News of the Church

By


President Hinckley Counsels Members to Keep the Faith, Uphold Standards

During a regional conference in northern Utah on 21 April, President Gordon B. Hinckley urged members from 11 stakes in Cache County, Utah, to be true.

“I see strength, power, truth, love of the Almighty in your faces,” President Hinckley told more than 11,000 members in a morning session of the Smithfield-Logan university regional conference. “We are all in this together. Be strong in the faith. Never let down the standards.” Many of those in attendance were students at Utah State University.

President Hinckley quoted from the well-known hymn “True to the Faith” and encouraged the students to be “‘true to the faith that our parents have cherished, true to the truth for which martyrs have perished, to God’s command, soul, heart, and hand, faithful and true we will ever stand’” (Hymns, no. 254).

During the second session, President Hinckley expressed similar sentiments, telling listeners to “be believing, and be full of faith.”

“Remember, you are children of God in all places, and at all times, and in all seasons. Never forget it. I feel you are a people trying to do the right, moving the kingdom of God forward.”

Accompanying President Hinckley during these meetings were his wife, Marjorie; President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Donna; and Elder Robert K. Dellenbach of the Seventy, a counselor in the Utah North Area, and his wife, Mary Jayne.

In addition to speaking at the conference sessions, President Hinckley conducted a priesthood leadership session on 20 April. “Get off by yourself,” President Hinckley urged the brethren in attendance. “Ask ‘Am I doing what I ought to be doing? Am I growing where I ought to be growing? Am I getting the Spirit in my life? Have I fasted and prayed? Have I felt the spirit of revelation in me?’

“Leaf through the scriptures as you fast, asking the Lord to lead you by the quiet voice of the Spirit,” he continued. “Increase your influence where you live by living the gospel, turning the other cheek, going the extra mile; but don’t give in on the standards.”

President Packer also spoke at the meetings. During the priesthood session, he urged members to carefully read the proclamation on the family issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles (see Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). “Be steadfast and never fear. Do not be spoiled by affluence,” he warned. “Learn to sacrifice and work hard. Encourage members to take the leap of faith. Do not be afraid; the holy priesthood of God is with us.”

Elder Dellenbach also spoke in the meetings, reminding members that “spiritual strength is in these mountain valleys, the great wellhead from Idaho to Arizona,” and that our “mental conversion” must be accompanied by a “spiritual conversion felt in the heart and in the mind. Mental assent is not enough,” he said. “We must have spiritual conviction.”

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A week later, President Hinckley echoed the same thoughts he had expressed in Logan as he spoke to more than 5,000 members in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area.

He discussed a letter he had received signed by 87 youth from the area who promised to walk uprightly before the Lord and to follow His commandments.

“This is a great age of opportunity,” he told those in attendance. “It is also an age of challenges. It is a challenging world, full of filth, temptations, and attractions that lead in the wrong direction.”

“We live in a day of sophisticated temptation,” he said. “Men of great selfishness are reaching out for their enrichment and your impoverishment.”

He promised that if those in attendance would follow the Lord’s teachings, they would stand tall among their associates. “This is the way to happiness,” he stated.

Accompanying President Hinckley to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was his wife, Marjorie; Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Colleen; and Elder Vaughn J Featherstone of the Seventy, President of the North America Northeast Area, and his wife, Merlene.

Elder Maxwell also spoke at the meeting, saying that “prophets are for following, and following them is vitally important. Prophets are to see things as they are and how they will be.”

In his remarks, Elder Featherstone talked about tithing. “A generous tithing has given us everything we have,” he said. “We ought to obey the commandments.”

During his visit to Pittsburgh, President Hinckley also met with full-time missionaries in the area and conducted a priesthood training session.

Dedication of Events Center

In other activities throughout the month, President Hinckley dedicated the new David O. McKay Events Center at Utah Valley State College in Orem. Speaking at the 22 April dedication, President Hinckley said he hoped the new 150,000-square-foot, three-level building would become a place where character is molded and social ties are developed. He also said that he thought the building’s namesake, President McKay, would approve of “having his name attached” to the structure. “[President McKay] had a deep, penetrating interest in everything pertaining to education,” noted President Hinckley, who also observed that the Church’s ninth President began his professional life as a teacher.

In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley asked that activities within the building be wholesome and in harmony with the name it bears. He also prayed that the center would become a place of refuge from the stresses of student life and a place of good fun.

Utah State Fairgrounds

On 4 May, President and Sister Hinckley participated in the Great Salt Lake Council’s annual Scout-a-Rama held at the Utah state fairgrounds in Salt Lake City. Riding in a horse-drawn buggy as part of parade festivities, President and Sister Hinckley greeted some of the 15,000 Scouts in attendance. President Hinckley also spoke about the importance of Scouting and the influence it can have on the lives of those involved.

[photo] Some 5,000 members gather to hear President Hinckley in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

[photo] Leaders and members stand to sing a hymn at a northern Utah regional conference. (Photo by Ted Hansen.)

[photo] Members listen to speakers at a regional conference in northern Utah, where President Hinckley spoke. (Photo by Ted Hansen.)

[photo] President Hinckley greets one of 15,000 Boy Scouts in attendance at the Great Salt Lake Council’s annual Scout-a-Rama. (Photo by Bryant Livingston.)

Members Help Arkansas Tornado Victims

Members rallied to help victims after tornadoes tore across the U.S. states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, leaving two member families homeless and affecting countless other families.

Members of the Fort Smith Arkansas Stake worked alongside the Red Cross helping victims of a tornado that hit Fort Smith, Arkansas, on Sunday, 21 April. Relief Society sisters from the Fort Smith Second Ward, a ward covering an area of town not affected by the tornadoes, prepared food and fed almost 1,000 people in three relief centers on Monday. Other members from the area and missionaries from the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission worked to salvage the belongings of those whose homes had been damaged in the storm.

Food from a nearby bishops’ storehouse was delivered to the Baptist Men’s Cooking Club, an organization that was preparing food for storm victims at a local school.

Approximately 2,500 homes were damaged in the storm, and 500 to 600 people were left homeless. Two Latter-day Saint families lost their homes completely, including the Gary Keeler family. Brother Keeler, a member of the Fort Smith First Ward, was home alone during the tornado and sought refuge in a closet. When he finally emerged from the closet, he found his home destroyed—the closet was one of the few parts of the house left standing. Both families were relocated soon after the storm.

“I’m just really impressed with the way the members have rallied,” said Robert W. Pommerville, president of the Fort Smith Arkansas Stake. “People learned what was important and what wasn’t—they began to realize there are a lot more important things in life than the little trinkets they collect.”

Former Special Representative of First Presidency Dies

David M. Kennedy, a Special Representative of the First Presidency called during the administration of President Spencer W. Kimball, passed away on 1 May 1996 in Salt Lake City. In this Church calling he represented the First Presidency in countries throughout the world. Earlier he had served as bishop of the Capitol Ward in Washington, D.C., and in the presidency of the Chicago Stake for 16 years. In his career he was chairman of the board of Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury during President Richard M. Nixon’s first term, ambassador-at-large for the U.S., and U.S. Ambassador to NATO while still serving in the Nixon cabinet.

Church Canneries Link Need with Willing Hands

To Whom It May Concern,

In the last eight months I’ve had a lot of financial problems. I used to work for a major telephone company, but I was laid off. I did manage to find another job, but at substantially less money. I [now] make about $30 too much for food stamps, and between rent, utilities, gas, etc., I have hardly any money left.

On several occasions, I have needed to go to a food bank. It is an awful transition to have to make when one day you support yourself well and the next day you barely make the rent.

I am writing this because the last time I was given food, I received a can of blackberry jam. To me, it was like someone sent me a smile, and right now I could use one. I read the label and found out where it came from and who sent it. That made it much nicer. I just wanted to say ‘thank you.’—Cheryl

Cheryl is one of literally thousands of people around the world who benefit from Church humanitarian aid—in this case, food canned in one of 47 Church-owned canneries in the United States and Canada. Most Church members know of the Church’s cannery system, but few realize that the canneries are used for more than stocking bishops’ storehouses.

“Certainly that’s our primary objective and the part that people are most familiar with,” explains Dennis Lifferth, director of production distribution for the Church. “But canning the products for the storehouses actually uses up only a small amount of time. During the harvest, the canneries are busy, but after the harvest season, we have large periods of time when the canneries can be idle if people aren’t aware of the resources.

“Church canneries provide a way for members and nonmembers alike to give of their time and surplus commodities in humanitarian efforts to help others,” Brother Lifferth continues. “They also provide a place for those in need to work for assistance received and to learn skills to become self-reliant, and the canneries help members and nonmembers become more self-reliant by encouraging them to process basic foods for their own needs.”

Humanitarian Aid

Although canneries have been part of the Church’s welfare program since the 1930s, the system as presently organized began in 1963 with the construction of a new, larger cannery on Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. The very first year of the cannery’s operation, time and labor were spent on humanitarian aid. Officials from Shriner’s Hospital in Salt Lake City called the Welfare Square manager, explaining that they had just received a large truckload of peaches as a gift. Unable to use all the peaches before they spoiled, hospital officials wondered if they could use the canning facilities to can the peaches. “Of course” was the reply, and making those facilities available to the wider community became an established practice.

Through the years, cannery facilities and personnel (including a full-time, paid cannery manager and volunteer quality-control personnel) have joined forces with volunteer Church members and other volunteers to complete hundreds of projects. In spring 1995, the Islamic Society of North America called cannery officials. The group had 250 head of cattle and had found a plant in New Mexico that would process the meat, but they needed a place to can the processed meat so they could send it to the hungry in Bosnia.

“We scheduled a time in the Ogden, Utah, cannery,” Brother Lifferth says. “They provided the raw product, and we provided the facilities. We had Church members in the area come to the cannery, and they invited Islamic members in the area to participate. We worked side by side and canned more than 5,200 cases.”

What are the specifics in projects such as this? “We provide the facilities, the cans, and the leadership and direction,” says Brother Lifferth. “We comply with all food regulations—our workers, most of whom are volunteers, are trained and certified—so we maintain the facilities and run the lines. Sometimes the different organizations supply the labor, yet often our own members volunteer their time.”

A Needed Bridge

Many projects have been arranged in cooperation with food banks in the various cannery locations. Sometimes the excess food produced by Church farms is canned and donated to food banks. In addition, many people in the communities, other churches, and commercial companies are generous in donating time and surplus food to the poor. Church canneries provide a needed bridge, linking the abundance of food with willing hands to produce help for those in need. “The canneries are available; we want them to be used,” Brother Lifferth says.

Food Storage Resource

Church canneries also provide a marvelous opportunity for community members to begin or supplement their own food storage.

“All the canneries have dry-pack facilities,” explains Brother Lifferth. “This means that members and nonmembers alike may come in and can dry goods for their food storage. The cannery supplies the product, anything from flour and sugar to dried beans and peas to soup mixes and powdered milk. People buy the dry materials at a reasonable price from the canneries and then can the products and take them home.”

Some of the canneries have wet-pack facilities, or the ability to can food that is not dried. “We do peaches, pears, and applesauce,” Brother Lifferth says. “Some canneries do meat or beans. For wet-pack canning, people need to call the cannery and find out what’s scheduled for production. Items are canned only during a specific period of time. Cannery workers can schedule a time for you to come.” An appointment is also necessary for dry-pack canning, but dry-pack materials are available throughout the year.

For many years, Brother Lifferth observes, it was mainly older, retired members who spent time at the canneries, either volunteering for the humanitarian projects or doing their own food-storage canning. “But in the last few years, we’ve noticed that more and more members are becoming involved,” he says. “We’ve had youth groups and young married couples. We’ve had single adults and entire families. We really encourage that, and we’re trying to make it even more convenient and easy for those who are interested.”

[photo] Church members work side by side with members of the Islamic faith to can meat for the hungry in Bosnia. (Photo by Patrick Reese.)

[photo] Volunteers of all ages give service at Church canneries in tasks such as inspecting corn prior to canning. (Photo by Welden Andersen.)

Radio Series Distributed Worldwide

Fourteen public service radio programs sponsored by the Church and dealing with family issues have been packaged together and sent to radio stations, community groups, and libraries throughout the world.

The 30-minute documentaries, titled Times and Seasons: The Family Edition, are from the Times and Seasons radio series, which is produced by the Church’s Public Affairs Department. The package, which deals specifically with issues facing families, includes the following titles: Adoption, Emotional Abuse, Family Communication, Family History, Family Traditions, Marriage and Values, The Marriage Partnership, The Nurturing Father, Parenting, Preventing Divorce, Preventing Domestic Violence, Self-Esteem, Teaching Children Values, and Teens and Choices.

“Distribution of the programs is timely in light of the many challenges facing the family today,” says L. Gerry Pond, executive producer of the series. “These programs provide many answers and solutions for people of all faiths.”

The series has won numerous international, national, regional, and local awards. The edition is available on CD and audiocassette in both English and Spanish.

For more information about the new package or other Times and Seasons programs, call 1-801-240-4397.

Missionary Efforts Spur Growth in Uganda, Africa

“I was just walking about in Kampala one Sunday, and I heard music,” remembers Elder Charles Mugisha, a Ugandan who is currently serving as a full-time missionary in the Kenya Nairobi Mission, of which Uganda is a part. “I went into the building and was welcomed by an Elder and Sister Draper. I never believed I would one day be teaching the gospel!”

The spirit of missionary work is strong in Uganda, a landlocked east-central African nation of some 21 million people. About one-third of the missionaries serving throughout the Kenya Nairobi Mission are Ugandan natives, and the seven branches of Uganda’s two districts are thriving under the ministry of well-trained local leaders who are often returned missionaries. “The returned missionaries can teach well, and they are good to activate members. The small children love them,” says President William Kayingi of the Kampala district, which is named after Uganda’s capital city. The industrial town of Jinja is the headquarters of the nation’s other district, led by President George M Ogutu.

Home to the headwaters of the Nile River and surrounded by the larger countries of Zaire, Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania, Uganda has experienced much turmoil throughout its history. Formed around the nucleus of a 19th-century British protectorate, Uganda gained its modern borders by 1926 and achieved independence in 1962. Though English is the nation’s official language, Uganda is home to at least 20 black ethnic groups, each of which has its own language. Like many other sub-Saharan African nations, Uganda has suffered economic damage and social upheaval in recent years. Since 1986, however, the nation has enjoyed a measure of peace. When Elder James E. Faust, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated the land in late October 1991 for the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of the Church, he petitioned the Lord that Uganda might become a more “peaceful, pluralistic society so that all of thy children in this land may worship according to their own conscience. May the governments be benign and foster religious freedom” (Ensign, Feb. 1992, 77).

The restored gospel gained a foothold in Uganda when Guy Denton arrived in March 1990 from Sterling, Utah, to fulfill a three-year USAID assignment. Brother Denton, his wife, Peggy, and the couple’s six children began holding Church services in their home. They quickly found Ugandans who were interested in meeting with them. The first full-time missionaries, Lark and Arlea Washburn of Mesa, Arizona, arrived in December 1990. From these early beginnings, the Church has grown to more than 800 members in just five years.

“I’m so grateful the Lord has sent missionaries to our land,” says Irene Ndaula of the Kabowa Branch. “I never felt so much love.” Sister Ndaula’s husband, Francis, says: “Since I joined the Church, I have hope. Before I found the Church, I had no job, my wife and I were angry most of the time, and my children would often go to bed without food. I have a job now, and we are blessed with great happiness.”

As Ugandans return from missionary service to strengthen their home branches, other young Ugandans prepare in seminary and institute classes for their future missions—and for life. Upon completion of the Young Women “Experiment upon the Word” scripture reading project in the Jinja Branch last year, Rachel Kadama said: “I read the same chapter in Nephi three times and couldn’t understand what I was reading. Then I prayed about it, and I was able to understand the chapter.” With similar progress in learning about and applying gospel truths, Ugandans will continue to help the Church grow both in Uganda and abroad.

[photo] Church members pose at an auxiliary training session held during a Kampala Uganda District conference. (Photography by Gretchen Knecht Clark.)

[photo] A member, Francis Ndaula, is flanked by full-time missionaries Elder Gesimbe of Kenya (left) and Elder Mugisha of Uganda.

[photo] Pictured here as full-time missionaries, Juliet Namasoke (top) now serves as a branch Relief Society teacher and Caroline Okello as Primary president in the Kampala district.

Gretchen Knecht Clark serves with her husband, Paul Kenneth Clark, who was recently released as president of the Kenya Nairobi Mission to serve as area medical adviser for the Church’s Africa Area.

Update: Church Membership

Church membership continued to grow during 1995. There were 9,340,898 Latter-day Saints at the end of last year, up from 8,120,000 in December 1991. According to statistics released during general conference, 304,330 of those baptisms were convert baptisms. The remaining were eight-year-old children of record.

Church Membership
Elder Stephen D. Nadauld Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont

Conversation: Church Historical Sites

With next year’s approaching 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Latter-day Saint pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley, members are encouraged to renew their acquaintance with—or, for those who are able, experience for the first time—the many historical sites associated with the Restoration of the gospel that have been developed across North America. For an update about the Church’s efforts in establishing historical sites, the Ensign spoke with Elder Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy, executive director of the Church’s Historical Department and chairman of the Historic Sites Committee, and Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy, assistant executive director of the Church’s Missionary Department and vice chairman of the Historic Sites Committee.

Elder Stephen D. Nadauld Elder Earl C. Tingey

Elder Stephen D. Nadauld Elder Earl C. Tingey

Question: Can you give background on why the Church devotes resources to restoring and developing historical sites?

Answer: Whenever a group of people make the effort to better learn and understand their heritage, those people will be strengthened. Nephi demonstrated this in the Book of Mormon when he rehearsed the history of his ancestors to remind his people of who they were (see 1 Ne. 17). From the early events of the Restoration to the trek of the pioneers across the plains, we too have a rich heritage in the Church today. By studying about and, when possible, visiting the sites of important events and revelations, we can gain an unusually strong understanding of and connection with our past.

The purpose of the Church’s historic sites program is to strengthen the faith of members and to interest others in the restored gospel by increasing visitors’ understanding of the significant events, buildings, and sites in Church history and of associated gospel principles. At sites where visitors’ centers have been established, our purpose expands to invite all to come unto Christ by providing visitors with an opportunity to learn more about our beliefs and accept an invitation for missionaries to teach them the gospel.

Q: How do the historical sites accomplish their purpose?

A: Elder Nadauld had a wonderful experience last summer at the restored Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio, that illustrates the impact historical sites can have on individuals. As he entered the store, he noticed all the authentic artifacts—sacks of beans on the floor, 19th-century products on the shelves—that can help a person imagine what life was like during the important events that happened there. What really affected him, however, was the presentation of a young sister missionary. After experiencing her testimony about the spiritual events and inspired efforts that took place in the Whitney Store, Elder Nadauld felt renewed faith and a greater desire to understand the people who participated in those events and what motivated them. Showing and discussing historical facts is a powerful teaching tool, and when missionaries add their testimonies about what occurred, the hearts of visitors are often touched by the Spirit.

One of the most important functions of the historical sites is teaching others about the gospel. Many tourists are drawn to the sites, and we’ve found that members have first-rate experiences when they bring their friends to the sites and visitors’ centers. The missionaries who guide tours and give presentations are very sensitive to making sure visitors don’t feel trapped or pressured in any way; they want visitors to experience feelings of peace, faith, and testimony. Visitors often have chances to request visits from missionaries, but they are not pressed to do so. We encourage members to seek more opportunities to bring their friends and family members of other faiths to the Church historical sites and visitors’ centers.

Q: How can members get the most out of visiting the historical sites?

A: We have heard many reports of fun, successful family trips to the historical sites. Often just a father and mother may load up the car with their children and go, but we’ve also heard of extended families traveling from site to site in caravans or rented buses with Grandma and Grandpa and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins. We encourage families to take the initiative to experience Church history sites together because not only will they grow stronger and more unified in faith and testimony but family relationships can become closer. A Church history trip doesn’t have to be extravagant in terms of travel and lodging costs, and commercial maps and guidebooks and Church-published pamphlets are available to help in planning. Attending the pageants associated with many of the sites is a wonderful experience, but we also encourage members to visit Church history sites during less-crowded seasons.

Another form of preparation that can enhance a Church history trip is to read about the events and revelations before and during site visits. One very powerful way to experience the sites is to take along a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and, using the section headings for guidance, read particular sections at the places they were received, such as the tender, touching passages the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded while in Liberty Jail. Many other helpful and interesting history and resource books and manuals are available through Church distribution centers and meetinghouse libraries, and at Latter-day Saint bookstores.

Q: What further development of historical sites is planned?

A: After years of groundbreaking work in sites from San Diego to Vermont in the United States, the historical sites program of the Church has reached a mature stage in which enhancement and preservation of existing sites are the focus now. For instance, the Grandin Building in Palmyra, where the Book of Mormon was first published, is undergoing renovations, and a replica of the log cabin where the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph is being added to the Joseph Smith farm. A new visitors’ center is being built at Winter Quarters in Iowa, and a new park is being developed at This Is the Place monument at the mouth of Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake City. With these two new anchors at either end, next year will be a good year for those who are able to honor the pioneers by retracing their route across the plains, visiting the many markers commemorating their sacrifices, and touring the homes and buildings they left behind in Nauvoo.

While the Church limits tithing-funded restoration and development efforts to those sites considered most universal and fundamental in importance and appeal to all members, we do encourage independent groups to get involved with the restoration and development of historical Church sites and buildings of more local interest. For example, a private group has put together a plan to rebuild the historic Kanesville tabernacle in Iowa. Even though that project did not fit the master plan of the Church’s Historical Sites Committee, we are extremely grateful and excited about what they are doing. Some of the supporters of the Kanesville project are not Church members but citizens who value history.

No better way exists for gaining a stronger sense of our heritage than studying about and, when possible, visiting Church history sites. Whether members visit a site that is simply marked with a sign, or a major site like Nauvoo, they will come away feeling more appreciative and inspired by our forebears’ sacrifices and efforts and more grateful for the Restoration of the gospel. They will understand better who they are and why they should strive to be more dedicated to the gospel cause. We’re grateful that the Lord has opened the way for the historical sites program of the Church to be a successful part of proclaiming the gospel and perfecting the Saints.

Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont

Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont. (Photo by Welden Andersen.)