News of the Church

By Erik Nilsson


Four More Temples Dedicated

Three temples were recently dedicated in the United States—in Oregon, Nevada, and Tennessee—and a fourth temple was dedicated in Cochabamba, Bolivia, bringing the total number of operating temples to 82.

Medford Oregon Temple

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the Medford Oregon Temple in four sessions on 16 April 2000. “Wilt Thou touch the hearts of Thy people in this temple district that they may ever regard it with gratitude and appreciation,” he said in the dedicatory prayer, “that they may qualify themselves to come here as Thy servants and carry forward the great work for which it is designed.”

Accompanying President Faust were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy, President of the North America Northwest Area; and Elder Michael T. Robinson, an Area Authority Seventy who was the first stake president of the Central Point Oregon Stake, in whose boundaries the new temple is located.

Nearly 8,000 Church members attended the dedication, and nearly 46,000 people toured the temple in a weeklong open house held the final week of March. An usher during the open house, Jean Gordon of the Redding First Ward, Redding California Stake, commented that some would walk into the temple quite casually but would “come out with a spirit of reverence about them.” One visitor, not a member of the Church, said she felt “a sweet feeling inside the temple.” A local clergyman said, “I had a certain sense that [the temple] was a very spiritual place.”

The Medford Oregon Temple, located midway between the Portland Oregon and Oakland California Temples, will serve more than 28,600 members living in six stakes in southern Oregon and three stakes in northern California.

Church members were anxious to begin attending the temple. Although the temple president was announced just the day before the dedication, two sessions were held the day after the dedication and one couple was sealed. The 10,700-square-foot temple is the second temple in Oregon.

Reno Nevada Temple

The Reno Nevada Temple was dedicated in four sessions on Easter Sunday, 23 April 2000. The open house, held 8–15 April, drew more than 38,000 visitors.

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the temple. In the dedicatory prayer, President Monson said: “Bless all who have made possible this beautiful structure. May they gain satisfaction from the knowledge that they have had a part in creating this sacred edifice. May they recognize that it is no longer simply a building, but rather a house consecrated unto Thee and Thy Beloved Son, a place of holiness, a sanctuary of faith.

“We pray that the divine presence of this house in this community may be felt by all who pass by, that it may be looked upon with respect and appreciation.”

President Monson was accompanied by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Seventy, President of the North America Southwest Area.

The temple dedication was an emotional meeting for Vaughn and Wanda Abbott, who are both nearly 90. When the couple moved to the Reno area in the 1930s, there were fewer than 100 Church members in the area. After serving as a bishop and then a stake president as the Church continued to grow, Brother Abbott is now “just thrilled” that there is a temple in Reno.

After attending the open house, one visitor commented: “I feel there’s so much religious commitment with these people. I was particularly inspired by the focus on family values. I was taken and moved by that, by the importance of keeping the family together. It made me come away really feeling good.” A newspaper columnist wrote: “I was among 5,000 people who visited the final day of the open house. … I was among many non-Mormons delighted to experience the facility.”

The 10,852-square-foot temple, whose exterior is made of granite from a quarry near the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont, will serve about 27,000 people in eight stakes of northern Nevada and northeast California. Members in these areas used to travel several hours to the Oakland California Temple.

Memphis Tennessee Temple

A total of 5,029 members attended the four dedicatory sessions of the Memphis Tennessee Temple on 23 April 2000.

President James E. Faust dedicated the temple. In giving the dedicatory prayer, he said: “Father, we thank Thee for this temple. It is an answer to our prayers. It will enrich the lives of countless thousands who will here seek blessings for themselves and stand as proxies in behalf of those who have passed beyond. May hearts leap with joy, and may smiles of satisfaction come to the faces of all who labor herein as they carry forward Thy work of salvation and exaltation.”

President Faust was accompanied by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Gordon T. Watts of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Southeast Area; and Elder James Griffin, an Area Authority Seventy.

During the temple’s open house from 8 to 15 April, 16,028 people toured “the holiest place in the county,” as one news program called it. A cameraman from another local television station said that when he saw the beauty of the temple he thought, “Oh, I could take pictures here all day.” A respected university and community leader commented, “The serenity here is contagious and uplifting.”

In preparation for the open house, Church members personally handed out invitations door-to-door, encouraging neighbors of the temple to attend. Many were excited for the opportunity because they had watched the majestic building take form during its yearlong construction.

The open house also included an information area in the temple’s adjacent stake center that was staffed by members and sister missionaries. A large supply of copies of the Book of Mormon from the Memphis Tennessee Stake, the Memphis Tennessee North Stake, and the Arkansas Little Rock Mission office was quickly depleted.

Bishop James Smith of the Florence Ward, Tupelo Mississippi Stake, said the Memphis Tennessee Temple will be a great blessing for the 16,000 members of the temple district, which includes northern Mississippi, southwestern Tennessee, and eastern Arkansas. Many members have not yet been able to attend the temple because “even just the five-hour trip to the nearest temple in Atlanta, Georgia, has been a hardship,” said Bishop Smith. “What an opportunity for these families!”

Based on the many temple appointments that have already been set, temple president Boyd Lee said the new edifice is sure to be busy.

Cochabamba Bolivia Temple

The Cochabamba Bolivia Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in four sessions on 30 April 2000. In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley said: “This nation is named for Simón Bolívar, the great liberator of much of South America, who died the year Thy restored Church was organized. May the incomparable principle of democracy be preserved forever in this republic.

“We remember before Thee the sons and daughters of Father Lehi. Wilt Thou keep Thine ancient promises in their behalf. Lift from their shoulders the burdens of poverty and cause the shackles of darkness to fall from their eyes. May they rise to the glories of the past. May they recognize their Redeemer and be faithful and true Saints of the Most High.”

President Hinckley was accompanied by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy, President of the South America West Area.

The open house, which took place 17–22 April, drew nearly 65,000 visitors.

The open house had originally been scheduled for two weeks, but the first week had to be canceled when unrelated civil unrest paralyzed the city of Cochabamba. In spite of the cancellation, local Church leaders were pleased when they were still able to come close to their goal of 75,000 open house visitors. Church members and missionaries were also thrilled that 2,232 referrals were obtained.

The 33,302-square-foot Cochabamba Bolivia Temple will serve 112,000 members in the 21 stakes, 9 districts, and 10 branches of Bolivia. The temple complex also includes housing for temple patrons and the temple president and matron.

[photo] The Medford Oregon Temple, Oregon’s second temple, will serve nearly 30,000 Church members living in southern Oregon and northern California. (Photo by Lynn Hewlett.)

[photo] The Reno Nevada Temple, the second in Nevada, will serve 27,000 members in northern Nevada and northeast California. (Photo by Julie A. Dockstader, Church News.)

[photo] Below: President Thomas S. Monson helps a youngster cement the temple cornerstone in Reno. (Photo by Julie Dockstader, Church News.)

[photo] The Church’s 80th operating temple, the Memphis Tennessee Temple, will serve 16,000 members in northern Mississippi, southwestern Tennessee, and eastern Arkansas.

[photo] Located in the heart of Bolivia, the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple will serve the country’s 112,000 members.

[photo] A fresco painting on the ceiling over the Cochabamba temple’s baptismal font depicts the open sky.

Göteborg, Sweden: A Second Harvest

In recent years in the Göteborg Sweden Stake, the Mattsson twins have taken the lead. Hans Mattsson served as stake president for several years, and upon his release his twin brother, Leif, was called as president. The twins have shared a similar goal: to lead the stake forward into a “second harvest,” a term they first heard as young missionaries in England.

At the close of their missions, they attended a conference where Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke. “In the middle of his talk,” says President Leif Mattsson, “Elder Hinckley looked right at us and said, ‘You are the Mattsson twins from Sweden who are soon going home, right? Let me say a few words to you that I want you to take home to Sweden.’ Then he lifted a glass of water and pointed to it. ‘Sweden has for many years been like this glass of water—not much action. In the middle 1800s when the first missionaries came to Sweden, thousands of people joined the Church. It was a great and mighty harvest. When you go home, I want you to tell the members that there will be a new harvest, a second harvest in Sweden, that will bring thousands of Swedes into the Church.’”

As the Mattsson twins and others have served, growth has come to the Göteborg stake, which is located on the western edge of Sweden. “The Lord is leading this work,” says President Leif Mattsson. “It is time to get out our scythe and go out to harvest.”

The first harvest began when John E. Forsgren, a Swedish seaman who accepted the gospel while docked in Boston, Massachusetts, was called to return to his homeland to preach the gospel.

One of the early branches was organized in 1856 in Västra Frölunda. Today it is a ward in the Göteborg stake, and it continues to grow as the second harvest gains momentum. The active and lively group of nearly 400 members includes many youth studying to become engineers, doctors, or lawyers as well as many already established in their professions. Typical of the stake’s members are Marina and Hans Andersson. Marina is a chief physician in psychiatry at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and her husband, a former bishop, is a tax lawyer.

In the Trollhättan Ward, the harvest is also moving forward. Elsie Hellsing Gren is thankful for finding the Church. “I felt something missing from my life,” she recalls. She asked her husband, Per, if he would accompany her to visit various churches. “One Sunday I attended a Latter-day Saint sacrament meeting and silently offered a prayer asking if this Church is true. I wondered if I would get an answer. As I looked at the speaker, his face seemed illuminated and he looked at the audience and said, ‘I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth.’ Tears filled my eyes and joy filled my heart. I decided then to be baptized.”

“We have preached the gospel for many years in Sweden,” says President Leif Mattsson. “There are many people who have had some contact with the Church. We believe the harvest time is here.”—Erik Nilsson, Kungsbacka Ward, Göteborg Sweden Stake

Map of Sweden

Stake organized: 1977

Number of units: 6 wards, 4 branches

Number of members: 1,963

Church Education System established: 1973

Number of youth enrolled: 176

Missionaries serving from stake: 30

Temple district: Stockholm Sweden Temple

[photo] Founded in 1619, Göteborg (or Gothenburg) is the second largest city in Sweden. Missionary work began here in the 1850s, and the Göteborg Sweden Stake was organized by Elder Thomas S. Monson in 1977. (Photo by Rolf Hägglund.)

[photo] The Västra Frölunda Ward, of which these seniors are members, is the largest unit in the Göteborg stake. (Photo by Rachel Björklund.)

Church Aids Timorese Refugees

At the request of the Indonesian government, the Church has provided nearly half a million pounds of rice, powdered milk, clothing, hygiene kits, and medical supplies to some 100,000 East Timorese refugees still living in makeshift camps in West Timor.

Of the 150,000 refugees who fled East Timor due to last year’s civil war, only one-third have returned home. “Help is urgently needed [for] these homeless families,” said Garry Flake, director of Humanitarian Service for the Church, who recently visited Indonesia.

Church humanitarian funds were used to purchase rice and other food from local sources. Personal hygiene supplies were also purchased locally and assembled by Indonesian Church members and others to make 20,000 kits for refugee families. Clothing, powdered milk, and medical supplies were sent to West Timor from Church welfare facilities in Salt Lake City. Supplies will continue to be sent according to ongoing need among the refugees.

Alwi Shihab, Indonesian minister of foreign affairs, expressed appreciation to the Church for its assistance.

[photo] The Church provided half a million pounds of food, clothing, and medical supplies to some 100,000 East Timorese still living in West Timor refugee camps. (Photo by Garry Flake.)

American Red Cross President Tours Welfare Facilities

American Red Cross president Dr. Bernadine Healey toured Church welfare facilities and met with the First Presidency and the general Relief Society presidency during a recent visit to Salt Lake City.

Mary Ellen Smoot, Relief Society general president, and Virginia U. Jensen, first counselor, hosted Dr. Healey during her tour of the Church Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square.

“I’ve been extraordinarily impressed with the humanitarian relief activities of the LDS Church,” Dr. Healey said during her visit. “They are working in the same places we work, and we share overlapping priorities and values. We both have faith that you can care for people and give them dignity at the same time as you help them get back on their feet.”

The American Red Cross and the Church have cooperated on several projects throughout the world, helping disaster-stricken communities. The two organizations are currently collaborating, along with others, to provide food to people who are starving in Ethiopia as a result of drought.

Church to Restore Historic Landmarks in Kirtland

The Church recently announced plans to expand visitor facilities and rebuild and restore several landmarks in Kirtland, Ohio—Church headquarters from 1831 to 1837.

The project will include the rebuilding of the John Johnson inn; the restoration of the Newel K. Whitney home and an early schoolhouse, tannery, and ashery; and the construction of a new visitors’ center, which will resemble a 19th-century gristmill on the exterior but include within three small theaters, a Family History Center, and a resource room. The structures will be located on an 18-acre tract.

A Kirtland road construction project will route traffic around some of the sites to prevent danger to pedestrians. Work on the project will begin early next year; completion is planned for 2003.

Map of Kirtland

Restoration plans in Kirtland include the John Johnson inn, the Newel K. Whitney home, a new visitors’ center, and a schoolhouse, tannery, and ashery. The Whitney store was restored earlier. (Map by Tom Child.)

Second Ancestors Series to Air

The second Ancestors series, aimed at helping amateur genealogists improve their family history research skills, will air 13 episodes of instruction and personal experience on the Public Broadcasting System throughout the United States from June 2000 to May 2004.

“The first series was the most widely carried series on PBS, with several million viewers,” said Diena Simmons of KBYU-TV. Produced by Wisteria Pictures Inc. and KBYU, the second Ancestors series will focus on the importance of records—cemetery, census, military, newspapers, probate, and immigration—in learning more about our ancestors’ lives.

The 13 half-hour episodes, shot on location around the world, will run on every PBS station. The episodes will be available on video and can be ordered on-line at www.kbyu.org/ancestors or by calling 1-800-758-0846 in the U.S. and Canada.

“The amount of solid information that has become available for the public with this series and the new instructional guidebook that teaches the family history research process is very exciting to us,” said Ms. Simmons. The guidebook teaches a step-by-step approach to the vast genealogical resources now available. The guidebook is priced at $19.95 U.S. Two instructional resource videos are available by order from their Web site or from select local bookstores for $39.95 U.S.

The Ancestors Web site provides U.S. visitors with a state-by-state guide for resources, local broadcast information, links to related sites, a free teacher’s guide on-line, and free downloadable genealogical forms.

[illustration] The Ancestors television series teaches viewers about family history. (Courtesy of KBYU-TV.)

New Family History Tools Announced

To further aid Latter-day Saints in their family history and temple work, the Church has released a new version of FamilySearch™ TempleReady on CD-ROM for Family History Center use. Also available are two new family history tools for home use: the Family History Library Catalog on CD-ROM (item no. 50081, $5.00 U.S.); and the Internet Index of the Pedigree Resource File on the Church’s FamilySearch Web site.

FamilySearch TempleReady for Windows simplifies the clearance of names for temple ordinances, identifies individuals in a Personal Ancestral File database or GEDCOM file that still need temple ordinances completed, and allows users to transfer information from the Church’s Ordinance Index on FamilySearch to their own database of family records.

The new CD-ROM version of the Family History Library Catalog will allow people to use the catalog on their home computers. Previously available only at Family History Centers, the Family History Library Catalog describes the collection of family history materials in the Family History Library: more than 2.5 million microforms (microfilm and microfiche) and 300,000 books. The microforms can be ordered from the Family History Library and sent to Family History Centers for use by patrons.

The Internet Index of the Pedigree Resource File is available at no charge at www.familysearch.org. Users can search this index for the names of their ancestors. If names are found, the index will tell users on which of the first seven Pedigree Resource File CDs their ancestors’ information is located. The index will be updated as new CDs are released.

The Internet Index of the Pedigree Resource File makes it easy for users to access the information on the Pedigree Resource File, which is growing at the rate of 1.1 million names a month as the result of family history information from contributors sent via the Web site.

For more information, contact your local Family History Center or distribution center.

New Exhibits at Church Museum

Two new art exhibits were recently unveiled at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City.

Some 135 entries from the museum’s Fifth International Art Competition are on display in a three-gallery exhibit. This year’s contest theme was The History and Messages of the Book of Mormon. (For a look at some of this art, see the Ensign’s August 2000 issue.)

Because artists from 38 countries submitted works for the competition, the exhibit provides insight into how Church members from different cultures visualize scenes and themes from the Book of Mormon. The exhibit runs through 4 September 2000.

And We Lived after the Manner of Happiness: A Children’s Exhibit for Families includes 17 paintings, photographs, and sculptures organized to encourage children and adults to talk together about the ideas presented in the art. The exhibit runs through 19 February 2001. For information on the two exhibits, call 1-801-240-3310, or e-mail questions to westenskowk@ldschurch.org.

The theme for the next international art competition is Latter-day Saints Yesterday and Today: An Artistic Exploration of Latter-day Saint Life, History, and Belief. Entries are due 25 November 2002. For more information, call 1-801-240-4615, or e-mail questions to westenskowk@ldschurch.org.

LDS Scene

Sister Hinckley Receives Honorary Doctoral Degree

Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, recently received an honorary doctoral degree in Christian Service from Brigham Young University.

As BYU’s April commencement speaker, Sister Hinckley addressed an audience of 21,400, which included the largest graduating class in the university’s history. Sister Hinckley advised students to “keep learning—there is no end.”

In presenting Sister Hinckley the award, Elder Merrill J. Bateman, BYU president and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, said, “Marjorie Pay Hinckley stands as a shining example of righteous womanhood in a time when many women doubt the validity of their contribution within the framework of home, family, and church.”

Also honored were Jerold and JoAnn Ottley, the former Mormon Tabernacle Choir musical director and his wife, who was a soloist and vocal coach for the choir. Brother and Sister Ottley received BYU presidential citations for their decades of service with the choir.

Three Florida Stakes Honored for Service

The city of Orlando, Florida, recently accorded its Volunteer of the Year award to three Orlando stakes for their outstanding community service. Orlando mayor Glenda Hood made the presentation to local Church leaders at an awards banquet and personally thanked them in a private meeting.

“The strength of any city rests on the strength of its neighborhoods and its families and their commitment to community. Toward this end, your church’s service has had a tremendously positive impact,” Mayor Hood said in presenting the award.

In 1999 more than 250 youth and youth leaders of the Lake Mary Stake spent an entire Saturday of their youth conference cleaning, repairing, and replanting a city cemetery. More than 400 members of the Orlando and the Orlando South stakes joined forces each Saturday in July to give service, this year cleaning up the Parramore community in the heart of Orlando.

First Known LDS-Owned Chapel Rededicated

In April the first known LDS-owned chapel was rededicated after extensive repairs and refurbishing. Surprisingly, this chapel is not located in New York or Ohio but in England’s open midlands near the town of Ledbury.

The Gadfield Elm Chapel was built in 1836 by a Christian congregation called the United Brethren. When Elder Wilford Woodruff of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the gospel to this congregation in 1840, all but one of its members joined the Church. The chapel was given to the Church, and the newly baptized Latter-day Saint congregation continued to meet there until they immigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, later that year. The chapel was sold at that time to raise funds for their immigration.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a descendant of one of the original United Brethren leaders, rededicated the Gadfield Elm Chapel, which local Church members purchased in 1995 and restored to look as it did more than 150 years ago, based on original drawings and descriptions. The chapel will be used for occasional Church gatherings; those interested in Church history may also visit the site.

The first known LDS meetinghouse in North America wasn’t constructed until 1851, in Salt Lake City. Before that time, Church members congregated in homes, in the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples, or outdoors.

[photo] Elder Merrill J. Batemen of the Seventy, president of BYU, presents Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley with an honorary doctoral degree. (Photo by Stuart Johnson.)

[photo] The restored Gadfield Elm Chapel, the first known LDS-owned chapel, will serve as a meetingplace on special occasions for Church members in England.