News of the Church

By Lynda Hansen, Church Magazines


First Presidency Focuses on the Savior at Devotional

Of all the seasons of the year, there is none so beautiful as Christmas,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley during the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and broadcast around the world.

“Our hearts reach out to those in need. Love overcomes hate. … Love grows a little stronger, hearts are a little more generous. We are more inclined to strengthen feeble knees and lift up the hands that hang down. Children’s hearts are made glad. There comes an added magic in the air. There is a deep underlying current of happiness.”

After recounting the loss of his mother shortly before Christmas in 1930 and the difficult loss of his wife in 2004, President Hinckley said: “Shining through all of the darkness is the sublime figure of the Son of God, who gave His life that we might live. This is the true meaning of Christmas, the reality of the Atonement wrought by the Redeemer of the world.”

President Hinckley testified that Christ offers the hope of salvation to all men, even in these times of war, conflict, and difficult problems.

President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said Christmas is “a time for families, it is a time for remembering, it is a time for gratitude.

“The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. … The spirit of Christmas is something I hope all of us would have within our hearts and within our lives, not only at this particular season but throughout the year.”

President Monson said that when we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ.

“The salutation ‘no room’ was not only heard by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus, but was also endured by Him on frequent occasions in His ministry,” President Monson said.

“In our homes today we have rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, rooms for recreation. Do we have room for Christ? We have time for … activities that are part of our daily lives. Do we have time for Christ?”

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, taught that “at this time of year when we commemorate [the Savior’s] birth, we should also take time to contemplate with deep reverence His death and transcending sanctification of the Resurrection.”

In his remarks, President Faust focused on one of the Savior’s “great and profound teachings … to do for others that which they cannot do for themselves.”

Anonymous giving reflects the Savior’s love, said President Faust. “I wish to express appreciation and thanks to all who open their hearts and give to others.

“Those of us who contribute anonymously have sweet inner feelings of the Spirit that swell inside when we do something for others that cannot be traced back to ourselves. Anonymous giving gives the gift a higher form of sanctification.”

The First Presidency, bottom right, listen as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square perform during the 2006 First Presidency Christmas Devotional.

Tabernacle Choir Honored with Mother Teresa Award

The late Mother Teresa once said, “The world is hungry not only for food, but also for beauty.” In November 2006, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was presented with an award named in her honor, recognizing “the achievements of those who beautify the world, especially in the fields of religion, social justice, and the arts.”

“This is the only choir that has touched the entire world with its beauty,” said Dan Paulos, director of the St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art, which bestows the Mother Teresa Award. “There are a lot of choirs out there, but none so remarkable. It’s a gift of God, and it should be shared with the world.”

Choir members were honored in a simple ceremony following the weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday, November 19, 2006. The Very Reverend Joseph Mayo, Rector of the Cathedral of the Madeline, presented the award to Mac Christensen, choir president, and Craig Jessop, music director, who accepted it on behalf of the choir.

“We are honored to accept this award named after this saintly woman, Mother Teresa,” noted Scott L. Barrick, choir general manager.

The Institute developed the award program to “rightfully acknowledge spiritual accomplishments in this secular world.”

The statuette is a modernized representation of Mother Teresa. Laureates are nominated by the public at large and are selected by the Board of Directors of the Mother Teresa Awards.

The all-volunteer choir consists of 350 men and women representing many different backgrounds, professions, and ages. The choir has become world-renowned through its many recordings, tours, and weekly TV and radio broadcasts.

Previous recipients of the honor include Pope John Paul II, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter.

The Very Reverend Joseph Mayo, right, presents the Mother Teresa Award to Craig Jessop, left, and Mac Christensen after the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Music and the Spoken Word performance on Sunday. (Photograph by Jeffrey D. Allred, courtesy Deseret Morning News.)

The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd Available on DVD

After its five-year exclusive run in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at the request of the First Presidency, the film The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd is being made available on DVD through Church distribution centers to a much wider audience.

The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd is an epic story depicting Christ’s ministry to the people in ancient Israel and His subsequent appearance in ancient America, as related in two testaments: the Bible and the Book of Mormon. It follows the story of Helam and his family, fictional characters, as they witness the signs and coming of the Savior to the Americas.

When the film was first introduced, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Seventy explained, “The purpose of the film is to establish that Jesus is the Son of God, ‘the light and life of the world,’ and to show the miraculous effect the Savior has on the lives of those who believe in Him.”

The film took more than two years to make and required extensive research into the ancient cultures of the Americas. It was filmed in Utah, California, and Hawaii on 57 sets, the largest of which was about the size of a football stadium. The 48 principal cast members, 52 featured players, and more than 1,000 extras brought the story to life. The Orchestra at Temple Square and the Tabernacle Choir provided the music.

The 65-minute film (item no. 01607) is being made available on a multi-language DVD in Church distribution centers worldwide in 18 languages (American Sign, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian).

The film The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd is being made available on DVD in 18 languages through Church distribution centers.

Museum Announces Eighth International Art Competition

The Museum of Church History and Art has announced the theme for its Eighth International Art Competition and invites Church members around the world to participate in the exhibit to be held March 20 to October 11, 2009.

The theme for the exhibit, “Remembering the Great Things of God,” encompasses the experiences of Latter-day Saints everywhere. The artwork will represent a theme, idea, story, people, or place related to (1) Latter-day Saint doctrines, beliefs, and teachings, including stories from the scriptures and teachings of the prophets; (2) events, sites, and individuals pertinent to the history of the Church and its people; or (3) the application of religious values in Latter-day Saint life, including Church, family, and individual activities.

The competition is open to members of the Church age 18 and older by December 31, 2008. Each artist may submit one work. The range of worldwide cultural and aesthetic traditions, styles of art, and various media are all welcome. Entries must have been completed after January 1, 2006.

Official entry forms will be mailed to artists on the museum’s mailing list in April 2008. The form will also be available online at the museum’s Web site. To be included in the mailing or to change contact information if you are already on the mailing list, write to the museum at Eighth International Art Competition, Museum of Church History and Art, 45 N. West Temple St. Rm. 200, Salt Lake City, UT, 84150-3470, or e-mail to churchmuseum@ldschurch.org.

The first round of judging will be based on photographs of the artwork submitted with the entry form online or by mail before October 10, 2008. Artwork will be judged on the successful expression of the theme; artistic and technical accomplishment; and the creativity, originality, and quality of the art. Awards include a number of Purchase Awards, in which artwork is purchased for the Church collection; up to 25 cash Merit Awards, bestowed by the jury; and 3 cash Visitors’ Choice Awards.

For more information about the competition or to see artwork from former exhibitions, visit the museum’s Web site at www.lds.org/churchhistory/museum/competition.

This stained glass entry by Patricia Chiu, Joseph Smith Cuts the Ice for Joseph L. Heywood’s Baptism, was part of the Seventh International Art Competition. (© Patricia Chiu.)

J. Kirk Richards’s oil painting, Baptism, received both a Merit Award and a People’s Choice Award in the most recent art competition. (© J. Kirk Richards.)

Family History Library Celebrates World Traditions

Weaving a Scandinavian Christmas ornament and singing the Scottish version of “Auld Lang Syne” were just two of the December activities at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Those attending the free evening classes held from November 28 to December 22 learned about holiday traditions from various countries and ethnic groups.

Most of the short classes were planned and taught by natives of the different countries who discussed such subjects as December celebrations, food, decorations, and music. The classes were open to the public, and family activities were also offered.

Families were encouraged to make a children’s version of a pedigree chart. The children were asked to draw a picture of themselves, their parents, and grandparents on the chart. Everyone received a peppermint candy, and those families who could complete a four-generation chart received a pen imprinted with the words, “Family history is fun.”

Lists of ideas for family home evening and family history were available for families to take home. One paper explained how children and parents could interview grandparents.

Featured countries included Norway, France, Germany, Scotland, Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Denmark. Jewish and pioneer traditions were also discussed.

Diane Loosle, manager of novice services, said this is the first time the library has sponsored the event.

Sister Loosle explained that the activities were aimed at bringing people into the Family History Library who don’t normally come there. She said: “One of the library’s goals is to make coming to the library a better experience. We want people to come and find it is less complicated than they thought it would be.”

The Church’s main Family History Library is the largest library of its kind, and it is open to the general public at no charge. It is estimated that 1,900 or more patrons visit the library each day it is open.

Free classes are offered for those with varying experience, including novices, and 125 full- and part-time professional staff members are available to assist. Nearly 400 trained volunteers donate their time to help as well. For more information, visit www.familysearch.org.

Members gathered at the Family History Library during December to learn about the holiday traditions of different cultures. (Photograph by Craig Dimond.)

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, April 2007

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the April 2007 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “He Lives!” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

  1. 1.

    Write the word wrong on the chalkboard. Tell the children that when they repent they turn wrong into right. Ask the children to help you turn the word wrong into right by figuring out what they could do to repent. Use three case studies (see “Case Studies,” Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 161–62) to give situations where children need to repent. After the first case study, sing a song or hymn about repentance, and explain that repentance is the second principle of the gospel. After the second case study, sing a song or hymn about repentance. After the third case study, sing a song or hymn about forgiveness and explain that we need to forgive others who repent. Erase the word wrong from the board, and write the word right. Recite from My Gospel Standards, “I will choose the right. I know I can repent when I make a mistake.” Bear your testimony of repentance and of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

  2. 2.

    Explain that our living prophet holds all of the priesthood keys and authority in the Church today. Hold up a picture of the prophet. Explain, however, that he leads the Church under someone else’s direction. Ask the children who that person is (Jesus Christ). Hold up a picture of Jesus Christ, and place it above the picture of the prophet, signifying that the prophet works under His direction. Show the children the most recent conference edition of the Liahona. Explain that when our prophet speaks to us at general conference, he is teaching us what Jesus Christ wants us to hear and do. Carefully select four sentences from the prophet’s recent messages, and invite older children to read them. List four things that children can do to follow the prophet’s words. For example, you might list “pay tithing,” “be more forgiving,” or “read the scriptures.” Invite the children to draw a picture of one of the ideas that they want to work on to better follow the prophet (see “Drawing Activities,” Teaching, No Greater Call, 166–67). Choose a song or hymn to go along with each of the four principles that the prophet has recently spoken of. Invite the children who drew pictures of that particular principle to stand at the front of the room and hold up their pictures while the Primary sings that song. Bear your testimony about the importance of the priesthood.

  3. 3.

    Song presentation: “An Angel Came to Joseph Smith (this issue, p. F13). Before teaching this song, practice conducting the unique rhythm. The meter changes from 3/4 to 2/4 for one measure in each line.

    Post the following wordstrips in random order—“Moroni,” “Hill Cumorah,” “Nephites,” and “Book of Mormon.” Tell the children that this song is about these four things. Ask them to help you put the wordstrips in the same order that the song is in. Sing the song for them, and then ask which wordstrip comes first. Because the first phrase is “an angel came to Joseph Smith,” the correct wordstrip is “Moroni.” Have the children sing that phrase with you. Sing the song three more times, putting one wordstrip in place each time. Explain that Joseph Smith took the gold plates from Hill Cumorah, that the plates are a record of the Nephites, and that the precious, holy book is the Book of Mormon. Because the song is short, sing the entire song each time that you ask a question. This will help the children become familiar with the words and the interesting rhythm. Encourage the children to tell the story of the Book of Mormon to their families by singing this song. Bear testimony that the story told in the song is true.

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