News of the Church

By Erin Pitcher, Church Magazines


The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd Now on DVD

After its five-year exclusive run in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, and under the direction of the First Presidency, the film The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd is being made available on DVD through Church distribution centers.

The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd is an epic story depicting Christ’s ministry to the people in ancient Israel and His subsequent appearance in ancient America, as related in two testaments: the Bible and the Book of Mormon. It follows the fictional family of Helam as they witness the signs and coming of the Savior to the Americas.

When the film was first introduced, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Seventy explained, “The purpose of the film is to establish that Jesus is the Son of God, ‘the light and life of the world,’ and to show the miraculous effect the Savior has on the lives of those who believe in Him.”

The film took more than two years to make and required extensive research into the ancient cultures of the Americas. It was filmed in Utah, California, and Hawaii on 57 sets, the largest of which was about the size of a football stadium. The 48 principal cast members, 52 featured players, and more than 1,000 extras brought the story to life. The Orchestra at Temple Square and the Tabernacle Choir provided the music.

The 65-minute film (item no. 01607) is being made available on a multilanguage DVD in Church distribution centers worldwide in 18 languages (American Sign, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian).

[photo] The film The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd is being made available on DVD in 18 languages.

Church Releases New LDS.org

Beginning January 30, 2007, the first thing visitors to LDS.org noticed was the new look. After several years of research and planning and more than eight months of beta testing, the new LDS.org finally went public.

But the changes to the site are far more than just cosmetic. The changes make it easier for visitors to navigate, use features, and find information.

Church instructional designers spent several months studying and testing the site’s navigability. The result is a more user-friendly organization of information, beginning with six major channels headlining the home page and a more consistent navigation system throughout the site.

The redesigned Gospel Library was launched on the beta site a few weeks earlier. Consistently one of the most-visited sections of LDS.org, the Gospel Library is home to more than 100,000 pages of information, including the scriptures, Church magazines, general conference addresses, and existing curriculum materials. Making that information more useful was a top priority.

In addition to being able to read the text of talks or magazine articles, users can choose audio, video, pdf (full graphic layout), or other versions of selected content. The search function on the site has also been greatly improved, allowing visitors to search beyond Gospel Library and to fine-tune the search.

Construction of the new site also took into consideration another kind of accessibility, says Larry Richman, director of Internet coordination. The site design will allow for adding more languages.

The changes will allow the Church to make the entire site available in nine more languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish) with some sections of the site providing content in many additional languages.

The scope of the redesign task was enormous. Long past are the days of the original five-page LDS.org first launched in 1994. The most recent version was launched in June 2000 and over the next six years grew to tens of thousands of pages, not including Gospel Library.

The changes made public in January are the first of several phases to be rolled out as they become available. Users will find that some links will still take them to pages from the old LDS.org until these can be rebuilt and integrated into the new design.

Over the next several months, the Church expects to make refinements and add new features. The general conference section will be updated, several more languages will be added to the scripture site, and material will be added to the Gospel Library in 40 more languages.

Users can stay up-to-date with the latest changes to LDS.org, as well as other new product releases, by clicking the “What’s New” link on the homepage or through the What’s New e-mail. Subscribe for free by clicking the “Free E-mail Subscriptions” link at the bottom of the page.

[photo] After years of behind-the-scenes work, the Church has released a new version of LDS.org.

Lecture Looks at Future of Family History Online

The future of family history researching may be closer than you think,” said Rich Running at a lecture held on January 9, 2007, as part of the annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association.

Nearly 200 people attended the lecture, “Opening the Granite Mountain Vault,” where production management leaders of the Family and Church History Department of the Church explained technological advances in two facets of genealogical research—scanning and indexing.

As a manager of product management of the department, Brother Running describes these changes as steps in building a “digital highway” for genealogical researchers.

FamilySearch Scanning

This digital highway is being constructed through FamilySearch Scanning as the estimated five billion historic documents at the Church’s Granite Mountain Records Vault are being converted from microfilm to digital pictures that will eventually be accessible via the Internet, Brother Running said.

The Granite Mountain Records Vault, located in the Wasatch Mountains, holds the largest collection of family history records in the world. Employees use advanced computer systems to convert the rolls of microfilm stored there into high-quality digital images.

“This scanning process began at the vault five years ago,” Derek Dobson, FamilySearch Scanning product manager, explained. “Within that short period of time technological developments have made this process at least four times faster and much higher quality than a few years ago. … Now, in approximately 20 minutes the information in one roll of microfilm is made into some 1,200 digital images.”

Brother Running said that this digitalization will make family history work much more convenient. Instead of traveling to one of the Church’s 4,500 family history centers and ordering rolls of microfilm, researchers will eventually be able to access those documents online in the comfort of their homes.

FamilySearch, the Church’s Internet-based family history service, has as its main objectives to acquire and preserve data of genealogical significance and to improve accessibility to those records.

“FamilySearch Scanning is an integral part of making those objectives a reality,” said Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for the Family and Church History Department.

FamilySearch Indexing

In conjunction with FamilySearch Scanning, indexes of information are being compiled with the help of thousands of volunteers. These contributors extract family history information from digital images of historical documents that will help others search for relevant information more efficiently.

FamilySearch Indexing allows individuals to volunteer online, download historic documents, and input the necessary information using an online form that can be completed in less than an hour.

“This system allows people to accomplish a substantial amount of work in a short period of time,” Brother Dobson said. “Many people may not be able to spend hours on genealogical research. However, anyone can spend half an hour to an hour indexing names in a simple, understandable system. Youth have even volunteered with FamilySearch Indexing and are finding it an enjoyable experience.”

The first version of FamilySearch Indexing was released in September 2005, and by the end of 2006 more than 25,000 people within 1,200 stakes and partnering societies had registered as FamilySearch Indexing volunteers.

Church members can contact their local ward or branch leaders for additional information about how to get involved. However, volunteering with FamilySearch Indexing is not restricted to members of the LDS faith.

Brother Nauta feels the most important part of this genealogical “digital highway” is recognizing the desired destination.

“All these things the Church is doing regarding genealogical work are to make records available so people can identify their ancestors and link themselves to their forebears,” he said.

Additional information on FamilySearch Scanning and FamilySearch Indexing is available online at www.familysearch.org or www.familysearchindexing.org.

Museum Announces Eighth International Art Competition

The Museum of Church History and Art has announced the theme for its Eighth International Art Competition, “Remembering the Great Things of God.” The museum invites Church members around the world to participate in the exhibit to be held March 20 to October 11, 2009.

The work in the exhibit will encompass the experiences of Latter-day Saints everywhere. Entries in the competition should represent (1) Latter-day Saint doctrines, beliefs, and teachings, including stories from the scriptures and teachings of the prophets; (2) events, sites, and individuals pertinent to the history of the Church and its people; or (3) the application of religious values in Latter-day Saint life, including Church, family, and individual activities.

The competition is open to members of the Church who will be age 18 and older by December 31, 2008. Each artist may submit one work. Works representing worldwide cultural and aesthetic traditions, styles of art, and various media are all welcome. Entries must have been completed after January 1, 2006.

Official entry forms will be mailed to artists on the museum’s mailing list in April 2008. The form will also be available online at the museum’s Web site. To be included in the mailing or to change contact information if you are already on the mailing list, write to the museum at Eighth International Art Competition, Museum of Church History and Art, 45 N. West Temple St., Rm. 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3470, USA, or e-mail churchmuseum@ldschurch.org.

The first round of judging will be based on photographs of the artwork submitted with the entry form online or by mail before October 10, 2008. Artwork will be judged on the successful expression of the theme; artistic and technical accomplishment; and the creativity, originality, and quality of the art. Awards include a number of Purchase Awards, in which artwork is purchased for the Church collection; up to 25 cash Merit Awards, bestowed by the jury; and 3 cash Visitors’ Choice Awards.

For more information about the competition or to see artwork from former exhibitions, visit the museum’s Web site at www.lds.org/churchhistory/museum/competition.

[photo] This stained glass entry by Patricia Chiu, Joseph Smith Cuts the Ice for Joseph L. Heywood’s Baptism, was part of the Seventh International Art Competition.

[illustration] J. Kirk Richards’s oil painting Baptism received a Merit Award and a People’s Choice Award in the most recent competition.

Documentary on Church to Air Nationwide

A two-part documentary about the Church will air nationally on PBS April 30 and May 1, 2007. American Experience and Frontline, both PBS programs, have teamed up to release the four-hour documentary The Mormons, directed by award-winning filmmaker Helen Whitney.

The documentary, not produced by the Church, will focus on the Church, from its origins in the 1800s to the Church today. The documentary will air in two installments: the first night will focus on the history of the Church, while the second night will focus on the Church today.

For more than three years, Whitney interviewed hundreds of people for the film and was given access to the leadership of the Church on all levels. Whitney traveled cross-country and sent a crew to Ghana to show that the Church exists throughout the world. Whitney also attended ward meetings and went on visits with home teachers.

Check PBS.org for local airing times and channels.

Church Pageants for 2007

Costumes, lights, music—all of these contribute to the success of the seven annual pageants sponsored by the Church. But it is not solely the actors, the sound, or the theatrical effects that draw more than 200,000 spectators year after year to these productions. The central purpose for these pageants is to strengthen testimonies and teach gospel principles to Latter-day Saints and members of other faiths. It is the spirit that is felt at those events that has awed viewers since 1917, when the first Church-sponsored pageant began.

Between March and August these pageants are performed at various locations throughout the United States, and all are invited to attend. Below is information about each pageant. For more details about these performances, including driving directions, log on to www.pageants.lds.org/placestovisit/alphabetical. Then click on Pageants in the upper left corner.

Arizona Easter Pageant: Jesus the Christ

Description: Reenacts the Savior’s life, ministry, and Resurrection.

Location: 525 East Main Street, Mesa, Arizona.

Dates and times: March 30–31 (Spanish speaking), March 28–29 and April 3–7 (English speaking); 8:00 p.m.*

Ticket information: Admission is free, and reservations are not required.

For additional information: Call 480-964-7164.

Castle Valley Pageant

Description: Recounts the settling of a pioneer village.

Location: Spartan Boulevard, Castle Dale, Utah.

Dates and time: August 2–4, 7–11; 8:30 p.m.*

Ticket information: Admission is free, and reservations are not required.

For additional information: Contact Mark Justice at 435-687-2234.

Clarkston Pageant—Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew

Description: Depicts Martin Harris’s experiences testifying of the Book of Mormon.

Location: Amphitheater adjacent to Clarkston Cemetery, Clarkston, Utah.

Dates and time: August 3–4, 7–11, and 14–17; 8:15 p.m.*

Ticket information: Admission is free. However, tickets are required and can be obtained by writing to PO Box 151, Clarkston, Utah 84305 or by calling 435-563-0059.

For additional information: Contact Donald J. Jeppesen at 435-245-3501, or log on to www.martinharrispageant.org.

Hill Cumorah Pageant: America’s Witness for Christ

Description: Portrays events of ancient America as described in the Book of Mormon.

Location: 603 State Route 21, Palmyra, New York.

Dates and time: July 13–14, 17–21; 9:15 p.m.*

Ticket information: Admission is free, and reservations are not required.

For additional information: Log on to www.hillcumorah.org; contact Donald G. Schluter via mail at 53 Falcon Trail, Pittsfort, New York 14534; call 585-248-9135; or e-mail hcp@rochester.rr.com.

Mormon Miracle Pageant

Description: Describes the Restoration of the gospel, the witness of the Book of Mormon, and the journey of the pioneer Saints.

Location: South Temple Hill, Manti, Utah.

Dates and times: June 14–16, 19–23; seating begins at 6:00 p.m., and the pageant starts at 9:30 p.m.*

Ticket information: Admission is free, and reservations are not required.

For additional information: E-mail queries to mantipageant@mail.manti.com, or call either 888-255-8860 or 435-835-3000.

Nauvoo Pageant

Description: Tells of Joseph Smith’s prophetic mission and the early Saints’ experiences in Nauvoo.

Location: 165 North Wells Street, Nauvoo, Illinois.

Dates and times: July 6–August 3; preshow activity begins at 7:00 p.m., and the pageant starts at 8:45 p.m.*

Ticket information: Admission is free, and reservations are not required.

For additional information: Call 800-453-0022, ext. 315, or log on to www.historicnauvoo.net.

Oakland Temple Pageant

Description: Reenacts the history of the gospel, including events from the Savior’s life and the latter-day Restoration.

Location: 4780 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, California.

Dates and times: July 17–21, 24–28. Matinee performances will be held July 21 and July 28. Evening performances begin at 8:00 p.m., and matinees start at 2:00 p.m.*

Ticket information: Admission is free, but tickets are required due to limited seating.

For additional information: Call 510-531-0704 or 510-531-1475.

Arizona Easter Pageant: Jesus the Christ March 30–31 (Spanish); March 28–29; April 3–7 (English)

Mormon Miracle Pageant June 14–16, 19–23

Nauvoo Pageant July 6–August 3

Hill Cumorah Pageant: America’s Witness for Christ July 13–14, 17–21

Oakland Temple Pageant July 17–21, 24–28

Castle Valley Pageant August 2–4, 7–11

Clarkston Pageant—Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew August 3–4, 7–11, 14–17

* Start times are approximate.

Comment

Starting a Family Tradition

My wife, Bette, and I love Christmas traditions and activities, so December’s Questions and Answers section made a fun read. This year each of our children’s families received a small, simple Christmas treasure chest patterned after the picture on page 11 of the December Ensign. Our family members were at our house Christmas Eve. Just before everyone went home, we got out one of the chests and read from an instruction sheet we had placed inside. It explained that each person was to write his or her intended gift to the Savior in the coming year. Paper and pens were provided for all, and even the youngest children participated. Some didn’t want to stop writing, but finally, we folded our papers, put them in envelopes with our names on the outside, and dropped them into the little Christmas chest. We decided not to read them again for one year, on next Christmas Eve.

The fun part, at least for me, was that each family received a Christmas chest (with their written letters and instructions inside) on Christmas morning.

Perhaps a new tradition will emerge that will assist our children and their families to focus on the Savior as we celebrate His birth. Thank you to Sister Yvette T. Joyner and the Ensign staff for the idea, picture, and article. David H. Kotter, Utah

Breathtaking Art

Thank you for the breathtaking art by Walter Rane on the cover of the January Ensign. It is gratifying to see Latter-day Saint art that has absorbed the best of the Western tradition, and it is gratifying to see the progress of an individual artist over the years under the influence of the Spirit. Study and faith seem to truly complement one another here. Kate Horton, Indiana

Keeping a Sabbath

Kendal Hunter’s article on keeping the Sabbath holy struck a chord with me. For years I worked in hospitals and nursing homes and often had to miss sacrament meetings. One way I found that really helped me to stay spiritually strong was to keep my own Sabbath by dedicating one of my days off each week to study, prayer, service, and resting from worldly cares. I believe my example of always keeping a Sabbath day, even if it wasn’t on Sunday, has helped my children remain active in the Church. Thanks for an excellent article. Donald Fallick, Dominican Republic

Family Home Evening Helps

I wanted to thank you for “A Quiz for Couples” in January’s Random Sampler section. My husband’s navy carrier group was recently deployed, so our family is experiencing its first military separation. We are using the “Quiz for Couples” idea to remain close even though he is thousands of miles away. We take turns e-mailing each other a question daily, and we’re enjoying reading each other’s responses. It has also spurred discussions that we might have missed otherwise. Kim Blair, California