A Century of Progress


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Eccl. 3:1).

“Twelve months have passed away since we were … wondering what the New Year would bring us. … We can now look back on the past year and see how much we have done, how much we have learned, and how many pleasures we had. …

“Some of us will perhaps write out a long list of the things we intend to do, and call them ‘New Year’s Resolutions;’ and then probably forget them in a very short time. Others may think of the great things they would like to do, while some will say nothing at all about it, but just keep their eyes open and do whatever needs doing. …

“Then we shall be able not only to say ‘A Happy New Year,’ but to help make it so.”

This New Year’s greeting was written almost 100 years ago by Primary leaders in an issue of the Children’s Friend for children a lot like you. And, like you, those children had just recently witnessed the turn of a new century.

Children in the early 1900s learned the same things that we do now in Primary. They were taught about Jesus Christ, baptism, tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and all the other things that we as Latter-day Saints believe in. But even though the gospel has not changed, the Church was different for the 41,723 Primary children in 1900 than it is for the more than 1,104,000 Primary children in the year 2000. For example:

  • The number of Church members is now almost 11 million. In 1900 there were only 236,628 members. Although the number of Latter-day Saints is still well under 1% of the population of the world—we have a lot of missionary work yet to do!—it is more than 10 times the percentage of the Latter-day Saints in the world population in 1900.

  • The Book of Mormon is now available in 49 languages, with parts of it available in another 42 languages. In 1900 the Book of Mormon was available in only 12 languages: English, Danish, French, German, Italian, Welsh, Hawaiian, English—Deseret Alphabet (a language developed to help immigrants to Utah but used only briefly), Spanish, Swedish, Maori, and Dutch.

  • Depending on how many members of the Church there are in your area, you probably live within the boundaries of a stake or district. In fact, there are now more than 2,505 stakes around the world. The stake boundaries in 1900 would have been much larger, and there were only 43 stakes worldwide.

  • You’ve probably sung “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” * in Primary. Today almost 60,000 full-time missionaries serve in over 330 missions. This is more than 75 times the number of missionaries in 1900, when 796 served in 20 missions.

  • President Lorenzo Snow was the first prophet of the new twentieth century. He, like all latter-day prophets, preached about many aspects of the gospel. But he was most well-known for his emphasis on paying tithing. His counsel to Church members to pay their tithing helped to bring the Church out of debt. Since then, faithful, tithe-paying Church members have made it possible for the Church to build meetinghouses and temples, to restore historical sites, and to become involved with many other special projects.

Today, because of people who pay their tithing, President Hinckley is able to announce and dedicate temples at the fastest rate ever. Only 6 temples were dedicated before 1900—Kirtland (Ohio), Nauvoo Illinois, St. George Utah, Logan Utah, Manti Utah, and Salt Lake (Utah); by the end of 1999, 68 temples are expected to be in use, and another 39 are planned for the year 2000.

At the beginning of the last 100 years, President Snow said, “I hope and look for grand events to occur in the twentieth century. … May the Twentieth Century prove the happiest as it will be the grandest of all the ages of time.” Looking back at the progress of the Church, it would be hard to disagree.

Note: Technically the new century and the new millennium will not begin until 2001. However, since they are being generally recognized and celebrated in 2000, we have chosen to do so also.

 

1900

2000

Primary Children

41,723

1,104,000

Church Membership

236,628

10,000,000+

Book of Mormon Languages Available

12

49

Stake Growth

43

2,505

Missionaries and Missions

796 20

60,000 330

Temples Dedicated

6

107 expected to be in use by the end of the year 2000

[illustration] Illustrated by Brad Teare

Show References

  1.   *

    Children’s Songbook, page 169.