Lesson 26: George Albert Smith: A Mission of Love

"Lesson 26: George Albert Smith: A Mission of Love," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Objective

Class members will learn that love, as exemplified in the life of President George Albert Smith, is a great healing force.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prepare wordstrips or posters with the following inscriptions:

    Love.

    Love seeks out the sick and weary.

    Love is alert for opportunity to serve.

    Love finds time for others.

    Love forgives.

  2. 2.

    Assign four class members to each read one of the four examples showing George Albert Smith’s love. Give each a hand copy or photocopy of the example and a name tag of the person they represent (Elder Ezra Taft Benson, President Heber J. Grant’s Daughter, or D. Arthur Haycock).

  3. 3.

    If the videocassette Testimonies of the Presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (53242) is available, show the section “George Albert Smith.”

  4. 4.

    Hand copy or photocopy “President George Albert Smith’s Goals” for each member of the class. (See end of lesson.)

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Example

Read the following:

“The results of the Second World War were ugly and discouraging. It had lasted for more than five years. More than fifty countries had taken part in the war. An estimated fifty-five million people had lost their lives. It had cost over a trillion dollars. Millions in Europe and Asia were without adequate food, shelter, and clothing. Sorrow, hatred, and despair stalked through nations and homes. In one way or another, World War II had touched the lives of nearly everyone on the earth.

“On May 21, 1945, at a time when the full extent of carnage and devastation left behind by the war was just becoming apparent, George Albert Smith was moved from his time of preparation into his foreordained position as President of the Church” (Presidents of the Church [Religion 345 student manual], p. 195).

One of President Smith’s greatest attributes was the love he showed for the entire human family. This love is clearly demonstrated by the following statement of Patriarch Joseph F. Smith, the grandson of President Joseph F. Smith.

“It is not for me to say what particular mission President George Albert Smith has ahead of him. This I do know, however, that at this particular time in the world’s history, never was the need for love among brethren so desperately needed as it is today. Furthermore, I do know this, that there is no man of my acquaintance who loves the human family, collectively and individually, more profoundly than does President George Albert Smith” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1945, pp. 31–32).

In November 1945, after World War II had ended, President Smith called on Harry S. Truman, then president of the United States. President Smith described the visit this way:

“When I called on him, he received me very graciously—I had met him before—and I said: ‘I have just come to ascertain from you, Mr. President, what your attitude will be if the Latter-day Saints are prepared to ship food and clothing and bedding to Europe.’

“He smiled and looked at me, and said: ‘Well, what do you want to ship it over there for? Their money isn’t any good.’

“I said: ‘We don’t want their money.’ He looked at me and asked: ‘You don’t mean you are going to give it to them?’

“I said: ‘Of course, we would give it to them. They are our brothers and sisters and are in distress. God has blessed us with a surplus, and we will be glad to send it if we can have the co-operation of the government.’

“He said: ‘You are on the right track’ and added, ‘we will be glad to help you in any way we can.’

“I have thought of that a good many times. After we had sat there a moment or two, he said again: ‘How long will it take you to get this ready?’

“I said, ‘It’s all ready.’

“The government you remember had been destroying food and refusing to plant grain during the war, so I said to him:

“‘Mr. President, while the administration at Washington were advising the destroying of food, we were building elevators and filling them with grain, and increasing our flocks and our herds, and now what we need is the cars and the ships in order to send considerable food, clothing and bedding to the people of Europe who are in distress. We have an organization in the Church that has over two thousand homemade quilts ready’” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1947, pp. 5–6).

President George Albert Smith’s Goals

When he became an Apostle, President George Albert Smith made a list of his most serious goals and aspirations.

Activity and discussion

Give each class member a copy of the eleven goals that President George Albert Smith set for himself. Ask various class members to read these, one at a time.

  • What kind of effort would be required to meet such goals?

  • What would President Smith have had to sacrifice to meet these goals?

Class members might be encouraged to make a similar set of goals for themselves.

George Albert Smith Exemplified the Principle of Love in Word and Deed

Tell the class members that many stories are told of President Smith’s love and concern for others. He taught us, by his actions, many principles that are included in the word love.

Wordstrips or poster

Post the word Love. Underneath post the wordstrip or poster: Love seeks out the sick and weary.

Activity

Have the assigned class members read the following stories and wear the name tags of those whom they represent. Introduce them, giving any necessary descriptions before they begin to read.

This is Elder Ezra Taft Benson, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1951 when he said this:

Wordstrip or poster and activity

Post the wordstrip or poster: Love is alert for opportunity to serve.

This is a daughter of President Heber J. Grant.

Wordstrip or poster and activity

Post the wordstrip: Love finds time for others.

This is Brother D. Arthur Haycock, who was private secretary to several prophets.

Wordstrip or poster and example

Post the wordstrip: Love forgives.

Tell the following story:

“President George Albert Smith had a profound concern for people who had become disaffected from the Church, and he sought to show them their error.

One incident is representative of this. A large faction had broken away from the Church and established their own church. They were disgruntled with some leaders and presumed to take matters into their own hands. President Smith made a historic visit to this group in 1946. He met with them and shook their hands, spoke to them, and prayed and wept for them. They were touched by his presence. He looked and acted like a prophet. They acknowledged that he was a prophet. Twelve hundred people, feeling the radiant love of Christ reaching out to them through the Lord’s anointed, returned to the safety of the Church from which they had strayed” (Presidents of the Church [Religion 345 student manual], p. 202).

President Smith Admonished Us to Love Others

Speaking as one who throughout his life emphasized the word love, President Smith told the members of the Church:

“But do not forget no matter how much you may give in money, no matter how you may desire the things of this world to make yourselves happy, your happiness will be in proportion to your charity and to your kindness and to your love of those with whom you associate here on earth. Our Heavenly Father has said in very plain terms that he who says he loves God and does not love his brother is not truthful” (George Albert Smith, “To the Relief Society,” Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1932, p. 709).

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, while a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said this about President George Albert Smith: “It seemed to me that every act, every thought of our President would indicate that with all of his heart and soul he loved the Lord, and loved his fellowmen. Is there a mortal being who could have loved them more?” (in Church News, 11 Apr. 1951, p. 11).

Videocassette testimony

If it is available, show the videocassette, part 4 (1 minute, 19 seconds), of George Albert Smith’s testimony.

The qualities and characteristics of our prophets show the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. He sets before us the best men to meet the needs of our times. The example of George Albert Smith is a blessing to anyone who studies the life of this great man. His love was a special blessing to the world at a time when bitterness and suffering seemed so widespread. His love gave comfort to Latter-day Saints all over the world.

One of the greatest gifts we may develop is the gift of love. Like all other spiritual gifts, this one will come as we continue to serve God and our fellowmen, as we seek God’s help in prayer, and as we study to learn his will.

Testimony and Challenge

Bear testimony and challenge class members to show love like President Smith’s to their fellowmen.