President Benson Addresses Scout Fireside

A February 14 fireside commemorating the Church’s seventy-fifth anniversary as an official sponsor of the Boy Scouts of America also honored President Ezra Taft Benson for his lifetime contributions to the Scouting program.

The program was telecast from the Salt Lake Tabernacle live via satellite to more than 1,800 meetinghouses throughout the United States and Canada.

“It was one of the choicest experiences in my life to serve and participate in Scouting, which I have done for almost seventy years,” President Benson said. “Scouting is a great program for leadership training, teaching patriotism, love of country, and the building of strong character. It is a builder of men—men of character and spirituality.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the fireside. Other speakers were President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who is Young Men General President and Chairman of the Church General Scouting Committee; Sister Dwan J. Young, Primary general president; and Sean Snow, an Explorer from the Union Fifteenth Ward in Sandy, Utah.

Special guest speakers were Mr. Ben Love, Chief Scout Executive; and Mr. Charles M. Pigott, National Executive Board president, Boy Scouts of America. President Hinckley described both men as “great and true friends of the Church and … highly respected leaders within the international Boy Scout community.”

Mr. Love pointed out that “this great church was the first national religious body to take official action on Scouting. It took place when Joseph F. Smith, nephew of the first Prophet, was President of the Church.” Mr. Love noted that the Boy Scouts of America granted the Church a charter on 21 May 1913.

“Today the Church operates more Scouting units—more than twenty-two thousand—than any other religious body in America,” he said. “Since 1913, several million Mormon boys and young men have raised their right hand in the Scout sign and recited the Scout Oath. Many unchurched boys and their families have had their first contact with the Church with a Boy Scout troop which meets in a local ward.”

“One of those early Scoutmasters who taught the lessons … of leadership was President Ezra Taft Benson,” said Mr. Pigott, who noted that “the BSA was only eight years old when President Benson became a Scoutmaster in 1918. He served in this capacity until 1929.”

President Benson’s later roles as Scout commissioner, Cache Valley Council Executive Board member, a member of the National Scout Council, and a member of the National Executive Board and Scout Advisory Council were briefly chronicled.

President Benson has been honored with Scouting’s Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo, and Silver Beaver awards. “President Benson, the BSA salutes you on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Scouting in the Church,” Mr. Pigott said. “We thank God for your dedicated leadership and pray his richest blessings on you and the great Church that you lead.”

“I shall always be grateful that almost seventy years ago, the good bishop of our ward came to me and asked me to be the Scoutmaster of twenty-four boys in the Whitney Ward,” President Benson said.

He told of his Scouts winning a stake song competition. He had promised that if they won, he would take them on a 35-mile hike over the mountains to Bear Lake Valley.

One Scout made a motion that all the Scouts clip their hair off so they wouldn’t have to bother with combs and brushes on the trip. The Scouts agreed, and then someone suggested that the Scoutmasters also have their heads clipped.

“The following Saturday at the county seat, two silent Scoutmasters took their places in the barber’s chair while the barber very gleefully went over each head with the clippers,” President Benson recalled. “As the barber neared the end of the job he said, ‘You know, if you fellows would let me shave your heads, I’d do the whole job for nothing.’

“So after our session with the barber, we left on that great thirty-five-mile Scout trip. … twenty-four boys with heads clipped and two Scoutmasters with heads shaven.”

Addressing the Scout leaders present and listening to the telecast, President Monson said: “Tonight I am grateful for that spirit which you men bring to Scouting, and which you men and women bring to Cubbing. It is far better to build boys than to mend men.”

He asked the men and women engaged in Scouting to determine that “I will learn. I will love. I will serve.”

“President Benson, … I honor you as a leader of boys, as a friend to the Scouters of the world, but more particularly, as God’s prophet here upon the earth,” he concluded.

During the fireside, President Benson was presented with a President’s Award plaque inscribed: “The Boy Scouts of America gratefully commends President Ezra Taft Benson and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an extraordinary partnership in serving the youth of America.”

In addition, he also received a bronze statue of a Boy Scout in full uniform inscribed, “President Ezra Taft Benson, a living example of the Scout Oath and Law for seventy-five years of Scouting in the Church.”

President Benson was also honored at the meeting with a second plaque, from the Scouts of the Whitney Ward in Idaho.

During his address, Elder Featherstone called for a count of Eagle Scouts present and characterized President Benson as “a marvelous, sterling example of greatness in manhood.”

In her address, Sister Young expressed gratitude for the dedicated priesthood and Scouting leaders everywhere who recognize the worth of the young men they serve and are willing to pay the price to love and teach them.

[photos] President Ezra Taft Benson (inset) speaks at a fireside commemorating seventy-five years of Church sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts assemble outside the Salt Lake Tabernacle with flags (large photo; photo by Gary McKellar, Church News).

[photo] Scouts bearing flags march into the tabernacle during the fireside. (Photo by Gary McKellar, Church News.)

Seven New Stakes Created in 28 Hours in Lima, Peru

Seven new stakes were created in Lima, Peru, during a 28-hour period over the weekend of January 30–31.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve presided over the change, which divided eleven existing stakes into a total of eighteen stakes. The action took place in six separate conferences attended by more than ten thousand Church members.

“You ought to be as thrilled about this as you can be,” Elder Ballard said, addressing the first conference. “This weekend is a great tribute to each of you.”

Elder Ballard spoke to overflow congregations at each meeting. Members began filling the seats at the Bellavista Ward meetinghouse at 7:00 A.M. for the 11:00 A.M. conference held there. Many who couldn’t find seats in the chapels or cultural halls viewed the conferences over closed-circuit television outdoors or in auxiliary rooms.

Tight scheduling allowed Elder Ballard to speak at all six conferences. At some sessions he excused himself soon after delivering his address to allow himself time to travel to the next conference before it began.

The seven new stakes created during the conferences are: Chorrillos, Vitarte, Las Palmeras, Comas, Las Flores, Maranga, and El Olivar. The existing stakes from which the new ones were formed are: San Luis, Lamanita, San Felipe, Central, Callao, San Juan, San Martin, Palao, Limatambo, Magdalena, and Villa Maria.

Fourteen new stake presidencies were called during the conferences. “I was surprised at how many would quietly nod their heads and tell us that they knew in advance the calling was coming,” Elder Ballard said, referring to the dozens of people who were called to leadership positions. “When we asked them how they knew, they’d tell us that the Lord had let them know. So many of these men had received a spiritual confirmation of the calling they were about to receive, and they were well prepared for it.”

“Each mission in Peru needs more missionaries,” Elder Ballard stressed in his talks. He told the members, “We can’t send many more from the United States. Where will they come from? Here.”

He asked each ward and branch to establish its own mission fund with the help of its members. “Sending your young people on missions will require faith, and the Lord will bless you to be able to do this in proportion to your faith in him,” he said.

Elder Ballard said the day would come when missionaries from Peru would travel to other countries, and even to other continents, to preach the gospel.

“The whole Church is watching what is happening in South America,” he said. “It’s really a miracle what is taking place here. Did you know you are blazing a great trail for the Church?”

Elder Ballard noted that it was his grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, who in 1925 dedicated the continent of South America for the preaching of the gospel.

Elder Charles Didier, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and President of the South America North Area, and his counselors, Elder Angel Abrea and Elder Derek A. Cuthbert, also members of the First Quorum of the Seventy, each had responsibility for two of the conferences.

With the new stakes, Lima now has the second largest number of stakes in any city outside the United States. Only Mexico City, Mexico, with twenty-two stakes, has more.

[photo] Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve greets Peruvian members during conferences in which seven new stakes were created in Lima. (Photo by Lee Warnick, Church News.)

Church Museum Exhibits Book of Mormon Art

Paintings of Book of Mormon events by three outstanding artists who specialized in the subject will be on display this year at the Museum of Church History and Art and at the South Visitors’ Center on Temple Square.

Paintings by Danish immigrant artist C. C. A. Christensen, who pulled a handcart to Utah, are now being exhibited in the foyer on the lower level of the museum.

Many of Brother Christensen’s early works were painted in response to the Church’s invitation to artists a century ago to illustrate stories from the Book of Mormon.

Brother Christensen’s Book of Mormon paintings were originally issued by the Sunday School for classroom use and were later published as lithographic prints.

Paintings in Brother Christensen’s “Life of Nephi” series show Lehi’s family as they build a ship for the journey to the New World and portray events until Nephi makes metal plates to record their history.

More recently, several other LDS artists have illustrated stories recorded in the Book of Mormon. The most widely recognized are those by Arnold Friberg, who received a Sunday School commission a half century after Christensen did his work. Brother Friberg’s paintings, published widely by the Church, are on permanent display in the South Visitors’ Center on Temple Square.

Another artist, Minerva Teichert, completed another frequently used series of Book of Mormon paintings in the late 1940s. These paintings will be part of a March 18–October 11 exhibition at the Church Museum.

The Christensen Book of Mormon exhibit will be displayed through September 11. It will be followed by another Book of Mormon art exhibit created by children, who are being invited to illustrate favorite Book of Mormon stories and submit them to the museum. Deadline for submissions is June 30. Persons wishing additional information should contact the Museum of Church History and Art, 45 North West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.

[photo] Photography by Philip S. Shurtleff

Update: Number of Temples in Operation

The number of Latter-day Saint temples operating worldwide continues to grow. When the Frankfurt Germany Temple was dedicated in August 1987, the number of operating temples stood at forty-one—an increase of 57.7 percent over the past five years.


Number of Temples











New Relief Society Handbook Distributed

A new, revised Relief Society Handbook was scheduled to be mailed in March to stake, ward, and branch priesthood leaders for distribution to local Relief Society presidencies.

The handbook was last revised in 1983. The new handbook includes guidelines to help the Relief Society assist in bringing souls to Christ, according to Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society general president.

To accomplish this goal the handbook describes the Relief Society and its approved policies, and helps Relief Society leaders become aware of their responsibilities.

The new handbook features special helps for Relief Society presidents. It includes a brief history of the Relief Society, as well as guidelines for small units, guidelines for family needs visits, and suggestions on how to help sisters with special problems.

There are recommendations for helping handicapped sisters, those in nursing homes, and sisters in the military. Guidelines are also given for Relief Societies held on college campuses.

The handbook offers some effective leadership principles, including planning with a purpose, delegating, and problem solving. It also contains suggested agendas for stake leadership meetings and ward Relief Society board meetings.

Sister Winder notes that it is not necessary for ward Relief Society board members to have copies of the handbook. Pages concerning their responsibilities may be duplicated locally for their use.

Hold to the Rod Seminary Series Also in Adult Curriculum

Hold to the Rod (stock number VNVV3632), a videocassette series of lessons used in seminary classes, is being incorporated into the Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society curriculum for 1988.

The series was developed by the Church Educational System to motivate and train seminary youth to study the scriptures. The series includes twelve presentations, each with its own printed discussion materials, on four videocassettes.

The first videocassette, which is to be used by the Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society this year, contains three presentations: “Hold to the Rod,” “Experiment upon the Word,” and “Search the Scriptures: RSVP.” Each presentation is intended to help adult members gain a better understanding of the scriptures.

The Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society should schedule these lessons near the time seminary students study the series. This is generally within the first six weeks of the 1988–89 school year. The Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society should plan their presentations to avoid conflicts in scheduling or library equipment requests.

Since this videocassette is also used by the seminaries, it is suggested that wards and branches use it only in Melchizedek Priesthood quorum classes and in Relief Society meetings, and not in youth classes.

One copy of the videocassette and its accompanying teaching guide should be available in each meetinghouse library.

Pageants Scheduled for 1988

Church pageants scheduled for 1988 will be presented as follows:

March 28–April 2, “Jesus the Christ,” Mesa Arizona Visitors’ Center. For additional information contact Craig Cardon, 15 East Comstock Drive, Chandler, Arizona 85224.

June 23–25, Independence Pageant, Independence Missouri Visitors’ Center. Contact Gerald Harris, 11601 East 39th Street, Independence, Missouri 64052.

July 7–9 and July 12–16, “Mormon Miracle,” Manti Temple grounds, Manti, Utah. Contact Morgan Dyreng, 202 South Main, Manti, Utah 84642.

July 22–23 and July 26–30, “America’s Witness for Christ,” Hill Cumorah, Palmyra, New York. Contact Roger J. Adams, 34 Kittyhawk Drive, Pittsford, New York 14034.

August 3–6, “Castle Valley Pageant,” Mountain Amphitheater, Castle Dale, Utah. Contact Montell Seely, Box 943, Castle Dale, Utah 84513.

August 9–13, “City of Joseph,” Nauvoo, Illinois. Contact R. Don Oscarson, 6430 North Lake Drive, Foxpoint, Wisconsin 53217.

August 19–20, 23–25, “Martin Harris, the Man Who Knew,” Clarkston, Utah. Contact Duane J. Huff, 1654 North 1515 East, Logan, Utah 84321. For tickets call Denzel Clark, (801) 563-5420.

December 20–24, “Nativity Pageant,” Calgary, Alberta. Contact H. McKay Williams, 27 Highwood Place, Calgary, Alberta T2K 2B9, Canada.

No pageants will be presented at the New Zealand Temple grounds or the Oakland Temple grounds in 1988.

[photo] The “Mormon Miracle” pageant in Manti, Utah, will be viewed by thousands during the eight days it will be presented in July.

Policies and Announcements

The following letter, dated 29 January 1988, was sent to priesthood leaders. It was signed by President Howard W. Hunter, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

Guidelines to Local Leaders in Selecting and Producing Plays and Musicals. Well-planned activities should be an integral part of our local Church programs. This includes producing cultural arts events such as plays and musicals. Over the years, the Church has produced a variety of Church-approved plays and musicals that are available as listed in the current Salt Lake Distribution Center Catalog.

Local leaders are to make certain that other plays and musicals produced by their units are compatible with the teachings and values of the gospel and with Church standards. Leaders who have questions concerning appropriateness should seek the counsel of their file leaders.

Permission should always be obtained from the copyright owner to perform any play or musical, copy the script, or make major script changes.


Mission Presidents

The First Presidency has announced the appointment of nine new mission presidents. Specific assignments will be announced at a later date.

Anan Eldredge, a native of Thailand, is a self-employed retail jeweler in Anchorage, Alaska. He was formerly employed by the Church as a translation supervisor and distribution manager in Thailand. He has served as a counselor to a mission president and as a branch president. His wife, Margaret, will accompany him in his new assignment.

John F. Grove, Jr., of York, Pennsylvania, is chairman and president of a graphic services business. He has served the Church as a regional representative, stake president, and bishop. He will be accompanied in his assignment by his wife, Terry, and one daughter.

Cecil Scott Grow, of Meridian, Idaho, is a partner in a certified public accounting firm. He has served the Church as a counselor in a stake presidency and as a counselor in a bishopric. He will be assisted in his new assignment by his wife, Rhonda.

Blaine P. Jensen, of Farmington, Utah, a retired U.S. Army officer, is currently employed as director of international physical facilities for the Church. He earlier was employed by the Church as director of temporal affairs in the British Isles and Africa. His wife, Clarice, will serve with him in his assignment.

Karl F. Keeler, of Bountiful, Utah, is a native of Canada. Currently vice president of a farm management company, he has also been employed by the Welfare Services Department of the Church. He has served as a stake high councilor and a bishop. His wife, Norma, will assist him in his new assignment.