News of the Church

By Louise R. Shaw


New Assignments, Releases in Seventies’ Presidency and Quorums

Two members of the First Quorum of the Seventy were called to the Presidency of the Seventy during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference on September 30. Also, eight members of the First Quorum of the Seventy were given Emeritus General Authority status, and eight members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were released. These changes necessitated the reorganization of the Sunday School and Young Men General Presidencies.

Called to Preside

Elder Rex D. Pinegar and Elder Carlos E. Asay were called to the Presidency of the Seventy, succeeding Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock.

Both Elder Pinegar and Elder Asay have served in Church leadership positions for many years. Elder Pinegar has been a General Authority for seventeen years, and Elder Asay for more than thirteen.

In addition to serving as a counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, Elder Pinegar had been serving as President of the Church’s North America Southeast Area. He was called to be a member of the First Council of the Seventy on 6 October 1972, while serving as president of the Virginia-North Carolina Mission.

Elder Rex D. Pinegar

Elder Rex D. Pinegar, called to the Presidency of the Seventy, has been a General Authority since 1972.

Elder Asay has served for three years as President of the Church’s Europe Area. A member of the First Quorum of the Seventy since 3 April 1976, he served in its Presidency from 1980 to 1986. He is former Executive Director of the Missionary and Curriculum departments.

Elder Carlos E. Asay

Elder Carlos E. Asay, called to the Presidency of the Seventy, has been a General Authority since 1976.

Sunday School General Presidency

Released as the Sunday School General Presidency were Elder Robert L. Simpson as president and Elder Devere Harris and Elder Derek A. Cuthbert as counselors. Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, the new general president of the Sunday School, previously served in that calling from 1979 to 1986. He was called as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy on 4 October 1986, serving as Executive Director of the Curriculum Department. He has served as a General Authority for twelve years, since 1977.

Elder Derek A. Cuthbert, now first counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, served in a variety of leadership positions in his native England before being called to the First Quorum of the Seventy on 1 April 1978, more than eleven years ago.

Elder Ted E. Brewerton, second counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency, is a Canadian who has lived a number of years in Central and South America in connection with Church assignments. He was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy on 30 September 1978, eleven years ago.

Young Men General Presidency

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy remains as general president of the Young Men, with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the First Quorum of the Seventy as his new first counselor and Elder Monte J. Brough of the Second Quorum of the Seventy as second counselor. Elder Pinegar and Elder Robert B. Harbertson were released as counselors in the presidency.

Elder Featherstone was called as president of the Young Men in November 1985. Before being called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1976, he had served more than four years as a counselor to the Presiding Bishop. He has served more than seventeen years as a General Authority.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, new first counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, is former president of Brigham Young University and a former Church commissioner of education. He was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April this year.

Elder Monte J. Brough, second counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, served as a member of the Young Men General Board and as president of the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission before his call as a General Authority in April 1989.

Given Emeritus Status

The emeritus status for General Authorities was first announced in 1978. The First Presidency said then that “this designation will be given from time to time” to General Authorities who “are not being released but will be excused from active service.” It was explained that emeritus status would be given in consideration of such factors as age and health.

Eight members of the First Quorum of the Seventy were granted emeritus status at this conference:

Elder Theodore M. Burton

—Elder Theodore M. Burton, eighty-two, a General Authority since 8 October 1960. He is a former Managing Director of the Genealogy (now Family History) Department, supervisor of Church programs in Europe, and a former president of the West German and European missions. He has served for twenty-nine years as a General Authority.

Elder Robert L. Simpson

—Elder Robert L. Simpson, seventy-four, a General Authority since 30 September 1961, when he was called as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. He has served as general Sunday School president and Managing Director of the Temple Department, Pacific Area President, president of the Los Angeles Temple, and president of the New Zealand and East London missions. He has been a General Authority for twenty-eight years.

Elder Victor L. Brown

—Elder Victor L. Brown, seventy-five, a General Authority since 30 September 1961, when he became Second Counselor to the Presiding Bishop. He served as Presiding Bishop for thirteen years until his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy on 6 April 1985. He was a counselor in the Utah North Area Presidency and previously served as president of the Salt Lake Temple. He has been a General Authority for twenty-eight years.

Elder Paul H. Dunn

—Elder Paul H. Dunn, sixty-five, a General Authority since 6 April 1964. He was First Counselor in the Utah South Area Presidency and Managing Director of the Priesthood Department (Auxiliaries). Earlier, Elder Dunn served in the Presidency of the Seventy, from 1976 to 1980, and as president of the New England Mission. He has served as a General Authority for twenty-five years.

Elder J. Thomas Fyans

—Elder J. Thomas Fyans, seventy-one, a General Authority since 6 April 1974. He was President of the Utah Central Area and Managing Director of the Family History Department, former President of the Utah North and South America South areas, a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1976 to 1985, and former Executive Director of the Correlation and Genealogy departments. He has been a General Authority for more than fifteen years.

Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter

—Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter, seventy-one, a General Authority since 4 April 1975. He has been a member of the Presidency of the Seventy since 17 February 1985, a capacity in which he had also served from 1978 to 1980. He was Executive Director of the Temple Department and served as a General Authority for more than fourteen years.

Royden G. Derrick

—Royden G. Derrick, seventy-four, a General Authority since 1 October 1976. He was a counselor in the Asia Area Presidency, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from 1980 to 1984, former Executive Director of the Genealogy Department, and former president of the Seattle Temple. He has served as a General Authority for thirteen years.

Elder Rex C. Reeve

—Elder Rex C. Reeve, seventy-four, a General Authority since 1 April 1978. He was President of the North America Northwest Area, Managing Director of the Temple Department, and former President of the North America Northeast Area. He has been a General Authority for more than eleven years.

Given Releases

The eight members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy who were released at the October general conference had all been called as General Authorities in 1984. At the time of their call, the First Presidency announced that they would serve for five years and “then be released with honor and appreciation. This procedure, we feel, will provide a constant infusion of new talent and a much-widened opportunity for men of ability and faith to serve in these offices.”

Those released were:

Elder Russell C. Taylor

—Elder Russell C. Taylor, sixty-four, counselor in the Utah South Area Presidency, Managing Director of the Missionary Department, and former counselor in the Europe Area Presidency.

Elder Robert B. Harbertson

—Elder Robert B. Harbertson, fifty-seven, a counselor in the Young Men General Presidency and counselor in the North America Northwest Area Presidency.

Elder Devere Harris

—Elder Devere Harris, seventy-three, a counselor in the general Sunday School Presidency and counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency.

Elder Spencer H. Osborn

—Elder Spencer H. Osborn, sixty-eight, a counselor in the North America Southeast Area Presidency, and one of the Managing Directors of the Missionary Department. He previously served as a counselor in the United Kingdom/Ireland/Africa Area Presidency.

Elder Philip T. Sonntag

—Elder Philip T. Sonntag, sixty-eight, a counselor in the Philippines/Micronesia Area Presidency, former counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency, and former counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency.

Elder John Sonnenberg

—Elder John Sonnenberg, sixty-seven, a counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency and former President of the Pacific Area.

Elder F. Arthur Kay

—Elder F. Arthur Kay, seventy-three, President of the Pacific Area. He previously served in the Presidency of the Mexico/Central America Area.

Elder Keith W. Wilcox

—Elder Keith W. Wilcox, sixty-eight, a counselor in the North America Northeast Area Presidency and a Managing Director of the Church Curriculum Department.

Area Presidency Assignments

The First Presidency has announced Area Presidency assignments for members of the Quorums of the Seventy. The assignments were effective October 1.

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

North America Northwest: President—Hugh W. Pinnock*; Counselors—Vaughn J. Featherstone* and Yoshihiko Kikuchi*

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 Francis M. Gibbons*

Utah North: President—William R. Bradford; Counselors—Richard P. Lindsay* and Malcolm S. Jeppsen*

Utah South: President—L. Aldin Porter*; Counselors—Angel Abrea* and Gerald E. Melchin*

Utah Central: President—John K. Carmack*; Counselors—Monte J. Brough and Marlin K. Jensen*

Mexico/Central America: President—Robert E. Wells; Counselors—Horacio A. Tenorio* and Carlos H. Amado*

Philippines/Micronesia: President—George I. Cannon; Counselors—George R. Hill III and L. Lionel Kendrick*

Pacific: President—Glen L. Rudd*; Counselors—Douglas J. Martin and Ben B. Banks*

North America Central: President—Loren C. Dunn; Counselors—Jacob de Jager and Lloyd P. George*

North America Northeast: President—F. Burton Howard*; Counselors—F. Enzio Busche* and W. Eugene Hansen*

North America Southeast: President—John R. Lasater*; Counselors—Gardner H. Russell* and Jeffrey R. Holland*

South America North: President—Charles Didier; Counselors—Hartman Rector, Jr., and F. Melvin Hammond*

Brazil: President—Helio R. Camargo*; Counselors—Lynn A. Sorensen and Joe J. Christensen*

South America South: President—Waldo P. Call; Counselors—John H. Groberg and H. Verlan Andersen*

United Kingdom/Ireland/Africa: President—Jack H Goaslind; Counselors—Alexander B. Morrison and Robert E. Sackley

Europe: President—Hans B. Ringger*; Counselors—Spencer J. Condie* and Albert Choules, Jr.*

Asia: President—Douglas H. Smith; Counselors—Adney Y. Komatsu and Merlin R. Lybbert*

Portland Temple Dedicated

Nearly forty-one thousand Church members came from throughout Oregon and southwestern Washington to attend the dedication of the Portland Oregon Temple August 19 through 21.

President Ezra Taft Benson; President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency; and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, each presided over some of the dedicatory sessions.

Speakers at the eleven dedicatory sessions included all members of the Quorum of the Twelve; three members of the Presidency of the Seventy; five members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy; Bishop Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric; and Relief Society general president Barbara W. Winder.

The dedicatory sessions were relayed via closed-circuit television to members in rooms throughout the temple, allowing each session to accommodate nearly four thousand members.

“God bless you who will join in the great temple work of the Lord,” President Benson said as he presided over one of the dedicatory sessions on August 19. “I thank the Lord for you and for all that you do.”

“The Lord is blessing this work,” he affirmed.

President Hinckley delivered the dedicatory prayer during the first session.

The prayer expressed gratitude for “the great eternal purposes for which this house has been erected” and for “thy holy priesthood, which will be exercised herein.”

The temple, it was noted, “stands in quiet splendor among the trees of the forest. It is a place of peace and holiness, a refuge from the storms of life, a sanctuary in which to worship thee ‘in spirit and in truth.’” (John 4:23.)

The prayer supplicated Heavenly Father to “accept this house as a gift of thy thankful people.”

In his remarks during one of the dedicatory sessions, President Hinckley spoke of the temple as a place “where we all stand equally before the Lord.” In a world saturated with evil, he said, “we need the peace, the solemn, wonderful peace of the house of the Lord, where we may gather in His holy name and do His sacred work.” He spoke of a “balm,” a “healing” available in temples that is found in no other place.

President Monson said that the temple is “a refuge for those who are carrying more burdens than they should. As we incur tremendous burdens, our progress is impaired.” But in the temple, he said, those burdens can be lifted. This leaves us better prepared to meet the challenges of life and to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

During the sessions at which they spoke, President Hinckley and President Monson frequently encouraged the children who were attending with their parents to learn to love the temple and to come back to do baptisms for the dead when they are twelve.

Larry and Beckie Beck and their family, of Grants Pass, Oregon, were among those who attended the dedication. They drove the four hours from their home to the temple after spending time during previous weeks studying about temples, participating in a special fast, and offering family prayers specifically in preparation for the dedication.

Larry, second counselor in the elders quorum presidency of the Grants Pass Fourth Ward, said a spirit of peace descended on the family as they made their preparations. “It really changed our lives for the better as we were working together to make sure we were worthy to enter the temple and feel the Spirit of the Lord.” Beckie, who serves as Primary secretary in their ward, commented: “I am so excited to go back, and to keep going back. Being part of the dedication makes you feel that it is your temple, and it’s up to you to keep it going and busy.”

Church members turned to keeping the temple busy immediately following its dedication. In the first four days following its opening for ordinance work, youth were baptized vicariously for eight thousand deceased individuals. Thirty marriage sealings took place in the first weekend.

Another member who took part in the dedication commented, “The spirit of the place absolutely overwhelmed me.” Joan Caldwell of Wilsonville (about ten miles south of the temple) explained that the temple “is no longer just a beautiful building.” It is, in a sense, spiritually alive now because the Lord has accepted it.

Many of the 314,260 individuals who toured the temple before its dedication felt that same spirit. One non-LDS visitor wrote in the guest register that he was awed by the “holy feeling that came over me.” Another said, “I saw the light of God” in the face of every guide. Commented still another: “Makes you feel like you’re already in heaven!”

The First Presidency poses in front of the Portland Temple on the temple’s dedication day. President Benson greets families attending the Portland Temple’s dedication. (Photos by David Noble.)

Las Vegas Temple Dedication Scheduled

The new Las Vegas Nevada Temple—the forty-third operating temple in the Church—will be dedicated in services scheduled December 16 to 18, the First Presidency has announced.

The dedication will be preceded by a public open house from November 16 through December 9, with private tours for special guests November 13 to 15.

The temple, situated in an east-side Las Vegas residential area on the slope of Sunrise Mountain, is a highly visible landmark. Its exterior is of white cast stone, with copper trim and a copper roof. The tallest of its six towers (at 125 feet) is topped with a ten-foot statue of the angel Moroni.

The temple will serve members in Nevada and bordering portions of Arizona and California.

First Presidency Announcement

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicated Elder George P. Lee of the First Quorum of the Seventy for apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the Church. This action was taken at a meeting at which George P. Lee was present on Friday morning, 1 September 1989.

Hugo Was Devastating, but Saints’ Lives Were Spared

When Hurricane Hugo swept destruction over the Virgin Islands, part of Puerto Rico, and the southeast coast of the United States in September, Latter-day Saints suffered losses and damages to property along with everyone else. But no members or missionaries are known to have been killed or seriously injured.

The storm killed more than fifty people in its sweep over the islands and U. S. coastal areas. In the United States alone, it left an estimated 50,000 people homeless and more that 250,000 unemployed. In South Carolina, it was estimated that monetary damages would exceed $2 billion.

Within hours after the storm passed, help in the form of needed commodities, building materials, labor, or simply comfort was on its way from both Church headquarters and nearby Church units and individuals. After Latter-day Saints living in the damaged area had done all they could to meet the needs of other members affected by the storm, they focused their efforts on helping nonmembers. Missionaries joined in cleanup efforts.

Emergency supplies, including water, food, cooking stoves, power generators, propane fuel, and tools to be used in cleanup efforts were shipped from Church storehouses to several areas affected by the hurricane.

Hugo struck first at the U. S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In the Virgin Islands, damage was heaviest on St. Croix, where many Church members lost their homes. The storm destroyed prison facilities, freeing prisoners to roam in gangs. Survivors told relatives in the U. S. that the looting and civil unrest were as frightening as the storm. Law-abiding citizens welcomed the arrival of U. S. troops and law enforcement personnel to restore order.

On St. Croix, branch president David Weston and his family, along with missionaries Charles and Marianne De Lany, were instrumental in seeing to the needs of members and others, said Kay Briggs, president of the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission. After Hugo, some sixty LDS families on the island were without food, he said, and there was none to be bought—but their needs were met by the Church’s emergency shipment. It was estimated that a majority of the homes on the islands lost their roofs. The branch meetinghouse on St. Croix was used to shelter some families temporarily.

A number of LDS families in Puerto Rico were also among those who lost their homes, President Briggs said. Shelter was found for all of them. People in some areas had to wait weeks for water and electrical service to be restored.

Members’ homes also suffered severe damage in other parts of the Virgin Islands and the Lesser Antilles—Vieques, Guadeloupe, and St. Kitts (St. Christopher).

In South Carolina, losses were reported by members in most of the units of the Charleston stake, said Max Lehman, first counselor in the stake presidency. He estimated that some twenty families lost their homes to the storm, and a number of other members had to move out of their houses for the time being because of severe wind or water damage. Some families were housed temporarily in meetinghouses.

“We’ve just had tremendous support from the Saints,” President Lehman said. Work parties came from as far away as the Jacksonville Florida Stake, and calls offering help came from as far away as Oregon. Stakes like those in Jacksonville and Savannah, Georgia, donated building materials worth thousands of dollars. The Savannah stake’s Ridgeland Ward set up a food line at the stake center in Charleston, serving people in need, regardless of their church affiliation. For two days, the ward also supplied food to a Charleston dialysis center, said Mitchell Lowther, second counselor in the presidency of the Savannah stake.

In one Charleston area, an LDS work crew met the needs of a member family, then helped five non-LDS neighbors. The neighbors, wary at first, were astounded to learn that there would be no charge for labor or materials.

Charleston stake president Steven Baughman commented that local members seemed “remarkably prepared” for the disaster.

President Lowther said members in the Savannah Georgia Stake felt fortunate that Hurricane Hugo left their area comparatively unscathed. They were eager to help members in neighboring stakes, but because needs were so well met in those areas by local efforts, “we only did about a hundredth of what we wanted to do.”

One of the stakes that suffered heavy damage was the Florence South Carolina Stake. Still, only a handful of members lost their homes, said stake president Brent Koyle.

The Sumter area was the hardest-hit in the stake. The city was without water and power for nearly a week. Bishop R. Latham Harris of the Sumter First Ward said that despite the havoc wreaked by the storm, it was inspiring to see how well-prepared members were to respond to the disaster and how willingly they reached out to others. He noted that one family, after fixing their own home, turned to helping other members fix up their dwellings, leaving repairs on their own commercial investment property until after members’ needs had been met.

Church buildings in all areas ravaged by the hurricane proved to be very solidly built. Only minimal damage was reported to meetinghouses.

Early Releases, Transfers Affect Missionaries in Colombia

North American missionaries in Colombia who would have finished their service by the end of 1989 have been released early. Those with additional time remaining have been transferred to other missions in South America or the United States.

The transfers came in the wake of increasing drug-related violence in Colombia and general threats against Americans, though no threats had been made specifically against the Church or its members.

The South America North Area Presidency, who had been in Colombia monitoring the situation, made the changes in September.

Proselyting work continues in the country with the remaining missionaries—all from Latin America. There are about sixty thousand members of the Church in Colombia.

Appointments

Regional Representatives

Germany Servicemen Region, Joseph F. Boone, an air force chaplain, former counselor in a bishopric and a stake presidency.

Chiclayo Peru and Iquitos Peru regions, Rafael de la Cruz Pasquel, Church Distribution Center supervisor, former stake president and counselor in a mission presidency.

La Paz Bolivia Region, Justino Martinez, a college professor, former district president and stake president.

Ensign Utah and University Utah regions, V. Dallas Merrell, a management researcher and consultant, former mission president and counselor in a stake presidency.

Bahia Blanca Argentina Region, Miguel Angel Reginato, a businessman, former district president and counselor in a stake presidency.

BYU to Build Center in Washington, D.C.

Brigham Young University will build a new facility in downtown Washington, D.C., to house its Washington Seminar program.

The $3 million building will provide a library, office, seminar room, and reception area, as well as housing for the students and the program’s director.

Construction of the building was made possible by a $2 million gift to the university from the Milton and Gloria Barlow Foundation, President Rex E. Lee announced. Other donations will be sought to make up the additional $1 million of the cost for the facility.

The university is also seeking to establish a $1 million endowment fund through private funding to help students who otherwise could not afford to participate in the seminar.

The new center will provide affordable housing for forty-four to fifty single and married students. University officials hope the reduced housing costs will make it possible for more students to participate.

Students in the Washington Seminar serve as interns for a semester, working in various government offices and learning about the operation of government and politics.

Construction of the new center is expected to begin in the spring. Current plans are that it be open for fall semester 1991.

Nauvoo Symposium Held at Brigham Young University

Nearly eight hundred people attended Brigham Young University’s day-long symposium on Nauvoo, Illinois, held on September 21. The symposium was part of the Church’s year-long commemoration of the city’s founding in 1839 and the achievements of Joseph Smith and the Saints there. In addition to President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Loren C. Dunn, both of whom gave talks, thirty-three scholars took part in the symposium, presenting papers on various aspects of Nauvoo.

In his remarks, President Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said, “Ever since the Prophet named the place Nauvoo, we have spoken of it as ‘Nauvoo the beautiful.’” He then identified five features that made it so: (1) The setting of bluff, farmland, and river was beautiful. “There is something majestic … about the great river which flows around the Nauvoo point.” (2) Nauvoo’s beginnings were beautiful. Though the land was swampy and inhospitable at first, Nauvoo was a refuge after calamity. “How beautiful to the homeless is a home,” he said. (3) The creating of Nauvoo was beautiful. “There is no music like the music of industry. … There was nothing temporary about their [work]. They built as if they were going to live there for generations.” (4) The suffering of the Saints was beautiful. “There is tragedy, yes; there is sorrow, of course. But there is something sublime in suffering for a great cause.” (5) The death of Nauvoo was beautiful. “There was a certain beauty in the solemnity of it, in the sublimity of their faith, in their resolution to leave Nauvoo behind and recreate it on a grander scale somewhere in the West.”

Elder Dunn, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and managing director of Nauvoo Restoration, Inc., reviewed the work at Carthage and Nauvoo. The theme of the renovated Carthage site has been reconciliation, he stressed, and the emphasis has been on Joseph and Hyrum Smith’s lives: “Carthage should not be famous just for their deaths. It should be famous for what they stood for and did.” In Nauvoo, the last restoration projects for 1989 are a shoemaker shop, a tinsmith shop, a two-story barn in the style of the period, and the old Nauvoo burial ground. By next spring, the visitors’ center will focus historically on Nauvoo and the early Church. Among its displays will be an eighteen-foot model of old Nauvoo. Elder Dunn said that Nauvoo Restoration’s purpose is twofold: (1) Historical—80 percent of the visitors come because of interest in American history. One goal has been to restore important parts of Nauvoo as they appeared from 1839 to 1845. (2) Spiritual—It reminds Latter-day Saints of their spiritual heritage and the great things the Lord has done for his people.

After Elder Dunn’s presentation, a panel focused on Nauvoo in its broader setting. The sessions following featured presentations on the population, law, culture, and arts of Nauvoo; Joseph Smith as a prophet and teacher; priesthood and Relief Society organization; the temple; views of Nauvoo held by those outside Nauvoo; historical interpretations of Nauvoo; faith and apostasy; immigration and exodus; renovation of properties in Nauvoo; and the visual appearance of Nauvoo. As with most symposia, the papers reflected the conclusions of individual scholars and not any general consensus. A sampling of some of the papers follows:

What Was Nauvoo Like?

  • “Geographic and Demographic Considerations.” Robert L. Layton said that Nauvoo was part of a transportation, land-development, and population boom. From 1830 to 1840, Illinois and Missouri were the frontier. By 1840, several million people had crossed the Appalachians—only 40 percent of the people in Illinois had been born in the state, for example. Most were U. S. citizens; 13 percent were foreigners. Forests, not mountains, provided the barrier, so travel moved along waterways, and towns developed there first. In 1840, Illinois had 476,183 people; in 1850, it had 851,470 people. Only nine thousand were over age 45. The majority—272,000—were age 24 or younger.

  • “Church Membership in Nauvoo, 1839–1846.” Estimates of Nauvoo’s population have differed by as much as 16,000, Susan Easton Black said. After analysis of thousands of records, more accurate figures are now available. Nauvoo at its peak had about 12,000 people. Unlike most frontier populations, Nauvoo’s median age was in the 30s, and the percentage of males and females was almost even. Twenty-six percent had been born in England in industrial cities. The most common occupation, however, was farming. Carpentry was a distant second.

  • “Remembering Nauvoo.” Reviewing a multitude of writings about Nauvoo, Glen M. Leonard demonstrated that everyone saw Nauvoo from a particular stance and viewpoint. Thus, all accounts are interpretive even when they use facts. For example, observers of Nauvoo wrote as pilgrims, journalists, celebrants, sociologists, historians, or members of different churches. Their approaches—whether investigative, reminiscent, sensationalistic, or commemorative—narrowed their viewpoint.

  • “Nauvoo of the Imagination.” Using slides of period architecture and descriptions of Nauvoo, Paul L. Anderson imagined what Nauvoo may have looked like. He pointed out that Nauvoo exists only in our imaginations. We are visually unfamiliar with the city—photography developed after the Saints left, and old paintings are scarce. Nauvoo today is expansive and peaceful, and most buildings are brick. The Saints’ city, however, was crowded and noisy, and most buildings were one-story log buildings.

Joseph Smith

  • “Joseph Smith: Prophet, Teacher, Theologian.” Many of the most important and most distinctive LDS doctrines were taught widely for the first time during the Nauvoo period, Larry C. Porter said. For example, Joseph Smith taught about our premortal existence, the three degrees of glory, spirit being matter, and the nature of God.

  • “The Effort to Preserve the Teachings of Joseph Smith.” Dean C. Jessee looked at the many documents that contain the teachings of Joseph Smith. Fewer than one in ten of the Prophet’s discourses were recorded, and those were subject to the interpretation of the scribes who recorded them. The most trustworthy discourses are those that exist in several accounts recorded by different people. The versions of such a discourse can be compared for accuracy in both style and content.

Religion and Church Organization

  • “The American Religious Context.” Thomas G. Alexander defined five major religious traits of the early 1800s that affected the Restoration: the decline of Calvinism, which emphasized election and predetermination; the rise of churches after a half-century decline; the emphasis on restoring the church as it had existed in Apostolic times; the emphasis on the Savior’s second coming; and persecution of numerous religious groups.

  • “Priesthood Bearers and Quorums.” Priesthood quorums were organized much more loosely up to 1844 than they are now, William G. Hartley said. Not all men held the priesthood; instead, they were ordained as needed. In Nauvoo, priesthood organization became more complete. Brigham Young organized thirty-two quorums of seventy, so almost every man held the priesthood. Bishops received more spiritual responsibility, and teenagers were ordained to fill Aaronic Priesthood quorums after men began receiving their endowments and moving to Melchizedek Priesthood quorums.

  • “The Female Relief Society.” Maureen Ursenbach Beecher maintained that, though the Relief Society functioned in Nauvoo only from 1842 to 1844, it was instrumental in preparing women to receive temple ordinances. The Prophet instructed the sisters on the scriptures and gospel doctrine and encouraged them to pursue charitable activities. The organization helped to set policies and programs used in the Relief Society today.

Law and Crime

  • “My Ancestor Was a Bodyguard to Joseph Smith.” James L. Kimball examined the Nauvoo police system. The city had four wards, with one part-time constable per ward and a high constable over them. A city watch to guard the area at night was called to assist the constables. In 1842, the city watch switched from regular citizens to the Nauvoo Legion. Later, the city required forty police officers. The legion also provided protection for Joseph Smith and other Church leaders. Even after the Prophet’s death, they were still referred to as “Joseph’s Guard.”

  • “The Lawrence Estate Revisited.” William Law’s recollection of how Joseph Smith, as guardian of the Lawrence children, cheated them and him is full of errors, claimed Gordon A. Madsen. All the court records pertaining to the guardianship and Joseph Smith’s management of the Lawrence estate still exist. They show that virtually all of Law’s claims are mistaken.

Nauvoo and Its Neighbors

  • “The Mormon Settlement at Macedonia.” Was there much interaction between Saints and nonmembers among smaller settlements near Nauvoo? asked Susan Sessions Rugh. In some ways, yes. The LDS settlement of Macedonia and the neighboring non-Mormon settlement of Fountain Green developed strong commercial ties. But other kinds of interaction were minimal, and political differences eventually alienated the two communities. Journals of Fountain Green residents show suspicion toward Macedonia residents.

  • “Political and Economic Considerations.” James B. Allen identified the major issues of the day: voters’ rights, antislavery movements, suffrage, and temperance. Sectionalism was also growing, leading eventually to the Civil War. A severe economic recession characterized the 1830s and early 1840s. Land speculation on the frontier was rampant. When the Saints filed for redress for their lost property, the issue of states’ rights prevented the federal government from acting. When Joseph Smith ran for president of the United States, his platform dealt with these issues. Many of his views foreshadow legislation passed since then.

Women’s Issues

  • “Women in the American Setting.” Carol Cornwall Madsen explored the rapid changes for American women during the early 1800s. In 1820, most women were illiterate, but by the 1850s, they were the leaders in novel and poetry writing. New factories also opened the workplace to women. In religion, twice as many women joined churches as men. Females weren’t allowed to vote, but an 1848 women’s rights convention declared that women had that right. Many LDS women leaders felt that the 1842 organization of the Relief Society opened the way for the emancipation of women everywhere.

  • “Women’s Perceptions of Their Husbands’ Priesthood Callings.” In studying the writings of 120 Nauvoo women, Melinda Evans Vail found that most women supported their husbands’ priesthood involvement and accepted the resulting hardships, seeing them as a sacrifice for the Lord. The women wrote with pride of temple-building and accepted sometimes difficult doctrines because they believed the doctrines were necessary to the Restoration.

Education, Culture, and the Arts

  • “A People of ‘Culture and Refinement.’” We must be careful about drawing conclusions from insufficient evidence, Davis Bitton said. Though many Church members think of Nauvoo as a prosperous and highly educated society, it probably wasn’t, particularly by today’s standards. Nauvoo had a library, and its holdings have been documented. But it wasn’t established until 1844, and no one knows how many people used it or what books were read. Many citizens were minimally educated, and most were so busy building the settlement and earning a living that they had no time to pursue culture or education.

  • “Theater in Nauvoo, in a Milieu of Cultural Arts.” Carma de Jong Anderson mentioned that the University of Nauvoo offered an amazing variety of classes, though no one knows how many were actually taught. Schools also existed for the very poor. Classes, choir performances, circus acts, magic shows, and plays were staged in the Red Brick Store and in the Cultural Hall. Drama in the early 1800s was moralistic and instructional, and Church leaders welcomed it both as entertainment and education. A theater company was formed in Nauvoo and staged tours of its most popular play, Pizarro.

  • “Songs of Joseph’s Nauvoo.” Mixing lecture and music, Michael D. Hicks showed how the songs from the Nauvoo era reflected the life of the Saints. Some, like “Adam-ondi-Ahman,” had uniquely LDS themes. Others, such as “The Mobbers of Missouri,” were satires about the Saints’ enemies. Still others were popular songs of the day that the Prophet often requested, like “The Soldier’s Tear.” Though members like Parley P. Pratt and Isaac Watts wrote lyrics for many hymns, the words were sung to well known tunes. It is not well known that Nauvoo had a music hall, located one block from the temple, that featured frequent concerts.

Anti-Mormons Associated with Nauvoo

  • “Henry Caswell.” Craig L. Foster discussed Henry Caswell’s visit to Nauvoo and his impact in Britain as the chief anti-Mormon writer there. A professor and a vicar, Caswell published more tracts and articles against the Church than any other Englishman. He based many of his observations on a brief visit to Nauvoo. Caswell’s recollections of that visit and several Church leaders’ remembrances of it differ considerably.

  • “From Assassination to Expulsion.” Could the Saints have avoided expulsion through reconciliation and better communication? Marshall Hamilton asked. His conclusion is no. Events following the martyrdom show that the sensitive areas—political strength versus lawlessness—were not easily resolvable. Furthermore, the catalyst for expulsion, Thomas Sharp, consistently published rhetoric in his newspaper and wrote letters calling for expulsion, no matter what the Saints were doing.

Actors in period costumes thronged restored Nauvoo during filming of the new Church film now being shown in Nauvoo visitors’ center. (Photo by John Luke.)

The Sarah Kimball home, where the Relief Society was organized, is a Nauvoo landmark. (Photo by Craig Dimond.)

Actors portray Joseph and Emma Smith in a new Church film about Nauvoo. (Photo by John Luke.)

New Films Focus on Nauvoo and Joseph Smith

Visitors to Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois, now have the opportunity to see Joseph Smith and his “city beautiful” through the eyes of contemporary witnesses.

The Prophet Joseph and the city he founded are featured in two new Church films used in visitors’ centers at Nauvoo and at the newly remodeled Carthage Jail complex. The productions recreate some of the settings and the ambience of the 1830s and 1840s, with the spoken part of the two productions consisting almost entirely of the words of people who knew Joseph Smith and visited or lived in the thriving city of Nauvoo.

The two films focus not on martyrdom and conflict, but on the life and accomplishments of Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints. The theme of the films is in keeping with a request made by Elder Loren C. Dunn of the First Quorum of the Seventy for historical films to communicate the spirit of the gospel to nonmember viewers. Elder Dunn is President of the Church’s North America Central Area, where Nauvoo and Carthage are located, and is also president of Nauvoo Restoration, Inc.

He pointed out that “members of the Church justifiably look on Nauvoo as part of their spiritual heritage,” and that a high percentage of the nonmembers drawn to Nauvoo and Carthage because of their historic significance are agreeable to a contact from missionaries. The theme for the Carthage movie should be “a healing one,” he suggested. “The legacy of Joseph Smith, rather than his martyrdom, should be the main message of the film.” He requested a film about Nauvoo that would emphasize, for both members and nonmembers, “the mission and message of Joseph Smith.”

Gary Cook of the Church’s Curriculum Department wrote the scripts for the films and was also involved in producing them. He said the stories have been told through firsthand impressions of people who lived at the time, taken from journals, diaries, and letters. “Even the themes of the musical scores are based on tunes that were popular at the time,” Brother Cook said. For example, “The Soldier’s Tear,” a favorite of Joseph Smith, was used as a theme for the Carthage production.

Filming for the two productions was completed on location in Illinois during May of this year. Paved streets were covered with dirt; period carriages, wagons, livestock, and props were found; and hundreds of cast members were costumed in period dress to give the films the look of authenticity. Sets depicting a riverboat landing and the corner of the temple were constructed.

Principal characters in the film were played by Church members. Local LDS wards furnished hundreds of extras for the filming, but cast members also included several members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and many other people from towns in the area. The Nauvoo Ward prepared meals for the cast and crew and assisted with many other behind-the-scenes production chores as well.

Shooting was finished on May 26, and the Carthage film premiered on June 27, when the renovated Carthage Jail complex was dedicated. The Nauvoo film premiered in October.

Working on the films was a moving experience, Brother Cook recalled. “There is a spirit about Nauvoo and Carthage” that caught hold “in the hearts of all of us and produced a consecration of effort. It is hoped that these two films will help in some small way to make more meaningful the experience of all who visit there.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith greets newcomers to Nauvoo at a boat landing on the Mississippi River. The set was built for the film.

Update: Number of Wards and Branches in the Church

Since 1984, the number of wards and branches in the Church has increased by 2,095, or 14.5 percent. At the end of 1988, there were 11,196 wards and 5,362 branches, for a combined total of 16,558 wards and branches.

Years

Wards

Branches

Total Wards and Branches

1984

9,723

4,740

14,463

1985

10,168

4,837

15,005

1986

10,527

4,862

15,389

1987

10,907

5,099

16,006

1988

11,196

5,362

16,558