News of the Church

By Marvin K. Gardner


President Benson Marks 91 Years

President Ezra Taft Benson celebrated his ninety-first birthday quietly on the first weekend in August. On Friday, August 3, his counselors, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and their wives honored him at a reception. On his birthday—Saturday, August 4—his family celebrated the occasion. Members from throughout the Church remembered him with cards and other “Happy Birthday” greetings.

[photo] President Benson and his wife, Flora, at a reception honoring President Benson’s ninety-first birthday. (Photo by Don Grayston, Church News.)

Three Temples Being Renovated

The London and Swiss temples have been closed for the next year and a half to undergo major renovations, the First Presidency has announced.

The renovations will include upgrading of mechanical systems, replacement of furnishings, and repainting of interiors. The exterior of the London Temple will be cleaned, and new facing material will be added to the Swiss Temple exterior.

In addition, the Washington Temple will close at the end of this year for three months of refurbishing that will include replacement of carpeting and repainting of the interior.

Philippine Saints Recover from Earthquake

Church members in the Philippines continue cleanup and rehabilitation efforts following the July 16 earthquake that measured 7.7 on the Richter scale.

Members in seven stakes and two districts were directly affected. One hundred twenty homes of Church members were destroyed; another 340 were damaged. Several meetinghouses were also damaged—one severely. The Manila Temple was not affected. Of 1,666 casualties, 5 were members of the Church; all missionaries were safe.

“The Philippine people are remarkably resilient,” says Elder George I. Cannon, a member of the Seventy and president of the Philippines/Micronesia Area. “They know how to bounce back. They’re accepting it and moving on.”

Although devastation is widespread in some areas and major aftershocks continued for weeks, “there is little gloom and grief among Church members,” says Terry J. Spallino, director for temporal affairs. “They are busy helping one another and the community.”

For a time, telephone communication was cut off. And because of landslides, damaged buildings, and collapsed bridges, transportation in some areas was difficult. But members and leaders rallied quickly.

When Elder Cannon visited the quake areas, bringing comfort and counsel—along with the first of several truckloads of food, tents, blankets, medical supplies, and other emergency items—he found that local leaders had already visited members’ homes and were doing much to assess needs and offer assistance. “They were doing the best they could on their own with what they had,” he reports. “It was really marvelous. They weren’t waiting for us to arrive.”

From the first jolt, LDS meetinghouses became centers of activity. “When people ran out of their homes,” says Elder Cannon, “many of them went straight to the chapels.” Hundreds crowded inside, in the parking lot, and on the grounds; many lived there for weeks until other arrangements could be made. There, nonmembers as well as members received food, shelter, and medical attention. A missionary medical team—a retired physician and two registered nurses—treated victims and rescue workers.

Because of the Church’s excellent reputation, two national Philippine organizations selected the Baguio stake to receive and distribute large amounts of donated commodities. The chairman of one of these organizations was so impressed with the stake’s organized efforts that he took government officials to the meetinghouse to learn from the Church’s distribution procedures.

The stake received more than three thousand pounds of donated rice, along with money for cooking equipment and ingredients for stew. Relief Society sisters prepared the stew at the meetinghouse; then members distributed it to thirty-five “tent cities” that had sprung up around the cold, rainy city. They served hot meals twice a day for over two weeks—more than 34,000 meals.

“Most of the members are still involved in Christian service organizations,” says Frederico Costales, Baguio stake disaster relief coordinator. “They realize that they were protected by the Lord. Now they want to help others and give comfort.”

Now that immediate needs have been met, members are focusing on two great continuing problems: unemployment and housing. Many commercial buildings collapsed or have been condemned—and jobs have disappeared along with them. For example, Baguio stake president Jose C. Manalansan lost his tailor shop and equipment; he and his wife now go door-to-door soliciting work to do at home. Another family had just made final payment on their video rental business; the earthquake destroyed it all. Fred Dimaya, area welfare services coordinator, says leaders are training ward and stake employment specialists to help the jobless find work.

Housing is just as hard to find, and rent has shot upward. In Baguio, priesthood quorums are teaching construction skills and, as a group, are going from home to home, repairing or reconstructing.

Leaders report a dramatic increase in attendance at sacrament meeting as less-active members return. And full-time and stake missionaries in Baguio distributed more than 450 copies of the Book of Mormon to quake victims. The missionaries are now teaching many interested families.

Stories of protection are emerging from the disaster. One returned missionary reports that he was studying on the fourth floor of a university building when the earthquake hit. While others panicked, he remained calm and found an escape. Moments later, the building collapsed.

Others tell of losing all their material possessions—but being relieved to find their families safe. “We feel we were blessed,” says a father who lost his business and his home. “I don’t really feel that we lost much since our family is all right.”

Bishop Edison Cabrito had prepared a lesson on eternal life for family home evening. When the earthquake hit, he immediately took his family to the chapel—where they ended up staying for almost two weeks because their home had been seriously damaged. There, hours after the quake, he gave his home evening lesson on eternal life to a meetinghouse packed with survivors. The following Sunday, members sang, “Come, come, ye Saints, … All is well! All is well!”

“I think this is going to be a great strengthening experience for these people,” says Elder Cannon. “They will come out stronger as individuals and as members of the Church because they have learned how important the gospel and their families are.”

[photos] Photos by Rabai B. Osumo and Terry J. Spallino

[photo] The Baguio Park Hotel, one of many buildings that collapsed in the earthquake. At least 460 homes of Church members were also damaged or destroyed.

[photos] Elder George I. Cannon (above) encourages Church leaders in Dagupan, one of the hardest-hit areas. In Baguio, Sister Rosann Doney treats a survivor. Baguio stake members distribute hot stew to the homeless. “They showed the community how much people can help each other,” says Elder Cannon.

Zimbabwe Mission President Dies in Accident

An automobile accident claimed the life of the Zimbabwe Harare Mission president, George T. Brooks, near Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, on July 26.

He died instantly when his car collided with a truck, reported Church Missionary Department officials.

President Brooks’s wife, Lillis Remington Brooks, suffered serious multiple injuries and was treated in a nearby hospital. She was later transferred to a hospital in Harare.

Cable Viewers See Church Programs via VISN Network

Church-produced television programs are now reaching viewers across the United States daily through the VISN interfaith cable television network. A Church program runs at least once each day on the network (commonly called “Vision”).

VISN network programs reach viewers in more than seventeen hundred cities. Programs go into the homes of more than five and one-half million cable subscribers and into more than 1.7 millon homes with satellite receiving dishes.

Three LDS programs have been airing regularly on VISN, says Bruce L. Olsen, managing director of Public Communications/Special Affairs for the Church. “Messages for a Better World” features conference and devotional talks by General Authorities, offering gospel perspectives on moral and ethical issues affecting society. “Music and the Spoken Word” features the Tabernacle Choir, with narration and a short spiritual message from Spencer Kinard. A third program, “Families Are Forever,” focuses on children, self-esteem, and family life issues, with Richard and Linda Eyre called to serve as hosts.

Another Church program, a weekly LDS worship service, was scheduled to begin on October 1. It is essentially a 28-minute LDS sacrament meeting. Videotaped at a chapel in suburban Salt Lake City, it is conducted by a bishop, Stephen D. Nadauld, called to preside during the videotaped series. It features talks by Church members and includes ward business that might be conducted in a typical LDS sacrament meeting.

The series was produced at the invitation of the VISN network and was scheduled to be broadcast during VISN’s worship service periods, when services from many faiths are aired.

The broadcasting of these shortened sacrament services is an “exciting” opportunity, Brother Olsen says, because it “gives people a chance to turn to an LDS worship service and see what we’re like.” This includes learning how the lay clergy works in the Church and how members preach and teach the gospel to each other.

Recently, eight one-minute vignettes on the Church were produced by VISN. These will be periodically inserted between VISN programs, along with vignettes on other faith groups.

In addition to the advantages of having Church programs aired nationwide, involvement in VISN “gives us the opportunity of working with and knowing wonderful leaders of other faith groups,” Brother Olsen says. Many of these leaders, after coming to know Latter-day Saints, have been outspoken in their defense of the Church when the occasion has arisen. And many Church members involved in volunteer work with VISN are forming fast friendships with people of other faiths.

Volunteers from many faiths have joined in efforts around the country to encourage local cable systems to select VISN as their religious programming. The Church is one of twenty-two different faith groups involved in founding the VISN network.

[photo] “Families Are Forever,” with hosts Richard and Linda Eyre, one of the LDS programs on VISN cable network.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Tours Temple Square

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, visited Temple Square during a brief stopover in Salt Lake City July 19 while on their way home to Georgia. They were given a tour of the square by full-time missionary guide Sister Pam Misbach. The Carters heard a demonstration of the acoustics and a brief rendition of “Come, Come, Ye Saints” in the Tabernacle, then viewed the Christus statue in the North Visitors’ Center. As souvenirs of their visit, the Carters were given a tape of Tabernacle Choir music and a book describing Temple Square.

[photo] President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, on a tour of Temple Square, guided by Sister Pam Misbach, center, a full-time missionary. (Photo by Christine Durrant.)

[Pioneer Day]

[photo] Pioneers marched through the Salt Lake Valley once more on July 24 during the annual Pioneer Day parade. The celebration marked the arrival of the fist group of Latter-day Saints in the valley 143 years ago. Members in many areas also found ways to celebrate, with activities ranging from picnics and heritage programs to athletic events and rodeos. (Photo by Don Grayston, Church News.)

How Are We Doing As Member-Missionaries?

How often do you share the gospel with your friends—and how do you go about it? These and related questions were the focus of a recent study conducted by the Church.

Although we now have our largest missionary force ever—some forty thousand full-time missionaries—the responsibility of sharing the gospel belongs to each member. To determine just how much member-missionary work is being done, by whom, and how, the Church’s Missionary Executive Council commissioned the Correlation Department’s Research Division to do a study. Researchers surveyed more than 1,800 active members over the age of sixteen, living in twenty-three wards in four regions of the United States. From that group, eighty-five members with varying levels of missionary involvement were then interviewed in depth. (For information on an earlier phase of this study, see Ensign, Aug. 1990, pp. 76–77.)

The study addressed three main issues: How much missionary work members do, what kind of missionary activities members are involved in, and what kinds of things help or hinder their involvement in member-missionary work. All research focused on member-missionary work among friends and acquaintances. It did not study indirect or supportive missionary-related activities, such as making donations to the missionary fund, inviting missionaries to dinner, or sending copies of the Book of Mormon into the mission field to be used by missionaries in teaching investigators.

In general, the results indicate that with thought and planning, most members could do more missionary work among friends and acquaintances than they are now doing. The study also acknowledges that members face many challenges in doing missionary work. But the facts of the study suggest concrete ways members can improve their effectiveness as member-missionaries.

How Much Member-Missionary Work Are We Doing?

According to the initial survey, 60 to 75 percent of active members have low involvement in missionary work. That is, they ordinarily do little to try to stimulate interest among their friends, relatives, or acquaintances. When they do something, it is usually because of obvious interest on the part of the other person.

Between 15 and 25 percent of active members have what may be called a medium-level involvement in missionary work. These members tend to do missionary work with friends or acquaintances intermittently—with long “dry spells” between efforts—and they usually work with only one contact at a time. Members in this group sometimes initiate activities with friends or acquaintances to stimulate or encourage interest in the Church, but they often do not follow up with continued missionary efforts, either in conversations or activities.

A relatively small number of active members, between 3 and 5 percent, are highly involved in missionary work. Members in this group are consistently working with at least one person; often these members are working with several contacts at a time. And as they work with individuals or families, they simultaneously seek others who may have an interest in the Church. They take the initiative and don’t wait until friends ask. They tend to take advantage of existing opportunities, such as special events or programs; but just as often, they spontaneously create opportunities to do missionary work.

What Kinds of Activities Are We Involved In?

According to the survey, the most common member-missionary activity is talking about the Church or the gospel. The next most common activity is socializing with friends outside of Church activities, followed by socializing at a Church activity to which they have invited friends. Inviting friends to regular Sunday church meetings is next, followed by inviting friends to meet with missionaries. Somewhat less common are inviting friends to firesides and giving a copy of the Book of Mormon to a friend. The least common activities are inviting friends to family home evening or sharing a Church video with them, even though these two are as effective as many other activities.

The study verifies that there is a wide range of effective member-missionary activities and that they are most effective when members make repeated efforts, using a combination of different activities. Different approaches made continually with the same person give that friend more of a basis for becoming interested.

The most involved member-missionaries use a variety of missionary methods. With each person they approach, they socialize, discuss the gospel, and invite the person to a range of activities, programs, and meetings. Less-involved members, on the other hand, tend to rely on just one or two kinds of approaches. These members are likely to extend an invitation only once, possibly twice.

Many members could increase their member-missionary involvement and their effectiveness by considering a wider variety of missionary activities and trying to do more with each of their friends or acquaintances. The research was encouraging here on this point. For instance, three out of four invitations to Church activities are reportedly accepted, and approximately one out of three invitations to regular Sunday meetings are accepted. Yet most members don’t extend the invitation.

What Helps or Hinders Our Member-Missionary Work?

Nearly all members seem willing to respond to questions from acquaintances about the Church. But certain factors distinguish members who take more initiative.

Based on the research, one of the most important factors associated with member-missionary activity is personal feelings about the gospel. People who find the gospel meaningful and important in their own lives are much more likely to try to share it actively with others. A second, closely related influence is the member’s personal commitment to try to be a missionary.

Several other factors are also associated with the level of involvement or commitment members feel about sharing the gospel, such as the number of friends and acquaintances who aren’t members of the Church, the depth of the friendship, and the intensity of concern for these acquaintances. Also, members tend to do better as member-missionaries when they see themselves as people who want to share—who enjoy being conversational and helpful. The survey underscores the important fact, however, that members need not possess all of these attributes to share the gospel with others.

Obstacles that members say keep them from doing missionary work include shyness, lack of time, and personal feelings—such as the fear of personal rejection, the fear of offending, and the fear of being perceived as a fanatic. But as the earlier report of the study points out, these fears are largely unfounded; negative outcomes with friends and acquaintances are far more rare than members imagine.

Each member has unique opportunities to do missionary work. It is a challenge to abandon personal fears or to find the time to do member-missionary work. But members can build on their personal strengths by letting their love for the gospel and their warmth and concern for others shine through.

Perhaps the most important thing for members to do—besides being caring and exemplary—is to engage in a variety of missionary activities with each person they work with. This study shows that this practice leads to success and increases our confidence, enjoyment, and satisfaction as member-missionaries.

Most Common Member-Missionary Activities

  1. 1.

    Talking about the Church or the gospel.

  2. 2.

    Socializing outside of Church activities.

  3. 3.

    Socializing at Church activities.

  4. 4.

    Extending an invitation to attend regular Sunday meetings.

  5. 5.

    Extending an invitation to meet with the missionaries.

  6. 6.

    Extending an invitation to attend a fireside.

  7. 7.

    Giving copies of the Book of Mormon.

  8. 8.

    Extending an invitation to attend family home evening.

  9. 9.

    Sharing a Church video.

[photo] Research makes it clear that the members who are most effective at sharing the gospel with their friends and relatives use many different approaches in many different settings.

New Temple Presidents, Matrons Receive Training

Members of the First Presidency and other General Authorities participated in a recent training seminar for newly called temple presidents and matrons. The three-day seminar was held August 14–16 in Salt Lake City.

New temple presidents and matrons are:

Richard D. and Gay Banner Allred, serving at the Guatemala City Temple, from San Antonio, Texas.

Henry J. and Mary Jean Smith Badger, serving at the Seattle Temple, from Salt Lake City.

Dorman H. and Lenora L. Baird, serving at the Ogden Temple, from Ogden, Utah.

Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter, an emeritus member of the Seventy, and Geraldine Hamblin Bangerter, serving at the Jordan River Temple, from Alpine, Utah.

Elder Waldo Pratt Call, a member of the Seventy, and LaRayne Whetten Call, serving at the Mexico City Temple, originally from Colonia Juarez, Mexico.

Elder Helio da Rocha Camargo, a member of the Seventy, and Nair Belmira de Gouvea Camargo, serving at the Sao Paulo Temple, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Donald W. and Amy Oliver Cummings, serving at the Sydney Australia Temple, from Australia.

Barton S. and H. Patricia Quinn Gillespie, serving at the Taipei Taiwan Temple, from Gilbert, Arizona.

Lloyd A. and Nina Kinghorn Hamilton, serving at the Boise Idaho Temple, from Twin Falls, Idaho.

David S. and Rosalie Lehner King, serving at the Washington Temple, from Washington, D.C.

F. Briton and Beth Merrill McConkie, serving at the Manila Philippines Temple, from Salt Lake City.

Ivan V. and Ruth Nelson Miller, serving at the Logan Temple, from Hyrum, Utah.

Rudy W. and Joanne Bretzing Mortensen, serving at the Lima Peru Temple, from Phoenix, Arizona.

Veigh J. and Janet Moyle Nielson, serving at the Dallas Texas Temple, from Salt Lake City.

Elder Spencer H. Osborn, a former member of the Seventy, and Avanelle Richards Osborn, serving at the Salt Lake Temple, from Salt Lake City.

Byung Kyu Pak and Young Ji Rhee Pak, serving at the Seoul Korea Temple, from Korea.

Julius B. and Leona Bartlett Papa, serving at the Oakland Temple, from Oroville, California.

Ralph John and Marian MacDonald Richards, serving at the Papeete Tahiti Temple, from Salt Lake City.

Elder John Sonnenberg, a former member of the Seventy, and Joyce Dalton Sonnenberg, serving at the New Zealand Temple, from Salt Lake City.

C. Gayle and Ruby Holloway Williams, serving at the Idaho Falls Temple, from Blackfoot, Idaho.

Policies and Announcements

The following items appeared in the 1990–2 Bulletin.

Civil Marriages

Church officers should encourage members to qualify for temple marriage and to be married in the temple. Where this ideal is not possible because of personal circumstances or because of legal requirements in effect in some countries, civil marriages should be performed in the home of a family member or in a Church building rather than in a commercial wedding chapel or other public place. The recommended ceremony for a civil marriage should be used. Civil marriages and related religious ceremonies should be performed on a day other than Sunday. They should not be performed at unusual hours.

Marriages performed in a Church building may be either in the chapel, the cultural hall, or other suitable room in the building. Such ceremonies should be simple, conservative, and in harmony with the sacredness of the marriage covenants. There should be no extravagance in decorations or pomp in the proceedings, such as a wedding march.

Outside the United States of America, some countries or provinces require that a marriage ceremony be performed by a public official, and some require that this be done in a public building. In these countries or provinces, the temple sealing necessarily follows the civil marriage. Couples who are not sealed in the temple may desire to have a brief religious ceremony that can be attended by family and friends. In that ceremony the bishop or stake president will give counsel to the couple and give Church recognition of their marriage. The instructions in the preceding paragraphs on the use of Church buildings and the simplicity of ceremonies also apply to such ceremonies.

Funerals

A funeral is a religious service conducted under the direction of appropriate priesthood authority in accordance with certain prescribed guidelines. It should be a spiritual occasion, not solely a family gathering.

  1. 1.

    The bishop or a member of the bishopric presides over the planning, is responsible for the content in counsel with the family, and conducts the funeral. The desires of the family should receive consideration as the bishop works with them to plan the services; however, the services should be in keeping with established guidelines. Members of the family should not be required to speak. Funeral directors, in their desires to be helpful, should not proceed, even informally, to direct the services.

  2. 2.

    When a General Authority or a member of a stake presidency presides over a funeral service, he should be recognized and consulted in advance by the bishop or the members of the bishopric conducting the funeral.

  3. 3.

    As a courtesy to those who have made arrangements to attend, funerals should not be too long. Funerals of more than an hour and a half place an undue burden on those attending and participating. Prayers should not be lengthy.

  4. 4.

    Funerals should start on time. In this connection, obituary notices should indicate at what time the viewing will begin and conclude. The viewing needs to be concluded at least twenty minutes in advance, allowing time for the family prayer. The bishop should review these plans beforehand to ensure that those waiting in the viewing line do not impose upon the already assembled congregations in the chapel.

  5. 5.

    Reverence should prevail in the viewing room as well as in the chapel.

  6. 6.

    The content of funerals should balance appropriate tributes with the teaching of the gospel.

Surnames of Children Born Out of Wedlock

The legal name of a child born out of wedlock should be placed on the membership records of the Church. This is the name that appears on the birth certificate or civil birth registry. If there is no birth certificate or civil registry, the naming conventions of the local culture should be followed.

Sports Eligibility of Eighteen-Year-Old Men

Eighteen-year-old men who are members of the priests quorum and who are found worthy by their bishop to participate may participate on quorum sports teams. The submission and approval of a request for waiver of eligibility rules are no longer required for those who turn eighteen before 1 September, the traditional beginning of the sports year.

This instruction supersedes that found in the Physical Fitness, Sports, and Recreation Manual (30818), page 34. This change will leave decisions about sports eligibility of eighteen-year-old men to bishops, in consultation with their stake presidents, when necessary.

This change does not preclude an eighteen-year-old from choosing to play on a senior sports team. However, an individual may not play on both junior and senior division teams. Once a choice is made to play in the senior division, the individual may not return to the junior division in that sport.

Selected Hymns Booklet and Cassettes

Two new items, Selected Hymns booklet with music and words (34160; $.70 each) and audiocassette accompaniments (52427; $6.00 per set of 6) are now available through Church distribution centers. The booklet may be useful for Church meetings where the full hymnbook is not available. The audiocassettes present piano and instrumental accompaniment of all verses of sixty frequently used hymns and will be useful for Church meetings where live accompaniment is not available. Both items will also be useful to families and individuals in the home. These items replace Hymns and Children’s Songs (booklet, PBMU0467; audiocassettes, VVOT1612).

Update: Countries with Wards and Branches

In 1989, the number of countries with organized wards and branches of the Church passed the one-hundred mark. It had hovered near one hundred for five years. The figure does not include the twenty-three territories, colonies, and possessions that have wards and branches.

1984

96

1985

95

1986

98

1987

97

1988

100

1989

105