News of the Church


Fresno California Temple Dedicated

The Fresno California Temple, the fourth in that state, was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in four sessions on 9 April.

“Wilt Thou bless all who will serve within this sacred structure. They will come here to assist in bringing to pass Thy work and Thy glory, even the immortality and eternal life of man. May they not weary in well-doing,” he said in the dedicatory prayer. “Bless those who will come here as patrons that they may be many and that they may experience great joy in their service. May they carry in their hearts a sense of appreciation for the presence of this temple in their midst.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder William R. Bradford of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Presidency of the North America West Area, also participated in the dedication.

More than 53,000 people visited the temple during its open house. Local response to the temple has been favorable, and media outlets gave the open house and dedication generous coverage. One point of local interest is that the temple’s president, Lynn Dredge, was formerly city manager in Tulare, about 50 miles southeast of Fresno.

The temple, located almost in the center of California, will serve some 27,000 members in eight stakes of the California Fresno Mission. More than 10,000 members attended the dedicatory sessions. Many who have long prayed for a temple close by were deeply touched. Armando Esqueda of the Caruthers Ward, Hanford California Stake, was moved to tears more than once by what he felt during the dedication. “It’s been the most magnificent day of my life,” he said.

Stephen Ehat of the Alluvial Ward, Fresno California North Stake, said that since moving to Fresno in the 1980s, he has been able to drive to the temple in Oakland only once a month. Having a temple in Fresno will allow him to enjoy its influence in his life much more often. Temples confirm “that the Lord loves us and wants us to return to Him,” Brother Ehat said. “Today I felt like I was on holy ground.”

Other temples in California are located in Los Angeles and San Diego to the south and Oakland to the north.

[photo] More than 53,000 people visited the Fresno California Temple before its dedication on 9 April. The temple, in central California, is the fourth in that state. (Photo by Mark Crosse, Fresno Bee.)

New Institute Associations Will Reach More Young Adults

For more than 30 years, the Church’s Sigma Gamma Chi fraternity and Lambda Delta Sigma sorority have provided a spiritual, service, and social network for young adults. Beginning this fall, all the chapters of these two organizations will be part of the newly organized, more broadly inclusive Institute Men’s Association or Institute Women’s Association.

The change is being made in order to draw in more young adults: the new associations can organize at institutes not affiliated with a university and on college campuses that do not have a Greek fraternity or sorority system. Potentially, every institute in the world could organize chapters of Institute Men and Institute Women.

The presidencies of Sigma Gamma Chi and Lambda Delta Sigma will become the advisory boards for the Institute Men’s Association and Institute Women’s Association.

Dan Jones, president of Sigma Gamma Chi, who will serve as an advisory board member of the Institute Men’s Association, explained that these new organizations will involve single young adults between the ages of 18 and 30, both student and nonstudent. “I can see the potential for great good in reaching out to so many more young single adults.”

Jeannene Barham, president of Lambda Delta Sigma, who will serve as an advisory board member of the Institute Women’s Association, and Brother Jones both stress that the basic structure of the organizations will remain the same, with members participating in the same spiritual, service, and social activities. Nothing is being taken away from the current system. Rather, it is being strengthened and expanded.

The 70 Sigma Gamma Chi chapters and 180 Lambda Delta Sigma chapters already in existence may choose to keep their Greek names, but they will function as chapters of the Institute Men’s Association and Institute Women’s Association, operating under the same guidelines and the same advisory board. In all chapters, U.S. collegiate traditions such as rush and initiation ceremonies will not be practiced. Area and chapter advisers will continue to work with area directors and institute directors.

[photo] Institute students at the University of Texas-El Paso. (Photo by Barbara Jean Jones.)

President Hinckley Speaks to Press, Legislators, Diplomats

On 8 March 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley became the first President of the Church to address the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where more heads of state have appeared than at any other forum in the United States except the White House.

The audience included members of Congress, ambassadors and other diplomats, members of the interfaith community, and journalists from around the world. Following is the text of President Hinckley’s prepared remarks.

My thanks to all who are here today. I am deeply honored by your presence. This is a very large gathering, and it is somewhat intimidating, particularly since I know who you are and what you do.

I have chosen to speak on the Church, giving a sampling of its operations. We now have more members overseas than we have in the United States, and the percentage overseas is growing, although we are growing significantly also in the United States. I believe that no other church which has risen from the soil of America has grown so large or spread so widely.

It was not many years ago that we were largely a Utah church. Now our people are found everywhere across this nation and Canada, and beyond the seas around the world. We are now operating in more than 160 nations. Our worldwide membership is approaching 11 million.

Of these, approximately 4 million are women who belong to what we call the Relief Society of the Church. I think it is the oldest women’s organization in the world and perhaps the largest. It has its own officers and board, and these officers also sit on other boards and committees of the Church. People wonder what we do for our women. I will tell you what we do. We get out of their way and look with wonder at what they are accomplishing.

I think I might capsulize what we are doing across the world by telling you of an experience I had. I was in Mexico City to speak to the graduating class of the school which we operate in that area. I was introduced to one of the graduates, a young woman. Her mother and her grandmother had come for the exercises.

The grandmother had lived in the bush. She had never learned to read or write. She was totally illiterate. Her daughter had received a little schooling, not very much. She could read a newspaper headline or something of that kind. Now came this beautiful young woman. She was in the graduating class. I asked her, “What are you going to do now?”

She replied, “I have received a scholarship to the medical school of the National University.”

That to me was a miracle. From the bush and total illiteracy to refinement and medical school in three generations. She spoke not only her native Spanish, but English as well. She gave full credit to the Church and its programs for what had happened to her.

We all know that education unlocks the door of opportunity for the young. And so we pour large resources into educating our youth. Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, is our crown jewel. It is the largest church-sponsored private university in America, with an enrollment of more than 28,000. Its graduates are now found across this nation and even across the world. They serve on the faculties of nearly every large university in America. They are in business, the professions, and in almost every honorable vocation. A substantial number are here in Washington, including 17 members of the Congress, some of whom are here today. We operate other schools. But we cannot accommodate all who might wish to attend these Church-sponsored institutions. And so we operate institutes of religion contiguous to the campuses of colleges and universities throughout the land. Here our youth are involved in religious studies and have a wonderful time socializing together.

In the early days of the Church, when our people were gathering from the British Isles and Europe, our leaders set up what was known as the Perpetual Emigration Fund. The Church loaned money to those who did not have sufficient so that they might gather to Utah. As they were employed, they repaid the loan, and this became a revolving fund for so long as it was needed.

We face a new challenge today. In the underdeveloped countries we have young men and women, many of them of capacity, but without opportunity to improve themselves. They cannot do so without help. We are now assisting some and are working on plans to assist many more to acquire education in their own lands. We are providing a ladder by which they can climb out of the impoverishment that surrounds them to make something better of their lives, to occupy places of honor and respect in society, and to make a contribution of significance to the nation of which they are a part.

We are already engaged in microcredit undertakings whereby small amounts are loaned to those for whom a hundred or two or three hundred dollars can spell an actual change in their future. When given such credit these people become entrepreneurs, taking pride in what they are doing and lifting themselves out of the bondage that has shackled their forebears for generations. From a bread shop in Ghana to a woodworking business in Honduras, we are making it possible for people to learn skills they never dreamed of acquiring and to raise their standard of living to a level of which they previously had little hope.

As the Church moves out across the world and into the future, we face two very serious problems. The first is the training of local leadership. All of our local congregations are headed by local people, volunteers who work at their regular vocations and carry on as they are called to serve, as bishops, for instance, with local congregations.

I have just been down in Mexico, and I am amazed at the quality of leaders we are developing. These are men and women of strength and capacity. They are quick learners. They are devoted and faithful. They have become better husbands and fathers and wives and mothers under the family-strengthening programs of the Church. They are an asset to the society of which they are a part, as will be the generations who come after them. That is the beauty of this work. When you touch the life of a man of this generation, that influence is felt through generations yet to come.

The second problem we face is providing places of worship as we grow so rapidly in these areas. We are constructing nearly 400 new houses of worship each year. It is a huge task. It is a tremendous responsibility. But we must accomplish it, and we are doing so. Some of these houses of worship are relatively small, and many of them are large. They are all attractive. They are well kept. They have beautiful landscaping. They are a credit to every community where they are found. And they become a wonderful example to the people.

Thirty years ago I had responsibility for our work in South America. I recall the first time I went to Santiago, Chile. There were perhaps a hundred members of the Church in the entire nation. We had a little school of about 10 students who met in a tiny building that was little more than a shed. A short time ago I was back in Santiago and spoke to a congregation assembled in a large football stadium with 57,500 in attendance. I could scarcely believe what I saw.

They were well dressed, clean, and attractive. They did not smoke, not one of them. They did not drink, not one of them. They were there as families for the most part, fathers and mothers and children. There is no generation gap among such people. There is love and honor and respect in the family circle. This is the result of Church teaching and Church family programs.

Every good citizen adds to the strength of a nation. With that assumption I do not hesitate to say that the nation of Chile is better for our presence, and the same thing is happening in every other nation where we are operating.

It is my philosophy that everyone who comes into this Church should immediately have a friend who can help him make the adjustment and also a responsibility in the Church under which he can grow.

The genius of our work is that we expect things of our people. They grow as they serve, and there are numerous opportunities to challenge them.

We do not have a professional priesthood. None of us who serve as officers of this Church was ever trained in a religious seminary. We may not have the polish of those who have been, but we bring to our service an enthusiasm for the work and a love for the people that are wonderful to witness and inspiring to experience.

We believe in the old adage that many hands make light work. We have a lay priesthood, and every worthy man is eligible to receive this priesthood. Each bishop of the Church has two counselors, devoted and able men, to assist him. None is a professional, but all are dedicated. Bishops serve for a period of about five years; then they are released and others take their place. The result is a constant development of leadership and a renewing strength of direction. Those who are released as bishops go on to other responsibilities. There is opportunity for everyone to serve according to his or her capacity.

Our tremendous missionary program builds leaders while men and women are still young. We now have nearly 60,000 missionaries serving throughout the world, every one on a volunteer basis. Most of them are young men, some are young women, and we have a few retired couples. They serve from 18 to 24 months.

I met two young women recently. They are both from Mongolia, and they are missionaries of this Church serving in Salt Lake City. We send missionaries from Salt Lake and elsewhere in the states to Mongolia and other places, and some come here from such places and partake of the culture which we have here. They learn English. They see the Church at its strongest. They will return to their native lands greatly transformed from what they were when they came here.

As you know, the Winter Olympics are coming to Salt Lake City in 2002. If requested, we shall have no trouble in offering capable translators and interpreters for the many languages that will be represented.

I can walk down the streets of Salt Lake City and meet people who speak a score or more of languages—Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Russian, Albanian, Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Japanese, Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Mongolian, Estonian, various dialects of the Philippines, and what have you. I think it is a tremendous phenomenon. All have learned these languages while serving as missionaries. And as they have learned the language of the land in which they have served, they have had companions in missionary service who are natives of those lands and who in turn have learned English from them. This cross-fertilization of languages and cultures is a tremendous thing. Conflict grows out of ignorance and suspicion. As we learn to know and appreciate those of various cultures, we come to love them. The cause of peace is strengthened in a very real sense by this tremendous program which we foster.

We now have 333 missions across the world. Each becomes a bridge to better understanding among people, to greater appreciation for other cultures.

Now another thing. For a long time we have tried to take care of our own who find themselves in distress. We operate large farming projects, not only in the United States, but in other nations as well, to insure against times of economic distress and catastrophes of one kind or another. In our Church welfare program we have dairies, bakeries, canneries, meat-packing plants, and other facilities, modern in every respect, to meet the needs of those in distress. We have bishops’ storehouses that resemble supermarkets, but they have no cash registers. They are to serve the poor. We also are trying to reach out to those who find themselves in terrible trouble because of war, earthquake, flood, drought, and other disasters. Human suffering anywhere and among any people is a matter of urgent concern for us. We have our own Latter-day Saint Charities organization, and we have worked with other nongovernmental agencies in extending humanitarian aid. These include Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps International, the American Red Cross, the Red Crescent, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and other groups across the world.

Today, this very day, as they have been during previous days, two helicopters have been flying rescue and mercy missions over the flood waters of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. When governments in that part of the world said they could do no more, we rented two helicopters at great expense to fly rescue missions. Additionally, we have sent cash; and food, clothing, and medicine are on their way to these suffering people. Those helped are not our members. Our humanitarian efforts reach far beyond our own to bless the victims of war and natural disaster wherever they may occur.

Last year alone we sent humanitarian aid to assist with 829 projects in 101 countries, giving $11.2 million in cash and $44 million in material resources for a total $55.2 million. I would like to suggest that this is no small effort. And the costs would have been much higher had it not been for the voluntary service of the very many who packed the goods in Salt Lake City and to those who unpacked them at the points of distribution.

We have dug wells in African villages, fed people, and supplied them with clothing and shelter. We have given aid in the Mexico fire of 1990, in the Bangladesh cyclone of 1991, in the China earthquake of 1991, in the Bosnia civil conflict of 1992, in Rwanda in 1994, in North Korea in 1996–98, in Central America in 1998, and in Kosovo in 1999, and today we are assisting substantially in Venezuela, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.

Time will not permit me to speak of the many efforts we have made to assist those of this nation who find themselves in difficulty. Suffice it to say that we have been pleased to reach out to many Americans who have been victimized by flood, hurricane, and tornado.

One more item. Our family history archives in Salt Lake City are now the largest in the world. Satellite libraries are found in this land and others. They are open to everyone regardless of faith or religious affiliation. More than half of the people who use them are not of our faith. People everywhere desire to learn of their roots. Our family history Web site receives about eight million hits per day. I think we would have genealogical information on every man and woman in this hall. We invite you to visit our family history resources right here in the Washington area. They are found in the chapel near our temple in Kensington and in other locations. You will be made to feel welcome.

As you look into the microfilm reader you may be surprised to find the names of your parents, of your grandparents, of your great-grandparents, and of your great-great-grandparents, those who have bequeathed to you all you are of body and mind. You will feel a special connection to those who have gone before you and an increased responsibility to those who will follow.

We are now completing in Salt Lake City a great new Conference Center. Brigham Young built the famed Tabernacle on Temple Square. It was a bold undertaking to construct so large a hall in that remote pioneer community. But now it has become inadequate to our needs. For the first time our world conference in April will be held in a magnificent new hall which seats 21,000. I know of nothing to compare with it as a house of worship and a place for cultural presentations. It is beautiful and it is magnificent, and from its pulpit our message will be carried by satellite around the earth.

Now, I have had time to touch on only a few of the very many things we are trying to do, but I hope that I have given some small indication of our activities as we move this work across the world. Our desire everywhere is to make bad men good and good men better. Wherever we go, we go in the front door. Our representatives honor the laws of the nations to which they go and teach the people to be good citizens. We teach, we train, we build, we educate, we provide opportunity for growth and development. We give hope to those without hope, and there is nothing greater you can give a man or a woman than hope.

You ask how all of this has been accomplished. It takes money, you say. Where does it come from?

It comes from observance of the ancient law of the tithe. Just as Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the great high priest of the Old Testament, so do our people contribute their tithes to the work of the Lord. They do so cheerfully with faith in the promise of Malachi that God will open the windows of heaven and shower down blessings upon them. We do not pass the plate. We do not play bingo. We pay our tithing and can testify to the goodness of the Lord.

This law is set forth in 35 words in our scripture. Compare that with the rules and regulations of the IRS.

We are a church, a church in whose name is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We bear witness of Him, and it is His example and His teachings we try to follow. We give love. We bring peace. We do not seek to tear down any other church. We recognize the good they do. We have worked with them on many undertakings. We will continue to do so. We stand as His servants. We acknowledge that we could not accomplish what we do without the help of the Almighty. We look to Him as our Father and our God and our ever-present helper, as we seek to improve the world by changing the hearts of individuals.

Thank you very much, my dear friends.

A question and answer period followed President Hinckley’s address. The New York Times’ Jack Cushman, president of the National Press Club, read questions submitted by members of the audience. Included here are excerpts from some of those questions and answers:

Q. Perhaps the most frequently asked question … is what role is politics going to be for the Church and its members?

A. Well, the Church itself as an institution does not involve itself in politics, nor does it permit the use of its buildings or facilities for political purposes. Now, we do become involved if there is a moral issue or something that comes on the legislative calendar which directly affects the Church. We tell our people who are citizens of this land and other lands that they as individuals have a civic responsibility to exercise the franchise that is theirs, so they become very active. But as a Church, as I have said, we do not become involved in tax matters or any other kinds of legislation unless there be a moral issue which we think is of great importance or something that may be directed to the Church.

Q. Why is the Church growing so quickly?

A. It is growing because it has a commission to go in the world and teach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. We consider that a divine commission, and we are pursuing that very aggressively and at the same time, while in that process, we think we are doing good. We think we are improving people’s lives. We think that we are causing them to stand taller, straighter and be better people.

Q. When you watch television and see what is portrayed there, and in films, do you feel you are losing the crusade or the war?

A. No. I don’t think we are losing the war. I think we are winning the war. I am an optimist. I think the future looks good. We have a lot of problems to deal with, very serious problems. The American family is in trouble. I think no one could doubt that. We have troublesome things—gangs, drugs, and everything else of that kind—but, in spite of all that, there are so many good people in this land, so many people who want to do the right thing that I’m totally optimistic about the future. I don’t think we are going down to ruin and trouble. I think we’re making a little headway and we ought to be grateful for the opportunity and work a little harder.

Q. Please tell us a little about your book [Standing for Something]. … Why did you write a book which is not about your church? What are you trying to accomplish through this book?

A. Well, we wanted to reach out further to other people. I talk of values in this book, virtues. … I talk about a lot of these things that I think are very, very important. … It isn’t a book of theology but is a book of virtues and values that are a part of theology. The teachings of the gospel bear fruit in the virtuous lives of the people. By dealing with those lives I hope to accomplish some good in reaching out to people who may not be interested in our theology but would be interested in our position and stance on some of these values that are of everlasting benefit to this nation and people across the world.

Q. Do you find that the image of the Church is changing rapidly or slowly? Do you work at bringing about change in the way the Church is viewed by those outside the Church?

A. Constantly—trying to build understanding. As I indicated in what I said in my talk, ignorance leads to misunderstanding. When we don’t know how other people act [and] what they believe, we view them with suspicion. When we get to know more about them, that suspicion turns to appreciation, and I think that is what we are trying to do, trying to accomplish. Now, compared to 100 years ago, 150 years ago, we live in a world that pretty well understands us and I think appreciates us. We are freed from that terrible persecution of the past. We are living in a new day when the sunshine of goodwill pours in upon the Church and assists us in the spread of our work across the world.

Q. And yet at times you hear, even from other Christian faiths, your Church is not a Christian church.

A. The very name of the Savior is in the name of the Church. I can’t understand how they can possibly say that. The New Testament is a fundamental scripture for us. We have in addition to that the Book of Mormon, which becomes another witness for Jesus Christ. I can’t understand why they take that position, but … our position comes from the restoration of the gospel. We have some differences. We don’t worry much about that. We just go on with our work, talking positively, teaching positively, working affirmatively, making the world a better place to live.

[photo] “We seek to improve the world by changing the hearts of individuals,” President Gordon B. Hinckley explained as he spoke to the National Press Club about the Church and its growth worldwide.

[photo] President Hinckley shares a humorous moment with Jack Cushman, president of the National Press Club.

[photo] Elder William R. Bradford, then President of the Central America Area, assists with the Church’s humanitarian response to 1998 flooding in Honduras.

“Happiness Found at Home,” President Monson Affirms

“Happiness does not consist of a glut of luxury, the world’s idea of a ‘good time.’ Happiness is found at home,” President Thomas S. Monson said during the missionary satellite broadcast on 20 February.

The 30-minute fireside was transmitted via the Church satellite system to stake centers in North America and, for the first time, to sites throughout Latin America. The broadcast was also received in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. Church sites in Western Europe, Scandinavia, and the British Isles received the broadcast a few days later.

Stakes in all of those areas were encouraged to organize missionary open houses in conjunction with the broadcast. It was an opportunity for members to introduce friends of other faiths or less-active friends to the gospel and the strengthening blessings it offers families.

“All of us remember the home of our childhood,” President Monson said. “The home is the laboratory of our lives, and what we learn there largely determines what we do when we leave there.”

Although there are a variety of home situations—from large families to single parent families to households with just one occupant—the same identifying features are found in every happy home, he said. “I refer to these as ‘Hallmarks of a Happy Home.’ They consist of a pattern of prayer, a library of learning, a legacy of love, and a treasury of testimony.”

“So universal is its application, so beneficial its result, that prayer qualifies as the number one hallmark of a happy home,” he said, noting the importance of both individual and family prayer. “If any of us has been slow to hearken to the counsel to pray always, there is no finer hour to begin than now.”

Speaking of a library of learning, he said we can learn from the Lord and from others who have wisdom to share: “Reading is one of the true pleasures of life. … The Lord counseled, ‘Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith’” (D&C 88:118).

“We must ever be committed to the success of our marriage,” President Monson counseled. “Seemingly little lessons of love are observed by children as they silently absorb the examples of their parents.” He cited his father’s example of service in teaching the importance of loving others.

“It isn’t enough for parents alone to have strong testimonies,” President Monson added. “Children can ride only so long on the coattails of a parent’s conviction.”

He counseled that the parental example of “a love for the Savior, a reverence for His name, and genuine respect one for another will provide a fertile seedbed for a testimony to grow.”

[photo] Lessons of love are absorbed by children as they silently observe examples of their parents, President Thomas S. Monson taught during the broadcast. (Photo by Welden C. Andersen.)

Descendants Celebrate 200th Anniversary of Hyrum Smith’s Birth

An estimated 3,200 descendants of Hyrum Smith gathered at Temple Square on 13 February to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. Some 2,300 descendants and other participants squeezed into the Assembly Hall with overflow crowds in the Tabernacle and the North Visitors’ Center.

Hyrum, loyal older brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was born on 9 February 1800. Four of the children born to Hyrum’s first wife, Jerusha Barden, survived to adulthood. After Jerusha died in childbirth, Hyrum married Mary Fielding, to whom two children were born. There are an estimated 31,000 living descendants of Hyrum Smith today. Among Hyrum’s posterity were two prophets: President Joseph F. Smith, his son, and President Joseph Fielding Smith, Hyrum’s grandson.

President Gordon B. Hinckley was among those who honored the early Church leader. “I’m not a descendant of Hyrum Smith,” he said, “But I’m a great admirer and one who loves the name of Hyrum.” Then he gave a charge to Hyrum’s posterity: “There rests upon you a tremendous and abiding responsibility to walk in the ways that Hyrum walked, with faith in the divinity of this work of the Lord, with love for this great cause, with respect for those who established it, and with resolution to do your part to strengthen it in whatever capacity you may be called to serve.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Eldred G. Smith, emeritus Patriarch to the Church—both second-great-grandsons of Hyrum Smith—also spoke. After noting that an estimated 6,000 of Hyrum’s descendants have served full-time missions, Elder Ballard said, “So upon the family of Hyrum Smith has rested a great responsibility of the carrying on of this great work.”

Elder Smith quoted from Hyrum’s patriarchal blessing: “‘The righteous shall rise up, and also thy children after thee, and say thy memory is just, that thou wert a just man and perfect in thy day.’” Certainly this gathering of thousands of his descendants was one fulfillment of that promise.

Among the items on display, courtesy of Elder Eldred Smith, were the clothes Hyrum wore when he was martyred on 27 June 1844 and Alvin Smith’s toolbox, used by the Prophet to hide the gold plates.

The meeting was conducted by Craig R. Frogley, a fourth-great-grandson of Hyrum, who noted that on 9 February 2000, a wreath had been placed by family members on the Hyrum Smith pylon in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. (Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith are buried at the family homestead in Nauvoo, Illinois.)

LDS Scene

BYU—Hawaii Students Help Restore a Tradition

Four hundred students of the BYU—Hawaii First Stake spent a recent Saturday knee-deep in mud as they cleared irrigation canals for a native Hawaiian community in Oahu’s Kahana Valley.

For centuries, residents of the valley used the canals for traditional Hawaiian taro cultivation, but in the past century the canals had become clogged because they were not used and maintained. By clearing the canals, students helped make it possible for the community to cultivate the taro again and revive this centuries-old tradition.

Kahana Valley residents were amazed by the students’ work and their willingness to serve. “The work done by the students on one Saturday would have taken us over a year to do on our own,” said Ron Johnson, a local resident.

Another group of students from the same stake worked at the site of one of the first Latter-day Saint chapels in Hawaii. They built steps up the hillside that leads to the chapel and also cleaned a neighboring graveyard where several early Hawaiian Saints are buried.

The students performed the service in commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Church’s establishment in Hawaii. As part of a yearlong celebration, each stake in Hawaii has committed to giving at least 150 hours of community service during the year 2000.

Other events scheduled for the sesquicentennial celebration include special firesides; a pageant dramatizing the establishment of the Church in Hawaii; and a concert performed by the BYU—Hawaii Concert Choir, the Honolulu Symphony, and a choir of 400 members from the island of Oahu.

Church Helps Sponsor Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition

The Church has joined with other organizations in sponsoring a Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in Chicago, Illinois, that includes 15 scrolls, 5 of which have never before been exhibited outside of Israel. The exhibition, at The Field Museum, opened 10 March 2000 and continues through 11 June.

Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy, president of Brigham Young University, spoke at an opening ceremony. BYU and the university’s Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) have been working with an international team of scholars to increase understanding of the message and meaning of the scrolls.

Elder Donald L. Staheli, Second Counselor in the North America Central Area Presidency, and other community and Church representatives also attended the opening. On 12 April, more than 400 area clergy attended a private showing of the exhibition as special guests of the Church.

In conjunction with the exhibition, BYU has produced a traveling exhibit of replicas of the scrolls and other artifacts. The exhibit will be taken to Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri through 15 August. For more information, visit the FARMS Web site at www.farmsresearch.com, or call 1-800-327-6715 in the United States and Canada.

Elder Hammond Meets with Idaho Governor

Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy, President of the North America Northwest Area, presented a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” to Idaho governor Dirk Kempthorne at the state capitol in Boise early this year. The Idaho governor, concerned about the needs of youth, had sought the meeting to discuss how the Church helps children and youth face their challenges. The topic created an opening for discussion of the proclamation, Elder Hammond said.

French Polynesia President Meets Church Leaders

The president of the territory of French Polynesia, the vice president, and several government ministers met with the president of the Tahiti Papeete Mission and local stake and district leaders during a dinner at the mission home in January.

Both government and Church leaders spoke during the dinner, hosted by mission president Ralph T. Andersen.

French Polynesia president Gaston Flosse spoke of foreseeable changes in the country’s future that may affect youth and the family, and also work and housing for the people. He answered questions from those present about issues affecting them and their families. He called on the Latter-day Saints to pray regularly for their government leaders.

One local Church leader, President Benjamin Sinjoux of the Faaa Tahiti Stake, quoted the thirteenth Article of Faith and pointed out how the Church helps parents and helps them strengthen their families.

Each governmental representative attending the dinner was given a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and the Relief Society Declaration.

Members Contribute through “Crop Walk”

In March more than 1,000 Church members from 25 wards and branches in Austin, Texas, participated in a community walkathon to help stop hunger. “Crop Walk” helps provide food, relief supplies, refugee assistance, preventive health care, improvements in food production, and development of safe water resources in more than 80 countries. The organization also supports local agencies that serve the hungry in Austin.

Before the event, the three stake presidents in the area encouraged members to become involved in this and other community efforts.

Newspaper Sparks Family History Emphasis in Austria

In conjunction with their nation’s largest circulation newspaper, Austrian Church members have launched a major family history campaign that has brought thousands of Austrians in touch with their ancestors and with the Church.

Shortly after President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the creation of the FamilySearch™ Internet Genealogy Service in May 1999, Austrian public affairs directors Elisabeth and Fredy Pietsch suggested the story to the Neue Kronen Zeitung newspaper. The paper, which had run several articles on the Pietschs’ participation in the Mormon Pioneer Trail sesquicentennial wagon train reenactment in 1997, was receptive.

What started out as an idea for a single news story turned into a 12-article package (published on 19 September 1999) featuring family history research and a program entitled In Search of Our Roots. Through this program, readers could learn about their ancestry by writing or calling the newspaper, or by accessing the Church’s Web site through a link on the newspaper’s home page.

Several Church members experienced in family history research were asked to answer the letters and hotline calls, but they were soon overwhelmed by the response: on the first day of the program, the newspaper’s three hotlines rang continually, and within a few days, hundreds of letters were received and 200,000 hits registered on the family history link.

Church representatives responded by offering additional hotlines in seven Austrian Family History Centers and by recruiting more family history volunteers. “We’ve had 50 volunteers or more working some weeks,” says Sister Pietsch.

People requesting information were also invited to come directly to Family History Centers to do their own research. The centers were soon overflowing.

“We’ve had to change the open hours at the centers to accommodate everyone,” Sister Pietsch says.

The In Search of Our Roots program has benefited many: Austrians have learned about their roots, visitors to the Family History Centers have added thousands of names to the ancestral file, and misperceptions of the Church have been changed or softened.

“Some visitors come with misconceptions about the Church and have prejudiced feelings. But after visiting the center and talking to volunteers, they change their minds and talk very friendly about their experiences,” says Melitta Teply, supervisor of the Vienna Family History Center. “Some visitors came to stay for half an hour and ended up staying three to four hours. They come again and again.”

Although it was anticipated that the program would last just a few weeks, public interest has continued. Johanna Teml of the Vienna Third Ward says people have mentioned that they have a strong desire to know more about their ancestors, although they can’t explain why. “I could not have imagined when President Hinckley announced the FamilySearch Web site that this was the beginning of a new era in family history in Austria,” says Theresia Andruchowitz of the Vienna Fifth Ward, Vienna Austria Stake.

Family History Fair

A family history fair sponsored by two Mesa, Arizona, stakes early this year drew more than 1,400 Church members and guests and was covered in a brief news story on the local ABC television network affiliate.

Sponsored by the Mesa Arizona East and Mesa Arizona Mountain View Stakes, the fair offered 50 sessions during the Saturday on which it was held. Presenters of individual sessions covered more than 30 family history topics during the day, and there were 22 computers with the FamilySearch™ software available for use by visitors.

Australian Stake Assists Hospital

A benefit concert sponsored by the Newcastle Australia Stake in 1999 helped purchase needed equipment for the neonatal intensive care unit of a local children’s hospital, and the stake was recently honored for its efforts. Proceeds from the concert, a performance by the BYU—Hawaii Jazz Ensemble, went to the John Hunter Children’s Hospital to help pay for equipment that would allow doctors to examine premature babies in their cribs rather than transporting them elsewhere, which is risky. The president of the hospital’s volunteer auxiliary organization presented the stake an engraved plaque in recognition of its assistance.

Latter-day Saints Support Interfaith Concert

Many local Latter-day Saints were among organizers, performers, and support staff for a recent interfaith concert in Pueblo, Colorado, that drew an audience of about 1,500 from the community.

The Common Chords Interfaith Choir, with a number of Latter-day Saint singers in its ranks, offered the major portion of the concert, singing sacred and patriotic music that included the Church hymn “I Believe in Christ” (Hymns, no. 134). In addition to serving on the steering committee and in other support roles, members helped staff the event. LDS young men helped with directing parking, collecting donations, and cleaning up afterwards, while Relief Society sisters helped provide refreshments.

U.S. Army Develops Portable Chapel

The United States Army has developed a portable “containerized chapel” that enables soldiers stationed for long periods in remote locations to worship in relative comfort. The chapels are equipped to serve members of a variety of denominations, including Latter-day Saints. The new containerized chapels, which fit into an 8-by-20-foot container and weigh 16,000 pounds, can be set up within a day. Each includes a tent with a capacity of up to 100 people, folding chairs, lights, and generator-powered heat and air-conditioning. Also included are footlockers containing religious items such as copies of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Muslim prayer mats, Jewish prayer shawls, and crosses. Prototypes of the chapel have been used in Kosovo since September 1999. A similar chapel has been developed by the U.S. Air Force.

[photo] BYU—Hawaii students help clear an irrigation canal as part of a community service project celebrating the Church’s sesquicentennial in Hawaii. (Photo by Wally Barrus.)

[photo] Dead Sea Scrolls are of interest to students of the scriptures worldwide. (Photo courtesy of FARMS.)

[photo] More than 1,000 Church members from the three Austin, Texas, stakes teamed up with others in the community to raise funds for the needy. (Photo by Ron Nielsen.)

Family History Software Available in Five Languages

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) 4.0 for Windows® for home computers is now available in French, German, and Portuguese, as well as in English and Spanish.

A software program that helps users organize their family history information, PAF can be used at home or at Family History Centers. The program allows users to create pedigree charts, family history group records, logs, lists, and includes multimedia features. PAF 4.0 for Windows is a major upgrade from the DOS-based PAF 3.0.

All five languages of PAF 4.0 can be downloaded at no charge through the FamilySearch™ Internet Genealogy Service at www.familysearch.org. After 1 March, they were also available on compact disc (CD) for $5.00 U.S. through Church distribution centers. System requirements are: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0-plus, Pentium or equivalent processor, 16 or more megabytes of RAM, 20 megabytes of hard-disk space, VGA monitor with 256-color-capable video card, and a 4x CD-ROM or faster.

Visitors’ Centers Strengthen Members Too, Directors Told

The purpose of Church visitors’ centers and historic sites is not only to introduce the gospel to nonmembers but also to strengthen and to teach doctrine to members, Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy, executive director of the Missionary Department, told 10 new directors of visitors’ centers and historic sites at a recent training seminar.

The weeklong seminar was held at the Provo Missionary Training Center and at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Gaining understanding of doctrine enables members to “handle challenges and do anything required of them in the Church,” Elder Tingey explained to the directors and their spouses.

Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy, assistant executive director of the Church Historical Department, also spoke, teaching that members “come to remember the significance of the area, to understand, and to be strengthened.”

Elder Jensen cited as an example the Mormon Handcart Visitors’ Center at Martin’s Cove in Wyoming, where visitors can try pulling a handcart along part of the Mormon Trail. The lives of those who visit this center are changed, he explained, as they contemplate the sacrifices of the pioneers.

In 1999 nearly 5,300,000 people entered Church visitors’ centers and more than 660,000 visited historic sites. More than half of all visitors were Church members.

Appointments

Twelve temple presidents have been called to serve in temples recently dedicated in North America. Spouses of these temple presidents were called as temple matrons.

President Curtis H. Ault, Dixie Jo Reynolds Ault Bloomington Third Branch, Bloomington Indiana Stake

Louisville Kentucky Temple Dedicated 19 March

President Hector Ceballos, Dolores Cons de Ceballos Pitic Ward, Hermosillo México Pitic Stake

Hermosillo Sonora México Temple Dedicated 27 February

President Dale S. Dallon, Barbara Joy Bolton Dallon Rotherwood Ward, Kingsport Tennessee Stake

Palmyra New York Temple Dedicated 6 April

President W. Lynn Dredge, Annette Kelly Dredge Tulare Second Ward, Porterville California Stake

Fresno California Temple Dedicated 9 April

President W. Darrell Foote, Barbara Anne Brown Foote Reno Second Ward, Reno Nevada Stake

Reno Nevada Temple Dedicated 23 April

President Larry R. Oler, Midge L. Oler Ka’u Ward, Hilo Hawaii Stake

Kona Hawaii Temple Dedicated 23–24 January

President Emerson Wayne Pratt, Myrna Jean Frazer Pratt Cholla Ward, Phoenix Arizona Deer Valley Stake

Albuquerque New Mexico Temple Dedicated 5 March

President Gerald Merrell Pratt, Vera Whetten Pratt El Paso Fifth Ward, El Paso Texas Mount Franklin Stake

Ciudad Juárez México Temple Dedicated 26–27 February

President Felicito Rodriguez, Violeta Escobar de Rodriguez East Bay Second Ward, Provo Utah South Stake

Villahermosa Tabasco México Temple Dedicated 21 May

President Gabriel R. Saldivar, Maria Balboa de Saldivar Jardín Ward, Madero México Stake

Tampico México Temple Dedicated 20 May

President Enrique Sanchez, Maria Manchinelly de Sanchez Reforma Ward, Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Central Stake

Tuxtla Gutiérrez México Temple Dedicated 12 March

President Howard Schmidt, Rea Lu Brown Schmidt Juárez First Ward, Colonia Juárez México Stake

Oaxaca México Temple Dedicated 11 March

Comment

Postscript to “I Know It’s Hard, Mom”

Thank you for publishing “I Know It’s Hard, Mom” (January 2000), which was written by my wife, Chris. The article dealt with how the gospel helped our children cope while a rare, disabling, and devastating disorder consumed their mother.

Chris wanted to share her testimony of the gospel. The disorder she had made it very difficult to do this since it immobilized her and often made it impossible for her to speak. Through all the trials she had, she remained a bright and shining example to all who knew her.

During the past few years, Chris spent more time in the hospital than out. The disorder overwhelmed all treatments that were tried. When I showed her a copy of her published article, our son asked her if she wanted him to read it to her, but she said, “No, I know what it says by heart.”

Chris had received a priesthood blessing last year that she would remain on earth until her mission was complete. On January 14, in the early morning hours, she slipped the mortal bonds of earth and returned to Heavenly Father. She continued to share her faith at the funeral by her request that “I Believe in Christ” be the first song sung by the congregation.

Wayne G. Geilman Pleasant Grove, Utah

“Dispelling the Darkness”

Thank you for printing the article “Dispelling the Darkness of Abuse” (February 2000). It was so amazing for me to actually read real words that confirmed the feelings and actions of my own life. This article seemed to be written for me, if not about me.

The person who wrote this article is blessed to have received understanding of her problem and psychological help when her children were relatively young.

I do feel that one cannot do it alone and that spouses have to recognize the problem and work on it with the abused spouse and with the Lord.

Name Withheld