General Conference in England


Stakes and Missions of the British Isles

Map of British Isles(click to view larger)

Illustrated by Merrill Gogan

Stake

Date Organized

1. Manchester

Mar. 27, 1960

2. London

Feb. 26, 1961

3. Leicester

Mar. 5, 1961

4. Leeds

Mar. 19, 1961

5. Glasgow

Aug. 26, 1962

6. Sunderland

May 17, 1963

7. Birmingham

Sept. 14, 1969

8. London North

Sept. 20, 1970

Mission

Date Organized

A. England East (Original British Mission)

July 20, 1837

B. England North

Mar. 27, 1960

C. England Central

Mar. 6, 1961

D. England Southwest

Feb. 1, 1962

E. Ireland

July 8, 1962

F. Scotland

July 8, 1962

G. England South

Dec. 27, 1964

The First Presidency has announced that a regional general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will convene in Manchester, England, from Friday, August 27, through Sunday, August 29, 1971.

Those invited to attend this first general conference of the Church outside the United States are the nearly seventy thousand members residing in the stakes and missions of the British Isles and about two thousand members of the Servicemen’s Stake-Europe, with headquarters in Germany.

The conference will be under the direction of the First Presidency, with General Authorities and executive representatives of the auxiliaries participating. The first two days will feature leadership meetings, with special emphasis on the family home evening program. The traditional priesthood session will be held Saturday evening, with general sessions on Sunday.

Formal news of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ was first carried to Great Britain seven years after the Church was organized. “… on or about the first of June, 1837, Heber C. Kimball, one of the Twelve, was set apart by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, prayer and laying on of hands, of the First Presidency, to preside over a mission to England, to be the first foreign mission of the Church of Christ in the last days.” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 489.)

Missionary work had already begun in Canada. Converts from that nation, some of whom were native British, were anxious to bring their newfound gospel truths to the land of their birth. Thus Joseph Fielding, Isaac Russell, John Goodson, and John Snider, who had all joined the Church in Canada; and Elder Kimball, Elder Orson Hyde, also of the Council of the Twelve, and Elder Willard Richards departed for England.

Brothers Kimball, Hyde, Richards, and Fielding left Kirtland, Ohio, June 13. On that day Robert B. Thompson noticed the door of the Kimball home partly open, and on entering found Elder Kimball, surrounded by his family, pouring out his soul to God “that he would grant him a prosperous voyage. … He then, like the patriarchs, and by virtue of his office, laid his hands upon their heads individually, leaving a father’s blessing upon them. … While thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them.” (Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp. 108–9.)

But the gospel was to be preached in England.

Brothers Russell, Goodson, and Snider joined Brothers Kimball, Hyde, Richards, and Fielding in New York City, and they sailed on the Garrick on July 1, arriving in Liverpool July 20.

Traveling by coach from Liverpool, they arrived at Preston, their destination, on July 22, election day. Driving into town they beheld a large banner unfurled almost above their heads, proclaiming “Truth Will Prevail.”

The next day they visited the Vauxhall Chapel of the Reverend James Fielding, brother of Joseph Fielding, the missionary. In answer to their silent prayer, the Reverend Fielding announced that the Mormons would preach from his pulpit at three that afternoon. At the close of the meeting they were invited to preach again that evening, and also on the following Wednesday evening. Although the Reverend Fielding soon withdrew the hospitality of his pulpit, the Lord was directing, and the honest in heart never knowingly turn their faces from the truth. Nine persons were baptized in the River Ribble at Preston the following Sunday, July 30.

On September 14, 1839, President Brigham Young left his home in Montrose, Iowa, to begin his mission to England. “He was so sick that he was unable to go to the Mississippi, a distance of thirty rods, without assistance. … He left his wife sick with a babe only three weeks old, and all his other children were sick and unable to wait upon each other. Not one soul of them was able to go to the well for a pail of water. …” (Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 265.)

But the gospel was to be preached in England. President Young wrote on April 20, 1841, the day he departed for home: “We landed in the spring of 1840, as strangers in a strange land and penniless, but through the mercy of God we have gained many friends, established Churches in almost every noted town and city in the kingdom of Great Britain, baptized between seven and eight thousand, printed 5,000 Books of Mormon, 3,000 Hymn Books, 2,500 [copies] of the Millennial Star, and 50,000 tracts, and emigrated to Zion 1,000 souls, established a permanent shipping agency which will be a great blessing to the Saints, and have left sown in the hearts of many thousands the seeds of eternal truth, which will bring forth fruit to the honor and glory of God, and yet we have lacked nothing to eat, drink or wear; in all these things I acknowledge the hand of God.” (Millennial Star, vol. 26, p. 7.)

On April 14, 1840, Willard Richards was ordained an apostle at Preston by President Young and was given a place in the Council of the Twelve. A year later “the Council of the Twelve assembled at Manchester, in Carpenter’s Hall, on the 7th day of April, 1841, for the first time to transact business as a quorum in the presence of the Church. … Nine of the quorum were present.” (DHC, vol. 4, p. 332.)

The rise of the Church in the British Isles was not accomplished without difficulty and some misunderstanding on the part of the British people, but the British Saints have been stalwarts in the Church.

Every president of the Church, except the Prophet Joseph Smith, has at some time labored in Britain as a missionary.

And now the British people are being given the privilege in August of attending a general conference of the Church conducted by the First Presidency.