News of the Church

By Kate McNeil, Church Magazines


President Hinckley, Church Are in Good Health

During the 176th Semiannual General Conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley reported that he and the Church are both in good health.

“I feel well,” the 96-year-old prophet said. “My health is reasonably good.”

President Hinckley quoted his doctors as saying his recovery from surgery in January and subsequent treatments has been “miraculous.” By early November President Hinckley will become the oldest President in the history of the restored Church. President David O. McKay (1873–1970) died at the age of 96 years and 132 days. President Hinckley celebrated his 96th birthday on June 23.

More than 100,000 people attended sessions of conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, and millions more watched worldwide. Conference talks were translated into 85 languages, with Turkish being the most recently added.

In the Saturday morning session, President Hinckley reported on Church progress. “I can only report that the Lord is richly blessing His Church,” said President Hinckley. “Our duty is to do all we can to move it forward.”

The Church’s 123rd and 124th temples were recently dedicated in Sacramento, California, and Helsinki, Finland, respectively. President Hinckley indicated that the Church now owns 6,066 satellite receiving sites in 83 countries, compared to only 300 in 1982.

President Hinckley also explained that the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the facility on Temple Square normally used by the Tabernacle Choir for the weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, is currently under renovation. The building will reopen in the spring of 2007, he explained. The choir has been broadcasting from the Conference Center during the renovations.

During the Saturday afternoon session, eight members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were released from full-time service as General Authorities of the Church. Those released are Elders Ronald T. Halverson, Dale E. Miller, H. Bryan Richards, Donald L. Staheli, David R. Stone, H. Bruce Stucki, Robert J. Whetten, and Richard H. Winkel.

In addition, Erich W. Kopischke, 49, of Frankfurt, Germany, was called as an Area Seventy. Three Area Seventies were also released on Saturday: Elders Cesar A. S. Milder, Hyae-Kee Min, and Masayuki Nakano.

The year 2006 marks the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the handcart pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.

“Their faith is our inheritance,” President Hinckley said about the pioneers. “Their faith is a reminder to us of the price they paid for the comforts we enjoy.” In closing he said: “In … this great cause, increased faith is what we most need. Without it, the work would stagnate. With it, no one can stop [the Church’s] progress.”

Top: Members line up through Temple Square for a chance to attend conference. Above: President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency greet conferencegoers.

Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin Passes Away

Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin, wife of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, passed away on August 16, 2006, of causes incident to age.

Elder Wirthlin commented on his eternal companion recently in the Saturday afternoon session of general conference (see p. 28): “She was my strength and my joy. Because of her, I am a better man, husband, and father. … I owe more to my wife than I can possibly express. I don’t know if there ever was a perfect marriage, but, from my perspective, I think ours was. … As Elisa was my greatest joy, now her passing is my greatest sorrow.”

Elisa Rogers, the youngest of four children, was born on June 22, 1919, in Salt Lake City. She and Elder Wirthlin were married in the Salt Lake Temple on May 26, 1941, by David O. McKay, then a counselor in the First Presidency. Elder Wirthlin was called to be an Apostle in 1986.

Sister Wirthlin is a direct descendant of Utah pioneers. Her father, Orson Madsen Rogers, was the grandson of Aurelia Spencer Rogers, the first president of the Primary, organized in Utah in 1878. Her mother, Bernice Young, was the granddaughter of Joseph Young, the brother of President Brigham Young.

A graduate of the University of Utah with a degree in business education, Sister Wirthlin worked as a secretary in the administration office of the university until she had her first child. Later she helped her husband with secretarial work in their home while he managed the family business.

The Wirthlins are the parents of seven daughters and one son. All of their children were students at Uintah Elementary School, Roosevelt Junior High School, and East High School—the same schools Sister Wirthlin attended in her youth. While her children were going to school she was active in the PTA, and as an opera club member she taught an opera appreciation class for children.

She did not travel often while the children were young and went on her first airplane flight when she was in her 50s. Since that time she has traveled to many countries with her husband on Church assignments. The Wirthlins lived in Germany for five years, where she developed a great love for the country and the people.

During her service in the auxiliaries in the Church, she was deeply touched when opportunities came to her to assist families suffering with sickness or having other needs. With the philosophy that where you are is the best place to serve, she enjoyed every opportunity to give of herself.

In a special place in her home is an antique chair given to Sister Wirthlin by her mother. She often sat in that chair and read the scriptures and other materials for comfort, encouragement, and enjoyment. Playing tennis, knitting, and walking were additional interests Sister Wirthlin pursued. She also delighted in the association she and her husband had with their 8 children, 46 grandchildren, and 49 great-grandchildren.

Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin

New Mutual Theme Announced for 2007

In 2006 the youth of the Church shared their talents and testimonies as they centered activities on the Mutual theme “Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5).

In 2007 the theme focuses on individual spiritual strength. The new Mutual theme comes from a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith during his deepest hour of despair in Liberty Jail: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45).

In a joint statement, the Young Women and Young Men general presidencies say youth who struggle with insecurity and doubt will find hope in the new Mutual theme. “Confidence ‘in the presence of God’ is true confidence,” the statement says. “If you are confident in God’s presence, you can feel confident around anyone else.”

Because “the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7), youth whose thoughts are virtuous will be confident the Lord accepts them and will more likely live virtuous lives. The Young Women and Young Men general presidencies encourage youth to find guidance for living a virtuous life in For the Strength of Youth (item no. 36550).

How can youth garnish their thoughts with virtue? President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, says that “virtue has many definitions, such as moral excellence, right action and thinking, goodness of character, or chastity” (“How Near to the Angels,” Ensign, May 1998, 95).

“Many people do not fully understand the meaning of virtue,” President Faust said. “One commonly understood meaning is to be chaste or morally clean, but virtue in its fuller sense encompasses all traits of righteousness that help us form our character” (“The Virtues of Righteous Daughters of God,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2003, 108).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how righteousness affects our confidence: “When we are doing what is right, we will not feel timid and hesitant about seeking divine direction. We will know the Lord will answer our prayers and help us in our need” (“Personal Integrity,” Ensign, May 1990, 33).

Living lives of virtue brings the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which brings inspiration from the Lord and confidence in His presence.

In an August 1, 2006, letter announcing the 2007 Mutual theme, the First Presidency encouraged Young Men and Young Women leaders to emphasize the theme in Mutual opening exercises and other youth activities.

Additional resource material regarding the theme will be available in the January 2007 Liahona and New Era.

The Prophet Joseph Smith is depicted during his confinement in Liberty Jail, where he received the revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants sections 121 and 122. The 2007 Mutual theme is taken from D&C 121:45.