News of the Church

President Benson Celebrates Eighty-ninth Birthday

President Ezra Taft Benson celebrated his eighty-ninth birthday August 4 at a reception in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City.

With his wife, Flora, he greeted General Authorities and admired the many cards he had received from members of the Church throughout the world.

Those attending the reception sang “Happy Birthday” and one of President Benson’s favorite songs, “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies,” with President and Sister Benson joining in.

President Benson expressed gratitude to members who have followed his admonition to read the Book of Mormon. “I rejoice in the progress we’re making in the Church,” he said. “That’s the best birthday present I could ever have.”

When President Benson was asked how he felt, he replied: “I feel great!”

The Bensons finished the day’s celebration at a family dinner with their children and grandchildren—a birthday tradition they have enjoyed for years.

Born 4 August 1899 in Whitney, Idaho, President Benson is the eldest of George T. and Sarah Dunkley Benson’s eleven children.

Utah’s Cove Fort Donated to Church

The deed to historic Cove Fort, the only Utah pioneer fort still standing, was presented to the Church at a noon ceremony at the fort on Saturday, August 13.

Representing the Church at the ceremony was President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency, whose grandfather built the fort and whose father, Bryant S. Hinckley, spent his boyhood years there.

Situated near U.S. Highway 91 in Millard County, the stone fort was built in 1867 by Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, then of Coalville. Brother Hinckley was given the assignment by Brigham Young, President of the Church and the first governor of the Territory of Deseret, later named Utah.

Although Brigham Young had an Indian policy of “feeding rather than fighting,” he deemed it desirable to build forts to protect the colonies outside of the Salt Lake Valley.

In a letter dated 12 April 1867, Brigham Young told Ira Hinckley that the fort needed to be built “to afford protection from the Indians to the Telegraph & mail stations and to travellers.” The fort, with four walls that were each a hundred feet long and eighteen feet high, never suffered an attack.

The property changed hands over the years until the descendants of Ira Hinckley organized the Cove Fort Acquisition and Restoration Foundation and acquired the fort and eleven surrounding acres with water rights. All have now been deeded to the Church.

[photos] President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, speaks at Utah’s Cove Fort during the presentation of the fort to the Church on August 13. President Hinckley’s grandfather built the fort in 1867 at the request of Brigham Young. (Inset) Young visitors at fort admire a wagon built in 1840. (Photos by Mike Cannon.)

[photo] Visitors throng inside the walls of historic Cove Fort near U.S. Highway 91 in Millard County, Utah. (Photo by Mike Cannon.)

Area Presidency Assignments

The First Presidency has announced area presidency assignments for members of the First Quorum of the Seventy. The assignments were effective August 15.

Fourteen members of the quorum (noted with asterisks) are now serving in their new assignments. The others remain in the positions in which they have been serving.

Utah North: President—J. Thomas Fyans; Counselors—William R. Bradford and Victor L. Brown

Utah South: President—Vaughn J. Featherstone; Counselors—Paul H. Dunn and Russell C. Taylor

North America Northwest: President—Rex C. Reeve; Counselors—Robert B. Harbertson and L. Lionel Kendrick*

North America West: President—Gene R. Cook; Counselors—Ted E. Brewerton and Derek A. Cuthbert*

North America Southwest: President—H. Burke Peterson; Counselors—Ronald E. Poelman and Devere Harris

North America Central: President—Loren C. Dunn; Counselors—Jacob de Jager* and John Sonnenberg*

North America Northeast: President—John K. Carmack; Counselors—Keith W. Wilcox and F. Burton Howard*

North America Southeast: President—Rex D. Pinegar; Counselors—J. Richard Clarke* and Robert E. Sackley*

Mexico/Central America: President—Robert E. Wells; Counselors—H. Verlan Andersen and Gardner H. Russell

South America North: President—Charles Didier; Counselors—Angel Abrea and Hartman Rector, Jr.*

Brazil: President—Francis M. Gibbons; Counselors—Helio R. Camargo and Lynn A. Sorensen

South America South: President—Waldo P. Call; Counselors—John H Groberg and L. Aldin Porter

Pacific: President—F. Arthur Kay*; Counselors—Glen L. Rudd* and Douglas J. Martin*

Philippines/Micronesia: President—George I. Cannon; Counselors—George R. Hill III and Philip T. Sonntag*

United Kingdom/Ireland/Africa: President—Jack H. Goaslind; Counselors—Spencer H. Osborn and Alexander B. Morrison

Europe: President—Carlos E. Asay; Counselors—Hans B. Ringger and John R. Lasater

Asia: President—Douglas H. Smith*; Counselors—Adney Y. Komatsu and Royden G. Derrick

Saints Shine in Perth, Western Australia’s “City of Lights”

With a population of nearly 1.5 million, Perth is the largest city in Western Australia. Known as the wildflower state, Western Australia is home to exotic plants like the underground orchid and the parasitic orange-flowered Christmas tree.

Perth’s long, white beaches are popular with families, although everyone keeps an ear open for shark warnings from the helicopter patrol.

Called the “City of Lights” by Friendship 7 Astronauts as they orbited past the city at night in 1962, Perth was first named by British officers and their families who settled the Swan River area in 1829.

The first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in Perth in 1888, and many modern local Church members can trace their ancestry back to the converts of those early missionaries.

Chris Hannan, a member of the Perth Seventh Ward in the Perth Dianella stake, is the great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Eacott, the stranded survivor of an 1830 shipwreck. His grandchildren later joined the Church.

Chris’s grandmother was baptized in the sea in 1924. “It took a few years for grandfather to follow,” she says. “When my parents moved to Whyalla, my mother was a tireless worker in the Church. I remember walking miles to go to meetings.

“The Church helps me appreciate being a wife and mother,” Chris adds. “Teaching skills to children and keeping a journal also help me appreciate the struggles of my Eacott ancestors as they tamed acres of bush at Mandurah while living in a wattle-and-daub hut.”

The Hannans are typical of the mobile Australian population. This is their second stay in the Dianella stake, which covers most suburbs north of the Swan River.

Another LDS pioneer was Sarah Dodemeade, who joined the Church in South Australia in 1898 and later came to Western Australia. She was the only active member in an area missionaries had visited with little success in 1888. Two years later, residents of the gold town of Kalgoorlie stoned the missionaries and ran them out of town, but a kind policeman smuggled them aboard an Adelaide train.

Sarah’s descendants, the Coffey, Elliott, and Leighton families, are today members of the Perth Second and Heathridge wards.

Missionaries returned to the area in 1907, and the Church in Perth gradually grew stronger after their return. Among the new converts were Jane Davis and her three sons, who were baptized in 1909. In 1923, William Davis donated land for the first chapel; and in 1928, a son, Colin Davis, became the first missionary to serve from Western Australia. Jane Davis became Perth’s first Relief Society president in 1925. Davis women in every generation since have served as Relief Society presidents.

Knowledge of gospel principles and high moral standards have made a difference in the lives of many Perth Latter-day Saints. Jason Leighton, a thirteen-year-old deacon in the Heathridge Ward, says his membership has made him “choosy about my friends.” He is sensitive about how they behave and the kind of language they use.

Jason’s friends reflect the cosmopolitan mixture of students in Perth schools. “My best friends are Baptists and Muslims,” he says. “Their parents are pretty strict about keeping Sunday holy.” The only Latter-day Saint in his class, Jason often invites his friends to Young Men activities.

David McMeechan, mission leader for the Heathridge Ward in the Perth Dianella stake, is the only Latter-day Saint fire officer among a crew of a thousand firemen. “Because of the Word of Wisdom,” he says in his broad Scottish accent, “I feel better able to cope with post-fire exhaustion than can the average fireman of my age.”

A member of the Firefighters Christian Fellowship, David often finds himself discussing religion and the gospel with others in the association.

Jim Parsons, a counselor in the Heathridge Ward bishopric, works as a prison officer. Because of his Church affiliation, he is often called “the Reverend” by his fellow officers. When his son, David, left to serve a mission, the other prison officers were surprised to learn of the dedication and personal sacrifice required of missionaries. This insight gave them increased respect for the missionaries they see serving in their own neighbourhoods.

Those missionaries continue to have success. Molly Dexter had been searching for the right church, but until a missionary asked her if she knew about the Apostasy, she knew she had not found it. She was baptized in January 1988.

Another convert, nineteen-year-old Jo Anne Bowden, was baptized in November 1987. She had been teaching at a swimming club on Sunday, and after her baptism she told her employers she couldn’t continue doing so. The classes were moved to Saturdays.

The Church continues to grow in Perth. Eighty-seven-year-old Muriel Dawe of the Southern River stake remembers knocking on Leederville doors when she was only fourteen. “There was persecution then, but we delivered tracts to anyone we could,” she says. Muriel’s parents joined the Church in 1910. Back then, members met in a two-story house where the missionaries lived. Today Perth has two stakes with more than four thousand members.

That growth is due in large part to missionaries and members alike whose exemplary lives and dedicated service are radiating gospel light in the “City of Lights” on the shores of Western Australia.

Correspondent: Jean L. M. Hicks is ward music chairman and Relief Society in-service leader in the Heathridge Ward, Perth Dianella stake.

[photos] Photos by Jean L. M. Hicks

[photo] The Swan River skirts Perth’s growing skyline. Perth’s 1.5 million population makes it Western Australia’s largest city.

[photo] Fay and Dave Wood wear Scout uniforms to bicentennial services.

[photo] John V. Kafarela shows off his latest grape crop.

[photo] Heathridge Ward mission leader David McMeechan is Perth’s only Latter-day Saint fire officer.

LDS Scene

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA— Janice Keene and Lee Pratt have been serving as volunteer spiritual counselors at a women’s prison located within the boundaries of the Richmond Virginia stake. The counseling service began in October 1987 with weekly gospel discussions with interested nonmembers.

Sister Pratt became aware of the need for such a program at the women’s prison through her work on the Interfaith Council Board in Richmond. While there was some initial reluctance among some prison administrators to implement the program, the two LDS counselors now enjoy the close cooperation of prison officials.

NAUVOO, ILLINOIS— Nearly 150 people attended the first Single Adult conference sponsored by the Nauvoo stake. The conference, which was held June 17–19, began with a musical theater presentation titled “The Nauvoo Adventure,” followed by a series of seminars and a Sunday testimony meeting.

JERUSALEM— Martin B. Hickman, former dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences at Brigham Young University, has been named director of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies for the 1988–89 academic year. Brother Hickman replaces David B. Galbraith, who is taking professional development leave after having been involved with BYU’s Study Abroad programs in Israel for the past twenty years.

George A. Horton, Jr., former chairman of BYU’s Ancient Scripture Department, has been appointed associate director of the center.

LOS ANGELES— The Church’s “One Family, One Day” radio spot illustrating that the average family spends less than five minutes a day talking to each other has earned Bonneville Media Communications a National ADDY Award. The award, which was earned in competition with more than 1,800 national entries, was presented by the American Advertising Federation at its annual awards ceremony held June 19 in Los Angeles, California.

A Conversation about Military Relations

Young LDS men and women entering military service have specific needs and face singular challenges. The Church recognizes this and offers orientation programs and literature to help members stay close to the Church and live gospel principles while serving their country.

To learn more about these military orientation programs, the Ensign spoke with Robert Crawford, executive secretary to the Military Relations Committee.

Q: What counsel does the Church give to young people about to enter military service?

A: For the past seventeen years, a preservice Church orientation program has been offered for Latter-day Saints preparing for military service. This orientation has been presented primarily in the United States and Canada, and it is also used in England, Australia, and New Zealand. Throughout the world, there are approximately thirty thousand members serving in the military at any one time. About 90 percent are serving in the U.S. military.

The goal of this orientation is to help young people, especially, maintain Church activity and gospel standards and be an appropriate example to others while they are in the service.

Q: How does the orientation work?

A: Regional representatives are responsible for encouraging stakes to carry out all phases of the military relations program. Orientation instruction kits are distributed to Church regions throughout the United States and are made available in the countries mentioned.

When a member is about to enter military service, he or she should attend a preservice Church orientation class. The two-hour session covers several subjects, including how to serve one’s country and be an active Church member at the same time.

The orientation shows how to locate the ward or branch nearest one’s assigned military base and stresses the importance of keeping in touch with those at home. Servicemen and women are also advised to take advantage of Church publications by having them sent to their duty stations.

Members are warned of the temptations they will be exposed to in the service and given counsel to help avoid or overcome them. The orientation discusses the wearing of temple garments in the military and appropriate ways members can share the gospel with those with whom they serve. The importance of observing Church standards, including living the Word of Wisdom and avoiding profanity, is stressed.

The instructor also offers advice regarding the constructive use of leisure time and the wisdom of delaying marriage until the early stages of military duty have been completed.

During the orientation, members are given a pocket-sized set of Church publications, including the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price; Principles of the Gospel, which contains explanations of gospel subjects and selected hymns; several pamphlets; and a Church identity tag to wear with the military identification tags.

Q: How do members about to enter military service take advantage of this program?

A: A young person about to enlist for military duty can notify his or her bishop directly or through the home teachers, quorum leader, or parents. The bishop then makes an appointment for the enlistee with the preservice Church orientation instructor.

Although the program is being carried out faithfully in many areas, we’re not getting a hundred percent participation. Many young men and women still enter the military without the benefit of this important orientation. We encourage stake presidents and bishops to make a special effort to see that the program is available to their young people who anticipate military service.

Once a member is in basic training, he or she is given the opportunity to attend a second, expanded LDS orientation session, which is conducted by the stake or unit serving the military base. If this orientation isn’t being offered in the basic training center the member is assigned to, he or she may contact the Military Relations Committee at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

Q: What other aids are offered?

A: We maintain a list of LDS units for those in the military in non–English-speaking missions. Many parents and grandparents call to ask where their servicemen and women can attend church. We’re happy to provide this information.

Q: How many LDS chaplains are available to serve members in uniform?

A: Right now we have sixteen chaplains on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, thirty-one in the Army, and twelve in the Navy. There are also sixty-four chaplains serving in the military reserves. Because of the differing chaplain structure in the military services of other countries, only U.S. forces have LDS chaplains.

[photo] Robert Crawford, executive secretary to the Military Relations Committee. (Photo by Philip S. Shurtleff.)

Deaf Singles Conference Held in Los Angeles

The first singles conference for deaf Latter-day Saints was held in Los Angeles, California, on July 8–10.

Nearly one hundred single members with hearing impairments attended the three-day conference, the theme of which was “Feast for Friendship.”

Participants registered Friday, July 8, at the Westwood Ward chapel, then attended an afternoon session at the Los Angeles Temple. A get-acquainted party was held that evening.

On Saturday, a series of seminars was held at the Chatsworth stake center. Seminar subjects included prayer, spiritual security, exaltation, missionary work, and studying the Book of Mormon. Other seminars reflected the needs of deaf single adults in activities such as career planning, single parenting, preparing for emergencies, and physical exercise.

Fifteen seminar speakers offered their advice and counsel. Only two of the speakers had normal hearing: William Vincent, former president of the Chatsworth stake; and Doug Hind, manager of the Special Curriculum and Coordination Committee for Church Members with Special Needs.

At a sacrament and testimony meeting Sunday morning in the San Fernando Valley (Deaf) Ward chapel, Brother Gerald Iba, regional representative of the San Fernando and Cerritos regions, spoke.

Brother Iba stressed that the two great commandments to love God and to love your neighbor applied not only to members of the Church, but to everyone. “Friendship and kindness are like a blacksmith making a chain, one link connected to another,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. He challenged those at the conference to share what they had learned and to continue the friendships they had made there.

Correspondent: Lucille R. Blackwell is Primary president and public relations coordinator of the San Fernando Valley (Deaf) Ward, Los Angeles California Chatsworth Stake.

[photo] Norman and Heidi Shipley use sign language to present a “How to Prepare for Disasters” seminar. (Photo by Laura Bowman.)

[photo] Beverly Whetten (left) in discussion with other panelists, from left: Kathy Sutton, Marcie Duge, and Joy Ann Burdett, during “Feast for Friendship” conference. (Photo by Laura Bowman.)

Update: Number of Countries with Organized Wards and Branches


Number of Countries











Between 1983 and 1987, the number of countries with organized wards and branches of the Church increased by 7.8 percent, reflecting the continuing efforts of the Church’s worldwide missionary program.

Policies and Announcements

Preparing for Emergencies

The following letter, dated 24 June 1988, was sent to priesthood leaders. It was signed by the First Presidency.

Occasionally people speculate about possible disasters, which speculation engenders fear and can cause members to become caught up in emergency preparedness efforts that are not only costly but go beyond the basics consistently taught by the First Presidency. Leaders should refer to Preparing for and Responding to Emergencies: Guidelines for Church Leaders. Member preparations require wise planning, diligence, and provident living. If circumstances warrant, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve will provide additional guidance on such matters through established priesthood channels.

We continue to encourage members to store sufficient food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel for at least one year. We have not laid down an exact formula for what should be stored. However, we suggest that members concentrate on essential foods that sustain life, such as grains, legumes, cooking oil, powdered milk, salt, sugar or honey, and water. Most families can achieve and maintain this basic level of preparedness. The decision to do more rests with the individual.

We encourage you to follow this counsel with the assurance that a people prepared through obedience to the commandments of God need not fear.

Church Magazines to be Polywrapped, Mailed Together

Beginning with the November and December issues, Church magazines mailed to subscribers in the United States and Canada will be commingled and polywrapped. This means that all Church magazines going to the same address will be packaged together in a single, protective polyurethane bag and will arrive at subscribers’ homes at the same time.

Mailing a single package will reduce postage and handling costs and help keep subscription rates as low as possible. The polywrap will also reduce the possibility of damage to the magazines during the delivery process. Further, instead of addressing each magazine individually, an ink-jet printer will label only one in each package.

This new mailing system makes it imperative that Church magazines have accurate addresses for their subscribers. When subscribers move, they should cut out an old address label and return it with the appropriate change of address information to ensure that the right magazines will be sent to the new address.

Anyone who has questions about the new magazine mailing system may call 1-800-453-3860 outside of Utah, or, for those living in Utah, 1-800-662-3756. Ask for Magazine Circulation.