News of the Church

By Barbara Jean JonesAssistant Editor


Changes in Seventy, Young Men, Sunday School

Changes in the Presidency of the Seventy previously announced in June were sustained by Church members during the Saturday afternoon session of conference. In addition, 9 members of the Seventy were released, 24 Area Authority Seventies were released, and 3 new Area Authority Seventies were called. The presidencies of the Sunday School and Young Men were reorganized.

Elder Charles Didier and Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. were sustained as new members of the Presidency of the Seventy, replacing Elders L. Aldin Porter and Marlin K. Jensen. Elder Porter was released and received emeritus status, and Elder Jensen had been called in August to serve in the Europe Central Area Presidency.

Elder Samuelson was sustained as the new general president of the Sunday School, with Elders John H. Groberg and Richard J. Maynes as counselors. Elder Jensen was released as president of the Sunday School, with his counselors, Elder Neil L. Andersen and Elder John H. Groberg.

Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy was sustained as the new general president of the Young Men, with Elders Glenn L. Pace and Spencer J. Condie as counselors. Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, who had been serving as Young Men general president, was called to serve in the Pacific Islands Area Presidency in August. He was released at this conference with his counselors, Elders Hammond and John M. Madsen.

Along with Elder Porter, Elders John K. Carmack, Vaughn J. Featherstone, L. Lionel Kendrick, and Rex D. Pinegar were released from the First Quorum of the Seventy and given emeritus status.

Also released as General Authorities were four members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy: Elders Richard E. Cook, Wayne M. Hancock, Richard B. Wirthlin, and Ray H. Wood.

Members of the Seventy join in sustaining Church officers during the Saturday afternoon session of conference.

General Auxiliary Presidencies

Sunday School

Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr.

Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., President

Elder John H. Groberg

Elder John H. Groberg, First Counselor

Elder Richard J. Maynes

Elder Richard J. Maynes, Second Counselor

Young Men

Elder F. Melvin Hammond

Elder F. Melvin Hammond, President

Elder Glenn L. Pace

Elder Glenn L. Pace, First Counselor

Elder Spencer J. Condie

Elder Spencer J. Condie, Second Counselor

Relief Society

Sister Mary Ellen W. Smoot

Sister Mary Ellen W. Smoot, President

Sister Virginia U. Jensen

Sister Virginia U. Jensen, First Counselor

Sister Sheri L. Dew

Sister Sheri L. Dew, Second Counselor

Young Women

Sister Margaret D. Nadauld

Sister Margaret D. Nadauld, President

Sister Carol B. Thomas

Sister Carol B. Thomas, First Counselor

Sister Sharon G. Larsen

Sister Sharon G. Larsen, Second Counselor

Primary

Sister Coleen K. Menlove

Sister Coleen K. Menlove, President

Sister Sydney S. Reynolds

Sister Sydney S. Reynolds, First Counselor

Sister Gayle M. Clegg

Sister Gayle M. Clegg, Second Counselor

Church Offers Consolation, Humanitarian Aid after Attacks

Church leaders offered messages of peace and consolation following terrorist attacks on 11 September in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Five Latter-day Saints are known to have lost their lives in the attacks.

Carolyn Meyer-Beug, 48, a member of the Santa Monica Second Ward, Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, and her mother, Mary Alice Wahlstrom, 75, of the Kaysville 17th Ward, Kaysville Utah East Stake, were on board the first plane that struck the World Trade Center. The two women were returning home from dropping off Sister Beug’s twin daughters for their freshman year of college.

Ivhan Luis Carpio Bautista, 24, of the Richmond Hill Third Branch, Richmond Hill New York District, was working at the Windows on the World restaurant on the 107th floor of One World Trade Center when the attacks occurred. He had planned to take 11 September off because it was his birthday but agreed to cover a coworker’s shift instead.

Brady Howell, 26, a member of the Crystal City Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, and Rhonda Rasmussen, 44, Lake Ridge Second Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, died in the attack on the Pentagon in Washington. Brother Howell was working as a civilian employee for the U.S. Navy. Sister Rasmussen was working as a budget analyst for the Department of the Army. Her husband of 26 years was also working in the building but was unharmed.

Shortly after hearing of the attacks, the First Presidency released a statement expressing “profound sympathy to those whose loved ones, friends and associates were lost or injured in today’s senseless acts of violence. We offer our prayers in behalf of the innocent victims of these vicious attacks. We ask our Heavenly Father to guide [U.S.] President [George W.] Bush and his advisors as they respond to these devastating incidents.

“We join with others in prayers that the Savior’s peace and love will comfort and guide us all through this difficult time.”

On the evening of 11 September, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a previously scheduled Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert that was turned into a memorial service. “Dark as is this hour,” said the Church President, “there is shining through the heavy overcast of fear and anger the solemn and wonderful image of the Son of God. It is to Him that we look in these circumstances.”

President Hinckley offered similar messages of faith and comfort when he appeared both on CNN’s Larry King Live and in a memorial service in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on 14 September, a day declared as a national day of prayer and remembrance by President Bush. “We cannot call back the dead,” said President Hinckley, but we can “call upon our Heavenly Father to bring comfort and solace to those who have suffered much.” He also expressed hope that Heavenly Father would hasten the day when men would beat their swords into plowshares and “learn war no more” (see Isa. 2:4). Also participating in this memorial service were members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, other General Authorities, and the Tabernacle Choir. The service was broadcast to Church meetinghouses throughout the U.S.

On 20 September, President Hinckley and 26 other religious leaders met with President Bush in the White House at the U.S. President’s invitation. “I have never felt stronger,” President Bush said, “and that strength comes from God.” He asked that people pray for the safety of the nation and that he would be blessed with wisdom, strength, and clarity of thought.

When President Bush asked for input from those assembled, President Hinckley stated, “I just want you to know, Mr. President, that we are behind you. We pray for you. We love this ‘nation under God.’”

At the request of the First Presidency, special memorial sacrament meeting services were held in Church units throughout the U.S. on Sunday, 16 September. Throughout the country, members of the Church reached out in love and service to those who had lost loved ones. Many members opened their homes and meetinghouses to those left stranded in New York and at various airports.

Humanitarian relief funds donated to the American Red Cross by the Church were used largely to assist with search and rescue work, emergency food and shelter, and other needs. The Red Cross’s Salt Lake City chapter used part of the money to offset its costs in helping stranded travelers in Salt Lake City obtain food and shelter. LDS Family Services counselors worked with community agencies that are directly assisting those in the New York area who were traumatized by the attacks.

On 9 October the First Presidency approved the distribution of thousands of pounds of blankets, hygiene kits, medical supplies, and newborn kits to Afghan refugees.

President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks during the memorial service in the Tabernacle on 14 September. (Photo by Craig Dimond.)

President Hinckley Speaks to Young Adults, Civic Groups

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke during September and August at events ranging from a Church Educational System Young Single Adult fireside broadcast to stake centers throughout the United States and Canada to the convention of an international community service organization.

He encouraged young people attending the 9 September fireside to be faithful and optimistic. “I am suggesting that as we go through life that we try to ‘accentuate the positive,’” President Hinckley said, asking “that you turn from the negativism that so permeates our modern society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom you associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults. …

“No matter the circumstances, I encourage you to go forward with faith and prayer, calling on the Lord. You may not receive any direct revelation, but you will discover, as the years pass, that there has been a subtle guiding of your footsteps in paths of progress and great purpose.”

Speaking to the opening session of the International City/County Management Association’s convention on 23 September, President Hinckley said that many of modern society’s problems arise out of deficiencies in the home. “You are altogether too familiar with many of these problems—crime, pornography, drugs, fatherless homes, the whole litany of ills which have been tearing us apart,” he said. “If there is to be a reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home.”

“The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity and their peace, all find their roots in the teaching of children by fathers and mothers.”

He outlined 10 practices that could strengthen all families and societies: (1) Accept responsibility for our role as parents and fulfill our obligations to our children. (2) Get married and stay married. (3) Put father back at the head of the home. (4) Recognize and value the supreme importance of mothers. (5) Celebrate and treat children as our most priceless treasures. (6) Discipline and train children with love. (7) Teach values to children. (8) Teach children to work. (9) Read to and with children. (10) Pray together.

Earlier, in August, President Hinckley had pledged a matching grant of $100,000 to Rotary International in its efforts to take the polio vaccine to remote areas of the world. He made the pledge on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation. Rotary International is one of the globe’s oldest service organizations, with 30,000 chapters worldwide.

President Hinckley spoke at the Rotary International convention held 31 August in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. He congratulated Rotary International on its work in combating polio and added the hope that “you will never rest until this dread disease is totally eradicated. When that happens, it will mark the completion of a great miracle and a wondrous gift to the human family.”

Revised Resources to Strengthen Youth

In a 28 September 2001 First Presidency letter and in talks given at October general conference, Church leaders told members that four resources are being made available “to help youth develop greater faith and courage in today’s world” (First Presidency letter, 28 Sept. 2001). These resources outline the new requirements for the Aaronic Priesthood Duty to God and Young Womanhood Recognition Awards.

“There has never been a time in these latter days like today, when the message is being brought forward so strongly by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to have parents along with bishops and priesthood and auxiliary leaders make sure [youth] understand who [they] are and what [they] can become—not only here in mortality but for the eternities that will follow,” said Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his conference address (see p. 39).

The new resources will “help parents and leaders be actively and directly involved in holding back the sliding scale of morality,” explained Sharon G. Larsen, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency (see p. 67).

The resources include:

  1. 1.

    Three guidebooks for deacons, teachers, and priests titled Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God.

  2. 2.

    A simplified Young Women Personal Progress book.

  3. 3.

    A revised For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.

  4. 4.

    A Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth, which explains the changes in Aaronic Priesthood and Young Women awards and outlines the important and supportive role of Mutual.

Young men are now encouraged to earn the Eagle Scout Award (or similar awards where Scouting is approved and available) and the newly strengthened Duty to God Award. These awards are “complementary, not competitive,” said Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. of the Presidency of the Seventy, speaking in the priesthood session of conference. “As you young men of the Aaronic Priesthood strive to achieve the Duty to God Award even as the Young Women work on their Personal Progress efforts, you will join with them in standing as witnesses of God as well,” he said (see p. 42).

Copies of these materials will be sent to each stake for distribution to wards by December 2001, for implementation in January 2002.

Welfare Square Facilities Dedicated

On 5 September President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated recently constructed or renovated facilities of Welfare Square, located on 13.5 acres southwest of downtown Salt Lake City. Members of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Presiding Bishopric, and Relief Society General Board attended the dedication ceremony, along with other religious and civic leaders.

The new or updated facilities include a 22,000-square-foot cannery, a 50,000-square-foot milk processing plant, a new bakery, and a remodeled Employment Services Center and on-site Deseret Industries. Welfare Square products are supplied to Latter-day Saints and others in need throughout the world.

In his dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley petitioned that Welfare Square might bless the lives of those afflicted by “the vagaries of nature and man’s inhumanity to man.”

During his remarks, he said that “there is no greater work than this.” Welfare Square helps fulfill “the commandment of the Lord to provide for those who find themselves unable to care for their needs. … Here the recipients of help may come and work and thus feel that they are earning that which they receive.”

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, also shared messages during the program. President Monson spoke of how he has seen Welfare Square bless others throughout his life. President Faust said that “welfare is not a program, but the essence of the gospel in action.”

Other speakers at the dedication included Presiding Bishop H. David Burton; Relief Society general president Mary Ellen W. Smoot; and the Most Reverend George H. Niederauer, Roman Catholic bishop of the Salt Lake Diocese.

Share the Gospel through New Web Site

Recognize this scenario? You’re at the store or in an airport and begin talking with someone next to you who asks you questions about the Church. You want to do more to share the gospel, but you’re about to part ways and you don’t feel this near-stranger is ready for you to send the missionaries over.

Now there’s a new resource to try—you can refer your acquaintance to www.mormon.org, an official Church Web site that allows people to learn more about the gospel, exploring on their own with complete anonymity.

The site, announced 5 October, was referred to by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during general conference. “In its potential, this new initiative is as exciting as the publishing of written tracts in the 19th century and our use of radio, television, and film in the 20th,” he said. “… For members of the Church, it will help us answer the questions of friends directly or by referring them to the site” (see p. 9).

Within three days of the announcement of mormon.org, the site recorded 93,433 visits, including 151 requests for the Book of Mormon and 36 requests for the missionaries. Users were from Africa; Asia; Australia and the South Pacific; the Caribbean; Europe; the Middle East; and North, South, and Central America.

In studies conducted across North America before the site’s announcement, people of other faiths found the Web site warm, comfortable, and friendly.

Mormon.org uses a combination of audio, visual, and textual elements to explain basic principles of the Church in simple, straightforward terms. Content is divided into four main categories: the Church, families, the nature of God, and the purpose of life.

Links for each category lead to a Web page of basic information about the topic, further links to related topics, and audio or video clips from related Church videos or talks given by a member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Those who want to learn more can request the missionaries or Church literature or videos, or they can use a meetinghouse locator (currently available for the U.S. and Canada) to find the congregation closest to their home.

Other information available at mormon.org includes responses to frequently asked questions regarding social issues, theology, and Church policy; resources on parenting, family relationships, and communication; and a search and glossary tool to help users understand gospel terms.

Church members can use the site to e-mail its Web pages to a friend or to send gospel-themed electronic greeting cards free of charge.

Mormon.org is currently available only in English, but it is planned that the site will eventually be available in many languages.

Additional Pass-Along Cards Available

Along with referring to www.mormon.org, during his conference address Elder Oaks encouraged members to share the gospel using pass-along cards—including four new ones.

The four new cards offer a copy of the Bible, the Church videos Together Forever and Family Answers, and an invitation to visit www.mormon.org.

The three pass-along cards previously available offer a copy of the Book of Mormon or the Church videos The Nativity and The Lamb of God.

In a nonintrusive way, the cards “offer something precious, but the gift depends upon the choice and initiative of the potential recipient,” Elder Oaks said. “In our experience, a significant fraction of those who telephone for the offered gift choose to have it delivered by those who can tell them more” (see p. 9).

To obtain any of these free cards, see your local stake or full-time missionaries, or contact a Church distribution center.

The home page for www.mormon.org provides visitors a number of options for exploring questions about the Church.