New General Authorities Called, Six New Temples Announced
While the new Conference Center was the focus of much attention during the 170th Annual General Conference, it could not overshadow other indicators of spiritual growth and progress in the Church. Two members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were sustained to the First Quorum, two other men were called and sustained to that quorum, and five Brethren were sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. In addition, 39 new Area Authority Seventies were sustained, and plans were announced for six new temples.
Elder Lance B. Wickman and Elder Lynn G. Robbins were sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy during the Saturday afternoon session. Elder Wickman, a lawyer who serves as the Church’s general counsel, was sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on 2 April 1994. Elder Robbins, a businessman before being called to full-time Church service, had been serving in the Second Quorum of the Seventy since 5 April 1997.
Also sustained as new members of the First Quorum were Elder Donald L. Hallstrom and Elder Ronald A. Rasband. Sustained as new members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were Elder Douglas L. Callister, Elder Darwin B. Christenson, Elder Keith Crockett, Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie, and Elder Robert C. Oaks. (See accompanying biographical articles.)
The 39 new Area Authority Seventies are from throughout the world: 16 from the United States; 4 each from Brazil and the Philippines; 3 each from Colombia and Mexico; and 1 each from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Guatemala, Japan, Peru, Sweden, and Tahiti.
During his closing remarks on Sunday afternoon, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that new temples will be built in Aba, Nigeria; Asunción, Paraguay; Helsinki, Finland; Lubbock, Texas; Snowflake, Arizona; and the Tri-Cities area of central Washington state.
Following the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions of conference, many Church members were able to enjoy a video production titled Special Witnesses of Christ, in which members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared their testimonies of the Savior. Their testimonies were recorded in Salt Lake City, at other Church historic sites, and in the Holy Land. Special Witnesses of Christ was broadcast on KSL Television in the Salt Lake City area and via satellite at stake centers in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It will be translated into 26 languages.
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom
Honolulu, Hawaii, has been the home of Donald L. Hallstrom since his birth there on 27 July 1949 to James E. and Betty Jo Lambert Hallstrom. In fact, he grew up next to the Honolulu Stake Tabernacle, where he later became stake president.
“My brother, sisters, and I were encouraged to be successful in all aspects of our lives,” says Elder Hallstrom, “but everything was secondary to the gospel.”
From 1969 to 1971 he served in the England Central Mission. “My mission set the pattern for the rest of my life,” he says. “It was a time when everything I had learned at home and been taught previously came together and was turned completely outward in service to other people. It was a joyful experience.”
Upon returning from his mission, he attended Brigham Young University, where he met Diane Clifton of southern Alberta, Canada. They married on 22 July 1972 in the Cardston Alberta Temple and are the parents of four children.
In 1973 Elder Hallstrom graduated with a B.A. in economics and returned to Hawaii. For the last 20 years, he has worked in real estate consulting as president of his own company, which does valuation and market studies.
Of his family he says, “We have always kept sacred such things as family prayer, family home evening, and family scripture study. We love being together as a family. Every summer we’ve had significant blessings by taking family vacations to Church history sites and other places throughout the United States.”
Before being called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Hallstrom was called as an Area Authority in 1995 and as an Area Authority Seventy in 1997. He previously served as a bishop, stake president, and regional representative.
“My opportunities to serve have always brought enormous joy, so they have never been a burden to me,” he says. “Using the gospel to help my family and other people is what keeps my testimony growing.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
“Family, Church, and career—these three threads of my life have always been intertwined,” says Elder Ronald A. Rasband, father of five, recently returned mission president, and former president and chief operations officer of Huntsman Chemical Corporation. “I’ve always tried to do my best with each one.”
Currently a resident of Sandy, Utah, Elder Rasband was born on 6 February 1951 in Salt Lake City to Rulon and Verda Rasband. He served in the Eastern States Mission from 1970 to 1972, spending much of his time in New York City. Afterward, he attended the University of Utah, where he met his wife, Melanie Twitchell.
They were married on 4 September 1973 in the Salt Lake Temple. Soon, he was attending college full time and working full time while he and his wife raised their young family. In their university stake, he met Jon Huntsman, who was on the high council. The following year, Brother Rasband began working for the company that eventually became Huntsman Chemical Corporation. During the next 20 years, he had responsibilities for businesses throughout the world, including in Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia.
“The Lord has put in my path great men who have been mentors to me,” he says. “They have had a huge influence on my life.”
In 1996 Elder Rasband returned to New York City as president of the New York New York North Mission. “My greatest growth as a Church leader came during those years,” he says. “The Lord really schooled me in doctrine and humility.”
Out of a desire to be with his children and give them experience, Elder Rasband rotated taking one of them with him to sacrament meetings when he served as bishop of a student ward at the University of Utah as well as when he made international business trips.
Prior to his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Rasband served on the Church’s Member-Missionary Advisory Committee.
“My testimony has come as the result of a lifetime of many special experiences,” Elder Rasband says. “I look forward to serving the Lord in whatever capacity I can.”
Elder Douglas L. Callister
As he was growing up, Douglas L. Callister often accompanied his father and grandfather as they fulfilled Church assignments such as visiting members, presiding at meetings, or speaking at firesides. “They wanted their posterity to see them in the context of honoring the priesthood,” says Elder Callister, “and as we drove to and from their assignments, they would always share their experience and testimony with me.”
That caring tutelage has played an important role in preparing Elder Callister to serve in the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “A life-altering experience for me,” says Elder Callister, “was that training that came from those generations of family members who were willing to teach me.” Elder Callister continues to teach his own posterity just as his father and grandfather taught him.
Born in Glendale, California, to Reed E. Callister and Norinne Richards Callister on 17 February 1939, Elder Callister says he can’t remember a time when he didn’t have a testimony. Because of that testimony, Elder Callister has always placed the gospel and his family first, even as he pursued degrees at Brigham Young University, the University of Southern California, and Harvard and operated his own law firm. “The gospel has never been an appendage to my life—it has been my life,” he says. “Professional pursuits were the appendage.”
Elder Callister has served as bishop, stake president, mission president, seminary teacher, Young Men president, temple sealer, regional representative, and Area Authority Seventy.
He met his future wife, Jeannette McKibben, at a young adult dance shortly after serving in the Switzerland Mission. “I thought very highly of her, not only because she was beautiful, but also because she was sensitive to the needs of others,” he says. The Callisters were married in 1962 in the Los Angeles Temple and now have 6 children and 11 grandchildren. Their home is in La Cañada, California.
Elder Callister feels humbled yet grateful for the opportunity to serve as a witness of the Savior. “This is a special responsibility to bear witness of the name of Jesus Christ to the nations of the world. I wish to always do that very humbly and with dignity.”
Elder Darwin B. Christenson
Elder Darwin B. Christenson, a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, says that experiences with his children have strengthened his testimony of the gospel, the eternal family, and the power of the priesthood. Not long after he and his wife went through the heartbreak of losing a baby shortly after birth, their next child, Stephen, was born prematurely. Because the baby’s lungs were underdeveloped, doctors gave him a 50 percent chance of surviving.
Elder Christenson and the family’s home teacher gave the tiny infant a blessing as he lay in a hospital incubator, surrounded by tubes and medical equipment. Afterward, says Elder Christenson, “I told my wife not to worry; he was going to be OK.” The next morning, true to the impression Elder Christenson had received, Stephen showed marked improvement. Today, he himself is the father of three boys.
A native of Idaho, Elder Christenson was born in Firth on 11 August 1935 and grew up in Blackfoot.
On 19 January 1962, two years after returning from the Brazilian Mission, he married Sandra Joelene Lyon in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. They are the parents of 4 children, 3 of them living, and have 10 grandchildren.
Elder Christenson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Idaho State University. After graduation, he worked for the Idaho State Tax Commission and the tax division of the Church Finance Department. In 1981 he returned with Sister Christenson to Brazil, this time as president of the Brazil São Paulo North Mission. “We had marvelous experiences there,” he recalls. “We often witnessed the protection the Lord gave our missionaries, and we saw many of them learn to become very reliant on the Spirit.” Elder Christenson has also served as a bishop, high councilor, counselor in two stake presidencies, and temple recorder at the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple.
“The Church is the center of our lives,” says Elder Christenson. “We love the Lord, we love the gospel, and we love the members of the Church. It’s an overwhelming blessing to be able to provide service and be with the members as part of this calling.”
Elder Keith Crockett
“I’m just a plain old farm boy who grew up milking cows and driving tractors,” Elder Crockett says of himself, but his lifetime of teaching the gospel and serving in the priesthood reveals a man who is deeply dedicated to the kingdom of God.
Elder Crockett was born on 15 January 1934 and grew up in Pima, Arizona, a rural community founded by LDS pioneers. His parents, Wilford W. Crockett III and Jacy Boggs Crockett, were strong in the gospel and taught him righteous principles. One time when he wanted to go to a dance instead of fulfilling a Church responsibility, his father said, “A man who can’t be depended on isn’t worth anything.” From then on Elder Crockett determined to do whatever he was assigned in the Church, from Primary teacher to stake president to mission president.
Following his mission to Uruguay he attended Eastern Arizona College. After graduating from the University of Arizona, his first job was teaching high school music. When he saw that the football coach needed help, he offered to help teach the players some football fundamentals if the coach would send all the boys to chorus. The deal worked, and the football team and chorus enjoyed much success. “I loved working with those kids,” Elder Crockett says. One of them later became his medical doctor.
After a career of 34 years with the Church Educational System in Mesa, Tempe, Flagstaff, and Thatcher, Arizona, he retired four years ago and resides in Pima, just a quarter-mile from his birthplace.
Elder Crockett married Kathleen McBride, the daughter of Herald and Fay Nelson McBride, in the Mesa Arizona Temple on 5 September 1957. They have 6 children and 22 grandchildren. He particularly enjoys and looks forward to the family reunions he and his wife host every other year.
“I have always had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Crockett says. “As I have listened to the Brethren, I have said to myself, ‘I know that is true. I want to share it with others so they can feel the way I feel.’” As a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, he is looking forward to the many opportunities he will have to do that.
Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie
In March 1958, while serving as one of the first missionaries in the West Spanish-American Mission, Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie had an experience that profoundly affected his life. Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve had been assigned to formally organize the mission, and the young Elder Gillespie, a newly called second counselor in the mission presidency, was given the opportunity to be his “chauffeur, roommate, and companion” for approximately two weeks.
“Elder Kimball had special spiritual capacities that touched my heart and influenced my opinion of what life should be and how I should live it,” Elder Gillespie recalls. “My concept of what man should be, what families should be, and how people should conduct themselves was greatly amplified in that brief time.”
Born on 22 May 1935 in Riverside, California, he spent his youth in Utah. He and his wife, Virginia Ann Larsen of Manti, Utah, were married on 18 July 1958 in the Manti Utah Temple.
The following years were full ones, with Brother Gillespie earning advanced college degrees and serving in various Church leadership callings while working so that Sister Gillespie could be at home with their children.
“Those days were poor days, but Heavenly Father supported us,” says Elder Gillespie. “We had faith that if we went ahead and had children, the way would be provided for us to have what we needed—and it was.”
Elder Gillespie earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Utah State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. For several years he was a professor at the University of Oklahoma, then served for 17 years as the director of the Transportation Safety Institute for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Oklahoma City. A former bishop, stake president, regional representative, and patriarch, he was serving as president of the México Tampico Mission at the time of his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. He and his wife have 5 children and 14 grandchildren.
“We both love the Lord very much and feel deeply indebted for the many rich blessings we have received,” says Elder Gillespie.
Elder Robert C. Oaks
“After 35 years of life in the military and traveling around the world, I have a deep appreciation for the promises of the Book of Mormon on freedom,” says Elder Robert C. Oaks, recently called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. A retired four-star general who commanded the U.S. air forces in Europe (1990–94), he has come to cherish human liberty. “Being in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” he remembers, “I was impressed by how critical freedom is, how absolutely necessary it is for people to be able to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Born on 14 February 1936 to Charles and Ann Oaks in Los Angeles, California, Robert grew up an active Church member in Provo, Utah. He entered the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado when it was new, and in 1959 he was in the first class to graduate from that institution. From there he gained further military training and experience, also earning a master’s degree in business administration from The Ohio State University.
As part of his military service, Brother Oaks flew several combat missions in Vietnam. During one of those missions his plane was shot down, but he was soon rescued by an army helicopter pilot.
In 1994 he was employed by U.S. Airways, eventually becoming senior vice president of operations there. He retired in 1998.
Elder Oaks and his wife, the former Gloria Mae Unger, whom he married in the Salt Lake Temple in June 1959, are the parents of 6 children and the grandparents of 13. He expresses “deep appreciation for the support” his family has given him over the years.
His Church callings have included Gospel Doctrine teacher, Young Men president, counselor in two bishoprics, and counselor in a mission presidency. At the time of his calling to be a General Authority he was serving as president of the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania North Stake.
Elder Oaks’s past experiences have served not only to prepare him for his present calling but also to strengthen his testimony concerning Heavenly Father’s watch care. “In very specific ways,” he recalls, “the Lord’s protective hand has been evident in my life and in the lives of those around me.”
Conference Center Draws Members from Many Nations
They came to see the new building. They came because it was the first conference of the new millennium. They came because they wanted to be part of history. But most of all, thousands of Church members from around the world came to April’s general conference because they had dreamed of seeing and hearing the living prophets firsthand and now they knew they could. With the completion of the 21,000-seat auditorium of the Conference Center, many from distant locales rejoiced in being able to attend.
“I never dreamed this would be possible for me,” said Manuel Bauzán Carvajal of the Palmas Ward, Cuernavaca México Stake. “I haven’t come before because I knew the chances of getting into the Tabernacle were small. But now I’m able to enter, and for the first time I’ve heard the prophet’s words as they came from his lips.”
Foketti Brown’s time-weathered face beamed when ushers officially welcomed her as the first ticket holder to enter the Conference Center. “I’ve been waiting for this day for nearly 50 years, since the time I joined the Church,” said the 72-year-old temple worker from Apia, Samoa.
For many like Brother Carvajal and Sister Brown, who may ordinarily wait weeks to see a videotape of conference or months to read the translated talks in Church magazines, hearing the words of Church leaders in person was an unforgettable blessing.
Many members who live in or near Salt Lake City were satisfied to wait until another conference so that others from afar could attend this time. “We can come another time,” said 90-year-old Paul Jespersen, a member of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s home ward. “I’m really glad that members from outlying areas could go.”
While many were impressed with the beauty and grandeur of the Conference Center, what impressed them more was the Spirit that could be felt. Being with thousands of other Latter-day Saints was also a strengthening experience. “I don’t have the words to express what I felt as we all stood together and sang the congregational hymn in our own languages,” said 69-year-old Bertha Estrada Trujillo of Mexico. “I couldn’t understand the other languages, but I could feel of each member’s spirit as we sang together.”
Ato Dadson of the Dansoman Ward, Accra Ghana Lartebiokorshie Stake, observed, “It’s a mighty thing meeting Church members from different races and different countries. I sat by a man from Latin America. He could not speak English; I could not speak Spanish. But somehow we were able to communicate. He took my hand and I felt a bond. That’s how it is when you meet any Latter-day Saint. We are all brothers and sisters.”
Hearing conference with so many Church members “gives you that impetus to go home and do more, to be more faithful, to be more determined to live the gospel,” said Carol Rigby of the Eastwood Ward, Nottingham England Stake.
The stories of faith go on and on. A group of some 160 members came from Seoul, Korea. More than 400 came from the six stakes of Tahiti. On their way home to Cardston, Canada, 50 elderly members in one bus held a testimony meeting that lasted the entire 12-hour trip.
“What we can do now when we go home,” said Lorenzo Tabin of Manila, Philippines, “is to share our testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and the wonderful feelings we had as we witnessed this great day.”
Seven Temples Dedicated
Seven temples were dedicated between the end of February and the end of the first week in April. The wide geographical spread in their locations was an indicator of the continuing worldwide growth of the Church, but one dedication—in Palmyra, New York—touched the lives of more members than any other, both because of its historical significance and because almost 1.5 million members had the opportunity to participate via satellite broadcast.
The Palmyra dedication came on the date marking the 2000th anniversary of the Savior’s birth, and the new temple is within walking distance of the area where the Prophet Joseph Smith received the vision that heralded restoration of the gospel. This was the first time a temple dedication had been broadcast on such a wide scale.
Four of the other temples dedicated during the period were in Mexico, from Ciudad Juárez on Mexico’s northern border with Texas, to Tuxtla Gutiérrez near the southern border with Guatemala.
Palmyra New York Temple
The setting is beautiful in itself—atop a wooded hill in pastoral western New York, a little east of a picturesque older home and a well-crafted log cabin with stands of trees to the west. But the magnificent new building atop this wooded hill becomes even more impressive when the significance of its setting is understood. One of those groves of trees on the west is the place where 14-year-old Joseph Smith Jr. learned in 1820 that important blessings and powers of God had been lost to mankind, and the new building that stands today on the hill to the east is a sacred house of the Lord where some of those blessings may be obtained.
President Gordon B. Hinckley made clear the significance of the place and the building when he dedicated the new Palmyra New York Temple in four sessions on 6 April.
He had said at the groundbreaking for the Palmyra Temple on 25 May 1999: “I regard this temple as perhaps the most significant, in one respect, in the entire Church. It was right here in the Sacred Grove where it all began.” In dedicating the temple on 6 April this year, on the 170th anniversary of the organization of the Church, President Hinckley said: “We have scarcely seen the beginning of what shall come to pass. These are the days of God’s great work in the earth.” He spoke of the Church’s growth to nearly 11 million members, and he bore powerful, repeated testimony that the Church organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith truly is the Church of Jesus Christ and that the vision reported by the young Joseph truly did take place in a nearby grove of trees.
President Hinckley referred to that vision in the dedicatory prayer. “This wondrous event parted the curtain that had been closed for centuries,” he said. “This marvelous appearance, which is the foundation of Thy work in this dispensation, brought back to earth a knowledge of the one true God and the resurrected Lord. Wonderful are the words of the boy Joseph in his description of this transcendent event: ‘When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’ (JS—H 1:17). …
“Dear Father, we acknowledge that it all began here. We marvel, and we gather today in these precincts which were sanctified by Thy presence and the presence of Thy Son, to dedicate unto Thee and unto Him this, the Palmyra New York Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
President Hinckley was accompanied at the dedication by President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder W. Craig Zwick of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the Presidency of the North America Northeast Area.
While some 1,200 members were able to attend the four dedicatory sessions in the temple itself, it was estimated that nearly 1.5 million took part through live broadcasts and tape-delay rebroadcasts to their stake centers across the United States and Canada.
There had been snow the day before the dedication, and 6 April began with heavy rain and chill. But bright sunshine broke through the clouds before President Hinckley and others involved in the cornerstone laying stepped out of the temple for that part of the program. After the cornerstone ceremony, when the Church leaders had gone back into the temple, the weather turned blustery, leaving representatives of the news media commenting on the timing of the temporary calm and sunshine.
Local members say reaction to the temple in the community has been very positive. More than 30,700 visitors toured the temple during its open house. The temple will serve approximately 18,000 members in seven stakes.
Ciudad Juárez México Temple
President Gordon B. Hinckley presided at the first of six dedicatory sessions for the Ciudad Juárez México Temple on 26 February. President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, presided at later sessions on 26 and 27 February while President Hinckley traveled to Hermosillo, Mexico.
“May it [the temple] be a house of love where those who labor may realize that the ordinances here administered, for both the living and the dead, assist in bringing to pass the great provisions of the Atonement of Thy Son,” President Hinckley asked in the dedicatory prayer. He also petitioned God to “bless this great nation of Mexico that it may rise and shine among the nations of the earth.”
Other Church leaders participating in the dedicatory services were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder David R. Stone of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Mexico North Area Presidency.
The new temple will serve more than 36,000 members in 10 stakes and one district. More than 8,000 members, including many from El Paso, Texas, just across the border, attended the dedicatory services. Many of the Mexican members expressed great joy and shed tears of gratitude at having a temple so close by.
Hermosillo Sonora México Temple
President Hinckley dedicated the new Hermosillo Sonora México Temple in four sessions on 27 February.
“It is sacred to us, the place where holy ordinances will be administered for both the living and the dead. Here will be exercised the only authority on earth which reaches beyond the veil of death and is efficacious in the worlds beyond,” he said in the dedicatory prayer.
Other General Authorities participating in the dedicatory service were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen of the Seventy, President of the Mexico North Area.
President Hinckley spoke of the sorrow Father Lehi undoubtedly had felt at the long oppression of his descendants and of the joy that ancient prophet undoubtedly could feel now at seeing the blessings of the temple come to his posterity.
More than 10,500 people visited the temple during its open house. One woman, part of a group of local leaders, commented on the peace and tranquillity she felt, adding, “It is another world, completely different.”
The new temple will serve some 46,200 members in 11 stakes and 6 districts. Nearly 6,000 members attended the dedicatory services.
Sadly, one member, Rosa Hermelinda García de Espinoza, lost her life traveling homeward from the dedication as the bus bound for Los Mochis, Sinaloa, was involved in an accident. Twenty-one other members were injured.
Albuquerque New Mexico Temple
New Mexico’s first temple was dedicated by President Hinckley in four sessions on 5 March.
In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley petitioned that the temple be “a sanctuary of peace, a refuge from the noise of the world. … May the light of the gospel that emanates from this holy temple be felt throughout the community.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the North America Southwest Area Presidency, also took part in the dedicatory services.
Some 70,000 visitors toured the temple during the 10-day open house before its dedication. The temple serves about 50,000 members in New Mexico and parts of Arizona and Colorado. “One of the biggest blessings is being able to go there and reevaluate your life and your priorities,” said Eileen Lewis, a member of the Manzano Ward, Albuquerque East Stake. The temple, she explained, offers the opportunity to ponder without being influenced by the pressures of the world.
Oaxaca México Temple
The Oaxaca México Temple was dedicated in four sessions on 11 March by President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. It was the first temple dedicated by President Faust.
Speaking as voice for other members, he said in the dedicatory prayer, “We have longed for the day when a house of the Lord would be built nearer to us that we might come here often and worship Thee in spirit and in truth, and receive those ordinances, for both the living and the dead, which lead to immortality and eternal life through the great Atonement wrought by our Redeemer, Thy Beloved Son.”
Also participating in the dedicatory services were Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Carl B. Pratt of the Seventy, President of the Mexico South Area.
More than 10,000 people visited the temple during its open house. Among the comments from visitors was this: “One feels a peace there, a tranquillity. It is heavenly!” One member, after touring the temple, said with tears in his eyes that he knew “the Lord loves us very much, and having this temple in our city now makes it seem He has come closer to us.”
The dedicatory services drew more than 18,000 members. The new temple serves more than 26,000 members in 10 stakes, 1 district, and 4 branches.
Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Temple
The Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Temple, in the state of Chiapas on Mexico’s southern border, was dedicated by President James E. Faust in four sessions on 12 March.
“We pray that the faithful Saints of this temple district may look to this hallowed structure, may come here frequently, and may taste of the sweet things which are here offered,” he said in the dedicatory prayer.
“Bless these Thy children. Lift them out of the depths of poverty. Bring new light and understanding into their minds. Cause them to rejoice at Thy watch care over them.”
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Carl B. Pratt of the Seventy, President of the Mexico South Area, also participated in the dedication.
More than 3,300 members attended the four dedicatory sessions. Temple president Enrique Sanchez said that for many members in this area, the new temple is a dream come true. The temple serves more than 18,000 members in five stakes, one district, and three missions.
Louisville Kentucky Temple
President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the new Louisville Kentucky Temple in four sessions on 19 March.
“It is Thy house, a place of holiness. We pray that Thou wilt visit it and cause that Thy Holy Spirit may abide here as the work of salvation and redemption goes forward within these walls,” he said in the dedicatory prayer.
“We plead with Thee, Thou great Elohim, that Thine eternal purposes, Thy great plan of happiness for Thy children, will blossom and grow in this part of Thy vineyard,” he said.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy, President of the North America East Area, also took part in the dedicatory services.
More than 8,000 members attended the four dedicatory services. Many expressed gratitude for the blessings that they expect the temple to bring into their own lives and the lives of their children who will be able to receive endowments and be sealed there in coming years.
The Louisville Kentucky Temple serves approximately 36,500 members in 10 stakes.
New Church Film Testifies of Christ
The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd, a new 70-mm film with Surround Sound, opened on 24 March 2000 in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A First Presidency project, The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd carries the message that Jesus Christ is our Savior. The accounts of Christ’s life and Atonement as related in the Bible and the Book of Mormon are told in conjunction with a fictional story of a family living in the New World during Book of Mormon times.
As the lives of the fictional characters are changed because of the Savior, viewers are reminded that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and that He came to both the Old World, as told in the Bible, and to the New World, as told in the Book of Mormon.
Filmed in Hawaii, California, and Utah, the 65-minute motion picture also has high-quality computer-enhanced scenes. Original music was performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. Though visual images, acting, music, and technical aspects of the film are dramatic, a reverence permeates the film because of its sacred subject.
The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd is shown nine times daily in the 500-seat JSMB Legacy Theater. Tickets can be reserved in advance by telephoning 1-801-240-4383. Some stand-by tickets are also available at the theater.
100 Million Copies of the Book of Mormon
The 100 millionth Book of Mormon came off the press at the end of February. The ancient scripture continues to fulfill its mission “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Book of Mormon title page). Nearly 12 years ago President Ezra Taft Benson said, “We must flood the earth with the Book of Mormon” (Ensign, Nov. 1988, 5). Each day some 15,000 copies are printed. The full text is now available in 54 languages, and selections are available in an additional 40 languages. The Prophet Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion” (History of the Church, 4:461).
Church Provides Relief in Africa, Philippines
When extensive flooding in Mozambique and Zimbabwe left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and hundreds more dead, the Church chartered two helicopters to help evacuate flood victims and deliver emergency supplies. The Church also shipped nearly two million pounds of clothing, food, medical supplies, family hygiene kits, educational supplies, and quilts to assist in relief efforts.
In addition, $50,000 was donated for local purchase of relief supplies. Supplies were distributed by the Red Cross and Child Aid in Mozambique and by Rotary International in Zimbabwe. There were no reports of Church members or missionaries being displaced by the flooding.
In the Philippines, 47,000 people were evacuated when Mount Mayon, one of the country’s 22 active volcanoes, erupted several times. Church meetinghouses were used as shelters for 200 member families displaced by the eruption. The families also received assistance from local units.
Church Pageant Schedule Announced
Dates for Church pageants for the year 2000 have been announced. All pageants begin at dusk, last about an hour and a half, and are free of charge.
The Manti, Utah, Mormon Miracle pageant will be held 15–17 and 20–24 June.
The Hill Cumorah America’s Witness for Christ pageant, near Palmyra, New York, will be held 7–8 and 11–15 July.
The And It Came to Pass pageant will be held 13, 15, 18–22 and 25–29 July in Oakland, California. Tickets are required and can be ordered free of charge at www.oaklandtemplepageant.org or by calling 1-510-445-0164. Tickets are limited.
Castle Dale, Utah’s Castle Valley Pageant will be held 27–29 July and 1–5 August.
The City of Joseph pageant will be held in Nauvoo, Illinois, 28–29 July and 1–5 August.
Martin Harris, the Man Who Knew, will be presented in Clarkston, Utah, 11–12, 15–19, and 22–26 August. To obtain free but required tickets, write P.O. Box 151, Clarkston, UT 84305. Tickets are limited.
The Calgary, Alberta, Calgary Nativity Pageant will be held 18–25 December.
Mesa, Arizona’s Jesus the Christ pageant was held in April, near Easter time.