New General Authorities Called, Education Fund Announced

Twelve men were sustained as members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy during the 171st Annual General Conference. Elder Claudio R. M. Costa and Elder Richard J. Maynes, formerly of the Second Quorum, were called to serve in the First Quorum. Others called to the First Quorum were Elder L. Whitney Clayton, Elder Christoffel Golden Jr., Elder Walter F. González, and Elder Steven E. Snow. Those called to the Second Quorum were Elder Keith K. Hilbig, Elder Robert F. Orton, Elder Wayne S. Peterson, Elder R. Conrad Schultz, Elder Robert R. Steuer, and Elder H. Ross Workman.

Also called were 22 new Area Authority Seventies: 14 from the United States, 2 from Mexico, and 1 each from the countries of Argentina, Canada, Chile, Honduras, Japan, and South Africa.

During the priesthood session, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced a new program called the Perpetual Education Fund, which will help young members in international areas of the Church—returned missionaries, for the most part—gain an education or training when they otherwise could not afford it. The loan program will begin this fall.

In his opening remarks at Saturday morning’s session, President Hinckley said that a significant number of new temple sites are under consideration. “We have visited and are giving consideration to a significant number of potential temple sites in the United States, Central and South America, Europe, and the isles of the sea. … We will continue to build these sacred houses of the Lord as rapidly as energy and resources will allow.”

At conference 12 brethren were called to the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy, and 22 others were called as Area Authority Seventies.

General Auxiliary Presidencies

Sunday School

Elder Marlin K. Jensen

Elder Marlin K. Jensen, President

Elder Neil L. Andersen

Elder Neil L. Andersen, First Counselor

Elder John H. Groberg

Elder John H. Groberg, Second Counselor

Young Men

Elder Robert K. Dellenbach

Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, President

Elder F. Melvin Hammond

Elder F. Melvin Hammond, First Counselor

Elder John M. Madsen

Elder John M. Madsen, Second Counselor

Relief Society

Sister Mary Ellen W. Smoot

Sister Mary Ellen W. Smoot, President

Sister Virginia U. Jensen

Sister Virginia U. Jensen, First Counselor

Sister Sheri L. Dew

Sister Sheri L. Dew, Second Counselor

Young Women

Sister Margaret D. Nadauld

Sister Margaret D. Nadauld, President

Sister Carol B. Thomas

Sister Carol B. Thomas, First Counselor

Sister Sharon G. Larsen

Sister Sharon G. Larsen, Second Counselor


Sister Coleen K. Menlove

Sister Coleen K. Menlove, President

Sister Sydney S. Reynolds

Sister Sydney S. Reynolds, First Counselor

Sister Gayle M. Clegg

Sister Gayle M. Clegg, Second Counselor

Elder L. Whitney Clayton

Of the Seventy
Elder L. Whitney Clayton

When Elder L. Whitney Clayton, a new member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was a student at the University of Utah and contemplating a full-time mission, an important factor in his decision to serve was the example set by returned missionaries on campus. “It wasn’t so much what they said, although several said things that were helpful,” he recalls. “It was the way they carried themselves, the way they acted. There was something about them that was different from all of the other young men I knew. And it was obvious that the key to it was a mission.”

He was called to the Andes Mission in Peru in 1970, and his experience there helped lay a strong foundation for other Church service. One event that strengthened his testimony occurred during a tour of the mission by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “When Elder Packer bore his testimony in a missionary meeting in Lima,” says Elder Clayton, “I knew that he knew the gospel is true.”

Elder Clayton was born in Salt Lake City on 24 February 1950 to L. Whitney Clayton Jr. and Elizabeth T. Clayton. He grew up in Whittier, California, received a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Utah, and obtained a law degree from the University of the Pacific in California. After working for several law firms, in May 1981 he and a partner opened a firm of their own in Newport Beach.

He married Kathy Ann Kipp on 3 August 1973 in the Salt Lake Temple, and they are the parents of seven children.

Elder Clayton’s previous callings include stake mission president, high priests group leader, branch president, bishop, stake high councilor, mission president’s counselor, regional representative, and Area Authority Seventy.

Grateful for the opportunity to serve that his new calling gives him, Elder Clayton says, “My testimony is the center of my life. It is a tremendous motivator for wanting to do right, for wanting to be of service, for wanting to bless and help people anywhere, any way that we can.”

Elder Christoffel Golden Jr.

Of the Seventy
Elder Christoffel Golden Jr.

“I have always had a deep love for the Savior. I grew up reading the Bible and saying my prayers most days,” says Elder Christoffel Golden Jr. of the First Quorum of the Seventy. “When I was 20, my mother opened the door to the missionaries. I won’t ever forget it. We all believed and were baptized.”

Elder Golden was born on 1 June 1952 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to Christoffel and Maria Oosthuizen Golden. As a young man, he completed nine months of military service in 1971. From 1977 to 1979, he served in the Johannesburg South Africa Mission. His studies at the University of South Africa resulted in a degree in political science in 1986 and then a postgraduate honors degree in international politics in 1990.

After his mission, he met his future wife, Diane Norma Hulbert, who had graduated as a registered optometrist. He finished college while she served a mission in Johannesburg. They married on 12 December 1981 and are now the parents of four children, ages 11 to 17.

“Our lives were centered in the Lord right from the beginning,” he says. “There is no question that we delight in sustaining the Lord, the prophet, and the Twelve.”

A successful businessman, Elder Golden has worked in banking and in pharmaceuticals. He was given the opportunity of a promotion and a move to Paris, but chose instead to remain in South Africa. Later he started an optical marketing business.

In June 1996 he began working as an area director for the Church Educational System. “Many of the young people here don’t have parents in the Church,” says Elder Golden, who speaks both English and Afrikaans. “It is through seminaries and institutes that we can teach a gospel culture.”

Elder Golden, who has served as a Young Men president, ward mission leader, bishop, and stake president, has served as an Area Authority Seventy for six years.

“My love for Jesus Christ has been with me since I was a child,” he says. “This new calling is another opportunity for me to serve Him.”

Elder Walter F. González

Of the Seventy
Elder Walter F. González

“The Book of Mormon has been the instrument for my conversion. I really love it,” says Elder Walter F. González.

Born on 18 November 1952, he grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay. At 12, he was studying his English lessons on a bus one day when two missionaries saw him and asked, “Do you speak English?”

From this first contact, young Walter received a copy of the Book of Mormon. Six years later, when he first began to read it, he says, “I knew it was true after just a few pages of 1 Nephi.” His parents, Fermin and Victoria González, had taught him Christian values that helped him recognize and receive the restored gospel.

He studied law at Universidad de la República in Uruguay, studied economics at Universidad de la Fraternidad in Argentina, obtained a technician’s degree in business administration at Instituto CEMLAD, and later completed through distance learning a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University at Bloomington.

A year after his baptism, he met his wife, Zulma, at a regional youth conference. They were married on 28 February 1975 in Uruguay and sealed in the Washington D.C. Temple in 1979. They have three sons and a daughter.

“I love teaching. I love the fellowship with students. They keep me young,” he says. Elder González has worked for the Church Educational System since 1975. His career as a teacher and administrator has taken him and his family to Ecuador and Colombia.

Since his baptism, Elder González says that the Lord has blessed him with many responsibilities and opportunities to serve. His first calling 30 years ago was counselor to the Mutual superintendent. He has served in a bishopric and as a stake president, mission president in Ecuador, regional representative, and public affairs area director. He was serving as an Area Authority Seventy when called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

“I believe in the balanced life,” says Elder González. “We must make time for closeness to the Lord and wife and children.” Regarding other activities, he adds with a smile, “It is also important to have time for sports. I especially like soccer.”

Elder Steven E. Snow

Of the Seventy
Elder Steven E. Snow

Steven E. Snow and his wife, Phyllis Squire Snow, knew their summer was going to be full. They just had no idea how full.

The couple will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this June, but they had given little thought to the event because of their preparations for the May, July, and August weddings of three of their four children.

Then things became really busy when at conference Brother Snow was called to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy. “Calls to serve don’t always come at a convenient time,” Elder Snow says, “but they are always a privilege. I’m looking forward to giving full-time service to the Lord. To wake up every morning and know you’re doing the right thing is the most wonderful feeling.”

Born on 23 November 1949 to Greg E. Snow and Vida Jean Goates Snow, Elder Snow has dedicated much of his life to service. He has been a stake high councilor, bishop, stake president, president of the California San Fernando Mission, and Area Authority Seventy in the Utah South Area. As a young man he served a mission in Germany, where he says he gained his strong testimony of the gospel.

Through his service, Elder Snow has developed a deep love for people. “As we prepare for our new assignment, I’m looking forward to meeting new people, particularly those of different backgrounds. I get a lot of joy and happiness from my interest in others.”

It was while growing up in St. George, Utah, that his love of people was first instilled. “My grandparents owned a furniture store, and as customers would come in, I would watch my grandfather visit with them. He enjoyed it so much that my grandmother would always have to remind him that he was at work.”

Elder and Sister Snow were married in the St. George Utah Temple and raised their family in nearby Washington, Utah. He is a senior partner with the Snow Nuffer law firm and has worked as a deputy county attorney for Washington County. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Utah State University and a law degree from Brigham Young University.

Elder Keith K. Hilbig

Of the Seventy
Elder Keith K. Hilbig

“I’m very much a believer in President J. Reuben Clark’s statement that in the Church one neither seeks nor declines a position, and it matters not where one serves but how,” says Elder Keith K. Hilbig, recently called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “That holds true with every opportunity to serve in the Church.”

Elder Hilbig’s feelings about Church service began their development in his childhood. He was born on 13 March 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Karl and Mildred Hilbig. The example that his parents and other members set in accepting callings was a key factor in his spiritual development. Watching them serve, he recalls, shaped his attitude toward the Church and spiritual things.

Elder Hilbig served as a full-time missionary in the Central German Mission, then went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a law degree from Duke University. After working as a trial attorney in Los Angeles, he established his own firm, then in April 1998 became International Legal Counsel for the Church. In that capacity he presently works with the Europe West and Europe Central Areas.

He married Susan Rae Logie in the Salt Lake Temple on 1 June 1967. They are the parents of six children and the grandparents of eight. Of his wife’s influence, Elder Hilbig comments: “She has been a wonderful example to me in gospel study and application. I watch her and learn.”

Prior to his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Hilbig was called in 1995 to be an Area Authority and in 1997 to be an Area Authority Seventy. He has also served as Gospel Doctrine teacher, Young Men president, elders quorum president, bishop, stake president, and president of the Switzerland Zurich Mission.

“I have a testimony of the divinity of the Savior and am increasingly awed by the Restoration and the work that is being accomplished through the Spirit today,” Elder Hilbig observes. “It is wonderful to look back on how much has been accomplished and to look forward and contemplate how much yet will occur. These are wonderful times in which to live and to contribute.”

Elder Robert F. Orton

Of the Seventy
Elder Robert F. Orton

“I don’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t known God lives,” says Elder Robert F. Orton of Salt Lake City. That testimony has been strengthened through years of scripture study—much of it undertaken at night when he is unable to sleep. “When I wake up, instead of lying there I study the scriptures,” he says. He feels this intense personal study will be a benefit in his new call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Orton was born on 24 August 1936 to H. Frank and Gwen Riggs Orton and was raised in Panguitch, Utah. His parents had been married in the temple, but not long afterward his father became less active. It wasn’t until young Robert was 12 years old that his father determined to return to full activity. “That took place after many years of hoping and praying and pleading,” Elder Orton says. “He had always been a good father, but there was now a calmness and sweetness in our home because of the spiritual relationship that existed between my father and the rest of our family.”

Another profound influence in Elder Orton’s life was his grandmother Mildred Riggs, who lived with the family after the death of her husband. She set an example of personal righteousness and self-discipline, reading the scriptures faithfully every day and choosing to serve a mission while in her late 60s. “When the time came for me to consider going on a mission, I began to think of my grandmother and the kind of person she had been,” Elder Orton recalls. “Finally I said to myself, If Grandma Riggs can do it, you can do it, and you should do it.” Elder Orton subsequently served in the French Mission, an experience he credits with deepening his love for the restored gospel.

Elder Orton earned a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and a law degree at the University of Utah. On 13 June 1963 he married Joy Dahlberg in the Salt Lake Temple, and they now have six children and nine grandchildren.

Elder Orton’s numerous callings include service as a bishop, counselor in a stake presidency, and mission president.

Elder Wayne S. Peterson

Of the Seventy
Elder Wayne S. Peterson

A cornet led Wayne S. Peterson to one of his earliest spiritual experiences. He learned to play the instrument as a teenager growing up in Roy, Utah. He was a member of the Ogden Utah Boys’ Chorus and Trumpet Choir, a group that was invited to perform at the Kiwanis International Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. As part of the trip east, the boys also had the opportunity to visit the Sacred Grove and the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York.

“It was one of the defining points in my life,” remembers Elder Peterson. “The Spirit that I felt there, the assurance of what had occurred there, sank deeply into my heart.”

That personal testimony gained as a boy has stayed with Elder Peterson as he has served throughout his life. He has been a missionary in Australia, a bishop twice, a stake high councilor twice, a stake president, president of the California Oakland Mission, and a regional representative. He had been serving since 1995 as an Area Authority Seventy for the Utah North Area when he was called as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Peterson was born in Roy on 6 October 1939 to Rulon and Naomi Skeen Peterson. In addition to serving in many callings, rearing six children with his wife of 39 years, Joan Jensen Peterson, has been a rich and rewarding experience. A year after he and Sister Peterson were married in the Logan Utah Temple, their first child, Linda, was born with spina bifida. The experience rapidly brought the couple a deepened maturity. Their faith increased as they saw prayers answered and small miracles occur in the life of this daughter. Today Linda has served a mission, taught at the Missionary Training Center, graduated from Brigham Young University, married in the temple, and is a mother of two.

Elder Peterson earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA at Utah State University, where he was student body president. Professionally he has worked as a real estate developer in Salt Lake City.

Elder R. Conrad Schultz

Of the Seventy
Elder R. Conrad Schultz

Elder R. Conrad Schultz has enjoyed playing basketball since he was young, so it was a surprise to everyone—himself included—when he quit his Oregon high school team as a senior. “At the time I didn’t know why I needed to quit,” he says. “But now I know.”

The day after he left the school team, a friend invited him to play for his ward team. Although not a Church member at the time, young Conrad agreed, and he helped take the team to the All-Church tournament in Salt Lake City. They placed among the top teams in the tournament, and afterward team members were able to attend a banquet where the featured speaker was Joseph Fielding Smith, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“When I came back from the tournament, I wanted to know more about the Church,” says Elder Schultz. “So I took the missionary discussions.” While fasting and praying, he received a strong witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon was the word of God. He was baptized shortly thereafter, in 1956. Two years later, in June 1958, he commenced his service in the Gulf States Mission.

Born in North Bend, Oregon, on 11 March 1938, Elder Schultz is the son of Ralph Conrad Schultz and Dorothy Bushong Schultz. He has lived in his home state for most of his life. He earned his bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees at the University of Oregon and has practiced law throughout his career. In June 1961 he married Carolyn Lake in the Salt Lake Temple; the couple now have five children and eight grandchildren. He and his family enjoy camping, fishing, and attending sporting events together. “I can’t express how important family unity is,” he says. “It is a great thing in our lives.”

Prior to his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Schultz served as a bishop, stake president, and president of the Colorado Denver South Mission. “Missionary work is the touchstone of my heart,” he says. “It is so important to me because of how it has blessed my own life.”

Elder Robert R. Steuer

Of the Seventy
Elder Robert R. Steuer

Elder Robert R. Steuer (pronounced Stoy-er) remembers how members were “so kind and considerate” when he joined the Church at age nine. Through the examples of neighborhood friends, he began attending Primary and was introduced to the gospel. At an early age, he learned firsthand the importance of friendshipping and being kind toward others.

He recalls when a home teaching companion, a man in his 80s, later showed him the importance of helping others. “His idea of home teaching,” says Elder Steuer, “was to go out and paint the widow’s porch and house.” At age 14, Robert once again learned by example the need to have “true love and concern for the other person.”

Born on 6 December 1943 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Hulda Hanel and Fritz Steuer, young Robert spent his youth in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada. He moved to the Midwest to attend college at the University of Minnesota and there received his bachelor’s and medical degrees. Following schooling, he practiced medicine and pursued medical research, eventually becoming a diagnostic physician. He was the founder and chairman of Hemametrics, a medical diagnostics firm.

Because of his experiences in the medical profession, Elder Steuer says that “the Spirit gives inspiration not only in ecclesiastical matters but also in secular matters.” He says it has been exciting to see the Lord’s hand in medical research.

Elder Steuer and his wife, Margaret Black, from Ogden, Utah, were married on 21 June 1971 in the Logan Utah Temple. They reside in Pleasant View, Utah, and have five children and five grandchildren. His wife and family “have been such a strength to me,” he says.

His Church callings have included bishop, stake mission president, and mission president of the Brazil São Paulo North Mission.

Elder Steuer says life experiences have taught him that there are many moments in our lives when “quiet inspiration comes.” As a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, he encourages members to “find those quiet moments in our homes to reflect on the needs of each family member.”

Elder H. Ross Workman

Of the Seventy
Elder H. Ross Workman

At age 19, H. Ross Workman was engaged to be married and not planning on serving a full-time mission. Then one Sunday morning his stake president walked up to him as he sat in his car and said, “I’ve been inspired to call you to go on a mission. Will you go?” Caught by surprise but feeling the confirming influence of the Holy Ghost, young Ross said, “Yes.” When he told his fiancée, the girl he had dated through high school and become engaged to on graduation day, she cried but agreed to support him and delay the wedding. The commitments made that day were a turning point in his life.

He was born 31 December 1940 in Salt Lake City to Harley and Lucille Ramsey Workman. Following his mission to the southern states, he married Katherine Evelyn Meyers, his high school sweetheart, in the Logan Utah Temple. They are the parents of four children and have seven grandchildren. He earned degrees in chemistry and law from the University of Utah and has worked for more than 28 years as a patent attorney. He worked with the youth for many years and has served in several bishoprics, on a stake high council, and as a bishop, and was president of the Hawaii Honolulu Mission when called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Workman credits the leadership training he received while serving in a student ward bishopric as “giving me a vision of this work.” He looks back on his service as a bishop as one of the great experiences of his life. Among the successes he watched unfold as a mission president were the remarkable growth in faith of the missionaries and the establishment of the Church on Christmas Island in Kiribati, where the branch has grown to more than 114.

“I know that God speaks to man through the direction of the Holy Spirit,” Elder Workman testifies. “The Lord has sustained me throughout my life. I have come to know that Jesus Christ lives and that He is my Savior. I have a profound gratitude for Him. He is the living Christ.”

Montevideo Uruguay Temple Dedicated

On 18 March, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Montevideo Uruguay Temple, the 11th in South America.

“Dear Father, wilt Thou accept this temple as the gift of Thy sons and daughters,” he said in the dedicatory prayer. “It has come through the faithful payment of tithing by Thy Saints across the world. May it grace this land. May the nation of Uruguay be blessed because of its presence on this soil. May it stand as a testimony to the world of the knowledge of Thy people concerning the eternal things of God.”

President Hinckley was accompanied by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as well as the South America South Area Presidency: Elder Jay E. Jensen and Elder Keith Crockett of the Seventy and Elder Claudio D. Zivic, Area Authority Seventy.

The Montevideo temple is located in an attractive residential neighborhood east of the nation’s capitol. It will serve the 73,000 Uruguayan members in their 15 stakes, 6 districts, and 2 missions.

More than 7,600 members attended the four dedicatory sessions. For Samuel Piriz, a counselor in the bishopric of the Pueblo Nuevo Ward, Durazno Uruguay Stake, being able to attend was a manifestation of the Lord’s blessings, and his story was not unique. A convert of six years, Brother Piriz had been unable to find employment for a year. But after praying that he would somehow be able to take his family to the dedication, he landed a job a month before the ceremony and was able to pay the bus fare for his family to travel two hours to and from Montevideo. He was also able to pay the fare for two other ward members who otherwise could not have gone.

Nearly 25,000 people attended the 28 February through 10 March open house. Elder Troy Jones, a full-time missionary who worked as an usher at the open house, reported that many visitors of other faiths “said they felt like they had left this world when they entered the temple, that they’d left their cares and worries behind. Others said it is the most beautiful building in the country.”

Among the thousands of visitors were Jorge Batlle, the president of Uruguay, and Luis Alberto Lacalle, a former president of Uruguay. Following his tour, President Batlle said that the temple was a place where moral values are evident and that people should embrace these values.

Member Meeting in Aruba

En route to Uruguay, President Hinckley and Elder Oaks made a stop on the small island of Aruba in the Caribbean Sea. There, the two Brethren spoke at a meeting attended by 180 local members, including a few from the neighboring islands of Bonaire and Curaçao.

“I think the time will come when there will be thousands of members here in Aruba and Curaçao,” President Hinckley told these members. After praising the beauty of the Aruba Branch meetinghouse, he said, “You will need larger buildings than this building, and that will all depend on your faithfulness. … You are the pioneers of this land, and the Church will grow as you live the gospel and let it be seen in your lives. You have something so very, very special, my brothers and sisters. You have membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Elder Oaks spoke about the Book of Mormon’s witness of the Savior and about the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Local members expressed enthusiasm and gratitude for President Hinckley’s visit, which marked the first time a Church President had visited the island. There are two branches on Aruba, the first of which was organized in 1986.

The Montevideo temple will serve 73,000 Uruguayan members in 15 stakes, 6 districts, and 2 missions. (Photo by Nestor Curbelo.)

President Hinckley meets with Aruban members. (Photo courtesy Office of the President.)

President Monson Receives Humanitarian Award

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, received a Globous Award from the Humanitarian Resource Center of North America for promoting humanitarian service.

The center, based in Salt Lake City, is a public charity that supports humanitarian service worldwide.

In accepting the award on 9 March, President Monson shared experiences in which he and the Church were involved in humanitarian service.

For example, when the Salvation Army’s Salt Lake branch needed new headquarters, the Church was considering selling a surplus meetinghouse to them. But knowing that the organization was stretching its funds in helping the poor, President Monson proposed not to sell the building to the Salvation Army, but to donate it instead. “In addition, the roof of the building was replaced and the outside trim painted as a gift from the Church. Surplus furniture, dishes, and utensils from the former Hotel Utah, which had recently closed, were also provided by the Church as a contribution, that meals could be served to those who would otherwise go hungry.”

President Monson receives award for promoting humanitarian service. (Photo by Michael Brandy, Deseret News.)

Church Emphasizes Its Official Name

Church leaders have called on members, news organizations, and others to use the Church’s full and correct name—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—and to avoid use of the terms “Mormon Church” or “LDS Church.”

A letter from the First Presidency was sent to more than 25,000 congregations worldwide in March asking members to “use the full name whenever possible.” A similar press release was sent to news media worldwide.

The letter reminded members that use of the revealed name of the Church “is increasingly important in our responsibility to proclaim the name of the Savior throughout all the world.” The name was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in April 1838.

The term “Mormon” is still acceptable, the letter said, in some titles such as “Mormon Tabernacle Choir” and “Mormon Trail.” The term “Mormonism” is acceptable in describing the doctrine, culture, and lifestyle unique to Church members. When referring to members, the term “Latter-day Saints” is preferred.

Freedman’s Bank Records Offer Priceless Family History Tool

It was with new hope that some 70,000 African-American ex-slaves opened accounts at the Washington, D.C.–based Freedman’s Bank after the U.S. Civil War. Hopes were dashed in 1874 when the bank collapsed. The former slaves’ bank accounts, it seemed, had lost their value.

Until now. With the release in February of the Church’s Freedman’s Bank Records on CD, the records these early African-Americans made in opening their accounts became priceless.

In order to establish the freed slaves’ identity, Freedman’s Bank workers recorded the names and family relationships of account holders. This created what is thought to be the largest single repository of lineage-linked African-American records in existence.

The original records have long been preserved in the U.S. National Archives, but the data were essentially useless because they lacked effective, reliable indexes accessible to the general public. In 1990 an employee of the Family and Church History Department suggested the idea to extract, link, and automate the 480,000 African-American names contained in the records into a user-friendly database. The Freedman’s Bank CD is a culmination of this 11-year project.

The CD’s release was announced in Salt Lake City by Church leaders in a press teleconference with Washington, D.C.; news conferences were also held in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Oakland, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Raleigh, Miami, and St. Louis.

The announcement of the CD was met with much enthusiasm and gratitude throughout the African-American community, an estimated 10 million of whom have ancestors who deposited money in Freedman’s Bank. The CD is a “treasure trove of documentation virtually unusable before,” said Eric Foner, a history professor with Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies.

To purchase the Freedman’s Bank Records on CD (item no. 50120, U.S. $6.50), contact your local distribution center or order the CD on the Internet at

Two Missions Created in North America

Two new missions, in Washington state and Mexico City, will be created on 1 July to accommodate Church growth.

The Washington Everett Mission, in the North America Northwest Area, will cover territory that has been included in the Washington Seattle Mission, from just north of the Seattle temple to the Canadian border. The new mission will include 10 stakes. A newly aligned Washington Seattle Mission will also include 10 stakes.

In the Mexico South Area, the Mexico Mexico City North, South, and East Missions will be realigned, and the Mexico Mexico City West Mission will be formed. This new mission will include about 9 million residents and 40,000 members in 13 stakes. Realigned north and south missions will each have 42,000 members in 14 stakes, and the east mission will have 44,000 members in 14 stakes.

Rebuilding in El Salvador

Latter-day Saints in El Salvador are rebuilding their lives after three devastating earthquakes struck their country in January and February. The quakes left more than 1,200 people dead and more than a million homeless. Fifteen Latter-day Saints died in the quakes, and thousands of members lost their homes.

The Church sent more than a million pounds of sleeping bags, tents, blankets, hygiene kits, school kits, food, and medical supplies to the ravaged nation. Three LDS Family Services practitioners were also sent to El Salvador to assist disaster victims and to train area mental health professionals.

Local priesthood leaders counseled members to pray daily as families, read the scriptures, and sing Church hymns to maintain inner peace in the face of such tragedy. Melchizedek Priesthood holders were also asked to offer blessings of comfort to those in need.

Local leaders are using fast offering funds to provide materials for members to build new homes. Full-time missionaries are assisting with building efforts.

Also assisting the Salvadoran members were Latter-day Saints of the Palos Verdes California Stake, who filled several 40-foot containers with blankets, tents, and clothing that were sent to El Salvador. Although not a Church member himself, a native of El Salvador whose wife is a member of the stake paid for the shipment of the containers to his home country.

Members and missionaries working together to rebuild homes and lives in El Salvador, where three devastating earthquakes in January and February left destruction in their wake. (Photo by Neil Newell.)

Ricks Receives Candidacy Status for Four-Year Accreditation

Ricks College, which is in the process of changing to Brigham Young University—Idaho, received notice on 22 March that it is a candidate for full accreditation of its proposed bachelor’s degree programs. Candidacy status was granted by the Commission on Colleges and Universities of the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

Work is continuing on the transition process. Ricks President David A. Bednar said the school will continue to be officially known as Ricks College until the beginning of this fall semester, when the first upper-division classes will be offered.

The accreditation commission reviewed the college’s plan to introduce 46 bachelor’s degree programs during the next five years. As the next step in the accreditation process, the commission plans to undertake a full-scale evaluation of BYU—Idaho in the spring of 2004.

The new university will offer both integrated and specialized bachelor’s degrees. Integrated degrees will require students to study in multiple disciplines and will provide broad-based preparation for employment and life. These integrated degrees will require up to 45 hours in the principal area of study, while specialized degrees will require approximately 70 hours. BYU—Idaho will also continue to offer associate degrees.

BYU—Idaho is expected to experience an increase in the size of the student body during the next few years. The projected number of students on campus is roughly estimated at 9,200 for 2001–02 to 11,600 for 2005–06. The school will maintain its student-faculty ratio of 25 to 1.

In the Spotlight

Church Recognized in Kazakhstan

The Church recently received official recognition in Kazakhstan, a country that borders Russia and China in the Europe East Area. There are now more than 25 Latter-day Saints in the capital city of Astana.

Elder Wayne M. Hancock of the Seventy, President of the Europe East Area, met with Kazakhstani government officials in February to express appreciation for the official recognition.

Geographically, Kazakhstan is the ninth largest nation in the world. Once a part of the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was long deprived of religious freedoms, but its current constitution guarantees religious freedom and protection for all faiths.

Fort at Martin’s Cove to Be Excavated

During the month of June the Wyoming State Archaeologist’s Office and the University of Wyoming Department of Anthropology will conduct site excavations at Seminoe’s Fort, near Devil’s Gate and Independence Rock in central Wyoming. Members of the Martin Handcart Company, Latter-day Saint pioneers, took refuge in the abandoned fort in 1856 when they were caught in early snows en route to the Salt Lake Valley.

The fort was subsequently used as a stagecoach and mail station until it was abandoned and burned in 1858, but the foundation of the structure, located near the Mormon Handcart Historic Site at Martin’s Cove, was discovered in 1997.

Swiss Branch Aids Romanian Orphanage

Members of the Schaffhausen Branch, Zurich Switzerland Stake, worked with others in their community recently to gather small gifts for children in a Baia-Mare, Romania, orphanage. Branch members packed 100 gift boxes full of toys, chocolate, and toiletry items. A family in the branch used their van to deliver the gifts to the orphanage, driving through Austria and Hungary to reach Romania.


Child Safety

The article “How to Stretch One Income” (Apr. 2001) suggested saving money by purchasing used baby equipment such as car seats, cribs, and playpens. As a pediatrician, I’m writing to say that such equipment can be hazardous to babies.

When car seats are bought at garage sales, parents are not aware of the past history of the seat. Car seats that have been in an accident may have hidden flaws that may cause them to fail in another accident. Also, several models of car seats have been recalled over the years because of design flaws.

Likewise, cribs and playpens at garage sales may have flaws that can lead to a baby’s injury or death. Older models, for example, have bars placed too widely apart that can allow a baby’s head to become trapped between the bars. Older children’s furniture may be painted with lead-based paint, which if chewed can lead to learning disabilities and mental retardation.

Douglas Lougree, M.D. Alamogordo, New Mexico

Stirring the Soul

While reading “The Seabirds of Kiribati” (Dec. 2000), I was carried back many decades to special moments when our family was baptized and later sealed in the temple. Such stories as the one about Kiribati stir the spirit and reawaken the soul.

Jennings C. Fish Spanish Fork, Utah