News of the Church

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Orlando Florida Temple Dedicated

Bright pink dawn broke through the quiet darkness of Sunday, October 9, showering streams of sunlight on the new, gleaming white Orlando Florida Temple and revealing more than a thousand Saints eager to witness the cornerstone ceremony.

Church members stood on tiptoe to catch a glimpse of the cornerstone being carried to the site. President Howard W. Hunter, accompanied by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, followed close behind. This visit to Orlando was the first time in six years that all three members of the First Presidency had attended and officiated together at a temple dedicatory service.

Other General Authorities at the cornerstone ceremony and temple dedication included President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elders James E. Faust, Joseph B. Wirthlin, and Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve; and Elders W. Don Ladd, W. Eugene Hansen, Alexander B. Morrison, and Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy. The temple presidency—Jack F. Joyner, president; W. Ted Brannon, first counselor; and Marvin Knowles, second counselor—also participated.

President Monson conducted the cornerstone ceremony, in which the First Presidency and their wives set the first pieces of mortar in place around the stone. Other selected members were then invited to try their hands at the mortar trowel. During the event, President Monson reminded the youth to “always remember this day as a day you can tell your posterity about.”

Inside the stainless steel cornerstone box were various Church publications. Local members donated area artifacts. Two histories of the Church in Florida were tucked inside, as was a Spanish hymnbook signed by Spanish-speaking members of the temple district.

Following the cornerstone ceremony, the first of twelve dedicatory sessions was held. The sessions were spread over three days, and more than twenty thousand Saints attended. The services were translated into six different languages, including sign language for those with hearing disabilities. Speakers during the dedicatory sessions included the First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve and of the Seventy, the temple presidency, and local leaders. President Hunter offered the dedicatory prayer during the first session.

Members from Florida and southern Georgia traveled to the dedication ceremonies. Dozens of buses brought Saints from the far corners of the temple district; many spent eleven hours or more traveling to attend the session to which they were assigned.

President Joyner, temple president, remarked how excited the Saints were to be a part of the temple dedication. He marveled at the outstanding job local members have performed during recent months, offering their services day and night to complete work on the temple and to prepare for the open house and dedication. President Joyner called the building and dedication of the temple “an incredibly emotional and spiritual experience.”

His remarks mirrored the sentiments of many members as they participated in dedicatory sessions and then left the temple during the three days of dedication—men, women, and children holding hands, clutching white handkerchiefs—teary-eyed, smiling, yet at peace. President Joyner believes that the Orlando Florida Temple marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the Church in the area and an increase of blessings for members of the Church as temple work goes forth.

[photo] The Church’s forty-sixth operating temple, the Orlando Florida Temple, was dedicated October 9–11; more than twenty thousand Church members attended twelve dedication sessions and the cornerstone ceremony, which was held prior to the first session. (Photography by Scott L. Roti.)

[photo] The First Presidency: President Howard W. Hunter (center) with President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor (left), and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor (right).

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

Of Good Report

A Christmas of Hope

There were two days before the ward Christmas party. One of the visiting teachers in our ward was out delivering Christmas cookies. In one home, she noticed a single present under the Christmas tree. The mother broke down crying as she discussed holiday plans with her visiting teacher.

“That present was made for me by my son, and it’s the only present we’ll have this year,” she sobbed. “My husband’s business isn’t going well. We have no money for gifts or treats. I don’t know what to do.”

Concerned, the visiting teacher gave what comfort she could, then left. As soon as she got home, she explained the family’s plight to the Relief Society president, who called the bishop.

Within a few hours, a plan had developed. On the night of the ward party, there was a Christmas tree decorated with yellow glittering paper stars. After explaining to all those gathered that there was a family in the area struggling financially, the bishop continued, “If you would like to help, take a star off the tree. Each star has a needed item or possible gift for one of the five children in the home. Purchase the item, wrap it, and reattach the star. Then bring the wrapped gift to my home within the next two days.”

As the dinner was being served, people reached for the stars. Several people took two and even three of the shining pieces of paper.

During the next two days, many beautifully wrapped gifts were taken to the bishop’s home. One man had selected only one star, but brought three packages. “I bought the designated item then purchased two more things I thought this little boy might like,” he said. “I had so much fun. It really made Christmas for me.”

The bishop invited the father of the family to come to his home on Christmas Eve. As the father stepped into the room containing the gifts, he was overwhelmed by the many multicolored packages. Sitting in one chair were four unwrapped handmade dolls for the three little girls. “I almost kept one of those dolls for my own family because they were so pretty,” the bishop remarked. “But slip that extra one under the tree for your wife so she can have it.”

That Christmas was one to remember. The children rejoiced at their gifts; the parents rejoiced at the love and unselfishness of their ward family. Although the family moved out of our ward a few months later, I have never forgotten that Christmas that we banded together as a ward and reached out to our brothers and sisters.Joy Marchant Gatherum, Salt Lake City

Ward Family

Our ward recently decided that we wanted to learn the names of all the Primary children in our ward. We wanted our young people to know that they had a ward family they could count on and that they were important to us.

We started by having the Primary teachers hang large name tags on the children before their classes were dismissed. That way, as we went into sacrament meeting, we could start associating names with faces. In addition, each week a family with young children stood in front of the congregation during the opening song and announcements. We began to identify the children with the families to which they belonged.

After three months of this, we held a ward activity. With the invitation to the activity, we sent a list of all the Primary children in our ward so that adults could review the names.

The night of the ward activity, we planned several games that would help adults remember the names of the children, including hanging the silhouette of each child on the wall so that adults could guess who was who. We all ate together, not divided up into families or neighbors. For the last activity of the night, we had each Primary class sing its class song on the stage. While the children were singing, the adults wrote down the names of every child in the class.

Happily, about ten people had learned all of the children’s names. Almost everyone had learned more than half. We feel that calling our children by their first names can illustrate our love and concern, letting our young people know that they have a ward family they can count on.Joanne Pratt, Bountiful, Utah

[photo] Children receive name tags. (Photo by Jed Clark.)

A Conversation with the Pacific Area Presidency

Missionary work in the Pacific Area began when the first missionaries, sent by the Prophet Joseph Smith, arrived at Tahiti and nearby islands in 1844. To find out how the Church is prospering 150 years later in Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and neighboring islands, the Ensign spoke with Elder Lowell D. Wood of the Seventy, president of the Pacific Area, and with his counselors, Elders V. Dallas Merrell and Durrel A. Woolsey, also of the Seventy.

Elder Lowell D. Wood Elder V. Dallas Merrell Elder Durrel A. Woolsey

The Pacific Area Presidency: Center: Elder Lowell D. Wood, president; left, Elder V. Dallas Merrell, first counselor; right, Elder Durrel A. Woolsey, second counselor.

Question: Can you tell us about how the Church is progressing in your area?

Answer: The Church has been well established in the Pacific for many generations, with many fourth- and fifth-generation members. We have approximately 281,000 members, with sixty-two stakes, twenty-five districts, and five temples. We divided the Australia Sydney Mission last year, and in 1992 we created the Papua New Guinea Mission. We now have thirteen missions in the Pacific Area.

We are very encouraged by the Church’s progress. Our members are faithful, church-going people, and we have many committed leaders, mission presidents, and missionaries. Growth is steady, and we have a significant increase of baptisms this year as compared to last year. In New Zealand, about 40 percent of our full-time missionaries are local. In Samoa and Tonga, 90 percent of full-time missionaries are local.

Q: How does having such a large pool of missionaries aid the work?

A: It is a great help. We are even exporting missionaries. A lot of our Samoan and Tongan missionaries have been serving in New Zealand and Australia, and we have missionaries from Australia and New Zealand serving in Japan, Spain, France, Africa, and America. We have a mission president from Australia, Walter J. Bailey III, who has just been assigned as president of the New York New York South Mission. That is very exciting for us.

In the past few years, many local missionaries have studied another language as they served in other areas of the world. The experience they gain and bring back makes a great difference in the strength of local membership. We are encouraged by our returned missionaries, and we are still excited about our celebration earlier this year of the 150th anniversary of the first missionary work in Tahiti, Tubuai, and the Tuamotu islands, work begun by Addison Pratt and other early missionaries.

Q: Can you tell us about the members in the Pacific Area?

A: It’s always a joy to talk about our Saints. In one of the stakes in American Samoa, average attendance at sacrament meeting is 92 percent. Ninety percent of members attend stake conference. We have seen as many as twenty-four hundred people at a stake conference there. We have many faithful members and leaders.

The Lord’s temples are a great blessing to the members. We are fortunate to have temples in Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia. Temples have been built on the islands because the members were so faithful in sacrificing everything they had to go to the temples in Hawaii and New Zealand.

Q: What are the kinds of challenges facing members in your area?

A: We would like more missionaries to pay more of their mission expenses, but in some of these places unemployment may be as high as 80 percent. It is very difficult in some cases to save money for a mission. However, we are encouraged by the economic progress and development we see happening on the islands.

In Australia and New Zealand, other problems arise. Big cities there are comparable to big cities anywhere, with all the evils of the modern world. Our members, especially our young people, are challenged to honor their covenants.

In the Pacific Area, as in other areas, we also face the challenges of retaining members after they are baptized and of reaching those less-active members who can contribute their leadership and strengths. But we are optimistic, and we feel good about what is happening.

Q: What do you see on the horizon in the Pacific Area?

A: We see steady Church growth. We are very pleased with the educational progress of members, and we expect increased educational and spiritual progress in the future. Over the past year, we have emphasized the young single adult program, centering it on a “chosen generation” theme. One focus is to show videos of General Authority firesides given at Brigham Young University. We are getting large numbers of young adults together for the firesides and also for social and cultural activities. We feel very encouraged with the increasing faithfulness of the young adults.

In Australia we expect strong family history work to continue. We have more family history libraries and more family history work done per capita in Australia than in most other areas of the Church. More than 80 percent of the work done in the Sydney Temple is done from family names generated in Australia. We are pleased with that.

As an area presidency, we have tried to focus on three things: increasing convert baptisms, reactivating less-active members, and increasing temple attendance and the number of temple recommend holders. We have worked toward these objectives for about four years, and our efforts are beginning to prove successful.

Q: How are Latter-day Saints in the Pacific Area sharing their faith and principles?

A: In late 1993, the area presidency initiated a plan throughout the Pacific Area to encourage Latter-day Saints to be good neighbors. Our primary interest is to invite Church members to reach beyond their comfortable circle of Church relationships and become positive influences in the wider community. Suggested areas of activity include conducting local community service projects during the weeks before ward and stake conferences, encouraging improved relationships with community leaders and the clergy of other faiths, and building stronger relationships with the media. There is much that Latter-day Saints can do to influence the ultimate direction of our communities and, in the process, bless the lives of members of other faiths and create a more favorable environment for the Church to accomplish its mission.

Q: Can you give us some examples of our people being good neighbors?

A: In Tonga earlier this year, the Church assisted in cleaning and beautifying local schools. The reaction from political leaders was one of surprise, then pleasure—surprise that a Church would do so much without any thought of reward, and pleasure at seeing the results. When the parliamentary speaker, a member of another faith, joined with us a short time later at stake conference, he was most effusive in his thanks and offered to personally support Church members’ efforts to search out their family histories.

It is surprising how quickly our members can influence the spirit of a community. This applies even in Australia, where the Church is relatively small and does not yet have a strong presence. John Grinceri, regional director of public affairs for the Church in Perth, the capital of the state of Western Australia, recently made a presentation on the Family First brochure and video to the head of the state government’s Office of the Family. This led to the development of a warm friendship. A few weeks later, the Church was invited, along with eight other community organizations, to help organize the state government’s Year of the Family conference under the direction of Brother Don Cummings, former Sydney Temple president. The conference’s principal guest speaker was Terrance Olson, chair of Brigham Young University’s Family Science Department. He also gave lectures in other parts of the country and, in meetings with state and federal politicians, presented a formal submission from the Church on the importance of families.

To bring a sharper focus to the “good neighbors” plan, we recently brought together Latter-day Saint community and business leaders in meetings in New Zealand and Australia to encourage these members to take an active role in improving the quality of life in the general community.

There are many examples of individual Church members being good neighbors. The recent Australian bush fires gave our members an opportunity to participate in areas of real community need. Many Church members went the extra mile in assisting firemen and fire victims. In giving clothing and blankets, making food for exhausted firefighters, or simply comforting stranded motorists, Latter-day Saints did their part during a major community emergency.

We feel blessed to witness Church members living their faith whether they’re in countries where the Church is one of the major religious groups such as in Samoa and Tonga, or where it is among the smallest, such as in Australia. Both environments provide unique challenges. Yet the Saints are moving forward no matter what obstacles are placed in front of them.

Q: What can Latter-day Saints worldwide learn from Pacific Area Saints?

A: The same things we can all learn from each other—that faithfulness, obedience, and sacrifice bring happiness. That is a universal truth, not just an area truth. In some island locations in our area, according to Western standards, there is great poverty. In those areas, some people live very simply. Some have thatched-roof homes. Some sleep and cook on the ground. Some have no furniture. Yet they are happy. Some people might believe or assume that these members are not happy because they do not have much. But they have the gospel, and they demonstrate that you do not have to have a lot of material possessions to be happy. I think that is a valuable lesson for a lot of us to recognize and remember.

Policies and Announcements

The following instructions have been sent to general and local priesthood leaders and stake and ward Primary presidents in English-speaking areas:

Effective 1 January 1995, eight- and nine-year-old children, as well as ten- and eleven-year-old children, will participate in Primary achievement days and Gospel in Action programs. A new booklet about achievement days will be available for every child and will include instructions for leaders. Scouting programs will continue to be the achievement days activity for boys in areas where the Scouting program is available.

The immoral influences of the world are especially destructive to young children. We feel an increasing need to spiritually strengthen children at an earlier age. We anticipate that children and families will be greatly strengthened and blessed as this change is implemented.

The following is from the Church Bulletin, 1994-1:

Church Movie: The Mountain of the Lord

The Mountain of the Lord (53300) is a motion picture dramatizing the building of the Salt Lake Temple. To help Church members and leaders make better use of this production, the following suggestions are offered:

  1. 1.

    Families may borrow the videocassette from the meetinghouse library for use in their family home evenings.

  2. 2.

    Families may purchase the videocassette for their own use or give it as a gift to family members and friends. The price is $5.00 at Church distribution centers.

  3. 3.

    Leaders may show it during seminary or institute classes and at youth discussions, firesides, and standards nights to help youth appreciate the importance of the temple.

  4. 4.

    Public Affairs directors may place copies of the videocassette in public and university libraries.

BYU, University of Jordan Establish Ties

In a move that formalizes educational exchanges that have been occurring over the past several years, officials from BYU in Provo, Utah, and the University of Jordan in Amman, Jordan, signed an agreement to establish ties of friendship and cooperation and to promote mutual understanding through possible academic, cultural, and personnel exchanges.

Two years ago, BYU officials traveled to Jordan to help with admissions for students interested in attending the Church university. Several students from Jordan have attended BYU recently, including the children of a top government official.

“The latest agreement doesn’t commit either institution to anything, so it will largely depend on what we both put into it,” observed BYU President Rex E. Lee. “However, the agreement does have the potential to further strengthen our relationship—and through us the relationship of the Church—with Jordan.”

Comment

My Own One-Hour History

Many thanks for publishing “One-Hour Life History” (June 1994). I have often meant to do my own personal life history but didn’t know how to properly get started. The task ahead of me seemed to take on monumental proportions and became an awesome responsibility.

During my children’s school summer holidays, I decided to achieve a personal goal each day. With that in mind and that article to guide me, I have succeeded in writing a “potted version” of my life in just a little more than one hour. The author said it would be fun, and it was! It was also so easy. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and have set aside other days to add to it.

My husband is so impressed with my enthusiasm that he is going to take an hour and do his history too.

Jan Whitefield Cambs, England

Studying English, Studying the Prophets

I began studying English in 1981 at school in East Germany when I was thirteen. I remember my teacher asking each of the students why studying English was so important. I could not give an answer then, but now I know the real answer: studying the scriptures and magazines in English brings an overwhelming joy into my life, my wife’s life, and the lives of our children.

We especially enjoyed studying the July and August issues. We could feel a close love for President Ezra Taft Benson, and an especially close love to President Howard W. Hunter. We know this church is the work of Jesus Christ, and we see the Lord’s hand in the selection of the next prophet.

Thank you for the two biographies of these men so we could know them better.

Henry Gottschald Jena, Germany

Consequences and Decisions

“Guidance for Unwed Parents” (Sept. 1994) was excellent. I would like to add my feelings as a father. When this happened to my daughter, I was serving as a counselor to a wonderful bishop who guided my daughter through the difficult decisions she was facing. To this day, I cannot adequately thank him, the counselor at LDS Social Services, or the Lord in helping her through it.

The day the child was born was the saddest day of my life, seeing the terrible anguish that my daughter was in. It should have been one of the happiest days of our lives! I could not kiss her and make it better or fix it for her. If only every young man and young woman would stop to think of the consequences of their actions. Sometimes these consequences last forever.

Name Withheld

Update

The family featured on the cover of the September Ensign is the Abraham and Rosa Martinez family of the Broadway Second (Spanish-speaking) Ward, Houston Texas Stake. Their children, Abraham, Michael, and Lemuel, are also pictured.