News of the Church


Church Gives Humanitarian Aid throughout the World

Through their donations and acts of service, Church members strive to follow the Savior’s teachings and the Prophet Joseph Smith’s counsel “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all” (Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1842, 732).

In this spirit, members make contributions to the Humanitarian Aid Fund, and the Church uses these contributions to help people in need all over the world. This assistance most often takes the form of life-sustaining resources during emergency situations and support for programs that help people become more self-reliant. The Church has sent food, clothing, medical equipment, and educational supplies to 147 countries. Much of this aid has been given in cooperation with charitable agencies, including the Red Cross, Mercy Corps International, Food for the Poor, World Opportunities International, and the Children’s Hunger Fund.

Most donations to the Humanitarian Aid Fund are made by members through their wards and branches using the Tithing and Other Offerings form. These donations are used to purchase needed materials, to pay shipping costs, or to implement humanitarian programs throughout the world.

To become self-reliant and to care for one’s own is an underlying principle of the gospel. More than 300 missionaries serve in humanitarian assignments throughout the world helping people become self-reliant so they can fulfill their moral obligation to care for themselves and their families. Examples: In China medical specialists teach better ways to treat infants born with serious complications. A couple from Idaho teaches rural farmers in Belarus how to increase their potato crop production. A couple in Ghana teaches computer skills to youth in a vocational training program.

Often the recipients of humanitarian aid are invited to help meet their own needs. In Russia, for instance, a project was recently approved to provide blankets for a hospital. Fabric was bought and sisters from the local branch worked together with hospital staff to make quilts. In rural Kenya, a village needed new latrines because the old ones had dirt floors and promoted disease. Villagers asked the Church to provide the materials; the villagers then dug the pits, lined them with rocks, and built the outbuildings.

Also, members often labor in behalf of people they will never see. In the United States, for example, many make items such as school kits, hygiene kits, newborn kits, and quilts that are sent to people in need throughout the world.

Members’ generous donations and acts of service bless millions of people and make possible the Church’s humanitarian efforts. Latter-day Saints have responded enthusiastically to President Gordon B. Hinckley’s words: “In a world where there is so much of hunger and suffering, where death walks hand in hand with little children, we must continue and enlarge our efforts, not permitting politics or other factors to hold back the hand of mercy” (“Look to the Future,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 68).

[photos] Photography courtesy of Church Humanitarian Service

[photo] Lorimer T. Christensen, a humanitarian service missionary, teaches neonatal resuscitation to birth attendants in China.

[photo] Humanitarian service missionary John Hess teaches potato farming in Belarus.

[photo] Church members in England bag wheat that was shipped to famine-stricken Ethiopia.

Garry R. Flake is director of humanitarian service, Church Welfare Department.

Elder Carmack to Direct Perpetual Education Fund

The First Presidency has called Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy to direct the new Perpetual Education Fund announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley on 31 March in the priesthood session of general conference.

The Perpetual Education Fund will assist young Latter-day Saints in developing countries, primarily returned missionaries, to gain an education. Without financial assistance, these young people are often unable to obtain the necessary education or training to help them rise out of poverty. The fund will provide school loans with minimal interest to be repaid after the individual has completed his or her education and is employed.

Elder Carmack will supervise operation of the Perpetual Education Fund, which will be administered through the Church institute program.

Elder Carmack was president of the Europe Central Area when he was called to direct the new program. Sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1984 while serving as president of the Idaho Boise Mission, he had previously served the Church as a regional representative and stake president. An attorney, he had been president of a Los Angeles law firm.

Food, Supplies Go to Hungry, Flood Victims

Last fall’s Idaho potato crop was so plentiful that farmers took 10 percent off the market in an attempt to stabilize prices. To eliminate the surplus, farmers had two choices: dump the potatoes on the fields as fertilizer or donate them to charity.

The Potato Management Company growers of Idaho decided to donate 12 million pounds of the surplus to the Church to distribute to the hungry. “This is a joint effort by potato growers from Idaho and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to place this burdensome supply of potatoes in the hands of those whose lives would be blessed by the receipt of the mere essentials of life,” said Joe Wirthlin Jr., area director of welfare services.

Volunteers at welfare facilities near Idaho Falls will sort, wash, and pack some 4 million pounds of the potatoes to be shipped to homeless shelters and food banks throughout the United States.

The remaining 8 million pounds will be dehydrated at processing plants in eastern Idaho. The Church will ship some of these dehydrated potatoes to El Salvador and other countries that have recently been affected by disasters. The remainder will be stored for future use.

Assisting Flood Victims

After severe flooding occurred in South America and Africa, the Church helped victims.

In Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, dozens of people were killed and thousands lost their homes when dense rains caused flooding in February and March. The Church sent two containers of food and emergency items to Ecuador, six containers to Bolivia, and seven to Peru. Each container holds some 40,000 pounds of supplies.

Heavy March rains also caused flooding in eastern Africa, displacing more than 400,000 people in Malawi and Mozambique. Fifteen containers of relief items were sent to these countries.

[photo] Members distribute emergency supplies in Bolivia. The Church sent relief supplies to flood victims in three South American countries.

Relief Society Honored in Brazil

On 20 March the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil (comparable to the U.S. House of Representatives) conducted a special session commemorating the organization of the Relief Society on 17 March 1842. More than 300 local Relief Society sisters attended the session, which was televised nationally.

More than 350,000 Brazilian women are Relief Society members. “These wonderful women are dedicated to strengthening families,” said Aecio Neves, president of the Chamber of Deputies, speaking in the session. “There has never been so great a need for such a work.”

The motion to honor the Relief Society was made by Chamber Deputy Moroni Torgan, a fourth-generation Church member from Fortaleza, Brazil. Addressing the session, he said: “In 1937, two women and a girl joined the Church and began to attend Relief Society. One of the women was my great-grandmother Elizabeth Visconti; the other was my grandmother Vilma Visconti Bing. The girl was my mother, Vilma Bing Torgan.”

A Latter-day Saint who works in the Brazilian Congress, Luiz César Lima Costa, said he felt this special session did more to promote a positive image of the Church in Brazil than any other event he had witnessed during his 29 years of Church membership.

Ames, Iowa: Rich Heritage, Bright Future

It was while making the difficult, mud-bogged pioneer trek across Iowa in 1846 that William Clayton penned the words to the hymn “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (Hymns, no. 30). The hymn has become an inspirational anthem for Latter-day Saints worldwide, but in Iowa it is also sung in other churches by congregations who revere the faith of the early pioneers. Also out of respect, many Iowa farmers have long-preserved the Mormon Pioneer Trail as it passes through their property, plowing around it as they plant their crops each year.

“We have been blessed by the goodness of the people of Iowa,” says Robert Schafer, president of the Ames Iowa Stake, the fourth stake to be created in the state. “It is because of this goodness that the Church has been able to expand and grow here.”

The first branch in Ames, Iowa, was officially organized in 1927. One of the branch’s first members was a young graduate student who had come to Ames to study agricultural economics and marketing at Iowa State University. His name was Ezra Taft Benson.

“Sister Benson and I left for Ames the day we were married, September 10, 1926, in a small secondhand Ford pickup, with all of our earthly belongings in the back,” President Benson later reminisced in a 1976 letter to an Ames ward member. “It was a joyous, happy, profitable year. We would alternate in … holding Sunday School in our apartments and would usually drive 25 miles to attend sacrament meetings. There was a congenial, rich spirit among the members of the little branch. We enjoyed the fellowship, the association, and especially the spirit in those early days in Ames.”

The same spirit that existed in the early Ames branch continues in the Ames stake today. President Schafer says the stake’s vision is to emphasize the role of the Savior in people’s lives. One way the stake accomplishes this is through service—each auxiliary of each unit in the stake has a goal to complete two service projects a year.

Since the stake was organized in 1995, three new branches have been created within its boundaries. Jayson and Clover Green of the Ankeny Ward are just two of many converts that have strengthened the stake in recent years. The Greens had just separated when a chance meeting brought Jayson in contact with the missionaries. He began hearing the discussions, reading the Book of Mormon, and making changes in his life. As a result Jayson talked with Clover, and they decided to give their marriage another try. The couple began to hear the discussions together. “After a lot of discussions with the elders—and dinners with members—we were baptized,” says Brother Green. Last February, the Greens, along with their three young daughters, were sealed in the Chicago Illinois Temple.

Like early Latter-day Saint pioneers who traveled west across Iowa to reach Winter Quarters, Nebraska, the Greens and other members of the Ames stake now also travel west to Winter Quarters—to attend their new temple, dedicated on 22 April 2001. “This temple is particularly special to us, because it reminds us of the legacy of faith of thousands of Latter-day Saint pioneers who crossed our state,” says President Schafer. Today, instead of continuing west after going to Winter Quarters, Latter-day Saints of the Ames stake return to their homes east from the temple to build up Zion in their part of the world.Maria Pringle, Ames First Ward, Ames Iowa Stake

Ames Iowa Stake

Organized: 1995

Members: 2,500

Units: 6 wards, 6 branches

Temple district: Winter Quarters Nebraska

Map of Ames, Iowa

[photo] Ames stake members remember their pioneer heritage. Thousands of Latter-day Saint pioneers crossed Iowa en route to the Salt Lake Valley.

[photo] Each auxiliary unit in the Ames stake has a goal to complete two service projects yearly.

TempleReady Upgrade Released

A new version of TempleReady and an update of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) are now in Church Family History Centers.

The new TempleReady 2.0 software for Windows® helps members prepare names for submission to temples. The IGI is an index of all previously performed ordinance work. With this update of 62 million names, the massive library now contains some 347 million names on more than 60 CDs. TempleReady’s last upgrade was in 1997.

In order to prevent duplication, TempleReady compares names being submitted with the 347 million names of those for whom ordinance work has already been done. It then saves the names to a separate file for temple work of those for whom the work has not been done. The new version will also update the user’s Personal Ancestral File if it finds that work for someone on the file has already been done.

Another new feature is a built-in tutorial that teaches how to use the program and the Family History Center. TempleReady is now distributed in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Japanese.

In the Spotlight

BYU Announces Institute for Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts

Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy, president of Brigham Young University, has announced the creation of the university’s Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts. The new institute includes within it BYU’s Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS). It will deal with translation and publishing of the Middle Eastern texts as well as the preservation of ancient religious texts.

President Bateman said the institute was created to increase public access to ancient religious records. The production of the Dead Sea Scrolls on CD-ROM, the Islamic Translation Series, and image-acquisition and electronic publication are examples of the work being done at the BYU institute.

Washington D.C. Stake Relief Society Aids Zimbabwe

Some 200 Relief Society sisters and other members of the Washington D.C. Stake worked together in March to produce thousands of humanitarian aid items to be sent to Zimbabwe. The stake made quilts, leper bandages, dresses, newborn kits, sewing kits, and hygiene kits.

Ambassador Simbi Veke Mubako from the Republic of Zimbabwe and his wife, Dr. Hazel Mubako, attended the final day of the service project and spoke about the tremendous need for help in their country. The ambassador noted that 25 percent of his nation’s 12 million population are AIDS patients. Most of these are orphan babies whose parents died from the disease.

Iowa Museum Features Danish Latter-day Saint Immigration

The Danish Immigrant Museum, located in the Danish community of Elk Horn, Iowa, is running a new exhibit, “Wilderness Exodus: The Danish Mormon Experience in America,” from 7 May through 28 October 2001.

The exhibit documents missionary work in Denmark, the arduous journey from Denmark to Utah, and the activities of the settlers in their new home. The museum will also sponsor a series of lectures about the experiences of early Latter-day Saints as they traveled across Iowa.

The gospel was first taught in Denmark in 1850.

Policies and Announcements

Discontinuation of Local Church Unit Web Sites

The following letter, dated 15 March 2001, has been sent to local unit priesthood leaders by the Presiding Bishopric:

“As you know, the Church has developed several official Church Internet sites. These sites contain approved, correlated material that the Church has deemed appropriate for the Internet. New and updated material will continue to appear on these sites.

“As the Church grows, it is very important that information presented to the world be accurate and dignified and that it represent a single, unified Church voice. In addition, it is imperative that the rights of third parties be protected and respected through strict compliance with applicable laws.

“With this in mind, a policy for the creation, operation, and maintenance of local unit web sites is being developed and will be sent to priesthood leaders. Until the policy is established, the First Presidency has requested that local Church units and organizations should not create or sponsor web sites. They have also determined that existing sites should be discontinued. If you have questions pertaining to these instructions, please call 1-801-240-3678. We request that local leaders give appropriate attention to this matter.”


Chains of Pornography

The article “Breaking the Chains of Pornography” touched me so much. I felt as though I was reading my own journal. I cannot thank you enough for bringing to light the possibilities that are open to us when we follow the counsel of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the prompting of the Holy Ghost. I was especially thankful that the article pointed out a way to overcome such trials.

I feel blessed that our family is overcoming a very similar situation. This article came as a reassurance to my heart that Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers.

Name Withheld

Song of Hope

Thank you for the article “A Song of Hope” (Dec. 2000). I had been feeling sorry for myself because I felt I could not help people the way I wanted to, but when I read this story I was so impressed by Pierre Anthian and his desire to serve. It gave me hope that I too could reach my goal of helping others to be their best self.

Solveig Hasleton Mesa, Arizona