News of the Church


German Democratic Republic to Welcome Missionary Work

Someday soon, a few prospective missionaries will open letters from Salt Lake City to find that they have been called to serve in the German Democratic Republic (DDR). And in the DDR, young people will begin receiving mission calls—some for missions outside their own country.

Both of those momentous changes will come about as the result of meetings between President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and top officials of the government of the DDR held late in October.

The principles of the agreement that will permit the exchange of missionaries were agreed upon during meetings with German officials, including Erich Honecker, chairman of the State Council for the DDR, and Kurt Loeffler, state secretary for Religious Affairs. Details of the agreement are being worked out in discussions between Secretary Loeffler and leaders of the Church’s Europe Area.

President Monson was accompanied at the meetings by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Hans B. Ringger, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and a counselor in the Europe Area presidency; and local Church officers.

During the meetings, President Monson said, “Both Chairman Honecker and Mr. Loeffler agreed that allowing missionaries from other countries to serve in the DDR and permitting Latter-day Saints from the DDR to serve as missionaries in other countries will strengthen friendships among nations.”

President Monson added: “Mr. Loeffler expressed his belief that Latter-day Saint missionaries traditionally become goodwill ambassadors, not only for their native countries, but for the countries in which they serve missions. The experiences of thousands of missionaries who have served throughout the world convince us he is correct in his assessment.”

Mr. Loeffler said that Latter-day Saints in the DDR have the government’s respect because they are law-abiding, loyal citizens who believe in strong families, have a strong work ethic, and desire world peace.

“Obviously, there are differences of belief that separate us,” President Monson said, “but there are many more things that unite us, including those items Mr. Loeffler mentioned.”

Speaking at Brigham Young University a few days after the meetings in Germany, President Monson called the last week in October 1988 “one of the greatest weeks in my life.

“It was a week of wonder. I confess the hand of God in the events of the week.”

President Monson recalled that many years ago, on a visit to the DDR, he had felt moved to promise faithful members that they would one day enjoy all the blessings enjoyed by Church members elsewhere. At the time, that promise gave him pause to think, he said, but now it is coming true.

While in the DDR, President Monson presided over the dedication of a new stake center in Dresden; nearly thirty thousand people had attended an open house in advance of the dedication. A meetinghouse was also dedicated in Zwickau. The Church has had a temple operating in Freiberg since 1985.

Along with announcing the agreement on missionaries, President Monson announced that the government of the DDR will allow Church members to use various facilities for youth conferences and other Church meetings.

It was also announced that a BYU performing group, the Lamanite Generation, has been invited to perform in the German Democratic Republic in 1989.

President Monson and leaders of German Democratic Republic

[photo] President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, presents a sculpture honoring family values to Erich Honecker, chairman of the State Council of the German Democratic Republic. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve was also present, along with Henry J. Burkhardt, president of the Freiberg Temple; Manfred Schutze, president of the Leipzig stake; and Frank Apel, president of the Freiberg stake.

[photo] While in the German Democratic Republic, President Monson dedicated this stake center in Dresden.

Use Book of Mormon to Counter Error, President Benson Teaches

“Use the Book of Mormon in handling objections to the Church,” President Ezra Taft Benson told nearly ten thousand Latter-day Saints attending a multistake conference in San Diego on October 30.

“God reveals his will today to the Church through the prophets,” President Benson said, explaining that the Book of Mormon provides answers to modern questions. He outlined a four-step method for using the Book of Mormon to deal with objections to Church teachings:

  1. 1.

    Understand the objection.

  2. 2.

    Give the answer as provided by the scriptures.

  3. 3.

    Show that the correctness of the answer depends on whether we have revelation through modern prophets.

  4. 4.

    Show that whether we have revelation through modern prophets depends on whether the Book of Mormon is true.

“Every person is eventually backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand,” President Benson said.

The President said that the Book of Mormon is the great standard Latter-day Saints are to use to show that Joseph Smith is a prophet. The Book of Mormon’s great mission is to bring us to Christ.

In his opening remarks, President Benson testified that Joseph Smith was the instrument God used to translate the sacred record of a fallen people. “Those people never had the book,” he said. “It was meant for us.” He explained that the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ, confounds false doctrine, lays down contentions, and fortifies the humble followers of Christ.

The Book of Mormon does not contain things that are pleasing to the world, so the world is not interested in it, President Benson said. He noted that our homes are not as strong as they could be if we are not using the Book of Mormon to bring our children to Christ. Likewise, our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of God in that sacred book.

The conference was held in two sessions at the San Diego Convention Center, with more than 5,400 people attending the morning session and more than 4,500 the afternoon session.

Sister Flora Benson accompanied her husband and spoke briefly at the morning session. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Gene R. Cook of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and their wives, Sister Barbara Perry and Sister Janelle Cook, also spoke at the conference. President Thomas E. Brown of the California San Diego Mission spoke as well.

During the morning session, Elder Perry encouraged everyone, especially the youth, to study the lives of the prophets and to honor and respect them. In the afternoon, he spoke about “reuniting and reinstitutionalizing” the family. He urged fathers to develop patience, gentleness, and love unfeigned toward family members and to be sensitive and willing to share the burden of taking care of children.

Elder Cook exhorted members to study the scriptures daily—individually and as a family.

President Brown urged the audience to be determined and not to give up, even though some investigators might take years to join the Church.

At the close of the morning session, President Benson returned to the microphone to comment: “God bless the temple that is going to be erected here.” After a slight pause, he added “And soon, I hope!”

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

More Book of Mormon Translations

The Church has recently released editions of selections from the Book of Mormon in four additional languages—Shona, Lingala, Urdu, and Gilbertese—bringing to seventy-five the number of languages beyond English in which it is published. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population speaks at least one of these seventy-five languages.

Shona and Lingala are African languages. Approximately 6,500,000 people in Zimbabwe speak Shona, and 10,700,000 in Zaire speak Lingala. Urdu is spoken in Pakistan by about 45,500,000. Gilbertese is the language of Kiribati (bati is pronounced bas), formerly known as the Gilbert Islands, a country of 62,000. Tarawa, site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, is the chief island. Literacy is quite high in each country.

Two more new editions of Book of Mormon selections—in Palauan and Chamorro—are nearing completion. Palauan is the chief language of Palau, a newly independent nation of 14,000 in the Pacific. It is the western most island group of the Caroline Islands. Chamorro is the native language of Guam, and approximately 74,000 people speak it. A territory of the United States, Guam is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana islands.

Appointments

Regional Representatives

Thatcher Arizona and Tucson Arizona regions, John Richard Peterson, a dentist and former stake president.

Cordoba Argentina, Tucuman Argentina, and Mendoza Argentina regions, Robert Nestor Olaiz, a teacher in the Church Educational System and a former district president.

Monterrey Mexico, Libertad Mexico, and Saltillo Mexico regions, Robert T. Guzman Rodriguez, a physician and former stake president.

Whitney Store Wins Major U.S. Preservation Award

The Church has received a President’s Historic Preservation Award for the restoration of the Newel K. Whitney store in Kirtland, Ohio.

On November 18, U.S. President Ronald Reagan presented the award to Elder John K. Carmack. Elder Carmack, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, is Managing Director of the Church’s Historical Department.

The award is part of a national program to honor the preservation of historic sites. The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation—an independent federal agency—sponsor the program, which also includes the National Historic Preservation Award for federally assisted projects.

Only nine other projects and programs received the President’s award, while eighteen received the national award. The council received entries from forty-five states and Puerto Rico. To be considered for an award, an entry’s preservation must have been completed in the last ten years, and the project must preserve a property listed in or eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Newel K. Whitney store, built in 1827, was more than just a mercantile establishment. After Newel Whitney embraced the restored gospel, he gave nearly all his time and means to the development of the Church. From 1832 to 1834, his shop was part of the United Firm, an organization that consolidated mercantile activities of the Church to hold property in trust, provide for the poor, and establish new stores in Ohio and Missouri. It continued as an economic center in Kirtland until 1838, when Brother Whitney moved to Missouri. From 1832 to 1833, the second floor and part of the first also served as Joseph and Emma Smith’s home.

In 1980, the Church purchased the store, then restored it as a museum to help preserve the early history of the Kirtland area and of the Church.

The five-member jury who selected the store for the award said that the restoration project “demonstrates careful research, contributes to an understanding of how one particular religious group moved across America, and shows how carefully preserved religious heritage can contribute … to the life of a community.” The Church was commended for creating a house museum, a type of museum that attempts to evoke and recreate the life of a certain period or area.

Also credited at the awards ceremony were Church Historical Department staff members who directed the restoration: Glen M. Leonard, chairman, Historic Sites Task Group; Paul L. Anderson and Richard W. Jackson, project supervisors; Donald L. Enders, researcher and coordinator for furnishing the store; T. Michael Smith, archaeologist and researcher; Steven L. Olsen, historian; and Mark N. Gilles, historical architect.

[photo] The restored Newel K. Whitney store was one of ten projects across the United States winning a national award. (Photo by Jed Clark.)

Church Organizes New Area in Utah

The First Presidency has announced the organization of a new Area in Utah.

Three new Areas now cover the state of Utah and parts of surrounding states. The new Utah Central Area covers a band through the middle of Utah that includes both the state’s most populous section—Salt Lake County—and its least populated part—the Great Salt Lake desert bordering Nevada. The Utah South Area covers most of Utah south of Salt Lake County, as well as small parts of Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado. The Utah North Area covers most of Utah north of Salt Lake County, as well as the southeastern corner of Idaho and the southwestern corner of Wyoming.

As in other Areas of the Church, presidencies have been called from among members of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Elder J. Thomas Fyans is serving as President of the new Utah Central Area, with Elder Albert Choules, Jr., and Elder Monte J. Brough as his counselors. President Fyans had previously served as President of the Utah North Area.

The new President of the Utah North Area is Elder William R. Bradford. His counselors are Elder Victor L. Brown and Elder Gerald E. Melchin.

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone remains as President of the Utah South Area, with Elder Paul H. Dunn and Elder Russell C. Taylor as his counselors.

The Utah Central Area consists of 139 stakes divided into 24 regions. The Utah North Area contains 120 stakes divided into 27 regions. The Utah South Area includes 138 stakes in 24 regions.

BYU School of Management Now Bears Marriott Name

The Marriott family name has been associated with a number of successful enterprises—restaurants, catering and food services, hotels. Now it is associated with the school of management at Brigham Young University.

University President Jeffrey R. Holland announced during ceremonies October 28 that the management school’s name is now the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott School of Management. President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, represented BYU’s Board of Trustees in unveiling a plaque that will serve as a memorial to the Marriotts.

President Hinckley said that it is appropriate that the school be named for two people who exemplify the ideals of industry and integrity the school endeavors to teach.

The renaming of the school coincided with the announcement of a J. Willard Marriott Foundation gift to the school.

Paul H. Thompson, dean of the school of management, said the funds might be used to support scholarship at both the faculty and student levels. He said BYU’s school of management hopes to become known for its leadership in teaching international management, in focusing on issues of ethics in management, and in teaching and promoting entrepreneurship.

At an award dinner following the ceremonies, J. Willard Marriott was posthumously honored by the school of management as its International Executive of the Year.

Manaus Brazil Stake Is Number 1,700

When the Manaus Brazil Stake was created in mid-October, it became the 1,700th stake in the Church, the 57th in Brazil, and the first in the Amazon Basin. The new stake was organized by Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve, assisted by Elder Helio R. Camargo of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who is also First Counselor in the Brazil Area Presidency.

Eduardo Alfieri Soares Contieri was called to be stake president. A retired Brazilian Air Force officer, he is now a businessman. President Contieri and his wife, Josefina, recently served together in the Brazil Brasilia Mission, where he was president.

Manaus, an island port city some two hundred miles south of the equator, has a population of about one and one-half million people. A port of free trade and former rubber-producing center, Manaus lies on the banks of the Negro River a few miles from where it flows into the Amazon.

Baptisms in Manaus account for half of the one hundred baptisms per month in the Brazil Brasilia Mission.

A Conversation about Meetinghouse Libraries

Meetinghouse libraries offer a wide variety of resources for individual members, families, and leaders.

To find out more about what they offer, the Ensign spoke with Jack Pickrell, Church coordinator of meetinghouse libraries.

Q.: Could you explain the purpose of meetinghouse libraries?

A.: The library is an instructional resource for teachers, families, and leaders.

Q.: Teachers may be using library materials every Sunday. But how can these resources be of use to others?

A.: Members can borrow instructional materials and equipment for use in family home evening, in preparing a talk, or in giving a lesson.

The Church has made a wide range of instructional materials available for church and home use, including beautiful productions like Where Jesus Walked and videos of Church leaders giving counsel in general conference and in fireside broadcasts.

Q.: How can members who aren’t called as teachers know what is available?

A.: Many librarians have open houses or conduct tours to show individual members what is available and how to check it out. Some librarians also prepare an inventory and make a copy available to each family.

The library should be available to full-time missionaries and stake missionaries, who follow the same check-out procedures as any other member.

Members really fund the libraries, since the library budget comes from budgets of the units that share the building. The meeting house librarian sees that the library is stocked and equipped so that it can serve all the members.

Q.: What items are stocked in the library?

A.: The meetinghouse librarian is concerned with three categories of items. First is equipment. In a new building, the equipment is ordered while the building is still under construction. In an existing building, the librarian orders new items from time to time through the Church Buying Guide in order to upgrade or replace equipment.

Second is instructional material—pictures, posters, charts, filmstrips, maps, videocassettes, and similar items listed in lesson manuals. A publication titled A Listing of Instructional Materials Called for in the 1989 Courses of Study lists all of these resources by course number and lesson number. Any additional materials purchased to enhance lessons should be Church-approved items available through the distribution centers, rather than commercially produced items. The potential exists for copyright violations when commercially produced materials are used.

The third category of materials in the library is supplies like chalk and mimeograph paper. These can be purchased locally or through Church distribution centers.

Q.: What about books?

A.: The Church participates in paying for library equipment, but the materials and supplies, including books, are funded by local units. The Church provides guidelines on categories of books that might be purchased.

It is recommended that issues of the Ensign, the New Era, the Friend, and the Church News for the past ten years be included in meetinghouse libraries, as well as the periodical indexes to these Church publications. Each issue of the Bulletin, sent by the Church to local leaders, should also be available in the library.

Q.: How is the meetinghouse library governed?

A.: A library board, consisting of the bishops of the wards using the building, governs the library. The agent bishop serves as chairman. If the library serves the stake center, then the board includes the stake president. He may appoint one of the bishops as chairman.

Each library has a meetinghouse librarian, who directs the overall operation of the library. The library should also have an associate librarian from each ward, and as many assistant librarians from each ward as needed.

These librarians need to be trained. Training is the primary responsibility of the stake director of libraries.

Q.: It appears that each meetinghouse library is meant to be an independent unit.

A.: That’s correct. Distances between buildings and the needs of a constantly growing Church population make this autonomy necessary. Materials from one library might be made available to members from other units in the stake, but each library should basically stand on its own and provide materials and equipment needed by the people who meet in the building.

[photo] Jack Pickrell, coordinator of meetinghouse libraries for the Church. (Photo by Philip S. Shurtleff.)

When in Rome, Bring Your Farsi-Hungarian-Polish-Arabic Dictionary

The opening prayer might be in Polish, Farsi, Hungarian, or English. The sacrament services will be conducted in English, but afterward there may be Primary in Polish or Farsi, perhaps a Sunday School class in Hungarian, Tagalog, or Arabic, and a Gospel Doctrine class whose teacher speaks English with a Liberian lilt.

A converted three-story apartment house in the northeastern section of Rome serves as the meetinghouse for the International Branch of the Italy Rome Mission. The multilingual branch shares the meetinghouse with Rome’s Nomentano Branch. In the morning, meetings proceed in Italian; but in the afternoon, worship goes on in as many as seventeen different languages.

Almost without exception, members of the International Branch are refugees or students from other countries. Eighty percent have been members of the Church for less than a year. Many are on United Nations’ waiting lists to emigrate to the United States, Canada, or Australia, so the turnover among members is high. For example, Peyman Jazayeri, an Iranian refugee, was taught, baptized, ordained to the priesthood, and then emigrated to the United States with his family—all in less than two and a half months.

Lee Wohlgemuth, a United States government employee working in Rome, presides over the branch. His wife, Marti, serves as Primary president and lends her support in other capacities as well. With their seven children, they help bring stability to a branch whose population hovers at just over one hundred, despite more than sixty-five baptisms in the first ten months of 1988. Most of those new converts have now moved away.

Twenty-four-year-old Faramarz Shirevand, second counselor in the branch presidency, has been around longer than most. A refugee from Iran, he spoke neither Italian nor English when he arrived in Rome. Now he can conduct business in either language. He was baptized in November 1987. He hopes to emigrate to Sweden, where his brother lives. But he also hopes to serve a mission.

Kazimierz Gajda says, “I’m convinced that God guided my life so I could come here to Italy and learn about the Church.” He considers it a small miracle that he was able to obtain a passport for his whole family, arrange his affairs, and leave his native Poland—all within three months. That is unheard of, he says. “When I talk about that with others, even I can’t believe it happened.”

The family found the gospel when Kazimierz spotted a sign in Rome advertising English classes. It was a language he thought his family would need if they realized their dream to emigrate to Canada. The classes were taught by LDS missionaries. Kazimierz obtained a testimony and joined the Church first; his wife, Mariola, was drawn in as she saw the changes in him.

There are other stories of great faith in the branch as well. At the end of the first fast and testimony meeting after his baptism, Jordanian convert Anis Karim Jaser bore a powerful testimony of the divinity of Christ and the truthfulness of the Church. For the Abdolreza Afshar family, refugees from Iran, baptism had to be delayed because Abdolreza’s wife, Mehri, was ill. But when the time finally came, he was baptized, confirmed, and ordained a priest. Then he reentered the font to baptize his wife and son.

Many of the members have known hardship and tragedy in making their way to Rome; many have lost loved ones to death or do not know where other family members now are. And life is hard while they wait to emigrate.

Travel to and from Church services is time-consuming and expensive on their limited budgets. A number of the converts from eastern Europe, including the first counselor in the branch presidency, live in Ladispoli, about sixty kilometers north of Rome. They are now organized into a dependent branch. Soon, they hope, they will be an independent branch.

Meanwhile, visitors to the International Branch’s Sunday services might wonder at the blending of accents and cultures, but there is no mistaking the Spirit that is there. Out of what might have been a modern-day Babel, the Lord has brought a unity of faith.

Correspondent: Leonard J. Fabiano, Jr., formerly a missionary in the Italy Rome Mission.

[photo] Kazimierz, Artur, Mariola, and Robert Gajda, originally from Poland, are members of Rome’s International Branch. (Photo by Don. L. Searle.)

[photo] Faramarz Shirevand is a refugee from Iran. (Photo by Don. L. Searle.)

Scouters Upgrade Camp, Name It for President Kimball

During the past two years, LDS Boy Scouts and their leaders in southern Nevada have improved a camp facility to increase its capacity by more than ten times. As a result of their efforts, the camp has been renamed in honor of President Spencer W. Kimball.

On Sunday, 30 October 1988, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy formally dedicated the Spencer W. Kimball Scout Reservation twenty-five miles southwest of Las Vegas. Formerly Camp Potosi, the reservation is 1,120 acres of high desert land on the southwest flank of Mt. Potosi.

Working weekends with their fathers and leaders, LDS Scouts added sixty-eight troop campsites to the original five sites, for a total of seventy-three. The expansion and development included increasing the water storage capacity from five thousand gallons to sixty thousand, blazing and grooming fifteen miles of fully improved trails, and building an amphitheater that will accommodate three thousand people.

Nevada Scout executive Dan Gasparo commented, “The forty-thousand manhours of labor and $250,000 funding provided by members of the LDS Church have accelerated the development of this great reservation by at least ten years.”

The dedication of the camp was the highlight of a five-day “Firm as the Mountains” LDS encampment, attended by more than 2,600 Scouts and Scouters. At the dedication, sculptor Ray R. Fullmer, a member of the Las Vegas Sixty-seventh Ward, donated a large bronze bust of President Kimball, which will be displayed at the entrance of the reservation.

Correspondent: Melvin J. Wilcox, Communications Coordinator, Southern Nevada Multiregion Public Communications Council.

[photo] Scouts and leaders lift into place the sign at the entrance of the Spencer W. Kimball Scout Reservation. (Photo by M. J. Wilcox.)

LDS Scene

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The late Belle Smith Spafford, general president of the Relief Society from 1945 to 1974, was honored recently by the National Council of Women for her distinguished service to women. At the national council’s centennial meeting, Sister Spafford was posthumously cited for her outstanding contributions to the regional, national, and international councils of women and for her contributions to the advancement of women throughout the world. While serving as general president of the Relief Society, she also served a two-year term as president of the National Council of Women. Florence Smith Jacobsen accepted the award on behalf of Sister Spafford. Sister Jacobsen is former general president of the Young Women organization of the Church and a member of the National Council.

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA—The Richmond Virginia Stake has been recognized for its service to the homeless. The executive director of the city’s Street Center presented the stake with a plaque at a Saturday evening session of stake conference. The plaque honored the service of stake members at the center since 1985. More than 2,500 people have been involved in the stake project. Some members travel more than one hundred miles when it is their ward’s or branch’s turn to prepare and serve breakfast to homeless people at the Street Center.

Update: 1987–88 Seminary Enrollment

Program

Enrollment

Released-time

94,526

Early-morning

100,090

Home-study

45,847

Special-education

1,972

TOTAL

242,435

Year-end figures for the 1987–88 school year show that nearly a quarter of a million pupils were enrolled in LDS seminary programs worldwide. The largest number of them, just under 41.3 percent, were enrolled in early-morning seminary. Some 38.9 percent took released-time seminary classes, and 18.9 percent took home-study seminary courses. Special-education seminary students made up 0.8 percent of the total.

Enrollment in LDS institute programs was 120,913 students.