President Hunter Returns for Pasadena Stake Reunion
President Howard W. Hunter spent a weekend presiding over the semiannual stake conference of the Pasadena California Stake, where he served as stake president from 1950 to 1959.
“I have returned to the place and the people I learned to love with all of my heart and soul,” President Hunter remarked during his stake conference address. “As I have accepted the responsibility which has now come to me, how thankful I have been for the years of training and apprenticeship which the Lord provided in this place.”
The October 15–16 stake conference commemorated the stake’s fifty-eighth anniversary. In addition to President Hunter, who was the fourth of nine presidents to serve in that stake, four other former presidents were in attendance: Richard S. Summerhays (1959–63); James C. Ellsworth (1963–71); Elder Cree-L Kofford (1971–77), now serving in the Seventy; and Orlin C. Munns (1977–86), now serving as Oakland Temple president. Bruce G. McGregor is the current stake president.
“I am delighted to be here this evening with Sister Hunter to share this special stake conference,” President Hunter remarked. “It has been wonderful to see so many whom we have known through the years. My heart is full as I contemplate the events in my life which occurred in the Pasadena area with you, my brothers and sisters. …
“Hopefully this conference will be a time of reunion for each of us and also a time of spiritual rededication, using the events of the past as a catalyst for even greater things in the future.”
With the chapel and cultural hall filled, hundreds of others were accommodated in classrooms, where they watched the conference on closed-circuit television.
It was in the Pasadena stake that Howard W. Hunter was first called as a bishop. After serving as bishop of the El Sereno Ward, he served as a high councilor until, in 1950, he was called as stake president. He was serving in that capacity when he was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1959.
Following the Saturday evening adult session, President Hunter and his wife, Inis, greeted hundreds of members in a receiving line for more than an hour. Many no longer live in the stake and had traveled some distance to attend the activities. One young boy who was celebrating his thirteenth birthday stated, “All I want for my birthday is to shake the hand of the prophet.”
Past and present stake members greeted the other former stake presidents in attendance as well. Members also browsed through scrapbooks, photograph albums, and displays that were set up in the meetinghouse.
The entire weekend represented an outpouring of love and an expression of the bonds of the gospel. The rare experience of having the President of the Church preside at a conference in his former home stake left a warm glow among all who were there.
Another highlight of the conference and stake anniversary was the publication of the history of the stake, How Firm a Foundation: The Story of the Pasadena Stake, a 200-page book written by Susan Kamei Leung.
On the April day in 1936 when the Pasadena Stake was created from the division of the Hollywood Stake, President David O. McKay said, “No one can tell how far reaching this division may be” (quoted in How Firm a Foundation, Pasadena: Pasadena California Stake, 1994, p. 6). These words have become prophetic indeed. Many other stakes have been created from the original boundaries of this California stake, and numerous Church programs—such as Deseret Industries, home teaching, and early-morning seminary—are outgrowths, in part, of early Pasadena stake endeavors. Yet the greatest legacy of the stake has been its people.
Members Help Texas Flood Victims
After rains and floods displaced approximately ten thousand people and damaged hundreds of homes, Church members in the Houston, Texas, area rallied to help friends, neighbors, and other residents recover from the disaster.
“It was terrible,” observed Raymond Douglas Stewart, president of the Kingwood Texas Stake, which encompasses much of the area hardest hit by the rain and flooding that began October 17. “People lost everything. Their homes were gone, their furniture was ruined, their cars were underwater.”
An estimated nineteen people died in flood-related incidents. In the Kingwood stake alone, fifty families were evacuated from their homes. In all, twelve stakes in the area were affected in some way, but no Church members lost their lives in the flooding.
“One of the men in our stake, Earl Barneycastle, retreated up to the attic of his home,” President Stewart said. “The waters rose so fast, he didn’t have time to get away. He had his two grandsons with him, and the fire department had to cut a hole in the roof to rescue him and the children.”
In the nearby Houston Texas North Stake, another thirty-five families were evacuated, reported stake president Stanley Ellis. The homes of some twenty-two members sustained damage.
“The Church organization worked well,” said President Ellis. “Home teachers, priesthood quorums, and Relief Societies rallied quickly to help. We were able to track down members needing shelter and food and offer immediate assistance.
“One member woke up early in the morning and knew his home was going to be flooded,” President Ellis continued. “He called a nearby neighbor, a member of the Church, and they were able to take all his possessions—except three large pieces of furniture—up to the attic, where they remained dry. The two stacked the large furniture, including a grand piano, on big plastic buckets the family had used for food storage. Those three pieces were all saved, so the food storage came in handy in more ways than one!”
Most displaced members stayed with friends, relatives, or other members. Once the heavy rains subsided, members quickly organized to help. On the first night of flooding, fourteen-year-old Lindsay Krogel and her friend, Stephanie Welch, listened to news reports. Wanting to help, they called a temporary evacuation center and asked what supplies were needed. Then the young women called their youth leaders in the Kingwood Ward to propose a quick service project. Within hours, youth in the ward had gathered two van loads of clothes, blankets, bedding, and toys. The youth took the supplies to the center that night.
Eager to continue their service, Lindsay and Stephanie and some friends spent the next few days at the shelter entertaining children.
Others also offered assistance. That first night, members from the single-adult branch in the Houston North stake prepared several hundred sandwiches for flood victims. Other members in the stake continued to make thousands of sandwiches with supplies from the bishops’ storehouse during the following days.
Members’ needs were quickly assessed. Short-term needs like clothes and food were met, and damage reports on homes began to trickle in. Within hours after the waters began receding, members’ homes were being cleaned out.
On the weekend of October 22 and 23, hundreds gathered for early-morning sacrament meetings and then continued the overwhelming job of cleaning up.
“We shoveled mud, rolled out ruined carpet, stripped sheetrock, carried away ruined furniture,” President Stewart said. On Saturday several hundred members of his stake completed cleaning up members’ homes and started to help anyone else who needed help. More than twelve hundred continued that task on the next day.
Relief Society sisters cleaned carloads of dirty dishes and clothes and also gathered piles of baby clothes that were desperately needed. Youth carted wheelbarrows of mud and damaged items to garbage piles.
“One woman, living alone, burst into tears when we helped her clean her home,” President Stewart said. “She kept saying, ‘I’m not alone anymore.’ Another man commented that he saw no human beings in his house; all he saw was a bunch of angels. We got great response wherever we went.”
Similar groups organized in other stakes experienced the same gratitude. In President Ellis’s stake, three to four hundred members showed up on Saturday for cleanup efforts; more than six hundred people continued the project on Sunday.
“Some of the homes were reduced to studs and plumbing,” President Ellis commented. “But the work was done. Full-time missionaries were helping from the beginning. One situation that impressed me involved an elderly man, probably in his seventies. He was trying to roll up his wet carpet and move it out. Two missionaries came in and started to help him, and he was so grateful that he began to cry.
“Most of the people we helped were not members of the Church, and some of the people in the subdivisions have a whole new impression of the Church.”
Tax-Valid Receipt for U.S. Donors
Beginning with the 1994 tax year, Church members and others who donate to the Church in the United States will receive a new tax-valid receipt from their local wards. This receipt will list the cash donations made to that ward for the year and should be distributed by the ward financial clerk each following January.
The name of this receipt is the Annual Charitable Cash Contributions Official Tax Summary Statement.
Members and other donors should be aware that the statement they receive at tithing settlements is not sufficient substantiation of tax-deductible contributions for income tax purposes. This is because the statement does not include the wording required by U.S. tax law to qualify the statement as the official year-end tax receipt. Additionally, the tithing settlement statement does not include donations made after the settlement but prior to the end of the year. The Annual Charitable Cash Contributions Official Tax Summary Statement should be used for preparing tax returns and when providing documentation during an Internal Revenue Service audit.
If members and other donors do not receive this new tax receipt by the end of January each year, they should obtain it from their ward financial clerk.
Preston Temple Design Released
The First Presidency has released an architectural rendering of England’s second temple, to be built in the town of Chorley, near Preston, Lancashire, in the northwest part of the country. The temple will be of modern classical design, with a light-colored European granite exterior and a zinc roof. The temple’s three levels will comprise sixty-five thousand square feet, including four ordinance rooms and four sealing rooms. A statue of the angel Moroni will rest atop the temple’s single spire.
Plans for the thirteen-acre temple site include construction of a stake center, a missionary training center, apartments for temple workers, and lodgings for temple patrons who must travel long distances. A reception center will also house a Beehive Clothing outlet and a family history center. Landscape design incorporates a small pond that exists on the property.
The Preston England Temple will serve Church members in northern England, Scotland, Ireland, and northern Ireland. Ground was broken on 12 June 1994 in a ceremony attended by more than ten thousand members from throughout the British Isles. Construction of the temple is planned to begin early this summer and is expected to require two to two and a half years for completion. The temple architect is Building Design Partnership, based in Manchester, England.
Missouri Honors Man Who Refused Order to Kill the Prophet Joseph Smith
Soon after Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued his Mormon Extermination Order of 27 October 1838, which declared that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state” (History of the Church, 3:175), Brigadier General Alexander W. Doniphan received the following order from his superior officer:
“You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square of Far West, and shoot them at 9 o’clock to-morrow morning.”
To this command, General Doniphan replied: “It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty tomorrow morning, at 8 o’clock; and if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God” (ibid., 190–91).
To posthumously honor General Doniphan for his refusal to obey an illegal direct order, Missouri governor Mel Carnahan issued a proclamation declaring 27 October 1994—the 156th anniversary of the Extermination Order—as Brigadier General Alexander W. Doniphan Day.
Citing General Doniphan’s “personal convictions, strength of character, courage, and respect for the rule of law,” Governor Carnahan stated that “a constitutional refusal by a soldier to obey an illegal direct order is a matter for highest military commendation and serves as an inspiration to us all.”
Major General Raymond Pendergrast, the Adjutant General of the Missouri Army National Guard, also joined in honoring General Doniphan by posthumously issuing him a certificate of appreciation for refusing, at the risk of his own life, to obey the order to execute the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saint civilians.
General Pendergrast said, “Missouri governor L. W. Boggs issued an unconstitutional order on October 27, 1838, stating, ‘The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state.’ Brigadier General Alexander W. Doniphan, at the risk of his own life, refused to obey an illegal direct order from Major General Lucas to shoot Joseph Smith Jr.”
As trustee of the General Alexander W. Doniphan Memorial Trust, Church member Reed A. Chambers II received the governor’s proclamation and the general’s certificate of appreciation. The trust arranged to give color prints of the documents to the Church’s Liberty Jail Museum.
On the designated day, members of the Doniphan trust visited General Doniphan’s grave site and monument to salute him for his outstanding contributions. Not only did he perform “heroic deeds” during the Mormon conflict, said Governor Carnahan, but others praised him for his service in the Mexican War in which he led what still stands as the longest wartime overland march by U.S. troops, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Monterey, Mexico. At the outbreak of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him commander of the Missouri forces that were in federal service.
The complete text of the proclamation by Governor Carnahan reads:
“Whereas, the United States of America subscribes to the International Law and Rules of War which state that: soldiers may not claim that they were ‘only following orders’ in order to secure immunity or defend themselves against criminal prosecution under martial law; and
“Whereas, a constitutional refusal by a soldier to obey an illegal direct order is a matter for highest military commendation and serves as an inspiration to us all; and
“Whereas, before the Civil War, many citizens in Missouri were slave owners while members of the Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons were abolitionists, and this fact often resulted in friction between these two groups; and
“Whereas, on October 27, 1838, Missouri Governor L. W. Boggs, ordered that ‘… the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State …’ ; and
“Whereas, as a result of this unconstitutional Executive Order of Governor Boggs, Brigadier General Alexander W. Doniphan was ordered by his superior officer to shoot Joseph Smith and his fellow Mormons; and
“Whereas, Brigadier General Alexander W. Doniphan refused this order stating, ‘It is cold-blooded murder …’; and
“Whereas, the personal convictions, strength of character, courage, and respect for the rule of law displayed by Brigadier General Alexander W. Doniphan, saved the life of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; and
“Whereas, because of this demonstrated character integrity, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Alexander W. Doniphan Commander-in-Chief of the Missouri Forces in federal service; and
“Whereas, the Office of the Governor believes it to be appropriate to recognize individuals who bring honor to the State of Missouri:
“Now, therefore, I, Mel Carnahan, Governor of the State of Missouri, do hereby proclaim October 27, 1994, as
“Brigadier General Alexander W. Doniphan Day
“in recognition of his heroic deeds. …
“In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Missouri, in the City of Jefferson, this 21st day of October, 1994.”
California Peak Named for Pioneer Woman
Latter-day Saint pioneer Melissa Coray was recently honored when a mountain peak in eastern California was named after her. Melissa Coray Peak, a 9,763-foot peak in the Sierra Nevada mountains, honors the memory of Melissa, the wife of Mormon Battalion Sergeant William Coray, and “thousands of emigrant women who endured similar hardships in settling the West.”
Four days after marrying William on 22 June 1846, Melissa left with her husband and marched from Iowa to California. Melissa was a company laundress, and her husband built roads and followed orders as a member of Company B. The group blazed a road through Carson Pass, about fifty miles southwest of present-day Carson City, Nevada.
Descendants of Melissa and of other battalion members were among the hundreds attending two activities associated with naming the peak, both sponsored by the Sierra Chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers. The first event was a roadside ceremony on U.S. Highway 88, five miles west of the peak. A plaque was unveiled commemorating the “Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail.” Unveiling the plaque was eight-year-old Melissa Richmond, a fourth-great-granddaughter of Melissa Coray. She is the daughter of Rick and Linda Ann Richmond of the Vienna Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake.
The second part of the commemoration took place twelve miles northeast, still on highway 88. Several addresses were given here, and young men and women from the Fair Oaks California Stake finished a ten-mile pioneer trek at the spot.
Naming the peak has been a three-year project. With the help of the Oregon-California Trail Association and the Forest Service, the Sierra Chapter of the SUP began working with the California Board of Geographic Names in 1991. In October 1993, the California board received federal approval for officially naming the peak after Melissa Coray.
A Conversation with the Central America Area Presidency
The approaching fiftieth anniversary of the Church in Central America finds Church membership in the area growing in both numbers and faithfulness. To find out about the Church’s progress in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, the Ensign talked with Elder of the Seventy, president of the Central America Area, and with his counselors, Elders and , also of the Seventy.
Question: How would you characterize the Church in Central America forty-eight years after the arrival of the first missionaries?
Answer: There is a definite spiritual maturing taking place among our members. There is a growing understanding of Christ, the Atonement, and the basic fundamentals of the restored gospel. We think there is a significant change in the kinds of sermons we are hearing in stake conference and in sacrament meetings. Former local missionaries are serving as leaders, and members are using the Book of Mormon more and are following the prophets. The attitude of local leaders is good despite political, economic, and social problems in the area. This is a believing people.
Q: How does that belief manifest itself?
A: While membership is increasing about 8 percent per year, tithing faithfulness has increased significantly over last year and very significantly over the past four years. Fast offerings for the care of the poor and needy are up 17 percent. The number of local missionaries called has increased 10 percent this year over last year. The number of adult males ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood is double this year over the number ordained last year. Temple attendance has increased, and church attendance is also up. These are all signs of a believing people.
Q: How large is the Church in Central America?
A: We have approximately 325,000 members, 53 stakes, 44 districts, and 11 missions. Between 40 percent and 45 percent of our members live in Guatemala. In the past year, we have opened 106 branches and wards in the Central America Area. We are able to cooperate and lead in our community more than in the past because of members in community leadership and professional positions. There is significant progress.
Q: Why are most of Central America’s Latter-day Saints found in Guatemala?
A: Guatemala is the most populated country, and Church growth has accelerated there since completion of the Guatemala City Temple in 1984. When the temple was dedicated, we had only ten stakes in the whole country; now we have twenty-four. It has been a blessing that Guatemala, even with its challenges, has not had the missionaries pulled out as has happened in some of the other countries of Central America. Many Guatemalans are descendants of father Lehi. We believe the temple was built in Guatemala because of the promises Heavenly Father made to Lehi. We have had all sorts of political instability in Guatemala, but our members have maintained their religious stability.
Q: How is the temple blessing the lives of Central American members?
A: The temple has had a tremendous impact. For example, when one group of Mayan members came to the temple two years ago, they were quite shy and quiet like many of the Indian members from rural areas. They had been to a session before in Spanish, and they had listened closely to what they were learning. But it was not like hearing a session in their primary language. On this visit, the temple president brought them earphones so they could listen in their language of Kekchi. They were so excited that their faces lighted up with surprise. Since then, this group has been coming often and has been spreading the word to members in their area that the endowment has been translated into their language.
The Guatemala City Temple is what we might call an excursion temple. It attracts members from all over Central America. Some members must fly or take bus rides from two to five days long in order to get there, and then they stay for a few days after they arrive. While there, groups stay at the recently dedicated Missionary Training Center (MTC) located half a block from the temple.
Q: What are the advantages of having a local MTC?
A: We are now able to prepare all of our locally called missionaries. We receive about fifty new missionaries monthly, although they may not always be assigned to the countries in our area. Slightly more than half of all the missionaries serving in our area are from Central America, and the MTC is helping us reach toward our next goal of having 60 percent local full-time missionaries.
Many of our bishoprics and stake presidencies are local returned missionaries. Missionary work provides excellent training for leadership. It is a rare exception to find a full-time missionary in a branch or ward leadership position instead of a local, qualified member. Our hope is in the youth who are finishing their missions and returning to their countries. We are emphasizing missionary service because that gives young men two years under the influence of the Spirit and is the best way to learn the principles of the gospel.
Q: Can you tell us how the Church is progressing in the other nations of Central America?
A: We are experiencing a lot of growth. In Honduras, we have ten stakes and two missions. Soon we hope to increase the number of stakes to thirteen. We have a great number of young leaders and faithful members.
A drought has limited the generation of hydroelectric power, but the lack of electricity has not stopped people from coming to their meetings. They are working very hard, as are members in neighboring Belize, which is part of the Honduras Tegucigalpa Mission.
One man called into a stake presidency in Honduras decided to sell his bus because of the work atmosphere. The hours of work required, the swearing, and the corruption associated with selling tickets and with owning and driving his bus was terrible, he felt. He is twenty-six, has a wife and new baby. He told us, “We have prayed to the Lord, and I am going to go out and work as a laborer instead. I will find a way.” He sold his bus and now he is making less money. When we asked him about tithing, he replied, “To live here without water and not pay your tithing would be foolish.” The members love the Lord. They still put up with a lot of adversity and persecution, yet we believe that adversity has strengthened them.
The situation is similar in Nicaragua. Economically, Nicaragua is having even more difficult times and the people are suffering various kinds of adversity. They may not always have shoes or ties, but they attend church. They strive to be faithful despite their circumstances. Because of the war, we met in home-based Church meetings for a decade. But now we have begun meeting in branches again. For ten years, we had no outside missionaries, just local leaders. But now we have fourteen thousand members and a mission president born and raised in Nicaragua. The work is going ahead, though many members still carry with them physical and spiritual wounds from the war.
Q: And in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama?
A: El Salvador is the second-fastest nation for Church growth in Central America. We have ten stakes, two missions, a vigorous priesthood, and tremendous leadership. The end of the civil war there has made a big change in the political and economic picture. The country’s last three mission presidents were from El Salvador, and missionaries are operating in all corners of the country. Many people, including members, who went to the United States during the war are returning. Even if they were less active while in the United States, members are being activated as soon as they return. They enjoy seeing how the Church has progressed in their absence.
We are also happy with the progress of members in Costa Rica and Panama, especially our youth. Because of the emphasis leaders are putting on youth and youth activities, we have more missionaries than ever coming from Costa Rica. Family ties are strong, and the people have strong desires to live worthily, to attend the temple when possible, and to do what is necessary to merit gospel blessings. The members face challenges similar to those in other Central American countries, but they are moving forward in faith and responding to the challenges.
Our main focus in Central America is on emphasizing that every young man serve a mission, that every family head be ordained an elder in preparation to taking his family to the temple, and that every member live worthy of a temple recommend. Members are responding. We are excited about what is happening and about what we expect to see in the future.
Young Women Challenged to “Experiment on the Word”
Young women all over the world have been invited by the Young Women general presidency to join together in a yearlong celebration that will help them better understand the power of the scriptures and have a stronger desire to feast upon the words of God throughout their lives.
“There are two things on which we wanted to focus,” explained President Janette C. Hales, Young Women general president. “First, we wanted to assist in the development of these young women’s testimonies, and second, we wanted them to have a feeling of belonging. We see this worldwide celebration filling both of these needs.”
The celebration, which officially begins in January 1995, is based on Alma 32:26–43. Young women and their leaders are encouraged to develop individually the habit of regular scripture reading and then record or share their feelings as they read. “This is giving place for the seed,” Sister Hales observed (see Alma 32:28).
As part of nourishing the tree (see Alma 32:37), throughout the year young women and their leaders should plan and participate in group activities that will nourish their commitment to study the scriptures. These activities, which provide a support system for the young women, could include firesides, group reading, journal keeping, camp projects, and sharing of testimonies. In addition, each unit throughout the Church is encouraged to plant a tree or other plant to represent the cycle of planting, nourishing, and enjoying the fruits of experimenting on the word.
Young women and their leaders all over the world will “feast upon” the word (see Alma 32:42) during the culminating program that will focus on what has happened in their lives as they have regularly read in the scriptures.
“I feel excited when I think of five hundred thousand young women making a commitment,” said Sister Hales. “This is truly an opportunity for testimonies to grow and lives to be changed. We hope every unit participates.”
Guidelines for Article Submissions
Members of the Church interested in writing an article for the Ensign often ask about editorial areas open for article submissions. The following descriptions are intended to be helpful to potential contributors.
Marriage and parenthood: Articles showing how an individual, couple, or family has applied gospel truths in a marriage or in parent-child relationships (motherhood or fatherhood). Approach should be warm, practical, and scripture based, with anecdotes illustrating key points; 750 to 2,000 words.
Mormon Journal department: Short, first-person accounts of inspirational and moving experiences showing faith, the power of prayer, or application of a gospel teaching; 400 to 1,200 words.
Longer, impactful accounts of the gospel in action: Many gospel-related experiences cover a long period of time, involve many details, are somewhat complex, and thus require more space for their telling than Mormon Journal features. This may be the case for accounts of (1) members applying gospel principles to issues they face as they live in the world but are not of it, showing how gospel teachings intersect with society’s outlooks; or (2) individuals—including single members, single parents, elderly members, members in the military, and persons with disabilities—applying gospel teachings they have found to be particularly helpful in their conversion, activation, or lives in general; or (3) members applying gospel teachings to build unity among members of different backgrounds; 1,200 to 2,000 words.
Articles on the story of the Church in a specific area: An overview history of the Church in an area, from its beginnings to the present, with focus on the growth of the Church in the twentieth century; 2,000 to 3,000 words.
Random Sampler department: Short how-to pieces on family home evening, teaching, personal and family preparedness, managing time and finances, fitness, and career development; 200 to 500 words.
Of Good Report department: Short pieces on community service by Church units; 250 to 500 words.
Portraits department: Short pieces that let us meet another member who has done or is doing praiseworthy things; 75 to 150 words.
Photographs of artwork relating to scriptural events or teachings, LDS church history, or the lifestyle of Latter-day Saints are also welcome for submission.
Queries about possible articles in which much personal effort may be required are appropriate. Presently, fiction is not printed and poetry is printed infrequently. Submissions from outside the United States are encouraged. Submissions should be typewritten and double-spaced if possible. Type your name, address, and telephone number (if applicable) on the first page. If your manuscript is declined and you want it returned to you, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your submission. A response may take up to eight weeks.
Send all submissions and queries to: Ensign, 23d Floor, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.