Members of Chinese branch welcome the 'year of the rooster'

Members of the Chinese Branch in the Salt Lake University 1st Stake welcomed in "the year of the rooster" on Jan. 23 with a traditional Chinese New Year celebration.

According to tradition, the New Year celebration is one of the most important of the year for those of Asian descent, and each year is symbolized by a different animal.Elder Merlin R. Lybbert of the Seventy, former president of the Asia Area, joined branch members and more than 100 non-members from the Chinese community in the Salt Lake area for the celebration.

"It was wonderful to again associate with some of our saints from Asia and their friends and to feel the warmth of their spirits and experience their enthusiasm for the gospel of Jesus Christ," Elder Lybbert said.

The evening's festivities included Mandarin and Cantonese food; Chinese paper cutting, a traditional Oriental art; and a cultural program. Those attending watched a Chinese fan dance by a well-known professional dancer who formerly taught dancing in China. In addition, several young women from the branch performed Oriental dances, and two young women played classical music on the piano.

Branch Pres. Edward Chen told the Church News he is pleased with the progress the Chinese branch has made this past year. "We look forward to continued growth in the membership and continued unity in the gospel in the coming year," he added.

Since the Chinese Branch became part of the student stake in July 1990, there have been 15 convert baptisms. Several of those recently baptized came to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah. Pres. Chen reported that two of the recent converts have returned to China.

The branch was originally created in 1969 as part of the Salt Lake Liberty Stake. Today, there are 82 members, and Church services and meetings are conducted in both Mandarin and Cantonese languages.

Pres. Chen's wife, Margie, expressed her feelings for the branch. "We love this branch because it was our matchmaker," she related. She and her husband met while attending the branch and married in the Jordan River Temple in 1990.

She added, "These branch members have become like my family."

Pres. Chen joined the Church in 1960 while in Taiwan. He met the missionaries at his father's electrical shop. "I was impressed with Church teachings on the Word of Wisdom and the meaningful gospel message," he recalled.

After months of prayer, he became the first member of his family to be baptized.

He later immigrated to the United States. He is currently assistant engineer at the Jordan River Temple.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed