Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Prophets and Missionary Work

In the course of twenty years I have read thousands of pages of material in extracting quotes on missionary work or missionary service covering a broad range of topics. I have read every major book, journal, and diary in the compilation of Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord: LDS Authorities on Missionary Work. The prophets who have treated the subjects in their discourses the most would include Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith, David O. McKay, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and Gordon B. Hinckley. The other prophets addressed the topic but not as extensively. Joseph Smith addressed the topic as the founding prophet since it was critical to the restoration of the Church. Brigham Young, John Taylor, Ezra Taft Benson, and Gordon B. Hinckley spent a long time in the service of the kingdom and had a lot of opportunities to speak on the subject. Gordon B. Hinckley spent most of his adult life in the missionary cause. In 1935 after his mission he went to work for the Radio, Publication and Missionary Literature Department of the Church and after World War II was executive secretary of the missionary committee. He has also been an apostle or prophet for 47 years giving him hundreds of opportunities to speak on the subject. Three prophets pop up though as missionary prophets: David O. McKay had a special platform "every member a missionary." Spencer W. Kimball was in to increasing the force and "lengthening our stride" covering the earth in a series of Regional and Area Conferences on the the topic of missionary work. Joseph F. Smith stands out as an all-around missionary prophet. He constantly covered the topic in almost all of his General Conference talks as well as talks in the Tabernacle. From the 1880s until the turn of the century there was a weekly Sunday night talk very similar to the Spoken Word only it lasted twice as long. He spoke on the subject as an apostle and prophet from 1866-1918, a fifty-two year period. In reviewing documentary materials you can find constant references in his diaries and in the published book "Letters to My Missionary Sons." He covered all aspects of missionary work more thoroughly I believe than any other man. If you were to measure numbers as to the success of the prophets than you would have to look at the Spencer. W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and Gordon B. Hinckley. But if you consider the fact that Joseph F. Smith held the Church together after the Edmund's Tucker Act you might say that his baptism were qualitative rather than quantitative. He had to encourage the work to move ahead when opposition was terrible against the Church. I wonder if anyone out there would like to express your comments on this topic adding to this discussion.

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