News of the Church


Temple Dedications and Groundbreakings

During October the Church’s 62nd and 63rd operating temples were dedicated in Columbia, South Carolina, and Detroit, Michigan. Also, ground was broken for the historically significant Nauvoo Illinois Temple and for the Birmingham Alabama Temple.

Columbia South Carolina Temple Dedicated

“The gospel was first preached here 160 years ago,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley during the 15–16 October dedication of the Columbia South Carolina Temple. “In the generations that have followed, hundreds and thousands of people have joined the Church. We have placed a temple here in Columbia because it’s the capital of the state and somewhat in the center of the state.”

Before the six dedicatory sessions were held, about 20,000 people viewed the temple during a public open house. President Hinckley was accompanied during the dedication by Elders Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy, President of the North America Southeast Area.

“We pray for Thy work in all the earth,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “We thank Thee for the faithful Saints, wherever they may be, whose tithes have made possible the construction of this temple. Shower down blessings upon them. Bless them with the good things of heaven and earth, with security and peace and love in their homes, with vitality and strength to do their work, and with great joy in their service in Thy Church and kingdom, whatever that service might be.”

Located in the southeastern outskirts of Columbia, the new temple has 11,700 square feet and serves about 40,000 members living in South Carolina and parts of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Detroit Michigan Temple Dedicated

President Hinckley participated in six dedicatory sessions for the Detroit Michigan Temple held 23–24 October. He was accompanied by Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, President of the North America Northeast Area. Before the dedication, about 28,000 people attended a public open house.

Stephen Mack, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s uncle, “surveyed the first road through what became Detroit,” President Hinckley noted. Speaking of members served today by the new Detroit Michigan Temple, President Hinckley said: “They have indicated that they’re so deeply grateful for this sacred structure, and we too are happy that it has been erected here and dedicated and that the work of the Lord now goes forward here in this part of the earth.”

“Bless all who enter these portals that they may be touched by the power of Thy Spirit,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “May their thoughts turn to Thee and to Thy Beloved Son, dwelling upon the things of eternity. May they serve herein with an eye single to Thy glory.”

Located in the suburb of Bloomfield Hills, the temple serves members in seven stakes and two districts in Michigan. The temple has two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms, and a total of 10,700 square feet.

“May this structure shine as a bright and welcome light, a refuge from the storms and stresses of the world,” continued President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “May it be a house of peace and love and faith, where Thy children may find respite from the toil of their daily lives.”

Nauvoo Temple Groundbreaking

“I’ve never seen anything that enlisted such excitement as this temple,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley at a groundbreaking ceremony held 24 October for the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.

Thousands of people, including several state and civic dignitaries, gathered for the ceremony on the three-acre block where the Nauvoo Temple was originally located. Also in attendance were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, President of the North America Northeast Area; and Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency.

The new temple “will be a thing of beauty and hopefully a joy forever,” President Hinckley said. The original five-story, 50,000-square-foot Nauvoo Temple was built in the early 1840s. After members abandoned Nauvoo due to persecution, the temple was partially destroyed by fire in October 1848 and later leveled by a tornado.

President Hinckley remarked that the outside of the structure will look much like the original temple and thanked donors.

In other temple news, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on 9 October for the Birmingham Alabama Temple.

[photo] The new Columbia South Carolina Temple serves members living in South Carolina and parts of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. (Photo by R. Scott Lloyd, Church News.)

[photo] Dedicated 23–24 October 1999, the Detroit Michigan Temple serves members living in seven stakes and two districts in Michigan. (Photo by Greg Hill, Church News.)

[photo] Thousands of people gathered to witness the groundbreaking for the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, which will be built on the site of the original Nauvoo Temple. (Photo by Greg Hill, Church News.)

President Hinckley Attends Preview of Joseph Smith Documentary

During October President Gordon B. Hinckley participated in a preview of a new PBS documentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith and dedicated the expanded Ernest L. Wilkinson Center at Brigham Young University in Provo.

Preview of American Prophet

“Look at what this young man did,” said President Hinckley at a 13 October preview in Washington, D.C., of American Prophet, a new PBS television documentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith that later premiered nationally on 26 November. “He represents to me a magnificent man who did a magnificent work. Joseph Smith’s lengthened shadow extends through all the history of this Church now and all across the world.”

About 300 people attended the preview, including diplomats from 22 countries, several members of Congress, and top business leaders. Also present were Elders Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Sheri L. Dew, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.

President Hinckley said, “I’m just delighted that those times of great stress and misunderstanding and persecution … have passed, that we live in a new age and in a new time when there is … respect and an eagerness to understand the great characters of the past.” He also said: “This Church has become the largest, the most vital, the most viable, the strongest religious organization to ever come forward on American soil. To me that is a very remarkable and interesting thing.”

On 15 October Elder Ballard participated in a preview of the documentary at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in South Royalton, Vermont. Also present were officials from Vermont Public Television, which was involved in the documentary’s production. The film, which was not Church sponsored, was produced and directed by Lee Groberg.

BYU Student Center Dedicated

On 5 October President Hinckley dedicated Brigham Young University’s enlarged and renovated Ernest L. Wilkinson Student Center following nearly four years of construction. President Hinckley was accompanied by Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who serves as commissioner of Church Education, and Elders Merrill J. Bateman and Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy. Elder Bateman serves as president of BYU.

“It has become a new and shining emblem of this great institution,” President Hinckley said about the student center. “Those who grind away at their studies need an occasional respite. They need a place of refuge. They need a place where they can enjoy the spirit of BYU. And this they will find within the walls of this great structure.”

Paying tribute to former BYU president Ernest L. Wilkinson, President Hinckley said: “I can honestly say that he brought scholarship to Brigham Young University with his constant insistence on the updating of the faculty and the strength of the student body. What we have here today is really an extension of that great shadow of Ernest L. Wilkinson which began back in those days. He had a great vision of the future.”

[photo] BYU’s newly expanded student center has rooms for 14 student wards, offices of various student services, and a movie theater, bowling alley, game room, and dining area. (Photo by Stuart Johnson, Deseret News.)

First Presidency Honors Retiring Tabernacle Choir Director

Following Jerold D. Ottley’s final broadcast conducting the Tabernacle Choir’s Music and the Spoken Word on 17 October, he was honored by the First Presidency in a presentation made by President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor. Brother Ottley retired in December from 25 years as Tabernacle Choir director, during which he participated in more than 1,250 broadcasts and concerts in 44 nations. His wife, JoAnn Ottley, has also retired as the Tabernacle Choir’s voice coach.

President Monson presented the Ottleys with plaques. In his tribute to the couple, he quoted D&C 25:12: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” He also spoke about violinist Nicolo Paganini (1782–1840), who after performing with someone else’s violin said, “Before today I thought the music was in the violin; today I learned that the music is in me.”

President Monson continued, “So it is with Jerry, with JoAnn, with the choir, and all who bring to us their gifts of God and their own inward feelings through their music.”

[photo] President Thomas S. Monson presents a plaque to retiring Tabernacle Choir director Jerold D. Ottley in appreciation for his 25 years of service. (Photo by Johanna Workman, Deseret News.)

New Scripture Maps Available

The Church has released two new full-color map and photo packages for use with LDS scriptures. The packages, titled Bible Maps and Photographs and Church History Chronology, Maps, and Photographs, will now be bound into copies of the Bible and Doctrine and Covenants printed by the Church. The packages can also be purchased as individual, self-contained booklets that can be easily inserted into previously published volumes of the scriptures.

Designed to help not only students but teachers of the gospel, the map and photo packages feature complete indexes of place names and detailed explanations—including scriptural references—of historical sites. The materials, which were compiled by a committee of Church scholars, also correlate with Church courses of instruction.

Bible Maps and Photographs

This map and photo package features 14 maps and 32 photos of Old and New Testament sites, travel routes, and regional boundaries. The maps, which cover large regions as well as detail smaller geographical areas, include:

  • Physical Map of the Holy Land

  • Israel’s Exodus from Egypt and Entry into Canaan

  • The Division of the 12 Tribes

  • The Empire of David and Solomon

  • The Assyrian Empire

  • The New Babylonian Empire (Nebuchadnezzar) and the Kingdom of Egypt

  • The Persian Empire

  • The Roman Empire

  • The World of the Old Testament

  • Canaan in Old Testament Times

  • The Holy Land in New Testament Times

  • Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus

  • The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul

  • Holy Land Elevations

The full-color photographs are of important sites in the lands where Jesus walked, where the biblical prophets lived and taught, and where many scriptural events took place. The photos include:

  • Nile River and Egypt

  • Mount Sinai (Horeb) and Sinai Wilderness

  • Judean Wilderness and Dead Sea

  • Kadesh-barnea

  • Tombs of the Patriarchs

  • Judean Hill Country

  • Bethlehem

  • Jerusalem

  • Temple of Herod

  • Steps to the Temple

  • Mount of Olives, Orson Hyde Park

  • Garden of Gethsemane

  • Golgotha

  • Garden Tomb

  • Jericho

  • Shiloh

  • Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

  • Dothan in Samaria

  • Caesarea and the Plain of Sharon to Carmel

  • Joppa

  • Jezreel Valley

  • Mount Tabor

  • Sea of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes

  • Capernaum

  • Jordan River

  • Caesarea Philippi

  • Nazareth

  • Dan

  • Athens

  • Corinth

  • Ephesus

  • Isle of Patmos

The Bible Maps and Photographs booklet may be ordered in four different sizes that correspond to standard LDS-edition scripture sizes: compact (4 1/2 by 6 inches) is item no. 36086; regular (5 1/4 by 7 1/4 inches) is item no. 36087; large (6 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches) is item no. 36088; and extra large (8 1/2 by 12 inches) is item no. 36089.

Church History Chronology, Maps, and Photographs

This map and photo package features a Church history chronology from 1805 to 1998 and 7 maps and 18 photos of 19th-century Church history sites and travel routes. The maps, which can help students and teachers better understand the scriptures revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors, include:

  • Northeastern United States

  • Palmyra-Manchester, 1820–31

  • The New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Area of the USA

  • Kirtland, Ohio, 1830–38

  • The Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa Area

  • The Westward Movement of the Church

  • Map of the World

The full-color photographs show important sites in the regions where early Latter-day Saints walked, where modern prophets have lived and taught, and where many scriptural events took place. The photos include:

  • Sacred Grove

  • Hill Cumorah and Manchester-Palmyra Area

  • Log House of Joseph Smith Sr.

  • Grandin Press and Print Shop

  • Susquehanna River

  • Peter Whitmer Sr. House

  • Newel K. Whitney and Company Store

  • John Johnson Home

  • Kirtland Temple

  • The Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman

  • Far West Temple Site

  • Liberty Jail

  • Mansion House in Nauvoo

  • Joseph Smith’s Red Brick Store

  • Nauvoo Temple

  • Carthage Jail

  • Exodus to the West

  • Salt Lake Temple

The Church History Chronology, Maps, and Photographs booklet may be ordered in four different sizes that correspond to standard LDS-edition scripture sizes: compact (4 1/2 by 6 inches) is item no. 36082; regular (5 1/4 by 7 1/4 inches) is item no. 36083; large (6 1/2 by 9 1/2 inches) is item no. 36084; and extra large (8 1/2 by 12 inches) is item no. 36085.

[map] This map of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus shows possible locations of Golgotha, Garden Tomb, Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, and other sites.

[map] The cross-sectional map shows Holy Land elevations. At the left is the Mediterranean Sea, and the low body of water near the center is the Dead Sea.

[map] This map of the Palmyra-Manchester area in 1820–31 shows the boundaries of counties and townships and locations of the Smith family log home, frame home, locale known as the Sacred Grove, Hill Cumorah, and other sites.

[photo] This photo is a contemporary view of the Manchester-Palmyra area. The wooded Hill Cumorah is located right of center.

[photos] Maps and photos © Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Policies and Announcements

Monday Night Activities

The First Presidency wrote the following letter dated 4 October 1999, addressed to members of the Church throughout the world, and bearing the instructions “To Be Discussed in Stake and Ward Councils, Read in Sacrament Meeting, and Delivered to Homes by Home Teachers.”

Monday nights are reserved throughout the Church for family home evenings. We encourage members to set aside this time to strengthen family ties and teach the gospel in their homes.

Earlier this year we called on parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. We also counseled parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities.

We urge members, where possible, to avoid holding receptions or other similar activities on Monday evenings. Where practical, members may also want to encourage community and school leaders to avoid scheduling activities on Monday evenings that require children or parents to be away from their homes.

Church buildings and facilities should be closed on Monday evenings. No ward or stake activities should be planned, and other interruptions to family home evenings should be avoided.

ZCMI Department Stores to Merge

The 14 ZCMI department stores in Utah and Idaho are the outgrowth of an early pioneer effort organized by President Brigham Young and known as the Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution. On 14 October the ZCMI Reserve Trust, a charitable trust of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that holds 51.7 percent of outstanding ZCMI stock, signed a merger agreement allowing May Department Stores Company to acquire the ZCMI chain.

During a transitional period while the ZCMI name remains in use, the department stores will not be open on Sundays. The May Company also agreed to keep the downtown Salt Lake City store permanently closed on Sundays, even after the ZCMI name is removed.

Church Provides Humanitarian Assistance

Flooding in Mexico

Heavy rains caused flooding and mud slides in southeastern Mexico during October. Although no members were among more than 350 people reported killed, more than 3,500 members were temporarily evacuated, about 730 homes of members were damaged or destroyed, and about 130 member families lost virtually all their possessions. Seven Church meetinghouses were used as shelters, and 12 meetinghouses were damaged by the flooding.

Local Church funds were used to purchase relief supplies for members, and Church humanitarian funds were used to buy food for distribution to people of other faiths. In addition, five truckloads of food, quilts, and other supplies were shipped to Mexico from Salt Lake City. Members in Mexico also donated clothing and food and were busy “like a beehive, sorting clothing, separating the food, packing boxes for babies, children, teenagers, and men and women,” said Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen of the Seventy, President of the Mexico North Area. “The response of the Saints has been fantastic.”

Quilts for Kosovo and Beyond

In response to an invitation by the Relief Society general presidency, members throughout the United States and Canada have made and donated more than 77,000 quilts to the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center for distribution to needy people.

Originally intended to assist war refugees in Kosovo during the coming winter, the quilts have also been sent to victims of more recent disasters in Mexico, Turkey, and other areas.

In voicing appreciation to Church members for their generous service, Church leaders say that the response exceeded identifiable need and there is no need for additional quilts at this time.

[photo] Bishop Mario Alarcón and his wife, Maria, who benefited from humanitarian assistance, stand in front of their flood-damaged home in Poza Rica, Mexico. (Photo by Garry R. Flake.)

[photo] More than 77,000 donated quilts have been gathered at the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center for distribution to the needy. (Photo by Marta Storwick, Deseret News.)


Louis Eugene Pascal Arhan of the Faripiti Ward, Papeete Tahiti Stake, has been called as president of the Papeete Tahiti Temple. His wife, Aroarii Tetara Turoa Arhan, will serve as temple matron.

E. A. John MacLennan of the Dartmouth Ward, Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake, has been called as president of the nearly completed Halifax Nova Scotia Temple. His wife, Janet R. L. Vaughan MacLennan, will serve as temple matron.

Stanley Stott of the Billings Sixth Ward, Billings Montana East Stake, has been called as president of the nearly completed Billings Montana Temple. His wife, Beverly J. Stone Stott, will serve as temple matron.

Extended Hours at the Washington D.C. Temple

The Washington D.C. Temple district includes 68 stakes from Maine to Virginia. To accommodate members from such a wide area, the temple presidency has kept the temple open continuously from Friday morning until Saturday evening for the past three years.

“It was a decision that we felt impressed to make so more members could attend,” said recently released temple president Earl J. Roueche.

New temples in Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio will reduce the Washington D.C. Temple district, but the overnight schedule is expected to continue. Of the temple’s approximate 3,000 weekly endowments, an average of about 275 are performed between the hours of 9:30 P.M. Friday and 5:30 A.M. Saturday.

“It’s hard, it’s very hard,” said President Roueche. “But there have been many personal answers to prayer and revelation, as well as a blessing of unity within the stakes.”

One of a large temple’s challenges is staffing all sessions, especially when the temple is open for extended hours. The Washington D.C. Temple has about 820 scheduled ordinance workers who work at least three shifts a month. The more distant stakes in the temple district make one or two temple trips a year, usually on weekends but sometimes for a week at a time. Often, visiting stakes will bring their own temple workers to assist stake members in performing ordinances.

The challenge of staffing overnight Friday-to-Saturday temple sessions has been met primarily by members of local wards, including singles wards, with help from members of visiting stakes. Saturday daytime shifts are staffed largely from local stakes.

Another challenge is to train temple workers in their duties. Training of new temple workers is normally performed by experienced workers from Washington D.C.–area stakes. President Roueche said that if volunteers are motivated, they can learn the duties of temple workers very well.

“Temple work is a spiritual opportunity that makes friendships,” said President Roueche. “Much personal spiritual growth comes from giving of one’s time to serve in the temple.”

Anne J. Nielsen is a member of the Visalia Fifth Branch, Visalia California Stake.


Becoming Part of the Fold

After reading “Becoming Part of the Fold” in the June 1999 issue, I just had to comment about something that happened to me. I was new in the Church, and I decided to go on a baptism trip up to the Chicago temple. I remember my home teacher, Brother Richard Armstrong, went along too. On the trip from Indianapolis, he talked about a lot of Church doctrines and tried to prepare me for doing baptisms for the dead.

Thanks to people like Brother Armstrong, I am still active in the Church and am very thankful to our Heavenly Father for bringing the truth to my children, me, and also my husband.

Elaina Moyer Hazen Columbus, Ohio

General Conference Index

Just a thanks for the general conference index, which I use on the bus as I ride. For several years now, I’ve been circling the page numbers of the topics I want to review. During my travel I look back and find the topics discussed in the talks and study them. I feel I have benefitted more from these inspired words by using the conference issue index.

Malcolm Koch Bountiful, Utah

I Can Never Just Preview

I have often delighted in the magnificence of the Ensign. I can never just preview it without reading two or three articles in the process. And I marvel at the fine quality of the pictures and unique and inspiring layouts. They deeply touch my soul. I thank the Church for this great gift to us all.

Kathy Bikker Colorado Springs, Colorado

“Light of the World”

Thank you for the painting “The Light of the World” by Greg K. Olsen on the January 1999 Ensign cover. I am looking at a smiling Savior, a Christ whose face expresses a fatherly love. I see a Lord beholding the beauty of His own creations and marveling at the intelligence of His Father who taught Him. I see what is revealed in the scriptures, a Christ with a subtle sense of humor, one of His gifts that He no doubt used to draw listeners.

I have seen portraits of Christ smiling at little children but never at the world, and why should He not smile at me? With all my wrinkles and gray hair, at 74 I am still his little child, needing tender instruction. This portrait reminds me that though I am far from perfect, through His great understanding, forgiveness, and patience my Savior is pleased at my meager attempts to become like Him.

His smile is very encouraging. It is saying, “My child, I know you can do it.”

Florence Hutchins Winston-Salem, North Carolina