News of the Church

By Adam C. Olson, Church Magazines


President Hinckley Dedicates Temple, Meets with Members Around Europe

During a 10-day trip to Europe, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the new Copenhagen Denmark Temple, addressed the Saints in the British Isles, spoke to members in Paris, France, and presided at a regional conference in Madrid, Spain.

Denmark

On a sunny morning, 23 May 2004, more than 3,400 members participated in person or via satellite as President Hinckley dedicated the Copenhagen Denmark Temple in four sessions.

In the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley remembered the early members who left Denmark more than 150 years ago to join the Saints in Zion. “Now Thy people are urged to remain and build Zion in this good land. That they might have every blessing, and that they might extend these blessings to those beyond the veil of death, this beautiful temple has been constructed in their midst.”

During the dedication, President Hinckley spoke of the void in his life following the recent passing of his wife, Marjorie, and of the value of his testimony regarding eternal life together with loved ones. “Death is not the end. … We are all on the road towards immortality and eternal life. Let us use the temple as an important part of the preparation.”

The temple, which will serve members in Denmark, Iceland, and parts of Sweden, is housed in a building formerly known as the Priorvej Chapel, originally dedicated by Elder John A. Widtsoe in 1931. Present at the dedication of the temple was Knud Hentzen, a member who had also been present at the chapel dedication almost 73 years earlier. A new meetinghouse adjacent to the temple grounds was also recently completed.

President Hinckley met with members the day before the dedication for a devotional and a cultural festival that featured song, music, and dance from Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland.

England

On 25 May, President Hinckley spoke by satellite to members assembled in stake centers throughout the British Isles, returning to the land where he served as a missionary more than 70 years ago.

After reminiscing about his earlier days as a missionary, he told members, “How blessed we are to come forth in this great day. We have a responsibility to stand up for the gospel of Christ in this great land.”

He challenged members to gain testimonies of the principles of the gospel by living them. “Do you have any doubts about the benefits of holding family home evenings? … When families are falling apart all around us, you can’t afford not to have [family home evening]. Try it, please, and into your hearts will come a conviction that it is true.”

The next day, President Hinckley received the deed to the Gadfield Elm Chapel, a building in Worcestershire that had originally been given to the Church in 1840 when the entire United Brethren congregation there joined the Church. At one time, the building was the only Latter-day Saint chapel in the world.

France

President Hinckley met with members in France on 28 May. He told the Saints, “I wish I could announce that we could have a temple here, but we do not have a suitable place yet, in my judgment, to build it. … I don’t know when it will be built, but I am confident that … sometime in the future a beautiful house of the Lord will grace this land.”

He testified that Christ’s doctrine could be proved true by living it. “I plead with you, my brothers and sisters, if you have any doubt concerning any doctrine of this Church, that you put it to the test,” he said.

Spain

Before returning home, the prophet traveled to Spain, where he addressed nearly 8,000 members from Spain and Portugal. After testifying that we are all brothers and sisters, children of an Eternal Father, he said, “We live in a world of conflict and trouble, of hatred and meanness. I had pointed out to me this morning the place where the terrible bombing [on one of several trains] took place. I said to myself, ‘There could be no such thing, there would be no such thing, if all men believed in God the Eternal Father, and that we are all brothers and sisters.’”

President Hinckley also quoted the ninth article of faith and testified that revelation is needed today as much as ever.

Church News contributed to this report.

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks to the Saints in England.

[photo] Members enjoy the Copenhagen Denmark Temple grounds after the temple’s dedication. (Photograph by Jørgen O. Nielsen.)

Broadcast Commemorates Restoration of Priesthood

While celebrating the 175th anniversary of the restoration of the priesthood, Church leaders encouraged Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holders to live worthily.

President Gordon B. Hinckley told priesthood holders assembled at more than 5,500 satellite destinations in about 80 countries about memorizing Doctrine and Covenants 13 [D&C 13] as a boy. The verse teaches that the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels. He quoted President Wilford Woodruff, who said: “A Priest holds the keys of the ministering of angels. Never in my life, as an Apostle, as a Seventy, or as an Elder, have I ever had more of the protection of the Lord than while holding the office of Priest” (Wilford Woodruff, in Millennial Star, 5 October 1891, 629).

“If we are to enjoy the protection of ministering angels, we must live worthy of their companionship,” President Hinckley said. He then warned against a few of Satan’s traps.

“Even at the risk of losing friends, you must decline” substances that violate the Word of Wisdom, he said. He called pornography an “evil thing” that “leads to evil thoughts and evil behavior. … It was designed as a trap for you.”

President Hinckley asked, “How can any boy who blesses the sacrament, or passes the sacrament, even think of having tattoos put upon his body?” And, “How could you, as one holding the priesthood and as one who is eligible to receive the ministering of angels, indulge in immorality of any kind?”

President Hinckley told priesthood holders that any who had fallen into these traps could repent, “but it is so much better that you live in such a way as to have nothing of substance of which to repent.”

Addressing Melchizedek Priesthood holders, President Hinckley said, “Could anything be greater or more desirable than to hold the priesthood after the order of the Son of God? These words are so sacred that we do not ordinarily use them,” he said, explaining why the priesthood is named after Melchizedek. “No king, no president, no head of state … has such authority.”

President Hinckley outlined the unbroken line of men through which he received his authority directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, and said that each priesthood holder could trace his authority in similar fashion. “[The priesthood’s] origin is not shrouded in the foggy mists of history,” he said.

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, also addressed the significance of the Restoration with regard to priesthood authority. With the visits of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, these “brethren connected the line of covenant priesthood authority to the restored Church,” creating “an unbroken chain of prophets and apostles” through which authority has passed “from one generation to the next,” he said.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not just an adjustment of or a correction of what had become of Christianity following the great Apostasy. It is a replacement, a restoration of organization and authority to what had been when Christ established it,” President Packer stated. The restoration of the priesthood made possible a latter-day “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:5–6), made up of “ordinary men” able to administer “priestly ordinances,” he said. “We know the Lord trusts us, otherwise He would not give into our hands this great work and make of us a ‘kingdom of priests.’ That trust is very precious.”

Presiding Bishop H. David Burton challenged the young men to memorize section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants and to stay close to their bishops. “This man of God … is uniquely positioned by our Heavenly Father to help you stand strong against the buffetings of Satan.”

A combined Aaronic Priesthood choir from Layton, Utah, performed a new original hymn entitled “Young Men of Zion.” The broadcast, held in the Conference Center on 15 May 2004, was translated into 66 languages.

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged priesthood bearers to live worthily.

New Area Leadership Assignments

The First Presidency has announced changes in assignments for area leadership. The changes are effective beginning 15 August 2004.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have completed assignments as Presidents of the Philippines and Chile Areas respectively. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will serve as President of the Europe Central Area.

Areas in the United States and Canada will now be supervised by the Presidency of the Seventy, under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. While the entire Presidency is responsible for overseeing the work in the 11 affected areas, each member of the Presidency has been assigned specific areas.

All members of Area Presidencies belong to the First or Second Quorum of the Seventy unless otherwise noted.

Presidency of the Seventy: Earl C. Tingey: 1. North America East, 2. North America Northeast; D. Todd Christofferson: 3. North America Southeast; David E. Sorensen: 4. North America Northwest, 5. North America West; Charles Didier: 6. North America Southwest; Dieter F. Uchtdorf: 7. North America Central; Merrill J. Bateman: 8. Utah North, 9. Utah Salt Lake City, 10. Utah South; John H. Groberg: 11. Idaho

12. Mexico North: Robert J. Whetten, President; Ned B. Roueché, First Counselor; Jorge A. Rojas * , Second Counselor

13. Mexico South: Craig C. Christensen, President; Clate W. Mask Jr., First Counselor; Benjamin De Hoyos * , Second Counselor

14. Central America: Spencer V. Jones, President; W. Douglas Shumway, First Counselor; E. Israel Pérez * , Second Counselor

15. South America North: Claudio R. M. Costa, President; Walter F. González, First Counselor; Roberto García * , Second Counselor

16. South America West: Carlos H. Amado, President; James M. Dunn, First Counselor; Willy F. Zuzunaga * , Second Counselor

17. Brazil North: Robert R. Steuer, President; Mervyn B. Arnold, First Counselor; Pedro J. Penha * , Second Counselor

18. Brazil South: Neil L. Andersen, President; Adhemar Damiani, First Counselor; Paulo R. Grahl * , Second Counselor

19. Chile: Francisco J. Viñas, President; Carl B. Pratt, First Counselor; Oscar W. Chavez * , Second Counselor

20. South America South: L. Whitney Clayton, President; Lynn G. Robbins, First Counselor; Carlos E. Agüero * , Second Counselor

21. Europe West: Harold G. Hillam, President; Gerald N. Lund, First Counselor; David S. Baxter * , Second Counselor

22. Europe Central: L. Tom Perry ** , President; Bruce C. Hafen, First Counselor; W. Craig Zwick, Second Counselor

23. Europe East: Dennis B. Neuenschwander, President; Robert F. Orton, First Counselor; Wayne S. Peterson, Second Counselor

24. Africa West: Sheldon F. Child, President; H. Ross Workman, First Counselor; R. Conrad Schultz, Second Counselor

25. Africa Southeast: Steven E. Snow, President; Christoffel Golden Jr., First Counselor; William W. Parmley, Second Counselor

26. Asia: John B. Dickson, President; Daryl H. Garn, First Counselor; D. Allen Andersen * , Second Counselor

27. Asia North: Yoshihiko Kikuchi, President; William R. Walker, First Counselor; Won Yong Ko * , Second Counselor

28. Philippines: Richard J. Maynes, President; D. Rex Gerratt, First Counselor; David R. Stone, Second Counselor

29. Australia/New Zealand: Kenneth Johnson, President; John M. Madsen, First Counselor; Lindsay T. Dil * , Second Counselor

30. Pacific Islands: Robert K. Dellenbach, President; Dennis E. Simmons, First Counselor; Spencer J. Condie, Second Counselor

  1.   *

    Area Authority Seventy

  2.   **

    Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Nelson Speaks in Ukraine, Establishes First Stake

“Nations that cultivate freedom of religious expression will produce finer individuals, changed for good. Their families will be stronger and more secure. They will be better citizens who honor the laws of the land, who are more charitable, more peaceful and prosperous,” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said as the keynote speaker at a conference on religious freedom in Kiev, Ukraine, on 27 May 2004.

At the two-day conference, Elder Nelson addressed governmental representatives from 24 nations who have responsibility for religious affairs in their countries.

“Governments are established for the benefit of their citizens, who should be equally protected and equally obligated under the law, be they believers or nonbelievers,” he said. “Our Creator and Judge holds government leaders accountable for their acts in relation to their citizens.”

Focusing on rights that should be established in every nation, Elder Nelson said, quoting from a UN declaration, “Fundamental religious rights include: the right to believe or disbelieve; the right to worship, either alone or with others; the right to assemble for religious purposes; the right to own or occupy property for the purpose of worship; the right to perform religious ceremonies; the right to possess and distribute religious media; and the right to establish rules for fellowship in a religious society.”

Elder Nelson shared how he has grown by following the values of his religion. “It requires me to strive to live a constantly improving life. … My faith gives me hope. And it assures me that each blessing comes not by chance but by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated.”

Elder Nelson shared his testimony with the delegates, saying, “God lives! … There is no direction in which we can turn, no philosophical shield behind which we can hide, no parliamentary edict we can assert which will evade God’s exacting gaze, or excuse us from obedience to His commandments.”

The next day, Elder Nelson organized the first stake in Ukraine. Thirteen years after missionaries entered the country in 1991, membership there has grown to about 8,500.

“Now you take your place among the stakes of Zion,” Elder Nelson told the gathered members. “You are now a part of the heart of the Church.”

Elder Nelson blessed the members and asked them to love their neighbors as Christ loves them, to share the gospel with others, and to prepare for the temple by doing their family history work.

Church News contributed to this report.

Wards Finding Success in Missionary Efforts

Six years ago, Joseph Ranseth was looking for truth. He had attended a Christian high school, bounced from church to church, and was praying to find a religion founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Then a college student, Joseph says he met Latter-day Saint missionaries and “argued with them for nine months” about doctrine. But Joseph accepted the invitation to attend various activities at the local student ward in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

“I had members calling me up after activities,” he says. “One member called almost every day, not as an assignment, but to ask me what I’d been reading in the scriptures. They didn’t just answer questions; they helped me feel the love of Christ.”

Thanks in part to the efforts of the members, Joseph was baptized in 1999.

Taking Responsibility

Encouraging members to take a more active role in missionary work was part of the reason stake missions were dissolved in early 2002 and the responsibility for missionary work was placed on stake and district presidents, bishops, branch presidents, and the members of their Church units. Church units that have embraced the responsibility of missionary work are finding increasing success as members focus on sharing the gospel.

In 2002, the year the change was announced, there was one convert baptism in the Wellington (YSA) Ward, Winnipeg Manitoba Stake, where Joseph Ranseth had been baptized. After returning from the Utah Provo Mission, one of the areas where the new program was piloted, Joseph helped the young single adult ward implement the new emphasis. He says, “The ward has become really unified, and the members have shown investigators the same love that I felt.” In 2003, the ward had 13 convert baptisms.

Getting Organized

Successful ward and branch missionary work is fostered by the stake or district president and bishop or branch president. “To a great extent, the success of this change will depend on the ability of the bishops [and branch presidents] … to embrace and magnify this responsibility,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (see “The Role of Members in Conversion,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 52–58).

Bishop Won Mong Jeong of the Oncheon Ward, Busan Korea Stake, agrees. “The interest and passion about missionary work in our ward has increased … because of the increased responsibility of the bishop for missionary work.” In 2002, the Oncheon Ward had six convert baptisms. There were 25 in 2003.

Bishops should use their priesthood executive committee and ward council meetings to promote and coordinate efforts to share the gospel in the ward, according to Elder Oaks. Branch presidents should act similarly.

The ward mission leader is responsible for assisting the bishop with missionary work. Regular but brief meetings keep Joseph Ranseth, as ward mission leader, up to date on those whom the full-time missionaries are teaching and what support the investigators need from members. Joseph takes that information to the ward’s regular council meeting, where the bishop makes assignments to meet those needs. Because Joseph keeps an updated form with names, contact information, and action items, the discussion doesn’t take long. Ward leaders also plan and coordinate gospel-sharing activities, and that information is relayed back to the full-time missionaries.

Enthusiastic ward and branch missionaries help the work run smoothly. The Wellington Ward finds many of their ward missionaries among new converts because of their enthusiasm.

Increasing Our Efforts

“Members simply must take a more active role in our missionary efforts at every stage,” said Elder Oaks. “Some members do not actively participate in sharing the gospel because they don’t feel comfortable starting a religious conversation or they don’t know what to say.” Elder Oaks suggested giving out pass-along cards and inviting friends to visit www.mormon.org.

Planning activities and inviting friends to attend is another way to introduce others to the gospel. One of the Oncheon Ward’s most successful activities has been a conversational English class for families. “It is easier to approach our friends and relatives with the English program than it is to start off by inviting them to hear the gospel,” Bishop Jeong says. The ward also holds a monthly activity to “get to know investigators better and help them feel the importance of the family,” he says. During vacation from school, the ward offers free children’s classes on playing the violin and sewing quilts.

Members in the Wellington Ward have tried a number of activities. Those who wouldn’t feel comfortable attending a fireside may come if a dinner is served first. Those who might not attend anything gospel-related may make friends at a sports activity.

Elder Oaks noted that President Hinckley has challenged members of the Church to increase and retain the number of our Father in Heaven’s children brought into the Church every year. “We cannot do this without increasing our members’ efforts in sharing the gospel,” Elder Oaks said.

Comment

I got my copy of the Ensign here in prison last week and I read President Gordon B. Hinckley’s conference address “‘I Was an Hungred, and Ye Gave Me Meat’” (May 2004, 58–61). Obviously, I’m presently sensitive to the portion of Matthew 25 [Matt. 25] that refers to being in prison and, further, to being “the least of these.”

I don’t know the number of those with callings to minister to those of us in prison, but I know each handshake, each word of encouragement, and each tear that is shed with me. I am touched that they come faithfully, even on Christmas Day, to teach and love us. They pray for and with us, witness to us of our worth, put our names on the temple prayer rolls, and give us priesthood blessings. They are here when our own parents and siblings have disowned us. They encourage my husband and children. They serve beyond the call of duty.

There are others who are not “called,” but who take this love seriously: the teachers and coaches who bless my kids, a few diligent ward members, my in-laws, many friends, and the priceless stand-in “moms” who show by their actions to my family what the gospel is.

I can personally testify that the Church both teaches and organizes the service President Hinckley’s address outlines. I haven’t the capacity to express my gratitude. I am “the least of these.” Name withheld