News of the Church


Church’s Stand against Gambling

The Church has issued a statement reaffirming its longstanding opposition to gambling. The statement, which is from the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is as follows:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes gambling in its various forms. Experience has clearly shown gambling to be harmful to the human spirit, financially destructive of individuals and families, and detrimental to the moral climate of communities. The attitude of the Church on this matter has been consistent and clear over a period of more than a century. Starting with President Brigham Young and affirmed most recently by President Ezra Taft Benson, Latter-day Saint leaders have denounced gambling as an evil that ‘tends to break down the moral and spiritual strength of the people.’

“Utah now faces renewed and vigorous attempts to legalize gambling, including a state-operated lottery, charitable gambling and pari-mutuel betting. We regard these efforts as a moral issue and unalterably oppose such proposals on grounds of private and public morality, as well as a threat to the cultivation and maintenance of strong family and community values.”

Congo Grants Status to Church

Formal status to proselyte has been granted to the Church in Congo, a west African nation.

Map of the Congo

Scott H. Taggart, president of the Zaire Mission, notified the Church’s Africa Area presidency of the recognition. Missionaries have been assigned to the country already.

Congo has a population of approximately 2.3 million people. The country, which was once ruled by France, became independent in 1960. Its official language is French.

“The Congo should provide an excellent opportunity for further solid establishment of the Church on the African continent,” observed Elder Richard P. Lindsay of the Seventy, president of the Africa Area. “In contrast to many of the poorer African nations, which are unable to provide widespread education, the Congo has an adult literacy rate in excess of 80 percent. It should be a fruitful field for the Church.”

The Congo was the fifth African nation to grant the Church formal recognition in 1991. The others were Kenya, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Botswana.

“In each of these countries, full-time missionaries are now serving and the Church is moving forward,” Elder Lindsay said.

Food Sent to Russia

Children in foster homes and orphanages in Russia will be the main beneficiaries of a shipment of food supplies donated by the Church.

More than 40,000 pounds of supplies from the Bishops’ Central Storehouse were shipped to San Francisco and combined with other donations. Three cargo planes then picked up the supplies and flew them to Moscow.

The donation will be distributed by the Children as the Peacemakers Foundation, an organization that promotes the welfare of children internationally. The supplies included flour, beans, rice, powdered milk, canned meat, and applesauce.

Fast offering donations and voluntary labor by Church members keep the bishops’ storehouses stocked in supplies, thereby enabling Church participation in humanitarian projects.

New LDS Business College President Appointed

The First Presidency has announced the appointment of a new president of LDS Business College in Salt Lake City.

Stephen K. Woodhouse, who is also bishop of the Dimple Dell Heights Ward, in the Sandy Utah Granite View Stake, began his duties as the college’s new president in January, succeeding Kenneth H. Beesley, who retired in December.

A University of Utah graduate and former instructor in computer information systems at the college, Brother Woodhouse feels his experience at the school will serve him well in his new position.

“I can help high school students realize their great potential and possibilities here,” he says.

“When our students complete work here we hope that … they will already be working in their career path. Those are my two main goals.”

[photo] President Stephen K. Woodhouse

Samoans Recovering from Hurricane’s Destruction

Hurricane Val, one of the worst tropical storms in recent history, hit Western and American Samoa, leaving at least 17 people dead and more than 65 percent of the homes on the two islands damaged or destroyed.

Among the dead is a Church member in Western Samoa who was climbing on his roof to secure it when he was lifted off by the wind. At least two members were seriously injured, according to early reports.

All 69 of the Church meetinghouses in Western Samoa were damaged. Ten of the 13 meetinghouses in American Samoa sustained major damage. Hardest hit by the five-day storm, which began on December 7, was the Western Samoan island of Savaii. Church schools were also damaged. The Apia Samoa Temple, however, received only minor damage from water leaking in through the roof above the foyer.

The greatest damage was to residential homes. According to a report from the Church’s Department of Welfare Services, 90 percent of member homes in American Samoa were damaged. Many members fled to meetinghouses for shelter. And shelter continues to be one of the greatest needs in the area as the Samoan people begin to recover from this disaster. The other need is food. Some reports indicate that up to 100 percent of the crops in the storm-stricken areas were destroyed.

The Church quickly responded to the islanders’ needs. On December 13, an airplane left Sydney, Australia, with 30 tons of tarpaulins, ropes, rice, flour, sugar, and canned meats. Another 12 tons of food and 200 tarpaulins were sent a few days later, with an additional shipment of rice, flour, canned fish, and sugar sent at the end of December, said Ray Forbes, purchasing agent in the Church’s Presiding Bishopric Area Office in Sydney. Lumber and roofing steel have also been sent to the islanders.

Food and relief supplies were sent to a temporary bishops’ storehouse, which was established at the Church’s offices in Apia. By December 23, every bishop in the area had received supplies and was distributing them to members, based on their individual and family needs.

All missionaries in the area were safe and were involved in relief aid.

As the storm hit the islands, Church leaders activated the Emergency Radio System—a previously organized ham radio operation that links Latter-day Saint radio operators in various countries. Links were established in Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

As telephone and electricity systems became unavailable, the Latter-day Saint radio operators offered the only reliable information and communication during the storm and for several days following. Radio operators used either a standby generator or batteries, and in one instance, a missionary wired a radio to a car battery.

Approximately one-sixth of American Samoa’s population of 38,000 and Western Samoa’s population of 162,000 are members of the Church.

[photo] The storm uprooted trees and dumped water and mud in Western and American Samoa. (Photography by Dan Wakefield and Rex Maughan.)

[photo] A family surveys the damage Hurricane Val caused to their home.

[photo] The Aiono family is grateful for protection and safety during the storm.

Sweet Is the Work in Swaziland

Known as “the Switzerland of Africa” for its scenic beauty, the small but diverse mountain kingdom of Swaziland is also an oasis of faith. Many native Africans of this predominantly Christian country surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique are accepting the message of the restored gospel.

Map of Swaziland

The recent entry of the Latter-day Saint Church in Swaziland adds a further dimension to a nation already diverse in its blending of rich African culture and modern technology.

True to its heritage of peaceable rule, Swaziland has been free of conflict, both tribal and otherwise, despite turmoil in other southern African countries. Nine out of 10 of its nearly 1,000,000 inhabitants are native Africans. The nation is governed by one of the three traditional monarchies left on the continent.

Sobhuza I, a beloved Swazi king in the early 1800s, once dreamed of a white people with “hair like cattle tails, carrying a book and money pieces.” He advised his people to never harm the missionaries and to accept the book (the Bible) but to refuse the corrupting money. Recently, a descendant of Sobhuza I, Robert Dlamini, was the first Swazi to accept another witness of Jesus Christ—the Book of Mormon.

It was a big change for Brother Dlamini to leave his country to study mining management in Cardiff, Wales. But a bigger change than that lay ahead. He joined the Church in Wales in 1979 and returned home an elder—the only Latter-day Saint in Swaziland.

In 1990, Brother Dlamini was surprised to meet a fellow Latter-day Saint and learn that a branch of the Church in the capital city of Mbabane had been holding meetings since 1988. He eagerly began attending church and soon baptized his wife and daughter. Things looked bleak for the Dlaminis, however, when the granite quarry he had managed for six years closed. But they have apparently stood the test: one year later, Brother Dlamini was called to serve in the Mbabane branch presidency, and today he and his family eagerly await the imminent reopening of the quarry.

The first branch of the Church in Swaziland was created in 1986, branch members being a small group of non-African Latter-day Saint residents who had been holding cottage meetings for two years. The first two missionaries to serve in Swaziland were Kenneth and Betty Edwards of Utah, who arrived in 1987, the year the Church there was given legal recognition.

In February 1990, Elder Neal A. Maxwell dedicated Swaziland for the preaching of the gospel, and one year later there were more than 100 members led by three native Swazi branch presidents: Gerome Shongwe, William Malaza, and Eric Malwinga.

R. J. Snow, a former president of the South Africa Johannesburg Mission, once described the Swazi Saints as “spiritually sensitive” and “strong and vibrant,” warmly embracing the restored gospel.

A recent convert, Daniel Mnisi, is not bothered when some people scold him for believing in a book besides the Bible. “I know we have enemies,” he says. “But I have no problem, for I have the truth.” Anna Madonsella gained a similar testimony when, lying sick in a hospital, missionaries gave her a Book of Mormon. Although the nurses tried to dissuade her, Anna began reading the book. Then she prayed about it with the missionaries and felt a strong witness of its truthfulness. “[The Book of Mormon] is true,” she said. “No matter what anyone else says, I know in my heart it is true.” She was later baptized.

One challenge is that many people who want to attend church live far away. Joseph Malindzisa, an executive for a wood pulp mill, brings a truckload of members to church. His hardest challenge is that he is unable to squeeze in the many friends of other faiths who are “eager to come to church.” He is trying to organize rides for them. “I feel that whatever we can do to help our branches grow, we must do.”

Members like Trusty Jones and Goodness Egobese walk four miles to and from church. For them, it’s worth the effort. “I don’t know where I would be without [the Church],” says Sister Jones, a single mother and Relief Society president. “The gospel has changed my life.” Sister Egobese agrees. The mother of 11 children, she is an enthusiastic member missionary, sharing her newfound joy with her neighbors.

The Church in Swaziland is yet in its infancy, but that doesn’t mean that its members haven’t come a long way. “The Church has done a lot for me spiritually and temporally,” says David Nagai, echoing the sentiment of other pioneering Swazi Saints. He has felt joy in knowing that “God has a plan for all people on earth. My questions and prayers were really answered. I have a testimony of the Church and of Jesus Christ.”

[photo] From one of the grassy hilltops overlooking the capital city of Mbabane, Swaziland was dedicated to the preaching of the gospel in February 1990. (Photography by Mary Mostert.)

[photo] The Mbabane First Branch presidency. Left to right: Mandla Dlamini, second counselor; Robert Dlamini, president; Elder Sylvester Cooper, first counselor.

[photo] Sister Thoko Shongwe leads the congregation in Sunday School hymn practice.

[photo] Gospel Doctrine Teacher Mduduzi Masilela

[photo] Aaronic Priesthood holders in the Mbabane First Branch listen to a lesson.

Hungarian Museum Donates Collection of Dried Plants

The efforts of a Brigham Young University researcher have resulted in the donation of a collection of dried plants from a Hungarian museum to BYU.

Terry B. Ball, a BYU doctoral candidate in archaeobotany, traveled to Hungary to gather plants for research that examines plant microfossils to determine what flora may have existed thousands of years ago.

When Brother Ball arrived in the country, he discovered that many of Hungary’s wild-growing plants had been destroyed by extensive agricultural development. However, the Balatoni Museum of Natural History in Keszthely had a collection of 3,000 dried plants stored away in a closet.

With the help of Dr. Ferenc Gyulai, a Hungarian archaeobotanist, Brother Ball persuaded museum curators to donate the specimens to BYU’s Bean Museum herbarium, where more than 2,000 of the dried plants will be restored and cataloged.

“These are excellent examples of eastern European flora,” said Dr. Stanley L. Welsh, director of the Bean Museum. “The collection will be an important reference for the many eastern European plants that inevitably will be introduced into the United States in the coming years.”

Church Highlights of 1991

The official recognition of the Church by the Republic of Russia was among the top stories involving the Church in 1991. Related stories during the year included Mormon Tabernacle Choir concerts in Europe and in the former Soviet Union, and the organization of a mission in Bulgaria.

Other major stories involving the Church during the year included:

—Official recognition of the Church in Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, and the Congo. (See “Congo Grants Status to Church,” page 74, for further information.)

—Humanitarian aid to Russian orphanages, to Middle East refugees, to hurricane-stricken Samoa, and to the suffering in many other parts of the world.

—Worldwide membership of the Church passed the eight-million mark; the number of missions grew to 267; missionaries to more than 45,000; stakes to more than 1,820; and nations and territories with organized Church units to 135.

—New missions were created in Brazil, Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Idaho, Kenya, Trinidad, and Venezuela.

—Nine new General Authorities were called during the year.

—The 70-year-old temple in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, was rededicated after a complete renovation.

—President Ezra Taft Benson, world leader of the Church, observed his ninety-second birthday.

—The Arizona Republic concluded, after an exhaustive investigation of the financial resources of the Church, that tithing and other Church income is well managed with no abuse. (See “Report Concludes Church Funds Well Managed” below.)

—The Church observed the centennial of its presence in Tonga.

—The Church withdrew its missionaries from Haiti due to political upheaval.

—A First Presidency letter to the membership reaffirmed the Church’s morality standards of chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.

—In a First Presidency letter to local priesthood leaders about the evils of Satanic worship and ritualistic abuse, Church leaders reaffirmed their concern over child abuse of all types and cautioned local leaders to be alert to such problems and address them appropriately.

—The Church joined in a coalition promoting the passage by the U.S. Congress of the proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

—A Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert saluting members of the armed forces serving in the Gulf War was carried by Armed Forces Radio to military personnel serving in the Persian Gulf.

—An expansion program at the largest of the Church’s several missionary training centers was begun in Provo, Utah, with plans to increase capacity from 3,000 to 4,000 missionaries.

—The release of Church-produced radio spots on teens and alcohol received national attention.

—The Church unveiled its values-based television magazine show in its continuing participation in the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network (VISN). (See “Latter-day Saint Television Program Airs,” this page, for further information.)

—Macmillan Publishing Company released the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a landmark reference work completed with the cooperation of the Church. (See “Encyclopedia of Mormonism Released,” this page, for further information.)

[photos] Highlights from 1991: Clockwise from top, the newly renovated Alberta Temple; two of the 45,000 missionaries serving full-time; the Mormon Tabernacle choir in Russia; President Ezra Taft Benson on his ninety-second birthday.

Report Concludes Church Funds Well Managed

The Arizona Republic published in June and July 1991 a four-part series profiling the financial aspects of the Church. Among other observations, the Republic concluded that there was no evidence of “financial fraud or personal wealth-building among top officials” and that “there is no question that nearly all of the Church’s resources go into what it sees as its religious priorities: worshiping, missions, and education.”

The Church cooperated with the investigation for more than a year, according to Don LeFevre, director of media relations for the Church. “We provided a number of interviews and considerable information, but we never validated their estimates of the Church’s total income.

“While there were a few deficiencies in the series, it was generally positive in its treatment of the Church. I believe our open and cooperative attitude was instrumental in achieving those positive results. The conclusion of the reporters, after an extensive in-depth investigation of the financial side of the Church, was that the tithes and offerings and other income are well managed without even a hint of impropriety. This, of course, is not surprising to us, but it may have been to some of the more cynical readers of the series.”

Encyclopedia of Mormonism Released

A “landmark reference work,” the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, is off the presses and available for purchase.

The four-volume work is a comprehensive look at Church history, doctrine, scripture, and culture written at the educational level of a high school graduate or beginning college student. The work does not, however, substitute for the scriptures, nor is it an official Church publication, according to Daniel H. Ludlow, editor-in-chief.

In preparing the extensive work, Brother Ludlow and a thirteen-member board of editors worked closely with members of the university’s board of trustees and Elders Neal A. Maxwell and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Published by Macmillan Publishing Company of New York and consisting of 1,200 articles written by 738 individuals, the encyclopedia represents the completion of a project that began in 1987. The encyclopedia includes pictures, maps, illustrations, charts, appendices, indices, and a glossary. A fifth volume, consisting of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, can be specially ordered from Macmillan.

“We think the main value behind the encyclopedia is that it’s going to put the message of the Church in thousands of libraries throughout the world where honest and sincere investigators can get answers about the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ,” explained Brother Ludlow.

Macmillan normally sells its encyclopedias only to high school, college, university and public libraries. But the four-volume set is also being sold to individuals.

Rehabilitation Program Introduced in San Diego

A local Church rehabilitation program designed to benefit people with physical, mental, or emotional handicaps has been established in the San Diego area. In addition, those who have been out of the work force for several years can learn new skills in preparation for future employment.

According to Robert Etherington, manager of the new program, participants in the program are assisted in learning skills that will help them find a job and learn to provide for themselves. Each individual works on a program tailored especially for his or her own needs.

Assistance and guidance is offered by Church service missionaries who work one-on-one with those involved in the program, explained Brother Etherington. The missionaries, either part- or full-time, are called from one of the 13 stakes in the area.

The missionary or rehabilitation service worker works in the community to match individual needs to available service. The worker also works closely with local church leaders.

Members from any of the stakes in the San Diego area can participate in the program after receiving a referral from a local Church leader.

The new program enlarges on rehabilitation services previously provided through the LDS Employment Center and Deseret Industries.

Tribute to Salt Lake City’s Social Hall Planned

Plans for a commemorative structure to be built on the site of Salt Lake City’s pioneer-era Social Hall have been unveiled by Zions Securities Corporation, the property development arm of the Church.

The new structure will consist of an enclosed building surrounded by a larger open-air steel framework of the same dimensions as the original Social Hall. The enclosed area will feature a historic gallery and will serve as the east entrance to an underground walkway. The old Social Hall’s stone foundation will be returned to its original location and encased in glass so that visitors can see it.

The foundation was discovered during excavating for an underground walkway in May 1991. Additional items discovered include a writing slate, a 1913 penny, a plate, porcelain door knobs, and inkwells.

Built in 1852, Social Hall was the first public building in Utah. Citizens held dances, social events, and theatrical productions in the building. It also served as a meeting place for the territorial legislature and was the site for the Red Cross during World War I.

The building was destroyed in 1922. Because a replica of the Social Hall already exists at the Pioneer State Park, Zions Securities officials decided not to recreate the old building, but rather design a tribute to it.

[illustration] Artist’s rendering of tribute to Social Hall. (Painting by James Porter.)

Comment

She Is Not Alone

I was intrigued by “A Refuge for the Oppressed” (January). I identify with the author and the effects of sexual abuse. I have learned that I am not to blame for any of the abuse that happened in my childhood, but I am responsible for overcoming the effects it has had on my life. It is helpful for me to see why I do what I do, but only if I use that information to change and grow, not as an excuse to wallow in self-pity.

I have also found forgiveness to be an important principle. But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that forgiveness is not reconciliation. Heavenly Father does not want us to wait for those who have wronged us to change before we forgive them. He wants us to let go of the pain and bitterness that destroy our lives. Fulfilling the requirement of forgiveness only means that we are able to say, “Let God judge between me and thee,” and then let go.

I am thankful to this author for sharing her story. She is not alone, and it helps me to know that I am not alone.

Name Withheld

Becoming a Survivor

My mother read me the article “A Refuge for the Oppressed” (January). I thought it was great. I was also an abuse victim, but I am becoming a survivor.

Name Withheld

Mexican Mission Headquarters

The conversion of Jose Apolinar Balderas and his family is recounted in “Saints at the Pass” (December), in which a brief history of the Church in El Paso, Texas, is given. In part, the article reads: “At the headquarters of the Spanish American Mission, the eager Balderas got acquainted with mission president Rey L. Pratt.”

It is true that Brother Balderas met President Pratt at the mission headquarters in El Paso, but in those days it was the Mexican Mission headquarters, not the Spanish American. There was no Spanish American Mission as such until 1936.

James V. Garner Salt Lake City, Utah

Movie Contents Information

I thought “Can I Watch a Movie?” (December) was both timely and excellently presented.

The author refers to a bimonthly publication (Entertainment Research Report) that provides movie content information. Each issue of this newsletter reviews current movie releases and provides the reader with the following: a summary of the plot, number of objectionable words and terms, and descriptions of incidents of violence, immorality, and dishonesty. It offers no opinions—merely content—and lets the readers make their own decisions.

The report is the brainchild of a few members of the Church in southern Florida who attended a movie that had received favorable reviews, only to find it a complete embarrassment for them and their families.

Robert M. Winston St. George, Utah

Couple Missionaries

The February 1990 Ensign had a wonderful presentation about missionary couples that included counsel from President Benson urging couples to set their affairs in order and go on missions. It was that issue that inspired my husband and me to serve a mission. Because I enjoyed the missionary article so much, I brought the February issue with me into the mission field. This one Ensign has already provided much material for me as I have served with my husband in the Canada Montreal Mission.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to thank you for the wealth of information we receive in every Ensign.

Sister Jan Beaulieu Sherbrooke, Quebec

Update

In “Comment” (January), it was reported that the statue The Christus was placed in the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square four years after Elder Stephen L Richards, counselor in the First Presidency, passed away. The statue was actually placed in the visitors’ center in 1966, seven years after Elder Richards’ death. The Christus was ordered through Hubert Eaton, president of the Forest Lawn Cemetery in California.