News of the Church

By Walter Cooley, Church Magazines


New Enrichment Meeting Guidelines Announced

In August 2005 the First Presidency released new guidelines for Relief Society home, family, and personal enrichment meetings. The guidelines indicate that enrichment meetings take place quarterly and that enrichment activities be scheduled according to the needs or interests of the sisters. The changes are intended to provide greater flexibility for individual units and also to place a greater emphasis on the home and family. The guidelines will go into effect on January 1, 2006.

“The purposes of home, family, and personal enrichment are to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and to teach parenting and homemaking skills,” the First Presidency stated. “Enrichment is a time for sisters to socialize, learn, and be uplifted.”

The First Presidency lists three parameters to consider when planning any enrichment gathering: know the needs and interests of Relief Society members, consult with priesthood leaders, and be prayerful and purposeful in planning activities. Also, all sisters ought to feel appropriately included and welcome.

Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Meetings

Home, family, and personal enrichment meetings are for all sisters to meet together. The First Presidency stated that each ward or branch Relief Society presidency should carry out four enrichment meetings per year. Enrichment meetings are to take place during the week, at times other than on Sunday or on Monday evening. One of the four meetings ought to center on the commemoration of the March 17, 1842, organization of the Relief Society. The stake or district Relief Society presidency is responsible for one to two additional meetings per year. One of these meetings should be in conjunction with the annual broadcast of the general Relief Society meeting.

Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Activities

Home, family, and personal enrichment activities are for sisters with similar situations, needs, or interests. Enrichment activities are less structured than enrichment meetings and serve as a means of friendshipping and support. “The activities should offer a safe, relaxed, and engaging environment where sisters learn and share ways to strengthen homes, families, and individuals,” the First Presidency stated. Relief Society leaders are encouraged to keep the activities flexible in order to help the sisters meet their home, family, and other obligations. More information regarding home, family and personal enrichment meetings and activities is available in the Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders [1998], pages 204–5.

[photo] Individual units now have the flexibility to determine the number of enrichment activities needed.

Penetrating Hearts through Sight and Sound

The Audiovisual Department of the Church captures the sounds and images that continue to spread the voice of the Lord unto all people (see D&C 1:2). Through current video, photography, broadcast, Internet, and engineering technology, the department portrays the Church’s messages.

“Technology provides significant support to the ongoing mission of the Church,” said President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. “I am certain the Lord expects us to apply technology to the advancement of His purposes and the blessing of mankind” (“This Is Our Day,” Liahona, July 1999, 19).

Advancing the Lord’s work for the Audiovisual Department means helping members and others who view its work to know, feel, and act upon gospel principles.

International Development

Members in Bishop Raymond Ruiz’s ward in the Philippines learned how to reverently conduct Primary after watching a local training video produced by the Audiovisual Department.

Bishop Ruiz said: “The following Sunday after we showed the Primary training video, I came out of my office to observe the Primary children. I saw that they were reverently lining up to enter their room one by one. I also saw that the leaders were standing by the door to greet the children as they entered. I realized that the Primary leaders were actually doing what was shown in the video.”

As it did in the Philippines Area, the Audiovisual Department assists Area Presidencies in preparing and distributing training materials. In the Philippines, the department worked with the Area Presidency to produce a set of three auxiliary training videos. In other areas, such as the Europe East Area, the department provides technical assistance to allow the Area Presidency to train local leaders through videoconferencing.

The department has also produced a DVD that shows members how to clean their local meetinghouses. The DVD has an accompanying booklet, titled Hermano Olympio.

The department also assists with voice-overs used for Church films. Church productions that require language voice-overs are sometimes recorded at a studio in the country where the language is spoken.

For example, studios in Japan, Finland, Thailand, Brazil, and Ukraine have been used to tape audio recordings of actors from those countries.

An important distinction between the Church’s Audiovisual Department and other creative studios is the message presented. In all audiovisual productions, the message originates from another Church department or from priesthood leaders. The role of the Audiovisual Department is to design the appropriate look and feel of that message.

Internet and DVDs

As the Church has grown and spread across the world, new technology has been developed which has made communication with even remote areas possible.

Distributing audiovisual materials to Church members in many languages has become easier with the invention of DVDs and the Internet.

One DVD can replace several dozen VHS tapes produced for the same general conference. On VHS tapes, a production could be dubbed in only one language and had to be matched to the appropriate television format.

Now a single DVD can hold up to 26 language translations. The DVD format is also the new international video standard, eliminating the need to match international television standards. DVD players have been placed in Church meetinghouses throughout the world, and the Church is currently converting existing videos to DVD.

In addition to DVD technology, the Internet is also proving to be a highly interactive medium that can deliver broadcasts and interactive training.

Recently the Audiovisual Department helped design interactive online training lessons for the Young Women and Primary auxiliaries. These lessons, which can be downloaded from www.lds.org, have a potential to distribute interactive training to thousands of members.

David Nielson, director of the department’s media design and production division, said the Church’s use of the Internet and DVDs to deliver audiovisual materials will most likely increase in the future.

Broadcasts

April and October general conferences are two of the most widely viewed productions with which the department is involved. General conference can reach up to 97 percent of the Church’s members through live broadcasts. The other 3 percent of the Church receives conference on DVD following conference.

Preparations for general conference involve many technicians. Camera and teleprompter operators, audio controllers, producers, and photographers are only a part of the audiovisual team that helps ready dozens of cameras, several control rooms, sound systems, and facilities for interpretation, American Sign Language, and closed captioning for conference and other broadcasts.

In addition to general conference, the department broadcasts CES firesides, remote stake conferences, worldwide training meetings, general Relief Society and Young Women meetings, and temple dedications.

Motion Pictures

The most recognizable Audiovisual Department productions are Church films such as The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd. Church films are developed upon approval by the First Presidency and are created primarily at the Church’s motion picture studio in Provo, Utah.

The studio is located near Brigham Young University’s Provo campus. Nestled within the 25-acre (10-ha) wooded area are several cinder block buildings and sets replicating early 1800s-style buildings, including an exact replica of the Newel K. Whitney store located in Kirtland, Ohio.

Unlike most Hollywood studios, the Church’s studio does not rent its equipment. The studio facilities include a metal shop, a wood shop, several audio recording studios, and a wardrobe storage area. Scenery for films is created on-site.

From this studio, portions of the Church’s full-length motion pictures such as Legacy and The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd were filmed. Scenes from the Church’s upcoming movie about Joseph Smith were also filmed at the studio. Editing of all Church motion pictures takes place entirely on-site. Short video clips shown between sessions of general conference are also produced at the site.

Engineering

When the new movie about Joseph Smith opens in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Audiovisual Department will have created not only the film, but the projection system that plays it.

The engineering division of the Audiovisual Department designs and creates systems capable of displaying the department’s productions. Sometimes this process involves modifying existing technology; sometimes it includes designing and patenting a unique system.

The Church currently holds several patents for systems built by the engineering division. Engineering created the systems used to run temple ordinance presentations, Church historical site exhibits, and visitors’ center exhibits.

God’s Plan, a new visitors’ center exhibit, is one audiovisual production currently playing at three visitors’ centers. At regular intervals, the exhibit displays a message about the eternal nature of families. From a remote control, the sister missionary leading a small tour of visitors can push one button to dim the lights and start the movie.

The message about family plays in surround sound on a plasma screen television. Visitors watch from benches facing what looks like a house. The exhibit can play in a variety of languages.

The engineering division designed much of the technology needed for the God’s Plan exhibit because it was not available commercially. Future visitors’ centers will include the exhibit.

Other engineering projects include working closely with temple architects to ensure that temple designs will support audiovisual systems. Audiovisual engineers also install audiovisual equipment in a new temple before its dedication. Engineers periodically reevaluate these systems to simplify technical support needed for temple audiovisual equipment, making it easier for local temple staffs to identify and fix problems with minimal assistance.

“We have the responsibility to monitor new technologies and to evaluate their ability and to incorporate them carefully to build the kingdom,” said Lynn Hadfield, director of the department’s engineering division.

As the Audiovisual Department’s sights and sounds continue to teach, train, and testify, the department helps to fulfill the Lord’s prophecy that there will be “no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated” (D&C 1:2) by the gospel.

[photo] Young women and their leaders gather for a general Young Women meeting broadcast from the Conference Center by the Audiovisual Department. (Photograph by Craig Dimond.)

[photo] Actors portray Joseph and Emma Smith during filming for the new film on Joseph Smith and the Restoration. (Photograph by Christina Smith.)

Two New Missions Created in Africa

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have announced the creation of two new missions in Africa. The Ghana Cape Coast Mission and the Uganda Kampala Mission were organized in July 2005. The two new missions bring the total missions worldwide to 341.

Ghana Cape Coast Mission

The Ghana Cape Coast Mission was created from countries previously covered by the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission. The new mission includes Togo, Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the western half of Ghana. The Ghana Cape Coast Mission includes 13,590 members of the Cape Coast Ghana, Kumasi Ghana, and Takoradi Ghana Stakes and the Assin Foso Ghana and Swedru Ghana Districts. Lindsay Thomas Dil, originally called earlier this year to begin serving as the mission president of the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission on July 1, 2005, has been reassigned as the mission’s new president.

The Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission’s new president is Norbert Kalogo Ounleu. This mission now includes only the Ivory Coast and the Church’s 9,149 members in the Abidjan and Abobo stakes.

The creation of the new mission also affects the boundaries for the Ghana Accra Mission. The Ghana Accra Mission now covers the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the eastern half of Ghana. The realigned boundaries include 19,151 members in the Accra Ghana Christiansborg, Accra Ghana Lartebiokorshie, and Monrovia Liberia Stakes, and the Abomosu Ghana, Koforidua Ghana, Bo Sierra Leone, and Freetown Sierra Leone Districts.

Uganda Kampala Mission

The Uganda Kampala Mission covers Uganda and Ethiopia. Ralph L. Duke has been called to serve as the mission’s president. Church membership within the mission includes 3,959 members of the Jinja Uganda and the Kampala Uganda Districts.

The Kenya Nairobi Mission, which formerly included the countries of Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania, will now cover Kenya and Tanzania. The mission includes 6,099 members in the Nairobi Kenya Stake and the Chyulu Kenya District.

E-Learning: Uniformly Training Church Members

E-learning technology is helping to address one of the Church’s current challenges: training with a consistent message a diverse Church membership spread throughout the world.

In September 2002 the First Presidency announced that annual worldwide leadership training meetings broadcast by satellite would teach and train local leaders to apply the Church’s doctrines and principles on a local level. During the first worldwide leadership meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized the importance of uniform training.

He said: “We are all one Church, the Church of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. We should be performing our duty uniformly to bless the lives of all for whom we are responsible” (“Missionary Service,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 11, 2003, 21).

E-learning is helping members learn the skills and responsibilities related to their callings. Besides delivering a consistent message, online training has several advantages, including being interactive, far-reaching, and flexible.

Interactive

E-learning lessons are presented in an interactive slide show format. These lessons include video and audio clips, application questions, practice scenarios, interactive dialogues, and tables and charts with suggestions related to the training topic.

Recently released training for the Primary and Young Women auxiliaries takes advantage of interactive techniques to present the content. Steve Brimley, e-learning manager in the Church’s Audiovisual Department, said these techniques have been used in several courses and help maintain users’ attention throughout the lessons.

In addition to reading a handbook and other materials, members can view interactive lessons that show them how to do things related to their callings, such as how to fill out a Church audit form, talk to a young woman about Personal Progress, or conduct music.

“From the beginning we have tried to teach concepts visually, not just simply telling them what needs to be done, but showing them what needs to be done,” said Brendon Brown, an instructional designer with the Church’s Member and Statistical Records Division.

The visual approach to teaching is especially helpful as Church instructional designers teach concepts to members spread across a wide spectrum of cultures, experiences, and learning styles.

Early Church uses of e-learning, such as the Church music site and www.providentliving.org, proved successful at providing training for certain skills.

“I think these sites showed e-learning was a viable, cost-effective way to reach a worldwide audience for certain types of training,” said David Nielson, director of the media design and production division of the Church’s Audiovisual Department.

Far-Reaching

Members’ access to e-learning is made possible by new technology and increasing access to the Internet. Currently, e-learning courses are posted on www.lds.org, allowing members to complete the lessons at home on a personal computer. Internet access is also available in meetinghouses with family history centers. Some 4,400 family history centers operate throughout the world.

Flexible

One of the advantages of e-learning is its flexibility. E-learning allows users to receive training anytime and anywhere there is Internet access.

“People appreciate flexibility in their learning so they can learn at their own pace and on their own schedule,” said Brother Nielson.

The average training lesson lasts 15 minutes. Members can view each lesson as many times as they want.

Also, unlike forms of training such as printed handbooks, electronic training lessons can be updated quickly. Updates to e-learning can quickly reflect current Church procedures. New video clips or audio instructions from General Authorities can be added to slide shows to reflect policy or procedure changes.

E-learning lessons can also be translated as the need arises. Online training for Church clerks and auditors is being translated into 14 languages. During their first month online, the translated versions of the training lessons were among the most viewed lessons in the clerk and auditor training.

Getting Results

While many of the lessons mimic the one-on-one tutoring members might receive from their priesthood or auxiliary leaders, Brother Nielson said e-learning cannot replace the personal teaching relationship available in local wards and branches.

“E-learning will never replace live teaching from the Brethren or local priesthood leaders,” Brother Nielson said. “However, for certain skills that members can learn in their own homes or in a Church building, this can be an effective method of training.”

Training, both in worldwide leadership meetings and online, continues to unify members’ work to accomplish the mission of the Church. President Hinckley said about that mission to save souls: “There is no greater work. There is no more important work. There is no more compelling work than this which the God of heaven has given us responsibility for accomplishing” (Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 11, 2003, 21). Existing online training may be accessed in the Serving in the Church section of www.lds.org or by accessing lds.org in your language.

[photo] Interactive online training is being used to teach members around the world.

[photo] Members may now access online training from any computer with internet access.

Strengthening the Community

Cook Islands Cyclone Relief an Ongoing Challenge

Five cyclones in as many weeks provided members of the Church in the Cook Islands with almost unlimited opportunities for service to other members and the wider community as well. There was a great deal of damage to housing and crops on both the main island of Rarotonga and neighboring islands, but the members swung into action to help restore order.

The Church supplied food and water to Pukapuka. Building materials and members’ labor helped in reroofing one house and completely rebuilding two others on Aitutaki. Many houses on Rarotonga were repaired using Church-supplied materials and priesthood labor.

In addition, the Church is funding the installation of a large concrete pad at Te Uki Ou School on Rarotonga so that students using wheelchairs and walkers can mingle with friends more easily.

Institute Celebrates with Service Weekend

During a break in university terms, the three Hamilton stakes and the young single adult ward focused on enrolling for institute for the next semester. The theme for the institute weekend was “Joseph Smith and Young Adults—True to the Values.” Following a mix-and-meet opening activity, the activity turned toward service.

Project number one was at Hamon’s Bush, just west of the Temple View Community, where Elder and Sister Roger Hamon are serving as missionaries. The young adults planted native trees on what has come to be known as Institute Hill.

Project number two saw young adults mingling with other Temple View stake members in another tree-planting project for the Hamilton City Council.

The third service project involved making quilts and donating soft toys for the children’s ward at the Waikato Hospital. The young adults donated 29 quilts and 4 large sacks of soft toys to the hospital during this activity.

Spearheading the toy project was Amy Howard, who said recent stays with her son in the hospital made her want to do something to brighten it up for the young patients. The children will be able to play with the toys and take one of their favorites home with them after their stay.

Relief Society Sisters Knit Warmers for Penguins

A team of Relief Society sisters from the Coffs Harbour Branch in New South Wales has pulled out their knitting needles in response to a cry for help from the fairy penguins of Phillip Island.

“Nature reserves in this area use the knitted sweaters for the rehabilitation of oil-damaged penguins. Oil spills kill many penguins there each year because the oil damages the penguins’ feathers, making them susceptible to poisoning and drowning,” says Marion Braun of the Coffs Harbour Branch.

The Bass Strait of Australia, separating Tasmania from the mainland, is a major shipping thoroughfare. Occasional seafaring mishaps can be disastrous to the fairy penguins, so called because they are the smallest penguin species in the world.

The penguin sweaters are stored in oil-spill-response kits positioned in critical locations around Tasmania. In the case of an oil spill, little penguins are usually far too ill to be cleaned with water and mild detergent right away, and the scrubbing can be quite stressful. Instead, rescuers slip the oil-coated birds into wool sweaters, which prevent them from preening themselves and possibly swallowing toxic petroleum-based oil as they regain needed strength. The sweaters also serve to keep the penguins warm until their bodies are once again producing the natural oils (removed by the cleaning) necessary for their insulation and waterproofing.

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, January 2006

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the January 2006 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “Promises in the Scriptures” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

  1. 1.

    2. Explain in your own words D&C 82:10 using examples from the scriptures of promises fulfilled. Invite the children to turn to D&C 82:10, and explain that the Lord’s promises require specific actions on our part. When we do what He asks, the Lord blesses us according to the promise. Mark, discuss, and memorize the scripture (see Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 171–72). Divide the children into groups of five or six. Give each group a beanbag. As you sing a song or hymn, have the children in each group toss the beanbag among the group members. When the music stops, have the child from each group with the beanbag say one thing he or she will do this week to be worthy of the promises of the Lord. Continue the game as time permits. Bear testimony of the great promises that have been given to the faithful. Sing “I Am a Child of God,” (Children’s Songbook, 2–3).

  2. 3.

    Song presentation: Teach the song “Scripture Power” (see 2006 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation). Hold up a picture of the Savior, and ask the children to listen for things that will help us be like Him. Sing, “Because I want to be like the Savior, and I can, I’m reading His instructions, I’m following His plan.” Holding up your scriptures, ask where we read His instructions and where we find His plan. While helpers hold the picture and scriptures, sing those lines again. Ask them to listen for what “His word will give to me.” Then sing the whole line, holding up your scriptures with two hands. Explain that His words will give us power! Sing the song to that point, and when you sing the word power, hold up your scriptures with both hands. Tell the children, “Because I want the power of the scriptures in my life, I’m changing some things. Listen and tell me what they are.” Sing, “I’m changing how I’ll live, I’m changing what I’ll be.” Take answers; then sing the lines together. Lead children in the whole verse. Ask them to count on their fingers how many times they hear the word power as you sing the chorus. Tell them to alternate singing words of the chorus with you: for example, they sing, “scripture power”; you sing, “keeps me safe from sin.” Then have half the Primary sing with you as you continue to alternate with the other half of the Primary. Bear your testimony of the scriptures.