Books that share history of the Latter-day Saints


Mormon Times

Published: Tuesday, June 28 2011 6:30 a.m. MDT

In "A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration," David J. Whittaker and Arnold K. Garr have compiled a series of presentations from the 2010 Church History Symposium at Brigham Young University on how a multimillion member church operates while relying mostly on a lay ministry. The 28 essays include topics on Brigham Young becoming a prophet, the development of organizations like Primary, Young Women, Young Men and Relief Society, the early Quorums of the Seventy, technology like radio and Internet, missions and leadership after World War II.

— Christine Rappleye

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"PRESERVING THE HISTORY OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS," edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Steven C. Harper, Deseret Book, 288 pages, $21.95 (nf)

In his talk "Making a Case for Church History," Elder Marlin K. Jensen indicates that in Doctrine and Covenants 21:1 the Lord commanded the Saints to "keep a record," while in Doctrine and Covenants 47:3 he further admonishes that the record is to be kept "continually." In their book "Preserving the History of the Latter-day Saints," Richard E. Turley Jr. and Steven C. Harper compiled and edited a cornucopia of works that support the cause of recording and protecting the history of the Latter-day Saints as commanded by the Lord.

There is power in stories, Elder Jensen explained. God's word is either expressed in narrative form or story form. 

Elder Jensen further explains that without adequate historical records the language of the people of Zarahemla became corrupted and they lost faith in their Creator (Omni 1:17). Keeping records could have prevented this.

Subjects in the 11-chapter book include such talks as "Making a Case for Church History" (Elder Marlin K. Jensen); "Ignored and Unknown Clues of Early Mormon Record Keeping" (Robin Scott Jensen); "Modern Efforts to Preserve Church History" (Ronald K. Esplin); and "Doing the Impossible: Documenting the Worldwide Church (Matthew K. Heiss). This book not only teaches the Lord's desires on being a record-keeping people, but will inspire readers to pick up their pens or head to their keyboards and record the day's comings and goings.

Also expounded upon are the blessings of the diligent efforts of Wilford Woodruff and the invaluable journals containing recordings of the early talks and discourses from early church leaders. Included in the talks are experiences of the prophet Joseph Smith and the recording of the account of the first vision, the story of the lost 116 pages of the manuscript (Martin Harris), and the repercussions of losing a sacred record which serves as a warning about disobeying the Lord's commandments regarding his records.

Scriptural references are included with each talk.

— Becky Robinette Wright

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"BANNER OF THE GOSPEL: Wilford Woodruff," by Alexander L. Baugh and Susan Easton Black, BYU Religious Studies Center, $24.99, 368 pages (nf)

Who was Wilford Woodruff and what can the Saints learn from him? Alexander L. Baugh and Susan Easton Black have gathered and edited an invaluable resource book titled "Banner of the Gospel: Wilford Woodruff" that encompasses 11 chapters on the remarkable man and fourth president of the LDS Church, Wilford Woodruff.

The substance of the chapters comes from a BYU Church History Symposium to honor the 200th anniversary of his birth. Woodruff acquired many skills through his lifetime, some included farmer, outdoorsman, horticulturist, educator and more. His dedication, spiritual skills and service to his duties included being a missionary, serving as apostle, church historian, temple president and president of the LDS Church. Some of the included topics are "Images of Wilford Woodruff's life: A Photographic Journey" by Alexander L. Baugh, "Wilford Woodruff: Missionary in Herefordshire" by Cynthia Doxey Green and more. The astounding attention to detail in his journals, which spanned 60 years, stand as a personal witness and record to the beginnings of the early church. In the journals are also recorded Woodruff's personal life experiences.

In "Banner of the Gospel," not only does one learn about the journals but the deep spiritual insights Woodruff had. His practical side can be seen where he is shown in the light of a worker in the field of souls waiting to be harvested for the blessing of baptism and future gospel blessings. This is a great book for church history enthusiasts, scholars and for references.

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