News of the Church

By


London Temple Rededicated

On the final day of the rededication of the London Temple, the heavens opened in more ways than one; overnight, more than one inch of rain flooded southern England. Many were reminded of the temple’s original dedication in 1958, when similar rains deluged the area.

But the spirits of members attending the dedication were not dampened as thousands flocked to the temple site, located in the village of Newchapel, to attend rededication ceremonies held October 18–20. President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, Counselors in the First Presidency, presided over ten rededication sessions. In addition, President Howard W. Hunter and Elders Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve attended the rededication, as did the Europe North Area presidency: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, area president, and his counselors, Elders Kenneth Johnson and Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy.

On the last day of rededication ceremonies, members who had traveled some fourteen hours from Scotland and Ireland stood in the rain for nearly two hours waiting to attend the ceremonies. Wet hair, shoes, and clothes notwithstanding, spirits were high as the group spontaneously began singing hymns. The singing continued for almost an hour.

In his remarks at the rededication, President Hinckley, who served a mission to England during the 1930s, commented on the spirit of the Saints in this part of the world. He recalled some of his missionary experiences and then read from the address he delivered thirty-four years ago at the temple’s first dedication. At the time he was a newly sustained member of the Quorum of the Twelve and was responsible for temple sites and construction and operations.

“‘This building cannot be reckoned alone in terms of pounds sterling; it must be reckoned in terms of struggle and sacrifice and devotion and loyalty and love and faith and testimony and conviction. What a price it has cost! But it has been worth every farthing because it now offers to the people of this and other lands the wholeness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.’”

In his remarks, President Monson spoke of his British Isles ancestry, noting that his great-grandfather and brother, coal miners in the shire of Clackmannan in Scotland, were some of the earliest converts to the Church.

“I’m so grateful that one of my ancestors left the coal mines and became a workman in an inn where Elder Sharp from the United States came to visit and taught him the gospel,” President Monson said.

In part, the dedicatory prayer read: “We thank thee for this nation on which thou hast smiled through centuries of time. We recognize that it was at Runnymede, in this county of Surrey, in the year 1215 that the Magna Charta was signed, establishing principles in behalf of the freedom and dignity of man. Through all of the centuries that have followed, these rights have been preserved, implemented, and enlarged. They have spread from here and have been incorporated in the constitutions and charters of other nations across the earth who also have established governments that derive their powers from the consent of the governed. Freedom to think, to speak, to assemble, and to worship is basic to the happiness of mankind. We acknowledge thy divine hand in the establishment and preservation of that freedom in this the United Kingdom. …

“Dear Father, please accept this thy holy house and let thy Spirit dwell herein at all times and in all circumstances. We pray that it might serve as thine abode and as the abode of thy beloved Son. We pray that it might always be kept worthy of thy divine presence.”

Prior to the rededication, an open house was held from October 8 to October 14. In all, 55,223 people made the visit, including thousands of individuals of other faiths. In some cases, people waited as much as three hours to tour the temple and view an open house video and display. The video and display were a cooperative effort by the Public Affairs, Missionary, and Temple departments in Salt Lake City. The six-minute video introduced visitors to the history and significance of temples, the theme of eternal families, and the Christ-centered nature of temples.

A surprising number of teenagers and young adults attended the open house. During midday, when chartered coaches from stakes came in, the mix was predominantly Church members. However, during morning and evening hours, nonmembers outnumbered members by a ratio of about three to one.

Publicity surrounding the open house was extensive. Working closely with those of the area public affairs council, members distributed 1,000 color posters and 200,000 color flyers. Thousands of personalized invitation letters were issued, and a series of advertisements appeared in local and regional newspapers.

The temple, originally dedicated by President David O. McKay, has been closed for two and a half years for extensive remodeling. The redecorating and remodeling, which included the addition of a fourth floor within the original three-story structure, were so extensive that the temple’s interior is essentially new.

Response from those attending the rededication and open house activities was overwhelming. Charles D. Cartwright, a nonmember from Telford, wrote to thank local Church leaders for opening the temple during the open house to those of other faiths. “My impressions can be summed up in one word, and that is awe-inspiring,” he wrote. “The splendour of the celestial room was, I consider, the greatest experience of my life.”

The highlight of the open house for Val and Chris Meese, a young married couple, was showing their non-LDS parents the very sealing room where they would shortly be sealed together.

The events were “the experience of a lifetime,” for Anthony Paternoster, a stake president and temple recorder, and his wife, Iris. “We’ve gone through a range of emotions as we saw, at first, the old building being ‘destroyed’ before our eyes. One night in March 1992, we looked out from … where we were working. Suddenly the new floodlights for the temple were put on as a test. It was as though life was suddenly being breathed back into the temple once more.”

[photo] The London Temple is nestled in the village of Newchapel, where thousands attended open house and rededication ceremonies. (Photography by Bryan J. Grant.)

[photo] Members came from all over the United Kingdom to attend the open house and rededication ceremonies.

[photo] More than 55,000 people toured the London Temple prior to rededication ceremonies held October 18–20.

[photo] At the open house, a video and display were used to inform visitors about the purpose of temples.

Swiss Temple Rededication

In Zollikofen, Switzerland, there was a celebratory mood in the air as Church members climbed the hill from the train station and car park toward the newly renovated Swiss Temple. People greeted each other with handshakes and the traditional three kisses on the cheek, then took their places in line for the first rededicatory session for “their” temple, which had been closed for the past two and a half years. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Irene Kopp, a member of the Pratteln Ward, Bern Switzerland Stake. “I am so happy to have the temple open again. It is a privilege to have it here.”

The 8,805 Latter-day Saints who attended the ten rededicatory sessions, held October 23–25, shared those feelings. And they manifested their joy by coming early and lingering late, savoring the opportunity to rejoice with Saints and angels that the Lord’s house was open again.

Members came not only from Switzerland but from countries throughout Europe. Services were conducted in German, French, Italian, English, and Spanish/Portuguese; two sessions also had simultaneous translations in as many as five languages.

President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency presided at and conducted the services. Other speakers at the sessions included Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Hans B. Ringger, president of the Europe Area, and his counselors, Elders Dennis B. Neuenschwander and Robert K. Dellenbach; Elder Spencer J. Condie, president of the Europe/Mediterranean Area, and his counselors, Elders LeGrand R. Curtis and Joseph C. Muren; Swiss Temple president Louis E. Ringger and his counselors, Richard N. Hauert and Max J. Berryessa; and temple matron Hilde L. Ringger.

The message throughout the three days of services was that this was also a time for Church members to rededicate their lives to Christ. This was reflected in the dedicatory prayer itself, which began with a quote from the Swiss Temple’s original dedicatory prayer, offered by David O. McKay in 1955: “Help us to free our minds from idle thoughts, and our souls from selfish and envious feelings, that in sincerity and truth we may assemble as one in singleness of purpose in love of Thee, of one another, and of all sincere people in the world.”

The prayer also asked blessings on “those who direct the affairs of Thy temple that they may be guided by Thy Holy Spirit and be possessed with wisdom beyond their own. We pray for all who administer the ordinances that they may do so in a manner acceptable unto Thee and in a spirit of reverence. We pray for all who come to this Thy holy house that they walk in cleanliness before Thee.

“We pray that these facilities may be kept immaculate and beautiful, and that no evil element of any kind may enter herein. We pray that all who enter this Thy house may do so with an eye single to Thy glory.”

The prayer also thanked the Lord “for this nation of Switzerland, which through centuries of time has been a land of peace while nations about have been nations at war. May it continue to be a land of peace, a land of freedom, a land of opportunity, and an example to other nations of the world.”

Speakers in each session followed the theme of the rededication as well.

President Hinckley told members that the temple is a place of repentance and forgiveness, a place where cleanliness counts, for it is God’s house. “When you hold a temple recommend,” he said, “you are saying: I am clean. I am true. I am faithful. I am trying to live the commandments of the Lord. I am trying to do what’s right.”

He spoke of the temple as a place of salvation and exaltation, with a promise of eternal life to those who walk in righteousness.

“You’re always a better man or woman when you leave than when you came if you come with the right spirit.”

President Monson reminded members that “in the holy temple, it’s the Spirit that counts.” Later, he suggested that everyone note in his or her journal that “you were here in the house of the Lord. Write how you felt here. That is more important than what you heard.”

He urged members who attended the last dedicatory session to “redouble your efforts and become a temple-going people.”

The spirit attending the rededication sessions was also felt during open house activities. In the two days preceding the public open house, which was held October 8–17, Elder M. Russell Ballard conducted a press conference and special tours for government and civic leaders. During these tours, he took the groups into each room of the temple and explained its purpose. “He talked to these people not as officials but as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers,” reported Wolfgang Paul, a member of the temple committee. “You could really see how it impressed people—not only the beauty of the building, but the feeling there. Some left looking thoughtful, some had wet eyes.”

Many of the 33,000 people who toured the temple during the public open house commented on the special peace they felt. An estimated 90 percent were not LDS, and volunteers at the information tent say visitors often spent thirty minutes, an hour, or more asking questions.

One older man felt so good after his visit that he took a copy of the Book of Mormon home with him and stayed up all night reading it. The first thing the next morning, he returned for another tour of the building, stating that he wanted to recapture his feelings of the previous day.

Another woman, a member from the Netherlands who had been less active for twenty years, toured the temple several times and cried through each tour. She said this experience was a turning point in her life, leading her back to the Church.

Hundreds of volunteers from the Bern, Zurich, and Geneva Switzerland stakes helped make these experiences possible as they did everything from parking cars to providing activities for children while their parents viewed displays about the Church. Some took vacation days from work during the open house to fulfill their assignments. Testimonies were strengthened as they shared their time and talents.

Events of the week following the dedication showed that Church members had been listening to the counsel and direction given. Temple president Louis Ringger reported that the day the temple opened for regular sessions was one of the busiest in its 37-year history. Seventy-seven people received the endowment, and there were 841 endowments performed for the dead, as well as many baptisms and sealings. In the first week, more than 5,600 ordinances were performed for the living and dead.

[photo] The Swiss Temple is located in Zollikofen, where some 8,800 people from countries throughout Europe congregated for rededication ceremonies. (Photo by Steve Saunders.)

[photo] Church members line up prior to Saturday afternoon rededication ceremony. (Photography by Shirleen Meek Saunders.)

[photo] Three members gathered outside the Swiss Temple following a rededication session.

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency presided over rededication proceedings.

Shirleen Meek Saunders serves as Primary secretary in the Burgdorf Branch, Bern Switzerland Stake.

Elder Helvecio Matins

Burgeoning Brazil: The Blessings and Challenges of Growth

Brazil is a giant in South America, bordering all but two of the continent’s countries. Latter-day Saints, barely a footnote in Brazilian national statistics three decades ago, are now helping shape their country’s future. To learn more about the Church in Brazil, the Ensign talked with Elder Harold G. Hillam of the Seventy, Brazil Area president, and Elders Helvécio Martins and Dallas N. Archibald of the Seventy, counselors in the area presidency.

Elder Helvecio Matins Elder Harold G. Hillam Elder Dallas N. Archibald

Elder Helvécio Martins Elder Harold G. Hillam Elder Dallas N. Archibald

Question: How many Church members are there in Brazil?

Answer: About 400,000 Latter-day Saints among Brazil’s 150 million people. There are fifteen missions and eighty-five stakes, and our membership has been growing at the equivalent of a stake per month.

Q: And yet in Brazil in the 1960s, Latter-day Saints were not even listed among the religious groups whose numbers were statistically significant. How has this growth come about?

A: The groundwork was laid just as it has been wherever the Church is established anywhere in the world. Missionaries first arrived in the country in 1935. There was a small core of faithful members during the World War II years, and then their numbers began to increase after 1950. But there has been an explosion of growth since the dedication of the São Paulo Temple in 1978.

Q: What do you think is the reason the Brazilian people are so receptive to the Church?

A: They’re very friendly people—very open, very ready to receive new knowledge. It’s easy to talk with them and their families about the gospel.

The word hope is a key in looking at why they come into the Church so readily. First, the gospel offers them hope in eternal life, hope in the things that the Savior can bring to pass in their lives. That is one of the strengths we see in them as members—a great desire to follow the Savior.

Second, the Church offers them hope in their temporal lives, as they go forward day after day trying to better their families’ economic positions. While we have members from all walks of life and economic levels, some Latter-day Saints struggle with the high inflation, high unemployment, and severe underemployment that are such serious challenges for Brazil. The gospel offers help there too. When we teach people correct principles of living, they usually find that they can take themselves out of the slums.

We are able to offer members some help in finding employment now as we begin to build a job network. We are particularly concerned about helping returned missionaries and heads of households find jobs that will provide adequate support.

Q: With the pace of growth in Brazil, do you rely on returned missionaries to help fill the ranks of Church leadership?

A: Yes. They are young, but age is not the key factor in leadership. The key is their level of spiritual maturity, and our young men and women who serve missions come back with very valuable experience that prepares them for leadership. We emphasize missionary preparation at the local level, partly because we know the missionaries will be our future leaders. But there is a more immediate need. We need greater numbers of missionaries in the field.

Q: Are there still populous areas where the gospel is not being preached?

A: Nearly one-fifth of the cities in Brazil with a population of more than 100,000 do not have missionaries. One large suburb of São Paulo has more than a million people—and only two missionaries. The pool of people still to hear the gospel is vast because parts of the country are so intensely urban. Brazil has two of the world’s ten largest cities—São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

The number of missions in Brazil could easily be doubled and still leave more than enough work for missionaries. The members are praying for more missions—and more temples.

Q: Is it difficult for many of them to visit the temple?

A: To answer that question, you have to look more closely at the size of Brazil. It is nearly as big as the forty-eight continental United States plus an additional area the size of Texas. Much of western Europe would fit comfortably within the Amazon Basin—in fact, within the boundaries of the Brazil Manaus Mission. When a group of Saints from Manaus visited the temple in December, they had to travel three days downriver by boat, then transfer to buses for a two-day ride to São Paulo.

Those who come to the temple come with great faith. Despite the sacrifices some of them must make, attendance is growing. Our biggest challenge right now is that we have only one temple in Brazil.

Q: How are Latter-day Saints having an impact on their country?

A: A growing number of Latter-day Saints are leaders in their communities, in local government, and in their businesses or professions. They are known for their integrity and their high standards. Our youth stand out not only because of their standards but also because of their happiness and their willingness to serve. The examples of individual members have helped give the Church a very positive image in Brazil.

People like Moroni Bing Torgan and Elder Martins, who serves in our area presidency, have led the way.

Brother Torgan distinguished himself for integrity and diligence in his law enforcement career while at the same time serving in a succession of Church leadership roles. Now he is a member of the national legislature.

Elder Martins once had an experience that illustrates the respect many Brazilians have for the Church and its members. Several years before his call as a General Authority, he was chosen for a promotion in his company, and his employer let him know that the selection was made not only because of his professional ability but also because he was a Mormon bishop. The employer made it clear that he saw Bishop Martins’s Church calling as an important assurance of integrity and willingness to serve as needed.

Q: What does the growth of the Church in Brazil mean for the country?

A: Many people don’t realize how potentially prosperous Brazil is, not just economically, but in spiritual riches.

In reality, the future of Brazil is tied to the gospel. The world will see great changes in the country, but we believe these will come through the influence and spread of the gospel. That’s why we feel a great responsibility to be sure that the Church is moving along rapidly and to teach diligently the principles of truth and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, so that more people will be able to change their lives. The Brazilian people are a great people, very resilient. They have been through many hardships, but they are still optimistic. They look for better days in this life, and when we bring them the gospel, many of them recognize immediately that the Church offers what they have been looking for.

Update

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

Stake Record Extraction Program

1987

7,174,193

1988

11,959,046

1989

12,674,826

1990

12,234,359

1991

13,105,250

Family Record Extraction Program

1987

187,915

1988

582,437

1989

2,542,618

1990

8,428,161

1991

14,681,641

First Presidency Statement on the Sabbath

The First Presidency has issued the following statement on the Sabbath day.

“Since the creation of the earth, the Sabbath day has been established by God for the spiritual well-being of His children. Throughout generations of time, the sacred law of the Sabbath has been upheld by the prophets of God as a holy observance to help sanctify and bring joy to those who would keep the commandments of the Lord. So important is this matter that the observance of the Sabbath was one of the Ten Commandments written by the finger of the Lord on Mount Sinai.

“Shortly after the restoration of the gospel, the Lord reaffirmed the importance of Sabbath day observance when He declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“‘And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

“‘For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;

“‘Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;

“‘But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.

“‘And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.’ (D&C 59:9–13.)

“We sense that many Latter-day Saints have become lax in their observance of the Sabbath day. We should refrain from shopping on the Sabbath and participating in other commercial and sporting activities that now commonly desecrate the Sabbath.

“We urge all Latter-day Saints to set this holy day apart from activities of the world and consecrate themselves by entering into a spirit of worship, thanksgiving, service, and family-centered activities appropriate to the Sabbath. As Church members endeavor to make their Sabbath activities compatible with the intent and Spirit of the Lord, their lives will be filled with joy and peace.”

Ezra Taft Benson
Gordon B. Hinckley