Thursday, March 31, 2016

England Missionary Trip ~ March 6-22, 2016

England Missionary Report March 6-22, 2016
Seventies James and Patrick McKay 

As we set out to enter the mission field in England, we had memories of the efforts of the Brethren that arrived on these shores in 1837. The first missionaries of the Latter-day gospel sent to the British Isles in June of 1837 proved equal to the task. Remarkable indeed, was the success they found. By April of 1838, twenty-four branches were reported with a membership of approximately 1,500. These brethren enjoyed a fair amount of success especially among the working class of the United Kingdom. They appealed to this particular social group in large measure due to their own social background. They frequently found themselves preaching to the British citizenry directly in the streets, not respecting the social distinctions often found in the larger; more established denominations, particularly the Church of England. Perhaps the most attractive part of the Latter-day message was that it offered to its hearers a concrete and pragmatic approach with temporal as well as spiritual benefits of obeying the gospel, and then having the opportunity of immigrating to America and assisting in the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Over a period about 9 months an amazing harvest of souls was had as approximately 2000 entered the waters of baptism. Orson Hyde was evidently personally responsible for about 1500 of those baptisms. No other religious sect of the 1840's matched the rapid growth of Mormonism among a working class populace such as that of early Victorian Britain. Beginning with this initial success of the first missionaries in the late 1830's, the church grew by the addition of 51,000 converts in the British Isles by 1851. Many meetings were held in homes for those interested who had gathered. The message and hope of Zion touched the hearts of the pure in heart and eventually there were thousands that asked for and came to American and the hope of assisting in the building up of Zion. Yet by the late 1850's the group was in precipitous decline, due in part to its public announcement that adherents were practicing plural marriage in America.

Our arrival brought us to a very different place, both in time and atmosphere. Certainly those first brothers came to a nation of believing Christians who would could best be classified as seekers. We found a nation that declares only 9% church attendance. Although the Church of England is still the largest point of worship, there are other denominations that garner their portion of that 9%. We found a nation that is steeped a level of socialism that was surprising and more advanced then seen in America. Why do we mention all of this background, it is important to understand the nature of the field that we have labored in?

We came with the goal to baptize at least 5, adding to the February baptism by Brother Vick, and to receive direction from above about a call to the ministry that we might organize a branch. Our heart’s desire fell short of that goal. We were still blessed as we added 3 more souls to this little fledgling group, two brothers and one sister. This group is comprised of what could only be describe as “the weak and simple” of the earth and as promised that it would be the 'weak things of the world that should come forth and break down the mighty and strong' (D&C 1:4c). What they lack in experience and a knowledge of the Restoration distinctives they are desirous to learn and eager to share the love of Christ towards others. The sister came out of the LDS church after being greatly disturbed with what goes on in the temple endowments. The three brothers have spent the better part of 15 years in the LDS Church, The Community of Christ Church and a group that we have become acquainted with called the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ. In each of these organizations they held priesthood. All were priests and elders in the LDS Church, one was a deacon in the COC and all three were apostles, with one being a Counselor in the First Presidency of the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ. Some concepts in understanding the ministry of priesthood have not yet been shared with them. We have begun and will continue to give instruction helping them reach a more complete understanding.

We have constantly made it a matter of prayer and supplication to our God for direction relating to a potential call[s]. We believe in time God will raise up local ministry to fashion the work, but presently more preparation and understanding will have to manifest itself prior to that happening. There was found in the sister a good mind and a desire help keep the group on task with weekly study in one of the homes and once a month gathering is an affordable building which we have identified that they will rent to give greater exposure to the community.
We have offered extensive instruction to the one that is outwardly the most capable. Time and patience, with continued contact after we return to the states will be required on our part. We have study materials that we believe will assist this little group in learning and growing in a proper understanding of the restored gospel. They will be using Facebook to invite others, especially among the disenfranchised LDS members that have separated themselves over three primary issues, the unfair application of the tithing law, the stringent application of the Word of Wisdom and temple works.

They have been left with the assignment to not only strengthen and grow in their knowledge of the scriptures, but to identify individuals that at a future date can be taught and enter the waters of baptism when we return.

We ask of the Seventy to uphold this little band of members that they might remain faithful, knowing that there is presently no priesthood direction as we depart. We believe the work here is in a fragile state that needs a great deal of nurturing. This is a group of affectionate and caring individuals that love the Lord and want the work to grow, even though they are lacking in so many areas that we are not accustomed to seeing.

We believe that we should make a follow up trip, perhaps before the year is out, but we have let them know there needs to be people for us to teach that would cause that to happen. 

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