1994: new Church president sustained, 2,000th stake created

One chapter closed and another opened in the history of the Church during 1994 with the death of President Ezra Taft Benson and subsequent call of President Howard W. Hunter to be the 14th president of the Church. He began his presidency by issuing two invitations to the members of the Church. (See June 5 below.)

Here is a month-by-month chronology of 1994 events in the Church.


January: A yearlong commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Church's Genealogical Society of Utah --now the Family History Department-- commenced. Its focus was to invite the non-member international genealogical community to join the effort in preserving, automating, and sharing genealogical information for the benefit of all mankind.

January: Church members in southern Utah stitched more than 1,000 quilts for the relief of persons afflicted by the Midwestern floods in the summer of 1993.

Jan. 1: The First Presidency endorsed the designation by the United Nations of 1994 as the International Year of the Family.

Jan. 17: An earthquake in Los Angeles, Calif., measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale, destroyed 15 homes of Church members, displacing some 500-600 members. The quake caused damages of $15 billion. The Church and its members donated many tons of supplies and hours of service in the clean-up effort.

Jan. 22: Ground was broken for the Hong Kong Temple by Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy, who is president of the Asia Area.


February: In conjunction with Black History Month, African-American choirs from various denominations combined for performances at the Los Angeles Temple Visitors Center.

Feb. 5: The Church announced it has launched a television series that will make LDS programs available in 85 percent of the English-speaking homes across Canada during 1994 over the VISION/TV network.

Feb. 13: The First Presidency announced that a temple will be built in Vernal, Utah, by renovating the nearly 87-year-old Uintah Stake Tabernacle, which has been unoccupied for several years. It will be Utah's 10th temple, and the first existing building in the Church to be renovated into a temple.

Feb. 19: The First Presidency issued a statement opposing efforts to legalize same-gender marriages.

Feb. 25: Elder Marvin J. Ashton, a member of the Council of the Twelve for 22 years, died following surgery. He was eulogized in funeral services March 2 as a "champion of love."


March: In a letter to priesthood leaders, President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve announced that the Stake Record Extraction and Family History Record Extraction programs would become a single, simplified organization called Family Record Extraction. The change has partly been the result of many more families submitting names to the temple, reducing the need for record extraction.

March 5: Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve dedicated a new missionary training center near the temple in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

March 6: The government of Cambodia officially recognized the Church, according to the First Presidency. Missionary couples would be sent to Cambodia to perform humanitarian service in the country but not proselyte, President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, told a BYU fireside.

March 10: Three new buildings at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, were dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency.

March 26: A display of the Museum of Church History and Art's third international art competition opened and included works from 26 nations and 18 states of the United States, the most international exhibit to date.


April 2: Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales was sustatined in general conference to fill the vacancy in the Council of the Twelve created by the death of Elder Marvin J. Ashton. Other sustainings at the conference included Elder Cree-L Kofford from the Second Quorum of the Seventy, and Elders Claudio R. M. Costa, W. Don Ladd, James O. Mason, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and Lance B. Wickman to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

Sustained as Presiding Bishop was Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. Sustained as his counselors were Bishops H. David Burton and Richard C. Edgley, who served as counselors to Bishop Hales.

April 9: Elder Clinton L. Cutler of the Second Quorum of the Seventy and second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, died at his home.

April 16: Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve, mayor of Palo Alto, Calif., from 1961-63, was honored as the city's oldest living former mayor.

April 27: President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, represented the Church at funeral services for former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon in Yorba Linda, Calif.

April 28-May 2: Some 18,000 people attended an open house at the 87-year-old Uintah Stake Tabernacle, which will be renovated to become the Vernal Utah Temple.

April 29: The 59th annual American Mothers National Convention was held in Salt Lake City, under the leadership of Barbara B. Smith, former Relief Society General President.

May 8: As part of the celebration of the 150th year of the Church in French Polynesia, Elder Russell M. Nelson dedicated the islands of French Polynesia.

May 13: President Ezra Taft Benson was inducted into the University of Idaho's Alumni Hall of fame in honor of his humanitarian and professional contributions.

May 14: Thousands of members and leaders took part in a statewide clean-up effort endorsed by the Church in preparation for Utah's centennial in 1996.

May 21: President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the renovated Cove Fort in south central Utah, which was built by his grandfather, Ira Hinckley.

May 30: President Ezra Taft Benson, 94, president of the Church for 8 1/2 years, died of congestive heart failure at his apartment in Salt Lake City. He was eulogized at funeral services June 4 for his great contributions to mankind.


June 5: President Howard W. Hunter was ordained and set apart as the Church's 14th president. At a press conference in the Church Administration Building the next day, President Hunter pledged his life and the full measure of his soul to his new calling, and invited members to live with "ever-more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ," and to "establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants." President Gordon B. Hinckley was called and set apart as president of the Council of the Twelve. President Boyd K. Packer was called as Acting President of the Council of the Twelve.

June 12: Ground was broken at Chorley, England, for the Preston England Temple by President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency.

June 21: President Howard W. Hunter delivered his first major address at the annual Mission President's Seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

June 23: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the First Quorum of the Seventy was called to be a member of the Council of the Twelve. He filled the vacancy created when President Howard W. Hunter became president of the Church.

June 26: President Howard W. Hunter, President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Russell Ballard spoke at three separate commemorative events in Nauvoo and Carthage, Ill., on the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Prophet and his brother Hyrum were killed while incarcerated in Carthage Jail June 27, 1844.


July 2 - 12: Massive relief efforts by the Church and LDS volunteers helped in the aftermath of the worst flooding in history in 43 counties in Georgia that killed 31 people, inundated 300,000 acres and caused about $1 billion in damages. The homes of 35 LDS families were damaged. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve delivered a message form the First Presidency as he visited the ravaged sites July 17.

July 22: A donation of rice to Laos by the Church received a public expression of thanks through the Laos media.

July 23: President Howard W. Hunter addressed a gathering at the centennial of the Salt Lake City and County building.

July 23: Hundreds gathered on the high plains of Wyoming at Rock Creek, 65 miles southwest of Riverton, as President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated a monument and burial site of 15 handcart pioneers of the Willie company who died of freezing and starvation during their trip.

July 25: A heroic-sized statue of a younger, vigorous Brigham Young was unveiled at the Utah Capitol, the first full length statue of Utah's first governor to be placed in the rotunda. President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke at the unveiling ceremony.

July 25: A historic agreement between BYU and the University of Jordan will help develop cooperation between the two institutions through possible academic, cultural and personnel exchanges.

July 28: The First Presidency announced that a $760,000 relief package would be sent to Rwanda, including emergency supplies and funds to deliver the supplies. The First Presidency also announced that Church assistance has been distributed to more than 50 countries during recent years.

July 30: Hundreds gathered for commemorative services at a mountain peak in eastern California, which last October had been named for Melissa Coray, the wife of a Mormon Battalion soldier. She had accompanied the battalion on its 1,000-mile trek.


Aug. 5: A marker was dedicated in honor of Iowaville, a town on the Mormon Trail that no longer exists, but where Mormon pioneers who left Nauvoo in 1846 often stopped and where some are buried.

Aug. 6: Fully one-third of the population of the United States has been visited by Church representatives, and 36 percent have friends or relatives that are LDS, it was announced by the Missionary Department. In addition, the Church's paid media announcements on the Savior and the Book of Mormon are striking a responsive chord among many non-members.

Aug. 8-16: President Howard W. Hunter visited Switzerland on his first trip out of the United States since he became president of the Church, and praised the people of that nation for their "haven of peace." He also met with Church leaders at the Swiss Temple and addressed Lausanne Ward members.

Aug. 30: The First Presidency issued a statement reaffirming "the promised blessings to those who faithfully hold family home evenings."


Sept. 7: The old Lafayette School building, the last missionary training home in Salt Lake City, was razed to make way for a parking lot. It was used as a missionary home from 1971-78.

Sept. 8: VIPs were the first to attend the open house of the Orlando Florida Temple, and were followed by some 90,000 other visitors. Many positive comments were made of their experiences. The open house continued through Sept. 30.

Sept. 13: In a first-ever address of a Church president to missionaries over the Church's satellite system, President Howard W. Hunter instructed missionaries to make their calling of teaching and baptizing the focus of their missions. The address of President Hunter and other instruction were to go to every LDS missionary in the world.

Sept 14: Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve dedicated the Republic of Cape Verde, a string of 10 rugged islands and five islets located 400 miles west of Senegal on the African coast.

Sept. 18: President Howard W. Hunter addressed 13,000 people at a regional conference in Tucson, Ariz., the first at which he presided since he became Church president June 5.

Sept. 24: President Howard W. Hunter addressed the women of the Church at the annual General Relief Society Meeting.


Oct. 1: In a solemn assembly at general conference in the Tabernacle, President Howard W. Hunter was sustained as the 14th president of the Church. Also sustained were his first counselor, President Gordon B. Hinckley, and his second counselor, President Thomas S. Monson.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, ordained an apostle on June 23, was sustained a member of the Council of the Twelve.

Called from the Second Quorum of the Seventy to the First Quorum was Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander. Two others called to the First Quorum of the Seventy were Elders Andrew W. Peterson and Cecil O. Samuelson Jr.

Elder Hartman Rector Jr. of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a General Authority since 1968, was given emeritus status. Members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy who were released at the conclusion of their five-year term of service were: Elders Albert Choules Jr., Lloyd P. George, Malcolm S. Jeppsen, Richard P. Lindsay, Merlin R. Lybbert, Gerald E. Melchin and Horacio A. Tenorio.

Sustained as the new Sunday School general president was Elder Charles Didier of the Presidency of the Seventy. His first and second counselors, respectively, are Elders J Ballard Washburn and F. Burton Howard of the Seventy. They succeed Elder Merlin R. Lybbert, former Sunday School general president, and his second counselor, Ronald E. Poelman. Elder Clinton L. Cutler, former first counselor, died April 9, 1994.

Sustained as new Primary general president was Patricia Peterson Pinegar, formerly second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. Her first and second counselors, respectively, are Anne Goalen Wirthlin and Susan Carol Lillywhite Warner.

Bonnie Dansie Parkin was sustained as second counselor in the Young Women General presidency, succeeding Sister Pinegar.

Sister Michaelene P. Grassli and her counselors, Sisters Betty Jo N. Jepsen and Ruth B. Wright, were released.

Oct. 9-11: The Orlando Florida Temple was dedicated in 12 sessions, with President Howard W. Hunter pronouncing the prayer of dedication, the first Church president to do so for a temple dedication since 1989.

Oct. 15-16: President Howard W. Hunter returned for a weekend conference and reception to the Pasadena California Stake, over which he presided from 1950 to 1959.

Oct. 16: About 200 LDS families were among thousands in southeast Texas forced to evacuate their homes as flood waters and subsequent fires destroyed or damaged homes, farmland and businesses. Church members engaged in relief efforts for flood victims.


November: In a letter to stake presidents in Nashville, Tenn., and vicinity, the First Presidency announced plans to build a temple in that area.

Nov. 3: An open house for the newly constructed Bountiful Utah Temple began with tours for news media representatives, VIPs and others. Public tours began Nov. 5 and extended through Dec. 17.

Nov. 10: A reception in the Relief Society Building in Salt Lake City commemorated the 125th anniversary of the Young Women, which was organized Nov. 28, 1869.

Nov. 13: A century of efforts to identify and redeem the dead was celebrated with a program in the Salt Lake Tabernacle commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Genealogical Society of Utah. Members of the First Presidency and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve spoke at the program. President Howard W. Hunter was given birthday honors as his 87th birthday was the following day. He is a former president of the society.

Nov. 17: President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, was honored by Catholic Community Services of Utah for humanitarian care and concern.

Nov. 18: Eric B. Shumway was officially installed as the eighth president of the Brigham Young University-Hawaii campus by President Howard W. Hunter.

Nov. 30: More than 40 ambassadors were welcomed by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve to the 17th annual Festival of Lights at the Washington Temple Visitors Center.


Dec. 3: It was announced in the Dec. 3 Church News that more than 20,000 food packages for families in Bosnia, Croatia and Albania were being prepared by hundreds of Church members for shipment during the next few months.

Dec. 4: At the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional telecast by satellite from the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, members of the First Presidency shared their feelings concerning the Savior and the Christmas season.

Dec. 11: The 2,000th Stake in the Church was created in Mexico City, Mexico, with President Howard W. Hunter presiding.

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