A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview
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In the year 1837, when the evil one was trying with all his might to overthrow the Church both at Kirtland and in Missouri, the Lord told Joseph that the time had come for "something new" to be done. This was to send missionaries to England and open the gospel door to that people.
Elder Heber C. Kimball was chosen to take the lead of this mission, and with him went Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, Joseph Fielding, John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snider.
This was the first mission to any foreign country, and in those days of slow travel, a trip to Europe was no small matter. The brethren set out on their journey without purse or scrip, but the Lord opened up their way, and at last they landed in Liverpool, England, July 20, 1837.
They were in a strange country, had no money, no friends.
"Go to Preston," said the Spirit of the Lord to them. Preston is a city thirty miles from Liverpool, and there they went. Joseph Fielding had a brother living in the city, who was a preacher, and on his invitation the missionaries held their first meeting in his chapel. This was the first Sunday after their arrival. The people listened eagerly to what the elders said, for it seems that a great many honest souls had been waiting for just such a message.
After the third meeting, the Rev. Mr. Fielding would not let the elders use his church, as he was afraid they would take away his congregation. From that time he opposed the missionaries, and was soon joined in this by other preachers.
However, the people had received a taste of the gospel and they wanted more, so meetings were held in private houses. On the eighth day after the arrival of the elders in England, nine persons were baptized into the Church by Elder Kimball.
Thus was the door opened, and the gospel soon spread in a wonderful manner. The elders now separated and went to different towns, preaching, baptizing, and organizing branches of the Church. Great crowds came out to hear them, especially in and around the city of Preston. It was a most glorious time and full of interesting events which this little book cannot tell you about; but here is a sample:
One day Elder Kimball told some of the brethren that he thought of going to a place called Chatburn, to hold meetings. He was told that it would do no good, as it was a very wicked place, and the people there would have nothing to do with preachers. Elder Kimball went, however, and large crowds came out to hear him. While teaching the people the need of repenting of their evil doings and being baptized for the remission of their sins, Brother Kimball felt someone pulling at his coat:
"Please sir, will you baptize me?" asked one."And me, and me!" exclaimed a dozen voices.
So Elder Kimball went down into the water and baptized twenty-five persons. As the elders were walking out of the village, the young folks of the place ran to meet them, the older people stood in their doors to greet and bless them, while the children ran ahead, hand in hand, singing their songs of gladness.
At a conference held in Preston, April 8, 1838, there were reports from twenty-six branches of the Church. The total number of souls in the Church was reported to be about two thousand; and all this was done in the short space of eight months.
The next day Elders Kimball, Hyde, and Russell left for home, leaving Willard Richards to preside over the mission. Many were the sad partings these brethren had with the Saints, for a great love grows up between the Saints in the world and the elders who have brought them the gospel.
January 11, 1840, Elders John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff landed in England. Brother Woodruff was led by the Spirit to go into a part of England called Herefordshire. Here he found a religious body of people called United Brethren. They had withdrawn from the Church of England, and were now praying that the Lord would send them more light. These people heard Elder Woodruff gladly, and with joy they received the gospel. Within one month he baptized all their preachers, forty-five in number, and one hundred and sixty of their members. In eight months time Elder Woodruff brought eighteen hundred souls into the Church, including all the six hundred United Brethren, save one.
At one time just as Elder Woodruff was about to begin a meeting, a constable came to arrest him for preaching. The officer was asked to take a seat, and was told that after the meeting Elder Woodruff would be at his service. The constable was very much interested in the sermon. At the close of the meeting seven persons asked for baptism, and the constable was one of the number. After this, two clerks of the Church of England were sent as spies to find out what the Mormon elders preached. Both of these men believed and joined the Church.
Now came others of the Apostles to England to roll on the work. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, and George A. Smith arrived on April 6, 1840. At a conference held in Preston on the 14th, Willard Richards was ordained an Apostle, so that now there were eight of the Twelve together. At this meeting it was decided to print a paper to be called The Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star. This paper has been published from that day to this, it being the oldest publication in the Church.
The Church now grew rapidly. Branches were organized in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and in many of the large cities in England. At a conference held in the city of Manchester, April 6, 1841, it was found that there were about six thousand members of the Church in Great Britain. Eight hundred Saints had emigrated to America during the year. At this conference, nine of the Twelve were present, Orson Hyde having arrived on his way to Palestine, where he was going to dedicate that land for the gathering of the Jews.Shortly after this conference, the apostles left England to return home, leaving Parley P. Pratt in charge of the mission. From that time the work has continued in Great Britain, and many honest souls have come to the knowledge of the gospel.
Topics.—1. The first mission to England. 2. Wilford Woodruff's experience. 3. Mission of the eight Apostles.
Questions and Review.—1. When were the first missionaries sent to England? 2. Who were they? 3. Where was the first sermon preached? 4. How did the people receive the elders? 5. What happened at Chatburn? 6. What was accomplished in eight months? 7. Who were the second missionaries to England? 8. Who were the United Brethren? 9. Tell of President Woodruff's work among them. 10. Who composed the third party of missionaries? 11. What was done at the conference held April 14, 1840. 12. What is the Millennial Star? 13. What was Orson Hyde's mission to Palestine?