News of the Church

By Karianne Salisbury, Church Magazines


First Latter-day Saint Missionary, Samuel Smith, Born 200 Years Ago

Samuel Smith, the first missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and brother of the Church’s first President, the Prophet Joseph Smith, was born 200 years ago, on March 13, 1808.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a descendant of Hyrum Smith, a brother of Samuel and Joseph, spoke at a devotional in March in the Salt Lake Tabernacle about the first missionary’s legacy.

“Since Samuel’s first missionary service,” said Elder Ballard, “the Church has called over one million missionaries to serve in 348 missions. [They are] now teaching the gospel in 176 nations and in 164 languages and dialects.”

Elder Ballard said that while Samuel Smith did not bring any new members into the Church during his first mission, in New England, his giving copies of the Book of Mormon to those he met led to the subsequent conversion of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and their families.

Samuel introduced Oliver Cowdery to the Prophet Joseph, and Oliver became a close friend and scribe to the Church’s first President as well as a fellow leader. After Joseph and Oliver were baptized in 1829, Samuel Smith was the third person baptized a member the Church.

For a time Samuel also served as scribe during the translation process of the Book of Mormon. He was one of the original six members of the Church when it was formally organized on April 6, 1830, and was one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. Those witnesses all stated that they saw and handled the gold plates.

While several others did missionary work before Samuel Smith’s missions, such as Thomas B. Marsh, Solomon Chamberlain, and other members of Samuel’s family, Samuel was the first to undertake a formal missionary assignment after the Church was organized. His missionary journeys between 1830 and 1833 covered more than 4,000 miles (6,400 km).

Samuel died in Nauvoo, Illinois, 33 days after his brothers Joseph and Hyrum were killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois. The illness that caused his death was a result of his exertions to escape the mob while trying to go to the aid of Joseph and Hyrum.

It has been 200 years since Samuel Smith, the Church’s first missionary, was born.

New Area Leadership Assignments

The First Presidency has announced changes in area leadership assignments effective on August 1, 2008. All members of Area Presidencies are members of the First or Second Quorums of the Seventy unless otherwise noted.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton and Elder Jay E. Jensen have been called to serve in the Presidency of the Seventy following the call of Elder D. Todd Christofferson to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Earl C. Tingey’s release from the Presidency.

The First Presidency has also announced the combining of the Europe Central and Europe West Areas and the Australia and New Zealand/Pacific Islands Areas. The new areas will be called the Europe Area and the Pacific Area. The North America East Area has been divided between the North America Northeast and North America Southeast Areas.

Presidency of the Seventy

Neil L. Andersen 1. North America Southwest

Ronald A. Rasband 2. Utah North 3. Utah Salt Lake City 4. Utah South

Claudio R. M. Costa 5. Idaho

Steven E. Snow 6. North America Central

Walter F. González 7. North America Southeast

L. Whitney Clayton 8. North America Northwest 9. North America West

Jay E. Jensen 10. North America Northeast

11. Mexico

C. Scott Grow First Counselor

Lynn A. Mickelsen President

Octaviano Tenorio Second Counselor

12. Central America

Shirley D. Christensen First Counselor

Don R. Clarke President

Enrique R. Falabella Second Counselor

13. Caribbean

Francisco J. Viñas First Counselor

Daniel L. Johnson President

Miguel A. Lee * Second Counselor

14. South America North

Benjamín De Hoyos First Counselor

Carl B. Pratt President

Rafael E. Pino Second Counselor

15. South America West

Carlos A. Godoy First Counselor

Marcus B. Nash President

Eduardo Gavarret Second Counselor

16. Brazil

Ulisses Soares First Counselor

Charles Didier President

Stanley G. Ellis Second Counselor

17. Chile

Lawrence E. Corbridge First Counselor

Carlos H. Amado President

Jorge F. Zeballos Second Counselor

18. South America South

Claudio D. Zivic First Counselor

Shayne M. Bowen President

Marcos A. Aidukaitis Second Counselor

19. Europe

Erich W. Kopischke First Counselor

Robert C. Oaks President

Gérald Caussé Second Counselor

20. Europe East

Wolfgang H. Paul First Counselor

Paul B. Pieper President

Larry W. Gibbons Second Counselor

21. Middle East/Africa North

Dennis B. Neuenschwander Bruce D. Porter Administered from Headquarters

22. Africa West

Craig A. Cardon First Counselor

Lowell M. Snow President

Christoffel Golden Jr. Second Counselor

23. Africa Southeast

Paul E. Koelliker First Counselor

William W. Parmley President

F. Michael Watson Second Counselor

24. Asia

Anthony D. Perkins First Counselor

Donald L. Hallstrom President

Kent D. Watson Second Counselor

25. Asia North

Gary E. Stevenson First Counselor

David F. Evans President

Yoon Hwan Choi * Second Counselor

26. Philippines

Won Yong Ko First Counselor

Keith R. Edwards President

Michael John U. Teh Second Counselor

27. Pacific

Keith K. Hilbig First Counselor

David S. Baxter President

Tad R. Callister Second Counselor

  1.   *

    Area Seventy

Protecting Family Finances by Avoiding Fraud

Editor’s note: In February 2008 the First Presidency issued a letter to Church members warning against becoming entangled in fraudulent investments. The following article explores some of the common warning signs of fraud.

As a young college graduate, Marshall Romney knew very little about investing when he became interested in the money market. After talking with co-workers who were making a profit through gold and silver investments, Brother Romney decided this was the investment for him. He bought a bag of coins, arranged to store the coins with the company he purchased them from, and later used a bank loan to buy more bags.

Unfortunately, the value of the coins stopped going up and started going down. In addition to getting into debt, Brother Romney discovered the company he invested in had disappeared. They had exploited their customers by selling nonexistent bags of gold, which they conveniently offered to store in their secure warehouse. Brother Romney was a victim of fraud.

Like many profiting from investment schemes, this company had capitalized on what was a very hot market at the time. But swindlers won’t stop there.

Brother Romney, now a professor at Brigham Young University with a research specialty in fraud, said cases of fraud are becoming more common and are a frequent concern for everyone, including Church members.

“Today investment fraud comes in all shapes and sizes, but many share similar characteristics that should raise suspicion,” he said.

While any investment holds some level of risk, schemes designed to deceive will often demonstrate a sense of urgency, propose a guaranteed profit with little risk, or persuade by using well-known referrals.

Sense of Urgency

An opportunity that requires an immediate response is typically a clear sign of fraud. Someone trying to sell an opportunity may try to persuade by saying it’s the chance of a lifetime or only a certain number can participate, but the need for a quick decision means there is little or no time to think about the commitment or to check the background of the investment.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of carefully evaluating financial decisions in a 1987 general conference address.

“There are no shortcuts to financial security,” Elder Ballard said. “Do not trust your money to others without a thorough evaluation of any proposed investment. Our people have lost far too much money by trusting their assets to others. In my judgment, we will never have balance in our lives unless our finances are securely under control” (“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Ensign, May 1987, 13).

Fraudsters will try to create a sense of urgency to encourage investors to jump in before various concerns or anxieties can settle. It is important to take the time to carefully consider each aspect of the decision. A quality investment opportunity will be around long enough to allow the time needed to fully contemplate the options.

Guaranteed Profit, Little Risk

Who could turn down an investment opportunity with virtually no risk and guaranteed profit? It almost seems too good to be true, and according to Brian Sudweeks, an associate professor of finance at Brigham Young University, it probably is.

“No one can promise a consistently high specific rate of return, and there are no ‘get rich quick’ schemes that work on a consistent basis,” Brother Sudweeks said. “Guaranteed high returns are never guaranteed or high.” But promoters will often propose such ideas, appealing to the desire to see a fast return and immediate profit.

Brother Sudweeks encourages potential investors to apply two important principles to any investment decision.

“First, know what you invest in and whom you invest with,” he said. “Second, invest only with high-quality individuals and institutions.”

Often a scheme continues to operate simply because investors don’t know what they are investing in, only that they see a return. As new investors contribute money, those funds go to pay previous investors, creating a never-ending shuffling of money that eventually collapses.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained in a general conference address in 2004 that members sometimes get caught in notions of greed or selfishness that can lead to unwise and foolish financial practices.

“Brothers and sisters, beware of covetousness,” he said. “It is one of the great afflictions of these latter days. It creates greed and resentment. Often it leads to bondage, heartbreak, and crushing, grinding debt” (“Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts,” Liahona, May 2004, 40).

Well-Known Referrals

Most individuals are more likely to participate in an investment opportunity if they know their sister, home teacher, neighbor, or co-worker is also participating. Promoters will often use these examples to appeal to and build some level of trust. While it may or may not be true that these friends and acquaintances are involved, investors cannot respon‑sibly respond to this elevated form of peer pressure.

“A lot of people don’t understand the proper principles of investments and don’t want to take the time to research and investigate something,” Brother Romney said. “Instead they rely on the fact that someone else has investigated it. When they hear the names of people they know, they automatically assume the research has been done.”

With a countless number of fraud schemes come just as many types of fraudsters. While terms such as swindler or scammer may bring a stereotypical image to mind, there are no set characteristics of someone promoting fraudulent investments. In fact, they may be typical acquaintances from work or church, family members, or close friends, and they may not even know the depth of what they are involved in.

“Ask yourself if you are interested solely because you know someone else involved,” Brother Romney said. “If this is the case, perhaps take a step back and really look into the background of the investment. No matter how trustworthy the source seems, potential investors should never make a decision based solely on the advice of others.”

Avoiding Fraud

As investment fraud becomes increasingly common, Church leaders have offered counsel to avoid unwise investments and stay out of debt.

“We again urge our people to avoid unnecessary debt, to be modest in the financial obligations which they undertake, to set aside some cash against an emergency,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) in a general conference address in 2003. “We warn our people against ‘get rich’ schemes and other entanglements which are nearly always designed to trap the gullible” (“The Condition of the Church,” Liahona, May 2003, 4).

In February 2008 the First Presidency issued a letter to general and local leaders in the United States and Canada with a message to be prudent in managing financial affairs. They offered concern about individuals who may use relationships of trust to promote risky schemes and shared sound financial principles to manage risk: “First, avoid unnecessary debt, especially consumer debt; second, before investing, seek advice from a qualified and licensed financial advisor; and third, be wise.”

Resources exploring the basics of family finances are available on the Church’s Web site, ProvidentLiving.org. The site features an online financial course, references to talks from Church leaders, lesson materials, and access to additional resource material.

Church leaders have warned members to be wise in their investments.

New Nursery Manual Helps Increase Focus on Teaching and Learning

A bright new lesson manual will soon be making its way to nursery classrooms throughout the Church.

The manual, Behold Your Little Ones, contains 30 lessons focused on gospel doctrine and is specifically designed for nursery classes.

Previously, nursery teachers were instructed to adapt lessons from the Primary 1 manual used for the three-year-old Primary class. This new resource allows teachers to offer a lesson better suited for children from 18 months through 3 years old.

Each lesson includes a color photograph as well as a line drawing that can be copied or traced to help reinforce the principles taught in the lesson. Suggestions for using the visuals, teaching tips, and optional activities are included in every lesson.

Designed with flexibility, the resource offers room for teachers to present the lessons in any order or use consecutive weeks to emphasize a principle not easily understood by this age group.

With topics such as “I Can Pray to Heavenly Father” or “My Family Can Be Together Forever,” these lessons can help build a foundation of understanding in any setting and can also be used by parents as a tool for teaching in the home.

“We are so pleased to have this new nursery manual,” says Cheryl C. Lant, Primary general president. “It has been created for the children, for their spiritual development, and for their social experience. It will be equally valuable in the hands of nursery leaders and parents.”

Behold Your Little Ones will be available in 27 languages by the end of 2008 and will be distributed to local priesthood leaders. It will also be available through Church distribution at ldscatalog.com.

Behold Your Little Ones is a new manual specifically for Primary children in nursery.

Temples Announced for Arizona

President Thomas S. Monson announced on April 10, 2008, plans to construct two new temples in Arizona, in the United States, one of them in the city of Gilbert and the other in Gila Valley. The announcement of the two temples is the first such made by President Monson since he became President of the Church.

The First Presidency invited members who wish to make specific financial donations to the construction of either temple to do so by writing “temple” on the “Other” line of their tithing donation slips and specifying which temple they wish to contribute to rather than using the general “Temple Construction” line.

The temple in Gilbert will serve to lessen the demands placed on the Mesa Arizona Temple, nine miles (14 km) away, which was originally dedicated in 1927 and rededicated in 1975.

The Gila Valley temple will be built near the communities of Thatcher and Safford. The temple in this region will relieve members from the 300-mile (483-km) round trip to attend the Mesa temple.

Church officials said the construction of the new temples remains a year or two away. Arizona also has a temple located in Snowflake.

In the News

FamilySearch Provides Access to British Soldiers, Seamen

FamilySearch is teaming with a United Kingdom family history Web site to provide online access to records of deceased British soldiers and seamen dating as far back as the eighteenth century.

Findmypast.com and FamilySearch received licenses to digitize the Chelsea Pensioners retired soldiers’ records from 1760 to 1914. Anther project will make available British merchant seamen’s records from 1835 to 1941. Many of the twentieth-century records will include photographs of sailors and personal details of naval voyages.

Guides Aid in Family History Research

FamilySearch.org has added England and Scotland to its online collection of Finding Records of Your Ancestors genealogy guides. The free, downloadable workbooks explain each step of the research process and include important Web sites, expert search tips, and information on how to find and use other Church records.

The manuals are part of a series that includes Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Jewish, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden guides. The guides are currently available in English, except for the Mexico guide, which is also available in Spanish. There is also a guide for those searching for African-American ancestors. Access the guides and other helps at FamilySearch.org. Click the Search tab, then Research Helps.

Preach My Gospel Downloads Available

The Preach My Gospel manual used by members and missionaries all over the world can be viewed online or downloaded in PDF format in 42 languages. It is also now available as an English audio recording in MP3 format. To download the files, visit GospelLibrary.lds.org and select Preach My Gospel from the “Shortcuts” menu on the right. Church audio files can also be found at www.lds.org/mp3/newarchive.

Joseph Smith Manual MP3s Available

The manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith is now available to download online in MP3 audio format in 11 languages. The files are available in Cantonese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Access all the audio files at www.lds.org/mp3/newarchive or by clicking on Listen in the individual text chapters found in the LDS.org Gospel Library.

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, September 2008

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the September 2008 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “Heavenly Father, Are You Really There?” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

  1. 1.

    Prior to sharing time, make wordstrips of the different words that children use to say thank-you that are found in “Children All Over the World” (Children’s Songbook, 16–17). Be familiar with the song, and be prepared to use it throughout sharing time to teach about prayer.

    Show Gospel Art Picture Kit 600 (The World). Sing this phrase to the children, and let them guess the missing word: “All over the world at the end of day, Heav’nly Father’s children kneel down and ______.” Write the word pray on the chalkboard.

    Show wordstrips of the different ways children say thank-you all over the world. Repeat the words a few times. Sing that section of the song several times so the children are familiar with the words. Write the phrase We thank Thee on the chalkboard.

    Sing the song beginning with the phrase “Our Heavenly Father hears them.” Ask the children to listen for what Heavenly Father does (hears, understands, knows, loves). Write the words describing what He does on the chalkboard.

    Place these pictures on the chalkboard with the scripture references written under each picture: Gospel Art Picture Kit 107 (Moses and the Burning Bush)—Exodus 3:4; Gospel Art Picture Kit 120 (Enoch and His People Are Taken Up to God)—Moses 6:27; Gospel Art Picture Kit 111 (Boy Samuel Called by the Lord)—1 Samuel 3:10; Gospel Art Picture Kit 303 (Nephi Subdues His Rebellious Brothers)—1 Nephi 2:19; Gospel Art Picture Kit 403 (The First Vision)—Joseph Smith—History 1:17; Primary 5 picture packet, 5-38—D&C 11:23. Ask for volunteers to read each scripture. Teach the children that Heavenly Father knows each of His children by name.

    For each child, provide a copy of the activity found on page F4. Allow time for the children to color the picture.

    From “Children All Over the World,” sing the phrase “Saying thank you, thank you in his own special way.” Read the scripture from Alma found on page F4, and talk about saying thank-you for all the blessings we receive. Sing the entire song, and bear testimony that Heavenly Father answers prayers with blessings that we need.

  2. 2.

    Write on the chalkboard President Boyd K. Packer’s quote from Primary 7, lesson 11, enrichment activity 4. Explain to the children that if they listen carefully during sharing time, they will be able to fill in the missing words.

    Prepare three learning stations where the children are taught that prayers are answered through the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, and other inspired ways (see “Stations,” Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 179). Use music to signal when it is time to move to a new station. Some suggested songs are “Listen, Listen” (Children’s Songbook, 107), “Search, Ponder, and Pray” (Children’s Songbook, 109), “Love Is Spoken Here” (Children’s Songbook, 190–91), “Follow the Prophet” (Children’s Songbook, 110–11), and “Scripture Power” (2006 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children’s Sacrament Meeting Presentation).

    At the conclusion of the learning stations, gather the children and complete the missing-word activity on the chalkboard. Bear testimony that prayers are answered through the Holy Ghost, the scriptures, and other inspired ways.