News of the Church

By Karianne Salisbury, Church Magazines


True to the Faith: Offering Simple Insights to Gospel Principles

When Robert Lund, a bishop in Kaysville, Utah, USA, encounters any gospel-related question or concern, one resource he always turns to is True to the Faith.

“If someone comes to me with a question, I’ll say, ‘Let’s see what True to the Faith says,’” said Bishop Lund, referring to the companion reference to scripture study and the teachings of latter-day prophets.

First published in 2004, True to the Faith takes a topic-by-topic approach in its simple explanations of gospel subjects. While the reference was designed to be especially mindful of youth, young single adults, and new converts, True to the Faith’s underlying purpose is to help all readers strengthen their efforts “to draw near to the Savior and follow His example,” stated the First Presidency in the introduction.

Bishop Lund is not alone in his enthusiastic opinion of the book. Members across the world are finding ways to use True to the Faith to enhance their personal gospel study, build stronger foundations of gospel knowledge, apply gospel principles in their lives, and prepare to share or teach the gospel.

Enhancing Gospel Study

Donna Heßling, from the Münster Branch, Dortmund Germany Stake, uses True to the Faith to gain a broader understanding of the restored Church and its teachings.

“The entries are clear and intense, and each topic has enlarged and substantiated my testimony of the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Sister Heßling said.

True to the Faith contains approximately 170 entries on topics listed alphabetically from Aaronic Priesthood to Zion. In addition to teaching gospel principles in a simple yet inspiring way, each entry also contains scriptural references for further study of any topic.

Mark Ellison and his family, from Saratoga Springs, Utah, USA, often use True to the Faith to focus on a topic while studying the gospel at home.

“When our children participate in family home evening by teaching the lesson, they will choose a topic and use True to the Faith for a good summary,” Brother Ellison said. “Sometimes we’ve picked a topic and asked each member of our family to state one thing they know about that topic. Then we go to True to the Faith and see what it says in there, and what we may have overlooked.”

His children’s ages span from 7 to 18, yet Brother Ellison said True to the Faith provides information that meets the interest and levels of gospel knowledge for each member of his family.

“It’s simple but contains the most essential information,” Brother Ellison said. “I think my family really understands that it is a gospel resource they can go to if they ever have a question or need to prepare to teach or share thoughts on any topic.”

Building Foundations of Knowledge

Throughout 2007, 17-year-old Jake McKell in the Grandview 21st Ward, Provo Utah Grandview Stake (USA), along with his peers and leaders, participated in a challenge issued by their bishop to read True to the Faith from cover to cover during the year. David Tueller, the ward Young Men president, says the ward saw a positive response to True to the Faith.

“It has been a wonderful blessing to read the doctrine taught in that book in such a straightforward, pure, and easy-to-understand manner,” Brother Tueller said. “Throughout the ward there is a greater awareness of the power and use of that book for talks, personal scripture study, and helping to share the gospel with others.”

In the Allentown Branch, Reading Pennsylvania Stake (USA), Tracy Norton, the Young Women president, and the young women in her ward used True to the Faith while studying the Articles of Faith, a project they hoped would give them confidence to share the gospel by helping them better understand the Church’s basic points of beliefs.

“I try to use True to the Faith for my lessons as much as possible and encourage the young women to use it with their questions,” Sister Norton said. “True to the Faith covers many topics relating to the struggles the youth face and offers the Church’s stance on those and other important topics. I believe it’s important to introduce a source they can go to for answers.”

Sister Norton believes that because they were able to focus on individual topics, the young women she teaches were better able to understand each principle.

“Using True to the Faith helped increase my understanding of the gospel and helped me have a stronger testimony,” said 14-year-old Genesis Felix, a member of the Allentown Branch. “I keep the book with my scriptures now and often use it to look up topics I don’t completely understand.”

Applying Gospel Principles

Reading, learning, and then living the gospel has become a familiar process for Daniel Jauslin of the Pratteln Ward, Bern Switzerland Stake, who said True to the Faith is one of his favorite books.

“I have found this book so helpful,” said Brother Jauslin. “You read it, you gain or strengthen a testimony of what it says, and you get something out of it. This really is a guide on how to live the gospel.”

For example, Brother Jauslin mentioned the section on the scriptures and the counsel to study them individually and with family members.

“I know reading the scriptures every day might be tough for a lot of members throughout the world, but … True to the Faith tells us we need to do it daily, we need to make a plan, and we need to continue to find meaning in what we read,” he said.

Legrand Laing, a seminary teacher in Springville, Utah, USA, said he has seen True to the Faith play a valuable role in helping individuals learn and then apply the gospel in their lives.

True to the Faith offers thoughts and encouragement on real-life application of the doctrines and principles being taught,” Brother Laing said. “Certainly this can be found in many other resources provided by the Church and of course in the scriptures themselves, but True to the Faith provides these things readily, easily, and clearly—all in one place.”

Preparing to Share

In 2004 True to the Faith became an official part of the missionary library, along with Preach My Gospel.

“During the development of Preach My Gospel, it was determined that the missionary library should be simplified and updated,” said Greg Droubay from the Church’s Missionary Department. “True to the Faith was chosen as a simple, short, easy-to-use reference that would assist a missionary in his or her gospel study.”

While True to the Faith is emphasized as a secondary resource to the scriptures and Preach My Gospel, missionaries across the world have found it useful in studying and sharing the gospel.

“On my mission I often used True to the Faith to study for talks or lessons,” said Paul Epperson from Woodbridge, Virginia, USA, who served in the Belgium Brussels/ Netherlands mission. “Preach My Gospel provided a great start to studying the topics, but I also looked in True to the Faith for more detailed, but still simple, explanations of various terms and ideas.”

True to the Faith has also found its place in student manuals used for institute and religion classes.

“We are continually updating the institute and seminary manuals and believe True to the Faith is an excellent source because it has not only been approved but is also recommended and very accessible,” said Brian Garner, manager of college curriculum for the Church.

As the manuals used for institutes and religion classes are put together, Brother Garner said one thing the writers work toward is a worldwide focus—creating something that anyone can find and turn to.

“Almost everyone has access to True to the Faith,” he said. “People can see the reference, turn to the book, and read the information. It’s accessible and it’s reliable.”

True to the Faith is published in 46 languages, reaching members from Spain to Finland to Cambodia. Copies are available through Church distribution at ldscatalog.com or through local priesthood leaders. An English version may be downloaded at LDS.org by selecting Gospel Library, Media Formats, PDF, and then selecting True to the Faith.

Remaining True to the Faith

While Bishop Lund was joking when he said that he wishes True to the Faith were attached to the back of the standard works, he is confident the resource can be used in a variety of ways and offers something for everyone’s questions or concerns.

Baptism, receiving the priesthood, modesty, forgiveness, repentance—they’re all in there,” said Bishop Lund, listing some of the topics included in True to the Faith.

As stated in the introduction, the First Presidency hope that as members study and apply gospel principles, they will use this resource and continue finding strength.

“As you learn gospel truths, you will increase in your understanding of Heavenly Father’s eternal plan,” they said. “With this understanding as a foundation for your life, you will be able to make wise choices, live in harmony with God’s will, and find joy in living. Your testimony will grow stronger. You will remain true to the faith.”

True to the Faith, a gospel reference guide published in 2004, helps provide a foundational understanding of the gospel.

Photograph by Christina Smith

True to the Faith was designed as a companion to a study of the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets.

The March 2008 Issue: A Report

Two years in planning and production.

More than 2.3 million copies distributed in 51 languages.

Two additional printings needed to meet demand.

More than 340,000 visitors to the special Web site.

Respectable as they are, the numbers don’t tell the story. The significance of the March 2008 issue of the Ensign and Liahona magazines, “The Lord Jesus Christ,” only becomes apparent when one sees how lives have been affected.

On a Personal Level

Invited to share their feelings and experiences with the March 2008 issue, many members wrote to tell simply how it affected their own lives. From the Philippines, Maria Felina Ferrer wrote: “For the first time in 29 years that I have lived speaking and writing about Him, I felt the palpable reality of the Savior in my life. He is not just a topic, not just a story. He is real. … It caused a mighty change in me. Everywhere I go and whatever I do now, I am conscious that the Lord Jesus Christ, in all His power, sees me and is standing by me. That fact makes me want to become a better person.”

Tom Kunz of Magnolia, Texas, USA, said: “I felt so good after I finished reading the magazine, and I wanted to be better in every aspect of my life. … I felt the Savior’s love for me and the magnificence of the Atonement in a very personal way.”

Sharing With Others

Linda Buysse-Vergauwen, who teaches elementary school in Belgium, was on a study trip with a colleague and gave her a copy of the March issue along with a special note and an invitation to come to hear her speak in church on Easter Sunday. The friend went and had a positive experience. “The special issue of the Liahona gave me the opportunity to put a little seed in the heart of a friend,” Sister Buysse-Vergauwen said.

In California, USA, Lori Larson had her March Ensign with her at the beauty salon and was enthralled with it. She kept thinking of how the articles would be great to share with someone of another faith and how they would clear up misconceptions about the Church. Then her beautician asked about the magazine she was reading. By the time the appointment and the conversation were over, the beautician was asking for the missionaries to visit her.

Telma Chacón of Guatemala City, Guatemala, bought 12 extra copies of the Liahona and used the occasion of Easter to share the magazines and her testimony with her brothers and sisters. Patricia Hegedus of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, sent a copy to a German couple she and her husband had befriended some years earlier. They received it gratefully with a promise to read it. The Allan Harvey family of Krugersdorp, South Africa, bought 12 extra copies and distributed them to the families on their street.

Ward and Stake Efforts

Church units received allotments of free copies of the Ensign or Liahona to use in fellowshipping, activation, and missionary work. In England, the Chorley stake organized a special Easter concert to which friends, neighbors, less-active members, and VIP guests were invited. Each guest received a Book of Mormon and a copy of the March 2008 Ensign.

In Nigeria, Relief Society sisters in the Ile-Ife district, as part of the activities marking the Relief Society anniversary, visited the local prison and distributed copies of the March issue. The Newcastle-Under-Lyme stake in England saw to it that every family in the stake had a copy and an invitation to attend a special sacrament service on Easter Sunday. One result was that a brother who had been less active since shortly after his baptism in the 1980s was touched and now enjoys the blessings of the gospel in his life again.

Yes, We Are Christians

Many wrote to tell how the issue on the Savior helped clear up misunderstandings about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Barbara Mayes of Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, reported a comment from the woman who comes in to clean her home: “I have noticed many things that point to the idea that you believe in Jesus. How can that be? You two are Mormons. Are you Christians?” Sister Mayes gave her a copy of the March Ensign and they began a conversation. “As she reads, she continues to ask significant questions, and a closed heart has been opened,” said Sister Mayes.

The Mike and Shaz Kramer family of Garwood, New Jersey, USA, held a party earlier this year to which several non–Latter-day Saint families were invited. One family arrived early so the husband could ask a question about the Church. A minister friend of his had indicated that Mormons didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. Brother Kramer said, “I simply reached over and picked up the March Ensign, with Christ’s picture on the cover, and asked, ‘Does this look like a church that doesn’t believe in Jesus?’ ” The man took the magazine with him and met with the missionaries later that week to ask more questions.

A Timeless Message

The March 2008 issue of the Ensign and Liahona is still available through Church distribution. Its timeless message about the Savior makes it valuable for sharing not only during future Christmas and Easter seasons, but anytime members wish to provide comfort, to teach true doctrine, and to share with others a firm testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. The potential is there for many more lives to be touched.

Many members have been positively influenced by the March 2008 issue on Jesus Christ and have shared it with others.

Photograph by Christina Smith

In the News

President Monson Announces Third New Temple in Arizona

Within a month’s span, President Thomas S. Monson has announced plans to build three new temples in Arizona, USA. The most recent announcement came on May 24, 2008, in which the prophet declared plans to build a temple in Phoenix.

On April 28 he announced plans to build temples in Gilbert and Gila Valley, Arizona.

“The blessings of the temple are eternal,” President Monson said in a letter to members. “Those who come to this holy house will feel of God’s love for His children and come to a greater understanding of their own divine origin and potential as His sons and daughters.”

The new temples will bring the total number of temples in Arizona to five, and will alleviate the high demand placed on the state’s currently operating temples in Mesa and Snowflake.

Built in 1927, the Mesa Arizona Temple is attended by more members than any temple in the world outside of Utah, serving members from 74 stakes, according to the Church’s Temple Department.

No timetable has been set for the construction of the three new temples, which bring the worldwide total of operating or planned temples to 140.

President Monson Dedicates Temple, Meets with Vice President in Brazil

During the week of the Curitiba Brazil Temple dedication, thousands of members gathered to hear from President Thomas S. Monson at different locations in southern and central Brazil.

Accompanied by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy, President Monson dedicated the Curitiba temple in four sessions on Sunday, June 1, 2008.

The night before, thousands of members filled a soccer stadium for a cultural celebration attended by the prophet.

The Curitiba temple becomes the fifth temple in Brazil, where membership is approaching one million. More than 42,000 people visited the temple during its open house. Brazil’s sixth temple is planned for Manaus.

On Monday, June 2, President Monson flew to Brasilia, Brazil, to meet with Brazil’s vice president, Jose Alancar. Along with Elder Nelson and Elder Didier, President Monson presented Mr. Alancar with a small statue depicting a family and a framed copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49).

Afterward, Elder Nelson and his wife, Wendy, joined President Monson to address some 8,000 members for a multistake family home evening.

Hong Kong Members Aid Earthquake Victims

Within days of the massive earthquake that rocked the Chinese province of Sichuan in May, more than 600 members of the Church from Hong Kong traveled to a factory in Shenzhen, China, to assemble 10,000 emergency kits for victims.

Each kit contained crackers, powdered milk, canned meat, instant noodles, soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, towels, a raincoat, a blanket, and drinking water.

Latter-day Saint Charities, a humanitarian arm of the Church, organized the project, which is part of a more comprehensive relief effort underway for the earthquake victims. It includes the provision of approximately 5,000 tents and 4,000 sleeping bags with mats.

In addition to the relief supplies, a check from Latter-day Saint Charities was presented to government officials and the Shenzhen Red Cross. The funds came from Church member donations in Hong Kong and worldwide.

Bruce Lai, a Hong Kong businessman and member of the Church, made his factory in Shenzhen available for the event.

The China Charity Federation is distributing the supplies to communities in the earthquake zone.

More than 600 Church members from Hong Kong traveled to Shenzhen, on China’s mainland, to assemble 10,000 emergency kits for earthquake victims.

© 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.; All rights reserved

President Uchtdorf Meets with European Saints

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, met with members of the Church and guests during a tour of England, Germany, and France at the end of May and beginning of June 2008.

Referring to Germany and France’s histories, he told Parisians who attended a meeting in Versailles that “although there have been many wars between the two countries, we are now friends and good neighbors. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to make all of us better people and makes no distinction based on nationality and color.”

He continued: “We are all united, all brothers and sisters. The gospel is the answer to the challenges in the world, to all questions faced by families, communities, and nations.”

President Uchtdorf became a member of the Church in Germany as a young boy. He was named a Counselor in the First Presidency in February this year.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf meets with Latter-day Saints in Paris.

© 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.; All rights reserved

World Briefs

100th LDS Congregation Created in Taiwan

Following the organization of the Mingchien Branch in May 2008, the Church in Taiwan now has 100 congregations. Mingchien is a small town in central Taiwan. The 100 units serve a total membership approaching 50,000.

The first missionaries arrived in the late 1950s, and missionaries were often assigned to lead the congregations. Today all lay leaders come from the ranks of local members.

Press Conference in France Builds Relationships, Spreads Gospel

Stake leaders in Lyon, France, organized a press conference about FamilySearch’s new indexing features. They used the May 13, 2008, occasion to bring Church doctrine to the attention of local journalists and community leaders as they explained the importance of family history in the lives of Church members and the principle of eternal families. “Those in attendance were very interested,” said Daniel Mocellin, president of the Lyon France Stake.

Danish, Dutch, Hungarian Triples Available Online

The Danish, Dutch, and Hungarian versions of the triple combination are now available online at http://scriptures.lds.org. The online triple combination provides footnotes, study helps, maps, photographs, and the ability to mark scriptures. To help more members have access to the scriptures, the Church has previously placed English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish versions of the triple online. The LDS scriptures are currently being converted for use online in more than two dozen languages.

Relief Society Spends Weekend Serving

Relief Society members of the Fountain Colorado Stake in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, spent the second weekend in May sawing, sanding, sewing, and serving. After donating to a local blood bank, Relief Society sisters assembled 200 comfort kits and hand-tied 40 fleece blankets for the local Red Cross.

They also donated more than 500 wooden toy blocks, 25 quilts, and 82 dolls to the Church’s Humanitarian Center along with 187 items of new clothing.

For information on donating to Humanitarian Services, visit www.lds.org/humanitarianservices or call 1-801-240-5954.

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, October 2008

The following are additional ideas Primary leaders may use with the Sharing Time printed in the October 2008 Liahona. For the lesson, instructions, and activity that correspond with these ideas, see “I Will Be His Servant” on pages F4 and F5 of the children’s section in this issue.

  1. 1.

    Prior to sharing time, obtain pictures of the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Place them on the chalkboard or white board. Make wordstrips of their names, and place them along the side of the chalkboard.

    Begin by asking the children to match the names of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with their pictures. Help the children put the pictures in the correct order by calling and seniority.

    From the most recent general conference or from other issues of the Liahona, choose addresses from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that focus on service. Share these messages, and discuss ways the children can apply what they learn to help them as they serve others. Refer to Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 to remind the children that we serve with our heart, might, mind, and strength. Sing a song or hymn about prophets. Bear testimony of the blessing of having prophets, seers, and revelators, who teach us by their words and their examples how to serve one another.

  2. 2.

    Write the weekly gospel principle across the top of the chalkboard: “Because others serve me, I too want to serve.” Invite the children to sing songs to discover who serves them. Then have them sing songs or hymns about the Savior, prophets, families, friends, and so on. Make a list of those mentioned in the songs or hymns under the phrase Because others serve me.

    Compare Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 and 59:5. Help the children find the words heart, might, mind, and strength in both scriptures. Point out that we should love and serve Heavenly Father and others with our heart, might, mind, and strength. Prepare the necessary materials for the children to complete the mobile on page F4.

    When the mobiles are completed, invite the children to sing songs to discover ways they can serve. Then sing songs or hymns about service. Write the answers they discover in the songs and hymns under the phrase I too want to serve. Bear testimony of the blessings that come from serving others and from others serving you.