“LDS Scene,” Ensign, May 1999, 119–20
The Church’s first meetinghouses in two nations—Iceland and Estonia—are currently being built. The meetinghouse in Iceland, which will be used by two branches, is under construction on a hill overlooking the sea in the Reykjavik suburb of Garoabaer. About 200 members live in Iceland, and 10 missionaries from the Denmark Copenhagen Mission serve there. When Estonia’s first meetinghouse is completed, it will serve about 350 members living in the capital city of Tallinn.
Two new exhibits have opened at the Museum of Church History and Art, located across the street from Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. To commemorate the museum’s 15th anniversary, an exhibit titled Celebration! Of History and Belief is on display from 27 February to 13 September 1999. “The new exhibit represents the increasingly varied and rich art traditions of Latter-day Saints worldwide,” said museum curator Marge Conder. “It features public favorites from selected past exhibitions and some new and unusual artifacts.” The other new exhibit, titled Practicing Pure Religion: Latter-day Saint Welfare and Humanitarian Service, began on 13 March and runs through 13 February 2000. To illustrate the theme of “People helping people; people giving compassionate service to those in need,” this exhibit features historical settings, newly commissioned works of art, artifacts, videos, and interactive learning stations.
As part of annual Black History Month celebrations, about 450 people gathered on 13 February in the Oakland Interstake Center near California’s Oakland Temple to participate in an African American family history program titled “Finding Your Roots.” The event was sponsored by the California Oakland Mission, the California African American Genealogical Society, the California Genealogical Society, and the California Veterans Advocacy Corporation. Elder William W. Parmley, an Area Authority Seventy who spoke during the program, said, “Some of the local African Americans volunteer at the Family History Center here on Temple Hill, some LDS and some non-LDS. So there are close ties between the African American Genealogical Society and the Family History Center.” Participants also included Rev. Franklin A. Dorman, author of Twenty Families of Color, a book that traces living descendants of African American Civil War soldiers; Rev. J. Alfred Smith Sr. of the Allen Temple Baptist Church; U.S. congressional representative Barbara Lee; Oakland mayor Jerry Brown; and NAACP Mid-Peninsula Chapter president Janet Wells.
Teburoro Tito, president of the 36-island, mid-Pacific republic of Kiribati, was recently the guest of honor at a celebration held by members at Church-owned Moroni Community School. Focusing on the theme of “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (A of F 1:12), the celebration featured feasting and traditional dancing groups from eight wards in the Tarawa Kiribati Stake. In his closing remarks, President Tito commented on the spirit of cooperation among Latter-day Saints and on the rapid growth of the Church in Kiribati.
In an effort to make materials about Latter-day Saints more widely available, the Church recently placed 15,000 packets of LDS-oriented texts, videos, CDs, and CD-ROMs in public and university libraries throughout the United States and Canada. “Finding accurate, positive information at libraries will help both investigators and new converts strengthen their growing testimonies,” stated the packet instructions to local members, who were trained to place the packets in libraries. The library materials included a triple combination of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price; the Encyclopedia of Mormonism; books titled Faith: The Essence of True Religion, Our Search for Happiness: An Invitation to Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism; and several Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs.
Six members from Vladivostok, on Russia’s east coast, recently attended the Seoul Korea Temple’s first session held in Russian. Also present during the session were Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Seventy, then serving as President of the Asia North Area, and Elders Ko Won Yong and Kim Chong-Youl, both Area Authority Seventies. Of the Russian members, Elder Pinegar said, “I am very pleased with them. The Church in Russia will make remarkable progress in the future. And many more Russian members will come to Korea to receive temple ordinances.” Vladimir Nechiporov, president of the Vladivostok Russia District, said: “I have met my brothers and sisters here in Korea. Although we speak different languages and I can’t speak Korean, I can still understand that we are heading in the same direction. I feel close to the Korean Saints. I feel very comfortable and safe in Korea.”
While in Hawaii for a Pacific Islands leadership conference, French Polynesia president Gaston Flosse visited Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus in Laie. “I want to have more Tahitian young people here at this university because it teaches of your spiritual life, not just scholarship and some foreign studies, and we need to have young people like that,” commented President Flosse. He and his wife took a tour of the campus with BYU—Hawaii president Eric B. Shumway, and President Flosse spoke at a luncheon given in his honor. “In our country, we have some problems among our young people, and we think that if they come to study at this university they are going to be good leaders for our people,” he said. Addressing Tahitian students, he said, “We need you to come back to Tahiti.”