News of the Church

By Julie Dockstader Heaps, staff writer


Enthusiasm for Enrichment Spreading through Relief Society

Building a unified sisterhood and strengthening families—that is the focus behind the new guidelines for home, family, and personal enrichment activities that were implemented last January, according to the Relief Society general presidency, Bonnie D. Parkin, Kathleen H. Hughes, and Anne C. Pingree.

“There’s enthusiasm on the part of leaders as well as those sisters participating when they understand that this is an informal way that women can gather and build friendships as well as find ways to strengthen families,” said Sister Pingree, who oversees home, family, and personal enrichment. “When this happens, all lives are blessed—the individual, the family, and the ward.”

Referring to the August 2005 First Presidency letter announcing the new guidelines for home, family, and personal enrichment meetings and activities, Sister Pingree said the general presidency is seeing through reports received from throughout the Church that sisters are catching “a real vision of how you can strengthen the family through home, family, and personal enrichment activities. The [new guidelines] were also to provide increased flexibility at the local level.”

In meeting with Church News, along with general board members Connie Cannon and Helen Thiriot, Sister Pingree said that local Relief Society leaders are to do the following concerning enrichment activities:

  • Assess and determine the needs of the sisters in a given ward or branch.

  • Welcome input from the sisters.

  • Involve local priesthood leaders. Bishops and branch presidents have a great vision of the needs of individuals and families.

  • Plan with purpose and prayer.

Many examples coming into the Relief Society general offices are showing that this is happening. Gail McHardy, Relief Society president in the Houston Branch, St. Robert Missouri Stake, made coming up with ideas a matter of prayer with her counselors. “The Spirit was certainly there to help us,” she said during a telephone conversation.

Then, with the support of the branch president, she presented the ideas to the sisters in the ward. She was surprised when the most popular activity was a class in American Sign Language. Another sister in the branch had taken sign language courses and agreed to teach the classes.

“The branch president has agreed to let them sign with the choir soon,” Sister McHardy said. She added that one sister had recently returned to Church activity and by participating in the class “she felt much more a part of Relief Society.”

Sue Gaskill, the enrichment leader in the Holladay Fourth Ward, Salt Lake Holladay South Stake, looked for help from “specialists” in her ward. Utilizing the computer skills of Sue Gygi and Julie Rawlings, the ward has started a family history project. Sisters Gygi and Rawlings go into the homes of other sisters and help them set up family history software and show them how to get started. On September 12, 2006, the ward Relief Society sisters attended the temple and did work for at least one ancestor each.

Sister Gaskill said they have also had lunches with women who are homebound. She added that having fun yet meaningful activities as guided by the Spirit has helped the younger sisters “realize how much fun Relief Society is.”

  • A branch in Mexico teaching women how to cut children’s hair, cook, and do basic sewing, thus helping with the family budget.

  • A ward in Blackfoot, Idaho, offering a class in sewing modest prom dresses.

  • A ward in Salt Lake City with many newly married couples offering classes on strengthening marriage and living on a budget.

  • A stake in Arizona helping teach English to children and mothers who speak Spanish.

  • A single adult ward in Salt Lake City offering employment classes.

“I think through friendships and goals that strengthen and build sisters and also fortify families,” Sister Pingree said, “we can feel the love of the Lord in greater measure in our individual lives and in our families.”

Adapted from Church News, August 19, 2006.

Sue Gygi (left), a family history specialist in the Holladay Fourth Ward, Salt Lake Holladay South Stake, listens as Nancy Graff asks a question about family history work. Sister Gygi helped teach family history software as part of home, family, and personal enrichment activities. (Photograph by Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News.)

Tenth Temple in Europe Opens

The Church completed the construction of a temple in Helsinki, Finland, in August 2006—the 10th temple in Europe and the first in Finland.

For two weeks between September 21 and October 7, 2006, the public toured the temple during an open house. After the public open house, the temple was dedicated on Sunday, October 22. Four dedicatory sessions accommodated Latter-day Saints in the area served by the temple.

In conjunction with the temple dedication, a cultural celebration of music and dance for Church members throughout the region was held on Saturday, October 21, 2006, in Helsinki.

The temple allows worthy members to receive the blessings of the temple as they take part in sacred covenants and ordinances and to receive instruction about life before mortality, the purposes of this life, and the central role of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of all God’s children.

“Each temple is symbolic of our faith in God and an evidence of our faith in life after death,” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has stated. “The temple is the object of every activity, every lesson, every progressive step in the Church. All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple” (”Prepare for Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 17).

The blessings of the temple are now within easier reach of the approximately 26,000 members in the area served by the temple, which includes Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia.

Finland is home to more than 4,500 members of the Church. Missionary work began there in the late 1800s. Swedish missionary brothers preached in Vaasa in 1876. That year, the first converts in Finland were baptized, and by 1886, 25 people had been baptized among the Swedish-speaking Finns. The Finnish Mission was organized in 1947, when there were only 129 members in Finland. During the next 7 years, the Church gained legal status and the Book of Mormon was translated into Finnish. The Helsinki Stake was organized in October 1977 with 3,642 members.

The Helsinki Finland Temple was first announced on April 2, 2000, during the 170th Annual General Conference of the Church. The groundbreaking took place in the Helsinki suburb of Karakallio, Espoo, on March 29, 2003. It is the 124th operating temple in the world and the 3rd in the Nordic countries. Temples in Stockholm, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark, were completed in 1985 and 2004, respectively.

“Surely these temples are unique among all buildings,” President Gordon B. Hinckley stated. “They are houses of instruction. They are places of covenants and promises. At their altars we kneel before God our Creator and are given promise of His everlasting blessings. In the sanctity of their appointments we commune with Him and reflect on His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who served as proxy for each of us in a vicarious sacrifice in our behalf. Here we set aside our own selfishness and serve for those who cannot serve themselves. Here, under the true priesthood power of God, we are bound together in the most sacred of all human relationships—as husbands and wives, as children and parents, as families under a sealing that time cannot destroy and death cannot disrupt.

“These sacred buildings were constructed even during those dark years when the Latter-day Saints were relentlessly driven and persecuted. They have been built and maintained in times of poverty and prosperity. They come from the vital faith of an ever-growing number who bear witness of a living God, of the resurrected Lord, of prophets and divine revelation, and of the peace and assurance of eternal blessings to be found only in the house of the Lord” (“Why These Temples?” Tambuli, June 1992, 2; Ensign, Aug. 1974, 37).

Helsinki Finland Temple

Department Produces Tools for Wise Financial Management

President Gordon B. Hinckley and other Church leaders have counseled multiple times concerning self-reliance, debt, and wise financial management, and the Church’s Welfare Services Department has produced tools designed to help Church members follow that counsel.

“So many of our people are heavily in debt for things that are not entirely necessary,” President Hinckley said in October 2001. “I urge you as members of this Church to get free of debt where possible and to have a little laid aside against a rainy day” (“The Times in Which We Live,” Liahona, Jan. 2002, 84–85; Ensign, Nov. 2001, 72).

A redesigned pamphlet, One for the Money: Guide to Family Finance, is a tool available to members to help them understand debt and manage their finances.

“Church members are not immune from financial pressures,” said Dennis Lifferth, managing director of the Welfare Services Department. “From the earliest days of the Church we have been counseled to be self-reliant and live within our means.”

The content of One for the Money: Guide to Family Finance is from a talk given by Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–94) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at a Welfare Services meeting in April 1975. It was last published as a pamphlet in 1992. The new design has added graphics, a revamped layout, and is designed to make the message of Elder Ashton’s talk more accessible to the reader. The design amplifies 12 timeless principles outlined by Elder Ashton:

  1. 1.

    Pay an honest tithing.

  2. 2.

    Learn to manage money before it manages you.

  3. 3.

    Learn self-discipline and self-restraint in money matters.

  4. 4.

    Use a budget.

  5. 5.

    Teach family members early the importance of working and earning.

  6. 6.

    Teach children to make money decisions in keeping with their capacities to comprehend.

  7. 7.

    Teach each family member to contribute to the total family welfare.

  8. 8.

    Make education a continuing process.

  9. 9.

    Work toward home ownership.

  10. 10.

    Appropriately involve yourself in an insurance program.

  11. 11.

    Understand the influence of external forces on family finances and investments.

  12. 12.

    Appropriately involve yourself in a food storage and emergency preparedness program.

The Church is in the process of making the pamphlet available in 10 languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

The redesigned pamphlet will be available free through Church distribution centers or online in the U.S. and Canada at www.ldscatalog.com. An electronic version of the redesigned pamphlet and other financial management resources will be available online at ProvidentLiving.org.

President Hinckley has offered this promise: “If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts. That’s all I have to say about it, but I wish to say it with all the emphasis of which I am capable” (“To the Boys and to the Men,” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 66; Ensign, Nov. 1998, 51).

Three New Pamphlets Help Those Learning about the Church

With the development of three new missionary pamphlets, investigators will now receive literature to read and ponder at the conclusion of each of their first three lessons with the missionaries.

“At the conclusion of every teaching session, the investigator should be left with something to read,” President Gordon B. Hinckley stated in the first Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting. “It may be designated chapters from the Book of Mormon. It may be other literature. But there should always be something for him to read and think about, to ponder and reflect on” (Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 2003, 20).

The pamphlets provide a resource investigators can turn to in private or group reflection. Coinciding with the first three missionary lessons as found in Preach My Gospel chapter three, the pamphlets offer insight to answer questions that may come to mind after the missionaries have left and to prepare the reader for future lessons.

Each of the three pamphlets—The Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, and The Gospel of Jesus Christ—is a small booklet containing a summary of principles in that lesson, with study questions and a glossary of terms that may be unfamiliar. Questions such as “How can I know?” and “How do I pray?” are answered, an overview of Sunday meetings tells investigators what they can expect, and a list of commitments offers guidance in scripture study and points to additional resources.

Missions across the world received English versions of the pamphlets during 2006. Missionaries are encouraged to study the pamphlets while preparing for lessons and to refer to them in teaching. Each booklet includes art and photography that can be used in teaching, and through the pamphlets, missionaries can remind investigators of commitments, invite them to Church, and point them to Mormon.org. Members are encouraged to share the pamphlets with their families and friends.

The pamphlets, planned from the beginning as part of the Preach My Gospel effort, are currently being translated into the languages in which the Preach My Gospel manual is published, more than 50 in all.

The pamphlets are available through distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada or at ldscatalog.com at a cost of U.S. $2.50 for a package of 25.

New pamphlets intended for use in conjunction with Preach My Gospel can be left with investigators of the Church.

Church Delivers Mobility, Freedom in Palau

Each year the Church distributes 40,000 wheelchairs in 70 countries as part of an ongoing initiative to provide mobility to individuals across the world. In August 2006 the Church donated 250 new wheelchairs to Palau, an island nation located a few hundred miles southeast of the Philippines. The program blesses the lives of thousands, and it is the individual stories and needs of those thousands of people that motivate the ongoing wheelchair program.

As the result of an accident, Junior Senardo, a member of another church, was left paralyzed from a gunshot wound to his neck 14 years ago. This injury left him bedridden and dependent on others to accomplish simple daily life tasks. That all changed on August 16, 2006, when the Palau Ministry of Health gave Junior one of the new wheelchairs donated by the Church. Now Junior looks forward to being able to attend his church meetings on Sundays and a ball game in the future.

Jonathan Remengesau also is grateful for the blessing of a new wheelchair. Diabetes had caused his leg to be amputated in 2002. When his old wheelchair finally stopped functioning, he looked around for a new one. He was dismayed at the high cost of a new wheelchair—usually more than U.S. $700—a cost he knew he could not afford on his limited income. The plywood seat on his old chair was chafing his legs and causing painful sores. He finally gave up hope and decided to avoid leaving home. He rejoiced when he heard that he was qualified to receive a free wheelchair.

“This is the first time that anyone has really helped me like this,” he said as he sat in his new chair.

Ten-year-old Diraingas Edeyaoch’s first wheelchair came from the Church’s recent donation. Before the donation, she had to be carried wherever she went. As she has gotten older, it has become more difficult for people to carry her places. Now her father plans to take her to see the scenery that she enjoys so much.

These are just three of the many people in Palau who were given new freedom when they received a wheelchair from the Church.

Minister Victor Yano of the Ministry of Health said the donation of 250 wheelchairs is a great blessing for the people of Palau. He thanked the Church for making it possible for people with limited income and long-term disabilities to receive a wheelchair for free. He thanked Church representatives Rebluud Kesolei, Koror Topside Branch president, and Bill Davis, Guam Service Center manager, for coordinating this donation for the people of Palau.

The wheelchair initiative is just one of the many humanitarian relief and development activities the Church has been actively involved in throughout the world. Donations from members of the Church and others fund the Church’s humanitarian programs. The programs aim to help children and families of all nationalities and religions by relieving suffering, helping people help themselves, and providing opportunities for service.

Diraingas Edeyaoch shakes hands with Bill Davis of the Church after receiving her new wheelchair.

Beloved Song Turns 50

The hymn “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns, no. 301) has rung throughout the earth, its music played and its words sung by adults and Primary children across the world since 1957.

As it approaches its 50th anniversary, the song, published in more than 90 languages, continues to touch the hearts of many.

The message of the three-verse hymn teaches the gospel truths that each person is a son or daughter of God and has been sent to this earth with eternal potential. Parents and teachers are asked to help each child make righteous choices in a mortal experience that can lead to eternal life and happiness.

The hymn reads:

1. I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
[Chorus]
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
2. I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.
3. I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will,
I’ll live with him once more.

Naomi W. Randall, who served as a member of the Primary general board and as a counselor in the Primary general presidency, wrote “I Am a Child of God” at the request of the Primary general board. Mildred T. Pettit, who also had served as a Primary general board member, composed the music.

Sister Randall described her process in writing the words to the song:

“That evening, I got down on my knees and prayed aloud, pleading that our Heavenly Father would let me know the right words. Around 2:00 a.m., I awakened and began to think again about the song. Words came to my mind. … I immediately got up and began to write the words down as they had come to me. Three verses and a chorus were soon formed. I gratefully surveyed the work, drank of the message of the words, and returned to my bedroom where I knelt before my Father in Heaven to say ‘Thank you!’” (in Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns (1988), 303–4).

Sister Randall sent the words to Sister Pettit, who spent many hours working on the music.

The words in one line of the chorus originally read, “Teach me all that I must know.” After the song was written, President Spencer W. Kimball attended a conference where a Primary children’s chorus sang the song. He later asked if Sister Randall would agree to change “Teach me all that I must know” to “Teach me all that I must do,” and so the line reads today.

“To know isn’t enough,” President Kimball said. “The devils know and tremble; the devils know everything. We have to do something” (“New Verse Is Written for Popular Song,” Church News, April 1, 1978, 16).

A fourth verse of the song was written for a Primary chorus to sing at general conference in April 1957. When the current hymnbook was prepared, the General Music Committee and the Correlation Department decided the extra verse was not officially part of the song and did not include it.

Later, when the Children’s Songbook was created, the Primary general board decided to include it. The four-verse version has been translated into the 20 languages of the international Children’s Songbook. The verse reads:

4. I am a child of God.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.

The hymn was first included in Sing with Me, a children’s songbook published in 1969, and then in the Children’s Songbook in 1989 with the music arranged by Darwin Wolford.

“I Am a Child of God” is one of the 45 hymns and children’s songs found in the Gospel Fundamentals and Gospel Principles manuals. This means that when Church material is first introduced in a new language, “I Am A Child of God” is one of the hymns people receive early in the process.

Scriptures; manuals; instrumental, choir, or other adaptations; CDs; General Authority talks; “I Am A Child of God” stickers; and other materials all herald the message contained in the words and music of the beloved hymn, which has reached out across cultures, backgrounds, and traditions to instill in all people the gospel truth that each person is a child of God.

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then a member of the Seventy, elaborated on the theme of the song in 1978: “Our Father in heaven loves us more deeply than we can understand. He has said that He ‘numbereth his people’ (Alma 26:37) and that each one of us is important to Him. He wants us to return to live with Him and Jesus again. He wants us to communicate with Him in prayer, to tell Him of our love, and to show our love by obeying His commandments. Through obedience we can become more like Him, developing those qualities of character that He wants His children to have” (“I Am a Child of God,” Tambuli, Nov. 1978, 21; Friend, Mar. 1978, 7).

Now 50 years old, the beloved hymn, “I Am a Child of God,” is sung around the world in more than 90 languages. (Photograph by Robert Casey.)

Call for Comment

The October Liahona was created specifically for new members of the Church. The Liahona would like to know:

In what ways did you benefit from this special issue’s information and articles?

If you are a new member, how did you use the magazine to learn more about the Church?

If you are a longtime member, how did you use the magazine to help recent converts?

If using the special issue has resulted in a noteworthy experience you would like to share, we’d like to hear about it.

Please clearly mark your response “New Member Issue” and send it by February 15, 2007, to liahona@ldschurch.org or to Liahona Editorial, 50 E. North Temple St., Rm. 2420, Salt Lake City, UT, 84150-3220, USA. At the top, write your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and ward and stake (or branch and district).

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, January 2007

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the January 2007 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “Be Not Afraid” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

  1. 1.

    My faith in Jesus Christ is strengthened when I pray. Invite a brother in the ward or branch approved by the bishop or branch president to dress in a simple costume to portray Joseph Smith and to tell the story of the First Vision (see Joseph Smith—History 1:5–20). Have him focus on the faith that Joseph Smith had in reading from James 1:5 and knowing that he could “ask of God.” Have him describe Joseph Smith’s determination in retiring to the woods to receive an answer to his questions. While the guest is telling the story, have the pianist play softly in the background “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” (Hymns, no. 26) or another hymn about the Prophet. Ask the guest to bear testimony of Joseph Smith and of the power of prayer. Let the children share hymnbooks to sing “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer.”

  2. 2.

    I have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He will help me keep the commandments. Show the children what a mustard seed looks like. Walk around so all the children can see how tiny it is. (If mustard seeds are not available in your area, choose another kind of seed that will grow into something large, such as a kernel of corn that will grow into a cornstalk.) Have the children look up Luke 17:5–6. Read it together. Restate the scripture by explaining that the Apostles wanted to increase their faith. Jesus told them that even a tiny amount of faith could move a large tree. Elder David B. Haight (1906–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “President Hinckley often speaks to us about developing more faith. … That faith is a result of our living the principles of the gospel, living the way we should” (“Faith of Our Prophets,” Liahona, Jan. 2002, 26). As we keep the commandments, we will increase our faith. As we increase our faith, we will have a greater desire to keep the commandments.

    Sing “Keep the Commandments” (Hymns, no. 303). Give each child a piece of paper and a pencil or crayons. Have the children fold the papers into four sections. Ask them to draw pictures of four commandments they can keep (see “Drawing Activities,” Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 166–67). To give them ideas of what to draw, have the pianist play several different Primary songs about specific commandments such as baptism, prayer, tithing, and so on. Allow the children to share the pictures they have drawn. Explain how having faith will help them keep the commandments. Share a personal experience of a time when your faith in the Lord helped you keep His commandments, and testify of His love for you.

  3. 3.

    Song presentation: “I’ll Follow Him in Faith” (Liahona, Feb. 2003, F16; or I’ll Follow Him in Faith: 2007 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation [2006], 11). Explain that the song “I’ll Follow Him in Faith” is a list of some of God’s blessings to us. Write 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the chalkboard. (You may want to present this song in two parts, teaching each verse on separate weeks. Write all four numbers on the chalkboard, but teach only the first two blessings the first week.) Ask the children to listen for the first blessing. Sing “The Lord has blessed me with gospel truth,” and then sing “la, la” through the next two lines. When the children respond, write “gospel truth” after 1. Have the children sing the words to the blessing with you, and then sing “la, la” through the next two lines, just as you did. Follow the same pattern for “The Lord has blessed me with simple faith.” Explain that the part they have been singing “la, la” to tells more about the blessing. As you teach the rest of the lines, have the children listen for rhyming words (truth/youth; light/right) in the different sections. Tell the children how thankful you are for all of Heavenly Father’s blessings to you. Testify of God’s love and the importance of following Him in faith.