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President Hinckley Visits, Counsels Church Members

In a busy October post-general conference schedule, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a Brigham Young University devotional, the dedication of the Ezra Taft Benson Science Building, a regional conference at Ricks College, and during two unannounced visits to congregations in Magna and Promontory, Utah.

Promontory Branch

On October 15, President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, surprised the approximately thirty-five members attending church meetings in the Promontory Branch in rural northern Utah by joining them for sacrament meeting.

“I’m here to keep my word,” said President Hinckley, explaining that more than a year ago he’d met branch president Brent H. Larsen and, upon learning that there was a branch in the area located about one hundred miles from Salt Lake City, promised to visit. “I’m thankful for branches of this kind in little areas across the world,” he said, pointing out that there are now branches or wards in more than 150 nations.

He went on to tell the members that if they had a question about a principle of the gospel, they should live that principle. “If you have any doubt of the truth of the law of tithing, pay your tithing. Live the law, and you will gain a testimony of the truth of that law. …

“So it is with every principle and practice of the gospel,” he continued. “And it is because of that that the Church grows and appeals to people. It carries with it a conviction of its truth as we serve in the cause of the Lord. … Prove the Lord. That’s all we have to do, through doing what He asks us to do. As we prove Him, as we test Him on that principle, there comes into our hearts a conviction of its truth and a knowledge of its certainty.”

BYU Devotional

Two days later, President Hinckley spoke to an overflow audience of students, faculty, and staff at the Brigham Young University devotional. During his address, he paid tribute to the university’s former president, Rex E. Lee, who was released at the end of last year.

“President Lee has become what he is because he has done what this church expects of each of us,” President Hinckley commented. “He has walked the path of faith and prayer and obedience. He has walked with faith in the Almighty, with faith in the risen Lord, with faith in the eternal verities which come as the word of God. I urge each of you to do the same. God is our Almighty Father. He is our anchor and our strength. We can look to Him, we must look to Him, we must extend our thanks to Him and seek His direction and guidance and blessing.”

During his remarks, President Hinckley also urged students to avoid pornography, “a vicious brew of slime and sleaze, the partaking of which only leads to misery, degradation, and regret.”

“The Church is the great teacher and builder of values,” he said. “Its precepts are designed to lead men and women along the way of immortality and eternal life, to make their lives more complete, more rich and happy while moving through this vale of tears, and in preparing them for the beauties and wonders of that which lies ahead. Keep faith with the Church. It is true. It is divine. He who stands at its head is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.”

Ezra Taft Benson Building

Three days later, President Hinckley returned to BYU to dedicate the university’s newest building, the Ezra Taft Benson Science Building. Accompanying President Hinckley were both of his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, as well as President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve.

“The Church has used sacred resources to construct this magnificent edifice dedicated to scientific teaching and research,” President Hinckley observed. “Is it not a singular thing, I ask you, that a church should dedicate the kind of money that comes of the consecrated offerings of its people for the construction of a facility of this kind … ? It says much concerning the mandate of the Lord given to this people to promote education, to seek knowledge by study and also by faith, to learn of things in the earth, under the earth, and above the earth [see D&C 88:78–79, 118], to explore the great secrets of the mighty Creator, who was the designer of the world in which we live. …

“I am confident that President Benson would feel highly honored by this great facility which will carry his name. We remember him with love, respect, and appreciation and are pleased to dedicate this magnificent structure in his name.”

President Monson and President Faust also spoke briefly at the ceremony, both mentioning President Benson. “President Hinckley and I had the privilege of serving for a number of years as President Benson’s counselors,” President Monson noted. “We knew him; we loved him. When he came here [to BYU] as a student, he was voted ‘Most Preferred Man.’ That phrase personified our feelings for him. He was the most preferred man in our hearts and in our lives, an example of the believers. …

“He was a man who could cry easily and who could defend vigorously, depending upon the nature of the topic and how close it was to his heart. He was a great prophet of love and a prophet of accomplishment.”

During his brief remarks, President Faust gazed at a nearby enlarged photograph of President Benson and said: “I think this portrait is a very good likeness of President Benson. It catches his warmth, the gleam in his eye, his zest for living, and his love for humanity.”

Magna Utah South Stake

A week after visiting the Promontory Branch, President Hinckley made another surprise visit to Church members, this time visiting the Magna Utah South Stake conference.

“I did not come here to preach,” he said in his remarks at the conclusion of the meeting. “I just came to tell you that I love you.”

He went on to tell the almost two thousand in attendance that “there is only one happiness for you, and that happiness will come if you live the gospel. The peace of the Latter-day Saints, the happiness of the Latter-day Saints, the progress of the Latter-day Saints, and, I believe, the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints will depend on their living the gospel of Jesus Christ in a world that is crumbling all around them. Be faithful and true.”

Ricks College

A week later President Hinckley delivered a similarly powerful message to nearly ten thousand members during two October 29 overflow sessions of Ricks College’s five college stakes. The Church President spoke without a prepared text and urged listeners to “love the Lord, cling to the Church, live the gospel.”

“You are the greatest generation … ever in the history of this church,” President Hinckley told the students. “You are better educated, you know the gospel better, you are the products of seminaries and institute programs, Ricks College, and so on. You’re the youth of the noble birthright and the daughters and sons of our Father in Heaven.”

He said that loving the Lord is not just good counsel, but a commandment. “Love of God is the root from which springs all other types of love. Love of God is the root of all virtue, of all goodness, of all strength of character, of all fidelity to do right.”

Also speaking at the two sessions was Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said that natural man is not able to understand things that are spiritual. “Natural man is headed in the wrong direction,” he said. “If you will keep the faith, then the Lord will bless you with the understanding that helps you get through.”

[photo] Students fill the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University to listen to President Hinckley at a weekly devotional. (Photo by Mark Philbrick.)

[photo] President Hinckley speaks of former Church President Ezra Taft Benson during dedication of new BYU science building. (Photo by Mark Philbrick.)

[photo] “You are the greatest generation,” President Hinckley tells students at a Ricks College regional conference. (Photo by Mike Lewis.)

[photos] Members from the Promontory Branch, Tremonton Utah South Stake, stand with President Hinckley after he attended sacrament meeting at the branch. (Photo by Gerry Avant, courtesy of Church News.)

Bishop Bateman Called to First Quorum of Seventy and as BYU President

Presiding Bishop Merrill J. Bateman has been called to the First Quorum of the Seventy and also named as the eleventh president of Brigham Young University, the first General Authority to lead the Church-sponsored university.

President Gordon B. Hinckley, accompanied by his two counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, announced the appointment during a 2 November 1995 press conference.

During the conference, Elder Bateman fielded questions from media representatives. He noted that one of the major functions of BYU is to be a teaching institution. “Our effort will be to increase the prominence of the university as a teaching institution,” he said. “Research is important because we need the opportunity for faculty members to express their creativity and it makes them better teachers. But it will be primarily a teaching institution.”

Regarding a question on academic freedom, Elder Bateman said that faculty members should be able to express their honest feelings with regard to various issues. “But it’s very important that members of the BYU community support and stand behind the principles that are espoused by the Church, because it is a Church institution and it is expected to represent the values that the Church represents and teaches,” he said. “If there is a conflict between those two things, the truth espoused by the Church is the important aspect that will dominate.”

Elder Bateman noted that, in regard to hiring women or minority faculty members, BYU has no quotas or targets. “I see us trying to find the very best faculty members we can to serve the students,” he observed. “The best being defined in terms of education and ability to teach and reach the young people and stimulate them in regard to learning, both in a spiritual as well as a secular vein.”

When asked about the enrollment ceiling at the nation’s largest private university, Elder Bateman replied, “I don’t see more students on campus necessarily. But … with the technology changes that are occurring, there are many ways in which we can reach out to a broader community than just those who are in Provo and Hawaii. …

“Also there are other efforts in the Church, particularly in the institute programs, to reach many of these young people, both students and nonstudents.” The number of nonstudents enrolled in these classes has grown dramatically, Elder Bateman noted. “That’s one way in which the Church Educational System is reaching our young people.”

As the first General Authority called as president of BYU, Elder Bateman said that it “clearly indicates the importance of the university to the leaders of the Church and indicates the importance of the university in terms of its role with regard to the young people in the Church.”

Elder Bateman was sustained as Presiding Bishop of the Church on 2 April 1994 after serving as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy since June 1992. Prior to his call as a General Authority, Elder Bateman headed his own consulting and capital management company. He has also served as dean of BYU’s College of Business and the School of Management. A native of Lehi, Utah, Elder Bateman earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and received a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Elder Bateman’s new appointment is effective 1 January 1996. Elder Bateman will succeed BYU President Rex E. Lee, who requested a release from his position because of continuing health problems.

Elder Merrill J. Bateman

Elder Merrill J. Bateman

President Monson Extols President McKay at Library Inauguration

A new library and community center in Huntsville, Utah, the birthplace of President David O. McKay, has been completed, and President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, honored the Church’s ninth leader during the opening ceremonies.

“I can’t help but pay tribute to David O. McKay,” said President Monson, who was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1963 by President McKay. “He was a great giant in this land, a wonderful representative of this community.”

President Monson also commented on the importance of reading, mentioning the first two books he ever checked out of a library as a child: Chanko, the Homing Pigeon and Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with the Circus.

“To show you how the truth you take into your minds as a child through reading stays with you,” he continued, “I still have some pigeons, and I went to the circus recently. … You have a diverse background in this valley. That’s how it should be. This is a public institution. I’m happy this library is for all people, every religion, every ethnic background, every nationality. This is a house of learning. We should always remember that.”

The new building includes an auditorium named for President McKay.

President Faust Rededicates Cannery

After extensive renovation, a Church-owned cannery in Murray, Utah, was rededicated by President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.

During his remarks, President Faust recalled his experience as president of the Cottonwood Stake and chairman of the Jordan Valley Regional Welfare Committee at the time the facility was first built. “We rejoiced that this facility was here,” he remembered.

President Faust spoke of the history of the Church’s welfare program and repeated the counsel of past Church leaders to store food and other necessities to see members through emergencies and difficult times. He also related how his own family spent part of their vacation at a Church cannery.

“We canned the basic essentials: beans, wheat, rice, powdered milk,” he said. “We got somewhere close to a year’s supply of those essentials for our extended family. Our sons-in-law thanked us. It gave them some comfort. But our grandchildren had the time of their lives. … For our family that was as fine a family activity as we’ve ever had.”

Also attending the rededication ceremonies were Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy and president of the Utah North Area, Presiding Bishop Merrill J. Bateman, and Relief Society General President Elaine L. Jack.

The Murray cannery was built in 1965, and an addition was built in 1972. In November, the facility was closed for renovation, which included a new setup to run cans, new continuous cookers, and other new equipment.

The cannery is one of eighty-four similar facilities that process about thirteen million cans of food a year; 75 percent of that food goes to bishops’ storehouses. Most of the work at the canneries is done by volunteers. Individuals and families are also encouraged to use the facilities to secure a year’s supply of some foods.

[photo] President Faust shares thoughts at rededication of Murray, Utah, cannery. (Photo by Tom Smart, courtesy of Deseret News.)

Elder Wickman Named Legal Services Leader

The First Presidency has announced the appointment of Elder Lance B. Wickman as managing director of Church Legal Services, effective 1 January 1996.

Prior to his call as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy in 1994, Elder Wickman was a partner in the San Diego office of the international law firm of Latham and Watkins.

A native of Seattle, Washington, Elder Wickman graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and from Stanford University Law School. He served a two-year mission to the Central States Mission and spent five years in the U.S. Army before enrolling in law school.

As an attorney, Elder Wickman has argued cases in both state and federal courts, including the California Supreme Court and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court. He has served as a judge pro tem of the San Diego superior and municipal courts.

Elder Wickman has served as a bishop, stake president, and regional representative. He and his wife, Patricia Farr, are the parents of five children, four of whom are living.

In making the announcement, President Gordon B. Hinckley noted, “We are profoundly grateful to Wilford W. Kirton for the great service he has rendered [as general counsel for the Church for more than thirty years]. … It is anticipated that the firm which he founded will continue to serve the Church.”

Church-Sponsored Pageant Schedule

A schedule of Church-sponsored pageants has been announced for 1996. Here are performance dates and locations:

March 30, April 2–6, Mesa, Arizona—“Jesus the Christ,” Arizona Temple Visitors’ Center

June 26–29, Independence, Missouri—“A Frontier Story—1833,” Independence Visitors’ Center

July 11–13, 16–20, Manti, Utah—“Mormon Miracle,” Manti Temple grounds

July 12–13, 16–20, Palmyra, New York—“America’s Witness for Christ,” Hill Cumorah

August 1–3, 6–10, Castle Dale, Utah—Castle Valley Pageant, Mountain Amphitheater

August 2–3, 6–10, Nauvoo, Illinois—“City of Joseph,” hillside adjacent to Nauvoo Visitors’ Center

August 16–17, 20–24, Clarkston, Utah—“Martin Harris, the Man Who Knew,” amphitheater in Clarkston cemetery

December 18–25, Calgary, Alberta—Calgary Nativity Pageant, Heritage Park

Additional details about any of the pageants may be obtained by calling (801) 240-2767 or by writing to Church Pageants, 430 West 400 North, Salt Lake City, UT 84103.

Membership Milestone Reached in Dominican Republic

We ask thee this morning in all humility, Heavenly Father, that thou will pour thy Holy Spirit out upon this people. We ask thee to bless them that they might hear and know the truth and recognize it as it is presented to them by the members of the Church and the missionaries. We acknowledge that we have but a handful of members now, but pray thee to bless and prosper, Heavenly Father, this land that from this humble beginning many thousands of thy children might find the truth and that stakes of Zion might be driven down here in this land and that this land might prosper as we seek out the righteous and the honest in heart who desire to know the truth.

Even now those prophetic dedicatory words, offered by Elder M. Russell Ballard, currently serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are being fulfilled in this Spanish-speaking country of almost eight million inhabitants. Since that 7 December 1978 dedication, the Church there has grown to nearly fifty-five thousand members and now includes eight stakes, three missions with eleven districts, forty-one wards, and ninety-eight branches.

For the Saints who inhabit this nation of almost nineteen thousand square miles, the Lord’s hand has been apparent since Christopher Columbus discovered the land. Dominican Saints believe that the country’s first liberators, headed by Juan Pablo Duarte, were inspired. Called the Father of the Republic, Duarte carried a white, red, and blue banner with the words “God, Land, and Liberty” scrawled on it, much as Moroni did in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 46:11–14).

Local Latter-day Saints believe that the Lord’s hand is still apparent in the establishing of the country and in its preparation for the gospel. The same year that Elder Ballard dedicated the Dominican Republic for the preaching of the gospel, John E. Rappleye and his family were transferred from the United States to work in Santo Domingo. The Rappleye family contacted Church leaders and discovered that the closest branch met in Ecuador, a three-hour flight from the Dominican capital, so they obtained permission to hold Church meetings in their home. They also loaded up on hymnbooks, class manuals, Church videocassettes, pamphlets, and copies of the Book of Mormon to give away to persons showing interest in the Church. A mission president mentioned to them that one other family, Eddie and Mercedes Amparo, native Dominican members, had just moved from California back to their native land.

Remarkably, Brother Rappleye met Sister Mercedes Amparo at the airport in Santo Domingo when he was going through customs. The Amparo family was overjoyed that other Church members were now in their country.

One of the first people Brother Rappleye met was Rodolfo N. Bodden, a coworker and, coincidentally, a friend of the Amparo family. Through the next few weeks, Brother Rappleye and Brother Bodden had many conversations, and their talks almost always focused on religion. In August 1978, Rodolfo Bodden was baptized.

Membership increases have been rapid since that baptism. In 1979, 354 people were baptized. The Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Mission was organized in 1981; there were twenty-five hundred members at the time. By 1986, membership reached eleven thousand, and membership numbers now are nearing fifty-five thousand. The country’s first stake was organized 23 March 1986, and the second mission was created in Santiago on 1 July 1987.

The first temple in the Caribbean, to be built in the capital city of Santo Domingo, was announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley in December 1993.

Brother Bodden and his family have played essential roles in establishing the Church in the nation. Brother Bodden remembers traveling throughout the island fulfilling his priesthood responsibilities. He served as a counselor to the president of the first branch and was president of the first district. He currently serves as the first patriarch in the country.

“As a family, we recognize that during the age in which we learned about the Church, our children were young,” Brother Bodden says. “As they grew to adulthood, the Church has been a great blessing. We have not suffered any of the evils that exist in our society. The Church has, without a doubt, served as a vehicle that has kept us more united than we might have been, strong in the faith, in our lives, and in the truth.”

Another example of the Lord’s hand in the lives of Dominican Saints is the conversion story of Felix Sequi Martinez, a former Catholic priest. A native of Spain, Brother Martinez felt misgivings about religion and began searching for answers at a young age. Eventually he forsook his priestly vows and began studying philosophy. In 1972 he moved to the Dominican Republic, where he met and married Lubian Amaro. He and his wife, a health teacher, attended a health fair organized by Church members and held in Santiago. The couple was impressed with the clean habits and lifestyle espoused by this religion and accepted visits from missionaries.

“Because of my deep philosophical and religious thinking, I required a long time to completely accept the gospel,” says President Martinez, now a stake president. “But I owe so much to the Church for having opened the door to a new life.”

[photo] A beautiful sunset in the Dominican Republic.

[photo] Rodolfo N. Bodden, seated on the right, was the first convert in the Dominican Republic. Other family members followed their father’s example.

[photo] Members of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Independencia Stake gather for a recent stake conference.

Dario Caminero is director of public affairs for the Dominican Republic.

Conversation on Using the Church’s Audiovisual Materials

As members know from the high-quality audiovisual materials that reach them, the Church places a high priority on communicating its message via modern media systems. For an update about the Church’s efforts in this area, the Ensign spoke with Lyle E. Shamo, managing director of the Church’s Audiovisual Department.

Question: Audiovisual materials seem to be an important part of the Church’s work. Why?

Answer: Whether delivered in live or recorded form, audiovisual materials allow the leaders of the Church to communicate with many people in a very personal way. As the Church grows in membership and geographical reach, audiovisual materials and broadcasts help make Church leaders more accessible to members.

Consequently, in 1991 the Church formed an audiovisual department to bring together all the Church’s audiovisual efforts in areas such as missionary work, Church education and public affairs, and curriculum. The department also manages the audiovisual technology in temples and visitors’ centers and the satellite system of the Church, which now includes more than three thousand receiving stations throughout North America, Europe, and parts of Central America.

Q: How can members benefit from Church satellite broadcasts?

A: Live, in-person media opportunities to hear the words of the Brethren are becoming increasingly available. These include not just general conference, which is probably the Church’s most important audiovisual effort, but also firesides and training seminars for audiences ranging from priesthood and auxiliary members and leaders to young adults, missionaries, and Church Educational System students and teachers. It is hoped that members will value and attend these satellite broadcasts as if General Authorities or auxiliary leaders were coming to speak to them in person, because in a very real sense that is exactly what is happening.

Q: What about using Church audiovisual materials in the home?

A: Many of the Church’s audiovisual materials are designed as models of Christlike behavior to help strengthen family relationships and individual worthiness. Others are designed to teach viewers and listeners about Church history and doctrine, scriptural history, and the lives of modern-day prophets. Because much of what is available on television and radio and from video stores is not uplifting, members can use Church audio and video materials in their homes as an alternative to worldly forms of entertainment.

Many of the Church’s films have been packaged together on inexpensive videocassettes to make purchase, storage, and viewing more convenient. Audiocassettes of general conference proceedings and compact discs and audiocassettes of hymns, Primary songs, and other worshipful music are also available. For members who choose not to purchase their own personal copies, meetinghouse libraries are becoming a more widely recognized and available source for borrowing Church audiovisual materials.

Q: The Church provides many leadership-training videos. How are these intended to be used?

A: Leadership-training videos produced under the direction of Church leaders are intended to be used more than once. Leaders often study handbooks over and over again, but sometimes they forget that training videos are also sources of information and inspiration that should be viewed over and over. Leadership-training videos such as Continue to Minister may be shown periodically to remind ward and stake leadership councils and priesthood quorum presidencies of their duties and to strengthen them.

Q: What are other ways members can use Church audiovisual materials?

A: Audiovisual materials can be used effectively as missionary tools and by home teachers to help activate members. Watching Church films with or loaning copies to nonmember or less-active friends can be a significant door-opener and help them feel the Spirit. Audiovisual materials are a great and important teaching tool of the Church.

[photo] Lyle E. Shamo

[photo] Members often use Church audiovisual materials in classrooms as well as at home for individual, family, and missionary activities.

By Their Works

Roof over Her Head

When Bruce Bybee, a member of the Selma Ward, Hanford California Stake, read in the newspaper about a widow who was in need of a new roof and a new front door, he knew that ward members could help. With the bishop’s approval, Brother Bybee began organizing the project.

Members of the ward volunteered their labor, and some businesses in the community donated materials and instructions. The response was overwhelming. Approximately 150 people were involved in the project from beginning to end.

A twenty-person crew started work on the project by removing the roof on a Friday afternoon. The next day another crew finished removing old shingles, repaired areas of dry rot, and made other repairs. The crews were led by volunteer contractors from businesses in the community.

As the job progressed, it became obvious that the repairs were going to be more extensive than originally thought. The actual value of donated materials and labor ended up five times higher than the original estimate.

Although professional builders had been skeptical that a church group of volunteers could complete the task in a reasonable time frame, the entire project was completed in about a week.

“I never could have believed something this great could come to me,” wrote Jean English, the home owner, in a letter thanking those involved in the project. “I am so thankful. May God bless each one of you and thanks.”Loretta Gipson, Kingsburg, California

Building Bonds of Sisterhood

In an effort to make temple attendance a high priority, Relief Society sisters in the Kingwood Texas Stake spent six months preparing for a stake Relief Society temple trip. “Our stake president, Raymond D. Steward, invited every sister to fast faithfully once a month in the six months prior to the trip to contribute to the success of this temple day,” explained stake Relief Society president Dianna Evans Hanson. “We wanted the Spirit of the Lord to touch each of our sisters’ lives in a way that would bond us together as sisters in the gospel and give each of us a renewed commitment to ourselves, our families, and the Lord,” she said.

After preparing and planning for six months, 250 sisters boarded six buses and traveled more than five hours to spend a day in the Dallas Texas Temple. Fourteen of the sisters received their own endowments, and several others attended to participate in baptisms for the dead.

“There were sisterhood bonds that were established,” Sister Hanson said. “It was a high point in our year, and we are already making plans for next year’s trip.”