(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
25, 1987, I received a phone call from President Thomas S. Monson while in the
New Zealand Temple. After a few moments of greeting he said, "We need to
get serious." He then notified me that President Ezra Taft Benson had
authorized him to extend a call to me to become a member of the First Quorum of
Seventy. Marva and I were in the office together when we received the call.
President Monson spoke with Marva also. He gave us instructions to get tickets
and fly home in time for the April conference.
later we were on our way home. When we left Honolulu we boarded a Boeing 747
and had seats in the firstclass section. When we climbed the stairs into that
area of the plane, we saw John R. Lasater and his wife and Douglas J. Martin
and his wife, Wati. The six of us were the only ones in the first-class
section. We all shook hands and smiled at the others. The six of us were on the
same journey. No one dared to talk about why we were all headed to Salt Lake
City. All of us had awkward smiles on our faces. Finally we began to talk and
it wasn't long before we were quite certain of each other's assignment. Even
though no one would say out loud why they were traveling to Salt Lake City.
After being sustained and set apart I received an assignment to work in the North America West Area as a counselor to Elder Gene R. Cook. Elder Ted E. Brewerton was the First Counselor. I also was assigned to be in the Missionary Department where I worked with Elders J. Richard Clarke and Russell C. Taylor. That was the busiest of all the assignments I had. I worked every day and hardly took even a Monday off, unless it was necessary because of travel. This was indeed one of the busiest and most difficult years I spent as a General Authority.
I was then
assigned to go to the Pacific Area as First Counselor to Elder F. Arthur Kay.
Elder Douglas J. Martin was the Second Counselor. That year was extremely
interesting inasmuch as I was back in New Zealand several times and visiting
the other islands, and holding many conferences in Australia.
year of that assignment I was the Area President with Elder Douglas J. Martin
as First Counselor and Elder Ben B. Banks as Second Counselor. This was an
exciting and busy year with many exceptionally fine experiences.
years in the Pacific I was reassigned to work in the North America Southwest
Area as a counselor to Elder George I. Cannon. Elder Francis M. Gibbons was the
First Counselor. I was assigned to be in the Temple Department.
year I was the president of the North America Southwest Area and received two
new General Authorities as my counselors, Elders W. Mack Lawrence and Cree-L
Kofford. This was a very productive year. I was still in the Temple Department,
and to work with these two high-powered counselors was a great experience. I
let them do all that was possible and supported and sustained these two men who
had a great future ahead of them.
the Missionary Department I worked with Elders Dean L. Larsen, H. Burke
Peterson and F. Enzio Busche for a period of two years.
Temple Department we were not nearly as busy as we were in the Missionary
Department. I was grateful, because being in the presidency of the Southwest
Area was totally a full-time job.
One of the
most unusual assignments that I had during the five and one-half years as a
General Authority was to preside over the change in the presidency of the New
Zealand Temple. President Hinckley told
Elder W. Grant Bangerter, Executive Director of the Temple Department to,
"Tell Glen he is a General Authority and he can make the change." I
tried to get a General Authority in the Area Presidency to come and take care
of the transition, but no one would come. Therefore, I had the privilege of
releasing the old temple presidency, myself, Sidney Crawford, and Stan
Phillips. I gave all three of us high praise for our fine work. Then I
presented for the sustaining vote the new presidency. We sustained Milton
Russon as president and his two counselors, George Rogers and Lloyd Hayes. I
had the privilege of setting these brethren apart.
I wrote of
the telephone call that came into the New Zealand Temple on 25 March 1987 from
President Thomas S. Monson and the official call assigned to serve as a Member
of the Quorum of the Seventy. I also told some of the details of getting ready
to go to general conference, coming home, being sustained in conference, being
ordained and set apart, and flying back to New Zealand so we could continue our
assignment in the temple until a new president arrived. I will not repeat all
of that, except to say that this time was wonderful, but hectic. When the call
came to be a General Authority, I was totally and completely surprised. I had
not thought anything of it, even though I had heard all kinds of
"prophecies and predictions" even back in the days when I was a very
young bishop. At that time, we had a fine old patriarch, who had been one of
the great leaders in the early days of welfare, speak in our sacrament meeting.
Partway through his talk he paused and then made a very direct prophecy that I
would someday be sustained as one of the leaders of the Church. After that
rather unusual interruption in his talk, he went ahead and finished his
message. Several people in the congregation noticed and made comments. I made a
mental note but put it off to the side, trying not to think about it or
consider it. However, there were times over the years that one person or
another would mention the fact that I might someday be a General Authority. I
can honestly say that I lived close enough to Brother Lee and other General
Authorities that I had ruled out any possibility or desire of such a call. I
was not anxious to have the duties I saw the Brethren have. I had been heavily
involved in the travels and lives of many Brethren and realized what a most
difficult life it was for them to lead. Not only that, but I was now 68 years
of age and was certain that I would not be called at such a late age. In the
history of the Church, there were only 6 men older than I was, called to serve
as General Authority.
call came, I must confess that I was having a marvelous time as the president
of the New Zealand Temple and knew I would be released in about three months.
Although our time in New Zealand was winding down I had not given much thought
of the future. We were having great success and enjoying many wonderful
blessings. At the end of March 1987, I wrote the following in my journal:
"President Monson called on the 25th. It made us both very nervous."
I think that is a gigantic understatement of the feelings that both Marva and I
After we were called, had traveled to conference, and
returned to New Zealand, we continued on with our regular work for six weeks
until President and Sister Russon arrived. Just after they arrived, President
Hinckley called me and asked to talk to the brethren who would be the two new
counselors. He personally called George G. Rogers to be the first counselor in
the temple presidency and then spoke with Lloyd N. Hayes and issued him a call
to serve as second counselor in the presidency. President Hinckley authorized
me to preside over the reorganization of the presidency and to set the
counselors apart. I was extremely pleased that President Hinckley was totally
involved in all that was going on in "far away" New Zealand and that
I was acting under his direction in every respect and everything that pertained
to the temple.
Wednesday, 3 June 1987, I was in meetings most all day in the Church Office
Building and was given a temporary office. The next day, I went to my first
monthly meeting in the Salt Lake Temple with the First Presidency, Quorum of
the Twelve, and all other General Authorities. This meeting was held on the
fourth floor of the temple. President Benson was absent, so President Hinckley
presided. President Howard W. Hunter was recovering from surgery, but the rest
of the Twelve were there. This was the first of several magnificent temple
experiences where we had the chance to hear the Brethren bear their
testimonies. In those sacred meetings, held the first Thursday of every month,
there was very little, if any, business transacted. It was strictly a fast and
testimony meeting, including a prayer circle very similar to the ones held in a
regular session in the temples. It was hard to believe that I was in that
sacred room where there are magnificent oil paintings of the Prophet Joseph and
his brother, Hyrum, and each of the Presidents of the Church. The First
Presidency sat at the front of the room, with the Twelve in a semicircle.
Directly behind the Twelve were chairs for the Seventy and the Presiding
Bishopric. I learned to look forward to the first Thursday as it was a
spiritual highlight of every month.
weekend, I went with Elder Dallin H. Oaks to Hunnington, Utah, where we
reorganized the stake. This was a special event because Elder Oaks was
particularly interested in seeing to it that I thoroughly understood what the
Brethren expected us to do when a stake was reorganized. He was particularly
kind and thoughtful as he gave me instructions. I had assisted at least 20
other Brethren in reorganizing stakes, but being with him was a very excellent
learning experience for me.
next week, I was with Elder Grant Bangerter up in Paul, Idaho, where we once
again reorganized a stake. One of the counselors who was being released was
preparing to go to Fiji with his wife as missionaries. I stayed in their home,
and we were up late talking about the Islands, and I answered many of their
questions. On Sunday, we took care of the business, and Elder Bangerter and I
drove home. He, too, allowed me to do most of the work. In fact, he almost
became lazy on that occasion, making sure that I did everything that I ought to
and that I understood. The Brethren who were assigned to help me understand the
work of a General Authority were very kind. I appreciated their consideration.
One of my
assignments as a General Authority was to be one of the Assistant Executive
Directors in the Missionary Department of the Church. There were three of us
with that title, and one other General Authority who was the Executive
Director. The four of us were put in complete charge of all of the missions,
under the direction of the Twelve.
assignment, I had the privilege of sitting in on the actual assignment of
missionaries as they were made by Members of the Twelve. The first time was
with Elder L. Tom Perry less than two weeks after returning home. I was greatly
impressed with the process followed by the Twelve when they made assignments. I
then had the opportunity of sitting along with one of the Twelve almost every
other Tuesday morning while the assignments were being made. My job was to
handle the paperwork and witness the Apostle receiving inspiration in making
the assignment. It was wonderful to be with these chosen men. Elder Ballard, a
great missionary himself, was especially enjoyable and radiated a tremendous
missionary spirit. One morning in July, Elder Perry assigned 525 missionaries
to their various missions. I was thrilled to be with Elder Boyd K. Packer when
he assigned another large group. He was very relaxed and in total control.
benefit of everyone, I think that I should say that the meetings where
missionaries are assigned are very sacred occasions. The door to the room is
closed and locked, and the secretaries have orders not to interrupt. No one is
in the room except the Member of the Twelve, the Seventy who is helping him,
and one staff member who does the paperwork and writes down what the Lord had
inspired the Apostle to do. The first time I participated the process seemed
mechanical. Then I realized that I had never done anything that had required me
to be so close to the Lord as to witness the Lord telling the ordained Apostle
where to assign the missionary. If I ever had any questions about how
missionaries were called, they were soon erased, and I thoroughly enjoyed this
part of my assignment.
All of the
problems which happened in the mission field were brought to one of the four
General Authorities assigned to the department for our final decision. I soon
discovered that some missionaries in the Missionary Training Center needed
another interview and had confessions to make after they left home. Some of
these young men could repent and carry on and go on with their missions. Others
had to return home and have their missions cancelled or delayed. I found myself
in the position of making those very delicate and heart-rending decisions.
There is nothing much harder than to tell a young boy who has been at the
Missionary Training Center for a week or ten days that his mission is cancelled
and that he is to return home because of his transgressions. Everything I had
ever learned in my whole life was needed as I helped to direct this great
missionary part of the Church.
grateful for the many years of training I had. I soon realized that the
training President Lee had given me 25 and 30 years before was just preparation
for what I was now doing. I was grateful to President Kimball and his great
teaching, as well. I did not anticipate all that was to happen, but these two
Brethren and others had given me much needed training.
When I was
called, President Romney was still alive, but was in very poor shape physically
and mentally. I had the privilege of visiting with him a couple of times after
coming home from New Zealand. I was amazed at how he had aged in the short time
I was away and how he was being prepared to leave this earth. What a great
friend he had been to me for well over 30 years.
learned that there is no department that keeps a General Authority as busy as
the Missionary Department does. Most General Authorities have Monday off as
they are traveling on the weekends. However, I went to work a couple of Mondays
and realized that mission presidents have more trouble on Mondays than any
other days of the week so I found myself working every Monday as well as every
other day of the week. I was blessed with good health. I still had many
headaches, but I was able to keep up the schedule and be on the job without any
vacations or very many days off.
year, I had several opportunities to visit with President Monson. He was always
very kind and considerate of Marva and me and the work we were doing.
after I was made a General Authority, I received an assignment from the First
Presidency to speak to the student body at Brigham Young University in February
1988. This was a tremendous assignment, inasmuch as I needed to write out the
entire talk and prepare it for the teleprompter and publishing. I must confess
that I was extremely nervous and found that the assignment of speaking in the
Mariott Center to the huge group of BYU students and faculty was really a
nerve-racking experience. The talk turned out well, however, and has been used
time and time again and played over KBYU a number of times.
One of the
saddest things that periodically happens in the missionary department is
hearing that a missionary has been severely injured, or even killed. In January
1988, four missionaries serving in Michigan died in a terrible accident. The
heart-rending things keep happening, but there are also constant success
stories and blessings that come into missionary work.
one day when a mission president from back east had a rebellious Maori boy from
New Zealand whom he could no longer tolerate, so he literally kicked him out of
the mission and sent him to us. I told the president to have him report
directly to me. After I interviewed this young missionary, and because I knew
his family in New Zealand, there was no way I could send him home. He was
reassigned to northern Utah and finished his mission in good style. I am
grateful we were able to intercept him and keep him from being lost to
missionary work. This is the sort of thing that those of us assigned to the
Missionary Department were constantly enjoying.
Marion G. Romney passed away on 20 May 1988. I received word while I was in
Sulfur, Louisiana. I immediately came home so I could attend his funeral. He
and I had been friends for many years, and I had learned to love this wonderful
and powerful man who was almost like another father.