News of the Church

By Brittany Karford, Church Magazines

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President Hinckley Recovers from Surgery

Following his first overnight hospital stay of his nearly 96 years, President Gordon B. Hinckley appeared to be recovering well in the weeks after a cancerous portion of his large intestine was removed. As this issue of the Ensign was being prepared for printing, President Hinckley looked forward to resuming his vigorous schedule leading the more than 12 million members of the Church.

When called as the 15th President of the Church in 1995, President Hinckley told reporters he had spent only one night in the hospital—not for himself, but with a sick child. Throughout his 70 years of Church service, the prophet has remained healthy and active.

However, when a cancerous growth was discovered in his large intestine during a routine medical screening earlier this year, he was scheduled for surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. The growth was successfully removed on January 24, 2006, in a laparoscopic procedure, a less invasive process in which the surgeon makes smaller incisions and uses tiny cameras as guides. President Hinckley was discharged one week later.

As expected, his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, handled his workload in his absence.

The office of the President received a number of heartwarming get-well wishes for President Hinckley during his stay in the hospital. “President Hinckley is grateful for the outpouring of love and concern shown by members of the Church during his recovery,” reported his secretary, Don Staheli.

Among those who wished President Hinckley a speedy recovery was well-known newsman Mike Wallace from CBS and 60 Minutes. The two met 10 years ago when Mr. Wallace did a profile on President Hinckley, a report that the veteran journalist later called one of his most memorable experiences.

“I send a message of respect, of love, of friendship, and admiration,” he said upon hearing of President Hinckley’s surgery. “And darn it, get back on your feet quickly.”

President Hinckley is known Churchwide as the most traveled President in the Church’s history. Just last fall he completed a 10-city worldwide trip in 13 days.

The last Churchwide appearance he made before his surgery was on December 23, 2005, when he spoke from Vermont in a broadcast to Saints worldwide during a bicentennial birthday celebration honoring the Prophet Joseph Smith.

President Hinckley celebrated his 95th birthday nearly a year ago on June 23, 2005, with a gathering attended by 22,000. President David O. McKay, who lived to be 96 years old, has been the oldest President of the Church.

President Hinckley’s own father, Bryant S. Hinckley, lived to be 94. His mother fought cancer, but she eventually lost the battle, passing away during his youth.

He served in the First Presidency for 14 years and in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 20 years prior to being called to lead the Church on March 12, 1995. Even then, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on his energy: “President Hinckley is the youngest 84-year-old anyone can remember. The brisk bounce in his step, the unrestrained buoyancy of his spirit, and his consuming appetite for hard work and long hours would be admired in a man half his age. President Gordon B. Hinckley looks young, acts young, and loves youth with all its potential and promise” (“President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, June 1995, 2–3).

[photo] President Hinckley acknowledges the audience during his 95th birthday celebration. (Photograph by Craig Dimond)

“This Work Will Continue to Go Forward”: Elder Ballard Discusses Missionary Safety

“This work will continue to go forward, regardless of what happens, regardless of what the future may hold,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as he discussed the safety and well-being of the Church’s 52,000 missionaries in January 2006.

Earlier that month, three missionaries lost their lives in the field: one was killed in a shooting and two died in an automobile collision. A fourth missionary made a full recovery from wounds he suffered in the shooting.

Elder Ballard expressed condolences to all those grieving: “The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve extend our love to you, pray that the Lord will bless you, and that the peace of the Lord will ultimately come to your hearts.” No matter how many missionaries there are, he added, “When we lose one the whole Church mourns and our hearts go out to the parents, to the siblings, and to the priesthood leaders over such a tragic loss.”

Though violence and accidents happen from time to time, Elder Ballard said such tragic deaths are rare among Latter-day Saint missionaries. “The safest place in the world for 19- to 21-year-old young men and 21-year-old young women is in the service of the Lord in the mission field, scattered out over the four corners of the earth,” he said.

Elder Ballard emphasized that the Church does “the very, very best we know how” to protect their health and safety while they serve in 343 missions covering the earth. He reviewed several key elements of missionary organization and training that help keep missionaries safe:

  • Training in personal safety and good health practices begins in the Church’s 16 Missionary Training Centers and continues in zone conferences and district meetings throughout the time of missionary service.

  • Missionaries always work in pairs and are required to stay with their companions.

  • Qualified, mature, inspired mission presidents and their wives shepherd the young people in their missions “like they were their very own children.”

  • An organization of assistants to the mission president, zone leaders, and district leaders “is structured to watch over and be very careful where we place missionaries.”

  • Consultation with local Church leaders and members about the safety of specific areas and neighborhoods is ongoing. Missionaries are instructed to avoid unsafe areas.

  • Careful instruction in automobile safety is provided for those using cars.

  • Ongoing safety training is provided for missionaries who ride bicycles.

  • When walking, missionaries are encouraged to walk swiftly and with purpose. They are instructed to minimize the objects they have with them and carry only cash sufficient for that day’s needs. If accosted by thieves, missionaries are trained not to resist, to avoid confrontation, and to give up whatever money they have.

  • A network of 80 physicians serve as full-time volunteer missionaries around the world “so mission presidents have access to the best medical advice they can possibly get right within the boundaries of their own areas.” An additional 200 volunteer nurses and others with medical and health-care backgrounds are supporting the missionary force, said Elder Ballard.

  • Missionary apartments are periodically inspected for safety and cleanliness. Missionaries are moved to different apartments whenever needed.

Elder Ballard concluded by emphasizing that such tragedies will not stop the Church’s work of sharing the restored gospel of the Savior: “Joseph Smith made it abundantly clear that there would be nothing that would stop this work from rolling forward till the Great Jehovah comes forward and says the work is done. And He hasn’t said that yet.”

[photo] Elder M. Russell Ballard

[photo] Elder Ballard says the Church takes seriously the safety of its more than 52,000 missionaries serving in 343 missions. (Photograph by Matt Reier)

Penetrating Hearts through Sight and Sound

The Audiovisual Department of the Church captures the sounds and images that continue to help spread the voice of the Lord unto all people (see D&C 1:2). Through current video, photography, broadcast, Internet, and engineering technology, the department helps portray the Church’s messages.

“Technology provides significant support to the ongoing mission of the Church,” said President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. “I am certain the Lord expects us to apply it to the advancement of His purposes and the blessing of mankind” (“This Is Our Day,” Ensign, May 1999, 19).

Advancing the Lord’s work for the Audiovisual Department means helping members and others who view its work to know, feel, and act upon gospel principles. An important distinction between the Church’s Audiovisual Department and other creative studios is the message presented. In all audiovisual productions, the message originates from another Church department or from priesthood leaders. The role of the Audiovisual Department is to design the appropriate look and feel for that message.

International Development

Members in Bishop Raymond Ruiz’s ward in the Philippines learned how to conduct a reverent Primary after watching a local training video produced by the Audiovisual Department.

Bishop Ruiz said: “The following Sunday after we showed the Primary training video, I came out of my office to observe the Primary children. I saw that they were reverently lining up to enter their room one by one. I also saw that the leaders were standing by the door to greet the children as they entered. I realized that the Primary leaders were actually doing what was shown in the video.”

As it did in the Philippines Area, the Audiovisual Department assists Area Presidencies in preparing and distributing training materials. In other areas, such as the Europe East Area, the department provides technical assistance to allow the Area Presidency to train local leaders through videoconferencing.

Internet and DVDs

As the Church has grown and spread across the world, new technology has been developed which has made communication with even remote areas possible.

Distributing audiovisual materials to Church members in many languages has become easier with the development of DVDs and the Internet. One DVD can replace several dozen VHS tapes produced for the same general conference. On VHS tapes, a production could be dubbed in only one language and had to be matched to the appropriate television format. Now a single DVD can hold up to 26 language translations. The DVD format is also the new international video standard, eliminating the need to match international television standards. DVD players have been placed in Church meetinghouses throughout the world, and the Church is currently converting existing videos to DVD.

In addition to DVD technology, the Internet is also proving to be a highly interactive medium that can deliver broadcasts and interactive training.

The Audiovisual Department helped design interactive online training lessons for the Young Women and Primary auxiliaries. These lessons, which can be downloaded from, have a potential to distribute interactive training to thousands of members.


April and October general conferences are two of the most widely viewed productions with which the department is involved. General conference can reach up to 97 percent of Church members through live broadcasts. The other 3 percent of the Church receives recordings of conference on DVD after its conclusion.

Preparations for general conference involve many technicians. Camera and teleprompter operators, audio controllers, producers, and photographers are only a part of the team that helps ready dozens of cameras, several control rooms, sound systems, and facilities for interpretation, American Sign Language, and closed-captioning for conference and other broadcasts.

The department also broadcasts the following Church meetings: Church Educational System firesides, remote stake conferences, worldwide training meetings, general Relief Society and Young Women meetings, and temple dedications.

Motion Pictures

The most recognizable Audiovisual Department productions are Church films such as the new Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. Church films are developed upon approval by the First Presidency and are created primarily at the Church’s motion picture studio in Provo, Utah.

The studio is located near Brigham Young University’s Provo campus. Nestled within the 25-acre (10-ha) wooded area are several cinder block buildings and sets replicating early 1800s-style buildings, including an exact replica of the Newel K. Whitney store located in Kirtland, Ohio.

Unlike most Hollywood studios, the Church’s studio does not rent its equipment. The studio facilities include a metal shop, a wood shop, several audio recording studios, and a wardrobe storage area. Sets and backdrops for films are created on-site.

At this studio, portions of the Church’s full-length motion pictures such as Legacy and The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd were also filmed. Editing of all Church motion pictures takes place here. Short video clips shown between sessions of general conference are also produced at the site.


When the new movie about Joseph Smith opened in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Audiovisual Department had created not only the film but the projection system that plays it.

The engineering division of the Audiovisual Department designs and creates systems capable of displaying the department’s productions. Sometimes this process involves modifying existing technology; sometimes it includes designing and patenting a unique system.

The Church currently holds several patents for systems built by the engineering division. Engineering created the systems used to run temple ordinance presentations, Church historical site exhibits, and visitors’ center exhibits. The engineering division designs needed technology when it is not available commercially.

Other engineering projects include working closely with temple architects to ensure that temple designs will support audiovisual systems. Audiovisual engineers install audiovisual equipment in a new temple before its dedication. Engineers periodically reevaluate these systems to simplify technical support needed for temple audiovisual equipment, making it easier for local temple staffs to identify and fix problems with minimal assistance.

“We have the responsibility to monitor new technologies and to evaluate their ability and to incorporate them carefully to build the kingdom,” said Lynn Hadfield, director of the department’s engineering division.

As the Audiovisual Department’s sights and sounds continue to teach, train, and testify, the department helps to fulfill the Lord’s prophecy that there will be “no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated” (D&C 1:2) by the gospel.

[photo] Actors portray Joseph and Emma Smith in the new Audiovisual Department production Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration. (Photograph by Christina Smith)

[photo] Young women and their leaders gather for a general Young Women meeting that is broadcast from the Conference Center by the Audiovisual Department. (Photograph by Craig Dimond)

Volunteers Are Essential in Welfare Processing Plants

By packaging 24-ounce packets of pudding for one afternoon at the Church’s dairy processing plant in Salt Lake City, John Ellsworth and his son, Scott, fulfilled their ward’s welfare assignment for the month. The four-hour shift was also an opportunity for a father to teach his 19-year-old son about some of the projects the Church operates beyond its three-hour Sunday meetings.

“We could have sat at home or worked in the yard,” Brother Ellsworth said at the end of his assignment. “But when I go home tonight, I will know that I have made a difference and done something worthwhile.”

Member volunteers like Brother Ellsworth are an indispensable resource at the dairy plant and at the Church’s other 18 welfare processing plants. These facilities produce the peanut butter, nonfat dry milk, beef, raisins, macaroni, canned fruit, soap, and other products that will stock thousands of shelves in bishops’ storehouses. Church-owned processing plants make most of the food products distributed to bishops’ storehouses in the United States.

Last year members of the Church donated more than four million hours at welfare farms, facilities, and processing plants. This volunteer work demonstrates a fundamental principle of the welfare program.

The Church’s welfare handbook instructs: “Providing for the poor and needy in the Lord’s way means that the giver helps those who are less fortunate by giving according to what he has received from God.”

Members give to the welfare program through fast offerings, humanitarian aid donations, and fulfilling assignments to serve in welfare processing plants and canneries.

Processing plants help package or can food items shipped to the plant from Church welfare farms. For example, in Church processing facilities, wheat is ground into flour, milk is made into butter, tomatoes are stewed for salsa, and flour is used to make bread. Members fulfill the labor needs at processing facilities when they volunteer.

“I think volunteering is one way to show that you are grateful,” said Vicki Green of the Salt Lake Butler Stake. Sister Green signed up through her Relief Society to fulfill one of her ward’s shifts at the dairy plant. While packaging cheese during her assignment, she said she didn’t realize the number of items produced by the Church.

Although the Church produces several dozen products, the more impressive fact in the eyes of visitors from other faiths is the willingness of members to volunteer. Visitors frequently ask, “How do you get people to come and do this?”

President Hinckley answered this question when he said: “We seek no commendation or thank-yous. It is compensation enough that when we help one of the least of these our Father’s children, we have done it unto Him and His Beloved Son” (“I Was an Hungred, and Ye Gave Me Meat,” Ensign, May 2004, 58).

Robert Davis is one such member who frequently volunteers at the dairy plant simply for the satisfaction of doing something to help some of the Lord’s other children. “I’m retired now,” Brother Davis said. “I like to be of service. It makes me feel more worthwhile.”

Other retired members are donating time, up to 32 hours per week, to welfare facilities as Church service missionaries. Of the 12,225 Church service missionaries, one in four serves in a welfare facility. These missionaries receive a calling to serve locally from their stake president.

Shelba and LaDell Steadman from the West Jordan Utah Mountain View Stake serve one afternoon per week at the Church’s dairy plant on Welfare Square. After their first day at the plant, the Steadmans drove home and were so tired they took a nap in the car before going into their house. Elder and Sister Steadman have watched members discover the joy of serving since they began their own service mission early in 2005.

“I think members enjoy what they are doing,” said Sister Steadman. “Many say, ‘I didn’t know this was so much fun. I want to come back.’”

During the afternoon, Sister Steadman and her volunteers packaged almost 3,600 pounds (1,630 kg) of cheese. Meanwhile Brother Davis, Brother Ellsworth, and three other priesthood brethren boxed and organized cases of pudding. The men are from different wards and didn’t know each other before their shift began; nevertheless, they were united in their desire to help others.

“It’s a wonderful system,” Brother Ellsworth said. “My high priests group leader gets up on Sunday and says we need a few brethren, and they show up. It’s the army of the Lord.”

Church-Owned Processing Plants

Bakery—Salt Lake City, Utah

Dairy—Salt Lake City, Utah

Meat—Spanish Fork, Utah

Mill—Kaysville, Utah

Pasta—Kearns, Utah

Soap—Salt Lake City, Utah

Church-Owned Canneries

Boise, Idaho

Denver, Colorado

Houston, Texas

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Lindon, Utah

Mesa, Arizona

Murray, Utah

Ogden, Utah

Sacramento, California

Salt Lake City, Utah

Seattle, Washington

St. George, Utah

Washington, D.C.

[photo] Jeane Sargent, a volunteer from the Salt Lake Butler Stake, packages cheese at the Church-owned processing plant. (Photograph by Adam C. Olson)

[photo] Cheese is just one of many products produced and processed by the Church with volunteer help.

New Housing Selected for a New Campus

Select floors of the Plaza Hotel will become student housing for LDS Business College this fall as the school makes its transition from its present location in Salt Lake City to its new campus at the Triad Center downtown. The housing arrangement with the hotel will be used for at least a year and then evaluated.

Located on the block immediately west of the Salt Lake Temple, the Plaza Hotel will house 132 female students and 2 head residents while the remaining floors will continue to host hotel patrons. Four of the 13 floors will be designated as student housing.

“It hasn’t been done before that we’re aware of,” said Matt Tittle, assistant dean of students and housing director for LDS Business College. “But we’re excited about it.”

The decision to move the students to the Plaza location, Brother Tittle said, was made because the hotel is only one and one-half blocks from the new campus. In addition, a TRAX (light rail) station is located just in front of the hotel. With a discounted UTA education pass, students will have direct access to public transportation right outside their door.

Brother Tittle said the residents in the current dorms at LDS Business College are well behaved and should continue to be good neighbors when housed in the hotel.

On-campus housing for male and married students will remain at the old campus about a mile (1.6 km) east of the Triad Center. The South Hall will provide housing for 60 male students, and the North Hall will provide 11 apartments for married students. These units, unlike the rooms at the Plaza Hotel, have been remodeled over the last four years and include kitchens.

Students at the hotel will be required to purchase a food plan since there will be no cooking facilities in the rooms. However, plans call for a few central kitchens and lounge areas to be provided for residents.

Single female residents currently living in the LDS Business College dorms will be required to vacate by the end of June, and the college is discussing transportation options with UTA officials for the male and married residents at the old location.

The LDS Business College intends to move its campus to the Triad Center, just north of the Gateway shopping district, by this fall. The decision to move the college is part of the Church’s downtown revitalization project. Plans on what will be done with the old business college property, including the Enos A. Wall Mansion that has been home to the campus for 40 years, have not been released.

The college is home to 1,275 students, including approximately 300 international students from more than 50 countries. It currently has 112 students living in on-campus housing, but the addition of rooms in the Plaza Hotel in the fall will make more housing available.

Sculptor’s Works Top Temple Towers Worldwide

There are only eight angel Moroni sculptures worldwide that Karl Quilter did not create. “Salt Lake, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Seattle, Mexico City …” he can recite the eight on demand.

Aside from those, the sculpture cresting every temple from Utah to Accra, Ghana, is his work, numbering more than 100; however, he doesn’t know that exact total off the top of his head.

His sculpture work for temples began in 1954, when he helped to create the oxen for the baptismal fonts in the Bern Switzerland, London England, and Hamilton New Zealand Temples.

“I was just a young kid in my 20s back then,” Brother Quilter says.

But he discovered his talent in sculpture earlier than that, in a happenstance way.

In high school he had shown great potential in painting, but when his art teacher saw what Brother Quilter could do with clay he told him, “Karl, don’t ever paint again.”

Brother Quilter pursued his gift for sculpture, moving to Salt Lake City to study with noted sculptor Avard Fairbanks. Brother Quilter obtained degrees from the University of Utah in sculpture and industrial design, continuing his education later at Brigham Young University. However, his work for the temples began before he finished his schooling.

After participating in shaping those oxen in the mid-1950s, he made his first angel to create a cast for a series of smaller temples. Twenty angels were made. They can be seen on the Boise Idaho, Papeete Tahiti, and Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temples, to name a few. This is the smallest of Brother Quilter’s angel Moroni designs.

He has created a total of three different designs, varying in size to match the size of the temple they will crest, and an architect selects from those three. The largest of the sculptures stands 13 feet tall. So how is it placed as high as 120 feet in the air? It is really quite simple, Brother Quilter explains, now that the angels are constructed with fiberglass, a material that is lightweight, strong, and easily handled.

“They are half the weight of any other composite material,” Brother Quilter said, comparing the fiberglass to bronze and other metals. “That means a lot to a builder.”

The fiberglass sculptures are much lighter than the 12-foot bronze sculpture of the angel Moroni that tops the Salt Lake Temple. That sculpture was done by Cyrus E. Dallin, a Utah-born artist who is esteemed as one of America’s most talented sculptors. Dallin initially declined the commission, saying he didn’t believe in angels. Later, however, he accepted. Upon completing the statue, he said, “My angel Moroni brought me nearer to God than anything I ever did.”

Brother Quilter understands that feeling. He says that for him, sculpting the statues is an honor.

In addition to the angel Moroni, Brother Quilter has done most of the oxen for temple baptismal fonts around the world, and he continues to sculpt statues of the nativity displayed on temple grounds at many locations worldwide.

He and his wife, Verna, have 8 children, 42 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren and reside in Salt Lake City, where they have lived since 1957. Brother Quilter was a seminary teacher for 25 years and an ordinance worker at the Salt Lake Temple for 9 years. He is now on a Church service mission to do artwork, working along with three other painters. He enjoys time for thinking and one-on-one time with each of his children. And to this day, clay is still dear to his heart.

“I carry clay with me wherever I go, and when I have a few minutes, I sit and reflect,” he says.

[photo] Karl Quilter puts finishing touches on his sculpture of the Angel Moroni, which has been used on temples worldwide.

BYU Women’s Conference Scheduled

Brigham Young University’s Women’s Conference 2006 will be held May 4 and 5. Eight hours of selected talks will be broadcast two weeks later on May 19 and again on May 20 over the Church satellite system to meetinghouses throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. The broadcast will also be on BYUTV, BYU Radio, and on the Internet at on May 19–20 and on KBYU-TV channel 11 beginning May 28.

Church units in Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and South Africa can view the broadcast on May 20 and 27. Local units have been authorized to record and retain a set of the broadcasts for Church use only, and members may record presentations for home use only.

For more information, call 1-801-422-7692 or access the Web site at


Drawing from International Membership

I just received the February Ensign and read “Confidence to Marry” by Melissa Howell. Though I enjoyed this article’s content, I would mostly like to commend Sister Howell for drawing from the Church’s broad international membership as she presented her message. It is wonderful to hear from Saints across the globe and to see how much we all have in common in the gospel, regardless of the differences in our native climes or cultures.

Thank you for representing the international Church and the enlightening views and experiences of its precious members everywhere. Jill Davis, Utah

Dead Sea Scrolls

I have been reading every issue of the Ensign from cover to cover for over 20 years. I do this out of a commitment I made to myself a long time ago. I wanted to insure that my intensive reading program of non-Church-related materials was balanced with a regular immersion in the scriptures and the Church’s flagship periodical.

I realize it is not feasible for the Ensign to devote itself wholly to the interests of its more academically oriented readership. To a certain extent, you must seek the common denominator.

I am pleased to tell you that I greatly enjoyed reading Andrew Skinner’s article “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Latter-day Truth” in the February issue. Please bless us with more articles of this variety in the future. Craig H. Schindler, Canada

February Issue Written for Me

In many years of reading Church magazines, I’ve never read one that had so many articles directly related to me as was your February edition of the Ensign.

Having recently gone through a divorce because of my husband’s years of infidelity, as well as having a great-great-grandmother who was in the Martin handcart company, I was immediately drawn to the First Presidency Message “Refined in Our Trials.” Then I turned the page and could relate immediately with the article “Our Stillborn Baby”—we had a stillborn baby only a few years after burying a two-year-old.

Your article on “Young Adults and the Temple” was also interesting to me. I have a 22-year-old daughter who is approaching that milestone, but because of our recent divorce she is expressing great concerns about trusting and marriage. So to turn yet another page and find the article on “Confidence to Marry” was an answer to prayer.

If that wasn’t more than enough, the article “Letting My Bitterness Go” was especially helpful to this same daughter who has been struggling with feelings of anger towards her father. Then, as a final little bonus, “In Tune with His Will” could have been written by me right down to the last chord of wrong notes that I, too, played as the accompanist for the ward choir! All in all, I take it as another “tender mercy” to have so many of my concerns and situations addressed in just one wonderful magazine. Thank you! Name Withheld