News of the Church

By Shaun D. Stahle, staff writer


Elder Ballard Encourages European Saints, Missionaries

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently told members and missionaries in Europe that they live and work among “fine people who need the values and teachings of the gospel, and when they are taught well, they will embrace its truths.”

Aware that some missionaries serving in Europe fear they are not likely to baptize, Elder Ballard declared, “With faith and courage, we can find those who will embrace the gospel. No missionary should go with any preconceived notion that teaching and baptizing are beyond the realm of possibility. … They should go into the mission field believing they can build the Church.”

During a visit that began on August 17, 2006, Elder Ballard conducted seminars with the 50 mission presidents from the Europe West, Europe East, and Europe Central Areas, challenging the notion that Europeans won’t join the Church. Seminars were held in Birmingham, England; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Dresden, Germany. He also addressed many missionaries and members in these areas, as well as other members meeting in Ukraine, Armenia, and Switzerland.

“Members need to draw close to full-time missionaries and learn ways to share the gospel with more people,” he said. “Members should encourage missionaries to go with faith, knowing they can find the honest in heart, to teach and baptize them.”

Accompanying Elder Ballard were Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Area Seventy. Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy also accompanied Elder Ballard in the Europe East Area.

“Missionaries are working hard,” said Elder Tingey. “They are well schooled. They are teaching and serving as directed in Preach My Gospel. New members are grasping their religion, as demonstrated by traveling long distances to attend the member meetings.”

Among the highlights of the visit was meeting Armenia’s president Robert Kocharian in his palace in Yerevan. The president is a longtime friend of Elder Huntsman, a friendship nurtured during the past 18 years as Elder Huntsman made extensive humanitarian contributions to rebuild the country following the devastation of the 1988 earthquake, which killed, injured, or left homeless more than one-third of the country’s three million people.

The one-hour visit to the presidential palace drew national press coverage as Elder Huntsman updated the president on plans for a cancer hospital to be built in the capital city.

The Church leaders were hosted by the Armenian Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian, who met them upon arrival. He accompanied Elder Ballard and the others during their stay, which included a visit to the city of Gyumri, where schoolchildren greeted the Church leaders and showed their appreciation for the donations from Elder Huntsman that helped build their school. The Church leaders also visited high-rise apartments that were built and donated by the Huntsman family. Elder Huntsman, his son Peter Huntsman, and associate David Horne began humanitarian work in Armenia in 1988. Their efforts helped lead to the recognition of the Church in 1994.

Approximately 800 of the 2,000 members of the Church in Armenia were able to attend the member meeting with Elder Ballard and Elder Tingey.

Elder Neuenschwander, then President of the Europe East Area, said: “The Church is doing well in Eastern Europe. We just completed an incredible summer of activity for the youth and young single adults. In the 15 years since the gospel has been established in Eastern Europe, membership has grown to include 26 districts and a stake.”

Armenia has long been considered a Christian nation. Armenian Orthodox Church members trace their heritage to the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew, who preached the gospel there in the early Christian era.

Members of the Orthodox clergy invited Elder Ballard, Elder Tingey, Elder Neuenschwander, and Elder Huntsman and his son to visit their holy shrine, where Father Ktrij Devijian led a tour of the grounds and buildings, noting that some foundations are believed to date to A.D. 304.

Adapted from Church News, Sept. 16, 2006

Elder M. Russell Ballard (right), accompanied by Elder Jon M. Huntsman Sr. and Peter Huntsman, greets Armenia president Robert Kocharian in the presidential palace during a 12-day European tour of meeting missionaries and members. (Photograph courtesy of Elder Jon M. Huntsman.)

New Presidents, Matrons Begin Service

The majority of the 38 new temple presidents and their wives officially began their service on November 1, 2006. The following presidents and matrons have been called to serve:

Accra Ghana

John C. and Naomi M. Riding

Albuquerque New Mexico

Ivan G. and Annette Y. Waddoups

Boston Massachusetts

Kenneth G. and Priscilla G. Hutchins

Bountiful Utah

H. Bryan and LynnAnne T. Richards

Brisbane Australia

Terence L. and Nola Y. Davies

Buenos Aires Argentina

N. Earl and Judith M. Deschamps

Cardston Alberta

Donald S. and Judith Hansen

Denver Colorado

Dennis K. and Kathleen A. Brown

Fukuoka Japan

Ryoushou and Noriko U. Nakamura

Guatemala City Guatemala

Benjamin I. and Meredith A. Martínez

Helsinki Finland

Melvin J. and Anne S. Luthy

Hermosillo Sonora Mexico

Victor M. and Yolanda Cerda

Houston Texas

William R. and Mary Ann B. Bradford

Las Vegas Nevada

H. Bruce and Cheryl C. Stucki

Manila Philippines

Earl M. and Donna M. Monson

Manti Utah

J. Bruce and Marlane S. Harless

Mesa Arizona

Ezra T. and Virginia M. Clark

Montevideo Uruguay

N. Gaylon and Margaret C. Hopkins

Monticello Utah

Donald V. and Shirley G. Jack

Montreal Quebec

Terry L. and Elenor M. Rollins

Oaxaca Mexico

Limhi and Veone S. Ontiveros

Palmyra New York

Ralph E. and Muriel Y. Siebach

Papeete Tahiti

Thomas R. and Diane S. Stone

Porto Alegre Brazil

Pedro and Betty C. Brassanini

Preston England

Arnold and June F. Jones

Recife Brazil

Valdemiro and Maria J. Mendes Skraba

Redlands California

Wayne H. and Rita C. Bringhurst

Regina Saskatchewan

Dale E. and Phyllis T. Evanson

Sacramento California

Richard H. and Karen H. Winkel

San José Costa Rica

E. Jerald and Joan G. Haws

São Paulo Brazil

Jairo and Elizabeth I. Mazzagardi

Seoul Korea

Jong Chul and Young Sim Jun

St. Louis Missouri

Wendell E. and Glee B. Brown

Stockholm Sweden

Bengt and Inger Höglund

Taipei Taiwan

Gerald H. and Christie C. Walker

Tokyo Japan

Masayuki and Michiko A. Nakano

Veracruz Mexico

J. Larry and Shirley W. Memmott

Villahermosa Mexico

Vicente I. and Rosario Díaz Mederos

Stockholm Sweden Temple

Museum Commemorates Handcart Experience with Exhibit

Willie and Martin Remembered: A Tribute to the Mormon Handcart Pioneers, an exhibit honoring the Willie and Martin handcart companies and commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first handcart trek across the plains, closed recently at the Museum of Church History and Art after a successful run from September 2006 to January 2007.

The exhibit, which featured paintings and sculpture depicting the Willie and Martin handcart companies that were caught in snowstorms on the plains of Wyoming while traveling to Utah in 1856, may still be viewed online by visiting the museum’s Web site (www.lds.org/churchhistory/museum).

“Nearly every label in the exhibit contained a quote from one of the pioneers or their rescuers,” said museum curator Robert Davis. “I could not think of a more powerful way to tell this story than through the words of those who experienced it. The quotes and the works of art create a sense of compassion and reverence for these faithful people who endured horrific tragedies and who mustered incredible faith in God.”

The exhibit followed the pioneers’ difficult journey to Utah, from boarding ships in England to crossing the snowy plains of Iowa and Nebraska. The end of the exhibit depicted a renewed sense of hope as valiant rescuers brought the beleaguered handcart pioneers to safety in Salt Lake City.

The year 2006 marked the 150th anniversary of the first handcart company’s arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, and the new exhibit commemorated that anniversary. Regarding the trials those pioneers faced, President Gordon B. Hinckley said in the October 2006 general conference: “Their faith is our inheritance. Their faith is a reminder to us of the price they paid for the comforts we enjoy” (“The Faith to Move Mountains,” Liahona, Nov. 2006, 84).

Several of the artists whose works appeared in the exhibit are direct descendants of Willie and Martin company pioneers and their rescuers.

Stephen Mark Bartholomew’s painting shows his great-great-grandmother and her sister as teenagers gathering wood in the snow. Through his research, he learned that these girls pulled one of two family handcarts all the way across the plains until their rescue near Devil’s Gate.

Artist Glen Hawkins painted his ancestor Ann Jewell Rowley, a widow, pulling a handcart through the snow with the help of her seven children, who traveled with her in the Willie company.

Art in the Museum of Church History and Art’s exhibit Willie and Martin Remembered: A Tribute to Mormon Handcart Pioneers is being prepared for an online display. (Trail of Hope, Last Hill by Al Rounds.)

A work by Stephen Mark Bartholomew depicts his great-great-grandmother gathering wood in the snow. (Snowbound at Red Buttes by Stephen Mark Bartholomew.)

Glen Hawkins’s piece depicts his ancestor Ann Jewell Rowley pulling her handcart with the help of her seven children. (Early Snow by Glen Hawkins.)

Members Commemorate Oliver Cowdery’s 200th Birthday

It was 200 years ago on October 3, 1806, that Oliver Cowdery, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, was born in the New England town of Wells, Vermont. Local Church members and townspeople marked the occasion on September 23 by gathering in a Methodist church where they heard addresses from a Brigham Young University Church history professor and from the president of the Montpelier Vermont Stake.

The celebration was to have occurred on the town green, but rain made it necessary to meet in the church, where the Reverend David Adams, pastor of the church, and Ron Bremmer, chairman of the town select board (comparable to a mayor), were in attendance.

“In Vermont, Oliver learned the three Rs of reading, ’riting, and ’rithmatic; when he left, he would learn about another three Rs: restoration, revelation, and reconciliation,” said Fred E. Woods, professor of Church history and doctrine.

Oliver Cowdery’s joint statement with David Whitmer and Martin Harris appears in the preface of the Book of Mormon, affirming the divine vision in which an angel showed them the Book of Mormon plates. Oliver was the “second elder” of the restored Church (see D&C 20:3) and one of the six founding members of the Church, Brother Woods noted.

“Oliver served as Joseph Smith’s scribe in [translating] the Book of Mormon, which is now considered to be one of the most influential books in America,” he continued. “Thus, today we commemorate an individual who has not only influenced Mormon history and theology but has also shaped American history and religion.”

Brother Woods traced events of Oliver’s life, including his boarding with the Smith family as a schoolteacher from 1828 to 1829 in Manchester Township, New York, and his subsequent meeting with the Prophet; his presence when the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were restored by divine messengers; and his instrumentality in the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon.

Citing D&C section 6, Brother Woods noted that Oliver was counseled to “seek not for riches but for wisdom” (v. 7), that he would “be the means of doing much good” (v. 8), and that his inquiring mind led to revelation (see vv. 14–17, 21–24).

“Oliver struggled with the universal sin of pride, as we all do to one degree or another,” Brother Woods said. “He was excommunicated in April 1838 for a variety of issues, which included not supporting the government of the Church.”

Brother Woods quoted Elder G. Homer Durham (1911–85) of the Seventy as having written that “what may have been false accusations, mingled with misunderstandings growing from the sale of land, finally led to his refusal to appear before a Church council.” Brother Woods said, “Those who brought the charges all lost their membership and later became enemies of the Church.”

In the subsequent decade, Oliver practiced law, primarily in Tiffin, Ohio, all the while never denying his written testimony of the Book of Mormon, despite on one occasion being confronted over the matter in a courtroom by an opposing attorney, Brother Woods recounted.

“During a six-year period (1842 to 1848), Phineas Young, brother of Brigham Young and brother-in-law of Cowdery (Phineas being married to Oliver’s half-sister Lucy), continually wrote and paid visits to Oliver,” Brother Woods said. “At the same time, Church leaders were feeling after Oliver. For example, Willard Richards, who kept the Prophet Joseph Smith’s journal, was directed by Joseph in the spring of 1843 to ‘write to Oliver Cowdery and ask him if he has not eaten husks long enough, if he is not most ready to return.’ The [Quorum of the] Twelve sent a letter to Oliver with an invitation to return to the fold, which among other things, stated, ‘Your brethren are ready to receive you. … Your dwelling place you know ought to be Zion.’”

Oliver responded cordially but was not quite ready to reclaim his Church membership, as he felt the circumstances surrounding his excommunication had not been examined in their true light, Brother Woods said.

In October 1848, Phineas Young visited the Cowdery family at their home in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Brother Woods said. He escorted Oliver, his wife, and their only surviving child of six children to Kanesville, Iowa, to attend the local conference of the Church. There, Oliver addressed the gathering of nearly 2,000 people and requested membership in the Church. In subsequent weeks, he was received back into full fellowship and was rebaptized on November 12, 1848.

Desiring to join with the body of the Church in the Salt Lake Valley and launch a fruit tree business, he first took his wife to visit with her family, the Whitmers, in Richmond, Missouri. Failing health would not permit him to undertake the journey west, and he died on March 3, 1850. Brother Woods quoted Oliver’s brother-in-law, David Whitmer, as saying: “Oliver died the happiest man I ever saw. After shaking hands with the family and kissing his wife and daughter, he said, ‘Now I lay down for the last time; I am going to my Saviour,’ and he died immediately with a smile on his face.”

Adapted from Church News, Sept. 30, 2006; historical information on Oliver Cowdery’s life taken from Fred E. Woods, “What Greater Witness Can You Have Than from God?” an address given on Sept. 23, 2006 in Wells, Vermont, commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Oliver Cowdery.

Oliver Cowdery

Presidency Invites Young Women to Prepare for Meeting

The Young Women general presidency has invited the young women of the Church, their parents, and their leaders to prepare themselves for the upcoming annual general Young Women meeting to be held on March 24, 2007.

“The general Young Women meeting is the First Presidency’s meeting for you, the young women of the Church,” the Young Women leaders stated in announcing the meeting. “It is a great opportunity for you to receive encouragement and hear testimony from a member of the First Presidency and the Young Women general presidency.”

Hundreds of thousands of young women ages 12 to 18 and their parents and leaders gather in meetinghouses around the world to participate in the broadcast each year.

This year the Young Women general presidency has invited the young women to prepare themselves to be taught by the Spirit by doing the following:

  • Memorize D&C 121:45.

  • Memorize “As Zion’s Youth in Latter Days” (Liahona, Apr. 2000, 24).

  • Review the 13th article of faith.

In addition the presidency challenged the young women to read For the Strength of Youth and do one of the following:

  • Circle each reference to the Spirit.

  • Highlight the promises found in the pamphlet.

  • Choose one standard, study it, and make goals for living it.

The theme for this year’s meeting is the 2007 Mutual theme taken from D&C 121:45, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.”

For broadcast information, including by satellite or Internet, contact local leaders or visit www.lds.org/broadcast.

The 2007 general Young Women meeting will focus on the Savior. (Painting by Heinrich Hoffman, courtesy C. Harrison Conroy Co. Inc.)

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, February 2007

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the February 2007 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. 1.

    Create a display showing some of the beauties of the earth. You could show pictures of animals, flowers, plants, and foods. Ask the children to think about the beautiful world we live in. While the pianist plays a reverent song, pass around a flower, and ask the children to look carefully at it. Ask the children, “Who made the flower?” (Jesus Christ—it was part of the Creation.) Ask, “Why did He make the flower?” (Because He loves us and wants us to live in a beautiful world.) Challenge them to remember Heavenly Father’s love every time they see a flower.

    Give each child a piece of paper and some crayons. Ask them to draw a picture of one of God’s creations while the pianist plays softly. When the children are finished, display them in the Primary room.

  2. 2.

    Ask the children what a miracle is. (A miracle is an amazing or unusual occurrence that cannot always be explained logically. It shows the power of God.) Have them share examples of what a miracle could be, such as the sun not setting at night or manna appearing on the ground each morning. Look up 2 Nephi 27:23. Point out two things: that God is a God of miracles and that He works according to our faith.

    Divide the children into four groups. Several days before Primary, ask four Primary leaders to discuss a miracle that the Lord performed while on the earth. For example, discuss how He cleansed the 10 lepers (see Luke 17:12–19), healed a blind man (see Mark 8:22–26), and so on. Use four stations (see “Stations,” Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 179), and have the children rotate to each station. Ask each leader to explain that Jesus Christ performed miracles to show His power and to bless people. Ask each to bear testimony of the Savior.

  3. 3.

    Song presentation: “This Is My Beloved Son” (Children’s Songbook, 76; Liahona, Dec. 1997, F4). You may want to teach this song in several successive weeks, giving attention to the story contained in each verse. Divide the children into three groups. Assign each group one of the first three scriptures listed at the bottom-right corner of the music: Matthew 3:16–17; 3 Nephi 11:6–8; Joseph Smith—History 1:17. Ask the children to listen to discover what the verses have in common. In these scriptures, Heavenly Father introduces His Son and bears testimony of Him. Sing the last line of the song, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” Have the children sing the line with you several times. Ask what happened in the first scripture (Jesus was baptized). Display Gospel Art Picture Kit 208 (John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus) as you sing the first verse. Have the children join you when you sing the last line. Repeat, having the children sing all of the words. Ask what happened in the second scripture (Jesus appeared to the Nephites). Display Gospel Art Picture Kit 315 (Christ Appears to the Nephites) as you sing the second verse. Again, have the children join you when you sing the last line. Ask what happened in the third scripture (Heavenly Father and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith). Display Gospel Art Picture Kit 403 (The First Vision) as you sing the third verse. Have the children join you when you sing the last line. Explain that this time Heavenly Father was more than a voice from heaven—He was right there! Have all of the children look up D&C 18:34–36. Ask them to listen and answer the question, “Who else can hear the voice of our Heavenly Father?” Sing the final verse to find the answer.