Seven years ago when the Church News celebrated its 50th anniversary, President Gordon B. Hinckley, a counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke at a luncheon commemorating the milestone.

The Church News, President Hinckley declared, "has become a journal of the world with a very real impact on the growth and strengthening of the church."Founded in 1931 by the Deseret News, the weekly Church News "has helped to make the membership of the church in many lands one great family. . . ," said President Hinckley.

Through the years, we have tried very hard, indeed, to make the Church News a "journal of the world' and to bring the membership of the LDS Church - spread out so far geographically - a little closer together.

In many respects, we have been fairly successful in our endeavor to provide worldwide coverage of LDS Church news and happenings.

On the walls of our office are maps of the United States and of the world, which identify by colored pins where our articles originate. By the year's end we will have coverage from every state in the United States and scores of foreign countries.

However, as the church continues to expand its borders, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep up with it, with our staff of only seven and our part-time secretary. Gerry Avant is assistant editor and senior writer; reporters are John Hart, Kevin Stoker, Scott Lloyd, Kellene Ricks and Mike Cannon, who is also in charge of makeup and production. All are adept, to some degree or another, at photography. Jodee Gates is the secretary.

We're often asked, "How does such a small staff cover a church that is spread out across the world?"

It's a great challenge!

There are very few weeks in the year that one of our staff, with camera and notebook in hand, isn't off to somewhere on assignment. Our staffers have criss-crossed the globe, bringing to our readers a first-hand look at what the LDS Church and its members are doing in such diverse places as the giant continent of Africa to the island specks of the Pacific, from the megalopolis of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to the sparse Ruby Valley, Nev.

The bulk of the news in the Church News section is generated by the Church News staff. On occasions, other Deseret News reporters also provide us with a story.

In addition, we have other sources that are invaluable.

We have some professional correspondents in various cities, primarily in the United States, who supply us with news and photographs from their areas. We also have many contributors who send in material, and we use to a great extent the church's public communications directors in various stakes and missions.

And then we have the readers themselves, who send us material that often develops into news stories.

As the church continues to grow, the value of the Church News, likewise, will continue to increase. Readers in far-flung areas of the world have a tangible tie - at least through the printed word - to church headquarters, as well as an appreciation and understanding of other church members in many lands.

It takes a lot of effort and money to attempt to cover something as large as the world - and in reality, we don't really cover the world. It is too vast, but we do give a glimpse into what is happening in the church in many, many parts of the world, thereby contributing to realization that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, indeed, a worldwide church.