News of the Church


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Of the Quorum of the Twelve
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

On Thursday, June 23, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, fifty-three, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, filling a vacancy created by the reorganization of the First Presidency following the death of President Ezra Taft Benson on May 30. Also on June 23, Elder Holland was ordained an Apostle and set apart by President Hunter as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. In a press conference held later that day, Elder Holland expressed his feelings regarding his new calling.

“I’m not sure that you can understand the overwhelming sense of responsibility this call brings,” he said to members of the press and other observers. “I’m equally sure that you could not understand the unspeakable respect that I have for the office. My greatest wish, and hence my greatest anxiety, is that I will be adequate and appropriate and never in any way damage the dignity and respect that the Church and the world collectively hold for the office of Apostle.

“The last few hours have been nearly unbearable,” he continued. “I received this call at 7:30 this morning. … President Hunter issued the call, he conducted the business at the temple, he gave me my instructions, and he gave me my blessing. He did it all. How deeply moving his counsel and guidance and blessing to me were. It amounted to considerable instruction and time this morning. I consider President Hunter’s strength and sustaining power in his new calling to be one of the modern miracles of this church.”

Elder Holland has been personally acquainted with President Hunter for many years. As president of Brigham Young University, he traveled with President Hunter, then president of the Quorum of the Twelve, as they worked toward the approval and completion of BYU’s Jerusalem Center project. “When he issued the call, we had some tearful moments together,” Elder Holland said. “It was a tender time.

“As to my own sense of respect and responsibility, … I pledge to you, as I did to my Brethren this morning, everything I have and everything I know how to give.”

During the press conference, Elder Holland responded to questions about President Hunter’s first official statement as president of the Church and about the Church’s plans to commemorate the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s martyrdom.

Speaking of President Hunter’s invitation to less-active members to come back, Elder Holland said, “I know him and the other Brethren well enough to know that they want everyone back, all the time, in every way, in every place. That would be as basic to the apostolic mission of this church as anything else—to invite people to stay with us. … It seems to me that is basically the message of the Church from its beginning.”

Responding to a question about activities marking the anniversary of the martyrdom, Elder Holland commented, “I would say that one of the greatest things that has happened in my life in the last five years is the expanding and greater magnificence that the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith has taken on. I have been raised a member of the Church; I served a mission in England as a young man. … I’ve always had a testimony.

“But something has happened during these last few years that is essentially ineffable. … It is real, and it is about the role and the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. … It has taken on new meaning and sacredness that will be very central in this calling.”

Jeffrey R. Holland was born in St. George, Utah, on 3 December 1940 to Frank D. and Alice Bentley Holland. “I grew up with more security and unrestrained love than I can imagine a child having,” he has remarked.

He met Patricia Terry at Dixie High School, and the two married in 1963, shortly after he returned from a full-time mission to England. The Hollands have three children: sons Matthew and David and a daughter, Mary Alice, who is married to Lee McCann. The McCanns have one child, Madeleine, and are expecting a second child.

“I am grateful for my husband’s spiritual qualifications for this calling,” said Sister Holland at the press conference. “Nobody but myself knows the kind of faith that this man has. It is pure,” she said. “He is a humble servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prior to his calling as a General Authority, Elder Holland served as a regional representative, as a counselor in three stake presidencies, as a bishop, as director of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA, and as chairman of the Church’s Young Adult Committee.

As a General Authority, Elder Holland has served in the area presidencies of the North America West, Europe North, and North America Southeast areas and has been serving as assistant executive director of the Correlation Department of the Church.

Much of Elder Holland’s life has been devoted to education. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in religious education from Brigham Young University, he attended Yale University and received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in American studies. He taught at several institutes of religion before becoming dean of religious education at BYU. Two years later, he was appointed the Church commissioner of education, a position he held until being called to serve as the ninth president of Brigham Young University. He was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1989.

Elder Holland served as president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities and as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Presidents Commission and a number of other educational associations. For his work in improving understanding between Christians and Jews, he was awarded the Torch of Liberty award by the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’rith. He also served on several national educational organizations, as well as on the governing boards of a number of civic and business-related corporations.

“My chief responsibility now, and my primary responsibility—in a sense, my total responsibility—is to bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Holland observed. “As inadequate as I feel, it is the most pleasant and most rewarding and most thrilling assignment a man can have in this world. I pledge my life to this effort.”

President Hinckley Dedicates Restored Cove Fort

With its four-foot-thick walls of volcanic rock standing as firmly today as they did 127 years ago, Cove Fort—located in southern Utah between Fillmore and Beaver—was dedicated 21 May 1994 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, grandson of the fort’s builder.

Standing in front of an estimated two thousand people, President Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, gave remarks and a dedicatory prayer, calling the fort and surrounding area a sacred site that serves as a reminder of the faith and fortitude of the early Latter-day Saints. One of those early pioneers was Ira Hinckley, President Hinckley’s grandfather and the man Brigham Young commissioned to build and care for the fort.

The fort served as protection against Indian attacks on the telegraph offices and mail stations and as a refuge for weary travelers during the mid-1800s. It is the only pioneer fort in Utah still standing.

“This place was constructed to provide safety and rest, nourishment and comfort. … Those who built and lived here believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. More solid than the foundation upon which these rock walls stand was their quiet faith,” declared President Hinckley.

During his remarks, President Hinckley made mention of his grandfather’s and father’s involvement in the fort’s early years.

“One hundred and twenty-seven years ago today, [Ira Hinckley] had arrived at this place, which was totally strange to him. He had come with Brigham Young, and President Young had left. Ira must have felt extremely lonely. He was thirty-eight years of age and had left his family behind him in Coalville, at least a ten-day journey away. He wasted no time in sympathizing with himself, however. He had been called to build a fort, and he began,” said President Hinckley. It took Ira and the other builders a mere seven months to finish the fort, which still stands today because of its fine craftsmanship.

Switching his thoughts to his father, President Hinckley continued, “My father was brought here when he was three months old and spent the first ten years of his life here. He told us [children] that these were exciting days for a little boy.

“Father told us of the time when Brigham Young held him on his knee. On one such occasion the President gave him a coin, which Father later spent. When he grew older, he regretted he ever spent that coin,” recalled President Hinckley.

However, President Hinckley’s praise for the founders of Cove Fort was not limited to his ancestors nor to the men who were involved. He also lauded, with emotion, the brave women who served at the fort.

“It was a frontier and lonely outpost, but they brought beauty to this desolate place,” he said. “They brought gladness when their voices were lifted in laughter. Their prayers reached to heaven not only in behalf of their families but also for the many who came this way who were impoverished, hungry, and sick unto death. I bow my head in solemn and sacred gratitude,” he concluded.

Others who spoke at the service were President Howard W. Hunter, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy, executive director of the Church Historical Department; and Sister Colleen Hinckley Maxwell, wife of Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and great-granddaughter of Ira Hinckley. Music was provided by the combined choirs of the Fillmore and Beaver stakes.

President Hunter expressed his gratitude to the Historic Cove Fort Acquisition and Restoration Foundation, an organization directed by descendants of Ira Hinckley, which deeded Cove Fort to the Church in 1988.

“May the Lord bless us, and may we catch the vision of what has been done in years gone by to establish what has become a far-flung empire around the world, the kingdom of God here upon the earth. May the Lord bless us as those who preceded us have been blessed,” said President Hunter.

Included in the restoration project is an authentic barn, a blacksmith shop, a smokehouse, gardens, and orchards. Located just off the junction of highways I-70 and I-15 between Fillmore and Beaver, Cove Fort is open to the public from 10:00 A.M. until dusk. Admission is free. Missionaries are on hand to welcome visitors and answer their questions.

[photo] Visitors tour a pioneer cabin at historic Cove Fort, a site that served as a refuge and protection for travelers during the mid-1800s. (Photo by Mike Cannon, courtesy of Church News.)

French Polynesians Celebrate Sesquicentennial of Church’s Presence

For twelve busy days, Church members in French Polynesia celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Church there. They were joined by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve, who presided over the event; Elder Rulon G. Craven of the Seventy, president of the Pacific Area; and many other Church, community, and government leaders.

From April 30 to May 11, conferences, cultural events, firesides, and programs were held on the four major island groups that make up French Polynesia: Tahiti, Tubuai, Takaroa, and Taiatea.

Addison Pratt, Benjamin Grouard, and Noah Rogers were the first missionaries in French Polynesia; they arrived on the island of Tubuai in April 1844. Elder Rogers returned to the United States after a few months, but Elders Pratt and Grouard stayed, creating a wave of missionary work that has now reached its seventh generation.

Today, French Polynesia has nearly fourteen thousand members in four stakes and three districts; a temple; area offices; and a strong culture that blends Polynesian, French, Chinese, and other nationalities in a united gospel effort.

Those cultural influences were strongly felt during the nearly two weeks of celebration. Bright, colorful costumes, music, dancing, and tasty food were in abundance as Church members expressed their joy and gratitude for the gospel in their lives. Elder Nelson and other leaders spoke at numerous celebratory activities, often heavily bedecked with flower leis and shell necklaces.

In events on Tubuai, the first island where missionaries preached, Church members performed ancient musical numbers and shared stories of the early missionaries.

The largest conference was held in the Papeete stake center on May 8. (Earlier in the day, Elder Nelson dedicated the islands for the preaching of the gospel; see accompanying story.) Two sessions, one conducted in French and one in Tahitian, were held. Elder Nelson spoke for nearly an hour, challenging members to increase their numbers and righteousness. He told the members that “the most important pages of history are being written right now.” He also challenged them to provide missionaries for their own islands as well as for other French-speaking countries.

The sesquicentennial activities were covered extensively by television, radio, and newspapers. The biggest event connected with the Church in French Polynesia, the sesquicentennial generated much favorable coverage, report local public affairs personnel.

In addition, many former missionaries and mission presidents returned to the islands for the celebration and to reflect on the growth of the Church in their former field of service.

Government leaders were heavily involved in the sesquicentennial celebration, attending meetings and participating in many activities. One of the greatest government recognitions came in the form of a postage stamp bearing a picture of the Papeete Tahiti Temple. The stamp sold out soon after it was issued. However, additional copies were soon available.

[photo] Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve is greeted with leis by joyous Church members celebrating the Church’s 150th birthday in French Polynesia. (Photo by John Hart, courtesy of Church News.)

Islands Dedicated During French Polynesia Celebration

As part of the sesquicentennial celebration of the Church’s arrival in French Polynesia, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve offered a dedicatory prayer and blessing on the land.

The May 8 ceremony was held in the quiet morning air on the west lawn behind the Papeete Tahiti Temple with only Elder Nelson and thirty-four other Church members in attendance.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a rich and remarkable history among these islands of the south Pacific Ocean,” Elder Nelson noted in his prayer. “Its missionaries served here even before its leaders reached Utah’s valleys of the Great Salt Lake where its world headquarters was to be established. Missionaries sent by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1843 from Nauvoo, Illinois, to these islands were the Church’s first to be called to a language and culture foreign to them. Here they served for many years while separated from families, colleagues, and modes of transportation and communication. Their initial success on Tubuai and in the Tuamotus set the pattern for other missionaries to emulate. …

“Wilt thou bless these islands with a rich portion of thy holy Spirit, that its citizens and their visitors may learn thy commandments and be obedient to them, that they may prosper in love. Let there be a resurgence of missionary zeal, that thine elect may be gathered prior to the second coming of thy Son, which is nigh. These islands are rich with the blood of Israel. Bless thine elect to find thee and enter the waters of baptism.”

Although the gospel has been preached in French Polynesia for the last 150 years, Elder Nelson noted that Church history had been searched in vain for any record of a formal dedication. “The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve made the decision, in conjunction with the sesquicentennial, … that an apostolic prayer of dedication should be given.”

The islands specifically mentioned in the prayer were the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Gambier Islands, and the Austral Islands.

[photo] Elder Nelson dedicated French Polynesia for the preaching of the gospel. (Photo by John Hart, courtesy of Church News.)

[photo] Church members perform during one of many sesquicentennial activities. (Photo by John Hart, courtesy of Church News.)

[photo] Tahitian member Tuariro Meitai. (Photo by John Hart, courtesy of Church News.)

Church Now Recognized in 150 Lands

The Church is becoming increasingly well established internationally, and an indication of that growth is the number of organized wards and branches in the world’s countries, territories, and possessions (as defined by the United Nations).

According to the Church Finance and Records Department, the Church has arrived at a new milestone: There are now organized wards and branches in 150 countries, territories, and possessions. Several months ago, the Church organized the 150th unit in Ethiopia.

International growth has been especially significant in the last four decades. Prior to that, the vast majority of the Church population lived in the United States and Canada. Since that time, however, international membership has sharply increased.

An increase in the number of units in countries, territories, and possessions comes in two ways—through the creation of new Church units or the creation of new countries. Both have increased since 1980. (It has only been since 1982 that the distinction between countries, territories, and possessions was made.)

 

Countries

Territories

Total

1830

   

1

1850

   

7

1880

   

16

1900

   

21

1920

   

22

1940

   

24

1960

   

47

1970

   

60

1980

   

83

1985

95

20

115

1990

107

23

130

1991

115

23

138

1992

122

24

146

1993

125

24

149

1994 (Jan.)

126

24

150

The above chart indicates growth of the Church in countries, territories, and possessions around the world. The significant jump from 1980 to 1985 is due in part to the fact that starting in 1982, territories and possessions with organized Church units were added to the total number of nations.

Below: Charts indicate Church membership growth in the United States and internationally since 1960.

1960: 91% U.S. & Canada; 9% Other Countries, Territories, and Possessions; Total: 1,693,000

1975: 81% U.S. & Canada; 19% Other Countries, Territories, and Possessions; Total: 3,572,000

1993: 54% U.S. & Canada; 46% Other Countries, Territories, and Possessions; Total: 8,688,000

Open House and Dedication Announced for Orlando Temple

Dates for the open house and dedication of the Orlando Florida Temple have been announced.

Open house tours will be conducted from Saturday, September 10, through Friday, September 30. Hours are 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. on Tuesday through Saturday and 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. on Monday. There will be no tours of the temple on Sunday.

Following the open house, the temple will be prepared for eleven separate dedicatory services, scheduled for October 9, 10, and 11. Members of the Church who live in Florida and Georgia will attend those meetings. A traditional cornerstone ceremony will precede the first dedicatory service.

The temple will serve Church members in twenty-two Florida stakes and one stake in southern Georgia. It will also serve members in the Caribbean until the completion of the recently announced temple to be built in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The Orlando Florida Temple, built on a thirteen-acre site in Windemere, a suburb of Orlando, is the forty-sixth operating temple of the Church. In addition, the Church has announced plans to build eleven more temples throughout the world.

Church Open Houses Result in Baptisms

During the past four years the Missionary Department of the Church has reported great success with the satellite missionary open houses, often aired in the fall of each year.

Last October’s initial presentation of The True and Living God was seen by an estimated three hundred thousand people in nearly three thousand different locations in the United States, Canada, and parts of the Caribbean. The program was also recorded and sent to all the missions worldwide.

Loved by Church members and members of other faiths as well, the open-house video presentations, such as The Prodigal Son and On the Way Home, have been some of the Missionary Department’s finest video productions.

The first open-house broadcast on 28 October 1990 was a premiere showing of the production The Prodigal Son. Positive response from those who saw the program was so great that two years later another missionary satellite video production, On the Way Home, was released. The next two broadcasts in the series were The True and Living God and a special program about families featuring Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and incorporating the best of the Homefront Series public service announcements.

According to the Missionary Department, the underlying purpose of the satellite series is to introduce members of other faiths to spiritual feelings that will lead them to accepting the opportunity to hear the missionary discussions.

In many missions this purpose was realized through the combined efforts of full-time missionaries and members. For example, in the California Ventura Mission, fifty-nine people accepted an invitation to hear the discussions after seeing the 1993 production The True and Living God. Of those fifty-nine people, twenty-eight became members of the Church.

Ventura’s mission president, Roger C. Butterfield, told one story of elders who invited a couple they had just met to an open house. The family went to the open house and were so touched by the message of the film as well as by the one-on-one presentations given afterward that they asked to be taught the discussions. The couple and their granddaughter were baptized two months later on Christmas Day.

In another area of the same mission, a bishop invited an entire family to the open house. The whole family listened to the discussions, and a few months later a daughter in the family was baptized.

“If you can get people to come to these open houses,” said President Gerald G. Smith, Jr., of the Arizona Phoenix Mission, “the Spirit often really touches their hearts and some take the discussions.” Eleven people in the mission were baptized as a result of the broadcast, he said.

President Robert E. Floto from the Indiana Indianapolis Mission told the story of a Taiwanese youth, Lilian Lin, who saw her parents stripped of all their belongings and jailed for being Christians. At about this same time, Lilian met a Latter-day Saint exchange student in Taiwan who told Lilian that if she ever went to the United States she should look up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lilian did come to the United States many years later and was invited by a missionary to the open house presentation The True and Living God. Lilian and her husband, Pei Ping, felt the Spirit while there and later joined the Church.

President Sheldon F. Child reported that from the three open houses held in the New York New York South Mission, nine people were introduced to the Church and later baptized. President Child summed up the satellite open-house success in three words—“It just works.”

[photo] Scene from the video presentation On the Way Home. (Photo by Craig Moyer.)

Elder Haight Honored as City’s Oldest Living Ex-Mayor

Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve recently visited Palo Alto, California, for the city’s centennial celebration. As the city’s oldest living ex-mayor, he, along his wife, Ruby, was welcomed by the town crier and greeted with red-carpet treatment.

Elder Haight served as mayor of Palo Alto from 1961 to 1963 and also served a two-year term on the city council prior to that. At his last council meeting as mayor, he announced that he had been called by the Church to serve as president of a mission in Scotland. Council members wanted to send a delegation to Salt Lake City to persuade Church leaders to let their mayor remain, but Brother Haight was committed to his new assignment.

The Haights had moved to Palo Alto in 1941 and quickly became active members of the community and ward. During the centennial celebration, Elder Haight was recognized for his work in the Church as well as honored for his service to the community.

Conversation: Learning and Singing Hymns

The First Presidency has emphasized the importance of learning and singing hymns—at church and at home. To learn how hymn singing can become a larger part of our public and personal worship, the Ensign talked with Michael F. Moody, chairman of the Church General Music Committee.

Question: Why is inspirational music such an important part of worship services?

Answer: Music is one of the most effective ways to teach the gospel and to inspire members. Hymns deliver a powerful message, and they invite the Spirit. Hymns also stir feelings and evoke memories of past experience. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve has said, “Music is of enormous importance in our worship services. I believe that those who choose, conduct, present, and accompany the music may influence the spirit of reverence in our meetings more than a speaker does” (Ensign, Nov. 1991, p. 22). That may be why, when you look at the outline of a normal sacrament meeting, so many of the items involve music: the prelude, the opening hymn, the sacrament hymn, special musical selections, the closing hymn, and the postlude.

When the new hymnbook was issued in 1985, the First Presidency suggested that members and families might be invited to perform their favorite hymns as musical numbers during sacrament meeting. The First Presidency also encouraged ward and branch leaders to assign speakers to talk about the importance of worthy music and the value of singing hymns (see Ensign, Nov. 1985, pp. 108–9).

Q: Is hymn singing equally important in other Church meetings?

A: Yes. In addition, when appropriate, lessons may include singing or quoting from the hymns. It is also valuable to play recorded presentations of the hymns in priesthood groups and quorums, in Relief Society, and in Young Women, Sunday School, and Primary classes.

If we could train ourselves to realize that hymns are gospel sermons, if we could assimilate their messages and let the music speak to our spirits, we would be edified.

Q: In light of the recent elimination of hymn practice before Sunday School, are there other ways we can continue to learn and practice hymns?

A: The elimination of hymn practice does not lessen the value of the hymns or the importance of inspirational music in our lives. Church members are still encouraged to learn and sing the hymns, but now they must be more personally responsible—both in church and at home.

We suggest that priesthood and music leaders encourage members to join in congregational singing, and that these leaders also foster the singing of both familiar and less-known hymns. And we encourage increased participation in choirs. As stated in the preface to the hymnbook, “Latter-day Saints have a long tradition of choir singing. Every ward and branch in the Church should have a choir that performs regularly.”

We recommend that ward choirs sing in at least two sacrament meetings each month throughout the year. Sacrament meetings give ward choirs a great opportunity to inspire the congregation. These minutes of music are moments well spent, because music teaches the gospel with extra power.

We encourage choirs to use the hymnbook as their basic resource. Other music in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the Church may be used, but I’ve become convinced that a hymn is often the most inspiring and appropriate musical selection a vocalist or instrumentalist could perform. Familiarity strikes a responsive chord. Even if the lyrics are not presented, their message is still there during instrumental presentations of the hymns. In sacrament meetings, choir music may be supplemented occasionally by appropriate music performed by vocal or instrumental soloists or small groups.

Q: What can Church members do at home to better learn and appreciate the hymns?

A: In the preface to the hymnbook, families are encouraged to have and use the hymnbook in the home. Parents are encouraged to teach the hymns to their children and to sing hymns as lullabies. The First Presidency also encourages members to sing hymns as they work, play, and travel together. Hymn singing is a great enhancement to family life. A hymn is a prayer (see D&C 25:12), and as such, it provides a wonderful preparation to scripture reading and family prayer. Singing is a wonderful way to teach children the gospel and to bring the Spirit into a home.

Q: Has the Church Music Department produced resources to help families learn the hymns?

A: We have a lot of materials to help families bring the music of the Church into their homes. We have the basic hymnbook and an abridged version called Selected Hymns, which features sixty of our most beloved hymns. We have an audio version of Selected Hymns on six cassette tapes, as well as an audio version of Hymns, which presents all the hymns in the hymnbook performed on piano and on string and woodwind instruments.

We have Hymns and Children’s Songs, a set of six audiocassettes of instrumental music that includes all the hymns and songs in the Gospel Principles manual. The music is designed for use during worship services. Each cassette side includes prelude music, an opening hymn, a sacrament hymn, a closing hymn, and postlude music. Parents can create an appreciation of the hymns by using these materials at home. The recordings are a valuable tool for bringing the Spirit into the home.

We also have a new Church Music Handbook. In addition to the music handbook published in 1975, we have periodically published a series of guidebooks on music skills for organists and conductors, and guidelines for choral music, children’s music, and youth music. There was a lot of material there. The Brethren wanted to put all the basic policies, procedures, and guidelines into one book—the new Church Music Handbook. We also have new Basic Music Course kits for developing keyboard and conducting skills.

Q: What can wards and stakes do to enhance music education?

A: Stake music chairmen and ward music chairmen should evaluate the training needs of their own units and find ways to provide for those needs. Training programs could be held in a ward or branch or on a stake basis. The ward music chairman, for example, could arrange to have someone teach conducting skills or keyboard skills during a weekday evening. Most wards need to develop a broader base of talent in organ and piano playing skills and in music conducting skills. A stake music chairman also might consider getting ward choir directors together for a seminar to strengthen them in their skills and knowledge.

Music can really make a difference in strengthening members and in increasing the spirituality of our meetings. I’m hoping that members of the Church will follow the counsel of our leaders by making better use of music and by taking advantage of the resources the Church has provided.

Suggestions for Learning and Singing Hymns

  • Encourage all members to join in congregational singing.

  • Sing both familiar and lesser-known hymns.

  • Have the choir sing hymns to help the congregation become more familiar with them, especially hymns that are not well known.

  • Encourage vocal and instrumental soloists and small groups to perform hymns as special musical selections.

  • Encourage speakers and instructors to reinforce gospel messages by quoting or referring to the hymns.

  • Reinforce a pattern of singing hymns during all regular Church meetings, including opening exercises in priesthood meeting Relief Society, Young Women, and Mutual, and during Primary.

  • Renew a pattern of singing hymns in leadership, training, and other special Church meetings, whether large or small.

  • Encourage the use of hymns for funeral services.

  • Encourage individuals and families to learn and sing the hymns in their homes. Possibilities include singing on the Sabbath, in family home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time, and at other times. Suggest that they consider using recordings of hymns available through Church distribution centers.

  • Encourage members to read and become familiar with the “First Presidency Preface” and “Using the Hymnbook” sections of the hymnbook (see Hymns, 1985, pp. ix–x, 379–86).

[photo] Michael F. Moody

Comment

A Difficult Challenge for Us

You can’t imagine how pleased my husband and I were to read “Lead Me, Guide Me” (Mar. 1994). We have a child with a mental disorder who is also diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.

I empathized with the parents mentioned in the article. I have often felt guilty, wondering if somehow I caused my child’s problem. I wrestle with the way others react to our problem, understanding their discomfort but wishing they knew how much their awareness of these circumstances would mean to me. It is especially hard at church, a place where I seek peace but sometimes find judgment and confrontation. It is so easy to judge, so difficult to love.

This has been a difficult challenge for us, but I take great comfort in knowing that our son is a child of God and that the Lord cares about him and us.

Name Withheld

Church Magazines Are Missionary Tools

I wanted to write and let you know of the importance of your work. The Ensign had a big influence in my decision to become a member of the Church. And the magazine continues to help me now as a full-time missionary.

My first contact with the Church was in 1988 when a friend gave me a copy of the book Gospel Principles. He knew I liked to read English and he said I could borrow it. I read it in two days! I wanted to know more and went to a chapel near my home, where two full-time missionaries taught me the first discussion.

At the time, I had a hard time with the idea of baptism. However, something in my heart told me I had to find something to save me from the temptations of Satan. I returned to the same chapel; this time a sister missionary gave me a copy of the Ensign. It was a conference report, and I read the whole issue in one night. It changed my life.

I have been baptized and am now serving a mission. I always read the Ensign and the Aliahona (Portuguese international magazine). As soon as I read them, I pass them on to investigators—I know the importance of the magazines as missionary tools.

Elder Mauricio Franco Brazil Riberiao Preto Mission

Illuminating Article on Atonement

“The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement” (Dec. 1993) is so illuminating. In two days I have already read it twice and am completing my third reading. More than that, it supplies what looks like an irrefutable answer to a question I was asked this past summer by a theological student: What is the Mormon view of salvation and grace?

I have sent the article to this student, along with some comments of my own, pointing out our teaching of the basic goodness of man as opposed to the strangling idea of man’s nature being evil from the beginning.

Jane B. Hildebrand San Jacinto, California

Despite Blisters and Cuts, They Finished the Job

Last month, when our township issued a deadline for our neighborhood’s sewer installation, we panicked. We knew nothing about sewers and couldn’t have done anything if we did. We were out digging on November 27 when two missionaries, Elders Welling and Halterman, came to our home.

Immediately, they offered to help. We refused and they left. But fifteen minutes later they returned with borrowed tools and work clothes. Over the next four hours, despite blisters, cuts, and sewer sludge, they finished the job beautifully. They left us with their telephone number, your magazine, and the location of their next Church meeting.

Elder Halterman has been transferred, but Elder Welling and his new companion visit us often and we have attended church. Each visit brings us closer to the Church and the glory of Christ. Never before has this been demonstrated to us more clearly than by these three missionaries. Their simple actions have left us inspired beyond words.

Anne, Lisa, and Amy Fusick Manahawkin, New Jersey