News of the Church


New Area Presidency Assignments

The First Presidency has announced changes in assignments for Area Presidencies, effective 15 August 1999. All presidency members belong to the Quorums of the Seventy.

1. North America Northwest: F. Melvin Hammond, President; John M. Madsen, First Counselor; * Gordon G. Conger, Second Counselor

2. North America Central: Hugh W. Pinnock, President; Yoshihiko Kikuchi, First Counselor; Donald L. Staheli, Second Counselor

3. North America Northeast: Jay E. Jensen, President; Gary J. Coleman, First Counselor; W. Craig Zwick, Second Counselor

4. North America East: Loren C. Dunn, President; Sheldon F. Child, First Counselor; James O. Mason, Second Counselor

5. North America Southeast: Monte J. Brough, President; Gordon T. Watts, First Counselor; Stephen A. West, Second Counselor

6. North America Southwest: Rex D. Pinegar, President; Angel Abrea, First Counselor; Neil L. Andersen, Second Counselor

7. North America West: John B. Dickson, President; William R. Bradford, First Counselor; Richard H. Winkel, Second Counselor

8. Utah North: Cecil O. Samuelson, President; Gene R. Cook, First Counselor; Vaughn J. Featherstone, Second Counselor

9. Utah South: Dennis B. Neuenschwander, President; John H. Groberg, First Counselor; Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor

10. Mexico North: Lynn A. Mickelsen, President; David R. Stone, First Counselor; * Adrián Ochoa, Second Counselor

11. Mexico South: Carl B. Pratt, President; Eran A. Call, First Counselor; * Armando Gaona, Second Counselor

12. Central America: Lynn G. Robbins, President; Jerald L. Taylor, First Counselor; * Julio E. Alvarado, Second Counselor

13. South America North: Francisco J. Viñas, President; Robert J. Whetten, First Counselor; * Walter F. González, Second Counselor

14. South America West: Richard J. Maynes, President; Ned B. Roueché, First Counselor; * Juan Uceda, Second Counselor

15. Brazil North: Claudio R. M. Costa, President; Robert S. Wood, First Counselor; * Irajá B. Soáres, Second Counselor

16. Brazil South: J. Kent Jolley, President; Athos M. Amorím, First Counselor; Adhemar Damiani, Second Counselor

17. Chile: Dale E. Miller, President; Stephen B. Oveson, First Counselor; * John A. Harris, Second Counselor

18. South America South: Carlos H. Amado, President; Richard D. Allred, First Counselor; * Claudio D. Zivic, Second Counselor

19. Africa West: Glenn L. Pace, President; H. Bruce Stucki, First Counselor; * Emmanuel O. Opare Sr., Second Counselor

20. Africa Southeast: Dennis E. Simmons, President; Ray H. Wood, First Counselor; * Christoffel Golden Jr., Second Counselor

21. Philippines: Duane B. Gerrard, President; Val R. Christensen, First Counselor; Merrill C. Oaks, Second Counselor

22. Pacific Islands: Quentin L. Cook, President; Ronald T. Halverson, First Counselor; Earl M. Monson, Second Counselor

23. Australia/New Zealand: Bruce C. Hafen, President; Kenneth Johnson, First Counselor; * Victor D. Cave, Second Counselor

24. Europe North: Spencer J. Condie, President; W. Rolfe Kerr, First Counselor; * John Maxwell, Second Counselor

25. Europe West: F. Burton Howard, President; John K. Carmack, First Counselor; D. Lee Tobler, Second Counselor

26. Europe East: Charles Didier, President; Wayne M. Hancock, First Counselor; * Wolfgang H. Paul, Second Counselor

27. Asia North: L. Lionel Kendrick, President; L. Edward Brown, First Counselor; E. Ray Bateman, Second Counselor

28. Asia: Cree-L Kofford, President; Richard E. Cook, First Counselor; H. Bryan Richards, Second Counselor

  1.   *

    Area Authority Seventy.

First Presidency Trains Mission Presidents

All three members of the First Presidency spoke during the annual Mission Presidents Seminar held in June at the Provo Missionary Training Center. Also participating in the weeklong seminar were several members each of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presidency of the Seventy, the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric. Effective 1 July, the 131 new mission presidents and their wives began three-year callings in more than a third of the Church’s 333 worldwide missions.

President Hinckley

“No other people in the history of the world have received the kind of mandate that we have received,” said President Hinckley during his concluding remarks to the new mission presidents. He reminded them of the mandate to carry the gospel throughout the earth and to do family history and temple work.

President Hinckley said: “I hope, my brothers and sisters, that you can infuse your missionaries with the spirit of capturing every great opportunity that comes their way. … They will have disappointments; you’ll have disappointments. Discouragement can become contagious. You must rise above it and lift those about you.”

Speaking to full-time missionaries on the same day, President Hinckley said: “Be grateful for your companions. I thank the Lord and will always be grateful for my companions in the mission field.” Of one companion with whom he spent 15 months, President Hinckley said: “What a wonderful young man he was. How I loved him, and I hope he loved me. We became fast and good and wonderful friends.”

Reflecting on his mission, he continued: “I see that it did so much for me, far greater than the time spent. … I am here today because of that mission, and I plead with you now to make the most of your missions.”

President Monson

Speaking of the missionaries overseen by mission presidents, President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said, “Ours is the responsibility not only to direct their feet but also to effectively climb with them, rung by rung, the ladder to eternal life.” He counseled, “Help them to be successful, help them to meet people, help them to teach the gospel, help them to convert and to baptize and to fellowship, and you will see miracles before your very eyes.”

Encouraging mission presidents to wisely team up missionary companionships, President Monson quoted D&C 84:106: “And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.” He also emphasized the “wonderful, cooperative relationship” that should exist between missionaries and members. “Nothing will bring more joy nor increase success like that cooperative endeavor,” he said.

President Monson said that mission presidents “can help make the mission the foundation of a person’s life.” Speaking of investigators, he said, “Everybody asks the question posed by Job: ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’” (Job 14:14). President Monson said that as missionaries teach individuals about the plan of salvation and the eternal nature of families, they “are on sacred ground in the soul of that person.”

President Faust

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Even when someone rejects the message, missionaries need to learn to have a positive attitude because the message is still true whether it is accepted or not. Now I know that tracting isn’t very efficient, but I think it is good for the soul of the missionaries.”

He continued: “Your missionaries should recognize that you are all witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ and that there is nothing more powerful than your own personal witness. I believe we must be prepared for more converts coming into the Church than we have ever had before. Perhaps it may not happen in every country. But in the main, the harvest will increase. The Church is being brought out of the wilderness ‘clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners’” (D&C 5:14).

Speaking of the need for cooperation between members and missionaries, President Faust said: “Missionary work will never be what it might be without the help of the members. Stake presidents need to feel some responsibility and ownership of missionary work. The stake president is the one who has the presiding priesthood keys over both the members and nonmembers in his stake. The missionaries are his helpers.”

[photo] More than 100 new mission presidents and their wives participated in training sessions conducted by several General Authorities. (Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.)

LDS Scene

  • The Church’s first meetinghouses in two nations were recently constructed. In Athens, Greece, Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy, President of the Europe East Area, dedicated a new meetinghouse before about 200 onlookers, including an estimated 40 investigators. Three of Greece’s four branches—Halandri, Ilisia, and Pireaus—are meeting in the new building; the fourth branch is located in the city of Thessaloniki. In Antananarivo, Madagascar, Elder Dennis E. Simmons of the Seventy, President of the Africa Southeast Area, dedicated a new meetinghouse before a congregation of about 600. The new building is home to two wards and also includes the mission home and offices for the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission. In the United States, Alaska’s first seminary building was recently dedicated near a high school in Chugiak, a suburb of Anchorage.

  • Where three rivers converge near Iquitos, Peru, heavy rains led to flooding during June that directly affected some 200 member families. No damage was caused to Church property, and fast-offering funds were used to buy food for member families. Also in June, a 6.7 earthquake killed 15 people and caused major damage to a few buildings in Puebla, Mexico, with minor damage reported from Veracruz to Mexico City. No significant damage to member homes was known to have occurred, and no Church property was affected.

  • At Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Welfare Square has been expanded by nearly two acres and is undergoing major construction and renovation. A 50,000-square-foot milk-processing plant called Deseret Dairy was recently completed, and construction plans are going forward on a 22,000-square-foot cannery. Other areas undergoing modifications and improvements include the Deseret Industries store, the granary, the employment center, the bishops’ storehouse, and building exteriors and grounds. A new bakery has already begun operation. As the Church’s flagship humanitarian facility, Welfare Square is a source of temporal aid for needy people throughout the world.

[photo] The Deseret Dairy is one of the new additions to the Church’s expanding Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Gerry Avant, Church News.)

Temple Update

The First Presidency has announced plans to build two more smaller temples. When the Omaha Nebraska Temple is completed near the site of historic Winter Quarters, it will serve more than 40,000 members living in 14 stakes in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota. The Perth Australia Temple, Australia’s fifth temple, will serve about 6,900 members living in four stakes in Western Australia.

In addition, ground has been broken for three previously announced temples: Guadalajara México, San José Costa Rica, and Veracruz México. The Church now has 57 temples completed and 57 temples in planning or construction stages, for a total of 114 temples.

New Scripture Translations

The First Presidency has announced the publication of several new scripture editions:

Currently the full text of the Book of Mormon is available in 49 languages, and selections are available in 42 languages.

[President Hinckley Turns 89]

President Gordon B. Hinckley celebrated his 89th birthday on 23 June with a small reception in the Church Administration Building. “I hope that I have kept the common touch and seen a little humor in life,” he remarked. “We had better see the funny part of life or we are going to miss two-thirds of what it is all about.” Born in 1910 to Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley in Salt Lake City, President Hinckley was set apart as the 15th President of the Church on 12 March 1995. Prior to that, he served almost 14 years as a counselor in the First Presidency, 20 years in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and three years as an Assistant to the Twelve.

[photo] Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News

Personal Ancestral File Available via Internet

Effective 28 June, the Church began allowing Internet users to make free downloads of Personal Ancestral File® 4.0, a new Windows-based version of the Church’s genealogical management program for home computers. The new software program is available at www.familysearch.org.

PAF 4.0 does not provide actual genealogical data but helps users organize their family history records. The program can produce, in automated or manual form, records for personal family histories as well as charts and logs to help users in their search for missing ancestors.

System requirements for PAF 4.0 include: Windows 95, 98, or NT; an IBM-compatible 486/66 processor (Pentium recommended); 16 MB to 32 MB of RAM; 20 MB of available hard-disk space; and a 256-color display adapter supporting 640x480 screen resolution but optimized for 800x600. PAF 4.0 will also be available on CD-ROM in early 2000 for a nominal price through Church distribution centers.

Bishop H. David Burton

Conversation: Prepared for Y2K

Much attention has been paid recently to anticipated problems with the world’s computers when the calendar changes from 1999 to 2000. To conserve space in the early days of computers, when each byte of memory was precious, programmers established the habit of coding years using only the last two digits rather than all four digits. Unless corrected, a variety of computer programs affecting aspects of modern life could malfunction if programs interpret “00” to mean 1900 rather than 2000. To find out what the Church has been doing to become Y2K compatible, as well as to discuss appropriate attitudes for individual members to take regarding Y2K, the Ensign spoke with Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church.

Bishop H. David Burton

Bishop H. David Burton

Question: What has the Y2K problem meant for the Church?

Response: Like nearly all modern-day organizations of any size, the Church relies on numerous computers and specialized software programs for its day-to-day administration. As ward or branch clerks know, nearly all the Church’s considerable processing of data is automated with computers, from membership records to financial transactions. Computers are in wide use in nearly every department at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City; even the heavy printing equipment is operated by computer. In some of the Church’s larger buildings, simple functions such as the adjustment of thermostats, the setting of clocks, and the locking of doors are handled by computers. It is difficult to think of any temporal function of the Church that is not assisted directly or indirectly by computers.

So the Y2K problem has been a top priority. A special Y2K-compliance project has been going forward throughout the Church since 1995. Literally millions and millions of lines of computer code have been reviewed and corrected if necessary, which has been a difficult, expensive, time-consuming task not only for the Church but for companies and organizations of all kinds. It is anticipated that all Church computer systems will be in full compliance by September 1999 and that testing will be completed before the end of the year. Most Church computer processes will be briefly closed down as 1999 ends and then restarted after the year 2000 has begun, with technicians standing by to fix any glitches that might arise.

Another complex aspect of this Y2K problem has involved closely monitoring the Y2K preparations of various outside industries upon which the Church is somewhat reliant. Generally the banks and financial institutions have done a terrific job getting ready. Smaller corporations and manufacturing concerns and some governmental units—particularly at the local level—may be lagging behind a little bit. But no major disruptions or problems are anticipated beyond the possibility of some minor errors and delays.

Q: What about the Church’s international offices, commercial businesses, schools, and family history services?

R: The Y2K problem knows no national boundaries. Worldwide, the Church’s area offices, regional offices, and service centers have been going through Y2K-preparation processes. Besides ensuring that computer hardware and software are updated or replaced, the area offices have drawn up contingency plans for possible public infrastructure problems related to power, water, telephone, and transportation, particularly in less-developed nations.

The Church’s educational institutions, such as Brigham Young University and Ricks College, have also put considerable resources into Y2K preparation. We feel assured that the Church is well prepared to make the changeover.

As far as family history, which has become a particularly computer-intensive area, the systems and software provided by the Church have all been updated for the Y2K changeover. Whether an individual member working on his or her own home computer will be able to run family history software depends on how old the computer hardware and software are. Most of the computer manufacturers have ensured over the last three or four years that their products are Y2K compliant. Some of the older machines, however, might have some struggles.

Q: How are Y2K preparations going in local meetinghouses?

R: The computer hardware used by clerks in meetinghouses is usually replaced every three to five years, so meetinghouse computers have been made Y2K compliant in the course of normal replacement. Much of the Church’s software, including that used for finances and membership, was originally coded with the problematic two-digit year, but the Church began its Y2K project early enough that all software has been corrected in the course of normal upgrades. For the most part, this process has not been visible to local leaders and clerks; if a hundred ward and branch clerks were asked what the Church has done to prepare for Y2K, nearly all would probably say they didn’t know. But in fact much has been done behind the scenes so that local leaders and clerks can continue their computer-related tasks without interruption or concern.

Q: Does the Church have any words of counsel and advice for individual members regarding the Y2K situation?

R: In a recent general conference talk, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Today many people are obsessed with the Y2K problem and worry about the date coming up right because of the way computers measure time. … We have come to rely on electronics for much of our daily work, and we are naturally concerned about the need to reprogram computers to move into the next century. While some glitches may occur, I am optimistic that no great catastrophic computer breakdown will disrupt society as we move into the next century. I have a far greater fear of the disruption of the traditional values of society” (“This Is Our Day,” Ensign, May 1999, 17–18).

Church teachings regarding personal and family preparedness do not stem from any specific event, including Y2K concerns. Predictions of disaster, famine, flood, and earthquake have come and gone and will continue to do so, but the commonsense admonitions of Church leaders to prepare for times of adversity and to be self-reliant remain unchanged. The words of President Brigham Young, “Learn to sustain yourselves; lay up grain and flour, and save it against a day of scarcity” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 231), are as applicable today as they were more than 130 years ago.

In every generation, Church leaders have encouraged members “to store sufficient food, clothing, and where possible fuel for at least one year” (First Presidency letter, 24 June 1988). In October 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley referred to the biblical story of Joseph, who advised Pharaoh to store food in times of plenty. “I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying,” he said. “I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.” He continued, “If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts” (“To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 53–54).

While it is sincerely hoped that members do not get caught up in any hysteria or obsessive preparations for possible disasters, the Church continues its long-standing practice of encouraging members to be self-reliant and reasonably prepared.

[photo] Society’s interest in being prepared comes and goes, but prophetic admonitions to learn self-reliance—how to garden, for example—remain constant.

[photo] Ward clerks, such as this brother in Taiwan, are equipped with Y2K-compliant computers and software. (Photo by Christopher K. Bigelow.)

Use of Church Canneries Increasing

“As part of the welfare program throughout the world, Church canneries have never been busier,” says Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church. “Principles of self-sufficiency and preparing for times of need are being practiced as never before.”

In the United States and Canada, the Church operates 91 canneries, with additional canneries worldwide. Canneries in the United States and Canada were used in 1996 to package about seven million pounds of food. In 1997 cannery usage increased 34 percent to 9,272,000 pounds, and 1998 saw a dramatic increase of 180 percent to 25,986,000 total pounds.

“A crescendo was reached late last year and early this year,” said Bishop Burton. “If the trend at the beginning of 1999 had kept up, Church canneries would have hit 80 million pounds this year, but things settled down during April, May, and June. Verbal reports from field managers indicate that future orders are down considerably.”

Church canneries are used to stock bishops’ storehouses and for personal storage. Individuals supply their own food, and the canneries provide the supplies and equipment needed to dry-pack the food into cans and foil bags.

Community organizations and groups from other religions sometimes use Church cannery facilities. For example, once a year in Sacramento, California, about 50 volunteers from the Woodland Ecumenical Ministries spend a Saturday at the local Church cannery making 5,000 cans of applesauce. The apples come from a community food bank, and the Church cannery supplies cans, lids, packing cases, cooking supplies, and supervisors.

“It’s unbelievable what this humanitarian project, now in its fifth year, is doing to change people’s attitudes toward the Mormons,” said William Marble, president of the Davis California Stake, who was elected as president of the Sacramento interfaith group, in which seven other Christian organizations also participate.

[photo] Members and, increasingly, community organizations use Church canneries to prepare food storage. (Photo by Dean Fotheringham.)

Appointments

Robert B. Dahlgren of the La Crosse First Ward, Rochester Minnesota Stake, has been called as president of the new Bismarck North Dakota Temple, which is nearing completion. His wife, Carmen Lee Dahlgren, will serve as temple matron.

J. Lynn Shawcroft of the Aspen Ward, Mesa Arizona Kimball East Stake, has been called as president of the recently dedicated Guayaquil Ecuador Temple. His wife, Dorothea Thomas Shawcroft, serves as temple matron.

Frank Everton Wagstaff of the Belle Terre Ward, Spokane Washington East Stake, has been called as president of the Spokane Washington Temple, which is nearing completion. His wife, Jane Devey Wagstaff, will serve as temple matron.

Darrell Myron Waite of the Logandale Second Ward, Logandale Nevada Stake, has been called as interim director of the Liberty Jail Historic Site visitors center in Liberty, Missouri. He and his wife, Arlene Foutz Waite, are presently serving as full-time missionaries.

Comment

Mormon Journals

Thank you with all my heart for the Mormon Journal articles. Although I read each month’s issue from cover to cover, it is Mormon Journal that touches my heart the deepest and brings tears of joy as the Spirit confirms the testimonies of others who share their faith-promoting experiences. The Mormon Journal section is always the first section I turn to each month as I eagerly receive the Ensign and other Church magazines.

Larry D. Kump Falling Waters, West Virginia

“Our Blessings Came—After the Trials”

As I was fingering through the October 1998 Ensign, I came across “Our Blessings Came—After the Trials.” This short article seemed to have a profound effect upon my life.

I am in my first year of college, and the trials in my life have been piling up. Through the challenges of endless hours of homework, my house-cleaning job, and trying to be happy at home, I could sense my rapid decline of spirit and felt that my life was slipping. My grades were lowering, and I began to lose my focus. I became frustrated and wanted all of the hardships that I faced to disappear.

Like the author, I too kept the counsel of my patriarchal blessing close; when I become frustrated by the world, I am to pray to Heavenly Father and read the scriptures. This counsel gave me comfort in my time of difficulty. It was then that I read the story of the author’s trials and how she persevered through it all. Her words gave me comfort and reassurance that I too could make it through.

Meg Robins Eden, Utah