News of the Church

By LaRene Gaunt, Assistant Editor


New Mission Presidents Counseled to Love Their Missionaries and the People

It is by love and understanding that the gospel message will go through new doors that the Lord has opened, new mission presidents were recently told by General Authority leaders.

This and other instructions were delivered to newly called mission presidents and their wives at the mission presidents’ seminar held June 19 through 22 in Provo, Utah. Speakers at the four-day seminar included President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency and President Howard W. Hunter, Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Elder L. Tom Perry, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve, as well as Elder Dean L. Larsen and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Seventy.

The new presidents and their wives came from twenty-three countries, making this the largest group of new presidents ever—124—going to missions around the world, including to several areas that have been previously closed to missionary work.

In conducting the meetings, Elder Perry, chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Committee, described the seminar as a momentous occasion. “The challenge is now ours to move forward through a wide-open window of opportunity at an ever-accelerated rate,” Elder Perry charged the assembly. “I am certain that is what the Lord expects of us. He has opened the door; we are now expected to carry the gospel message into all the lands that are now available to us. I am sure He expects us to build solidly with a foundation of true conversions that will allow the fruit to remain and ripen.”

President Hinckley invited the mission president and their wives to be sure love is the lodestar of their service, adding, “The Son of God came into this world not to condemn the world, but to save it.”

“God will not forsake us if we come unto Him in faith. He is not sending us out to fail, but to succeed,” said President Hinckley. He added that the key to obtaining the Lord’s help is “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God will take thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.” (D&C 112:10.)

Reminding the new leaders of the true role of the missionary, President Hinckley corrected the notion that missionary work is a “course in personal development, a rite of passage, a finishing school for young men and women. A missionary is called to serve, to fulfill the divinely given mandate to spread the word of God and build His kingdom on earth.

“Of course there will be personal benefits. These will come in proportion to the degree of selflessness evidenced in service,” he explained. He told the mission president that loving their missionaries—especially those who might be difficult to love—would be essential to success.

President Hinckley concluded his remarks with a charge: “Lose yourselves in the work, so that your lives might be filled with light.

“You husbands and wives must become great exemplars before your missionaries in following this standard. It is a constant challenge to keep the eye of the missionary on the glory of Him whom he serves.”

In giving practical advice to the mission presidents, President Monson recommended President Spencer W. Kimball’s approach to interviewing missionaries in ways that would help them learn to love more effectively. President Kimball would say, “Elder, what are the most outstanding virtues of your companion?” And “If you were writing a letter home to a younger brother, what would you tell him to help him to become a qualified missionary?”

President Monson said that in President Kimball’s approach, “everything was positive, nothing negative. He would lift the missionary to a new height.” Positive, uplifting counsel became the central theme for President Monson’s remarks.

“What a joy to receive a call to lay aside the mundane affairs of the world and respond to an assignment to serve,” he said, reminiscing about his and Sister Monson’s call to lead a mission in Toronto, Ontario.

“You are called to serve where the Lord would have you serve,” he assured the new presidents and their wives. “He know each one of us—our talents, our shortcomings, our failures, the experiences we’ve had, and the experiences we ought to have. And He knows how to match the man with a mission.”

President Monson reminded new mission presidents that “no mission will rise to its greatest potential unless the members and the missionaries work cooperatively together,” adding that “missionary problems almost vanish when every missionary is enjoying success in the service.”

The presidents’ relationship with members is important, but so is his relationship with each missionary, he explained, counseling new presidents that their role is closely akin to being parents. “The Lord will bless you as you look upon each of these young men and women as your son or daughter.”

In the same week as the mission presidents’ seminar, a group of missionaries entered the Missionary Training Center from the German Democratic Republic—the first to do so. He praised their faithfulness and the faithfulness of their parents, who live in a land now hungering for the gospel. He compared them to the people Isaiah described as “people that walked in darkness [who] have seen a great light.” (Isa. 9:2.)

President Hunter counseled mission presidents and their wives to always remember the atonement of Jesus Christ. Because it was the supreme act of love, he said, it is the supreme example of selfless concern for others. “Any time we experience the blessing of the Atonement in our lives,” he added, “we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others.”

Speaking of missionary work as an act of love and concern for our fellowman, President Hunter said, “A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others. For this reason, the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be a missionary.”

Just as the Atonement represents His great love for us, the call to share the gospel with others can represent our great love for our Heavenly Father’s children, President Hunter concluded. “May the Lord bless us as missionaries to help our Father’s children outside the covenant receive the full blessings of the Atonement in their lives.”

[photos] “God will not forsake us if we come to him in faith. He is not sending us out to fail, but to succeed,” President Hinckley told new mission presidents and their wives. (Photo by Gerald W. Silver, Church News.)

Tabernacle Choir Helps Idahoans Celebrate Centennial

Thousands of Idahoans celebrated the state’s centennial through music during a Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert in Pocatello, Idaho, on June 16.

The choir, almost one-third of whom are native Idahoans or have lived in the state for a period of time, performed in Holt Arena, Idaho State University’s indoor football stadium.

The choir touched the emotions of the approximately ten thousand who attended the centennial program. Introduced by Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus, the group performed a full program that included patriotic, religious, and popular music.

One of the highlights of the performance occurred near the end of the evening’s entertainment when choir members who were native Idahoans or who had lived in the state stood and sang the state song, “Here We Have Idaho.” Audience members, many in tears, joined the choir during the song’s second chorus.

On Sunday, June 17, the choir performed again in the Holt Arena for its regular network radio and television broadcast. The international broadcast brought Idaho’s centennial birthday to the attention of people all over the world.

[photo] For almost one-third of the Tabernacle Choir’s members, their Idaho concert was a homecoming. (Photo by Doug Lindley, Idaho State Journal.)

Toronto Temple Open House

The public open house period for the Toronto Ontario Temple was scheduled to begin August 2. The open house will run through August 18, when the temple will be closed to prepare for its dedication.

The First Presidency has announced that the temple will be dedicated in eleven sessions conducted between August 25 and August 27.

Located in Brampton, northeast of Toronto, the temple will serve some 65,000 Latter-day Saints in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces, as well as in parts of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont in the United States.

A Conversation about Ricks College

On 1 July 1989, Steven D. Bennion became president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. Before his appointment to Ricks, he had been president of Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, for seven years and had worked in the Wisconsin System of Higher Education for ten years.

The Ensign recently spoke with President Bennion to learn more about Ricks College and about the first year of his administration.

Q.: What kind of public image do you think Ricks has today?

A.: This is a campus with a diverse cross-section. Geographically, all fifty states and more than forty foreign countries are represented. We also have a rich blend academically, culturally, and socio-economically; on this campus, you will find high-honors students who could have gone to prestigious universities, a range of people in the middle, and academic late-bloomers, as well as people with learning disabilities. That wide diversity presents an academic challenge, but it’s workable—and refreshing. It reflects life’s variety.

Q.: Is it getting harder for students to be accepted to Ricks?

A.: Up until a year ago, I would have said no. But now the board of trustees has established an enrollment ceiling of 7,500 daytime students. With the growth in the Church and more students applying, the reality is that we are starting to turn people down—which is not something we relish.

To date, the requirements for admission have basically included three things: (1) graduation from high school or equivalent and a completed application form; (2) your scores from the ACT exam; and (3) a signed recommendation from your bishop that says you agree to uphold the code of honor and dress and grooming standards. Academically, our admission requirements are not too rigorous. Our students have to perform once they get here, but we try to meet them where they are and help them progress from there.

Until now, we’ve taken people on a first-come, first-served basis. But we’re having to refine that to make our policy as equitable as possible, because better students usually apply earlier. We want to reward those who prepare and plan ahead, but we may also need to reserve some spots for people who may not be eager beavers initially but who vitally need additional education. Frankly, it’s going to be a balancing effort.

Q.: What are the advantages of your admission policy?

A.: Ours is a worldwide church with people from many backgrounds. If we had very selective admission requirements, we would rule out some students who can really benefit from attending Ricks.

I think another reason that our open-door policy is important is students have great opportunities to receive training in our vocational and high-tech programs. In society, we probably err in thinking that everyone needs a bachelor’s degree. At Ricks College, nearly a third of our programs are occupational.

Q.: How many vocational graduates do you place?

A.: Our placement varies by program—and is very good in many of them. Two years ago, we started a placement office, which now has two professional placement officers. We’re seeing excellent progress. For example, representatives from about thirty-five hospitals came to campus this year to interview the graduates of our two-year registered-nursing program. We’re finding a lot of interest in our students—and it’s growing.

Q.: Ricks recently went through an accreditation study. What did you learn from that?

A.: We learned that others are recognizing the supportive, helpful environment here. The first paragraph of the report said, “The outstanding characteristic of Ricks College is the high degree of trust that exists between faculty, administrators, and students.” We don’t always agree, but I believe we have a healthy respect for differences and a willingness to say that what we do agree on is most important.

Our faculty members were seen as being very student-oriented. Student satisfaction with their instruction was rated very high. We have master teachers who are teaching freshmen and sophomores, and for the most part in small to medium-sized classes. Each teacher knows his or her students, and students know their teachers. We feel personalized learning is pivotal.

The pervasiveness of our spiritual mission was amazing to the accreditation team. We have a marvelous religion faculty, although one student told me that the most spiritual experience she ever had was in an English class. Her professor integrated his gospel-based philosophy with literary concepts. When you can blend intellectual and character development together freely and combine them with spiritual development without worrying about whether some group or organization is going to tell you that you can’t discuss those values, wonderful things happen. It’s a holistic approach to education.

We also realized we have room to improve. I’ll give you a couple of examples. We have recently implemented a registration-by-phone system. One of the effects has been that students no longer feel a need to meet with their advisers. Since most students come here wanting to explore and learn, they need an academic adviser for two purposes: (1) to make sure they’re taking the right classes to meet the requirements at Ricks and to explore their interests; (2) to look at what preparation might best lead them into the career options they’re considering.

We’re doing some modest reorganization to strengthen advisement and retention. We have a person in position now to work with transfer issues, to work with the faculty, and to provide information. We feel that’s an important step.

Another thing we need is more space in our library. The services provided received a high rating, but the library is gradually being filled with computer labs and audiovisual services. Since nearly 90 percent of our students live away from home, we need to have additional study space.

Q.: How well do credits from Ricks College transfer to other schools?

A.: Since BYU takes more of our graduates than any other institution does, we have an entire page in our catalog that tells students and faculty members which classes apply to the general education requirements at BYU. If our students, from day one, will work with this and with their assigned advisers, transfer problems will be minimized.

Also, if students know what they are going to major in, they can take classes that will build toward their objective. I think that the biggest challenge in transferring is when students don’t plan—or when they change their majors and then expect everything they’ve done in the past to count.

We are working with BYU to strengthen transfers between our institutions, and they’ve been responsive. BYU does have more selective admissions criteria because of their enrollment demand, so our advice to students is to decide early where they are going after Ricks—and also to have a second option.

We have a considerable number of students who go to other institutions and are treated well in the transfer process, which speaks highly of Ricks College. The state institutions in Utah and Idaho, for the most part, accept our two-year degree as fulfilling their general education requirements. We have completed those agreements in just the last year or two. Further, those colleges have fine LDS institute programs, which are a blessing to students. Students who don’t choose BYU can have a fine educational experience elsewhere.

Q.: What do you see as the challenges that Ricks will face in the next decade?

A.: It’s hard to foresee the needs of society in twenty years when the world is changing so rapidly. In reality, we can plan solidly only about five years in advance. The transfer component will continue to be strong, but the vocational/ occupational programs are going to be critically needed. In fact, some of the biggest shortages right now in our society are of technicians and people who have a good solid base in specialized skills.

Not long ago I was asked to talk about the challenges for Ricks in the nineties. I’ve come up with a seven-point list. Some things we aren’t going to change—like giving top priority to our religious values and character development. There are, however, other changes we need to make. One key priority for us in the immediate future is increased access to state-of-the-art computers. We have about 700 academic personal computers on campus. We hope to increase the number to 1,100 in the next year so that student/faculty access will be even better.

I think it’s also important to continually assess our academic offerings. If some programs are obsolete, we need to update them or phase them out.

I’ve already mentioned career assessment and individual development. We need a greater emphasis on counseling. Also, education at Ricks has historically been hands-on. This is important to maintain, especially in a student’s first two “exploring” years.

I’ve talked about the enrollment ceiling—and because of it we hope to enhance summer school. Our summer enrollment has grown by 50 percent in the last five years—from 2,200 students to 3,500—but summer school can still grow considerably.

We’ll continue to assess building needs. With an enrollment ceiling, we don’t envision many new facilities at Ricks. But with science developments and library pressures, there will be some selected building.

Another aspect is to be good neighbors in the Upper Snake River Valley. Some of our educational programs are particularly helpful to local needs, such as nursing, education, agriculture, and business. Our continuing education programs, our cultural arts, and our athletics are a real plus for the southeastern Idaho area.

Q.: Do you think Ricks will ever become a four-year college?

A.: It was, for about eight years back in the late forties and early fifties. For the future, the answer is in the hands of the board of trustees—but I don’t believe it will happen. While we’re a two-year institution, we can provide a Ricks experience for twice as many students with our facilities, faculty, and staff resources as we could if we were a four-year institution. It is important to remain a good launching base for students—in life, as well as in education and vocations. We’re talking about helping students develop in a balanced way. This is a residential campus, so students’ lives are immersed in the college. Academic, social, spiritual, and leadership development can all take place in this environment.

Q.: How do you feel about Ricks?

A.: I can’t think of an environment where the opportunity for growth is greater. The real test of any institution is what it adds to the lives of those who are part of it. At Ricks, I see so much being added and given. People here enjoy their work—and it shows.

[photos] A supportive, helpful environment is one of the best things about Ricks, says President Steven D. Bennion.

Church Aids Iranian Earthquake Victims

The Church has sent a shipment of sleeping bags and family-size tents to aid victims of the earthquake that occurred in Iran earlier this year.

The 550 tents and 975 sleeping bags were sent to California, where they were to be included in an Air France shipment of relief supplies to Paris. In France, the Iranian Red Crescent Society was to take charge of the shipment and distribute the supplies in Iran.

Californians Salvage Faith from Ashes, Rubble

Santa Barbara stake president Jerald Haws and his wife had lived in their home for twenty years. They had reared their family in it. But when the flames came, they had only ten minutes to get out.

They were among fourteen families in the stake—on the Pacific coast northwest of Los Angeles—who lost their homes in a wildfire that swept through the Santa Barbara area beginning June 27.

Approximately seventy-five miles away, in the urban area north of Los Angeles, two homes belonging to members of the Glendale California Stake were also burned, and the home of a third member family was damaged.

Wildfires burned out of control in six different areas of Southern California during the last days of June and the first few days of July. Two people were killed (neither of them Church members), and more than five hundred homes were destroyed.

Like other residents whose homes were in the path of the fires, President Haws and his wife fought to salvage what they could. He was on the roof, putting out blazes caused by embers from a neighbor’s burning house, when he looked around at fire advancing on three sides of his own home and decided it was time to get out.

Leaving “was the toughest thing I’ve ever gone through,” he said. As he and his wife drove away, “there were flames on both sides of the road. When I got out of there, I felt lucky to be alive.”

Other members expressed similar feelings of gratitude. Dawn Hills, a surgeon who practices in the Glendale area, recalled that about five months ago, “I felt a prompting that something would change in my life and that I should prepare myself spiritually.” A week and a half before the fire, that feeling came again.

The day of the fire, she was not able to get to her home in time to salvage anything. But, looking at the charred debris, she recalled the spiritual comfort that came when she first saw what had happened.

“I have no problem handling the material losses” because of “the support system I have had,” Sister Hills commented. “I have had the most incredible outpouring of love—not only from the Church, but from my professional colleagues as well.”

Church members affected by the fires were quickly housed in homes offered by other members, family, or friends. People of every religious persuasion showed a spirit of helpfulness to their neighbors, often sacrificing personal means or comfort to help those who had lost nearly everything.

Latter-day Saints were involved in disaster relief in many ways. In Santa Barbara, a stake emergency plan originally developed in case of earthquake proved invaluable. Approximately sixty members stayed overnight at the stake center, relying on emergency supplies there. The stake’s amateur radio net helped direct volunteers to spots where help was needed and helped maintain communication among stake leaders and members.

Church leaders in the affected areas report that Latter-day Saints continue to help neighbors clean up and rebuild.

[photos] The Jerald Haws family examine ruins of their Santa Barbara home. In Glendale, Dawn Hills lost her home, too. (Photos by Jack Adams and Sheri Taylor.)

Canadian LDS Experience Is Topic of Scholarly Forum

Latter-day Saint and non-Latter-day Saint scholars met in Lethbridge, Alberta, June 20 to 24 to discuss the history and contemporary challenges of Latter-day Saints in Canada.

The event was sponsored by two Canadian federal agencies—the province of Alberta and the city of Lethbridge. More than one hundred people attended.

The Church has continued to grow steadily in Canada since 3 June 1887, when seven immigrant wagons and eight families led by Charles Ora Card arrived in Southern Alberta. Canada now has 125,000 members and a total of thirty-four stakes. The dedication of the Toronto Temple this year is an indicator of this growth.

The following is a sampling from papers and presentations given at the conference:

Settling Southern Alberta

  • Jessie L. Embry (Brigham Young University): “Nineteenth-century Canadians were delighted with the Mormons’ industry and settlement patterns, but they were concerned about the Mormons’ religious practices and their loyalty. The positive elements, intermingled with the negative responses, illustrate the dilemma the Canadians felt about the Mormon settlers.

    “Government officials expressed the same mixed feelings. In his report of 13 September 1887, John S. Dennis wrote: ‘Any person visiting the colony [Cardston] cannot help being struck with the wonderful progress made by them during the short time they have been in the country. … They are an exceedingly industrious and intelligent people who thoroughly understand prairie farming.’

    “With the passage of time, the Mormons were not only accepted but embraced.”

  • Joanne A. Stiles (University of Toronto): “Mormons, led by Jesse Knight, pioneered agriculture and industry in the town of Raymond. A sugar refinery was established there at the turn of the century. Mountains of sugar beets came from hundreds of nearby irrigated acres to be processed in Canada’s first sugar refinery.”

  • Georgia Fooks (Lethbridge Community College): “The Mormons brought their irrigation expertise to Canada and were hired by the Galts to construct the main irrigation canal from the headgates at Kimball to Lethbridge between 1898 and 1900. Charles Ora Card plowed the first ditch. Now the waters of five rivers spread over 825,000 acres, and alfalfa and grain can be successfully grown.”

LDS Historiography

  • Roy A. Prete (Royal Military College, Kingston): “The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its peoples needs to advance beyond the sphere of analysis based solely in social and economic factors to include the religious discourse of its leaders and members in order to understand the phenomenon of Mormonism in its total perspective. To tell the story of Joseph Smith without an integral discussion of the revelations of the Book of Mormon, as is sometimes done, is indeed to tell the story of Moses without a law.”

Mormons in Upper Canada

  • Leonard J. Arrington (Brigham Young University): “Among the Canadian Saints in need of more study and appreciation are Joseph and Mary Isabella Horne, who were baptized in Upper Canada in 1836 and later joined the Saints in Missouri. Joseph Horne was a resourceful and effective colonizer, builder, and community leader. Mary Isabella Hales Horne was also a leader, particularly among the women. Her Canadian upbringing, character, and organizing ability served the Church well in her many leadership roles, and particularly her contributions to the cause of women’s suffrage. Joseph and Mary Isabella Horne were proud of their Canadianness and exhibited throughout their long lives the richness of their Canadian experience.”

  • Richard G. Bennett (University of Manitoba): “The nineteenth-century press influenced the sentiment of the general Canadian population toward the Mormons. Coverage was both uneven and localized. Most articles were highly critical of the Mormon experience, with emphasis on the sensational and the dramatic. The criticism for Mormons was muted by the sympathy for the sufferings they were enduring. For example, appearing in the St. Catherine’s Journal in the summer of 1839 was the following Illinois-based reference to the Missouri difficulties:

    ‘The Mormons are an orderly, industrious class of citizens. … From the very first they have been more “sinned against than sinning.” We hold no fellowship with their absurd doctrines … yet this furnished no excuse for the commission of violence against them. The press should speak out upon this subject in tones of thunder and hold up the perpetrators of these atrocities to all good men.’”

  • Stephen C. Young (LDS Church Family History Department): “Parley P. Pratt’s first visit to Toronto in 1836 was met with obstinate opposition. Nevertheless, it is one of the better-known missionary efforts in the history of the Church in eastern Canada. Of short duration, it resulted in the conversion and baptism of several persons who subsequently became influential in the Church for decades to come. Among the fruits of Elder Pratt’s labor was John Taylor, a future Apostle and President of the Church.”

Temple-Building

  • Paul L. Anderson (Church Museum of History and Art): “The Alberta Temple was considered boldly modern when it was built in 1912. Today, it stands as one of the great architectural creations of the Church. Currently, the temple is undergoing interior remodeling and exterior cleaning. As we view the temple across the prairies of Southern Alberta, we are still struck by its beauty and the appropriateness of its design.”

Canadian Mormon-Indian Relationships

  • Clem Bearfoot (Blackfoot Tribe): “Before I joined this Church, I had a great hatred toward it. This hatred stayed with me until spring of 1975, when a missionary couple taught me what true Mormons stand for. …

    “When I go to church on Sundays, I do not go to have someone shake my hand or to be hugged or praised. I go because I want to worship. If members choose not to shake hands or show affection, then it is their problem, not mine. I have learned that if you live the standards of the Church and follow the admonition of the Church leaders, you just don’t have room for prejudice.”

Canadian Mormon Identity

  • Paul Wright (Teacher, British Columbia): “About 45 percent of the Canadian Latter-day Saint population live in Southern Alberta, and their life-style closely resembles that of American Latter-day Saints in Utah and Idaho. The remaining 55 percent possess a life-style similar to the worldwide Latter-day Saint population.

    “But I suggest that this is not a problem. Canada is a big country filled with a glorious rainbow of colors, styles, and varieties. There should be room enough in our country and our Church for this and more.”

“Come, Come, Ye Saints” Site Marked by Plaque

On the morning of 15 April 1846, at a spot near Locust Creek in southern Iowa, William Clayton composed a hymn that has become known to generations of Latter-day Saints as “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”

Until recently, no one knew exactly where this great song of the Latter-day Saint exodus was written. But now, through the work of two men—an LDS history professor and an Iowa history buff—the location has been fixed within a half-mile area, and a plaque has been placed nearby to mark the spot.

The plaque was dedicated on July 1, under the auspices of Iowa’s Wayne County Historical Society, at the Tharp Cemetery near Locust Creek, fifteen miles southeast of Corydon, Iowa.

Stanley B. Kimball, a professor of historical studies at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, offered the dedicatory prayer. Brother Kimball had been researching the location of the site since 1972.

Local history buff Elbert Pidcock, a retired mail carrier and member of the Wayne County Historical Society, was honored during the program for his work in locating the site. He and Brother Kimball cooperated in the research and shared the fieldwork on the project.

More than 125 local residents and Church members attended the dedicatory program. Bishop Charles Graves of the Osceola Ward, Des Moines Iowa Stake, gave the invocation, and Joseph Walt, a Latter-day Saint member of the board of the Iowa State Historical Society, headquartered in Des Moines, greeted those in attendance.

Loren Horton, coordinator of field services for the State Historical Society of Iowa, headquartered in Iowa City, spoke of the hardships endured by the first group of LDS pioneers, who, fighting cold, wet weather, found Iowa in the late winter and early spring one of the hardest parts of their journey. “Because of the trek through Iowa, perhaps the later hardships were easier to endure,” he said. “And because William Clayton wrote such a great rallying hymn, those Saints who continued in 1846 and who came during the succeeding six years had their hearts uplifted and their burdens lightened.”

The marker placed at the Tharp Cemetery explains that “Come, Come, Ye Saints” was written by Brother Clayton, an English convert, in response to news of the birth of a son to his wife, Diantha, in Nauvoo. The new hymn was set to a popular English folk tune, “All Is Well.”

William Clayton was camp clerk for the advance group of pioneers led by Brigham Young, who crossed the frozen Mississippi into Iowa in February. Their progress through Iowa was slow, but things had begun to improve. Then, just 106 miles west of Nauvoo, Brother Clayton wrote in his journal on April 15: “This morning Ellen [Sanders] Kimball … came to me and wished me much joy. She said Diantha has a son. … Truly I feel to rejoice. … This morning I composed a new song—‘All is well.’ I feel to thank my heavenly father for my boy.”

Church Historian Andrew Jensen began research on the location where this hymn was composed in 1927. Interest in pinpointing the spot grew after the 1973 opening of “The Hymn That Went Around the World,” an LDS pioneer display in the Wayne County Historical Society Museum in Corydon. That exhibit, a cooperative venture between the Church and the historical society, was dedicated by Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve.

[photos] A plaque at a nearby cemetery refers to the site, uphill from Locust Creek and beyond the three distant trees, where the hymn was written. (Photos by Stanley B. Kimball.)