Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alaska Anchorage Mission

Alaska Anchorage Mission

Mission Website(s)

Missionary Site(s)

LDS Mission Network


Dear Elder--Elder Nicolas Ames 2009-2011

Dear Elder--Ekler Robby Gledhill 2010-2012

Dear Elder--Elder Austin Kennedy 2009-2011

Dear Elder--Elder Bryan Lee 2008-2010

Dear Elder--Elder Jared Metcalf 2007-2009

Dear Elder--Elder Christopher Prows 2008-2010

Dear Elder--Elder Michael Shea 2009-2011

MissionSite.Net--Elder Andrew Benage 2009-2011

MissionSite Net--Elder Nicholas Day 2008-2010

MissionSite.Net--Elder Scott Fleming 2009-2011

MissionSite.Net--Elder Blake Harding 2009-2011

MissionSite.Net--Elder Jed Mackay 2009-2010

MissionSite.Net--Elder Elder Anders Piiparinen 2009-2011

MissionSite Net--Elder Hyrum Powell 2008-2010

MissionSite.Net--Elder Elia Uluave 2009-2011

MissionSite Net--Elder Zachary Yates 2008-2010 Jared Allred 1998-2000 Callie Beck 1989-1991 Chad Bott 1998-2000 Justin Bowen 2000-2002 Marcie Christian 1998-2000 Dan Coates 2001-2003 Heather Hensley Cook 1998-2000 Jason Copley 1992-1994 Cowdery Crisanto 2006-2008 Brian D'Asaro 1992-1994 Lehi Delfin 1999-2001 Todd Douglas 1978-1980 Jose Vincent Filio 2006 Maribeth Forrey (mission president's wife) 1990-1993 Graig Gemar 1992-1994 Shon Gibson 2009-2011 Heidi Grissom 2000-2001 J. Vance Hendricks 2000 James Herrick 2002-2004 Sheri Howton 1996-1998 Autumn Hughes 2001-2003 Bethany Hyatt 2002-2004 Rich Ingleby 2001-2003 Thomas Jensen 2005-2007 Dirk Johnson 1982-1984 Jennifer Johnson 2001-2003 Mervin Kahumoku 2000-2001 Derek Kartchner 1981-1983 Terra Kinyon 2003-2004 Karl Kowallis 1993-1995 Chad Larson 1997-1999 Rachel Lavery 1996-1997 Ryan LeMasters 2001-2003 John Lewis 2002-2004 Jenna Leydsman Jenifer Littlefield 1999-2001
Ryan McKenzie 2000-2002 Brett Milliken 2002 Alan Otter 1991-1993 Jye Patton 1988-1990 Hans Petersen 1994-1996 Randy Reynolds 1991-1993 Ron Richey 2001-2003 Tim Sessions 2003-2005 Harold Spencer Siady 1999-2001 Matthew Skembo 1994-1996 Jerry Syme 1965-1967 Kenny Tagge 2000-2002 Noah Webb 1999-2001 Wyatt Wood 1992-1994 Bridget Yuen 1997-1998

Harold Budge Obituary

Stephen Wayne Brown Obituary 1977-1979

Raymond R. Sitterud Obituary

Miriam Emily Norman Madsen Obituary

Victor Jay Buhler Obituary

Clifton Bryner Thomas Obituary

Blain M Madsen Obituary

Lorin G. Folland, Jr. Obituary

Phyllis Karpowitz Sweeten Obituary

Dall Larsen Black Obituary

Joseph Andreas Gillett Obituary 1979-1981

Maida Ingram Gillett Obituary 1979-1981

Jonathon Wayne Larsen Obituary

Vera Eardley Trayner Lee Obituary 1978-1981

Jean Renee' Evans Schlehuber Smith Obituary 1998-1999

Stanley D. Kent Obituary 1976-1977

E. LaSalle Farnsworth Obituary


LDS Mission Network

Dear Elder--Elder Austin Kennedy

Dear Elder--Elder Jared Metcalf

Dear Elder--Elder Christopher Prows

MissionSite.Net--Elder Andrew Benage

MissionSite Net--Elder Nicholas Day

MissionSite.Net--Elder Anders Piiparinen


“New Mission Presidents Now in Place,” (Alan Roy Dance) Liahona, Aug. 2008, N4–N5

"New Mission Presidents," (Alan Roy Dance) Church News [Saturday, 15 March 2008].

"New Mission Presidents," (Melvin Roy Nichols counselor in Mission Presidency called as Mission President India Bangalore Mission) Church News [Saturday, 24 February 2007].

"New Mission Presidents," (Kent Byron Petersen) Church News [Saturday, 11 May 2002].

"New Mission Presidents," (James V. Hendricks) Church News [Saturday, 27 March 1999].
"New Mission Presidents," (Jackie D. Orton) Church News [Saturday, 16 March 1999].

"New Temple Presidents," (Julius B. Papa, former president) Church News [Saturday, 30 June 1990).

“New Mission Presidents Called,” Ensign, May 1989, 104–5

“Church Calls New Mission Presidents,” Ensign, May 1981, 109–10

“Mission Presidents Called,” Ensign, May 1975, 126–27


"Missionaries Recognized for Service," (Elders Brandon Sloan, Wess Gibson, Paul Fjeldsted, and Christopher Speirs) Church News [Saturday, 19 March 2005].

Stephen A. West, “Five Small Experiences,” Ensign, Feb 2004, 60–64

Julie A. Dockstader, "Alaska--The Last Frontier," Church News [Saturday, 23 January 1999].

"Anchorage Alaska Temple," Church News [Saturday, 16 January 1999].

“Temple Dedicated in Anchorage, Alaska,” Ensign, Apr. 1999, 74–76

“President Hinckley Visits Alaska Saints,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 77

"Alaskan LDS Welcome President Hinckley," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 1995].

Sheridan R. Sheffield, "Arctic Circle; Light of Gospel Warms Hearts in Rugged Land," Church News [Saturday, 16 March 1991].

"From Around the World: LDS help 'paint the town' ," Church News [Saturday, 17 September 1988].

"A powerful convincer": Book of Mormon, missionary tool for all lands," (Elder Todd Allen) Church News [Saturday, 2 January 1988].

Betty Curry, “Assorted Assyrians,” New Era, Jan 1988, 12

“New Mission Formed for Alaska, Yukon,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, 75


LDS Mission Network


Dr. B said...

Elder Nicolas G. Smith, Conference Report, October 1941 said:

Recently it was my privilege to travel to the far north and visit Alaska, which is part of the Northwestern States Mission. We have established there in Fairbanks a nice Branch of the Church. The missionaries went there last winter. During the summer months we had six missionaries laboring in Alaska. The two that were assigned to Anchorage have been very successful in establishing a Branch which now is functioning on its own. The Branch President, Brother Joseph Tibbitts, is in charge, and the soldier boys, those of the airport, many of them members of our Church, are in attendance, and they find a great deal of comfort in being permitted to go to a Branch of the Church and participate there in the Sunday School and the Mutual Improvement organization.

The Government is doing a tremendous job in that part of the world. There is a great air base at Fairbanks, hangars the like of which I have never seen in my life. Likewise in Anchorage, a city of 2500 people, now they have 12,000 people living there. In three or four days they erect themselves little homes, hammering together some two-by-fours and nailing cellotex on the sides. They are taking their families into these places and are rearing them. Rents are very high and the Government is paying tremendous wages to the workers there.

As Brother Greenwood was talking this morning in the Welfare meeting, warning our people about leaving home and security to go away to work at jobs that will perhaps last but a few months, I thought of what happened when I was in Alaska. One man had taken his family all the way to Anchorage, and it takes a week on the ocean to get there-to get one of those big paying jobs that of course would be short-lived. He passed away and left his wife and three little children there with his mother-in-law, with no visible means of support, but thank God she had found a little Branch of the Church. We were able to finance her trip back to the States, where she was provided for, and where she had friends who could help her become located.

Dr. B said...

Elder Nicolas G. Smith, Conference Report, April 1941 said:

I am grateful to have had the privilege to serve in the mission field, grateful for the opportunity that is mine now to be in the Northwest. I bring you the greetings of one hundred forty missionaries, lovely young men and women, and eleven thousand members of the Church, Latter-day Saints scattered all over the Northwest. It is reported that president Nibley said, "You can walk up to any old bush in the Northwest and give it a kick and out jumps a Jack Mormon." (Laughter.) It is strange how far our people have traveled. We find them everywhere,-way up in Alaska, in Fairbanks, 100 of them. In Anchorage, now that the soldiers are gathering there, there will be many of them. In Ft. Lewis and Camp Murray there are over a thousand of our boys that have come from Idaho points. We have been holding meetings with them, fine, clean, lovely young men, and it has been a joy to be with them. We have there too the careless ones, but there are the fine ones-true Latter-day Saints. Their example has been glorious and lovey.

Dr. B said...

John Thomas in an Encyclopedia of LDS Church History wrote:


Latter-day Saints were among those drawn to Alaska by a gold rush at the end of the nineteenth century.

The first known baptism in Alaska occurred 25 June 1902, when Edward G. Cannon baptized K. N. Winnie in the Bering Sea near Nome. Elders of the Northwestern States Mission assessed conditions in 1913 and preached widely during the summer of 1928, but no missionaries labored year-round before 1940. World War II suspended missionary work but also drew Saints to area military posts.

Alaska's first branch was established in Fairbanks on 10 July 1938; the first stake was organized in Anchorage on 13 August 1961. In 1974 the Alaska Anchorage Mission was formed. The first Church-built meetinghouse was dedicated in Anchorage in 1958, and distinctive log meetinghouses dotted remote areas after 1978. In 1997 President Gordon B. Hinckley announced plans to build the Anchorage Temple, one of the first three "small temples." It was dedicated in January 1999. At the beginning of the year 2000, Alaska had 25,340 Church members living in 6 stakes and 65 wards and branches.


Jasper, Patricia B., and Beverly M. Blasongame, eds. A Gathering of Saints in Alaska. Salt Lake City: Hiller Industries, 1983.

1999-2000 Church Almanac. Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1998. 171-72.


Dr. B said...

L. Brent Goates, Harold B. Lee: Prophet and Seer, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987 wrote:

An interesting observation on the constant safeguarding of the General Authorities while "on the Lord's errand" was seen in two diary entries within a four-month period of 1960.

On June 14, 1960, Elder Lee and President Franklin Richards of the Northwestern States Mission arrived in Seattle after a tour into Alaska. The next day they learned that on the same airline, a plane exactly like the one they had flown on had crashed between Cardova and Anchorage; all fourteen passengers and crew were killed. "We thanked the Lord again for our safe journey," wrote Elder Lee.

Just four months later, on Sunday, October 30, 1960, Elder Richard L. Evans told Elder Lee that he was waiting to board a Northwest Airlines plane at Missoula on the previous Friday night when word came that it was lost; he heard later that it had crashed twenty-two miles from the landing airfield at Missoula, Montana.

With the Brethren of the General Authorities so frequently traveling in the air to and from their weekend assignments and mission tours, it is indeed faith-promoting and inspirational to observe that not one life has been lost in an airplane mishap. The prayers of the Saints for their Church leaders and the love of the Lord for his chosen ones is abundantly manifest in their safety during their arduous travel schedules.

Dr. B said...

In the August 1941 Improvement Era we read:

FORMATION of a branch of the Church in Anchorage, largest city in Alaska, took place on May 25, under the direction of Elders Lester F. Hewlett and Clifton B. Thomas, of the Northwestern States Mission. The Anchorage Branch was organized with Joseph H. Tippets, president, and H. O. Johnson and Wells Bowen, counselors. D. W. Ogden had been presiding Elder of the local Saints, who had been meeting at various homes. First public meeting was held on March 23, and regular Sunday School work began only last April. Upon invitation, the missionaries occasionally conduct religious services at Fort Richardson nearby, where several members of the Church are stationed.

Dr. B said...

William L. Sloan in the Improvment Era May 1953 wrote:

The Gospel in Alaska

From material submitted by Wm. R. Sloan, former President Northwestern States Mission

ALASKA-that melting pot of nationalities, territory of the United States, had been almost virgin territory as far as the gospel of Jesus Christ was concerned, until the latter part of 1926, when, as president of the Northwestern States Mission, I began exploring the possibilities of placing missionaries. 1

Alaska's Inside Passage from the Alaska Steamship Company steamer "Baranof."

Upon several occasions I sought the counsel of Elders George Albert Smith, Melvin J. Ballard, and John A. Widtsoe, who were then members of the Council of the Twelve, concerning the possibility of sending missionaries to Alaska. Elder Ballard informed me that during his presidency of that mission, some thirteen years earlier, he had sent two elders to Alaska, and that they had spent about two weeks there. With President Heber J. Grant's authorization, I wrote letters to Washington, D.C., requesting information on Alaska, and to Governor George A. Parks, the territorial governor, explaining our missionary activities and asking about the prospects for our work in Alaska. I received courteous and favorable replies.

One of our missionaries, Elder Alvin Englestead of Orderville, Utah, was president of the Vancouver, B.C. district. In February 1928, he was granted a leave so that he might adjust some affairs at home that needed his attention.

With the idea of sending missionaries to Alaska foremost in my mind, I talked with Elder Englestead about this work before he departed. He expressed a desire to be one of the missionaries to be so honored.

The port of Seward on beautiful Resurrection Bay.

In the spring of 1928, Elder Englestead returned to the mission accompanied by two other elders from Southern Utah who had been called on short term missions-President Heber Meeks of Kanab Stake and Elder James Judd of Hurricane. It was decided that they should go to Juneau, the capital that of Alaska. Work was outlined for the three and one half months they would be in there, and a letter of introduction to Governor Parks was provided. Elder Meeks was in charge. They were joined in Seattle by Elder Lowell Plowman, a young missionary who was sent along mainly to learn about the country and be prepared to go back the next spring if a permanent district in Alaska were established.

On June 6, these four elders held a meeting in a beautiful spot in the woods near Juneau. President Meeks gave the dedicatory prayer. He said in brief:

... inasmuch as we have been called to proclaim thy work in this land and to officially open up the work of preaching thy gospel, we do bless this land, set it apart and dedicate it to this purpose....

... We pray thee, our Father in heaven, to bless and sanetify this land to the preaching of thy word. Temper the elements that this land may yield its strength in being fruitful and also yielding souls unto thee, the Lord.

... We bless the land and water that the blood of Israel may be gathered to enjoy the blessings promised to their fathers and that this land may become a land of Zion to the pure in heart.

We bless the adopted children of this land that they may receive thy work through thy servants and come to a knowledge of the truth. We bless the natives of this land, who are a remnant of the House of Israel through the loins of Joseph. We bless them the sons and daughters of Lehi, that they may be found by thy servants; that they may be brought to a knowledge of their forefathers and the promises made to them....

Elder Meeks also blessed the land that churches and even temples might be erected and the governor and official staff that they might rule in justice and righteousness.

Through the courtesy of the secretary to the governor, the elders were extended every courtesy and were provided with letters of introduction to the officials of Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks.

The editor of the Daily Alaskan Empire newspaper called on the elders and the following is an account in part of the report as published in the issue of June 5, 1928:

For the purpose of visiting many of the communities of Alaska with a view to opening the work of the Church in the territory, James Judd, Hurricane, Utah; Heber Meeks, Kanab, Utah; Alvin Englestead, Orderville, Utah; and Lowell T.

Plowman, Smithfield, Utah, who will spend the summer in Alaska representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, arrived in Juneau on the Admiral Rogers. They are staying in the Zunda Hotel and expect to remain here for about two weeks when they will leave for the interior and towns to the west, and will visit other southeastern Alaska communities on their way south in September.

Elder C. Elton Mower, President Wm. R. Solan, Elder Paul E. Warnick, (seated), and Lowell T. Plowman, Alvin Messersmith, a member, and Elder Wallace K. Everton, first group to arrive after the original group opened the mission.

The work of the Mormon Church, which has its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, includes the establishment of missions throughout the world, according to Mr. Meeks. It was at the request of William R. Sloan, of Portland, Oregon, President of the Northwestern States Mission, in which Alaska is included, that the four men were sent to Alaska this summer on a short term mission 'by the president of the Church in Salt Lake City.

"While in Alaska, illustrated lectures will be given in the various towns on the work of the Mormon Church and on the Book of Mormon, from which the commonly used name for the Church was derived," Mr. Meeks declared. They will also distribute literature and hold meetings in the various communities.

"As the Mormon Church has no paid ministers, those who undertake missionary work not only meet all of their own expenses, but also take many months from their professions or business," Mr. Meeks said.

During the fourteen days of tracting in Juneau and nearby Douglas, the elders were well received, made a number of friends, had numerous gospel conversations and sold copies of the Book of Mormon. The next town visited was Cordova, a settlement of nine hundred inhabitants, and the terminus of the railroad running to the Kennecott copper mines, one hundred twenty-five miles inland. The boat stopped for several hours so they distributed literature. Continuing their journey they stopped at Valdez., Port Ashton, and Seward, the terminus of the railway to Fairbanks, 480 miles inland.

On June 28 they boarded the train for Anchorage. Anchorage is situated on Cook Inlet, thirty-eight feet above the sea, and had a population of two thousand at that time. As in the other towns through which they passed they tracted, reaching as many people as possible in the time they had.

The next major stop was at Fairbanks on July 4. A celebration was in progress and the town was full of people. Unable to obtain rooms, the elders stayed the night with Andrew Anderson whom they had met at Seward. The next day they were able to get rooms at a hotel. At that time Fairbanks had a population of 2,500. This is the site of the University of Alaska.

After completing the work here, the elders then proceeded back to Juneau. On July 24, the elders divided into pairs with Elders Englestead and Plowman going to Skagway and Haines and Elders Judd and Meeks laboring in Juneau and Douglas. On July 30 they met to discuss their successes and Elders Judd and Meeks left for Sitka. Sitka is the oldest town in Alaska. It was founded by the Russians and became the capital of Russian America. The population was 1700. The four elders met again in Petersburg on August 5.

Elder C. Elton Mower, newly arrived from the States, joined the group on August 13 to labor with Elder Plowman. The other three elders sailed on August 15 on the Princess Charlotte for the States.

Continuing the work, other missionaries were sent to join Elders Plowman and Mower. These included Elders Paul E. Warnick, Wallace K. Everton, Vaughn E. Peterson, Clinton M. Taylor, Ferrill Brems, Loral C. Dana, Carl G. Warnick, Clinton and John F. Watson. Work in Alaska was interrupted in the late fall of 1931 due to the shortage of missionaries. In March 1932, missionaries were again sent to Alaska. Among those who served there were Elders Paul E. Iverson, Edwin B. Cannon, Ray E. Chard, Dow Ostlund, and Marcus Hart.

An event which stands out in my memory of my trip to Alaska in 1932 occurred on a day in June. (In August 1929, President Sloan made his first trip to Alaska.) During the night the rain fell in torrents and when we got up at 5:30 in the morning, it was still raining. At 6:30 a.m., the elders and I went to a little mountain back of Juneau, which for lack of a name we called Mormon Hill. It was on the twin buttes which cap the hill that President Meeks and his companions had held their dedicatory meeting. We worked our way up the mountain side through the thick underbrush and when near the summit, we stopped, and under the protection of a great pine, we sang one verse of the hymn, "High on the Mountain Top." After bearing our testimonies I spoke a few moments, complimenting the elders on the splendid record they had made. Seemingly, everyone in the city was a friend to these elders. Their conduct had been of the highest order. I reminded them of a statement that Elder John A. Widtsoe had made a short time before in Europe, that someday the event which would be commemorated in the British Isles above all others, would be the date of the introduction of the gospel of Jesus Christ there. I felt that someday the little mountain on which we stood would be honored for the same reason.

The Alaska district was again temporarily closed until June 1938, when President Preston Nibley of the Northwestern States Mission visited Alaska and found enough members of the Church who had moved there from the states to organize a branch at Fairbanks, also a Sunday School and Relief Society. At Anchorage a Sunday School was organized with three members. Only one member of the Church was found in Juneau. Lorin Oldroyd was set apart as president of the Alaskan district.

Thus through the endeavors of the faithful missionaries of the Northwestern States Mission, many children of the House of Israel in Alaska have had and will have an opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.


This same Elder Winnie wrote a letter from Nome, Alaska, January 3, 1913, in which he says:

"The gospel is winning its way into the hearts and homes of the people. 'It is not ye that speak but My Spirit that dwelleth in you.' To feel one's being thrilled with joy unspeakable as he bears his humble testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these latter days is to sense the position the true Latter-day Saint occupies in the world. New Year's night I spent a social evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Vanderworker. I found two other friends there, a lady formerly a member of Alexander Dowle's Zion City, Illinois, and Prof. Henry Peterson, a pianist and a strong friend of our people. Years ago when a mere boy in his hometown in far-away Denmark he heard the elders as they traveled ministering to the people. He also remembers the large emigration that followed the introduction of the gospel in his native land. I had with me four phonograph records-selections from the Tabernacle Choir of Salt Lake City, which we heard, and they all agreed we had enjoyed a musical treat. Said the professor, 'I have never before heard such volume of harmony and sweetness. There is conviction of faith in every word, and an intensity of spirit and purpose seldom possessed by members of other churches.' I feel to say to the choir, 'Sing on, sing on, ye valiant sons and daughters of our God!' After games and refreshments, the professor and Mrs. Vanderworker asked many questions pertaining to the work of the Lord, and for two hours I answered these to the satisfaction of all, explaining many of the principles of the gospel pertaining to the redemption of the living and the dead. I expect to continue this kind of work for the remainder of the winter, and by so doing, bring people to realize what the true gospel is. After several renditions of music by Prof. Peterson, with best wishes for a happy New Year, we parted with the music from the big choir still ringing in our ears."

(From THE IMPROVEMENT ERA 16:640-641)

Later that year the Liahona, reported that "Elders H. W. Fackrell and William F. Webster are the pioneer missionaries in this field. [Alaska.]"

(From The Liahona, October 28, 1913.)

Dr. B said...

In "New Mission Presidents," Church News [Saturday, 15 March 2008] 12:

Alan Roy Dance, 55, Alaska Anchorage Mission; Snoqualmie Falls Ward, Bellevue Washington South Stake; stake president; former counselor in a stake presidency, high councilor, bishop, seminary teacher and missionary in the Quebec Mission. Vice president, 1031 Exchange Coordinators. Born in Seattle, Wash., to David Orin and Jean Richards Dance. Married Julienne Nash, six children.

A seminary teacher, Sister Dance is a former ward Young Women president, counselor and adviser, ward Primary president, Sunday School teacher and nursery leader. Born in Logan, Utah, to Brent Isaac and Beverly Bell Nash.

Dr. B said...

In Church News [Saturday, 1 March 2008] 8:

New President Current

North America Northwest Area

Alaska Anchorage
Alan R. Dance Randy C. Lewis

Dr. B said...

"Missionaries Recognized for Service," Church News [Saturday, 19 March 2005] 15:

SOLDOTNA, Alaska — A crowd of some 400 watched four missionaries of the Alaska Anchorage Mission receive the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award Jan. 21. Elders Brandon Sloan, Wess Gibson, Paul Fjeldsted and Christopher Speirs were recognized for routinely volunteering for the chamber of commerce, doing such things as collating and mailing the Soldotna magazine. The missionaries were invited to the award ceremony under the guise of taking attendees coats. To their surprise, they were called to the front to receive the award.

"It was so good for the Church," said Elder Sloan. "They read a statement of what we do as missionaries, saying that we give up two years, pay our own way and serve the people, and that we teach about Jesus Christ.

Afterwards, people came up and talked to us and said, 'We had no idea your Church did so much service here.' "

Dr. B said...

In Church News [Saturday, 26 February 2005] 8:

New President Returning President

Alaska Anchorage

Randy C. Lewis Kent B. Petersen

Dr. B said...

Sandi Howlett, "Icy Opening and A Warm Welcome," Church News [Saturday, 7 February 2004] 5:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Despite temperatures dipping below zero, almost 10,000 people toured the newly remodeled Anchorage Alaska Temple the last week of January. Members came from all over the state — from the North Pole to Juneau.

Hundreds of members volunteered their time and talents to organize and implement the many facets of holding an open house. It's a daunting task, especially when dealing with freezing weather and an over-abundance of snow. Missionaries in the area helped wherever there was a need, from ushering to emptying the garbage.

Special VIP tours for contractors who worked on the temple, the media, religious leaders and dignitaries including Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski and his wife, Nancy, and Alaska State Sen. Lisa Murkowski, were well received. The beauty and spirit of the temple touched hearts and many requests were made to learn more about the Church's beliefs.

The temple, which was dedicated Jan. 9, 1999, has been closed since April 2003 for expansion. It has been greatly missed by the members, who have had to make arrangements at other temples far away for endowments and weddings.

Temple President Merrell Briggs expressed his joy at the coming reopening of the temple. He feels the temple here has impacted the members with increased spirituality. "It's a wonderful thing for the youth to participate in baptismal sessions, with the atmosphere of quiet and reverence, which they are not used to in the noise of their world."

Alaska Mission President Kent B. Petersen likes his missionaries to attend the temple once a month. "It builds spirituality among the elders and sisters," he said. "The open house has brought a public visibility. It makes contacts easier — 'You may have seen our new temple.' The recognition level affects the Church. Our ultimate aim leads to the temple."

Many major and minor miracles occurred to help the open house be successful. Temple committee member Gary Child was in charge of ushers and tour guides. He tells of two visitors who spoke only Russian. "We weren't prepared for them. Guides and visitors were put together on a random basis. They happened to get a tour guide who spoke Russian — the only one who did."

Ordinance worker Marge Swartz noted that the temple was beautiful and peaceful. "It's like going into another world. It sets the pace for the day when you go there. I am anxious for the work to begin!"

One visitor, Mely O. Han of Anchorage who is not LDS, attended with her two children. "The temple is truly holy and sacred, purified and extremely clean. My children said it smells like God, like a brand-new home for His children to come home. It was a wonderful time to teach my children that if we live like we should we can always feel like this. I don't speak English good (she is from the Philippines), but the Holy Spirit is talking through my heart."

Youth attending seemed especially touched by the experience. Two boys, 9 and 11, brought Bob Busby of the Campbell Creek Ward, Anchorage Alaska Stake, to tears as they quietly picked up tiny pieces of lint they noticed in the celestial room. They felt the temple should be perfect.

Perhaps, 10-year-old Andrew Freeman of the North Pole Ward said it best: "When I entered the celestial room, my heart stopped! It was the best feeling in my life. I can't wait until I get my temple recommend and come back to this temple (and do baptisms)."

Andrew and his parents drove more than 400 miles over winter roads to attend the open house. Andrew turns 11 the day of the dedication.

The temple will be rededicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley on Feb. 8. On Feb. 7, in conjunction with the rededication, will be a regional conference and cultural event, with a cast of 600, including 450 Primary children.

Dr. B said...

"New Mission Presidents," Church News [Saturday, 11 May 2002] 12:

Kent and Nyla Kathrine Petersen

Kent Byron Petersen, 65, Alaska Anchorage Mission; Forest Green Ward, Ogden Utah Weber Heights Stake; president, Petersen Motor Co.; ward activities chairman and temple worker, former stake Young Men president's counselor, high councilor and bishop; born in Logan, Utah, to Byron Herman and Ruth Kathleen Camomile Petersen. Married Nyla Kathrine Nye, five children.

Ward Relief Society president, she has served as ward activities committee co-chairman, stake Relief Society president's counselor, director of bi-stake Laurel legacy and ward music director. She was born in Ogden, Utah, to Clyde Vasquez and Bertha Annie Johnson Nye.

Dr. B said...

In "New and Returning Mission President," Church News [Saturday, 9 March 2002] 8:

New President Returning President
Alaska Anchorage
Kent Byron Petersen J Vance Hendricks

Dr. B said...

"Obituraries," Church News [Saturday, 9 June 2001] 13:

Wilford (Bill) Everett Thatcher, 80, president of the Alaska Anchorage Mission from 1984-1987, died May 30, 2001, in Oregon City, Ore. Brother Thatcher was the patriarch in the Oregon City Oregon Stake at the time of his death. He was a former regional representative and stake president.

Dr. B said...

"New Mission Presidents," Church News [Saturday, 27 March 1999] 7:

James V. Hendricks, 62, Alaska Anchorage Mission; Rexburg 16th Ward, Rexburg Idaho East Stake; counselor in stake presidency; former temple ordinance worker, counselor in stake presidency, high councilor, bishop, and missionary in the Western Canadian Mission; director of counseling at Ricks College; received bachelor's degree in psychology and master's degree in counseling from Utah State University, and doctorate in educational psychology and counseling from BYU; born in Richmond, Utah, to Lorin Asa and Annie B. Timmons Hendricks; married Diane Larsen, six children.

She is a former temple ordinance worker, stake librarian, ward Relief Society president, Primary teacher, family history specialist, and missionary in the West Central States Mission; graduated from Ricks College and attended BYU; born in Logan, Utah, to Vernon Joseph and Lula Ann Rigby Larsen.

Dr. B said...

Julie A. Dockstader, "Alaska, The Last Frontier," Church News [Saturday, 23 January 1999] 8:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Freezing winters don't drive them south. Short days don't slow them down. Moose wandering in their yards don't startle them.

That's simply part, they say, of the beauty and uniqueness of Alaska.To the some 14,000 Latter-day Saints living in Anchorage, the largest city in this northernmost state of the union, and its surrounding rural communities, this is home. And like the trappers and miners who sank in roots a century ago, they are here to stay.

"This is the last frontier," declared Pres. William K. Parks, president of the Anchorage North stake. "It's a beautiful, great place to raise your children, but you have to have a determined attitude because it could get a little hard -- the long winter nights and the cold temperatures -- but we have beautiful summers."

Indeed, summer in Alaska is almost an exact opposite of winter. Alaskans say they have two main seasons, with only a week of spring and fall in between. Winter days are cold and short. When the snow finally melts and flowers paint grassy slopes with color, the days become long. It's not uncommon to see people working in their gardens almost at midnight.

In northern Alaska in summer, such as Barrow, the sun never sets -- hence "The Land of the Midnight Sun."

But in Anchorage the sun does rise and set. And this city of 260,000 is where the Church has grown in about 50 years from a scattering of members holding services in hotel rooms and homes to two stakes -- the Anchorage and Anchorage North stakes. The membership has also fed the growth of the adjacent Wasilla Alaska Stake, presided over by Jerry A. Hann.

Alaskan members even have their own temple now, with the dedication of the Anchorage Alaska Temple Jan. 9-10 by President Gordon B. Hinckley. (Please see Jan. 16, 1999, Church News.) The new granite edifice blends well with the Alaskan landscape. On a clear day, an aerial view from a small "bush plane" displays downtown Anchorage on the coast of Cook Inlet, with large chunks of ice flowing in and out with the tide. To the west is Mt. McKinley and to the east are the Chugach Mountains.

People who make Anchorage their home, including Latter-day Saints, come from varied walks of life and ethnic backgrounds. But members all have two things in common -- love for Alaska and love of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And both loves have, indeed, contributed to the growth of the Church in this northern country. During a recent visit, the Church News met with Pres. Parks and Pres. Brent M. Wadsworth, president of the Anchorage North stake, to discuss the strength and fortitude of members in Alaska.

Pres. Parks recalled the construction of the Maplewood chapel years ago when Relief Society sisters worked side-by-side with the men, laying brick and hammering nails.

Most members were not born here. They came to Alaska because they wanted to, some even looking for a little adventure, such as Jerry Swan. He was 8 years old, growing up in Oklahoma, when he read Jack London's Call of the Wild and White Fang. He decided someday he'd live in Alaska.

But family responsibilities delayed that goal until 1974, after his children were grown. Today, he is bishop of the singles ward and a member of the Anchorage 17th Ward with his wife, Martha. Through the years, Bishop Swan, a retired iron worker, has worked along the Alaska pipeline in towns and villages throughout the state, including some in the Aleutian Islands.

He even baptized a friend in the Bering Sea. "We had to run out about 60 feet before the water got deep," he related. "The water was so cold that I felt like I was talking in a barrel. There were two-foot waves with whitecaps. If I had made a mistake I could never have said the words again. The cold got to us that much."

Just before his retirement in the mid-1980s, he was superintendent of a clean-up crew in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker accident.

Brother Swan intends on living out his days in Alaska. After 25 years, Alaska is home.

As it is to Patricia B. Jasper of the Anchorage 9th Ward, Anchorage Alaska Stake. Sister Jasper, who joined the Church in Seattle in 1954, helps her husband, Frank, run their bed-and-breakfast facility, housing guests in a cabin adjacent their log home on what was once part of a 140-acre homestead. To earn extra money, she restores and sells antique dolls.

Among her many Church assignments over the years, she compiled and authored in the early 1980s A Gathering of Saints in Alaska, a history of the Church in this state. This book, along with a 72-page addition, has been put in the cornerstone of the new temple.

A self-motivated woman, she learned self-reliance through hardship. She had little education when her first husband died in the mid-1950s. She accepted two government welfare checks, then said no more. She took in ironing and cooked for others while she learned computer programming for Boeing Aircraft in Seattle.

"It was a tough year. I remember waking up, lying in a bundle of clothes I'd been folding. I'd been so tired I'd fallen asleep, and I didn't wake up until the next morning."

The work paid off. She became a computer programmer and, today, is president of the board of directors for the Chugach Electric Association.

Another member drawn to Alaska by its beauty is Oren B. Hudson, who, with his wife, Ruth, is a member of the Anchorage 2nd Ward, Anchorage North stake. However, he fell in love with Alaska from the air. Now retired, he was a bush pilot for 50 years, flying people, supplies and mail to outlying villages and towns.

Brother Hudson, who has a warm smile and delightful laugh, has never crashed a plane. But he's come pretty close. He first came to Alaska in 1948 when he flew a new Cessna 170 from Ohio to its new owner in Fairbanks. A foggy, winter night, he recalled, "I couldn't find the airport. There was a hotel and a bridge sticking up through the fog. I looked over and there were airplanes on each side [of what I thought was a runway]. I landed and taxied and here come the people out of the hotel."

He thought they were coming to see the new plane. No, they said, "We've never seen anyone land down here on the river before on wheels!" Brother Hudson looked around and noticed the planes, which were all on skis, were lined up on the frozen river.

Then there's Cora McCary of the Anchorage 14th Ward. She came to Alaska in 1939 with her husband, J.L. McCary, who became the first LDS federal judge in this state. After their marriage in the Salt Lake Temple in 1939, they visited Alaska during the next two summers while Brother McCary -- known locally as "Judge McCary" -- sold for Utah Woolen Mills. In the fall, they'd return to Utah for him to continue his studies at the University of Utah Law School. They came to Anchorage permanently in 1941.

The name "McCary" is well-known and well-loved here, even among non-LDS. Brother McCary died in 1992, and hundreds attended his funeral. Especially loved by the local LDS Polynesian community, he was given a royal Polynesian tribute at his services.

At the time Brother and Sister McCary moved to Alaska, there were only about 1,600-2,000 people living in Anchorage -- "dirt streets, board walks and the whole bit," Sister McCary recalled.

A tall, slender, dignified woman, Sister McCary remembers when the few members -- not enough even for a branch at the time -- gathered in homes for Church services. When they built their home on the shores of Cook Inlet, they specifically built it with the idea of it being a gathering place for the Saints. During the 1964 Alaska earthquake, their home was the only on the bluff to remain intact. Their home is now shored up with metal bracings in case of a future disaster.

Members of the Church in Anchorage also serve Latter-day Saints in outlying areas where numbers are too few for a local branch. One such is Ed Lindquist, who is president of the Anchorage Bush Branch of the Alaska Anchorage Mission. He communicates with 135 members in 300,000 square miles in western Alaska via letters, telephone and e-mail. He recalls one family traveling from an outlying village by "river taxi," where trucks and pick-ups ride frozen rivers for roads, to bring their son to be ordained to the priesthood by Pres. Lindquist.

This kind of thing, he added, only strengthens one's testimony and cements commitment that "we're here to stay."

Dr. B said...

"New and Returning Mission Presidents," Church News [Saturday, 16 March 1996] 8:

Alaska Anchorage
Jackie D. Orton** W. LaVon Gifford

Dr. B said...

"New Mission Presidents," Church News [Saturday, 16 March 1996] 5:

Jackie D. Orton, 58, Alaska Anchorage Mission; Kansas City 3rd Ward, Olathe Kansas Stake; stake president's counselor; former stake president's counselor, high councilor, stake mission president, bishop and counselor, Scoutmaster, and deacon's quorum adviser; district account manager for E.I. DuPont Company; attended the University of Utah; born in Panguitch, Utah, to Preston Dee and Althea Thompson Friday Orton; married Carolyn Burton, five children.

She is stake seminary coordinator; former stake Relief Society president's counselor, ward Relief Society president's counselor, Primary president's counselor, seminary teacher, Sunday School teacher, Beehive adviser, and nursery leader; received a degree in business from LDS Business College; born in Brigham City, Utah, to Robert Sterling and Dorothy Martina Sjoblom Burton.

Dr. B said...

"Alaskan LDS Welcome President Hinckley," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 1995] 7:

From June 17 through June 23, President Gordon B. Hinckley walked where no president of the Church has trod.

In Alaska, he addressed 7,700 Church members at a regional conference in Anchorage's Sullivan Arena on Sunday, June 18; met that afternoon with missionaries of the Alaska Anchorage Mission; spoke to 850 members at a fireside that evening in Juneau; greeted most of the 18 members of the branch in tiny Gustavus on Monday morning, June 19, and delivered a fireside message to about 300 members in Ketchikan Thursday evening, June 22.President Hinckley was accompanied by his wife, Marjorie, and by Elder LeGrand R. Curtis of the Seventy and his wife, Patricia.

At the regional conference - which was attended by members from the Anchorage Alaska, Anchorage Alaska North, Soldotna Alaska and Wasilla Alaska stakes - President Hinckley said he had been told by researchers in the Church Historical Department that never before had a president of the Church attended a conference in Anchorage.

``One hundred years ago President Wilford Woodruff came to Sitka on a boat,'' President Hinckley said. ``Evidently, there were no members of the Church in Sitka because on Sunday they held a service on the boat. If there had been members of the Church there, they would have gone to where they were. But President Woodruff indicated in his journal that they gathered on the boat and had a service. I suppose, therefore, that this is the first occasion in the history of the Church when a president of the Church has had the opportunity of speaking to a great body of Latter-day Saints such as we have here today.''

He further said, ``I hope you feel that you are here for a purpose - to build the kingdom of God in this part of the world.''

As he encouraged members to increase their efforts in missionary work, he told of a family he had introduced to the gospel. He became acquainted with the family after having struck up a conversation with a fellow passenger on an airline flight from London to New York. Although the man he met on the plane never joined the Church, the man's wife and their three sons joined; the sons married in the temple. ``You never can foretell the consequences of that which you do when you talk about the Church with another,'' President Hinckley said.

Speaking about temples, President Hinckley acknowledged that members in Alaska live a long way from the nearest temple, in Seattle, Wash. He encouraged them to always have a temple recommend, and to plan to attend the temple whenever they ``go south to the lower 48.''

President Hinckley said, ``We are trying to make it possible for saints all over the world to get to a temple without having to travel too far.''

President Hinckley noted that the members in Alaska have to sacrifice to attend the temple, ``but not to the extent'' that members in other areas of the Church have to sacrifice. He spoke of members who had traveled eight days from Bolivia on an old rickety bus to get to the temple in Lima, Peru.

It was Father's Day when President Hinckley addressed the regional conference. ``It is a tremendous responsibility to be a father in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,'' he said. ``It is a wonderful responsibility to be a man who stands at the head of his family as one who holds the priesthood of God with authority to speak in the name of God. Fathers, are you the kind of father you ought to be?''

President Hinckley quoted from a letter he received from a woman who wrote about her husband, whom she described as ``a righteous priesthood holder.'' After mentioning many of her husband's positive characteristics, the woman concluded her letter: `` `I feel it is a great honor to be married to such a man. We are happy and in love. Life is good.' ''

President Hinckley added: ``Could every wife here today write that kind of letter? I would hope so. What a different world this would be if that were the case.''

Before concluding his address, President Hinckley directed comments to the children and youth. He spoke of one little girl who wrote that she wore a CTR ring on each hand so both can ``tell me to choose the right.'' He spoke of choices, and the consequences that follow.

He described how large farm gates, when they are opened, have very little motion at the hinge, but there is great movement at the circumference or arc to which the gate moves. ``Little things like smoking one cigarette, tasting beer, just trying just a little bit of drug, getting involved in telling dirty stories - things of that kind. They are ever so small, but the consequences can be so tremendous.''

President Hinckley commented on having looked out of his hotel room window that morning at the railroad yard. He said the scene caused him to recall an experience he had many years ago when he worked for the railroad. He told of how a careless switchman in the St. Louis yards had moved a piece of steel about four inches, and a baggage car which should have gone to Newark, N.J., was sent 1,400 miles away to New Orleans, La. ``Now that is what happens with our lives. The little decisions that we make can have such tremendous consequences,'' he said. ``Think of what that means - choose the right.''

President Hinckley concluded by bearing his testimony, and encouraging members ``to never lose sight of the fact that the God of heaven brought forth this work in this, the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, that His true Church might be upon the earth.''

President Hinckley's sense of humor was evident as he commented on the opening hymn performed by a 500-voice choir directed by Kerma Kenley. After the choir sang ``Come, Come, Ye Saints,'' President Hinckley said Alaskans might appropriately sing `` . . . far away in the North, Where none shall come or hurt or make afraid and the Saints can prove their worth,'' instead of the original `` . . . far away in the West, Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid, There the Saints will be blessed.''

Even though choirs are a traditional part of conferences, this choir was different because of the vast area its members came from. More than 45 members drove 225 miles along twisting mountainous roads to perform and another singer came from Kodiak Island, 250 air miles away, to be included.

As delighted as were the members in Alaska to see a prophet in their state, he was equally pleased to meet and be among the Alaskan Saints. Typical for just about any large gathering in Alaska, many traveled great distances to attend the regional conference in Anchorage.

Whether in Anchorage, Juneau or Ketchikan, members were happy to be among those who got a glimpse of the prophet. Members at Gustavus, about a 20-minute trip by small plane from Juneau, were surprised and delighted to learn on short notice that President Hinckley was stopping off at their little settlement, en route from Juneau by plane for a short stay in the Glacier Bay National Park area. Gustavus Branch Pres. Jim Kearns had been asked if he could meet President Hinckley and his traveling companions and provide transportation for them when they arrived on the plane. Not only was Pres. Kearns there to greet President Hinckley, but so were most of the other branch members.

Many of the members who attended the fireside in Ketchikan June 22 traveled eight to 10 hours by ferry to get there. The young men and young women had planned a youth conference, but they opted to cancel the conference and apply the funds for it toward transportation to Ketchikan to see President Hinckley.

At 6 a.m. on June 23, President Hinckley's birthday, a group of members - including many Primary children - gathered in heavy rain at the ferry boat dock at Ketchikan to sing ``Happy Birthday'' as he prepared to leave for the airport for his return flight to Utah.

Dr. B said...

"From Around the World," Church News [Saturday, 5 June 1993] 7:

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - A collection of doctrinal books, including the scriptures, were donated to the Z. L. Loussac Library here by Elders Craig Flinders and Dustin Franco. The missionaries, serving in the Alaska Anchorage Mission, also donated various language copies of the Book of Mormon to be available for ethnic residents of this city.

Dr. B said...

Edna H. French, "Made Resolution," Church News [Saturday, 12 Decwember 1992] 16:

Conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ has two parts - gaining a testimony and learning how to live it. My husband, Paul, and I experienced both of these essential ingredients through the love and example of Alan and Marilyn Dale.

In 1977, we moved from the East Coast to Anchorage, Alaska. The first thing we did was ask for the missionary lessons - again. We had heard them numerous times before, but had not found the courage to change our lives.Alan Dale, the ward mission leader, taught us. He and his family had previously lived in Saudi Arabia. Using a map and strong visual imagery drawn from his own experiences living in the Middle East, he told the story of Lehi's journey from Jerusalem.

As he talked, we could both visualize this family traveling and we correlated it to our own recent transfer. We already knew that the Lord had directed our move to Alaska. By relating with Lehi's journey in such a personal way, we gained a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true.

We were baptized on Christmas Eve in 1977. Alan performed the baptism and gave us the blessing of receiving the Holy Ghost. Marilyn played the piano. Both before and after our baptism, Alan and Marilyn drove us to all of our meetings because we did not have a car. Their love for us manifested the Savior's love.

Near the end of our first year in the Church, we attended a temple preparation class taught by Alan and Marilyn. During our last class, Alan shared three resolutions which he had made at his own baptism.

First, he determined never to take offense, because that only hurts one's self. Second, he resolved to accept all callings issued through priesthood authority. And third, he committed to ``always be where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there.''

He humbly closed that temple preparation class by saying he had not wanted to come out and teach the lesson that night. In tears, he shared how glad he was to have kept his commitment.

These resolutions became the keys to living our own testimonies. Fifteen years later, we continue to learn from the example and love Alan and Marilyn showed us. - Edna H. French, Ammon 9th Ward, Idaho Falls Idaho Ammon Stake

(Another in a series of ``Missionary Moments.'' Illustration by Deseret News artist Reed McGregor.)

Dr. B said...

Sheridan R. Sheffield, "Arctic Circle: Light of Gospel Warms Hearts in Rugged Land," Church News [Saturday, 16 March 1991] 8:

Even in the subzero environment above Alaska's Arctic Circle, the warmth of the gospel spreads into the homes and hearts of faithful members living in this rugged land.

``We are so excited with the response that members have when we are able to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to them,'' said Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy and president of the North America Northwest Area, which includes Alaska and part of Canada.In 78 isolated areas in the Northwest Area, ``where people can't get to Church because of transportation problems, many members meet in their homes.''

In some areas it isn't possible to travel to where Church meetings are held, Elder Pinnock explained. In Kotzebue, Alaska, where a branch meetinghouse is located, for example, members may live only 50 miles from the meetinghouse but there may not be one foot of highway between it and members' homes.

``With travel so difficult, we have to assign all these places to the Anchorage Alaska Bush District, the Fairbanks Bush District or the Juneau Alaska District, meeting with some by mail and telephone. All these districts have units north of the Arctic Circle.

``We are thankful that the Church has developed materials for families and small branches that these people can use,'' he added. ``We also encourage them to subscribe to the Church News and Church magazines.''

The winter months find some members using snowmobiles and an occasional dog sled for transportation. In certain areas, members travel by boat to attend meetings in the summer.

Members of the Anchorage Alaska Bush District living within the Arctic Circle are located in Kotzebue, Kiana and Noatak. Warren L. Rigby, president of the Kotzebue Branch, said, ``We have about 20 active members who really love the Church and want to help others. We are trying to take an active part in the community and it has been a lot of fun.''

Those living in the Fairbanks Bush Branch, part of the Fairbanks Alaska Stake, reside above the Arctic Circle at Point Hope, Barrow, Prudhoe Bay, Kaktovik, Anaktuvik Pass and Fort Yukon.

``I probably have the grandest job in the Church because I am blessed to work with the finest saints in these latter days,'' said David M. Herndon, president of the Fairbanks Bush Branch. ``They are few in number, but strong in heart.''

Home and visiting teaching take on a new twist in the bush, done mainly by mail and phone, Pres. Herndon said. There are many cases, however, of many miles covered at subzero temperatures by snow machine, airplane and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

The Juneau Alaska District also reaches up into the Arctic Circle with members living in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories in Canada, Elder Pinnock said.

``These are people living in the most frozen, isolated areas of the world. Some people only receive mail once every two or three months. To travel across the area is like going from Salt Lake City to Washington D.C.''

Stephen R. Forrey, president of the Alaska Anchorage Mission, added, ``They are incredibly strong people in terms of their approach to life and their desire to survive.''

The predominant population in the bush community is Native American, with several Indian and Eskimo tribes. Most of the members living in the Arctic Circle are there for work or to enjoy a slower-paced life.

Only two elders from the Alaska Anchorage Mission are currently working in the bush area. They live in Bethel, below the Arctic Circle, but travel into the area when possible, Pres. Forrey said.

The missionaries tract and rely on member referrals in the district. But transportation makes the work difficult, Pres. Forrey added. ``When the missionaries are out there, they become a real asset to the branch presidents.''

Dr. B said...

Mike Cannon, "His Life A Tapestry of Work, Service, Love," Church News [Saturday, 5 May 1990] 6:

Variety has spiced the life of Elder Robert Kent Dellenbach, newly called member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Dellenbach (pronounced Dellenbaw) is a businessman and entrepreneur who has a resume of accomplishments that gives new meaning to the definition of diversity. He also has been a faithful Church leader, serving, in the words of one person, ``energetically and unselfishly, without thought for personal recognition.''And always evident through the tapestry of his life are the consistent threads of testimony, hard work, love of people and commitment to his wife, Mary Jayne, and their three sons.

``We've had a lot of variety, but I think when you boil it all down, the key is dealing with people, in trying to help them,'' reflected Elder Dellenbach, a sturdy 5-foot 9-inch bundle of energy. ``We have had some unusual experiences and some great opportunities, and met wonderful people all over the world. I try to see things from the point of view of the other person, have tried to see that the people who worked for me got something out of their work that was meaningful to them. I always felt that we were not boss and employees, but we were a team. I've made some mistakes, but I've trusted people. In a way, I have an empathy for the underdog.''

That empathy has root in a humble upbringing with one brother and three sisters on his grandfather's homestead in Clinton, Utah, about 10 miles southwest of Ogden.

``I didn't know until I was in high school that we were a poor family,'' Elder Dellenbach remembered. ``We didn't have floor coverings in the old farm house, just wooden floors. To this day, I can't take off my shoes in the house and walk around relaxed, because I used to get slivers in my feet. We never had any frills when we were kids.''

But they did have plenty of fun.

``We lived on a farm where my father and mother had children and animals, and they loved them both,'' said Elder Dellenbach. ``We had a literal Noah's ark - cows, chickens, pigs, goats, rabbits, ducks, cats and dogs.''

He recalled one winter when the rabbits ``were just driving us crazy.'' The animals' water troughs would freeze, and the children would have to break the ice out and give them fresh water. ``Our hands would get cold, and we were complaining, so my mother said, `Turn the rabbits loose if you don't want to feed and water them.' So we turned them loose - 50 rabbits - and they went everywhere.

``We had no rabbits by the end of the day. My dad got home and just about died.''

Elder Dellenbach laughed when telling the story, but said it wasn't too funny at the time.

He also recalled spending many long days in the fields with migrant workers from other parts of the world - something that contributed to his tolerance of all people.

His wife said, ``One person has said of Bob, `He can walk with kings without losing the common touch.' He has a great love of people and can get along with all kinds of people, regardless of where they stand in the social or economic strata of life. He is so happy and enthusiastic, a lot of fun. He has a happy disposition and great love for the gospel. He also is undaunted and won't let anything stop him when it comes to overcoming challenges.''

As a boy, the new Seventy and some of his young friends took on the task of building a tree hut high in a huge cottonwood tree. They took some lumber from an old collapsed building and built what he called a ``nice fort.''

``One weekday afternoon we had gotten hold of some paint and were starting to paint the inside of the hut when my mother called and said, `It's time to go to Primary.' I didn't want to go, because we were having so much fun. But she talked me into it - you know how mothers are. So I went, but reluctantly.''

The others stayed to finish the paint job. Eager to walk on the wet floor, they decided to help hurry the drying process by rolling up some newspaper, lighting it with a match and drying the paint with the ``torch.''

``Of course, the paint ignited and the place went up in flames. Fortunately, they got out of there without being seriously hurt. But when I got home from Primary, there was nothing left. The wood was so parched and dry that it went up in a second. It was a good lesson to go to Primary.''

For Elder Dellenbach, the summers as a boy were also filled with hours at a nearby swimming hole, playing Pony Express on horses, jumping from haylofts and shooting baskets through an old barrel hoop on the side of the barn.

``I don't remember as a boy spending any time in the house,'' Elder Dellenbach laughed.

He grew up to serve as student body president of Davis High School, started college at the University of Utah and then left for a mission in Germany, serving under Elder Theodore M. Burton and as an assistant to Elder Alvin R. Dyer in the European Mission.

Following his service, he returned to the University of Utah, where he subsequently graduated in international studies. While there he began seriously dating Mary Jayne Broadbent. The couple was married Aug. 17, 1962, in the Manti Temple.

``We actually met several years previous to that when I was in high school,'' Sister Dellenbach noted. ``We double-dated once. Then I did not see him again until I was out of college and teaching school. A good friend of mine introduced me to him again. We went to Church on our first date. It was a significant beginning. We've been going to Church ever since.''

When he proposed under the moonlight on Temple Square, Elder Dellenbach gave Mary Jayne a white rose and told her: ``My life is going to be one big adventure. I'm inviting you to come along.''

``It has been an adventure,'' Sister Dellenbach said, reflectively.

The couple moved to Provo, Utah, where Elder Dellenbach earned an MBA. While there, the two were ``dorm parents'' for about 80 young women.

From there they moved to Southern California, where Elder Dellenbach worked for Mobil Oil Co. for a year and a half. One day in 1965 he received a telegram from someone in Alaska he hadn't met, saying he had been recommended to be the director of student activities at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

``I arranged for some time and went up there and fell in love with Alaska,'' Elder Dellenbach said.

The family packed all they could into a small trailer, and Elder Dellenbach drove by himself from Los Angeles to Fairbanks. Sister Dellenbach flew up later with their two children, then ages 2 and six months.

While making the drive in October, Elder Dellenbach traveled 1,200 miles of gravel road, sometimes plowing through a foot of snow. One morning he came face to face with a huge bull moose in the middle of the road.

``It had snowed the night before, and I stopped the car. This animal was the most gorgeous, beautiful bull moose you could imagine. I had heard stories of moose ramming your radiator, and here I was 200 miles from civilization. I looked at him, and he looked at me. I told him, `I'm not going to hurt you; take your time; I'll wait for you; you've got the road!'

``Finally, the old bull wiggled his head a little bit and sidled off to the side of the road and down the hill. Then I went on. But for a minute there, he had control.''

The Dellenbachs loved Alaska, despite the winters' short days and bitter cold. They were there four years, while Elder Dellenbach worked as director of student activities, business manager and assistant to the vice president at the university. He also taught some classes in political science and business administration. He served in the Church as a bishop.

The family left Fairbanks to return to California, where Elder Dellenbach worked as business director for a student housing project, and as director of special projects for the Salk Institute. Then they returned to Anchorage, Alaska, where he was vice president and then president of Alaska Methodist University - the first non-Methodist to serve as head of the institution.

He was called to be stake president the same week he was appointed university president.

``It was a great experience,'' reflected Elder Dellenbach. ``I did a lot of work with the Methodist Church. Many of their ministers would ask me to speak at church on Sunday. I'd go and quote the prophet Alma or Nephi or David O. McKay. I'd talk about the university to some extent, but also about brotherly love and kindness - things we know to be part of basic Christian doctrine.''

That experience came to an end when the Dellenbachs left for Washington D.C. From there for two years, Elder Dellenbach would commute to the Soviet Union for Control Data Corp. to gather Soviet technology and market it abroad.

``I learned again the same story that people aren't any different, no matter where you go. They have anxieties and fears, they love and want to be loved. They want to know of their self-worth. I had a great experience.''

He then moved to Salt Lake City and was called to served as president of the Germany Duesseldorf and Germany Munich missions from 1981 to 1984, pursuing other business activities upon his return.

Through it all, he has felt the guiding hand of the Lord in his decisions.

``Sometimes we have had to step to the edge of light and then take one step beyond in faith. Sometimes we didn't know absolutely, but had faith that something was the right thing to do. And sometimes you know by doing it. You then have to make the decision right once you've made it.

``In reality, the only really good thing I've done through all these experiences was marrying Mary Jayne. It's all been interesting, but if you take Mary Jayne out of the equation, none of it would have worked because she was the one who was the steadying influence.''

The Dellenbachs were surprised and humbled by his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, to which he was sustained on March 31. Elder Dellenbach said he would regularly pray for the General Authorities, and the first night after he was set apart it set him back a bit to kneel at his bedside and realize he was a part of that leadership.

Sister Dellenbach's mother, Louie Gill Richards Broadbent, said that her son-in-law is a ``very spiritual, happy man whose religion means everything to him. He's a very hard worker who sticks to things and gets the job done.''

Elder Dellenbach smiled appreciatively when told of the tribute, then quipped. ``Like Elder [SpencerT Condie said at conference, `Behind every new General Authority is a surprised mother-in-law.' ''

His three sons also hold him in high regard, praising his work ethic, creativity and unselfish devotion to family. They all remember fondly much time spent fishing, skiing and snowmobiling - especially in Alaska. Their father would attend their debate tournaments, ball games and other extracurricular events. And the Dellenbach home was always a haven for neighborhood friends of all ages.

They have only added to the adventure.

Dr. B said...

"World Wide Missions, 122 Leaders Called," Church News 31 March 1990] 8:

Mission Succeeding New President

Alaska Anchorage

Jim Fogg Stephen R. Forrey

Dr. B said...

"From Around the World," Church News [Saturday, 17 September 1988] 7:

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - When the City of Anchorage sponsored a "Paint the Town" project, the Alaska Anchorage Mission and local members form the the Anchorage area responded in large numbers. The recent project selected homes in the city needing a paint job. the owners were people who couldn't afford to do the work themselves. Missionaries and members painted 11 homes. "It was truly a wonderful opportunity to serve," wrote Elders John B. Greenlee and Craig R.
Bond of the Anchorage mission. "Some strong missionary contacts were made. a local television station reported on the home that the missionaries painted, and interviewed one of the missionaries.

Dr. B said...

"A Powerful Convincer, Book of Mormon," Church News [Saturday, 2 January 1988] 6;

Ever since it was published 157 years ago, the Book of Mormon has been a powerful tool in the hands of the "laborers in the Lord's vineyard."

In his April 1975 general conference address, President Ezra Taft Benson called the Book of Mormon, "The instrument which God has given missionaries to convince the Jew, Gentile, and Lamanite of the truthfulness of our message."Elder Robert L. Backman of the First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department, said: "We are emphasizing a simple, yet powerful approach to using the Book of Mormon. Members read it themselves so that they know and love the writings of the inspired prophets. Then they personally and directly share copies of the book with others. We ask members to read and discuss passages with friends-- especially those passages that testify of Christ-- sharing their feelings and testimony, and inviting people to apply Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:3-5."

In every mission, stake, ward and branch are examples of people whose lives have been touched and changed by the Book of Mormon.

Elder Todd Allen, a missionary in the Alaska Anchorage Mission, told of one such convert, Blane Jeffs, who had received several copies of the Book of Mormon but, despite having grown up among members in Idaho and marrying a Church member, had not read it.

After Jeffs and his wife, Patty, moved to Anchorage, their home teacher, Mont Mahoney, visited and gave Jeffs a copy of the Book of Mormon. Jeffs accepted the book, but said, "I've already got five of these." He placed the book on the shelf with the others, and it remained untouched until his wife, while preparing a Sunday School lesson, came upon a gospel precept that she began discussing with her husband. Jeffs researched the topic in the Bible, and then decided to see what the Book of Mormon said of the subject.

"A whole new dawn began to rise," said Elder Allen. "He [Jeffs] flipped to the front and read the testimony that his home teacher had written there, and then he began to read the book.

The next Sunday, he came to Church with his family, and soon after was meeting twice a week with the missionaries. On March 7, 1987, he was baptized, along with his 9-year-old daughter, Angela.

"He is now first counselor in the Sunday School presidency in the Anchorage 12th Ward and is the patriarch in his home. He holds the priesthood and reads the Book of Mormon with his family. Because of the prayers of his wife and children, the love of his home teachers and their faith and testimonies, the Book of Mormon became more than just another book for Blane Jeffs."

Steven McLaws, second counselor in the Papillion Nebraska Stake presidency, also knows what a powerful influence the Book of Mormon can have in one's life. An executive who travels frequently, he usually carries along a copy of the Book of Mormon to give to the person sitting next to him on the plane.

No one sat next to him on a trip to Houston, Texas, so he left the book on the seat when he got off the plane. Two weeks later, he was flying from Omaha, Neb., to Los Angeles, Calif., when the man in the seat next to him opened his brief case and brought out a book. He asked Pres. McLaws, "Have you ever seen this book?"

It was the Book of Mormon. Pres. McLaws' seatmate explained, "I picked it up a couple of weeks ago in Houston as I was boarding a flight to San Antonio. Someone wrote something about the book in the front and included his phone number, but he didn't put the area code so I haven't been able to call him."

Pres. McLaws said to the man, "Let me see that book." He opened it and saw his own handwritten testimony. He took out his pen and added the area code to his telephone number.

He handed the book back to the man. "We just stared at each other," said Pres. McLaws. "We were both in awe. It was a choice moment. He had been carrying the book around for two weeks and had read about a third of it. We spent the remainder of the trip talking about our feelings toward the Book of Mormon."

The two have kept in touch with each other. "He and his family have been receiving the missionary discussions," said Pres. McLaws.

Even before he became president of the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission, Robert Coates felt the power of the Book of Mormon as a missionary tool. "I fellowshipped two friends, an elderly couple, in Aurora, Colo.," said Pres. Coates. "They were from Bulgaria and could read very little English, so they asked theri granddaughter to read the book to them. As far as I know, the couple never joined the Church, but their granddaughter did."

Missionaries serving under Pres. Coates are mindful of the effectiveness of the Book of Mormon, and of its importance in their lives. One of those missionaries is Elder Wayne Hubert from Cape Town, South Africa. He has a brother, Garth, in the Massachusetts Boston Mission. His sister, Desiree, recently returned from serving in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission, and his younger brother, Glen, is planning to go on a mission soon.

"The Book of Mormon has always been important to my family," said Elder Hubert. "The greatest experience I've had is receiving a strong witness from the Spirit as I prayed about the Book of Mormon."