News of the Church

Elder Robert E. Sackley of the First Quorum of the Seventy

Elder Robert E. Sackley

Some years ago, Robert and Marjorie Sackley set a goal to do full-time missionary work together after he retired.

The opportunity came sooner than expected. In 1979, he was called as a mission president, and they have been involved in full-time Church service of one kind or another ever since.

With his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy—he was sustained April 2—Elder Robert E. Sackley will undoubtedly find new dimensions to the missionary work he loves.

Elder Sackley has found a way to be involved in missionary work almost constantly since his conversion more than forty years ago. He is motivated by a “thorough conviction that every human soul” will have an opportunity to accept or reject the gospel. It is “my responsibility,” he believes, to bring that opportunity to as many as he can. One friend estimates that Elder Sackley has fellowshipped more than 125 people into the Church.

A native of Australia, he was a soldier recuperating from wounds of war when he met Marjorie Ethel Orth of Brisbane in 1946. Her parents, some of the stalwart Latter-day Saints who had been the strength of the Church in Australia before and during World War II, were instrumental in converting him. Her mother provided Church literature, and her father taught him. The two men shared a love of history and Robert Sackley studied LDS history intently.

But it was the Book of Mormon that led the way to spiritual assurance of the truth. It touched his heart deeply as he read it in the hospital. “I committed to memory Mosiah 3:19 [‘For the natural man is an enemy to God … unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit …’] on that first reading. It struck me that no ordinary man wrote that, and that the message obviously came from a divine source.”

Sure of the divinity of the book, he had no difficulty believing that its translator, Joseph Smith, had been instructed by God and had been a prophet and seer.

The Sackleys were married 29 March 1947, not long after his baptism. Shortly after that, he was called to be a district missionary. Though he has had many other callings, he has always felt impelled to continue sharing the gospel.

In 1954, the Sackleys traveled to Canada to be sealed in the temple. They intended to stay for one year. But they became deeply involved in Church work and never left Alberta. They reared five children, all now married. They have fifteen grandchildren.

Elder Sackley served as a stake missionary, elders quorum president, bishop, high councilor, stake clerk, and counselor in a stake presidency. Sister Sackley’s many administrative and teaching callings have included Primary president and Relief Society president.

Elder Sackley earned a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a certificate of municipal administration from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He also has done graduate work toward a doctoral degree in history.

When the Sackleys lived in Australia, Elder Sackley worked as a tax administrator in the civil government. In Alberta, he was a school business administrator in Cardston and a senior administrator for the city of Edmonton. From 1973 to 1979, he served as vice president, then president, of a growing community college in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

When he was called as first president of the Philippines Quezon City Mission (later the Philippines Baguio Mission) in 1979, the Sackleys listed their daughter’s Bow Island, Alberta address as home, thinking the change would be temporary. But in 1982, he was called as administrative assistant to the president of the Salt Lake Temple, with Sister Sackley as an assistant temple matron. In 1983, they were called as directors of the Washington Temple Visitors’ Center, and in 1985 as missionaries in the Sydney Australia Temple. In 1986 he was called to serve as president of the Nigeria Lagos Mission; he will be released from that position shortly.

It will probably be some time before the Sackleys are settled in Alberta again. But they don’t mind. They are still living their dream of full-time service to the Lord.

Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the First Quorum of the Seventy

Elder L. Lionel Kendrick

When the U.S. Air Force sent L. Lionel Kendrick to Nagoya, Japan, he had been a Church member for just one month. The second Sunday, the group leader approached Brother Kendrick with a priesthood manual and said, “I feel impressed by the Spirit that you’re to be our priesthood teacher.”

Brother Kendrick replied, “I’ve just been baptized. I don’t even know what to teach.” Though he felt overwhelmed, he accepted the call.

“It was a marvelous experience,” he says. “I had to dig in early into the scriptures.” That early training in the scriptures prepared him for greater and greater responsibilities in the Church, culminating in his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 2.

Elder Kendrick says that his conversion was both gradual and sudden. In high school, he was active in his Protestant congregation when he met Myrtis Lee Noble, who had been reared in the Church. He was still active in his church when they married in 1952, his senior year at Louisiana State University.

Before marriage, they had made an agreement concerning religion. Sister Kendrick had explained that, since sacrament meeting attendance was the Lord’s commandment, she wanted both of them to attend. She also wanted them to pay a full and honest tithing. She said that without those things their relationship would suffer. Elder Kendrick responds, “I felt comfortable about those points, so we paid a full tithing,” and he attended LDS services with his wife.

Over the next two years, Lionel received a degree in health and physical education, then taught high school before entering the air force. The military soon sent him to officers personnel school in Bellville, Illinois. The branch in Bellville was the turning point for him. An LDS Sunday School class stimulated his desire to learn the truth, and “by the second Sunday, I absolutely hungered to know,” he says. “After a few months, the Spirit bore an undeniable witness. I knew the Church was true and entered the waters of baptism.”

Brother Kendrick completed his military duty after sixteen months in Nagoya. The Kendricks were sealed in the Hawaii Temple in 1956 on the way home to Louisiana. Brother Kendrick then began teaching at Pride High School, where he also coached the basketball and football teams. Taking night and summer classes at LSU, he obtained a master’s degree in 1958. A year later, Sister Kendrick received a B.A. in elementary education.

After six more years of teaching, Brother Kendrick returned to LSU for an Ed.D. in health and physical education, which he earned in 1967. In 1966, the family had moved to North Carolina when East Carolina University offered him a position on the faculty. In 1970, he became director of the ECU regional training center, which offers programs and seminars in such areas of health as stress and the effects of drugs and alcohol.

His work, though, has been second to family and church, which the Kendricks feel are inseparable. They talk glowingly about their family: their three sons—Larry, Jr., Hal, Dana—and their wives; their daughter, Merri Ellen, and her husband; and their six grandchildren. “We’re a loving and hugging family,” Elder Kendrick says. Sister Kendrick adds, “During summer breaks, we took long vacations with our children. We also carefully taught them the importance of gospel goals.”

Elder Kendrick loves Church service. He has served in two bishoprics and as branch president of the Greenville Branch on the ECU campus. After nine years as Kinston North Carolina Stake president, he served three years as a regional representative assigned to North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. In July 1985, he was called as mission president of the Florida Tampa Mission.

“I have enjoyed every call,” he says. “The ones involving direct contact with people have been most rewarding. This call to serve with brethren I have always looked up to has taken me to the depths of humility, and I have spent the last few days in soul searching. I feel more keenly than ever the divinity and urgency of the Lord’s work.”

New Primary Presidency Called

A new General Presidency of the Primary was sustained April 2 during the second general session of the Church’s 158th Annual General Conference.

The First Presidency has called Michaelene Packer Grassli to be president of the worldwide children’s organization of the Church. Called to assist her are Betty Jo Nelson Jepsen, first counselor, and Ruth Broadbent Wright, second counselor.

President Grassli has served for the past eight years as second counselor to Primary President Dwan J. Young, who was released, together with her first counselor, Virginia B. Cannon.

“I am grateful for the trust the Lord has placed in us,” said President Grassli in describing her reaction to the new calling. “Both in our families and in our Church, we need to concentrate on those in their younger years,” she said. “When you influence a child, you help that child find his or her place in eternity.”

President Grassli was called to the Primary General Board in 1975 and was sustained as second counselor in the Primary General Presidency on 5 April 1980.

She is a member of the National Cub Scout Committee of Boy Scouts of America and is the recipient of the Silver Beaver Award. She has supervised the preparation of material used to implement the Cub Scout program in the Church. In addition, she has had responsibility for teacher development and in-service and for all audiovisual materials produced by the Primary.

Prior to being called to the Primary General Board, President Grassli served in several Primary, Young Women, Sunday School, and Relief Society positions on both the ward and stake level. She attended Brigham Young University and has been active in community service and school affairs. She and her husband, Leonard M. Grassli, a landscape architect, live in the northern Utah community of Pleasant View. They are the parents of three children and have one grandchild.

Michaelene Packer Grassli

Michaelene Packer Grassli, Primary general president

President Grassli’s first counselor, Betty Jo Nelson Jepsen, holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Utah State University and has taught at elementary, high school, and university levels. At the time of her call, she was supervisor of student teaching at Utah State University.

“I had three great years of service on the general board, and that was an opportunity I never thought I’d have,” she said. “We knew that there was a change coming, and I just hoped I could continue serving on the general board. The Lord has blessed this work to go forward, and I’m very happy for this chance to play a part in it.”

A member of the Primary General Board since June 1985, Sister Jepsen has served as chairman of the In-service and Curriculum committees and as a member of the Scouting and Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation committees. Prior to her service on the general board, she served in several Primary and Relief Society callings.

She has been active in parent-teacher associations, the 4-H program, and Scouting. She and her husband, Glen F. Jepsen, a pilot and air reserve technician, are parents of four children. They live in Pleasant View, Utah.

Betty Jo Nelson Jepsen

Betty Jo Nelson Jepsen, first counselor

Sister Grassli’s second counselor, Ruth Broadbent Wright, holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Utah and has taught school in Utah and California.

“I’m grateful to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to serve him,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for more rewarding work than helping to bring the gospel to children.”

She was called to the Primary General Board in 1985 and has served as chairman of the Scouting Committee and the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation Committee. She has also been a member of the In-service and Curriculum committees.

Before serving on the general board, Sister Wright served in many Church positions, including ward and stake Primary president and ward and stake Young Women president.

In addition to her Church responsibilities, Sister Wright has been active in parent-teacher associations. Her husband, Gary E. Wright, is an assistant vice president of the Property Management Department of Key Bank. The Wrights live in Salt Lake City and are the parents of five children.

Ruth Broadbent Wright

Ruth Broadbent Wright, second counselor

Membership Up 20.3 Percent in Five Years

Membership of the Church continues to grow at an ever-increasing pace. In the five-year period ending December 1987, the number of members rose from 5,351,724 to 6,440,000—an increase of 1,088,276 members, or 20.3 percent.


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Seminar Held for Regional Representatives

Missionary work, home teaching, fellowshipping of new converts, and the importance of strengthening the programs for the young women of the Church were emphasized Friday, April 1, during the Church’s annual Regional Representatives’ Seminar.

President Ezra Taft Benson attended the opening session of the seminar and made brief extemporaneous remarks, expressing his love for the Lord, for the Church, and for his associates. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor, also delivered addresses.

“Woman is God’s supreme creation,” said President Hinckley. “Of all the creations of the Almighty there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue, with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.”

President Hinckley spoke about the changing role of women in the world today. “Strong and able women today fill responsible posts in industry, government, education, and the professions,” he said. “The whole world looks with respect to the Prime Minister of Britain, a woman of demonstrated ability and great capacity in carrying forward a program designed to strengthen her nation and its people. We were all impressed when Golda Meier served as Prime Minister of Israel.

“It is wonderful to witness this great renaissance,” he said, “I think it will continue to grow for the blessing of people everywhere.”

Speaking of women in the Church, he said, “There are tremendous responsibilities for women in the Church as well as in the community consistent with and in total harmony with marriage, motherhood, and the rearing of good and able children.

“It is important, therefore,” he said, “that girls in the Church have opportunity for and motivation to move forward in programs designed to improve their skills, enhance their estimation of their own self-worth, and to broaden their knowledge of the gospel with consequent increase of faith.”

He also called for young women to be encouraged to further their education. “Every young woman ought to be encouraged to refine her skills and increase her abilities, to broaden her knowledge and strengthen her capacity,” he said.

President Hinckley decried the effects of pornography and drugs on not only men but women. “The pornography merchants cast their filthy lures in the direction of the girls as well as the boys. The exploitation of sex has become a marketable commodity employing every vile trick of the advertiser, every slick and seductive element that can be conjured up,” he said.

As for the drug problem, he said he recently read that the use of drugs in America is increasing more rapidly among young women than among young men. “It is so important that we increase our efforts to teach our young women the ways of eternal truth, to make virtue attractive and all-important,” he said.

Commenting on the progress of the Church, President Hinckley said that world membership has grown from 2.5 million members when the first regional representatives were called in 1967 to some 6.5 million today. He also pointed out that in South America alone the Church has grown from six thousand to more than a million during that period.

“We now have more [missionaries] serving in the field than we have ever had, but we do not have enough,” he said. “The world, with its four billion plus people, is a very large world. And while we do not have access to many millions of these, the numbers we are free to work with are still very large. Truly, the field is white and the laborers are few.”

He spoke of the need for older missionary couples but said they should be in good health, should be able to finance their missions and still be able to care for their financial needs when they return home, and should not serve full-time missions while they have unmarried children at home who need the companionship and counsel of their parents.

President Hinckley also addressed the need for members of the Church to fellowship new converts. Losing new converts to inactivity and even apostasy “need not happen,” he said. “It should not happen. It must not happen.”

He urged greater emphasis be given to the process of fellowshipping. “Our people must reach out with greater diligence, with greater love to those who come into the Church as converts.”

President Monson told of the importance of the home teaching program in the Church. “The Lord has not rescinded his directive to the priesthood to visit the house of each member, exhorting the members to pray vocally and in secret and to attend to all family duties,” he said.

Quoting a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, he said, “The [home] teacher’s duty is to watch over the Church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.”

Other speakers at the day-long seminar included President Howard W. Hunter, Acting President of the Council of the Twelve; Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Elder James E. Faust, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, and Elder M. Russell Ballard, all of the Council of the Twelve Apostles; and Elder Marion D. Hanks and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

A leadership meeting was held Friday evening in the Tabernacle for both regional representatives and stake presidents. Speakers at this gathering included President Hinckley, President Monson, Elder Packer, Elder Ashton, and Elder Perry. At the opening of the meeting, a plaque was presented by the American Red Cross to the First Presidency and members of the Church for the Church’s participation in alleviating suffering throughout the world.

American Red Cross Honors Church Relief Efforts

The American Red Cross honored the Church with a plaque presented to Church officials during the Friday evening leadership meeting held April 1 in conjunction with the 158th Annual General Conference.

The plaque cited the Church for the contributions of its members to relief efforts on the African continent and elsewhere.

Richard F. Schubert, president of the American Red Cross, made the presentation:

“Highly esteemed leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is a special moment in the 107-year history of the American Red Cross and in my personal life, as well. For as long as I can remember, I have been an unabashed admirer of the special choir of special people who have filled this magnificent place with their wondrously inspirational and uplifting melody.

“My opportunity three years ago to get to know and work with Bishop Glenn Pace as a person, as a compassionate leader, and as a prudent steward, and my subsequent great personal privilege to meet with President [Ezra Taft] Benson and President [Gordon B.] Hinckley have added a whole new dimension in my life, and an understanding of the spirit which moves this Church and inspires you all in your many good works.

“Through Bishop Pace and others like him, you have made your compassionate ministries a model for all of us who care about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick.

“In the book of Matthew, Jesus is asked, ‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’ (Matt. 22:36). As you will all recall, the answer is both simple and profound. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’ (Matt. 22:37). ‘The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Matt. 22:39).

“Those are the commandments that are honored every day by all of you, by the stakes you represent, and by the members of the Church. I come to acknowledge publicly today that The Church [of Jesus Christ] of Latter-day Saints has been the largest single contributor to the International Red Cross effort to feed the hungry and famine-stricken in Africa. It has been done, not only with compassion, but with the quiet effectiveness that is the hallmark and the handiwork of this Church at work.

“Although you sought no recognition for that contribution, it is altogether fitting and proper that I should be here not just to sing your praises, which, given my talent as compared to the choir that hallows this place, might not really be very acceptable, but to thank you. Thank you on behalf of the American Red Cross, its volunteers, and its staff, who themselves have benefited from your generosity, your caring commitment to God’s children, to the least of these.

“But even more importantly, I represent those who have no voice, who are not able to thank you personally, but are alive today because you and your members gave quietly and effectively.

“There were people in the deserts, in the savannahs of Africa, with so little sustenance, so little help that they might have felt that God and man had forsaken them. You have shown them, quietly without trumpets, that this was not so. You have reached out in your own way, through the Red Cross, in an embrace that has made the difference in tens of thousands of lives.

“We of the Red Cross feel that we have been privileged to become a special partner with the Church in a rare and wonderful form of cooperation in which we combine our strengths to create a resource to each other in our respective human-service missions.

“I have had the privilege and the responsibility to visit Africa. I have seen the child who lives because this Church and its members cared. I have seen the mother’s tears of thanks that overcame the language barrier when words were not indeed possible. I have seen life go on where there had been no hope. I have seen your light in the darkness. I have seen the good works which grow from your strong faith.

“A simple plaque cannot totally convey the appreciation that I and the American Red Cross feel so deeply. But we needed a way, a simple way and yet a lasting one, to say, ’thank you.’ So I offer this plaque which reads: ‘In gratitude to the individuals and families of the Mormon community who help alleviate suffering through the Red Cross movement, April 1, 1988.’

“It is a small and a simple message of thanks. I ask each of you to convey it back to your brothers, your sisters, the members of this great church. Tell them, too, that we are not yet out of the woods, even if we are out of the news. Hunger and famine remain in many parts of Africa. Misery abounds and the spiritual and physical vacuum they have recognized in the past still exist and still need their love and support and prayers. Much has already been done. Much more is yet required.

“Let me conclude, if I may, with a very personal word. I am a blessed man every day of my life, as you are. My family, my personal relationship with my Lord, my job combine to give me a sense of joy and a sense of divine purpose and mission. But this incredible moment with you, this night will be with me the rest of my life. Thank you, gentlemen, thank you very much.”

American Red Cross Honors Church Relief Efforts

Richard F. Schubert [photo], president of the American Red Cross, praised the Church and its members for their humanitarian efforts and presented a plaque honoring their contributions. (Photography by Craig Dimond.)

Church Announces Working Relationship with Red Cross

In conjunction with the Red Cross presentation April 1, the Church announced a working relationship that was recently established with the Red Cross. The Church and the Red Cross have agreed to cooperate in providing assistance to victims of certain disasters in the United States and its possessions.

  1. The Church will encourage its members to utilize appropriate training courses, including those offered by the Red Cross.

  2. Close liaison will be maintained between the Red Cross and the Church’s Welfare Services Department.

  3. Each organization will encourage its units to share surveys and data related to disaster incidents.

  4. Local Church officers will be encouraged to participate in cooperative predisaster planning with local Red Cross chapters.

  5. During disasters, a local Church official will be appointed to communicate and coordinate with the local director of the Red Cross disaster operation.

  6. Each organization will coordinate with the other to prevent unnecessary duplication of service during disaster assistance.

President Benson Breaks Ground for San Diego Temple

President Ezra Taft Benson turned over the first shovelful of dirt on February 27 at the construction site of the San Diego Temple. The temple, which will be California’s third, will be located in the triangle formed by highways 805 and 52 and Interstate 5.

President Benson presided over the groundbreaking ceremony. He was accompanied by his wife, Flora. Also participating were President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Frances; Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter, a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department; and Elder Gene R. Cook, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, President of the North America West Area of the Church, and Chairman of the San Diego Temple Committee.

President Benson counseled members to teach their children the special significance of the temple: “Soon you will have here in San Diego another Latter-day Saint temple that will serve as a beacon for members and nonmembers alike,” he said. It will be an ever-present reminder that God intends a family to be eternal.

“How fitting it would be for fathers and mothers to point to this temple and say to their children, ‘Here is the place where we were married for eternity.’”

President Benson encouraged parents to “share with your children your personal feelings as you knelt together before this sacred altar and took upon yourselves the covenants which made it possible for them to be sealed to you forever.”

President Benson said that “a temple is a constant visible symbol that God has not left man to grope in darkness” and called temples “places of personal revelation.” He told of times when he had been weighed down by problems or difficulties, and after going to the house of the Lord with a prayerful heart, he found that the needed answers always came “in clear and unmistakable ways.”

Noting the concern parents have about protecting their families from the “cascading evil and wickedness which threatens to engulf the world,” President Benson called upon members to join him in making the temple “a sacred home away from our eternal home.”

“There is a power associated with the ordinances of heaven,” he said, “even the power of godliness, which can and will thwart the forces of evil, if we will be worthy of those sacred covenants available and made in the temple of God,” he concluded.

President Monson told those in attendance to “plan from this day forward to rededicate yourselves [even] as this spot is dedicated for the house of our Heavenly Father.

“Let us, as we build this temple, fashion so carefully the very lives which we are so privileged to enjoy,” he said.

President Monson praised President and Sister Benson for their good example in faithfully attending the temple every Friday that they are physically able to do so.

Elder Bangerter said that he felt it to be a great privilege to live in an age when, over the past five years, more than half of all the temples of the Church have been dedicated.

Elder Cook urged members to examine their lives “with the intent to rededicate” themselves.

At present, the Church has forty-one temples in operation. The San Diego Temple, scheduled to be completed about two years after construction begins this summer, is expected to be the forty-fifth.

Correspondent: Robert McGraw is San Diego–Escondido California multiregional public communications director.

President Ezra Taft Benson addresses members at the construction site of the San Diego Temple. (Photo by Quentin Gardner.)

Elder Gene R. Cook, President Benson, President Thomas S. Monson, and Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter break ground for the new temple. (Photo by Quentin Gardner.)