New Leaders Called, Policies Announced
In general conference broadcasts reaching the largest-ever percentage of Church members, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced policy changes, and members of the Church sustained a new Young Women general presidency, several new General Authorities, and new members of the Presidency of the Seventy and of the Sunday School general presidency.
The 172nd Semiannual General Conference was the first general conference ever broadcast in parts of Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific. More than 5,000 meetinghouses are now equipped to carry Church broadcasts, giving 90 percent of the Church access to general conference satellite broadcasts. In addition, sessions were carried live on the Internet.
At the October 2002 conference, a new Young Women general presidency was sustained. Sister Susan W. Tanner was called to serve as general president of the Young Women organization. Sister Julie B. Beck was called as first counselor, and Sister Elaine S. Dalton was called as second counselor.
Released as the Young Women general presidency were Sister Margaret D. Nadauld and her counselors, Sister Carol B. Thomas and Sister Sharon G. Larsen.
Five new General Authorities were called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy: Elder Craig C. Christensen, Elder James M. Dunn, Elder Daryl H. Garn, Elder D. Rex Gerratt, and Elder Spencer V. Jones.
Released as members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were Elder Richard D. Allred, Elder Athos M. Amorim, Elder L. Edward Brown, Elder Earl M. Monson, and Elder Jerald L. Taylor.
Also released were 21 Area Authority Seventies. Of those released, 11 served in the United States and the others served in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, Peru, and Uruguay.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf was sustained as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Val R. Christensen was sustained as second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency. Elder Ben B. Banks of the Seventy was named an emeritus General Authority and released from the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Richard J. Maynes was released as second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency to fulfill other assignments.
During the priesthood session, President Hinckley announced several policy changes and reemphasized current policy and practice. Recognizing the heavy load borne by priesthood leaders, President Hinckley announced that effective on 1 November 2002, temple recommends will be valid for two years instead of one, reducing the amount of time leaders spend interviewing.
He also announced that missionary farewells will be limited to a sacrament meeting talk by the departing missionary and that family members will not participate in or plan the meeting. President Hinckley reminded members that open houses for missionaries are discouraged.
President Hinckley also asked community leaders to honor Church members’ desire to hold family home evening by leaving Monday evening free of school activities or other functions. He also spoke out against debt, immorality, and child abuse.
Elder Craig C. Christensen
“Our family has an acronym taken from Alma 32:28—SEED—Spiritual Exercise Every Day,” says Elder Craig C. Christensen, recently sustained as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Exercise has been a large part of Elder Christensen’s life. As a family that is very physically active, even enjoying scuba diving together on family vacations, Elder Christensen, his wife, Debora, and their four children get spiritual exercise through family devotionals and scripture study. In addition, Elder Christensen has his own routine of spiritual development. “Over time,” Elder Christensen says, “that process of reflection and searching the scriptures has strengthened me and built my testimony.”
Elder Christensen was born on 18 March 1956 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Sheron Glen and Colleen Cloward Christensen. His family moved to Concord, California, before he was in middle school. He later returned to Utah as a college student to play football for Brigham Young University.
“Football was my focus before my mission to Chile,” says Elder Christensen. “Becoming a missionary changed all that. It gave me great love for people and the desire to really serve.”
Married in the Salt Lake Temple on 28 March 1978 to Debora Jones—“my example of living the gospel”—he studied accounting and business. As the owner of automobile dealerships, he is committed to “living the principle of integrity and teaching it to others.”
He learned this principle from mentors throughout his life, including his father, who was his bishop and stake president; his brother; and his mission president.
These mentors also helped prepare him to serve as a bishop, mission president, and an Area Authority Seventy. Through these examples and experiences, Elder Christensen says, “I’ve learned that the Spirit really teaches us and those we teach. In any calling, we need to look for what the Lord would have us do.”
Elder James M. Dunn
“Like many others, I’ve built my testimony day by day, one brick at a time,” observes Elder James M. Dunn, recently called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “The spiritual stirrings I felt as a little boy have matured over time through service and doing what I was taught to be right.”
Born on 16 April 1940 in Pocatello, Idaho, to Billy E. and Melba Meyers Dunn, Elder Dunn and his five siblings grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, “having all the opportunities and blessings that a Latter-day Saint child could have.”
After serving a mission in Uruguay, Elder Dunn married Sandra (Penny) Barker in the Salt Lake Temple on 7 August 1963. He had admired and respected Penny since they had worked together as class officers in high school. In their early years of marriage, Elder Dunn served as a commissioned officer in the Utah National Guard, pursued a Latin American studies degree at Brigham Young University, and received a law degree from the University of Utah.
In his demanding profession as a trial lawyer, Elder Dunn learned that one less client or fewer billed hours were small prices to pay for his active Church service, which included callings as high councilor, bishop, stake president, mission president, and Area Authority Seventy.
As the father of six daughters, Elder Dunn says, “I have a special life; daughters and dads have a unique connection.” This connection was strengthened when his family served with him in Colombia, where he was a mission president. He and his wife and daughters returned home fluent in Spanish and spiritually strengthened.
Upon receiving his new calling, Elder Dunn commented: “One wonders why these things happen, what life will be like in the next years. But from past callings I know that serving will be a tremendous blessing. Over the years, the Church has been at the center of all the good things in my family and in my life.”
Elder Daryl H. Garn
When Daryl H. Garn was a missionary in western Canada, his mission president made a visit to his area. Elder Garn hadn’t seen much of the mission president because the mission was so large, so this was a special occasion.
“As President Arave concluded his testimony, he said he knew those things better than he knew anything,” remembers Elder Garn, “and the Spirit witnessed to my mind that it was true—that you could know things of the Spirit as well or better than you know anything.”
Since that day, Elder Garn, sustained in October as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, has experienced the truth of his mission president’s testimony again and again. He recalls a few years later when he was sitting in a stake conference in Ohio and the Spirit whispered that he would be called into his ward’s bishopric. He had been in dental school for just two weeks, but before the day was over, President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, made the call official.
“Elder Kimball said, ‘Brother Garn, the Lord has called you to this position, and if you put first things first, He will bless you,’” Elder Garn remembers. He feels that by serving diligently in his callings—including bishop, stake president, Young Men president, high councilor, and Area Authority Seventy—he has been sustained in all aspects of his life.
His wife, Irene, says he is always willing to put the Lord first, and he responds to any call—be it to help around the house or lead a ward—with an agreeable, “That’s just what I want to do!”
Elder Garn was born on 28 December 1938 in Tremonton, Utah, to Uel and Lolita Hodges Garn. He married Irene Hall on 19 December 1961 in the Logan Utah Temple. They have six children and 19 grandchildren. They raised their family in Mesa, Arizona.
Elder D. Rex Gerratt
Elder D. Rex Gerratt was sustained on 5 October 2002 as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “I have never been given a calling I felt adequate to do, but I know that whom the Lord calls, the Lord prepares and helps,” says Elder Gerratt, a soft-spoken crop and dairy farmer from Idaho. “As I have accepted each call in my life, I have pleaded with Heavenly Father to help me be effective in His hands.”
Elder Gerratt was born in Heyburn, Idaho, on 9 April 1936 to Donald Wayne and Ann Bailey Gerratt. He grew up in nearby Burley, farming with his father and brother. He married his childhood friend, Marjorie Crane, in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple in 1955. They have 9 children and 35 grandchildren.
“I can remember many mornings when our children and I would sit on the back porch with our family dog, putting on our boots to do our dairy chores,” recalls Elder Gerratt. “Sister Gerratt and I are, of course, concerned for our children, but we have great confidence in them because they all know how to work hard and they have testimonies of the gospel.”
Hard work in his profession and his community has brought Elder Gerratt honors such as induction into the Idaho Dairy Hall of Fame and the Southeastern Idaho Livestock Hall of Fame. He was also named Conservation Farmer of the Year.
His callings in the Church have included Area Authority Seventy, mission president, regional representative, stake president, stake clerk, bishop, ward clerk, and home teacher. These callings have helped teach him gratitude and humility.
“When we realize the many blessings we receive from our Heavenly Father and that we are indeed led by His living prophet,” says Elder Gerratt, “we ought to be very grateful and committed to do our very best at whatever we are asked to do in His Church.”
Elder Spencer V. Jones
“Let’s all go up. Let’s make the bishop faint. Let’s all go up and bear our testimonies.” This was the challenge young Spencer V. Jones made to his fellow deacons. It was also a turning point in the maturing of his testimony. “As I bore my testimony, at the end—where maybe a month before I was giggling at the people who cried while bearing their testimonies because I didn’t really understand—I found myself in tears,” Elder Jones recalls. “I’ve never forgotten that moment, because when spirit speaks to spirit, something special happens.”
Elder Jones, recently sustained as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, was born in Safford, Arizona, to Virgil and Nellie Baker Jones on 17 September 1945. He grew up a farmer’s son in the small Latter-day Saint community of Virden, New Mexico, where the meetinghouse was the center of activities. “We called almost everyone in town aunt and uncle—even if they weren’t related—and everybody took care of everybody as if they were.”
After serving in the Argentina North Mission, Elder Jones attended Brigham Young University, where he earned a degree in animal science. At an Arizona Club dance on campus, he met Joyce Elizabeth Mathews. They were married on 3 June 1968, and after graduation, they moved to Gallup, New Mexico. Elder Jones has worked in a variety of businesses, including a furniture company and a cattle company. He and his wife have three children and eight grandchildren.
Elder Jones explains that each of his assignments has been a blessing and has prepared him to further serve in the Lord’s kingdom. He has learned much from each calling, whether serving as Young Men president, bishop’s counselor, bishop, seminary teacher, mission president, area executive secretary, or Area Authority Seventy. “Each calling is a stepping-stone and a learning experience,” says Elder Jones. “You grow one step at a time.”
Susan Winder Tanner
Having served on both a ward and stake level in Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society, Susan W. Tanner sees a relationship between the organizations.
“The little girls learn ‘I am a child of God.’ And that carries them to ‘We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.’ Then we come to ‘Charity never faileth,’ and we feel that love enfold us,” she says. “I think there is perfect unity in each stage, with expanded vision and ability as we grow.”
As the newly called Young Women general president, Sister Tanner feels committed to helping young women understand their place in Heavenly Father’s plan.
Born on 10 January 1953 in Granger, Utah, to Richard W. and Barbara Woodhead Winder, Sister Tanner grew up on a large dairy farm. She later earned a degree in humanities from Brigham Young University, where she met John S. Tanner. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on 3 September 1974. Sister Tanner became a homemaker and piano teacher. The Tanners live in Provo, Utah, and have five children and three grandchildren.
While her family was living in Brazil, where her husband was teaching as a Fulbright scholar, Sister Tanner gained insight into the Young Women program. Her two oldest daughters learned the Young Women theme in Portuguese. “I wanted to learn it with them,” she says. “As I started to memorize the theme, the message really sank into my heart. I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, and He loves me. And because I know this, I love Him and want to show by my actions that I love Him.
“The message is right there in the Young Women theme in the proper order,” she continues. “I just want the young women of the Church to know it can be the foundation of their testimonies, their actions, and their lives.”
Julie Bangerter Beck
“We had to come up with a way to help our children learn how to work,” says Sister Julie B. Beck, newly sustained first counselor in the Young Women general presidency. “We didn’t have a farm, so they couldn’t milk cows. Music was our cow.”
Just as her own three children learned how to work by practicing the piano, Sister Beck learned the joy of work and service by growing up in the middle of 11 children. Born on 29 September 1954 to William Grant and Geraldine Hamblin Bangerter, Sister Beck grew up in Granger, Utah, and in São Paulo, Brazil, where her father was a mission president.
Sister Beck graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in family science. On 28 December 1973 she married Ramon P. Beck in the Salt Lake Temple. They live in Alpine, Utah, and have two daughters, one son, and three grandchildren. Sister Beck’s favorite activities are with her family. “Our children are our best friends,” she says.
Sister Beck has held several callings in Relief Society and Young Women, but she has a special place in her heart for the young women of the Church and recognizes the role hard work and service play in their spiritual development.
“I still have my bandolo from my Beehive years,” says Sister Beck, mentioning a Church program from her youth. “I enjoyed working to earn all my Young Women awards.”
She carries that enthusiasm into the current Church program for young women—Personal Progress. She served on the Young Women general board and worked on the revised Personal Progress program.
“I think Personal Progress helps a young woman understand and practice keeping her baptismal covenant,” says Sister Beck. “And I believe if she can understand and keep her baptismal covenant, she will be prepared to make and keep temple covenants.”
Elaine Schwartz Dalton
Not long before Elaine S. Dalton entered her second year at Brigham Young University, her father passed away unexpectedly. It was a trying time in her life, and she prayed often to understand why her father would be taken away from a family that needed him so much.
The answer to her prayers didn’t come until the following summer, when she was touring Europe with the BYU folk dance team. On Father’s Day, as the team held sacrament meeting, one of the speakers referred to Proverbs 3:5–6 [Prov. 3:5–6]: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
“I realized that scripture was my answer,” Sister Dalton says now. “I still didn’t know why my father passed away, but I knew I needed to trust in the Lord. That scripture has since guided my life. In everything that has happened that I haven’t understood, I’ve known that if I trust in the Lord, He will direct my path.”
In her new calling as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, Sister Dalton hopes to encourage young women to develop that same trust in Heavenly Father and to seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Sister Dalton was born in Ogden, Utah, on 1 November 1946 to Melvin Leo and Emma Martin Schwartz. She married Stephen E. Dalton on 13 September 1968 in the Salt Lake Temple. They have six children and live in Salt Lake City.
Sister Dalton earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University. She has served as a member of the Young Women general board, as stake Young Women president, as a Laurel adviser, and as a Relief Society teacher.
“The young women of today are incredible—they’re spiritually sensitive and strong,” she says. “They have an unusual challenge to be righteous in the world we live in now. As members of the Church, they can stand out and lead others who are looking for righteous examples.”
LDS Church Is United States’ Fastest Growing Denomination
In a study updated every 10 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was named the fastest growing denomination in the United States for the years 1990 to 2000.
The study also indicated that the fastest growing churches were those considered socially conservative—and that the slowest growing churches were those viewed as socially liberal. With a growth rate of 19.3 percent, the Church led the trend toward conservative religion in the United States. The next fastest growing religions were the Churches of Christ, the Assemblies of God, and the Roman Catholic Church.
The Glenmary Research Center, a Catholic research and social service organization, conducted the study through responses received from 149 religious groups. Because the United States census does not seek information about religion, this study is widely considered the most comprehensive assessment available of religious affiliation in the United States.
Also according to the study, the Church is the sixth largest denomination in the United States, and Utah tops the nation for “most faithful states,” having the highest percentage of religious adherents (75 percent). Provo, Utah, was singled out as the metro area with the highest percentage (90 percent) of its population claimed by one of the 149 participating religious groups.
Church Hosting Builds Bridges
When Norman D. and Luana Shumway, directors of Church hosting in Salt Lake City, met a prominent Christian minister from the midwestern United States, he told them he didn’t know exactly why he had come to visit. Brother and Sister Shumway decided to take him on a tour of the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square to help him find out.
“During the more than two hours we spent with him,” recalls Brother Shumway, “the words that he used over and over again were ‘incredible,’ ‘unbelievable,’ ‘amazing.’ And he kept saying, ‘Oh, there’s so much we can learn about how to be followers of Christ.’”
From Buddhist monks to military personnel to government officials, hundreds of leaders in business, politics, and religion visit Church headquarters in Salt Lake City each year. They are welcomed by the directors of Church hosting and taught about Church history and doctrine at sites such as Temple Square, the Family History Library, the Humanitarian Center, Welfare Square, the Museum of Church History and Art, and the Conference Center.
“We believe we can show these guests what the Church does, and we don’t have to explain very much,” says Brother Shumway. The First Presidency gave Lowell and Tamara Snow, former directors of Church hosting, similar instructions: “Don’t talk too much. Let the Church speak for itself.”
And speak for itself it does. At Welfare Square guests see basic Church beliefs in action while they take a tour of welfare facilities. “As members of the Church we have a covenant obligation to care for the poor and the needy,” explains Mel Gardner, manager of the bishops’ storehouse located at Welfare Square. “But everything we do is designed to foster self-reliance. In turn, people who receive help can lift others through meaningful service.”
Brother Gardner leads guests through a grocery store with no cash registers, where those who are in need and who have been referred by their bishops receive food. “We say it’s the best food money can’t buy,” he quips.
Guests are often impressed by the multitude of volunteers from local stakes working at the storehouse, the bakery, the cannery, the dairy plant, and the Deseret Industries thrift store. A framed quotation from the Prophet Joseph Smith explains why that spirit of volunteerism pervades the Church: “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:227).
“That’s what we’re all about”—blessing and serving, says Brother Gardner at the end of a tour, when guests are invited to drink chocolate milk and eat cheddar cheese produced by Deseret Dairy.
The nearby Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center shows the international scope of the Church’s welfare projects. “We are followers of Christ, and in everything we do, we try to exemplify the things He taught,” explains Elder Jerry Brown, a full-time senior missionary, as he leads guests through warehouse rooms stacked from floor to ceiling with bales of clothing, shoes, medical supplies, and educational materials awaiting shipment. Sometimes guests meet trainees involved in a training program at the Humanitarian Center and Welfare Square, a program that includes employment and language training.
“It is so gratifying to see shipments of essential clothing, medical equipment, and other materials leave each week for the needy nations of the earth,” says William D. Reynolds, manager of the Humanitarian Center. “But equally gratifying is to see the joy in the eyes of the trainees as they gain more self-reliance through learning and applying job skills.”
At Temple Square, sister missionaries share basic gospel messages. Guests of the Church can usually receive tours from sister missionaries who speak their native language, and often the choice of tour guides proves inspired. Sister Shumway recalls a time when one guest antagonistically asked how Native Americans feel about the Book of Mormon. The sister missionary leading the tour responded, “Well, I’m part Blackfoot and Shoshone.” Then she shared her love for the Book of Mormon.
When the bobsled team from Monaco arrived for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, they had a request—a visit to the Family History Library. At the library, guests learn what “families can be together forever” means. “We believe we can be with our families for eternity, and part of that is identifying these people that we can be with,” explains Elaine Hasleton, supervisor of library public affairs.
Guests often begin feeling the excitement of family history work as they see hundreds of patrons searching four floors of genealogical records. During one memorable visit, a guest of Eastern European ancestry who had felt only lukewarm interest in family history was shown ships’ registers and immigration records of his ancestors. “Two and a half hours later,” recalls Sister Shumway, “we told him we had to leave, and he said, ‘Go ahead and leave. I’m staying.’”
Guests do eventually go on their way, and they take lasting impressions with them. “Guests usually leave Salt Lake saying, ‘I came not knowing about the Church, but I found warmth, friendship, love, and caring,’” says Brother Snow. And that, adds Brother Shumway, “is what we try to do first of all—create bridges of understanding between the world and the Church.”
First Branch Organized in Republic of Georgia
With almost 50 members, the first branch in the Republic of Georgia was organized on 9 June in the capital city, Tbilisi. The branch was created three years after the country was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel.
Georgia, an Asian country bordered by Russia and the Black Sea, was dedicated in March 1999 by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Humanitarian missionaries arrived shortly thereafter and began providing service to the community, including arranging for supplies to be sent to orphanages and hospitals as well as teaching English.
When the country was dedicated, Vazha Natroshvili, who had joined the Church some years earlier while in the Netherlands, was the only local member. Brother Natroshvili accompanied the missionaries to discussions, and within months the first family and a young adult were baptized.
The Church has continued to grow steadily in Georgia. With 43 members and several investigators participating, Elder Robert F. Orton of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the Europe East Area Presidency, and Mervin Beckstrand, president of the Armenia Yerevan Mission, were on hand to officially organize the new branch.
Ghana’s President Expresses Thanks for Humanitarian Services
In a meeting with the First Presidency, the president of the Republic of Ghana, John A. Kufuor, expressed appreciation for the Church’s humanitarian and religious contributions to his nation. “We consider you as part of Ghana,” he told President Gordon B. Hinckley; President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency; and President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, during a visit to Salt Lake City in September.
Visiting the United States to attend United Nations General Assembly meetings, President Kufuor traveled to Utah with several other officials to discuss economic development with local government and community leaders. While there, he visited Church leaders and toured Church sites, including Welfare Square, Temple Square, and the Conference Center.
President Kufuor thanked the Church for humanitarian efforts and employment services in his country. The Church has sponsored more than 140 humanitarian projects in Ghana during the past 15 years.
In return, President Hinckley invited President Kufuor to the open house of the Accra Ghana Temple, scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2003. He also thanked President Kufuor for cooperating with the Church.
“It was a very mutually beneficial visit, as well as an opportunity to express thanks and appreciation,” said Elder H. Bruce Stucki of the Seventy, former President of the Africa West Area.
The Church has five stakes and an estimated 20,000 members in Ghana. Currently under construction are a temple, temple patron housing, a stake center, and an area office building.
Museum Exhibits on Display in Virtual Galleries
Through the Internet, visitors around the world can view exhibits at the Museum of Church History and Art on-line at a new museum Web site.
Located at www.lds.org/museum, the on-line virtual galleries feature current and permanent exhibits on display at the museum in Salt Lake City. The Web site also provides information about upcoming exhibits and the international art competition.
“The primary reason we are doing this is to reach out to the members of the Church worldwide, most of whom will never visit the museum in Salt Lake,” says Steven Olsen, manager of operations for the Museum of Church History and Art. The museum collects and displays Latter-day Saint art and artifacts from around the world.
Exhibits currently available online include “Early Images of Historic Nauvoo.” Visitors to the virtual gallery can click through 19th-century paintings, engravings, photographs, and drawings that feature the temple and surrounding city. “The exhibit features historical images of the Nauvoo Temple that helped architects reconstruct the temple,” says exhibit curator Richard G. Oman.
Also on-line is an exhibit called “Sutcliffe Maudsley: Nauvoo Portrait Artist.” Brother Maudsley, an 1842 British immigrant and textile worker by trade, painted from life some of the only known images of the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
The Web site also features past winners of the museum’s international art competitions, in which artists from around the world creatively portray their views of gospel subjects. Winning pieces include a painted clay sculpture of Book of Mormon stories, a fired ceramic depiction of the Last Supper, oil paintings of parents and children, and a cut crystal temple. In March 2003 the site will feature the winners of the Sixth International Art Competition, which closes to entrants in November 2002.
The site is available primarily in English, with significant portions available in French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Storms Tear through Utah Towns, Members Respond
A tornado roared through a southeast section of Manti, Utah, on 8 September, destroying six homes and causing more than U.S. $1 million in damage.
The Manti Utah Temple was undamaged, as were other Church properties, says Douglas Dyreng, president of the Manti Utah Stake.
“The amazing thing is that no one was injured; no one received so much as a scratch from the whole thing,” President Dyreng noted.
Hundreds of homes were damaged by the twister, and some were left uninhabitable. The tornado was categorized as an F2 on the Fujita scale. The scale ranges from F0 to F6, and F2 tornadoes are those with winds of 113 to 157 miles per hour (182 to 253 km per hour).
“Church members helped immediately to relieve those who had difficulty with their homes,” President Dyreng says. “They went right to work to board up windows, patch up roofs, and move people out who couldn’t stay in their homes.”
Neighborhoods sustaining the worst devastation were in the boundaries of the Manti Third Ward and the Manti Fifth Ward. The third ward was in the middle of Sunday afternoon meetings when a tremendous hailstorm hit and the power went out. The bishop asked heads of households to go home and “see to their property” while other family members were kept in the building until it could be determined it was safe to leave.
Meetings in the fifth ward, where most of the damage was sustained, had concluded shortly before the storm hit.
The stake president said the experience demonstrated the power of Mother Nature and of good people. “We’ve learned … how wonderful people are when tragedy strikes, how all kinds of people call and volunteer to help,” he says. “I received calls from the [Utah South] Area Presidency, from Church Humanitarian Services, from the Red Cross, and others. Everybody you can think of was willing to offer a hand. It is amazing to see how much man cares for his fellowman.”
In Santaquin, Utah, massive mudflows engulfed homes on 12 September, impacting several member families. Wildfires from the previous year had left nearby mountainsides vulnerable to heavy rains in September, causing the mudslides.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended Santaquin Eighth Ward’s sacrament meeting three days after the slides and offered comfort to those in need and praise for those who had helped.
“When this is all cleaned up and it’s over … you will know each other better,” Elder Ballard said. “You will have a sense of a community of Saints that will be unique to your area. You will have a tendency to love one another and to reach out to one another in a most unusual way.”
Elder Ballard joined Santaquin Utah Stake president Philip B. Rowley and others in touring the stricken neighborhood. Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, President of the Utah South Area, also visited neighborhoods in Santaquin and nearby Spring Lake.
“I was impressed with the truth that people really are good at heart and want to help other people,” Elder Groberg noted.