News of the Church


President Hinckley Visits Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a seminar for newly called temple presidents on 13 October 1998, then the next day he departed on a five-day trip to visit U.S. members in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois. He was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Marjorie Hinckley; Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary Hales; and, for portions of the tour, Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, President of the North America Northeast Area, and his wife, Lonna Jensen; and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, President of the North America Central Area, and his wife, Anne Pinnock.

Vermont

President Hinckley spoke to about 1,600 members from the Montpelier Vermont Stake in a Burlington theater on 14 October. The last time a Church President visited Vermont was in 1976, when President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated a memorial at the birthplace of his grandfather, President Heber C. Kimball (1801–68), First Counselor in the First Presidency.

Shortly before President Hinckley was scheduled to arrive at the Burlington conference, a local power outage occurred. Temporary emergency lighting was turned on. A prayer was offered that electrical power would be restored before evacuation became necessary, and soon the power came back on.

President Hinckley spoke about how members can strengthen their belief in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, the divine calling of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, the Church, their identity as children of God, the efficacy of prayer, and virtue.

Stake president Richard A. Baldwin said: “President Hinckley is an extraordinary teacher. I believe our dear Saints truly heard his precise counsel to focus on the fundamental beliefs of the gospel. The stake will be better for it.”

The next day, 15 October, President Hinckley visited the birthplace of Joseph Smith in Sharon, Vermont, and spoke in a nearby meetinghouse to about 160 missionaries from the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. Mission president Lee Ford Hunter said: “President Hinckley blessed, inspired, and enlightened the missionaries. He awakened in them increased determination to love and labor more diligently.”

Massachusetts

On the evening of 15 October, President Hinckley spoke in Lowell, Massachusetts, to members from the Nashua New Hampshire, Concord New Hampshire, and Boston Massachusetts Stakes. Speaking about the Boston temple currently under construction, he said, “The Lord bless you, all of you, to equip yourselves to go to His holy house.” He then commented about the first small temple, which was dedicated in June 1998 in Monticello, Utah: “We did it close to Salt Lake City where we could watch its progress and learn something while we were doing it. Well, something marvelous has happened. … In the months that have passed since it has opened, they have 16 sessions a week. That temple has a capacity of 50, and the average attendance at that temple is 50.2.”

The next day, 16 October, President Hinckley met in Belmont, Massachusetts, with missionaries serving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission. That evening, President Hinckley spoke in Worcester, Massachusetts, to members from the Hartford Connecticut, Hingham Massachusetts, Providence Rhode Island, and Springfield Massachusetts Stakes. He said, “Until you have received the sacred ordinances of the temple, you have not received all the wonderful blessings this gospel has to offer.”

New York and Illinois

President Hinckley spoke to about 2,500 members from the Albany New York and Utica New York Stakes in a historic theater in Schenectady, New York, on 17 October. After acknowledging the area’s economic troubles, President Hinckley said: “The Lord will look after you and bring you peace and satisfaction. His prospering hand will rest upon the Saints who pay their tithes and offerings.”

Sonia Fox, a Sunday School teacher in the rural Norwich Branch, Utica New York Stake, loaded her family and some neighbors into her car before sunrise and drove two hours for the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a living prophet.” Albany New York Stake president John C. vom Lehn said of President Hinckley: “His thoughts about the impact of our decisions were a valuable reminder of the things that matter most, and his emphasis of the blessings which come from paying a full tithe brought hope to an area which has seen many economic ups and downs.”

The next day, President Hinckley addressed about 20,000 people gathered in Chicago’s United Center from 16 stakes in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Speaking to members of other faiths in the congregation, he said: “I welcome you most cordially! I hope that you will continue to come and meet with our people. I hope that you will listen to what the missionaries of this Church have to say. I do not hesitate to promise you that if you will do so, there will come light and understanding and knowledge and a conviction of the truth of this great latter-day work. For God, in His power and majesty, has moved again to restore the gospel to the earth in all its purity and with all its wonderful blessings.”

He also said: “I love the Latter-day Saints wherever they are. We’ve been with them around this world, in Asia, the islands of the Pacific and all the nations of South America and Central America and many of the nations of Africa and Europe. You know, you’re all alike! You look alike. You look good. You look clean. You look tidy. You look neat. You look as if you know where you’re going. You look as if you know what life is all about. And you do, because you understand the plan of salvation.”

[photo] Left to right: Elder Robert D. Hales, President Hinckley, and Elder Jay E. Jensen at Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Vermont. (Photo courtesy of Vickie Kreider.)

[photo] A scene of the congregation in the Centrum, Worcester, Massachusetts. (Photo by Ted S. Warren.)

[photo] Members in Chicago enjoyed shaking President Gordon B. Hinckley’s hand. (Photo courtesy of Ann Castleton.)

[photo] In Schenectady, New York, President Hinckley spoke to about 2,500 people. (Photo courtesy of Diana Carpenter.)

[photo] About 20,000 members from five states filled Chicago’s United Center. (Photo by R. Scott Lloyd, Church News.)

President Faust Speaks to Police Chiefs

“My brief message today is a hope, even a prayer, that law enforcement efforts and police officials all over the world could be more family friendly,” said President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, to some 300 police officials from 64 nations gathered in Salt Lake City for the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. President Faust delivered his remarks during a luncheon held in the Church Office Building on 20 October.

“Our nations will not be stronger than our families,” President Faust said. “This is because a strong family is the basic unit of our society. It is in the families and the churches of our society that the values of honesty, decency, morality, and respect for the law are taught. … With these values strongly in place among the citizenry, there would be less crime and violence.”

President Faust explained to police officials the Church’s teachings about honoring and sustaining the law, as stated in the 12th article of faith [A of F 1:12]. He said: “Your work is essential if we are to have a civilized society. Protection from crime is vital. Yours is a difficult task. It is dangerous. … Without conscientious peace officers, society will crumble and we will inherit chaos.”

Elder Ballard Dedicates Parley P. Pratt Site

At dedication services held 24 October for a new Salt Lake City park and statue honoring Elder Parley P. Pratt (1807–57), Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called Elder Pratt “a deeply religious man, which is evident by the hymns” he wrote, eight of which are in the Church’s current hymnbook. Elder Pratt was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, an author of books, and a Church pioneer, explorer, and colonizer.

Elder Ballard said that Elder Pratt demonstrated “absolute obedience and willingness to do whatever the Prophet Joseph Smith would ask of him” and enjoyed “wonderful, spiritual experiences because of his obedience.” He also recalled Elder Pratt’s missionary efforts in upper Canada, where he helped convert John Taylor, who later became the third President of the Church.

Called Parley’s Park and Plaza, the triangle-shaped site is located at 2100 South and 2300 East in Salt Lake City. An eight-foot bronze statue, sculpted by Ed Fraughton and titled Finding the Way, shows Elder Pratt viewing nearby Parley’s Canyon, which was named after him. The project was made possible by Latter-day Saints and members of other faiths and groups.

[photo] A statue of Elder Parley P. Pratt depicts him surveying nearby Parley’s Canyon in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Kristan Jacobsen, Deseret News.)

LDS Scene

• Ambassadors and diplomats from 26 nations attended the eighth annual Western Family Picnic held on 26 September near Washington, D.C. Guests and their families were hosted by Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy, North America East Area President; T. LaMar Sleight, director of the Church’s International and Government Affairs Office; and Ann C. Santini, the Church’s director of international affairs. Several LDS congressmen and local Church leaders attended, and Brigham Young University’s Living Legends and International Folk Dance Team performed. Many of the picnic activities were designed to help guests better understand the Church’s pioneer history and modern global expansion.

• The Life Science Agricultural Building at Church-owned Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, has been renamed the Ezra Taft Benson Agricultural and Biological Sciences Building in honor of the former Church President, who died in 1994. President Benson “showed a keen interest in these programs during his ministry,” said Ricks College president David A. Bednar. “He was a frequent visitor to Ricks College, and his example and legacy will set a standard for our students.”

• Two missionaries serving in the Russia Yetakerinburg Mission were stabbed in a random, alcohol-related attack outside an Ufa apartment building on 17 October. Elder Jose Manuel Mackintosh of Hiko, Nevada, died as a result of his injuries, and Elder Bradley Alan Borden of Mesa, Arizona, was hospitalized with the expectation of a full recovery. After meeting with the family of Elder Mackintosh, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “I was deeply moved by their faith, their forgiveness, and their devotion to the continuation of missionary work.” He later added: “This is nothing that puts our other missionaries at risk. We will continue to say our prayers and renew our strength. We will square our shoulders and continue to take the gospel to the world.”

• More than 150 members of the New York New York Stake marched in New York City’s annual Columbus Day Parade on 12 October. Led by drummers and people with banners displaying the name of the Church, the members carried 128 flags from nations all over the world and in some cases wore traditional dress from various nations. “Our participation was one of the most visible activities of the Church in Manhattan,” said stake president Brent J. Belnap. “In a very tasteful way, I believe, we tapped into the tremendous variety of our membership and shared the message that we are a worldwide church.”

[photo] In New York City’s 1998 Columbus Day Parade, about 150 members heralded the Church’s international diversity. (Photo by Kah-Leong Poon.)

Temple Update

More Small Temples Announced

Plans to build five more small temples have been announced by the First Presidency. New temples will be constructed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Melbourne, Australia; Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. As of 13 November 1998, temples announced but not yet started numbered 25, temples for which ground had been broken numbered 20, and temples in operation numbered 53, for a total of 98 temples worldwide.

Bismarck North Dakota Temple Groundbreaking

“I believe this is more significant than any one of us can conceive,” said Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency, at groundbreaking services held 17 October for the Bismarck North Dakota Temple. “I don’t think we fully comprehend the majesty of this occasion.”

Elder Johnson presided over and conducted the groundbreaking, which was attended by Bishop Keith B. McMullin, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, and Elder Thomas A. Holt, an Area Authority Seventy. Nearly 1,000 people attended despite overcast skies and a cold wind. Prior to the shovel ceremony, music, talks, and the dedicatory prayer were held inside the Bismarck North Dakota Stake center.

When the temple is completed near the stake center, it will serve members living in the Winnipeg Manitoba Stake, Pierre South Dakota District, and Bismarck North Dakota and Fargo North Dakota Stakes, which include parts of Minnesota and South Dakota.

“As the walls of the temple go up, let your faithfulness go up,” said Bishop McMullin. Elder Holt suggested that while the acronym CTR means “Choose the Right” to Primary children, perhaps for adults it can also mean “Current Temple Recommend.” “Prepare yourselves,” he said. “Be ready. Be worthy to serve in the house of the Lord.”

Detroit Michigan Temple Groundbreaking

“Families can be forever and are ordained by God,” said Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, North America Northeast Area President, at the groundbreaking held on 10 October for the Detroit Michigan Temple. Prior to offering the dedicatory prayer, Elder Jensen gave four suggestions for families living within the temple district: Pray that temple construction will progress on time and without injuries or undue delays; hang a picture of a temple in the home where children will see it and think, Someday I will go there; gather family histories, perhaps starting simply by asking family members questions and writing down the answers; and obtain a temple recommend and always carry it worthily.

Also in attendance was Elder David E. Sorensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Temple Department. Speaking of temple attendance, Elder Sorensen said, “It isn’t only what you see. It isn’t only what you hear. It is what you feel when you come.”

The temple will be built on the grounds of the Bloomfield Hills Michigan Stake center near Woodward Avenue, a road originally built in about 1815 by the Prophet Joseph Smith’s uncle and probably traveled by Joseph Smith on his way to Pontiac, Michigan, some 165 years ago.

Halifax Nova Scotia Temple Groundbreaking

“Don’t think of it as a small temple,” said Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, North America Northeast Area President, at groundbreaking ceremonies held 12 October—Canada’s Thanksgiving Day—for the Halifax Nova Scotia Temple. “Make it big in your hearts.”

Despite autumn rains and cold temperatures, about 800 people gathered from Canada’s Maritime Provinces for the groundbreaking service, most of which was held inside the adjacent Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake center. Speaking of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s recent challenge to local members to share the gospel, Elder Jensen said: “Pray to be led and have others led to you, and then open your mouth. The Lord will create a divine rendezvous.”

Reg Hilchie, a counselor in the New Brunswick stake presidency, said: “I have seen a lot of growth in the Church in the Maritimes. I remember meeting in hotels and school buildings. Now we have beautiful chapels everywhere and soon will have a beautiful temple.”

Spokane Washington Temple Groundbreaking

“Everyone in this city will be blessed by the establishment of this glorious edifice, member and nonmember alike,” said Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy, North America Northwest Area President, at groundbreaking ceremonies held 10 October for the Spokane Washington Temple.

About 1,000 people attended the groundbreaking, including Spokane mayor John Talbott, county commissioner Phil Harris, and county prosecutor Jim Sweetser. Elder Lowell Barber, an Area Authority Seventy, spoke during the meeting. When completed adjacent to the Spokane East stake center, the new temple will serve about 32,000 members living in 91 wards and branches in nine stakes: Coeur d’Alene Idaho, Colville Washington, Lewiston Idaho, Pullman Washington, Sandpoint Idaho, Spokane Washington, Spokane Washington East, Spokane Washington North, and Spokane Washington West.

“Workers are poised, waiting to start their labors,” said Elder Hammond at the groundbreaking. “The physical preparation is nearly completed for the building. Now we come to the spiritual readiness of those who will come to this holy place. If thoughtful preparation is not started in your own personal life, then I suggest to you that now is the time to begin such preparation.”

Temple Presidents Called

Sione Moala Fineanganofo of the Nuku‘alofa Eighth Ward, Nuku‘alofa Tonga North Stake, has been called as president of the Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple; his wife, Telusila Falaetau Mahu’inga Fineanganofo, will serve as temple matron.

J. Clifford Wallace of the Felicita Ward, Escondido California South Stake, has been called as president of the San Diego California Temple; his wife, Elaine Jensen Wallace, will serve as temple matron.

[photo] Despite cold weather, about 1,000 people attended groundbreaking ceremonies for the Bismarck North Dakota Temple. (Photo by Janet Kruckenberg.)

[photo] In Detroit, children took turns with a shovel at the temple groundbreaking. (Photo by Denise Clegg.)

[photo] At its completion, the Spokane Washington Temple will serve about 32,000 members. (Photo courtesy of Pat Montgomery.)

New Family History Products and Procedures

Millions of family records dating back more than 450 years are now available in two CD-ROM packages recently released by the Church. The North American Vital Records Index and the British Isles Vital Records Index contain church, civil, and parish records from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The Church has also released Personal Ancestral File® Companion Version 2.0, an upgraded version of the software that allows users to print charts and reports from the Church’s Personal Ancestral File® program on Windows-compatible printers.

In other family history news, the Church has implemented new procedures in temples for handling Family Files which contain names of deceased ancestors for whom individuals desire to perform ordinances vicariously.

Vital Records Indexes

The Church is currently developing products for home use that simplify genealogical research, making it faster and easier to access needed information and trace family histories. In addition to the new CD resource files described below, the Church released two CD resource files last year: the three-county 1851 British Census (item no. 50096; $5 U.S.) and the Australian Vital Records Index (item no. 50095; $20 U.S.).

The new North American Vital Records Index lists nearly five million names from sources in the United States and Canada dating from 1620 to 1903. The seven-CD set (item no. 50029; $19 U.S.) includes six discs of marriage records and one disc of births and christenings.

The new British Vital Records Index contains nearly five million names from parish registers, civil registrations, and other record collections dating from 1538 to 1888 in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The five-CD set (item no. 50028; $15 U.S.) includes four discs of birth and christening records and one disc of marriages.

Minimum system requirements for the two new CD resource files include a Pentium processor (or equivalent); Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0 plus; a minimum of 8 MB of RAM, with 16 MB recommended; a CD-ROM drive, with 8x recommended; an SVGA monitor with 256-color video card; and 25 MB of hard-disk space.

Each vital records index will be updated periodically as more information becomes available, with millions of new names added in each future volume. Resource files scheduled for release later in 1999 include the 1880 U.S. Census and the 1881 British Census. For more information, members living in the United States and Canada may call 1-801-240-2584 or 1-800-346-6044; members living elsewhere may contact their area information system manager.

Personal Ancestral File Companion Version 2.0

The Church has released Personal Ancestral File® Companion Version 2.0 (item no. 50041; $10 U.S.), an upgraded version of the software that allows users to print charts and reports from the Church’s Personal Ancestral File® program on Windows-compatible printers.

Features of the new software include the Outline Descendant Report, which prints descendants by generation; Kinship Report, which prints all the relatives of an individual; Ahnentafel Register Report, which prints a register report of an individual’s ancestors; Family Ordinance Summary, which summarizes ordinances performed for individuals; Pedigree Chart, which prints the family group records associated with pedigree charts; Family Group Record, which prints multiple family group records for a selected number of ancestral generations; and History List, which saves a list of the last 80 individuals viewed for each data file.

Minimum system requirements for the software are Windows 3.1 or higher (including Windows 95 or Windows NT); Personal Ancestral File® 3.0 or later; 4 MB of RAM; a VGA monitor; a CD-ROM drive or 3.5-inch, high-density floppy-disk drive; and 6 MB of available hard-disk space.

New Family File Procedures

Until recently, each temple maintained a Family File of cards bearing names of deceased ancestors for whom individuals desired to perform ordinances vicariously. However, new procedures have recently been implemented that reduce temple involvement in handling Family Files. After initial processing at a temple, Family File name cards are now turned over to the person who submitted the names rather than being kept in the temple.

This new procedure shifts responsibility for the Family File to individual members and gives them flexibility to have each ordinance performed in the temple they choose. Benefits for temples include less space occupied by cards, less time spent by workers, and fewer errors. The new procedure has already been implemented in temples in the United States, Canada, and England and will be implemented in other temples in the near future.

Although members have responsibility to keep track of name cards, safeguards are in place to protect against loss. When name cards are initially printed at a temple and whenever an ordinance is subsequently performed, the data are sent to a central file at Church headquarters. Up-to-date reprints of name cards can be arranged through a temple, but extra time is needed because the reprints come from Church headquarters. To help individuals keep track of name cards and ordinances performed, a Family Names Tracking List is provided.

The method of preparing names for temple work remains essentially unchanged. If at any point a patron is not able to arrange for others to help with performing ordinances, name cards may be submitted to a general temple file to be completed by other patrons.

[photo] New family history software includes the North American Vital Records Index, British Vital Records Index, and Personal Ancestral File® Companion Version 2.0.

[photo] The Church is developing software and CD resources to make family history work easier and faster.

Hurricane in Central America, Flooding in Texas

During late October and early November 1998, Hurricane Mitch struck Central America, becoming the area’s worst natural disaster of the 20th century, with rain-caused floods and mudslides compounding the damage. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people were killed, mainly in Honduras and Nicaragua, with thousands more missing.

Remarkably, only one Church member among 90,000 Honduran members and 28,000 Nicaraguan members is known to have died. However, according to an emergency status report released by local Church authorities soon after the disaster, thousands of members suffered losses.

In Honduras, 3,227 members were evacuated, 640 members were reported injured or sick, 1,413 member homes were temporarily uninhabitable, 429 member homes were permanently uninhabitable, and 17 Church meetinghouses were damaged. Because of transportation problems and crop damage, nearly 8,000 members needed assistance with food, clothes, and medicine.

In Nicaragua, 580 members were evacuated, 40 members were reported sick or injured, 122 member homes were temporarily uninhabitable, 27 member homes were permanently uninhabitable, and one meetinghouse was damaged. Nearly 3,000 members needed help with food, clothes, and medicine. Members were also affected in Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador.

“Approximately 4,500 people found refuge and security in our buildings and care from our leaders,” reported Elder Salomón Jaar, an Area Authority Seventy in Honduras. “We have a great feeling of gratitude to God and the Church for watching over and caring for us during these difficult times. We have seen the priesthood of the Church in action watching over the Saints and others who sought help.”

The Church has provided considerable assistance in both funds and supplies. Funds were provided for purchasing supplies locally, and the United States Air Force and other organizations helped transport hundreds of thousands of pounds of Church-donated emergency supplies, such as medicine, clothing, rice, beans, powdered milk, soap, plastic sheeting, blankets, and foam beds. Local stake presidents, bishops, and branch presidents coordinated relief efforts.

Texas Members Help after Flooding

When a stalled storm system drenched the area of San Antonio, Texas, with more than 26 inches of rain during 36 hours in October 1998, three rivers overflowed their banks and flooded several communities. More than a dozen Church members lost homes, vehicles, and household goods.

“Everyone has been involved in helping during this time of tragedy—the priesthood, Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, and even the Primary,” said San Antonio North stake president Frank Dittmar. “We are here to serve and love.”

Rosie Hernández of the New Braunfels Ward said: “We lost mostly everything, including my husband’s truck he uses to get to work. The water rose to a level of four feet inside our trailer. Through it all, our faith has been a sustaining influence. Without the knowledge that life is eternal and that our families can be forever and that Heavenly Father loves us, we would not have gotten through this so well.”

Nearly 550 volunteers participated in a Saturday cleanup project in New Braunfels, wearing LDS-themed T-shirts so law enforcement officials would recognize them as Church members. “Most worked inside individuals’ homes as small groups and stripped carpet, wallboard, and insulation and moved furniture out to the street to be hauled away,” reported San Antonio West stake president Ned Lunt. “A good portion of these homes had been completely submerged under water.”

Pat Cantrell, a member of another faith who was assisted by Latter-day Saint volunteers, said: “You are such lovely people. It is amazing what you have done for us, and I can’t thank you enough.”

After the cleanup project, President Lunt said, “Many were able to feel burdens lifted in a way that can only be done by the true spirit of Christ in selfless service.”

[photo] In Honduras, members unload sacks of beans for distribution to hurricane victims. (Photography courtesy of Salomón Jaar.)

[photo] A scene of hurricane-caused flooding in La Lima, Honduras.