Canadian Gospel Service

Donald G. Godfrey, "Canadian Gospel Service," in In Their Footsteps: Mormon Pioneers of Faith (Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018), 335–356.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was built on the bedrock of pioneer service, and service was a part of the lives in both the Card and Godfrey families. Service is synonymous with work, worship, obedience, love, dedication, and sacrifice. People in Church organizations are called in administrative, teaching, and service assignments. At the same time, they continue their employment supporting and sustaining their own families.[1] Many members of the Church today serve one another in a variety of capacities ranging from missionary work, teaching children and young adults, administering the programs of the Church, and donating to fast offerings. Members are taught not just Church service, but community, military, and patriotic service.

Charles Ora Card’s mission to Canada lasted sixteen years. The Card Ward was organized 15 June 1887, named the Card Ward on 6 October 1888, and a year later became the Cardston Ward. From 15 June 1887 until 9 June 1895 it was under the jurisdiction of the Cache Valley Utah Stake, which covered a huge territory north of Logan, Utah, to an area in Canada that stretched east to Ontario and west to the Pacific. The Alberta Stake was created in 1895. At the end of World War II, Cardston reported having four wards. The population was swelling as young men returned from the military to farm and start their own families. The Cardston First and Third Ward’s congregations met in the tabernacle on the northeast corner of the temple block, and the Second and Fourth Wards met in the Church social center, today’s town center, just east of the courthouse.

temple and tabernacleCardston Temple and Tabernacle, 1927. Courtesy of Glenbow Museum.

When Floyd and Clarice Godfrey relocated from Magrath to Cardston, it was the middle of the Great Depression. Cardston was still geographically isolated, with the US border just south, the Blood Indian Reserve immediately north, the Rocky Mountains to the west, and empty prairies to the east. Southern Alberta was no longer open prairie; it was composed of tidy organized settlements dotting land from the foothills. The Depression was taking its toll. Grain previously expected to sell for $1.40 per bushel before the market collapsed would bring less than $0.77 per bushel.[2] By 1932, Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park had become the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, but with the Depression, the number of visitors to Glacier sank from 10,182 before the stock market crash to 2,988 in 1932.[3] In 1930, adding to difficult times, hurricane-force winds destroyed Cardston buildings, trees, and roofs and damaged many homes.[4]

During the Depression, Edward J. Wood, the Alberta Stake president (1903–42), promoted expanding irrigation projects to help out communities.[5] In the 1930s, ranchers and farmers could not sell their cattle or their crops, but their Mormon heritage taught them to work cooperatively; so they did. There were community gardens where people shared, harvested, and bottled produce for the winter months. There was significant fasting and prayer for moisture. They were dependent upon each other, and they leaned on the Lord. Wood followed Charles Ora Card as the Alberta Stake president and later as the Cardston Alberta Temple president. He was a recognized leader of significant influence.[6] “The business world is in great commotion, but here in this sacred soil of the country which the Lord has given us, it will never refuse to yield something to sustain life,” he wrote in his journal.[7] His advice was sought by everyone. He told people when to plant, when to harvest, when to buy, and when to sell.

Heber J. Matkin, was a bishop when the Godfreys moved to Cardston and was a partner in the Cardston Trading Company.[8] A spiritual man, he taught that blessings came as individuals lived the gospel, even during the depths of hardships. He taught patience with oneself and compassion for those with whom he served. He taught by the power of love, understanding the value of calm in times of trials. Bishop Matkin asked Floyd to accept a calling in the ward. Floyd responded, regretting that he was behind in his tithing. Matkin encouraged him, “You will do better . . . [when] you pay a full tithing.” He and Clarice decided they would do so, and from that time forward, they never were behind, and their “blessings were many.”[9]

Temple Service

In 1948, Floyd was called as a Cardston Alberta Temple ordinance worker. This meant he would administer the sacred ordinances of the temple and participate in the presentation of the endowment.[10] The temple president, Willard Smith, encouraged Floyd with the kindness of his example and integrity. Smith was a member of one of the Godfreys’ neighborhood study groups when he asked Floyd if he would serve. Floyd again expressed concern about his worthiness, to which Smith responded, “Well get yourself worthy because I want you to come.” It was the beginning of a lifelong devotion working in the house of the Lord. Lifetime bonds were forged with friends and associates, coupled with the spiritual witnesses that strengthened their marriage and family. Floyd was a dedicated temple worker. He and Clarice attended regularly.

One winter evening, Clarice headed for the temple. It was snowing, and she had forgotten her temple recommend.[11] The recommend desk worker could not allow her to enter without it. The wind blew the snow around her as she walked home across the street and through the parking lot of the Alberta Stake building. She retrieved her recommend, returned, and entered the temple. She was frustrated with the desk attendant, whom she knew. She never again forgot her recommend.

The Godfrey children were not taught about the temple from sermons or lectures but from what they observed. They always knew it was time to get home when the lights in the room on the top floor of the temple came on. If they hurried, they could beat their parents home.

Floyd served in the Cardston temple for twelve years and was released on 27 January 1960.[12] He knew every part of the endowment dialogue and every ordinance. He expected the same of his children. While taking a son through his second temple experience, Floyd commented to him, “Now you can pay attention.” His sons and daughters were listening. Everyone later followed his footsteps and served as temple workers in Cardston and Calgary, Alberta; Ogden and Provo, Utah; Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. Collectively, his family served 127 years as temple workers, and several of his descendants are still serving.

Stake and Ward Service

Floyd and Clarice served in the Church all their lives. It was just a part of their lifestyle choices. Floyd worked in executive positions, wishing he could be “just a teacher.” Prayer was constant at home and in Church callings. Family prayer meant kneeling together in the morning. Evening prayer was Clarice and Floyd holding hands as they knelt together before bedtime. Fast Sundays were long days of prayer, and the children might have had feelings of starvation.[13] Floyd was on the Alberta Stake high council and attended regular prayer circle leadership meetings in the temple.[14] There the leaders of the stake prayed together for their community, for individuals, and for rain to water the crops. Perhaps the most important, Floyd also offered silent individual prayers, such as when he knelt on the dirt floor of the warehouse of Floyd’s Furniture, or while he was on a long country drive, or in the quiet bishop’s office before an appointment.

Floyd’s first calling in the Alberta Stake was as a member of the priesthood committee.[15] As such, he accompanied John H. Johansson, a high councilor, in touring the various wards on speaking assignments.[16] Floyd enjoyed public speaking even though he felt self-conscious about what he perceived as his limited knowledge. His lessons in dramatics gave his addresses a flair, and his constant love for the scriptures and good books gave him the knowledge. He was called to speak many times throughout his adult life.

As stake superintendent of the Sunday School, Floyd organized the first Sunday School on the Blood Reserve.[17] They held the inaugural meeting in a little cottage on the Reserve. The First Nations wives wrapped their little ones in blankets and hung quilts between the corners of the room like hammocks. They would give them a little push and they would rock the babies back and forth while lessons were taught. At the first meeting ten were in attendance, and the branch continues today.

Superintendent Floyd’s assignments facilitated the needs of all the wards in the stake, providing training materials and coordinating the administration of Sunday School and its teachings. He participated in several teacher training courses prescribed by the Church and shared these experiences to those with whom he worked. He enjoyed his Sunday School assignments because they gave him confidence in working with others.[18]

Cardston Third Ward

The Cardston Third Ward was almost four decades in the making. On 14 February 1946, the First and Second wards were divided, creating the Third and Fourth wards.[19] At stake conference on 12 May 1946, Alma Orson Wiley was sustained and set apart as the bishop of the Third Ward, Ora LeRoy Nielsen as first counselor, and Floyd Godfrey as second counselor. All three were ordained high priests in the Melchizedek Priesthood and set apart by Joseph Fielding Smith of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.[20]

In the Third Ward, the Godfrey family grew. Clarice served as Relief Society president with Beryl B. Shaw and Gladys C. Hall as counselors.[21] She was on the ward welfare committee, where she directed efforts to care for those in need. Floyd’s bishopric responsibilities included working with the young men in the Aaronic Priesthood, managing the choir, and serving as the ward work director to help returning soldiers find employment. In 1949, he became the first counselor in the bishopric. Their eldest son, Kenneth, departed on his mission to France in March 1949. Their next son, Lorin, served as a teenager in his teachers quorum presidency as counselor and later as president. Once he became a priest, he served as the secretary in the priest quorum. Arlene was secretary of the Sunday School. Marilyn was seventeen, and young Donald was only six years old, with Robert still on the horizon.

In these days, sacrament meeting, Sunday School, and priesthood meeting were spread throughout the Sabbath day. Sunday School was the morning service, followed by priesthood, and sacrament meeting was held in the afternoon. The Relief Society, the Primary, and the Mutual Improvement Association meetings were held throughout the week.

Martin Harris’s Testimony

Bishop Wiley’s goal at sacrament meeting was to produce a feeling of the spirit—a goal that produced memorable events. There were often prayers for rain. There would be a clear, sunny sky when the congregation strolled into the tabernacle and took their seats, but after the service, they exited in the rain.

During his time in the bishopric, Floyd witnessed the testimony of William Glenn, who had known Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon.[22] The Glenn family were onetime neighbors of Martin Harris when the Glenn and Harris families lived in Wellsville, Utah. The Glenns had taken care of Harris during an illness, and they became personal friends. The Glenns then moved to Canada in 1897, and by the late 1940s they were in the Third Ward. The testimony of Brother Glenn was vivid: “I want you brothers and sisters to know that I heard Martin Harris say that he saw the golden plates”. Harris’s testimony of the Book of Mormon appears today as “The Testimony of the Three Witnesses” in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. Years later, Brother Glenn bore his own witness of having heard the words of Harris for himself. Brother Glenn made a direct, declarative statement of what he heard personally from Martin Harris. Those words reached into Floyd’s heart, and Glenn’s testimony strengthened more than one family’s testimony over the generations. The gospel of Jesus Christ and his Church does make a difference in our lives and our testimonies over generations.[23]

Alberta Stake Center

Thoughts for a new building to serve as the Alberta Stake Center began surfacing after World War II. The old tabernacle, on the northeast corner of the temple, had served as a meetinghouse and community center for almost forty-two years, but the sandstone foundations were crumbling. The social center had a chapel upstairs, but it was too small to accommodate expansion. A new building was needed and would be constructed just west of the temple. The land was donated by those who lived on it, and Floyd and Clarice provided manual labor in addition to part of their land. The first architectural drawing for the new building looked something like today’s modern temples. A crowd gathered for the “Sod Turning Ceremony,” but rain delayed the beginning of the excavation.[24]

In accordance with Church practices at the time, members pitched in with donations and labor, coordinating their time and talents to see the new building finished.[25] As the bulldozers cleared land for the parking lot, the two youngest Godfreys, Donald and Robert, ages ten and three respectively, rescued a wild calico cat living in the curls of the rolled soil. They fed, befriended, and adopted the cat and named it “Tic-ity.” Robert’s young tongue just could not get around the word kitty, so “Tic-ity” stuck. Clarice sewed huge curtains for the stage in the gymnasium, which functioned both as an auditorium and a basketball court. Floyd’s Furniture sold chairs used in the classrooms, in the gymnasium, on the stage for talent shows, at weddings, at social gatherings, and at conferences. By 1954 the new chapel was ready, and the old tabernacle sadly came down.

After nearly seven years in the leadership of the Third Ward bishopric, Bishop Wiley and his counselors, Floyd Godfrey and Vernon Hall, were released on 14 December 1952. Fred N. Spackman, was called as the new bishop. Floyd moved into a position with the stake high council under Gordon Brewerton, president of the Alberta Stake. The stake high council were the eyes and ears of the local Church.[26] They supervised, trained, and assisted local ward leaders and watched over their towns. By 1959, Kenneth, who had returned from his mission in France and Switzerland, was the Young Men Mutual Improvement Association president. Lorin, who had returned from his mission in South Africa, became the First Ward Young Men president. Donald was fifteen and was serving in his teachers quorum presidency. During this same time, Robert turned seven.

Cardston Fifth Ward

On a 1964 visit to Cardston from Salt Lake, Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner called a meeting of the stake high council to discuss the creation of a new ward. Tanner was a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church and was there to reorganize the Alberta Stake. He called for Floyd Godfrey, interviewed him, and then called him to be the bishop of the Cardston Fifth Ward.[27] The Fifth Ward was organized by dividing the First and Third Wards. It was a powerfully spiritual experience as Floyd realized the responsibilities ahead in organizing a completely new ward.

Floyd Godfrey was ordained and set apart as bishop by Elder Tanner on 26 April 1964.[28] He led the newly created Fifth Ward with Donald G. Shaw and Myron Berry as his counselors. By this time, his children Kenneth, Arlene, Marilyn, and Lorin were married and were starting families of their own. Kenneth lived in Provo, Utah; Arlene in Mountain View, Alberta; Marilyn in Beazer, Alberta; and Lorin in Cardston, Canada. Donald was on a mission in Florida, and Robert was president of his teachers quorum.

Being new, the Fifth Ward needed total organization. Every ward position from teachers and leadership to youth organizations needed people to take responsibility. Floyd called the Relief Society women and the Melchizedek Priesthood men together. The discussion focused on starting the new ward. No one had any callings, and the ward itself “did not have a cent.” Some people suggested that they throw parties to raise operational funds, but one wise elderly gentleman said, “No, we can each donate and give this new ward a start.” The checks immediately started coming. The amounts on them ranged from a few dollars to one thousand dollars, and when the donations concluded there were almost $6,000 ($44,485) in the account. From this money, the ward ordered supplies, and the bishopric began assigning callings for people to staff the multiplicity of assignments. People readily accepted different assignments in the Relief Society, priesthood quorums, Primary, Sunday School, and Mutual Improvement Association programs. After the Fifth Ward’s first year, the quarterly historical report indicated they had a “very successful period. The ward is well united and [people] willing to serve.”[29] Floyd was completely dedicated. He loved the people of the Fifth Ward.

Mentoring Youth

Not all of a bishop’s work is dedicated to administration shuffles. There are more important times when a bishop quietly mentors and advises as directed by the Spirit. A bishop would typically spend a good deal of time with the youth, and the Fifth Ward was no different. The ward leadership organized regular camps and social outings that strengthened the young adults. Some were simple fireside gatherings in members’ homes that featured special speakers who engaged the young people in thought-provoking topics. Others were more elaborate, and the guests may have spoken around the fire during a campout in the mountains.

In 1967, nineteen young men joined Bishop Godfrey and his counselors on a horseback camp out in Waterton Park at Crypt Lake. In the mid-1920s, when Waterton Park’s hiking trails were under development, one particular hike was called “Hell Roaring Falls.”[30] This is a notorious hike on the eastern shore of the Upper Waterton Lake into the mountains and along high cliff sides. Even today, it is known as one of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park’s most difficult treks. On this outing one of the horses fell over backwards and counselor Myron Berry, along with his horse, nearly slid down the mountain one thousand feet. It put a scare in the group and prioritized safety for the ride. Memories such as these produced guideposts in the lives of those teenage boys.

The ward navigated through its first five years. There were several conferences, funerals, and meetings. In spring 1967, President Tanner attended stake conference, and this generated record attendance since Tanner was a native of Cardston. Temple assignments and work increased. In the Fifth Ward, Donald Shaw was released as a counselor, and Kenneth D. Holland was sustained by the congregation to replace him.

Spiritual Counsel

Many tasks of a bishop simply require quiet service to those in need. A bishop is a spiritual and ecclesiastical leader, but he also helps provide assistance to those in poverty. The bishop makes assignments to assist the poor, keeping in mind that food and clothing are the greatest needs. The ward organized welfare suppers, from which they donated food. Furthermore, youth fund-raising activities also provided support for anyone in need. Young men were sent on missions, aiding those in need in addition to proselyting. Generally, the families kept their own missionaries in the field, but if they were unable, support was always found within the ward.

Simple experiences touched Bishop Godfrey’s heart and spirit. He tells the story of an elderly gentleman who was watching over a child: “Yes, I know of a man in this ward who waited for a boy two hours, while he [the boy] had the ‘ride of his life’ on the first [department store] escalator he had ever seen.”[31] The boy went up and down the moving staircase, while the grandfatherly gentleman simply waited patiently. Memories and associations such as these built bonds of love and friendship.

Bishops quietly assisted the unselfish mothers and fathers of children who were contending with temptations or struggling at school. Bishop Godfrey’s phone number was easily accessible to all young adults in their dating years. If they needed middle-of-the-night counseling or a ride home, they had his number. In those days, they would actually be required to dial a landline number. Names of people seeking the bishop’s counsel, along with the counsel given, remained eternally confidential—not even Clarice knew who sought the counsel or what their needs were. Many meetings were personal and sensitive, coming from moments of individual trial. Bishop Godfrey provided spiritual guidance, which prayerfully directed individuals through difficult situations as they “held to the rod.”[32] If professional counseling was needed, LDS Social Services provided assistance at the request of the bishop. Most members who called on their bishops were seeking strength to overcome temptations. Perhaps the Spirit had been lost to them, and visiting with the bishop brought its return.

Spiritual experiences are seldom forgotten and are kept quietly in the hearts of all those involved. One day, two parents came to Bishop Godfrey. They had four children and were struggling to make ends meet. Floyd called them “John” and “Mary” for the sake of confidentiality.

John was born and raised on a farm of the prairie provinces. He was a hardworking farmer who was taught to milk the cows in the morning before breakfast and then wrangle the horses, grease the wagon, and take the cows to pasture. These were the daily chores of farming the prairies. The family was not wealthy. As a boy, John longed for a pair of shoes and overalls, but his father and mother had no money, so he was not dressed like the other kids. He had no schooling, either. His father was rigid and strict, and too many times he vented his feelings onto his suffering child. As a result, there was conflict, but John worked hard under his father’s constant pressure.

As John grew into his teenage years, he wanted to go to school, and he attended a one-room prairie schoolhouse, which stood by itself on a distant hill near the farm. As John grew, a beautiful young schoolteacher, Mary, secured a job at the school. She was dark and beautiful, with eyes that sparkled when she smiled. John’s secret love for her was kept to himself. He was perhaps a year older than his teacher, but even still, he feared the ridicule of his classmates if they were to discover what was in his heart. The days and weeks passed and school would soon be over. John felt that Mary had feelings for him, too, but never a word was spoken. He wanted to ask her to the annual closing school dance and social. So, with all the courage the young student could muster, he asked Mary for a date—and she accepted.

Mary stayed at the little school for another year. She and John were together constantly. Getting to know one another, Mary mentioned something about her religion. She believed in God, and she expressed a belief that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. At first John was uneasy, but Mary was so honest and sincere that it was not long before he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were married and had children.

John and Mary moved to be with Mary’s family and others of her belief. They purchased a small home. John found employment, but “not enough for their desires.” House payments took most of his regular paychecks. Mary too found a job, but budgets were always tight.

Over time, little quarrels began, and then arguments arose between them. John would worry and Mary would cry. Differences between them grew until love seemed to disappear, replaced by anger. Kind words were replaced with criticism. Unforgettable words were spoken to the point where they decided to seek counsel from Bishop Godfrey.

Mary telephoned Bishop Godfrey, saying, “Bishop, we want to come over to your office now!” Floyd walked through the parking lot to his office, which was in the chapel behind his home. He went in and had a quiet word of prayer before the couple arrived. A soft yet persistent knock announced their presence, and they entered. It was obvious Mary had been crying, and John’s face was fixed. The first words spoken were those of anger: “Bishop, we want a divorce!” There was a long pause as the couple waited for the bishop’s reaction. Floyd surprised himself when he responded, “You fools, do you realize what you are doing to your children? You are teaching your children how to get a divorce.” To John he pressed, “How long has it been since you took this woman in your arms and told her how much you love her?” To Mary he said, “How long has it been since you met John at the door after a long day’s work and greeted him with a kiss, telling him you loved and appreciated him? Do you treat him like a groom?” And again to John, “Do you treat her like a bride, like you did just a few years ago?” The bishop could feel the anger radiating from the conflict as he said, “You [need] to exchange the anger for love if you want to be happy.” The husband broke in, rebuking the counsel, “See, I told you he couldn’t do anything about it.”

Bishop Godfrey turned to Mary and asked her to tell him her story. Through tears and sobbing the story unfolded. John interrupted several times to assure his side was understood. After another long pause, Bishop Godfrey responded, “Let’s pray about it. Would you like to kneel down with us and pray?” The wife responded affirmatively, but the husband retorted, “I will not kneel down!” Bishop Godfrey knelt, then the wife, her husband still standing. Bishop Godfrey prayed first. His own heart aching, he talked to the Lord as if the couple were not in the room. He asked for forgiveness to enter their hearts, for love between them to return, for blessings of love to be upon the children. He asked for their success and for increased budgeting in their lives. He asked that they be able to talk out their problems. He talked to the Lord about repentance and love, children and unity. As he finished, he asked Mary to pray. Her tear-filled prayer expressed a deep love for her husband and sorrow for what had come between them. When she finished, the bishop again prompted John to pray. “Well, I guess so,” he grumbled as he knelt down. Battling against the anger, John put love in its place. His prayer was a plea for help, and he was answered immediately as the Spirit moved him, and he, too, began to shed tears. The spirit returned during Mary and John’s prayers. They stood, throwing their arms around each other and the bishop, all crying together, “The Lord has saved a marriage.”

They had the foundation. They began planning together and as a family. John was offered a good job in a neighboring province, and the family moved. Several years passed, and Bishop Godfrey unexpectedly met Mary on the street. Her eyes and smile were sparkling with love. She told the bishop that two of their sons were on missions and their daughter was attending Brigham Young University. “Yes, Bishop, there is a reward, but not in dollars and cents, but in the Lord’s blessings. . . . The Lord blessed those people . . . just at the right time.”[33]

On another, easier counseling occasion, a middle-aged couple asked to see Bishop Godfrey in his office immediately. For those in need, it always needed to happen now. There was no postponing the immediacy of one’s spiritual needs. The couple had been married for nearly two decades, and by all appearances they had a happy and successful family. They had married in the temple, and both of them had served in prominent ward positions. But for all of those years, they had carried a heavy burden. When they were married, they had lied to their bishop to get a temple recommend when they knew they had not been worthy to enter the temple. Throughout their entire marriage they had always felt guilty. “We want to get rid of this [guilt], how can we do it? . . . We were hypocrites and we want to clear this up with the Lord,” they cried through their tears. “Let’s kneel down and pray,” the bishop suggested. He prayed first, asking the Lord to forgive the couple of their sins and lift their burden. The couple had been worthy in every way, “doing the best they could” under the pressures of the guilt they felt. “We talked with the Lord really straight,” the bishop wrote. Then the wife and husband prayed individually. Their hearts were poured out to the Lord, as they felt so ashamed. They prayed for a long time, but as they tearfully stood following their prayers, they threw their arms around each other. “Phew,” the husband belted out. “Bishop, I feel so free!” The wife managed a smile through her own tears. The bishop felt impressed to tell them of the Lord’s forgiveness. “I feel this and I know this by the authority that I hold as your bishop, I know the Lord has forgiven you.” After all those years of guilt, their burdens had finally been lifted.[34]

This is how it went for Bishop Godfrey. There was a constant flow of organizing and reorganizing the ward callings, collecting and distributing tithes and offerings where needed, and teaching and counseling the youth, all punctuated with experiences of spiritual enlightenment during times of family counseling.

Primary and Relief Society Service

A bishop’s wife is seldom without responsibilities. On the day Floyd was sustained as the bishop of the Cardston Fifth Ward, he paid tribute to the three main women of his life: his wife, Clarice; his mother, Eva; and his sister, Lottie.[35] Clarice grew up in a family in which she was the oldest living sibling. Her grandfather first settled Cardston, and his wife Zina Young Williams Card was the third Primary president of the settlement.[36] Clarice felt the strength of her heritage and was always active in Church. She witnessed the service brought to others and the power of the priesthood blessings, which came into her childhood home during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. She witnessed the quiet, spontaneous service her father offered to friends, neighbors, and especially the elderly. Her dad served without concern for his own finances, his time, or personal rewards.

In Church service, Clarice was involved with the Primary children. In her late teens, she taught the youngest children, playing games such as “London Bridge Is Falling Down” and “Drop the Handkerchief.” In those days, there were no teaching manuals, so teachers simply taught basic gospel principles interwoven with fun. For a short time, she was the Primary organist, with Lottie Godfrey as music director. She enjoyed spending time with the twelve- to fourteen-year-old girls, who did not go on to the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (MIA) during those times. She served as the Magrath Ward Primary secretary for several years, spanning her young adulthood and her first seven years of marriage. After she and Floyd moved to Cardston, she remained in the Primary, serving as the stake Bluebird leader. The Bluebirds were a class of young girls. A few years later, she graduated from Primary with them, teaching in the MIA, assigned to the fourteen- to sixteen-year-olds.[37]

Clarice’s name first appears in the Alberta Stake Primary history as a primary worker with Clara Coombs Stutz, and she served from 1931 to 1943. In 1953, she was again called as a worker and taught a girls’ class, called the Larks, for the next three years. At a 1953 Primary baby show for young mothers and their new babies, Clarice received the Oldest Mother Award. She was forty-six, and her new son, Robert, got a balloon. Two years later, Donald was on the 1955 honor roll for perfect attendance in Primary. He was in the Primary Guides class.[38] From 1956 to 1959, Clarice was a counselor in the Primary presidency.

Clarice served in both teaching and administrative positions in the Primary. As a member of the Stake Primary presidency, she attended Primary conferences in Salt Lake City. There she received training from leaders as new programs were introduced throughout the Church. She mixed with Churchwide Primary leaders and Church authorities such as Sterling W. Sill, Marion D. Hanks, Harold B. Lee, Marion G. Romney, and Church President Joseph Fielding Smith. These were close-quarter conferences, meaning groups met with Church authorities in small sessions, depending upon needs and their Primary responsibilities. Small sessions provided more direct inspiration and direction. Clarice always returned home with notes and newspaper clippings summarizing the events. “The Primary teacher’s responsibility is to a child’s need”; “Radiate the light”; “A child cannot be touched by light unless a teacher radiates it”; “The children must feel the warmth of the light”; “You radiate what you are and what you think;” “Look to the spirit of the Lord for strength.” Enthusiasm, love, and ideas were shared with her classes and her fellow teachers.[39] And just as these devoted Saints would travel to Salt Lake City, several visitors would visit Cardston. When Primary presidencies ventured into Canada, they were hosted by the Godfreys.

Spread over a lifetime, Clarice served thirty years in the service of the Children’s Primary Association. The formal award recognized “23 years,” but at the bottom of the certificate, Clarice indicates an additional seven years of service.[40]

Clarice served as the Relief Society president in the Cardston Third Ward and as a counselor in the Cardston Fifth Ward Relief Society.[41] These positions forced her out of her comfort zone. As a teacher, she was comfortable with the girls and young women, but as a leader, she was front and center, traveling throughout the Alberta Stake and speaking at ward conferences. She also traveled south to Salt Lake City to learn from Church leadership, then returned to Cardston to report to her ward.[42] She was far more comfortable out of the limelight, but she was a leader when the calls came to her. She wondered how she could ever take the place of some leaders she admired. The counsel returned, “Clarice, you are not, taking anyone’s place, you are taking your own.” And she said in the Relief Society she experienced “one of the happiest assignments I had been called to do.”[43] She was in a new ward, with new sisters all working together.

The Cardston Third Ward Relief Society met in the old Cardston Scout House. In the winter, heat came from an old, smoky furnace in the basement. It filled the building with smoke, and the sisters opened up the windows to clear the air. The walls were dusty and likely had never been washed, so the sisters cleaned the building thoroughly. Clarice almost fainted when she was asked to help prepare a body for a funeral, but she was assisted by friends and was ready for the next occasion. She worked in the Third Ward Relief Society for five years until just before her last son, Robert, was born.

In 1946, with a two-year-old child in tow, she organized the Christmas celebrations for the combined Cardston First and Third Wards. The old tabernacle was decorated as she took charge preparing the party, welcoming the crowd, and conducting the program. At Cardston’s celebration of the Relief Society’s 106th anniversary, Clarice was mistress of ceremonies and delivered the welcoming speech for this and numerous other occasions.[44] In leadership she was highly visible, but she preferred the unsung accolades as she quietly and confidentially served and assisted families in need.[45]

Clarice did not like being out front, but she did like entertaining. Throughout the years, her and Floyd’s home hosted Church groups, firesides, local Rook clubs, the “Lucky 14 Club,” reading clubs, and study group meetings.[46] Church groups focused onservice and study gatherings, social groups centered on card games, and other clubs focused on showing members’ finest sewing skills and knit dresses. Floyd took the children to a movie if the party was for women only.

Church service was a part of both Floyd’s and Clarice’s lives from their days of young adulthood in Magrath and into their last days at Cardston. They held multiple positions of leadership and honor but were known primarily for their quiet, unfailing service. They would tell you their most significant service was to their family, to the people of the Cardston Third and Fifth Wards, and to their hometown—and soon the people of Taiwan would be included in that group.


[1] Doctrine and Covenants 4:2.

[2] Keith Regular, Neighbours and Networks: The Blood Tribe in Southern Alberta Economy, 1884–1939 (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2009), 152.

[3] Ray Djuff, High on a Windy Hill: The Story of the Price of Wales Hotel (Calgary, Alberta: Rocky Mountain Books, 2009), 103; and Graham A. MacDonald, Where the Mountains Meet the Prairies: A History of Waterton Country (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2003), 13.

[4] Shaw, Chief Mountain Country, 2:6.

[5] Melvin S. Tagg, “The Life of Edward James Wood, Church Patriot” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1959), 104–5; Shaw, Chief Mountain Country, 1:519–20; and Shaw, Chief Mountain Country, 3:137.

[6] Tagg, “The Life of Edward James Wood,” 131–41.

[7] Shaw, Chief Mountain Country, 1:520.

[8] Shaw, Chief Mountain Country, 1:405–6.

[9] “Men of Greatest Influence,” handwritten account in Floyd Godfrey, “Life Stories,” Godfrey Family Papers.

[10] See Alma P. Burton, “Endowment,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:454–56; and Allen Claire Rozsa, “Temple Ordinances,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1444–45.

[11] For further information about temple recommends, see Robert A. Tucker, “Temple Recommend,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1446–47.

[12] Willard Smith was the second president of the Cardston Alberta Temple between 1945 and 1955. Floyd indicated he served for twelve years, which would make his initial calling in 1948. Letter from Lorin C. Godfrey, 13 October 2014, Godfrey Family Papers.

[13] For more information on fasting and fast offerings, see Dawn M. Hills, “Fasting,” Isaac C. Ferguson, “Fast Offerings,” and Mary Jolley, “Fast and Testimony Meeting,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:500–502.

[14] For information on prayer circles, see George S. Tate, “Prayer Circle,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1120–21.

[15] For more information about priesthood executive committees, see David C. Bradford, “Priesthood Executive Committee, Stake and Ward,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1142.

[16] Shaw, Chief Mountain Country, 1:364–65.

[17] The Blood Indian Tribe Reserve is the largest reservation in Canada and is just north of Cardston. See Dempsey, Mike Mountain Horse: My People the Bloods, 1–5.

[18] “Sunday School Board Entertained,” Cardston News, 23 December 1954, 6; Cardston News, 23 June 1955, 4; “Taylorville,” Cardston News, 21 July 1955, 3; and “Beazer,” Cardston News, 17 April 1958, 4.

[19] Certificate of Ordination, 12 May 1946, Godfrey Family Papers. See also “Cardston Third Ward, 1946,” LR 1421-2, Church History Library. There is a discrepancy in dates of the division in the creation of the Third and later Fifth Wards. The first dates indicated February, and the second dates indicated April. All ward data comes from LR1421-2. The change was likely announced in February and accomplished in April.

[20] Floyd Godfrey had been ordained a stake Seventy in the Melchizedek Priesthood by Melvin J. Ballard on 25 August 1935. See Seventies certificate of ordination; Floyd was also ordained a high priest on 12 May 1946. See the second certificate of ordination, Godfrey Family Papers.

[21]“Locals,” Cardston News, 5 September 1946, 8.

[22] Near the end of his life, Martin Harris lived in Harrisville, Utah. See “The Testimony of Three Witnesses,” Book of Mormon; see also Rhett Stephens James, “Harris, Martin,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 2:574–76.

[23] Floyd Godfrey, oral history, February 1977. See also Shaw, Chief Mountain Country, 319–20.

[24] “First Sod Turned for Stake and Ward House,” Cardston News, 7 June 1951, 1.

[25] This happened all over the Church until building policies changes and ended the required local budget donations for new buildings.

[26] For more information about stake high councils, see Stan L. Albrecht, “Stake,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 3:1411–14.

[27] Cardston Fifth Ward, “Quarterly Historical Report, June 30, 1964,” LR 1421-2, Church History Library. Floyd Godfrey’s 1982 oral history is in error as he indicates that Joseph Fielding Smith was the visiting authority.

[28] Bishop’s Certificate, 19 May 1964, Godfrey Family Papers.

[29] “Quarterly Historical Reports” and “Manuscript History and Reports,” Cardston Fifth Ward, LR 1421-2, Church History Library.

[30] Djuff, High on a Windy Hill, 25. Today, Crypt Lake Trail is one of the most difficult trails in Waterton Lake National Park. See “Crypt Lake Trail: Inside the Park,” Waterton Lakes National Park,

[31] Floyd Godfrey, “Notes on ‘T’—Talk Preparation,” handwritten notes in three-ringed notebook, Godfrey Family Papers.

[32] See 1 Nephi 8.

[33] Correspondence from Floyd Godfrey, 2 July 1978; see also Floyd Godfrey, oral history transcripts, February 1977 and March 1982.

[34] Floyd Godfrey, oral history, 20 March 1982.

[35] Letter from Eva Kay Harker Copieters, December 2012, Godfrey Family Papers.

[36] Alice Crabtree, “Primary of the Alberta Stake,” Cardston Museum.

[37] Clarice Card Godfrey, “My Work in Church Organizations,” Floyd Godfrey Family Newsletter, November 1993, 6–7.

[38] “Primary History: Alberta Stake,” Cardston Museum Archives.

[39] Handwritten notes from within the program of the 52nd Annual Conference of the Primary Association of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2–3 April 1958, Salt Lake City, Godfrey Family Papers.

[40] “Locals,” Cardston News, 5 September 1946, 8. See also Primary Association Service Award, presented to Clarice Godfrey, Godfrey Family Papers. The award date is likely 1954. LaVern W. Parmley was the Primary General President at the time. She served from 1951 to 1974. Her second counselor, whose signature also appears on the award, was Florence H. Richard, who served only from 1951 to 1953. See “Appendix 5: General Church Officers, A Chronology,” in Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4:1684.

[41] “Record of Officers Sustained at the Annual Conference of the Cardston Fifth Ward,” 11 May 1969, LR 14221-2, Church History Library. See also “Locals,” Cardston News, 5 September 1946, 8.

[42] “Stake Primary Union Meeting,” Cardston News, 9 May 1957, 6.

[43] Clarice Card Godfrey, “My Work in Church Organizations,” Floyd Godfrey Family Newsletter, November 1993, 6–7.

[44] “Xmas Party Enjoyed,” Cardston News, 19 December 1946, 2. See also “Celebrates 106 Anniversary,” Cardston News, 1 April 1948, 3.

[45] Correspondence from Arlene J. Godfrey Payne, 12 October 2010, Godfrey Family Papers.

[46] These were all neighborhood clubs and informal gatherings of friends, all of whom were LDS.