“To the Saints in Great Britain,” Ensign, Sept. 1971, 2
First Presidency Message
To the Saints in Great Britain
This message was prepared for delivery at the Friday afternoon, August 27, session of the area general conference of the Church in Manchester, England.
My dear brethren and sisters:
I am grateful beyond measure to greet the members of the Church in Great Britain, and I do so in love and in fellowship and in unity.
You are the most choice and blessed and favored people in this entire nation because you belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; because you have taken upon you the name of Christ, with a covenant to love and serve him all your days; and because you are on the path leading to eternal life in our Father’s kingdom.
It is a matter of great satisfaction to me and my Brethren that the Church has now grown to the point that it seems wise and necessary to hold general conferences in various nations. And what could be more appropriate than to begin this new advancement here in the British Isles, the place from which so much of the strength of the Church came, in the early days of this dispensation.
I suppose all of you know that all of the presidents of the Church except the Prophet Joseph Smith have performed missionary service in this great nation. I served as a young missionary here over seventy years ago, and many great things have transpired in the Church and in the world since that day, not the least of which is the holding of this conference here in Manchester today.
We are members of a world church, a church that has the plan of life and salvation, a church set up by the Lord himself in these last days to carry his message of salvation to all his children in all the earth.
The day is long since past when informed people think of us as a strange group in the tops of the Rocky Mountains in America. It is true that the Church headquarters are in Salt Lake City, and that the Lord’s house has been erected there to which people have come from many nations to learn the law of the Lord and to walk in his paths.
But now we are coming of age as a church and as a people. We have attained the stature and strength that are enabling us to fulfill the commission given us by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith that we should carry the glad tidings of the restoration to every nation and to all people.
And not only shall we preach the gospel in every nation before the second coming of the Son of Man, but we shall make converts and establish congregations of saints among them.
The prophet Nephi saw our day in vision. He saw much wickedness and many abominations among men. He saw the evil powers that would have “dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.”
And he also “beheld the church of the Lamb of God,” and saw that “its numbers were few” in comparison. But he saw that these members of “the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth.” They were in all the nations of the earth.
And so I say, we are and shall be a world church. That is our destiny. It is part of the Lord’s program. “The covenant people of the Lord” are “scattered upon all the face of the earth,” and it is our commission to go into all nations and gather these elect into the Church, and to bring them to a knowledge of their Redeemer, so they shall be heirs of salvation in his kingdom.
Thus the Church is not an American church except in America. In Canada it is a Canadian church; in Australia it is an Australian church; and in Great Britain it is a British church. It is a world church; the gospel is for all men.
There is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,” and one true church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which the Lord says is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.”
The gospel itself is the same in every nation. There is only one plan of salvation. There is only one way for men to gain a celestial inheritance of eternal glory, and that is to forsake the world, have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, enter his kingdom through the door of baptism, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then keep his commandments.
We respect our Father’s other children of all sects, parties, and denominations, and have no desire except to see them receive the added light and knowledge that has come to us by revelation, and to become with us inheritors of the great blessings of the restoration of the gospel.
But we have the plan of salvation; we administer the gospel; and the gospel is the sole hope of the world, the one way that will bring peace on earth and right the wrongs that exist in all nations.
Now may I say that as the members of the kingdom come to a knowledge of the worldwide stature of the Church, they will see that this imposes added responsibilities upon the saints in each nation.
Joseph Smith was asked how he governed so great and diverse a people as the Latter-day Saints. He replied: “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”
This is the principle upon which we operate in the Church. We expect our members everywhere to learn correct principles and to govern themselves. We desire to see the saints in every nation receive the full blessings of the gospel and stand as spiritual leaders in their nations.
The saints in Great Britain are entitled to every blessing and spiritual gift as rapidly as they can qualify themselves to receive them. The Lord never withholds any good thing from his faithful saints if they are prepared to receive it.
We want the Church to grow and flourish here. You already have a temple dedicated to the Lord in which you can receive those ordinances and blessings out of which exaltation grows.
We hope to see the day when there will be stakes of Zion in every part of the land, and the people of Great Britain must qualify themselves for service in the wards and stakes. The missionary work among the millions of our Father’s children who dwell in this favored part of the earth should be done in large measure by your own people.
We can see a great future for the Church here, and hope all the British saints will do their duty and qualify to further the work of the kingdom and do all they must to work out their salvation. The greatest need for all of the saints in all nations is to keep the commandments and so live as to have the companionship of the Holy Spirit. Through such a course the saints of all nations shall truly be one, the Lord will be pleased with our labors, and the work will prosper everywhere.
Now I want you to know, and all the world to know, that this work in which we are engaged is true. I have a sure knowledge of its truth and divinity. It is the work of the Lord; his hand is in it; and he is the head of this church. He has restored his everlasting gospel for the blessing and benefit of all who will believe and obey its laws.
I testify that the Lord has spoken in our day; that his message is one of hope and joy and salvation; and I promise you that if you will walk in the light of heaven, be true to your trust, and keep the commandments, you shall have peace and joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.