News of the Church

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Elder Sterling W. Sill Dies at 91

Elder Sterling W. Sill, an emeritus General Authority, died 25 May 1994 at his Salt Lake City home of natural causes. He was ninety-one years old.

Elder Sill served from April 1954 to October 1976 as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and from 1976 to 1978 as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, where he served until he was given emeritus status in 1978.

His voice became familiar to many during his seventeen years on the weekly radio program Sunday Evening from Temple Square, broadcast over KSL Radio from 1960 to 1977. He was also recognized as one of the Church’s prolific authors, writing well over thirty books.

Sterling W. Sill was born 31 March 1903 in Layton, Utah, to Joseph Albert and Marietta Welling Sill. On 4 September 1929, he married Doris Mary Thornley in the Salt Lake Temple. She survives her husband, as do one daughter and one of their two sons.

After serving a mission in the southern United States from 1924 to 1926, Elder Sill entered the insurance business, where he served in many corporate positions over the years.

Elder Sill was also a member of the board of regents at the University of Utah from 1940 to 1951. The school awarded him an honorary law degree in 1953 and named the Family Life Center building after him a year later. In 1960 he received the Carnegie Hero Medal for saving a drowning thirteen-year-old boy.

Funeral services for Elder Sill were held 31 May 1994.

Eric Shumway Named BYU—Hawaii President

After serving for eleven years as vice president of academics at Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Dr. Eric B. Shumway will begin serving in early July in his new position as president of BYU—Hawaii.

Brother Shumway will be the eighth president of the campus and will succeed Alton L. Wade, who served as president of BYU—Hawaii for eight years.

Brother Shumway has been at BYU—Hawaii since 1966, except for time he spent as president of the Tonga mission and as he finished his doctoral degree at the University of Virginia.

Brother Shumway’s life has been filled with leadership positions. Included in his experience is his involvement as a member of the board of directors for the Laie Community Association and his service as president of the same association. He also served for four months in 1991 as acting president of the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Raised in St. Johns, Arizona, Brother Shumway served a mission for the Church in Tonga as a young man. After completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from BYU, he applied for a teaching position in 1966 at BYU—Hawaii because he wanted to live close to Tonga.

Thirteen LDS Mothers Honored

Thirteen Latter-day Saint mothers represented their states during the 59th annual American Mothers National Convention held in Salt Lake City. Seven of the women are Mother of the Year state representatives; six are Mothers of Young Children state representatives.

The states they represent and the Mothers of the Year representatives are:

Arizona—Melba Gardner Miskin, Mesa Twenty-eighth Ward, Mesa Arizona North Stake.

Iowa—Donna Lee Grogley, Davenport Ward, Davenport Iowa Stake.

Minnesota—Nancy Blanchard, Burnsville First Ward, Minneapolis Minnesota Stake.

Nevada—Margaret Lu (Peggy) Sears Draper, Pioche (Nevada) Ward, Enterprise Utah Stake.

New York—Clair Rose Heilner Freedman, Westchester First Ward, New York New York Stake.

Ohio—Heimy F. Taylor, Riverside Ward, Columbus Ohio Stake.

Texas—Joyce Giles Flake, Olde Oaks Ward, Houston Texas North Stake.

Utah—Roselyn Tanner Christensen, Layton Twenty-second Ward, Layton Utah East Stake.

Mothers of Young Children representatives, listed following the states they represent, include:

Arizona—Sondra Peacock Anderson, Mesa Eighth Ward, Mesa Arizona Maricopa Stake.

Idaho—Brenda K. Leftwich, Mountain Home First Ward, Mountain Home Idaho Stake.

New York—Ruth Ann Johnson Miller, Park Slope Branch, Brooklyn New York District.

Texas—Amy Nielsen Hogan, Olde Oaks Ward, Houston Texas North Stake.

Utah—Jody VanDenakker Wilding, Brigham City Fourteenth Ward, Brigham City Utah Stake.

Washington—Sandra Ann Linde, Sunnyside First Ward, Yakima Washington Stake.

Catania Italy Saints: Profiles of Faith

At first Luigi Brucchieri didn’t want to hear what Latter-day Saint missionaries had to say when they knocked on his door in Germany. But intrigued by what he heard, Luigi accepted a pamphlet about Joseph Smith and, the next evening, a copy of the Book of Mormon. Less than two weeks later, he was baptized.

Having worked seven years as a farmer and paint factory worker in Germany, the Italian convert now wanted to share his testimony of the restored gospel with his countrymen. He left Germany and traveled south through Italy to eastern Sicily. The Church had not yet been established there; but in response to Luigi’s request, Church authorities sent missionaries to Catania. Thus, on 27 March 1967, nearly a year after the reopening of the Italian Mission following a century-long hiatus, the Catania Branch was formed, with Luigi Brucchieri serving as president.

Today members of the Catania Branch fill the seats of a beautiful new chapel. And at seventy-three years of age, Luigi Brucchieri, still ignited by missionary fervor, serves as a district missionary.

“I always wear my district missionary name tag,” he says. “The Church here is ready to grow. I’ve prayed a lot for my country.” Such enthusiasm and dedication are also common among other Saints in Catania.

Catania, second largest city on the island of Sicily, is an important commercial and fishing port, exporting a rich harvest of olives, oranges, lemons, and grapes. The city has enjoyed many prosperous eras since its founding by Greeks in the late eighth century B.C. However, silhouetted against the sky is majestic Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, which time and again has erupted, burying Catania in a sea of ash and lava. But just as often, the resilient Catanians have rallied to rebuild from ruin until today the bustling city again stands as a prime example that “the field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4).

Consider the story of 21-year-old Tiziana Puglisi. Walking down Via Etnea, she met Latter-day Saint missionaries who invited her to an English class they were teaching at an LDS chapel. Arriving there on the wrong day for the class, Tiziana met another missionary, who sparked her interest in the Church.

On the following Sunday, Tiziana attended a baptism and felt a wonderful spirit as mission president George R. DeWitt spoke in English about the Holy Ghost. She read the Book of Mormon in one month, and two days after her baptism she completed the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as well. All this study fortified Tiziana in her decision to be baptized and to put the Church first, she says.

Such faith sustains Catanian Saints as they confront public misconceptions about Latter-day Saint beliefs and other cultural challenges.

“It is difficult to live in a family who are not Church members,” says Daniela, a mathematics teacher and wife of Catania Branch president Paolo Battezzato. She explains how difficult it is for young couples to marry in Italy, where custom dictates they have everything in order—education completed, a steady job, and a home and furnishings acquired—before marriage. But “the Church helps me make the important choices in my life,” she says, referring to how she and Paolo decided to marry at a comparatively young age. They were sealed in the Frankfurt Germany Temple.

Catanian Saints have a positive outlook that encourages them to always live the gospel and shines as an example to others.

“We have to enjoy life,” says President Battezzato, who works as a microelectronics technician. “Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. We can help others be happy also.”

One way to help spread that happiness is by serving a mission, as Tiziana Puglisi plans to do. She knows firsthand of the gospel’s power to transform lives: “I am more optimistic now about life. I have lived with people who are always sad and have told me to ‘prepare for the storms.’ Now that I am a Latter-day Saint, I feel more content and secure. I have established objectives for life. I finally know what I want to do tomorrow.”

Catanian Saints reflect courage and resiliency—knowing that in Catania they are helping build up not only a city but also the kingdom of God and a testament to their faith.

[photos] Majestic Mount Etna slopes toward the city of Catania. Inset: Tiziana Puglisi. (Photography by Blake Nay.)

[photo] Luigi Brucchieri, Church pioneer

[photo] The Catania Branch’s new chapel recently opened its doors.

[photo] Members Rosario and Alfina Virgillito with their daughter, Elisa.

Lori Young Nay, who serves as a Primary worker in the Hannibal Ward, Nauvoo Illinois Stake, served in the Italy Catania Mission from 1978 to 1979.

Wards and Branches in the Church

As of 3 May 1994, there were 21,232 organized wards and branches in the Church. Over a five-year period, the number of wards has increased by 1,773, and the number of branches has increased by 2,170.

Wards and Branches in the Church

1989: 5,767 Branches, 11,522 Wards 1990: 6,238 Branches, 11,843 Wards 1991: 6,644 Branches, 12,184 Wards 1992: 7,341 Branches, 12,740 Wards 1993: * 7,937 Branches, * 13,295 Wards

  1.   *

    3 May 1994

Of Good Report

Island Restoration

Partridge Island is a historical island set in Saint John Harbour in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Nearby communities are joining together to restore the island, which served as a resting point for some of eastern Canada’s first settlers and as an army fortress during World War II.

Members of the Kennebecasis Ward in the Saint John New Brunswick Stake were eager to get involved with the restoration project. So they volunteered to help restore the picket fence surrounding the burial ground of early settlers who died on the island.

The only means of access to the island is by boat, so members began their day of service at the dock. Included on the day’s agenda was a brief history lesson of the island and its impact on the area.

The project was so enjoyable that many members of the Church expressed interest in continuing their involvement in the island’s restoration projects.Karen Walker, Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada

Yard Cleanup

Members recently joined forces with those of other faiths to help some single mothers living in the Millcreek Second Ward in Salt Lake City. With lawn edgers, rakes, shovels, hammers, and axes in hand, more than fifty people participated in yard cleanup efforts.

In addition, the ward activity committee provided a “barbecue break” for the volunteers one afternoon, serving more than sixty hamburgers and forty hot dogs.

The project began as an Aaronic Priesthood project, but when others showed an interest, flyers were distributed and a whole neighborhood was invited to pitch in. After the cleanup, sod was laid and sprinkler systems were installed.

Ward members, especially the youth, enjoyed the projects, reported Bishop Don Cook. And the cleanup projects will continue. “We recognize there is a great need for service,” he said.Doug Gibson, Salt Lake City, Utah

Museum Tribute

The people of Snowflake, Arizona, have united in an effort to preserve history by restoring one of the area’s first adobe structures—the home of Latter-day Saint colonizer William Jordan Flake. Organized primarily by Church members, but with ample support from all corners of the community, the restoration efforts have culminated in the establishment of a pioneer museum.

Named the Stinson Museum after James Stinson, a cattle rancher who sold his Rancho Rio de la Plata to Brother Flake, the restored building holds home furnishings, farm equipment, and numerous artifacts authentic to the time period.

In addition, the museum is located in a historic district, a part of town dotted with buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Homes.

The restoration of the building involved many Church members and other citizens. People donated both money and time; volunteers repaired the roof, painted the walls, repaired the bathrooms, and built display shelves. One retired man glazed and painted all the outside windows of the museum.

The Flake family played a crucial part in the establishment of Snowflake, and the museum is a fitting tribute to them, notes Jo Ann Washburn, president of the Heritage and Tourism Council and Young Women secretary in the Snowflake Sixth Ward, Snowflake Arizona Stake. “Their goal was to make each family self-sufficient,” she explained. “If nurturing and giving of time or means could help people get on their feet, it was given by the Flakes.”

Sunday Sitters

Fourteen years is a long time for a service project to last. But Relief Society sisters in the Hillcrest Fifth Ward, Orem Utah Hillcrest Stake, have been involved in a service project that started in 1980 and is still going strong.

Fourteen years ago, our bishop read a letter in sacrament meeting announcing the new consolidated schedule. As I sat there, alone, I realized what this change would mean to my family. My husband was home that day, tending our fourteen-year-old daughter, Melinda. However, he had been called to serve in a university ward bishopric and would need to attend meetings on the campus. Melinda has Rett’s syndrome, which causes her to become extremely agitated and vocally upset when surrounded by noise and movement. Although we had tried for years to take her to Church meetings, we had finally concluded we needed to leave her at home with my husband or me watching her. With the new schedule, I would not be able to attend Church meetings on any kind of regular basis!

I wasn’t the only one to realize my dilemma. “What will you do?” asked Marilyn Mansfield, a member of the Relief Society presidency.

“What can I do?” I replied.

I remember Sister Mansfield smiled, then replied, “Let’s see what we can do.”

That very day, Sister Mansfield stood up in Relief Society, explaining my unusual situation and proposing a solution. “Why don’t we each take a turn staying with Melinda so Sister McClure can attend her meeting. If each of us takes a turn, we’ll only miss one Sunday a year.”

A sign-up sheet was passed around, and I watched uncomfortably. Except during a few minor calamities, I was not accustomed to receiving compassionate service.

After the meeting, the Relief Society secretary handed me a sheet filled with names and phone numbers for the first three months of the ward’s new schedule. And ever since then, that’s the way it’s been. My husband completed his assignment in the university ward years ago. Our ward and stake have been divided three times. Yet the sisters still keep coming. Every three months, the sheet has been passed around, and I have received a new list of Sunday sitters. It’s now been more than 675 Sundays and counting.Ruth L. McClure, Orem, Utah

[photo] The bishopric of Kennebecasis Ward participates in service project. (Photo by Karen Walker.)

[photo] Pioneer artifacts on display at the Stinson Museum. (Photo by Ray E. Caldwell.)

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander

Conversation with the Europe Area Presidency

To find out more about the Church in the Europe Area (Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, White Russia, and the republics of the former Yugoslavia), the Ensign talked with Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy, Europe Area president, and Elders Robert K. Dellenbach and C. Max Caldwell of the Seventy, counselors in the area presidency.

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander Elder Robert K. Dellenbach Elder C. Max Caldwell

Center: Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Europe Area president. Left and right: Elders Robert K. Dellenbach and C. Max Caldwell, counselors in the area presidency.

Question: How fast is the Church growing in countries that make up the Europe Area?

Answer: We are experiencing substantial convert growth in some missions and moderate to good growth in others. In all of these countries we desire sustained growth and want to see solid priesthood holders and families. We are channeling our efforts in that direction.

The significance of growth in the countries where the Church is new is not so much in the numbers but rather in the strength of those who are coming into the Church. Wonderful people are being baptized. That makes for a strong Church. Many people have been in the Church less than a year or two but are already serving in branch and auxiliary presidencies, as district leaders, and in other priesthood leadership positions. The miracle of the influence of the Spirit results in the missionaries’ finding people who are responsive and prepared. They grasp hold of the gospel. It is a marvelous thing to see.

We’re particularly blessed in eastern Europe with what we feel to be a high concentration of the children of Israel. The people’s educational level and curiosity, combined with seven decades of restricted freedom of religious expression, help explain what is happening in eastern Europe and why the people are looking for something beyond a temporal and economic approach to life.

Many factors contribute to the acceptance of the Church. In eastern Europe, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the only church that is active. Many churches have found a very fruitful field. There is a religious awakening underway in the countries of eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Ukraine. The Church is part of this, much the same way it was part of the religious interest during the Prophet Joseph Smith’s time. Out of this great cauldron of activity around religious themes and activity, the Church is establishing itself.

Q: Help us get an idea of the size of the Church in your area.

A: We have more than sixty thousand members in twenty-two stakes and eighteen districts. By July 1994, we will have twenty-two missions. The western part of the area is very stable—with stakes, mature priesthood leaders, and a long history of Church activity, with many third- and fourth-generation families. General Church activity is reflected in the 48 percent sacrament meeting attendance. In the eastern part of our area, we have our greatest growth in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. We have a very active missionary force there, with thirteen missions located in that area. Of the twenty-nine cities with more than one million inhabitants, we have missionaries working in slightly more than half. Generally, the Church is not well known yet, but the message seems to be well regarded. Missionaries are well accepted and respected in most mission areas.

Q: Are there many native missionaries laboring in the Europe Area?

A: Actually, we have quite a few, and the number is increasing. As soon as new converts are prepared, able, and have been members of the Church long enough, many of them are called on missions. The big advantage of native missionaries is their ability to work with their own people and within their own culture. Of course, they need no visas or special registration. Missionaries are now beginning to return into many of our branches. The future of the Church is in good hands.

It is important to note that the Saints in western Europe have been tremendously generous in assisting the Saints in eastern Europe—materially and spiritually. For example, a German couple opened the work in Minsk; we have a couple from the Netherlands serving in Novosibirsk; we have had a missionary couple from Switzerland serving in Hungary and a couple from Germany serving in Poland.

To their credit, the Saints in western Europe have shared their wealth in a way that is beyond the understanding of most people and have been greatly blessed as a result. That is an aspect of the growth of the Church in eastern Europe that is not often talked about. The members in western Europe have made available to the eastern Saints substantial amounts of food, care packages, and personal letters and notes. It is one of the reasons we see increased activity among the Saints in western Europe. They have been exceptionally generous with their prayers, faith, interest, and concern for their east European brothers and sisters.

Q: How has the presence of temples strengthened the work?

A: The impact of temples is far-reaching. Participation in temple ordinances has blessed the lives of many members from east European countries. Groups of forty, fifty, or more come from many of the eastern European countries to spend several days at the temple. Czechs, Ukrainians, Poles, Hungarians, and Russians regularly attend the temple.

Q: What are the biggest challenges the Church faces in your area?

A: Leadership training is a big challenge. Getting materials translated fast enough to meet our needs is another. We are working with seventeen languages, yet we haven’t even started working in some important languages yet. For example, in Albania we are still doing most everything in English. We are further along with preparing materials in Russian than in most other languages.

Another challenge is that during the rapid opening of eastern Europe a few years ago, the ideals of communism were overthrown, and it created a moral vacuum. There was a rush to rediscover principles of morality and ethics. Many churches were invited to teach in the schools and in the universities. The religions from the West were welcomed. But following that, there has been a very conservative backlash. Many who support the historical institutions of society in those nations are now active in curbing some of the activity of the Western churches. This is understandable, but it has created some difficulty because we are, after all, guests in their countries. The future will be just fine, but we are currently passing through a sensitive period of time.

Q: How does the economic situation in the former Eastern bloc affect missionary work?

A: When you are worried about whether you are going to eat today, you don’t worry too much about a lot of other things. Many people are just worried about survival. Somehow, though, we find wonderful people. They are intelligent, well educated, and they come to the Church with an ambition to embrace the gospel fully. The hand of the Lord is reaching out to them and raising them up. Many are generous, Christlike, humble, and unsullied by the world.

Members in these lands base their faith on the spiritual dimension of the gospel. They don’t have many Church buildings or materials, and they don’t have community association. They are dependent upon their own personal testimonies. That sustains them. Their faith is strong and growing.

Q: Can you discuss in greater detail how their faith helps them through difficult economic and political times?

A: The Church convinces the people that there is something even more important than bread on the table—eternal salvation. It’s amazing how brave and courageous they are. Not long ago in a meeting in Moscow in which we discussed the welfare program, a number of Relief Society presidents and district presidents simply said, “The purpose of the gospel is to strengthen our spiritual lives. If you will do that for us, we will take care of the rest of our problems.” That seems to be the attitude of many people who come into the Church. You cannot attend a meeting in the former Eastern bloc lands without feeling a vibrancy, a confidence in the future despite the difficult situation in which members may now find themselves.

Comment

“We’re Not Alone”

“Lead Me, Guide Me” (March 1994) was excellent. It was like having someone in our own home watching and recording. We have a 22-year-old son who was hyperactive. We also have a 14-year-old boy who could be Jared Lambert; we have endured his out-of-control behavior for years. On the other hand, he can be kind, gentle, considerate, polite, and loving. How can a boy who has been diagnosed with SED (severe emotional disorder), ADD (attention deficit disorder), and oppositional defiant disorder be all these good things too? That’s part of the paradox of children.

Our older son outgrew his hyperactivity. As our younger son grows, he understands more, and he is able to be reasoned with at times. All this helps. But our greatest strength comes from a kind Heavenly Father who gave us these challenging children to help us learn patience, long-suffering, and a sense of humor. It is good to know that we are not as alone as we sometimes feel.

Name Withheld

Progress in Chile

I read with excitement “Southern Cross Saints in Chile: On Top of the World” (May 1993). I am one of the missionaries referred to in the article and recall vividly making the trek to Coyhaique in April 1978.

There is one note that I wish to make: I traveled to Coyhaique with my companion Elder Gonzalo Sepulveda, now a regional representative in Chile, and not President Fernando Caballero. We went under the direction of our mission president, Lester D. Haymore. I am thrilled to read of the growth of the Church in Coyhaique, as well as the rest of southern Chile. It is a beautiful country filled with people ready for the gospel.

Gregory W. Aiken Salt Lake City, Utah

Good Sign from Heavenly Father

Some years ago a Church leader visited us in Beaver. During his talk, he mentioned that many people mispronounce the word ensign. He wanted us to know the correct pronunciation—N’sign, not ensun. He said the word can stand for a sign of good coming from our Heavenly Father. For several years I have sent subscriptions to the magazine to a dozen relatives; it is not uncommon to hear the word ensign spoken around my home.

Pearl W. Thompson Beaver, Utah

True Testimonies Change Lives

When I joined the Church in July 1991, the Ensign was a tremendous influence on me. I had the scriptures available, but it took this magazine to help me realize that true testimonies change lives.

At the time, I was struggling with my children and making decisions about my marriage. My mother-in-law invited me to attend church with her. If I hadn’t read the Ensign, I never would have agreed. It was at church that I heard the gospel and my heart was opened.

Thank you for your gift to me. My husband and I look forward to being sealed in the Portland Oregon Temple.

Dawn C. Sieber McMinnville, Oregon

Modern Guide to Happiness

“Do Not Despair” (October 1986), written by President Ezra Taft Benson, is truly applicable to our current physical and spiritual needs. The pornography, crime, sins, and immorality so prevalent in the world today make this message a guide to help us live the gospel and teach our children.

I quote from the third paragraph: “With the assurance that the Church shall remain intact with God directing it through the troubled times ahead, it then becomes our individual responsibility to see that each of us remains faithful to the Church and its teachings. ‘He that remaineth steadfast and is not overcome, the same shall be saved.’ (JS—M 1:11.) To help us from being overcome by the devil’s designs of despair, discouragement, depression, and despondency, the Lord has provided at least a dozen ways which, if followed, will lift our spirits and send us on our way rejoicing.”

Our prophet then describes twelve ways that each of us should learn and live to prevent despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression. And then he closes: “May we use them all in the difficult days ahead so that we Christian pilgrims will have greater happiness here and go on to a fulness of joy in the highest realms of the celestial kingdom.”

Milo C. Moody Provo, Utah