News of the Church

By Chad Phares, Church Magazines


Elder Kerr Appointed Commissioner of Church Education

Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy was called in January by the First Presidency to serve as Commissioner of Church Education. He succeeds Elder Henry B. Eyring, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who served twice as commissioner for a total of about 17 years.

Under the direction of the Church Board of Education, Elder Kerr will oversee operations of all Church Educational System (CES) entities, including the Church’s institutions of higher education: Brigham Young University, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, and LDS Business College; the Church’s seminary and institute of religion programs; and a number of Church-operated primary and secondary schools.

“While this assignment will be a heavy responsibility, it is natural and comfortable in that it relates closely to the professional focus of my career,” Elder Kerr said.

Elder Kerr, who was called as a General Authority in 1996, brings extensive educational experience to his new appointment. He has served as Utah Commissioner of Higher Education, executive vice president of Brigham Young University, and president of Dixie College in Utah. He has also held administrative positions at the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Weber State University in Utah.

Elder Kerr observed that the scriptures as well as all of the prophets of this dispensation have stressed to Church members the value of receiving an education. He noted: “Our learning needs to be spiritual as well as temporal, and doctrinal as well as academic. We need to have a breadth but also a balance in our learning.” The Church Educational System addresses the academic and spiritual aspects of education.

After citing 2 Nephi 9:29 [2 Ne. 9:29], “To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God,” Elder Kerr said, “We’ll be better parents, better husbands and wives, better citizens, and better members of the Church as we educate ourselves.”

While CES is primarily for young adults who are members of the Church, about 12,000 people who are not members of the Church are enrolled in the institute of religion program worldwide, making the program not only an effective method of perfecting the Saints but also a missionary tool.

The Church Educational System tries to be responsive and flexible when dealing with the growth of the Church, Elder Kerr said. One of the biggest challenges is to keep up in making the programs readily available as the Church grows. (See sidebar “Church Education around the World.”)

Elder Kerr is excited about his new appointment because it gives him an opportunity to work with the young people of the Church. “I love education, and I love youth,” he said. “My career has been primarily focused on the age groups served by CES.”

The Church Educational System has a special place in Elder Kerr’s heart because he was involved in CES programs as a young man. He graduated from seminary and institute and acknowledges how his life was blessed by them. “I enrolled in at least one institute class every term of my undergraduate study at Utah State University,” he said, “and it was a marvelous blessing to me.”

In addition to testifying of the blessings received from his time as an institute student, Elder Kerr said faithful seminary students receive the same kinds of blessings.

“We find that homes and families are substantially blessed as the young people attend seminary,” he said. “Some choose not to participate, thinking it’s too great a sacrifice, but in the long run not participating is the greatest sacrifice.”

On the Shoulders of Giants

As Commissioner of Church Education, Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy says he feels like he is “standing on the shoulders of giants.” A look back shows those who have filled similar assignments in the past:

Karl G. Maeser

1888–1901

Superintendent of Church Schools

Joseph M. Tanner

1901–1905

Superintendent of Church Schools

Horace H. Cummings

1906–1920

Commissioner of Church Schools

David O. McKay

1920–1921

Commissioner of Church Education

John A. Widtsoe

1921–1924

Commissioner of Church Education

Joseph F. Merrill

1928–1933

Commissioner of Church Education

John A. Widtsoe

1934–1936

Commissioner of Church Education

Franklin L. West

1936–1953

Commissioner of Church Education

Ernest L. Wilkinson

1953–1970

Administrator/Chancellor of the Unified Church Schools System

Neal A. Maxwell

1970–1976

Commissioner of Church Education

Jeffrey R. Holland

1976–1980

Commissioner of Church Education

Henry B. Eyring

1980–1986

Commissioner of Church Education

J. Elliot Cameron

1986–1989

Commissioner of Church Education

Henry B. Eyring

1992–2004

Commissioner of Church Education

W. Rolfe Kerr

2005–

Commissioner of Church Education

Church Education around the World

Church universities and colleges

56,000 students

Elementary and secondary schools

9,000 students

Seminaries and institutes of religion

735,000 students

Continuing-education programs

450,000 members

Countries involved

140 countries

Volunteers

35,000 members

Elder W. Rolfe Kerr

Elder Kerr served as executive vice president of Brigham Young University in the early 1980s. (Photograph by Mark Philbrick, courtesy of Brigham Young University.)

Vaitiare Timo and Karere Teiho of the Mahina Ward, Arue Tahiti Stake, are 2 of more than 735,000 students enrolled in seminary or institute in 140 countries. (Photograph by Adam C. Olson.)

Red Cross Honors Church for Measles Vaccination Aid

Members of the First Presidency presented American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans with a US$1 million check on February 4 that went to the Measles Initiative, a Red Cross vaccination program for children in Africa that is expected to save 1.2 million lives. These funds came from the humanitarian fund contributed by members of the Church and others.

Out of gratitude for the donation, which was the second part of a US$3 million total commitment by the Church, the Red Cross honored the Church with its highest recognition for donors, the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarians award.

At a press conference, Evans presented Presiding Bishop H. David Burton with a framed replica of a New York Times article thanking the Red Cross’s most important contributors.

“Thanks to donations from the public and generous philanthropic supporters, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the American Red Cross is saving lives through this crucial public health initiative,” Evans said.

In the African countries most seriously plagued by measles, 1 in every 100 children dies from the disease. Those involved hope that the initiative can eliminate the disease from the continent.

Bishop Burton said the Church decided to take part in the program because the initiative is committed to helping others and also because the Church has a large population of members in Africa. He said participating in the initiative provides “the opportunity for many of our local congregations to volunteer and participate in the program.”

American Red Cross Senior Health Adviser Dr. Mark Grabowsky estimates that approximately 90 percent of all African children need to be immunized in order to eradicate the disease from Africa. By 2006, the Measles Initiative program is scheduled to have vaccinated more than 200 million children in Africa.

Since 1986, the Church has partnered with the American Red Cross, supporting domestic and international relief efforts and initiatives.

“We have a long, distinguished partnership with the American Red Cross,” Bishop Burton said. “It’s a partnership we cherish.”

Among recent efforts, the Church and the American Red Cross have worked together in hurricane relief operations in the United States during August, September, and October of 2004.

Bishop H. David Burton accepts an honor from the American Red Cross after making a Church donation to the organization’s measles initiative in Africa. (Photograph courtesy of Church Public Affairs.)

Flooding Displaces Hundreds of Members, Destroys Homes in Guyana and U.S.

More than 260 member-owned homes were destroyed or damaged by heavy flooding in the South American nation of Guyana and in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah in the United States. Church aid is ongoing.

Church Relief Helps Thousands in Flooded Guyana

After more than 40 inches (100 cm) of rain fell in three weeks in Guyana during January causing severe flooding, the Church’s relief effort began swiftly. A shipment of food, medicine, and water was en route to Guyana within 24 hours of the official government request.

“One of the reasons they came to us was that we are well known for our quick response,” said Garry Flake, Church director of emergency response.

After the initial shipment, the Church also sent three containers of clothing to the country.

Seventy percent of the supplies went to the general population and 30 percent went to Church members. The Church also helped supply immediate relief to members needing assistance by providing fast-offering funds.

The floods have affected more than half of the country’s 750,000 residents and killed at least 6 people. Although none of the country’s 1,600 members was injured or killed, the high waters did force 120 members from their homes.

One meetinghouse, which is the only Church-owned building in the country, was damaged by the rain and could not be accessed for several days. A rented meetinghouse was flooded and received major damage. Both meetinghouses are located in the greater Georgetown area. Several feet of water could be found in some areas of the buildings.

In the capital city of Georgetown, at least 120,000 people have been affected by the floodwaters. Estimates predict that more than 40 percent of those affected are children.

The Church continues to monitor the situation in the country, and if the need for more supplies arises, the Church will continue to help, Brother Flake said.

Church News contributed to this article.

Church Offers Relief after Flood, Mudslide

After heavy rains and torrential flooding in Arizona, California, Nevada, and southern Utah destroyed or damaged more than 200 homes, members in those areas continue to work to get their lives and homes back in order or help others do so.

Flooding in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah affected members in 7 stakes, destroying 25 member homes and damaging 117 more. Although no lives were lost there, the floodwaters ravaged a considerable amount of farmland, particularly in southern Utah.

The St. George Utah Green Valley Stake was hardest hit. In that stake alone 18 member homes were destroyed and 36 were damaged. In the Mesquite Nevada Stake, 4 homes were destroyed and 28 were damaged.

In La Conchita, California, a mudslide killed 10 people and destroyed or damaged more than 30 homes. In response, local members volunteered labor and assisted local agencies.

Church-sponsored relief efforts in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada began quickly after the flooding began. The Church contributed to the relief effort in three steps.

The first step consisted of local Relief Societies and priesthood groups volunteering to help with whatever assistance was needed soon after the flooding began. This included finding housing for those displaced because of the flood.

The second step involved the Church making donations to Red Cross chapters in Nevada and Utah. Several Church buildings were used as Red Cross shelters. Many Church members assisted in overseeing the operations of the shelters.

The third step entailed the Church donating food and hygiene items taken from the St. George, Utah, bishops’ storehouse to food pantries and community shelters. Wheelbarrows and shovels were provided to cleanup crews.

For some, one thing that makes the destruction more bearable is the volunteer work done by others. “There was a tremendous amount of volunteer efforts,” said Garry Flake, Church director of emergency response.

Seminary students from high schools in St. George helped clean up in and around homes that were flooded or damaged.

Hundreds of thousands of Guyanans sought shelter and supplies after severe flooding affected more than half of the country’s residents. (Photograph courtesy of Associated Press.)

A St. George, Utah, home collapses into a flooded river that eroded away the home’s foundation. (Photograph by Scott G. Winterton.)

In the News

Norway Centennial Celebrated at Temple Square

Hundreds of people with Scandinavian ancestry gathered January 15 at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square to commemorate the centennial celebration of Norway’s independence.

The celebration included a speech by Norwegian dignitary Bendik Rugaas, a musical presentation by the International Children’s Choir, and a tribute to Norway from Elder Ronald T. Halverson of the Seventy.

Elder Halverson spoke of the faith displayed by the more than 30,000 Scandinavian Church members who came to Utah during the second half of the 19th century. “It took more than an invitation; it took a special motivation and indoctrination. It took spiritual conviction and faith not only for them to come but to endure in this barren wilderness,” he said.

After his remarks, Elder Halverson presented Mr. Rugaas with a book about the trials faced by Norwegian and Danish Saints who crossed the plains in the Seventh Handcart Company.

“It will give you an idea of the hardships and sacrifices that they faced,” Elder Halverson told Mr. Rugaas. “It is not a complete history, but a history that will help you understand why they came and the dedication that was necessary for our forefathers to establish Zion.”

Mr. Rugaas, who was the first National Librarian of Norway, expressed thanks for the book.

During his four-day visit, he also toured the Family History Library, addressed students at Brigham Young University, and watched the pioneer film Legacy.

“I have been very moved by watching the film Legacy,” he said.

He also said he noticed that many in attendance were dressed in traditional Norwegian garb. “When I look out and see all the sweaters, I can go back and say it was like being at an annual convention of the Norwegian Arts and Crafts Celebration,” Mr. Rugaas joked.

Taiwan Stake Open House Builds Community Relations

More than 800 people, including politicians, investigators, and others, visited the Chung Hsing Taiwan Stake Center late last year during an open house that allowed members of the Chung Hsing stake to share their faith with those in the community.

The open house, which members of the stake spent many hours organizing and preparing, consisted of a tour that led visitors to 10 areas in the building. In each area a different topic of the gospel, Church services, or life as a Latter-day Saint was discussed.

The tour began in the chapel, where the meaning and structure of the sacrament service were explained.

When visitors entered the Relief Society room, members taught them of the role of the Relief Society, explained why it is important to have food storage, and displayed 72-hour emergency kits.

Members taught visitors the importance of family home evening through skits that showed how family home evening works and how it can help build harmony within the home.

Members also showed visitors the stake’s family history center and explained Elijah’s role in turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (see Mal. 4:6). Many of the guests expressed interest in doing family history work.

The Chang Hua County Commissioner toured the building and remarked how impressed he was with the intelligence and eloquent social skills among the youth in the stake. Before leaving, he posed for a picture with the Primary children in front of the building.

Members of the stake said they felt blessed in their effort to build goodwill for the Church in the community.

Church Renovates Family History Library

The Church celebrated the renovation of one of the largest family history libraries in the world in late January after extensive upgrades were completed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The library, which is one of the top 10 tourist attractions in the state of Utah, held an open house January 22–28 that featured personal genealogy assistance, family history classes, guest speakers, and free software samples.

Although the Family History Library is already regarded by many as perhaps the top family history library in the world, the Church made renovations to improve the technology and visitor convenience.

Before the renovation, those looking for published family histories needed to search for them in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Now all 80,000 of the Family History Library’s published family histories and biographies are located on the main floor of the library.

The Church added a videophone that makes it possible for deaf researchers throughout the world to contact deaf researchers in the library. Also added was a 30-station computer lab, giving the library more than 200 computers on which visitors can use family history research software and access the Internet.

“Our guests are always pleased to find that many of the popular pay-per-use genealogy sites on the Web are accessible for free through our library computers,” said Ray Wright, director of the Family History Library.

“The improvements make the library more user-friendly,” said Brother Wright. “We are better equipped now to handle both young and old, beginner and advanced researcher. We want our guests, regardless of experience, knowledge, or primary language spoken, to have a successful experience when they visit. We want them to leave excited about their research and eager to return again.”

During the open house, which was celebrated in conjunction with the 110th anniversary of the Genealogical Society of Utah, the library offered 30 classes on family history research. Classes focused on research for youth, ethnic research, and using the Internet, TempleReady™, and Personal Ancestral File®.

Additional information about the Family History Library may be found at www.familysearch.org.

Patrons at the Church’s recently renovated Family History Library take advantage of improved computer accessibility.

Worldwide Leadership Training Schedule Changed

The worldwide leadership training broadcasts, which have taken place each January and June since 2003, are now expected to be held in February each year, according to a letter from the First Presidency.

In place of the training no longer scheduled for June 18, 2005, the First Presidency encourages priesthood leaders to use the content from previous worldwide leadership training meetings in their priesthood and auxiliary instruction.

Previous addresses from worldwide leadership training meetings have included instruction on missionary service, serving as a bishop, auxiliary leadership, and the duties of a stake president and patriarch.

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, June 2005

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the June 2005 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “I’ll Follow Him in Faith” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

1. Post a picture of the Savior at the top of the chalkboard. Have the children follow along in their scriptures as you summarize the principles in Alma 32:27–43. Teach the importance of planting the word of God—represented by a seed—in our hearts and nourishing it with faith. Draw a seed on the chalkboard and ask, “How do we nourish the seed?” Have the older children turn to pages 4–5 in their Faith in God guidebooks, and review the basic requirements for the Faith in God Award. Pick songs or hymns that teach each principle of the basic requirements. Play a brief “music clue” to identify one of the basic requirements, which will help us nourish the seed with faith. Invite the child who identifies the clue to come to the chalkboard and draw stems, leaves, or branches on the “growing” plant. While that child is drawing, toss beanbags to two or three other children and invite each to stand and tell one thing he or she could do this week to nourish the seed with faith using that requirement. Sing the songs or hymns. Repeat for all six of the requirements. Have the last child who draws on the chalkboard add the precious “fruit.” Direct the children to the promise of the “fruit” in Alma 32:42. Summarize the account of Lehi’s vision in 1 Ne. 8:10–18. Compare the verses about “fruit” in 1 Nephi with those in Alma. Bear your testimony that as we consistently live the gospel with faith, we will eventually be able to partake of the fruit of the tree of life.

For younger children: Instead of using the Faith in God guidebook, teach the same principles of prayer, scripture study, and so on, with pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit.

2. Because of their faith in Christ, modern prophets and prophets of old have fulfilled the work of God even in the face of strong opposition. Heavenly Father blesses those who keep His commandments in faith. Post the following Gospel Art Picture Kit pictures on the board, and be prepared to briefly tell (or have the children help you tell) the accompanying stories from the resources indicated: 102—Building the Ark (story on back of picture), 303—Nephi Subdues His Rebellious Brothers (story on back of picture), 416—Translating the Book of Mormon (story from Primary 5 manual, lesson 5), 507—Brigham Young (story of crossing the plains from Primary 5 manual, lessons 40 and 41), 520—Gordon B. Hinckley (story of Accra Ghana Temple in Liahona, July 2000, 30–32, and Oct. 2004, 13–15). Emphasize that these prophets were blessed because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Speaking Today

Elder Nelson Urges Young Adults to Keep Eternal Perspective

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded young adults during a February 6 Church Educational System broadcast to keep an eternal perspective and asked them to focus on how they would like to see their lives 50 years from now.

Less than a week before the death of his wife, Dantzel, on February 12, 2005, Elder Nelson stressed that although some may long for fame and fortune, the most important things in his and his wife’s lives have been their membership in the Church and their family.

“We have learned that unshakable faith in the Lord enriches married life and love,” Elder Nelson said.

Elder Nelson spoke of the importance of the role his children have played in his life. “How thankful we are that we heeded the counsel of the Church leaders to marry in the temple, to invite children into our family, and to serve the Lord,” he said. “If we had placed our education ahead of our family, we would not be so blessed now.”

Elder Nelson joked about the fact that the first 9 of his 10 children were all girls. “It was like a girls’ dormitory until our one and only son came along. Poor boy—he didn’t know who his real mother was for his first two years.”

Elder Nelson also praised women who decide to give birth, saying that they are helping to fulfill the role Heavenly Father gave them. “When a mother worthily bears and cares for a child, she not only helps the earth reach the end of its creation—she glorifies God.”

He addressed the fact that some people won’t marry in this life and some will not be able to have children, despite a desire to do so. “The Lord is aware of these circumstances. He will bestow all of the blessings that He has in store for His faithful children in His own way and in His own time.”

Elder Nelson told young adults that in these days, Satan has chosen to wage war on the heart of our Father in Heaven’s plan by attacking the family. As evidence of this attack he cited a decline in the number of married adults, a decrease in birthrate, and an increase in the number of unmarried couples who live together.

“With such spiritual sickness all about us, it takes real faith in the Lord and in His gospel to withstand attacks from the adversary,” he said.

Elder Nelson urged those listening to strengthen their faith by denying themselves of all ungodliness.

Elder Nelson taught that although the family is under attack, by heeding the counsel given in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” people can overcome much of the hardship faced in their lives.

He also taught of the importance of understanding the purpose of temple marriage and comprehending how actions here can affect eternity. “This welding together of generations is so important that the purposes of the earth and the purposes of the Church both would be defeated if families were not sealed in the holy temple,” he said.

Elder Cook Teaches Students That Suffering Brings Blessings

Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy taught at a Brigham Young University devotional on February 1 that trials and suffering are blessings from Heavenly Father and prove that He loves His children.

“I bear testimony that often in the midst of suffering, trials and affliction, and discouragement that those very circumstances tutor us in developing increasing love and trust in God,” Elder Cook said. “Consequently, what a great blessing these trials are.”

Although Elder Cook mentioned situations in which there has been suffering on a large scale, he focused most of his remarks on the suffering that occurs in individual lives.

He taught five reasons why the Lord might allow a person to suffer. Elder Cook said suffering allows a person to prove oneself; it creates a witness against sin; it teaches obedience; it teaches patience and faith; and it assists one to repent and to be forgiven.

“It’s evident, brothers and sisters, that the Lord will use tragedy and sorrow to help humble His people and thereby cause them to repent and be saved,” Elder Cook said.

While Elder Cook said that there are reasons why God lets His children suffer, he added that no mortal can understand the full purpose of suffering.

He shared a personal experience, saying that for the first five years of his married life, he and his wife were unable to have children. After adopting their first child, Elder and Sister Cook were then able to have seven children naturally.

“Does the Lord fulfill His promises?” Elder Cook asked. “He does. Be patient. Wait upon the Lord. He loves us.”

Elder Cook suggested that there are six things we can do to bear our afflictions well. First, keep the commandments of the Lord with exactness. Second, endeavor to see more fully the Lord’s hand in our lives. Third, when faced with adversity, trials, or suffering, do our best to increase our faith. Fourth, be patient. Wait on the Lord. Fifth, do not be discouraged along the way. Sixth, humble ourselves and repent of our sins.

Elder Cook taught that although trials can be difficult, they can bring great blessings if we suffer them in the Redeemer’s name.

“I pray that the Lord will help us recognize even these unique gifts of suffering,” he said. “Give thanks for them and give thanks to the Giver of the gifts.”

Elder Pace Teaches of Diversity, Divine Purposes of Life

Using experiences from his own life, Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy taught students at Brigham Young University that they are on the earth at this time for a divine purpose.

Elder Pace, who spoke at a devotional in the Marriott Center on January 11, recounted a near-death experience he had last year that reemphasized to him the importance of using this life to understand our divine roles in the gospel plan.

After a sudden heart attack, Elder Pace underwent an operation that required six bypasses. During a second heart attack one hour later, his heart stopped beating for three minutes, and he went into shock. Much of his heart muscle was lost, and he was put on life support. Despite the doctors’ worries, Elder Pace’s heart began to beat on its own five days later, and his body recovered from the trauma.

After the ordeal, Elder Pace said a single phrase has affected his thoughts and actions enormously. “To this day, etched indelibly on my soul are the words: ‘Your work is not yet finished,’” Elder Pace said. “There’s a challenge and a blessing with not knowing either why you got sent back or how much time you’ve got left.”

Elder Pace then told students that their time is not finished either. He explained that Heavenly Father puts us on the earth for a purpose and that it is our responsibility to fulfill that purpose.

Elder Pace taught that Heavenly Father has given to all His children unique differences that qualify them to do special things while on the earth, adding that He loves us in our diversity.

“We know that we are not on earth at this time by accident or by luck of the draw,” Elder Pace taught. “Once we understand and have conviction of this reality, we can obtain the faith to move forward and overcome any obstacle that stands in the way of fulfilling our foreordained destiny. We can and will make a difference.”

Elder Pace also spoke of the importance of avoiding sin and of having strong ties to the Spirit so that we may understand what role we need to play during different times in our lives. “You simply cannot afford to cut off the inspiration needed in making these decisions by veering off into forbidden areas, jamming the communication lines,” he said.

Bishop Burton Tells Youth to Follow the Prophets

Just a few months before the Tabernacle on Temple Square closed for renovation, Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church, described to thousands of youth the importance of the building and its history at a devotional on November 3, 2004.

He began by telling of his love for the building, in which 14 of the 15 prophets of this dispensation have spoken. Throughout his presentation he projected video clips onto a large screen erected in front of the organ pipes. The first was of President Hinckley’s announcement of the Tabernacle’s renovation in the October 2004 general conference: “This marvelous structure has been used for 137 years this month. The time has come when we must do something to preserve it. It is one of the unique architectural masterpieces in the entire world and a building of immense historical interest.”

Bishop Burton described how the unique building was built: trusses were steamed to make arches, set in cold water, pegged together, and wrapped with rawhide that made steel-tight binding once the rawhide was dry. “There is not another structure just like this in all the world,” he said.

He then presented to the audience old video clips of latter-day prophets speaking at general conferences in the Tabernacle. In a choppy black and white clip from 1949, President George Albert Smith (1870–1951) said: “Don’t we live in a wonderful age. I wonder if we appreciate [what we have].” It was the first time general conference was recorded with audio and video.

In another clip President David O. McKay (1873–1970) introduced a speaker, and as the speaker stood to speak, a light blue curtain was rapidly raised behind him to block distractions.

In a clip from 1967, President Marion G. Romney stood to speak. He and the other General Authorities all wore sunglasses as they sat on the stand because the lights for the television were so bright. He quipped that his favorite story from the Old Testament was of Daniel but now his sympathy goes to the three young men thrown into the fiery furnace.

The last clip showed Elder LeGrand Richards stopping mid-sentence to ask if the flashing red button on the pulpit meant it was time for him to quit. Bishop Burton assured the audience that he probably still continued for 10 or 15 minutes after.

It doesn’t matter how the words of the Lord are broadcast to the world. What matters is that we seek to receive the words of our prophets today. Bishop Burton suggested that every member of the congregation read what the First Presidency has to say in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.

“I am grateful for living prophets who have tutored us for many years in this building. … May the Lord bless you that you will have the ability to focus on the words of prophets for the rest of your lives,” he said.

Elder Gene R. Cook

Elder Glenn L. Pace

Bishop H. David Burton

Young Single Adults Discover Potential

More than 1,300 young single adults from six stakes and one district met late last year in Eket, Nigeria, to take part in the Nigeria Uyo Mission 2004 young single adult conference.

The conference, which discussed several topics pertinent to young single adults, focused on the theme “Discover Your Potential.” It featured talks, panel discussions, classroom instruction, testimony meetings, and dances. Many of the lessons taught at the conference focused on marriage and pre- and post-mission life.

The idea for the conference started with former Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission President Jerry V. Kirk. While interacting with single adults during his time in Nigeria, President Kirk discovered that many of them chose to remain unmarried because of shyness and limited opportunities to get to know other young single adults.

President Kirk discussed with local leaders the possibility of holding a multistake conference. The local leaders agreed to undertake the project and began to plan.

Leaders from surrounding stakes and the Nigeria Uyo Mission prepared lessons. Among those who spoke were former and current mission presidents, a stake Relief Society president, stake presidents, a bishop, a stake high council member, and family history missionaries.

President Stanford Owen of the Nigeria Uyo Mission instructed returned missionaries that they need to stay strong in living the gospel.

“It is a difficult transition from the structured life of a mission to the unstructured environment at home,” President Owen said. “You need to realize that you are the strength of the Church in your home wards and branches, and you need to begin to seriously look for a companion to marry in the temple of the Lord.”

Ephraim Ebong of the Calabar stake high council instructed all young single adults to be wise when managing personal finance.

Brother Ebong suggested that for us to fully discover our potential, we should follow the counsel of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to “pay [our tithes and offerings] as a personal expression of love to a generous and merciful Father in Heaven” (“Like a Watered Garden,” Liahona, Jan. 2002, 39).

In a different address, President Owen instructed prospective missionaries on what they can do to better prepare to serve missions. He explained that developing Christlike attributes, living mission rules, studying hard, and having a good attitude are four things that can increase a missionary’s likelihood to be successful.

Brother David W. Eka, a former mission president in Nigeria, concluded the conference, saying: “Today you have been given the tools you need to fortify yourselves, your homes, your families, and to brighten your future of greatness.”

Sierra Lione Leaders Pleased with Chapel Plans

In attendance at the groundbreaking for the first chapel in the African nation of Sierra Lione were Bo Sierra Lione District President Mohamed Turay; J. Wander, regional Sierra Lione People’s Party chairman; Francis Mses Tawer, officer in charge of Bo police; Dr. Wsu Sannoh, mayor of Bo; and other Church leaders and members.

The building will be located on a plot of ground in the center of Bo in an area of residencies of many Church members. Civic and tribal leaders lauded the building as a great asset to the area and a symbol of cooperation and goodwill between the community and the Church.

“The city of Bo is very supportive of the Church and understands the Church’s values and sees the benefits for the city as your members practice those beliefs,” said Mayor Sannoh.

President Turay gave the keynote address and provided information about Church doctrine and beliefs by reading and discussing the Articles of Faith.

The first official Church meeting in Bo was held on July 27, 1990, with five members in attendance. They met in the home of President Turay’s father-in-law, Sam Rogers. The Bo district now consists of five branches in the city of Bo and one in Kenama. There are currently 2,177 members. Four full-time missionaries were assigned to Bo in 1990 at the time of the first meeting. Two additional elders were added to the Kenama area in September 2004.

Adapted from Church News, November 6, 2004.