News of the Church

By Brittany Beahm, Church Magazines

How to Use the Liahona

For Latter-day Saints throughout the world, the Liahona magazine is an important source of spiritual guidance and gospel learning. It is like “the voice of the Lord … unto all nations; … he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people, yea, even to them that are scattered abroad upon the face of the earth” (Alma 13:22).

What Is the Liahona?

The Liahona is an official magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, currently published in 50 languages (publication frequency varies by language). The word Liahona is a Book of Mormon term meaning “compass” or “director” (see Alma 37:38). The magazine contains faith-promoting messages from General Authorities and other members of the Church. It has articles for adults, youth, and children.

The Liahona is one way we receive important counsel from our latter-day prophets. The First Presidency said: “As members of the Church, we have marvelous resources to help us cling to our values and walk in obedience to the Lord. Among these resources are the magazines produced by the Church. Through the pages of the Church magazines, the words of the living prophets and apostles can come into our homes on a regular basis to guide and inspire us and our families.

“We urge all members throughout the world to subscribe to and read the Church magazines. We encourage priesthood leaders to see to it that every Latter-day Saint home has this opportunity.” 1

How Can I Use the Liahona for Personal Study, with My Family, and in My Church Assignments?

Each issue of the Liahona has an index called Topics in This Issue to help you find articles on specific topics (see p. 1). In addition, the magazine offers teaching ideas for family home evening (see p. 1), home and visiting teaching (see p. 2 and p. 25), and Primary sharing time (see p. F4). These ideas and other articles can easily be adapted and used in teaching any Church class.

Also, the Liahona is a powerful resource you can use to share the gospel with people of other faiths.

Church headquarters receives many letters from people around the world testifying that the Spirit of the Lord touches lives through the Liahona. Consider the following: “The Liahona has helped me set and achieve goals. It has helped me strengthen my own testimony, and it helps my family members who still don’t belong to the Church. It brings joy and love to my home and helps me in my calling. … The Liahona is a light for me in moments of darkness.” 2

As we study the Liahona and apply the principles taught in it, our gospel understanding will increase and our testimonies and relationship with the Savior will be strengthened.

How can I subscribe to the Liahona or renew my subscription?

Liahona subscriptions and information are available through ward and branch clerks and magazine representatives and through local Church distribution centers. Within the United States and Canada, subscriptions may be ordered online at or by calling 1-800-537-5971. (Frequency of publication varies by language.)


  1.   1.

    In Marvin K. Gardner, “A Magazine for All the World: Some Facts about the International Magazine,” Liahona, Oct. 1998, 32–33.

  2.   2.

    In Carlos R. Martins, “A Liahona in Every Home,” Liahona, Oct. 2000, 45.

Church History Time Line

Spring 1820: God the Father and Jesus Christ appear to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, beginning the Restoration of the gospel.

September 21–22, 1823: The angel Moroni appears to Joseph Smith, informing him of an ancient record on golden plates buried in a nearby hill.

May 15, 1829: Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery receive the Aaronic Priesthood from John the Baptist.

May–June 1829: Peter, James, and John restore the Melchizedek Priesthood by conferring it on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

March 1830: The first copies of the Book of Mormon are printed in English, in Palmyra, New York.

April 6, 1830: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is formally organized, in Fayette, New York.

February 1835: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and then the Quorum of the Seventy are organized.

April 3, 1836: Jesus Christ appears to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple to accept the temple. Then Moses, Elias, and Elijah appear to restore priesthood keys.

March 17, 1842: Joseph Smith organizes the Relief Society in Nauvoo.

June 27, 1844: Joseph and Hyrum Smith are martyred by a mob in Carthage, Illinois.

May 1, 1846: The completed Nauvoo Temple is dedicated.

July 21–24, 1847: The first Latter-day Saints arrive in the Salt Lake Valley.

August 25, 1878: The first meeting of the Primary is held.

April 27, 1915: The First Presidency asks members to hold family nights, later called family home evenings.

1936: The Church welfare program officially begins.

1947: Church membership reaches one million.

1950s and 60s: Missionary work expands worldwide.

September 23, 1995: The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issue “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

1997: Church membership passes 10 million, with more members living outside the United States than in it.

1998: The first small temples are dedicated.

October 8, 2000: President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicates the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

March 31, 2001: President Hinckley announces the Perpetual Education Fund.

2004: Church membership exceeds 12 million.

Church Continues Rapid Growth

Worldwide Church membership continues to grow, reaching 12,560,869 in 2005. According to the 2005 Church statistical report, the Church has 2,701 stakes, 52,060 missionaries, and 122 temples in operation. In 2005 more than 240,000 converts joined the Church. Currently 341 missions are established throughout the world.

Although 5.5 million members reside within the United States—where the Church is ranked as the second-fastest-growing church, according to the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches—more than half the Church’s members (6.6 million) live in more than 160 countries around the world. During the last five years, Church membership has grown outside the U.S. and Canada (17.2 percent) at almost double the rate it has within the U.S. and Canada (9.2 percent).

But it’s not percentages that are important. “The numbers don’t tell the real story,” stated Bruce Olsen, managing director of the Church Public Affairs Department, in an April 2005 news release. “The real measure of Latter-day Saints is the depth of their faith and how it changes people’s lives.” And lives are changing for the better all over the world.

Membership Distribution

Map of the world(click to view larger)

Graphic by Thomas S. Child

Countries with the Highest Church Membership

Graph(click to view larger)

Graphic by Thomas S. Child

United States—5,690,672 Mexico—1,043,718 Brazil—928,926 Philippines—553,121 Chile—539,193 Peru—416,060 Argentina—348,396 Guatemala—200,537 Canada—172,433 Ecuador—170,736

Church Membership 1830–2006

Graph(click to view larger)

Graphic by Thomas S. Child

Church Works to Meet Members’ Needs

With hundreds of languages spoken by Latter-day Saints, the Church is continually working to meet the needs of a diverse membership, making material available to Church members living in more than 160 countries worldwide.

The Church’s Translation Division has the task of translating approved scriptures, the spoken word, and other Church materials. The division is actively working in 105 languages. The purpose of the division is to ensure that the meaning of Church doctrines and policies is accurately preserved in translations.

The April 2006 general conference marked a milestone in the language capabilities of the Church with at least one session of conference available in 85 languages. Twenty-three languages were interpreted remotely.

The Church currently has full translations of the Book of Mormon printed in 77 languages. Book of Mormon selections are published in 28 additional languages. New scripture translations are requested by Area Presidencies and approved by the First Presidency. The most recent full translation of the Book of Mormon was published in Twi (Ghana) in 2005.

A limited amount of translated material has been available on the Church’s Web site,, in 43 languages. But this year, as an ongoing process, the Church is working to provide the full content of in 10 languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The Church will continue to work to make additional online material, including scriptures, available in more languages on its Web site.

Church satellite system broadcasts are also available in many languages. Archives of general conference satellite broadcasts are available on the Internet in 44 languages.

The Church has 16 Missionary Training Centers around the world where missionaries learn languages. Teachers at the Provo Utah MTC in the U.S. teach 49 languages.

The Church magazines are another resource for members around the world. The Liahona is distributed in every area of the Church. It contains material for adults, youth, and children and is available in 50 languages. (Frequency of publication varies by language.) The purpose of the Church magazines is to assist Latter-day Saints to more fully understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and to draw nearer to the Savior.

Top 10 Languages Spoken by Church Members*

Graph(click to view larger)

Graphic by Thomas S. Child

  • Spanish—3,903,000—31.1%

  • English—6,008,000—47.8%

  • Portuguese—970,000—7.7%

  • All others—7%

  • Tagalog—172,000—1.4%

  • Cebuano—131,000—1.0%

  • Japanese—118,000—0.9%

  • Ilokano—113,000—0.9%

  • Samoan—107,000—0.9%

  • Tongan—80,000—0.6%

  • Korean—79,000—0.6%

* Numbers are 2005 estimates.

World Organizations Are Grateful for Church’s Humanitarian Efforts

Whether it is for immediate emergency response, such as the medical supplies provided to victims of the May 2006 earthquake in Indonesia, or for ongoing major initiatives, such as the distribution of 40,000 wheelchairs each year in 70 countries, Church Welfare and Humanitarian Services responds to human need more now than ever before.

“The Savior asks us to ‘succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees’ (D&C 81:5),” Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church, said in April 2006 general conference. “I have witnessed firsthand the commitment of Latter-day Saints and others not of our faith who have tender hearts and helping hands, who ‘bear … one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2). I have been deeply sorrowed as I have seen massive devastation and visited victims who are without hope” (“Tender Hearts and Helping Hands,” Liahona, May 2006, 8).

The Church often teams with service organizations across the world in emergency and humanitarian efforts.

“Over the years, the Church has developed wonderful associations with government and nongovernment organizations that share many of the same values and goals,” Dennis Lifferth, managing director of Welfare Services, told Church magazines.

“The humanitarian efforts of the Church truly bless many families,” stated Brother Lifferth. “Of course, the goal of the Church is more than just helping with immediate needs. The goal is to help families help themselves and, in the process, become self-reliant. For this reason, the humanitarian efforts of the Church focus on the traditional, basic elements of self-reliance including food production, clean water and sanitation, health, and education.”

In 2006 the Church distributed wheelchairs in Vietnam, funded relief for Romanian flood victims, provided long-term aid to the Asian tsunami-hit areas, provided medical supplies to 200 Brazilian hospitals, and joined with Islamic Relief Worldwide in helping victims of the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Indonesia in May, killing thousands and leaving tens of thousands injured and homeless.

“It’s a tremendous relationship,” said Mokhtar Shawky, a member of the board of directors of Islamic Relief Worldwide, at a press conference where eight semitrucks of supplies were to be loaded on a 747 cargo plane and shipped to Indonesia. “We really appreciate what the Church is doing. We feel like we complement each other. … The end result is helping more people in more parts of the world.”

The Indonesian quake was a recent example of emergencies in which these two humanitarian relief agencies combined efforts. Another was the 7.6-magnitude South Asia earthquake that struck in 2005, killing more than 50,000, injuring thousands, and leaving millions homeless.

“I do believe that the LDS Church has helped a great deal in easing the pain and suffering of a lot of victims of natural disasters and manmade disasters,” Islamic Relief executive director Ahmad El-Bendary told the Church magazines in 2005. “It has been a great help and support and strength for humanitarian causes that we have worked with the Muslim community on.”

The Church also provided major disaster assistance during the 2005 hurricane season, especially following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana and other southern United States. Verdie Culpepper, donations coordinator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said the Church donated numerous supplies for the cleanup efforts. “The state of Louisiana appreciates what the LDS Church has done for us,” she said.

Similarly, Marsha Kelly, executive director for the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, praised the Church’s quick response to requests following the hurricanes.

“I just want you to know that every interaction that I’ve had [with the Church] has been immediate. … What more could someone want than to have somebody say, ‘This is what I am going to do,’ and it happened,” she said. “And they do it with such love.”

Alex Amparo, director of emergency management for the Governor’s Committee on Volunteerism in Florida, told the Church magazines that the emergency relief given by the Church and its hundreds of volunteers was tremendous during the eight hurricanes that hit Florida in an 18-month period from 2004 to 2005.

“From a standpoint of an emergency management official at the state level, I will tell you that the LDS Church’s volunteer program is one of the most structured and effective operations that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve worked with a host of agencies before,” he said.

In 2005 alone the Church contributed 157,000 days of labor for disaster relief, with a total of 581,821 days of labor donated to Church welfare facilities.

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Stan and Wilma, Church members overcame mudslides, washed-out bridges, and blocked roads to deliver supplies to Guatemala, El Salvador, and southern Mexico. The Saints in Mexico organized quickly and provided thousands of volunteer hours, and Church buildings became command centers to provide relief.

“In one case, the stake center became a refuge and emergency meal center, open 24 hours a day, for anyone in need,” Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy, Mexico South Area President, told Church magazines. “A team of Relief Society sisters worked for six days straight providing food and relief for thousands of victims and volunteers.”

Government officials also commended the Saints’ efforts.

“[The Church’s] invaluable aid has contributed in a remarkable way to help us face the emergency and recover, in a short period of time, to our normal activities,” said Fidel Herrera, governor of the state of Veracruz.

In addition to initial emergency response, the Church helps communities rebuild and provides ongoing humanitarian efforts throughout the world.

In February 2005 the American Red Cross presented the Church with the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarians Award after the Church contributed funds to the Africa measles vaccination campaign in 2004 and 2005.

Since 1985 the Church has contributed a substantial amount of material assistance to 163 countries around the world. The Church has distributed more than 51,000 tons (46,000 tonnes) of food, 7,600 tons (6,900 tonnes) of medical equipment, 68,000 tons (61,000 tonnes) of surplus clothing, and 5,700 tons (5,100 tonnes) of educational supplies.

Yet all of this help is only one aspect of the Church’s welfare program. Another, more long-term effort, is to help families become self-reliant and self-sustaining.

“It is our hope that by helping families become self-reliant, they will gain greater confidence in not only their own abilities, but also in their fellowmen, and especially in the sustaining strength of a loving Father in Heaven,” Brother Lifferth said.

More information about the Church’s welfare program can be found on

[photo] The Church and Islamic Relief Worldwide, represented by Mokhtar Shawky, right, have teamed up on several relief projects, including sending aid by plane to Indonesia. (Photograph by Abbey Olsen.)