“LDS Scene,” Ensign, May 1981, 110–12
President Kimball broke ground March 6 for the new Atlanta Temple, due to be completed in the spring of 1982. Among those present for the ceremonies were Georgia Governor George Busbee, a number of state legislative leaders, county officials, and several United States senators including Jake Garn (R-Utah), and Paula Hawkins (R-Florida), both members of the Church.
President Kimball had earlier broken ground for temples and dedicated the sites for three other temples—at Pepeete, Tahiti, on February 13; at Nuku-alofa, Tonga, on February 18; and at Apia, Western Samoa, on February 19. In Tonga, King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV spoke to the nearly 7,000 persons present, then joined with President Kimball in the groundbreaking. His grandfather, King Siaosi Tupou I, first welcomed Mormon missionaries in 1891.
In Samoa, the head of state, Malietoa Tanumafil II, performed the same ceremony with President Kimball.
United States President Ronald Reagan recently sent a letter of thanks to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for singing during his inauguration. He wrote: “How Nancy and I wish there were words for the feelings your magnificent singing brought to our hearts—and I think the hearts of Americans everywhere—during the Inaugural week.
“You paid us such a tribute to be here in Washington for this very special time in our lives. Never will we forget the sight of you standing by the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the icy cold, your brown and gold scarves unfurled in the wind, for the opening ceremonies Saturday night. Nor will we ever forget your ‘float’ in the parade, when you patiently braved the weather again to be with us.
“Your gift of love for America as expressed in a very favorite song of Nancy’s and mine, ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ is a gift we will always treasure.
“As we embark on our journey, we want you to know that we share your love for America and your conviction that America is a land specially blessed by God with a divine purpose. Our years in Washington will be devoted to fostering a spirit of justice and excellence that is in keeping with His trust.
“With our warmest personal regard and affection. Sincerely, Ronald Reagan.”
Early in March, President Kimball visited Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to meet with approximately 4,500 members of the Church, most of whom have been baptized in the last three years. In both places, he spoke of the recent dedications of Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, and Georgian temple sites and encouraged members of the Church to prepare themselves for temple blessings.
President Spencer W. Kimball presented a two-inch thick volume of genealogy to President Ronald Reagan at a March White House meeting. Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve accompanied President Kimball.
Thirty-two-year-old Angela Maria “Bay” Buchanan, who joined the Church in 1976, has been confirmed as U.S. Treasurer. She will supervise the issue of U.S. currency, and her name will appear on all paper money printed by the government. She will also serve as national director of the U.S. Savings Bond program. Sister Buchanan served as national treasurer for Ronald Reagan’s election campaign. The first Latter-day Saint to serve as U.S. Treasurer was Ivy Baker Priest, who served for eight years during the Eisenhower administration.
Richard Richards, an attorney from Ogden, Utah, has been named national chairman of the Republican Party. An active member of the Church, he is a former high councilor in the Ogden Utah South Stake.
Approximately 1,000 Indians from across the United States and Canada attended a March banquet at BYU to honor John C. Rainer, Sr., for thirty years of service to Indians throughout the country. A Taos Pueblo Indian from northern New Mexico, he founded American Indian Scholarships, Inc., in 1970, a group that has awarded scholarships to more than 2,300 Indian men and women working on master’s and doctoral degrees.
President N. Eldon Tanner has recently received honors from two Utah schools. The University of Utah’s Alumni Association awarded President Tanner its Honorary Alumnus Award for 1981 in March in recognition for his “long term interest in and efforts on behalf of the university.”
President Tanner had, the month earlier, received Westminster College’s highest honor, a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, at a special convocation in Salt Lake City. The honor recognized President Tanner’s role in helping solve the financial emergency the four-year private college had in 1979.
President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve dedicated the new Leo Ellsworth Meat and Livestock Center at BYU in early April. The center honors Leo Ellsworth, late stockman and philanthropist, whose donations made the building possible. It houses facilities for instruction in meat production, processing, and product development as well as a show area, slaughtering and processing facilities, and classrooms. Dr. Leon E. Orme, chairman of the Department of Animal Science, noted that “there are only three or four such facilities in the country.”
Ellsworth became interested in ranching as a boy, joined two brothers in reclaiming thousands of Arizona desert acreage for ranching, and developed cattle and farming operations for the Church in Florida and Georgia.
Brigham Young University has announced a raise in 1981–82 tuition for undergraduate and advanced-standing students. For those who are members of the Church, tuition will be raised $5 beyond the $545 announced in December, bringing the total to $550 per semester. Tuition for non-LDS students will be raised $7.50 to a total of $825 per semester. Non-LDS students pay one and a half times the regular rate.
Tuition in the Graduate School of Management will be increased an additional $60 for a total of $840 for LDS students. Law School tuition will remain at $1,000 as previously announced.
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brigham Young University at the university’s 106th commencement in April. The degree was awarded in recognition of his “long service to the Church, to the youth of the nation, and for his civic and business leadership.”
BYU-Hawaii has announced that regular tuition for the 1981–1982 academic year will increase to $470 per semester, up from $410, for students who are members of the Church. Cost for nonmembers will also increase.
Construction of the Jordan River Temple in the Salt Lake Valley is approximately 80 percent complete and “on schedule.” Wallace G. McPhie, director of temples and special projects construction of the Church, says that the lower facade is now on the building and that the tower facade is next. The twenty-foot bronze, gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni, work of Salt Lake sculptor Avard Fairbanks, will be placed atop the tower sometime in late summer.
The Hobart Australia Stake Young Women entered the Tasmanian Fiesta Float Parade for the first time this year and won its three highest awards with its elaborate Snow White float. The awards included the Governor’s Trophy for best overall float, the Lady Mayoress’s trophy for most appealing to children, and the $400 award for the best community organization float. The Tasmanian Fiesta is an annual January-long tourist activity sponsored by the state government. Actors came from the Primary children and Young Women of the Hobart First and Second wards with costuming and makeup from Hobart First Ward sisters and carpentry for the float by Hobart Second Ward.
An LDS mother of seven, Matilda Saaga Lolotai, was named Volunteer Woman of the Year for the territory of American Samoa because of her work with the Samoan Arts Council, the Arts Council Choir, and various workshops and cultural arts programs in Samoa.
She currently serves as Young Women president of the Pago Pago Samoa Stake and as a ward Sunday School teacher.
Philip T. Sonntag, 59, of Salt Lake City and a self-employed businessman, has been appointed director of visitors’ centers on Salt Lake City’s Temple Square to succeed Dale R. Curtis, who has served since late 1978. He will also serve as a counselor to President Robert E. Bateman of the Utah Salt Lake City North Mission. More than 2.2 million visitors came to Temple Square during 1980 to be greeted by more than 1,200 volunteer tour guides, hosts, and hostesses.