“Dorthea Lou Christiansen Murdock Of the Primary Presidency,” Ensign, May 1977, 103–4
“I follow my leader,” says Sister Dorthea Lou Christiansen Murdock. And that’s how she was called to the position in which members of the Church sustained her April 2—second counselor in the general presidency of the Primary.
Sister Naomi Shumway, Primary president, called her out of a general board committee meeting on Thursday. Engrossed in conversation, Sister Murdock barely noticed that they were walking out to the elevator rather than going to the office and realized, only when they got out on President Kimball’s floor, where they were. Sister Shumway said, “President Kimball would like to see you for a moment.”
Sister Murdock remembers, “She gave me a little squeeze and said, ‘I’ll see you later.’ My whole life flashed before my eyes. President Kimball came out of his office and his handshake gave me strength. The first thing he said gave me strength, too—it was about my parents: it brought back the calm, quiet way they handled things, and their strength and humility.” (Her parents are the late Elder ElRay L. and Lewella Rees Christiansen.) “When I left his office I felt that with the Lord’s help, and the confidence of President Kimball and Sister Shumway, I couldn’t fail.”
She brings to the position the experience gained by being a teacher and an executive in every organization of the Church. When she was called to the Primary General Board in 1967, she had been serving in her stake Relief Society presidency. In her ten years on the Primary board, she has written lessons for the three-, four-, and five-year-olds, served on the regional meetings committee three or four times, represented the Primary on Elder Perry’s Bicentennial Committee, and chaired the Merrie Miss, the Blazer, and the curriculum planning committees.
A graduate in elementary education with an art and English minor, she authored an illustrated book, Teach Me, in 1966 with lessons, poems, and stories to help parents and teachers.
Another goal was experience in marriage and family counseling. With the support of the Primary presidency and her family, she went back to school and received her degree in June 1975 and with it the academic honor of joining Phi Kappa Phi and being given the Amy Brown Lyman Award for outstanding scholarship and promise from the University of Utah’s graduate school of social work. She began counseling at the LDS Hospital and set up a program with obstetrics and gynecology patients for in-hospital counseling that continued when they went home and helped them through adjustments to motherhood. She also helped provide individual and marriage and family counseling in the hospital’s out-patient psychiatry and counseling department.
Her husband, Robert Glenn Murdock, and their five children, “were just thrilled” by the new calling and immediately wanted to know how they could help.
“I love the Primary,” Sister Murdock exclaims. “I love it! What choicer calling could there be than helping parents teach their children the gospel?”