News of the Church


Shinto Priests Greet Elder Eyring at Historic Meiji Shrine in Japan

Katsushi Toyama, chief priest at Tokyo’s historic Meiji Shrine, met with Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during Elder Eyring’s recent tour of Church areas in Asia and the Pacific islands.

Elder Eyring, along with Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder David F. Evans, President of the Asia North Area, was invited to meet with Mr. Toyama to build bridges of understanding and goodwill.

Mr. Toyama told the visitors that there was no written book of Shinto doctrine similar to the Bible or other scriptures, but that followers manifest their relationship to God by striving for purity and righteousness in their lives.

Elder Eyring said members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints similarly strive for personal purity and righteousness in their lives. “Our prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, regularly admonishes members of our Church to make their beliefs an integral part of their daily lives,” he said.

Mr. Toyama first became familiar with the Church when he was hosted in Salt Lake City in the 1970s. More recently, this relationship has been nurtured as other priests from the shrine have visited Salt Lake City and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. In 2005, the BYU–Hawaii Concert Choir became the first Christian group to perform at the Meiji Shrine.

The meeting with Mr. Toyama took place in a small room at the shrine generally reserved for conversations with heads of state and their emissaries.

Emperor Meiji, for whom the shrine is named, ruled Japan from 1867 to 1912. He balanced a desire to retain the uniqueness of Japanese culture with a strong thrust to bring his country into the industrialized world.

The first baptisms in Japan took place in 1902. Today there are more than 120,000 members of the Church in Japan. The Church also has two temples there, one in Tokyo and one in Fukuoka.

[photo] Elder Henry B. Eyring and his wife, Kathleen, tour the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan.

Temple Construction Continues Worldwide

The Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple is set to reopen following renovations, ground has been broken for the Kyiv Ukraine, Tegucigalpa Honduras, and Vancouver British Columbia Temples, and a new temple has been announced in Manaus, Brazil. There are now 124 operating temples in the world, with 12 under construction or announced.

Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the public open house for the newly renovated Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple.

The open house begins on Saturday, September 29, 2007, and continues through October 20, excluding Sundays.

Following the open house, two rededicatory sessions will be held on November 4, 2007, to accommodate Latter-day Saints in the area who will be served by the temple.

A cultural celebration will be held on Saturday, November 3, 2007.

The Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple, first dedicated in August 1983 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, will serve Latter-day Saints throughout Tonga and the Line Islands of the Pacific Ocean. Tonga now has some 52,400 members.

Kyiv Ukraine Temple

Groundbreaking services for the Kyiv Ukraine Temple took place on Saturday, June 23, 2007.

Presiding over the service was Elder Paul B. Pieper, President of the Europe East Area. Elder Alexander N. Manzhos, Europe East Area Seventy, conducted the ceremony.

The temple, the first to be built in Ukraine, was first announced in July of 1998. Since 2002, Latter-day Saints in Ukraine have had to travel 30 hours one way to attend the nearest temple. Ukraine now has more than 9,900 members in one stake and five districts.

Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple

Elder Spencer V. Jones, then President of the Central America Area, presided as Church leaders broke ground for the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple on June 9, 2007.

Currently, members in Honduras must travel some 12 hours to attend the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple. Honduras now has more than 116,400 members.

The temple is the first in Honduras and will be the fourth operating temple in Central America after the Guatemala City Guatemala, Panama City Panama, and San Jose Costa Rica Temples. The Panama City temple is nearing completion. A temple has also been announced in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

Vancouver British Columbia Temple

The Church held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Vancouver British Columbia Temple on Saturday, August 4, 2007. Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy presided at the services.

Announced on June 2, 2006, the temple will be the first in British Columbia. British Columbia has more than 28,400 members in 8 stakes and 1 district. Altogether, Canada has more than 166,000 members and 6 temples—the Cardston Alberta, Edmonton Alberta, Halifax Nova Scotia, Montreal Quebec, Regina Saskatchewan, and Toronto Ontario Temples.

Manaus Brazil Temple

On June 7, 2007, the First Presidency announced the construction of a temple in Manaus, Brazil. Once completed, the Manaus temple will be the sixth temple in Brazil.

With temples constructed near the southern and eastern coasts of Brazil, some members living in the central and northern areas of Brazil must travel more than a thousand miles (1,600 km) to attend the nearest temple.

Currently, Brazil is home to about 929,000 members and four operational temples—in Campinas, Porto Alegre, Recife, and São Paulo. The Curitiba temple, which began construction in 2005, is expected to be complete by next year.

[photo] Ground was broken for the Vancouver British Columbia Temple on August 4, 2007.

Wheelwright Appointed President of BYU–Hawaii

President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the appointment of Steven C. Wheelwright, respected Harvard Business School professor and administrator, as president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii on June 5, 2007.

“I know President Wheelwright will take BYU–Hawaii to new heights,” President Hinckley said from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. “Through his expertise and many associations I’m confident he will expand the influence of BYU–Hawaii and bless the lives of all who come to this illustrious school.”

Following the announcement, President Wheelwright greeted BYU–Hawaii students participating by satellite with an enthusiastic “Aloha” and said it was a great honor to receive such an appointment.

“I believe in BYU–Hawaii and its mission because it combines spiritual with secular learning and focuses on the development of character and understanding in these wonderful young people,” President Wheelwright said.

President Hinckley said that since BYU–Hawaii first opened as a college in 1955, it has become one of the most international universities in the country, with a student body of 2,400 from 70 countries.

President Wheelwright has had extensive experience working with students from many different cultures, including the Asia areas. As the former dean of Harvard Business School’s MBA program, he worked with students from all over the world and helped place many in business positions. Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said this network would benefit BYU–Hawaii students as they return to their native countries after graduation.

After graduating from Stanford with an MBA and PhD, President Wheelwright spent a year on the faculty of INSEAD, an international business school in Fontainebleau, France, then spent the remainder of his academic career at Harvard and Stanford.

“He knows heaven and will inspire tremendous trust because of faith,” President Clark said.

Prior to President Wheelwright’s retirement from Harvard in the fall of 2006, he was the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, a Baker Foundation professor, a senior associate dean, and the director of Harvard Business School Publication Activities. He was also the Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers Professor of Management at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

As a young man, President Wheelwright served the Church as a missionary in Scotland. He also served as president of the England London Mission from 2000 to 2003. He has served as counselor in a stake presidency, high councilor, and bishop. Since leaving Harvard, he and his wife have been service missionaries at BYU–Idaho.

President Wheelwright grew up in Salt Lake City and owned a cattle ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming. He and his wife are the parents of 5 children and have 15 grandchildren.

President Wheelwright succeeds Eric B. Shumway, who is retiring from BYU–Hawaii after having served in several capacities since 1966 and as president since 1994.

[photo] Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright, the new president of BYU–Hawaii, greets the university faculty and staff during a live broadcast from Salt Lake City to Laie, Hawaii.

First Ladies See Humanitarian Efforts

During a visit to Salt Lake City, the first ladies of Peru and Paraguay saw firsthand how the Church’s humanitarian and welfare programs work.

Pilar Nores de García, first lady of Peru, and Maria Gloria Penayo de Duarte, first lady of Paraguay, visited Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center in April to observe and to explain to Church officials their own efforts to help people in their respective countries.

The Peruvian first lady outlined to Church leaders and to faculty and students at Brigham Young University her humanitarian program, Sembrando, which assists the poor in Peru’s higher-elevation areas. While Mrs. García was in Utah, she learned that the Church would provide her country with 1,000 wheelchairs and 50 tons (45 tonnes) of Atmit—a food supplement that combats malnutrition and starvation.

Mrs. Duarte and representatives from Paraguay personally assembled 48 cases of hygiene kits. These kits are sent to disaster areas and contain items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and a washcloth. Arrangements were also made for the Church to continue providing assistance and outreach through REPADEH (Paraguayan Network for Human Development), Mrs. Duarte’s foundation in Paraguay. Last year, in cooperation with the Church, this foundation distributed approximately 2,000 wheelchairs.

[photo] Maria Gloria Penayo de Duarte, first lady of Paraguay, meets Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

[photo] Pilar Nores de García, first lady of Peru (seated at computer) and her daughter, Josefina García Nores (left of first lady), discover information about their ancestors at the Church’s Family History Library.

Church Offers Disaster Aid to Victims Worldwide

Church Responds to Quake, Typhoon in Japan

Japan was reeling after being struck by Typhoon Man-Yi from the south and shaken by a 6.8 earthquake in the north.

At least 9 people were killed and more than 800 were injured on July 16, 2007, when the reported 6.8 magnitude quake struck the west coast of Japan near Kashiwazaki, where 300 of the estimated 800 damaged or destroyed homes were located.

About 9,000 people spent time at makeshift evacuation centers, and tens of thousands were left without power, gas, or running water for days.

The home of one member family was destroyed by the quake. An elderly member was inside when it collapsed, but was rescued with only minor scratches. All other missionaries and members were reported safe.

The quake could be felt in Tokyo, more than 125 miles to the south of the epicenter.

Man-Yi, a typhoon with sustained winds of 100 mph, swept the southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku on July 15, 2007, killing three people and injuring 70 more. About 30,000 people were evacuated from their homes. Reports list 15 homes destroyed and another 1,500 flooded. One member home was damaged earlier as the typhoon passed over Okinawa, but no members or missionaries were reported injured, and no Church property was damaged.

Following both disasters, local priesthood leaders worked with government officials to determine how the Church could be of assistance.

Church Provides Relief to Community Affected by Wildfire

The Church sent donations from the Humanitarian Aid Fund to the local Red Cross chapter on June 26, 2007, in response to a blaze that forced hundreds of residents from their homes in Meyers, California, near Lake Tahoe.

As part of their emergency response plan, Fallon Nevada Stake leaders made emergency supplies available to evacuees and those in need. Items included hygiene kits and blankets prepared by members. While most evacuees stayed in hotels, the Church offered the local meetinghouse as a shelter if needed.

The fire destroyed 276 buildings and homes, randomly skipping some homes and demolishing others. The neighborhoods affected are made up of cabins, modest homes, and million-dollar vacation retreats.

More than 1,800 firefighters, aided by seven helicopters, were involved in trying to suppress the fire that threatened another 500 homes.

One member family is among those who lost their homes and most of their possessions. They are currently living with relatives. At least 17 other member homes in the Meyers area were threatened and the families were evacuated.

Church Sends Aid to Flooded Areas of United States

The Church provided more than 12,000 cleaning kits and 18,000 hygiene kits to those in need in 14 separate locations in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas after storms pounded the area with heavy rain for two weeks.

Hundreds of members in many communities helped affected families clean out flooded homes. The kits provided by the Church included liquid bleach, dish soap, rubber gloves, safety goggles, sponges, dust masks, and trash bags.

Local Church leaders and members distributed most of the items to the flood victims. Recipients of the kits have expressed great appreciation for the manpower and in-kind assistance provided by the Church.

At least 1,000 people were forced out of their homes in southeastern Kansas. In North Texas heavy rains dumped up to an inch (2.5 cm) of water every 15 minutes at one point, killing 11 people in the resulting floods and sweeping homes from foundations.

In Gainesville, Texas, some 500 homes were flooded. In Sherman, at least 300 people in apartments and nursing homes were evacuated, and waters flooded about 100 mobile homes in Haltom City, a suburb of Fort Worth.

All members and missionaries were safe and accounted for. However, at least three member families are among those whose homes were affected, with one of those families experiencing waist-deep water flooding their home. A Church building in Seminole, Texas, also received significant wind and rain damage, and a meetinghouse in Gainesville received some minor water damage and is being evaluated.

Earthquake Shakes Guatemala, El Salvador

A powerful 6.8 earthquake rattled Guatemala and El Salvador, swaying buildings for 30 seconds but causing no deaths, on June 13, 2007.

The quake struck in the Pacific Ocean, 70 miles from Guatemala City at a depth of about 40 miles. There was no threat of a tsunami.

Despite the magnitude of the earthquake, the countries escaped virtually unscathed—unlike when two earthquakes struck El Salvador in 2001 and killed more than 1,150 people, most of them in mudslides near San Salvador, the capital.

Reports from the Central America Area Office indicated there were no deaths or injuries to members or missionaries as a result of this quake. Local priesthood leaders helped assess potential needs.

Church Helps Fund Relief to Colombia Flood Victims

The Church sent emergency funds to several regions of Colombia where more than 50 people died and thousands were left homeless after severe flooding took place in the early weeks of June.

Heavy rains have affected large parts of the country, with the north particularly badly hit. The rain has triggered mudslides and damaged or destroyed 270,000 homes and businesses since the rainy season began in March 2007.

Members Pitch In after Australia Flooding

Members and missionaries left church after sacrament meetings on Sunday, June 10, 2007, to join sandbagging and cleanup efforts as flooding in New South Wales, Australia, caused nine deaths and left insurance companies bracing for a bill that could exceed AUS $300 million.

The floodwaters forced an estimated 1,700 families from their homes. State Emergency Services logged a total of 13,830 calls for help over the weekend of flooding.

Some businesses in the retail area of Wallsend and industrial precinct of Cardiff might never recover, said Hunter Business Chamber chief Doug Parish to The Australian.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2007, more than 30,000 homes were still without power, down from the 130,000 homes that were without power over the weekend.

Floodwaters at Chittaway Bay, near Tuggerah Lake, eventually receded allowing more than 400 residents to return to their homes.

[photo] Firefighters watch over a prescribed burn meant to help fight a wildfire in California that destroyed more than 200 homes.

Comment

Mormon Battalion Cover—July 2007

Several readers have pointed out discrepancies in the image of the Mormon Battalion on the cover of the July 2007 Ensign. Some noted that the weapons appear to be bolt action rifles not in use until about 50 years after the Battalion disbanded. Also, historical accounts indicate that the clothing and hair does not accurately represent what Battalion members would have worn upon reaching San Diego.

Battalion members were issued money to buy uniforms. However, most chose to give this money to the Church to aid the Saints who were crossing the plains. The majority of Battalion members would have worn clothing they already owned at the time they fled Nauvoo. This would have varied from person to person. Most of the men would have worn broad-rimmed felt hats, wool shirts, vests, and trousers with either a fall or fly closure. Accounts indicate that for the most part their clothing was in tatters and shoes or boots had been worn to bare feet by the time they arrived in San Diego.

The military equipment issued to each Battalion member included a model 1816 musket, a bayonet with sheath and shoulder strap, a cartridge box with ammunition and shoulder strap, a waist belt, a canteen with strap, a haversack for carrying personal effects, a knapsack, and a bedroll. The musket pictured (see accompanying photo) is a model 1816 made at the Harper’s Ferry arsenal in 1827 and was carried by Battalion member James T. S. Allred.

Friends Helping Friends

The article in the June issue, “New Religion, New Life,” is a great story. I see it as two friends strengthening each other along the way. I have had a similar experience with a friend, whom I have been helping in the Church. She has helped deepen my understanding and happiness through letting me teach her the gospel. Stephanie Matthews, Utah

Tender Service

In the June 2007 Ensign, page 72, there is a picture of a newborn baby with a suggestion that one way to provide community service for those with limited time might be to knit newborn hats. This sweet baby picture brought a rush of tears to my eyes. Last November my first grandchildren were born, a little girl and boy, twins. Because they were born several months premature they each weighed barely one pound. On the day of her birth, I held my tiny granddaughter’s body in my arms for the first and only time, as she died soon thereafter. One week later, I held my grandson, also to say goodbye. Amid my grief, on both occasions I was keenly aware of the little hand-knitted caps that had been tenderly placed on their heads, as well as the beautiful little items of clothing some strangers had prepared. I thanked God for those strangers, and how He teaches us to help each other. “I was a stranger . . . and ye clothed me.” These quiet acts of service and kindness brought a moment of sweetness to my aching heart and provided much needed evidence of God’s care, even in the deepest trials. Jean Strickland, Nevada

Integrity in Reporting

I just read the article on the Mountain Meadows Massacre in the September Ensign. I just wanted to let you know that I was very impressed with your ability to compress an account of the events into such a short space, as well as provide a fair-minded narrative. Kudos. Kudos also to all involved for addressing the issue forthrightly in a Church magazine. Thank you. Nathan Oman, Virginia

The “Mountain Meadows Massacre” article printed in this month’s Ensign was posted on www.lds.org in June 2007.

[photo] Original Mormon Battalion musket.