New Church Buildings to Include Primary Playplace

SALT LAKE CITY—In a move that Primary leaders everywhere are cheering, the Church Building Committee has unveiled a new chapel plan featuring a two-story Playplace attached to the Primary room.

The addition was inspired by a Logan stake primary president’s visit to an area McDonald’s. “One look at that indoor Playland, and I knew I’d found the answer to our reverence problems,” said President Sandra McClure. She sent her idea to Church headquarters, where it was greeted with enthusiasm.

Playlands have already been built as a pilot project in several stakes, and all the leaders are calling it a success. The design includes a Manna Pit full of round, soft plastic balls; a 20-foot-high Jacob’s Ladder that leads to a platform called the Rameumptom; and a slide called the Slippery Slope of Sin. During Primary, children are rotated through the structure by age group for fifteen-minute intervals.

"With these scriptural names, we figure kids will get more out of Primary than they ever did," said President McClure.

Church Leaders Perform Mass Food Blessing

SALT LAKE CITY—In meeting led by Elder Alan D. Simmons in the Conference Center today, the 12th Quorum of the Seventy pronounced a blessing on “all food eaten anywhere, by anyone, at any time present or future.” What has already become known as the MegaBlessing is expected to save thousands of man-hours each year because members will no longer have to bless each meal individually.

A jubilant Elder Simmons announced the action in a press conference. ”Well, we did it. We weren’t sure we’d have enough faith to bring it off, but we pulled together and did it! Woo! Afterwards, we were all like high-fiving and hugging each other, we were so excited. Wow. What a moment!”

Although the exact wording of the prayer has not yet been released, Simmons assured reporters that the combined agricultural and livestock output of the world has now been blessed with the ability to “nourish and strengthen our bodies” and will now “do us the good that we need” in perpetuity. The blessing also extends to all the “hands that prepared it.”

“It was originally [Elder] Gene [L. Richardson]’s idea,” said Simmons. “When he was a mission president, he once blessed all the food in all his missionaries’ apartments so they’d have more time to proselyte. So when he was called to be a GA, he figured, hey, why not?”

Church members have received the news joyfully. “What an inspired idea!” said Taylorsville member Susan Kendall. “I’m so tired in the morning that sometimes I fall asleep while blessing my breakfast. And whenever I let the kids bless dinner, it would be cold by the time they were done and no one could understand what they said anyway. Now all that is a thing of the past!”

The MegaBlessing is not all encompassing, however. Simmons pointed out that “substances prohibited by the Word of Wisdom will continue to be cursed.”

The success of the MegaBlessing has prompted speculation about possible follow-ups. “We’re considering a MegaBlessing II to bless all the travelers in the world that they would arrive home in safety,” said Simmons. “But that’s obviously a much bigger challenge. Personally, I think we’d need another dozen or so Quorums of the Seventy to get on board before we could muster the spiritual power to even attempt it.”

Area Woman Sacrifices for Her Visiting Teachers

PRICE, UT—The Church established the Relief Society visiting teaching program more than 50 years ago in an effort to help female members learn to love each other and administer to each other’s needs. According to local woman Kelly Bolton, the program is a complete success. “By welcoming visiting teachers into my house once a month, I have learned how to be selfless and sacrificing,” she confirmed.

After a last-minute call on March 31, Bolton agreed to let her visiting teachers, Sisters Melissa Carter and Joanne Cleaves, come over “for just a quick visit.” Bolton, mother of four, then rearranged her schedule to accommodate her visiting teachers. “I don’t want to be difficult,” she explained. “And I know how much it means to Melissa to get 100 percent on her visiting teaching every year. I couldn’t be the one to break her record. She really wants that Lladro statue of Christ that [Relief Society] President [Millie] Thackeray gives to every woman who does all her visiting teaching for the year.”

Before the 5 p.m. appointment, Bolton cleaned the house, cancelled her son’s dental appointment, and asked a neighbor to pick up her daughter from ballet class. “My sister Rachelle called just before [Carter and Cleaves] were due to arrive, and she really wanted to talk,” said Bolton, “but I just couldn’t hang out on the phone and leave them in the living room. That would be inattentive and irresponsible of me. I have faith that Rachelle will be okay with her postpartum depression until my visiting teachers leave. God will take care of her while I’m helping them out.”

Despite their promise to be on time and to “just pop in to see how you are doing,” Carter and Cleaves were 15 minutes late and stayed for 55 minutes. Their visit included a broad range of conversational topics, including Carter’s incredible visiting teaching record, her ambition to become a flight attendant, the amazing place down the road that does Carter’s nails for less than anywhere else, the mean lunch lady who obviously hates Carter’s daughter Brianne, Cleaves’s new cat, Cleaves’s son Dakota’s swimming trophy, Brother Cleaves’s wonderful barbecued ribs recipe, and the Cleaveses’ new gorgeous living room carpet and paint.

“I just didn’t want to burden them with all my problems. It didn’t seem right to use my visiting teachers that way,” said Bolton, explaining why she didn’t bring up her sister’s depression, her daughter’s recent ADHD diagnosis, or her worry that her husband would lose his job in his company’s impending layoffs. “Melissa and Joanne love to talk about themselves so much, and I feel it’s my duty to create a safe, comfortable environment where they can share their feelings with me.”

“I just want to tell all women of the Church that the visiting teaching program is inspired,” said Bolton. “My visiting teachers have taught me all about service and how to be selfless and giving. I am more than happy to help Melissa and Joanne grow and progress. Women serving each other—that’s what the visiting teaching program is all about.”

High Councilman Calls 11th Article of Faith “No Longer Relevant”

PIMA, AZ—In a recent talk to the Pima Fourth Ward, high councilman Layton Bryce warned members not to be led astray by too much emphasis on the 11th Article of Faith, which states, “We claim the privilege of worshipping the Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship, how, where, or what they may.”

“Sometimes people use the 11th Article of Faith as an excuse to refrain from doing missionary work,” Bryce said from the pulpit. “They say, ‘I don’t want to force my beliefs and opinions on people I have to live and work with. My friends and neighbors know what I believe, and if they’re interested, they’ll come ask me.’”

“But that attitude doesn’t really fit in with our ideas about missionary work, brothers and sisters,” Bryce continued. “We know we need to convert the world to the true gospel. I’m not saying we should force people to be Mormon, but we need to do all we can to persuade and teach people the right way to believe.”

Bryce explained that the 11th Article of Faith was necessary in the early days, when the Church faced oppression and had not converted millions of people to the truth. “But now that the truthfulness of the gospel is accepted by so many people, that particular article of faith is no longer relevant in the ways it once was.”

Bryce went on to say that “the events of September 11th have underscored the danger of letting everyone worship God as they see fit. There could always be some extremist who believes worshipping God involves killing innocent people.”

Reaction to the talk was mixed. Local member Marge Pepper stated, “I definitely felt the Spirit as Brother Bryce was talking. I have always been bothered by the 11th Article of Faith. First of all, it doesn’t start with ‘We believe’ like all the others, and I never could see why we should just let everyone else believe whatever they want when we know the Church is true. It would be better if we just got rid of it—after all, 12 is a much nicer number than unlucky 13.”

Roger and Joan Cannon, on the other hand, both expressed concern over the message. “I thought free agency was central to the gospel,” Joan said. “It’s as if he’s forgotten the story of the War in Heaven, where it was decided we all needed to be able to choose what we accept.”

“What’s Brother Bryce going to do, anyway?” her husband Roger asked. “Write to the Brethren and ask them to delete that passage from the scriptures?”

Upon hearing of such objections, Bryce dismissed them. “My talk has nothing in common with Satan’s plan in the preexistence. Remember, Satan was evil and wanted to thwart God’s plan, while I am simply trying to help God accomplish his plan in the most straightforward way possible. After all, I did say that we shouldn’t force anyone to be Mormon.”