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Singing elders took Korea by storm

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One of the first concerns of new Korea Seoul Mission President Eugene P. Till when he began service in 1974 was raising awareness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among the people. A survey he conducted after arriving showed that only 7 percent of Koreans knew anything about Mormons.

The best way to reach the greatest number of people was through music, President Till decided. The result was New Horizons, a missionary musical group that evolved from an interview with Elder Randy Davenport, a guitar-playing composer of good folk music.

The group became a hit in Korea, contributing to a survey President Till did at the end of his three-year mission showing 70 percent of Koreans were aware of the LDS Church.

President Till and two members of New Horizons — Philip Munoa and Robert Bunce — reminisced during a Church News interview about the group's missionary experiences as well as a reunion tour they recently enjoyed.

Although he had an abundance of musically talented missionaries to choose from to fill the group, that wasn't his primary criteria, President Till said.

"The intent from the very beginning was not to call in the most musically talented elders," he said. "I interviewed for the spirit. ... Those who were the most tender-hearted and loving and kind and humble and had the spirit of Heavenly Father with them were the ones who were called."

Joining Davenport in the original group was a young, talented composer and arranger, Elder Mack Wilberg, along with Elders Lonnie Gunter, Brook Richan and Clyde Robins.

The group's popularity took off as they sang church music, folk songs and uplifting pop music in Korean. They appeared on television and radio and even had a song make the pop charts.See the rest of this story at ldschurchnews.com.This story is provided by the LDS Church News, an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is produced weekly by the Deseret News.