“In the News,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 127–28
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Installed as BYU’s 12th President
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy was inducted as the 12th president of Brigham Young University during a ceremony led by President Gordon B. Hinckley on 9 September 2003.
The simple ceremony was held during the school’s weekly one-hour devotional period. President Hinckley challenged President Samuelson to move the university forward “on its destined course as one of the great institutions of this nation.”
The university must continue to strengthen its scholarship in every discipline, President Hinckley said. “But with that we must never let down on our determination to teach faith in the Living God, to build testimony of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to teach the validity of the Holy Bible and of its companion scripture, the Book of Mormon, and to build conviction concerning the Restoration of the gospel in this the dispensation of the fulness of times.”
President Samuelson replaced Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy as president of Brigham Young University in May 2003. Elder Bateman was called to be a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Michigan Stake Center Rebuilt after Fire
Less than one year after the Lansing Michigan Stake Center was destroyed by fire, a new building was completed in the same location on 23 June 2003. In September a community open house was held to pay tribute to the area’s emergency service workers.
In June 2002, a fire started by an arsonist destroyed the 40-year-old stake center that served more than 3,300 members in 11 wards and branches in Michigan. The fire caused U.S. $5 million in damages. No one was injured.
Cooperation from the community and government officials resulted in timely approvals for clearing the destroyed building and receiving site plan approval for the new stake center. The community donated thousands of dollars to aid in the reconstruction. The donated funds have been used to reestablish and reequip a family history center destroyed in the fire.
Missionaries Sing Out in Montreal
About 200 elders and sisters in the Canada Montréal Mission sang the Canadian national anthem “O Canada!” to an appreciative audience prior to a Montreal Expos baseball game on 18 August 2003.
Assembled as a choir on the field, with the name “Canada Montréal Mission” emblazoned on the scoreboard screen, missionaries stood and sang to about 10,000 fans in the stadium.
“The Church in Quebec is not always understood or accepted,” said President David Ulrich of the Montreal mission. “No single activity will change an image, but this was a good activity that helped us communicate to this community who we are and what we do.”
Later, at the end of the eighth inning, missionaries stood impromptu and sang “Called to Serve” (Hymns, no. 249), which drew applause from the fans. During the game the missionaries were repeatedly featured on the scoreboard screen.
Missionaries say they are enjoying newfound visibility and recognition since the game. Some report being stopped on the street to be greeted by people who saw them sing. Local Church members report an openness or appreciation among neighbors who seem more willing to talk about religion.
Tahitian LDS Choir Sings for French President
A 400-voice choir of Church members sang at a gathering of 30,000 people honoring the visit of France’s president, Jacques Chirac, to Tahiti on 27 July 2003. The president of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, hosted the evening.
Elder Ronald T. Halverson of the Seventy, then serving as President of the Pacific Islands Area, attended, along with the prime ministers of several Pacific island nations.
As the flags of French Polynesia and France were raised in Pater Stadium in Papeete, the Church choir, consisting of members from five stakes in Tahiti, sang the national hymn of the Republic of French Polynesia and France’s national anthem.
The audience was noticeably touched by the choir’s program, which included six numbers. The event was televised live in France and throughout the islands of French Polynesia.
“This has made a tremendous impact for the Church here,” said Faaa Tahiti Stake President Benjamin Sinjoux. When the choir closed the program with a traditional Tahitian song of farewell, the dignitaries and crowd spontaneously joined them in singing.
As the crowds left the arena, the choir rendered a last number, “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” (Hymns, no. 152).
Church News contributed to this report.