Debut of Prodigal Son Video

On October 28, stakes throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico held open house programs, introducing the Church’s newest direct gospel message broadcast, The Prodigal Son.

Along with this half-hour presentation, which is a modern version of the biblical parable, the open house programs featured displays and exhibits that informed interested visitors and guests about the Church. In exhibit areas, segments of some of the Church’s other direct gospel message broadcasts were also shown on VCR units.

The Prodigal Son retells the timeless story of forgiveness and reminds all members—regardless of our level of activity in the Church—that forgiveness and repentance are essential in our everyday lives and in all relationships, but especially in our families. The video production tells the story of a Latter-day Saint family whose adult son falls into a destructive life-style. As this son repents and returns to the family, his older brother struggles to accept him and believe in his capacity to change.

The story shows how easy it is for us, like the older brother, to withhold our sympathy or understanding of our brother’s suffering for fear he won’t be sufficiently punished. This can be especially hard for people who think of themselves as trying to do what’s right.

The video production is part of a continuing call to less-active members to come back and for all to repent fully and come unto Christ. The central message of this video is that without the Savior in our lives, we lack the capacity to be truly forgiving, and our relationships will suffer.

Sent by means of the Church’s satellite broadcast network, the program, which included an introduction by President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve, was beamed into 7,136 stakes. Local stake and mission leaders had been encouraged to inform members of the event so they could invite their friends, relatives, and acquaintances who might be interested in learning more about the restored gospel. Stakes and missions reported that members enjoyed the program, and many brought friends.

The Anaheim California Stake held two sessions, one at 5:00 p. m. and another at 7:00 p. m., attracting a total of 350 people, of whom 65 were guests or visitors.

Because of a large Spanish-speaking membership in at least two of the wards, stake leaders translated the video script beforehand and provided headsets for those who wished to hear the program in Spanish. “We are doing everything in our power to enable all members to feel unified in the faith,” says Victor Orvis, president of the Anaheim stake.

In Canada’s Red Deer Alberta Stake, four different rooms were set up with displays and exhibits in the stake center. They reported that 128 people visited the exhibit, 10 of whom were guests of members or missionaries. In the neighboring Wetaskiwin Ward building, 112 people attended, including 15 guests. The general response to the video broadcast was that it was very moving.

In Canada’s Saint John New Brunswick Stake, where the October 28 broadcast originating from Temple Square did not begin until late in the evening, open house programs were not scheduled until the following Sunday, November 4. A total of more than 500 people gathered for open house programs in buildings housing the stake’s individual units. Approximately one-fifth of those attending were not members of the Church or were less-active members, many of whom were deeply touched by The Prodigal Son. Twenty-five missionary referrals came as a result of the open house programs in the stake.

From Indiana, President Michael Ellis reports that printed invitations brought a good response in the Indianapolis North stake. Because of their extensive stake boundaries, they held open house programs in three buildings that had satellite dishes. Some four hundred members arrived at the three locations, bringing more than sixty guests.

Exhibits and presentations featured the Book of Mormon, family life, the Articles of Faith, and other subjects.

This video broadcast is the fifth in a series produced by the Church’s Missionary Department. Missionaries throughout the world are using videos to share gospel messages with people they might not otherwise reach.

[photos] In Indianapolis, a stake missionary talks about the family (above). Wetaskiwin Ward visitors, Red Deer Alberta Stake, watch a Church video (right).

Sioux Falls: A Secret Treasure

On the banks of the Big Sioux River and stretching westward onto the prairie of South Dakota is the city of Sioux Falls. With a population of just over 100,000, the city is a commercial and industrial center for this mainly agricultural state.

Sioux Falls is also the home of two wards and the center for a geographically large stake. Members drive from parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern South Dakota for conferences and stake meetings. Some travel more than forty miles one way to do their home teaching and visiting teaching. But despite the distance, the Saints feel that their lives are blessed with a beauty and safety unmatched in other places. L. D. Andrews, first counselor in the Sioux Falls South Dakota Stake presidency, calls Sioux Falls “the secret treasure of the Church.”

President Andrews was raised in Sioux Falls, a member of the predominant Protestant church there. But when it came time for him to go to college, he chose Brigham Young University. He joined the Church in his freshman year, in spite of a self-proclaimed dislike for change. A collector of antiques and museum-quality art, President Andrews says his most valued possession is the Book of Mormon he received from his friends at the “Y” when he was baptized.

The Church in Sioux Falls began when Hans Adler moved from Germany to the city in 1935. He went to the library searching for information on Christian religions. The librarian said she only had something on non-Christians. Thinking that was as good a place to start as any, Adler read and accepted the book the librarian offered him. It was the Book of Mormon.

Other conversions followed, and Latter-day Saints moved in from Utah. On 19 June 1949, the Sioux Falls Branch was organized with sixty-five members. When a chapel was approved, Hans Adler headed the building committee. Old-timers still call that building, about the size of a house, “the little green church.”

“We were almost breaking out the sides of the church when a new building was approved,” says Roulland Feekes, who was baptized with his wife, Lucille, in 1957. To pay for the building, the Relief Society sold hand-dipped chocolates for five dollars a box. Barbara Bertleson remembers making fondant on marble slabs in the basement of the first meetinghouse to increase the building fund.

Sister Bertleson was at home with a new baby when the missionaries came to her home. “They told me about Joseph Smith, and I knew it was either a far-fetched story or the truth,” she says. After baptism, her life changed. Her friends and family thought she had become too involved with religion. She struggled with parental disapproval but remained faithful. “We are pioneers out here on the frontier of the Church,” she says. “I can’t let go of the things I know.”

The Saints love the social environment in Sioux Falls, citing lack of crime, space to grow, a closeness with the land, and excellent schools. “The sun shines—even on cold days,” claims Carole Larkin. “The beauty here is a well-kept secret.”

Sister Larkin and her husband, Jay, moved to Sioux Falls from Houston, Texas. They were delighted to find that small-town America still exists. “Sioux Falls has everything a big city has,” Sister Larkin says, “but just one or two of it instead of eight or ten.”

What the city lacks for the Larkins and for other transplants is having family nearby. People worry that their children don’t know their grandparents. “But we want our family to move here,” says Brother Larkin. “We don’t want to leave.”

Sioux Falls Saints also miss having a temple nearby. The stake arranges four trips each year to the Chicago Illinois Temple, as well as one for the youth to do baptisms for the dead. “We gird up our loins and enjoy it,” says Nancy Gardner of the Sioux Falls Second Ward. “I marvel at how the Lord helps me catch up on sleep following a full day of temple sessions and the all-night bus rides.”

Like other LDS women in Sioux Falls, Sister Gardner has taken advantage of opportunities to serve in the community. She and two other Church members have been among the past five presidents of the citywide PTA. Another is the current vice president. The sisters’ influence is subtle but important. “When our members are active in the community, it makes a difference in the way people feel about the Church,” says Sister Gardner.

For LDS young people in Sioux Falls, peer pressure in high school is hard, points out Meredith Gardner. Her mother agrees—and is grateful that her children have good friends with goals such as going on missions.

“I wish there were more LDS people here to interact with,” says President Andrews, “especially for the teenagers and young adults. We need to do a better job of bringing our friends to a knowledge of the gospel.”

Sioux Falls Saints love their “secret” home. “We’re a family here,” says Sister Bertleson. “We’re not just friends, but family.” And members want the Church to grow from within because their neighbors are good, caring people.

[photos] (Left) L. D. Andrews, first counselor in the Sioux Falls South Dakota Stake presidency. (Center) Sioux Falls downtown skyline. (Right) Roulland and Lucille Feekes, two of the “pioneers” in Sioux Falls. (Photography by Kent Crandall.)

[photo] The Larkin family, from left: Peter; Daniel; Andrew; Carole; Clay; and Jay, holding Brigham.

Karen B. Thompson serves as deaf program coordinator in the Yankton Branch, Sioux Falls South Dakota Stake.

Church Opens Inn at Temple Square

Two members of the First Presidency and the President of the Quorum of the Twelve officiated October 26 at the reopening of a Church-owned hotel overlooking Temple Square.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke; President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, offered the dedicatory prayer; and President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve cut the ribbon, officially opening the Inn at Temple Square. Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales conducted the program.

The building, originally built more than sixty years ago, was formerly known as Hotel Temple Square.

“We are making a bold move in announcing the operation of a smoke-free hostelry,” President Hinckley said in his remarks. Smoking is not permitted in the building.

President Hinckley mentioned the Lord’s commandment that members of the Church build the Nauvoo House in their Illinois city of refuge. (See D&C 124:22–23.) It was to be a place where “the weary traveler may find health and safety while he shall contemplate the word of the Lord.” (D&C 124:23.) President Hinckley said it is hoped that the remodeled inn will live up to the standard the Lord set in that commandment given in 1841.

He said the facility is intended to be a “small, quiet, homey inn of the type one finds in Europe and England.”

Inn manager Joleen Meredith said the staff is striving to make the inn known for personal service and intimate atmosphere.

Included in the inn is a banquet room that can seat up to 100 guests. The inn’s Carriage Court Restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily.

[photo] Remodeling of the sixty-year-old Inn at Temple Square left it with fewer,more modern rooms. (Photo by Philip S. Shurtleff.)

A Conversation about BYU Admissions

The Church projects a 40-percent increase in the number of Latter-day Saint high school graduates in the U.S. and Canada during the next seven years. The projected increase, as well as the increased number of applications for admission over the past three years, has required Brigham Young University to make modifications in its admissions policy to keep within its enrollment ceiling, as established by the Board of Trustees. To help hopeful students and concerned parents understand BYU’s admissions policy as well as other challenges facing the university, the Ensign spoke with BYU president Rex E. Lee and BYU provost Bruce C. Hafen.

Q: Can you identify BYU’s enrollment ceiling and comment on why that ceiling is necessary?

President Lee: Currently, the enrollment ceiling at BYU is 27,000 students. Up until recently, anyone who had college-level credentials and was willing to adhere to our standards was able to be admitted. That has been an important part of our heritage. But that is simply no longer possible.

Given the worldwide needs of a growing church, the Board of Trustees, chaired by the First Presidency, decided that an enrollment ceiling needed to be set. But it hasn’t been until recently that qualified students have actually not been admitted. This reality has required an adjustment for us and an adjustment for members of the Church.

An enrollment ceiling is necessary for basically financial reasons. Once a university reaches a certain size, in order to grow beyond that size, more buildings are needed. BYU has reached the limit of students it can serve with its present facilities. Of course, as technology increases and as we add to our libraries, we will have additional building needs that are unrelated to student enrollment.

Brother Hafen: To gain perspective, let’s go back a few years. In fact, this ceiling is not a recent decision—BYU has been operating under it since 1971. Even earlier, the First Presidency decided in the 1920s that the Church could not financially sustain a higher educational system for all members of the Church who wanted to go to college. Consequently, during those years the Church established the institutes of religion and divested itself of several colleges, keeping only BYU and Ricks College. Later, BYU—Hawaii and LDS Business College were added. Ricks College and BYU—Hawaii, by the way, also have enrollment ceilings.

Q: Can you explain the current admissions policy at BYU?

President Lee: For many years, admission of those who met the worthiness standards was based on a combination of high school grade-point averages and ACT scores. However, in company with most other universities, we found that some high school students were taking easy classes so they could get high grades. That was not the desired goal. As a result, in 1982 BYU reevaluated and modified its admissions policy. It is now more complex and sophisticated, but much more effective:

1. We now use a preparation index—a process that focuses on a student’s quality of preparation for college rather than just grades—though grades do still matter. Students are given credit for taking certain classes that will better prepare them for college—classes such as math, science, history, English, foreign languages—in other words, the academic core of classes offered in high school. Students are also given additional credit for advanced placement classes that prepare them for a college curriculum. The result is that a lower grade in a rigorous course can have more weight in the admission decision than a higher grade in a less-rigorous course. Furthermore, classes taken during the senior year in high school have an influence on the admission decision even though courses have not been completed.

2. However, since the academic credentials of our applicants are usually very good, we’ve now added some nonacademic factors to the admissions process. We have done this to include a broader cross-section of the entire Church population. The 1991 undergraduate admission application asks for the number of years of seminary attendance. It’s important to note that seminary attendance is not required for admission to BYU, but the number of years of seminary completed (either released-time, early morning, or home study) will be an added factor in the admission decision. Seminary grades, however, will not be a factor.

3. In addition, applicants are asked to respond, in writing, to two statements: “Relate your most significant experience (outside your academic work) that you believe warrants special consideration by the University Admission Committee,” and “Why do you believe this information warrants special consideration in evaluating your admission application?”

4. And, of course, we continue to require an ecclesiastical endorsement of worthiness from the bishop of each student applying for admission.

Q: What can a high school student who hopes to attend BYU do to enhance his or her chances of gaining admission?

Brother Hafen: Well, our admissions policy is one that rewards a student who prepares early and works hard. Anybody, regardless of age, income, IQ, race, or sex can do things to get into a better position for admission.

We encourage students to complete at least 50 percent of their high school work in college-preparatory subjects. These include four years of English, two years of math beyond Algebra I, two years of lab sciences, two years of history, two years of literature, and two years of a foreign language. Students with a GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher and an ACT score above 20 are encouraged to apply, though these are not minimum requirements, nor do they guarantee admission. We have discovered that there is a high correlation between taking college-prep classes and scoring well on the ACT.

We also encourage students to take seminary, whether it’s released-time, early morning, or home study. We want students to benefit from taking those classes and from learning gospel principles. Finally, the essay gives students an opportunity to explain additional personal circumstances that would affect the admissions decision.

The bottom line is that not everyone who applies to BYU will be admitted. Yet last year we admitted five out of six freshmen who applied. So, most students who apply do get accepted.

Q: Do some Church members feel that the cost of attending BYU is out of reach for students coming from families with a middle income or below?

President Lee: There are certain reasons that people like to go to a private school as opposed to a public school. In our case, BYU offers an environment that is impossible to find on any other four-year campus in the world. But private institutions don’t have access to public funds, and therefore they generally cost more.

Despite that, I feel strongly that tuition at BYU is one of the best college bargains around. Many people may be surprised to learn that according to Money College Guide 1990, BYU was ranked fourth on a list of one hundred of the best education buys (among private schools) in the nation.

In addition, approximately 95 percent of all private universities and colleges in the U.S. have a higher tuition than BYU. Further, when you compare us with state universities and colleges—whether you use resident or nonresident figures—the cost of attending BYU is about average for comparable institutions. BYU’s tuition is so affordable because approximately 70 percent of the cost is paid by Church funds.

Brother Hafen: The members of the Board of Trustees feel very strongly that tuition at BYU should be low. They do not want a BYU education to be financially out of reach for members of the Church from even the humblest circumstances.

Currently, I think most of the students who are admitted to BYU can, through a combination of low tuition, scholarships, and other financial assistance, afford to attend and earn their degrees. One of our major objectives is to make that possible for each student who is admitted. We are working with the BYU Alumni Association and the LDS Foundation toward accomplishing that goal.

For further information, write BYU Admissions and Records, A-153 ASB, BYU, Provo, UT 84602.

[photo] Brigham Young University Provost Bruce C. Hafen and President Rex E. Lee. (Photo by Philip S. Shurtleff.)

Update: Names Extraction Totals

In recent years, thousands of Church members have been serving in two name-extraction programs—the stake record extraction program and the family record extraction program, which began in 1987. The work performed in name extracting has increased, as evidenced by the increase in names submitted to the Family History Department.

Stake Record Extraction Program

Stake Record Extraction Program

Family Record Extraction Program

Family Record Extraction Program

Polynesians Win Hearts in China

A group of performers from the Church’s Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii, won wide acceptance as they performed at the First China International Folk Art Festival during August 1989.

The twenty-five dancers, singers, and support personnel spent three weeks in China. They performed at the festival in Beijing for the first week, then traveled to other areas to perform, and then returned to Beijing for a final show.

Their music and dance numbers represented Hawaiian, Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, Maori, and Tahitian cultures. Schedulers for the folk festival performances soon found that the PCC group was the highlight of the show, so the group was consistently scheduled to perform last.

In addition to thousands of Chinese who saw them perform in person, there was a potential audience of millions for the group’s videotape when it was broadcast on national television.

1991 Pageant Schedule

Following are the dates of Church pageants scheduled for 1991.




Hear Him

New Zealand Temple

January 10–12

Jesus the Christ

Mesa Arizona Visitors’ Center

March 26–30

Mormon Miracle

Manti Temple

July 11–13, 16–20

America’s Witness for Christ

Hill Cumorah, Palmyra, New York

July 12–13, 16–20

Castle Valley Pageant

Mountain Amphitheater, Castle Dale, Utah

July 31–Aug 3

City of Joseph

Nauvoo, Illinois

August 2–3, 6–10

Martin Harris, the Man Who Knew

Clarkston, Utah

August 16–17, 20–24

A Frontier Story

Independence, Missouri Visitors’ Center

August 28–31

Nativity Pageant

Calgary, Canada

December 16–25

Temple Square Visitor Count Soars

The annual number of visitors to Temple Square in Salt Lake City has been on a strong upward trend for the past five years, and the trend shows no sign of changing.

Each of the first ten months of 1990, for example, showed an increase in the number of visitors when compared with the corresponding month in 1989.

In 1986, some 2,599,441 people visited Temple Square during the year. In 1989, the figure was 4,345,879—an increase of 1,746,438, or 67 percent. In 1990, the number of visitors recorded for the first ten months of the year was running almost 9 percent ahead of the 1989 figures.

The growth in the number of visitors to Temple Square has corresponded with growth in tourism in Utah during the past few years. But Temple Square has more visitors annually than any one of the national parks in Utah, and also more than Yellowstone National Park, to the north in Wyoming and Montana.