175 Years of Mormon Missionaries in England
Filed under Mormon Missionaries
BBC News has reported “About 10,000 people are expected to [participate in] a celebration concert in Preston to mark the anniversary of the first Mormon missionaries to arrive in the UK.” (Joe Wilson, “Concert will mark anniversary of Mormon baptisms in Preston,” BBC News, June 8, 2012). This July 2012 concert celebrates the fact that—
Thousands of British lives have been touched, regenerated, and uplifted. The goodness and power of God have been manifest, the sick have been healed, the needy cared for, the sorrowing comforted, the wayward returned to paths of righteousness, and the troubled and tormented given peace. Truth-seekers have found the sure way to eternal goals. From the British Isles has come stalwart stock—defenders of the faith, carriers of the glad message, men and women, brothers and sisters who have had the courage of their convictions. 
My own ancestors learned the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ on an island off the coast of Great Britain, and their faithful example and courage have been huge blessings to my family. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mistakenly called the Mormon Church by the media), I’m forever grateful to the seven missionaries “sent to Britain, only 7 years after the Church was founded”  who shared their message of truth.
Mormon Missionaries Bring Truth to Britain
In 1830, God answered the prayer of a young boy (Joseph Smith) and called him as a prophet to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith later translated The Book of Mormon, ancient scripture written by prophets in the Americas, and sent missionaries abroad to share the message that God guides us today. In the Mormon book, the missionary Ammon taught,
Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever (Alma 26:37).
Four men (including two of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ) named Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, Joseph Fielding, and Heber C. Kimball left their families, in 1837, during a time of financial hardship. They had faith that God would watch over and provide for their families in Kirtland, Ohio, while they were gone. The Prophet Joseph Smith had asked them to preach the gospel in Britain. Three more missionaries (John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder) joined them in New York to board a ship for England:
…and just as their coach arrived [in Preston], the missionaries noted a large banner unfurled almost above their heads; in bold gilt letters it bore the inscription “Truth Will Prevail.” With joy in their hearts the missionaries cried aloud, “Amen! Thanks be to God! Truth will prevail!” 
Within a few years, thousands of British people heard that God spoke to prophets once again and were baptized members of Christ’s Church.
The teachings of the Church attracted more than a thousand converts in the first few years in the United Kingdom, despite mounting opposition from ministers and the press. Between 1837 and the turn of the century, as many as 100,000 converts emigrated to join the main body of the Church in the United States.”  LDS church leader Brigham Young reported that these penniless missionaries “established churches in almost every noted town and city in the kingdom of Great Britain, baptized between seven and eight thousand, printed 5,000 Books of Mormon, 3,000 Hymn Books, 2,500 [copies] of the Millennial Star, and 50,000 tracts, and emigrated to Zion 1,000 souls, established a permanent shipping agency… and have sown in the hearts of many thousands the seeds of eternal truth, which will bring forth fruit to the honor and glory of God. 
These English men and women have blessed the LDS Church in many ways. Thousands of Mormon pioneers traveled from England to the United States and almost half of the 1870 Mormon population in Utah were British immigrants.  “How grateful the church is to Great Britain, for Great Britain has contributed many great leaders to the leading councils… [and] the musical heritage of the Church.” Such individuals include the Englishmen John Taylor, who later became the third president of the Church, and Joseph H. Ridges, who built the Salt Lake Tabernacle organ. 
Some of my favorite conversion stories include a healed invalid and a constable with a warrant for a missionary’s arrest:
[Ann] was an invalid whose case had been given up by the doctors. She was promised by the missionaries that if she would believe, repent, and be baptized, she would be healed. She was carried to the water, and after her baptism she began to recover. During her confirmation a blessing was pronounced and the disease rebuked. Her recovery was immediate; soon she was attending to her household duties. She later emigrated to Utah and died several decades later in Montpelier, Idaho.
…a man entered the door and informed me [the missionary Wilford Woodruff] that he was a constable, and had been sent by the rector of the parish with a warrant to arrest me. I asked him, ‘For what crime?’ He said, ‘For preaching to the people.’ I told him that I, as well as the rector, had a license for preaching the gospel to the people, and that if he would take a chair I would wait upon him after the meeting. He took my chair and sat beside me. For an hour and a quarter I preached the first principles of the everlasting gospel. The power of God rested upon me, the spirit filled the house, and the people were convinced. At the close of the meeting I opened the door for baptism, and seven offered themselves. Among the number were four preachers and the constable. 
Timeline of Mormon Missionaries in England 
•June 13, 1837 Missionaries left their 4 families in Ohio to begin their journey for England
•July 1, 1837 Three more joined them in New York & the 7 missionaries boarded the Garrick
•July 20, 1837 Arrival of 7 LDS missionaries in Liverpool
•July 22, 1837 Arrival in Preston by coach on Election Day
•July 23, 1837 Missionaries preach in the Vauxhall Chapel in Preston
•July 30, 1837 Over 8,000 attend 9 River Ribble baptisms (including the invalid Ann Elixabeth Walmesely) & 50 more converts were baptized by the next week. 
•April 8, 1838 About1,500—2,000 converts (including 400 members in Preston)
•April 15, 1840 Starts monthly publication (for 30 years) for members called the Millenial Star
•April 1841 Copy of Book of Mormon presented to Queen Victoria and her son Prince Albert
•1840-1846 Over 3,300 Britain converts immigrate to Nauvoo in the United States
•1950’s London Temple (House of God) dedicated 
•June 1998 Preston Temple dedicated 
Celebrating the Anniversary of Mormon Missionaries
A concert will be held July 2012, in Avenham Park, to celebrate the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in Great Britain. Eight thousand people watched the first baptisms of Englishmen performed in the river 175 years ago and this year thousands more can participate as part of the Preston Guild 2012 celebrations.
The concert will be addressed by LDS church leaders and will also feature a choir of church members from around the North West who will be singing well known Christian hymns. Dr Holt said: “This will be a wonderful opportunity for the Mormons in Britain to remember their heritage and celebrate the history of the church on these islands. It will be a time to look back, a time to rejoice together as hymns are sung by the congregation and a large LDS choir. We shall also have the opportunity to enjoy the words of past and present church leaders. We want people from all over Lancashire to bring their blankets, bring their picnic baskets and join us in the park.” (Joe Wilson, “Concert will mark anniversary of Mormon baptisms in Preston,” BBC News, June 8, 2012).
I invite you to study the Book of Mormon and restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ that inspired this celebration. I know you can receive answers to your prayers if you sincerely seek truth.
This article was written by Rebecca, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Watch a video of a famous Mormon musician raised in London.
What do Mormons Believe? See the article on the Restoration of Jesus Christ’s Church
Read your own free copy of The Book of Mormon
Who are Mormon Missionaries?
Visit the Church site for LDS Facts and Statistics: United Kingdom