News of the Church


Provo MTC Expansion

The expansion of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, is an expression and fulfillment of the “Mormon missionary miracle,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, at ground-breaking ceremonies for the project.

Speaking on 24 October 1991, President Hinckley said the missionary program has tremendous consequences. “No one can foretell the work of a missionary, not even the missionary himself, because out of his efforts there grows a work which goes on … for generations.”

The expansion project will add 199,000 square feet to the facility, increasing the size of the MTC by almost a third. The addition, said President Hinckley, is equivalent to the square footage of eight new stake centers.

“Hopefully what occurs here in this facility, with its addition, will bear fruit in members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who will require not just eight new stake centers, but eighty, or eight hundred, or eight thousand in the years to come.

“Such is the multiple effect of the work that comes from this tremendous responsibility to go into the world and preach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”

Plans call for a multipurpose building for orientation meetings, devotionals, firesides, conferences, and recreational activities; a four-story residence hall; an additional four-story classroom building; and a new entrance to the overall training complex.

The MTC capacity will increase from 3,000 to 4,000 missionaries. Also as part of the expansion, a 40,000-square-foot gymnasium will be remodeled into a cafeteria.

“I feel profoundly grateful that there is enough of faith in this Church to send, by the tens of thousands, young men and young women with older couples out into the world to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph,” President Hinckley said.

The amount of money needed to send out 45,000 missionaries is staggering, and it “represents a spirit of consecration almost beyond our capacity to realize. And I am grateful very much for the faith of our people—the magnificent, wonderful, simple, powerful faith of the Latter-day Saints who pay their tithing … to make possible … the construction of buildings such as this.

“God be thanked for the faith of our people. What we do today is an expression of faith that will bear fruit in the lives of people in hundreds of nations and for generations yet to come.”

President Hinckley said he hopes to see more missionary training centers, such as the ones already in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, England, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Peru, Samoa, and Tonga.

“The very music of those names [of the centers], to me, becomes a miracle in and of itself. I have had the privilege and the opportunity to see in a very real, intimate, close, personal way the evolution and growth—tremendous growth—of this remarkable program.”

Quoting from section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants, President Hinckley outlined the purpose of missionary training centers: so that every man might speak in the name of the Lord, so that faith might increase, so that the everlasting covenant might be established, and so that the fulness of the gospel might be preached to the world. (See D&C 1:20–23.)

President Hinckley gave the main address at the ceremonies conducted by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve and attended by many Church and local government leaders, including Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin and BYU President Rex E. Lee.

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency (right) and Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve participate in ground-breaking ceremonies for expansion at the Provo Missionary Training Center. (Photo by Eliza Tanner.)

President Monson Addresses BYU Students

Fun, friends, family, future, and faith are important words pertaining to the university experience, President Thomas S. Monson told Brigham Young University students at a recent devotional.

“Surely, there is time for proper fun,” said President Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, during the 15 October 1991 fireside. “In the events and activities in our lives, we must beware of the type of fun that would destroy our ideals and would cause us heartbreak. We can certainly participate in that fun which will bring joy to our hearts and souls and prepare us for our future activities and responsibilities.”

Reaching out to others and establishing new friendships is important, emphasized President Monson. “The Lord said, ‘Lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.’ (D&C 81:5.) There are times when every student has hands that hang down and knees that are feeble, [and] needs that clasped hand of friendship and assurance that each one is important and vital.”

President Monson reminded the students of the parents they left at home. “You are their hopes and you are their aspirations and you are their dreams. They are on their knees praying for you every morning and every night, and when you realize that, I’m confident that your activities and, indeed, your actions will reflect the faith that you know your parents have in you. …

“Your conduct on this campus is an extension of your family training,” he observed. “Your principles are on trial.”

The time to prepare for the future is in the present, President Monson continued. “This is the day to decide, for decisions literally determine destiny. … This is your day of decision and, oh, my young brothers and sisters, think and ponder and pray about the decisions in your life. Very few are trivial. Most of them have far-reaching consequences.”

Faith was the final word President Monson discussed. “The Apostle Paul, in writing to his disciple Timothy, made a statement that I love. ‘Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.’ (1 Tim. 4:12.)

“What a challenge, what an opportunity, to be literally an example. … That’s the charge I would leave with you, to be such an example.”

Latter-day Saints Join Efforts after Oakland Fire

Missionaries jumped in to help with relief efforts in the wake of a fire in Oakland and Berkeley, California, that killed twenty-five people and destroyed more than 3,000 houses, apartments, and buildings.

“They know how to do everything—except make coffee,” a Red Cross shelter manager told Elder Kent Parrish and his wife, Sister Sue Parrish, who serve in the California Oakland Mission.

The homes of three Latter-day Saint families and the apartment of two LDS students attending the University of California, Berkeley, were among those reduced to ashes in the 20–22 October 1991 fire.

On Sunday, as thousands of families were evacuating, missionaries came to President Robert A. Madsen, California Oakland Mission, and asked what they could do to help. “Do what Christ would do,” he said.

They then volunteered at Red Cross shelters—scrubbing floors, preparing food, and directing traffic. Within a week after the fire, at least 140 missionaries had been involved in around-the-clock shifts.

“The principal evacuation center dismissed other volunteers so our ‘clean, hardworking’ missionaries could run the food services. We made the meals, twenty-four hours per day, for all the fire fighters, policemen, emergency services, and the displaced,” President Madsen said.

Red Cross officials praised the efforts by the missionaries. In one service center, the missionaries offered an image of order and normality that helped calm people who had lost everything in the fire.

In order to better use the missionaries’ talents, the Red Cross trained them in a two- to three-hour seminar to work with victims in damage assessment, disbursing funds, and filing insurance claims.

Throughout the region, members of the Church rallied together as many of them, including President Gary Stephen Anderson, of the Oakland stake, were evacuated from their homes. The Oakland Temple’s parking lot was turned into a helicopter landing pad and refueling station.

Members of the San Leandro California Stake, under the direction of President Jay Douglas Pimentel, aided in relief efforts by sending a thousand sack dinners to volunteers fighting the fires and offering housing for evacuees.

After immediate needs had been met, the San Leandro stake began work to coordinate long-range cleanup efforts in conjunction with other stakes in the area, the Red Cross, the city of Oakland, the Oakland Interfaith Council, and other volunteer organizations. “Our role is now one of resource and support,” President Pimentel said.

Although the fire burned along a mountain ridge near the Oakland Temple, it was contained before it approached the temple, said Robert L. Lillywhite, temple recorder.

“The fire was about a mile away,” he said. “But since the temple was closed on the two days of the fire (Sunday and Monday), our patrons weren’t affected by the fire.”

On Sunday, October 20, Bishop Samuel Richard Wickel, Jr., of the Oakland Third Ward, in the Oakland California Stake, had finished Church meetings and was visiting with members when word came that parts of the city were burning. He sent everyone home.

“We could see the fire coming our way. It was about 2:00 p. m. The fire fighters kept fighting the fire. By 4:00 p. m. we had to leave. We could see a wall of flames shooting thirty to forty feet in the air.”

Sister Margaret Wickel said, “It was so dark in our house from the intense smoke that we had to use flashlights to find the sleeping bags and to read our list of phone numbers.”

“We moved a block away,” Bishop Wickel continued, “and stood and watched our homes. The heat was so bad and the air was so bad that we could hardly breathe. We could see the wall of flame coming to our house, and my wife said, ‘Let’s leave. I can’t stand to see our home go.’”

The fire fighters made the fire line at the house, and as the Wickels and their neighbors watched, “we could hear the crackling sounds of pine and eucalyptus trees and the explosions of gas lines and car gas tanks,” Sister Wickel said.

Bishop Wickel spent the rest of the day helping with relief efforts. It wasn’t until Monday that the Wickels learned their house was still standing, and it was Wednesday before they could move back in.

Sister Wickel said the fire came within half a block of the back of their home and within a block on either side.

The fire began Saturday, October 19, and was thought to be extinguished; but it re-erupted on Sunday. City officials place the damage at $1.5 to $2 billion.

Allen Teichert, San Leandro stake public affairs director, said the area destroyed by the fire “looked just like Hiroshima. Nineteen hundred acres completely destroyed where nothing exists except chimneys.”

The Ron McLain family of the Oakland First Ward, Oakland California Stake, was one of the three Latter-day Saint families whose house burned. “We had no warning to speak of. When we realized the gravity of the situation, only scant minutes separated us from being engulfed by the fire that swept through the neighborhood and completely destroyed all of our homes,” said Brother McLain, who escaped with his wife, Deena, and their two daughters, Laney and Rachel.

“We lost all of our personal possessions in the fire except the clothes we were wearing when we had to evacuate,” Brother McLain said, adding, “We’ve been inundated with love and support, for which we will be eternally grateful.”

On Monday, Brother McLain returned to see what had happened to his home. “It had been completely destroyed. As I stood in front of it surveying the ruins, I turned in a complete circle and noted that as far as I could see, no home was left standing.”

Then his thoughts turned to the welfare of those around him. “Though I felt a sense of loss for all of us, I was simultaneously taken with a determination to help rebuild the neighborhood and my community by doing whatever was necessary.”

[photo] An extensive fire in California left stark destruction in its wake. Twenty-five people were killed and more than three thousand residences and other buildings were burned to ashes. (Photo by Jack Marshall.)

[photo] A lady missionary assists in a relief kitchen that provided food for those whose homes were destroyed in the fire. (Photo by Tom Faulkner.)

[photo] Members of the San Leandro California Stake provided one thousand sack lunches for volunteer fire fighters. (Photo by Steven R. Atwood.)

Missionaries Withdrawn from Haiti

Because of the civil strife in Haiti, missionaries have been withdrawn from the country, Church officials announced on 25 October 1991.

The action was taken in compliance with a U.S. State Department recommendation that Americans leave the country as a precautionary measure.

Eight missionaries who would have completed their mission assignments by the end of the year were given early releases; twenty-four have been assigned to other missions; and twenty-four left with President Robert O. Hickman, mission president of the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission, for Miami, Florida, where they will continue their efforts.

Association Formed to Preserve Pioneer Trails

A group of history enthusiasts recently organized the Mormon Trails Association (MTA) to help preserve early Latter-day Saint pioneer trails across the United States.

The association is an “umbrella organization” with the goals of promoting exchange of information, enhancing cooperation between interested individuals and agencies, and accurately identifying, using, interpreting, and preserving the trails.

“The Mormon Trails Association is not intended to be a hands-on operation but to be a communication base,” said Garn Hatch, MTA vice president. It will not take over the activities of organizations that now work to preserve pioneer trails. Rather, “Our concern is that these groups all work harmoniously together.”

The association is open to all interested individuals and organizations, said Brother Hatch. No dues will be collected, and no political lobbying agenda or consensus making are planned.

Early in 1991, Michael J. Duwe, the U.S. National Park Service coordinator for the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, observed that unlike other pioneer trails such as the Oregon trail, the Mormon trail did not have one association with which the park service could deal.

This led to the organization of the MTA in September, with representation from the Church Historic Sites Committee, Sons of the Utah Pioneers, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, the Oregon and California Trails Association, the Mormon Battalion, Inc., the Boy Scouts of America, and federal and Utah state agencies.

“If we get together and work together, then we can get something done,” said LaMar C. Berrett, who served as interim president during the organization of the MTA.

And there is much to do, according to Brother Berrett, who has spent the last four years identifying camping grounds of the original Brigham Young party in 1847. There are twenty 1847 pioneer trail campsites in Utah—and of the seventeen of those sites which are outside the Salt Lake Valley, only one marker has been erected.

“All of the campgrounds are known,” Brother Berrett said. “We want the pioneer story preserved and the trail accurately marked and interpreted. The trail is still identifiable in many places. We can actually walk right on the trail.”

The U.S. National Park Service will provide the resources along the trail. Private groups can do the actual work of placing markers, Brother Hatch says. As the MTA gathers information, groups can coordinate their efforts. Although many organizations are based in Utah, the association hopes to increase involvement along the entire length of the trail.

Of the approximately 1,400-mile-long pioneer trail, the U.S. National Park Service administers only about 200 yards of it (in the Fort Laramie National Historic Site), Mr. Duwe said. Thus there is a need to have an association to coordinate events.

“Desire is there and money is there,” said Brother Berrett, “so with some direction, cooperation, and information sharing by interested people through MTA, the commemoration of the trail can be properly managed.”

The use of the word trails in the name is not by accident, since the association hopes to gather information on all the major trails used by Latter-day Saints in the West, said Brother Hatch.

These trails include the Booneslick trail in Missouri, which Joseph Smith followed when he first went to Independence; the Zion’s Camp trail; the Kirtland Camp trail in Ohio; the Mormon Battalion trail; the Carson Pass trail used by Mormon Battalion soldiers to travel from California to Utah; the San Bernardino trail, also used by Mormon Battalion soldiers and pioneers traveling to and from California; the Santa Fe trail; the “Honeymoon Trail” to the temple in St. George, Utah; and a trail from Texas used by converts to the Church led by Preston Thomas in 1853.

The president of the association is William G. Hartley, associate professor of history at Brigham Young University. Other officers include M. Dell Madsen, secretary, and Stanley B. Kimball, historian.

Writing in a historic resource study on the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, Brother Kimball points out some of the uncommon aspects of the pioneer migration: the pioneers were religiously motivated, they did not use professional guides, the Mormon trail was a two-way road, the wagon trains were well organized, and it was a movement of a community.

The Latter-day Saints also shared many common experiences with other pioneers who were on their way to California and Oregon. These difficulties included problems with food, danger, and sickness.

[photo] Deep wagon ruts can be seen here where the Mormon and Oregon trails join together one-half mile south of Guernsey, Wyoming. (Photo by LaMar C. Berrett.)

[photo] Campsite on Mormon Trail, located near the Needles on Coyote Creek, Wyoming, where pioneers stopped 12–14 July 1847. (Photo by LaMar C. Berrett.)

[photo] Bauchman Pony Express station keeper probably lived in this cabin situated on Mormon Trail in East Canyon, Utah. (Photo by LaMar C. Berrett.)

Saluda Victims Remembered

Latter-day Saints who died in the 1852 explosion of the steamboat Saluda and the people of Lexington, Missouri, who cared for the survivors have been honored with a memorial.

A large headstone, engraved with names of known victims, was dedicated in the Machpelah Cemetery in Lexington on 19 September 1991. Between 100 and 250 people, most of them Latter-day Saint immigrants from Great Britain, died in the blast on the Missouri River.

The Saluda, a sturdy sidewheeler, 179 feet long with a beam of 26 feet, battled heavy 1852 spring runoff and ice on its trip up the Missouri to Council Bluffs. At Lexington, Captain Francis T. Belt stopped to take on supplies before facing one of the most dangerous sections of the river.

Repeated tries to continue around the bend only resulted in broken paddle wheels and rising frustration. On April 9, Captain Belt went to the engine room and ordered the engineers to “crowd on all the steam you’ve got.”

When they did so, the boilers exploded, blowing apart the ship. The section where the women and children were housed stayed afloat for a few minutes, allowing some to escape. Bodies thrown onto the banks by the explosion were gathered for burial, but many were washed away and were never recovered.

The residents of Lexington rushed to give help—pulling people to safety, administering medical aid, and later contributing to a fund for survivors. Lexington families opened their homes to the injured and even adopted a few orphaned children. Those of the forty or so survivors who could travel boarded ships bound for Council Bluffs and continued their journey west.

[photo] Monument erected to honor victims of explosion and those who helped them. (Photo by Linda Day.)

Computer System for Church Magazines

Thanks to a new system, it’s no longer necessary to wait six to eight weeks for an address change to be made on an Ensign, New Era, Friend or Church News subscription. In addition, customer service inquiries can also be responded to immediately.

“We are now using computer software instead of microfiche,” explained Joyce Hansen, circulation manager. “This makes information more accessible for both the subscription and the customer service departments.”

Prior to the installation of the new system, address changes, renewals, and orders were collected over the phone or through the mail and then processed once a week.

“Our old system was designed some years ago. We found we needed to fulfill subscribers’ needs in a more timely and accurate fashion,” Sister Hansen observed. “We also needed to adhere to postal regulations in all the countries we mail magazines to, and we wanted to do this all in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.”

It’s taken more than two years to write the new computer program, which was designed especially for Church magazines and Church News subscriptions. Those subscriptions number almost 1,200,000. The circulation department also handles subscriptions to all international magazines mailed to the United States and Canada and subscriptions to the Ensign Talking Book for the visually impaired.

In addition, the new program allows inexpensive presorting and other flexible options to meet various mailing and subscription management requirements.

The process for changing an address or subscribing to the magazines remains the same—notification by mail or phone. In order to process address changes, the circulation department needs both the new and old address. Subscribers are encouraged to send in an old address label, which has specific customer information.

Subscribers can also call the circulation department, at (801) 240-2947 for immediate address changes and information requests.

[photo] Lois Nielsen makes an immediate telephone change on a customer’s subscription using the new computer system.

Number of Names Extracted

Over the last five years, thousands of Church members have been involved in two name extraction programs—the stake record extraction program and the family record extraction program, which began in 1987. Interest in name extracting has grown over the years, as evidenced by the increase in names submitted to the Family History Department.

Stake Record Extraction Program

 

Family Record Extraction Program

1986

6,918,330

 

1987

187,915

1990

12,234,359

 

1990

8,428,161

Comment

I Have Found Strength

My husband is not a member of the Church, and I have spent years trying to get him to attend church. During those times when I could not attend meetings or activities, I found great joy and was uplifted by reading the Ensign.

Unfortunately, my husband has still not joined the Church. But I have found the strength to take control of my life and to attend meetings on a regular basis, as well as to get involved.

Many members such as myself have been less-active but have wanted to become involved. Articles from the Ensign and help from my visiting teachers have finally brought me to life again.

Name Withheld

Christus

One of the most inspirational sites in the Church is the statue of the Savior in the rotunda of the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square. Millions of visitors have appreciated the work of sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen in this, his most famous rendering—The Christus.

The background of how this work came to be on Temple Square is interesting. In the late 1950’s Elder Stephen L Richards, then first counselor to President David O. McKay, was on a Church assignment to Denmark where he saw The Christus in Copenhagen. Elder and Sister Richards were inspired by the beauty and feeling of this great work.

Through Herbert Eaton, the owner of Forest Lawn Cemetery in California, which contains many great art treasures, Elder Richards was able to order a reproduction of The Christus to present to the Church.

Four years elapsed between the passing of Elder Richards and the placing of his gift in the Visitors’ Center on Temple Square. President David O. McKay dedicated the building in 1963.

Philip L. Richards Sandy, Utah

Encore of the Spirit

Thank you, thank you for telling us of the tour of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir through eastern Europe and Russia (October).

Your articles made the events so clear and powerful. My tears came again and again while reading and visualizing the impact upon those who gave and those who received—binding together the hearts and feelings of many people for the glory of God.

Helen J. Anderson Townsend, Montana

Please Don’t Dwell on Our Mistakes

I am a less-active member of the Church. Although I have a testimony of the gospel, I feel very uncomfortable attending Church services.

A friend of mine wants me to return to Church activity. Unfortunately, in her desire to help, she has constantly criticized how I am living my life. I realize she wants to help me, but in the process she has hurt my feelings deeply.

To those members who are trying to activate less-active friends—please don’t dwell on our mistakes. We need your love and support. The more you criticize our errors, the more you push us away from you. We need you to set an example of love, not to name our sins one by one. Yet don’t ignore us as if we didn’t exist.

Name Withheld

The Church’s Early Days in Sioux Falls

The article about the growth of the Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the January 1991 issue brought back many memories. But I was disappointed that it didn’t give more details about the Church prior to 1949.

Before the branch was organized on 19 June 1949, Sioux Falls was the headquarters of the South Dakota District in the North Central States Mission. In the early 1930s, it was the only place in the state where regular meetings were held. My mother, Mabel Juber, two of my brothers, and one of my sisters were all baptized in Sioux Falls in 1931. The rest of us were baptized as we came of age.

Brother Adler (mentioned in the article), along with the Conklins, the Rundbergs, and a few others, were meeting in an old Odd Fellows hall when the missionaries taught my mother. I remember many events taking place in that old hall, especially cleaning up the beer bottles before we could start our meetings on Sunday mornings. I also remember listening to Brother Adler bear his testimony each month in broken German and English. He usually used a hymnal as a reference.

My father, who was never baptized, and my brother Delbert did much to help build the little green chapel. My mother was Relief Society president off and on through my early years, and my sisters led the music while Mom played the piano. While we were young men, my brother Delbert served in the branch presidency, and I served in the Sunday School superintendency.

My parents moved to Salt Lake City in 1960, where they both passed away. Most of the other Church members who lived in Sioux Falls in the 1930s and 1940s are now gone as well. Many stayed in Sioux Falls until they died, and others, like my family, moved west. The only one I know who remains in Sioux Falls is Delores Rundberg Schriver—the one female branch member who was my age.

David K. Juber Mesa, Arizona

Update

In “Two-Way Window on the World” (July 1991), it was reported that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s radio and television broadcasts in Denmark are aired monthly; they are now aired weekly. The Danish Tabernacle Choir Society (DTCS), which is associated with Bonneville Communications in marketing the choir’s broadcasts is unaffiliated with the Church.

In addition to airing the choir’s “Music and the Spoken Word” program, many television stations in Denmark air nearly all available Church specials produced by Bonneville, including Mr. Krueger’s Christmas, The Last Leaf, Easter Dream, and many productions featuring the Tabernacle Choir and the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus.

The Tabernacle Choir is well known in Denmark, and each week many listeners and viewers contact the broadcasting stations to inquire about how they can obtain recordings of the choir and copies of its programs.

Enjoy It!

Thank you for the article “Enjoy It” (June). How true it is that we often have better hindsight than foresight. If we can look to the future and catch the vision, we can better face our present challenges and difficulties. Like the author and her family, I now try to live by the motto, “No matter what ups and downs I face, I will enjoy them!”

My new job as a nurse has presented me with countless hurdles and heavy responsibilities that are sometimes foreign and all too often overwhelming. Fortunately, the article helped me to relax and look at my challenges in a positive light—for my growth, experience, and fun!

Henedine H. Clark Manteca, California

Marriage on the Monarch

Your article on sailing ships (July) helped solve a puzzling question m my family history research: Why were my great-grandparents married en route to America?

There seemed to be no logical reason for their marriage at sea until l read about their ship, Monarch of the Sea. I was interested to learn that betrothed passengers were married to alleviate crowding in quarters reserved for single persons. To my delight, the mystery is solved.

LaRue Jones Hixson, Tennessee

International Art Competition

I had the opportunity to stroll through the Museum of Church History and Art to see the large display of the Second International Art Competition. It was a memorable experience!

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, I seek after these things. Here I found all that I was seeking.

The artwork was done by members of the Church from all over the world who interpreted favorite verses of scripture in their own original, creative ways, using materials from their native lands.

I want to express my gratitude to all who entered this competition for expressing their testimonies and sharing their talents with us in these beautiful ways.

Helen Reinhold Salt Lake City, Utah

I Followed the Advice

My husband, Warner, investigated the Church because of the Improvement Era. He wanted to know more about the church that published such a fine magazine. He talked me into investigating, too. After our conversion, we subscribed to the Era, and then to the Ensign.

Applying the knowledge I gain from your articles blesses my life: it strengthens my testimony, expands and refines my knowledge of gospel principles, and benefits my relationships. I sincerely believe my marriage was as strong as it was because I followed advice given in the Ensign. Now that I am a widow, I find your articles for single adults helpful. I assume the magazine will continue to bless my life. Thank you for your efforts in my behalf.

Elizabeth Whipple Austin, Texas