It all seemed to start simply enough.
It was from a Worldwide Leadership Training broadcast when Sister Kristen M. Oaks heard Sister Sydney S. Reynolds, first counselor in the General Primary Presidency from 1999 to 2005, quoting a November 1998 general conference talk by Sister Susan L. Warner, point out the five points of a testimony that leaders should be teaching children. Sister Warner, then-second counselor in the Primary General Presidency, had held up her hand and counted off the five foundations.
Those five points are knowing that God is their Heavenly Father; Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer; Joseph Smith is a prophet of God; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's church on earth today; and the church is led by a living prophet.
"When we were teaching a mission presidents seminar, we decided to use those five points just using pictures," said Sister Oaks, who at the time was serving in the Philippines with her husband, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Then the idea of using a glove with a picture on each finger for each point was developed, and soon Sister Oaks was taking gloves with her as she and Elder Oaks traveled around the world.
"It took on a life of its own," Sister Oaks said of how thousands, if not tens of thousands, of the gloves have been made, distributed and used since 2003.
The glove represent the Holy Ghost.
"They are so clear and so simple, and you always have your hand," Sister Oaks said.
The book "The Testimony Glove," which tells the story of a little girl and her testimony, was published recently by Deseret Book.
testimonygloves.blogspot.com, these five fundamentals of a testimony are available in nearly two dozen languages along with links to ideas for sharing time and family home evening lessons. The Friend magazine also published an activity on the Testimony Glove in the October 2008 issue. Barb McKeown from Washington, D.C., wrote "My Testimony."
Creating the testimony gloves
JoAnn Phillips helped make the first testimony gloves. She and her husband, a physician, were serving in the Philippines area. Phillips worked in the area office, volunteered with Sister Oaks at a local charitable organization and also worked in the temple.
The first ones were made out of paper, and they used hand-drawn pictures. They put together kits with the glove, pictures and a handout explaining it.
At one point, Phillips decided she needed to see if the testimony gloves worked.
She shared it in Primary in a local ward where they made the kits and practiced testimonies.
Phillips and her husband were the sacrament meeting speakers, and she explained about the testimony gloves that the children had learned about in Primary.
She asked a 9-year-old boy named Dan to come up and bear his testimony.
"It just amazed me how well he did," said Phillips, of the Fruit Heights 8th Ward, Fruit Heights Utah Stake in Fruit Heights. "It changed the way people bore testimonies."
They started using cloth gloves and pictures from the LDS Church's Gospel Art Kit.
"Children need to see real pictures," Sister Oaks said. "If they are looking at a cartoon, they are seeing it as a cartoon. When you are teaching spiritual things, you need to have the referent or the real thing."
When Phillips returned from serving in the Philippines, she continued to make the kits for Sister Oaks to pass out. Others heard about it and wanted to help put the kits together.
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