New Apostles, New Temples Announced
One loved to fly, the other to teach—vocations not far removed from their new callings to uplift and inspire. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder David A. Bednar have been called to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles left by the recent deaths of Elder David B. Haight and Elder Neal A. Maxwell. (See the following pages for more on the new Apostles.)
Elder Robert C. Oaks, a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, was called to fill the vacancy in the Presidency of the Seventy created by Elder Uchtdorf’s call to the Twelve.
The announcement of the two new Apostles took place at the beginning of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s opening remarks during the Saturday morning session of the 174th Semiannual General Conference of the Church, held 2–3 October 2004. It was just one of several announcements significant to Church members.
President Hinckley also announced plans for two new temples to be constructed to meet the needs of steadily swelling membership in Idaho and in the Salt Lake Valley.
The Twin Falls Idaho Temple will be the fourth temple in Idaho and follows the announcement earlier this year that a temple will be built in Rexburg, Idaho, near the campus of BYU–Idaho. Idaho is home to more than 366,000 Latter-day Saints.
A site has yet to be named for the new temple in the Salt Lake Valley, which will be the 12th in Utah to serve the state’s more than 1.7 million members and the third in the Salt Lake Valley. President Hinckley indicated that if membership in the state continues to grow as predicted, a fourth temple may be needed in the valley.
With these new temples added to others previously announced or now under construction, within a few years the Church will have 130 working temples.
“Others will be constructed as the Church continues to grow,” President Hinckley promised.
The temples are part of an unparalleled building program undertaken by the Church to meet the rapid growth of membership worldwide. President Hinckley told members that there are currently 451 meetinghouses around the world in one stage of construction or another.
“This tremendous building program is phenomenal. I know of nothing to equal it.”
Included among all of that construction will soon be the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, one of the “unique architectural masterpieces in the entire world,” President Hinckley said. Beginning in January, the 137-year-old structure will close to undergo an 18-month seismic renovation to strengthen the 44 sandstone pillars and foundation and to attach the famous adapted bridgework roof more securely.
Released during the conference were six members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and 17 Area Authority Seventies. (See
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
In an interview with the Friend magazine several years ago, Elder Dieter Friedrich Uchtdorf reminisced about his 35 years as an airline pilot. He never tired of gazing at the clouds, the stars, and the landscapes spread out below him, he said. As he traveled throughout the world, his appreciation for the differences in countries and cultures increased, but as a Church member he recognized that the gospel could unite all people, regardless of culture or ethnicity. “I know from going to those different places and seeing the people and the Church in those different places that the gospel is for everyone, no matter what nation you live in or what your traditions are,” he said. “The word of God … is for every culture, in every nation” (“Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Seventy,” Liahona, Apr. 1999, F4; see Friend, June 1998, 7).
After becoming one of the two newest members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Uchtdorf again emphasized that conviction. Although cultures and backgrounds may be different, “the challenges are the same,” he said at a press conference. And the answer to those challenges can be found in the application of gospel principles. “This gospel has so much to offer.”
Born to Karl A. and Hildegard Opelt Uchtdorf in Mährisch-Ostrau, Czechoslovakia, on 6 November 1940, and raised in Germany, Elder Uchtdorf is the first Apostle born outside the United States to be called in more than 50 years. But he affirms that he has not been called to represent any particular group. The Apostles, he says, are “here to represent Jesus Christ, the Savior.”
Elder Uchtdorf has a firm testimony of the Atonement and of its power to heal. As a child growing up after World War II, he remembers playing in bombed-out houses and living “with the ever-present consequences of a lost war and the awareness that my own country had inflicted terrible pain on many nations. … The good news that Jesus Christ has made the perfect Atonement for mankind, redeeming all from the grave and rewarding each individual according to his or her works, was the healing power which brought hope and peace back into my life” (“The Global Church Blessed by the Voice of the Prophets,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 11).
In addresses to Church members, Elder Uchtdorf has stressed the importance of knowing one’s eternal destination and always seeking to be on the right path. He recalled one flight when, as an airline captain, he was crossing the Atlantic in a Boeing 747 with 386 passengers on board. At one point he saw the contrails of two other jetliners ahead. Soon he was flying directly between the two jetliners, with one 2,000 feet (600 meters) above him and the other 2,000 feet below. “As we slowly overtook those beautiful aircraft,” he recalled, “my copilot mentioned how remarkable it was that because of true and accurate information entered into the navigation units at the start of our flights, all three jets were precisely on the same track, separated only by altitude. And we would continue to be so if the crews used identical navigational points leading to the same destination.
“As I have contemplated the truth of this statement and its application to our lives,” he continued, “I arrived at the question: Do we all know our destination, and are we on the right track? … Heavenly Father has prepared a flight plan for us that will lead us back to him” (“Happy Landing,” New Era, Mar. 1995, 4).
Elder Uchtdorf received an education in engineering and later studied business administration and international management. During the last seven years of his professional career, he was senior vice president of flight operations and chief pilot of Lufthansa German Airlines.
In December 1962 Elder Uchtdorf married Harriet Reich and was sealed to her in the Bern Switzerland Temple. They are the parents of two children and have five grandchildren. Elder Uchtdorf has served as a stake president, member of several Area Presidencies, member of the Quorums of the Seventy, and member of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Elder and Sister Uchtdorf know that his new calling can come only from the Lord. “Our hearts are joyous to receive such a great responsibility,” he says. “If we [didn’t] know that the Church was true and that we have a living prophet at this time, then we would doubt this. But we know the Church is true, and we know that Gordon B. Hinckley is the true prophet today. So we know that the call to serve in this holy apostleship is right.”
Elder David A. Bednar
One month before Elder David Allan Bednar received his life-changing call, he addressed thousands of students on the campus of Brigham Young University–Idaho as president of the university. He suggested that BYU–Idaho is much like an MTC (Missionary Training Center), calling the school a “DPC”—a Disciple Preparation Center.
“In this special and sacred and set-apart place, you and I have access to unparalleled spiritual resources that can assist us in developing and deepening our devotion as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said (address delivered at BYU–Idaho devotional, 31 Aug. 2004).
Little did he know that in his past seven years of service as president of BYU–Idaho (formerly Ricks College) he was not only helping to prepare disciples but was being prepared to become one of twelve disciples called to serve as Apostles of the Lord.
Now Elder Bednar recognizes that he was being prepared and equipped to help build the kingdom of God. When he became the head of what was then Ricks College, he humbly said he didn’t know how to be a president of a college, but he did know how to teach—he had been a professor for 21 years. At the first devotional of the year he turned an auditorium filled with students into a huge classroom, asking the students to open their scriptures and to take notes.
Before coming to BYU–Idaho, Elder Bednar was a professor at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. There he served as director of the Management Decision-Making Lab from 1992 to 1997, associate dean for graduate studies in the College of Business Administration from 1987 to 1992, and assistant professor of management from 1980 to 1984. He also was an assistant professor at Texas Tech University from 1984 to 1986.
Elder Bednar distinguished himself as a talented teacher, winning the 1994 Burlington Northern Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching. He has authored articles that have appeared in scholarly journals and magazines and coauthored two books on organizational behavior, his field of study. In 1980 he received a Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Purdue University. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1976 with a B.A. in communication and a year later with an M.A. in organizational communication.
When Elder Bednar moved away from Provo, he left with more than a degree. It was there that he met his future wife, Susan K. Robinson. She was at BYU studying to receive a degree in education, and they were in the same student ward. One Monday night their family home evening groups got together to play a game of flag football. Susan was on the receiving end of a long pass by Elder Bednar, who had been a quarterback for his high school team. He was very impressed by her catch, but he didn’t know that the pass reception was the only one she can remember ever catching (see “I’m a Teacher Who Is Now a College President,” Summit, 1997, 10). Still, there was a connection made, and the couple was sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1975. They now have three sons and three grandchildren.
It was after the couple’s marriage, in the late 1970s, that Elder Bednar received a long-hoped-for phone call. It was his father asking him to come home to California to perform a baptism—his own.
Elder Bednar was born on 15 June 1952, in San Leandro, California, to Anthony George and Lavina Whitney Bednar. He is the youngest of three children by 15 years.
“I honestly believe that’s why I was born. Not to teach [my father], but to assist him in learning about the restored gospel,” Elder Bednar says.
His father was an honest, straightforward man. He attended church with young David all his life, coached the softball team, and took Scouts on trips. He supported Elder Bednar’s decision to serve a mission to Germany. He told his young son, “I’ll join this Church when I know it’s the right thing to do” (see Summit, 1997, 9–10).
The years since then have held many unforgettable moments, many from his experiences with Church callings. At age 30, Elder Bednar was called as a member of a stake presidency in Arkansas. He then served as a bishop, twice as a stake president, and later as a regional representative, Area Authority, and Area Authority Seventy.
On 1 October, President Gordon B. Hinckley extended an apostolic call to Elder Bednar, less than 24 hours before he was sustained by Church members throughout the world.
“I think I know better than anyone that within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there are literally hundreds and thousands of men better qualified, more able than I,” he says, “but I do know from whence the call has come. And so I’m honored to respond. I look forward to serving, and I’m anxious for the opportunity to be able to learn.”
“Teachings for Our Time” Changes Announced
Beginning this month, all fourth-Sunday “Teachings for Our Time” lessons will be taken from the most recent general conference issue of the Liahona or Ensign, according to a letter and instructions from President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to priesthood leaders, dated 1 October 2004.
According to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the change supports oft-spoken counsel from Church leaders on the importance of studying what is said during general conference (see sidebar below).
“We hope this regular reference to the preceding general conference will keep the spirit of general conference and the teachings of the Brethren current in the lives of the members,” says Elder Holland.
Stake and district presidencies may oversee the selection of which talk or talks will be used each month.
“We encourage members to bring the most recent general conference issue of the magazine with them to their Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society classes on every fourth Sunday,” says Elder Holland. “Ward and branch leaders should ensure that all members have access to the Church magazines.”
Elder Holland cited a letter from the First Presidency sent on 18 July 2004 that stated, “Our desire is that the Church magazines be found in every Latter-day Saint home.”
“In a world that competes for our time with a great deal of printed and visual material not worthy of our attention, how grateful I am for the magazines of the Church which put inspirational, attractive, ennobling material at our fingertips,” says Elder Holland. “In our magazines there is something for everyone—from the youngest to the most elderly—and the generous support of the Church makes the cost for these materials far less expensive than virtually any other magazine or resource to which we could subscribe. In our age and time, we need to have the Church magazines in every home and their teachings demonstrated in every life.”
Members in the United States and Canada can subscribe to the Church magazines online at www.ldscatalog.com or by calling 1-800-537-5971. Outside the United States and Canada, members should contact their local distribution center or their ward or branch leaders.
Copies of general conference talks will also be available online by mid-November in 19 languages at www.lds.org under “Gospel Library.”
Instructors of “Teachings for Our Time” lessons can find suggestions for how to teach using general conference talks on page 120 of this issue.
What Modern-Day Prophets Have Said about Conference
“May [general conference] become an anchor in our lives, a guide by which to live” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Time of New Beginnings,” Liahona, July 2000, 106; Ensign, May 2000, 87).
“Our modern-day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our Church magazines an important and regular part of our personal study. Thus, general conference becomes, in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the Doctrine and Covenants” (President Howard W. Hunter, “The Heavens Are Open,” from Come unto Me, Church video, 1988).
“For the next six months, your conference edition of the Ensign [or Liahona] should stand next to your standard works and be referred to frequently” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “Come unto Christ, and Be Perfected in Him,” Ensign, May 1988, 84).
Conference Interpretation Reaches 70 Languages
During the October 2004 broadcast of general conference, approximately 600 people helped interpret speakers’ words into 70 languages—three more than during the April 2004 conference. The newly added languages are Papiamento, Slovak, and Urdu.
In the translation booth, interpreters see and hear the broadcast as they interpret. Thanks to modern technology, there is virtually no time delay from when the words are spoken in English to when members can hear the translated words in different countries around the world.
Last month, 15 languages were interpreted remotely by translators watching conference thousands of miles away from the Conference Center, allowing for a reduction in travel costs. The Church plans to remotely translate additional languages in the future.