News of the Church

By Barbara Jean Jones


New Area Presidency Assignments

The First Presidency has announced changes in assignments for Area Presidencies, effective 15 August 2000. All presidency members belong to the Quorums of the Seventy.

1. North America Northwest: F. Melvin Hammond, President; John M. Madsen, First Counselor; Robert K. Dellenbach, Second Counselor

2. North America Central: Donald L. Staheli, President; Monte J. Brough, First Counselor; F. Burton Howard, Second Counselor

3. North America Northeast: W. Craig Zwick, President; Neil L. Andersen, First Counselor; Spencer J. Condie, Second Counselor

4. North America East: Sheldon F. Child, President; Yoshihiko Kikuchi, First Counselor; L. Lionel Kendrick, Second Counselor

5. North America Southeast: Richard D. Allred, President; Gordon T. Watts, First Counselor; * J. Devn Cornish, Second Counselor

6. North America Southwest: Rex D. Pinegar, President; Richard J. Maynes, First Counselor; Hugh W. Pinnock, Second Counselor

7. North America West: John B. Dickson, President; William R. Bradford, First Counselor; Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor

8. Utah North: Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., President; Gene R. Cook, First Counselor; Vaughn J. Featherstone, Second Counselor

9. Utah South: John H. Groberg, President; Charles Didier, First Counselor; Dennis E. Simmons, Second Counselor

10. Mexico North: Lynn A. Mickelsen, President; Gary J. Coleman, First Counselor; * Adrián Ochoa, Second Counselor

11. Mexico South: Carl B. Pratt, President; Richard H. Winkel, First Counselor; * Armando Gaona, Second Counselor

12. Central America: Lynn G. Robbins, President; Jerald L. Taylor, First Counselor; * Julio E. Alvarado, Second Counselor

13. South America North: Robert J. Whetten, President; H. Aldridge Gillespie, First Counselor; * Walter F. González, Second Counselor

14. South America West: Ned B. Roueché, President; David R. Stone, First Counselor; * Juan Uceda, Second Counselor

15. Brazil North: Claudio R. M. Costa, President; Robert S. Wood, First Counselor; Darwin B. Christenson, Second Counselor

16. Brazil South: J. Kent Jolley, President; Athos M. Amorím, First Counselor; Adhemar Damiani, Second Counselor

17. Chile: Dale E. Miller, President; Stephen B. Oveson, First Counselor; * John A. Harris, Second Counselor

18. South America South: Jay E. Jensen, President; Keith Crockett, First Counselor; * Claudio D. Zivic, Second Counselor

19. Africa West: Glenn L. Pace, President; H. Bruce Stucki, First Counselor; * Emmanuel O. Opare Sr., Second Counselor

20. Africa Southeast: Ray H. Wood, President; Robert C. Oaks, First Counselor; * Christoffel Golden Jr., Second Counselor

21. Philippines: Duane B. Gerrard, President; Merrill C. Oaks, First Counselor; Angel Abrea, Second Counselor

22. Pacific Islands: Quentin L. Cook, President; Ronald T. Halverson, First Counselor; Earl M. Monson, Second Counselor

23. Australia/New Zealand: Kenneth Johnson, President; Val R. Christensen, First Counselor; * Victor D. Cave, Second Counselor

24. Europe North: W. Rolfe Kerr, President; Ronald A. Rasband, First Counselor; * John Maxwell, Second Counselor

25. Europe West: John K. Carmack, President; D. Lee Tobler, First Counselor; Harold G. Hillam, Second Counselor

26. Europe East: Wayne M. Hancock, President; Douglas L. Callister, First Counselor; * Wolfgang H. Paul, Second Counselor

27. Asia North: L. Edward Brown, President; E. Ray Bateman, First Counselor; Donald L. Hallstrom, Second Counselor

28. Asia: Cree-L Kofford, President; Richard E. Cook, First Counselor; H. Bryan Richards, Second Counselor

  1.   *

    Indicates an Area Authority Seventy

Five New Temples Dedicated in Four Countries

For the first time in Church history, three temples were dedicated in the same weekend. The Tampico Mexico Temple, the Nashville Tennessee Temple, and the Villahermosa Mexico Temple were dedicated 20–21 May. On 4 June, two more temples were dedicated—the Montreal Quebec Temple and the San José Costa Rica Temple—bringing the total number of operating temples on that date to 87.

Tampico Mexico Temple

The Tampico Mexico Temple was dedicated in four sessions on 20 May by President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency.

In the dedicatory prayer, he said, “Father, we pray for Thy people everywhere. Strengthen Thy Church wherever it may be established. Bless this great nation of Mexico, its officers and governors at whatever level, that they may be friendly to Thy people and ensure their peace and security. May Thy work grow in this nation in a miraculous and marvelous way.”

Accompanying President Monson were Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen of the Seventy, President of the Mexico North Area.

The temple open house, held 29 April and 1–6 May, drew 11,135 visitors. More than 5,000 members attended the dedicatory sessions.

The existence of a temple in Tampico, an industrial city on central Mexico’s Gulf Coast, is a fulfillment of a dream for the 38,600 members it will serve. About 20 years ago Roberto de León Perales, then a stake president, expressed his feelings that a temple would one day be built on the plot of land on which the new edifice now stands.

Local members say the temple began blessing their lives long before it was completed. Roberto Cruz says he felt overwhelmed when he was called as the public affairs director for the local temple dedication committee, but that somehow he was blessed to fulfill all his responsibilities. “I am a humble shoemaker, and I wondered, Why wasn’t someone with more experience or more intellect called to this position?” said Brother Cruz. “But I have learned from this experience that the Lord qualifies whom He calls.”

Brother Cruz’s wife, Ana Bertha, says that preparing for the temple dedication has brought many Tampico-area members great joy.

Nashville Tennessee Temple

The Nashville Tennessee Temple was dedicated in four sessions on 21 May by President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.

“This sacred structure stands as a monument before the world of our belief in the immortality of the human soul and that a great work is going forward on the other side of the veil to bring blessings to those who will accept the ordinances which will be performed in their behalf in this Thy house,” said President Faust in the dedicatory prayer.

Accompanying President Faust were 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.

During the 6–13 May open house, nearly 25,000 visitors—more than 3,000 a day—toured the temple. “They have been so good and so kind, so generous in their comments about what they see. I think it’s been a unifying kind of experience,” said newly called temple president Buryl McClurg.

Temple matron Diane McClurg added, “I heard people say as they went out that they felt different when they were inside. That’s a lot of what it’s all about—the feeling of the Spirit.”

The completion of the temple near Nashville—the second, after the Memphis temple, to be dedicated in Tennessee in as many months—and the positive reaction toward it by local media and visitors, are hallmarks of a time of growth for the Church in Tennessee, which was once an area of intense persecution of the Church. Today, Tennessee has experienced a surge of missionary work.

The Nashville temple will serve 13,000 members in the midstate area. Several couples were sealed during its first day of operation. Many scheduled their wedding dates so they could be married in this new temple near their homes.

Villahermosa Mexico Temple

The Villahermosa Mexico Temple was dedicated by President Thomas S. Monson in four sessions on 21 May.

“May Thy eternal purposes concerning the sons and daughters of Lehi be realized in this sacred house. May every blessing of the eternal gospel be poured out upon them, and may the suffering of the centuries be softened through the beneficence of Thy loving care,” President Monson said in the dedicatory prayer.

Accompanying President Monson were Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Eran A. Call of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Mexico South Area Presidency.

Nearly 4,000 members attended the dedicatory sessions, and more than 10,000 people visited the temple during its 9–13 May open house.

Longtime members of the state of Tabasco marveled at the growth they’ve seen in the Church over the past several decades. There are now 28,100 members in the temple district. Maria Elena Balboa joined the Church 43 years ago, one of the first to be baptized in Tabasco. “I always wished for a temple in my town, but never really thought it would happen,” she said. “Today I’m so happy. I’ve even been called to work in the temple.”

Rafael Guerra, another longtime member, said, “Now the Church will grow in Villahermosa. Many nonmembers came to the open house, and many of them asked to hear the missionary discussions after visiting the Lord’s wonderful house.”

Montreal Quebec Temple

The Montreal Quebec Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in four dedicatory sessions on 4 June.

In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley said, “We thank Thee for the faithful tithe payers among Thy people throughout the world. It is they who have made all of this possible. Bless them for their faith and reward them for their consecrations. Bless Thy kingdom throughout the earth that it shall grow and multiply and fill the earth with righteousness.”

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, who served as president of the Canadian Mission from 1959–62, and Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy, First Counselor in the North America Northeast Area Presidency, took part in the dedication.

Some 6,000 members attended the dedicatory sessions, including 10 former presidents of the Montreal Quebec Mission. One of these former presidents, Scott H. Taggart, has been called to serve as president of the new temple. “For us, it’s just like coming back home,” he said.

Nearly 10,000 visitors passed through the temple during its open house on 20, 22–27 May.

The sixth to be built in Canada, the Montreal temple will serve 15,000 members in the Montreal Quebec Stake, the Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake, the Quebec Quebec District, the Ottawa Ontario Stake, and the Montpelier Vermont Stake.

The proximity of the temple will be a great blessing to local members, said Georges Bourget, second counselor in the temple presidency. Baptized in 1971, President Bourget remembers when English-speaking members drove four and a half days to the Alberta Canada Temple and French-speaking members traveled to the temple in Switzerland. Later temples in Washington, D.C., and Toronto brought temples closer, but travel even to these was still a hardship.

“But we in this area are a temple-loving people, and we were known for our faithfulness in attending the temple,” said President Bourget. “I think that’s one of the reasons we were able to receive a temple, even though the Church is relatively small here.”

San José Costa Rica Temple

The San José Costa Rica Temple was dedicated by President James E. Faust in four dedicatory sessions on 4 June. In the dedicatory prayer, he petitioned:

“As was said in the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, ‘We ask thee, Holy Father, to establish the people that shall worship, and honorably hold a name and standing in this thy house, to all generations and for all eternity; …

“‘That no combination of wickedness shall have the power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house’” (D&C 109:24, 26).

President Faust was accompanied by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy, President of the Central America Area.

In spite of almost daily rains, which closed the local airport, nearly 20,000 visitors attended the open house on 20, 22–27 May, with 5,000 attending on the final day. After leaving the temple, one nonmember visitor told her Latter-day Saint friend, “There is no place more holy than this temple in all of Costa Rica.” Another guest commented, “This is how it must be in heaven.” The open house also brought positive media coverage.

The rains subsided and the sun broke through for the dedication, which some 4,000 members attended. “There are not words to communicate the expressions on the faces of the members as they came out of the dedication,” said Douglas Rodas, director of public affairs for the Central America Area. “All day long, couples came out holding hands, tears of joy in their eyes.”

The San José temple will serve some 50,000 Saints in 12 stakes and 14 districts of Costa Rica and Panama.

[photo] The Tampico Mexico Temple was one of three new temples dedicated on the same weekend in May. The temple, located on central Mexico’s Gulf Coast, will serve nearly 40,000 members of the Church.

[photo] The Nashville Tennessee Temple, the second to be dedicated in Tennessee, drew nearly 25,000 visitors to its open house. The temple will serve 13,000 Church members in the central part of the state.

[photo] Several decades of steady Church growth in the state of Tabasco, Mexico, have led to the coming of a local temple. The Villahermosa Mexico Temple district includes nearly 30,000 members. (Photo by Jason Swensen, Church News.)

[photo] The Montreal Quebec Temple will serve 15,000 members in eastern Canada and parts of Vermont.

[photo] The San José Costa Rica Temple became the 87th operating temple of the Church. It will serve some 50,000 Saints in Costa Rica and Panama. (Photo by Jason Swensen, Church News.)

[photo] After several days of rain, the sun broke through as President James E. Faust led these Costa Rican children to the cornerstone ceremony. (Photo by Jason Swensen, Church News.)

Nearing the Goal of 100

Ninety-five temples are scheduled to be in operation by the beginning of August, just five temples shy of the target of 100 in the year 2000. The goal, announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley just two years ago, was remarkable, considering it had taken nearly 120 years to build the first 50 temples then in existence. “I am sure that many thought this was just wishful dreaming on my part,” commented President Hinckley. “It seemed totally unrealistic” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 88).

But now, with additional temple dedications planned before the end of the year, the once seemingly unrealistic goal will soon become a reality. And with 14 temples currently under construction and 12 more announced, the number of operating temples may top 120 relatively soon.

Plans to build many smaller temples rapidly, thus making temple blessings available to many more members, were outlined by President Hinckley during the April 1998 general conference. “I take this opportunity to announce to the entire Church a program to construct some 30 smaller temples immediately. They will have all the facilities to provide the ordinances of the Lord’s house,” he said. “In this program we are moving on a scale the like of which we have never seen before” (Ensign, May 1998, 88).

At the present there are 37 smaller temples in existence, 8 under construction, and 11 more announced. “We shall not stop at these,” President Hinckley has said. “We shall go on building. We know there are so very many locations where they are needed in order that you, the faithful Saints of this Church, may go to receive your own blessings and to extend those blessings to those who have passed beyond the veil of death. We pray that our people may be worthy to use them” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 88).

Operating Temples

June 1997

50

Jan. 1998

51

June 1998

52

Jan. 1999

54

June 1999

57

Jan. 2000

70

Aug. 2000

95

Ricks College to Become Four-Year BYU—Idaho

In June the First Presidency and the Board of Trustees of Ricks College announced that the two-year junior college will change to a four-year institution and will be renamed Brigham Young University—Idaho. The new name will give the school increased national and international recognition.

Classes were canceled on 21 June so that students, employees, and faculty could attend a live broadcast of the announcement from Salt Lake City. “When President Hinckley announced the change, there erupted an immediate burst of applause through the audience of 2,500,” said Brent Kinghorn, Ricks College vice president.

Since its inception as a small junior college in 1923, Ricks has grown to the largest privately owned two-year college in the United States. Ricks students currently number about 9,000, many of whom seek to transfer to BYU after graduation. “We hope that with the change to a four-year university and the increased name recognition of BYU, many of these students will now stay here to obtain their baccalaureate degrees,” said Brother Kinghorn. Ricks had been a four-year college once before, for an eight-year period beginning in 1948, but it reverted to a two-year institution in 1956.

Although BYU—Idaho will operate on an expanded year-round basis, no large increases in enrollment are expected at this point, and minimal changes to campus physical facilities are expected.

A major change that will take place is phasing out the school’s intercollegiate athletic program.

The institution will gradually make all modifications while working to preserve the school’s autonomy and identity. Adjustments to its mission will be minimal, and for now the president of BYU—Idaho will continue to report to the commissioner of the Church Educational System.

Out of the Ashes

Homes of 11 Latter-day Saint families were destroyed and two other member homes were significantly damaged when a forest fire, started by the National Park Service to remove dry undergrowth, raged out of control in the Los Alamos, New Mexico, area in May. Fortunately, no one was injured, and displaced families of the Los Alamos and White Rock Wards, Santa Fe New Mexico Stake, have been blessed by an outpouring of support and assistance from their community and from surrounding Church members.

Connie Johnson of the Los Alamos Ward chokes up whenever she speaks of the love and help she and her family of eight have been given since they lost their home to the blaze. “Our home teacher and his wife cleared out of their home and said we could live there for a year until our house is rebuilt,” she says. “We feel so grateful. I mean, this is home teaching to the ‘nth’ degree.”

The Johnsons’ home teacher, Al Schofield, and his wife, Gaye, say they’ll pass the year staying near and working in the Albuquerque New Mexico Temple and visiting their children and grandchildren in other states.

Such charity has been typical in the face of the disaster. When residents of Los Alamos and White Rock were hurriedly evacuated from their homes in the middle of the night, many Latter-day Saints who fled these communities gathered at the Santa Fe stake center, where other members of the stake were there to greet them and invite them to stay in their homes.

When Church members in the Albuquerque area heard of the plight of the Los Alamos Saints, they quickly pulled together their resources and sent a truckload of food, water, clothing, bedding, and toiletries to the Santa Fe stake center. “They had even sorted the clothing for gender and size,” says President H. Thomas Blair, first counselor in the Santa Fe stake presidency. “Everyone’s needs were more than met.” President Blair said that extra bottled water was donated to local firefighters and extra food donated to a community food bank.

“The amount of support from the community and from Church members has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Kenneth Spencer, bishop of the Los Alamos Ward. “There is still a room at the meetinghouse filled with clothing, household items, and blankets. Members have held bake sales to raise money for displaced families.” Los Alamos Ward Relief Society president Patricia Peterson says Relief Society sisters are planning “kitchen showers” for members who lost their homes.

Since the end of May, when the huge fire—which torched nearly 50,000 acres and 260 homes—was mostly contained, Latter-day Saints have joined each Saturday with the fire department and other community members to help revegetate the area. To avoid the possibility of massive flooding, volunteers have turned over blackened soil and then planted grass seed so that the burnt ground can absorb the moisture that comes with the rainy season in June and July. “I’ve had Church leaders from surrounding stakes in New Mexico and neighboring states call, offering manpower to assist with the cleanup effort,” said President Blair. “It’s been very gratifying.”

In a recent fast and testimony meeting in the Los Alamos Ward, members who had lost all their possessions—and those who thought they might lose their possessions when they were evacuated—expressed their gratitude for the gospel and the eternal perspective it brings. In sharing her testimony, Sister Johnson said, “When something like this happens to you, you realize that material things don’t matter. Only the gospel and your family are eternal.”

[photos] After a New Mexico fire destroyed 260 homes and 50,000 acres, members joined with others to help those who lost their homes. They also helped sandbag and revegetate forest areas to prevent flooding that can come after forest destruction. (Photography by John McHale and Shaun Hudson, Los Alamos Monitor.)

FamilySearch Web Site Receives Three Billion Hits

The Church’s FamilySearch™ Internet Genealogy Service, a source of 640 million names worldwide, received its three billionth hit in May, just under a year after the site was introduced.

Receiving as many as eight million hits a day, www.familysearch.org allows users to download Personal Ancestral File at no charge. Personal Ancestral File, a family history software program that helps users organize their family history records, is now available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and German.

The site also provides a searchable master index for the Pedigree Resource File. The Pedigree Resource File is available on a series of CD-ROMs and is growing at the rate of 1.1 million names a month as users submit personal family records via www.familysearch.org.

Soon, FamilySearch will be adding vital records indexes from Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. These indexes will supply the dates and places of births, christenings, deaths, and marriages.

“We are delighted the FamilySearch Web site has been instrumental in helping so many people discover their heritage,” said Randy Bryson, director of FamilySearch.

The Church is the world leader in offering family history resources, with its vast records at Salt Lake City’s Family History Library and more than 3,400 Family History Centers worldwide.

[photo] The Church’s FamilySearch™ Web site can be reached at www.familysearch.org.

LDS Scene

Ambassador to Gambia Visits Church Headquarters

During a recent visit to the United States, George Haley, U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Gambia, met with the First Presidency in Salt Lake City and toured the Family History Library, Temple Square, and Church welfare facilities.

As might be expected, Ambassador Haley, brother of Roots author Alex Haley, was impressed by the Family History Library, which had assisted his late brother in research for his best-selling book. But Ambassador Haley was also impressed with how the Church helps families and individuals through its humanitarian efforts.

Old Mormon Fort Rebuilt in Las Vegas

Many of southern Nevada’s governmental leaders joined with hundreds of Church members and others in Las Vegas, Nevada, recently to celebrate the dedication of the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort.

The adobe fort, constructed in 1855 by 30 missionaries sent by Brigham Young to settle the region, is Nevada’s newest “historic park.” It is located on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington Avenue.

Since 1937 the site, which marks the birthplace of what is now Las Vegas, has been gradually preserved, rebuilt, and reconstructed by Church members and by the department of Nevada State Parks. “The old fort has always been a symbol of our pioneer heritage,” said Rulon Earl, 89, whose ancestors helped settle southern Nevada in the late 1800s.

Visitors to the fort can see a re-creation of a pioneer garden, corrals similar to those used by the missionaries, and portions of the original fort as well as the reconstructed section.

Legacy Continues

With the March opening of the new film The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building at Church headquarters, Legacy has been moved to the North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square.

“The First Presidency wanted to continue to make this amazing story of faith and courage available to all who wish to see it,” explained Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Seventy, executive director of the Church’s Audiovisual Department.

Showings of Legacy are at 1:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. every day except Sunday. No tickets are required.

To obtain free tickets for The Testaments, call 1-801-240-4383, or call toll-free 1-800-453-3860, ext. 2-4383, in the U.S. and Canada.

Museum Displays The Beehive Image

Through November 2000, the Museum of Church History and Art is exhibiting The Beehive Image: Symbol of Industry and Cooperation. The new exhibit features the beehive as an ancient and modern symbol of industry and community harmony.

The display includes everything from the original brass doorknobs of the Salt Lake Temple to t-shirts and novelty items.

“The beehive has been the most enduring of Latter-day Saint symbols,” said Robert O. Davis, exhibit curator. “For centuries, prophets, politicians, and poets used this symbol as an example of good social order.”

The exhibit is open to the public from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. Monday through Friday and from 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. on Saturdays, Sundays, and most holidays. Admission is free. For more information call 1-801-240-3310, or call toll-free 1-800-453-3860, ext. 2-4615, in the U.S. and Canada.

[photo] Ambassador George Haley visits Welfare Square with Marvin Lewis, bishops’ storehouse manager. (Photo by Glen K. Lund.)

[photo] Church members and friends met with government leaders in Las Vegas to dedicate a restoration of the Old Mormon Fort, built in 1855. (Photo courtesy of Church News.)

[photo] These 19th and 20th century relics are among those on display in a beehive exhibit at the Museum of Church History and Art.

Comment

Dispelling the Darkness of Abuse

I just read in February’s Ensign the article by another adult survivor of incest. There are some things we have in common. I too was abused by family members and friends of the family.

I believe that without Heavenly Father’s intervention, I would have died as a result of the abuse. I have also been blessed by Heavenly Father from childhood to be able to keep a good idea of myself and my ability to succeed. I have had a teaching career and owned and operated my own business. Life is still hard, very hard, but I am happier than I have ever been. I expect to continue to grow.

I was baptized 23 years ago, and there is no question in my mind that the gospel of Jesus Christ has helped guide me through the process of forgiveness and personal growth. I have a strong testimony that this is the Savior’s Church.

Name Withheld