News from the Congregations and Branches – Issue 77


Blue Springs Congregation – by Ardyce Nordeen

The Blue Springs Congregation is continuing to do our part in working together for the establishment of the kingdom. The adult Church School class is diligently studying the Vision to the Kingdom materials as part of an “Onward to Zion” class, with Presiding Patriarch Carl VunCannon, Jr., as the teacher. The discussions have been thought-provoking, and those in attendance have been blessed by Brother Carl’s insight and wisdom.

Our children continue to study from the curriculum the Religious Education Department has prepared. They also enjoy music each Sunday and have the opportunity to attend Junior Church each sacrament Sunday during the congregational prayer service hour. Several of the Blue Springs children joined those at First Congregation for two special ministry of music performances at Christmas time.

We lost two of our elderly sisters in the late fall. Sister Laurice (Midge) Adams and Sister Geraldine Simmons passed away at the end of October. Both of these women had been long-time Blue Springs members, but health problems had prevented them from church attendance in recent years. The congregation provided ministry for their families at the times of their deaths. Also, Deacon Thomas D. Hight passed away on January 28, 2019. His ministry will be missed. Our congregation will be holding a memorial service for Brother Hight on March 2nd. We offer our condolences to his wife, Elsie, and to the Hight family.

High Priest Craig Nordeen was elected as presiding elder for a fourth year in the fall, and new (or continuing) branch officers were also chosen. Those ten weeks we could not meet in our building at the beginning of the year, created a deficit in our branch budget as 2018 came to a close. Brother Nordeen brought that situation to the attention of the membership, and through sacrificial giving by many, we were able to close that financial gap. We praise God for his abundant blessings over us and pray for his continued guidance as we go forward—to Zion!

On a cold January evening, our congregation gathered for a chili supper. We enjoyed warm food and good fellowship and got to know each other a little bit better!

Bountiful Congregation – by Annie Williams

Bountiful had a very blessed fall season. Tyler and Emily Kruetner and their children moved in in September, making 12 families living at Bountiful.

Robert Sisk and Elizabeth Purvis were baptized at the Blue Springs Congregation on September 16th. We are so pleased that these young people made the decision to follow Christ, and we welcome them to our membership.

Our congregation and neighborhood got a very special addition on October 22nd! Claire Marie Purvis was born to Austin and Christina Purvis. She was blessed on December 23rd by her grandfather, Patriarch Dennis Evans and her great-grandfather, Elder Ken Purvis.

On December 15th, the congregation held its annual Christmas party. There was a potluck of snacks and sweets, then we laughed our way through our white elephant gift exchange. Our congregation members have learned to not become attached to their gift, because it could get “stolen” at any time! (But everyone always goes home happy.)

Bountiful is looking forward to the new year with a faith and hope in Jesus Christ as he guides us in 2019.

Center Congregation – by Cindy Patience

It has been a very busy few months at Center Congregation. There was a congregational holiday dinner held the first weekend of December where good fellowship and good food were shared.

The Sunday evening classes are quite well attended. In October, a pumpkin recipe sharing night brought out many ladies and some great recipes to share and to feed both the men and the women attending. In November, along with studying the women’s study manual, the women were taught how to make their own baked necklaces by Connie Boswell. In December, there was a cookie exchange during one of the December women’s meetings. Cookies were then distributed to be taken to the homes of the isolated saints or those who are shut in. This offered a good opportunity to come to know the needs and the blessings offered by those who cannot always be at church. We pray for them as they battle the effects of age and illness.

We have been blessed with many talented members, and the congregational choir is once again practicing under the leadership of Verne Gilliam. We very much enjoyed hearing two of their songs for our Christmas service on December 16th. The children have been practicing the bells and played for our service that day as well. We are so grateful for their contribution and their happy faces.

We are grateful for the dedication of our youth. The young men look forward to attending their class to learn more about the Scriptures. And the young women are well on their way in studying the Book of Mormon and the wonderful teachings of Alma. Many of the youth regularly attend the early morning Missionary-in- Training (MIT) class and are learning church history. This will prepare them for sharing the gospel and for their church history tour scheduled later this year.

First Congregation – by Brenda Evans

On October 21, 2018, Dakota Lee Campbell, teenage son of Joselyn Carolus, was baptized by Seventy William Baker. High Priest Wayne Bartrow gave the baptismal charge. Seventies William Baker and Derek Ashwill confirmed the reception of the Holy Ghost.

Brother Ralph Alexander returned to his Father in heaven October 15, 2018. His wife, Laurel, called him a man who did not give up and was a fighter when it came to all the health problems he had endured. “In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” (Psalm 62:7).

A dear sister, Altha Smith, died at her home September 15, 2018. She was a faithful handmaiden to the Lord. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:11).

In a November business meeting, the congregation accepted High Priest Joe Bryant and his counselors, High Priests Mike Hogan, Bob Ostrander, and Jack Evans, for another year of pastoring First Congregation. A vote was also taken to install ceiling fans in the fellowship hall. The annual Thanksgiving dinner on November 11th was well attended and enjoyed by all. President Frederick N. Larsen gave some of his thoughts on Thanksgiving and giving thanks to God.

First Congregation enjoyed a combined service the Sunday before Christmas to celebrate the birth of our Savior with music and scripture. The new year brought a beautiful eight inch snow (and more in some places) which turned the countryside into a winter wonderland; however, those same weather conditions caused the cancellation of church services. Our worship of God was left to each family to look around and recognize the power and beauty and awesomeness of our heavenly Father.

President Jim Vun Cannon presented a presidential report on security measures for the Gathering Place January 20th during the Sunday morning service. The excellent PowerPoint demonstrated and explained how headquarters has instituted a similar security system, and how the cameras and lights and locks have proven to be deterrents to unauthorized entry. At a congregational business meeting January 30th, the congregation voted to have the new security system installed this spring and summer. Some of the latest technological advances will be incorporated.


Carthage Branch – by Elder David W. Tevebaugh

We started the new year with Elder Frank Potter bringing the sacrament message. We are thankful he brought Frances Potter and R. J. Mendel to worship with us. We look forward to all the visiting priesthood who will be coming to share the gospel with us.

We appreciate Seventy Matt Goodrich and Ester spending so much of their time with us in strengthening our branch.

We were saddened by the news of the passing of Patriarch Ernie L. Shank on January 31, 2019. He was a stalwart in the church for many faithful years. We have several of our members in need of physical blessings. We call on the Lord continually as we strive to do his will.

Sperry Branch – by Debbie Eastin

The holiday season brings out the best in most of us, especially when it begins with thanks. In November, we elected High Priest Steve Van Meter as our branch president and elected branch officers. Our Thanksgiving service explored the reasons we should be thankful. The music, scriptures, and testimonies led us into a season of giving and celebrating the birth of Jesus.

In December, our youth and young adult members provided the Christmas program. Those in the Christmas program were: Patrick and Jaysie Meledeo, Paul and Samantha Van Meter, Joshua Holt, Alex and Parker Tibbitts, Scarlett Heilman, Anderson Rogers, Coral Rogers, Gabrielle Collins, and Emma McCain. Guest speaker, Patriarch Leland Collins, provided the message and was joined by Elders David Tevebaugh and Frank Potter, assisting. A Christmas luncheon followed the service with Christmas sacks for guests. Our members provided peanut butter and jelly for the community food baskets and gifts for the Angel Tree.

Life celebrations this quarter included a wedding, a blessing, and recognition for a job well done. Josh and Haruna Holt married for a second time on October 28th in Tokyo, Japan. Haruna joined Josh in Oklahoma late last year, and we celebrated with a wedding shower. Will and Erica Jobe presented their son, Wesley David Eugene Jobe, for a baby blessing. Wesley was blessed by his grandfather, High Priest David Scott, assisted by his great-uncle, Elder David Jobe, with proud grandparents Robert Jobe, Patti Jobe, and Judy Scott in attendance. Accolades go to Jonnetta Selvidge. She was one of 29 individuals (from a group of 10,000 employees of R1 RCM, Inc. in the USA) nominated for
a prestigious Services Value Award – Teamwork. The award recognizes individuals for actively displaying R1 Teamwork values in her work and actions every day. Jonnetta has leadership responsibility for Revenue Integrity and CDM (charge description master) for three Ascension Health Systems (17 hospitals) in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Alabama.

On a sad note, many in our congregation grieved for the loss of loved ones and friends this quarter. Notable for their service and longtime friendship to our congregation are these: Shirley Rowden, widow of Elder Robert Rowden, departed in October; Frank Kalcich, husband of Vonna Kalcich, departed in November; Carol Holt, former member of our congregation, departed on January 8th; and Laura Blevins, 48, passed on January 20th. Though her seat
be empty, Laura’s smile and quiet disposition will long be remembered.


First Michigan Branch – by Kathleen Haley

On the third weekend of October, our branch hosted a weekend series, “Life After Death,” by Seventy Jim Noland. It was extremely interesting. He spent many hours of study and research on the subject. Jim Vun Cannon, Counselor to the First Presidency, arrived Saturday afternoon and on Sunday morning presented the new movie and changes that have been made at the Visitors Center in the church’s headquarters building. It was all amazing. We did have a slight problem on Saturday afternoon. During a severe thunderstorm, lightning hit a transformer on a pole and put us in the dark about 2:00 p.m., and the lights did not come back on until 8:00 p.m. Another slight complication that happened was the Detroit- Windsor Marathon took place that same Saturday morning, and they closed the border so none of our Canadian members could attend. In spite of that, those that could attend had a good weekend.

The first weekend of November found us in Caledon, Ontario, Canada, at the Michigan-Ontario Retreat. Elder Alex VunCannon shared with us his in-depth study of the lineage of the Bible. This was also extremely interesting and very informative. We had a good retreat. The weather was good that particular Sunday, and we had a very good communion experience.

On December 7th, Rachael Durocher gave birth to an eight pound, blue-eyed, blond-haired baby boy. Rachael and Matt have named their son Liam. Congratulations to the new parents, family, and their new baby son. Liam’s baby blessing is being planned for Resurrection Sunday.

December 16th, High Priest Robert Murie, Jr., touched on every group that had something to do with the birth of Christ. There was the angel who announced the news to Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph, the donkey who carried Mary, the angels who informed the shepherds about the birth, the wise men who came from afar, and Simeon, who was waiting at the temple to see the baby. Young and old, rich and poor, they were all involved.

The new year arrived and on January 6, 2019, our branch started with a beautiful communion service. Our opening hymn was 556, “Onward to Zion.” Elder Jim Malmgren pointed out that we need to spread the word with the big and the little things we do or say, like saying the blessing over our food in restaurants and giving words of wisdom to people passing by. Wherever we are, we need to stand up for God. Our January 20th service was cancelled due to bad weather conditions.

Sanctification was the subject of Elder Tom Vanderwalker’s communion address on February 3, 2019. Jesus served his apostles the bread and wine. Joseph Smith, Jr., after he was ordained, did the same thing. We continue today by having the priesthood serve us. Have you prepared to take the sacrament? Are you worthy to take? If we do not believe in Jesus Christ, we are unworthy to partake. If we are worthy, we will be blessed. Read Luke 22:19.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming and also for giving your life for us.

Southern Indiana Branch – by Rebecca Paris

Greetings from Southern Indiana!

We were especially blessed to have had many visiting ministers come to town in November. Seventy Jim Noland and his lovely wife, Bonnie, along with Patriarch Ralph Damon and his lovely wife, Marci, came to share in a special Witnessing Weekend. Many good contacts were made, and seeds planted. Brother Noland shared an interesting PowerPoint presentation, the “Bride of Christ,” and Brother Damon shared a class, “Patriarchal Blessings,” for our branch. We really enjoyed the spirit and ministry that was provided as well as the delicious pitch-in [potluck] given on their behalf. Saints, fellowship, and food is always a good combination!

The very next weekend we had the opportunity to have President Jim Vun Cannon join us to bring us the exciting news of the Visitors Center and the video. We also enjoyed seeing Brother Noland again and meeting his contacts in our area, as well as having Elder Alex Vun Cannon join us and share the extensive research he has done regarding the lineage of prophecy. We were happy to see all the great efforts that are taking place in the Center Place and beyond as President Vun Cannon shared the One Endeavor presentation.

In mid-December, Southern Indiana was able to host its fifth annual Live Nativity with our neighborhood friends, Half Pint Hooves, who build a manger and bring animals each year as a fund raiser for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. This year we were blessed to be able to raise the most money yet at over $1,000 in two hours! That money went to buy Christmas gifts for families and children that needed it. We are also very thankful for Andrew and Megan
Romer who came to be our Mary and Joseph for the evening! Their three children, Natalie, Kevin, and Daniel played an adorable baby Jesus and angels to complete our Nativity!

Christmas is always a special time of worship, and we were blessed to have many in attendance with us this year. We were especially glad to have our college students, Rachel and Nathan Paris, home for the holidays, as well as a special visit from Dick and Esther Paris and their daughter, Pam King. May the peace and joy of the season be yours always as we ring in the new year!

Our prayers are with you and we appreciate your love and support of our branch. God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good!

Treasure Valley Branch and Magic Valley Mission – by Elder Tony Hill

We have had a busy but fairly quiet quarter. Bethany Wigle’s sister, Toni Yates (Parrott), passed away in November, and our Idaho saints provided a dinner after the service for friends and family. It is wonderful how everyone pitches in to provide when there is a need.

Bert Brackett was re-elected to the Idaho State Senate and will continue to serve his friends and neighbors, as well as the state and others, in this capacity for another term.

We are looking forward to what this new year has to offer and anticipate the efforts we can make toward the unfolding of Zion and our role in this great event.

…Other News

It was with sadness that we learned of the passing of our Canadian member, Randy David Grant, on January 31, 2019. Our condolences to his wife, Donna, and his children, Duncan and Maxine. Randy was the son-in- law of Leona Hnatuik of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

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