News of the Church

By Patricia Selman, Church Magazines

Manhattan Temple Dedication Generates Worldwide Interest

After a month-long open house, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Manhattan New York Temple in four sessions on 13 June 2004. Sixteen meetinghouses received live broadcasts of the dedication, interpreted in 10 languages.

The opening of the temple caused an international media stir, with a variety of media outlets in the United States and throughout the world featuring not only the new temple, but also explaining some of the Church’s history, beliefs, and reasons for the temple. More than 53,000 people of various faiths attended the open house of the temple, located across from the Lincoln Center and one block west of Central Park.

A jubilee produced by Church members and held at famed Radio City Music Hall also received attention. President Hinckley attended and spoke at the event, which boasted the largest cast to ever perform on that stage—more than 2,400 young Latter-day Saints. The performance included song, dance, and videotaped segments, and it showcased the talents of many Latter-day Saints who earn their living performing, directing, or producing shows on Broadway.

During the May open house, visitors commented on the sense of peace they felt while touring the newly remodeled building. While the temple is soundproof—keeping out the bustling noise of a city that never sleeps—tour guides had the opportunity to explain the peace that comes from being in the house of the Lord.

In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley said, “May this temple be a place of quiet refuge in the midst of this great and noisy metropolis. May all who enter its portals feel they have stepped from the world into a place of Thy divine presence.”

The temple will serve 42,000 members, who until now have had to travel to Boston, Massachusetts, or Washington, D.C., to attend the temple.

Since the 1970s the Church has used the building as an office and meetinghouse. Now, the first, second, fifth, and sixth floors comprise the temple’s 20,630 square feet (1,920 sq m). The floors sandwich a meeting hall, gym, and offices. It is one of only two Latter-day Saint temples that are not freestanding; the other is the Hong Kong China Temple.

At the time of the dedication, the exterior of the Manhattan New York Temple looked much like another office building to passersby, but the Church later received clearance to add a spire topped with a golden angel Moroni, which was added in June. A new facing is being added to the south and west sides of the building.

[illustration] An artist’s rendition shows the Manhattan New York Temple with a new façade and a steeple, new features that were still under construction as of press time.

[photo] Young members of the Church perform in Radio City Music Hall before the dedication of the Manhattan New York Temple. (Photograph by Shaun Stahle, courtesy of Church News.)

President Hinckley Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Gordon B. Hinckley spent his 94th birthday in Washington, D.C., where U.S. President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

In his remarks on 23 June 2004, President Bush said, “Millions of Americans reserve a special respect for Gordon B. Hinckley, who still works every day as President of the Mormon Church, and who, on this very day, turns 94 years old.

“Mr. Hinckley is the grandson of Mormon pioneers and has given devoted service to his church since 1935. He’s always shown the heart of a servant and the gifts of a leader. Through his discipline and faithfulness, he has proven a worthy successor to the many fine leaders before him. His church has given him its highest position of trust, and today this wise and patriotic man receives his country’s highest civil honor.”

President Hinckley expressed his appreciation before receiving the award. He said, “I am profoundly grateful. In a larger sense, it recognizes and honors the Church, which has given me so many opportunities and whose interests I have tried to serve.

“To the Church, to my associates, and to our people everywhere, I extend my gratitude and with each of you share the honor of this recognition.”

President Hinckley was one of 13 recipients. Another was Pope John Paul II, who received his medal when President Bush visited the Vatican a few weeks earlier.

The official written citation with the award states, “As the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and throughout his nearly 70 years in Church leadership, Gordon B. Hinckley has inspired millions and has led efforts to improve humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and education funding across the globe.

“His tireless efforts to spread the word of God and to promote good will has strengthened his faith, his community, and our nation. The United States honors Gordon B. Hinckley for his devoted service to his church and to his fellowman.”

All five of President Hinckley’s children were present at the ceremony.

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley greets U.S. President George W. Bush after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Photograph by Susan Walsh, courtesy of Associated Press.)

Major Trade Publisher to Produce First Commercial Book of Mormon

For the 174 years that the Book of Mormon has been in publication, the world has received it through the efforts of members and missionaries who have distributed it. But now a new option has come along.

In November, Doubleday, a publishing firm based in New York, will become the first major trade publisher to produce an official, commercial edition of the book. Until now, all other official distribution has been through the Church.

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that the First Presidency had authorized the new publication, feeling this would allow the sacred volume to be more readily obtained by the general public at such places as airport bookstores and through major popular retail outlets and their Web sites. The availability of the Book of Mormon in bookstores is not expected to detract from the efforts of full-time and member missionaries.

Since Doubleday approached the Church about the idea more than a year ago, they have been working with the Church to make sure the text remains true to the authorized edition already in use by Church members.

“The new edition uses the authorized text, so buying new scriptures is not necessary,” Elder Eyring said. “However, many members may feel that this new edition would be an ideal gift for friends who are not members of the Church.”

The new edition will be a hardcover version with design changes introduced to make the book easier to read and understand for an audience outside of the Latter-day Saint culture. It will not include the cross-references, index, and footnotes used in the editions available in Church distribution centers. The two-column format will be replaced by a single column, intended to make the book easier to read.

One addition to the book includes a seven-page Reference Guide to help orient the reader who may not be familiar with the Church or its teachings. It will outline key events, ideas, and people. The book will be priced at U.S. $24.95.

“The Mormon faith has become one of the largest in America,” said Doubleday Religion Division Vice President Michelle Rapkin. “We’re proud to be the first publisher to bring this vitally important work to bookstores across the country.”

Because the Latter-day Saint faith is growing so rapidly, many people are interested in reading the book, Ms. Rapkin told the Salt Lake Tribune. But because most general-interest bookstores don’t carry the Church’s version, copies of the book aren’t always easy to find.

Since its initial printing in English in 1830, the Book of Mormon has been translated into 72 languages, beginning with Danish in 1851. Selections of it have been printed in an additional 32 languages.

Church Membership Surpasses 12 Million Worldwide in Early 2004

Based on growth rates, worldwide membership in the Church likely topped the 12 million mark earlier this year. As of 31 December 2003, members of the Church numbered 11,985,254 worldwide, up 263,706 from the year before. Worldwide, Church membership has nearly tripled during the past 25 years. Members numbered 4,160,000 on 31 December 1978.

A 2004 report on 215 U.S. churches lists the Church as the fifth largest in the United States with 5.4 million (based on 2002 data). The National Council of Churches’ 2004 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches also reports that the Church has the highest rate of growth (1.88 percent per year in the U.S.) among the 15 largest U.S. churches.

Church Membership

Projected growth rates estimate that Church membership topped 12 million early in 2004. (Graph by Tom Child.)

More Full-time Missionaries Attending International Missionary Training Centers

As Missionary Training Centers (MTCs) have been built around the world, more and more missionaries from the United States and Canada are being sent directly to the MTC in the country where they have been called, or splitting their time between the Provo MTC and one of the 16 international MTCs.

Because of the increasing number of missionaries being sent to international MTCs, there is now space available for the senior missionaries at the Provo MTC. In May 2004, the Senior Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, was torn down, and the land was returned to Brigham Young University for future development.

The first MTC outside of Utah was built in 1977 in São Paulo, Brazil, and it remains the largest international MTC. Today missionaries from the United States and Canada receive training in the Brazil MTC if they are going to serve in Brazil, in the England MTC if they are going to serve their mission in the United Kingdom, and in the Ghana MTC if they are going to serve in Ghana.

Other missionaries receive their first three weeks of training in the Provo MTC, then spend the remaining five and a half weeks in the Dominican Republic MTC if they are going to serve in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, the Peru MTC if they are going to serve in Peru or Bolivia, or the Spain MTC if they are going to serve in Spain or the Canary Islands.

The remaining 10 MTCs principally train missionaries who live in the area around that MTC. These MTCs are located in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa. Almost all missionaries now attend at least one of the MTCs for training prior to serving their missions. All of the MTCs also serve missionaries from their areas—for example, missionaries from South America may attend the Brazil MTC if there is not an MTC in the area where they will be serving.

No matter which MTC a missionary attends, all will have the opportunity to reach goals of learning and cherishing the doctrines of the gospel and developing Christlike attributes; learning to teach with power to help others have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end; and seeking the gift of tongues and becoming functional in the mission language, according to Guidelines for MTC Presidents.

As of 31 December 2003, 56,237 full-time missionaries were serving around the world.

Church’s Online Presence Continues to Grow

Information on serving in the Church and new MP3 audio files of Church materials have been added to the Church’s Web site at Also available is a new Church-affiliated Web site that offers information on Temple Square.

Serving in the Church Made Easier with New Site

The Church has launched Serving in the Church,\pa\welcome, designed to strengthen individuals and families by helping priesthood and auxiliary leaders fulfill their callings. The site, currently available in English, was launched on 9 June 2004.

Members newly called to positions in all organizations of the Church can turn to the Web site to better understand their new responsibilities and the purposes behind them. The Web site has introductions to and descriptions of the Melchizedek Priesthood, Aaronic Priesthood/Young Men, Young Women, Relief Society, Primary, and Sunday School organizations of the Church. It also has a Military Relations link for those who are currently or will be serving in the military and those who preside over them.

Other links found on the site include addresses by Church leaders recently given at auxiliary open houses in Salt Lake City, links to the history of each organization, and messages from auxiliary presidents.

Serving in the Church joins other recently launched sections of, including the Church Music site and the Home and Family site.

Church Site Now Includes Audio Files

Thanks to the new Church Publications in Compressed Audio Format site, members can now listen to the Church magazines during lunch, scriptures and recent general conference addresses on the bus, or the soundtrack to a Church movie almost anywhere and anytime.

New downloadable MP3 files, found at, include the scriptures, general conference addresses, study materials, Church magazines, Relief Society and priesthood manuals, and soundtracks to Church movies and special events. New content will be added frequently. Users can download the MP3 files and listen to the recordings on their personal computer, transfer the files to a portable MP3 player, or record them onto a CD. Users can register on the site to receive e-mail notifications when new content has been added.

Members have listened to the audio files while commuting, doing housework, traveling, and exercising. Many users have commented that listening to the scriptures helps them to better comprehend and retain what they study as they read along. Others are using the files to study English, to supplement their family scripture reading for young children who have a hard time reading, and for family home evenings.

Visit Temple Square Online with New Site

For those who want to visit Temple Square or just learn more about it, a new Web site has been launched that provides details about the many buildings, events, services, and attractions found on or around the 10 acres (4 ha) surrounding the Salt Lake Temple.

The easy-to-navigate site, located at, was officially launched in June by Temple Square Hospitality, an entity owned by the Church.

A small description about each location on a map is provided when clicked on. The locations shown include the temple, the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall, Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Church Office Building, and Brigham Young Historical Park.

Pull-down menus provide information on events, services, dining, and attractions. Also included are links to sites that provide tourist information for surrounding areas.

[photo] Serving in the Church is part of the Church’s ever-expanding Web site at

In the News

Salt Lake Redevelopment Moving Ahead

The Church has completed the purchase of the Triad Center, a mixed-use office and retail complex set on 10 acres (4 ha) in downtown Salt Lake City. This will allow the Church to immediately move forward with the educational component of its downtown Salt Lake City redevelopment project.

Much of the 500,000 square feet (46,000 sq m) of retail and office space at the Triad Center, located between North and South Temple Streets three blocks west of Temple Square, will be refitted and partially filled by LDS Business College and the Salt Lake campus extension of Brigham Young University, which are being relocated here.

The Church initially announced that the two schools would be housed in new buildings to be built in a parking lot east of the Triad Center, which was formerly used as the 2002 Olympics Medals Plaza. Using the existing buildings will not only be more cost-effective than new construction, but will allow the campuses to open sooner, according to Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop. The redesign phase for the Triad Center will wrap up within the next few months, and renovation will continue throughout 2005. The opening academic year for the two schools could be as soon as 2006.

About 5,000 students are expected to attend classes on the new campus initially.

The Triad Center, which was originally constructed in 1984, incorporates an entire city block. Its property contains three office towers, two parking structures, grassy areas, and the Devereaux House, a historic mansion. Portions of the block not purchased by the Church are already owned by Church-affiliated businesses, including the building that houses KSL-TV and radio stations owned by Bonneville Communications and a surface parking lot owned by a commercial real estate company affiliated with the Church.

Missionary Recovering from Fall in Australia

A missionary who fell 230 feet (70 m) from a cliff in an Australian national park attracted worldwide attention, first during an effort by search and rescue teams to locate him, then by an amazing set of events that contributed to what appears to be a full recovery.

Elder Matthew Weirich was due to complete his mission and return to his home in Fredericksburg, Texas, in the United States on 16 August 2004. But as he was hiking with fellow missionaries near the Grand Canyon Lookout in Morton National Park on 23 June, another elder lost a shoe. Elder Weirich went to look for it, but never returned.

Amazingly, Elder Weirich survived the 230-foot (70-m) fall. Authorities believe that a cluster of trees and ground foliage broke the fall of the former BYU student and track team member. The missionary’s only injuries were small fractures above his eyebrow and in his nose, a swollen tongue, and a few scratches. He spent the night on the canyon floor in near-freezing temperatures, which doctors think may have helped reduce any swelling.

Choir Celebrates Anniversary with Gala Concert

In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s weekly radio broadcast, a special gala concert was held with the Orchestra at Temple Square on 17 July 2004 in the Conference Center.

Charles Osgood, the acclaimed CBS News correspondent, was the featured guest at the concert. Last July he helped the choir kick off their yearlong festivities celebrating the anniversary of Music and the Spoken Word in the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Craig Jessop, music director of the choir, said of Mr. Osgood, “He is a dear friend of the choir, and his presence on the concert and the anniversary broadcast will be the icing on the cake for these gala festivities.”

Multimedia interludes portraying the history of the choir were included in the concert. The actual anniversary broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word took place the next day, 18 July 2004. It was the program’s 3,909th broadcast. The choir was recently inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame for having the longest continuous weekly network radio program in the world.

Church Releases American Sign Language DVDs

Those who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language may now be able to better understand stories from the Book of Mormon and appreciate Church hymns, thanks to the introduction of two new ASL products on DVD: Book of Mormon Stories and Selected Hymns.

Book of Mormon Stories on DVD will “help deaf individuals to understand the Book of Mormon better,” says Doug Hind, Special Curriculum Specialist in the Curriculum Department. In addition to the visual stories, the DVD includes a glossary of English words translated into ASL.

Members who are hearing-impaired sometimes struggle to find personal meaning in the music played in Church meetings. Because hymns are often hard to translate during meetings, a team was put together to translate 127 hymns for the Selected Hymns DVD.

“Music plays a big part in our lives, and we have to realize people who are totally deaf don’t have the same enjoyment of music,” says Brother Hind. “This translation [helps make the music] more meaningful to them.”

Missionaries can also use the two DVDs for teaching purposes when they come across people who are deaf, Brother Hind said.

[photo] American Sign Language versions of Book of Mormon Stories and Selected Hymns have recently been released on DVD.

Policies and Announcements

The First Presidency has sent the following letter, dated 6 May 2004, to priesthood leaders.

Stake Conference Broadcasts

In order to give members of the Church greater access to the teachings of Church leaders, the following adjustments in stake conferences have now been approved:

At one stake conference each year, the stake president will continue to preside as at present and will plan the conference with his counselors according to established guidelines. It will be at this conference that the sustaining of general and local authorities should occur.

The other stake conference will alternate from year to year between two formats: one where a General Authority or Area Authority Seventy will preside, and one where the stake president will preside with a satellite broadcast incorporated into the Sunday general session. The broadcast will include instruction by members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities.

Some stake conference dates will be adjusted to enable groups of stakes to receive the broadcast on the same weekend. Members will attend in their own stake centers or in other meetinghouses equipped with a receiver. The broadcast will begin at a designated time, providing each congregation with about 15 minutes for an opening hymn, an invocation, and local Church business. Each congregation will have a closing hymn and a benediction after the conclusion of the broadcast. Other sessions of the conference will be conducted by the stake presidency.

Dates and details for these broadcasts will be sent to each stake well in advance of the conference, beginning with a few during 2004.


Conference Photos

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the photos in the May Ensign. Nearly every photograph is a mini-sermon. They are a delight. Elsie Thackeray, Etna Ward, Medford Oregon Stake

Seeing beyond Single

I would like to thank the author of “Seeing beyond Single” (June 2004) for his words. It was wonderful to hear his perspective and to know that I am not alone! Thank you. Jill Hunter, Wasatch Second Ward, Salt Lake Wasatch Stake

Kudos to Chris Brough. His article “Seeing beyond Single” is the best article about single members I have ever read in the Ensign. Every point he made was right on the nose. I hope many bishops and others who work with singles will refer to it often. Thank you for printing this article. Jill Laing, Madison Ward, Phoenix Arizona East Stake

Many Hands

First I noticed the Savior’s hand on page 61 of the June 2004 Ensign in the Visiting Teaching Message. Then throughout the Ensign I found other hands on almost every page. I found loving hands, missionary hands, working hands, helping hands, reverent hands, teaching hands, prophets’ hands, friendly hands, humble hands, clean hands, tired hands, and worried hands. We are truly instruments in the hand of the Lord. Cheryl G. Brown, Payson First Ward, Payson Utah Mountain View Stake