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Educational Value of the Missionary System
of the Latter-day Saints
BY NEPHI ANDERSON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR “UTAH GENEALOGICAL AND
HISTORICAL MAGAZINE,” AND AUTHOR OF “ADDED UPON,” ETC.
The missionary system of the Church is unique in this, that all who receive the "glad tidings" contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ are unselfishly expected to pass the good news along; for “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor;" and in this fact lies the great educational value of the system. This gospel-preaching, however, is done in an orderly way, for no man takes to himself the prerogative of the Priesthood, but he who is "called of God, as was Aaron”—that is, by divinely appointed authority.
Facts and figures are usually accounted dry and uninspiring, but as bearing on the missionary system of the Latter-day Saints, they tell a wonderfully interesting story. Here are some statistics, taken from a compilation made at the close of the year 1912:
For missionary purposes, the United States is divided into seven districts, called missions. In these missions, during the year named, there were the following number of missionaries: Eastern
IN L. D. S. CHOIR ROTTERDAM, HOLLAND “This is a picture of the Rotterdam Choir-the 'Hope of Israel—which is one of the largest choirs in the Church outside of Zion. It is a great factor in bringing many to a knowledge of the truth. Where preachers in 'broken' Dutch fail to make an impression, the songs of Zion so ably sung never fail. Our choir is one great missionary of seventy-five voices and one purpose. There are in this group ten members who have just recently been baptized and three others whom we expect to join the Church shortly. In the center are Elders Royal K. Jensen and Elder Watkins, leader and organist respectively.”—Royal K. Jensen.
States, 137 ; Southern States, 200; Northern States, 166; Central States, 156; Western States, 70; North Western States, 75; California, 35. There were in the British mission, 250; Australian, 44; New Zealand, 41; Netherlands, 58; Swiss and German, 168; Scandinavian (Norway and Denmark), 94; Swedish, 49; French, 28; South African, 15; Tahitian, 11 ; Samoan, 37; Hawaiian, 35; Japanese, 17; Mexican, 14. These figures make a total of 1,700, of whom 94 are lady missionaries, which number is somewhat below the average.
ELDERS OF CHRISTIANIA CONFERENCE Back row, left to right: Hans Wamsal, Draper; Daniel L. Jensen, Spring City; Erastus H. Peterson, Manti; Lawrence C. Monsen, Salt Lake City, Utah. Second row: standing: Carl J. Olansen, Menan, Idaho; Norman H. Salvesen, Hyrum; C. F. Pedersen, Preston, Idaho; Ole A. Wold, Salt Lake City; J. Verne Nielsen, Hyrum; Conference Secretary Alfred C. Larsen, Provo; O. Wilford Pedersen, Logan. Sitting: Marie Gartman, president Christiania Relief Society; Christina Christopherson, Salt Lake; President Scandinavian Mission, Martin Christopherson, Salt Lake;. President Christiania Conference, C. M. Nielsen, Salt Lake City; Mrs. C. M. Nielsen, Salt Lake City; A. Amundsen, Salt Lake City. Front row: Clarence Nielsen, Salt Lake City; George D. Pedersen, Salem, Idaho; P. H. Johnson, Spanish Fork, and Knute Nielsen, Salt Lake City.
For administrative purposes, the missions are divided into conferences, and the conferences into branches. An Elder presides over the activities of each of these divisions. There are at present 150 conferences and 617 branches, which call for executive management. The work done by the missionaries during the vear 1912 is reported as follows: Families visited in tracting, 2,462,093; gospel conversations held, 1,752,068; tracts distributed, 10,205,826; books sold, 572,000; open-air meetings held, 9,788; priesthood meetings held, 4,671 ; persons baptized, 4,146.
The population of the "Mormon" Church is about half a mil
Elders, from left to right, back row: Earl J. Soelberg, Idaho Falls, Idaho; June B. Sharp, C. Clyde Coult, Clifford Hodgson, Salt Lake City; Joseph F. Hintze, Holliday; Enoch Larsen, Richfield; W. E. Spafford, Provo: S. R. Boswell, Nephi, Utah; D. Vernon Shurtliff, Baker City, Ore. Center row: James H. Ockey, Nephi, Utah; Conference President Gottlieb Blatter, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Mission President F. J. Hewlett, Mrs. F. J. Hewlett, Salt Lake City; Conference Presdient John E. Hunter, Holden; Alfred J. Gowers, Jr., Nephi, Utah. Front row: Walter H. Matthews, Marion, Idaho; Leland Š. Tate, Tooele; William Barker, Brigham City; Milton P. Fletcher, Provo, Utah.
lion. Out from this number about one thousand men go each year into the missionary field, and a like number return. Their average time of absence is about two and one-half years. Most of these missionaries are young men of an impressionable age, many of them being under twenty-five. They are taken from every vocation and from every part of the country. Fifty per cent of them come from farming communities. All of them have had the advantages of a common school education, many are high school and college graduates (for "Mormon" communities stand high in educational facilities); but they have not been specially trained in homiletics, other than that which the Church gives to every member who will take part in its activities.
The gospel message which they carry is so simple that a man of common intelligence, if he is pure of heart and mind, can deliver it. A profound knowledge of historic Christianity, of the dead languages, of Christology, or of Eschatology, though not to be depreciated, is, however, not essential to the telling of God's goodness, love, and redeeming power. The gospel which the "Mormon" missionary preaches is that which can be understood and is gladly received by the common people. His work consists
ELDERS OF THE VIRGINIA CONFERENCE, SOUTHERN STATES MISSION
Back row, left to right: Frederick A. Welch, Cowley, Wyo.; Elmer Stoddard, Richmond, Utah; Jos. C. Norton, Fairview, Ariz.; C. A. Savage, Henrieville, Utah; Roy Wood, bates, Idaho; Marion R. Cobbley, Blackfoot, Idaho; Alonzo E. Dutson, Leamington, Utah. Seated, middle row: A. D. Holyoak, Moab; Bernard A. Montague, Salem, Utah; George S. Weekes, Archer, Idaho; Chas. W. Crosby, conference president, Eagar, Ariz.; Wm. T. Owens, Paragoonah, Nathan D. Hiatt, Payson, Utah. Front row: Elmer Heninger, Logan; Oscar Whiting, Mapleton, Utah; Marion Whittle, Marysville, Idaho; John L. Ferris, Junction, Utah; David R. King, Moore, Idaho.
in arousing faith in God, in calling sinners to repentance, in explaining and administering baptism in water for the remission of sins, in announcing the restoration of the gospel of Christ in
ELDERS IN THE NEW YORK CONFERENCE, EASTERN STATES MISSION
Left to right, back row: H. S. Coleman, Midway, Utah; A. M. Empey, Idaho Falls, Idaho; Wm. E. Bushnell, Meadow, Utah; I. Parnell Hinckley, Salt Lake City; J. W. James, Rexburg, Idaho; A. E. Bingham, Riverdale, Utah. Sitting: A. L: Buchanan, Venice; Martin Mortensen, conference president, Thatcher, Ariz.; W. S. Langton, mission secretary, Logan; A. A. Bybee, Lyman, Idaho; C. M. Beckstead, Sandy, Utah.
purity and power, and in encouraging all to live a godly life. Two years of such work is bound to have its effect on those who are engaged in it.
The “Mormon” missionary receives no salary. His time and talents are given, as he feels, to the service of the Lord. He is simply warning his neighbors as he himself has been warned. His labor is one of love and sacrifice. He leaves his business, his shop, his farm to get along the best they can. He leaves home, parents, wife, children. If he has not the means to carry him through his mission, those at home must send it to him. He goes into a strange world; he must adjust himself to new environments; often he must learn a new language. The timid boy from the farm, as well as the business man and the schoolmaster, go out to teach the world. They meet the learned, the worldly wise, the ignorant, and gain valuable lessons from them all. In fear and
OREGON CONFERENCE, MARCH 10, 1913 Back row: R. A. Bitter, Beaver Dam; H. L. Jeppersen, Bear River City; Wm. L. Madsen, Mt. Pleasant; Wm. P. Dopp, Cornish, Utah; Joseph C. Hogan, Hatch, Idaho; Joseph C. Harker, Cardston, Canada; Alma Yeates, Millville, Utah. Ladies: May Carlisle, Salt Lake City; Zella Smart, Logan; Elsie Brown, Salt Lake City. Third row; N. A. Wheeler, Fielding, Utah; E. J. Solomon, conference president, Salt Lake City; M. J. Ballard, mission president; H. A. Benson, mission secretary, Blackfoot, Idaho; Henry Penman, West Weber, Utah. Front row: A. W. Edwards, Charleston; Wm. S. Winn, Nephi; Frank Morgan, Layton, Utah.
trembling the missionary passes his tracts from door to door, engages people in conversation, and takes his place with his companions on the street corner in open-air meetings. He must deliver his message, cost what it may. Passers-by taunt him, yet he must not reply; the pious as well as the rabble insult him, yet he must hold his temper and his tongue; he must return good for evil.