News of the Church

By


President Benson Celebrates Ninety-two Years

Family members helped President Ezra Taft Benson celebrate his ninety-second birthday August 4 at a special dinner. He received birthday wishes and congratulations from members throughout the Church.

President Benson was born 4 August 1899 in Whitney, Idaho, a small farming community in the southeastern part of the state, just north of the Utah-Idaho border. He grew up on a farm, studied agriculture, and went on to serve as United States secretary of agriculture during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Church service has been Ezra Taft Benson’s way of life. He has served as a General Authority for more than half of his lifetime, having been called to the Quorum of the Twelve in October 1943, at age forty-four. He has been President of the Church since November 1985.

President Ezra Taft Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson looks at some of the birthday cards and messages sent by members throughout the Church. (Photo by Jed Clark.)

President Hinckley Addresses Single Adult Conference

Single adult members are “a wonderful people” from whom the Church derives great strength, President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said at a singles conference July 28.

He explained to the approximately six thousand people at a fireside ending the Utah Valley Singles Conference, in Provo, Utah, that single members’ path to joy and progress is the same as that for any other member.

The fireside, held in the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University, concluded a week-long conference.

President Hinckley told the group: “I feel some concern about the tendency in the Church to divide members into various classes and groups. I do not look upon you as being essentially different from other members of the Church.

“The Church is much stronger because of you. Your strong helping hands and your willing hearts have done so much to move forward the work of the Lord and bring to pass his eternal purposes,” he said. “Your present domestic situation may be different from that of others, but you certainly are not alone.”

He expressed the wish that every single man and woman who so desired might find a worthy, loving companion. “Do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it.” His remark drew laughter. “The chances are that if you forget about it and become anxiously engaged in other activities, the prospects will brighten immeasurably.”

In keeping with the theme of the conference, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” he suggested three guideposts to help people find happiness.

The first is growth. “I urge you to discipline yourselves to grow in knowledge and understanding of the things of the world and the things of eternity, as the Lord has instructed us to do,” he said.

The second is service. He urged members to help the less fortunate, comfort the sorrowing, and give of their own substance. “Share, and the world will become a sweeter, more delightful place for you. Look to God and listen to him, and lose yourself in the service of others, which is the very essence of his divine work.”

Third, “walk by faith.” While we cannot know the future, “we can and must walk with faith in his eternal purposes concerning our places in his grand design.” He suggested several indicators of faith—serving others, shunning evil (particularly pornography), and paying honest tithes and offerings. “We can strengthen and build one another wherever we go. We can stand on higher ground and lift those who are in distress. We can walk by faith. God help us to do so.”

Among the other speakers during the conference were Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Seventy; President Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president; Barbara B. Smith, former Relief Society general president; and Utah Congressman Bill Orton.

Monument to Pioneer Woman Dedicated

CEDAR CITY, UTAH—President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, joined Utah Governor Norman Bangerter and other dignitaries here August 3 in dedicating a monument honoring a courageous pioneer, Ellen “Nellie” Pucell Unthank.

Hundreds of people attended the dedicatory ceremonies. The monument was placed on the Southern Utah University campus, not far from where Nellie’s home once stood. The Sons of the Utah Pioneers (SUP) organization was instrumental in bringing about the honor for a woman SUP national president Kenneth P. Rasmussen called “one of God’s most precious children—a quiet pioneer, a true heroine.”

In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley gave a short account of her tragic journey across the plains. Nine-year-old Nellie and her sister Margaret joined the Church with their parents in England and traveled to the United States. They were members of the Edward Martin handcart company, which was caught in harsh winter conditions before reaching the Salt Lake Valley. The two girls were orphaned when their parents were among the 135 to 150 people in the company who died from exhaustion and exposure.

Nellie’s legs had been badly frozen in the ordeal. When she arrived in Salt Lake City, they were amputated below the knee; a butcher knife and a carpenter’s saw were used in the surgery, which was performed without anesthetic. She hobbled around on the stumps of her legs for the remainder of her sixty-nine years. After her arrival in Salt Lake, she moved to Cedar City, where she married William Unthank. She reared six children while living in impoverished conditions in a one-room log house.

The new monument, sculpted by Jerry Anderson of Leeds, Utah, depicts little Nellie as a happy girl running across the plains before her trek westward.

The monument of Nellie Unthank

The monument, which depicts Nellie Unthank as a carefree girl before crossing the plains, honors her life of service despite adversity. (Photo by Daniel B. Stewart.)

In his remarks at the dedication, President Hinckley commented that Nellie Unthank “knew something of the meaning of sacrifice, and of fidelity to a cause and a purpose.”

In the dedicatory prayer, he asked that the monument might remind all who see it of Nellie Unthank’s “unflagging courage, her tender and tenacious faith.” He prayed that visitors might have reverence for “this woman, and others of her kind, who pioneered the West, who overcame obstacles with a spirit of resolution almost beyond our understanding, who lived without complaint and made the society of which they were a part better for their presence.”

Governor Bangerter, Southern Utah University President Gerald R. Sherratt, and a special guest speaker, Baroness Caroline Cox of the House of Lords of the British Parliament, paid tribute to the memory of Sister Unthank and to her descendants who were in attendance.

Daniel B. Stewart, a journalist, is elders quorum president in the Cedar City First Ward, Cedar City Utah Stake.

Membership Update

By the end of 1990, total worldwide Church membership had reached approximately 7.7 million. Following is a graph showing Church membership in major areas of the world.

Membership Update

Canada 128,000

United States 4,267,000

Caribbean 56,000

Mexico 617,000

Central America 252,000

South America 1,359,000

Scandinavia 20,000

Europe 148,000

U. K./Ireland 152,000

Africa 52,000

Asia 442,000

South Pacific 266,000

Misc. countries 900

President Monson Addresses National Convention

A nationwide program, sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and aimed at strengthening families, was introduced at the association’s 1991 national convention, held in Salt Lake City.

President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke in the convention’s opening session, which was held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

“You who serve the counties of America represent the people,” President Monson noted, welcoming the representatives of 3,100 county governments. “You are appreciated. You are trusted. Your tasks are many and your challenges great. The social, societal, financial, and moral ills of our country need your attention.

“This convention helps to eliminate the weakness of one standing alone by substituting the strength of many working together. We wish you success in your sessions. We count on you. We know, as do you, that the power to lead is also the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy. You have our love; you have our prayers.”

The convention featured a new NACo program that is designed to strengthen families. The program focuses on five basic concepts:

  1. 1.

    Strengthen relationships through family activities.

  2. 2.

    Establish reasonable rules and expectations.

  3. 3.

    Build self-esteem.

  4. 4.

    Set achievable goals.

  5. 5.

    Periodically evaluate family strengths and needs.

The program is introduced by a fifteen-minute video, which was shown during the opening session. NACo leaders say the videotape will be distributed to government agencies, schools, parent-teacher associations, and health and human services organizations.

Another speaker at the conference was U.S. Senator Jake Garn, a former mayor of Salt Lake City. In his address, Senator Garn lamented the evils wrought throughout history by “a few evil despots … who want to control and exercise their dominion over their fellow human beings. …

“There is no doubt in my mind that God intended us to be free individuals,” he continued, “to choose how we would live, how we would worship, that we would have freedom of religion, freedom of choice.”

Centennial of LDS Arrival in Tonga Celebrated

Thousands of people recently gathered in Tonga, Hawaii, California, and Utah in July and August to celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of the first LDS missionaries in Tonga on 16 July 1891.

President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy spoke in the Tabernacle on Temple Square at a July 28 fireside honoring the centennial. The three General Authorities spoke about the blessings Tongan members bring into others’ lives, and the blessings the gospel has brought into Tongans’ lives.

One of the largest gatherings in honor of the centennial was held in northern California on the previous weekend, where some five thousand people, most of them islanders (including many of other faiths), gathered for four days of celebration. Honored at these festivities was Tonga’s Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita, who traveled from her current home in London, England, to the celebration. At the gathering held in her honor, Princess Tuita invited Elder Groberg, a former mission president in Tonga and currently president of the North America West Area, to sit with her in a place of honor during the events.

In his Salt Lake fireside address, President Monson said the peoples of the islands have been blessed with great gifts: the gift of song, the gift of faith, the gift of love, the gift of obedience, the gift of gratitude. “Faith is so characteristic of the Tongan people,” he said. “Love is part of Tonga and always will be.” He reminded them to be always obedient in order to avoid Satan’s traps.

“I urge you to live true to these four points: (1) remember your roots; (2) honor your heritage; (3) be true to yourself; (4) keep the commandments of God.”

Elder Wirthlin spoke of the impressive commitment of the Tongan people to both freedom and faith in God, particularly since the landmark reign of King George Tupou I, beginning in the 1840s. Elder Wirthlin also noted that the country’s motto is: “God and Tonga is my inheritance.”

Elder Wirthlin pointed out that nearly 29 percent of Tonga’s population is LDS.

Elder Groberg commented that the fireside honored not only the arrival of missionaries in Tonga one hundred years ago but also “the faithfulness of the Saints during those one hundred years.

“The Tongan people have great faith. They have the ability to bring down the blessings of heaven,” he said.

President Monson and Elder Groberg had also participated in a celebration in Hawaii early in July to commemorate the LDS centennial in Tonga. Both spoke on the BYU—Hawaii campus on Saturday morning, July 6, and were honored at a program afterward that featured feasting, dancing, and the presentation of gifts. Elder Groberg also spoke at a fireside at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Sunday, July 7.

During the celebration in northern California, Princess Tuita had not only honored Elder Groberg but also honored Church member Joseph H. Tonga by designating him “talking chief,” or an intermediary to royalty, and naming him Toutaiola, or “successful fisherman,” because of his work as a fisher of men in the Church’s missionary program.

The princess spoke at welcoming ceremonies and other meetings, expressing gratitude for the honor and support she had received. She told young people attending the events that “only by living good Christian principles can you ever make any good thing of your lives.” She encouraged the young people to gain an education, but not to forget their Tongan roots and traditions.

The celebrations honoring the Tongan centennial of the Church included testimony meetings, conferences, dances, feasts, parades, and firesides.

The first convert in Tonga joined the Church a year after the missionaries arrived. The Church grew slowly in Tonga over the next half-century. By 1946, membership was only 2,422. During the last forty-five years, however, membership has rapidly climbed, reaching approximately 310,000—almost 29 percent of the population.

Tonga has one of the most successful local missionary programs in the Church, with other successes achieved through the Church school program, including the Liahona High School, which opened in 1952. A highlight in the history of the Church in Tonga was the dedication of the Nuku‘Alofa Tonga Temple in 1983.

[photo] Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, President of the North America West Area and a former mission president in Tonga, met with Tongan Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita at a California reception. (Photo by Jack Marshall.)

Salt Lake Temple Prepared for Anniversary

Scaffolding surrounds a portion of the Salt Lake Temple as workers prepare the building for its one-hundredth anniversary on 6 April 1993. Projects include spraying the temple exterior with pressurized water to root out stains and replacing a few deteriorating stones with new stones quarried from the same area as the original granite. Workers will also remove leftover steel shims left by the original builders and will replace damaged hard mortar with a softer mortar. The work is scheduled to be completed by October 1992.

Plans Announced for Celebration of 150 Years of Relief Society

The First Presidency has announced plans for celebration of one hundred fifty years of Relief Society in 1992 with projects focusing on service. A letter sent to General Authorities and regional and local priesthood leaders on August 1 expressed strong support for the planned projects.

“The celebration of the Relief Society sesquicentennial during 1992 is an event of great importance in the Church. When the Relief Society was organized on 17 March 1842, Joseph Smith said, ‘This Society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time henceforth; this is the beginning of better days to the poor and needy, who shall be made to rejoice and pour forth blessings on your heads.’ (History of the Church, 4:607.)

“Our sisters have indeed blessed countless people through the charitable and educational activities of Relief Society,” the letter continued.

“We are grateful for our sisters who play a vital role in building the kingdom of God throughout the earth. We rejoice in the organization of the Relief Society, in its mission, and in the good that comes to the entire world because of the women who are its members.”

In a letter accompanying the First Presidency message, the Relief Society general presidency invited all members to join in the anniversary celebration.

“When the Relief Society was founded,” the letter recalled, “Emma Smith, the first Relief Society General President, said, ‘We are going to do something extraordinary.’ Because our sisters are extraordinary, so are the accomplishments of Relief Society throughout its history. Our celebration should lift and bless all members of the Church and give us cause to thank our Heavenly Father.”

A bulletin titled Relief Society Sesquicentennial Celebration outlines activities and projects that may be part of local commemorations of the Relief Society anniversary. These include:

—A “Celebrate through Service” project that should be “the heart of each local celebration.” The project chosen should “bless people living in the community,” “involve all sisters in meaningful service,” and help them “to develop and exercise charity” and “to enjoy a unified sisterhood.”

—A presentation of “A Society of Sisters,” a program that will feature not only Relief Society history but also life stories and testimonies of local sisters. It is to be presented on 17 March 1992, or as close as possible to that date.

—A ninety-minute international satellite broadcast to link sisters throughout the world, to be broadcast live from the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Saturday, 14 March 1992. It will go to stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, and also to Mexico City, Mexico; Frankfurt, Germany; Johannesburg, South Africa; Seoul, Korea; and Sydney, Australia. This is the only activity throughout the year-long celebration that will not be held at the ward or branch level.

—Preparation of a historical record. Each local unit will be encouraged to prepare a history of its Relief Society, including sesquicentennial activities.

European Youth Choir in Swiss Celebration

When seven hundred young people from around the world gathered to sing in celebration of Switzerland’s seven-hundredth anniversary as a nation, 240 of the singers were Latter-day Saints.

They were members of the specially organized European Mormon Youth Choir, formed to take part in the open-air Concert 700 in Lucerne, Switzerland, on July 6. The concert was one of the events that led up to a day of national celebration in Switzerland on August 1.

In welcoming the LDS group, Swiss musician-composer Turo Pashayan, who organized Concert 700, commented: “This choir in itself represents a bridge between five nations of Europe.” The LDS youth came from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.

The other young singers who participated in the concert came from countries all over the world, including western European countries, the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, China, and Albania.

The format of the concert had all of the young singers performing a few numbers together. Each of the separate groups that made up the larger choir also performed musical numbers. The European Mormon Youth Choir offered a testimony through the song “I Am a Child of God,” singing the first verse in German, the second in French, and the third in English. Another number in their program was “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” with a solo by Brian Montgomery, a Church member from the U.S. who has been performing in European opera houses for several years.

Sharon Hintze, who directed the LDS choir, said the youth performed well despite the fact that they were able to meet together as a group for only a few rehearsals during the two days before their performance. Many choir members came from areas where Church members are a small minority, and they were awed by the fact that they made up the majority of the larger choir.

“What we wanted was for them to have a successful experience. And they did!” Sister Hintze said. Feeling for the first time what they could do when they were working together, the LDS youth cheered themselves when they finished the performance.

Sister Hintze said the LDS youth stood out as ambassadors for the Church, making friends with everyone from concert production people to bus and trolley conductors.

Willi Hurni, public affairs director in the Lucerne Branch, Zurich stake, noted that this was the first time an LDS group had been invited to perform at an official ceremony in Switzerland. “We feel very honored and acknowledge that the Church in Switzerland is being recognized as an institution that can make a major contribution to the community and the country,” he said.—Bruno Kaspar, public affairs director, Zurich Switzerland Stake

[photo] LDS youth from five European countries were among singers at a concert in Lucerne celebrating Switzerland’s seven-hundredth anniversary as a nation. (Photo by Antoinette Spichtig.)

Parades Mark Anniversary of Pioneers’ Arrival

On July 24, amid the parade pageantry and athletic competition that marked the anniversary of the Mormon pioneers’ arrival in Utah in 1847, Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy reminded Church members what the celebration was all about.

It is in remembrance, Elder Carmack recalled, of the pioneers’ “exodus to greatness” when, having been driven from Nauvoo, Illinois, they crossed the Great Plains to a haven in a western desert valley.

Elder Carmack, President of the Utah Central Area and Executive Director of the Church Historical Department, spoke at the annual Days of ’47 sunrise service in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. He spoke of Brigham Young’s “Moses-like” service to the Saints, of the “miracle, too, that a permanent settlement survived in the mountains.

“You know the story,” he said, “but we should never tire of telling it.”

Many celebrated by watching or participating in the Days of ’47 parade in Salt Lake City, an annual event held to commemorate the pioneers’ arrival. Floats and other entries emphasized western pioneer themes. Also honored was the place of native Americans and Spanish explorers in the state’s history. A number of entries honored U.S. military personnel who had served in the Persian Gulf and in other wars.

A youth parade was also held on Saturday, July 20.

Events of July 24 also included an annual marathon and 10K races sponsored by the Deseret News and KSL Radio, and fireworks at various locations in the city.

[photo] Members of the Mormon Battalion commemorative organization march in July 24 parade. (Photo by Don Searle.)

LDS Scene

ITHACA, NEW YORK—A first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon has been loaned by the Church’s Historical Department to a museum here. The book, published in 1830 in the western New York village of Palmyra, will be displayed in a special exhibit in the Hinckley Foundation Museum, one of the best historical museums in the Finger Lakes region.

LOGAN, UTAH—A remodeled building on the Utah State University campus has been dedicated as the David B. Haight Alumni Center. The structure, which served for one hundred years as home to the presidents of the university, was named in honor of Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Comment

More about Beans

It was with great joy that we saw the article “Do You Know Beans about Beans?” in the June 1991 issue. We were surprised, however, by the reference to complete protein and protein combining.

Recent studies show that it is not necessary to combine plant foods with other plant foods or grains in the same meal—nor is it necessary to supplement plant foods with animal foods at all—in order for the body to get the protein and amino acids it needs for good health. Like peas, lentils, grains, nuts, seeds, and many vegetables, beans are naturally rich in protein.

Dorothy E. Smith, Ochlocknee, Georgia Sue Brenner, Meigs, Georgia

Let the Lord Help

Early last year I became very discouraged. I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything, including going to work and attending church. One day I prayed and asked Heavenly Father what I could do about this discouragement. A soft, sweet voice came into my heart. “Get back into your fitness program,” it whispered. What will that do? I wondered. That will tire me out even more.

But the promptings continued. I decided to follow them, even though I still didn’t understand why. I hated exercising for the first three weeks, but I didn’t give up because I wanted to follow the Spirit. After seven weeks, exercising was no longer a burden. Even better, I felt my discouragement melting away, and I liked myself more.

As I look back, I see that the Lord has been with me through the past nine months, helping me and healing me. He will do the same for all of his children—if we will only follow what he asks us to do.

Name Withheld upon Request