News of the Church

By Erin Pitcher, Church Magazines


Temple Work Rolls On Around World

Papeete Tahiti Temple

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles rededicated the Papeete Tahiti Temple in two sessions in November 2006. First dedicated in October 1983, the temple underwent a 15-month renovation that enlarged the baptismal font and sealing rooms and provided a youth center for children being sealed to their parents.

An estimated 10,000 Tahitians participated in the rededication, which was broadcast to local stake centers as well as to Salt Lake City, New Caledonia, and the BYU–Hawaii campus.

Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple

President Gordon B. Hinckley presided at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple on December 16, 2006. In attendance were President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, Counselors in the First Presidency; Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who conducted the service; and other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Quorums of the Seventy.

Plans for the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple include a 9-foot-tall (2.7-m) statue of the angel Moroni that will sit atop a single 193-foot-tall (59-m) spire. The temple will sit on an 11-acre (4.5-ha) site at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains and will face the Wasatch Mountains to the east.

South Jordan, Utah, where the Oquirrh Mountain temple will be located, will be the first city in the world to have two temples. The Jordan River Utah Temple is also located in the city. The new temple will be the 13th in Utah.

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

During the groundbreaking ceremony for the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced plans to build a temple in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. The temple will be the second in Guatemala.

The temple in Quetzaltenango will be what President Hinckley refers to as a smaller temple. The concept of smaller temples, introduced by President Hinckley during the October 1997 general conference, can be constructed at much less cost than larger temples while making temple blessings available to more members.

Other Temples

Work continues on the Curitiba Brazil, Draper Utah, Panama City Panama, Rexburg Idaho, and Twin Falls Idaho Temples.

Currently the Church has 135 temples announced, under construction, or in operation.

For more information about temples across the globe, visit the Church’s Temples Web site (www.lds.org/temples).

President Gordon B. Hinckley, right, the Counselors in the First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other Church leaders break ground for the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple. (Photograph courtesy Deseret Morning News.)

Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple

Lecture Looks at Online Future of Family History

“The future of family history researching may be closer than you think,” said Rich Running at a lecture held on January 9, 2007, as part of the annual Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Association.

Nearly 200 people attended the lecture, “Opening the Granite Mountain Vault,” where production management leaders of the Church and Family History Department of the Church explained technological advances in two facets of genealogical research—scanning and indexing.

As a manager of product management of the department, Brother Running describes these changes as steps in building a “digital highway” for genealogical researchers.

FamilySearch Scanning

This digital highway is being constructed through FamilySearch Scanning as the estimated five billion historic documents at the Church’s Granite Mountain Records Vault are being converted from microfilm to digital pictures that will eventually be accessible via the Internet, Brother Running said.

The Granite Mountain Records Vault, located in the Wasatch Mountains, holds the largest collection of family history records in the world. Employees use advanced computer systems to convert the rolls of microfilm stored there into high-quality digital images.

“This scanning process began at the vault five years ago,” Derek Dobson, FamilySearch Scanning product manager, explained. “Within that short period of time technological developments have made this process at least four times faster and much higher quality than a few years ago. … Now, in approximately 20 minutes the information in one roll of microfilm is made into some 1,200 digital images.”

Brother Running said that this digitalization will make genealogy work much more convenient. Instead of traveling to one of the Church’s 4,500 family history centers and ordering rolls of microfilm, researchers will eventually be able to access those documents online in the comfort of their homes.

FamilySearch, the Church’s Internet-based genealogy service, has as its main objectives to acquire and preserve data of genealogical significance and to improve accessibility to those records.

“FamilySearch Scanning is an integral part of making those objectives a reality,” said Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for the Family and Church History Department.

FamilySearch Indexing

In conjunction with FamilySearch Scanning, indexes of information are being compiled with the help of thousands of volunteers. These contributors extract family history information from digital images of historical documents that will help others search for relevant information more efficiently.

Previously called extraction work, FamilySearch Indexing allows individuals to volunteer online, download historic documents, and input the necessary information using an online form that can be completed in less than an hour.

“This system allows people to accomplish a substantial amount of work in a short period of time,” Brother Dobson said. “Many people may not be able to spend hours on genealogical research. However, anyone can spend half an hour to an hour indexing names in a simple, understandable system. Youth have even volunteered with FamilySearch Indexing and are finding it an enjoyable experience.”

The first version of FamilySearch Indexing was released in September 2005, and by the end of 2006 more than 25,000 people within 1,200 stakes and partnering societies had registered as FamilySearch Indexing volunteers.

Church members can contact their local ward or branch leaders for additional information about how to get involved. However, volunteering with FamilySearch Indexing is not restricted to members of the LDS faith.

Brother Nauta feels the most important part of this genealogical digital highway is recognizing the desired destination.

“All these things the Church is doing regarding genealogical work is to make records available so people can identify their ancestors and link themselves to their forebears,” he said.

Additional information on FamilySearch Scanning and FamilySearch Indexing is available online at www.familysearch.org or www.familysearchindexing.org.

Internet users around the world can now help make digitally scanned information available to family history researchers online.

Interfaith Art Show in Canada Helps Bring Community Together

Sean Flint was a new member of the Church and a ward missionary, and he wanted to share his knowledge of the gospel with everyone in his city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. Brother Flint was aware that misconceptions about the Church existed in Moose Jaw and would make missionary work difficult.

“We wanted to do something that would attract attention to the Church and show that many of the misconceptions about the Church were not true,” Brother Flint said.

Brother Flint talked with the missionaries in his ward, and together they decided that the best way to share the gospel in a nonconfrontational way and reach out to the community and the more than 30 different churches would be to bring everyone together based on the one thing they shared—faith. Several ideas were considered, but in the end they decided that presenting a faith-promoting gospel art show was the way to go.

“One of the missionaries told me he had thought of showing some art at an art show sponsored by the Church,” Brother Flint said. “Eventually a lightbulb went off in my head. Wouldn’t it be nice to invite all of the churches of Moose Jaw to participate and show their own art?”

The idea was there, and within a short time the 2006 Gospel Art Show was born. With the help of the members of the Moose Jaw Ward and the missionaries, the word was spread and the plans were made.

Forty large color posters were created and distributed with invitations for members of other churches to display their religious art. More than 32,000 smaller versions of the posters were also distributed throughout the town by members, said Gerry Miller, ward mission leader.

Brother Miller added that the youth of the ward contributed as well. “The young men, under the direction of the Young Men president, Lorne Bachiu, built over 150 easels to display the art,” he said.

The local newspaper, the Times-Herald, printed an article about the upcoming show, and the local radio station, CHAB, also ran a story about it.

However, shortly before the show was to begin, Brother Flint was afraid it might not happen at all.

“Three days before the show we had received no responses from any other churches or nonmembers,” Brother Flint said. But after a lot of sincere prayer over the next two days, Saint Andrew’s United Church and 10 members of other faiths called to offer art.

The show opened as scheduled, featuring more than 140 pieces of art in six different categories. Missionaries were on hand to answer questions visitors had and to give out information about the Church to those who requested it.

While the turnout for the show did not reach the hundreds, Brother Flint accomplished what he wanted, which was to bring the people of Moose Jaw together and share the gospel in a friendly way.

“There was no confrontation of any kind. Everyone just seemed to feel the Spirit. It was a great experience,” Brother Flint said.

Vicci Spicer, who loaned the show her antique Tibetan wood replica of a Masonic temple, which dated back to the 1500s, said that she was grateful for the opportunity she was given to participate in the art show.

“Usually, since my faith is Judaism, I’m not invited to religious art shows,” Ms. Spicer said. “I met many wonderful people and saw beautiful pieces of art, but most of all I found friendship within the Mormon Church.”

Although it is not certain if the art show will become an annual event, there is support from the community to hold another show.

“Saint Andrew’s United Church loved the art show. They thought it was a great idea and suggested that their church would be a great location for the show next year,” Brother Flint said. “All of the people who visited the show said they would participate in it next year and tell their friends about it.”

German, French, and Italian Scriptures Now Available Online at LDS.org

An estimated 125,000 French-, German-, and Italian-speaking members will now be able to study the triple combination in their native tongue by accessing the LDS scriptures online. In January 2007, the Church made the official French, German, and Italian versions of the triple combination available at http://scriptures.lds.org. Previously, the LDS scriptures have been available online only in English and Spanish.

The process to convert the traditional print edition of the scriptures into the Internet version takes about six months to complete, according to Ron Schwendiman, manager of the Internet Coordination Group for the Church Curriculum Department. It depends upon the checks, reviews, and revisions that must be made to eliminate errors that may have occurred during the conversion process.

Several language editions are in line to enter the process to be put on the Internet. “Portuguese will be coming soon, and others will follow,” said Kai Andersen, secretary of the Scriptures Committee.

Brother Schwendiman is hoping that in the near future more members will be able to access the LDS scriptures online in their native tongue. “Right now we are reviewing with the Scriptures Committee the order of the next languages and are hoping to release as many as possible this year,” he said.

Just as with the Spanish Internet scriptures, the French, German, and Italian online scriptures include the triple combination (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price), the Guide to the Scriptures (a listing of gospel topics with definitions and cross-references), and links to other study aids, such as selections from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, a chronology of Church history, and photographs and maps related to biblical events and Church history.

To access the content in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish, go to http://scriptures.lds.org, and click on “English” in the top right corner. Then select the appropriate language from the menu.

The triple combination and related study aids have been recently made available online in French, German, and Italian.

Triple Combinations Available in Tongan and Haitian

For the first time, Tongan- and Haitian-speaking members of the Church will have a triple combination in their own language.

An estimated 80,000 Tongan-speaking and 14,000 Haitian-speaking members will benefit from the triple combination, which contains the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the Guide to the Scriptures.

New Church maps, photos, and Church chronology are also included in the triple combination, said Tod Harris, manager of scripture translation.

The Book of Mormon in Tongan has been available since 1946, and the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price since 1959, but the publication of the triple combination marks the first time that all three books have been bound together into one volume, said Kai Andersen, secretary of the Scriptures Committee.

Although the Book of Mormon in Haitian has been available since 1999, the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price were not available until the release of the triple combination, Brother Andersen said.

Both the Tongan and Haitian triple combinations include an updated translation of the Book of Mormon with footnotes.

Teams of translators, reviewers, and ecclesiastical leaders work together to translate the scriptures into a chosen language, Brother Harris said, and the length of time it takes to do that varies.

Members have been encouraged by the First Presidency of the Church to acquire their own scriptures to be used for regular study, Church meetings, and assignments.

LDS Charities Returns Fishermen to the Seas

Latter-day Saint Charities, a humanitarian arm of the Church, worked with another charitable organization to help restore a fishing boat that returned 27 fishermen in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, to the seas, allowing them to provide for their families.

Because of the tsunami in 2004, the fishing boat Bolivia was damaged and sank in the Krueng Aceh River. After the boat had been submerged for two months, the United States Army and the Australian army helped to pull it from the water. There the boat remained untouched for a year.

Latter-day Saint Charities and Austin International Rescue and Relief Operations (AIRO) initiated a restoration project of the large fishing boat. The restoration was completed in November 2006.

Following a short ceremony held at the waterfront, the boat was officially launched.

The original owner of the boat and his spouse perished during the tsunami. Their three children survived and will now receive 50 percent of the profits from the fishing boat.

Latter-day Saint Charities helped restore the Bolivia, a large fishing boat damaged in the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. Half of the vessel’s profits will go to the children of the owners killed in the tsunami.

Church Assists Floridians Struck by Tornadoes

Within 24 hours after three tornadoes killed more than 20 people in central Florida, USA, 500 members of the Church arrived to help begin relief efforts. The tornadoes destroyed or significantly damaged more than 1,500 homes in February 2007, including the homes of 14 member families.

Despite the damage to the member homes, all members and missionaries in the affected areas were safe. Priesthood leaders helped relocate the 14 families who lost homes.

About 400 member volunteers gathered at an Orlando Church building to receive instructions on where they would spend the day cleaning and removing debris. In another part of the city, 100 more volunteers gathered to help clean up the Deland area.

In addition to manpower, the Church provided tarps, generators, chain saws, gloves, hammers, nails, and cleaning kits.

Brady Nixon, a member of the Church from the Oviedo area who helped in the cleanup efforts, said, “The destruction was so comprehensive. The people were very grateful that at least they were alive and that we were there and helping.”

The Church already had needed items, including food and water, in Church storehouses in Florida.

Members of the Church help clear debris following a deadly tornado in Florida.

Church Sends Aid to Sudanese Refugees

In 2004 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began working with various organizations to respond to the humanitarian needs caused by the ongoing armed conflict between rebel and government groups in Sudan and neighboring Chad.

The emergency response effort of the Church has provided the refugee population with approximately 400 tons (363 tonnes) of Atmit, a nutritional supplement for malnourished children. Additionally, shipments of medical supplies, hygiene kits, and blankets have been sent with the help of partnering organizations such as International Relief and Development, Red Crescent Society, and International Medical Corps.

Since 2003 the Darfur region of Sudan has been an area of conflict, resulting in the displacement of more than two million people and the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

Church Welfare Services continues monitoring the situation and working closely with partnering agencies to assist those in need.

Additional Sharing Time Ideas, June 2007

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

  1. 1.

    Pretend to be a journalist. Show the children Gospel Art Picture Kit 208 (John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus). Ask them to help you find out what is happening in the picture. Explain that a journalist needs to find out six things. Write the words what, where, when, who, how, and why on wordstrips, and display them. Ask the children to discover the answer to each of these words. You might direct them to Matthew 3:13–17. For example, the answer to who is “Jesus was baptized by John.” The answer to where is “in the Jordan River.”

    After you have answered all of the questions, put the answers together to form a story. Invite the music leader to lead the children in “Baptism” (Children’s Songbook, 100–101), and point out that the first five questions are answered in the first verse of the song and that the why question is answered in the second verse.

    Explain that Jesus set an example for us and that each of us needs to be baptized. Bear your testimony that Jesus is the Son of God.

  2. 2.

    Display a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water. Also display Gospel Art Picture Kit 604 (Passing the Sacrament). Ask the children what the difference is between plain bread and water and sacrament bread and water. Explain that the sacrament is sacred because it has been blessed by priesthood authority. It reminds us of Jesus’s body and blood.

    Use the True to the Faith section on the sacrament and chapter 23 of Gospel Principles to help you create questions such as “Who introduced the sacrament?” (Christ), “Who passes the sacrament?” (priesthood holders, usually the deacons), and “What should we think of while the sacrament is being passed?” (Christ and His Atonement). Ask enough questions to help the children understand the sacrament. Use a picture of the sacrament to create a puzzle. Cut the picture into puzzle pieces, making the same number of pieces as questions. Each time a question is answered correctly, invite the child to tape a puzzle piece to the chalkboard. When the puzzle is complete, sing a song or hymn about the Savior. Although the sacrament is a time to be very quiet, it is also a time to be happy as we think of what Jesus has done for us. Bear testimony of His love for us and of the importance of the sacrament.

  3. 3.

    Song presentation: “I Want to Live the Gospel” (Children’s Songbook, 148). Ask the children, “What do you want?” Give many children an opportunity to respond so that there is a broad assortment of ideas. List them on the board. Tell the children that you are going to tell them what you want. Sing the first verse of “I Want to Live the Gospel.” Ask them what you want (to live the gospel). Teach the first verse of the song. Ask the children how likely it will be that they get the things listed on the board. Tell them that it is very likely that they will live the gospel if they do what the chorus of the song says. Sing the chorus. Explain that it is a statement of commitment and that it is repeated. Point out the words do and say. Ask the children to think of things that they can do and things that they can say to live the gospel. For example, a child might respond, “Something I can do is read the scriptures,” or, “I can say thank you to show that I’m grateful.” Ask the children to think of one thing they can do or say this week “to live the gospel more each day.” Tell them that living the gospel begins with trying to do what is right. Commit that you will do something specific this week to live the gospel more. Testify of the truth of the gospel and the joy it brings.