Three Temples Dedicated in North America

During November 1999, new temples were dedicated in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Regina, Saskatchewan; and Billings, Montana. Also, ground was recently broken for the Winter Quarters and Perth Australia Temples. As of 30 November 1999, the Church had 66 operating temples, 43 temples under construction, and 6 announced temples for which ground was not yet broken, for a total of 115 temples.

Halifax Nova Scotia Temple

“We pray that those who view it from the outside may recognize it as a place of holiness, dedicated unto Thee,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer for the Halifax Nova Scotia Temple on Sunday, 14 November.

Accompanying President Hinckley during three dedicatory sessions and the cornerstone ceremony were Elder David E. Sorensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Northeast Area. Before the dedication, about 8,100 people visited the temple during a public open house.

“We thank Thee for the ordinances to be performed herein,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “Thou hast revealed these in this dispensation of the fulness of times for the blessing of Thy sons and daughters of all generations. All of these ordinances bespeak our testimony of the eternity of life and of Thy grand and sacred plan for Thy children, that they might move forward on the way of immortality and eternal life made possible through the atoning sacrifice of Thy Beloved Son.”

Located near the intersection of Cole Harbour Road and Cumberland Drive in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the temple has two ordinance rooms, two sealing rooms, and 10,400 square feet. The temple district includes the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake, Saint John New Brunswick Stake, New Glasgow Nova Scotia District, and mission branches in Newfoundland.

Regina Saskatchewan Temple

For the first time in Church history, two temples were dedicated on the same day. While President Hinckley was dedicating the Nova Scotia temple on 14 November, President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was dedicating the Regina Saskatchewan Temple. President Hinckley was originally scheduled to dedicate the Regina temple on 13 November, but transportation problems caused a change in plans.

President Packer was accompanied by Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency, and Elder Blair S. Bennett, an Area Authority Seventy. A total of about 2,000 members attended the three temple dedicatory sessions. After the dedication, President Packer said, “The Spirit of the Lord was present in great abundance.”

Prior to the dedication, about 8,400 people toured the temple during a public open house. Because a truckers’ strike delayed delivery of exterior construction materials, large sections of granite were still being placed the night before the dedication. The day before the dedication, about 100 members and missionaries laid 18,000 square feet of sod, planted trees, and raised the granite sign in front of the temple.

The temple district covers a 252,000-square-mile area in central Canada that has a population of about one million people, about 4,500 of whom are Church members.

Billings Montana Temple

“Bless those who have worked so long and diligently in the face of opposition to obtain the necessary permits and to erect this sacred temple,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer for the Billings Montana Temple. “May a glad acceptance now prevail concerning it, even a sense of gratitude for its presence. We pray that this area, in fact this whole city, may feel the Spirit that emanates from this hallowed structure.”

Accompanying President Hinckley during eight dedicatory sessions held 20–21 November were President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency. More than 12,000 members participated in the dedicatory sessions, and some 68,450 people attended the temple’s open house.

With 33,800 square feet, the Billings Montana Temple includes a cafeteria, laundry facilities, brides’ room, chapel, and clothing rental desk. The temple serves about 35,000 members living in eight stakes in Montana and five stakes in Wyoming.

“Our hearts are filled with gratitude,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “Thou hast smiled with favor upon us. Thou hast multiplied our blessings.”

[photo] The Halifax Nova Scotia Temple serves members living in eastern Canada’s Maritime Provinces. (Photo by Shaun D. Stahle, Church News.)

[photo] President Boyd K. Packer (right) led dedicatory activities for the Regina Saskatchewan Temple. With him were, left to right, Elder Blair S. Bennett, an Area Authority Seventy, and Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy. (Photo by Janet Kruckenberg.)

[photo] The Billings Montana Temple stands in bright contrast to the nearby Rimrock cliffs. (Photo by Greg Hill, Church News.)

First Presidency Christmas Devotional

“At this most delightful time of the year, our hearts soften a little, we are a little kinder, a little more humble, a little more thoughtful of the wonderful things of life and of the marvelous things which God has given to us through the gift of His own Beloved Son,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley at the annual First Presidency Christmas devotional, held 5 December 1999 in the Tabernacle on Temple Square and transmitted via the Internet and Church satellite system and rebroadcast on KBYU-TV.

President Hinckley quoted several passages from a book by Charles Dickens titled The Life of Our Lord, “written expressly for his children” and first published in 1934. “‘Remember!—It is christianity TO DO GOOD always—even to those who do evil to us. It is christianity to love our neighbour as ourself, and to do to all men as we would have them do to us. It is christianity to be gentle, merciful, and forgiving, and to keep those qualities quiet in our own hearts, and never make a boast of them, or of our prayers or of our love of God, but always to shew that we love Him by humbly trying to do right in everything. If we do this, and remember the life and lessons of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and try to act up to them, we may confidently hope that God will forgive us our sins and mistakes, and enable us to live and die in Peace’” (124, 127; capitalization as in original).

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ.” He told a story about a family who, despite their own financial hardship, wanted to help others. “As Christmas approached, the father received a call from the bishop of his ward, asking if he would consider helping deliver Christmas packages for the poor in the ward since he had a station wagon which could haul many gifts. The father said that of course he would help. After he hung up the phone, he realized that his station wagon contained but very little gasoline and that he didn’t have any cash to buy more. He called the family together to see what they might suggest. They decided to collect pop bottles and aluminum cans in the surrounding area and then to sell them to buy gasoline. Out they went, succeeding in their endeavor.

“The father went to the ward on the appointed evening prior to Christmas, and other ward members proceeded to fill his station wagon with gifts and food for the poor in the area. When his car was ready to go, the bishop handed the delivery list to the father. On the list the father read only one name—his own!”

To illustrate the importance of gifts of love, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, told of a childhood experience. “Christmas morning came, and I was greatly disappointed to find that my parents had given me a ring. It had no precious stone but was beautiful in its simplicity. It had been made especially for me, but it was certainly not what I wanted.” The ring was soon forgotten and misplaced.

“As I grew older and my feelings for my parents matured,” President Faust continued, “I began to regret my actions. Now, with both my parents gone, I wish I had that specially made ring, which my parents had given to me as a token of their love. If I had it now, it would be a treasured heirloom that I would like to pass on to one of my grandsons.”

President Faust also said: “This Christmas is historic. It marks the last celebration of His birth in the second thousand years since that transcendent event occurred. We now eagerly enter a new millennium of hope and challenge led by our great prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. There is great promise in the future. Following the Savior’s teachings will sustain us now and in the future as it has in the past. The divine gifts of the Atonement and the Resurrection and the power of the priesthood will permit us as individuals to be joined into families and thereby, if we are worthy, to have eternal happiness together.”

[photo] Photo by Jed Clark

[photo] Members look on at the annual First Presidency Christmas devotional in the Tabernacle.

“Do It with a Glad Heart,” President Hinckley Advises

During November 1999 President Gordon B. Hinckley received a regional Communicator of the Year award and spoke to nearly 20,000 listeners at Brigham Young University’s Marriott Center.

“We are the beneficiaries of the visions and the dreams, the labors and the sacrifices of all who have gone before us,” said President Hinckley during the BYU devotional on 30 November. He urged listeners “not to become a weak link in the chain of your generations.”

He continued: “Your children will have children, as will the children who come after them. Life is a great chain of generations that we in the Church believe must be linked together.” He also said, “It is so important that we pass on without a blemish our inheritance of body and brain and … faith and virtue, untarnished, to the generations who will come after us.”

President Hinckley advised listeners not to seek positions in the Church. Rather, he said, members should live faithfully and serve as well as they can in whatever opportunities come their way. “Do whatever you are asked to do, and do it with a glad heart,” he said.

Church Participates in World Congress of Families

Several Church leaders, some Brigham Young University professors, and other Latter-day Saints participated in the second World Congress of Families held 14–17 November at the United Nations complex and nearby facilities in Geneva, Switzerland. Church leaders attending the conference included Elders Charles Didier and Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy, Relief Society general president Mary Ellen Smoot, and Young Women general president Margaret D. Nadauld. The congress was cosponsored by a BYU-based organization called the World Family Policy Center. Elder Hafen and Sisters Smoot and Nadauld were among the speakers.

Involving some 1,575 scholars and religious leaders representing 45 nations and more than 200 pro-family organizations, the congress unanimously called on “all persons, families, social organizations, and governments throughout the world to respect and uphold the institution of the natural human family.”

Describing the congress, Elder Hafen said, “So many groups who feel like small minorities in their own countries were able to come together, see one another, be reinforced, share ideas, and go home much better equipped to address the problems that their own communities and countries face.” He added: “People there from small groups in faraway places could see the strength of the Church. We have our share of family problems, but people don’t often see a large [worldwide] group like the Latter-day Saints who really are trying hard to practice the family ideals most of these delegates believe in.”

Addressing the Congress

In his address about the influence of women, Elder Hafen discussed how modern society has devalued female nurturing. He said critics of the Victorian model of motherhood, which views “women as excessively dependent upon their husbands,” have a point. But “today’s liberationist model goes too far the other way, stereotyping women as excessively independent of their families. A more sensible view is that husbands and wives are interdependent with each other.”

Sister Smoot offered several suggestions to strengthen families. “Our communities would be well served if legislators would consider the merits of all proposed laws in light of their potential effect on families. As leaders we can guard against legislation that erodes the foundation of the family by taking an active role in working with legislators as they form our laws.” She also said, “Marriage and raising children are not only the beginning of strong families, they are key to keeping our nations vital and strong.”

Sister Nadauld emphasized good parenting: “We must teach and model that happiness and security come in families with a father and mother who are married and committed to each other, committed to nurturing children and raising them to be caring, productive adults.” She also said: “There is no viable substitute for the traditional moral values that keep families strong. Encourage youth to develop religious faith, to acquire fine educations, to understand the relationship between choice and accountability, to do good works, and to live lives of integrity. They must know that they are responsible for the nurture and stability of future families, not government or agencies.”

[photo] At the second World Congress of Families in Geneva, Switzerland, Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy (center) participated alongside others. (Photo by Carrie A. Moore, Deseret News.)

Pioneers in the Bahamas

The Bahamas are a cluster of more than 700 islands, 30 inhabited, that begin about 60 miles off the southeastern coast of the United States and stretch into the Atlantic Ocean.

The population of the Bahamas has largely English, American, and African origins; however, in recent years a large number of Haitians have come to the Bahamas in search of a better life. English is the official language, but the Haitian population speaks Creole or French.

Two Latter-day Saint families, the McCombs and the Ballards, organized a small branch in 1979. It was not until 1985, however, that full-time missionaries arrived.

First Known Baptism

Clarence E. Newry Jr., the first Bahamian to be baptized a member of the Church and presently serving as branch president, joined 21 years ago as a student living in Utah. He discovered that his roommate was a less-active member, so when Brother Newry wanted to attend a Church meeting, he insisted that his roommate get up and take him there. He was introduced to the missionaries.

“I wanted to know: Where did I come from? Where am I going? Where did Christ go after His death?” says Brother Newry. When the missionaries answered his questions, Brother Newry said, “Now I know your church is true.”

Brother Newry returned to the Bahamas, where he continued to live the gospel. A good friend, Antoinette Russell, asked to attend church with him. The two were married in March 1997 in the Orlando Florida Temple.

Early Converts

Antoine and Leona Ferrier were introduced to the gospel by Alexander Paul, then the Haitian Consul General stationed in Nassau, who was also learning about the Church. The Ferriers joined the Church in 1978, and Brother Paul in 1980. When the first branch was organized, Antoine Ferrier served as branch president and Leona as Relief Society president, callings they held for many years.

The first Bahamian national to serve a mission was Keith Dean, who joined the Church while attending Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus. Today he and his wife, Winnie, and their children attend the New Providence Branch.

Another diligent member is Talma “John” Bastian. Born in Haiti, Brother Bastian, in his 80s, was introduced to the gospel by Antoine Ferrier. Despite his advanced age, he continues to help with the upkeep of the meetinghouse and grounds.

One of the stalwarts of the New Providence Branch is Willamae Kemp. Sister Kemp began attending the branch over 20 years ago when the Ferriers invited her to a meeting. Sister Kemp serves as Relief Society president.

A Detective Investigates

As a detective inspector in the police force, Edward Smith wanted to learn Creole to help him communicate with the sizable Haitian population. He began attending free classes in Creole taught by Brother Ferrier. In appreciation for the language classes, Brother Smith decided to attend a Church meeting. “It was friendly and warm there,” remembers Brother Smith. “I felt at home from day one.” He noticed Sunday School class members used another book, the Book of Mormon, along with the Bible. He asked how he could get one and met the missionaries.

Over a period of time, Brother Smith prayed, attended church, and studied the gospel. One day, he recalls, “I was reading the scriptures and had this feeling of warmth. I knew this was the church I had been looking for. This Church is where I want to be no matter what happens in my life.”

Brother Smith and his wife, Claudina, became the first Bahamian couple to have their marriage sealed in the temple.

Today the Church continues to be a force for good. The members have a great desire to see the work expand in their islands. As true pioneers, they have dedicated their lives to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In their faces is reflected much of the beauty of the Bahamas.

Number of members: About 440

Branches: 1

Organized: January 1981

Mission: Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission

Dedicated for missionary work: 20 November 1997 by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Missionaries serving from area: 4

Meetinghouses: 1

Seminary/Institute students: 9

Temple district: Orlando Florida

[photos] Photography by Janet Thomas, except as noted

[photos] The Bahamas are known for their tropical beauty. Clarence E. Newry Jr. (inset) was the first known Bahamian to be baptized.

[photo] Antoine Ferrier became the first Bahamian branch president and his wife, Leona, became the first Relief Society president. (Photo by Julia Tod.)

[photo] Willamae Kemp

Janet Thomas is assistant managing editor of the New Era.

New Temples Booklet

“One of the distinctive doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its teaching concerning the great significance of temples and the lasting consequences of what occurs there,” states the introduction to the Church’s new Temples booklet (item no. 02358), which replaces an earlier version. “This booklet is published to provide helpful information about temples and their overarching importance to members of the Church.”

With 80 pages of full-color photos and illustrations, the booklet features articles by General Authorities on topics ranging from the purpose and history of temples to the doctrines of salvation for the dead. Articles also include personal accounts of the impact of temple service, temple perspectives for children and youth, and answers to commonly asked questions about the temple. Copies of the new Temples booklet may be purchased through Church distribution centers.

Music Submissions Invited

To encourage musical talent and bring new musical works to light, the Church invites members age 18 and older to submit original works of Church-oriented music annually. This year’s submissions must be postmarked by 31 March 2000.

The general music category includes five types of music: songs, children’s songs, hymns, anthems or hymn arrangements, and instrumental and other. The hymn text category focuses on lyrics patterned after traditional hymns. The Relief Society music category focuses on songs suitable for use by Relief Society choirs. An individual may submit only one item annually in each category.

Each submission should include a handwritten or computer-generated copy of the text itself and the text and music together. Submissions will not be returned. Please do not send tapes. For the general music category, write the name of the type of music in parentheses beneath the title of the entry. Composer names must not appear on the actual submission, but please include the following statement on a separate, 8.5-by-11-inch sheet: “The work submitted, titled [insert title], is my original work, is owned by me, and conforms to the submission rules.” Sign the statement and type or print your name, address, telephone number, and, if you are a U.S. citizen, your Social Security number. Acceptance of an award grants the Church nonexclusive, perpetual license for unlimited use, and submissions are subject to editorial changes. For a more detailed description of submission instructions and requirements, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the address below.

Submissions should be mailed to Church Music Submission, 20th Floor, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150-6070. If verification of receipt is desired, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard.

Family History Product Update

FamilySearch™ Internet Genealogy Service

Recently 240 million new names were added to the Church’s FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service located at Users of FamilySearch can now access more than 640 million total entries. The new addition represents data gathered mainly from Europe, Scandinavia, and Mexico.

Other improvements have recently been made to the Web site. Searching capabilities for specific events, dates, and places have been improved. More information and links are available to help identify sources for entries found on the International Genealogical Index.

In addition, FamilySearch users can now download GEDCOM files from Ancestral File or the International Genealogical Index to add to their individual family history database. (GEDCOM is a genealogy file format recognized by most computers.) This new capability allows a user to download information from FamilySearch directly to a computer drive or floppy disk, whereas previously a user could only print the information.

Personal Ancestral File 4.0

Personal Ancestral File 4.0 is a software program that allows individuals to organize their family history information and identify names to take to the temple. Since PAF 4.0 was made available last summer for free on the Internet, more than 300,000 people have downloaded it from the Church’s FamilySearch site. The program is also available on compact disc for $5.00 (U.S., item no. 77062000) from Church distribution outlets.

Late in 1999 a Spanish version of Personal Ancestral File was released, and the program will soon be available in French, German, and Portuguese. All language versions will be available for free download from FamilySearch Internet and on compact disc for $5.00 (U.S.).

Pedigree Resource File

Pedigree Resource File is a new lineage-linked database on compact disc. It contains family history records submitted by individuals through FamilySearch at the rate of about 1.2 million names per month.

On Pedigree Resource File discs, family information is organized in family groups and pedigrees similar to the Ancestral File format. However, Pedigree Resource File displays each submitter’s information exactly as it was submitted, not combined with information from other submitters. Notes and sources can also be included.

Each Pedigree Resource File disc contains over one million names. A new compact disc is published whenever enough information has been submitted to fill the disc. With the publication of every five discs, a master index for those discs is packaged with that set. Discs may be purchased individually or as sets. Eventually a master index for all Pedigree Resource File discs will be maintained on FamilySearch Internet.

Pedigree Resource File is available for $5.00 (U.S.) per compact disc or $15.00 (U.S.) per five-disc set and index through local Church distribution outlets. It can also be ordered through FamilySearch Internet.

[photo] The Church’s FamilySearch Web site offers access to more than 640 million names and new flexibility in downloading information.

[photo] Family history names and software are available on several new CDs.

Policies and Announcements

Temple Clothing

The First Presidency sent the following letter, dated 1 November 1999, to be read aloud in sacrament meetings in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

Response to the encouragement for all endowed members to have their own temple clothing and to use it when performing temple ordinances has been significant. In some cases, attempts to purchase temple clothing have been unsuccessful because of depleted inventories. These inventories are now restocked. Those members who have been waiting patiently for the backlog to subside may now make their purchases at Church distribution outlets.

We are grateful for the desire of Church members to procure their own temple clothing. The preparation and care of one’s own temple clothing will enhance the feeling of reverence and gratitude for this sacred work. In addition, as members continue to purchase their own clothing, the need for rental clothing will decrease.

Church Agency Renamed LDS Family Services

The Church’s General Welfare Committee has approved a name change for LDS Social Services. The agency is now identified as LDS Family Services.

“This name change will help us emphasize our goal to strengthen families through our adoption and family counseling programs,” says Harold C. Brown, managing director of the Church’s Welfare Services Department and chairman of the board of trustees for LDS Family Services. “The name LDS Family Services is more descriptive of the services we deliver and the philosophy we embrace as we work with ecclesiastical leaders and members. More important, it furthers our focus on helping clients adhere to gospel principles and covenants that pertain to the eternal nature of the family.”


When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction

Thanks for the excellent article by A. Dean Byrd in the September 1999 issue titled “When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction.” The article clearly explained the Church’s position on homosexuality, its cause, how it can be overcome, and what loved ones can do to help people overcome that problem. The Church continues to come out strongly in opposition to same-sex marriages and has published another definitive article in the Ensign.

David E. Richardson Salt Lake City

I was grateful to read, “If your loved one is not already married, do not encourage him or her to marry as a ‘cure’ for homosexuality.” If only my ex-husband had heeded that, we would not be going through the nightmare of divorce.

I was active in the Church, attended the temple, and stayed chaste, but I was not protected from the bad things that can happen in this life. I couldn’t understand why the Lord allowed this to happen to me, but I now realize He gives everyone agency and sometimes that means some of us get hurt along the way. I now understand the Atonement more than I ever did. The Lord comforted my soul in times of sorrow.

Name Withheld

But What Was Best for the Baby?

I wanted to write you concerning a recent article titled “But What Was Best for the Baby?” (July 1999). Just about the time the article came out, I had been working with a young LDS birth mother who was having great difficulty making a decision about what she should do concerning an unplanned pregnancy. The young woman’s mother read this article, then she left the magazine where her daughter would see it. The young mother read the article and was so impressed that she instigated a conversation with her mother. Both were impressed that the article was an answer to their prayers, and an appointment with the caseworker was arranged. The birth mother shortly thereafter selected a family and started writing to them in preparation for an adoptive placement.

In my work with young people who face unplanned pregnancy, I find it vital that they study the inspired counsel given by the First Presidency to priesthood leaders in a letter dated 15 June 1998 (see “Policies and Announcements,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 80). This counsel helps young people understand the reason adoption is encouraged.

Michael R. Blair Director, Ohio Agency, LDS Family Services