Two milestone observances of historical significance illuminated 1996 events in the Church.
One was the Utah Statehood Centennial, marking 100 years since the "state of Deseret" founded by President Brigham Young and the Pioneers became the newest star on the U.S. flag. The achievment came after 49 years of struggle in taming the Great Basin desert and overcoming bitter prejudice among national politicians.The other event was the sesquicentennial of the Saints' forced exodus in 1846 from their beloved Nauvoo, Ill., and their subsequent settlement of Winter Quarters on the banks of the Missouri River in Nebraska and Iowa. The 150th anniversary observance was a prelude to the worldwide Pioneer Sesquicentennial in 1997, which marks 150 years since the Saints' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley.
During the year, President Gordon B. Hinckley's relentless drive and stated desire to be among the people he loves took him to many parts of the world. (Please see page 3 for summary of President Hinckley's travels and activities.) Here is a chronological listing of key events in 1996.
Jan. 4: Church members joined other Utah residents in celebrating the state centennial, beginning with a program in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, parades, a musical gala, fireworks and other events Jan. 4 and continuing throughout the year. President Hinckley represented the Church at the Tabernacle program.
Jan. 13-14: Continuing a busy schedule of travel and meetings, President Hinckley visited the southern Utah communities of Parowan and St. George for a variety of Church and civic events.
Jan. 18: In a written statement, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve announced the pending withdrawal by General Authorities from boards of directors of business corporations, including Church-owned corporations, effective at the next regular annual meetings of the respective corporations.
Jan. 21: President Hinckley invited young adults attending a Salt Lake Valley-wide institute fireside in the Salt Lake Tabernacle to walk with him on "the path of faith" and to "stand for that which is right and true and good."
Jan. 27-28: On a whirlwind trip to Veracruz and Mexico City, Mexico, President Hinckley spoke to some 9,000 members, instructed some 1,200 priesthood leaders and missionaries and met with top government officials and media representatives.
Feb. 2: The Tabernacle Choir was featured on "CBS This Morning," a national news program, in a special telecast from Salt Lake City.
Feb. 3: In bitterly-cold weather, hundreds of people huddled in a large tent at the edge of the Mississipp River in Nauvoo, Ill., for a program, featuring Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, which commemorated the beginning of the Saints' forced exodus from the city 150 years before. The following day, Sunday, Feb. 4, a fireside was held in Nauvoo to mark the anniversary date.
Feb. 4: In a Church Educational System fireside address, telecast over the Church satellite network, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, gave college-age young adults five points of reference for life's journey.
In the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, 80 men were ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, indicating phenomenal growth of the Church there in recent years.
Feb. 10: Addressing couples in five BYU married stakes, President Hinckley shared four cornerstones on which to build homes: mutual respect, the soft answer, financial honesty with the Lord and prayer.
Feb. 17-19: President Hinckley visited Laie, Hawaii, for regional conferences and priesthood leadership and missionary meetings. He met with Catholic leaders with whom Church members have worked on legislative issues of a moral nature.
Feb. 18: At the largest LDS gathering ever assembled in South Africa, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve encouraged nearly 5,000 listeners to declare the gospel to all the world.
Feb. 25: A dozen well-known Church members in entertainment, sports, industry, business, opera and government shared their testimonies at the annual missionary satellite fireside transmitted as part of locally organized open houses.
Feb. 28: The Church reached a milestone in its history as the Member and Statistical Records Division estimated that for the first time, more than half of the Church membership was living outside the United States.
Feb. 24-25: President Hinckley met with 9,000 Church members from six stakes in the western part of North Carolina in regional meetings, including priesthood leadership and missionary meetings.
Feb. 28: During a visit with U.S. Vice President Al Gore in Washington D.C., Elder Neal A. Maxwell and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve presented him with a copy of his family history.
March 1-8: During a visit to Utah, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher attended a Tabernacle Choir broadcast, visited Temple Square and the Musuem of Church History and Art, spoke at BYU on the moral basis of a free society, and was hosted by the First Presidency at a luncheon.
March 11: Former BYU Pres. Rex E. Lee, released Dec. 31, 1995, died at age 61, having battled various health problems, including cancer.
March 16-17: President Hinckley addressed two regional conferences at Denton and Plano, Texas, and spoke to almost 300 missionaries at a combined meeting of the Texas Fort Worth and Dallas missions.
March 23-24: President Hinckley spoke to more than 4,200 youth and young adults in three firesides in San Diego, Calif., encouraging them to strengthen their belief in God and themselves.
March 26: Elder Victor L. Brown, General Authority emeritus and former Presiding Bishop, died at age 81.
March 30: President Hinckley counseled Young Women of the Church to be true to their faith, heritage, parents and God at the annual General Young Women Meeting.
April 6: At the 166th Annual General Conference, nine new General Authorities were sustained, Elder Bruce C. Hafen to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy and the others to serve in the Second Quorum of the Seventy: Elders L. Edward Brown, Sheldon F. Child, Quentin L. Cook, Wm. Rolfe Kerr, Dennis E. Simmons, Jerald L. Taylor, Francisco J. Vinas and Richard B. Wirthlin. Also Elders Dallas N. Archibald and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who had been serving in the Second Quorum of the Seventy were sustained to the First Quorum. Elder Merrill J. Bateman was sustaned to the First Quourm of the Seventy, a move announced the previous November when he was named president of BYU. He was thus released as Presiding Bishop with his counselors Bishop H. David Burton and Bishop Richard C. Edgley. Sustained as the Presiding Bishopric were Bishop Burton as Presiding Bishop, Bishop Edgley as first counselor and Bishop Keith B. McMullin as second counselor.
April 6: President Hinckley announced in the opening session of general conference that a new meeting hall was being designed that would hold three to four times more people than the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
April 7: A 141/2-minute segement of President Hinckley's interview by newsman Mike Wallace was shown nationwide on CBS's "60 Minutes."
April 14: President Hinckley delivered three addresses as he met with 4,850 young adults and youth in Colorado.
April 22: A new building on the campus of Utah Valley State College, named the David O. McKay Events Center in honor of the ninth president of the Church, was dedicated by President Hinckley.
April 25: Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the First Quorum of the Seventy was inaugurated as the 11th president of BYU.
April 26: Speaking via satellite telecast to some 18,000 missionaries in the 101 missions of the United States, Canada and the Carribean, President Hinckly told them they will affect generations to come with their service. The remainder of the Church's 50,000 missionaries were to view the telecast on video cassette.
April 27-28: President Hinckley attended the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Regional Conference speaking to members of three stakes and a mission district as well as 170 missionaries in the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission.
April 27: The largest graduating class in the history of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, was graduated in commencement ceremonies presided over by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve. Degrees were conferred upon 2,611 graduates.
May 1: David M. Kennedy, a special representative of the First Presidency for nearly 20 years and a former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, died at age 90.
May 3-4: At a symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, scholars and enthusiasts from Iowa, Utah and elsewhere, assembled for two days of lectures and presentations on the part Latter-day Saints played in the history of Iowa during the 1846 portion of the westward trek from Nauvoo, Ill., to the Salt Lake Valley.
May 17-21: En route to Hong Kong for a temple dedication, President Hinckley visited Tokyo, Japan, speaking to Church members, visiting U.S. ambassador Walter Mondale and meeting with news media representatives.
May 26-27: President Hinckley dedicated the Hong Kong Temple in the first of seven dedicatory sessions.
May 28: President Hinckley became the first Church president ever to visit the mainland of China. He and President Monson, along with other General Authorities, visited Shenzhen, a sister facility to the Church's Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.
May 28-29: President Hinckley visited Cambodia and Vietnam. In Cambodia, he offered a prayer to dedicate the land for the preaching of the gospel; in Vietnam, he gave an "addendum" to the prayer he offered there in 1966, at the height of the Vietnam War.June 2: President Hinckley wrapped up his tour in Asia, having visited Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
June 4-28: A wagon train commemorating the centennial of Utah traversed the state from Logan to Cedar City. Elder Ballard spoke to wagon train participants on the eve of the departure on June 3, and President Hinckley addressed the group at his restored ancestral home of Cove Fort, Utah, on June 24.
June 11: President Hinckley broke ground for a temple in Madrid, Sapin. The occasion was the first visit by a Church president to Spain.
June 11-16: President Hinckley visited five European natins, stopping in Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium; The Hague, Netherlands; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Berlin, Germany. He encouraged the members he addressed to find happiness through keeping the commandments and having loving families.
June 15: The First Presidency announced the creation of the new Chile Area, effective Aug. 15, bringing the total number of areas in the Church to 23.
June 16: President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, addressed some 2,000 persons at a Utah Centennial Fireside in Moroni.
June 16-22: President Hinckley revisited the most sacred sites of the Holy Land during a stay in Israel immediately following his visit to five European nations.
June 17-July 12: Two wagon trains and a handcart group conceived and organized largely by non-Latter-day Saints left Nauvoo, Ill., and traced the Church's 1846 route across 12 Iowa counties. Communities along the way put on celebrations marking the sesquicentennial of the Nauvoo exodus.
June 23: The largest group of new mission presidents ever assembled – 138 – and their wives received four days of instruction at the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. All three members of the First Presidency and other General Authorities spoke to them.
June 29: President Hinckley rededicated the newly refurbished This Is the Place Monument and state park at a ceremony that featured the Tabernacle Choir.
June 29: President Hinckley was honored in Sun Valley, Idaho, by the American Academy of Achievement with the Golden Plate Award for exceptional accomplishment in the area of public service. Eight others of national prominence also received the award.
July 4: President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke at a sunrise service in Midway, Utah, during its Swiss Days celebration.
July 11-14: On a five-state tour, President Hinckley spoke to Church members in Nauvoo, Ill.; attended the Hill Cumorah pageant in Palmyra, N.Y.; attended the Grand Encampment celebration in Council Bluffs, Iowa; and spoke to missionary and youth groups in Tulsa, Okla., and Kansas City, Mo.
July 12-13: At the Grand Encampment celebration in Council Bluffs, Iowa, President Hinckley dedicated a replica of the Kanesville Tabernacle, where Brigham Young was sustained as president of the Church in 1847. The mustering-in of the Mormon Battalion was also re-enacted at the celebration to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Trail, Iowa statehood and the founding of Council Bluffs as Kanesville by the exiled Mormons on their way from Nauvoo to the Rocky Mountains.
July 24: A parade portraying Utah as being "still the right place" was the centerpiece of the annual Days of '47 celebration in Salt Lake City, commemorating the arrival of the Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Frances, rode near the front of the parade.
July 24: President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, participated in activities honoring Martha Hughes Cannon, early Utah nurse and state senator, and met with the Utah State Pioneer Sesquicentennial Coordinating Council.
July 26: A new park and improved trail to the top of Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City was dedicated by President Hinckley. It is the site where Brigham Young and eight others raised a figurative and scriptural "ensign to the nations" two days after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.
July 29-31: In a celebration featuring the Tabernacle Choir, Church members and others in San Francisco, Calif., commemorated the arrival of the ship Brooklyn, carrying Latter-day Saints there on July 31, 1846. A ship similar to the Brooklyn was used in a re-enactment at San Francisco Bay. Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy participated in the activities.
Aug. 1: Two stakes in Sandy provided housing, food and clothing for a folk dancing troupe from the Republic of Georgia stranded in Utah with no place to stay and no money. President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke to them.
Aug. 2: King Tauf`ahau Tupou IV of Tonga met with the First Presidency in Salt Lake City during a visit in which he accepted an award from the Seacology Foundation based in Springville, Utah.
Aug. 3: At Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the U.S. Army post where the Mormon Battalion was outfitted and trained 150 years ago, 500 costumed re-enactors commemorated the march, a ceremony sponsored by the post and six stakes of the Church.
Aug. 4: At a community service in Provo commemorating the Utah centennial, President Hinckley decried the `secularizing of America' in which any mention of God is removed from national institutions.
Aug. 10: Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve presided at the groundbreaking for the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple.
Aug. 15: At BYU, degrees were awarded to 2,566 graduates at commencement exercises where President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, presided.
Aug. 18: Elder Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve presided at a groundbreaking for the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple, the first in the Caribbean.
Aug. 31: The First Presidency announced plans for the Church's 63rd temple to be built in Billings, Mont.
Sept. 1: President Hinckley delivered the keynote address in the Salt Lake Tabernacle at a religious service of the American Legion national convention in Salt Lake City. He expressed the concern that America is forsaking God and the fear "that He may forsake us."
Sept. 17: In a devotional address at BYU, President Hinckley praised the student body for having placed second on a list of "stone-cold sober" schools around the nation. He also urged them to pursue greatness and stand for the right.
Sept. 20: President Hinckley broke ground for a massive underground addition to the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU. His counselors, President Monson and President James E. Faust, also participated.
Sept. 21: President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke to 12,000 at a two-day Jamboral at Park City, Utah, sponsored by the Great Salt Lake Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Sept. 27: At a Scout Jamboral in Fillmore, Utah, similar to the one the previous week in Park City, President Hinckley spoke to 28,000 Scouts from the Utah National Parks Council.
A statue of President David O. McKay was unveiled near the new David O. McKay Events Center on the Utah Valley State College campus. It was sculpted by Ortho Fairbanks, who made a portrait bust of President McKay, for which the prophet sat personally, nearly 30 years previously.
Sept. 28: As "noble daughters of God," the sisters of the Church have stood true in the faith through the history of the Church, President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, said at the General Relief Society Meeting in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
Oct. 6: At the 166th Semiannual General Conference, emeritus status was given to Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Presidency of the Seventy, and the previously announced call of Elder Earl C. Tingey to fill the vacancy was sustained. Also, nine members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were given honorable releases: Elders Rulon G. Craven, Julio E. Davila, Graham W. Doxey, In Sang Han, W. Mack Lawrence, Joseph C. Muren, Stephen D. Nadauld, Jorge A. Rojas and Sam K. Shimabukuro. Elder Nadauld was released as first counselor in the Young Men general presidency. He was succeeded by Elder Vaughn J Featherstone of the Seventy, former second counselor. Called as second counselor was Elder F. David Stanley.
Oct. 11: At a reunion of the BYU classes of 1970, 1971 and 1972, President Hinckley said the Church is rising in stature before the world.
Oct. 13: President Hinckley dedicated the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple in American Fork in the first of 27 sessions.
Oct. 18: President Hinckley told a group of LDS public relations professionals gathered in Salt Lake City that the Church has "a responsibility to stand tall and speak out with clarity and with decency and not with boasting, but factually and honestly and candidly."
Oct. 19: President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, addressed a gathering to honor the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Genesis Group for African American Latter-day Saints.
Nov. 2: The First Presidency announced the establishment of Latter-day Saint Charities, a charitable, nonprofit corporation designed to help the Church deliver humanitarian aid to poor and needy people of the world.
Nov. 8-16: President Hinckley spoke to gatherings of Church members and missionaries in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
Nov. 10: President Hinckley broke ground for the Cochabamba Bolivia Temple in a ceremony attended by 3,000-4,000 Church members.
Nov. 17: President Hinckley spoke at two firesides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Nov. 18: Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve addressed Latter-day Saints and friends in Vladivostok, Russia, the first visit of an apostle to Far East Russia, formerly known as Eastern Siberia.
Dec. 2: President Hinckley shared Christmas greetings with 35 ambassadors from foreign nations along with other dignitaries while participating in the Christmas lighting ceremony at the Washington Temple Visitors Center.
Dec. 8: Members of the First Presidency addressed the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional, telecast by satellite from the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
Dec. 14: President Hinckley dedicated a monument in Tucson, Ariz., honoring the Mormon Battalion soldiers who stopped there 150 years ago during the longest infantry march in history.