Across the pages of her new book, “For All the Saints,” author Kristen Smith Dayley introduces characters as warm and intriguing as any found in a well-written novel. Yet the individuals she writes about are very real — many with names well-familiar to member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She tells the tale and to pays tribute to the early Saints in New England, including those throughout Massachusetts along with Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire, “who made the establishment of many stakes of Zion and the building of a temple in New England a reality today.”
As readers see the contributions of well-loved leaders — President Brigham Young, second president of the LDS Church; President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve and his family; George Albert Smith Jr., Harvard Business School professor and son of President George Albert Smith; President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve; and others — they also learn of the faith, dedication and a willingness to serve of other not-so-familiar early Mormons.
Dayley uses the anthem “For All the Saints,” by William How, as an effective tool to organize the history — which touches on the beginnings of the LDS Church in the 1830s to the growth in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s — and to stress certain points about building the kingdom there. Chapters with titles like “The Paths the Saints Have Trod,” “How Firm is Your Foundation?” and “Tending the Vineyard” share tender and powerful lessons from Mormons there about dealing with adversity, relying on the Lord and serving with all ones’ heart.
The author quotes President Eyring from an interivew and he spoke about the New England Saints in general — and it applies to “For All the Saints” itself.
“What you learn is that it’s not about buildings, it’s not huge congregations; it’s a few faithful families and then the Lord builds around them. It’s a story of heroes," President Eyring concluded, "It’s a story of how the Lord grows the church.”
Dayley did that well in a book that captures the stories of conversion and dedication of New England Saints over the years, while, at the same time, inspiring and motivating readers to follow suit in doing what they can to build the kingdom wherever they are. The author has done an excellent job of selection, so the history is aptly condensed, but still richly told.
Cecily Markland is a freelance writer, book editor, publicist and author of "Hope: One Mile Ahead" and the children’s book "If I Made a Bug." She owns Inglestone Publishing and produces cecilymarkland.com, a calendar of LDS events in Arizona.