News of the Church


Fireside Marks Priesthood Restoration

The potential for individual development through the priesthood—in both mortal and eternal terms—was the theme of a May 6 satellite fireside commemorating the restoration of the priesthood.

The three presiding quorums of the Church were represented by the fireside speakers: President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency; Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve; and Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy, who is Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency.

“You have become a royal priesthood,” President Hinckley told those gathered in stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico for the broadcast. “There is no other power or authority comparable to [the priesthood]. We are prone to take it for granted. It deserves more than this. It deserves the very best within us.”

To illustrate how boys and men develop spiritually through service in priesthood quorums, President Hinckley looked back on his own experiences, from the time he was ordained a deacon.

“Brethren, as a boy in that deacons quorum I learned principles of Church government, principles of leadership, principles of brotherhood and service, principles of faithfulness before the Lord. As I look upon my work today, I sense those same principles in operation. The scale is different, but the essentials are similar.”

He expressed the hope that each priesthood holder in the Church could find in his quorum “that which the Lord intended it should be—a body of men who support and sustain one another, who know their duty and do it, who love the Lord and walk in His ways, who have been endowed with a measure of His divine authority to act in His stead in the name of His beloved Son, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.”

Elder Faust emphasized that faith, righteousness, and obedience are required to use the priesthood properly. We are called when we are ordained, “but we are not chosen until we demonstrate to God our righteousness, our faithfulness, and our commitment,” he said.

“Natural limitations” on our use of the priesthood include our lack of spirituality or knowledge. But as a man grows in spiritual strength and righteousness, additional ability to use priesthood power can come from the Lord, he explained.

A high calling in the Church isn’t necessary to receive all the blessings of the priesthood, Elder Faust said. “The promise of the oath and covenant of the priesthood to His worthy holders is that through their faithfulness they may be sanctified by the Spirit and may become the elect of God. (See D&C 84:33–34.) The further promise is that ‘all that the Father hath shall be given unto him.’ (D&C 84:38.) I pray that this may be so for all of us.”

Elder Brough told of receiving, while he was president of the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission, a letter that had been placed in a time box fifty years earlier by another mission president. The writer wondered how technological advancement would affect missionary work in the future. Elder Brough reflected that even though we could use the media to present the missionary discussions to much greater numbers of potential converts today, doing so would rob missionaries and future missionaries of the development that comes through service. He outlined ways in which young men grow through fulfilling their Aaronic Priesthood duties and called home teaching “the Lord’s missionary preparation program.”

Elder Brough commented that most of those present could probably quote the Boy Scout Oath and Law from memory. He pointed out that the twentieth section of the Doctrine and Covenants lists the duties of the Aaronic Priesthood. It would be wise, he suggested, for priesthood holders to be as familiar with these responsibilities as they are with Scout commitments.

“The Aaronic Priesthood,” he said, “is not just something to have and to be, but it is also something to do.”

[photos] President Ezra Taft Benson waves to members of a priesthood choir from the Layton Utah Region. Right: Three soloists from the choir.

Postage Stamps Recognize Church in Cook Islands, Samoa

Over the past two years, the Church has been recognized through commemorative postage stamps issued by Samoa and the Cook Islands.

The stamps were designed by Jennifer M. Toombs of Saxmundham, Suffolk, England. In 1988, Ms. Toombs received a commission from British Crown Agents to design a postage stamp celebrating the arrival of Latter-day Saints in Samoa. Ms. Toombs designed a $3 stamp depicting the LDS temple in Samoa.

The stamp was officially issued on 9 June 1988, with an angel Moroni postmark and bearing quotes from two Book of Mormon passages: “Great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea” (2 Ne. 10:21), and, “To him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 2:2).

The second stamp was issued in February of this year. It is part of a four-stamp set, each stamp recognizing a religion in the Cook Islands—Roman Catholic, Anglican, Seventh-Day Adventist, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The stamps each depict a person and a church building representative of that religion. The LDS stamp shows Elder Osborne J. P. Widtsoe (his name, unfortunately, is misspelled), the first LDS missionary to the Cook Islands, along with a typical modern meetinghouse. Bordering the set of four stamps is the text, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, …

“And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:19–20.)

High-Level Work on Temple Square

Workers remove the aluminum roofing atop the Tabernacle on Temple Square. A three-month repair-and-maintenance project involving the Tabernacle and the Assembly Hall began in April. On the Assembly Hall, the spires are being repainted, and worn wood is being repaired. On the Tabernacle, the roof’s aluminum panels are being repaired, and the vertical supports that hold the panels in place are being replaced. After a membrane designed to protect the supports from water damage is installed, the panels will be placed back on the roof. Despite the work, scheduled events in both facilities have not been affected; Tabernacle Choir rehearsals and broadcasts have continued as usual.

Update: Wards and Branches in the Church

As of 31 December 1989, there were 11,536 wards and 5,769 branches in the Church. Since 1985, the number of wards has increased by 1,368 and the number of branches has increased by 932, for a total unit increase of 2,300. This represents a 15-percent increase in the total number of wards and branches in the Church.

[Year]

Wards

Branches

1985

10,168

4,837

1986

10,528

4,857

1987

10,909

5,117

1988

11,180

5,356

1989

11,536

5,769

Six Countries Dedicated, Recognition Granted in Another

Six countries have recently been dedicated for missionary work—Romania, Bulgaria, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Legal recognition was also granted to the Church in Czechoslovakia.

Maps of areas dedicated(click to view larger)

Shown are cities where new mission headquarters are located. [Italicized] countries have been recently dedicated or have recently legally recognized the Church.

GERMANY Düsseldorf

HUNGARY Budapest

PHILIPPINES San Pablo

BELGIUM Antwerp

CZECHOSLOVAKIA Prague

PHILIPPINES Tacloban

ITALY Padova

ROMANIA

EL SALVADOR

GREECE Athens

BULGARIA

NICARAGUA

PORTUGAL Lisbon

OKINAWA Gushikawa

LESOTHO

POLAND Warsaw

 

SWAZILAND

The Church’s application for legal recognition was approved by the Czech Republic on February 21. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve had visited Czechoslovakia on February 6 to discuss with government officials the Church’s application for recognition. He was accompanied by Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy, President of the Church’s Europe Area. President Jiri Snederfler, district president in Czechoslovakia, accompanied the two General Authorities as they met with Josef Hromadka, the nation’s prime minister.

“We received recognition, not as a new church, but as a church that was established in the country over sixty years ago. This means that our members will be able to worship in full dignity, as they once did,” Elder Nelson reported. Since the Church can now buy and sell property, leaders will look for a place in which members will be able to meet. Missionaries have also returned to Czechoslovakia, he said.

Czechoslovakia was first dedicated for missionary work in 1929 by Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve. Missionaries served there before and after World War II, but they were required to leave in 1950. There are now several branches in the country.

During a visit to Romania on February 8 and 9, Elder Nelson dedicated that country at a spot in Cismigiu Park, in downtown Bucharest. He was accompanied by Elder Ringger. In meeting with government officials, they learned of Romania’s struggle to provide for a large number of orphans. As a result, the Church will send clothing and medical supplies to help.

Elder Nelson also dedicated Bulgaria on February 13. While in Sofia, the nation’s capital, he and Elder Ringger met with the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Lubomir Popov, and with radio, television, and newspaper executives.

Swaziland, an independent mountain kingdom bordered on three sides by South Africa, and by Mozambique on its eastern side, was dedicated on February 21 by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve. He offered the dedicatory prayer on a hilltop overlooking Mbabane, the capital city.

Elder Maxwell also dedicated Lesotho, an independent kingdom surrounded on all four sides by South Africa, on February 22 at a spot near Maseru, the capital city. “We are a small group here today, but we are being watched by a large group. Angels are aware of this moment,” he said in his remarks.

El Salvador was also dedicated on April 7 at a private home overlooking the capital city of San Salvador. Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and thirty-nine local members and leaders were present.

Nicaragua was dedicated by Elder Scott near Managua, the capital city, on April 9. He gave the dedicatory prayer in Spanish as Elder Nelson and twenty-six local members gathered to listen at a spot near a dormant crater in Masaya Volcano National Park.

Central America was dedicated for missionary work in 1952, but El Salvador and Nicaragua had not been dedicated individually.

Church Creates New Missions in Europe, Asia

Eight new missions have been organized in Europe this year, and three new ones in Asia, bringing to twenty-seven the number of missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized in 1990. As of July 1, there were 253 missions and 14 missionary training centers.

The eleven new missions are:

Belgium Antwerp, from the Netherlands Amsterdam Mission: no stakes, about 1,100 members, a total population of more than 6 million in northern Belgium.

Czechoslovakia Prague, from the Austria Vienna East Mission: more than 200 members in a total population of 15.6 million in the country of Czechoslovakia.

Germany Düsseldorf, from the Germany Frankfurt and Germany Munich missions: 2 stakes, about 4,300 members, a total population of more than 16 million in the west-central part of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Greece Athens, from the Austria Vienna East Mission: no stakes, about 470 members, a total population of more than 100 million in the nation of Greece.

Hungary Budapest, from the Austria Vienna East Mission: no stakes, about 70 members, a total population of nearly 11 million in the nation of Hungary.

Italy Padova, from the Italy Milan and Italy Rome missions: 1 stake, almost 3,000 members, more than 14 million total population in north-central and northeastern Italy.

Japan Okinawa, from the Japan Kobe Mission: 1 stake, about 3,900 members, a total population of more than 1.4 million on Okinawa and other islands in the Ryukyu chain.

Philippines San Pablo, from the Philippines Manila Mission: two stakes, about 8,200 members, a total population of more than 5.7 million in a west-central portion of the Philippines.

Philippines Tacloban, from the Philippines Cebu Mission: no stakes, almost 4,500 members, a total population of more than 3.1 million in an east-central portion of the Philippines.

Poland Warsaw, from the Austria Vienna Mission: no stakes, about 160 members, a total population of more than 37 million in the nation of Poland.

Portugal Lisbon South, from the Portugal Lisbon (now Portugal Lisbon North) Mission: two stakes, about 7,600 members, more than 4.1 million total population in southern Portugal and the Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde islands.

Announcing FamilySearch

The First Presidency recently announced new computer software that will simplify many of the tasks involved in doing family history research. The new software, FamilySearch™, is now available for use at the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City and at every branch family history library in the United States and Canada.

FamilySearch makes it possible for researchers using small computers in branch family history centers to retrieve information from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in ways previously not available. The software is on compact discs, like those sold in record stores, each of which holds approximately 320,000 pages of information. These discs make it possible for researchers to make comprehensive searches of many large genealogical files, records, and indexes available at the library in Salt Lake City. Researchers using the discs can also make instant computer-printed copies of information they need.

One FamilySearch file, the Family History Library Catalog, contains descriptions of the books and records available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Records all over the world have been microfilmed for this collection. The compact-disc version of the catalog, unlike earlier microfiche and card-catalog versions, lets users do a computer search for places or names. Once the information is located, the researcher can order the appropriate microfilms from the Salt Lake library.

A second FamilySearch file is a compact-disc edition of the International Genealogical Index. The index contains more than 150 million names, and the automated format simplifies access to this vital information. A researcher enters the appropriate name and information into the computer, and then the computer retrieves the names and information that most nearly match the request.

A third file that FamilySearch can access is Ancestral File—a collection of family-linked genealogies that have been contributed to the Church since 1979. This file is currently available only in the main Family History Library, but plans are that it will be distributed to branch family history centers later this year.

As other FamilySearch files become available, they will be announced.

LDS Scene

CLEVELAND, OHIO—More than 2,700 members and nonmembers attended the Greater Cleveland Family Conference held on April 29. Speakers at the conference included Elder Loren C. Dunn, President of the North America Central Area; Sharlene Wells Hawkes, Miss America 1985 and now an ESPN television sports commentator; and Cory Snyder of the Cleveland Indians. Dr. Terrance D. Olson, associate dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences at Brigham Young University, reminded those in attendance that everyone has family connections—mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, or children. He said that the quality of our family connections depends on our ability to do what is right and to remember that what we do affects future generations.

GAIMAN, ARGENTINA—Missionaries of the Argentina Bahia Blanca Mission went door-to-door and invited the entire city to family home evening. Gospel basics were shared with everyone in an effort to introduce nonmembers to the Church. Seventy-five percent of those attending were nonmembers.

QUATRO BARRAS, BRAZIL—Young people from the Curitiba Brazil Stake found community service the most rewarding part of their recent youth conference. The young men and women cleared a large field in a small city nearby, then planted more than 150 trees as a service project.