President Wilford Woodruff

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 249–50


Introduction

“‘Wilford the Faithful.’ That was the title given to Wilford Woodruff in the early days of the Church, and it was a title justly earned. Never was there a more devoted and faithful Latter-day Saint. ‘His integrity and unbounded devotion to the worship and purposes of his God,’ writes Matthias F. Cowley, author of the Life of Wilford Woodruff, ‘are not surpassed by any prophet of either ancient or modern times.’ Here truly was a good and great man who, in his youth, was permitted to ally himself with those who were engaged in the sublime task of building on earth the kingdom of God; and, unlike many of his associates whose days were ‘cut short in righteousness,’ Wilford Woodruff was granted ninety-one years of life and labor, and was at last permitted to preside over the organization that he had struggled so long and so diligently to establish and maintain” (Preston Nibley, The Presidents of the Church, rev. ed. [1974], 101).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • President Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God. Following his teachings can help lead us to Jesus Christ (see “President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, pp. 178–81, par. 1–25; see also D&C 43:3; 138:53–54).

  • Church members have a responsibility to do family history and temple work for their deceased ancestors (see “President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, pp. 178–81, par. 1–7, 11–18, 22; see also Obadiah 1:21; D&C 128:15; 138:47–48).

  • We can depend on the promptings of the Spirit, which will lead us on a path of peace, safety, and happiness (see “President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, p. 181, par. 19–21, 25).

  • We must trust in and look to the Lord Jesus Christ (see “President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, p. 181, par. 23–24).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 435–50.

Suggestions for Teaching

“President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, pp. 178–81, par. 1–25. President Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God. Following his teachings can help lead us to Jesus Christ.

(10–15 minutes)

Create a set of questions from “President Wilford Woodruff” in the student study guide (pp. 178–82). Divide the class into teams. Ask the questions, and have the teams find the answers in the student study guide. Help students have an enjoyable experience by giving points for correct answers, dividing the questions into categories, making rules so that each student can participate, and so forth. Questions could include the following:

  • What year did Wilford Woodruff become President of the Church?

  • Name four places Wilford Woodruff served missions.

  • What part of the Doctrine and Covenants was written by President Woodruff?

  • What are three accomplishments for which President Woodruff will be remembered?

  • What date did the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve sustain the Manifesto?

  • What did the Lord tell President Woodruff in the 1894 revelation about genealogy work?

  • What two temples did President Woodruff dedicate?

  • What temple was President Woodruff the first president of?

  • What did President Woodruff tell Sunday School children on his 90th birthday?

“President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, pp. 178–81, par. 1–7, 11–18, 22. Church members have a responsibility to do family history and temple work for their deceased ancestors.

(30–35 minutes)

Divide students into small teams. Give each team a piece of paper and allow them five minutes to list as many answers as they can to the following question: In what ways can you help family history and temple work progress on the earth?

You could reward those teams whose list is the longest or most unique (do not allow the atmosphere to become too competitive). Answers might include the following:

  • Receive your temple endowment.

  • Be sealed to your family.

  • Do family history research.

  • Submit family names for temple work.

  • Do record extraction.

  • Visit a cemetery and record information from gravestones.

  • Hold a family reunion.

  • Participate in a family organization.

  • Visit a site from your family’s history.

  • Keep a personal journal.

  • Write a personal history.

Have students study “His Life,” “His Presidency,” and paragraphs 1–7, 11–17 under “President Wilford Woodruff” in the student study guide (pp. 178–80). Have them look for at least eight ways President Woodruff helped family history and temple work to progress during his lifetime.

Have a student read paragraphs 18, 22. Discuss how these statements support what you have been teaching. Ask: How have family history and temple work progressed in your lifetime? Encourage students to participate in family history and temple work by doing some of the activities on their lists.

“President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, p. 181, par. 19–21, 25. We can rely on the promptings of the Spirit, which will lead us on a path of peace, safety, and happiness.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask students:

  • What might promptings from the Holy Ghost feel like? (To help answer this question you could refer to such scriptures as Alma 32:28; D&C 6:22–23; 11:12–14.)

  • Why is it important to follow the promptings of the Spirit while you are young?

  • When have you felt direction or guidance from the Holy Ghost?

Spend a few minutes discussing these questions. Read paragraphs 19–21, 25 of “President Wilford Woodruff” in the student study guide (p. 181). Discuss how President Woodruff’s teachings and testimony confirm the principles you discussed.

Note: If students say they have never felt the influence of the Holy Ghost, assure them that if they keep the Lord’s commandments, they will receive this guidance. Explain that often the Lord withholds the Spirit for a time in order to try our faith (see Ether 12:6). Point out also that part of gaining faith is learning to recognize and trust the feelings we may already have felt in our lives (see the references after the first question above).

“President Wilford Woodruff,” Student Study Guide, p. 181, par. 23–24. We must trust in and look to the Lord Jesus Christ.

(10–15 minutes)

Show students a picture of the Savior’s Crucifixion (see Gospel Art Picture Kit, no. 230). Discuss what they feel when they remember the suffering of Jesus Christ. Read paragraph 24 of “President Wilford Woodruff” in the student study guide (p. 181). Ask:

  • Why is the suffering of the Savior “sorrowful”?

  • How could pondering the suffering of Christ make a person happy?

  • What blessings come to you because of the suffering and Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Read Enos 1:1–9; Alma 36:17–20 and discuss how pondering and accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ made these men feel. Encourage students to look to Jesus Christ each day of their lives. Read paragraph 23 of “President Wilford Woodruff” and ask:

  • What promise did President Woodruff give to those who put their trust in the Lord?

  • Read Alma 37:44–47. What do these verses teach us about trusting the Lord?

  • What advice would you give to someone who asked: “What can I do to think about the Savior each day?”