News of the Church


Leadership Handbook on Its Way to Leaders

A new Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook is now being mailed to priesthood leaders in English-speaking areas.

The handbook, which contains new material, supersedes the Melchizedek Priesthood Handbook of 1984. In a letter announcing the new book, President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve advised: “All Melchizedek Priesthood leaders should study this valuable resource and use it to train in priesthood responsibilities.”

In addition to the new material it contains, the Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook consolidates material from the older handbook and from other sources into one compact guide for stake and district presidents, bishops and branch presidents, and Melchizedek Priesthood quorum leaders. The book is divided into sections titled “Priesthood Leadership in the Church,” “Accomplishing the Mission of the Church,” “Administering the Quorum and Group,” “Responsibilities of Bishops,” and “Responsibilities of Stake Presidents.”

This new handbook will be available later in languages other than English.

A supplementary videotape, Putting the Melchizedek Priesthood to Work, is also being mailed to priesthood leaders. The videotape offers counsel from President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve. It includes dramatizations suggesting how priesthood leaders might plan most effectively to carry out the mission of the Church. Interviews with leaders and members illustrate how lives can be changed as stake, ward, and quorum leaders reach out in ministering to individuals.

The first section of the Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook, “Priesthood Leadership in the Church,” deals with such topics as the importance of the priesthood and ministering as a priesthood leader.

The second section, “Accomplishing the Mission of the Church,” deals with the ways local leaders can apply the three dimensions of the Church’s mission—proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead.

The third section, “Administering the Quorum and Group,” discusses the calling and training of quorum and group leaders, outlines their responsibilities, and gives information about ordinations and ordinances.

The fourth and fifth sections, “Responsibilities of Bishops” and “Responsibilities of Stake Presidents,” generally apply also to branch and district presidents, respectively.

The seventy-minute training videotape is divided into four segments—an introduction and overview, and sections on the mission of the Church, administering the quorum or group, and ministering to members.

The introductory segment emphasizes that “quorum leaders are called to act in the name of God. They are to watch over, be with, and strengthen their members, doing the things the Lord himself would do.” It shows priesthood leaders at work, touching the lives of individuals.

The second segment of the videotape, “The Mission of the Church,” points out that priesthood leaders share Christ’s goal “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) President Monson outlines and restates the Church’s commitment to proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead.

In the same segment, Elder Packer points out that “we are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man by concentrating on ordinances, and on the covenants associated with them.”

He counsels: “A good, and useful, and true test of every major decision made by a leader of the Church is whether a given course leads toward or away from the making and keeping of covenants. Centering our minds on ordinances and covenants gives purpose to all the many things we do in preaching the gospel and perfecting the Saints. We would do well to see that in administering the organizations of the Church, all roads lead to the temple, for it is there that we are prepared in all things to qualify us to enter the presence of the Lord.”

Dramatizations in this segment of the videotape illustrate how a properly organized and functioning priesthood executive committee and ward council can help accomplish the mission of the Church.

The third segment of the videotape, “Quorum and Group Administration,” briefly outlines the duties of priesthood leaders and shows how their tasks can be accomplished using the efforts and abilities of many people. More than once in the narration, a point made by President Harold B. Lee several years ago is reiterated: new programs and organizations are not needed to do the work of the Church; “all that is needed is to put the priesthood of God to work.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1972, p. 124.)

The last segment of the videotape, “Ministering,” counsels priesthood leaders to work by the Spirit and be flexible as they seek to meet individuals’ needs. It shows, via interviews and case histories, how leaders and quorum members have successfully ministered to others through home teaching.

[photo] A videotaped supplement offers helps for leaders in applying principles taught in the Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook.

Book of Mormon Republished in Braille

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve recently announced the republication of the Braille edition of the Book of Mormon.

This English-language edition includes the chapter headings and corrections from the 1981 edition of the book in English, but it does not include the footnotes. An edition including the footnotes will be published in the near future.

The book may be ordered through ward librarians or from Church distribution centers. There are six volumes, and the cost of the set is $25.00. The stock number is PBBL0017.

Nine Missions Announced, Four Lands Dedicated in the Americas

The Church has announced the establishment of nine new missions in Latin America. The new missions will begin operation on July 1.

Map of South and Central America(click to view larger)

Shown above: Nine new mission headquarters cities; four countries dedicated for preaching of the gospel.

In addition, three countries in South America and one island nation off the north coast of that continent have been dedicated for the preaching of the gospel.

Four new missions have been designated in Mexico and Central America:

El Salvador San Salvador East, from the El Salvador San Salvador (West) Mission: 2 stakes, approximately 7,700 members, and a total population of more than 3 million in the eastern half of El Salvador.

Honduras San Pedro Sula, from the Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission: 3 stakes, approximately 11,600 members, and a total population of 2.2 million in northern Honduras and Belize.

Mexico Oaxaca, from the Mexico Tuxtla-Gutierrez Mission: 2 stakes, 6,500 members, and a total population of nearly 2.6 million in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Mexico Tijuana, from the Mexico Hermosillo Mission: 4 stakes, approximately 8,000 members, and a total population of nearly 2.3 million in northern Baja California.

South America will have five new missions:

Argentina Mendoza, from the Argentina Cordoba Mission: 3 stakes in its boundaries, approximately 10,000 Church members, and a total population of more than 2.1 million in western Argentina.

Argentina Resistencia, from the Argentina Rosario Mission: 1 stake, approximately 6,500 Church members, and a total population of nearly 2.3 million people in northeastern Argentina.

Argentina Trelew, from the Argentina Bahia Blanca Mission: no stakes, approximately 8,400 members, and a total population of nearly 1.5 million in southern Argentina.

Brazil Manaus, from the Brazil Brasilia and Brazil Fortaleza missions: 1 stake, approximately 7,200 members, and a total population of more than 6 million in northern Brazil.

Brazil Salvador, from the Brazil Recife Mission: no stakes, approximately 4,000 members, and a total population of nearly 11 million in east central Brazil.

Late in February, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago for the preaching of the gospel. The first three countries are on the north coast of South America, and the two-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago is located just off the north coast of the continent.

Elder Ballard was accompanied by Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy, President of the South America North Area.

Trinidad and Tobago was dedicated February 22 at the proposed site of a meetinghouse in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Guyana was dedicated February 23 in Georgetown. Suriname was dedicated February 24 in the city of Paramaribo. French Guiana was dedicated on February 27 at a spot about five miles from Kourou; Elder Didier translated Elder Ballard’s prayer into French for the members present.

In the dedicatory prayers he offered, Elder Ballard asked the Lord to bless the leaders of governments in the countries involved. Members were promised that the Church would grow steadily, that there would be wards and stakes presided over by local leaders in their areas, and that their countries would help in the work of the Lord by sending missionaries to other nations. The Church has been established for less than two years in each of the four countries.

Noting that his grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, had dedicated South America for the preaching of the gospel sixty-five years earlier—in 1925—Elder Ballard commented that it was a “warm and beautiful experience” to take part in the four dedications.

A Conversation about Community Service

For many years, Church leaders have encouraged us to serve in our communities. To explore this topic and obtain suggestions about how to get involved, the Ensign spoke with William S. Evans, director of community relations for the Church Public Communications Department.

Q: Why is it so important that Latter-day Saints be involved in their communities?

A: Lives are blessed when Latter-day Saints are involved in their communities. The Savior is our best role model in showing how this is done. Jesus gave freely and frequently to those outside “the household of faith.” He extended his personal caring to the despised, the outcast, and the nonbeliever.

The First Presidency has encouraged us as citizens to involve ourselves in solving problems that face our communities, even if these problems are particularly challenging. They have likewise encouraged us to join with others not of our faith in solving problems that call for cooperative action.

Latter-day Saints can be extraordinarily effective at solving problems, but too often their efforts have been directed solely toward Church members. As members “let their lights shine” (see Matt. 5:16) more brightly through thoughtful community involvement, more people will come to see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.

The Church itself has found that participating with others can generate much good and goodwill. Joining with other churches in the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network (VISN), the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP), the American Council on Alcohol Problems (ACAP), and other worthy causes has been very fruitful, accomplishing much good. And even though some in these organizations initially greeted our involvement with skepticism and even opposition, most now appreciate and support our participation as they have come to see that we, as they, are committed to worthy causes and are willing to do our share and more.

It’s also interesting that this increased emphasis by the Church on community involvement comes at a time when Church programs are being simplified with one goal of freeing more time for family and community.

Q: There are many causes we can support. How do we know where to begin?

A: The key is finding worthwhile activities that are compatible with gospel standards. Most find it’s best to begin in their own neighborhoods and communities. Members can search out service opportunities and select those that fill a need or that match up with their own interests, talents, or hobbies. People tend to have a good experience in activities that are community-oriented, like helping in the schools, supporting the arts, and improving the environment, or serving the handicapped, the elderly, or the disadvantaged.

For example, our staff decided that if we were going to talk about community service, we needed to be more involved in it—together. So, on a regular basis, we go to a soup kitchen and spend our lunch hour serving a meal to homeless people. We come away feeling good and have the pleasure of serving with others of different backgrounds and beliefs.

Q: Can you tell us some success stories of other Church members who have become involved in community service?

A: Latter-day Saint youth in Sydney, Australia, have served warm drinks and sandwiches to the homeless who congregate in subway stations.

Youth near Frankfurt, Germany, “adopted” a neighborhood to clean and maintain.

At a national convention for the blind in Las Vegas, several hundred Latter-day Saint volunteers spent a week helping delegates. At the end of the convention, the delegates gave them a standing ovation.

Latter-day Saints in Arizona sponsored a barbecue to help a Presbyterian group raise money to build a church. These Church members later spent hundreds of hours helping landscape the grounds.

In California, a member of the Church noticed a stalled truck on the freeway and felt prompted to stop. He found a young couple, the wife pregnant, who had been there for three days. Through the dedicated efforts of this member, the couple got immediate food and medical care and found work, a place to rent, and another truck.

We hear similar stories from all over the world—from both individuals and groups of Church members. Individual members give generously of their time and talents by serving in activities in local schools, volunteering in nursing homes, reading for the blind, manning crisis hot lines, staffing volunteer fire departments, and serving as members of a myriad of worthwhile organizations.

Q: What about involvement in political issues?

A: The Church doesn’t normally participate in issues that involve specific legislative proposals.

Q: Why is that?

A: It could divert the Church from its unique mission and turn it into a political-action committee, of sorts. Within any ward, you might find a variety of opinions on a political issue—and that is only right. It’s up to individual members to make this kind of decision and then act on their own decisions.

If the Church ever does become involved in legislative issues—and this is exceedingly rare—it will communicate its position through official channels.

Q: How can people find opportunities for service?

A: One way is to make a conscious effort to look for them. Members find community involvement opportunities by reading their local newspapers and keeping up with local happenings. Members can attend their city or town council meetings and voice their opinion on important issues or volunteer to help. Many communities have offices one can call for suggestions. And each ward, stake, and region public communications director should be aware of available community service opportunities so that Church leaders and members can call on them for suggestions.

One thing I want to stress is that people shouldn’t feel guilty if they aren’t able to be involved in their communities right now as much as they would like because they hold demanding Church callings, have young children, or whatever. There are periods in our lives when we have more time and energy to serve in the community than at others. If we don’t have those opportunities now, they may come later.

But no matter at what stage we are in life, we have much to offer our communities, even if our time is very limited. We can be “anxiously engaged” in small or large ways, motivated by the love of the Savior. (See D&C 58:27–28.) We let others know we care when we pay attention to them and treat them with respect. We as Church members can make a difference beyond our numbers because we have been taught the joy of service.

[photo] William S. Evans, director of community relations, Church Public Communications

Church Honored for Helping in Passage of Anti-Porn Law

The Church has been honored for its part in supporting passage of a new California law prohibiting possession of child pornography. The law went into effect 1 January 1990, and has already been used in prosecution of child abusers.

The new law classifies all offenses after the first one as felonies. Under some conditions, the first possession can also be a felony.

At a recognition luncheon on February 26, Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum presented to Keith J. Atkinson, the Church’s public communications director for the state of California, a scroll honoring Church members for their part in supporting the bill that was passed by the state’s legislature. Brother Atkinson accepted the scroll on behalf of Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy, President of the North America West Area.

Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy, formerly an attorney in southern California, testified in favor of the bill at a hearing last year in Sacramento.

“Without the support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and similar religious organizations which you helped bring together, this bill would not have passed through the legislature,” Mr. Schabarum said in making the presentation to the Church.

The Church was one of several religious or family-oriented organizations involved in supporting the bill. Federal, state, and local legal officials also helped.

Church member Tonja S. Clark helped give the bill its original impetus. It grew from a proposal she made as a member of the Los Angeles County Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. (She currently serves as vice president of the commission.) Los Angeles County’s adoption of the resolution Sister Clark had proposed put the county’s political weight behind the bill introduced in the legislature.

The new law is a breakthrough because it allows prosecution simply for possession of child pornography, without the necessity of bringing the abused child into the case.

New Church History Text Available

A new text about Church history from the time of Joseph Smith to the present, called Church History in the Fulness of Times, is now available through the Church distribution center in Salt Lake City.

The 643-page volume, designed to be used as a textbook for Religion 341–43 classes at LDS institutes, was produced by the Church Educational System. The text includes forty-seven chapters, with a short time-line summary at the beginning of each chapter listing events covered in it.

The book’s black-and-white illustrations include photographs, maps, and paintings. A section at the back includes photographs, as available, of all members of the Quorum of the Twelve since the Restoration.

The book is available in both softcover (stock number PMSI1238, for $4.50), and hardcover (stock number PMSI1239, for $8.50) versions.

Appointments

Temple Presidents

Heber J. Badger, of Salt Lake City, Utah, has been called to serve as president of the Seattle Temple. His wife, Mary Jean Smith Badger, will serve as temple matron.

Patrick D. Dalton, who is currently serving an education mission in Suva, Fiji, with his wife, Lela Jesperson Dalton, has been called as president of the Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple. Sister Dalton will serve as temple matron.

Arnold N. P. Roberts, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has been called to serve as president of the Toronto temple upon its completion. His wife, Audrey, will serve as temple matron.

Dates Scheduled for 1990 Pageants

The Church has announced the 1990 schedules for eight pageants popular with both LDS and non-LDS travelers and visitors. They are:

  • “A Frontier Story—1833”—June 27–30, at the Independence, Missouri, Visitors’ Center.

  • “Mormon Miracle”—July 12–14, 17–21, on the Manti Temple grounds in Manti, Utah.

  • “America’s Witness for Christ”—July 13, 14, 17–21, at the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York.

  • “Castle Valley Pageant”—August 1–4, at the Mountain Amphitheater in Castle Dale, Utah.

  • “City of Joseph”—August 3, 4, 7–11, outdoors near the Nauvoo, Illinois, Visitors’ Center.

  • “Martin Harris, The Man Who Knew”—August 17, 18, 21–25, in Clarkston, Utah.

  • “Nativity Pageant”—December 19–25, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.