News of the Church


British Saints Celebrate 150th Anniversary

When twelve thousand Church members gathered in Manchester, England, in 1971 for the first-ever area conference, President Joseph Fielding Smith spoke prophetically about future growth of the Church in the British Isles:

“We hope to see the day when there will be stakes of Zion in every part of the land.” (In British Area General Conference Report, Aug. 1971, p. 6.)

Sixteen years later, in July of this year, English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Saints saw fulfillment of that prophecy as approximately thirty-five thousand members from forty stakes and two districts gathered in six separate conferences to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the gospel in their lands.

Attending the conferences were President Ezra Taft Benson and President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency; Elders Marvin J. Ashton, David B. Haight, Russell M. Nelson, and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elders Carlos E. Asay, Derek A. Cuthbert, Jack H Goaslind, Russell C. Taylor, and Hans B. Ringger of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and Elder Bernard P. Brockbank, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

The weekend of activities was highlighted by official visits to England’s queen and prime minister, an anniversary banquet in London’s prestigious Savoy Hotel, dedications of new LDS markers at eight historic sites, and six conferences on Sunday.

A new volume of Church history and a new thirty-minute video, both telling of the Church’s 150 years in the British Isles, were produced for the occasion, as were a cassette tape of British songs sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a new musical written by British members, and a map and guidebook to Church historic sites in Great Britain.

Greetings to the Queen and Prime Minister

On Friday morning, July 24, Arch J. Turvey and Kenneth Johnson, regional representatives, and Wendell J. Ashton, president of the England London Mission, visited Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street and presented to aides of the queen and the prime minister a copy of the Book of Mormon, a copy of the new pocket edition of the four standard works, and letters of greeting from the First Presidency.

The presentation to the queen mirrored that made in 1841 to Queen Victoria by Lorenzo Snow, on behalf of Brigham Young. Queen Victoria’s personally inscribed copy was found earlier this year in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle; on the front cover, inscribed in gold, are the words: “To Queen Victoria, 1841,” and on the back, “Presented by Brigham Young.” The copies given to Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher are replicas of the 1841 copy, except that their names are inscribed on the front cover, and “Presented by Ezra Taft Benson” is inscribed on the back.

Anniversary Banquet

That evening, four hundred guests gathered at London’s Savoy Hotel for an anniversary banquet, funded through private contributions of U. S. members of the Church in appreciation for their British Isles heritage. Prominent Church members from both sides of the Atlantic attended. British members were represented by their five regional representatives, forty stake presidents, and two district presidents, along with the eight mission presidents then serving in the British Isles.

Many prominent non-LDS guests also attended, including former British prime minister Rt. Hon. Edward Heath; former British cabinet minister and currently Member of Parliament Rt. Hon. Sir Rhodes Boyson; leaders of British industry such as Sir Kit McMahon, chairman of the Midland Bank; Rt. Hon. Lord Thomson of Fleet, chairman and president of Thomson Newspapers, owners of more than 130 newspapers in the U. S. and Canada; actress Jane Seymour; and noted symphony conductor Sir Charles Groves.

The proceedings of the evening were signaled by The Trumpeters of the Life Guards, who play for the Royal Family on ceremonial and social occasions. The stirring fanfare for the anniversary banquet was based on “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”

President Benson extended his greetings and expressed appreciation for the contribution of the British to the free world. He recalled his visit to Britain in 1946 on assignment from Church leaders to help arrange the distribution of food, clothing, and other necessities to members of the Church in war-torn Europe. He closed by paying tribute to the British today:

“In 1987 we have new cause to be thankful to you, our British friends. What an example of ennobling the individual your government, under Margaret Thatcher, is showing all of us, gloriously and globally. By motivating each able-bodied man, woman, boy, and girl to be or prepare to be self-sufficient, you are making this one of Britain’s finest hours.”

The guests then viewed a specially prepared video of U. S. President Ronald Reagan, who extended his greetings and recounted the arrival of the Church in Britain and the early LDS emigration to the United States. “The Mormon contribution to American life is beyond measuring,” he said, “and the contribution of the British Isles and Ireland to the Mormon Church is also immense. They are the contributions of love and joy, of faith and family, of work and community. They are a dedication to the values that are at the heart of free nations—and good ones—and they are a faith in the promise of tomorrow.” His message was greeted with applause.

Responding to President Reagan’s message, the Rt. Hon. Sir Rhodes Boyson also gave a warm tribute to the Latter-day Saints: “There is no one who cannot admire the Mormon people. The emphasis on the family—that basic building block of society—is a lesson to us all. The emphasis on self-discipline, cheerfulness, tolerance, education, civic duties, the tithe, and the primacy of religion in your lives has built a great church and a great people, and I am proud to count so many of you among my closest friends.”

He closed by referring to the close ties that unite the British and American peoples. We have “a common blood and heritage and a total dedication to a religious and political view of man,” he said, “which gives him liberty and dignity and hope, under the fatherhood of the Almighty.”

After an introduction by Lord Thomson of Fleet, President Hinckley gave the keynote address. “The saga of a century and a half of the Church in Britain is a moving drama of courage and faith, of false accusation and bitter persecution, of tragedy and triumph. It is an epic of grand proportions, a chronicle of sacrifice, of struggle, of life and death, of appreciation and gratitude to God.”

He recounted his experiences when he arrived in Britain as a young missionary, and told of the deep love and respect he had for Britain and its people.

After reviewing the history of the first LDS missionaries in Liverpool and of their subsequent journeyings and work, he spoke of some of the fruits of that effort. He told of a thirteen-year-old girl who, with her family, joined the Church in Brighton, and of the hardships and ordeals they endured while traveling to Utah. After quoting from her journal, he said, “The little girl who wrote those words became the grandmother of my wife.”

President Hinckley concluded by expressing appreciation for the strength of Church members in Britain: “We are grateful for that faith in God which is of the very nature of so many of the people of Britain. On this inherent faith we have built, through knowledge and testimony, a constantly growing membership of Latter-day Saints, who are a credit to the Church and an asset to the nation.”

Music was provided by Tabernacle Choir soloist JoAnn Ottley. The evening came to a fitting close as a quartet of British members sang “Come, Come, Ye Saints” while scenes of LDS British history and contemporary life were projected on a huge screen. Then the assembly rose and sang “God Save the Queen.”

Saturday Events and Sunday Conferences

London. On Saturday, President Benson stayed in the London area, making a trip to the London Temple, and returning that evening for the premiere of the new British musical, Truth Will Prevail, in the Hyde Park chapel. More than eight hundred people were present. All but two of the forty-two members of the Truth Will Prevail cast were from the Yate Branch—approximately half of the entire branch membership. The one-hundred-voice London LDS Choir sang.

Earlier that morning, a special dedicatory service was held in the Hyde Park chapel. Elder Marion D. Hanks presided, and Elder Carlos E. Asay dedicated a plaque on the exterior of the chapel, telling the story of the arrival of the first missionaries in London in 1840.

More than ten thousand people from twelve stakes attended the London conference on Sunday morning in the Wembley Arena with President Benson, Elder Hanks, and Elder Asay. President Benson paid tribute to Great Britain for setting the stage for the restoration of the gospel. “Before the gospel could shine forth its resplendent light, a flickering flame of religious and political freedom had to commence somewhere,” he said. “Heaven determined that it begin here.”

He reviewed important events that led to religious and political freedom, such as John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible, the publication of William Tyndale’s English New Testament, and the enactment of the Magna Carta, the English Petition of Rights, and the English Bill of Rights. The American Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights followed these English milestones.

“Once a man’s rights became guaranteed by the political institutions that would serve him, the time came for the Prophet Joseph Smith to be sent on the world scene, and for the kingdom of God to be restored by direct divine intervention in the year 1830. A light had burst forth among men again, and it was the fulness of the gospel!

“Freedom-loving men owe a debt of gratitude to Great Britain and those human instruments who provided that first flicker of ‘freedom’s holy light’ to future generations and which made the restoration of the fulness of the gospel possible,” he said.

Reviewing the question of freedom and the increase of tyranny in the world, President Benson urged Church members not to despair: “As God has intervened in our past history, so He may in our present history. His purposes will not be thwarted. … To come under the protective and preserving hand of God, it is vital that we keep before us the conditions for such protection.”

He reaffirmed the need to keep the commandments, pay tithes and offerings, attend the temple, and stay morally clean. He counseled members to participate in local elections, be honest in their dealings, pray, and hold family home evening.

Elder Marion D. Hanks told the members that “all scripture, ordinances, and covenants point to Christ.” He counseled members to think always of applying the scriptures to themselves as they read them. “Look and find out how they apply to you, your family, and your situation,” he said.

Preston, Liverpool, and Birmingham. President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Preston, where he had served as a missionary fifty-four years earlier. He dedicated a plaque in Avenham Park on the banks of the River Ribble, the site of the first British baptisms on 30 July 1837.

Later he revisited his old “digs” at 15 Wadham Road, where he had lived with a family in 1933. At the invitation of the current resident of the home, he went upstairs to the bedroom he had used as a young missionary. It was there that he had made an important decision to fight discouragement, forget himself, and go to work.

After visiting other sites in the area, he spoke at a Preston reunion that evening and showed that the years had not dimmed his knowledge of the distinctive dialect—or his sense of humor:

“Ee, by gumme. It’s good to see ye!” he began, to the laughter and applause of the audience.

Then he paid tribute to the Preston Ward, the oldest unit in the Church, which was formed as a branch on 6 August 1837. (Branches formed before that date in the U. S. were disbanded when the Saints left for Utah.) He also paid tribute to four members in attendance whom he had known as a young missionary: Florence M. Denney, a 92-year-old member baptized in 1903; Bessie Norrill; Gertrude Coreless; and Robert Pickles, who had been a branch teaching companion of young Elder Hinckley.

That afternoon, Elder Russell C. Taylor dedicated a bench and marker at the Albert Dock in Liverpool, where the first missionaries in Great Britain landed in 1837 and from where the first LDS emigrants left for America in 1840.

On Sunday, President Hinckley and Elder Taylor met with twelve thousand Saints at the anniversary conference in the International Arena at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre.

President Hinckley acknowledged that the Church has stabilized in Great Britain, offering its members all of the blessings that are available to Church members anywhere. And he reminded the Saints of their responsibilities to build up the Church, to grow in faith and understanding, to fortify their homes against evil through family prayer and scripture study, and to pay tithes and offerings.

Herefordshire, Hungerford, and Wales. On Saturday morning, Elders Russell M. Nelson, Derek A. Cuthbert, and Hans B. Ringger traveled to Herefordshire, England, to dedicate a one-acre site, Benbow’s Farm, where Wilford Woodruff baptized sixty-five people in 1840. The Church has purchased the site, including the pond.

Afterwards, they traveled to Cardiff, Wales, where a civic reception, attended by many local dignitaries, was held in the stake center. That evening, a Cymanfa Ganu (Evening of Song) was held.

On Sunday, the conference was held in St. David’s Hall, with nearly two thousand Saints present. Elder Nelson encouraged the Saints to look forward—beyond the forty stakes and one temple that are now in the British Isles. “These numbers will be multiplied again and again,” he said. “Missionary work will go forward as never before.”

He reminded the members of their responsibility to be missionaries to their friends, neighbors, and relatives, and encouraged them to share the gospel. He also counseled the members to write the story of their conversion for their children and grandchildren. “It will be an eternal treasure for your families,” he said.

That afternoon, the General Authorities held a session for the youth and a leadership session for husbands and wives.

The next morning, July 27, Elder Nelson dedicated a marker at Hungerford, the birthplace in 1862 of Elder James E. Talmage of the Council of the Twelve. Elder Talmage, the Church’s fiftieth Apostle, is the author of Jesus the Christ and The Articles of Faith.

Scotland. Elders David B. Haight, Jack H Goaslind, and Bernard P. Brockbank attended a reception in Beith, Scotland, on Saturday morning. They also met with local civic dignitaries. Then they went to Bishopton, on the banks of the River Clyde, where Elder Haight dedicated a bench and plaque commemorating the site of the first baptisms in Scotland in 1840.

Sunday morning, before conference, some four hundred members of the Church met in Holyrood Park, at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, where Elder Haight dedicated a plaque honoring Orson Pratt who, in 1840, climbed that rocky eminence near Edinburgh to plead with the Lord for two hundred converts. Within a short time the Lord had blessed the area with more than that number of members. To this day, Church members refer to the hill as Pratt’s Hill.

Then 2,700 Scottish Saints gathered in Edinburgh’s historic Usher Hall for their conference session. The members had gathered from as far away as Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, and had traveled by road and sea to be at the conference.

Elder Haight called upon the members to dedicate the next three regular fast days—in August, September, and October—to pray for the missionary work in Scotland. He also asked that greater attention be given to the introduction of friends to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and promised that an increase in conversion and testimony would follow.

Ireland. Elders Marvin J. Ashton and M. Russell Ballard traveled to Loughbrickland, Ireland, where Elder Ashton offered a dedicatory prayer recognizing the achievements of the Church in Ireland—past, present, and future. Plans were announced for the erection of a monument on this site to commemorate the first baptisms in Ireland in 1840.

Elders Ashton and Ballard held two conference sessions in Ireland on Sunday: 750 attended the morning session at the Belfast stake center, and 600 attended the afternoon session in the Finglas chapel in Dublin.

Although the afternoon conference was scheduled to start at 3:30 P.M., some members arrived up to four hours early to ensure seats near the podium. Members from all parts of the Republic of Ireland were there. Some had left their homes six to seven hours earlier to catch buses from their hometowns of Cork and Limerick in southern Ireland.

Elder Ashton began his address by saying: “In Utah today, the members will be talking about 140 years of the gospel in the state of Utah. You’re ahead, with 150 years!” He stressed that “the most important date in the history of the Church in Ireland is today—26 July 1987. Why? Because we have the opportunity to change our lives for the better.” He encouraged members to be pure in heart and to be grateful for blessings. “The greatest blessing is to have a hope in Christ,” he said. He also urged members to be in tune with the Spirit, to look for the good in people, and to share the gospel with love.

Elder Ballard reviewed the great contributions Irish Saints have made to the Church over the years. But, he said, “we must not simply enjoy these anniversary celebrations; today we must accept the challenge to spread the gospel among our friends and loved ones.” He encouraged the Saints to become “more aggressive, more active, in sharing the gospel. There is an urgency about this work. The Church needs to grow faster in Ireland. It can happen.” And he repeated his call to members to set a date to have someone prepared to be taught by the missionaries.

That evening, Elder Ballard returned to Belfast, where he held a youth fireside. Elder Ashton remained in Dublin and, along with mission and district leaders, met with the deputy lord mayor of Dublin, Councillor Alice Glenn. As she met with the Church leaders, she remarked, “Surely the visit of two Apostles to Ireland can only be of benefit and blessing to this troubled island.”

When Heber C. Kimball and his companions arrived in Preston, England, in 1837, they saw an election banner draped across the street bearing the words “Truth Will Prevail.” Taking encouragement from those words, they adopted them as the motto of their mission.

Throughout the weekend of 24–26 July 1987, that motto again became a theme for the Latter-day Saints, with the declaration by President Gordon B. Hinckley that “truth has prevailed!”

Correspondents in Great Britain: Bryan J. Grant, John Ashmead, Peter J. Trebilcock, Kathleen A. Penny, Alan Brown, Margaret Cumming, Rory McCune, and Kevin Fingleton.

[photos] More than ten thousand LDS Saints packed London’s Wembley Arena to hear President Ezra Taft Benson (shown in inset with his wife, Sister Flora Benson) during one of six conferences held simultaneously throughout the British Isles on Sunday, July 26. (Photo by Tim Bolton.)

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency dedicated a plaque on the River Ribble, site of the first British baptisms. (Photo by Neil G. Sumner.)

[photo] President Ezra Taft Benson (left) talks with former British prime minister Rt. Hon. Edward Heath at Savoy banquet. (Photo by Tim Bolton.)

[photo] Twelve thousand gathered at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre to attend the largest of the Sunday conferences held in the British Isles during the anniversary celebration. (Photo by Geoff Baxter.)

[photos] Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve (top; photo by Kevin Fingleton) speaks in Ireland, and Elder David B. Haight, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, speaks in Scotland. (Photo by Scott Gibson.)

[photo] London LDS Choir sings in Wembley Arena. (Photo by Tim Bolton.)

[photo] Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve (right) with Mr. Clive Williams, mayor of Penarth. (Photo by R. H. Wilson.)

[photo] Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Sister Maxine Hanks (center), with Elder Carlos E. Asay of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Sister Colleen Asay (left), regional representative Arch J. Turvey, and Sister Olive Turvey. (Photo by Tim Bolton.)

[photo] Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke in Ireland on Sunday, July 26. (Photo by Kevin Fingleton.)

[photo] Some 2,700 Scottish Saints congregated in Edinburgh’s historic Usher Hall for a Sunday conference session. (Photo by Scott Gibson.)

Sixty Have Served as General Authorities in the British Isles

Of the thirteen General Authorities who were in the British Isles during the July conferences and historical site dedications, eight, including President Ezra Taft Benson, had served there in various capacities as General Authorities.

Church historical records show that, to date, a total of sixty Church leaders have served in the British Isles as General Authorities. Their names follow in chronological order:

1837–50

Heber C. Kimball

British Mission

President

1837–38

Orson Hyde

British Mission

Missionary

1837–38

Willard Richards

British Mission

Missionary

1837–41

Brigham Young

British Mission

President

1840–41

Wilford Woodruff

British Mission

Missionary

1840–41

John Taylor

British Mission

Missionary

1840–41

Heber C. Kimball

British Mission

Missionary

1840–41

Parley P. Pratt

British Mission

Missionary

1840–41

Orson Pratt

British Mission

Missionary

1840–41

George A. Smith

British Mission

Missionary

1840–41

Lorenzo Snow

British Mission

Missionary

1840–43

Parley P. Pratt

British Mission

President

1841–42

Orson Hyde

British Mission

Missionary

1841–42

Wilford Woodruff

British Mission

President

1845–46

Orson Hyde

British Mission

President

1846–47

John Taylor

British Mission

Missionary

1846–47

Parley P. Pratt

British Mission

Missionary

1846–47

Orson Pratt

British Mission

President

1848–51

1850–70

Franklin D. Richards

British Mission

Missionary

1850–51

Erastus Snow

British Mission

Missionary

1850–52

Lorenzo Snow

British Mission

Missionary

1850–52

John Taylor

British Mission

Missionary

1850–52

Franklin D. Richards

British Mission

President

1851–52

Orson Pratt

British Mission

Missionary

1853

Franklin D. Richards

British Mission

President

1854–56

Orson Pratt

British Mission

President

1856–57

Ezra T. Benson

British Mission

Missionary

1856–57

Amasa M. Lyman

British Mission

President

1860–62

Charles C. Rich

British Mission

President

1860–62

Amasa M. Lyman

British Mission

Missionary

1860

George Q. Cannon

British Mission

Missionary

1860–62

George Q. Cannon

British Mission

President

1862–64

John Smith

British Mission

Missionary

1862–64

Daniel H. Wells

British Mission

President

1864–65

Orson Pratt

British Mission

Missionary

1864–67

Brigham Young, Jr.

British Mission

President

1865–67

Franklin D. Richards

British Mission

Missionary

1866–67

Brigham Young, Jr.

British Mission

Missionary

1867

Franklin D. Richards

British Mission

President

1867–68

1870–90

Horace S. Eldredge

British Mission

Missionary

1870–71

Albert Carrington

British Mission

President

1871–73

George A. Smith

British Mission

Missionary

1872–73

Lorenzo Snow

British Mission

Missionary

1872–73

Erastus Snow

British Mission

Missionary

1873

John W. Young

British Mission

Missionary

1873

Joseph F. Smith

British Mission

President

1874–75

Albert Carrington

British Mission

President

1875–77

Joseph F. Smith

British Mission

President

1877–78

Orson Pratt

British Mission

Missionary

1877

Orson Pratt

British Mission

Missionary

1878

Albert Carrington

British Mission

President

1880–82

John Henry Smith

British Mission

Missionary

1882–85

Daniel H. Wells

British Mission

Missionary

1884–87

Christian D. Fjelsted

British Mission

Missionary

1886–90

George Teasdale

British Mission

Missionary

1886–87

George Teasdale

British Mission

President

1887–90

John Morgan

British Mission

Missionary

1889

1890–1920

John W. Young

British Mission

Missionary

1890

Brigham Young, Jr.

British Mission

President

1890–93

Anthon H. Lund

British Mission

President

1893–96

Rulon S. Wells

British Mission

President

1896–98

Francis M. Lyman

British Mission

President

1901–04

Heber J. Grant

British Mission

President

1904–06

Charles W. Penrose

British Mission

President

1906–10

Rudger Clawson

British Mission

President

1910–13

Hyrum M. Smith

British Mission

President

1913–16

George F. Richards

British Mission

President

1916–19

George Albert Smith

British Mission

President

1919–21

1920–87

Orson F. Whitney

British Mission

President

1921–22

David O. McKay

British Mission

President

1922–24

James E. Talmage

British Mission

President

1924–27

John A. Widtsoe

British Mission

President

1927–28

Joseph F. Merrill

European Mission

President

1933–36

Richard R. Lyman

European Mission

President

1936–38

Hugh B. Brown

British Mission

President

1937–40

Hugh B. Brown

British Mission

President

1944–46

Ezra Taft Benson

European Mission

President

1946

Alma Sonne

European Mission

President

1946–50

Marion D. Hanks

British Mission

President

1962–64

Bernard P. Brockbank

North British Mission

President

1960–62

N. Eldon Tanner

West European Mission

President

1961–63

Bernard P. Brockbank

Scottish-Irish Mission

President

1962–63

Mark E. Petersen

West European Mission

President

1963–65

Robert L. Simpson

England London Mission

President

1975

Robert D. Hales

England London Mission

President

1978–79

Joseph B. Wirthlin

Europe Area

President

1984–86

John Sonnenberg

Europe Area

Counselor

1984–85

Derek A. Cuthbert

Europe Area

Counselor

1984–85

Russell C. Taylor

Europe Area

Counselor

1984–87

Hans B. Ringger

Europe Area

Counselor

1985–

Carlos E. Asay

Europe Area

President

1986–

Jack H. Goaslind, Jr.

British Isles/Africa Area

President

1987–

Spencer H. Osborn

British Isles/Africa Area

Counselor

1987–

Alexander B. Morrison

British Isles/Africa Area

Counselor

1987–

President Benson Visits Cardston during Canada Centenary

President Ezra Taft Benson and his wife, Flora, visited Cardston, Alberta, Saturday, August 1, for the Heritage Days celebration, as the community celebrated its centennial. President Benson was grand marshall of the Heritage Days parade, in which he and Sister Benson rode in a horse-drawn coach.

On Sunday, President Benson spoke to a congregation of approximately seven thousand people at an early morning outdoor interfaith service held on the south lawn of the Alberta Temple in Cardston. The Alberta Temple was the first LDS temple to be built outside the United States.

Other Church officials participating in the parade and local activities were Elder Ted E. Brewerton and Elder Victor L. Brown, both of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Sister Barbara Winder, Relief Society General President; Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women General President; Sister Elaine Jack, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency; and Brother Robert H. Walker, regional representative.

“Your celebrations are especially deserving,” said President Benson at the Sunday interfaith service. “Your community may not be counted among the major cities of the world … but it has had influence far beyond what would normally be expected for a community of this size.”

Referring to Canadian pioneering Church leader Charles Ora Card and his accompanying band of just over forty settlers a hundred years ago, President Benson said, “Today we honor those who started the first century of growth. They were a conservative, religiously oriented stock; God-fearing men and women with a strong commitment to the Church.”

He also paid honor to the local residents who he said should prepare to take Cardston into the next century. “You have a rich heritage,” he said, “a heritage you can continue to pass on to your children and their children.”

Correspondent: Geri Walton, Aetna Ward, Cardston Alberta Stake.

[photo] President Ezra Taft Benson waves to crowds as grand marshall of the Heritage Days parade in Cardston, Alberta. (Photo by Geri Walton.)

President Benson Celebrates 88th Birthday

President Ezra Taft Benson, accompanied by his wife, Flora, celebrated his eighty-eighth birthday August 4 in a reception held in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City.

The reception was attended by many General Authorities, including President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency, as well as members of the Quorum of the Twelve, the First Quorum of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric, and their wives.

Birthday greeting cards and letters from throughout the world were displayed, and several musical numbers were performed. At one point, President Benson stood and sang with a barbershop quartet.

Among the gifts were handmade booklets from Primary children, many of them depicting President Benson riding a horse, on a mission, and reading the Book of Mormon.

A family dinner concluded the day’s celebration.

Ezra Taft Benson was born 4 August 1899 in Whitney, Idaho, to George T. Benson, Jr., and Sarah Dunkley Benson. He was the eldest of eleven children. President Benson married Flora Smith Amussen 10 September 1926 in the Salt Lake Temple. They have two sons and four daughters.

Family History Department Is New Name for Genealogical Department

The First Presidency has announced that the Genealogical Department of the Church will be known in the future as the Family History Department and that the Genealogical Library will become the Family History Library.

The change of names, as well as other changes, are a result of decisions of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to simplify ancestral research and to encourage members to perform vital temple ordinances in their own behalf and for their deceased forebears.

“The word genealogy often suggests a need for professional training,” said Elder Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and Chairman of the Temple and Family History Executive Council, “and the change to ‘family history’ will make the work less technical and more appealing to the members of the Church.

“A genealogy is, in fact, a family history,” he said, “and such sacred family history is fundamental to the temple ordinances and covenants that bless individuals and seal them into eternal families.”

At stake conferences to be conducted during the first half of 1988, materials to be introduced throughout the Church will make it possible for members to identify their ancestors without the need to be trained genealogists, Elder Packer said. “Just as members receive help from called workers in the temple, they will likewise receive help from called workers as they seek to identify their ancestors,” he added.

The existing manual, From You to Your Ancestors, will be replaced by a simpler, more doctrinally oriented booklet entitled Come unto Christ through Temple Ordinances and Covenants. This booklet is being introduced to the Church at stake conferences during the latter part of this year. Its purpose, the First Presidency said, is to “encourage individuals to receive the ordinances and enter into the covenants of the temple for themselves, their families, and their deceased ancestors.”

The booklet also contains instructions needed by priesthood leaders to implement the simplified materials for identifying ancestors for temple ordinances.

There will be no change in the name of the Genealogical Society of Utah, a legal entity that facilitates interaction with governments and private organizations for the acquisition of records.

Church Releases Statement on Mark Hofmann Interviews

The following statement was issued 31 July 1987 by the First Presidency and read by Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Church Public Communications Department:

“On behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we express again our heartfelt sympathy to the families and associates of those who have been affected by the bombings and related events of the past months. We deeply regret the terrible personal tragedies visited upon so many.

“We are grateful that through the exhaustive professional efforts of law enforcement and judicial personnel the terrible crimes which have concerned this community have been solved. Mark W. Hofmann has confessed to murdering two innocent people in an effort to prevent discovery of his systematic forging and counterfeiting of historic documents. Hofmann has confessed guilt to every charge brought against him for forgery or counterfeiting of documents relating to the Church and acknowledges that other documents for which he was the source are also counterfeit.

“From the day of its organization, April 6, 1830, the Church has pursued a divine mandate to record, acquire, and preserve documents and artifacts considered to be of importance to its history and the times and environment in which it developed.

“Like other document collectors throughout the nation, the Church has followed time-honored professional practices and relied on competent authorities in document acquisition and with others has been a victim of the deceit and duplicity which Hofmann has acknowledged.

“We are often asked, ‘Have these document scandals “rocked the foundations” of the Church?’ as some writers have trumpeted. Of course they have not. Now that we know the truth about these documents, the events of the last two years have in no way undermined the traditional history of the Church.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in good health, robust, and growing ever stronger in its mission. From a modest beginning 157 years ago, the Church has grown in a remarkable fashion as men and women in many lands have embraced the doctrine of Jesus Christ and entered the waters of baptism.

“Much of the commentary elicited by the fraudulent documents reflected the views of those who would have the world believe that there is no real substance to the miraculous events from which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emerged.

“Such commentary also has largely ignored the Church’s earlier caution that the authenticity of the documents was yet to be confirmed. We now know from the Salt Lake County Attorney interviews released today that all of the documents of major public interest linked to Mark Hofmann were products of his fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting.

“The Church, its early leaders, its doctrine, and its members have been unjustly demeaned by Hofmann’s actions and by much of the extensive commentary about the meaning and impact of documents now acknowledged as counterfeits.

“These recent tragic experiences strongly reaffirm that any accurate, objective history or commentary on the Church requires an understanding of the spiritual powers attending this divine work.

“As one of the aggrieved parties in this tragic episode of murder and forgery, representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as were others, were briefed Thursday, July 30, by Salt Lake County Attorney David E. Yocom and Deputy Salt Lake County Attorneys Robert L. Stott and David C. Biggs on their interviews of Mark W. Hofmann. Obviously much more time will be needed to make a detailed study of the lengthy transcription of the interviews.

“Further response from the Church on these matters will be given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve, next Thursday, August 6, at a Brigham Young University symposium on ‘Church History and Recent Forgeries.’ Elder Oaks will join scholars, legal authorities, and historians, including members and non-members of the Church, in an examination of these tragic events and their impact on scholarship, history, the public, the news media, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

(See Speaking Today: “Recent Events Involving Church History and Forged Documents,” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, page 63 this issue.)

Fraudulent Documents from Forger Mark Hofmann Noted

As a result of the confession of convicted murderer and forger Mark William Hofmann, numerous historical documents are now known to be forgeries.

The announcements and texts of some of these documents were published in Church periodicals, and the documents have been used in good faith since 1980 in manuals and discussions by leaders, teachers, and members of the Church. The following documents and their fraudulent contents should not be used, even though they may have appeared in previous Church publications:

  1. 1.

    The Charles Anthon transcript, purportedly reformed Egyptian characters copied by Joseph Smith from the Book of Mormon gold plates in 1828. (See Ensign, Jun. 1980, July 1980, Dec. 1983.)

  2. 2.

    The Joseph Smith III blessing, falsely represented as a father’s blessing given by the Prophet Joseph Smith on 17 January 1844 to his son, Joseph Smith III, to the effect that this son was his appointed successor. (See Ensign, May 1981.)

  3. 3.

    The Lucy Mack Smith letter of 23 January 1829, falsely said to have been written by Joseph Smith’s mother. It presents details that purportedly came from the 116 lost manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon, including the idea that Ishmael, whose daughters married the sons of Lehi and Sariah, was the brother of Sariah. (See Ensign, Oct. 1982, Dec. 1983.)

  4. 4.

    The Martin Harris letter of 13 January 1873 to Walter Conrad, purportedly in the handwriting of Martin Harris’s son, Martin Harris, Jr., and signed by Martin Harris, who would have been eighty-nine years old at the time. This fraudulent text reaffirms the testimony of Martin Harris as one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. (See Ensign, Nov. 1982, Dec. 1983.)

  5. 5.

    The David Whitmer letter of 2 April 1873 to Walter Conrad, ostensibly written by another of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, fraudulently reaffirming David Whitmer’s testimony. (See Ensign, Dec. 1983.)

  6. 6.

    Two pages of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, covering Helaman 14:20 to 15:12, as well as parts of Mosiah 2:6–7 and 2:17–18, ostensibly written by Oliver Cowdery as Joseph Smith dictated the translation. (See Ensign, Oct. 1983, Dec. 1983.)

  7. 7.

    The E. B. Grandin contract of 17 August 1829, falsely purported to be a financial agreement between printer Egbert B. Grandin and Joseph Smith for the first printing of the Book of Mormon. (See Ensign, Dec. 1983.)

  8. 8.

    A “Joseph Smith, Jr.” signature in a first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon. While the signature is a Mark Hofmann forgery, a Joseph Smith letter on virtue mentioned in the same news article was from another source and is considered authentic. (See Ensign, Sept. 1985.)

  9. 9.

    The Martin Harris letter (popularly known as the white salamander letter), purportedly written in 1830 by Martin Harris to William W. Phelps. This letter contains a spurious account of problems encountered by Joseph Smith in obtaining the gold plates.

  10. 10.

    The Josiah Stowell letter, purportedly written by Joseph Smith in 1825. It contains information indicating Joseph Smith was involved in folk magic. Before being labeled a forgery, this letter was believed to contain the earliest surviving handwriting of the Prophet.

Mark Hofmann also claimed to be in the process of purchasing a collection of writings by William E. McLellin, one of the original members of the Council of the Twelve, who later apostatized and lost his membership in the Church, but who never recanted his testimony of the Book of Mormon. (See Ensign, Feb. 1986.) Although documents written by William E. McLellin may exist, Hofmann has confessed that his own professed “collection” does not.

Hofmann was also the source of a widely circulated rumor concerning an early history by Oliver Cowdery purportedly owned by the Church. This nonexistent history falsely credits Joseph Smith’s brother Alvin with a role in obtaining the gold plates. (See the Church’s disclaimer in the Ensign, Dec. 1986; see also Ensign, Aug. 1987.)

Seven Thousand Attend Singles Conference

Elder Dean L. Larsen, of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, addressed approximately seven thousand single members attending the Utah Valley Single Adult Conference in Provo, Utah, July 30 through August 2.

Elder Robert L. Simpson, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was the featured speaker at a fireside concluding the four-day conference. John M. Madsen, regional representative, also spoke to those in attendance.

“Everyone, regardless of circumstances, will eventually have the opportunity to be a part of a husband-wife-and-children family,” Elder Larsen said. “Some will have a longer time to prepare than others.

“The Lord expects us to do the very best with the preparation time we have, not just wait and endure,” he added, then cited prayer, scripture study, and service as essential parts of preparation.

“One of the most essential things for us to nurture is a disposition to be aware of the needs of others, and then to respond to those needs,” Elder Larsen said.

Elder Simpson told the audience that change is with us constantly and that “we need to be ready for the changes, recognize them, and make those changes that will keep us close to the gospel.”

He focused his remarks on the Savior’s example. “Each of us needs to be an extension of the Savior and help people in an appropriate way,” Elder Simpson counseled. “Some are held captive by bad habits, debt, and immorality. Some are blind because they have lost their vision of truth. We set at liberty the bruised when we teach them to repent, and let them know that we forgive them,” he said.

Elder Simpson encouraged single members to “do a little better” in becoming self-reliant and developing greater faith, obedience, and loyalty to the Lord. “We can improve because we are foreordained,” he concluded. “Heavenly Father wants each who hears the truth to become eligible to receive all that he has, and that can only be imposed upon those with broad shoulders, bright minds, and spiritual sensitivity.”

Correspondent: DeLynn Decker is a member of the Pleasant View Fifth Ward, Sharon East stake, Provo, Utah.

Program for Young Women to Be Telecast October 18

A program featuring a new emphasis for Young Women will be presented in a satellite broadcast Sunday, October 18, at 6:00 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). It will be rebroadcast to Church satellite centers at 8:00 P.M. (MDT).

Stake priesthood and Young Women leaders will announce the time and place where the telecast may be viewed locally.

A member of the First Presidency will speak during the telecast, and the Young Women General Presidency will make a special presentation.

All Latter-day Saint young women between the ages of twelve and eighteen, their parents, and all leaders working with Young Women are invited to meet and view the telecast. This includes stake presidencies, priesthood leaders responsible for Young Women, bishoprics, and stake and ward Young Women leaders.

The program will be telecast in English, Spanish, and French.

Appointments

Temple Presidents

Robert E. Jones, of Bellevue, Washington, has been called to preside over the Seattle Temple. His wife, Audrey, will serve as temple matron. A retired timber and lumber businessman, President Jones has served as a counselor in the temple presidency and as a stake president.

Egeo Angel Gabasa, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, will preside over the Buenos Aires Temple. His wife, Claribel, is the new temple matron. President Gabasa is retired. He has served as a recorder at the Los Angeles Temple, as a bishop, and as a patriarch.

C. Lionell Bibb, of Johannesburg, South Africa, will preside over the South Africa Temple. His wife, Sheila, will be temple matron. A retired communications engineer, President Bibb has served the Church as a branch president and as a counselor to mission presidents and stake presidents.

Robert L. McCook, of Tempe, Arizona, has been called to preside over the Dallas Temple. His wife, Hazel, will serve as temple matron. A retired engineer and corporate executive, President McCook has previously served as a bishop, a stake high councilor, and a visitors’ center missionary.

Regional Representatives

Campinas Brazil Region, Orlando Alberto Caverni, financial manager, former counselor in a stake presidency.

Seattle Washington Region, R. Kirk Wilson, president of retail foods company, former stake president.

Adelaide and Melbourne Australia regions, Ronald William Grear Innis, area manager, Church Materials Management, former stake president.

LDS Scene

Approximately 4,000 members and 38,000 nonmembers attended the sixth annual “Mormon Night at the Braves” in Atlanta, Georgia, July 3. The baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals was broadcast nationally to a potential audience of 42 million homes. Elder Robert E. Wells of the First Quorum of the Seventy attended with his wife, Helen, and threw out the first ball. Their daughter, Sharlene, 1985 Miss America, sang the national anthem. Braves star Dale Murphy was also honored.