News of the Church


New Church Curriculum Materials Now Available

The Church produces curriculum materials for families and Church units all over the world. The curriculum, which consists of three phases, is simple, flexible, and designed to accommodate members in all economic, educational, and cultural circumstances. New curriculum materials and instructions on how they are to be used are available for the 1995 calendar year.

The Church publishes curriculum materials to help members learn and live the gospel; the scriptures and words of the living prophets are the foundation of the curriculum.

The home is the center for gospel learning and living. All members are encouraged to have the scriptures and the words of the living prophets in their homes. In addition, the following basic materials are available for supplemental use in individual and family study.

Gospel Fundamentals (for use in non-English-speaking areas where the Church has only recently been introduced)

Gospel Principles manual

—Church magazines

Family Guidebook

—Gospel Art Picture Kit

—Scripture readers

For the Strength of Youth

Hymns, 1985

Children’s Songbook

Family Home Evening Resource Book

Truth Restored

A Parent’s Guide

The curriculum for use in any particular Church unit is based on that unit’s needs and the availability of materials in each language.

Phase 1 curriculum is used where the Church has only recently been introduced. Materials used in phase 1 include Gospel Fundamentals, The Prophet Joseph Smith’s Testimony (a pamphlet), the scriptures, and messages of the First Presidency. These materials are made available as they are translated.

In this phase, children under twelve years of age meet together for gospel instruction. Youth and adult members meet together in gospel instruction classes. For priesthood and women’s meetings, the brethren and sisters separate to conduct priesthood business, discuss their duties, and plan activities, including service they can provide.

Phase 2 curriculum is used in areas where the Church is still new to the area or in areas where the Church has only recently begun translating materials into a new language. In areas using phase 2 curriculum, units are large enough to divide members into classes for gospel instruction. Phase 2 curriculum may also be used where the Church is well established if that better meets local needs.

In this phase, Primary children ages three through eleven are taught from the same manual. However, depending on the number of children and availability of teachers and space, the children can be appropriately divided into classes. Members twelve and older study the scriptures using the Gospel Principles or Gospel Doctrine manual. These members may also be divided into classes according to local needs and circumstances.

Priesthood quorums all receive instruction from the same manual; they may meet together or separately, depending upon numbers and classroom space. However, as the Aaronic Priesthood 1 manual becomes available in an area, the young men may also be taught from these lessons. Young Women and Relief Society classes also use the same manual and can meet together or separately. Young Women leaders may also use the Young Women 1 manual as it becomes available.

Phase 3 curriculum is for use in areas where the Church is well established. Children eighteen months through three years of age are taught from the Primary 1 manual. However, where numbers are sufficiently large, the three-year-olds should ideally meet in a separate class.

Children ages four through seven are all taught from either the Primary 2 or 3 manual on alternating years. Children eight through eleven are taught from the Primary 4, 5, 6, and 7 manuals, each based on the scriptures and coordinated with Gospel Doctrine study; but they will all be taught from the same manual each year. (Primary manuals are titled Primary 1: I Am a Child of God; Primary 2: Choose the Right A; Primary 3: Choose the Right B; Primary 4: Book of Mormon; Primary 5: D&C and Church History; Primary 6: Old Testament; and Primary 7: New Testament.) Deacons, teachers, and priests are taught from the same manual each year using the Aaronic Priesthood 1, 2, and 3 manuals on a three-year cycle. All Young Women classes are taught from the same manual each year using the Young Women 1, 2, and 3 manuals on a three-year cycle. Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society both have four study guides used on a four-year cycle.

During Sunday School, all youth ages twelve and thirteen are taught from either the Presidents of the Church manual or Preparing for Exaltation manual on alternating years. Youth ages fourteen and older and adults will attend either a Gospel Principles or Gospel Doctrine class using the Gospel Principles and Gospel Doctrine manuals respectively as resources to study the scriptures. The four Gospel Doctrine manuals, covering the standard works, will continue to rotate over a four-year cycle.

There is a set schedule for the use of certain manuals in specific calendar years.

A modified Church curriculum was implemented in all international areas of the Church and in non-English-speaking units in the United States and Canada in 1993. With this present announcement, however, all units throughout the Church will be following the same modified curriculum plan in 1995.

The new curriculum plan does not affect activity programs where instructions will continue to be given in handbooks, bulletins, and notices.

“We look forward to increased effectiveness and inspiration in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all members throughout the world,” said the First Presidency in an April 21 letter to leaders announcing the upcoming curriculum change.

The Church has released new curriculum materials designed for use in the home and in Church units throughout the world.

Saints Assist Flood Victims

The worst flooding in the history of south Georgia in the southeastern United States was eased somewhat by the outpouring of assistance from Latter-day Saints all over the world, including more than six thousand volunteers from neighboring states and stakes.

Even before floodwaters receded from their record levels, local Church leaders were coordinating relief efforts with those of other religious and community organizations. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited stricken Saints and delivered a message from the First Presidency on July 17. The message read: “We are deeply moved by the suffering of flood victims in Georgia. Church representatives are in frequent contact with local members and others involved in this crisis. We trust that the aid extended thus far is bringing comfort and relief to those in distress.

“Our Heavenly Father is mindful of His children. Through His help and the efforts of all concerned, this adversity will be surmounted and [will] become a source of strength. Our prayers continue in behalf of the people of Georgia, and we are grateful for the opportunity to extend assistance in this hour of need.”

Elder Ballard was accompanied by Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy, president of the North America Southeast Area. The two General Authorities attended several meetings and also visited some members whose homes had been damaged or destroyed by the floodwaters.

The flooding followed Tropical Storm Alberto, which began July 2. Within days, Flint River had risen to more than forty-three feet, leaving 14,500 square acres (23 square miles) in southwest Georgia under water, some 8,500 homes flooded, and more than 22,000 people homeless. Members rallied to help in any way they could.

“Our stake took a contingent of volunteers to help after Hurricane Andrew hit Florida [in August 1993],” said Ritchie M. Marbury III, president of the Columbus Georgia Stake. “We never dreamed the experience we had there would be so useful here at home in organizing and implementing relief efforts.”

Food, water, and emergency equipment were shipped from the Atlanta bishops’ storehouse in three truckloads. Clothing from Deseret Industries was also distributed, as well as additional emergency equipment from the Utah bishops’ central storehouse. LDS Social Services provided counseling to affected members as requested.

But perhaps even more important than the tangible assistance was the moral support and hard work offered by members as they rallied to offer whatever help they could. Nancy Cartnell, a member of the Albany Ward, was one of the first people flooded out of her home. Instead of dwelling on what had happened, Sister Cartnell, an employee at Albany’s city engineering department, spent hours manning telephone lines and mapping out stricken areas.

The Albany meetinghouse was an official Red Cross center, staffed full-time by volunteers from the ward and local full-time missionaries. They supplied food to Red Cross workers and volunteers.

Prior to the arrival of thousands of volunteers over the July 23–24 weekend, local ministers met with Latter-day Saint leaders to organize cleanup efforts. Needs were assessed and prioritized, and names of the volunteers, mostly priesthood brethren, were entered into a computer so assignments could be made.

In just two days, more than fifteen hundred houses were cleaned. In some instances, the houses were stripped from floor to ceiling, down to building studs. Damaged furniture was hauled away, and hundreds of repairs were made. Heat and humidity made the efforts difficult, and volunteers were instructed to be aware of snakes or alligators that might have crawled into buildings.

A week earlier, a group of five hundred Latter-day Saint volunteers had spent a weekend cleaning up while floodwaters still covered much of the area.

“There is basically no one here who doesn’t know of the LDS Church and what the Church is all about,” said Kurt Anderson, bishop of the Albany Ward. “It has been wonderful to see how well the different churches in the community have worked together to see that people from all religions have been taken care of.”

An aerial view of severe flooding in the Albany, Georgia, area. (Photo by Michael R. Otterson.)

Thousands of volunteers spent their nonworking hours in tent cities.

Leon and Ann Lightfoot stand by their mailbox and what is left of their home. (Photo by Michael R. Otterson.)

[Days of ’47 Parade]

President Howard W. Hunter waves to tens of thousands who gathered to watch Salt Lake City’s Days of ’47 Parade on Monday, July 25. The parade, one of the largest in the United States, is only one of many events held throughout the Church to commemorate the arrival of Latter-day Saint pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Latter-day Saints churchwide often celebrate pioneer days in various ways, including children’s parades, pioneer games and activities, and ward activities. (Photo by Don Grayson, courtesy of Deseret News.)

Number of Converts Baptized

In the last five years, 1,526,881 converts have been baptized. Convert baptisms range from 274,477 baptisms in 1992 to a high of 330,877 baptisms in 1990. These figures are separate from figures for children of record who were baptized. The latter baptisms have remained fairly stable—between 69,000 and 78,000 a year.

Photo by Jed Clark

Century of Sacrifice Reaps Rewards for Florida Saints

Latter-day Saints have worked for almost a century to build the Church and to share the gospel in Florida. Now, in fulfillment of a promise given to members in this area by President Spencer W. Kimball, a temple of the Lord will be dedicated in October in this tropical state.

Missionaries first arrived in Florida in 1843, but there is no record of their activities. Two years later, Phineas H. Young, brother of President Brigham Young, spent two months in north Florida, where he gave out several copies of the Book of Mormon to Indian chiefs. But it wasn’t until 1895, fifty years later, that the first large organized missionary effort began. At that time, Florida was part of the Southern States Mission.

Missionary work moved slowly in the new area. Missionaries spent winter months in Florida and then moved to the northern part of the mission—Tennessee and the Carolinas—during the summer. As people were baptized, missionaries helped establish Sunday School organizations before they moved on to new areas. The first Sunday School in the state appears to have been organized in Coe Mills in northern Florida in 1894.

There was a strong anti-LDS sentiment in the area at the time. However, in the midst of these trials, some good people welcomed the elders. Polly Douberley was one of these. She readily accepted the gospel and helped missionaries teach it to her deaf-mute husband. On 24 April 1897, the Douberleys became the first converts in Florida’s Columbia County.

During the 1896 holiday season, two other families were baptized. One of those families moved shortly afterwards to nearby Jacksonville, but the George P. Canova family remained in the area, sheltering the elders and assisting in bringing more families into the gospel.

A year later, on January 1, two members of the Quorum of the Twelve visited Florida for the first time. Francis M. Lyman and Mathias Cowley organized the area’s first branch and called Brother Canova as the first branch president. Six months after being called as branch president, President Canova was returning from a conference when he was shot and killed. Although five men were arrested, they were later released. No one was ever convicted of the crime.

But members were committed to living the gospel, and the Church continued to grow. In 1947, President George Canova’s grandson, Alvin Canova Chace, was called to be the president of the Florida Stake, the first stake organized in the southeastern United States. It was recognized at the time as the first stake in the east composed mostly of Church members native to an area.

Gradually the gospel moved south to Miami, once a frontier town of only two thousand residents. J. C. Neubeck moved from Palatka, Florida, and became the first known Latter-day Saint in the community. In November 1920, historians described the organization of the first Sunday School in the town.

“Eighteen people gathered under a cluster of seagrape trees on Miami Beach to organize a Sunday School with Brother Neubeck as president” (Ensign, June 1975, p. 40).

A decade later, members were meeting in a newly dedicated meetinghouse. Tremendous growth began as the Spanish-speaking members heard the gospel and were baptized. The first stake in Miami was organized in 1960; today there are four stakes in the Miami region.

Other Florida stakes have experienced similar growth as the Church moved through the twentieth century. In 1958, the Orlando Stake was created. A year later it was divided, and the Tampa stake was formed. During the next three decades, the Orlando Stake was split another three times. The Tampa area now has five stakes.

Church members in Florida have always felt a strong desire for temple blessings. An early member, Thomas Copeland of Jacksonville, sold everything he had so that he could take his wife and sixteen children to Salt Lake City to be sealed together. That kind of dedication to temple work continued through the decades. Former Orlando stake president Freeman Baggett recalls the day when President Spencer W. Kimball visited Florida Saints and promised them: “Do your temple work and the temple will come to Florida.” (From author’s interview with Freeman Baggett.)

Members took President Kimball at his word and became well known as they regularly attended the Washington, D.C., and Atlanta temples. Former stake president R. Lloyd Warren recalls that “once we took 160 people to the Washington D.C. Temple and set a record for the number of endowments done in three days.”

On 17 February 1990 their faithfulness was rewarded with the announcement of a temple to be built in Orlando. The temple would serve more than 100,000 members in twenty-two stakes in Florida, as well as in the Savannah Georgia Stake.

The Orlando Florida Temple now stands as a monument to all the Saints in Florida who have labored so long in the field. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Seventy, former president of the Tampa stake, says that this dedication will continue to grow.

“When we look back, years and years from now, on the history of the Church in Florida, we will see a spiritual power that began with the creation of the Orlando Florida Temple. We will see an even more righteous commitment to covenants and a heightened missionary spirit that accelerated with our having a temple in our midst. The temple will do more for the Saints in Florida than we can imagine, and the Church will prosper as never before.”

Orlando Temple

An artist’s rendering of the Orlando Temple, which is to be dedicated in October. Completion of the temple is a long-anticipated blessing to local Saints.

First LDS chapel in Jacksonville

Karen Lox Jorgensen is a member of the stake public affairs committee in the Orlando Florida Stake.

Institute Program Encourages Increased Participation

Today, one year after the Church Educational System announced the new Institute of Religion Enhancement Program, positive effects from the policy are already noticeable in many institutes in the United States and Canada.

The new institute of religion policy is that all nonstudent, young single adults between the ages of eighteen and thirty who live in the immediate area of an institute of religion are encouraged to enroll in classes and participate in the social and service activities of the institute. Previously, nonstudents were allowed to attend on a space-available basis.

For institutes, this change has meant bigger classes, more community involvement, and in general a more-active young adult program. For example, three years ago in the institute of religion at Toronto, Canada, there were only three students enrolled, says Farrell Monson, former CES coordinator for that area. After implementing the enhancement program, there are still only three student participants, but there are now forty-two nonstudents who attend. “It made us a functioning institute,” he says.

Brother Farrell explains that because higher education is extremely expensive in Canada, many young adults there do not attend universities.

“The enhancement program, which instructs us to actively invite nonstudents, is just what we needed,” he explains. “Before, we encouraged seminary attendance. Now we encourage both seminary and institute attendance, and many are benefiting from it.”

The institute at Toronto is not an isolated case. Of the 440 institutes located in the United States and Canada, a number have reported an increase in attendance since the new program began.

“There are definitely more nonstudents going to institute now because of the enhancement push,” says Clarence F. Schramm, executive assistant to the administrator of CES. However, he adds that there is still more room for involvement.

According to an institute directory published by the Church, there were an estimated 44,371 young adults enrolled in institute programs during the 1993–94 school year in the United States and Canada, excluding students at Brigham Young University in Provo and Hawaii and those at Ricks College in Idaho. This represents only 20 percent of the total number of Latter-day Saint young adults who live in areas with an institute of religion nearby and who are between the ages of eighteen and thirty.

“In most institutes, there are plenty of opportunities, space, and resources for at least two and half times more people to get involved,” explains Brother Schramm.

The change in the institute policy came following directives by the Board of Education, which includes the First Presidency, six members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Church commissioner of education, and the general presidents of the Relief Society and Young Women organizations.

“These leaders have long been concerned about young people,” says Brother Schramm. “They decided this was the time and this was the way to reach out to young adults.”

Bishop Roger Manning, director of the Tallahassee Florida Institute of Religion and bishop of a young adult ward, says the organization of an institute council makes a big difference. This council includes students, nonstudents, members of the Latter-day Saint Student Association, institute directors, local priesthood leaders, and leaders from the stake young adult program.

“The way things are organized, a lot more is covered than used to be,” Bishop Manning says. When he went to Tallahassee to direct the institute program in 1992, there were 47 students in institute. Now there are 132 people enrolled—many of whom are working young adults with college degrees.

But more important than the numbers enrolled in an institute program are the feelings of unity and acceptance the program’s change has brought to many young adults who are seeking friendship with those who share their same standards and values.

A new statement of purpose for the institutes of religion emphasizes that the institute program is to provide student and nonstudent young adults with opportunities for religious education, service activities, social interaction, leadership training, and spiritual growth. The program also encourages young people to serve full-time missions and marry in the temple.

“I can’t attribute everything to the institute program,” says Bishop Manning, “but I see some good things happening.”

He says last year in his ward there were twelve marriages. Ten of the marriages were in the temple, and of those ten couples, all were involved in the institute program.

Brother Schramm says last year was a year of organization for the priesthood and institute leaders. Once the program is fully operating in the United States and Canada, the same policy will be implemented in institutes all over the world.

The hardest part of implementing the institute enhancement program is making sure nonstudents and students alike know how important it is for them to enroll, says Brother Schramm. Sometimes, he says, institute is the best-kept secret in the Church.

The Orem Utah Institute of Religion is doing its best to make all the young adults in the area aware of the new things that are happening. Jan Felix, director of the institute, says that the institute has spread the news by sending out institute class schedules to all young adults who live in the area. Last May they also placed an institute flyer in every seminary graduation program in Utah Valley. This not only informed the graduating high school seniors, but it informed their parents and family members as well.

Whether they attend college or not, young adults in the United States and Canada are encouraged to get involved in the institute program. (Photo by Craig Dimond.)

Conversation with the Africa Area Presidency

Church growth has been rapid in Africa during the past decade as the restored gospel has spread to twenty-six African nations. To learn more about the Church in Africa, the Ensign talked with the Africa Area presidency.

Elder F. David Stanley Elder J. Richard Clarke Elder James O. Mason

The Africa Area Presidency: Center: Elder J. Richard Clarke, president; left, Elder F. David Stanley, first counselor; right, Elder James O. Mason, second counselor. All are members of the Seventy.

Question: How long have Latter-day Saints been in Africa?

Answer: In South Africa, there have been members of the Church for 140 years. We have strong fifth-generation members there well deserving of the Johannesburg Temple. There is nothing like a temple to stabilize the Church, bring strong retention, and create a sense of permanency.

Outside South Africa, the Church was introduced to some African nations as recently as two years ago and to others as long ago as fourteen years. Altogether, we have 80,000 members, 10 stakes, 50 districts, 12 missions, and 425 wards and branches.

Q: How rapidly is the Church growing?

A: The growth of the Church in Africa is significant. Missionary work is progressing very well. In 1993 we had more than 9,000 convert baptisms—enough to bring 40 new wards and branches into the Church. Of that number, 1,500 members came from South Africa. Generally, we do not have a concern about baptizing in Africa. Our concern is managing the growth of the Church.

Q: How do you seek to manage Church growth in Africa?

A: Key leadership is essential to managing growth. We are fortunate that when the Church began proselyting in West Africa, initial converts were men and women who had been well educated. Our leaders are in a position to act as a bridge between the colonial languages and the traditional tribal dialects, of which there are probably between one thousand and two thousand.

We are trying to focus growth in key cities, places that are accessible by transportation and that can be reached by phone or fax. Much of Africa is not accessible by phone or fax. We establish centers of strength—usually major capital cities where there are many members and some chapels—and then we grow around these hub areas. We are providing facilities necessary for nurturing these members, and we are emphasizing leadership training.

Q: In which African nations is the Church established?

A: Africa comprises nearly fifty nations. We have about forty-five of those in our area and have been authorized to do missionary work in twenty-six of those nations. Further, because we are focusing on the colonial languages, we are in only the English-speaking and French-speaking countries now.

English-speaking areas around Ghana and Nigeria are major hubs, as are French-speaking West Africa and the Ivory Coast. English-speaking hubs are developing in Kenya and Zimbabwe in East Africa and in French-speaking Zaire in central Africa. In South Africa most people speak English as well as Afrikaans.

Q: In what ways do you see the gospel blessing African members’ lives?

A: Many Africans have suffered much in terms of political problems, hunger, and deprivation. Many have little or nothing in terms of material wealth, so to them the gospel is everything. It gives them hope.

They find great joy in following the prophets and in reading the scriptures. They quote the scriptures all the time and have put great emphasis on the Book of Mormon. It’s heartening to feel their reverence for the modern prophets of the Lord. They quote them in every talk and in every serious discussion about the Church. Members often refer to “what the prophets have taught us.” They say, “We are doing this because the prophets have asked us to do it.” They identify very strongly with a living prophet. You can feel it in their prayers.

They are a faith-exuding people with a deep love for the Lord. We are moved by the depth of their spirituality, the simplicity of their faith, and the way they pray and sing. When music directors stand up to conduct hymns, they often do so without an organ or a piano. They simply sing the first few lines of a hymn, and then the whole congregation joins in. The level of singing is inspiring—from little children to everyone else in the congregation. They do not need to be prodded to sing praises to the Lord.

Sacrament meeting attendance is around 50 percent for the African area—and that is often under very difficult circumstances in getting to church. We attend conferences in some places where maybe a thousand people attend. Yet in the parking lot there will not be a half dozen cars; members walk to the meetings or come by public transportation. They will walk hours just to attend a conference meeting. That conveys an idea of their level of devotion.

The reverence in their sacrament meetings is outstanding. A respect for adults is taught in the home of the average African that carries over into reverent Church meetings.

Q: Can you discuss some of the challenges the Church faces in Africa?

A: There are many difficult economic and social conditions facing Church expansion—conditions related to poverty, tribal cultures, traditions of the fathers, and traditions of other churches. And we are very concerned about political turmoil. Political instability is sometimes a rule, not an exception, on the continent of Africa. That instability has an impact on the economy; unemployment is very high in many places. We are awaiting the impact of the new government in South Africa. We are optimistic that the new South Africa will offer wonderful new opportunities for the Church.

Yet the Church is moving forward despite the circumstances. We have seen tremendous changes in the lives of people who look to the Church as a stabilizing factor in their lives, a stability that many have not known previously.

Another of our challenges is helping some learn about self-reliance—helping them shift their perspective from an expectation of “What will you do for me?” to “What can we do to help others?” For some of our local leaders, learning to preside over units of the Church and to follow principles of welfare and self-reliance can be a pretty sharp learning curve. As they learn these principles and learn the joy of self-reliance and the joy of personal accomplishment, marvelous things happen in the hearts and minds of the people. They move from subserviency to a position of independence in their minds and in their hearts. The gospel expedites that process and gives members a foundation on which to accomplish it.

Q: How do you feel about the Church’s future in Africa?

A: In Africa, the family unit is still intact. There are still very strong family ties—strong relationships between parents and children, and obligations between generations. When people join the Church, they often join as a family. This bodes well for growth, given the Church’s emphasis on the family.

The Church is growing and its leaders are responsive and assuming their responsibilities. We have local regional representatives, and we now have four mission presidents from Africa. Nearly half our 960 full-time missionaries are from Africa. We have every reason to be optimistic.

Despite difficulties posed by poverty, travel, and language, we have 70 percent enrollment in seminary and 76 percent enrollment in institute. We see the young people, because of their faith and growing spiritual maturity, emerging as strong leaders in Africa.

Returned missionaries are going back into their villages and taking the spirit of missionary work with them. In areas where returned missionaries are being called as district missionaries, significant growth is taking place. Many of these young members are becoming very qualified, highly spiritual leaders.