, Relief Society—A Blessing for Every Woman, (PXRS4567), which explains the mission of the organization.
As the transition from Laurel to Young Single Adult approaches, the board member responsible for Young Single Adults and the Young Single Adult representative should visit the girl in her home and invite her to Relief Society orientation activities. These special orientations are held periodically to welcome new Relief Society members.
Once the young women are involved in Relief Society, they should be given assignments as visiting teachers, teachers, music leaders, or other appropriate positions.
The Salt Lake Parleys Stake is one of many stakes that have successfully helped young women make the transition to Relief Society. Following are some of the activities they use.
On the last Sunday in June, the Relief Society president, the board member over the Young Single Adults, and the Young Single Adult representative visit the Laurel class to invite them to Relief Society on the following Sunday.
On the first Sunday in July, the Laurel advisor accompanies the graduating Laurels to Relief Society, where the girls are welcomed and introduced. Individual girls are spotlighted in Relief Society in succeeding weeks.
The graduating Laurels are assigned visiting teachers, and are called to serve in the same capacity.
Finally, separate attendance records are kept of the 18- to 21-year-old Young Adult women to be added to the Quarterly Report.
Church Publications Honored
Printed products of the Church received ten awards for typographic excellence from the National Composition Association in New York recently.
There were more than twelve hundred entries in the nationwide competition. The Church awards were for the monthly Ensign magazine, a series of New Era posters with the theme “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful,” the LDS Family Calendar, a seminary poster, the Lion House menu, an LDS Business College catalog, a Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus concert program, a Temple Square concert program, a Church Personnel Department newsletter, and a Spanish language manual.
Receiving the awards on behalf of the Church were artist Allan Loyborg and Sherm Martin, Gene Smuin, and George Simper of the Church Printing Services Department.
“The Church maintains an extensive electronic typographic system,” Brother Martin said. “The system produces type from approximately sixty thousand manuscript pages each year.”
Eighteen LDS families lost their homes, and 198 members required food, clothing, and medicine as a result of five separate rock and mud avalanches that struck several small Peruvian mountain villages east of Lima in March. In Chosica, three hundred people took refuge in the ward meetinghouse after their nearby homes were destroyed. The Chosica chapel was one of the few buildings in the area that had both water and electric power following the disaster. The San Luis stake, with the support of Lima area stakes, cared for the needs of members and nonmembers alike. Young Women in one Lima ward sold quilts and refreshments to raise relief money. An LDS youth led a group of twenty-eight nonmembers to Chosica to help in the cleanup. All homes not destroyed had been cleaned and reoccupied by the end of March.
More than 725 people attended the second annual conference for Spanish-speaking members in Arizona’s Salt River Valley March 8. Elder Charles Didier, Area President and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, addressed the group.
Some twelve hundred people, including many nonmembers, recently attended an international fair culminating a “Member-Missionary-Media” campaign sponsored by the Kaneohe Hawaii Stake. Those attending were served delicacies representative of twelve nations, and were treated to a historical and cultural show.
Milton W. Russon, of Bountiful, Utah, has been called to preside over the New Zealand Temple. His wife, Karlyn Chatfield Russon, will serve as matron. A mortician, President Russon has served as a regional representative, a stake president, a mission president, and a bishop. Sister Russon has served the Church as an officer and a teacher.
The First Presidency has announced the calling of additional new mission presidents to begin serving in 1987.
Kenneth Ray Barker, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, is a retired vice-president of a drugstore chain. He has served as a regional representative, a stake president, and a bishop. He will preside over the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission, accompanied by his wife, Jacquelin.
Douglas W. DeHaan, of Portland, Oregon, a director of government relations for a management corporation, has served as a regional representative, a temple worker, and a stake president. His wife, Barbara, will assist him in presiding over the Florida Jacksonville Mission.
Garth J. Wakefield, of Salt Lake City, will preside over the new Spain Bilbao Mission. He is employed by the Church’s International Physical Facilities Division. He has served as stake mission president, bishop’s counselor, and seminary teacher. His wife, Kay Lynn, will accompany him.
New Church Videotapes
The Church currently offers several videocassettes to inspire and instruct Church members in their homes and in Church classes.
Topics range from the “Doctrine and Covenants Reader” to “How to Conduct a Hymn.” The videocassettes can be used by Church leaders and teachers, as well as by parents to augment existing programs for teaching the gospel.
Among the new releases are firesides. These include the “Priesthood Restoration Commemoration Fireside,” the proceedings of the May 17 Aaronic Priesthood satellite broadcast from Temple Square, and the “Fireside for Parents,” which includes suggestions from President Ezra Taft Benson for strengthening the family.
Of special interest for families is the “Family Home Evening Video Supplement,” which contains nineteen segments on gospel subjects, in conjunction with lessons from the Family Home Evening Resource Book.
Videos have also been produced to train priesthood and auxiliary leaders. These include “Caring for the Needy,” a training package that explains a bishop’s responsibility in caring for the needy, and “Applying Welfare Principles in Our Lives,” a video for priesthood leaders to use in teaching basic welfare principles. There are also videos for proselyting, friendshipping and fellowshipping, Book of Mormon and Bible stories for children and adults, biographies of Church leaders, and many more (refer to the 1987 Salt Lake City Distribution Center Catalog).
These videos, excepting those designated for training specific persons or groups, are available to all members of the Church through their meetinghouse library or by private purchase. Parents, as well as priesthood and auxiliary leaders, should contact their ward or branch librarian to learn what titles are available and to check out videotapes.
Members in the United States may call 1-800-247-3892 (in Utah, 1-800-782-8866) to order videos directly from the Salt Lake City Distribution Center. Most videos are available in VHS or Beta format and cost varies between $8 and $16.
Many of these videos are available to Latter-day Saints worldwide, although approval and translation may delay their availability several months. Each time the Church produces a video it is sent to all Area Presidents. The presidents then review the material to determine if it would be appropriate for their area. If an Area President approves a video, it then undergoes the necessary translation and mechanical conversion. One of the special challenges the Church’s audiovisual division faces is that there are a number of different video formats available worldwide. In the past, conversion to these different formats has been difficult and expensive. But with new technology this conversion is easier and less expensive.
Videos have numerous advantages as a teaching medium. “We have a very sophisticated, visually oriented society,” says Lyle Shamo, director of the Church’s Audiovisual Planning and Development Division. “For good or ill, video is the means of communication today.” While commercial television and videos present some good productions, quite often they have a negative impact on viewers. “We are trying to establish a standard of our own which is appropriate for children of our Heavenly Father,” says Brother Shamo.
The Church builds “modeling” into each video, particularly for youth. This shows strong role models acting in a positive manner.
Video has another advantage in that its motion, color, and sound enhance the impact of the message. Both seeing and hearing a message helps viewers conceptualize the gospel principles being taught.
A primary reason for using videotapes is that video is becoming the most widely accessible viewing format for members of the Church. Approximately 30 percent of U.S. homes have videocassette recorders (VCRs) while 38 percent of the homes in the United Kingdom and 35 percent of the homes in Japan are equipped with VCRs.
In addition, 1,200 stakes in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and parts of Mexico can receive transmissions over the Church satellite system, and members of the Church can gather in their stake centers for Churchwide broadcasts. Video specialists at the stake centers can then videotape the appropriate broadcasts for use in their meetinghouse libraries.
Videos are also very cost effective. It once cost a ward or branch anywhere from $75 to $300 to purchase a movie. In contrast, videocassette costs range from $8 to $16 and contain four to five times as much material as a reel of film. Recopying a deteriorating videotape is also much less expensive than replacing old or worn film.
The Church has received positive feedback regarding many of its videos. Leaders are encouraged to use videotapes to augment their lessons whenever applicable. Parents should also take advantage of this medium to enhance family home evenings and family scripture study.
Latter-day Saints in Canada: Historic Conference Focuses on the “Then” and “Now”
Leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first looked northward to Canada as a mission field more than 150 years ago. Then, one hundred years ago, a group of LDS pioneers trekked northward from Utah to plant their roots in the soil of Alberta, beginning in Cardston.
Today, Latter-day Saints are a fractional minority of Canada’s total population, but they are recognized perhaps beyond what their numbers warrant because of their influence in Alberta and their religious values.
What has been the historical and social impact of Latter-day Saints on Canada, and Canada’s impact on them? Scholars and students of Latter-day Saint history and culture tackled these questions at the Mormon Presence in Canada Conference on the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton May 6–9.
It began with a discussion by historian Jan Shipps of how Latter-day Saints came to feel their characteristically strong sense of community. It ended with brief remarks by Elder Alexander B. Morrison, a Canadian newly called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, who emphasized that no amount of study will lead to full understanding of the Latter-day Saints—unless one also understands the “conviction of divine direction” which motivates Church leaders and members.
The event was tied to the centennial of the arrival of Mormon settlers in Alberta in 1887. It was jointly sponsored by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Education.
Brigham Young Card, a grandson of LDS colonizer Charles Ora Card and a great-grandson of Brigham Young, was a prime mover in the planning and direction of the conference. He is a professor emeritus of educational foundations at the University of Alberta. He was part of a four-member committee of LDS and non-LDS scholars from different academic disciplines which planned the conference.
The conference drew some 150 paid registrants, from as far away as Texas and Hawaii, along with more than 50 scholars and experts from Canada and the United States. Their presentations ranged from discussion of early missionary efforts in Canada to consideration of whether Latter-day Saints should be viewed as an ethnic group. (Elder Morrison participated in his role as professor and chairman of the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph, Ontario.) Selected papers from the conference will be published later by the University of Alberta Press.
Those attending the conference were also drawn by a concurrent LDS folk culture festival, which included presentations on topics ranging from Church sports to music for the Alberta Temple pageant, which will premiere in July as part of the centennial celebration in Cardston.
Jan Shipps, a professor of history and religious study at Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis, said in her remarks opening the conference that early Church members developed a strong sense of identity as they gathered first in Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, then to the Intermountain West. This gathering “turned Danes into Mormons, and Britons into Mormons.” This strong sense of community, resented and feared by outsiders, was part of the reason for the persecution they suffered. But even persecution was not strong enough to break their cohesiveness.
Richard Bennett, head of the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Manitoba, reviewed early Latter-day Saint missionary efforts in Canada. These efforts included: an exploratory phase in which members from the U.S. went to Canada to teach family and friends; systematic missionary work in the mid- and late 1830s; then sporadic missionary work as Saints were called to gather in Nauvoo.
Latter-day Saints disappeared almost entirely from eastern Canada because of the gathering, he said.
The Latter-day Saint move into Alberta was as much a result of the need for expansion as it was a response to persecution, said historian Leonard Arrington, from Brigham Young University. Lands which could be developed for new settlers in Utah were rapidly becoming filled by the 1880s.
What is seen in Cardston today is a remnant of the past, said Lynn A. Rosenvall, an associate professor of geography and head of that department at the University of Calgary. Latter-day Saints founded a number of small farm villages in southern Alberta, following the model advocated by Church leaders.
But most of the settlers were not really farmers. “Cardston was a nursery,” along with the other farm villages, for families whose members would eventually seek occupational, educational, or other opportunities in Canada’s cities, Professor Rosenvall said.
Dean R. Louder, a professor of geography at Laval University in Quebec, pointed out that, “Among Canadian Mormons whose ancestors originated in the United States, the boundary between American and Canadian cultural identity appears blurred, with loyalties divided northward and southward.”
The common LDS perception of Canada “as being synonymous with Cardston or southern Alberta” has been an obstacle to Church growth in the country, he said.
Professor Louder quoted the late Canadian governmental leader Lester Pearson on the difference between the two countries: “When they ask you how Canada is different from the United States, just answer them in French!” Surrounded by English-language-oriented members and programs, French-speaking Latter-day Saints can feel isolated.
In a paper titled “The Mormon Family in Canada,” George K. Jarvis, a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta, offered a number of statistical comparisons between Latter-day Saints and non–Latter-day Saints in Canada.
More than half of Canadian Church members live in the prairie provinces, mostly Alberta. While a number of religions in Canada tend to be identified with just one ethnic group, Latter-day Saints include a mix; still, more than 59 percent of Canadian Church members claim a British heritage.
“National data on Mormons obscure what seem to be two very different populations,” he said—Church members in the East and those in the West. The eastern LDS population is much more urban. More interfaith marriages are found among LDS members in the East, possibly because of the conversion of one spouse without the other. A higher proportion of divorced or separated members, and of single parents, is found in the East, probably due in part to conversions after marriages ended, he suggested.
Are Latter-day Saints an ethnic group? That was the question considered by Armand L. Mauss, a professor of sociology at Washington State University.
While Latter-day Saints have been so defined by some authorities, “If Mormons of all sizes, shapes, colors, languages, cultures, and geographic origins can constitute an ‘ethnic group,’ one wonders, then who, indeed, cannot?”
He concluded that future definition of the Latter-day Saints as an ethnic group will depend largely on the uses of the concept of ethnicity by scholars and researchers.
Professor Mauss suggested that Latter-day Saints might better be classified as members of “a new world religion,” as a colleague of his, Rodney Stark, has suggested. A professor of sociology and comparative religion at the University of Washington, Rodney Stark wrote in a paper prepared for the conference:
“We are seeing the rapid rise of the first new world faith since Islam appeared 1,400 years ago.”
“If one examines the pattern of Mormon growth over the past few decades,” he said, “the rate is always greater than fifty percent per decade,” and, “the more rapid growth is overseas, in Latin America and Asia especially.” At present growth rates, the Church would have more than two hundred million members one hundred years from now; it “will become a major world faith.”
At the close of the conference, a few participants were invited to offer some thoughts on its significance. Elder Morrison commented:
“I am impressed by two recurring themes—the sense of destiny which pervades Mormon history, and the boldness with which we have attempted to fulfill what we have considered a responsibility placed upon us by God himself to tell the world of great and important truths. I applaud the attempts by historians, sociologists, and others to understand us. I must tell you in all solemnity, however, that unless you come to understand the deeply felt conviction of divine direction that has motivated the leadership and the humble, faithful members of our Church since its beginning, you will fall short of your goal.
“Ultimately, this work can only be understood in religious terms. We have had to work our way through some very deep waters in our short history, and we expect to have to swim in them again before we are finished. Through it all, however, there is the conviction, seen in the lives of Mormon pioneer and modern counterpart alike, that God has a work for us to do, that it is of transcendent, galactic importance, and it will not be completed until it has penetrated every culture, visited every clime, and sounded in every ear.”
Hill Cumorah Pageant Celebrates Fiftieth Anniversary
America’s Witness for Christ, the annual pageant held at the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with this year’s presentation, scheduled July 24 through August 1. A reunion for past participants will be held concurrently.
As early as 1917, eleven years before the Church purchased the hill, small historical dramas, tableaus, and readings were staged in the Palmyra area by the Eastern States Mission. Sites for these presentations included the Sacred Grove, Grange Hall, and the meadow behind the Joseph Smith, Sr., farm. Brother Oliver R. Smith, who was later instrumental in preparing the first pageant presented at the Hill Cumorah, remembered “upright posts in the ground supporting wires on which sliding curtains or white drapes, which moved easily in the wind, separated the scenes.”
On 21 July 1935, a majestic forty-foot bronze and granite monument of Moroni was completed and placed on the summit of the Hill Cumorah. Thousands of pine seedlings were planted on the hill’s previously barren northern and western slopes. More than two thousand attended the dedication of the monument by President Heber J. Grant. Don B. Colton, then Eastern States Mission president, began to experience the proselyting potential of large gatherings at the hill. He set the wheels in motion for what the New York Times has since called “America’s most elaborate religious pageant.”
The following year, on Sunday evening, July 26, the first pageant was presented at the Hill Cumorah. The pageant, titled Truth From the Earth, drew a crowd of five thousand for its single-night performance.
A new script, titled America’s Witness for Christ, was written by H. Wayne Driggs for the pageant held in 1937. That title remains unchanged today.
Harold I. Hansen, one of the drama directors of the 1937 pageant and pageant director for the next forty years, said, “I sat in the audience that night and was amazed. We had immature young people acting with almost no training and very limited preparation. The rehearsals had been very disappointing. But that night the actors performed with a cohesion and wholeneë that hadn’t been there before. You could feel a power that moved them. We were all deeply touched by what happened there.”
For the first performance of America’s Witness for Christ fifty years ago, three elevated platforms were used as stages, and only the main characters had costumes. There was no sophisticated sound system. There was a full moon, but reports mention that it rained at least one of the three nights the pageant was performed, and that “thunder and lightening came on cue.” Within a few weeks the pageant committee began the now-traditional year-long preparations for the following year’s performance.
The pageant was repeated annually through 1941. Then came World War II, and the stages on the hillside lay dormant until the pageant was revived in 1948 after wartime travel and gasoline restrictions were lifted.
Over the years, the number of stages has increased from the original three to the twenty-five which today terrace the hill. The lighting and sound systems have been updated and refined. Busloads of unpaid pageant volunteers from the western United States traveled to New York for several years, until growing participation by Church members in the East made these efforts unnecessary.
Pageant performances start at 9:00 P.M., using the darkness of the night to make possible the spectacular lighting effects. Two million watts of electrical power illuminate the multiple stages, which cover an area larger than a football field. White-robed heralds silhouetted atop the Hill Cumorah raise their trumpets in the prelude scene, but instead of the “live” trumpeting once heard, the trumpet choir and all pageant sound are carried on five-track stereophonic tape developed especially for the pageant.
A complete wardrobe of costumes adds splendor and authenticity to the production. Reservoirs at the foot of the hill hold 175,000 gallons of water, which colored lights play upon to achieve the shimmering, translucent water curtain effect that adds drama to certain scenes.
Last year’s volunteer cast of 600, playing 1,700 separate parts, performed before 91,500 spectators. An estimated 75 percent of the audience were nonmembers. Fifteen hundred missionary referral cards were filled out.
“It’s really more of a missionary event than a pageant,” said pageant director Lund Johnson. “Because of the total commitment and missionary work we do as a cast, we touch both nonmembers and members alike.”
Correspondent: Sydney S. Aldous, of the Butler Sixteenth Ward, Salt Lake Wasatch Stake, is a member of the Hill Cumorah Pageant Fiftieth Anniversary Committee.