News: A Decade of Growth


As December 1983 came to a close, it marked the completion of ten remarkable years in the administration of President Spencer W. Kimball—a historic decade of great change, stirring missionary energy, and unbounded love. On Sunday, 30 December 1973, he was ordained and set apart as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salt Lake Temple. He was then 78 years old. The ten years since have been a period of remarkable change and growth.

• Church membership has grown from 3,321,556 members in 1973 to an estimated 5,450,000 at 1983 years’ end. • The number of stakes has jumped from 630 stakes in 1973 to the estimated 1983 year-end total of 1,431.

• The number of temples operating worldwide has risen from 15 operating temples to 25 at present. Further, 16 additional temples have been announced and are in various stages of planning and construction.

• The full-time missionary force has expanded from 17,258 to about 27,000 at present, even with mission terms reduced to 18 months.

• Correspondingly, the number of missions has climbed from 108 to 180. And the annual number of converts is up from 79,603 in 1973 to an estimated 191,013 in 1983.

These figures, however, are only part of the evidence showing how dramatic the last decade has been. There was the historic 1975 reconstitution of the First Quorum of the Seventy, the 1976 addition of two revelations to the Doctrine and Covenants, and the 1978 revelation on making the priesthood available to all worthy male members.

Of this period in Church history, President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, says, “This decade of President Kimball has been remarkable in terms of Church growth, increased activity, and the strengthening of a spirit of unity among the members of the Church across the world.

“The great emphasis given to missionary work by President Kimball has borne rich fruit. He has enunciated in clear and certain terms the tremendous responsibility of the Church to carry the restored gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. His views have been prophetic in this regard. The tremendous enlargement of opportunity without regard for race or color has been noteworthy, as all recognize.

“His leadership has found expression in increased activity on the part of members of the Church wherever the work is established. Sacrament meeting attendance is higher, and other barometers by which we measure activity show improvement. There has been a marked expansion in the building program to provide better facilities for the implementation of the various programs of the Church.

“President Kimball’s love for the people and their love for him as the prophet of the Lord and as the President of the Church have been as a catalyst in building a great spirit of unity among the membership of the Church. Love for others is of the very essence of his nature, and his outreach has touched Latter-day Saints far and near. He has embraced the whole membership in that spirit of brotherhood and mutual concern which are the very heart of the gospel of the Master,” said President Hinckley.

President Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, says, “It is evident that President Kimball will be known as a great preacher of righteousness, a spiritual giant, a loving, compassionate, Christlike man, and an unexcelled missionary in spreading the truth to all mankind. He is truly a prophet of God, a seer, and a revelator.

“President Kimball has not only sharpened our focus on the mission of the Church—to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead—he leads the way to its accomplishment.”

Some Major Events in President Kimball’s Administration

1974

June 23

New Young Women’s general presidency set apart.

August 16–18

Area Conference in Scandinavia.

October 3

New Relief Society general presidency set apart.

October 5

New Primary general presidency set apart.

November 19

Washington D.C. Temple dedicated.

1975

Feb. 23–March 2

São Paulo, Brazil, Area Conference.

March 1

Announcement of the construction of the São Paulo Temple.

March 7–9

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Area Conference.

June 27

Auxiliary conferences discontinued.

July 24

Church Office Building, Salt Lake City, dedicated.

August 8–10

Tokyo, Japan, Area Conference.

August 9

Announcement of the construction of the Tokyo Temple.

August 11–12

Manila, Philippines, Area Conference.

August 13–14

Taipei, Taiwan and Hong Kong Area Conference.

August 15–17

Seoul, Korea, Area Conference.

October 3

First Quorum of the Seventy reconstituted.

November 15

Announcement of the construction of the Seattle, Washington, Temple.

1976

February 15–March 2

South Pacific Area Conferences.

April 3

Two revelations added to the Pearl of Great Price.

April 3

Announcement of the Mexico City Temple.

June 18–22

British Isles Area Conferences.

July 31–August 8

European Area Conferences.

October 1

First Quorum of the Seventy reorganized with the Assistants to the Twelve becoming members of the quorum.

December 1

New policy calling for general conferences to be held in two days, with April conference no longer specifically scheduled to include April 6.

1977

February 12–March 6

Area Conferences in Central and South America.

April 7

Reinstated Young Men’s General Presidency. (Young Men’s general presidency had been dissolved June 23, 1974.)

August 24

Dedicated country of Poland for future Church work (first visit of a Church President behind the Iron Curtain).

October 2

Announcement of the Samoa Temple.

1978

February 3

Announcement of the Jordan River, Utah, Temple.

March 14

Reduction in the frequency of certain ward and stake meetings.

March 31

New policy calling for stake conferences to be semiannual, with one General Authority visit and one Regional Representative visit to conference per year.

April 22

Adoption of controlled extraction program in genealogy.

June 9

Revelation announced making priesthood available to all worthy male members.

June 18

Hawaii Area Conference.

July 12

New Young Women’s general presidency set apart.

September 29

Women authorized to give prayers in sacrament meetings.

September 30

General Authority Emeritus designation instituted.

October 23–24

South Africa Area Conference.

October 30

São Paulo, Brazil, Temple dedicated.

Oct. 26–29, Nov. 3–5

Area Conferences in South America.

1979

February 18

Nauvoo Illinois Stake becomes 1,000th stake in the Church.

May 4

New policy discontinues sacrament meetings on stake conference Sundays.

June 23–24

First of Area Conferences in U.S. and Canada.

November 24–30, December 1–2

South Pacific Area Conferences.

1980

March 2

Consolidated meeting schedule instituted.

April 2

Temples announced for Atlanta, Georgia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Samoa; Chile; Australia; Tahiti; and Tonga.

April 5

New Primary general presidency set apart.

April 21

Authorization given for nonmembers to attend priesthood meeting.

September 10

Unified Church curriculum established on a calendar year basis.

October 8

Change in the age and term of service for lady missionaries and missionary couples.

October 18–23, November 1

Area Conferences in the Far East.

October 27

Tokyo, Japan, Temple dedicated.

November 17

Seattle, Washington, Temple dedicated.

1981

April 1

Temples announced for Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Germany; Guatemala; South Africa; Peru; Philippines; Korea; and Sweden.

July 23

Gordon B. Hinckley called as Counselor in the First Presidency.

November 16

Jordan River, Utah, Temple dedicated.

1982

March 18

Creation of three new Church Executive Councils: The Missionary Executive Council, the Priesthood Executive Council, and the Temple and Genealogy Executive Council.

March 31

Temples announced for Boise, Idaho; Denver, Colorado; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Taipei, Taiwan.

April 2

Reduction of the term of service for single elders serving full-time missions.

October 9

Temple announced for Freiberg, German Democratic Republic.

December 2

Reorganization of First Presidency, following death of President N. Eldon Tanner: Marion G. Romney, First Counselor, Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor.

1983

June 1

Atlanta Georgia Temple dedicated.

August 4

Apia Western Samoa Temple dedicated.

August 9

Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple dedicated.

September 15

Santiago, Chile, Temple dedicated.

October 28

Papeete Tahiti Temple dedicated.

December 2

Mexico City Temple dedicated.

[photo] Portrait of President Spencer W. Kimball taken at the beginning of his service as president of the Church.

[photo] President Kimball with his wife, companion, and helpmeet, Camilla.

[photo] President Kimball standing in front of a mural depicting the resurrected Savior instructing his disciples to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations. …” (Matt. 28:19.) Instructions he has diligently followed.

[photo] President and Sister Kimball leave the Salt Lake Tabernacle at the conclusion of a general conference session.