News of the Church


Columbia River Washington Temple Dedicated

President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Columbia River Washington Temple, located in Richland, Washington, in four dedicatory sessions on 18 November 2001.

“Thy grateful people have erected this house. It has been visited by many thousands. They have come out of curiosity and have left with appreciation. May their hearts be inclined to Thy work and may there grow within them a desire to learn of Thy revealed truth,” President Hinckley said in the dedicatory prayer.

“… We pray that Thou wilt smile upon Thy people and their families. Open the windows of heaven and shower down blessings upon the faithful who contribute of their time and resources according to Thy will and law. May the whole earth become as Zion as Thy work spreads among the nations.

“Bless our own land in these perilous times. Bless those who serve as trustees of this government formed under an inspired Constitution, the principles of which have come from Thee. May peace replace conflict, we implore Thee.”

Accompanying President Hinckley were Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Seventy, President of the North America Northwest Area.

The Columbia River Washington Temple serves more than 34,000 Latter-day Saints in southeast Washington and northeast Oregon, nearly 15,000 of whom attended the dedication. Before the Columbia River temple was dedicated, these members had to travel to temples in Seattle, Washington; Spokane, Washington; or Portland, Oregon.

Nearly 65,000 people came to the temple’s open house, which began on 27 October and continued through 10 November, except Sundays. As President Hinckley petitioned in his dedicatory prayer, many of these visitors asked to learn more about the gospel; within a few weeks of the open house, the Washington Spokane Mission reported that more than 20 open house visitors had joined the Church and many more were investigating.

“The temple has been accepted very well in the community,” said Allan D. Alder, temple president. “And the Church members are so thankful. The tears just run because they’re so appreciative to have a temple this close to them.”

[photo] The Columbia River temple will serve some 35,000 members in southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. (Photo by Jason Swensen, Church News.)

First Presidency Hosts Annual Christmas Devotional

“What a glorious thing it is that, at least at this time of year, hearts of men and women across the world turn in adoration to the Son of God,” President Gordon B. Hinckley said to the audience assembled in the Conference Center and in stake centers on 2 December for the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional.

Joined by his counselors in the First Presidency—President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust—President Hinckley bore testimony of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

“Through Him has come—and now comes again—the wondrous glory of His plan of salvation and exaltation. He is the Lord Omnipotent, Son of the Almighty, who lives and reigns to guide this work,” said President Hinckley.

“Now the world is at war. Our very civilization is in peril. But above and beyond all of the conflict, all of the quarreling, all of the sound and fury of battle, He is our refuge, our Rock of Ages, our source of peace, comfort, and certain assurance concerning the immortality of the human soul.

“Praise be to the Almighty and to His Only Begotten Son, the Redeemer of all mankind. Every one of us is better, our lives are richer, our faith is more certain because of Jesus Christ, the living Son of the living God, our Redeemer and our King, whose birth in Bethlehem of Judea we honor at this time.

“We are a little kinder, a little more thoughtful, a little more neighborly, much richer in spirit because of Him.”

President Hinckley asked that each of us do more to follow the Savior’s example of love and service.

“Our prayer at this wondrous season of Christmas is that we will look inward to test our own hearts and look outward for an opportunity to reach down and lift someone who is in need. It will not be difficult to find someone.

“Brothers and sisters, boys and girls, we can all be a little kinder, a little more patient, a little more helpful. We can all reach out to the very many who are in distress for any number of reasons. We can replace anger with love. We can put selfishness out of our lives. We can get on our knees and pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, and then stand on our feet and reach out to bless the destitute, the poor, the oppressed, and those in trouble. …

“May each of you have some selfless, long-to-be-remembered experience in bringing blessings to others.”

President Monson reflected on the challenges and blessings that exist in the world at this time. “Since last we met for the traditional Christmas devotional, much has happened in the world,” he said. “The September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the further threat of terrorism, have obscured for now that hoped-for blessing of peace on earth.

“The price of freedom has ever been high. Our prayers go out to those whose families feel the absence of loved ones and who experience daily a concern for their well-being. We unite in an earnest prayer to our Father in Heaven that a pattern for peace may be found and that good will toward men may be our divinely bestowed blessing.”

President Monson added to President Hinckley’s petition that we recommit to living a Christlike life. “There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is the time to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart—and our neighbors as ourselves.”

President Faust spoke of the importance of Christmas traditions. “One reason that Christmas is so meaningful is because year after year we follow traditions that help us bond as families. … In keeping Christmas traditions, we bind ourselves to the past, present, and future.”

At the center of each of our Christmas traditions should be the life of Jesus Christ, said President Faust. “As we think of the happiness of Christmases past and the joy of this Christmas, may we savor and perpetuate the Christmas traditions which express our endearment and love to each other. The greatest tradition, of course, is also the very reason we celebrate Christmas. The ‘good tidings of great joy’ must ‘be to all people’ (see Luke 2:10). All of our individual traditions should point to this greatest of all traditions.”

[photo] “May each of you have some selfless, long-to-be-remembered experience in bringing blessings to others,” President Hinckley said during the devotional. Presidents Monson and Faust (seated) also spoke. (Photo by John Luke.)

President Hinckley’s Remarks Honor President David O. McKay

Speaking in Ogden, Utah, at the dedication of a Weber State University education building named for President David O. McKay, President Gordon B. Hinckley honored the ninth President of the Church.

“It is appropriate now that we name this beautiful and serviceable structure the David O. McKay Education Building,” said President Hinckley. “It does him honor. It rewards his love for this institution. It immortalizes his good name. It becomes an instant reminder to every student who attends this school of the importance of integrity, of the importance of honesty, of the importance of virtue, of the importance of work, of the importance of beauty.”

President McKay possessed rare “physical and mental strength and energy, a love for young people and a great desire to see them make something of their lives, a robust appreciation for the humorous coupled with a stern sense of discipline, a dedication to learning, and an appreciation for hard work,” President Hinckley said.

As a young man, David Oman McKay attended what was then called the Weber Academy. He later became principal there, where he taught religion and literature and raised funds to expand the school. He remained the principal for two years after he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1906.

[photo] President and Sister Hinckley greet Alan C. Ashton, grandson of President David O. McKay, at the dedication of a Weber State University education building named for President McKay. (Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News.)

Elder Nelson Meets Ghanaian President, Breaks Temple Ground

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with the president of Ghana, John Ageykum Kufuor, on 16 November while in that country to preside at the long-awaited groundbreaking for the Accra Ghana Temple.

Elder Nelson told the Ghanaian president that the Church is engaged in helping its members become better people and better citizens, emphasizing the Church’s interest in strengthening families. He also reviewed some of the humanitarian aid and community improvement projects that the Church has sponsored in Ghana over the past several years in its commitment to the betterment of people’s lives.

President Kufuor invited the Church to contribute in any way that could benefit the country and noted, “The Church has come to stay and is part of this nation now.”

Elder Nelson also visited Ghana to train local leaders. Three of them accompanied him and Elder H. Bruce Stucki of the Seventy, President of the Africa West Area, during their visit to Ghana’s president. They were Elder Emmanuel O. Opare, Area Authority Seventy; President Richard Kwesi Ahadjie of the Christiansborg Ghana Stake; and President Charles Sono-Koree of the Lartebiokorshie Ghana Stake.

Elder Nelson, joined by Elder Stucki and Elder Opare, presided at the 16 November groundbreaking ceremony for the Ghana temple. Civil engineers have been preparing the site for construction since the temple was announced by President Gordon B. Hinckley on 16 February 1998.

At the ceremony, Elder Nelson addressed the hundreds of local members and their friends in attendance, as well as governmental leaders present, including the Honorable Alhaji Aliu Mahama, vice president of the Republic of Ghana.

[photo] News cameras roll as Elder Nelson (fourth from right) and other priesthood leaders break ground in Accra for West Africa’s first temple. (Photo by Norman Noorda.)

Unique Displays Shine at Salt Lake, Washington D.C. Temples

Unique Christmas lighting and displays were in place this year at the Salt Lake and Washington D.C. Temples.

Since 1996 new adornments and lights have been added annually to enhance the spirit of Christmas on Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, including the Church Office Building plaza and Conference Center block. The result is a breathtaking display that has drawn millions of visitors and led USA Today to name Temple Square as one of the nation’s “ten great places to … reflect on Christmas.”

This year’s Christmas display in Salt Lake City will continue through the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games so that visitors from around the world can enjoy the beauty and spirit of the display.

New this year are two large-scale, folk art nativity scenes from Mexico and New Zealand. These new crèches are displayed along with others from Africa, Japan, Alaska, and Poland that were acquired last Christmas.

In addition, hundreds of new metal luminarias (lanterns lighted from within), laser-cut with 12 silhouette designs depicting scenes from the Savior’s life, were added to the many metal and paper luminarias already on display from prior years.

These most recent additions complement the lifelike nativity scene on Temple Square, thousands of flickering electronic candles floating in the reflecting pool east of the Salt Lake Temple, and hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, all added in years past.

Washington D.C. Temple

At the Washington D.C. Temple, most of this year’s Christmas lights twinkled red, white, and blue in honor of the victims of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States. On 28 November, ambassadors from 35 nations honored the victims at a ceremony in which the temple’s Christmas lights were turned on.

“Let us tonight dedicate each of the more than 300,000 lights to the memory of those who lost their lives,” said Ambassador Guenter Burghardt, head of the European Union delegation in Washington and co-host of the lighting ceremony.

The lights and a live nativity scene are a major attraction each year for hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy, president of the North America East Area, also honored the victims of 11 September and said the lights represent Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

“We reach out to all who lost family members and loved ones on that never-to-be-forgotten day,” he said. “Just as the thousands of lights … add to the peace and serenity of these beautiful grounds, so does the light of Christ add peace and serenity to our lives.”

[photo] This year’s Christmas displays on Temple Square will continue through the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. (Photo by Don Searle.)

[photo] A large-scale crèche from New Zealand is one of the many new displays on Temple Square. (Photo by Don Searle.)

[photo] Most of the Christmas lights at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center shone red, white, and blue in honor of the victims of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States. (Photo by R. Cole Goodwin.)

Marjorie Pay Hinckley Celebrates 90th Birthday

Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, celebrated her 90th birthday on 23 November 2001. Sister Hinckley was born in Nephi, Utah, in 1911, a descendant of Latter-day Saint pioneers.

Sister Hinckley says that for her, happiness has been the key to living a long and healthy life: “I think if you’re happy you live longer.”

Growing up together in the same neighborhood, President and Sister Hinckley knew each other from their youth. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in April 1937. They have 5 children, 25 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.

Sister Hinckley celebrated her birthday at a family party and at a later reception with General Authorities and their wives.

Sister Hinckley has been recognized a number of times for her accomplishments, receiving an honorary doctor of humane letters from Utah Valley State College in April 2001, an honorary doctoral degree in Christian service from BYU in 2000, and the Service to Humanity Award from the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists in 1998.

Traveling with her husband, Sister Hinckley has visited every continent and conversed with such dignitaries as the queen of Thailand and the prime minister of England.

[photo] “I think if you’re happy you live longer,” said Sister Hinckley at 90, reflecting on her long life. (Photo by Tom Smart, Deseret News.)

Latter-day Saint Athletes Earn National Recognition

Latter-day Saint athletes earned national recognition in the United States on a number of competitive fronts late in 2001.

The women’s cross-country team from Brigham Young University won the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship, taking the title for the third time in the past five years. Three BYU runners finished in the top 10: Michaela Manova, Jessie Kindschi, and Tara Northcutt. Lindsey Thomsen and Sarah Taylor finished 24th and 25th. The five women were within 30 seconds of each other at the finish, and each earned all-America honors.

Both the women’s and men’s cross-country teams from Ricks College won the National Junior College Athletic Association titles in their final competitions. (Ricks College became Brigham Young University—Idaho at the beginning of the 2001–02 school year and will drop intercollegiate athletic competition at the end of the year. For the purposes of athletic competition, the school maintained the name of Ricks for this final season.)

For the Ricks women, it was the seventh NJCAA championship in a row, and for the Ricks men, their third consecutive title. Angela Benson finished first among the women, won the individual title in the meet, and received first team all-America status. Lida Clapier, Kim Conover, Audrey Golightly, and Kathrine Anderson finished sixth, eighth, ninth, and tenth and won second team all-America status. Amy Conover finished 13th and won third team all-America. The Ricks men’s team won by a very close margin. Defending NJCAA champion Jeff Davidson finished sixth, Ryan Jenks seventh, and David Woodbury eighth, all three winning second team all-America honors.

J. B. Haglund, a senior at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania, won the NCAA division 3 cross-country championship. He is a five-time all-American in track and cross-country events.

University of Utah track competitor Teren Jameson won all-America honors for the second year in a row at the NCAA division 1 cross-country championship meet. He was also the Mountain West Conference’s runner of the year.

Both the BYU and Ricks College football teams achieved recognition during their seasons.

BYU won the Mountain West Conference championship and played in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee, on New Year’s Eve. Cougar Luke Staley, who received the Doak Walker award as the nation’s top running back, was also named to the Associated Press all-America first team.

The Ricks College Viking football team had a 10-1 record for their season. They beat Lackawanna College in the Real Dairy Bowl in Pocatello, Idaho, the Vikings’ last intercollegiate game, on 30 November. Viking tight end Jon Clark was named first team all-America by the NJCAA, and teammate Carl Tuitavuki was named second team all-America.

[photo] All-American Angela Benson led her Ricks cross-country women’s team to its seventh NJCAA title. (Photo by Michael Lewis.)

In the Spotlight

First Czech Meetinghouse Dedicated

The first Church meetinghouse to be built in the Czech Republic was dedicated in November and is now serving the 280 members of the Brno Branch. The building, dedicated by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Europe Central Area Presidency, also houses the country’s first Family History Center.

A two-day open house for the facility was held in October, hosted by Gâd Vojkuvka, president of the Brno Czech District. President Vojkuvka recalled a time in the former Czechoslovakia when the mission was closed for many years and Church members could not openly live the gospel. His parents held meetings in their home once a month. Now he says he is grateful he and his family can attend church weekly in their own meetinghouse.

British Member Receives Queen’s Honor

Brian Holliday of the Blackburn Ward, Preston England Stake, was recently recognized on the Queen’s Birthday Honors List as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). He was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive the award for his services to people with disabilities.

Having disabilities himself, Brother Holliday, 53, trains others with disabilities to work to their capacity. He also travels the country promoting the rights of disabled workers, and he is the governor of a state-run school for youngsters with disabilities.

Organist Has Served for 80 Years

When people enter the chapel of the Highland Ward, Ogden Utah East Stake, the music that greets them is played by an organist with 80 years’ experience.

Ninety-two-year-old Vernal Johnson began playing for his ward’s priesthood meetings at the age of 12. In high school, he studied organ with Edward P. Kimball, former Salt Lake Tabernacle organist. During his mission to Germany in 1928, he played for many German congregations. Later, while serving as a U.S. army officer in a medical battalion during World War II, he used his talents in playing at church services for various denominations on base.

Today Brother Johnson continues to uplift his ward by performing an organ and piano duet with his son during a sacrament meeting each Christmas season, a tradition they’ve kept up for 30 years.

Oregon Stake Gives Annual Community Service

Hundreds of men, women, and children recently participated in the sixth annual Humanitarian Day sponsored by the Hillsboro Oregon Stake. Joining stake members in giving community service were individuals from other denominations and organizations.

Volunteer service included making toys for homeless and orphaned children; cleaning a local clinic, shelter, Boys and Girls Club, and six schools; preparing lots for Habitat for Humanity; planting shrubs and grooming trails at a park; helping senior citizens with yard work; and collecting food and other items for a food bank and homeless shelter.

[photo] Vernal Johnson. (Photo by Jerry Nelson.)

[photo] Volunteers build a fence for a home as part of the Hillsboro stake’s Humanitarian Day. (Photo by Kathleen Pfeiffer.)

Comment

Timely Articles

Lately I have been devouring each issue of the Ensign to help me in the daily challenges of life. The articles are so timely. Who could have known what many Church members would need following the events of 11 September in the United States, but the Ensign was full of timely answers and important information.

Now I often incorporate the Ensign in my personal scripture study and have received inspiration as I refer to the scriptures cited in particular articles. My Ensign has truly become a tool of light and knowledge as I underline, highlight, and write in the margins.

Mimi Murdock Hurricane, Utah

Power through Hymns

I would like to thank Elder Merrill J. Bateman for his article “The Power of Hymns” (July 2001). I especially enjoyed the wonderful story he shared about how a young girl with severe physical disabilities was able to express her testimony through a hymn.

Clare O’Neill Port Stewart, Londonderry, Northern Ireland

A Great Teaching Help

I so enjoyed all the articles about the Doctrine and Covenants that ran in the Ensign in 2001. I love the information about our Church history. Each article seemed to give new insight into the early Church—what a great teaching help!

Maxine Lund Breinholt Salt Lake City, Utah

Beyond Prison Bars

I recently read the article “I Saw Beyond the Prison Bars” (July 2001). The story of the author’s participation in a Church meeting in prison touched me because I am a Church member who is also an inmate.

I would like to thank all those who take the time to visit a prison to share their presence and spirit with those who desperately need to know that they can be forgiven, that people care for them, and that God loves them. I am grateful for the brethren that faithfully come to the prison where I am every Sunday to share a lesson. They have made such an impact on my life, and I appreciate them more than they will ever know. Their gift is one of the greatest I have ever received.

Name Withheld