At the time of his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, F. Melvin Hammond and his wife, Bonnie, were serving as Sunday School teachers for the seventeen-year-olds in their ward. When they were called to teach the class, only three or four young people attended consistently. The rest attended sporadically. But as the weeks went on, class attendance began to increase—until, finally, twenty-five young people were attending each week.
“Students want to learn the gospel,” says Elder Hammond, “and they want to know that you love them.”
Loving people and teaching the gospel are two of the things that Elder Hammond does best. He was born on 19 December 1933 in Blackfoot, Idaho, the second child of Floyd M. and Ruby Hoge Hammond. His father died when Mel was nine months old, and his mother attended Ricks College in order to obtain her teaching certificate. When young Mel was five, his mother married Earl Schofield, and the family moved to a farm near Ashton, Idaho. Later they bought a cattle ranch in Lima, Montana—where Mel attended high school, graduating in 1951.
He received a basketball scholarship to Ricks College; but during his first year there, he was involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in numerous injuries and nearly severed his foot. He was promised in a priesthood blessing that he would run and walk again, and he did. He also played basketball again.
The accident left him feeling that basketball wasn’t as important as he had once thought it was. And so he decided to serve a mission—something he hadn’t planned on. He served in the Spanish-American mission from 1954 to 1956.
Two months after returning from his mission, on 14 September 1956, Mel married Bonnie Sellers in the Salt Lake Temple. He then attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. After graduating from BYU, he taught seminary and institute in Utah and Colorado. He played baseball and enjoyed other outdoor activities with his seminary students—some of whom were less-active at the time but later decided to serve missions.
One of Elder Hammond’s strengths as a teacher is his love of people. “That’s the main thing we have to offer in this calling,” Sister Hammond says. “We can express love easily, and people need that. The world needs it. We both have a positive spirit—the Lord has blessed us with that.”
The Hammonds moved to Rexburg, Idaho, in 1966, where Mel was appointed professor of religion at Ricks College. Shortly thereafter, he was also elected to the Idaho State Legislature, where he served for sixteen years. He served as president of the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission from 1984 to 1987. He has also served as a bishop, a stake president, and an executive secretary to a Regional Representative. At the time he was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, he was serving as high priests group leader, in addition to his calling as Sunday School teacher.
The Hammonds have six children—Melanie (Rynearson), Lezlee (Porter), Stephanie (Weekes), Todd, Lisa, and Natalie. They also have ten grandchildren.
Elder Hammond enjoys singing and the outdoors—especially fishing. He recently took a fly-tying course and has been looking forward to fishing using the flies he had made. “He has all of them in an envelope, all ready to go,” says Sister Hammond. “But now I think he will be a ‘fisher of men’ and not a fisher of fish!”
It’s a sacrifice Elder Hammond won’t mind making. He sees his new calling as an opportunity to do more of what he loves most—teaching the gospel. “I have a genuine love for the Savior,” he says. “I love to talk about him and the things he did. And when I teach about him, I feel that I know him better.”