Temple Dedicated in Anchorage, Alaska
“We pray that all who enter these portals may recognize that we come here as Thy guests,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley during his dedicatory prayer for the Anchorage Alaska Temple on 9 January. “We are grateful for the inspiration which has come to build it and pray that Thy faithful people in this part of Thy vineyard may treasure it and use it for the purposes for which it is designed.”
Despite frigid temperatures, about 6,300 members attended seven dedication sessions held 9–10 January for the Church’s 54th operating temple, which is the second dedicated of the smaller temples and the Church’s northernmost temple. President Hinckley led a cornerstone-laying ceremony before the first dedicatory session. Also in attendance at the dedication were President Hinckley’s wife, Marjorie; Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary; Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy, President of the North America Northwest Area, and his wife, Bonnie; President Merrill D. Briggs and Sister Janet J. Briggs, temple president and matron; and Keith J. Anderson and R. Dan Farr, counselors in the temple presidency.
During a public open house held 29–31 December 1998, about 15,000 people toured the temple. After walking through the building, Anchorage mayor Rick Mystrom said, “I expected to get a tour of a building, but I think what happened is I experienced the temple instead of just seeing the temple. I walked away with a real sense of understanding why the Latter-day Saints are so committed to each other and committed to the Church. It was a very touching experience.” Catholic archbishop Francis Hurley said he was impressed by the quiet beauty of the temple.
Anchorage stake president Brent Wadsworth said: “The completion of the temple signifies and begins an entirely new era for Alaska. Everything we have thought about, everything we have worked for is going to change with the temple and its completion.”
Completed in just nine months and built next to the Anchorage Alaska Stake Center, the 6,800-square-foot temple has an ordinance room, a sealing room, a celestial room, and a baptistry. The temple walls are covered with gray and white quartz-flecked granite, and the temple design incorporates Alaskan motifs, such as likenesses of fir trees on the doorway pilasters, the state flower—the forget-me-not—on interior details, and the North Star and Big Dipper on the building’s west side. The temple district takes in about 18,000 members living in the Anchorage, Anchorage North, Fairbanks, Juneau, Soldotna, and Wasilla stakes and in the Anchorage mission’s Bush District.
Martha Swan of the Anchorage 17th Ward helped clean the temple prior to the dedication. “I wanted it to be really clean, because it is the Lord’s house,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave a speck of dirt. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to make every nook and corner clean. It is just beautiful. It is His house.” Local endowed members will continue helping clean and maintain the temple.
“May it be recognized even by those not of our faith as a place holy and sacred, the house of the Lord, built as an expression of love for Thee,” President Hinckley said in his dedicatory prayer. “May all who come with hope and high expectations leave with satisfaction and gratitude, having tasted of the sweet things of Thy divine work.”
Temple Announced for Fresno, California
The First Presidency has announced that the Church’s 99th temple will be built in Fresno, California. When this smaller temple is completed, it will serve members living in the Fresno, Fresno East, Fresno North, Fresno West, Hanford, Porterville, and Visalia stakes. The temple will be California’s fourth temple. As of 1 February 1999, the Church had 54 temples in operation, 28 temples under construction, and 17 temples in planning stages worldwide.
Ciudad Juárez Chihuahua Temple Groundbreaking
“In this temple district, we have members on both sides of the border,” said Elder Eran A. Call of the Seventy, President of the Mexico North Area, at groundbreaking services held on 9 January for Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez Chihuahua Temple. “This will bring a uniting and joining of members.” He also said, “We want to be prepared and attend the temple, not just have the temple as a monument.”
About 1,700 members gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony, during which a regional choir sang. “This is an historic day for our community,” said El Paso Texas Stake president William Scott Johns. “But when I speak of community, I am not speaking of the cities that have borders and restrictions; I am speaking of the community of the Latter-day Saints.”
Octavio Seanez Flores, president of the Ciudad Juárez La Cuesta Stake, said, “This land has a destiny, and that destiny is to have a house of the Lord where we can do His work and our work to gain salvation.”
When completed, the temple will serve members living in 10 stakes and 2 districts. The Ciudad Juárez temple will be the second temple in the state of Chihuahua, where a temple will soon be dedicated in Colonia Juárez.
Villahermosa Tabasco Temple Groundbreaking
“Temples are, along with the Atonement, the greatest gift to mankind as well as the greatest tool to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of the Savior,” said Elder Richard E. Turley Sr. of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Mexico South Area Presidency, at groundbreaking services held on 9 January for Mexico’s Villahermosa Tabasco Temple. Because of limited space, attendance at the ceremony was limited to 200 people.
“Members must now develop within their homes a culture of temple attendance and participation,” Elder Turley said. “If you are faithful, the spirituality of the members will increase. There will be a measurable impact on the whole community through the faithfulness of the people and the beauty of the temple and its surroundings.” The temple will be built near the coast of Mexico’s isthmus.
Caracas Venezuela Temple Groundbreaking
“Let us think of today as the groundbreaking for a change in our lives,” said Elder Francisco J. Viñas of the Seventy, President of the South America North Area, at groundbreaking services held on 10 January for the Caracas Venezuela Temple. “As all temples are built upon solid foundations, in a like manner our lives need foundations that will sustain us and allow us to grow spiritually.”
Hundreds of local leaders and their families attended the ceremony, as well as Elder Viñas’s counselors in the Area Presidency: Elder Robert J. Whetten of the Seventy and Elder Walter F. González, an Area Authority Seventy. Also present were Elders Francisco G. Giménez, Daniel L. Johnson, and Carlos D. Vargas, all of whom serve as Area Authority Seventies. A stake choir and mission choir provided music.
Elder Whetten encouraged members to ready themselves for the temple through preparing “our hearts by pardoning all those who have offended us. Next, we ought to increase our love—that attribute that distinguishes us as Latter-day Saints—beginning with our families, our wife or husband, our children and then others who do not belong to the Church.”
Elder Viñas asked members to resolve “to begin a change in their lives that will permit them to enter the temple, to have a life clean enough to bring into the house of the Lord.”
Memphis Tennessee Temple Groundbreaking
“The presence of the temple in the community will spark the Spirit of Christ in hundreds of people,” said Elder Gordon T. Watts of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Southeast Area Presidency, at groundbreaking services held on 16 January for a temple to be built near the Memphis Tennessee North Stake Center. About 2,300 people gathered for the ceremony, which was conducted by Elder James E. Griffin, an Area Authority Seventy. Mayor Kenneth Fulmar and other community leaders were in attendance, and a 125-voice multistake choir provided music.
“Early members traveled to Salt Lake City for their first temple experience,” said Memphis stake president Darrell Danielson. “Later the trip was cut in half when the Washington (D.C.) Temple was built. Then came Atlanta, followed by St. Louis. Travel time was reduced from days to hours. Now some members will have less than an hour to go to participate in temple work.”
Elder Watts said, “This is the beginning of a new temple and a time for reflection. It should also be a beginning of our personal preparation to be worthy in every way to enter and perform labors for the living and the dead.”
The Memphis temple will serve more than 20,000 members living in seven stakes in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Another temple planned for Tennessee will be located in the Nashville area.
Mérida Yucatán Temple Groundbreaking
“We want to establish a culture of temple attendance,” said Elder Carl B. Pratt of the Seventy, President of the Mexico South Area, at groundbreaking services held on 16 January for Mexico’s Mérida Yucatán Temple. “I know that the construction of this temple will add to the strength of the home. It will add to the love of husbands and wives. It will add to the peace in the Yucatán Peninsula.”
About 550 members from the states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo attended the ceremony, as did Elder Octaviano Tenorio, an Area Authority Seventy who serves as Second Counselor in the Mexico South Area Presidency. The temple site is located in a city near the well-known Uxmal and Chichen Itza Mayan ruins.
Mérida Central stake president Fermin Herrera Baez said, “In this beautiful city, the sun is always radiant, but it is no more resplendent than the hearts of the Saints who know that in this land of the Mayas there will be built a house of the Lord.” Abel Ordax Rosado, who served as the first president of the Mérida stake, said, “As the ground is cleared and made clean for construction, so must lives be made clean through baptism. Then, just as construction commences there also begins in us the growth of the delicious fruit from the word of God.”
Temple Presidents Called
The First Presidency has announced the callings of presidents for two soon-to-be-dedicated temples. William Clive Barney of the Layton Second Ward, Layton Utah South Stake, will serve as president of the Madrid Spain Temple. His wife, Jean Louise Kasparek Barney, will serve as temple matron. Meredith Irvin Romney of the Juárez Ward, Colonia Juárez Mexico Stake, will serve as president of the Colonia Juárez Chihuahua Temple. His wife, Karen Sue Ellsworth Romney, will serve as temple matron.
Members Cope with Disasters, Civil War
Earthquake in Colombia
An earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale struck 17 cities, towns, and villages in west-central Colombia on 25 January. Reports indicated that about 1,000 people—including three Church members—were killed in an area west of Bogotá and north of Cali. Damage was greatest in the towns of Armenia and Pereira. As many as 200 member families were left homeless, and three Church meetinghouses were used as emergency shelters. One Church meetinghouse was badly damaged. Despite challenges caused by looting and government precautions, Church regional welfare committees were able to provide food, clothing, tents, and water to members.
Sierra Leone and Fiji
A civil war has raged in Sierra Leone, Africa, for several months. Three Church members have been killed in the conflict, with several members unaccounted for. Some homeless member families have been sheltered in Church meetinghouses.
High winds, high tides, and rains caused by Cyclone Dani damaged crops and flooded portions of Fiji during January. Several member homes and two Church meetinghouses were damaged. All members and missionaries were reported safe.
Hurricane Mitch Update
On 25 January the Church made what was expected to be its final shipment of supplies to Central America for the assistance of Hurricane Mitch victims. “We are most pleased with the recovery and with the fact that the people who were helped don’t expect to be helped forever by the Church but are working to take care of themselves and reach self-sufficiency,” said Elder William R. Bradford of the Seventy, President of the Central America Area. “We give our appreciation and praise to the local leadership, who organized under the standard of procedures in the Church and proved again to us and to the whole Church that if we follow the program we have in place, it really works.”
Hurricane Mitch, which struck Honduras, Nicaragua, and other Central American nations in late October and early November 1998, killed about 5,600 people and caused an estimated five billion dollars in damage. The Church has shipped about two million pounds of relief supplies to hurricane victims.
Elder Haight Counsels MTC Presidents
“We encourage you to move the work along at a faster pace,” said Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to six new MTC presidents and their wives during training meetings held in January at the Provo Missionary Training Center. President Haight noted that three of the presidents would be leading MTCs in “three of the greatest success stories in the Church”: Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines. In the past 35 years, Elder Haight said, 184 stakes have been created in Mexico, 173 stakes in Brazil, and 64 stakes in the Philippines.
“You will have great influence upon thousands and thousands of young men and women and couples, but particularly upon the young people,” Elder Haight said. “The work will continue. We will find better methods to do missionary work. People can accomplish more than they think they can.” When missionaries are faithful, he said, they carry “the greatest message they will ever carry. Our challenge is not the message, it is the messenger. It is how we look and how we act and how we feel about the message.”
Elder Haight also spoke on 30 January in Moroni, Utah, at the funeral service of Elder Jaarl Michael Papenfuss, age 20, one of two missionaries who drowned on 18 January in the Canary Islands. Bishop Richard C. Edgley, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, presided over a funeral held in Dale City, Virginia, for the other missionary, Elder Joshua Matthew Prymak, age 19.
The missionaries, who were serving in the Spain Las Palmas Mission, were taking photos along a rocky seashore on their preparation day when waves swept Elder Prymak and another missionary away. The other missionary made it back to shore, but when Elder Prymak did not return, Elder Papenfuss went after him. Their bodies were recovered two days later.
Speaking of missionary work beyond the veil, Elder Haight said that the missionaries have been reassigned in their service. He talked about how Church members can survive such losses through their testimonies. “Some of you will live as long as I, and some will go early,” said Elder Haight, who is 92. “It’s a part of the gospel plan.”
Meeting Italy’s President
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Seventy, President of the Europe West Area, recently met with Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro and presented him with a leather-bound, inscribed copy of the Book of Mormon and a porcelain statue of a family. Also in attendance were Elder Raimondo Castellani, an Area Authority Seventy; President Leone J. Flosi of the Italy Rome Mission; and Church public affairs representative Giuseppe Pasta. “He showed every courtesy and helpful concern for the Church’s growth in his country,” said Elder Uchtdorf. The meeting was arranged by a presidential adviser who attended last year’s Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert and VIP reception in Italy.
World Scout Jamboree in Chile
Elder Robert K. Dellenbach of the Seventy, Young Men General President, spoke to Latter-day Saints from several nations who were among more than 30,000 Scouts attending the 19th World Scout Jamboree in Chile recently. Also in attendance was Elder Jerald L. Taylor of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Chile Area Presidency, and Elder Julio H. Jaramillo, an Area Authority Seventy. During the jamboree, about 4,000 people visited a booth where they received a brief message about the Church.
Church Reaches 2,500 Stakes
“The term stake is a symbolic expression,” said President Ezra Taft Benson in 1991. “Picture in your mind a great tent held up by cords extended to many stakes that are firmly secured in the ground. The prophets likened latter-day Zion to a great tent encompassing the earth. That tent was supported by cords fastened to stakes. Those stakes, of course, are various geographical organizations spread out over the earth. Presently, Israel is being gathered to the various stakes of Zion” (“‘Strengthen Thy Stakes,’” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 2).
The Church’s first stake was organized in 1832 in Kirtland, Ohio, and a second stake was formed in 1834 in Clay County, Missouri. Eleven stakes were organized by 1840 in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Thirty years later all 12 stakes of the Church were located in Utah. By 1882 the total stakes had increased to 27, and by 1940 stakes numbered 177. In 1960 the Church’s 321 stakes included 19 English-speaking stakes outside the United States and one stake in Mexico. In 1991 the Church had more than 1,800 stakes worldwide.
Describing a stake as “a miniature Church to the Saints in a specific geographic area,” President Benson identified four purposes for the Church’s stakes: “to unify and perfect the members … by extending to them the Church programs, the ordinances, and gospel instruction”; “to be models, or standards, of righteousness”; to provide, through unity and consecration, “protection from error, evil, or calamity”; and to be “a refuge from the storm to be poured out over the earth” (Ensign, Jan. 1991, 4–5).
During the 1990s, the Church has created an average of about two stakes per week. Year-end total stakes for the past five years were:
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Blaine Jay Smith has been appointed as manager of administrative services for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; he will serve under the choir president and choir music director. Brother Smith and his wife, Debra Ellis Smith, are members of the Shadowbrook Ward, Kaysville Utah South Stake.
Visitors’ Centers and Historic Sites
The First Presidency has announced the callings of 11 directors for Church visitors’ centers and historic sites throughout the United States. Following a week of training during February 1999, the new directors and their wives began two-year terms of service.
Hugh J. Barlow has been called as director of the Independence (Missouri) Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Diane C. Barlow, are members of the Monument Park 16th Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park Stake.
William J. Critchlow III has been called as director of the St. George (Utah) Temple Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Raelene B. Critchlow, are members of the Brookhaven Ward, Kaysville Utah East Stake.
Judson H. Flower Jr. has been called as director of the Joseph Smith Memorial (Vermont) Historic Site. He and his wife, Juanita Marlene Flower, are members of the Miles City Ward, Glendive Montana Stake.
Dale Gubler has been called as director of the Cove Fort (Utah) Historic Site. He and his wife, Sheree Gubler, are members of the Santa Clara First Ward, Santa Clara Utah Stake.
George F. Hilton has been called as director of the Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Yvonne Marie Horta Hilton, are members of the Lafayette Ward, Oakland California Stake.
Stanley C. Kimball has been called as director of the Oakland (California) Temple Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Carolyn Joan Thatcher Kimball, are members of the Laguna Beach Ward, Laguna Niguel California Stake.
Darson W. Roper has been called as director of the Kirtland (Ohio) Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Geniel S. Roper, are members of the Cascade First Ward, Orem Utah Cascade Stake.
Richard K. Sager has been called as director of the Nauvoo (Illinois) Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Lois J. Sager, are members of the Smoot Ward, Afton Wyoming Stake.
David E. Salisbury has been called as director of the Washington (D.C.) Temple Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Carol C. Salisbury, are members of the Monument Park 15th Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park Stake.
DeWayne W. Simmons has been called as director of the San Diego (California) Mormon Battalion Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Jean F. Simmons, are members of the Foxhill Ward, North Salt Lake Utah Stake.
Richard I. Winwood has been called as director of the Temple Square (Utah) North Visitors’ Center. He and his wife, Judith Annette Winwood, are members of the Salt Lake Cottonwood Fifth Ward, Salt Lake Cottonwood Stake.
1999 Church Pageant Schedule
Following are the 1999 performance dates and locations of Church pageants. All pageants are free of charge. Except as noted below, pageants start at dusk, last about an hour, and do not require tickets. For more information, call the pageant hotline at 1-800-453-3860, extension 7800.
27, 30–31 March, 1–3 April, Mesa, Arizona—Jesus the Christ, Arizona Temple grounds. The first performance is in Spanish.
17–19, 22–26 June, Manti, Utah—Mormon Miracle, Manti Temple grounds.
9–10, 13–17 July, near Palmyra, New York—America’s Witness for Christ, Hill Cumorah.
13–15, 17, 20–24, 27–31 July, Oakland, California—And It Came to Pass, Oakland Temple interstake center. Daily performances begin at 8:00 P.M. except on the Saturdays of 24 and 31 July, when performances begin at 2:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M. Free tickets may be obtained by calling 1-510-657-4409.
29–31 July, 3–7 August, Castle Dale, Utah—Castle Valley Pageant, Mountain Amphitheater.
30–31 July, 3–7 August, Nauvoo, Illinois—City of Joseph, hillside adjacent to Nauvoo Visitors’ Center.
13–14, 17–21, 24–28 August, Clarkston, Utah—Martin Harris, the Man Who Knew, amphitheater adjacent to the Clarkston Cemetery. Free tickets may be obtained by writing to P.O. Box 151, Clarkston, UT 84305.
18–25 December, Calgary, Alberta—Calgary Nativity Pageant, Heritage Park.
Policies and Announcements
Adoption and Unwed Parents
The following letter signed by the First Presidency was sent to priesthood leaders worldwide:
“Priesthood and auxiliary leaders are again encouraged to teach members the importance of living chaste and virtuous lives. We reiterate our concern over the decline of moral values in society and the resultant number of children born out of wedlock and reared by unwed parents. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by parents who provide love, support, and all the blessings of the gospel.
“Every effort should be made in helping those who conceive out of wedlock to establish an eternal family relationship. When the probability of a successful marriage is unlikely, unwed parents should be encouraged to place the child for adoption, preferably through LDS Social Services. Adoption through LDS Social Services helps ensure that the baby will be reared by a mother and father in a faithful Latter-day Saint family.
“Unwed parents who do not marry should not be counseled to keep the infant as a condition of repentance or out of an obligation to care for one’s own. Generally, unwed parents are not able to provide the stable, nurturing environment so essential for the baby’s well-being.
“When deciding to place the baby for adoption, the best interests of the child should be the paramount consideration. Placing the infant for adoption enables unwed parents to do what is best for the child and enhances the prospect for the blessings of the gospel in the lives of all concerned.”
Women’s Conference Broadcast
Ten hour-long sessions of Brigham Young University’s Women’s Conference will be broadcast 29–30 April over the Church satellite system to stake centers in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean and will also be seen on KBYU-TV. Presentations may be recorded for home use only, and meetinghouse libraries have been authorized to record and retain a set of the broadcasts for Church use only. For more information, contact BYU’s Division of Continuing Education at 1-801-378-7692 or on the Internet at coned.byu.edu/cw/womens.
Sessions to be broadcast:
Thursday, 29 April
5:00 P.M. (MDT)—Encircled in the Arms of His Love, Ardeth G. Kapp
6:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Savior, the Sacrament, and Self-Worth, Truman G. Madsen
7:00 P.M. (MDT)—Personal Purity and Intimacy, Wendy L. Watson
8:00 P.M. (MDT)—Families: It’s about Time, Virginia U. Jensen, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency
9:00 P.M. (MDT)—Fireside address, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Friday, 30 April
5:00 P.M. (MDT)—You and Your Essential Role Today, Mary Ellen W. Smoot, Relief Society general president
6:00 P.M. (MDT)—God’s Covenant of Peace, Patricia T. Holland
7:00 P.M. (MDT)—The Cost of True Discipleship, Camille Fronk
8:00 P.M. (MDT)—Songs of Her Heart, Gladys Knight
9:00 P.M. (MDT)—Famous Last Words, Sheri L. Dew, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency
January Painting of Christ
I received the January 1999 copy of our beloved Ensign a few minutes ago. Never have I seen anything as beautiful as the front cover picture of our beloved Savior! It brought tears to my eyes. I am almost 83 years old and had never before felt the way I did when I saw this most awe-inspiring likeness. It’s beautiful!
Melba S. Thomas Salt Lake City, Utah
The January 1999 Ensign had four feature articles that were Christ-centered. They were particularly helpful in my on-going resolution to keep focused while taking the sacrament. “Latter-day Clarity on Christ’s Life and Teachings” greatly helps to clarify the confusion I have had in the Gospels concerning what could be intended by the Gospel writers. Most helpful to me was the article on the Atonement (“Living a Christ-Centered Life”).
Cornelia Madsen Provo, Utah
Cornets, Trumpets, and Alto Horns
In the painting of an event at Locust Creek near the Iowa-Missouri state line in about 1846, the artist seems to have portrayed three musicians playing modern trumpets rather than the 19th-century shorter cornets (“All Is Well,” inside front cover, July 1998). The cornet is shorter than the trumpet and has a more mellow tone as compared to the brilliance of the trumpet.
Furthermore, the standing musician with the larger horizontal alto horn extending out in front of him is playing a modern alto horn used in bands, rather than the older, upright model used in the 19th century.
Kenneth Larson Los Angeles, California
Chastity and Fidelity
Enjoying the Ensign from cover to cover has been a part of my monthly reading since my baptism in 1994. I am writing to thank you for including the articles “Chastity and Fidelity” in the October 1998 issue. Of special interest was “Truths of Moral Purity.” It was a beautiful piece, well crafted, informative, and powerful in its message. I was uplifted and given guidance and courage to voice a gospel truth so needed yet so neglected in our society. I intend to buy extra copies of the issue to share with others so they too may be strengthened by the truth of the articles.
Michele Anne Franklin Columbus, Ohio