News of the Church

By Rebecca M. Taylor


President Hinckley Speaks to BYU Alumni, President Monson to Students

President Gordon B. Hinckley recently told a gathering of Brigham Young University alumni he hoped their testimonies were still burning brightly.

“I hope that as the years have passed, there has been no dimming of [your] testimony. I hope it shines brighter than ever before. I hope that it is your strength in every circumstance,” he said, speaking to some 3,000 BYU alumni and friends at a 12 September devotional in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

During the devotional, organized by the Great Salt Lake Chapter of the BYU Alumni Association, President Hinckley also emphasized the importance of the Relief Society. “You women who are with us today I hope have carried on with the activities of the Relief Society, your own incomparable organization. There is nothing else like it in all the world,” he said.

“This remarkable organization affords sociality, tremendous service opportunities, enlightenment and education, administering to the wants of those in need, and many other opportunities,” he continued. “You women have two alma maters, the school which you attended and the Relief Society of which you are members. The Relief Society is your dear and caring mother. In sickness or in health it will bless your life. It will afford you opportunities for growth and development. It will provide you with the friendship of the best women in the world. It will comfort you in times of sorrow, bless you in times of distress, and give unto you the inimitable joy of association with those of your own kind.”

President Hinckley also urged all alumni to appreciate and respect people of differing beliefs, races, and backgrounds. “I hope that your university experience has given you an enlarged sense of tolerance and respect for those not of your faith,” he said. “The true gospel of Jesus Christ never led to bigotry. It never led to self-righteousness. It never led to arrogance. The true gospel of Jesus Christ leads to brotherhood, to friendship, to appreciation of others, to respect, kindness, and love.”

On the same day, President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, addressed BYU students at Provo.

He counseled them to prepare well for the future in the “classrooms” of home, school, and the Church.

In the home, “we cannot truly honor our parents without serving God, and we cannot serve God without honoring our parents,” said President Monson.

At school, students should assess their capacities, choose the field in which they can do best and are needed most, and then put all their efforts into it.

The Church provides schooling that “commenced before you were born and will continue into eternity. Our Heavenly Father will never fail you in your learning; neither will His Beloved Son,” said President Monson. “The curriculum of this classroom is found in … the holy scriptures.”

In closing, President Monson said that with the “help and with the preparation about which we have spoken, you can go forward in this great race of life and achieve.”

[photo] President Hinckley emphasized the importance of testimony, the Relief Society, and tolerance as he spoke to BYU alumni. (Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.)

New Family History Resources Released

At recent genealogy and library association conferences, the Family and Church History Department received prestigious awards. The department also announced new family history tools and improvements.

The Library Association of England presented a reference award to the Church for its Index to the 1881 Census on CD-ROM on 13 September at an international library conference in Cambridge, England. The index was produced in May 1995 after volunteers spent 1.4 million hours on the project.

Just days earlier, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) bestowed Directors Awards on the Family History Library and the Genealogical Society of Utah. “It was only appropriate that this distinction recognize the two arms of an organization that has achieved so many other firsts, and that has made family history a goal, a possibility, and a reality for genealogists everywhere,” said David Rencher, FGS president.

The awards were presented at the FGS conference, an annual event at which genealogists from throughout the United States gather to learn about the latest in family history research, tools, and services. This year’s conference was in Salt Lake City.

During the conference, Richard E. Turley Jr., managing director of the Family and Church History Department, announced improvements in the FamilySearch• Internet Genealogy Service (www.familysearch.org) and the release of the Vital Records Indexes for western Europe and Mexico (item nos. 50145 and 50163).

The FamilySearch• Internet Genealogy Service now offers a virtual genealogist who walks the user through the research process and points out information available from the Family History Library. The site’s interface has also been updated to make features easier to spot and to allow future translation into other languages.

The Vital Records Indexes for western Europe and Mexico can be purchased for home use and contain millions of birth, christening, and marriage records. These new resources have a powerful search engine that allows users to search not just for individuals, but for parents or particular locations.

[photo] The new Vital Records Indexes for western Europe and Mexico can be purchased for home use.

New Missionary Tool: Pass-Along Cards

Members wanting to invite friends and acquaintances to receive gospel messages are finding missionary pass-along cards to be an effective tool.

The cards have a gospel-related picture on one side and an invitation on the back to call a toll-free number and request a copy of the Book of Mormon or Church video. The book or the video can be delivered by missionaries or sent by mail, according to the caller’s request.

The cards, now available in North America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, and Scandinavia, have been very effective in pilot programs in various missions.

“Studies have shown that over one-third of those who call request the missionaries to personally deliver the video and share a message about the Church,” said Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Tingey is executive director of the Missionary Department.

The cards are “successful because they make it easy for members to become involved in missionary work in a nonthreatening way,” he explained.

The cards can be easily carried in a shirt pocket or purse. Members may give one out with whatever introduction they feel moved to offer. A new card available for the Christmas season has on one side a picture of shepherds in their fields gazing at a bright star in the heavens, and on the other side an invitation to call for a Church video, The Nativity. Two other cards are available, one offering recipients a copy of the Book of Mormon and the other offering the Church’s video The Lamb of God.

The cards can be obtained free of charge from full-time missionaries or stake missionaries or through Church distribution centers.

[photo] Studies have shown pass-along cards to be an effective tool for members to share the gospel.

LDS Scene

Church Assists Cambodia, Belize

The Church recently provided emergency relief humanitarian aid to Cambodia and Belize after natural disasters affected hundreds of thousands of people in both nations.

The Mekong River in Cambodia flooded in mid-September, affecting 300,000 people. Cambodian Church members helped pack 100 metric tons of rice and assemble 3,000 family survival kits. The kits contained blankets, matting, mosquito nets, and sanitary supplies. The Church also sent 55 tons of clothing and 60 tons of emergency food supplies to the Cambodian Red Cross.

In Belize, tides rose to 12 feet above normal when Hurricane Keith struck in late September, driving 40 percent of the population from their homes. Some 300 Church members saw severe water damage to their homes. Local fast-offering funds were used to assist these members, and the Church sent 34 tons of clothing, 10 tons of medical supplies, and 40 tons of food to the Belize Red Cross.

BYU—Hawaii Forms Ties with World Leaders

Officials of Brigham Young University—Hawaii recently met with leaders of China, the Philippines, and Thailand as part of the university’s effort to familiarize world leaders with the international mission of the school and the Church.

In September the university hosted the Chinese Religious Leadership Delegation, which includes government leaders over religious affairs and leaders of China’s major religions. The delegation also visited the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center. Also in September, Pufang Deng, head of China’s Federation of Disabled People, performed on campus with his group of 70 performers with disabilities.

In the same month the university hosted the Filipino ambassador to the United States, Ernesto Maceda, who visited the campus, the temple visitors’ center, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. “Prior to my visit, I knew very little about BYU—Hawaii, but I am overwhelmed by the atmosphere,” said the ambassador. “This place is heaven on earth.”

In June, BYU—Hawaii awarded six scholarships to students in Thailand in an agreement between the Thai government and the school.

BYU—Hawaii will provide six to eight four-year work-study scholarships on a continuing basis to some of Thailand’s top high school students. The students, who need not be Latter-day Saints, are selected by a committee of local Thai government and educational leaders and local Church leaders.

Eric B. Shumway, president of BYU—Hawaii, traveled to Thailand to award the initial six scholarships to Thai students at a meeting attended by Thailand’s deputy prime minister, Bhichai Rattakul. Mr. Rattakul’s son, Bhichit Rattakul, who is the mayor of Bangkok, is a BYU graduate.

[photo] A Cambodian woman receives rice provided by the Church and packed by local members. (Photo by Louis K. Falck.)

The Orchestra at Temple Square: Lifting Spirits through Music

Vesna Gruppman, co-concertmaster of the Orchestra at Temple Square, felt torn. Sitting in the audience at the Salt Lake Tabernacle last September, she longed to join her peers on stage during this, the first concert of their second season. A stubborn arm injury nine months earlier, however, had rendered her temporarily unable to play the violin. Yet as she listened to the strains emanating from the stage, and as she watched the reactions of the people around her, she was grateful for the perspective her vantage point provided. “I could see the wonderful growth of the orchestra,” she says. “And I saw people with tears in their eyes, they were so moved.”

The Orchestra at Temple Square and its companion, the Temple Square Chorale and Training School, were formed in the fall of 1999 to serve in conjunction with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. With the birth of the new century, Church leaders wanted a professional-caliber orchestra that could support the choir, increase exposure to inspired music, and fill other musical needs of the Church, explains Craig Jessop, director of the Tabernacle Choir.

In the past year, the 106-member orchestra performed in numerous broadcasts of Music and the Spoken Word with the Tabernacle Choir and staged six concerts on their own, three concerts with the Temple Square Chorale, and two concerts with the Tabernacle Choir, including President Gordon B. Hinckley’s 90th birthday celebration. They also recorded the soundtrack for the Church film Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd, and with the Tabernacle Choir they recorded a Christmas CD, A Mormon Tabernacle Christmas, for the Telarc label.

At the orchestra’s first rehearsal, 16 October 1999, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said, “The vision of the First Presidency is that over time this orchestra could achieve excellence and prestige in national and even worldwide circles.” Brother Jessop believes the desire to achieve musical “excellence and prestige” has been part of the vision of Church leaders since the earliest days of the Church. “Prophets have said that the world would come to Zion and that all good things belong in Zion: art, literature, music, architecture, science,” he says.

The orchestra is unique in many ways, says Barlow Bradford, director of the orchestra and associate director of the Tabernacle Choir. Professional full-time or freelance musicians often pass up paying opportunities to play in the orchestra. Some university students play alongside their teachers. Two of those teachers, for example, are Vesna Gruppman and her husband, Igor, both of whom are renowned violinists and are on the faculty at Brigham Young University. Brother Gruppman—who serves as co-concertmaster with Vesna—is also concertmaster and associate conductor for the Florida Philharmonic. Yet he says that personal pride is not a factor in the organization, for regardless of background, “we all gather behind the vision of the First Presidency and serve our Heavenly Father through music.”

What likely sets the orchestra apart more than anything else, members say, is the influence of the Spirit of the Lord. They talk of feeling that influence during rehearsals and performances, of experiencing the unity that comes as orchestra members focus on creating beautiful music through which Heavenly Father can inspire listeners and change hearts. “There’s a spirit there that isn’t in any other organization I’ve ever played in,” remarks coprincipal cellist Julie Newton. “There can be a lot of competition within an orchestra, but there’s none of that here. I think this spiritual element that exists for the participants carries over into the performance.”

Indeed, strong performances by the orchestra have not gone unnoticed by music critics. A recent performance, for example, was praised as “professional interpreting at its best,” where “passion and beauty were given in copious amounts” (see “Temple Square Orchestra Shines in Opener,” Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Sept. 2000, C5). While orchestra members and leaders enjoy the accolades, they say their ultimate purpose is not to please the critics.

“My desire with the orchestra is to create the kinds of performances and recordings that enable people to be lifted to greater heights,” says Brother Bradford. “I’m so thoroughly convinced of music being a language of the spirit and a gift from God. We talk in the Church about trying to teach our spirit, to shape it to become like God. And music has the power to help shape the spirit.”

Linked with the Orchestra at Temple Square is the Temple Square Chorale and Training School, directed by Mack Wilberg with the assistance of Jerold D. and JoAnn Ottley. Rather than being an independent performing organization, the chorale serves as an appendage of the Tabernacle Choir. All prospective members of the Tabernacle Choir, after having passed an audition, must complete a three-month session with the chorale and training school, and all current Tabernacle Choir members must attend a session every three or four years. So far, about half the members of the Tabernacle Choir have participated in the chorale and training school. “We’re reaping the results already in the sight-reading ability of the members of the choir, their intonation, and the flexibility of their vocal styles,” says Brother Jessop. “In every way the choir has improved; we feel that very strongly.”

Together, the Orchestra at Temple Square, the Temple Square Chorale and Training School, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir all help to preserve not only the cultural heritage of the Church but also the uplifting musical offerings of composers through the ages. Says Brother Jessop, “I think that’s an incredible statement by the Church on the importance of inspired music.”

More on the Orchestra and Chorale

For more information about the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Temple Square Chorale and Training School, call 1-801-240-3221.

A new Christmas CD, A Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas, is available at retail stores.

[photo] Members of the Orchestra at Temple Square and the Temple Square Chorale performed Arthur Honegger’s King David on 13 October. The concert, conducted by Mack Wilberg, was at the Temple Square Assembly Hall. (Photo by Tamra Ratieta.)

[photo] Orchestra members say their goal is to create beautiful music through which Heavenly Father can inspire listeners and change hearts. (Photo by Tamra Ratieta.)

Members Invited to Submit Music

To encourage new musical works, each year the General Music Committee of the Church invites members 18 and older to submit original works of Church-oriented music.

Music is considered in three categories: (1) general, which includes songs, children’s songs, hymns, anthems, hymn arrangements, instrumental, and other works; (2) hymn texts alone; or (3) music for women’s voices written by members of the Relief Society. Submitters are limited to one submission per category per year.

This year’s submissions should be postmarked by 31 March 2001 and mailed to Church Music Submission, 20th Floor, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150-6070. Submissions will not be returned. For detailed submission guidelines, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the above address or send an e-mail to bastiandr@ldschurch.org.

Orlando, Florida: Increasing Zion’s Borders

“We are living in a great time for the Church in Florida,” says James C. Watkins, president of the Lake Mary Florida Stake. “Opportunities abound to lengthen our stride and increase the borders of Zion.”

These opportunities have come about in part because of Florida’s robust growth as a state. What was once largely a swampland dotted with orange groves, cattle ranches, and coastal resorts now ranks as the fourth most populous state in the nation. The Orlando area increased in population from 24,000 to 1.5 million in the past century.

Many Latter-day Saints have moved to the Orlando area to make it their home, and the effects have been positive for the three stakes there. As Joel H. McKinnon, president of the Orlando Florida Stake, observes, “Joining newly arrived members with the local Saints, who have a heritage of sacrifice and dedication, provides a great recipe for strength and progress.”

That heritage of faith dates back some 100 years, when fully organized missionary work took root in Florida. Missionaries proselyted first in the northern part of the state, then spread slowly into central and southern Florida. At one point opposition to the work was so strong that missionaries in the Orlando area were removed for a time. But eventually membership grew, and the area’s first stake was established in 1958. Thirty-six years later, Church members rejoiced as they reaped a great blessing of those early labors—the dedication of the Orlando temple.

Barbara Boyd of the Winter Park Ward, a Florida native who serves as an ordinance worker, recalls with gratitude her family’s heritage. “My grandmother Lula Milton King was the first in my family to accept the gospel in 1902 in Daytona Beach,” she says. Sister Boyd herself became a member of the Church in 1930 when she was 11.

Even as the Orlando Saints draw strength from the past, they take steps to move the kingdom forward, drawing a new generation into the gospel. Two recent converts are Brandon Bishop of the Oviedo Ward and Margaret Granito of the Goldenrod Ward, both 17. Impressed by the example of a Latter-day Saint classmate, Brandon agreed to listen to the missionaries and was baptized. His example in turn impressed Margaret, who learned about the gospel and felt the Spirit’s influence lift her out of sadness she had been experiencing.

Being an influence for good in the community is an important priority for Church leaders in Orlando. “We need to stand up and be counted as a unique and leavening influence in our area,” says President McKinnon. “Members of the Church need to extend themselves beyond the boundaries of their homes and families. We need to become part of the essential glue that holds this community together.”

One group of Orlando Saints extend themselves through music. For nearly a decade the Central Florida Messiah Choir has observed the Christmas season by giving public performances of selections from Handel’s Messiah. The participants see the concerts as their gift to the community.

Such endeavors point to the “great depth and character” that President McKinnon sees in the central Florida Saints. “There is a ‘salt of the earth’ heritage in our members that will bring the blessings of the Lord if we will continue to strive toward the goals of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Orlando Tri-Stake Area

Names of stakes: Orlando Florida, Orlando Florida South, Lake Mary Florida

Number of members: 10,250

Number of units: 22 wards, 2 branches

Missionaries serving from area: 67

Temple district: Orlando Florida Temple

[photo] The Orlando Florida Temple, which serves most of Florida as well as part of southern Georgia, was dedicated in October 1994. (Photo by Don Merkley.)

[photo] Community service by members of Orlando’s three stakes earned them the city’s Volunteer of the Year award in 1999 and 2000. (Photo by Mindy Goodman.)

Karen R. Merkley is a member of the Oviedo Ward, Lake Mary Florida Stake.

Church Scripture Maps

Produced nearly a year ago for use with Latter-day Saint scriptures, these maps are now available in large format for classroom use. The 21 large maps are 25 by 38 inches and can be acquired in a single package (item no. 66001, U.S. $27.50) through Church distribution centers. Designed to help teachers and students of the gospel, the maps feature Bible and Church history locations.

Appointments

The following 15 new temple presidents have been called to serve. Their spouses have been called as temple matrons.

Henry Chesney, Peggy Bergman Chesney Shawnee Ward, Norman Oklahoma Stake

Oklahoma City Oklahoma Temple

Harold De La Mere, Carolyn Huish De La Mere Lakewood Ward, Cypress Texas Stake

Houston Texas Temple

Loren C. Dunn, emeritus member of the Seventy, Sharon Longden Dunn Mount Olympus Sixth Ward, Salt Lake Mount Olympus Stake

Boston Massachusetts Temple

Jack H. Goaslind, emeritus member of the Seventy, Gwen Bradford Goaslind Murray 25th Ward, Murray Utah Stake

Manti Utah Temple

Heber Blaine Kapp, Ardeth Greene Kapp Canyon Park Ward, Bountiful Utah Central Stake

Cardston Alberta Temple

Neal C. Lewis, Kay Reading Lewis Dardenne Creek Ward, St. Louis Missouri North Stake

St. Louis Missouri Temple

Frank Martino, Betty Jean Newman Martino Denton First Ward, Denton Texas Stake

Dallas Texas Temple

Buryl McClurg, Diane McClurg Franklin Ward, Franklin Tennessee Stake

Nashville Tennessee Temple

Keith O’Grady, Avis Ngawaka O’Grady Springvale Ward, Melbourne Australia Stake

Melbourne Australia Temple

John Peterson, Marcia Jorgensen Peterson Thunder Mountain Ward, Mesa Arizona Stake

Mesa Arizona Temple

David Porch, Mary Bateman Porch Glasgow Ward, Glasgow Scotland Stake

Preston England Temple

E. Allen Rich, Sandra Barrett Rich Byrd Springs Ward, Huntsville Alabama Stake

Birmingham Alabama Temple

Scott H. Taggart, Lou Ciel Briggs Taggart Kirkland First Ward, Kirkland Washington Stake

Montreal Quebec Temple

George Watson, Chloe Kilroy Watson Naperville First Ward, Naperville Illinois Stake

Chicago Illinois Temple

Robert Wilmott, Barbara Foster Wilmott Mount Barker Ward, Adelaide Australia Marion Stake

Adelaide Australia Temple

Comment

Withholding Judgment

I was sexually abused by the time I was 13 years old. Because of this, when I was in the Young Women program I was not excited about the topic of marriage. I never felt understood by my leaders. I was interested in serving a mission, going to college, and starting a career, with marriage being something I would consider in my 30s. I remember feeling like the only reason that I went to church was because I knew that my Heavenly Father understood and loved me. I did not trust or know how to deal with men in leadership positions. It was not until my mission, that through the example of some wonderful elders, I came to learn to trust men in leadership.

Others in my family deal with clinical depression, and hide it very well, just as I hide some of the effects of my past experiences. But dealing with these burdens can bring on difficulties such as depression, with symptoms such as fatigue and feelings of hopelessness. These can make the normal responsibilities of work and family seem almost unmanageable. Handling additional responsibilities such as Church callings sometimes can appear impossible. Having a spouse that is dealing with such a challenge can depress and exhaust a partner.

My point in discussing these difficulties is to encourage people not to judge. Usually there is a reason behind attitudes and actions; do not assume that because a person comes from a “good Latter-day Saint family” there are no serious personal issues that might be a struggle. Encourage people that work with you in callings to do their best, but realize that what their best is is between that person, the bishop, and Heavenly Father. Although having a testimony of the gospel is incredibly supportive for them when they are struggling with such issues, it still takes a lot of time and energy to deal with mental difficulties or the aftermath of abusive experiences.

Name Withheld

Longing to Be a Mother

I would like to thank you for publishing the article “I Longed to Be a Mother” (Aug. 2000) with its accompanying segment, “Being Sensitive to Couples without Children.” Words cannot express how well I relate to this article.

I have waited so long for something to be written or said in the way of comfort towards those like me who haven’t been able to have children. In publishing this article, you’ve acknowledged that there are many in the Church who are going through this trial. I hope you will continue to publish similar articles to comfort those who struggle with infertility, and to increase understanding and compassion in those who do not.

Ruth B. Braga West Jordan, Utah

LDS Perspective on Muhammad

Your article “A Latter-day Saint Perspective on Muhammad” (Aug. 2000) provided a refreshing viewpoint of another religion. I am blessed to work with people of different beliefs. Not only has it been insightful and rewarding to me, it has helped me to better understand others.

Jennifer R. Decker Bountiful, Utah

Taught by Special Witnesses

The Ensign is valuable all the time, but two recent articles particularly touched me: Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s “Insights from My Life” (Aug. 2000), and President James E. Faust’s “Finding the Abundant Life” (July 2000). I have been taught by special witnesses. Thank you!

Samuel R. Drinkwater San Antonio, Texas