The United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and is located off the northwest coast of Europe. The population speaks English, Welsh, and Gaelic. Most belong to the Church of England or are Roman Catholics.
Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 59,093,000; Members, 142,412; Stakes, 36; Wards, 226; Branches, 34; Missions, 5; Temples, 2; percent LDS, .23, or one in 427.
Just two years after the founding of the Church, missionaries were sent to preach the gospel in Canada. They met with great success and baptized a number of British subjects who then desired that the gospel be preached to their relatives in Great Britain. Consequently, Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve was set apart on 4 June 1837 to open a mission in England. Willard Richards, Joseph Fielding, and Elder Orson Hyde were also called to serve with him. As the group traveled to New York, they were joined by Canadians John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snider.
On 1 July 1837, the seven men set sail for England. They arrived on 19 July 1837 in Liverpool. Two days later they traveled to Preston where Fielding’s brother James was pastor of the Vauxhall Chapel. They preached the gospel there the following two Sundays, 23 and 30 July. Just 11 days after their arrival, a baptismal service was held in the nearby River Ribble that was viewed by about 8,000 curious onlookers. Nine converts, all former members of Fielding’s church, were baptized by Elder Kimball, the first of whom was George D. Watt. A week later, the number of converts reached 50.
The first branch in England was created in Preston on 6 August 1837. It continues today as the oldest continuously functioning unit in the Church. The first conference in England was held four months later on Christmas Day. Missionaries extended their labors to Alston and Bedford, where branches were soon established, but the greatest work was done in the Preston area. Opposition began to mount through ministers and the press, but within nine months, more than 1,000 had been baptized. During 1837, branches were established at Walkerfold, Ribchester, Thornley, Penwortham, Wrightington, Alston, Barshe Lees and Bedford. During 1838-1839 an additional 21 branches were created.
In 1838, Elders Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde returned to Nauvoo, leaving Joseph Fielding in place as president of the mission. Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball (on his second mission to England), Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith arrived in England in 1840.
Wilford Woodruff traveled to the potteries district and established the Church in Hanley. While there he became acquainted with converts William and Ann Benbow. In March 1840, he traveled south in company with William Benbow to the Herefordshire area where he met William’s brother John Benbow. The Benbow family was converted after their first visit with Woodruff and told him of their congregation of over 600 people who had formed their own church, the United Brethren. Woodruff preached to members of the United Brethren and in five days baptized 32 people from the congregation. Within 18 days of his arrival at Herefordshire, Woodruff had baptized the two most influential members of the United Brethren, John Benbow and Thomas Kington, and 15 of their preachers. Eventually, all but one of the congregation was converted and baptized, and in 1840 they deeded their Gadfield Elm Chapel to the Church. It was the first building to be owned by the Church in England. Ministers were so concerned about the progress of the Church that they petitioned without success the Archbishop of Canterbury to ask Parliament to ban the Mormons from England.
In 1840, additional members of the Quorum of the Twelve arrived in England. On 14-16 April 1840, they held a meeting of the Quorum, the first such meeting held outside of the United States, and conducted a general conference of the Church. The Apostles grouped the many local congregations into conferences, beginning with the Gadfield Elm Conference organized on 14 June 1840. In 1840, the mission began publication of a periodical, the Millennial Star. During the same year, through the generosity of former United Brethren leaders Benbow and Kington, an edition of the Book of Mormon and a hymnal were prepared for publication. Brigham Young obtained the British copyright for the first European edition of The Book of Mormon. It was published in Liverpool in January 1841. The British Mission was headquartered in Manchester until 1842 when it was moved to Liverpool. It remained there until it was moved in 1929 to Birmingham.
Soon many converts began immigrating to the United States. John Moon brought the first company of 41 converts with him on the ship Britannia in June 1840. Around 800 members left for America during 1840-1841.
Because of the hardships suffered by the first groups of emigrating Latter-day Saints, the Church in Britain established a system of emigration, chartering its own ships for the huge numbers desiring to emigrate. Leaders procured ample provisions for the voyage and set up companies of emigrants presided over by priesthood brethren. The system was enhanced in 1849 when President Brigham Young established the Perpetual Emigrating Fund (PEF), a revolving fund wherein those without means could have their way to Zion paid for by the Church, but were expected to repay the loan once they were settled. The money would then be loaned again to other immigrants needing financial help in order to join the Saints in America.
In 1851, the British Mission published the Pearl of Great Price. It was the first time the texts had been compiled and published together. The volume was canonized as scripture 27 years later.
Out-migration took thousands of members and many of the district and branch leaders from England in the 19th Century creating a shortage of leaders. From the period 1840 to 1868, at least 150 sailing vessels brought tens of thousands of saints from England to the United States.
In the 1880s, former member William Jarman traveled through England with his anti-Mormon lectures and helped to create deep prejudices against the Church. He eventually lost favor after losing several debates to B.H. Roberts. The 1890 manifesto officially renouncing polygamy helped to create a period of relative calm for the Church in England. In June 1894, the First Presidency began to encourage the European Saints to remain and build up the Church in their own countries. Nevertheless, many continued to immigrate to the United States.
In August and September 1906, England received its first visit from a prophet, Joseph F. Smith, who spent several weeks in England and Scotland giving sermons which were later published in the Millenial Star.
Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 5,078,000; Members, 26,536; Stakes, 5; Wards, 27; Branches, 14; Missions, 1; percent LDS, .5, or one in 196; Europe Area.
Native Scots Alexander Wright and Samuel Mulliner were converted and baptized while living in Ontario, Canada in the mid-1830s. They were eager to share the gospel with their countrymen and were called as the first missionaries to Scotland, arriving in Glasgow on 20 December 1839. The following day, they traveled to Edinburgh where Mulliner’s parents lived. Mulliner taught and baptized Alexander Hay and his wife Jessie in the River Clyde at Bishopton near Paisley on 14 January 1840, likely the first to join the Church in Scotland. Wright traveled to Marnoch where he shared the gospel with his parents and friends. In February, Mulliner and Wright reunited and on 2 February 1840 baptized two young men from Leith.
A hall was rented in Paisley and regular meetings were held. By May 1840, membership had increased to 80. Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles arrived and organized a branch at Paisley on 8 May. Pratt and Mulliner then labored in Edinburgh where they baptized a number of converts.
While in Edinburgh, Pratt wrote and published the pamphlet “An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions.” It included the first published account of Joseph Smith’s first vision, and with the scriptures, became a standard Church publication in Scotland.
In May 1840, missionary Reuben Hedlock began working in Glasgow where he organized a branch on 8 August 1840. By March 1841, when Orson Pratt departed from Scotland, he left George D. Watt in charge. More than 200 had joined the Church in Edinburgh. All the Scottish branches, located in urban centers, were experiencing growth. Efforts were made by missionary Peter McIntyre to preach the gospel among Gaelic tribes in the highlands in 1845, and in 1850, some Gaelic tracts were printed by a press in Inverness, but very few highlanders were willing to be baptized.
In the first 15 months of missionary efforts, 600 Scots were added to the rolls of the Church. By 1850, membership had risen to 3,257 in more than 50 branches, and by 1855, four conferences had been organized.
Membership began a decline after 1851, largely due to the effects of immigration to the United States. The third official Church immigrant company from Great Britain was, in fact, the first immigration of Scottish Latter-day Saints. The company of 50, led by Mulliner and Wright, left Liverpool on board the ship Isaac Newton on 15 October 1840.
From 1850-1899, there were 5,329 of the 7,528 Scottish members, a full 71 percent, who immigrated to America. Even by 1870, membership losses had become so pronounced that the Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Kilmarnock conferences had been consolidated to the Glasgow Conference that had jurisdiction for all of Scotland.
During the 1850s, just 1,308 converts were baptized. A decline in convert numbers continued in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1873, for example, just 35 people were baptized. In 1897, there were 55 baptisms, but the number included children of members.
From the 1870s-1890s, the Church continued to send a few missionaries to staff the Scottish Conference. One such missionary serving in Scotland in 1897-1899 was David O. McKay. He had little success. While serving in Stirling, he noticed a phrase engraved in stone above the entrance to a house that read: “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” The inspiration he took from this epigram had a great impact on his life, and upon the future of the Church he later directed as president from 1951-1970.
Besides President McKay’s family, a number of other prominent Latter-day Saints hailed from Scotland. Among them were Charles W. Nibley, from Huntersfield, who served as Presiding Bishop from 1907-1925 and as second counselor in the First Presidency from 1925-1931; Richard Ballantyne, from Roxburgshire, who established the Sunday School program in Salt Lake City in 1849; John McFarland from Stirling, wrote the words to the hymn “Far, Far, Away on Judea’s Plains” and the music for “Dearest Children, God Is Near You;” and Glasgow native Ebenezer Bryce, for whom Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah is named.
In 1914, the United Kingdom countries including Scotland became fully involved in World War I. Missionaries from America continued to work in Scotland until the United States became involved in the war beginning in 1917, effectively eliminating available men to serve. In 1913, the British Mission had enjoyed a force of 258 missionaries. By 1919, the number had dropped to 31 with just five being Americans. In 1919, the Church applied again for missionary visas. The request was denied because politicians prejudiced by the anti-Mormon campaign preceding the war felt that Mormon missionary work was disruptive to society. Appeals launched through Utah’s congressional delegation eventually prevailed and missionaries from America were allowed to return in 1920.
The upheaval of World War II from 1939-1945 disrupted every aspect of life in Scotland, including the Church’s missionary program. In September 1939, after England and its United Kingdom allies, including Scotland, declared war against Germany, American missionaries were evacuated. Mission President Hugh B. Brown followed in January 1940 and local members were appointed to the leadership positions vacated by the missionaries. With great zeal, “home missionary work” was performed by local members and a number of converts were made during the war. During January 1946, the first missionaries returned to Scotland since the war.
Post-war interest in the Church led to greater numbers of converts in the 1940s and 1950s. During June 1952, David O. McKay dedicated the first meetinghouse for the Church in Scotland at Glasgow. Two days later he dedicated another meetinghouse in Edinburgh. As part of a major Church building program in the early 1960s, there were several additional buildings constructed through donated labor by members and building missionaries. In 1961, the British Mission was divided to create the Scottish-Irish Mission. It was re-named the Scottish Mission the following year.
Scotland’s first stake was created in Glasgow on 26 August 1962 by President David O. McKay. It was followed by creation of the Dundee Stake in 1975, and the Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Paisley stakes on 12 October 1980.
Members in Scotland participated in the 150th anniversary of the Church in the British Isles in July 1987. Two markers were dedicated on 25 July 1987 by Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve commemorating events in Scotland’s Church history. One marker, on the banks of the River Clyde near Glasgow, is where the first converts in Scotland were baptized in January 1840. The second marker in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh denotes where Orson Hyde dedicated Scotland for the preaching of the gospel in 1840.
The Church in Scotland also celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Glasgow Branch on 21 October 1990.
A historical occasion for Scottish members of the Church occurred on 2 May 2001 when Stephen Kerr, president of the Edinburgh Scotland Stake, was invited to represent the Church before Parliament.