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Early Saints spread the gospel far and wide

by Richard Turley Jr.

LDS Business College Devotional
July 23, 2013

It’s good to be with you today, brothers and sisters. I have stood at this pulpit many times, and each time I do I think of history. This building was not constructed until long after Brigham Young had passed away. But Brigham Young actually stood near where I am standing today and spoke to the Saints many times. If you look at early records of Brigham Young’s speeches, you will see that he spoke in what was called “the Tabernacle.” And you may be led by today’s structures to think that the Tabernacle mentioned in those speeches from the 1850s was the Tabernacle that’s over there. But in fact, the original Tabernacle on Temple Square was constructed on this corner. It was a low-slung, gabled building with a sunburst on the gable that faced south, and as it was originally arranged, there was a pulpit on the west end. Brigham Young spoke to a crowd that was kind of spread out north and south. They had no public address system, so he was able to project his voice that way by kind of standing in the middle of the crowd.

So even though this building is not the Tabernacle today, the first Tabernacle stood right here near where I am speaking.

Tomorrow, of course, we celebrate the arrival of Brigham Young in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. And it is appropriate each year on Pioneer Day that we remember and honor those who came before us—those original pioneers whose sacrifices helped make possible the blessings that we enjoy today. But of course, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had more pioneers than just those who arrived in the Valley in July of 1847—166 years ago. There have been Latter-day Saint pioneers throughout Utah and throughout the rest of the United States. And in fact, what I am going to show to you today is that there have been pioneers throughout the world.

I want to pause at this point and relate a story that I didn’t put into my written remarks, but I think it’s appropriate for this occasion. A few months ago I was in Otavalo, Ecuador. Anyone here from Ecuador? Otavalo, Ecuador, is a place where we have a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse and some faithful Latter-day Saints, many of whom are Otavalo Indians. And I was interviewing a couple of the pioneering Otavalo from that part of Ecuador, and there were three in the room with me that I was interviewing. There was a father and a mother and a son. The father told his story, about how he came in contact with the first Otavalo convert and was nurtured by him, and developed his testimony and served a mission, in spite of having virtually no earthly possessions to his name.

And then I interviewed his wife, who told a similar story about how she grew up and served a mission as a teenager, and then went through lots of trials and tribulations, eventually met this good Otavalo man and they married.

And after I heard their wonderful stories and recorded them, I turned to the son, who was then serving in a bishopric. He was probably in his 30s—mid 30s—a faithful Latter-day Saint, a returned missionary. And as I turned to him, I said, “What’s your story?” And nearly the entire time, he had sat with his head down. And when I addressed that question to him, the head slowly came up, and I noticed that there were tears in his eyes.

He said to me, “All my life, I have honored the American pioneers. I have admired the sacrifices that they made for the Church, how they crossed the Plains to Utah. But today, for the very first time in my life, I have come to realize that we have pioneers right here in Otavalo, and they are my parents.”

It’s in that spirit that I want to address you today. And I want to begin by going back to New Testament times. When Jesus parted from His disciples after His resurrection, He commanded them, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”[1]

Not surprisingly, the disciples of Jesus Christ in this last dispensation have followed this same commandment to teach all nations. Just four years after the Church was organized in 1830, Joseph Smith gathered all of the priesthood who were in Kirtland into a 14-foot square schoolhouse. “When we got together,” Elder Wilford Woodruff recalled, “the Prophet called upon the Elders of Israel with him to bear testimony of this work…. When they got through, the Prophet said, ‘Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.”

And then he prophesied: “It is only a little handful of priesthood you see here tonight, but this church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.”[2]

Today, I want to talk to you about this prophecy and how it’s been fulfilled—how through the efforts of pioneers in every land the Church has spread throughout North and South America and is filling the world.

The Church was restored, we all know, in North America. Joseph Smith was living in upstate New York when he had his first vision, of the Father and the Son, and the subsequent visits of the Angel Moroni. New York was also the home for other key events in the Restoration. The first edition of the Book of Mormon was published in New York, in E.B. Grandin’s print shop in Palmyra. And of course, the Church was organized in Fayette. The good news spread rather rapidly, however, and it soon swept into nearby states and eventually moved into eastern Canada. Joseph Smith’s father and brother were the first to go there; Brigham Young and his brother also went there later. And Joseph Smith himself went there in 1833.

Among the famous early converts to the Church in Canada was John Taylor. Later the president of the Church, he was an English emigrant who was living at the time in the Toronto area. In fact, many converts came from Upper Canada, as Ontario was then called, including my first ancestors to join the Church, Theodore and Frances Kimberly Turley. My ancestors joined near Toronto, in a little village that was appropriately called Churchville. I recently went there, and you can see from the sign [shown on video screen] it was a town established in 1815. Churchville was a fruitful area for missionary work in the 1830s when my ancestors were baptized.

Converts to the Church in the 1830s in Canada included such notable individuals as Mary Ann Mercy Fielding. Mary became the wife of Hyrum Smith the martyr, brother of Joseph Smith. She was also the sister-in-law to the first Church president, Joseph Smith Jr., mother to Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the Church, grandmother of Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth president of the Church, and great-great-grandmother of Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

John Taylor, the Fieldings, and others came into the Church through the efforts of Elder Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve. In April 1836, before he left Canada on his mission, Elder Pratt received a blessing from Elder Heber C. Kimball, in which Elder Kimball declared: “Thou shalt go to Upper Canada, even to the city of Toronto, and there thou shalt find a people prepared for the fulness of the gospel. And they shall receive thee. And thou shalt organize the Church among them, and many shall be brought to the knowledge of the truth and shall be filled with joy. And from the things growing out of this mission shall the fulness of the gospel spread into England, and cause a great work to be done in that land.”

This prophecy came to pass. And among those who went with Elder Heber C. Kimball on the first mission to England in 1837 were Canadian converts John Goodson and John Snyder, as well as Isaac Russell, who converted my ancestors. The mission in England proved enormously important to the Church, because it came at a time of widespread apostasy in Kirtland. Under these circumstances, the Prophet Joseph Smith felt something must be done to save the Church.

“About the first day of June 1837,” remembered Elder Kimball, “the Prophet Joseph came to me where I was seated in the temple in Kirtland and, whispering to me, said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me, Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my gospel and open the door of salvation to that nation.’”[3]

And so Elder Kimball and his companions went as commanded and had great success, not among the rich and famous, but among the humble people of the land who saw in the gospel of Jesus Christ the spiritual and temporal salvation that they so badly needed.

The first Latter-day Saint missionaries crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Liverpool, England, on July 20, 1837. From there they traveled to Preston, where they arrived at election time and saw a banner that read “Truth Will Prevail.” For missionaries out to spread the gospel, this banner seemed auspicious. “Amen! Thanks be to God! Truth will prevail!” they exclaimed. They preached first in the Vauxhall Chapel, which has now been torn down, but this is an artist’s rendition of it [displayed on screen].  It was at this chapel where Joseph Fielding’s brother James was a resident minister. And the missionaries who preached there soon found both success and rejection. Members of James Fielding’s congregation believed their words, but the minister also came to realize that the success of his brother and the other Latter-day Saint missionaries meant a reduction of his congregation and, by that, threatened his livelihood. So he forbade the elders from baptizing members of his flock.

“They are of age,” Heber C. Kimball replied, “and can act for themselves; I shall baptize all who come unto me, asking no favors of any man.” So Elder Kimball prepared to baptize and went to the River Ribble, which runs through Preston. And soon, nine candidates presented themselves for baptism. “These were the first persons baptized into the Church in a foreign land,” Elder Kimball reported, “and only the eighth day after our arrival in Preston.”[4]

And then he related the following story: “A circumstance took place which I cannot refrain from mentioning, for it will show the eagerness and anxiety of some in that land to obey the gospel. Two of the male candidates, when they had changed their clothes at a distance of several rods from the place where I was standing in the water, were so anxious to obey the gospel that they ran with all their might to the water, each wishing to be baptized first.”  As you might expect, the younger of the two men—George D. Watt, shown here—“being quicker of foot than the elder, outran him, and came first into the water.

“The circumstance of baptizing in the open air being somewhat novel, a concourse of between seven and nine thousand persons assembled on the banks of the river to witness the ceremony,”[5] Elder Kimball reported.

From Preston, the gospel spread to other parts of England. This first mission of members of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1837 was followed in 1839 by a second mission, led by Brigham Young. The members of the Quorum who went to the British Isles on those two missions led the way for the gospel to spread to other parts of the British Isles and across into continental Europe.

Orson Hyde went all the way to Jerusalem, where he offered a prayer commemorated today in a park across the Kidron Valley from the ancient city. Here’s a view of the old city from the Orson Hyde Memorial Park, and here’s one of the signs that you can find there now, explaining this both in Hebrew and in English.

Elder Erastus Snow led the way in Scandinavia, arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark—somewhere near where I took this photograph recently—in 1850. He stayed his first night on this street, shown here, before taking up quarters in the building that still stands today not very far from this location. The following year, 1851, Elder Snow oversaw publication of the Book of Mormon in Danish, the first translation of the scripture from English into another tongue.

This is a statue that stands today near the docks in Copenhagen, and it commemorates the migration of Latter-day Saints from Denmark to the United States. Today when you walk the streets of Salt Lake City, you’re most likely to hear the English language first, and it’s typically American English, followed second by Spanish. Those are the two most typical languages you hear. But if you walked these same streets in the 1800s, you would have been likely to hear not just American English, but a very healthy dose of several British accents as well as Scandinavian languages. Salt Lake in the 1900s even had its own Scandinavian newspapers, like this one, the Beekoban, which meant “beehive.”

In our course of study this year in the Relief Society and the Melchizedek priesthood quorums, we’re studying the life of Elder Lorenzo Snow. And we have read about how he took the gospel to Italy. Of course, the gospel spread to other parts of Europe as well. John Taylor, our British-born Canadian convert, became the member of the Quorum of the Twelve who was responsible for publishing the Book of Mormon in both France and Germany. The year 1852 saw the publication of the book into four languages—Italian, Welsh, French, and German.

I’ve got two title pages from the German here [shown on screen]. The left is the first edition from 1852, and often the first thing people notice about that is that the angel has wings, which is not consistent with our theology. I wanted to show you that we do have a correlation process in the Church whereby errors are fixed. The title page on the right is from the 1862 second edition—same angel, but his wings have been clipped.

The French and the German translations are a particular marvel to me, even though all of these translations being done as rapidly as they were can be considered marvelous works and wonders. But there’s a mystery surrounding the French and German that I haven’t figured out yet. Somehow, Elder John Taylor was able to coordinate the publication of the French edition in Paris and the German edition in Hamburg—the French using a type font that looks very familiar to us today, and the German using an old Frotteur script that doesn’t look at all familiar to us, even to German speakers today. And somehow he did that—two different publications with two different type fonts in two different countries in such a way that if you had uncut copies of both, you could collate them like this and end up with a French/German copy of the Book of Mormon, with the verses exactly facing each other on opposite pages. Now that’s a typesetting wonder. There is only one known copy in the world of this first edition French/German diglot, and it’s the copy that we’re showing here. This is the rarest copy of the Book of Mormon in the world.

At the same time the gospel was spreading in the British Isles and Continental Europe, it was also taking root in the Pacific. George Q. Cannon and his fellow missionaries, who arrived in the Sandwich Islands in the 1850s, were not the first Latter-day Saints in Hawaii. The first Latter-day Saints in Hawaii were the passengers on the ship Brooklyn, which was full of members of the Church who stopped there in the 1840s on their way from New York to the west coast of the United States. Many of these people eventually joined the Saints here in Utah.

Elder Cannon and his companions, however, were the first Latter-day Saint missionaries in Hawaii, and they enjoyed great success. During Elder Cannon’s stay in the Islands, he with the help of Jonatana Napella, his first convert, and others, translated the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian. Elder Cannon encountered opposition in his efforts to publish it, however, and had to bring the manuscript back to the mainland with him. He returned to Utah in 1854, married the young woman who waited for him, and then went to the San Francisco area to work on the Church’s newspaper shown here, theWestern Standard. It was while he was in San Francisco in 1855 that Elder Cannon finally published the Hawaiian edition of the Book of Mormon from the manuscript that he prepared in Hawaii.

Now you may think that this early mission to Hawaii in 1850 was the earliest mission to the Pacific. But it wasn’t. Years before this missionary journey of George Q. Cannon and his companions, another set of missionaries left for the islands of the Pacific. Joseph Smith was still the president of the Church when, on June 1, 1843, four missionaries left Nauvoo on a mission to the Pacific. The four were Addison Pratt as well as his companions Noah Rogers, Benjamin Grouard, and Knowlton F. Hanks. They traveled east from Nauvoo to Bedford, Massachusetts, which was a whaling town. Elder Pratt used to be a whaler. And there in New Bedford, they boarded a whaling ship, The Timolian, and just a month out to sea Elder Hanks passed away, becoming the first missionary to die at sea. He died of what was then called consumption; today we would call it probably tuberculosis.

The three remaining missionaries continued onward. They went across the Atlantic, they rounded the southern tip of Africa, and they sailed into the Indian Ocean, finally arriving on April 30, 1844—while Joseph Smith was still alive—at the island of Tupuai in what is today French Polynesia. This is a photo [displayed  on screen] I took from a plane as I was arriving at Tupuai, the second time I have gone there. Their ships stopped at the island just to resupply, but Elder Pratt quickly bonded with the people of the island, because he had spent some time in Hawaii as a whaler and knew a few words of Hawaiian. For those of you who are linguists, you recognize the similarities among the Polynesian languages, so he was able to get his meaning across with them and they quickly found friendship with him. So when his companions left to go to other islands, Addison Pratt remained behind on Tupuai and had great missionary success there.

So to put this in context, remember Joseph Smith was still alive when they arrived there—or another way to put it is to say that the gospel of Jesus Christ, the restored gospel, arrived in that tiny island of Tupuai more than three years before it arrived here in Utah.

These people in Tupuai are wonderful Latter-day Saints. I’ve been there on a couple of occasions, I’ve met with them. You can go to the island of Tupuai and find that about 50 percent of the people on the island today are Latter-day Saints, and some of them descend from these early converts of Addison Pratt, so you can find seventh generation members of the Church there. Just as we have monuments outside of this building on Temple Square, they have monuments as well. Here’s a very remarkable early monument [shown on screen] to Addison Pratt and his mission that you can find on the north shore of the island of Tupuai.

Well, the gospel continued to spread across the Pacific. When Addison Pratt returned to North America, the Saints had moved west to Utah and abandoned the Nauvoo Temple, where many of them had been endowed. Elder Pratt had never been endowed, so before he went back to Tupuai, he went to this historic site just north of here, Ensign Peak. And because there was no temple at that point, the Church leaders performed Elder Pratt’s endowment up on that peak, just as ancient prophets communed with God on mountaintops.

Going back to the Pacific, this time to Australia, three years before Addison Pratt left Nauvoo on his first mission, William Barrett, a 17-year-old Latter-day Saint in England, was called to serve as a missionary in Australia. He appears to have baptized a man who later became a mission president in Australia, and soon other Latter-day Saints followed. Today, of course, the Church thrives in Australia. We have this temple in Sydney and this one in Brisbane, among others.

In the 19th century, Latter-day Saints were expected not to stay in their homeland but to gather to a central location. One group that left Australia onboard the vessel Julia Ann faced a tragic and difficult trip. Partway through their journey, the ship struck a submerged coral reef and sank, leaving the passengers who survived standing waist-deep in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no land in sight. Can you imagine yourself standing waist-deep in the ocean, no land in sight, in the middle of the night, with your ship having sunk and just the bell sticking above the water, clanging every time a wave came by? How would you feel under those circumstances?

Well fortunately, when morning came they could see in the distance what appeared to be a small island. They had managed to get one lifeboat from the ship, and they used that to get to that small island and eventually sent a delegation off in the rowboat to try and find help. Many weeks later they were rescued, and it still took them a long time to get to Utah because everything they owned was gone. They had to figure out how to pay their passage from there to California and from California to here. But some did, and those are some of the early pioneers I think we should honor during this July 24th season.

Over time the Church spread throughout much of the Pacific, including places like New Zealand, Samoa, and Tonga—places where we have temples today. Joseph Smith said that the purpose of gathering was to build temples, so when we have temples in an area, it means that the people have successfully gathered there.

Another place where the gospel spread was in South Africa. In August of 1852, a special conference was held roughly on this site where we are right now, in the old Tabernacle, and a decision was made to send out over 100 missionaries to preach the gospel. Among those sent out were William Walker, whose picture we have here, as well as his companions, Jesse Haven and Leonard L. Smith. In April of 1853 they arrived in Capetown, South Africa, and went up on this prominence, the Lion’s Head, where they dedicated themselves to preaching the gospel in this area. The Church grew rapidly in South Africa, then slowly spread to other areas. But the growth of the Church was slow until the priesthood revelation of 1978, and then it spread rapidly—particularly in West Africa, where entire congregations of investigators had already organized groups under the Church name.

Today the Church is growing throughout much of Africa, and the Saints on that continent are among the most dedicated and devoted members of the Church in the world. We also have temples, not only in Johannesburg, but also in Accra, Ghana, shown here, and Aba, Nigeria, with others that have been announced.

We had a New Zealand speaker here today, and I mention New Zealand in passing. There’s a very interesting connection between the history of the Church in New Zealand and Salt Lake City that I want to point out today, as you’re considering how to commemorate July 24th. Early missionaries to New Zealand found particular success among the Maori people. In the 19th century, when people were asked to gather, some Maori Saints gathered to Salt Lake City.

In the 1890s, the first group of Maori Saints to gather here arrived in California on their way to Utah, and among these Maori Saints were Fivi Nufonga, a Maori chief, and his wife, Merrimeta Fonga. They emigrated to Salt Lake and then went down to Kanab, Utah, hoping to establish a farming operation there where the temperature was more akin to what they were used to. They had some financial difficulties there, ended up coming back to Salt Lake and they spent much of the rest of their lives serving in the Salt Lake Temple, doing work for their ancestors and others.

They passed away here in Salt Lake City, and if you go up to the Salt Lake City Cemetery, you can see this monument—this headstone—[shown on screen] to these great New Zealand pioneers who migrated to Utah.

Among others from the Pacific who came to Utah were Hawaiian Saints who wanted to be close to the temple. They went out to Skull Valley. Skull Valley was a very dry area, as the name implies, and it’s still dry today. If you go west from the Salt Lake Valley to the next valley over, where Tooele and Grantsville are located, and then go one more valley west, you will get to this area of Skull Valley. There these Hawaiian Saints and other Polynesians built a town which they called Iosepa, which is Hawaiian for Joseph—calling their town after Joseph F. Smith. They built up this community and made it a garden in the desert, and remained there in this community until an announcement was made about a temple to be built in Laie, Hawaii, at which point many of them returned. Although some of them remained, and there are many descendants of these people in the continental United States today. President Heber J. Grant ended up being the one to dedicate that temple, because Joseph F. Smith passed away before it was completed.

Moving rapidly through many other areas, in 1852 this missionary work that was begun in the old Tabernacle here sent missionaries to China, among them Hosea Stout, whose picture is here [on screen]. They faced a number of challenges, political as well as linguistic, and returned. But they were the first foray into China. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the gospel finally took hold in China—the most populous country in the world—and surrounding countries.

Today of course we have Church members in China and a Church website, about the Church, in China.

Now let’s go briefly to the second most populous country in the world, India. The first Latter-day Saints to reach India were British sailors who arrived in Calcutta. Other Saints soon followed and in 1853 missionaries took the gospel to other regions of India and established several branches, including one that lasted into the 20th century. But it wasn’t until the late 20th century that missionary work got started again in India in a serious way. And today there are two missions there, and here are some of the missionaries [shown on screen] who were serving there two years ago when I was visiting.

Most parts of the world had one place where the gospel got established very well and remained, and became sort of a beachhead for the spread of the gospel to other parts of the world. And one of those places for Asia was Japan. The early missionaries who went to Japan went under the direction of President Heber J. Grant, who was then an apostle. He took with him three companions, one of whom was 19-year-old, almost 20-year-old Alma Taylor. Now many young men are called on missions at age 19. He got the responsibility to learn the very difficult Japanese language without an MTC, and the responsibility of translating the Book of Mormon into Japanese. Remember, he went in 1901 at age 19. In 1909, when he finished the Book of Mormon project, he was allowed to come home. You think two years is bad; try eight.

That mission was closed down in 1924 because of lots of difficulties, but when the mission was started up again after World War II, my mission president, shown here—Harrison Theodore Price and his companions—were able to locate some of these early converts to the Church. In 2001, the Church dedicated a monument representing the 100 years of the Church in Japan.

The gospel spread into other areas. One of the places, of course, where the Church has flourished the most is in South America. Parley P. Pratt was the president of the Pacific Mission when he went to Chile in 1851 with a pregnant wife. She had a baby there, which passed away. Last year when we were in Chile, we dedicated this monument to that early missionary effort of the Pratts.

In 1925, Melvin J. Ballard, the ancestor of Elder M. Russell Ballard, went to South America and began the work that has continued, in fulfillment of a prophecy that was made by Brigham Young, who in 1875 had the Book of Mormon selections translated into Spanish and who established the groundwork through which other people later on settled that area, including ancestors of mine like these I’m showing you here, who settled in the Mormon colonies and learned Spanish. These Spanish speakers, including my father, shown here, were able to use their Spanish in helping to take the gospel into Mexico, Central America, and South America, as Brigham Young had prophesied.  But in 1925, when Elder Ballard was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he dedicated all of South America near this spot to the preaching of the gospel.

And of course, sort of a last bastion, at least for me as a child of the Cold War Era, was Eastern Europe. As someone growing up during the Cold War Era, I thought it was going to take global thermonuclear war for the Iron Curtain to fall and for the gospel to spread into Eastern Europe. But I also remember in 1974 President Spencer W. Kimball prophesying that if we would do our part, the Lord would do His part to open the way. And of course we have seen since that time how the gospel has spread slowly into Eastern Europe where today it flourishes.

My oldest daughter’s husband served a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia. And I went to Eastern Europe recently, and while I was there I visited St. Petersburg. And I met with the new St. Petersburg Stake presidency that you see here. I was telling my son-in-law about it and he said, “Just a minute.” He went into his back room and he pulled out one of his mission photographs. And in the mission photograph, taken many years earlier, he showed the counselor that’s on the left in this photograph. At that time he was a new convert to the Church, and my son-in-law was serving as his branch president. And on the back of his mission photo he had written, “Future leaders of the Church in St. Petersburg.” Now twenty years later, you’ve got this stake presidency there.

I could go on and on and talk about how the Church has spread to all of these areas, but what I want to point out is this: In October of 1831, just a year and a half after the Church was organized, the Lord said in this verse, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

“The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.”[6]

Remember, this is just a year and a half after the Church is organized; members of the Church are just a tiny body of believers at this point. But they had the Spirit of the Lord with them, which prophesied what would happen.

I’ve shown you a tiny glimpse today of how the gospel spread from here to Canada, to England and to Europe, to Africa, the Pacific, Asia, and so on. I’m sure most of you have heard the words that Joseph Smith wrote to Editor John Wentworth in 1842, but I hope after hearing this description of what has happened since that time, these words will have greater meaning to you. And I will close with them.

Joseph Smith wrote: “Our missionaries are going forth to different nations…. the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”[7]

I testify that this is happening, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards

Let me introduce to you Brother Richard E. Turley, Jr. He has served as assistant Church historian and recorder since 2008. Brother Turley attended high school in Salt Lake City, and he served a mission in the Japan Tokyo Mission. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brigham Young University in 1992, and was the Spencer W. Kimball Scholar. He later graduated from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, where he served as the executive editor of Law Review (and the attorneys in the audience know exactly what that means) and was elected to the Order of the Coif, and received the Hugh B. Brown Barrister award. Before dedicating his career to the history of the Church, he briefly practiced law in Salt Lake City.

Prior to his current appointment, he served for eight years as the managing director of the Church’s Family and Church History Department, four years as the managing director of the Family History Department, and fourteen years as the managing director of the Church Historical Department. He has served as a member of the executive committee of the Church’s Historian Press and as a member of the editorial board for the Joseph Smith Papers project, as co-editor with Britney Chapman of “Women of Faith in the Latter-day” series, and as general editor of the “Journals of George Q. Cannon” series.

His book, Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case, is an oft-cited history of the Hoffman forgery murder case in the 1980s. Brother Turley has authored, co-authored, or edited other works, including The Massacre at Mountain Meadows, Mountain Meadows Massacre Documents, The Andrew Jenson and David H. Morris Collections, The Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith, How We Got the Book of Mormon, How We Got the Doctrine and Covenants, and Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brother Turley has won several awards for his writing. Not surprisingly, he believes that Latter-day Saints are well-advised to learn Church history, and he once observed: “People who do not have much knowledge of Church history may find themselves tossed to and fro by tidbits from the past.”

He and his wife, the former Shirley S. Swenson, have six children. We are very grateful to have Brother Turley with us today.

 



[1] Matthew 28:19-20.

[2] Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, Apr. 1898, p. 57; punctuation and capitalization modernized.

[3] Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Bookcraft, 1967), pp. 103-4,

[6] Doctrine and Covenants 65:1-2.

[7] “The Wentworth Letter,” Ensign, July 2002, http://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/07/the-wentworth-letter.

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