Preparing for Preaching the Gospel Worldwide since 1945

Robert S. Patterson and E. Dale LeBaron

Robert S. Patterson and E. Dale LeBaron, “Preparing the World for the Preaching of the Gospel since 1945,” in Window of Faith: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on World History, ed. Roy A. Prete (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), 495–517.


In his April 2003 general conference address, Elder Henry B. Eyring eloquently declared: “Whatever tumults occur, we can know that God will set bounds to fulfill His promises. He, not just men, has the ultimate control of nations and of events to allow His purposes to be fulfilled.” [1] To understand and accept this truth is critical to recognizing the ways the world and the Church have been and are being prepared for the preaching of the gospel.

We know from the messages in the scriptures and the words of living prophets that the Lord wants everyone—past, present, and future—to hear His message. But without the interventions of God, His stated purpose of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man would be thwarted. Even in the earliest days of the restored gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith recognized what was ahead. Boldly he declared: “Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, . . . the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; . . . the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” [2]

Events of the latter half of the twentieth century confirm to faithful followers of Jesus Christ that not only is this work progressing but, as prophesied, the reach has been significantly extended and the pace appreciably accelerated.

For those who know and believe the prophetic words of the Lord’s servants, the remarkable progress in the dissemination of the gospel message in contemporary times, however thrilling, is not surprising. The visions of both ancient and modern prophets attest that God has foreseen these days and circumstances and has offered His children an inspired way of recognizing His role in making things happen as He has foretold. Because the events of the latter days are so important to the overall fulfillment of the Lord’s plan, the scriptures contain many references that foreshadow the conditions and portray the dissemination of the gospel message. Daniel, in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, was blessed with a remarkable vision of the growth of the Lord’s kingdom upon the earth in the latter days. Empowered, first to know of the king’s dream and second to interpret it, he described a figure whose body parts represented the various kingdoms of the earth. He saw a stone, cut out of the mountain without hands, which was to roll forth with growing power, magnitude and momentum until it filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:27–45). This revelation provides an image that captures the primary message of this chapter. We believe that in our day we may see evidence of that stone growing in dimension and momentum, extending its influence and impact throughout the world (see D&C 65:2).

Ancient prophets such as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others spoke of the spread of the gospel in the latter days. Similarly, prophets of the Restoration have spoken and continue to speak of the expansion of the Church in this era of the earth’s history. An interesting aspect of these prophetic statements is that they include not only the ever-expanding scope of the outreach to all nations of the earth, but an acceleration of pace, a building of momentum as the work progresses. For example, the Lord revealed, “For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature” (D&C 58:64). The introductory section of the Doctrine and Covenants clearly affirms that “the voice of warning shall be unto all people” and in that cause “there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated” (D&C 1:2). Early in his years as President of the Church, Brigham Young observed: “[This] kingdom will continue to increase and to grow, to spread and to prosper more and more. Every time its enemies undertake to overthrow it, it will become more extensive and powerful; instead of decreasing, it will continue to increase, it will spread the more, become more wonderful and conspicuous to the nations, until it fills the whole earth.” [3]

Equally prominent in the prophetic statements concerning the spreading of the gospel in the latter days is affirmation of the way the work will quicken as the end nears. The Lord declared, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73). President Young confirmed this when he predicted: “We believe, as the time draws near, the Lord will hasten his work, and nations [will] soon be gathered into the fold for Christ. The work urges and is becoming very much enlarged and extended, and requires a commensurate accumulation of men and means, and expansion of mind and energy, ability and perseverance.” [4]

Today we are able to see the gospel extending into corners of the earth long isolated by cultural, political, social, and economic barriers. Similarly, we are able to observe the proliferation of inventions and discoveries that are making dissemination possible at an exponential rate. We should not be surprised, given what we are taught by the prophets. This statement puts such significant developments into perspective. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that God “contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth; . . . before it rolled into existence, . . . [God] knew . . . the depth of iniquity that would be connected with the human family, their weakness and strength, . . . the situation of all nations and . . . their destiny; . . . and [He] has made ample provision [for mankind’s] redemption.” [5]

Two provisions of the Prophet Joseph’s statement are critical. First, he confirms that God is active in the affairs of mankind, extending the offer of redemption to all His children. Second, he instructs that God has made “ample provision” to ensure that the opportunity is available. It is no wonder, therefore, that ample means have been made available to provide for dissemination of immense proportions: electronic media devices, other sophisticated means of communication, messengers, political alignments, and supporting resources.

While it might be pointed out that Satan is engaged in an accelerated program for his evil messages, words of President Young give assurance that with each thrust extending Satan’s cause, there is a corresponding development that speeds the work of the Lord. In teaching wisdom through the experience of the Prophet Joseph Smith with the lost 116 pages of Book of Mormon manuscript, He revealed how He anticipates Satan’s moves and makes provisions for the works of righteousness to prevail (see D&C 10:34–45). As the end draws near, it is not difficult to imagine the frustration of Satan. He undoubtedly rejoices in the growing disposition of humanity for the preoccupations he offers them. Yet at the same time, he sees the gospel message growing in the numbers it touches and in the ways it transforms individuals, turning them from his ways and leading them to rejoice in the redemptive power of Christ. Thus, in this time preparatory to the Second Coming of Christ, as Satan unleashes his powers, so too does Jesus.

While it is easy to recognize many remarkable manifestations of God’s power and influence preparing both the world and the Church for the preaching of the gospel, their number is so great that most Church members only detect a small percentage of what actually is occurring. As with an iceberg, what is seen above the water line is probably no more than 11 percent of the total mass. With the extent and acceleration of the Lord’s efforts to extend His message of redeeming love to all His children, it would be impossible to include in this chapter all of His interventions in the Church, let alone in the world. What follows is, therefore, an admittedly limited treatment that readers can readily enlarge through their own knowledge and experience.

Evidence in support of the rapid acceleration of Church growth in the latter half of the twentieth century is not difficult to find. A simple graph depicting membership represents this growth in dramatic fashion.

Church Growth since 1830

Source—Church Almanac (This graph is drawn from the data of Church membership)

Church Growth since 1830

The amount and rate of growth have not gone unnoticed among researchers interested in such phenomena. Rodney Stark, a non-LDS sociologist, has shown considerable interest in the recent expansion of the Church. Initially, he projected that the Saints would grow to a membership of 63 million by AD 2080 and possibly to 265 million if the post–World War II pace were to be maintained. [6] In 1998 he updated his earlier projections and revealed that the Church was proceeding at a rate about 10 percent above his former estimates. [7] Stark was sufficiently impressed to assert, “Mormonism may be the first important new religion to arise since Islam.” [8] While only one graph has been included as evidence of Church increase in the past fifty years, similar results would be shown if graphs were constructed to represent increases in the number of missions and missionaries; temples, seminaries, and institutes; instances of humanitarian assistance; languages of translation for general Church broadcasts; and the Book of Mormon. A chart of inventions or discoveries used by the Church to make its message more readily available to an ever-expanding audience would reveal that indeed, as prophesied, the Lord is making ample provision for spreading His word.

The geographical distribution of Church growth has been equally significant. The accelerating internationalization of the Church is reflected in the fact that in 1955 only 11 percent of the Church membership of 1,357,274 resided outside the United States and Canada, whereas by 1977 that percentage had risen to 21 percent of the total membership of 3,969,220. By 1999 membership outside the United States and Canada had reached 51 percent of the grand total of 10,752,986. In a research study by Victor L. Ludlow of other components over the same time frame, a similar pattern has emerged in terms of growth in the number of stakes, and seminary and institute students, rising to 40 and 45 percent respectively, outside the United States and Canada in 1999. The number of new members per year has moved dramatically into the international field from 17 percent of 55,034 in 1955, to 69 percent of 226,471 in 1977, to a whopping 77 percent of 397,983 in 1999. Statistics of temple construction, particularly during the administration of President Gordon B. Hinckley since 1995, likewise reflect rapid globalization. In 1955 only one of the nine temples was outside the United States and Canada; in 1977 three of the 16 temples were outside the United States and Canada. [9] By the end of 2002, of the 114 operational temples worldwide, 52 (or 45.6 percent) were outside the United States and Canada. [10] These numbers show that the globalization of the Church in the last half century has been a vital characteristic of its remarkable growth as the Church moves to fulfill its divine mandate to take the gospel to all the world.

In examining in greater detail the preparation of the world and the preparation of the Lord’s Church for the preaching of the gospel since World War II, these two arenas of preparation will be treated separately and thematically. Space limitations will not allow discussion of the interplay between the two or description of the developmental growth that characterizes the Lord’s preparation of His people. For example, discussion of how advances in communication technologies have made the message of the Restoration more widely available will not include all the developmental steps from early uses of radio and television to the more modern use of satellites and the Internet.

Preparation of the World

Discussion of the world’s preparation since 1945 for the preaching of the gospel will be organized around four main themes: (1) preparation of governments and social conditions in the nations of the world, (2) preparation of means for worldwide communication, (3) preparation of the world’s attitudes toward the Church and its people, and (4) preparation through growing contrast of worldly conduct and behaviors with those of the Lord’s Church, creating an apparent polarization.

Preparation of governments and social conditions. Since World War II, changes in governments, ideologies, and values of the world’s nations have led to greater political and social freedom and to the emergence of more democratic forms of government. When governments grant more freedom to their citizens, they enable missionaries to preach the gospel message. In the areas of the world in which the Church may freely and openly proclaim its message, the Lord can increase the strength of the members, resources, and leadership to accommodate new converts more effectively. Of the various areas of the world that have changed most dramatically and significantly since 1945, most observers would likely point first to the nations of Africa and of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Because the changes in Africa are intrinsically linked to the revelation of 1978 and will be discussed in conjunction with it, early discussion of governmental change will focus on the former USSR.

Most observers of the Soviet Union prior to the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, would have considered it unlikely that this vast territory, populated by almost 290 million people, would almost overnight become fractured into fifteen distinct, separate republics and be pointed toward an open, democratized form of governance. Hindsight affords a vantage point to see how leaders such as Lech Walesa in Poland and Mikhail Gorbachev of the USSR were prepared to deliver their respective messages of solidarity, and glasnost and perestroika, thereby paving the way for radical political upheaval. Certainly, prior to 1989 the prophetic statement of Joseph Smith uttered in 1843 seemed years away from realization. In speaking of the Russian Empire, Joseph had said, “Some of the most important things concerning the advancement and building up of the kingdom of God in the last days, which cannot be explained at the time.” [11] Nearly ninety years later Elder Melvin J. Ballard, speaking in general conference in April 1930, made the following statement:

“I am sure also that God is moving in Russia. Much as we are disturbed over the tyranny and the oppression that is waged against religion in that land today, it is not a new thing, for that has been the order for ages. But I can see God moving also in preparing the way for other events that are to come. The field that has gone to wild oats needs to be plowed up and harrowed and prepared for a new seed. So in Russia. It may seem appalling to us, but it is God breaking up and destroying an older order of things, and the process will be the accomplishment of God’s purposes within a very short period of time, which normally may have taken generations. But that people will come back, for I bear witness that there are thousands of the blood of Israel in that land, and God is preparing the way for them.” [12]

President Spencer W. Kimball spoke with comparable vision. In his talk on missionary work given at the regional representatives seminar on April 4, 1974, he encouraged the Saints to enlarge their vision. In doing so, he acknowledged the “numerous nations that are still untouched.” Specifically, he referenced the difficulty of gaining access to the peoples behind the iron and bamboo curtains. Then he said, “Somehow, brethren, I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors.” [13]

The opening of the iron curtain dramatically occurred with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Today the work continues to move toward fulfilling the prophecies. According to the report in the Church Almanac, Latter-day Saint membership in Russia in 2001, just twelve years from the opening of the Berlin Wall, was 15,128 members in 116 branches in 8 missions. [14] President Gordon B. Hinckley, the first Church President to visit Russia, met with more than 1,500 Latter-day Saints in Moscow on September 10, 2002. He told the people, “I never dreamed I could come to Moscow and see a congregation of this kind.” [15] In less than thirty years we have witnessed ample evidence to give substance to President Kimball’s faith.

Maps on Religious Freedom and LDS Presence

Latter-day Saint expansion across the world is closely correlated with religious freedom. [16]

In the 1980s a democratic wave of freedom gained momentum in Latin America that swept aside a whole bevy of dictatorial leaders. By the latter half of the 1980s, an impressive 94 percent of Latin America’s population lived under regimes that guaranteed elections and civil liberties. In 1994, the dictatorial regime in Haiti was one of the last in the region to fall. [17]

In concert with the growing freedom across the nations of the world, other social and economic trends are contributing to the dissemination of the message of truth. Among these phenomena is the pronounced growth of urban life, multiplying the number of people accessible to missionaries. A recent article on urbanization noted that “worldwide, cities gain a million people a week.” [18] According to the same article, “In 1950 there was just one city with a population of more than ten million—New York.” It is projected that in 2015 there will be twenty-one of these megacities. In the same period the number of urban areas with populations between five and ten million will increase from seven to thirty-seven. [19] Most of this growth “will occur mainly in developing countries, those least equipped to provide transportation, housing, water, and sewers. Asia and Africa, now more than two-thirds rural, will be half urban by 2025.” [20] The combined effects of growth in democratic governments, urbanization, and globalization are making more of the world’s population readily accessible for hearing the word of God.

Preparation of mass communication technology. Another significant influence in the preaching of the gospel in the latter part of the twentieth century is the increasing availability of resources needed to easily, extensively, and effectively communicate vital information to peoples of the world, both in and out of Church membership. Several of the latter-day prophets and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have recognized and acknowledged the Lord’s influence on discoveries and developments that would extend the outreach efforts of the Church. President David O. McKay, speaking in the October 1966 general conference of the Church, pointed out that scientific discoveries “stagger the imagination.” He expressed the paradox that there are “limitless perils” associated with them but that they offer “untold possibilities” for serving the purposes of the Lord. [21]

President McKay continued to say that these discoveries are laden “with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings, as to make man’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands.” [22]

When addressing this topic in 1974, President Kimball spoke of technological advances “with possibilities beyond comprehension.” [23] He commented on the inventions present in his day, mentioning how the miracle of the transistor radio was capable of conveying the gospel to people who because of ignorance and illiteracy might not otherwise be blessed to receive the message. Speaking of tape recorders, television, and satellite transmission, he acknowledged that the Lord has provided these miracles of communication. On another occasion, President Kimball noted, “We shall use the inventions the Lord has given us to awaken interest and acquaint people of the world with the truths, to ease their prejudices and give them a general knowledge.” [24]

President Howard W. Hunter recognized a dilemma. Even though there are prophetic assurances of the Lord’s hand in providing these technological advances to facilitate the work of building the kingdom, those who use them have little ability to imagine the nature or uses of future tools. Elder Hunter’s words are sobering: “I feel our most enthusiastic projections capture only a tiny glimpse of how these tools can help us and of the eternal consequences of these efforts.” [25]

However limited the capacity to foresee the future, considerable evidence shows that the Church is making extensive use of currently available technologies. In a Deseret News article entitled “LDS Quick to Use Technology,” various landmark developments in the use of technology are listed, including the fact that in 2002 “satellite broadcasts of general conference can cover 96 percent of the planet.” [26] On the launching of the new site, President Hinckley affirmed, “The Lord has inspired skilled men and women in developing new technologies which we can use to our great advantage in moving forward this sacred work.” [27] On its first day of operation, more than three million hits were recorded. At the beginning of 2003, the First Presidency held its first global priesthood leadership training session via satellite transmission. Noting the ever-growing challenge of providing leadership training to the surging church growth worldwide, the First Presidency announced this landmark communication venture as yet another means of reaching out to the expanding Church. [28]

Projections concerning the future of computer technology validate President Hunter’s comment on its unimaginable potential. Experts estimate that the developments in computer technology of the recent past and those projected for the next ten to fifteen years are of such magnitude that it is impossible to imagine the potential uses and benefits of being able to exchange so much data at such speeds. It is estimated that with the “enabling technologies of the information revolution, the period from 1980 to 2010 will see an increase in the computing power available in a personal computer by a factor of 100,000 and an increase in the bandwidth of a single optical fiber by a factor of at least 10,000.” [29] Even before the new millennium arrived, computers were being produced that could calculate at speeds of a trillion operations per second. Experiments have been completed with new technologies that provide for information exchanges at rates of one trillion bits of information per second—roughly equivalent to downloading the contents of the Library of Congress in the blink of an eye. Already the U.S. government is aiming at the production and use of computers that can operate at one hundred teraflops, or one thousand trillion floating-point operations per second. [30] Allen Hammond concludes his description of these technological advances with the following observation: “The information infrastructure that we use every day and largely take for granted is already close to operating at a billion bits per second, with trillion-bit-per-second capability or more waiting in the wings. It is our minds, our organizations, and our social infrastructure that are not yet ready for such speeds.” [31]

The Lord has thus provided His Church with tools that outstrip its current capacity to use them.

Preparation of perceptions and attitudes of the world’s people. Historians have noted that the dominantly negative public image of the Church in its first century gave way to a generally more positive image in the 1930s, particularly with favorable coverage of the welfare program. Although negative commentary has persisted on a variety of issues, the post–World War II image of the Church has been characterized as one of general goodwill. [32] Awareness of the restored Church and attitudes toward its teachings have become more favorable throughout the world as the Church has grown in numbers and prominence. Latter-day Saint values of honesty, hard work, self-reliance, and strong family orientation have been much appreciated, and prominent individuals have been the subject of upbeat commentary. Tours by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and BYU and Ricks College entertainment groups have been well received and have fostered goodwill in the U.S. and in many other countries. In addition to the development of visitors centers and historic restorations, the Church has made a concerted effort to get its message out in the media. [33] Prominent in that endeavor has been Gordon B. Hinckley, who wrote many articles and dramatizations for radio and other media in his employment in the new Church Public Relations department before and after World War II. As President of the Church, he broke new ground in the mid-1990s in appearing on several network television shows, including the Larry King Live show on CNN, a media giant watched by countless millions across the world. Impressive in demeanor, witty, relaxed, and very knowledgeable, he projected a positive image of the Church, its doctrines, values, programs, and growth, and put to rest many misconceptions. Such activities have helped to bring the Church “out of obscurity” worldwide (see D&C 1:30). [34] Favorable publicity over the past decades has led to many missionary referrals.

The experience of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City is a striking illustration of how the world is being prepared for the preaching of the gospel. On April 6, 1845, a proclamation was issued by the Twelve Apostles declaring that as the work of the restoration “progresses in its onward course, [it will become] more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement” that will eventually catch the attention of every “king, ruler, or subject . . . community or individual.” [35] In referring specifically to the Olympics, President Hinckley alluded to a similar prophecy made four years after this Proclamation: “On a dark and winter day in 1849, in the old tabernacle, when the people were hungry and cold, Brigham Young said that the day would come when this would become the great highway of the nations and people from over the earth would visit us here. We are witnessing that day and the fulfillment of that remarkable prophecy.” [36]

During a televised interview, NBC’s Tom Brokaw asked President Hinckley if Brigham Young had the Olympics in mind when he made this prophecy. President Hinckley replied, “I don’t know what he had in mind. But it is coming to pass. The Olympics will bring people here from everywhere.” [37] Another prophecy that seems to have been fulfilled in the Olympics was made in the small and relatively isolated town of Midway, Utah, by President Henry D. Moyle in 1963: “The world will come here, . . . and [they] will sense that they’re in a different environment and a different spirit, and a friendliness and hospitality exists here among Latter-day Saints that was not cultivated overnight.” [38] Just forty years later at Soldier Hollow (on the outskirts of Midway), venue for several Olympic events, President Moyle’s prophecy was realized: not only did the world come, but many acknowledged the distinctive warmth and helpfulness of the local volunteers and residents.

Preparation through standards and conduct of Church members. A news article focusing on Utah’s Olympic Games made a statement that affirms the fourth way in which the world appears to be being prepared for the preaching of the gospel. Referencing comments made by sociologist Stark, the article refers to the demanding behavioral standards expected by the Church of its members. In an age in which promiscuity, indulgence, and immorality are common, with marriages and families frequently in disarray and with traditional Christian values of honoring the Sabbath day, attending worship services, and meeting the needs of the poor being less rigorously attended to, the Church sends out a clear, unequivocal signal to its members to be different. Families are emphasized, along with the sanctity of the marriage covenant; the Sabbath is a day designated for religious worship; and attention is directed to the importance of caring for the poor and the disadvantaged. “Research has shown ‘again and again,’” Stark observes, “that a defined moral beacon is part of what attracts many people to the church.” [39] He maintains that “it’s the strict churches that grow. . . . People tend to value religion for how much it costs. When it costs nothing, they see through that. . . . If you ask something of people, you’re apt to get it, and if you don’t, that’s what you get.” [40]

So as conditions of poverty, abuse, violence, immorality, family and marriage breakdown, and alcohol and drug use are increasing to the point of being viewed as commonplace, the Church offers a contrasting standard that attracts individuals who recognize the value of these more challenging and demanding behaviors. Whereas many yield to the enticements of the more indulgent, less rigorous lifestyle, there is no question that others find attraction and strength in the responses of the Church to the disintegrating social conditions of today’s societies.

Preparation of the Church

To this point, this chapter has focused on how the world has been and is being prepared for the preaching of the gospel. The focus now turns to ways the Lord has been preparing the Church for this same work. As with the focus on the world, examples are far too numerous to allow an exhaustive treatment. A few organizing themes with significant illustrations will have to suffice: priesthood blessings, Church resources, increased services and operations, Church curriculum, organizational structure, individual member progression, and temple preparation/family history research.

Extension of priesthood blessings. Among the more significant developments in the recent history of the Church is the 1978 revelation announced in Official Declaration 2. This inspired message, given to the Church during the ministry of Spencer W. Kimball as prophet, seer, and revelator and President of the Church, extended to all worthy Latter-day Saints access to “all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.” President Kimball has affirmed that this revelation brought “one of the greatest changes and blessings that has ever been known.” [41] After acknowledging extensive efforts in “supplicating the Lord for divine guidance,” the Church leadership was able to joyfully and gratefully declare, “He has heard our prayers and by revelation has confirmed that the long promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows there from, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color” (Official Declaration 2).

This revelation removed the final doctrinal restriction obstructing the expansion of the Church worldwide. Of course it had special meaning for the predominantly black continent of Africa. Before the revelation was announced, the Lord was preparing the people of Africa in important ways for the preaching of the gospel. Individuals, congregations, and nations were being made ready for the glorious day when the restored gospel could be offered to them fully and unconditionally. [42]

The stories of individual Africans who were led to the truth of the Church are truly remarkable in evidence that the Lord was mindful of the African people and eager to bless them with a personal witness that the Church is true. Their personal accounts of conversion are filled with miraculous experiences which showed them that the Lord was directing their paths. Many of these individuals were converted to the message of the restoration long before the revelation announced in Official Declaration 2. For example, Moses Mahlangu of South Africa found a Book of Mormon in a library in 1964. He read it, sought out the missionaries, and was told he should wait to be baptized. Eventually, 14 years later, he was baptized. In the intervening period, he shared literature, taught his people, and held weekly meetings in his home. [43]

A Church pioneer in Nigeria, Anthony Obinna tells of a dream he had one night in the late 1960s. A person who later was revealed as Jesus took Brother Obinna to a beautiful building where he was shown the rooms inside. Later, in 1970, Brother Obinna read a copy of the September 1958 Reader’s Digest. He reports, “There was an article entitled ‘The March of the Mormons’ with a picture of the Salt Lake Temple. It was exactly the same building I had seen in my dreams.” [44] Persistently he wrote to Church headquarters seeking more information about the Church. In September 1978, as he wrote to the Council of the Twelve pleading for missionaries, he had no idea that the revelation on the priesthood had been received just three months before and that missionaries were on the way. He was the first in Nigeria to be baptized.

These individuals and others like them were prepared in advance of the 1978 revelation, but their own preparation was not the extent of their activity. They actively prepared and congregated others, enabling them to be ready for the dissemination of the message of the restoration. Joseph W. B. Johnson of Ghana was another of these remarkable believers. First learning of the Church in 1964, he persevered for fourteen years, awaiting the day when he could be baptized. He was among the first baptized when missionaries arrived in Ghana in 1978. While waiting, he organized congregations of “Latter-day Saints.” More than twelve hundred people are judged to have been prepared for baptism as a result of his efforts. [45] It is further estimated that during the decade of the 1960s more than one hundred congregations totaling some fifteen thousand people in Nigeria and Ghana alone were seeking membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Growth of Church membership following the revelation of 1978 was striking. In the decade that followed, the general membership of the Church grew by 64 percent from 4,166,854 in 1978 to 6,721,210 in 1988. [46] But in Brazil, with a large population of mixed racial descent, it grew 388 percent from 54,410 to 265,286, and in the Carribean, 2,267 percent from 1,140 to 34,034 during the same time period, while in West Africa it grew 10,000 percent from 136 in 1978 to 13,347 in 1988. [47] In the whole of Africa, in the 125 years the Church was established prior to the revelation of 1978, membership grew to 7,712 with one stake and one mission. [48] In the twenty-five years following the revelation, membership increased dramatically to 188,322 with thirty-seven stakes and fourteen missions. [49]

The continent of Africa continued to experience significant change within its various nation states, particularly during the decade of the 1960s and again in the 1990s. Colonial domination had now ended, but most of the new African governments that were formed were controlled by authoritarian military rulers or by one party, failing to achieve even the basic requirements of democracy. However, as living standards worsened and economic problems increased under these military regimes or one-party governments, dissatisfaction with the governing powers channeled into resurgent interest in democratic rule. Hence a “second liberation” occurred in the decade of the 1990s, with the emergence of multiparty political systems and free elections. One very significant change occurred in South Africa in 1996 when President Nelson Mandela signed a new constitution that provided equal rights for all citizens, ending the apartheid regime. Africa, with more than 700 million people, is second only to Asia in total population. The birth rates of the sub-Saharan section of Africa are triple those of North America. For the gospel to go forth unto “all the world,” “to every nation,” and to “every people,” Africa had to be made accessible. This required a change in policy, the preparation of a major pioneer force comparable in number and conviction to the early Latter-day Saint pioneers, and the development of social, political, and economic conditions that would enable the people of African nations to enjoy freedom of religious choice.

Increase in resources. The growth of the Church, especially in the economically deficient areas of Latin America and Africa, reveals another important arena in which the Lord has prepared the Church to meet increasing needs in the latter part of the twentieth century. The Church has become not only large but financially prosperous. Its financial success has become the object of considerable speculation, as outside investigators (particularly reporters) have attempted to determine the approximate net worth of this corporate religious “empire.” [50] Regardless of estimates or insinuations that make their way into the press, one conclusion does stand clear: the Church, through the generous dedicated donations of its membership and the careful frugal stewardship of these resources by its leaders, has become very strong financially.

A detailed accounting of the Church’s properties, investments, and revenues is not necessary to establish the point that the Lord has increased the prosperity of the Church, especially in the latter part of the twentieth century, in order to enable it to extend its outreach to an ever-expanding worldwide membership. The number of new chapels and temples built in the recent past is ample evidence. Considering that these facilities are not dedicated until all costs of land, construction, furnishing, and landscaping are fully met, it is obvious that for a construction program roughly equivalent to a new building each day of the year, [51] the Church makes significant financial expenditures in order to provide facilities to accommodate its rapid growth.

Further evidence of the substantial and increasing resource base of the Church was manifest in new funding arrangements for local units which came into effect January 1, 1990. Speaking at a fireside on member finances the following month, President Thomas S. Monson outlined a series of policy changes designed to relieve Church members of financial burdens with which some of them struggled. He noted first that previously scattered meetings of the Church had been consolidated into single time blocks so that time of members “could be conserved and the cost of attending meetings reduced.” [52] Second, he described how the cost-sharing policy for acquisition of land and construction of meetinghouses had changed from a 50:50 ratio for general Church support and local member funding: “[First a change to] a 60:40 ratio, then to a 70:30 ratio, then to a 96:4 ratio, and finally to the welcome announcement that the total cost of building sites and the construction of buildings would be lifted from the local units altogether and provided in full through the tithes of the Church.” [53]

Third, President Monson observed that the per-capita welfare assessment that had been requested of Church members to help provide commodities for needy people would be discontinued. Finally, he indicated, “Through the faith of Church members in the payment of tithing, it is now possible for the Church to provide in full to the wards and stakes in the United States and Canada the total costs incident to chapel site purchases; the construction of approved meetinghouses; provision of all utility and maintenance costs, including repairs and renovations, as well as the majority of custodial care of our buildings.” [54]

That the Church has been able to make these changes in financial policies attest to the Lord’s financial preparation of the Church. His people have increased in personal income and wealth and at the same time in personal faithfulness and obedience—the impact being an increase in tithes and offerings sufficient to meet the cost of these new policies and the additional expenses associated with increase in membership and services.

Increase in services and operations. Just as the Church is growing in its outreach and numbers, it is increasing in its services and operations. Through a welfare system consisting of a network of 64 farms and ranches, along with 107 canneries, 113 storehouses, and 210 employment resource centers, the Church produces, packages, and distributes a variety of foodstuffs including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats, and other essential commodities. A total of over 516,000 days of labor were contributed in 2002 on these various projects. In recent years the humanitarian contributions of the Church have increased substantially. In the period between 1985 and 2002, over $88 million have been provided to countries and projects in serious need. Another $456 million in material assistance has been contributed in this same period, benefiting roughly 150 countries. [55] Large-scale contributions to these causes are evidence of the growing strength of the Church and its commitment to relieve suffering. Just as the Church has been prepared to reach out to preach the gospel throughout the world, thereby adding new members from the nations of the earth, it has been granted an increase in resources that enable it to provide assistance and relief to the poor and needy of the world.

Nowhere is the growth in services and operations more apparent than in the Church’s educational provisions. Support for its postsecondary institutions and for its seminaries and institutes also requires significant financial outlay. Personnel costs and expenditures for building construction and maintenance continue to mount as membership growth expands Church funding of these institutions further substantiates the observation that the increase of resources has been an essential element in preparing the Church for its expanding role and contribution.

President Hinckley captured the extent of recent Church growth and development as he reflected on progress he had observed:

I have had opportunity to witness in a detailed way the magnitude of the tremendous program of the Church. We have strengthened our base at home in a very substantial way, while at the same time planting and nurturing this work in a hundred nations across the earth. With the blessing of the Lord we have constructed thousands of new houses of worship of various sizes in many lands. We have constructed and dedicated temples at a rate that would have astounded our Brethren only a quarter of a century ago. We have maintained and enlarged our educational program, with seminary and institute opportunities reaching literally hundreds of thousands in many languages. The Book of Mormon has been published in unprecedented numbers. The circulation of our magazines has grown. The number of missionaries and missions has multiplied. We have extended the blessings of the welfare program to assist large numbers of those in distress—not only members of the Church, but suffering people in other lands regardless of religious affiliation. The number of stakes and wards has increased enormously. And now we have reached this tremendously significant day when in the United States and Canada all costs of operations, in terms of physical facilities for wards and stakes and missions, and a reasonable activity program will be financed from the general funds of the Church. [56]

Refinement of Church curriculum. If the Church was to grow, reaching as never before into the far regions of the earth, significant changes had to be made in its programs, organization, and operation. Preeminent among the various initiatives within the Church that the Lord has inspired His leaders to launch is the correlation program. Under assignment from the First Presidency, Elder Harold B. Lee, speaking in the priesthood session of conference in 1961, provided a lengthy introduction to this organizational philosophy and plan. Basically, he affirmed the vital role of the home and family and clarified the place of the auxiliary organizations relative to the family. Further, the plan which he introduced emphasized the important role of the priesthood in overseeing and directing the operations of the Church. [57] Correlation has been defined as

the process of identifying the role of each part of the Church, placing each in its proper relationship to the others, and ensuring that each functions properly. The parts include doctrines and ordinances, organizations and agencies, programs and activities, meetings, and printed and audiovisual materials. All of these parts should be “fitly framed together” (Ephesians 2:21). They function properly when they are connected systematically and operate in harmony and unity. [58]

A careful examination of Church correlation, both in its initial conception and in subsequent development, reveals how the Lord has made possible the growth of His kingdom in a rich variety of settings, in a manner which enables all of His followers to enjoy the full benefit of membership. Over the years since the announcement of the correlation program, much has been done to provide a curriculum across age-groups and organizations that is priesthood-approved and doctrinally sound—coordinated to benefit and strengthen family learning and spiritual development. In a truly prophetic manner Elder Lee concluded a 1963 message, as the program began to unfold, by quoting the words of Sir Cecil John Rhodes: “So little done, so much to do.” [59]

The forty years since President Lee’s presentation have been filled with consequential additions and refinements to Church policy, administration, governance, and curriculum. Many of the changes recognize and attend to challenges associated with the growth of the Church in areas of the world where the populations struggle financially and speak a language other than English.

An important development in reaching the worldwide membership occurred when the Church in 1971 launched a new set of magazines oriented to the age groups represented in the Church’s auxiliary organizations: the Ensign for adults, the New Era for youth, and the Friend for children.

In the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, new areas of emphasis emerged in the correlation effort. Church leaders recognized that the use of very detailed program, policy, and instruction manuals could limit the Church’s ability to share the gospel and implement its programs worldwide. The Church could not afford the costs of translation, publication and distribution of long, complex materials in numerous languages. And many Church members, especially those in newer areas of growth and expansion, did not have the resources or time or experience to constructively use the more elaborate materials even if they were available. A general charge given to those preparing curriculum and communications was to “reduce and simplify.” Thus significant efforts were made to reduce the size, detail, and expense of materials. The simpler, more streamlined materials have facilitated implementation of Church activities and curriculum in many developing areas.

One of the most significant and far-reaching contributions of the late twentieth-century Church was the emphasis on the scriptures. The four standard works of scripture have been placed at the center of Church, family, and individual study and learning. To facilitate scripture study, the Church published its own edition of the King James Version of the Bible in 1979. Two years later new editions of the other books of scripture were made available. The new editions of the scriptures came complete with new chapter headings, extensive cross-referencing of verses in footnotes to all Standard Works, and, in the LDS version of the Bible, an extensive Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, and the addition of Joseph Smith Translations, all geared to facilitate in-depth gospel study. Speaking of these new editions of scripture, President Boyd K. Packer observed:

With the passing of years, these scriptures will produce successive generations of faithful Christians who know the Lord Jesus Christ and are disposed to obey His will. The older generation has been raised without them, but there is another generation growing up. The revelations will be opened to them as to no other in the history of the world. [60]

He further acknowledged that of all the things accomplished during the administration of President Kimball, the new editions of scripture “will be regarded, in the perspective of history, as the crowning achievement.” [61] As these scriptures were being prepared, the total curriculum of the Church was being altered. “All courses of study,” according to President Packer, “were revised to center on the scriptures, on Jesus Christ.” The preparation and publication of these scriptures and the revision of the courses of study centered on these scriptures and on Jesus Christ, President Packer judged to be “the most important of all things that we have done in recent generations.” [62]

In June 1998, significant changes took place in the Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood curriculum; both groups would study the same lessons at the same time, emphasizing teachings of the Latter-day prophets.

Changes in organizational structure. Another aspect of Church organization that needed to be advanced before the worldwide expansion was restructuring the Quorums of Seventy. This restructuring came to Churchwide attention in the 1975 October general conference when President Kimball announced that the First Quorum of the Seventy was to be organized. A year later the First Council of the Seventy was dissolved and its members, along with the Assistants to the Twelve, were added to the First Quorum of the Seventy. The Second Quorum of Seventy was announced at April conference 1989. The regional representative assignments, which had been functioning since September 1967, were replaced in April 1995 by the calling of Area Authorities, who in 1997 became the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Quorums of Seventy and came to be known as “Area Authority Seventies.”

As a result of these new priesthood alignments, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had in place a leadership team that could expand if needed and that would help ensure that practices, doctrines, and policies would remain uniform throughout the world. When President Harold B. Lee spoke at the April general conference of 1973, he noted, after citing statistics pertaining to the Church growth, “This greatly expanded church population is today our most challenging problem, and while we have cause for much rejoicing in such a widespread expansion, it does pose some great challenges to the leadership of the Church to keep pace with the many problems.” [63]

A singularly significant step in organization relating to future Church growth was taken in April conference of 1997 with the creation of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Quorums of Seventy. At the time President Hinckley stated: “With these respective quorums in place, we have established a pattern under which the Church may grow to any size with an organization of Area Presidencies and Area Authority Seventies, chosen and working across the world according to need. Now, the Lord is watching over His kingdom. He is inspiring its leadership to care for its ever-growing membership.” [64]

Progression of individual members. Preparation of the Lord’s Church for the expansion in size and function that were to be part of its latter-day destiny has been most startling when it has focused on programs and policies that affect millions of members. However, preparation has been at least equally significant when it has focused on the strength of the individual members. A major theme to be addressed concerning the Lord’s preparation of the Church for the dissemination of the gospel is the strengthening of the individual testimonies of the Saints.

Prophet leaders have affirmed the importance of the personal convictions of Church members. For example, President Lee stated back in 1973:

Perhaps the most important reason of all for the growth of the Church is the individual testimonies of the divinity of this work, as would be multiplied in the hearts of the individual members of the Church. For the strength of the Church is not in the numbers, nor in the amount of tithes and offerings paid by faithful members, nor in the magnitude of chapels and temple buildings, but because in the hearts of faithful members of the Church is the conviction that this is indeed the church and kingdom of God on the earth. [65]

President Hinckley expressed a similar message when he observed, “The remarkable progress of this Church is not so much the result of the requirements of the Church upon its members as it is the result of the conviction in the hearts of those members that this is in very deed the work of God, and that happiness and peace and satisfaction are found in righteous service.” [66]

The family is the fundamental unit of society, charged with the responsibility of rearing offspring to become responsible citizens and productive members of society. Although the family unit has always been emphasized among Latter-day Saints, the Lord has chosen in the latter part of the twentieth century to highlight the responsibility of parents for the well-being and guidance of their children. Among the post–World War II indicators of the Lord’s concern for families was the statement of Elder Lee at the time he formally introduced the correlation program: “The home is the basis of a righteous life and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions.” [67]

As early as 1915 the idea of a family home evening was introduced to the Church. Then in 1965 President David O. McKay encouraged Church members to designate a regular night for this family activity, and a lesson manual was made available as a guide to family instruction and activities. In 1970, Monday evening was selected as the time to hold family home evening throughout the Church. Manuals continued to be available until 1985, when a Family Home Evening Resource Book was distributed throughout the Church. Video materials have also been produced to assist families.

During the last half of the twentieth century, the world has seen an increase in disrespect and disregard for the vows of marriage, fidelity in the relationship of husband and wife, and responsibilities inherent in the family unit. In September 1995, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles to declare and reaffirm “standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated.” This proclamation, President Hinckley explained, was to counter the effects “of sophistry that is passed off as truth” and to challenge the temptation to “take on the slow stain of the world.” [68] The document opens with a declaration that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Along with statements pertaining to the divine nature and destiny of mankind, the eternal nature of the covenant-bound family, the sanctity of life, and the responsibility of parents for their children, the family is acknowledged as being ordained of God. The teachings of Jesus Christ are recognized as being vital to family solidarity and happiness. Individuals reared in families bound and influenced by these teachings will become stalwarts of the faith, able to be the heart and core of gospel preaching that will extend throughout the earth. The proclamation also warns “that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” [69]

Though the Lord’s plan gives the family preeminent responsibility for the instruction and development of children and youth, the Lord has seen the need and made provision for additional ways of building and strengthening the testimonies of His children. One of the more powerful and visible of these developments is the Church Educational System (CES). The growth of CES is congruent with the overall pattern of growth seen in Church membership and other aspects of activity. The first seminary was started in 1912, and the first institute began operation in 1926. By the end of 1945 the combined enrollment in seminaries and institutes was approximately 25,000; the combined enrollment 55 years later was roughly 720,000. In 1970, CES was operating in 29 countries; in 1990, it was established in an additional 51 countries making a total of 80, and by the end of 2003, another 64 countries had been added bringing the total to 144. [70] The Church emphasizes access to education that combines faith with reason, encouraging its youth to prepare simultaneously for continued spiritual development as well as capability for serving effectively in their community and providing well for their families.

The value of education as a source of development and progression, particularly in lifting families and communities out of poverty, was acknowledged when President Hinckley announced the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund in April 2001. Through this new program, young people of the Church, generally returned missionaries, in poorer areas of the world are given access to financial assistance that will enable them to pursue an education which will qualify them for employment. Once employed, these students repay their loans so that the same opportunity can be extended to others. As these individuals increase in faith and testimony, as well as in their ability to function and serve in their communities, they will serve a vital role in spreading the gospel throughout the world.

Expanded missionary program. The power of individual testimony in spreading the gospel is no more evident than in the proselyting efforts of the Church. Numbers of missions and missionaries have increased dramatically since the end of World War II. Missions worldwide have increased from 44 in 1955 to 158 in 1977 to 335 in at the end of 2002. The growth in the number of missionaries has been equally dramatic, rising from 4,607 in 1955 to 27,173 in 1977 to 61,636 at the end of 2002. [71] Such dramatic increase in the number missionaries is a further barometer of rapid Church expansion.

Increase in the number of missionaries in the past few years is attributable in part to the addition of senior couples who choose to serve. Retired couples who have been blessed with health, time, resources, and personal commitment offer a rich variety of services, including contributions in leadership support, member activation, welfare and humanitarian outreach, and teaching. Many have gone into countries where formal proselyting is not allowed, but where they are able to build a positive image for the Church through their service activities. Those who are teaching English in non-English-speaking countries are giving an important service that goes in two directions: residents of the country learn a language that will increase their development and employment opportunities, and the teachers gain facility in a language which prepares them to communicate with people of lands that will someday receive the gospel. This language mastery affects the work in many ways. Speaking of these times, latter-day revelation declares, “For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language” (D&C 90:11).

As the Church expands across the earth, there is a much greater need for translation services. At the 2001 general conference, the messages were translated into forty-nine languages for participants in the Conference Center and the overflow areas. Satellite communication broadcasted conference sessions in twenty-three languages, and Internet access was available in thirty-four. Previously, translations were delayed, but beginning with October general conference of 2002, thirty-two simultaneous language translations were offered in the November issue of Church magazines. [72] In printed form the conference messages are sent out in seventy-four languages. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in the number of languages in which investigators may read the Book of Mormon. By 2001, the complete Book of Mormon or selected passages could be read in one hundred languages. The work of translation has grown to the degree that about 2,200 contracted employees and volunteers around the world are involved in the work. [73]

In the priesthood session of October general conference 2002, President Hinckley expressed the need to “raise the bar on the worthiness and qualifications of those who go into the world as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ.” [74] As Elder M. Russell Ballard observed, the expectation is that future missionaries will be part of “the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Church.” [75] He clearly, unequivocally declared, “We need worthy, qualified, spiritually energized missionaries who, like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, are ‘exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity.’” [76] He further observed, “We don’t need spiritually weak and semicommitted young men. We don’t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.” [77] By emphasizing these qualities necessary in a full-time missionary, the Lord is readying the Church and the world for a surge of effort and growth in the latter days. According to Elder Ballard, we are fighting a perilous battle, one in which the enemy is “cunning and resourceful.” He added, “[Lucifer] is unforgiving and relentless. He is taking eternal prisoners at an alarming rate” with “no sign of letting up.” [78] Indeed, the War in Heaven never ended. It just changed battlegrounds.

Increase in temple preparation and family history research. For Latter-day Saints, participation in the ordinances of the temple is essential to salvation as well as personal spiritual growth. President Hinckley has observed, “I believe that no member of the Church has received the ultimate which this Church has to give until he or she has received his or her temple blessings in the house of the Lord.” [79] Yet as he became the fifteenth President of the Church in 1995, there were only forty-seven temples in operation. While that number represented more than a doubling of the twenty temples that had been operating in 1981, the new president was anxious to make temple access feasible for Church members throughout the world. The question of how to extend the blessings of the temple to more members, especially to those of more limited financial means, was a concern of President Hinckley and the presiding Brethren for several years. Then in the October 1997 general conference, President Hinckley announced that in response to prayerful pondering of the matter the answer had come “bright and clear.” The decision to use small temples was unveiled, and with it a plan for new temple construction which would approximately double the number of temples by the turn of the century. Just seven years later, the forty-seven temples in operation in 1995 had more than doubled to 114 at the end of 2002. Once again the Lord had made ample provision for the spiritual well-being of the Saints as well as greatly expanding His work.

In October 1975, when speaking on the subject of the redemption of the dead, President Boyd K. Packer pointed out the need to perform temple ordinances for all who have lived upon the earth. He recognized that to nonbelievers this undertaking would seem impossible. But he committed, “We shall do it anyway.” He continued, “We ask no relief of the assignment, no excuse from fulfilling it.” As formidable as the task may appear, he assured the Saints that it will eventually be completed: “There is a feeling of inspiration attending this work that can be found in no other. When we have done all that we can do, we shall be given the rest.” [80] Assistance is available in many forms. The Lord has stirred the hearts and minds of people outside the Church, so much so that the search for ancestral roots is one of the main uses of the Internet. Within six months of the launching of the site, the number of hits exceeded one and a half billion; the rate now averages 11.7 million hits per day. Countless hours of service have been contributed in recent years to make other valuable family history research tools available. For example, an estimated twelve thousand volunteers of the Church worked from 1993 for seven years to digitize the records of immigrants entering through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. Over twenty-two million names were processed, making it possible for “as many as 100 million living descendants of United States immigrants to find information about their ancestors.” [81] In assisting African Americans to trace their ancestral connections, the Church has made over 400,000 names from the nineteenth century available with a compact disc of the Freedman’s Bank Records. [82] Another important resource was announced on October 23, 2002: The 1880 U.S. Census, the 1881 Canadian Census, and the 1881 British Census, collectively containing 81 million names, became a free online resource. Through the marvels of modern technology and countless hours of donated labor, the Lord has made readily available tools which are invaluable in family history research.


In considering the growth and progress of the Church during the last half of the twentieth century, the following conclusions might be offered:

1. Prophets, both ancient and modern, have spoken of this day and time, and in doing so they have declared that God would prepare the world and His Church for the fulfillment of prophecy.

2. In the closing half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, these prophecies are being fulfilled at an ever-accelerating pace, building the momentum and intensity that will be needed to overpower Satan’s growing influence in the world.

3. These developments within the Lord’s Church are evidence that He has “endowed [His Saints] with power from on high” and that according to His promise, “no power shall stay” the flow of His kingdom (D&C 38:32–33).

At the close of the April 1996 general conference, President Hinckley referred to the prophecy that was given by revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, which declared that the kingdom of God would one day fill the whole earth and that the Church would “come forth out of the wilderness of darkness and shine . . . [as] clear as the sun” (D&C 109:73). President Hinckley further testified: “We are witnessing the answer to that remarkable pleading. Increasingly the Church is being recognized at home and abroad for what it truly is.” [83] The Lord is indeed making “ample provision” for the spread of the gospel throughout the earth.


[1] Henry B. Eyring, “A Child and a Disciple,” Ensign, May 2003, 32.

[2] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:540.

[3] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854), 1:203.

[4] Brigham Young to Samuel Richards, in Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, October 1974, 13.

[5] Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 220.

[6] Rodney Stark, cited in Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), 374–75.

[7] Stark, in Ostling and Ostling, Mormon America, 375.

[8] Stark, in Ostling and Ostling, Mormon America, 262.

[9] Victor L. Ludlow, “The Internationalization of the Church,” Out of Obscurity: The LDS Church in the Twentieth Century (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 212–17.

[10] Deseret News 2003 Church Almanac, 472–75; “Statistical Report 2002,” Ensign, May 2003, 25.

[11] Smith, History of the Church, 6:41.

[12] Conference Report, April 1930, 157.

[13] Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, October 1974, 5, 7.

[14] Deseret News 2003 Church Almanac, 403.

[15] Gordon B. Hinckley, quoted in Shaun D. Stahle, “Moscow Meeting: Church History Made in Russia,” Church News, September 21, 2002, 9.

[16] Maps were adapted by A. Michael Shumate from W. Cole Durham, “The Doctrine of Religious Freedom,” Clark Memorandum, Fall 2001, 7.

[17] John P. McKay and others, A History of World Societies, 5th ed., vol. 2, Since 1500 (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000), 1069.

[18] Erla Zwingle, “Megacities,” National Geographic, November 2002, 78.

[19] Zwingle, “Megacities,” 77.

[20] Zwingle, “Megacities,” 77.

[21] David O. McKay, “A Divine Plan for Finding Security and Peace of Mind,” Improvement Era, December 1966, 1091–92.

[22] McKay, “A Divine Plan,” 1091–92.

[23] Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” 10.

[24] Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982), 587–88.

[25] Howard W. Hunter, 1994 Centennial celebration of the Genealogical Society of Utah, as cited in Shaun Stahle, “Technology Helps Church Spread Gospel,” Church News, May 29, 1999, 4.

[26] Lynn Arave, “LDS Quick to Use Technology: Broadcasting Swells Audience of Conferences,” Deseret News, April 5, 2002, 8.

[27] Gordon B. Hinckley, quoted in Russell M. Nelson, “A New Harvest Time,” Ensign, May 1998, 35.

[28] Church News, January 4, 2003.

[29] Allen Hammond, Which World? Scenarios for the 21st Century (Washington DC: Island Press, 1998), 272.

[30] Hammond, Which World? 272.

[31] Hammond, Which World? 273.

[32] See Jan Shipps, Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years Among the Mormons (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), who has chapters on perceptions of the Latter-day Saints up to 1960 (51–97), on post-1960 perceptions of Latter-day Saints by outsiders (98–123), and on Latter-day Saint perceptions of others (124–42). See also Richard O. Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985), 286–93, and Richard O. Cowan, The Latter-day Saint Century (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1999), 191–93.

[33] Cowan, The Church in the Twentieth Century, 286–93; see also Reed A. Benson, “Ezra Taft Benson: The Eisenhower Years,” and Cynthia Doxey, “International Tours of the Tabernacle Choir,” Out of Obscurity, 53–62, 76–89.

[34] W. Jeffrey Marsh, “When the Press Meets the Prophet,” Out of Obscurity, 242–59.

[35] James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1995–75), 1:257.

[36] Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand a Little Taller (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001), 41.

[37] Gordon B. Hinckley, quoted in Sarah Jane Weaver, “‘A Better Understanding’ to Come of World’s Visit,” Church News, March 2, 2002, 4.

[38] Henry D. Moyle, quoted in “Challenge Remains: Feelings Run Strong in Utah Mountains,” Church News, February 23, 2002, 8. President Moyle made this statement prior to offering the dedicatory prayer at the rededication of the Midway first Ward meetinghouse on June 9, 1963.

[39] Carrie A. Moore, “Games, LDS Church Influenced Each Other,” Deseret News, March 16, 2002, E4.

[40] Moore, “Games, LDS Church Influenced Each Other,” E4.

[41] Kimball, Teachings, 451.

[42] On the establishment of the Church in Africa, see Alexander B. Morrison, The Dawning of a Brighter Day: The Church in Black Africa (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990); E. Dale LeBaron, ed. All Are Alike unto God (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990).

[43] LeBaron, ed., All Are Alike unto God, 153–62

[44] Anthony U. Obinna interview, 4 June 1988, Aboh Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria, interviewed by E. Dale LeBaron; copy in possession of E. Dale LeBaron; in E. Dale LeBaron, “African Converts without Baptism: A Unique and Inspiring Chapter in Church History,” BYU Devotional Address, November 3, 1998.

[45] See Spencer J. Palmer, “Mormons in West Africa, New Terrain for the Sesquicentennial Church,” Annual Religion Faculty Lecture, Brigham Young University, September 27, 1979, 5.

[46] Deseret Morning News 2004 Church Almanac, 581.

[47] Telephone conversation of E. Dale LeBaron with the Church Membership Department, December 10, 2003.

[48] 1978 Mission Report of South Africa Johannesburg Mission, (generated by E. Dale Lebaron, Mission President), on file in the Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[49] Statistics reported from the Church Membership Department and the Missionary Department, for the end of 2002 (telephone conversation with E. Dale LeBaron, September 18, 2003).

[50] See Ostling and Ostling, Mormon America, 113–29, 395–400.

[51] See Ostling and Ostling, Mormon America, 118.

[52] Thomas S. Monson, “The Lord’s Way,” Ensign, May 1990, 92.

[53] Monson, “The Lord’s Way,” 92.

[54] Monson, “The Lord’s Way,” 92.

[55] Telephone conversation of E. Dale LeBaron with Gary Flake, Director of Church Welfare Programs, September 18, 2003.

[56] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rise to a Larger Vision of the Word,” Ensign, May 1990, 96.

[57] Conference Report, September 1961, 77–79.

[58] Frank O. May Jr., “Correlation of the Church, Administration,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1:323.

[59] Harold B. Lee, “The Correlation Program,” Improvement Era, June 1963, 505.

[60] Boyd K. Packer, “Scriptures,” Ensign, November 1982, 53.

[61] Packer, “Scriptures,” 53.

[62] Packer, “Scriptures,” 53.

[63] Harold B. Lee, “Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” Ensign, July 1973, 5.

[64] Gordon B. Hinckley, “May We Be Faithful and True,” Ensign, May 1997, 6.

[65] Lee, “Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” 6

[66] Gordon B. Hinckley, “It’s True, Isn’t It?” Ensign, July 1993, 4.

[67] Lee, “The Correlation Program,” 502.

[68] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 100.

[69] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 102.

[70] Telephone Conversation of E. Dale LeBaron with Church Education Administrators, reviewing statistical information (pertaining to growth since 1970), December 10, 2003.

[71] Ludlow, “Internationalization of the Church,” Out of Obscurity, 209, 218; “Statistical Report 2002,” Ensign, May 2003, 25.

[72] See John L. Hart, “In 32 Languages, Simultaneously,” Church News, November 2, 2002, 7.

[73] See “Inspiration is Essential in Guiding Translators,” Church News, March 31, 2001, 10.

[74] Gordon. B. Hinckley, “To Men of the Priesthood” Ensign, November 2002, 57.

[75] M. Russell Ballard, “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” Ensign, November 2002, 47.

[76] Ballard, “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” 47.

[77] Ballard, “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” 47.

[78] Ballard, “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” 46–47.

[79] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service,” Ensign, November 1997, 49.

[80] Boyd K. Packer, “The Redemption of the Dead,” Ensign, November 1975, 99.

[81] John Hart and Joe Bauman, “Unveiling of a Heritage: LDS Volunteers Create Web Base of Immigrants,” Deseret News, April 17, 2001, A01.

[82] See John L. Hart, “Family Research by African Americans: Community Members Attend, Enjoy Open House at Library,” Church News, March 1, 2003, 3.

[83] Quoted in W. Jeffrey Marsh, “When the Press Meets the Prophet,” in Out of Obscurity, 244.