News of the Church

By Barbara Jean Jones


Changes in Seventy, Young Men, Sunday School

Changes in the Presidency of the Seventy previously announced in June 2001 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, 3 new Area Authority Seventies were called, and 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 Elder L. Aldin Porter and Elder Marlin K. Jensen. Elder Porter was released and given emeritus status, and Elder Jensen was called in August 2001 to serve in the Europe Central Area Presidency.

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

Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the Seventy was sustained as the new Young Men general president, with Elder Glenn L. Pace and Elder 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 counselor, Elders Hammond and Elder John M. Madsen.

Along with Elder Porter, Elder John K. Carmack, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, Elder L. Lionel Kendrick, and Elder 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: Elder Richard E. Cook, Elder Wayne M. Hancock, Elder Richard B. Wirthlin, and Elder Ray H. Wood.

President James E. Faust presents the Church officers for a sustaining vote during the Saturday afternoon session of conference.

Church Offers Consolation, Humanitarian Aid after Terrorist Attacks

Church leaders offered messages of peace and consolation following terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 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, age 48, a member of the Santa Monica Second Ward, Los Angeles California Santa Monica Stake, and her mother, Mary Alice Wahlstrom, age 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 taking Sister Beug’s twin daughters to college.

Ivhan Luis Carpio Bautista, age 24, of the Richmond Hill Third Branch, Richmond Hill New York District, was working at a 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, age 26, a member of the Crystal City Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, and Rhonda Rasmussen, age 44, Lake Ridge Second Ward, Mount Vernon Virginia Stake, died in the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.. Brother Howell was working as a civilian employee for the United States 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 the program 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 United States.

On 20 September, President Hinckley and 26 other religious leaders met with President Bush in the White House at the United States 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, Church units throughout the United States held special memorial sacrament meetings on Sunday, 16 September. Throughout the world, 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 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 help stranded travelers in Salt Lake City obtain food and shelter. Additional assistance was also given to the families of victims in New York City.

On 9 October the First Presidency approved the distribution 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 2001.

Share the Gospel through New Web Site

The Church has a new resource to help spread the gospel. An official Church Web site, www.mormon.org, allows people to learn more about the gospel by exploring on their own with complete anonymity.

The site, announced on 5 October 2001, 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,” Elder Oaks said during conference. “… For members of the Church, it will help us answer the questions of friends directly or by referring them to the site.”

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

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 basic information about the topic; further links lead to related topics and audio or video clips from 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 a meeting with missionaries or Church literature or videos, or they can use a meetinghouse locator (currently available for the United States 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.

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