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Mormon History, The Expanding Church

The Expanding Church – 1900-2000

By the turn of the century the church had just over 280,000 members and most lived in the Rocky Mountain area. The next century of Mormon history would see tremendous growth and expansion. Just as Joseph Smith had prophesied the gospel would spread "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."1

During the 1800's members were encouraged to journey to Salt Lake and join the Saints there. But in 1911, the First Presidency issued a statement saying, "It is desirable that our people shall remain in their native lands and form congregations of a permanent character to aid in the work of proselyting." 2 Today Mormon congregations dot the globe, with more members residing outside of the United States than within.3

In the 1930's many Saints were struggling with poverty during the Great Depression. "In 1936, as a result of revelation from the Lord, President Grant established the welfare program of the Church to assist those in need and help all members become self-reliant." 4 The welfare program of the Mormon Church has grown and now helps people of all denominations and creeds worldwide.

Mormon missionary work continued throughout the century. Families were encouraged to act as member missionaries. Proselyting plans were established and Mormon missionary training centers were built. About 50,000 Mormon missionaries are serving at any given time in missions around the world.

In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball after studying and praying about the matter extensively received a revelation concerning black Mormons that had previously not been allowed to receive the priesthood. The revelation stated that, "all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color." 5

The family is an important part of Mormonism. And in 1995 a special proclamation on the family was issued in which it states in part: "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Mormon temples continued to be built throughout the century. But when Gordon B. Hinckley became president of the Church he announced in 1998 that the Church would begin building, "small, beautiful, serviceable temples." 6 His goal was to have 100 temples completed by the end of 2000. As of 2005 there were 122 Mormon temples across the world.

In a century the Mormon Church has grown from 280,000 members to over 12 million and Mormon missionaries continue to spread the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today.

(1) History of the Church 4:540.

(2) Our Heritage, 9: The Expanding Church, President Joseph F. Smith

(3) Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 70.

(4) Our Heritage, 9: The Expanding Church, President Heber J. Grant

(5) Our Heritage, 10: The Worldwide Church, President Spencer W. Kimball

17.  First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

(6) Gordon B. Hinckley, “New Temples to Provide ‘Crowning Blessings’ of the Gospel,” Ensign, May 1998, 87

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