First Presidency Calls Area Authorities
The First Presidency has announced the calling of 117 area authorities to serve beginning August 15 in the Church’s twenty-two geographical areas.
The leaders, who are high priests, will continue their employment, will reside in their own homes, and will serve for approximately six years. The number includes three previously announced area authorities who also have been called to serve in area presidencies.
The announcement of the creation of the area authority calling was made during April 1995 general conference when President Gordon B. Hinckley also announced that the Church’s 286 regional representatives would be honorably released.
The duties of the area authorities are individually assigned, the First Presidency said. They will serve under the area presidencies, and their responsibilities may include reorganizing or creating stakes; presiding at stake conferences; providing training for stake, mission, and district presidents; and providing supervision on other tasks assigned by the area presidency. Following are the number of area authorities called for each area:
Asia Area—two; Asia North Area—five; Philippines/Micronesia Area—three; Pacific Area—four; Africa Area—two; Mexico North Area—four; Mexico South Area—four; South America North Area—six; South America South Area—eight; Central America Area—three; Brazil Area—eight; Europe West Area—five; Europe North Area—three; Europe East Area—one; North America Northeast Area—seven; North America Southeast Area—seven; North America West Area—six; North America Central Area—six; North America Northwest Area—eight; North America Southwest Area—seven; Utah South Area—eight; Utah North Area—ten.
Inasmuch as area authorities serve in specific ecclesiastical and different language areas of the Church, the Church magazines that serve members in those specific areas will announce the names of the area authorities who serve their areas. See below for area authorities called to serve in areas served by the English-language Ensign.
Pacific Area: Lindsay Thomas Dil of Auckland, New Zealand; Pita Foliake Hopoate of Nuku‘alofa, Tonga; Phillip Bruce Mitchell of Cherrybrook, Australia; and Eugene E. F. Walter Reid of Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Africa Area: Christopher N. Chukwurah of Lagos, Nigeria, and Christoffel Golden Jr. of Krugersdorp, South Africa.
Europe North Area: John Maxwell of Clayworth Retford, England; Stein Pedersen of Skjetten, Norway; and Brian A. F. Watling of Colchester, England.
North America Northeast Area: David W. Farrell of Gaithersburg, Maryland; Lawrence Royal Fuller of Mississauga, Ontario; W. E. Barry Mayo of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Hyde M. Merrill of Glenville, New York; Keith Lloyd Smith of Hilliard, Ohio; D. Lee Tobler of Marshallville, Ohio; and Robert Stephen Wood of Middletown, Rhode Island.
North America Southeast Area: Dale L. Dransfield of Tallahassee, Florida; Alvie R. Evans Sr. of Charleston, South Carolina; James E. Griffin of Hot Springs, Arkansas; Lloyd W Jones of Tampa, Florida; Brent H. Koyle of Columbia, South Carolina; Dale E. Miller of Atherton, California; and R. Lloyd Smith of Knoxville, Tennessee.
North America West Area: Douglas L. Callister of La Canada, California; Lyndon Whitney Clayton III of Irvine, California; Quentin L. Cook of Hillsborough, California; Donald L. Hallstrom of Honolulu, Hawaii; Keith K. Hilbig of Palos Verdes Estates, California; and William W. Parmley of Alamo, California.
North America Central Area: Blair S. Bennett of Edmonton, Alberta; Robert Kent Bills of Englewood, Colorado; Bruce Bryan Bingham of Sleepy Hollow, Illinois; Kay H. Christensen of Overland Park, Kansas; Thomas Albert Holt of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Lynn Albert Rosenvall of Calgary, Alberta.
North America Northwest Area: Lowell C. Barber of Pasco, Washington; L. Edward Brown of Pocatello, Idaho; Gordon G. Conger of Bellevue, Washington; Max W. Craner of Rexburg, Idaho; Paul LaVarre Diehl of Seattle, Washington; C. Scott Grow of Meridian, Idaho; Karl E. Nelson of Filer, Idaho; and Steven Howard Pond of Castle Rock, Washington.
North America Southwest Area: David Allan Bednar of Fayetteville, Arkansas; Harvey L. Gardner of Page, Arizona; Daryl H. Garn of Mesa, Arizona; Larry Wayne Gibbons of Dallas, Texas; J. Michael Moeller of Tucson, Arizona; R. Gordon Porter of Mesa, Arizona; and Dennis E. Simmons of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Utah South Area: Carl W. Bacon of Provo, Utah; Donald J. Butler of Provo, Utah; Clayton S. Huber of Provo, Utah; Richard Karl Klein of Heber City, Utah; Mitchell V. Myers of Delta, Utah; Glen A. Overton of Provo, Utah; L. Douglas Smoot of Provo, Utah; and H. Bruce Stucki of St. George, Utah.
Utah North Area: O. Brent Black of Salt Lake City, Utah; Harold C. Brown of Salt Lake City, Utah; Sheldon F. Child of Salt Lake City, Utah; Jess L. Christensen of Logan, Utah; Donald B. Doty of Bountiful, Utah; Ronald T. Halverson of Ogden, Utah; Ronald John Hammond of Montpelier, Idaho; J. Kirk Moyes of Ogden, Utah; Wayne S. Peterson of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Craig T. Vincent of Salt Lake City, Utah.
President Hinckley Visits Wyoming Members
Members from three Latter-day Saint wards gathered in the shadow of the Grand Tetons in the western United States to hear President Gordon B. Hinckley during a combined sacrament meeting for the Jackson First, Second, and Third Wards on July 16.
More than 1,175 Church members met in Jackson, Wyoming, and listened to President Hinckley talk about the beauty of the area and the influence of early Latter-day Saints there. President Hinckley was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie.
“Mormon pioneers settled in Wilson and in Jackson,” President Hinckley observed. “Our people had a very prominent part in this magnificent area. What a pleasure to come here and feel of this great spirit.”
During the meeting, President Hinckley summarized Church growth in the area, noting that a ward was organized in Jackson in 1914. Although the ward became a branch in 1921, it was organized again into a ward in 1934. There are now three wards in the town.
President Hinckley observed that fifty years ago, 55 percent of Church membership lived in Utah and that today only 17 percent of Church members live in the “Beehive State.” Approximately 45 percent of Church members live outside the United States and Canada, he observed, compared to only 6 percent in 1955.
Referring to an earlier visit through the area, President Hinckley talked of seeing water cascading from mountain peaks and wondering, “‘How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints’” (D&C 121:33).
“How true that is,” he continued. “No force on earth can stop the Almighty from pouring down knowledge … if we will live in righteousness, obey the principles of the gospel, do what we ought to do as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and walk in obedience to the commandments of God. We will then receive enlightenment and knowledge and understanding and faith, and our lives will be enriched and be made more happy and more fruitful. There is no question in my mind concerning this, no question at all.”
BYU President Announces Resignation
After six years as president of Brigham Young University, Rex E. Lee announced his request to be released because, as he said, his health circumstances “no longer mesh with the inflexible and unpredictable demands of the office of BYU president.”
At a press conference, President Lee explained that his request had been granted by the university’s board of trustees.
Several years ago, President Lee was diagnosed with an indolent form of T-cell lymphoma, an incurable but controllable form of cancer. In recent years he has also suffered peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the nerves in his arms and legs, a progressive condition.
During recent weeks, President Lee was hospitalized. Upon his release, his health has slowly improved. However, “while my work and I have been able to accommodate the cancer and the neuropathy by themselves, their presence apparently compounds the general weakness and lack of energy I have been experiencing,” President Lee said. “When I asked my doctors what kinds of things to avoid, their answer sounds like my job description.
“For these reasons, and after careful and prayerful consideration and consultation with a few people whose views on these matters have been very helpful, I have reluctantly, though quite clearly, come to the conclusion that while my present level of energy and physical resources will sustain personal and professional activities that are useful and productive, my circumstances no longer mesh with the inflexible and unpredictable demands of the office of BYU president.”
President Lee expects to continue as BYU president until the end of the year. A native of St. John’s, Arizona, President Lee became the tenth president of BYU on 1 July 1989. Prior to that he was a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm and served as solicitor general of the United States. He was the founding dean of BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and served as assistant attorney general in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. He and his wife, Janet Griffin Lee, have seven children.
Tabernacle Choir Performs Requiem in Washington, D.C., and New York
In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir traveled in August to Washington, D.C., and New York City for four performances of An American Requiem, two in each city. All four performances of the requiem were considered commemorative community events of the U.S. Department of Defense.
The first two performances were held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Friday and Saturday, August 4 and 5. A recording of the Washington performances, attended by more than three thousand people, will be released later this year.
The New York performances were held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 8 and 9. The August 8 performance was carried live on the Faith and Values cable television channel; an estimated 1,650 people attended those performances.
Representatives and ambassadors from more than thirty countries attended the four performances. In addition, a reception was held in each city for diplomats and religious, community, and government leaders. “The intent was to build bridges of friendship and solidify relationships. The concerts and receptions were marvelously successful in this respect,” said T. LaMar Sleight, director of public affairs for the North American Northeast Area of the Church.
“Given the fact that August is when those dealing with the business of Washington leave the city, we were especially heartened by the response of the diplomatic community, which was outstanding,” said Beverly Campbell, director of international affairs for the Church. “It seems that the diplomatic community has come to realize that when attending a Church-sponsored event in Washington, they are warmly received and uplifted by the experience.”
In addition to the government guests, representatives from local and national media attended the concerts. While in New York, a small group of choir members appeared on CBS This Morning and NBC’s Today. In both instances, they performed a song and choir conductors Jerold D. Ottley and Donald H. Ripplinger were interviewed. Local radio and network television stations also covered the choir’s visit to the East Coast, mentioning the concerts and the choir’s outstanding reputation.
Music and the Spoken Word was broadcast from the Kennedy Center on Sunday, August 6. After that broadcast, the choir presented a mini-concert to the packed house, receiving a standing ovation for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Brother Jerold Ottley said the requiem was selected because of its important message. “The requiem attempts to cross the religious, ethnic, or cultural boundaries that normally separate people.” It contains material that represents various cultural groups “who have helped through the years to retain liberty by great sacrifice,” he added. The choir had worked on the fourteen different parts of the requiem since May and presented some of the parts during their weekly broadcasts.
Wendell Smoot, president of the choir, said the East Coast tour meant a great deal to the choir members. “This is something they have worked hard to achieve.”
The work, composed by Arizona State University music professor James DeMars, was described as “stirring” by a Washington Post critic. “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was clean and professional, as always.”
In the New York Times, a reviewer wrote that “the choir was remarkable not only for its luxuriant sound but also for the clarity with which it managed to project the texts.”
The 320-voice choir was joined by soprano Audrey Luna, mezzo-soprano Linda Childs, tenor Robert Breault, and bass-baritone Simon Estes. Members of the Arlington Symphony Orchestra accompanied the choir and soloists for the concerts.
In addition to the time-honored structure and musical parts that compose a traditional requiem, the music contains the memorial prayer from the Jewish Liturgy (Prayer), a poem by Walt Whitman in memory of Abraham Lincoln (Dedication), and an opening dedicated to Native Americans (Canticle of the Sky). The traditional Sanctus has been stylized with a hint of gospel music and is dedicated to the civil rights movement echoing the statement by Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have a dream.”
Brother Ottley remarked that parts of the requiem most likely will be sung by the choir on many occasions, becoming a part of the choir’s repertoire.
Audiences at all performances were deeply moved by the music, and the requiem and choir received several standing ovations. “The woman I sat next to was in tears throughout the concert,” said Sharma Sleight, a concertgoer and member of the Oakton Virginia Stake. “I found myself not wanting the concert to end. It was wonderful.”
Gospel Allies in Fargo, North Dakota
The Sioux Indians of North Dakota called themselves the Dakota or Lakota, which means allies or friends. Now, more than a hundred years after European immigrants began settling the territory, the area is home to another group of friends and allies: the 2,360 members of the Fargo North Dakota Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Named after one of the partners in the famous Wells, Fargo shipping company, Fargo was founded in 1871 as an outfitting post for settlers. Today, Fargo is North Dakota’s largest city. Missionary work in the state began in 1883, but early results were disappointing. After the turn of the century missionaries enjoyed success among Native Americans in outlying areas, but by 1943 the Fargo Branch consisted of only five or ten Saints meeting in the basement of a YMCA building. During the 1950s, the Church began to grow as members moved in from out of state, meetinghouses were built, and leaders traveled more widely to strengthen remote branches. By 1977 growth had reached the point that Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was assigned to create the Fargo stake. This event made Church history because North Dakota was the last of the fifty U.S. states to have a stake organized within its boundaries.
“The strength of this stake is the commitment of its members and their desires to serve in spite of the tremendous distances we have,” says stake president Joel C. Smith, who works as the environmental manager for a sugar company. Taking in North Dakota’s Red River Valley as well as part of the neighboring states of Minnesota and South Dakota, the Fargo stake is large indeed.
Joe Dudley testifies of the value of the gospel and of the Fargo stake’s community of Saints. “My testimony has blessed me many times,” he says. “The Church has a lot to do with overcoming challenges. It teaches us the right way of living.” Joe and his wife, Kathy, live with an adopted child and five foster children on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, one of five reservations within the Fargo stake. Several of the family’s foster children have chosen to be baptized after receiving parental permission. Joe serves as president of the Clearbrook Branch and works as an Indian tribal court judge.
Farmer and retired U.S. Forestry Service employee Myron Nyberg lives with his wife, Lorraine, in Cass Lake, Minnesota. As mission leader of the Bemidji Ward, which is located near the headwaters of the Mississippi River, Myron has made many friends and allies by helping convert and activate others. “I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to join something, you go all the way, learn about it, and live it,” he says, paying tribute to his wife for showing him an example of gospel commitment before he joined the Church. Myron, who goes out with missionaries once or twice a week, says that “the Spirit is strong when we teach the discussions.” To cultivate friendships in their community, the Nybergs share their garden harvest and Myron mows neighbors’ lawns.
Home teaching is another effort that helps unify and bless the gospel friends and allies of the Fargo stake. “I was inactive for twenty years,” recalls North Dakota native Lee Allen. “My wonderful wife, Dorothy, was a member of another faith. Seven years ago, a gentleman knocked at our door and said he was our home teacher. He showed so much love and warmth that I let him in.” Later, after missionaries had taught his family the gospel, Lee was able to baptize his wife and his daughter, Alisha. When he became old enough, son Trenton joined the Church as well. In 1990 the family was sealed in the temple. Today Lee serves as stake executive secretary, and Dorothy serves as a counselor in the stake Young Women presidency.
“When you’re giving service, you get a good feeling,” says seventeen-year-old Brenna Lueck of Lisbon, North Dakota. Stake youth and adults prepare meals for the needy and perform other charitable acts, participate in interfaith activities such as music festivals and quilt shows, and organize positive media coverage of activities ranging from missionary work and family history efforts to changes in the Church’s First Presidency. Representing less than 1 percent of the total population within the stake’s boundaries, the Fargo stake’s community of Latter-day Saint friends and allies may seem relatively small and sparse. However, members’ efforts will continue to increase gospel growth and help make friends for the Church.
Church Recognized in 156 Lands
The Church is becoming increasingly widespread internationally. An indication of that growth is the number of organized wards and branches in the world’s countries, territories, and possessions (as defined by the United Nations).
Currently, the Church has organized wards and branches in 132 (70 percent) of the 188 countries recognized by the United Nations. The number of territories and possessions in the world changes frequently, but organized Church units are presently in 24 territories or possessions throughout the world.
An increase in the numbers of Church units in countries, territories, and possessions comes in two ways—the creation of new Church units or the creation of new countries.
1991: 115 countries; 23 territories, colonies, or possessions—138 total
1992: 122 countries; 24 territories, colonies, or possessions—146 total
1993: 125 countries; 24 territories, colonies, or possessions—149 total
1994: 126 countries; 24 territories, colonies, or possessions—150 total
1995: 132 countries; 24 territories, colonies, or possessions—156 total
Caring for Our Meetinghouses
Since 1991 the Church has asked members to take a significant responsibility in the cleaning and care of meetinghouses. For an update about progress in this area, the Ensign spoke with Ted D. Simmons, managing director of the Church’s physical facilities department.
Question: Tell us about how members are doing in their role in the cleaning and care of meetinghouses.
Answer: In some places, members are doing great, wonderful! In other places, they seem to have dropped the ball. They seem not to realize how much good can be accomplished through their participation.
Q: Tell us again what the plan is for members on this matter.
A: It used to be that Church custodians were assigned to just one building. They did everything: vacuuming, cleaning, setting up chairs, and locking and unlocking the building. Now custodians are assigned to teams that go from building to building and take care of maintenance, repair, landscaping, and some of the cleaning. By spreading the efforts of custodians over a greater number of buildings, the Church uses its resources more effectively.
But just as the jobs of custodians have changed, so have the responsibilities of members. Because a full-time custodian is no longer assigned to each meetinghouse, members are to take a more active role in cleaning and caring for the building. With members’ help, the Church has saved a substantial amount in cleaning and maintenance costs. Though we are constantly building new meetinghouses, we have been able to clean and maintain them without increasing our custodial staff. The amount of money saved in just one year by a dozen stakes is enough to build a new meetinghouse in a developing area of the Church. The impact of the members’ help is great, and I have no doubt this plan was inspired of the Lord.
Q: What do members’ responsibilities include?
A: First let me say that we hope members will participate because of their love, reverence, and respect for the Savior. The meetinghouses are his, and we worship him in them. Thus, we should want our meetinghouses to be presentable to the Savior at all times. Also, caring for meetinghouses helps us as members appreciate them more. In earlier times members actually helped build new meetinghouses. Then they contributed to a separate building fund. Now members serve and sacrifice by helping care for the buildings.
On Sundays we ask members to pick up papers after meetings, set up and take down tables and chairs, refill rest-room paper supplies if needed, and otherwise keep the meetinghouse tidy. During the week we ask members to vacuum carpets and take trash out after activities. Members are also now responsible for locking and unlocking the building daily, filling and draining the baptismal font, cleaning up the sacrament table, setting up and securing sound and video equipment, turning off lights and other equipment, cleaning the kitchen after use, planting and maintaining flower beds, cleaning and maintaining library and office equipment, shoveling snow where applicable after normal custodial work hours, making small repairs according to available member skills, and participating in occasional special building or grounds projects. To help members fulfill these responsibilities, each meetinghouse has an easily accessible custodial closet where vacuums, mops, brooms, snow shovels, garbage bags, cleaning supplies, and rest-room paper supplies are kept. Many meetinghouses also provide convenient hand vacuums that make spot clean-ups quick and easy.
Picking up a scrap of paper or folding up a chair may not seem like much of an effort, but when members work together a ward can save a custodial team many hours of work. Multiply that by hundreds of wards and the hours saved really add up. It doesn’t make much sense to pay people to clean up what members probably shouldn’t mess up in the first place or what they should clean up themselves if an accident does happen. When custodial teams don’t have to worry about lighter housekeeping, they can focus more attention on long-term maintenance and heavy-duty cleaning that require special skills and equipment. Rather than putting away chairs and vacuuming up spilled cereal, they can attend to mechanical systems, deep-clean carpets, and refinish gymnasium floors. The bottom line is that the preventative maintenance program can work effectively only with the participation of members!
Q: Have you seen good examples you’d like to tell about?
A: Wards and branches can grow closer by taking care of their meetinghouses together. We’ve heard of units establishing regular annual projects that involve fun traditions such as a ward breakfast. The Marietta East and Jonesboro stakes in Georgia, for example, have a stake involvement day two Saturdays a year when members from each ward help with interior and exterior cleaning and maintenance jobs. Last spring the ground was too wet in Caldwell, Idaho, for members who farm to work in their fields, so they telephoned leaders and offered their manpower and machinery to help landscape some Church buildings. In the Kaneohe Hawaii Stake, members did extra cleaning at their meetinghouse when a custodian had to go on extended medical leave. When one neighborhood experienced a rash of burglaries recently, members established a rotating night watch at their meetinghouse. In another ward the young men not only shovel snow from the walks but also help elderly people enter the building.
We certainly realize that many members were helping care for meetinghouses before this change, but we’ve asked everyone to participate now. I’d also like to point out that the members’ role of caring for and cleaning meetinghouses doesn’t imply that custodians weren’t doing a good job under the old system; they certainly were. We’ve just put their efforts to more efficient use.
Q: Are local leaders getting successfully involved also?
A: Our experience worldwide is that when local leaders openly demonstrate reverence for the Lord by taking care of meetinghouses, their examples affect their entire membership. Further, their concern helps them bring up preventative maintenance issues from time to time in meetings. The key is raising the consciousness level of members. After all, most people are willing to help, but they need to be informed and encouraged by leaders and organized so that no single individual has to take on too great a burden of time or effort. Incidentally, an eight-minute video titled “Member Involvement for Meetinghouse and Grounds Care” has been produced for leaders to occasionally show members to help motivate and inspire them (stock no. 53657).
Isn’t it nice to walk into a meetinghouse that is as clean as the temple? Certainly our meetinghouses can come close to that standard! As each member does his or her part, out of small things will come great things. The next time you see a scrap of litter in the chapel, we hope you’ll stoop down to pick it up. Think of your effort as serving the Lord.
New Visitors’ Center in Winter Quarters
A new visitors’ center that tells the story of the exodus of Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo to Salt Lake Valley will soon be built across the street from the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery in the area known historically as Winter Quarters in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Mormon Trail Center will also tell of the approximately eighty settlements founded along the Missouri River between 1846 and 1852 where thousands of pioneers stopped for rest before they headed west to Utah.
The center “will offer visitors a glimpse of the faith and courage of Latter-day Saints who left their comfortable homes and sacred temple in Nauvoo,” said Elder Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Church’s Historical Department. “In the face of great obstacles, they journeyed to a place of refuge in Utah, where they built homes and a new temple.
“The site for the new center is particularly appropriate,” Elder Nadauld continued, “since the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery is nearly all that remains of the Latter-day Saint settlements in the area that served as way stations for these pioneers.”
The visitors’ center is planned for completion in spring 1997, in time for the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Latter-day Saint pioneers’ arrival in Utah. The center replaces the current visitors’ center, a remodeled home, and will have seven thousand square feet of exhibit space. The exhibit team is looking for historic documents and photographs and artifacts of all kinds, including artifacts brought west by Latter-day Saint emigrants throughout the nineteenth century. “There must be hundreds of such objects tucked away in basements or garages that would help bring the story alive for visitors,” noted exhibit curator Marjorie Conder.
The exhibit will include a section on Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, their lifestyle, and why they left the town. It will explain the trek across Iowa, look at various modes of transportation, recount stories of Latter-day Saints dealing with disease and death, and outline reasons for the gathering of the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley.
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