News of the Church

By Violet Kimball

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    Book of Mormon Now in 80 Languages

    The Book of Mormon, originally translated into English by the Prophet Joseph Smith, is now published in eighty languages.

    The book of scripture, which has the subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” was translated into six new languages during 1987: Akan (Fante), Papiamento, Pohnpeian, Tagalog, Trukese, and Zulu.

    In addition, a complete Book of Mormon has been published in modern Greek. Only excerpts from the book had previously been available in that language.

    Akan (Fante) is spoken in Ghana by some three million people. There are approximately five thousand Latter-day Saints in the country.

    The Papiamento language is spoken in the Dutch-controlled islands of the Lesser Antilles—Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire. It is spoken by some 200,000 people, about 250 of them members of the Church.

    Pohnpeian is the language of Pohnpei Island in the western Pacific. The island is some 2,200 miles east of the Philippines and 3,100 miles southwest of Honolulu. Pohnpeian is spoken by 24,000 people, 700 of whom are Latter-day Saints.

    Although English is the most widely spoken and written language in the Philippines, Tagalog is the national language. It is the primary language of five million people and the second language of another thirty-seven million. The Church has some 127,000 members in the Philippines.

    Trukese is spoken by 28,000 people, including 1,200 Latter-day Saints, in the Truk Islands. The Truk Islands are located in the Pacific, some 1,800 miles east of the Philippines.

    Zulu is spoken by seven million people, most of them concentrated in southeastern South Africa. The Church has about fourteen thousand members throughout South Africa.

    [photo] The Book of Mormon was translated into six new languages during 1987 and is now available in eighty languages.

    Church Marks 75 Years as Scouting Sponsor

    The Church, sponsor of the largest number of Scouting units in the United States, is scheduled to observe its seventy-fifth anniversary as an official Boy Scouts of America sponsor on Sunday, February 14.

    A commemorative program at 6:00 P.M. (MST) will be televised via Church satellite to meetinghouses throughout the United States.

    “It has been one of the choicest experiences of my life to serve in and participate in Scouting,” said President Ezra Taft Benson, who has been involved in Scouting for sixty-eight years. “Scouting is a great program for leadership training, teaching patriotism and love of country, and building strong character.”

    President Benson holds a Silver Buffalo and other Scouting awards. He has served on BSA’s National Executive Board and the National Advisory Council.

    “The Boy Scouts of America is one of the great bastions of character development and preparation for manhood,” said Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Elder Featherstone, Young Men General President, oversees the worldwide Scouting program of the Church.

    “The seventy-five years of close association with the Boy Scouts of America have been a blessing to hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint young men,” he added.

    Seven New Missions Created

    Seven new missions have been created, the First Presidency announced in December. Six of the new missions are in Latin America, while the seventh is in the Philippines.

    The new missions, which began operations in January and February, are the Argentina Salta Mission, the Bolivia La Paz Mission, the Guatemala Guatemala City North Mission, the Mexico Chihuahua Mission, the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission, the Peru Lima East Mission, and the Philippines Cagayan de Oro Mission.

    The Argentina Salta Mission was formed by dividing the Argentina Cordoba Mission.

    The Bolivia Cochabamba Mission has been divided to create the new Bolivia La Paz Mission.

    The new Guatemala Guatemala City North Mission was formed by dividing the Guatemala Guatemala City Mission. The original mission is now the Guatemala Guatemala City South Mission.

    The Mexico Chihuahua Mission was formed by dividing the Mexico Torreon Mission, while the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission was divided from the Mexico Merida Mission.

    The Peru Lima East Mission was created by dividing the Peru Lima North Mission.

    The Philippines Cagayan de Oro Mission was divided from the Philippines Davao Mission.

    The Saints in St. Louis

    St. Louis, Missouri, has been a tolerant oasis for Latter-day Saints since the early days of the Church when members sought relief from persecution in Illinois and western Missouri. The first wave of immigrants passed through the “Gateway to the West” as early as 1841. At one time, donations were contributed to destitute Mormon exiles stranded there, and hundreds of pioneers were able to find temporary work.

    The 2 June 1949 St. Louis Post-Dispatch summed up the early Mormon experience: “[St. Louis] was the only town in the Middle West large enough to give the Saints some degree of anonymity, cosmopolitan enough to be tolerant of a new and strange religion and prosperous enough to provide work for newcomers.”

    The first St. Louis stake was organized in 1854, then disbanded in 1858 when Brigham Young called all Church members to Utah. In 1958, Roy Oscarson was chosen as the first president of the St. Louis Stake. About 1,750 members then lived in southern Illinois and eastern Missouri, with six congregations scattered over a 200-mile radius.

    Since then, Church growth has come in abundance to the St. Louis area. More than ten thousand members live in four stakes—St. Louis Missouri, St. Louis Missouri North, St. Louis Missouri South, and Fairview Heights Illinois.

    Most of President Oscarson’s family still reside in the St. Louis area and are carrying on a family tradition of service in the Church. “We have sent four generations of missionaries to Sweden, our native country,” he says.

    Other longtime leaders include R. Grant Rees, Boyd Schenk, Henry Beal, Mardean Steinmetz, and Patricia Keyes, most of whom still reside and serve in St. Louis.

    Missionary work and temple work are stressed in St. Louis. “This is a strong missionary area. One year we had about six hundred baptisms,” says Neal C. Lewis, St. Louis North stake president.

    The number of members traveling to the Chicago Temple from the St. Louis South stake doubled from 1986 to 1987, says Vernon Stromberg, stake president. “We took six busloads in 1987, and we plan to take at least seven in 1988.”

    New converts make St. Louis an exciting place to be a member of the Church. Black, European, Hispanic, and Oriental faces can be seen in most wards. Jerry Willis, a former black minister, and his wife, Eva, are members of the St. Louis Tenth Ward, where Brother Willis serves as elders quorum president. They have been instrumental in teaching other blacks. “I’m very impressed with the emphasis on family unity in the Church,” Brother Willis says. “I’m a more dedicated family man now, and my marriage has improved.”

    Mary Herrera Hunt’s ancestors were from Mexico, but Mary grew up in Texas, met her husband, Ken, in St. Louis, and joined the Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. “We had just moved to Las Vegas and were invited to church,” Mary recalls. “Ken was out of town, but I went. It was fast Sunday, and I was impressed with the blessing of the babies because we were expecting our first child. The friendliness of the people and the feelings of love and compassion were very comforting to me. When Ken returned, I could hardly wait to tell him about the Church. We were both baptized within the month.” The Hunts eventually moved back to St. Louis, and most of Ken’s family joined the Church. Mary is Relief Society president in the St. Louis Second Ward.

    While members and missionaries find most converts, some converts find the Church on their own. Genealogy and the institute program brought the James Cunningham family of the St. Louis Twelfth Ward into contact with the Church. “We first went to the stake center to do genealogy and saw the posters offering fascinating institute courses,” Brother Cunningham recalls. “We knew nothing about the Church but called to find if nonmembers could attend; ‘Of course!’ was the answer. We knew the Church was true from the beginning. We belonged to another church before, but we were looking for something better. We found it!”

    St. Louis has been historically significant to the Church. This is where William Clayton’s book, The Latter-day Saints’ Emigrants’ Guide, was published, where Joseph Smith’s Egyptian mummies and papyri were exhibited, and where the type font for the Deseret Alphabet was cast.

    The Mormon Pioneer Trail Foundation has erected markers to honor pioneers who have unmarked graves in the St. Louis area. During the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, the Church sponsored one of its earliest exhibits.

    President Spencer W. Kimball served a mission in St. Louis in 1915 and was instrumental in procuring the Saints’ first permanent building in the city, which was on Maple Avenue. A few of the local Saints still remember when President Kimball served as a missionary there.

    St. Louis has been good to the Saints, and they have been good for St. Louis. Local members have contributed many volunteer hours and much financial help to charity organizations. For instance, convert Menlo Smith has helped lead the Salvation Army Tree of Lights drive. Hundreds of other members regularly give to political causes and the needy through fund-raising events.

    This “spirit of St. Louis” lives on, both in civic pride and in the opportunities available to its citizens for growth in the gospel. “Meet Me in St. Louis” is more than a song for Mormons here—it’s practically a second national anthem!

    Correspondent: Free-lance writer Violet Kimball is music director in the St. Louis Second Ward.

    [photos] Gateway Arch (left) is a St. Louis landmark. (Photo by J. Shafferkoetter.) (Above) Tenth Ward Beehive class in session. (Photo by Violet Kimball.) (Lower photo) Grant and Dorothy Rees (at left) share memories with their family. (Photo by Violet Kimball.)

    [photos] (Above) St. Louis today is home to more than ten thousand Latter-day Saints. (Photo by J. Shafferkoetter.) (Upper right) Jean H. Mathews teaches Gospel Doctrine class. (Photo by Violet Kimball.) (Right) St. Louis Second Ward choir rehearses. (Photo by Violet Kimball.)

    Update: Stakes in the Church

    The Church continues to grow steadily worldwide. From year end 1986 to the close of the fourth quarter in 1987, the number of stakes in the Church rose from 1,622 to 1,665, an increase of 2.7 percent.


    Number of Stakes

    End of 1986:


    1987 (1st Qtr.):


    1987 (2nd Qtr.):


    1987 (3rd Qtr.):


    1987 (4th Qtr.):


    Record Number Visit Temple Square

    Nearly 3.5 million people visited Salt Lake City’s Temple Square during 1987, making the ten-acre complex of buildings, gardens, and statues the number one visitors’ attraction in the state of Utah.

    The official figure of 3,408,881 represents the largest number of visitors ever, surpassing by more than 800,000 the previous high established in 1986.

    During December alone, 429,931 visitors viewed the traditional Christmas lighting displays and heard daily holiday concerts.

    Scheduled bus tours visiting Temple Square in 1987 numbered 891, up from 389 in 1986.

    Policies and Announcements

    The following items appeared in the 1987–7 Bulletin.

    Terms of Service for Missionary Couples

    Missionary couples may serve for either eighteen months or twelve months. Only those serving for eighteen months will be considered for assignments outside their native lands. A six-month term of service will be considered only for those in vocations such as agriculture, where opportunities to serve are limited by seasonal requirements.

    The couple’s desire in regard to term of service should be clearly marked on the Missionary Resume for Couples and Single Women (PFMI0654), which is to be submitted for each couple or single sister.

    Meetinghouse Bulletin Boards

    Church policy specifies that items posted on meetinghouse bulletin boards are to be 8 1/2 by 11 inches in size or smaller. Items coming from Church headquarters will conform to this size. Strict adherence to this policy will ensure better communication of the notices posted and a neater appearance of the bulletin boards. It will also ensure that all who post items have an equal opportunity to use the available space.

    As bulletin boards are located to be highly visible, they should convey an attitude on the part of members of order, neatness, and reverence to those who enter the meetinghouses. Unkempt, unsightly bulletin boards reflect negatively upon the Church and its members and can detract from an otherwise well-kept meetinghouse. Local leaders are to ensure that meetinghouse bulletin boards are kept neat and presentable and that items posted comply with Church policy.

    The use of easels to display large posters or signs in meetinghouse foyers is discouraged.

    General interest announcements can be included in the ward sacrament meeting program handout.

    Yearly Outline of Sunday School Curriculum

    The Yearly Outline of Sunday School Curriculum, available in the past, will no longer be published. The course titles for 1988 remain the same, with the exception of the Gospel Doctrine course, which will center on the Book of Mormon.

    The supplemental courses remain the same and will be taught during the same quarters as in 1987.

    The week-by-week lesson schedule that has been part of the Yearly Outline may be prepared locally for the use of teachers and meetinghouse librarians.

    Temple Clothing

    The distribution of temple clothing is under the direction of Beehive Clothing rather than the Relief Society. Please direct all orders for temple clothing to Beehive Clothing, P.O. Box 27287, Salt Lake City, Utah 84127. Please direct questions about temple clothing policy to your bishop or stake president, who may contact the Temple Department, if necessary, at 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.


    Temple President

    Louis E. Ringger, of Orem, Utah, has been called to preside over the Swiss Temple. His wife, Hilde Lore Sennhauser Ringger, will serve as matron. A retired steel company executive, President Ringger has served as a regional representative, a counselor in a stake presidency, and a bishop. He succeeds his brother, Carl W. Ringger, as Swiss Temple President. Sister Ringger has also served in Church administrative and teaching positions.

    Mission Presidents

    Adolfo Avalos, a school teacher from Oaxaca, Mexico, will preside over the Guatemala Guatemala City South Mission. He has served as a regional representative, a stake president, and a bishop. His wife, Josefina, will assist him.

    Douglas Ken Earl, an attorney from Moses Lake, Washington, will preside over the Peru Lima East Mission. His wife, Connie, will accompany him. President Earl has served as a stake high councilor and as a bishop.

    Santiago Mejia, of Puebla, Mexico, will be president of the Mexico Torreon Mission. A microfilming manager, he has served the Church as a regional representative and as a stake president. His wife, Rosa, will assist him.

    Alberto De La O, an employee of the Church Educational System, will preside over the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission, accompanied by his wife, Lidia. A native of Mexico City, he has served as a counselor in a stake presidency and as a counselor in a bishopric.

    Rufino Alvarez Villanueva, Jr., Bacolod City, Philippines, will preside over the Philippines Cagayan de Oro Mission. An institute of religion director in the Church Educational System, he has served as a regional representative, a stake president, and a bishop. His wife, Josefina, will assist him.

    Francisco Jose Vinas, of Montevideo, Uruguay, will preside over the Argentina Salta Mission, accompanied by his wife, Christina. President Vinas is an employee of the Church Educational System, and has served as a regional representative, a stake president, and a bishop.

    Steven Rich Wright, of Orem, Utah, will preside over the Bolivia La Paz Mission. His wife, Hariella, will assist him in his new assignment. A staff member of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, President Wright has served as a high councilor, a bishop, and a branch president.

    Regional Representatives

    San Juan Puerto Rico Region, Franklin Hyrum Talley, retired, former executive secretary to Area Presidency.

    Boston Massachusetts, Augusta Maine, and Hartford Connecticut regions, Gordon H. Williams, professor of medicine.