January 10, 2024

The Early British Mission

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In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lord called missionaries to gather 'the elect', or the people prepared to hear the gospel from all over the land. There came a time when the Lord told Joseph he was to specifically send missionaries to Europe. Not just any missionaries were sent to preach the gospel in Europe but the Twelve Apostles were called to preach in Europe. This missionary experienced changed the Church forever. The Lord had already prepared people to receive the gospel, and whole villages were baptized and joined the newly restored Church of Jesus Christ. The majority of these new converts gave up everything to move to move to the United States and became foundational figures in the Church.

Calling the 12 to Europe

When calling to the Twelve Apostles to go to England, the Prophet Joseph Smith, said to Heber C. Kimball:

"The work in England will be quick and powerful!"

Joseph Smith also said:

"There is much of the blood of Israel in Britain."

The Prophet Joseph Smith was correct about the effect of the missionaries in England. Within only six short months the Twelve Apostles had converted whole villages of people in England. At times the brethren often performed baptisms all day, one after another. A total of roughly 6,000 people were converted during that six month mission, and those numbers do not take all the areas into account.

At the return of his mission from Europe Heber C. Kimball spoke to the prophet Joseph Smith about the miracles that had occured, and the importance of the land of Europe in God Plan. There were certain parts of England where Heber had converted whole villages men, women, and old enough children.

When Joseph Smith heard of the success he said: "That land was dedicated by ancient men of God, and you inherited their blessing, they looked forward to this time and prayed that their posterity would be able to receive the fullness of the gospel."

At the same time as the mission in Europe The Church, back in Nauvoo, was floundering. In the beginning of the Nauvoo era there was much poverty, apostasy and sickness. Nauvoo was struggling. The newly converted British Saints rejuvenated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, with numbers and new enthusiasm.

At the time of this first mission, the new members were not asked to gather to the United States. The British Saints did not wait to be asked, they felt the desire to gather with the Saints in Nauvoo and acted on it. They yearned to be with the body of the Saints, and left all to gather to Zion.

Chatburn, England

The town of Chatburn, England was a very important village, in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is said that it is still today, 'almost as enchanted, lovely and pristine as it was 200 years ago.' The village of Chatburn was one of the villages the early brethren had much missionary success.

When Heber C. Kimball was to return home from his mission, he went through Chatburn from house to house, to say 'goodbye' to all his new friends. He knocked on the door and said something like "I must go" and was embraced and goes to the next house, but the children of each home, did not say goodbye but began to follow him. By the time he reached the end of the village, like the pied-piper, he is surrounded by children who were dancing and singing. He knelt down and embraces each one of them. Then, three times, he tries to walk away, as he walks away he has to withdraw and go to the stream bed to wash out his eyes the tears.

Later when recalling the memory to the people at home Heber said, he "felt like he was walking on sacred ground". The "very hair on his head was being quickened by the Spirit of God and that it filled him from head to toe."

"Yes" said the Prophet Joseph Smith when Elder Kimball told him of all that occurred in the area, Joseph said, "that was fulfillment of ancient prophecy".

That specific area in England had been blessed years before, and Heber C. Kimball and the rest of the twelve were able to be the witnesses of the blessing coming true! After years of waiting, the people of Europe were able to hear of the gospel of Jesus Christ restored to the Earth again!


"Prophets of the Restoration" by Truman G. Madsen chapter 2

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