News of the Church


Conference Concludes; Available to Vast Audience

With portions of the Church’s 177th Annual General Conference being simultaneously interpreted in 90 languages and broadcast by satellite to more than 6,000 Church-owned receiving sites in 85 countries, more members had live access in their own language to the words of Church leaders than ever before.

Addressing the worldwide audience in every session but Saturday morning, President Gordon B. Hinckley, now 96, told members, “My health is quite good, despite all the rumors to the contrary,” and quipped, “Skillful doctors and nurses keep me on the right track. Some of you may go before I do.”

During the Saturday afternoon session, President Hinckley rededicated the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, where a session of conference was held for the first time since before the Conference Center was first used in April 2000. The Tabernacle had been closed for two years to undergo a seismic upgrade and restoration (see accompanying article).

New leaders were sustained Saturday, including five General Authorities (all from countries outside the United States), the Relief Society general presidency, and counselors in the Young Women general presidency (see page 4 for changes in Church leadership and page 124 for biographical information on new leaders).

Millions of Church members around the world participated at Church-owned receiving sites as well as in their homes through local broadcasts, other satellite and cable TV providers, and the Internet.

Tabernacle Reopens after Extensive Renovation

Since it was first used for general conference in 1867, the Salt Lake Tabernacle has stood as a symbol of the pioneers’ faith and ingenuity. Now, nearly 140 years later, the Tabernacle still stands, and never before has it rested on such a firm foundation.

During the Saturday afternoon session, held on March 31, President Gordon B. Hinckley rededicated the Salt Lake Tabernacle after two years of renovations.

Some new benches, made of oak, were installed and spaced farther apart to give visitors more legroom; the original staircases leading to the balcony from outside were relocated indoors to provide easier access for visitors, and two new staircases were added inside; a new layer of gold leafing was applied to the visible organ pipes; the ceiling was repaired and repainted; new dressing rooms and a music library for choir members were created; the rostrum was remodeled so it can be removed to accommodate a secondary seating arrangement or a stage for performances; and all plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems were replaced and brought up to code.

Although the Tabernacle received these noticeable upgrades and more, the most important changes are those the general public cannot see.

The foundation and walls of the Tabernacle were modified to improve structural strength in order to better withstand earthquakes.

All 44 piers that support the Tabernacle’s unique roof were reinforced with steel bars, which were inserted into the piers from top to bottom. The foundation of each pier was also reinforced with concrete. Steel boxes were used to connect trusses to piers, and long ceiling trusses were also attached to the piers, cinched tight with structured steel.

Now the Tabernacle stands stronger than it was only a short time ago, much like the membership of the Church itself.

“At one time most of the Latter-day Saints lived here in this valley and in other surrounding areas where settlements were established,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley during the dedicatory prayer of the renovated Tabernacle. “Now, Thy work has grown and spread over the earth until we have more members outside of this nation than we have in it.”

Creating and Building the Tabernacle

President Brigham Young turned to Henry Grow for help in transforming his vision for the Tabernacle into reality. A convert to the Church and a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Brother Grow was a bridge builder with the skills necessary to take on such a task.

Plans were made, and in 1863 construction began.

Unable to acquire many common building materials, workers recycled materials and used local resources to build the Tabernacle. Lumber was harvested from local canyons, excess stone was taken from the Salt Lake Temple construction site, leftover military equipment and wooden oxen shoes were transformed into nails and washers, glue was created by boiling animal skins, and plaster was created from local limestone and enhanced with animal hair for strength.

Considering the materials available at the time, the Tabernacle truly was built with faith and ingenuity.

Four years after construction began, conference was held in the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was officially dedicated in October 1875, after the completion of the interior.

Notable Facts

  • Every President of the Church except Joseph Smith and Brigham Young has been sustained in a solemn assembly in the Tabernacle.

  • The Tabernacle housed a baptistry that served members in the Salt Lake City area until the most recent renovation, when it was removed for space.

  • The original pews were made of pine and painted to look like oak.

  • The organ casing is made of ponderosa pine, painted to look like mahogany.

  • Before the Salt Lake Tabernacle was built, a tabernacle now referred to as the “Old Tabernacle” was built on the southwest corner of the temple block as a gathering place for the Saints.

  • Twelve presidents of the United States have visited the Tabernacle.

  • The acoustics in the Tabernacle are unlike any other building’s. Someone can drop a pin onto the pulpit at the front of the Tabernacle and others can hear it hit from the back row.

Renovation of the Tabernacle’s interior included repairs to the ceiling, new seating, and the creation of an interchangeable rostrum and stage area.

New gold leafing was applied to visible organ pipes.

Seismic upgrades included a reinforced foundation.

Worldwide Leadership Training to Be Printed

Text from February’s worldwide leadership training meeting will be published in the June 2007 Liahona and Ensign. The Church is making the training available to all members because the topic of teaching and learning applies to all members.

This will mark the second time text from the training meeting is available in the magazines. Last year’s training meeting, on the topic of family, was printed in the June 2006 magazines.

Speakers in the training included President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency; President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The February broadcast is also available online at www.lds.org/broadcast in audio format in 10 languages and in text format in 24 languages.

Elder Enrique R. Falabella

Of the Seventy
Elder Enrique R. Falabella

Elder Enrique Rienzi Falabella Arellano believes nothing is more valuable than a personal testimony of Jesus Christ and how the Atonement can affect one’s life.

Elder Falabella learned early that gaining a testimony begins with a desire to know the truth and a willingness to live it.

Born on May 9, 1950, to Udine and Leonor Falabella, Elder Falabella was 12 when missionaries knocked on his family’s door in Guatemala City, where he was born and raised. The oldest of four children whose mother had died several years earlier, Elder Falabella recognized that there was something different about the missionaries. He saw it in the love they showed and the power with which they taught.

“I wanted to know what they knew,” he recalls. That desire and his willingness to do what the missionaries asked led to his conversion.

“Very early on I learned to appreciate the Savior’s words: ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself’ (John 7:17). If we will live gospel principles, the Spirit can touch our hearts, and we will learn that they are really true.”

After he served in the Central America Mission, he and his wife, Blanca Lidia Sanchez, were sealed on June 21, 1975, in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Elder Falabella earned a degree in agronomy from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala and later studied marketing at the University of Costa Rica. He worked for a chemical and pharmaceutical company prior to his call to serve full-time for the Church.

As his and his wife’s five children grew, Elder Falabella served as stake mission president, bishop, regional representative, stake president, and Area Seventy, serving as President of the Central America Area for two years. He was serving as a branch president at the Missionary Training Center in Guatemala City at the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Erich W. Kopischke

Of the Seventy
Elder Erich W. Kopischke

If there is one thing that Elder Erich Willi Kopischke has gained a testimony of, it is that the Lord knows what is best for individuals.

He recalls being a little disappointed when called to serve a full-time mission in his native Germany. “I wanted to learn a different language,” he says. But he soon came to love teaching his own people. And when he was assigned to the mission office for nine months as a secretary, he had to learn English.

Elder Kopischke came to realize that his mission had truly been the Lord’s plan for him, because it had prepared him.

“The Lord knows your mission in life—that is my greatest testimony,” he says. “He knows what is in store for you.”

Elder Kopischke was born on October 20, 1956, in Elmshorn, Germany, where he was raised by faithful Latter-day Saint parents, Helga Haupt Kopischke and Kurt Kopischke.

Elder Kopischke earned a degree in business. After his mission he served in the military before receiving further vocational training. During this time he met his future wife, Christiane Glück, who was attending nursing school. They were married in the Bern Switzerland Temple on December 19, 1978, and have seven children.

He worked in the insurance industry before taking a job with the Church Educational System in 1996, where he was appointed as the Europe Central Area director in 2000.

In 2003 he was called to serve as president of the Berlin mission, an experience he and his wife loved.

Prior to his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Kopischke served as bishop’s counselor, stake high councilor, district president, stake president, mission president, Area Seventy, and Second Counselor in the Europe Central Area.

Elder Michael J. Teh

Of the Seventy
Elder Michael J. Teh

For Elder Michael John Teh, the journey is just as important as the destination—especially while traveling through life. Elder Teh says his calling as a full-time missionary in 1986 made all the difference in his mortal journey because it strengthened his testimony of the gospel.

“My mission was a turning point in my life. It has been a wonderful blessing,” he says. “I came to know my Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. I came to know that I could call on my Father in Heaven anytime and talk to Him. That has been a great source of comfort for me.”

Elder Teh says those who face crossroads in their lives need a testimony, which will help them stay on the right path.

“Our Father in Heaven will reveal the truth to you as you prayerfully seek to find your own testimony,” he says. “What a sweet feeling it is to know for yourself and to be able to confidently testify of the truth.”

Elder Teh was born to Martin and Norma Teh on June 25, 1965, in Davao City, Davao Del Sur, Philippines. His family moved to Manila when he was 12, but he returned to his hometown after his call to the Philippines Davao Mission.

Following his mission Elder Teh earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at De La Salle University in Manila. For the past four years he has worked as recorder for the Manila Philippines Temple, where he married Grace May Weedon on December 16, 1989. They are the parents of three children.

Elder Teh is grateful for opportunities to associate with Church leaders. He has served as bishop, stake president’s counselor, high councilor, and mission president’s counselor. At the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, he was serving as an Area Seventy and as Second Counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency.

Elder Octaviano Tenorio

Of the Seventy
Elder Octaviano Tenorio

Elder Octaviano Tenorio Domínguez knows that receiving the ordinances of the temple changes lives. It’s changed his, and he’s been in positions to see it change others’. “Stay close to the temple,” he urges.

Born on October 31, 1942, to Octaviano Tenorio and Flora Domínguez de Tenorio in Tilapan, Veracruz, Mexico, he joined the Church after his family moved to Rio Bravo in northern Mexico.

After earning a certificate in accounting and business, he met Rosa Elva Valenzuela González in Mexico City, where they now reside. They were sealed on January 4, 1974, in the Mesa Arizona Temple and are the parents of five children.

Early in his career, Elder Tenorio was approached about a position as manager of the Church’s Genealogical Service Center in Mexico. Doing well in his job in the publishing industry, he was not sure about taking the new position. But following a series of inspired events, he realized it was a job he was supposed to take.

“It changed my life’s course,” he says. It led to a life intertwined with family history and temple work.

After seven years in that job, during which time he served as stake president, he was called as the first recorder for the Mexico City Mexico Temple and as a sealer. He left the temple to preside over the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission. He later managed the area’s Membership, Materials Management, and Welfare Services Departments, during which time he served as regional representative and later as Area Seventy.

Elder Tenorio later became the Mexico City Mexico Temple recorder again after his replacement retired.

“The temple has been a big part of my life,” he says, sad about the prospect of retiring, though he appreciates the service opportunities that his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy brings. “I believe it is through temple ordinances that we will find true happiness.”

Elder Claudio D. Zivic

Of the Seventy
Elder Claudio D. Zivic

Elder Claudio Daniel Zivic believes that when we are striving to live right, we can trust that God will guide us.

Elder Zivic was born on December 19, 1948, to Latter-day Saint parents Sergio Jorge Zivic and Eleonora Zalewski Zivic in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a 15-year-old runner, he ranked second nationally in his age group in the 800 meters. His greatest desire was to compete in the Olympics, and his coach, a former Olympic decathlete, believed he could do it—if he would only give up his reluctance to compete on Sundays.

“I had to choose,” says Elder Zivic. “In the end I felt competing wasn’t what the Lord wanted for me.”

Elder Zivic faced another difficult decision when it came time to choose a vocation. For four straight years of secondary school, he had to take an additional end-of-year test in accounting because he did so poorly in the subject during the year.

“I really didn’t like accounting,” he says. But when he prayerfully considered his career path, he felt strongly that he should go into accounting. Trusting in the Lord, he received his accounting degree from the University of Buenos Aires and enjoyed a career as a certified public accountant.

Elder Zivic can see the Lord’s guidance throughout his life. “If we’re living right, He will bless us,” Elder Zivic says. “Things will fall into place most naturally.”

After his military service, he and his wife, Dina Noemí Alvarez, were sealed on January 9, 1979, in the São Paulo Brazil Temple.

Prior to his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Zivic served as elders quorum president, institute teacher, bishop, stake high councilor, counselor to a stake president, temple ordinance worker, regional representative, president of the Spain Bilbao Mission, and Second Counselor in the South America South Area Presidency.

Julie B. Beck

Relief Society General President
Julie B. Beck

At her baptism and in the temple, Julie Bangerter Beck says that as part of making her covenants she “promised the Lord that He could use me in His kingdom.” Where and how He used her weren’t important to her. As former first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, she says, in the Church “everyone gets assignment changes. It doesn’t matter where you serve. It’s the Lord’s work, and we’re working with children of our Heavenly Father.”

Born to William Grant Bangerter, now an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and Geraldine Hamblin Bangerter on September 29, 1954, she attended Dixie College and Brigham Young University, graduating with a degree in family science. She married Ramon P. Beck on December 28, 1973, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have three children and eight grandchildren.

Sister Beck served as ward Young Women and Primary president and counselor in a stake Relief Society presidency before her call to serve at the general Church level.

To manage her time, she divides priorities into three categories—“must do,” “should do,” and “nice to do.” Personal prayer, scripture study, temple attendance, and family are on her “must do” list. “I don’t know of a woman who doesn’t have more to do than she can do,” she says, but prioritizing “eliminates guilt. I’m surprised at how many ‘nice to do’ things I can get done.”

The Lord has blessed her with ideas about how to be a grandma long-distance, including reading to her grandchildren over the phone.

“I have always had a great love for Relief Society. During my young married years when my parents were assigned far away, Relief Society sisters were ‘my mother.’ As I have traveled throughout the world, I have felt a genuine love and admiration for the women of the Church. What a blessing it will be to now focus my energies in Relief Society service.”

Silvia H. Allred

First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
Silvia H. Allred

When she was just 16 years old, Silvia Henriquez Allred, recently called as first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, gained a love for Relief Society.

“Shortly after she was baptized, my mother was called as the Relief Society president in our branch in El Salvador,” Sister Allred explains. “She was overwhelmed, but my sister and I [who were also recent converts] told her, ‘It will be OK. The Lord will help you.’ And He did.”

As Sister Allred served as the Relief Society secretary alongside her mother, she was impressed by the opportunities that Relief Society offered in leadership, education, homemaking skills, and service—opportunities Sister Allred says are available “to every woman who embraces the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Sister Allred was born to Carlos Florentino Henriquez and Hilda Alvarenga on October 11, 1944, in San Salvador, El Salvador, the fourth of eight children. She attended the University of Arizona, Brigham Young University, and the General Francisco Morarzan Institute in El Salvador, studying mathematics and languages.

She married Jeffry A. Allred on September 7, 1966, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of eight children.

Sister Allred has served as a full-time missionary in the Central America Mission, as a Relief Society and Primary president at the ward and stake levels, and as a member of the Young Women general board. She also served with her husband when he presided over the Paraguay Asuncion Mission and most recently as he presided over the Missionary Training Center in the Dominican Republic. The Allreds were also public affairs missionaries in Madrid, Spain.

Sister Allred says that throughout her life, she has relied on what she learned in her first Relief Society calling: “Heavenly Father is aware of our needs. I know He gives us strength.”

Barbara Thompson

Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
Barbara Thompson

As a former ward activities committee chair, Barbara Thompson is more comfortable wearing jeans and putting together hygiene kits than as a member of the Relief Society general presidency. But she’s grateful for her new calling as second counselor in that presidency.

Having also served as a missionary in the Germany Hamburg Mission, Gospel Doctrine teacher, Young Women camp director, Laurel and Beehive adviser, ward Young Women president, ward Relief Society counselor, and Relief Society general board member, Sister Thompson believes that “when sisters have a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, they are moved to action.”

Born to W. Peter and Fern Rymer Thompson on June 13, 1952, in San Luis Obispo, California, Sister Thompson and her family later moved to Granger, Utah. She has always loved sports and camping, but her favorite pastime is visiting with friends and family.

With a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah, Sister Thompson worked for the Utah Department of Human Services for 30 years. Since retiring, she has served as executive director of an international organization that serves abused and neglected children.

Although she has never married or had children of her own, Sister Thompson says, “I have borrowed family members and friends, and I’ve always had a lot of support from the sisters of this Church.”

She sees her new role as being supportive of Sister Beck. “I want to lift her up in her calling.”

Sister Thompson looks forward to hearing the testimonies of members throughout the world as she serves. Her message to her Relief Society sisters is: “Love the Lord. Come unto Christ with your whole heart. Women face incredible challenges, but when we rely on the gospel and the sisterhood we have in Relief Society, our burdens will be lighter.”

Mary N. Cook

Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency
Mary N. Cook

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart” (Proverbs 3:5) is a guiding truth for Mary Nielsen Cook, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.

Born in Midvale, Utah, on June 8, 1951, Sister Cook learned to trust in the Lord from the examples of her parents, Kenneth N. and Fern S. Nielsen. Her father suffered severe health problems resulting from a mining accident when Sister Cook was a toddler. For a time, her mother was the family’s sole provider. It was a trying time.

In her youth she dreamed of marriage and motherhood but was single for many years. “Sometimes I wondered if my dreams would ever be fulfilled,” Sister Cook says. “But I tried to have faith and focus on the blessings I did have.”

During this time she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech pathology and audiology and an EdS (Education Specialist) degree from Brigham Young University. She worked as a special education teacher and later as a school administrator.

On July 16, 1988, in the Salt Lake Temple, she married Richard E. Cook, who later served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. At that time, Sister Cook says she “inherited four wonderful children and became a grandmother of eight,” as Elder Cook’s first wife had passed away in 1984. They now have 17 grandchildren.

While Elder and Sister Cook served as full-time missionaries in Mongolia, her husband was called to preside over the newly created Mongolian mission. Later she accompanied him to Hong Kong, where he served in the Asia Area Presidency. She has also served as ward Relief Society president and on the Young Women general board.

Sister Cook is grateful for her experiences and testifies that “whatever trials may come upon us, if we trust in the Lord, He will direct our paths.”