News of the Church

By Jay M. Todd


Four Temples Dedicated

For the first time in history, a Church President dedicated four temples during the same trip. In late June, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated temples in Fukuoka, Japan; in Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia; and in Suva, Fiji. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles accompanied President Hinckley for each of the dedications.

Fukuoka Japan Temple

President Hinckley dedicated the Fukuoka Japan Temple, the second to be built in that island nation, in four sessions on 11 June 2000. “Bless Thy Saints of this great nation,” said President Hinckley in his dedicatory prayer. “Bless them among the millions of this land that by the virtue of their lives they may stand as a city upon a hill whose light cannot be hid.” Attending the dedication with President Hinckley and Elder Holland was Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy, then President of the Asia North Area.

Some 3,000 members attended the dedication of the temple, located on Kyushu, a main island in the southern part of Japan. Some 5,000 visitors, including many government leaders, attended the 1–3 June open house; hundreds of visitors asked to learn more about the Church. One VIP commented, “Before I came to the open house, I determined that I would not change my preconceived ideas about this Christian church. As I walked through the temple, I repeated this to myself over and over. But when I entered the celestial room, I felt my preconceptions change.”

The area in which the temple now stands was special to the members of Fukuoka even before the temple was built. One of the first meetinghouses of Kyushu and later the former mission headquarters were previously located on the temple site.

The timing at which the temple came was also impressive, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of missionary work in Japan. “When a temple was announced for Fukuoka, it was beyond our expectations,” said Ryosho Nakamura, a longtime Church member and leader in Kyushu. “On the day of the dedication, we felt strongly that the Fukuoka temple is truly the house of the Lord. Feelings of joy, gladness, and gratitude filled our hearts.”

Adelaide Australia Temple

The Adelaide Australia Temple was dedicated on 15 June 2000. “We are grateful for this nation of Australia, where there is freedom of worship, freedom of assembly, and freedom to take upon ourselves the name of our divine Redeemer, and to keep sacred the covenants which we make with Him,” said President Hinckley in the dedication prayer. “May this be a day of rejoicing on both sides of the veil.”

Elders Kenneth Johnson and Victor D. Cave of the Seventy, then First and Second Counselors in the Australia/New Zealand Area Presidency, attended the dedication.

Some 2,500 members attended the four dedicatory sessions. The temple’s 3–10 June open house was attended by nearly 50,000 visitors.

For members of the Church in Adelaide, the building of the temple was a strengthening experience. Community interest ran high after numerous stories appeared in the media describing the temple construction. Then, in the two weeks before the open house, an extensive radio and newspaper advertising campaign invited the public to tour the new building.

New temples in Australia are a visible evidence of strong Church growth in this nation. The Church here has grown from just 3,000 members in 1955 to 100,000 members today. In the latest census of Australia, the Church was the fastest-growing Christian faith.

Melbourne Australia Temple

On 16 June 2000 the Melbourne Australia Temple was dedicated in four sessions. “Henceforth [the temple] will be open only to those who are properly recommended as worthy to enter its portals. … May they leave rejoicing, standing taller as sons and daughters of God, with strengthened resolve to walk in Thy paths,” President Hinckley said in the dedicatory prayer. “Bless this land that it may remain ever strong, a nation of peace and progress among the nations of the earth.”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy, then President of the Australia/New Zealand Area, attended the dedication with President Hinckley and Elder Holland.

Good weather smiled on the proceedings, which were attended by over 5,000 members.

The new temple is a great blessing for the Saints in its temple district of Tasmania and Victoria, said Murray Lobley, president of the Pakenham stake. “For 16 years we have traveled the 1,500 miles round trip to the Sydney temple.”

Suva Fiji Temple

President Hinckley dedicated the Suva Fiji Temple on 18 June 2000. Because of political unrest in the country, the dedication was limited to one session.

In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley petitioned for peace in Fiji. “We pray, dear Father, that these beautiful islands may be blessed with peace, that there shall be no abridgment of the great freedom of worship afforded by the government of this land. May Thy Saints be recognized as good citizens, and may Thy work grow and flourish in this favored part of Thy vineyard.”

At the dedication, President Hinckley and Elder Holland were joined by the Pacific Islands Area President, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Seventy.

In spite of civil unrest, the open house was able to proceed on 7–10 and 12 June, with approximately 16,323 attending. During the dedication, which 60 members attended, indigenous Fijian members mingled in love and unity with Indian members, despite the political friction that exists between the two peoples in their country.

Although only a small number of members were able to attend the quiet dedication and cornerstone ceremony, President Hinckley expressed hope that the joy of having a temple in Fiji would more than make up for members’ disappointment in not being able to attend. Some Fijian members were able to see President Hinckley when they ran to see his car on his route from the Suva airport to the temple. One small boy held up a sign that read, “We love the prophet!”

[photo] Japanese Church members flock to the dedication of the Fukuoka temple. The temple is the second to be built in this island nation. (Photo by Greg Hill, Church News.)

[photo] Rhelma and Kerrie Badger of the Fulham Gardens Ward, Adelaide Australia Firle Stake, visit the newly dedicated temple in Adelaide. (Photo by Chris Baker.)

[photo] The Melbourne Australia Temple will bless the lives of Church members in Tasmania and Victoria. (Photo by Jonathan Webb.)

[photo] Despite little publicity due to political unrest, thousands attended the open house of the Suva Fiji Temple. (Photo by Talat Mehmood.)

“Out Among the People”

In addition to dedicating four temples in three nations, President Gordon B. Hinckley met with Church members and governmental leaders in Thailand, Australia, New Caledonia, and American Samoa during his trip across the Pacific in June.

President Hinckley said his joy at being among the Saints sustained him through his 17-meeting, 22,000-mile, 47-hours-in-the-air trip. “When you get out among the people you feel a lift and a spiritual power that’s tremendous,” he said in a press conference upon his return.

After the temple dedication in Japan, President Hinckley flew to Thailand, which he had dedicated for the preaching of the gospel in 1961. Bhichit Rattakul, the mayor of Bangkok and a BYU graduate, greeted President Hinckley at the airport. Later, along with prime minister Chuan Leepkai, the mayor expressed appreciation for Church volunteer work in Thailand and gave President Hinckley a key to the city.

President Hinckley then addressed some 2,600 members who had gathered from all over the country to see and hear the first Church President ever to visit Thailand. He encouraged and blessed the members and said he hoped a temple would one day stand in their nation.

On his way to dedicate temples in Adelaide and Melbourne, President Hinckley stopped at the airport in Darwin, Australia, where 250 members were assembled. He shared his testimony and shook hands with these members, some of whom had traveled 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) to meet him.

Following the temple dedications in Australia, President Hinckley made a stop in Noumea, New Caledonia, a remote island nation that also had never been visited by a Church President. “We have 1,400 members there. We had 1,200 of them in a meeting,” said President Hinckley. It was “wonderfully significant to look into the faces of the people and talk with them.”

After the temple dedication in Fiji, President Hinckley traveled to Pago Pago, American Samoa, where a large crowd at the airport gave him a Samoan greeting of leis and kisses. There he spoke to 5,000 members at a local stadium.

After returning from the trip, President Hinckley affirmed, “You can’t look into the faces, light and dark and of all the many nationalities and many cultures and backgrounds, without having a tremendous emotional experience well up within you over what this work is accomplishing.”

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley visits with members at a Darwin, Australia, airport during a trip across the Pacific. “You can’t look into the faces … without having a tremendous emotional experience,” he said. (Photography courtesy of the Office of the President.)

[photo] Bangkok mayor Bhichit Rattakul, a BYU graduate, gives President Hinckley a key to the city. (Photography courtesy of the Office of the President.)

Scriptures, Magazines, Other Materials Now On-line

The Church’s scriptures and 30 years of Church magazines are now available on the Church Web site at www.lds.org. Issues of the Ensign, New Era, and Friend magazines are available from their inception in 1971, and English issues of the Liahona—the Church’s international magazine—are available from its beginning in 1977. In the future, language versions of the Liahona will also be available on-line. New issues of these magazines will be added to the database 90 days after their publication date, although the First Presidency and Visiting Teaching Messages will continue to be available on-line upon publication each month.

Users can search this magazine database in many ways, including by subject, author, title, artist, phrase, and scripture reference.

  • Written and audio versions of general conference are available on the Web site. Audio versions are available in many languages. At general conference time members may also go to the Web site to listen to conference live in those languages.

  • All the Church’s scriptures and all curriculum materials for the current year are now available on the site. The standard scriptures are available in written and audio form.

  • Information is provided on some 100 Church historic sites, visitors’ centers, and pageants; also included is news of the Church through multimedia resources, including photos and recorded interviews. There will be format adjustments on the Internet versions to accommodate an increasing volume of content.

President Hinckley Celebrates 90th Birthday

On 23 June in the Conference Center, the stage was set for a party. Every seat was filled. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square were in their places. Thousands of flowers bedecked the rostrum. House lights were turned low. The scene was complete when President Gordon B. Hinckley stepped into the spotlight at the podium, wearing a tuxedo adorned by colorful leis sent by Hawaiian, Tongan, and Samoan Saints.

“This celebration is not about me,” he began, even though the evening was in honor of the Church President’s 90th birthday. He said it was a “gift to the community.”

As part of the gift, President Hinckley selected some of his favorite music for the program, including a repertoire of opera, hymns, folk, and contemporary pieces. Individual performers included soloists Michael and Vanessa Ballam, Ariel Bybee, Gladys Knight, Stanford Olsen, JoAnn Ottley, and Robert Peterson; directors Robert C. Bowden, Barlow Bradford, Craig Jessop, Jerold Ottley, and Mack Wilberg; and violinist Jenny Oaks Baker.

“You’ll never hear anything better than that!” President Hinckley said in concluding the program, which had brought the house to its feet. Sister Knight then joined President Hinckley at the podium and led the audience in singing “Happy Birthday.”

“Thank you,” he said, becoming emotional when the 21,000 guests sang to him. “It’s worth living until 90 to have something like this.”

Thousands of other guests were simultaneously singing happy birthday because the program was broadcast to meetinghouses throughout North America and Europe.

Before his birthday celebration President Hinckley received the news that his book, Standing for Something, made Publisher’s Weekly’s top 10 best-seller list for religion books. Released through Random House, the 193-page book draws on many of President Hinckley’s experiences.

[photo] Gladys Knight joins President Gordon B. Hinckley at the Conference Center podium to lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday.” (Photo by Stuart Johnson.)

Plant Seeds for the Future, New Mission Presidents Advised

“You cannot foretell the consequences of the great work which comes to pass out of the feeble beginnings of missionary service. Look ahead to the years down the line and see the flowering of your efforts,” President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled 103 new mission presidents and their wives during the annual mission presidents’ seminar in June. “As surely as the sun rises in the morning, this work will come to flower in the missions where you serve.”

Speaking at the conclusion of the weeklong seminar on 23 June and on his 90th birthday, President Hinckley told them, “You’re headed for great and wonderful experiences, the end of which no one can foretell.” He reminded the mission presidents and their wives of the admonition in Doctrine and Covenants 15:6 [D&C 15:6]: “The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people.”

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President James E. Faust, Second Counselor, attended the seminar’s closing, as did members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.

President Monson addressed the mission presidents on 20 June, focusing on the fundamental importance of missionary work. He pointed out that this was what Jesus Christ emphasized at His farewell to His Apostles just before the Ascension.

He cited the Lord’s words in Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 [D&C 18:10]: “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”

President Faust spoke to the mission presidents on 21 June, urging them to “find balance through seeking the Spirit.” He noted that the Lord directed in 1831 how His servants should proceed in His work: “Conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit” (D&C 46:2).

“You’ll need to cleanse your hearts to feel clean and pure and worthy,” he said.

The new mission presidents are among 333 serving worldwide, presiding over more than 60,000 missionaries.

Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander Called to Presidency of Seventy

The First Presidency has announced a change in the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, who has served as a General Authority for nine years, has been called to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Harold G. Hillam, who had served in the Presidency since 1995, was released. Elder Hillam was recently called to be Second Counselor in the Europe West Area.

Elder Neuenschwander, 60, a former president of the Austria Vienna East Mission, was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on 6 April 1991, and to the First Quorum of the Seventy on 1 October 1994. He and his wife, LeAnn Clement Neuenschwander, are the parents of four sons. Prior to becoming a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Neuenschwander served as President of the Utah South Area.

Other members of the Presidency of the Seventy are Elders L. Aldin Porter, Earl C. Tingey, D. Todd Christofferson, Marlin K. Jensen, David E. Sorensen, and Ben B. Banks.

Historic Milestone Achieved: More Non-English-Speaking Members Now Than English-Speaking

Sometime in September 2000, a significant milestone in Church membership will be reached. Statisticians estimate that in September, 170 years after the gospel was restored in the host language of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Church will at long last have more non-English-speaking members than English-speaking.

This is the second important signpost reached in the past four years as the Church rolls “forth unto the ends of the earth … until it has filled the whole earth” (D&C 65:2). The previous signpost was reached in late February 1996, when it was estimated that more Church members were living outside than inside the United States (see Ensign, Mar. 1996, 76).

“In doing these calculations, definitions are necessary,” says W. Larry Elkington, manager of the Church’s management information center. “The definition of membership language is the language spoken in the family. On that basis, the axis shifts in September, when we estimate English-speaking membership will be less than 50 percent of the Church.”

The largest language group in the Church is still English, however, with about 5.5 million English-speaking members. English is projected to continue as the largest language group in the Church for about two more decades. Spanish is presently the second largest language group in the Church, with about 3.3 million Spanish-speaking members. Sometime around the year 2020, however, based on present membership growth rates, Spanish is projected to be the largest language group in the Church, with English being second.

At present, the rest of the non-English-speaking and non-Spanish-speaking membership constitutes about 2.2 million members. The diversity of the Church’s 11 million membership (see sidebar) is illustrated by the fact that there are wards or branches in 148 nations and 22 territories throughout the world.

The story of the restored gospel being taken to non-English-speaking peoples is complex. Here are some of the historical firsts accomplished by official Church emissaries:

  • The first-known spoken communications to a non-English-speaking people were to the Delaware Indians of present-day Kansas in 1831.

  • The first-known written communications to a non-English-speaking people were in Dutch, primarily to Jewish rabbis in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 1841.

  • The first-known Church unit for a non-English-speaking people was the La Salle, Illinois, branch for Norwegian-speaking immigrants in 1842.

  • The first-known Church unit outside the United States for a non-English-speaking people was likely the Merthyr Tydfil branch in Wales, formed in 1843. The Welsh-speaking Rhymney, Wales, branch was also formed in 1843.

  • The first official Church emissary to a non-English-speaking people was Oliver Cowdery, second elder of the Church (see D&C 20:3), with his companions. This mission came about six months after the Church was organized. The September 1830 revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith stated that Oliver Cowdery “shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them” (D&C 28:8).

Though Elder Cowdery and companions preached “at or near Buffalo,” New York, likely to Seneca and Onondaga Indians at the Buffalo Creek Reservation, and later to the Wyandot Indians in northern Ohio in 1830, it is not known whether they spoke anything other than English. 1 No reference is made to using an interpreter until January 1831, when the group reached Indian Territory in present-day Kansas. Members of the group stopped one night with the Shawnees but did not stay. They proceeded to a Delaware Indian village, located about 12 miles west of the Missouri state line. There, for several days, through “an interpreter present … we commenced to make known our errand, and to tell … of the Book of Mormon.” 2 As far as is known, this event represents the first spoken words of the restored gospel message from a Church emissary into the language of a non-English-speaking people. It was the 10th month since the organization of the Church in April 1830.

The first-known written text by an official Church emissary in a non-English language was by Elder Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the spring of 1841 he started on his appointed mission to dedicate the Holy Land. In June he stopped in Rotterdam, Holland, and published in Dutch, likely with translation assistance, “an address to the Hebrews” and said he “obtained the publication of 500 copies.” 3 He left them primarily with rabbis. No copy of this tract has been located. It was 11 years after the organization of the Church.

On his return trip from the Holy Land, Elder Hyde published in August 1842 in Frankfurt, Germany, a 115-page booklet patterned after Elder Orson Pratt’s 1840 publication of Remarkable Visions in Edinburgh, Scotland. Assisted by a young German student to whom Elder Hyde was teaching English, the work Ein Ruf aus der Wüste (A Cry from the Wilderness) is the earliest non-English Latter-day Saint book that has survived.

Identifying the first Church unit for non-English-speaking members is complicated. The bilingual La Salle, Illinois, branch, located some 155 miles northeast of Nauvoo, was formed in about June 1842 and may qualify as the first. This successful branch was for Norwegian members converted among the Fox River Norwegian immigrant community and surrounding Norwegian settlements. Missionary work was initially done by Elder George P. Dykes in English, and subsequent Church visitors spoke in English, although Elder Dykes acquired some knowledge of Norwegian. Branch members likely spoke primarily Norwegian in their meetings; yet some could read from the English Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and other Church materials. Those who could read English needed to explain information to fellow members. The second-known Church unit in the United States for a non-English-speaking people was a German-speaking branch in Nauvoo, Illinois, December 1843. 4 Thus, while the Prophet Joseph Smith presided at Nauvoo, branches were established in the state for two separate groups of non-English-speaking peoples.

The first-known Church unit for non-English-speaking people in a non-English-speaking nation or principality came as an offshoot of the successful missionary work in England by Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his associates following their arrival in Liverpool in July 1837. In consequence of the success achieved primarily in western England, in late 1842 or early 1843 Elder Lorenzo Snow, subsequently serving in England, sent the first-known missionary, Elder William Henshaw, to Merthyr Tydfil in the Welsh heartland, Wales being a principality of Great Britain. During 1843, branches were established in Merthyr Tydfil and in Rhymney, both located in south Wales. Those “early converts were miners having come from agricultural areas where practically no English was spoken.” 5

Welsh is an ancient Celtic language, and though the gospel had been preached in Wales in 1840, with branches formed there, the work in Wales until 1843 was among English-speaking or bilingual Welsh near the English borders. Today most Welsh speak only English, and those who speak Welsh are bilingual. But in the 19th century, only a small portion of the Welsh spoke or read English. In a September 1844 letter, Elder Reuben Hedlock wrote to Church leaders in America reporting that there were about 200 converts near Merthyr Tydfil and that he had published a small pamphlet in the Welsh language on the first principles of the gospel. 6 Nothing else is known of this first-known LDS publication in Welsh. The earliest surviving LDS publication in Welsh is a 48-page pamphlet by Elder Dan Jones, printed in 1845, titled Y farw wedi ei chyfodi yn fyw (The Dead Raised to Life). As is well known to readers of Church history, in the mid to late 1840s thousands of the Welsh joined the Church.

The second-known Church unit outside the United States for a non-English-speaking people in a non-English-speaking nation was established in mid-1844 among Pacific islanders on distant Tubuai, an island of French Polynesia. After leaving Nauvoo on 1 June 1843, Elders Noah Rogers, Addison Pratt, and Benjamin F. Grouard landed on Tubuai on 30 April 1844, and in July Elder Pratt baptized some Tubuaian and Caucasian converts. In September Elder Pratt began preaching in Tahitian. Thus, it is apparent that prior to the Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith on 27 June 1844 the establishment of the restored gospel in non-English-speaking countries had begun. It further heralded that which the Lord had spoken through the Prophet in February 1829: “Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men” (D&C 4:1).

Following these efforts were other landmark firsts:

  • First non-English translation of the Book of Mormon: Danish, 1851.

  • First non-English translation of the Doctrine and Covenants: Welsh, 1851.

  • First non-English translation of the Pearl of Great Price: Welsh, 1852.

Today, Selections from the Book of Mormon is available in 39 languages, and the full Book of Mormon in 54 languages—a figure that includes English Braille, American Sign Language, and Spanish Braille—for a total of 93 languages.

The Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price are presently available in 38 languages.

The Liahona magazine, the Church’s international magazine, is published in English and 41 non-English languages. In addition, the First Presidency Message and Visiting Teaching Message are published in a non-magazine format in another 33 languages, for a combined total of 75 languages regularly receiving textual materials. All of this in the ongoing task appointed of the Lord: “For it shall come to pass, … that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ” (D&C 90:11).

This milestone of having more non-English-speaking Church members than English-speaking is a significant mark in the unfolding destiny of the Church.

11-Million-Member Mark Reached in September

Another membership milestone is noted for the month of September, when Church membership will reach 11 million members, according to Church statisticians. The latest gain of one million members took less than three years since the 10-million-membership line was crossed in November 1997. In contrast, it took 117 years for the Church to reach its first million members, in 1947.

[photo] Members on Christmas Island, where Kiribati is spoken, meet in priesthood and Relief Society classes, representative of today’s multilanguage, worldwide Church.

[illustration] Oliver Cowdery and missionary companions en route to Indian Territory in present-day Kansas. (“Go … into the Wilderness,” by Robert T. Barrett.)

[photo] Earliest surviving Latter-day Saint work in Welsh. English title translation: The Dead Raised to Life.

    Notes

  1.   1.

    Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt [1938], 47. Another Indian reservation, the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, was 35 miles southwest of Buffalo—in a different county, where people of the Iroquois nations resided. There is no tribe or nation of Indians named Cattaraugus.

  2.   2.

    Autobiography, 53.

  3.   3.

    Times and Seasons, 15 Oct. 1841.

  4.   4.

    See History of the Church, 6:103. These German-speaking members were not converts from Germany, but mostly bilingual German- and English-speaking converts from Pennsylvania and New York. There were German speakers in Seneca County, New York, who learned about the restored gospel in 1829 and 1830. Among them was Peter Whitmer Sr., who was comfortable speaking the language of his heritage.

  5.   5.

    Letter from Ronald D. Dennis, 30 June 2000.

  6.   6.

    Manuscript History of the British Mission, 3 Sept. 1844.

Family History, Historical Departments Combined

The First Presidency recently announced the consolidation of the Family History and Historical Departments to form the Family and Church History Department.

“We are confident that this organizational change will optimize Church resources and result in other positive benefits to the Church and its members and friends,” said the First Presidency in a letter announcing the change.

Combining staff expertise and other resources of the two departments will make it increasingly easier for people to research family and Church history, explained Richard E. Turley Jr., who heads the new department.

Since both departments originated from the Church Historian’s Office, Brother Turley said the consolidation is natural. “For years the two departments have been running in parallel; now they will run together,” he said. The departments “have a lot of complementary functions already.”

New Multi-Use Church Center in Washington, D.C.

The Church has taken an innovative approach to meeting the needs of both Latter-day Saint students and the Church organization in the Washington, D.C., area by developing a facility that includes a chapel and meeting rooms, offices, and living quarters all within one building.

The facility, a remodeled four-story building, will be named the Milton A. Barlow Building. It has been developed as a joint effort of local priesthood leaders, Brigham Young University, the Church’s Public Affairs Department, and the institutes of religion of the Church Educational System. The two top floors will provide living quarters for BYU students participating in Washington internship programs. The second floor will house office space and meeting rooms for Public Affairs. The first floor will have a chapel, meeting rooms, and offices of the institute program. This variety of uses means that the building will be in use all day, every day.

“We’re excited to have a convenient place for our college students and young single adults to gather and worship,” says Michael Seay, president of the District of Columbia District. “We have five major universities here with about 200 LDS students.”

“We’ve been searching for a place like this for over 15 years,” says Scott Dunaway, director of BYU’s program. “This facility will enable BYU to take better advantage of the many governmental, diplomatic, research, and scholarly resources in Washington, D.C.”

T. LaMar Sleight, director of International and Government Affairs for the Public Affairs Department, says, “It is important for the Church to have a presence in Washington, D.C. This facility gives us that presence and provides for convenient access to the diplomatic community as well as many other agencies.”

Jon Stephenson, former director of the D.C. institute of religion, adds, “It has been wonderful to see how the various departments of the Church have come together to make this happen.”

LDS Scene

Members Celebrate 75th Anniversary of Church in South America

South American Saints are commemorating this year the 75th anniversary of the dedication of their continent for missionary work. Celebrations have included special firesides and service projects. Coinciding with the anniversary, Uruguay’s 100th meetinghouse was recently dedicated in the Real Branch, Colonia Uruguay District.

On Christmas of 1925, Elder Melvin J. Ballard (1873–1939) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated South America and created the South American Mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Elder Ballard later prophesied, “The work of the Lord will grow slowly for a time here just as an oak grows slowly from an acorn. [But] the day will come when the South American Mission will become a power in the Church.”

South American membership has now swelled to nearly two and a half million, with more than 65 missions and 540 stakes.

800 Participate in Oregon Service Project

Some 750 members of the Oregon City stake—from Primary children to the elderly—joined with 50 members of other faiths to give community service in June. The group completed a wide variety of projects, including creating two community centers, cleaning and renewing three local schools, clearing weeds from two pioneer cemeteries, assembling hygiene kits for domestic violence shelters, and making baby booties, toys, and wall hangings for orphanages.

“It’s been marvelous,” said Reverend Stan Hoobing, pastor of a local Lutheran Church, who received assistance from dozens of LDS teens in converting an old school dormitory into a community center. “I learned that Latter-day Saints are very compassionate and caring.”

What the stake calls its “Neighbor to Neighbor” day was the beginning of what will be a continuing tradition of service, said stake president Eugene Trone. Each year, stake members will rotate to a different community within different ward boundaries until all eight communities or ward areas of the stake have been served. “It’s been a great reactivation and missionary tool,” said second counselor Larry Blunck. “We personally invited less-active and part-member families to participate, and not one person said no.”

President Blunck said the project has created goodwill in the community and has greatly unified members of the stake. “We chose a variety of projects so that everyone, even young children and the elderly, could participate. All that anyone can talk about now is how enjoyable the project was.”

British, Canadian Saints Help Church Send Wheat to Horn of Africa

After the United Nations made an international plea in behalf of eight million Ethiopians and Eritreans facing starvation, Church shipments of wheat were among the first relief supplies to arrive in the drought-stricken countries. The timely response was made possible by members of five stakes in England, who in June quickly bagged wheat grown by a Church-owned farm in Cambridge.

British members bagged and loaded most of the 4,000 tons of wheat, said Clive R. Jolliffe, president of the Northampton England Stake.

Half the cost of the wheat’s shipment came from a humanitarian fund set up by the Church to receive donations of members in Canada; the Cambridge farm covered the other half.

Two missionary couples in Ethiopia participated in distribution.

[photo] Oregon City stake members work on an elementary school playground. (Photo by Sharon Garner.)