Defending the Faith: The first missions to England were daring and inspired

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  • Kazbert VAIL, AZ
    May 20, 2013 6:19 p.m.

    It is human nature, I suppose, to perceive successes as inspired. But doing so presumes that we always know the “why” behind the inspiration. In my own experiences, God has been generous with helping me to see the who, what, when and how, but has tended to be stingy with providing the why. Faith has been for me more a matter of trust than of outcomes.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 20, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    Big 'D'

    "Your characterization of early British converts as "uneducated" is incorrect...."

    It’s no slur to describe early British converts as uneducated and it is accurate according to LDS sources including Brigham Young who was there.

    England’s northern manufacturing cities provided the most fruitful mission fields in Liverpool, Birmingham, and Manchester where my ancestors became converts. Manchester’s impoverished working class so touched Dickens on a visit there in 1843 when Mormon proselytizing was at its peak that it provided the inspiration for his beloved ‘A Christmas Carol’ although he made London the setting for the story.

    Mormonism’s early missionary success among England’s working classes alarmed British clergy causing anti-Mormon sentiment that sparked attempts to discourage and disrupt Mormon proselytizing, it being believed that Mormonism exploited the ignorant, gullible, and superstitious. That was more an attitude of religious and upper class prejudices than of rational observation but the effect was all the same.

    By some estimates, there were more Mormons in England than in America when the exodus from Nauvoo began.

    May 19, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    These critical comments of the early missionaries go far afield. I choose instead to honor my own English missionary ancestor, Oliver Boardman Huntington. His mission to England partially covered the years 1846-7. He served in Clitheroe, on the banks of the river Ribble. During those years, his father William died at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. Others of his family were in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska awaiting the trek west. His brother Dimick was inducted into the Mormon Battalion at that time, and Oliver's wife was in Cambria, New York, with her parents. Quite a sacrifice for early missionaries to England and their families.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 18, 2013 7:54 a.m.

    To; Big 'D', “if you studied the totality of his life and ministry, you could only see a devoted servant of God and his fellow humans”.

    Heber C. Kimball. “Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call ,but he sent Peter to do it.”(JoD v. 6 p.29).

    Heber C. Kimball, “Where did the earth come from? From its parent earths. Journal of Discourses 6:36 .

  • Big 'D' San Mateo, CA
    May 17, 2013 5:32 p.m.

    To Craig Clark:
    Your characterization of early British converts as "uneducated" is incorrect. But consider what a member of the "upper crust", Dickens, had to say about a cohort of 800 emigrants boarding a ship for sea travel. He was amazed by the amount of letter writing and other refined activities taking place while they awaited departure. Here are some of his other comments:

    "Now, I have seen emigrant ships before this day in June. And these people are so strikingly different from all other people in like circumstances whom I have ever seen."
    "I should have said they were in their degree, the pick and flower of England."
    "I think it would be difficult to find Eight hundred people together anywhere else, and find so much beauty and so much strength and capacity for work among them."
    "I went on board their ship to bear testimony against them if they deserved it, as I fully believed they would; to my great astonishment they did not deserve it...I [departed], feeling it impossible to deny that, so far, some remarkable influence had produced a remarkable result, which better known influences have often missed."

  • Big 'D' San Mateo, CA
    May 17, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    @ Sharrona
    1st quote: pretty understandable and excuseable, when considered appropriately in its temporal context.
    2nd quote: doubtful he ever said it. This quote is not found in any of the voluminous records of early church sermons. It was originally reported in NY newspapers in 1860, in slanderous anti-Mormon articles. If he did say it, it seems more like a jestful attempt to get a laugh out of the audience. What he DID say that IS documented in church records, is "I wish more of our young men would take to themselves wives of the daughters of Zion and not wait for us old men to take them all; go-ahead upon the right principle young gentlemen and God bless you forever and ever and make you fruitful, that we may fill the mountains and then the earth with righteous inhabitants."

    I don't think he was the greedy lecher you make him out to be. In fact, if you studied the totality of his life and ministry, you could only see a devoted servant of God and his fellow humans.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 17, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    "....he [Heber Kimball] was painfully conscious of his lack of education and deeply intimidated at the thought of preaching to, as he viewed them, the much more cultured and sophisticated English...."

    Heber’s anxiety was for naught. Missionary efforts in England had a negligible impact on the British upper crust. As in America, Mormon proselytizing had success mainly among uneducated low income people. Among those working class early converts were my ancestors which makes the story a meaningful event in my family history.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 16, 2013 4:42 p.m.

    Gracie - More likely than your scenario, is the scenario that Joseph Smith thought he could make some money off of the copyright in Canada so he tried. Joseph Smith thought he could raise some money by opening a bank, so he tried. God wouldn't send him out on a wild goose chase just for the fun of it knowing full well that these ventures would fail. That would just be cruel. I don't agree with you that you have to do anything the prophet says and you will get the blessings for it. People can use their own minds to determine what they should and shouldn't be doing. They don't need another person to tell them, especially when the mormon church advocates personal revelation.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 16, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    RE: Heber C. Kimball, Some quietly listen to those who speak against the plurality of wives, and against almost every principle that God has revealed. Such persons have half-a-dozen devils with them all the time. You might as well deny 'Mormonism,' and turn away from it, as to oppose the plurality of wives. ( J of D, vol. 5, p. 203.)

    & Heber C. Kimball, Speaking to a group of departing missionaries... "Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake." The Lion of the Lord, New York, 1969, pp.129-30.

  • Gracie Boise, ID
    May 16, 2013 2:27 p.m.

    To Brahmabull: There are various reasons why certain actions taken or proposals made by prophets of God don't succeed in the here and now, one being to see whether the people who have covenanted to follow the prophets will actually DO that when push comes to shove. Sometimes it's more of a proving ground for LDS people than anything else: proving to ourselves whether we have the courage to follow through with the life we've chosen to live. Whether a principle in action succeeds or fails reveals volumes about us that can't be refuted. Truth about the proposals doesn't change because we might choose to ignore them. On the other hand those who give their best efforts to live what the Lord has instructed through his prophets will be blessed regardless of whether success comes now or later.

    Arguing the point doesn't change anything. It only points out what a continually uphill battle it is to do what we need to do within a society that's aggressively dismissive of sacred things it doesn't understand.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    May 16, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    Even more inspired were the choices of Joseph Smith to open the Kirtland Savings bank (which failed) and to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon in Canada (also failed). So then only missions and endeavors that succeed are considered inspired right?

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    May 16, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    Because of the faithfulness of these early missionaries, William Wadley, my great grandfather, listened, prayed and studied, felt the Spirit, and joined the Church in England and immigrated to Utah. He went back later to England as a missionary himself. I am so grateful when I read stories like this and be reminded of my heritage and the blessing and opportunity to live in this great country of the United States and be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!