Elder Bruce C. Hafen paused, searching for words to express in a Church News interview his feelings about his new calling to the First Quorum of the Seventy. Opening up his triple combination, he turned to the 107th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and read:
"The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world . . . ." - D&C 107:25.Speaking of his new understanding of this verse, Elder Hafen again paused - this time from emotion. Tenderly, his wife, Marie, sitting beside him, reached to brush a tear from his cheek.
Elder Hafen, sustained to the quorum April 6, has enjoyed an accomplished professional career in law and higher education, but has also spent much time teaching and writing articles and books about the gospel, family life and the practical effects of the Atonement. He has done so with much reflection and, at times, even with some hesitation.
"I have always felt cautious about explaining gospel principles to a broad LDS audience. It was important to me to respect the role of the Brethren as the people who interpret the gospel - especially when you talk about basic doctrine. You teach within the boundaries of your responsibility."
He realizes that those boundaries have now widened considerably. "To be given the responsibility to preach the gospel in all the world' and to be anespecial witness' - you can't attach words to that. It's an obligation, but it's a blessing. If I can just do that in whatever place we're assigned to go, if I can teach and bear witness, as I've simply tried to do with my Book of Mormon students or my law students or the other students at Ricks College and BYU. The Church is obviously bigger, but the process, I think, is much the same."
During the Church News interview, Elder and Sister Hafen spoke of the experiences they've had through the years as he has served as president of Ricks College, dean of the BYU Law School and BYU provost. (Please see accompanying box for biographical information on Elder Hafen.)
His wife - who her husband describes as "her own best sermon" - has no doubts as to Elder's Hafen's abilities to touch the lives of others. "You realize I am a prejudiced wife, of course," she said with a grin. "But I think it's the same thing that enabled him to make a real contribution at BYU. He has a very keen, perceptive mind, but he has a very strong heart, as well. So his mind and his heart are in balanced harmony. For that reason, he has extremely sound judgment - and he has a wonderful sense of humor."
The quiet, soft-spoken 5-foot-8-inch man is an eloquent speaker and takes his duties seriously, but in casual conversation, his humor is apparent and his feelings about close relationships - especially with family - are obvious.
Elder and Sister Hafen learned early in life the importance of family. He grew up in St. George, Utah, and she, in Bountiful, Utah. Her parents, Ray and Trudy Kartchner, are still living in the home they built when their children were young; his parents, Orval and Ruth Clark Hafen, are deceased. His father died in 1964, his mother last October.
"I was born, like Marie, of goodly parents," Elder Hafen related. His father's unexpected death, at age 60, was a "wrenchingly sad story" because of the love his parents had for each other. His mother lived another 31 years without her husband.
"My dad was a lawyer in a small town," he continued. "He was in the state Senate, and he served many worthwhile causes. When he was in his 30s, he was in the stake presidency in St. George. He served 10 years and got married during that time.
"He did all the good things that faithful small-town people do. He cared a great deal about the Church and the people in his community."
Elder Hafen was reared in this wholesome small-town environment. After graduating from Dixie College in St. George, he served in the West German Mission from 1960-1963. After his return, he enrolled at BYU, where he met Marie Kartchner in an honors class called "Your Religious Problems." The slim, blonde-haired young woman caught his eye, but there was more to it than that. "I saw in Marie a woman who really loved the Lord, and we both loved the scriptures."
The two had similar backgrounds - both were instilled by parents and Church with a sense of faith, hard work, duty and with a love of learning.
Elder Hafen developed - as did his wife - a profound love of teaching, a love that has drawn the two together not only in their academic lives, but also in their family and married lives. Since their marriage June 2, 1964, Elder and Sister Hafen have co-authored several magazine and newspaper articles and a book and have supported each other in their respective responsibilities.
Speaking of his marriage at age 23, Elder Hafen explained: "I once thought that romantic love was in competition with spiritual love for the Lord. But I have discovered through Marie and her example that the closer I've drawn to her, the closer we have both drawn to the Lord. There is a kind of merging of our souls and our love for the Lord, bringing us closer to Him, that has been deeply satisfying."
After their marriage in the St. George Temple, the young couple continued to pursue their education and began their family at the same time. Elder Hafen received his bachelor's degree in 1966. While finishing his bachelor's, he began studying law, receiving a juris doctorate in 1967. Sister Hafen received a bachelor's degree in 1964 and a master's in English in 1966. She taught freshman English while Elder Hafen studied law.
Elder and Sister Hafen had seven children over the years. He emphasized the influence his wife has had on him and his children. While the children were young, she stayed home and focused on rearing the little ones. She didn't return to teaching until 1980, when she began teaching part-time at Ricks College, and later at BYU. While Elder Hafen was carrying out his many Church responsibilities, she also served in many capacities, including the Relief Society curriculum committee (1985-1987) and the Young Women General Board (1987-1993). She also helped compile the best articles from The Relief Society Magazine for the book, The Relief Society Magazine: A Legacy to Remember. She currently serves on the board of directors for Deseret News Publishing, which publishes the Church News.
Despite busy schedules, both Elder and Sister Hafen emphasize the importance of putting first things first - such as time together as a family. And one thing the Hafen family enjoys is music. Elder Hafen enjoys playing the piano. Sister Hafen plays the flute, and some of the children play stringed instruments, such as cello, viola and violin. Sometimes, in a rare moment when the family is all together, they form a string quartet.
In addition, the family enjoys recreational activities, such as taking each other on in tennis matches. One particular recreational activity Elder Hafen enjoys is fly fishing, which he learned while president of Ricks College in the rich fishing-stream country of southeastern Idaho.
"If I`m lucky enough to catch any, I'll cook trout for the family. I even know how to take the bones out before I cook them."
It's hard to imagine this busy man having time for fly fishing with his full professional career. During his years in academia and law, Elder Hafen has felt an urgency to promote gospel principles not only to Church members, but also to others, especially because, as he said, "we live in a society where the traditional supports for marriage and for child-rearing are now being eaten away."
He continued to feel this urgency through years of practicing law in Salt Lake City, and while teaching and serving in administration at both Ricks College and BYU.
He spoke of the Church's emphasis on families and marriage and the importance of parenthood, which is the basis for the Church's "Proclamation on the Family." (Please see Sept. 30, 1995, Church News for text of proclamation.) Elder Hafen's professional interest is family law, "where my specialty has been children and marriage. I found as I taught family law and as I read the scholarly literature available to judges, law students and legislatures, I didn't see many voices arguing the case for marriage and stable famiy life. It just seemed to me that somebody should be out there saying what those of us in the Church know as so natural and clear. The world is confused about the very meaning of the word `family.' "
So in his off-hours - what little he had - he began writing articles and books. "It's something that I couldn't not do because I cared about it so much," Elder Hafen said. His "voice" has included lengthy articles published in some of the best scholarly legal journals in the country at Harvard, Michigan and Duke law schools. "It's just blown me away that my legal research and writing, which takes positions that sound archaic and out of touch to most sophisticated scholars, has actually been taken very seriously."
For example, after Elder Hafen delivered a paper at the Harvard Law School, a man approached him and said: "I sense from you that despite the confusion others are feeling, the Mormons have unlimited confidence in the value of marriage, family, children and permanent interpersonal commitments. What is the basis for your convictions?"
Replied Elder Hafen, "My experience in my own family confirms that our bonds of mutual belonging bear life's sweetest long-term fruits."
Speaking of his desire now to spread this "fruit of the gospel," Elder Hafen referred to an entry in his father's journal when his father was 55 years old - Elder Hafen's current age. At the time, his father was under intense time pressure when he was suddenly called to serve in his ward bishopric. At first, his journal entry reflected concern and worry about the new calling. Then, Elder Hafen's father wrote: "I must learn to love all of the people in our ward. In my weak way I must try to live as close to the Lord as we expect the General Authorities to do."
Elder Hafen reflected: "Now I know exactly how he felt. Whether it's the St. George 3rd Ward or the whole Church, seeking the gift of charity is basically the same process."
Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Family: Born in St. George, Utah, Oct. 30, 1940, to Orval and Ruth Clark Hafen. Married Marie Kartchner in the St. George Temple June 2, 1964. Parents of seven children: Jon Hafen, David Hafen, Tom Hafen, Emily Hafen Lind, Sarah Hafen, Mark Hafen and Rachel Hafen; 10 grandchildren, one deceased.
Education: Associate degree in arts from Dixie College, bachelor's degree in political science and humanities from BYU, juris doctorate from University of Utah.
Military Service: Utah National Guard, 1958-1960, 1963-1965.
Employment: BYU provost, 1989-present; member of editorial advisory board of First Things: A Journal of Religious and Public Life, published in New York City, N.Y., 1990-present; dean of BYU Law School, 1985-1989; president of Ricks College, 1978-1985; president of American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities (AAPICU), 1983-1985; director of evaluation in Church's Correlation Department, 1976-1978; assistant to BYU president, 1971-1976; professor of law at BYU, 1973-present; practiced law with Salt Lake City law firm Strong, Poelman, and Fox, 1967-1971.
Church service: Former regional representative, counselor in stake presidency, counselor in bishopric, full-time missionary in West German Mission.