Moments With The Prophets: Epistles From Exile

Jack E. Jarrard

Probably the one thing that characterized President John Taylor in running the affairs of the Church was his unlimited energy.

He became leader of the Church in 1877 as president of the Quorum of the Twelve after the death of Brigham Young, but wasn’t sustained as Church president until 1880. He directed the Church from exile for the last two years of his life because of heavy persecution by the United States government over the polygamy issue.

But during his administration he encouraged the construction of temples, heavily stressed expansion of missionary work, and got the Church organization working smoothly.

He required bishops to hold weekly priesthood meetings in their wards, instructed stake presidents to conduct general stake priesthood meetings monthly, and inaugurated quarterly stake conferences so “the saints could be instructed in the gospel.”

President Taylor also stepped up missionary work by calling larger numbers of elders than had previously been called.

Missionary work was the theme of the annual Pioneer Day parade on July 24, 1880 celebrating the entry of the pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. On suggestion of President Taylor, “a man and a woman, dressed in native costume, represented each country; the colors and the name of the nation represented where the missionaries of the Church had labored.”

After the parade these nationalities, numbering 25, sat on a platform in front of the pulpit in the Tabernacle for the holiday program.

It was from this same pulpit on February 1, 1885, that President Taylor gave his last public talk, a vigorous sermon to the saints setting forth the wrongs inflicted on the people by the U.S. government, the ministers of other churches, and the newspapers.

He then went into voluntary exile so he could continue to direct the affairs of the Church with the same zeal and energy as before. He issued letters from exile from time to time and the non-Mormon law officers who sought his arrest never found him. His health began to fail and he died peacefully at the home of Thomas F. Rouche in Kaysville, Utah on July 25, 1887.

Jack E. Jarrard, Church News