News of the Church


Rely on the Book of Mormon, Says President Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson brought his message of the importance of the Book of Mormon to almost 4,500 members June 19 at the Ft. Collins Colorado Regional Conference. The conference was held on the Colorado State University campus.

Also speaking at the conference were Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder F. Burton Howard of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

“The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means,” President Benson said. “First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and his gospel. It testifies of his divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer. … Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrine and lays down contention.”

Referring to President Benson, Elder Perry said, “What a difference it is to have a prophet of the Lord stand at the head of the Church. That distinguishes us from all others.”

Elder Howard spoke of how people have lost sight of the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy. “The holy Sabbath began to be called Sunday, and today is referred to as the weekend,” he said.

President Benson’s wife, Flora, accompanied him. Elder Perry’s wife, Barbara, and Elder Howard’s wife, Caroline, also addressed the congregation.

Correspondent: John Clarke, Ft. Collins Colorado Region public communications director.

[photos] President Ezra Taft Benson exhorts nearly 4,500 people attending the Ft. Collins Colorado Regional Conference to study and use the Book of Mormon. (Photos by Clarke Photography.)

New Mission Presidents Counseled

“I love this work with all my heart,” President Ezra Taft Benson told sixty-eight new mission presidents and their wives June 21. His remarks highlighted the first session of the annual seminar for new mission presidents at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Also present at the first session of the week-long seminar were President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency; most of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric.

Noting that “you are engaged in the greatest work in all the world,” President Benson promised the mission presidents that they would succeed. “You are not called to fail,” he said.

Following his opening remarks, President Benson asked Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve to read an address President Benson had prepared. The talk outlined six principles essential for a mission president’s success.

“The first principle is love,” he said. “Truly love the work in which you are engaged … love your own eternal companion … love your missionaries.” He advised mission presidents to then “teach your missionaries this principle of love.”

Speaking of work, the second principle, he counseled mission presidents to “teach your missionaries the love of work, and you set the example.”

He noted that the third principle is gospel study, and the fourth is prayer. “You and your missionaries should read daily from the Book of Mormon. Pray for divine direction. … Teach your missionaries the power of prayer.”

Regarding faith, the fifth principle, he told those present to have “faith in your missionaries” and “faith in yourself.”

“The sixth and final principle is obedience,” he said. “Simple obedience brings forth the blessings of heaven.”

Following his counsel to the mission presidents, President Benson spoke to the missionaries at the training center.

[photo] From left, President Ezra Taft Benson is greeted by his First Counselor, President Gordon B. Hinckley; Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, at mission presidents’ seminar. (Photo by Clarke Photography.)

Hungary Grants LDS Church Legal Recognition

The Church has been granted full legal recognition by the Hungarian People’s Republic. The document granting recognition was signed by Dr. Imre Miklos, state secretary and president of the republic’s State Office for Church Affairs. Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve, received the document in a ceremony in Budapest on June 24.

Elder Nelson, representing the First Presidency, expressed their gratitude and appreciation “for the careful and thoughtful way in which those leaders had studied and fairly evaluated our tenets, our statutes, and our performance” in discussions leading to the official recognition.

Legal recognition grants the Church permission to conduct worship services, missionary work, and baptisms.

“We will proselyte among them, but we will do so in a very thoughtful manner,” Elder Nelson said. “Our only desire, of course, is to bless the people.”

Two elders and two couples are currently assigned as missionaries in Budapest. On June 25, the first two converts were baptized within Hungary itself. Other Hungarian members had been baptized outside the country.

Also present at the ceremony was Elder Hans B. Ringger of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who is also First Counselor in the Europe Area Presidency. The following evening, Elder Ringger spoke at a fireside attended by eighty-five people.

On Sunday, June 26, the first district conference in Hungary was conducted, with fifty-seven people in attendance.

Among those present was a Hungarian woman who had joined the Church in Germany twenty-three years ago, who has been awaiting the day when the Church would be established in her homeland.

“For twenty-three years, she’s been putting her tithing in a jar, knowing that one day the Church would come to her and find her,” Elder Nelson said. “I welcomed her into the church to which she belonged, and said, ‘You no longer have to keep your membership to yourself.’”

[photo] Hungarian official Dr. Imre Miklos (left) and Elder Russell M. Nelson finalize legal recognition of the Church in Hungary.

Tabernacle Choir Tours Pacific

The Tabernacle Choir returned to Salt Lake City July 5 after completing the most extensive tour in the choir’s 141-year history. During the tour, which covered more than 22,000 miles, the choir performed sixteen concerts in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

The choir also broadcast two of its weekly radio and television programs via satellite from Australia and New Zealand.

The three-week tour, which began with the choir’s June 14 departure from Salt Lake City, marked the first time the choir had performed in the South Pacific.

In addition to an estimated thirty-five thousand people who packed concert halls throughout Australia and New Zealand, another ten thousand attended special firesides in chapels and stake centers in the two countries. Millions more heard the choir sing on radio and television. Many others were aware of the choir’s activities through extensive news coverage.

The choir’s first stop was in Hawaii, where it performed in the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu, and at BYU—Hawaii’s Cannon Center in Laie.

Next, the choir flew to Auckland, New Zealand. There the choir was welcomed by a Maori chorus, who sang to them. Flanked by an enormous Maori war canoe, the choir responded with a moving rendition of the New Zealand national anthem, “God Defend New Zealand,” which was sung partly in English and partly in Maori.

After arriving in Auckland on Sunday, June 19, the choir traveled to Hamilton for a special sacrament service at the Church College of New Zealand. When the choir sang “Come, Come Ye Saints,” the congregation was visibly moved.

Following two subsequent concerts in the Auckland Town Hall, the choir traveled to Wellington, New Zealand, where it gave two performances the evening of June 22. The following day, the choir performed in Christchurch.

After leaving New Zealand, the choir gave afternoon and evening concerts in the Melbourne, Australia, Concert Hall on June 25, and in the Adelaide Festival Theater on June 27.

The choir then flew to Perth for two evening performances June 29, which were followed by performances in Sydney on July 1 and 2.

The last stop on the tour was in Brisbane, where the choir performed July 4 at Expo ‘88, Australia’s world’s fair celebrating that country’s bicentennial. The Tabernacle Choir had been appointed to officially represent the United States at the exposition’s U.S. Day festivities. President Ronald Reagan sent the choir a congratulatory telegram noting that “your presence will undoubtedly add luster to the bicentennial celebrations taking place in Australia,” and describing the group as “America’s most renowned musical ensemble.”

“This tour has touched the lives of common people and dignitaries the length and breadth of these lands,” said Elder John Sonnenberg of the First Quorum of the Seventy, then serving as President of the Pacific Area.

The new Pacific Area President, Elder F. Arthur Kay of the First Quorum of the Seventy, said the tour had left a major impact in the lands “down under.” In a letter to choir director Jerold Ottley, he said that when he looked into the faces of the choir, he knew he was looking at men and women “purified and sanctified through ordinances and covenants and years of gospel living in a pure form of missionary service.”

Wendell M. Smoot, choir president, said, “I can sum up this tour in two words: exhilarating and exhausting.

“We never dreamed how successful our firesides on non-singing nights would be,” he added. “We thought perhaps 200 or 300 people might show up. We were astonished at numbers like 2,000 in Auckland and 1,500 adults in Perth, where total Church membership is 3,000.”

More than 5,000 members and investigators gathered at four simultaneous firesides in Auckland, marking the first time such an event had ever been attempted at different locations.

“We found that members of the Church were starved for anything relating to their faith,” Brother Smoot said.

The tour included a few impromptu performances. When heavy fog brought a five-hour delay in departure at the Auckland airport, director Ottley led the choir in several songs, much to the delight of passengers stranded from other flights.

A similar unscheduled airport performance was given at Sydney, while the choir waited out another delay. All told, the singers spent seventeen hours in airports waiting for delayed flights.

In Perth, a large missionary chorus sang three numbers as choir members entered the airport terminal. The choir again responded in song.

The sponsors of the tours in the two countries, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand, praised the choir and said they were delighted with the performances.

When the choir returned to Salt Lake City, they were greeted at the airport by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and other state and local dignitaries.

“You have done tremendous good for the Church, for the state of Utah, for Salt Lake City, and for the nation as you represented the United States at the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of Australia,” President Hinckley said. “Our prayers have been with you, and to see you here represents an answer to our prayers. God bless you for all the good you have done.”

Correspondent: Michael Otterson, director of public affairs, Pacific Area.

[photos] Photos by Paul and Alice Swensen.

[photos] Insets: Jerold Ottley directs choir, while John Longhurst and Robert Cundick, at right, provide accompaniment. Large photo: Choir performs at concert hall in Melbourne, Australia.

[photos] Top: Missionaries welcome choir with song at Perth airport. Bottom: Choir members leave Sydney Opera House after posing for group photograph.

Saints Make Their Mark in Wetzlar, West Germany

Ask a citizen in Wetzlar about Latter-day Saints, and he will say that he has seen the meetinghouse or has read about the Church in the newspaper. He may also mention some of the many community activities involving the Mormons.

The Lord Mayor of Wetzlar will tell you of the valuable contributions the LDS Church has made to the cultural, social, and political climate of the city.

Wetzlar is the youngest ward in the Frankfurt Germany Stake. The Wetzlar Branch was created in 1963; last year, it became a ward. Before 1963, members from Wetzlar had to travel to neighboring Giessen for Church services.

When Wetzlar became a branch, Oswald Uckermann, a convert, had just moved to the city to work with a newspaper. Brother Uckermann had been a minister for another religion, and following his conversion he became a journalist. Brother Uckermann had been in the city only a month when the new branch was created and he was called as its president.

While 150,000 people lived within the branch boundaries, the new unit struggled with only thirteen members. During the first several years, two of every three new converts left the area, but little by little, the branch grew.

Today the Wetzlar Ward has some 234 members and a sacrament service attendance of more than 50 percent.

By German standards, Wetzlar is considered a small city. It is located about forty miles north of Frankfurt, nestled between the Lahn and Dill rivers. It marks the northern boundary of the Frankfurt stake.

The community has deep historical roots. In the Altstadt (old part of the city), a rich cultural heritage dates back to the twelfth century, when Wetzlar became an imperial city. Medieval marketplaces still stand, complete with narrow streets and alleys and steep flights of steps. Half-timbered houses with slate-gray roofs, decorated beams, and elegantly proportioned doorways stand in timeless settings.

During the summer months, operas, concerts, and musical matinees are held on the open-air stage in Rosengartchen Park near the center of town. Amateur plays are performed in the Kellertheater, which was founded by Karl Beck, a member of the Church since 1963. Brother Beck is a trained dance instructor and actor who earned his living as a precision lens grinder at Wetzlar’s famed Leica manufacturing plant. Today, at the age of seventy-nine, he remains a principal actor at the theater.

Brother Beck and Oswald Uckermann are members of the cultural committee of the Wetzlar City Council. Brother Uckermann is cofounder of the Organization for the Protection of Youth in the city and the adjacent region, and spends time each week manning a youth crisis telephone line.

Another Church member, Jurgen Frome, is a member of the city’s education committee.

The Church carries on many service projects in the area. When the Scouting Program associated with the Aaronic Priesthood was organized in Germany in 1985, the LDS Scout troop in Wetzlar volunteered to clean and maintain a city playground. This has become a continuing project, and each week the Scouts rake and clean the area and repair any broken equipment.

Each year during the carnival season, the Wetzlar Ward conducts a dance that is attended by the city’s officials and carnival royalty. During the evening, medals of distinction are awarded to citizens who have excelled in community service.

These and many other activities help spread the gospel in Wetzlar. “Getting a new chapel is our next goal,” says Wetzlar Bishop Reinhard Voigt, who works for the Church in European administration. “The present location has become too small for us.”

Correspondent: Harold Frome is public communications director for the Europe Area.

[photos] Above: Scene from Old Wetzlar, the city center. Inset: Brother Oswald Uckermann has spent more than 500 hours answering a youth crisis telephone. (Photos by Harold Frome.)

[photos] Top: Members visit at Church entrance after Sunday services. Bottom: Aaronic Priesthood Scouts in Wetzlar clean and repair city playground.

Christus Statue Unveiled at Visitors’ Center

A ten-foot-high marble statue of the resurrected Savior was unveiled June 24 at the Washington Temple Visitors Center by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve. He said the statue will give visitors to the center a “clearer understanding” of the Church’s religious beliefs.

Noting that there are those who sometimes question whether Latter-day Saints are Christians, Elder Oaks said the presence of the reproduction of nineteenth-century Danish master Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus should dispel such notions.

“The scriptures proclaim and we reverently affirm that Jesus Christ is the light and life of the world,” Elder Oaks told the 250 local Church and government leaders assembled for the unveiling. “We love the Lord Jesus Christ. His is the only name by which we can be saved. Our missionaries … testify of him in many nations of the world.”

Elder Oaks told of a friend who visited him in Salt Lake City and who expressed a deeper understanding of the Church after seeing the imposing Christus statue on Temple Square.

“I hope that every person who has ever had doubts about whether we are Christians can achieve that same understanding,” he said.

The Washington Temple Visitors’ Center Christus is the seventh duplicate of the Thorvaldsen original commissioned by the Church. The others are in visitors centers adjacent to temples in Salt Lake City; Los Angeles; Mexico City; Mesa, Arizona; Hamilton, New Zealand; and Laie, Hawaii. The original stands in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Policies and Announcements

Political Neutrality

The following letter, dated 9 June 1988, was sent to priesthood leaders to be read in sacrament meeting. It was signed by the First Presidency:

In this election year, we reiterate the long-standing policy of the Church of strict political neutrality, of not endorsing political candidates or parties in elections, and of not using Church facilities for political purposes, including voter registration.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not favor one political party over another. We have no candidates for political office and we do not undertake to tell people how to vote.

We do urge all voters to involve themselves in the political process and to study carefully and prayerfully candidates’ positions on issues and to vote for those who will most nearly carry out their views of government and its role.

The use of branch, ward, or stake premises, chapels or other Church facilities or equipment in any way for voter registration or political campaign purposes is contrary to our counsel and advice. This stricture applies to speechmaking, class discussion, fund-raising, or preparation or distribution of campaign literature. Church directories or mailing lists should not be made available for any purpose to candidates for distribution of campaign literature or fund solicitation or to those involved in voter registration.

Those who attempt to use Church meetings or facilities or equipment to further their own or another’s political ambitions injure their own cause and do the Church a disservice. We appeal, therefore, to all candidates for public office to take notice of this instruction and to conduct their campaigns in strict compliance with this requirement pertaining to use of Church facilities, equipment, meetings, and membership lists.

We also call on all political candidates who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints neither to state nor imply the endorsement of their candidacy by the Church or its leaders.

The following items appeared in the 1988–2 Bulletin.

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 the local temple clothing center at or near each temple. Questions regarding policy are appropriately directed to the bishop or stake president, who may contact the Temple Department, if necessary, at 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.

Women to Coach Female Sports Teams

Women, not men, are to be called to coach female sports teams, and men are to be called to coach male sports teams. This policy supersedes the references found on pages 17 and 31 of the Physical Fitness, Sports, and Recreation Manual (PBAC0158).

Training Materials for Job Seekers

The Church has recently made available a set of materials designed to help members conduct an effective job search. One set has been provided to each stake and district. The materials consist of six videocassettes (VNVV3621; $36.00 per set of six) and six accompanying workbooks (PEWE0358; $3.25 per set of six). The package is titled JobSearch: The Inside Track.

These optional materials are designed for use in the United States and Canada. Additional information on the use of the package accompanies the mailing.

Braille Hymnbook

The new Braille edition of Hymns (words only) has been issued for the visually impaired and is now available through the Salt Lake Distribution Center (PBBL0378; $10.00 per set). It comes in a set of two large binders.

The How Book for Teaching Children

The How Book for Teaching Children (PBIC0223; $.50 each) is designed to help Primary leaders and teachers and Relief Society nursery leaders improve their teaching skills. Parents also benefit by studying the book and applying the principles as they teach their children at home. Included in the book are sections about teaching by the Spirit, teaching children to pray, the worth of a child, planning and preparing, variety in teaching, classroom management, and other specific teaching skills. A separate section describes the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual characteristics of children at each age. This section suggests ways to use this information to increase teaching effectiveness.

Young Women Handbook

The new Young Women Handbook (PEYW0044) is now available at no charge and is being distributed to appropriate leaders. At present, the handbook is available only in English, from local Church distribution centers. It is the basic approved resource for ward and stake Young Women leaders to help young women accomplish the mission of the Church.

Update: Number of Stakes in the Church

As of 6 July 1988, there were 1,697 stakes in the Church. This represents a 14.3 percent increase over the number of stakes reported in July 1984 and a 3.3 percent increase since July 1987.

Year

Number of Stakes

1984

1,485

1985

1,543

1986

1,603

1987

1,643

1988

1,697

Appointments

Temple Presidents

Edwin B. Jones, of Hooper, Utah, has been called to preside over the Chicago Temple. His wife, Mildred Salisbury Jones, will serve as matron. A retired corporation president, President Jones has served as a regional representative, as a counselor in a stake presidency, and as a bishop. Sister Jones has served as a missionary, a Primary president, and a Relief Society officer and teacher.

Spencer J. Palmer, of Provo, Utah, has been called to serve as president of the Seoul Korea Temple. A professor of religion at Brigham Young University, President Palmer has served as a regional representative, as a mission president, and as a bishop. His wife, Shirley Hadley Palmer, will be temple matron. She has served as an officer and teacher in the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary.

Regional Representatives

Elko Nevada, Reno Nevada North, and Reno Nevada South regions, Wilford Allen Cardon, corporation president, former bishop, mission president.

Tampico Mexico and Victoria Mexico regions, Gabriel Saldivar, bank manager, former stake president.

Recife Brazil Region, Iraja Bandeira Soares, businessman, former stake president.

Panama City Panama Region, Nelson Altamirano, businessman, former stake president.

Mt. Vernon Washington and Columbia River Washington regions, David J. Jones, retired shipbuilding and repair consultant, former stake president.

Tijuana Mexico, Mexicali Mexico, and Hermosillo Mexico regions, Rodrigo Obeso Buelna, owner of an air-conditioning business, former stake president.

Cebu City Philippines and Legaspi Philippines regions, Remus Gasataya Villarete, real estate manager, former stake president.

Bristol England and Southampton England regions, Edward Keith Wigglesworth, college lecturer in art and design, former stake president.