From his vantage point at the pinnacle of the Church, President Gordon B. Hinckley has repeatedly shared his view of the growing Church.
"We are part of an incomparable miracle," he said, speaking in Kirtland, Ohio, in May. In the October general conference, he revised a phrase about the British Empire to point out that the sun never sets on the work of the Lord.
Every year the Church continues to grow, expanding in every direction; in membership, in missionary work, in welfare assistance, in construction of meetinghouses and temples.
The media catch an occasional glimpse of the faith of this Church as demonstrated in a youth service project or a humanitarian donation. But nowhere is the width and breadth of the growing Church captured in one volume as in the Deseret Morning News 2004 Church Almanac.
One look at the figures contained in the almanac shows the Church in motion. A sense of velocity can be detected in the simplest of events, such as two dozen humble members in the small African country of Benin who celebrated the recognition of the Church by government officials by wearing Sunday clothing donated to them almost two years earlier by a visiting Brigham Young University singing group.
On a larger scale, nowhere was a sense of the Church in motion more obvious than the 10-city series of 11 concerts by the Tabernacle Choir in the northeastern states of the United States last summer. The choir performed before nearly 1 million people. At each concert hearts were softened and lives changed because of the power of their music.
In the more than 600 pages of the new almanac, readers will find the best available reference of history and statistics of the Church. Here they learn how the spiritual roots of the gospel were planted in each country.
This year, the 2004 Church Almanac recounts what some consider the greatest untold story of the Church: the Church welfare program, the greatest example in history of man's humanity to man.
From the strained beginnings during the Great Depression in the 1930s when members united in projects to sustain each other, to the worldwide reach of humanitarian aid today, as well as employment and family services, the Church has organized a system of blessing others that is unequaled and unparalleled throughout the world.
In the 2004 Church Almanac readers will find nuggets of treasure, such as the number of members in each country, the top 10 states of membership in the U.S., details about all 116 temples, as well as histories of all Church leaders.