News of the Church


Shinto Priests Greet Elder Eyring at Historic Meiji Shrine in Japan

Katsushi Toyama, chief priest at Tokyo’s historic Meiji Shrine, met with Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during Elder Eyring’s tour of Church areas in Asia and the Pacific islands.

Elder Eyring, along with Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder David F. Evans, President of the Asia North Area, was invited to meet with Mr. Toyama to build bridges of understanding and goodwill.

Mr. Toyama told the visitors that there was no written book of Shinto doctrine similar to the Bible or other scriptures, but that followers manifest their relationship to God by striving for purity and righteousness in their lives.

Elder Eyring said members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints similarly strive for personal purity and righteousness in their lives. “Our prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, regularly admonishes members of our Church to make their beliefs an integral part of their daily lives,” he said.

Mr. Toyama first became familiar with the Church when he was hosted in Salt Lake City in the 1970s. More recently, this relationship has been nurtured as other priests from the shrine have visited Salt Lake City and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. In 2005, the BYU–Hawaii Concert Choir became the first Christian group to perform at the Meiji Shrine.

The meeting with Mr. Toyama took place in a small room at the shrine generally reserved for conversations with heads of state and their emissaries.

Emperor Meiji, for whom the shrine is named, ruled Japan from 1867 to 1912. He balanced a desire to retain the uniqueness of Japanese culture with a strong thrust to bring his country into the industrialized world.

The first baptisms in Japan took place in 1902. Today there are more than 120,000 members of the Church in Japan. The Church also has two temples there, one in Tokyo and one in Fukuoka.

Elder Henry B. Eyring and his wife, Kathleen, tour the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan.

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets Katsushi Toyama, chief priest at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan.

Temple Announced for Manaus, Brazil

The First Presidency announced plans to construct a temple in Manaus, Brazil, in a letter to Brazilian priesthood leaders on May 23, 2007.

“We commend the Saints for their devotion and faithfulness, and are thankful for the blessings that will come to them through the construction of this new temple,” the First Presidency said in the letter.

Once completed, the Manaus Brazil Temple will be the sixth temple in Brazil. Stakes to be included in the temple district will be announced at a later date.

With temples constructed near the southern and eastern coasts of Brazil, some members living in the central and northern areas of Brazil must travel more than a thousand miles (1600 km) to attend the nearest temple.

“We are confident that this will be a blessing to the many faithful Saints in this and the surrounding areas who have had to travel long distances to enjoy the blessings of the temple,” the First Presidency said.

There are currently 124 operating temples in the world, with 6 under construction and 6 announced, including the Manaus temple.

The first Latin American temple was built in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1978, when the country’s membership totaled only 54,000. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) presided at the cornerstone ceremony. President Gordon B. Hinckley rededicated the São Paulo temple in 2004 after renovation.

At the end of 2005 there were 928,926 members in Brazil, which is home to three additional temples in the cities of Recife, Porto Alegre, and Campinas. The Curitiba Brazil Temple, for which construction began in 2005, is expected to be complete by next year.

In a recent visit to Curitiba, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles promised members, “If you prepare to go to the temple and do the ordinances for yourselves and for your ancestors, you will build a testimony of this work, which you would not achieve otherwise.” He also said, “It is perhaps easier to build a temple than it is to prepare the people for a temple.”

Congress Gathers in Poland to Defend Family Around World

More than 3,300 delegates from around the world assembled at the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, Poland, from May 11 to 13, 2007, to attend the World Congress of Families IV. Their goal was to learn and affirm that the natural human family is established by the Creator and is essential to good society.

Delegates who attended the congress feel that families worldwide are under attack and believe there is a need to set basic principles for the international pro-family movement. Delegates came from as far as Chile, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Mexico, and the Philippines to focus on the many issues affecting families internationally.

Ellen Sauerbrey, U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees, and migration, helped welcome the congress and called the family the oldest and most enduring human institution.

“The family predates all states, and can be found in every culture, in every era. … The state did not create the family; rather, families created the state,” Mrs. Sauerbrey said.

Roman Giertych, minister of education and vice prime minister of Poland, also welcomed the congress and said that without the family there is neither government, state, nor life.

Topics discussed in the conference included abortion, same-sex marriage, population decline, pornography, attacks on the family in the news, and the renewal of traditional religion.

On the topic of Hollywood and the family, Don Feder, communications director for the World Congress of Families, said: “Every day, an American industry drops metric tons of toxic waste in your countries and homes. I refer to Hollywood, whose principle products—with honorable exceptions—are sex, violence, perversion, nihilism, attacks on religion, and a thoroughgoing antifamily ethic.”

Brad Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, spoke on cohabitation and the well-being of children.

“The rise in European cohabitation seems to lead … to increases in lone parenthood, and we know that lone parenthood poses a threat to the well-being of children,” he said.

At the conclusion of the assembly, a Warsaw Declaration was made as a pro-family credo for the twenty-first century: “The natural family, creation of God, is the fundamental human community, based on the lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, in which new individuals are conceived, born, and raised.”

The World Congress of Families (WCF) is an international network made up of pro-family organizations, scholars, leaders, and people of goodwill from more than 60 countries who seek to restore the natural family as the fundamental social unit of society.

Allan Carlson founded the WCF in Rockford, Illinois, in 1997. The three previous congresses were held in Prague, Czech Republic (1997), Geneva, Switzerland (1999), and Mexico City, Mexico (2004).

The WCF states: “The natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature, and centered on the voluntary union of a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage. … The loving family reaches out in love and service to their communities and those in need. All social and cultural institutions should respect and uphold the rights and responsibilities of the family.”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen answers a question at the World Congress of Families, where he participated in panel discussions and addressed the congress. (Photograph by Steve Fidel; Deseret Morning News.)

Elder Hafen Addresses Family Congress

Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Quorum of the Seventy addressed delegates from around the world on the importance of restoring the meaning of traditional marriage. His remarks were made at the World Congress of Families IV held in Warsaw, Poland, from May 11 to 13, 2007.

Over the world’s history there has been a “universal love story” where a boy and girl meet, fall in love, and then marry, Elder Hafen said. The bond of marriage does not just affect the couple singularly, but society as a whole has a great interest in the success of that relationship.

“That is why guests and friends have always celebrated weddings as community events,” Elder Hafen said. “Marriage has always been the crucial knot in the fabric that holds society together. Every marriage affects those in the concentric circles of influence that ripple outward from the couple, through their children to the larger community. …

“The community attends weddings not to pry into private affairs, but because of its enormous stake in the outcome and the offspring of each marriage. To marry is to make a public commitment that one accepts personal responsibility for one’s children and for their influence on the kind of community we create over time,” he explained.

These social and personal expectations make marriage the primary means of transmitting values from one generation to another, he said. Yet this crucial source of society’s long-term stability is declining.

More than 80 percent of Europeans and 46 percent of Americans agree it is acceptable for a couple to live together without the intent to marry, Elder Hafen said. In Scandinavia alone about 82 percent of firstborn children are born outside of wedlock—despite abundant research showing the psychological and other risks facing children with cohabiting parents. There are serious social consequences in these kinds of trends.

In addition, the divorce rate since 1960 in the United States—now the world’s most divorce-prone country—has more than doubled, which means that half of today’s marriages will end in divorce. The figure would be even higher if it included breakups among live-in couples, whose numbers have increased 760 percent in the United States since 1960.

“We can see the force of an anti-marriage revolution in those statistics showing skyrocketing unwed births, cohabitation, and divorces,” Elder Hafen said. “In the last 40 years many people … have stopped believing that marriage is a public, long-term social institution. … Modern society has ‘lost the plot’ of the universal love story.”

The decline of traditional marriage began during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Changes needed to be made in America’s racial and gender-based discrimination, Elder Hafen said. However, some extremists went much further and challenged laws and customs that supported family relationships. As the momentum of the “liberation” movement built, judges allowed claims of adult liberty to trump the best interests of children.

“I once saw a small boy standing all alone, looking lost and afraid,” Elder Hafen said. “He was wearing a big T-shirt bearing the slogan, ‘Leave me alone.’ He … illustrates the irony of allowing irresponsible adults to abandon children to their ‘right to be let alone’ in the name of liberating all the captives of a society [they say is] oppressed by family ties.”

Research also shows that the absence of married parents is the common denominator of many troubled youth, and compared to married couples, live-in couples are more likely to experience depression, alcohol and drug problems, infidelity, lower incomes, and unhappiness, as well as two or three times as much physical violence, explained Elder Hafen.

Elder Hafen also addressed the serious issue of same-gender marriage. Fifteen years ago no country in the world took same-gender marriage as seriously as it is taken now. Judicial opinions are supporting same-gender marriages based on notions of personal liberty and privacy, not the social value of the marriage, he said.

“The gay marriage debate thus asks a stark question: should marriage simply endorse a private adult choice, or is it an institution with the public purpose of advancing the interests of children and society as well as the couple’s interests?” Elder Hafen said.

Elder Hafen concluded by summarizing the four main social “goods” provided by traditional marriage: first, the needs and rights of children are more successfully met; second, civic virtues are taught and passed on to the next generation; third, parents decide what values children should learn; and fourth, the most stable expectations in personal relationships are made possible.

“My willingness to marry, like my willingness to have a child, tells my family and society that I am invested in these relationships for the long haul,” Elder Hafen said. “Then my wife and children may also invest themselves without wondering if their sacrifice is worth their effort.”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen

Church Historian Discusses Role of History in Mission of Church

The essential purposes of the Family and Church History Department, said Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, is “to help God’s children make and keep sacred covenants,” a scripturally mandated charge given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the early days of the Church.

Addressing the Mormon History Association’s annual conference on May 26, 2007, Elder Jensen, named Church historian and recorder in April 2005, recounted in detail the development of the historical department and the contributions of the many leaders who took seriously the command of the Lord given on the day the Church was organized to keep a record of the Church.

“I speak not as a professional historian, but as the ‘Church’ historian, as one in a long line of general officers of the Church called for an indefinite period of time to fulfill a calling that was established by a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith,” he said.

Past accomplishments of the department, he continued, centered mainly around the collection, preservation, and to a lesser extent, publication of the records that contain the Church’s compelling history.

“What is the essential purpose of Church history?” he asked. “The Church has become a great international organization with its spiritual center of gravity shifting more and more to the southern hemisphere. These and other factors have convinced us we can’t go on doing our historical business as usual.”

After prayerful consideration during the past several years as to how to chart the future course for the department, Elder Jensen said, “we feel that history has to contribute to the overall mission of the Church, … to the salvation of mankind.”

Elder Jensen noted that such a mandate distinguishes the Family and Church History Department from other professionals and history enthusiasts.

“This is a noble and lofty ambition, one not easily achieved and possibly not always fully appreciated by our professional colleagues,” he said.

To accomplish this mandate, he added, the Family and Church History Department is focused on three criteria: to assure remembrance of the great things of God, to help preserve the revealed order of the kingdom, and to witness and defend the truth of the Restoration.

This goal “defines our work and our audience,” creating “a scope of work bigger than we can accomplish on our own—thus the need to collaborate,” Elder Jensen said. It “moves us from being simply a passive collector to an active organization that will set priorities in collecting, disseminating, and researching and writing.”

Building a department to serve a worldwide Church requires a change in thinking that is not without some pain, he said. Such development will require organizational changes that emphasize serving the general membership of the Church as well as the leaders. All these changes must take full advantage of technology.

Another significant step toward developing the historical department is the construction of a 250,000-square-foot (23,000-square-meter) building to be known as the Church History Library.

“Ground was broken last October and construction is proceeding on schedule for a mid-2009 dedication. The library will house our priceless collections and is designed to be open, inviting, and very functional,” Elder Jensen said.

Adapted from Church News, June 2, 2007.

Architects’ rendering shows the new 250,000-square-foot (23,000-square-meter) Church History Library now under construction north of the Church Office Building that will meet the demands of a growing Church.

LDS Doctors Give the Gift of Sight

Blendina Muca spent the early years of her life struggling with a medical condition known as strabismus, or crossed eyes. After many years of unsuccessful treatment in her native Albania, she found help from an American physician who visited her homeland on a humanitarian excursion.

“Since I was little I had crossed eyes,” Ms. Muca reported. “My father sent me for a visit to the doctor, who gave me some drops and glasses. … They didn’t correct my eyes—they became worse—but I always walked with hope they would be better.”

Despite her visual limitations, the young Albanian was able through her diligence to become a professional tailor, a career in which she excelled.

When Ms. Muca’s sister joined the Church, a door opened for the visually impaired young woman. Church humanitarian service missionaries, present at her sister’s baptism, invited Ms. Muca to visit an LDS-sponsored clinic staffed with member ophthalmologists from the United States.

Dr. Rick Olson, a pediatric ophthalmologist on staff at the University of Iowa, performed the surgery on Ms. Muca’s eyes. Prior to the surgery, the young patient, her sister, and friends united in prayer with Dr. Olson.

“The doctor asked God to make his hands as gold to fix my eyes,” Ms. Muca reported, “and He did. I knew God had made a miracle.”

This gift of sight—correcting visual impairments, donating equipment, and providing management support—is offered to developing countries under the auspices of Church Humanitarian Services.

Dr. George Pingree, a retired Salt Lake City ophthalmologist, chairs the worldwide vision initiative and represents more than 200 physicians who voluntarily participate in the program.

“Over 40 million people in the world are blind,” Dr. Pingree explained, “many with cataracts, glaucoma, or other visual problems that can be corrected.”

Church leaders and humanitarian missionaries determine specific needs in developing countries, explained Dean Walker, manager of major initiatives in Church Humanitarian Services.

“Requests are submitted, and then we pattern a project to meet the local needs,” Brother Walker added. “We are able to do 10 to 15 projects a year—projects that instruct health care workers in procedures and practices that result in vision improvements for many individuals.”

Ms. Muca sees life much differently following her successful surgery. She explained: “My wish now is to go to university and help those who are in need—to help people the same way God helped me. Miracles do happen.”

Wheelwright Appointed New President of BYU–Hawaii

President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the appointment of Steven C. Wheelwright, respected Harvard Business School professor and administrator, as president of Brigham Young University–Hawaii on June 5, 2007.

“I know President Wheelwright will take BYU–Hawaii to new heights,” President Hinckley said from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. “Through his expertise and many associations I’m confident he will expand the influence of BYU–Hawaii and bless the lives of all who come to this illustrious school.”

Following the announcement, President Wheelwright greeted BYU–Hawaii students participating by satellite with an enthusiastic “Aloha” and said it was a great honor to receive such an appointment.

“I believe in BYU–Hawaii and its mission because it combines spiritual with secular learning and focuses on the development of character and understanding in these wonderful young people,” President Wheelwright said.

President Hinckley said that since BYU–Hawaii first opened as a college in 1955, it has become the most international university in the country, with a student body of 2,400 from 70 countries.

President Wheelwright has had extensive experience working with students from many different cultures, including the Asia areas. As the former dean of Harvard Business School’s MBA program, he worked with students from all over the world and helped place many in business positions. Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said this network would benefit BYU–Hawaii students as they return to their native countries after graduation.

After graduating from Stanford with an MBA and Ph.D, President Wheelwright spent a year on the faculty of INSEAD, an international business school in Fontainebleau, France, then spent the remainder of his academic career at Harvard and Stanford.

It was at Harvard that he crossed paths nearly 30 years ago with the former dean of Harvard Business School and current president of BYU–Idaho, Kim Clark. President Clark said President Wheelwright has a great optimistic spirit and is a man who loves the Lord and is steadfast and immoveable in his commitment to the Lord.

“He knows heaven and will inspire tremendous trust because of faith,” President Clark said.

Prior to President Wheelwright’s retirement from Harvard in the fall of 2006, he was the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, a Baker Foundation professor, a senior associate dean, and the director of Harvard Business School Publication Activities. He was also the Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers Professor of Management at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

As a young man, President Wheelwright served the Church as a missionary in Scotland. He also served as president of the England London Mission from 2000 to 2003. He has served as counselor in a stake presidency, high councilor, and bishop. Since leaving Harvard, he and his wife have been service missionaries at BYU–Idaho.

President Wheelwright grew up in Salt Lake City and owned a cattle ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming. He and his wife are the parents of 5 children and have 15 grandchildren.

President Wheelwright succeeds Eric B. Shumway, who is retiring from BYU–Hawaii after having served in several capacities since 1966 and as president since 1994.

Dr. Steven C. Wheelwright, the new president of BYU–Hawaii, greets the university faculty and staff during a live broadcast from Salt Lake City to Laie, Hawaii.

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, October 2007

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the October 2007 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “How Great Shall Be Your Joy” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

  1. 1.

    Before Primary, make pictures of lambs (for a pattern, see the Primary 2 manual, lesson 23, or Primary 1 picture 1-8). Make two lambs for every child, one blank and one with the child’s name written on it. Attach the lambs to the walls of the Primary room.

    Read John 10:14. Help the children understand the comparison that Jesus is making. Tell them that each child is like a lamb and Jesus is the shepherd or leader (see “Comparisons,” Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 163–64). Cheryl Lant, Primary general president, has said: “Jesus knew each one of the children that He blessed in the New Testament account. He knew each of the Nephite children, and He knows each child today. He desires for each one of them to feel His love. He desires for each one of them to learn His word and gain a testimony. He desires for each one of them to receive the blessings of heaven that come through righteous living” (“Feed My Lambs,” Primary open house address, Sept. 2006).

    Post Gospel Art Picture Kit 240 (Jesus the Christ) at the front of the room. Invite the children to find their own lambs and bring them to the Good Shepherd. Ask the pianist to play softly while the children, row by row, find their lambs and take them to the front. When all the children have had a chance, remind them that there are many lambs that haven’t yet entered into the fold by coming to Primary. Read Luke 15:4. Have the pianist play again, and invite each child to choose one of the lambs without a name on it. Invite them to think of someone whom they could invite to come into the fold. Have them write the person’s name on the lamb and take it home to remind them to invite this “lamb” to follow the Good Shepherd.

    Testify that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that He gave His life for us, His sheep.

  2. 2.

    Invite an active member of the Church to come to Primary pretending to be an investigator—someone whom the missionaries are teaching. Have the guest write a large question mark on a piece of paper and attach it to his or her shirt. Have the guest take several question marks out of a pocket or bag. Explain that this person is full of questions. Ask the children if they think they know the gospel well enough to answer the investigator’s questions. Explain that you are going to play a question-and-answer game. The tricky part is that the children must sing all of their answers.

    Have the guest begin by asking the children, “Who are you?” Have the pianist quietly play the introduction to “I Am a Child of God” (Children’s Songbook, 2–3), and then have the children answer the question by singing the song. Repeat with additional questions and songs. After each song, have the guest repeat the question and the answer. For example, “Oh, I see. We are all children of God and have been sent here because He loves us.” Other questions with musical answers might include: “Where did I live before I was born?” “What is faith?” “Where did Joseph Smith get the Book of Mormon?” Let the children decide what songs to sing to answer each question, and give a hint only if the children need one.

    Help the children understand that they learn the gospel through Primary songs. Bear testimony of the gospel and of the value of music in learning and teaching the gospel.