Spencer, the Beloved: Leader-Servant
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“Spencer, the Beloved: Leader-Servant,” Ensign, Dec. 1985, 8

In Memoriam: Spencer W. Kimball, 1895–1985

Spencer, the Beloved:


It is not only appropriate but necessary to use some superlatives to describe the ministry of President Spencer Woolley Kimball, twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this, the last dispensation. His many accomplishments already vie with each other for preeminence in our memories.

President Spencer W. Kimball

Twelfth President of the Church.

To note but a few: the extension, by importuned revelation, of priesthood and temple blessings to all of our Father in Heaven’s worthy children; the accelerated pace of temple building all over the earth; the dozens of bracing and needed solemn assemblies; the reconstitution and reemergence of the scripturally mandated First Quorum of the Seventy, a network of able men which now laces the earth under the direction of the Twelve; the clarion call issued in April of 1974 with regard to missionary work which resulted in numerous additional missionaries, more countries being opened, and the gospel’s being preached in many additional languages; the more than doubling of the number of stakes in the Church in the space of less than nine years; the calling of more General Authorities than by any other prophet in this dispensation except the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Yet even these striking indicators cannot begin to measure the fulness of this remarkable man. President N. Eldon Tanner, who was so remarkable in his own right, serving four presidents loyally and ably, often observed how uniquely beloved President Kimball has been. In addition to all the justifiable respect and esteem which flow—and should from the members of the Church to every President of the Church—there is a special and discernible dimension of affection for and identification with President Kimball.

President Kimball and President N. Eldon Tanner

President Kimball and President N. Eldon Tanner greet the Saints at conference, April 1976.

As long as mortal memories function, Church members will be nourished and encouraged by the eloquence of the example of this seer in overcoming (or coexisting with) adversity after adversity. His resilience was exemplary. His deft humor occupied the place which might have so easily been commandeered by self-pity. His selfless dedication, time and again, caused him to be up and about his Father’s business (sometimes even before he was well.) The examples are legendary and will be recounted for many years!

These and so many other traits are indelibly inscribed in our hearts and minds as we ponder the life of President Kimball. Next to the Savior’s preeminent gospel, which he preached so tirelessly and earnestly, President Kimball placed the example of his own life. This man was a message himself! Whereas the presiding role of most other latter-day prophets had been expected by Church members, the coming of President Spencer W. Kimball to the presidency of the Church was not generally anticipated. But how quickly the full mantle fell upon him!

It was the morning of 4 April 1974, in the seminar for regional representatives, when President Kimball electrified the audience by a stirring preachment on the necessity of the Church’s complying more vigorously with the adjuration of the Savior to preach the gospel to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. After the speech, President Ezra Taft Benson rose and movingly said:

“President Kimball, our hearts rejoice in this masterful address. I think I can say very safely that no greater address has been given before any seminar—nothing more timely. … I am sure we all join in saying God bless you and thank you. Surely there is no doubt, my brethren, after this message this morning that there is in very deed a prophet in Israel.”

Long before that special moment, of course, there were quiet, preparatory dramas, such as his call to the Twelve and the decision to operate on President Kimball’s heart. Still earlier, when sustained to the Twelve, he said in his maiden address:

“I want to tell you that for eighty-five nights I have gone through [the] experience, wrestling for a blessing. Eighty-five times, the breaking of the day has found me on my knees praying to the Lord to help me and strengthen me and make me equal to this great responsibility that has come to me.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1943, p. 16.)

In pondering proposed surgery, there was an episode in 1972 which is both inspiring and sobering. Elder (then Dr.) Russell M. Nelson described that dramatic moment:

“In the month of March, I joined with President Kimball as he assembled his wife and the First Presidency. President Kimball said, ‘I am an old man. I am ready to die. It is time for a younger man to come to the Quorum and do the work I can no longer do.’ President Lee interrupted and pounded his fist on the desk and said, ‘Spencer, you have been called not to die but to live.’ President Kimball then humbly and submissively announced, ‘In that case, I will have the operation.’ Sister Kimball wept. The decision had been made.” (From a devotional speech at Weber State College, 10 Nov. 1978.)

Looking back, it is difficult to imagine this dispensation without the presidency of Spencer W. Kimball. How grateful we should all be that another prophet, President Harold B. Lee, counseled President Kimball so directly and so lovingly with regard to proceeding with that heart surgery. Obedient as prophets are with each other, President Kimball followed the counsel of his senior Apostle. As a result, millions have been blessed by the ministry of this man who had fully expected to wear himself out as a member of the Council of the Twelve.

So his modesty about his prophetic role was no surprise. When President Kimball sang the hymn “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” he was not thinking of Spencer Kimball, but of Joseph Smith and the ten other men who preceded him as prophets, seers, and revelators in this kingdom. Once he even referred to himself, too modestly, as a “local” prophet. Yet his ministry has truly been more global than that of any of his eleven predecessors!

In the marrow of this man, President Kimball, there was a divine discontent which grew out of knowing what the Lord wanted done—which objective President Kimball pursued without sparing himself, though he was always especially considerate of others.

In a moving address in the October 1979 general conference, President Kimball spoke of how Caleb, at eighty-five years of age, had pled, “Give me this mountain.” (Josh. 14:12.) Then President Kimball added, “This is my feeling for the work at this moment. There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 79.)

We were all touched by his personalized observations at the end of the many sermons at general conferences. Having listened carefully to all that was said, he genuinely assumed all the counsel applied to him, Spencer W. Kimball, and he openly promised to try to do better. Naturally, he hoped the rest of us would do likewise. At the end of one conference, he said, “Let us assume the counsel given applies to us, to me. Let us hearken … as if our eternal life depended upon it, because it does! (Ensign, May 1978, p. 77.)

Even as he was being further tutored by the Lord in visible and touching demonstrations of the principle “all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good,” the rest of us were being tutored indirectly at the same time. We were not, in fact, abstract observers, because of our love for President Kimball. We were, in a sense, coparticipants in his personal drama, which was laden with lessons as it unfolded before our very eyes.

The preparatory tutoring started so very long ago! President Kimball often referred to the fact that even as a boy he had “made up my mind” that he would avoid certain things that were bad and do the things that were good, such as keeping the Word of Wisdom and preparing himself to go on a mission. His secretary, Brother D. Arthur Haycock, recalls going in 1978 with President Kimball to his home in Arizona and climbing up the winding stairs to a bare room where Spencer W. Kimball as a boy, even before he was a deacon, read the Bible by lamplight.

Spencer used to milk nine cows every morning and night the old-fashioned way. While he did so, he learned the Articles of Faith, the Church hymns, and the Ten Commandments. He wrote them down on a little card and put them on the ground where he could read as he milked the cows and often sang. On one such occasion, Spencer’s prescient father foresaw some of the future of that sweet, humble boy: “Spencer is an exceptional boy. … You will see him some day as a great leader. I have dedicated him to the service of God, and he will become a mighty man in the Church.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1943, p. 17.)

Ever at his side has been his elect lady, Camilla, caring for him, encouraging him, adding her own strong testimony throughout her own ministry. She has been, and is, a model for Latter-day Saint women. It was she who encouraged anxious Spencer at the time of his call to the Twelve, saying, “Spencer, you can do it.” It was she who has been at his bedside in hospitals and in performing the many duties of recuperation. It was she who once refused a hospital bed, sleeping on a mattress on the floor in order to be at his side during a lengthy hospital stay. She and her family have been so supportive and generously sharing of President Kimball—more than any of us will ever know.

The increased impact from the life of Spencer W. Kimball on us meant a diminution of time he had to give to his family, his precious loved ones. The family at times must have sensed that their father, even before his death, belongs to the ages.

Through this man, the Lord taught us yet a final lesson as President Kimball struggled in his remaining days after multiple surgery. This time he did not experience the full resilience which followed previous illnesses. Yet, again, there was that same flintlike determination to proceed about his duties as best he could and endure well to the end—at the same time comforting others less ill than he.

In his final days, this prophet who had always responded with a ringing, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,” in like manner responded obediently and touchingly when the response to the final requirement evoked, “I’ll stay where you want me to stay, dear Lord.”

But before those limiting, and for him frustrating, months in his ministry, he went so many places! In October of 1979, in the dedication of the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden on the Mount of Olives, President Kimball mingled his footsteps and his words with others who had walked and talked on that same mount: Abraham, David, Orson Hyde, and, most importantly, the Savior Himself!

There was a pervasive warmth in the ministry of this man. The loving but penetrating look of his eyes, his embrace, his holy kiss, his tenderness—felt by so many—all created a deserved aura about this man, not of unapproachability, but of special warmth. His love was inclusive; no one ever felt left out. Every General Authority could assume that He was President Kimball’s favorite, for he loved each of us so much! How could one think otherwise?

It shouldn’t surprise us that President Kimball regularly and visibly epitomized the central virtue in the first two great commandments—love of God and of his fellowmen. It is not uncommon for stake presidents (who are so wonderful in the hosting of visiting General Authorities) to have a greeting book in which the visiting General Authorities sign their name with any commentary.

President Kimball went twice to one stake years apart, but by his delightful signature each time he had written, “I love people.”

His many visits to the sick in homes and hospitals were legendary. One hospital patient, who himself had been through the trauma of open heart surgery, received a surprise visit from President Kimball. This dear brother had been under the influence of tobacco but reported, “Although I had cut way down at that time, I’ve never touched another cigarette since I held the hand of the prophet!”

Being full of love, President Kimball was also full of praise and generosity. As Elder Kimball, he wrote numerous articles about other General Authorities. In fact, it may well be that he has written more articles in praise and commendation for other General Authorities than anyone else.

It is impossible to estimate how many thousands have been helped along the sometimes rocky road of repentance by reading President Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness or how many thousands have been steadied in the midst of their adversities by reading Faith Precedes the Miracle.

His patience permitted him to listen with careful attention to others. Even when he was ready to move, there was never any effort on his part to constrain the comments of others. However, when he announced his decision, the rallying about that decision was heartfelt. But his patience did not deter him from directness! A nonmember husband, in President Kimball’s office with his wife, said, somewhat forcefully, “President Kimball, my wife’s a member, but I am not!” President Kimball lovingly replied, with arms about the man, “There’s a little bit of room left in the Church, if you’d like to join!”

Among his notable quotes which blend the practical and the spiritual is this: “We do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord.” (Ensign, Jan. 1978, pp. 4–5.)

President Kimball stressed the importance of personal righteousness, saying, however, that there must be not only such goodness but also the ordinances. So spoke a prophet who has done so much to see that temples increasingly are available to members of the Church almost everywhere.

In April of 1980, he counseled Church members, “There is a tide to be taken now in the affairs of the Church in all the earth which will lift us up and carry us forward as never before.” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 80.) He also said, in October 1980 general conference, “The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us.” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 4.)

Developmentally, Joseph Smith spoke of the “infant days of the Church”; Brigham Young viewed an “infant Kingdom” which would grow to “greatness and goodness”; John Taylor saw the building “up [of] a Kingdom, also a church and a Zion”; Lorenzo Snow used the analogy of advancement “from infancy to boyhood”; Joseph F. Smith described a people’s progress from “infancy” to “childhood” and “approaching … manhood and womanhood in our experience in the gospel of Jesus Christ”; Joseph Fielding Smith spoke of our “coming of age as a Church and as a people”; and there was Harold B. Lee’s “no longer” a “Utah Church” or an “American Church.” Spencer W. Kimball declared: “Now, my brothers and sisters, it seems clear to me, indeed, this impression weighs upon me—that the Church is at a point in its growth and maturity when we are at last ready to move forward in a major way.” (Ensign, May 1979, p. 82.)

Years earlier, he saw the day of the Lamanite dawning: “Surely the day of the Lamanite is about to dawn.” (Church News, 20 Dec. 1947, p. 9.) At a Lamanite Conference in 1947, he said:

“I see you Lamanites and your posterity from the ‘islands of the sea’ and from the Americas rising to your great destiny. I see you in beautiful homes which are comfortable and having in them all the comforts and conveniences which science can provide, spacious homes with plumbing and electrical fixtures, deep freeze, television, radio, and all the modern blessings. I see you sons of Lehi grazing your own large flocks and herds on a thousand hills as owners not merely as herdsmen. …

“Your young women and young men will be teachers in the schools, professors in the universities; they will write editorials in newspapers; they will be speakers on rostrums, officers in civic service, business and professional organizations and thus help to mold public opinion.

“I see your posterity in the clinics and hospitals as nurses and interns; your trained men will be noted in medicine, dentistry, and the healing programs. Your sons will preside as judges in the courts and serve as attorneys at the bar.” (Instructor, Oct. 1952, p. 293.)

So many things deserve and need to be said about this man who now takes his place with other prophets on the other side of the veil, where, in the order of things, the work goes forward on a scale no doubt several times larger there than here. President Kimball will not mind the enlarged scope!

Because of all the foregoing facts about this man, one is reluctant to step back from this ministry to try to place it in perspective. Mortals can scarcely do that anyway.

First and foremost, President Kimball was the Lord’s man and nobody else’s. His deepest desires were to serve the Lord, and he refused to be compromised by other considerations—whether those considerations consisted of poor health or the lesser readiness of others to move forward.

One often got the feeling that he was always on the next ridge waiting for the Church to catch up. Though he smiled at us and beckoned us, he would like to have seen us move more than just a bit faster. Even so, he would rather inspire than scold. His selflessness and single mindedness made him such a worthy instrument of the Lord.

The timing of the Lord blended with the importunings of this selfless prophet as priesthood and temple blessings were extended to all worthy members of the Church. His panoramic vision of the expanding work around the world, his intrinsic love—regardless of the color of their skin or economic circumstance—underlay his importunings. He was deeply loyal to and highly respectful of all of his predecessors. But because, first of all, he was the Lord’s man, ever ready, the timing of the Lord found, full expression through revelation to President Kimball in that special circumstance, which tells us much about this man.

Second, passivity was foreign to him. One sensed even in his moments of relaxation that his mind and thoughts were often elsewhere, pondering things that needed to be done. Frankly, President Kimball had not been especially known for his capacity to delegate prior to the assumption of the presidency. But, my, how he delegated once he was there! Without a Jethro, President Kimball apparently sensed what the new calling and circumstances would require of him.

Even so, he stayed keenly but lovingly interested in the many things he had delegated. His kind and personal way of checking up on how this or that project was coming was expressed without scolding but with an unmistakable expression of interest. The very way in which he did this made others want to work even harder for him. His personal example of giving himself so completely to the work was surely not lost upon his colleagues or the members of the Church.

When he could see what needed to be done and others did not, it did not cause in him disabling disappointment or shoulder shrugging. Rather, it freshened his determination to do something in such a way that others could at least be moved somewhat further along—until they shared his vision of what needed to be done. A lesser man might merely have enunciated what needed to be done, feeling he had thereby discharged his duties and complaining subsequently when there was not adequate followership. Instead, President Kimball not only pointed the way but involved himself in the fray. It was a style that proved contagious.

Of this quality, his devoted, able, and observant secretary, Brother D. Arthur Haycock, who has served so many prophets so well, said: “President Kimball was always kind and thoughtful. He was particularly considerate of those who worked either with or for him. He never failed to thank us many times for each simple task we performed for him. I can’t recall that he ever asked one of us into his office to do something he couldn’t or wouldn’t do himself.”

Third, he championed those whom so many of the rest of us tend to leave out of our calculations (not necessarily out of a desire to discriminate, but because our circle of love is not yet wide enough.) It was not so with President Kimball. He loved to be in the company of the common folk because he truly regarded himself as one of them. He reached out to those who had been oppressed and for whom life had offered so few advantages. It was an instinctive thing with him. If ever he did show impatience, it was because others did not share this empathy.

He found it difficult to understand why others did not so understand. Yet he was wise enough to know that each individual (with regard to each principle or program of the gospel) must have the relevant experience in order to get a witness for himself; each correct principle or inspired program carries its own witness that it is true. But, as President, he gladly did more teaching, by example, in this particular realm than in certain others.

Clearly his assignments while a member of the Twelve, such as the supervision of South America, reinforced his intrinsic optimism and his vision of what could be.

Spencer Kimball could love people in whatever condition he found them, but he also would be lovingly insistent that they rise to their potential.

Though he could cross cultures with the greatest ease because of his love, at the same time, he recognized that there is only one culture worthy of the name, and that is the celestial culture for which we Christians should all be preparing.

The culture we most need to develop is the Christian culture. While every culture in the world has fine and good things in it, none of these even approaches the Christian culture, which the gospel of Jesus Christ is aimed at developing in us, individually and as a people. Thus, we mortals should keep all that we have that is beautiful and fine but move toward developing a Christian culture.

President David O. McKay so eloquently stated this proposition at the dedication of the New Zealand Temple: “From this day forward we are no longer Maoris, Tongans, Samoans, and Pakehas, but rather members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” President Kimball remembered and applied those words!

Fourth, President Kimball’s deep trust of the Lord permitted him to do what needed to be done at the front end of a task without becoming too uneasy once the direction was set and the decision was made. He knew enough to follow the counsel of President Harold B. Lee: “Walk to the edge of the light.”

Yes, there would be logistical problems as the Church was extended to the people of the world. Yes, there would be challenges funding the growth of the Church in all parts of the world. Yes, there would be immense leadership training problems as a result of the growth of the Church. Yes, there would be unevenness and disappointments in connection with the expansion of the work.

He knew all those things, yet he did not take counsel from his fears. He did not wait until everything was perfectly in order before acting. His trust included trust. If one tried to solve in advance all the problems which might occur later, he might never start! The capacity to trust the Lord for continuous revelation as to what would later need to be done was clearly a part of the makeup of this very special man.

Years ago, Spencer W. Kimball commented on how much respect he had for President Stephen L Richards and how President Richards’ wise evaluation of things meant so much to Elder Kimball. Think upon their recent reunion when President Richards could give such fulsome, deserving praise for the ministry of President Spencer W. Kimball.

Think, too, upon the reunion of President Kimball with his grandfather, President Heber C. Kimball, some of whose prophecies this special grandson helped to accelerate the fulfillment.

In 1958, at a Heber C. Kimball family reunion, Spencer said: “When I was asked to say a few words tonight I wondered what Grandfather would say if he were here, and I decided to let him say what I think he might:

“I AM YOUR GRANDFATHER, HEBER C. KIMBALL. I am a very busy man on the other side of the veil. You know this veil is a little like modern glass which admits vision from one side but is opaque on the other. I can see you but cannot be seen by you. I saw the family association leaders busy preparing for this reunion and thought I would drop in.

“I bring you greetings from your grandmothers, the loveliest women in any world.

“I have been present with you many times, but you did not know. When each of your grandmothers was buried I came for her, and as my own children began to leave mortality I was not so far away. I came to take them and to welcome them to the world of spirits. They are all on that side now and some of my grandchildren are arriving. I have looked in at the family reunions each year and noted those of my children who were loyal to and proud of their ancestry and cousins. I was never called on to speak before.

“My beloved, I can stay but these few minutes. But remember that I, too, was successful in business, and I held high office in politics. I helped in building many communities and an empire. I had houses and lands, and livestock, but I left them all on the earth. I knew, as I hope you will know and realize, that money cankers, livestock dies, houses deteriorate, stocks and bonds may come to naught. But the things which I did not leave on earth were the eternal verities: my spirit, my knowledge of the divinity of the work of the Lord for which we of that generation sacrificed so much.

“I want you to know that I KNOW that God lives and that His Church is here, and that to observe every directive of God is the most important thing for you. I plead with you to ‘SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS’ and all other things will follow.”

Think, too, upon his reunion with President Harold B. Lee, who counseled him to have the surgery which made possible the ministry of the twelfth President.

Thus, as noted at the beginning, it is impossible to think or write of this special man without using superlatives or without thinking of Church growth in numbers which are the exponential expression of his presidency. At the same time, such measurements are inevitably incomplete and could cause us, if we are not careful, to look beyond the mark.

It is the constellation of his attributes, qualities, and traits in his character that made President Kimball so special. No doubt it was this same constellation of characteristics that caused him to be foreordained, so long ago, in the premortal councils to become the twelfth President of the Church.

Thus, when he was ordained again by the Twelve with President Ezra Taft Benson being voice on that December day in 1973, it was but an expression here of what had occurred much earlier there.

Having provided some of the best treatises on succession to the presidency, President Kimball would be the first, now, to counsel Church members to close ranks behind the new President of the Church, President Ezra Taft Benson, who, in like manner, was called so very long ago.

Meanwhile, it would be a serious mistake for members of the Church to assume that, as they pass through the veil, past Presidents of the Church, including President Kimball, lose their interest in the work on this side of the veil. The callings and counsel given to any of us by President Kimball are still operative. Does anyone doubt that, smilingly but firmly, he will expect a report?

May the Lord sanctify, for each of us, our particular memories of this man, and may these memories not only caress us and give us the most-needed inspiration and guidance, but also provide that spur to lengthen our strides!

Milestones in the Life and Administration of President Spencer W. Kimball


March 28

Birth of Spencer W. Kimball in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Andrew Kimball and Olive Woolley.



The Kimball family moved to Thatcher, Arizona, where Andrew Kimball presided over the St. Joseph Stake for 26 years. Spencer was three years old.


June 6

Received patriarchal blessing.

October 18

Death of mother, Olive Kimball.


October 5

Baptism of Spencer W. Kimball.


Graduated with honors from Gila Academy, then a Church-owned high school. While at school he was student body president and a star forward on the basketball team.

June 6

Ordained a priest by his father.

September 15

Ordained an elder.

October 16

Ordained a seventy. Called to the Swiss-Austrian Mission, but, due to World War I, was sent to the Central States Mission.


January 1

Released from his mission. Attended the University of Arizona.

November 16

Married Camilla Eyring, a teacher at the Gila Academy. The Kimballs are the parents of four children: Spencer L., Mrs. Grant (Olive Beth) Mack, Andrew, and Edward.


January 1

Named stake clerk of the St. Joseph Stake. Entered banking business as a clerk and teller.


September 8

Called as second counselor in the stake presidency when the death of his father caused reorganization. Ordained a high priest by President Heber J. Grant.


Became president-manager of the Kimball-Greenhalgh Realty and Insurance Company.


February 20

Called as president of the Mount Graham Stake.


October 7

Sustained by the Church and ordained an Apostle by President Heber J. Grant.


September 13

Named chairman of the Church Indian Committee.


Suffered and recovered from a severe heart ailment.


Lost his voice through a serious throat ailment. His voice was restored following an administration.


Was operated on for cancer of the throat; one and one-half vocal cords were removed.


Named Council of the Twelve supervisor for the Southwest Indian Mission.


Named Council of the Twelve supervisor for South American missions.


Named Council of the Twelve supervisor for British missions.


Named acting president of the Council of the Twelve.

President Kimball at general conference

Presiding at general conference.


Named president of the Council of the Twelve.

Underwent open heart surgery.


December 30

Set apart and ordained President of the Church.


January 26

New policy for naming stakes of the Church.

March 29

New policy allowing stake presidents to ordain seventies and set apart seventies quorum presidents.

April 16

New policy requiring an elders quorum in every ward and independent branch.

June 27

New policy for naming missions of the Church.

August 16–18

Area conference in Scandinavia.

September 6

Church divests itself of hospitals.

October 11

New policy calling for all stakes to have a seventies quorum, for the seven presidents to constitute the stake mission presidency, and for quorums to be named after the stake.

November 19

Washington Temple dedicated.


February 23– March 2

São Paulo Brazil Area Conference.

March 7–9

Buenos Aires Argentina Area Conference.

April 15

Arizona Temple rededicated.

May 3

General Authorities established as Area Supervisors.

May 30

First Presidency statement against homosexuality.

July 23

Stake presidents authorized to ordain and set apart bishops.

July 24

Church Office Building dedicated.

August 8–10

Tokyo Area Conference.

August 11–12

Manila Area Conference.

August 13–14

Taipei Taiwan and Hong Kong Area Conference.

August 15–17

Seoul Area Conference.

October 3

First Quorum of the Seventy reconstituted.

November 10

New policy allowing temple patrons to use the “approved style” garment while involved in temple ordinances.

November 11

St. George Temple rededicated.


February 15– March 2

South Pacific Area Conference.

April 3

Two revelations added to the Pearl of Great Price.

June 5

First Presidency statement against abortion.

June 18–22

British Isles Area Conference.

July 31– August 8

European Area Conference.

October 1

First Quorum of the Seventy reorganized with the Assistants to the Twelve becoming members.

October 22

First Presidency statement on the Equal Rights Amendment.

October 29

New policy empowering stake presidents to call seventies, seventies presidencies.

December 1

New policy calling for general conferences to be held in two days, with April conference no longer specifically scheduled to include April 6.


February 5

Reorganization effected at Church headquarters to place the ecclesiastical responsibilities of the Church under the Council of the Twelve and the temporal responsibilities under the Presiding Bishopric.

February 12– March 6

Area conferences in Central and South America.

August 24

Dedication of Poland for future Church work (first visit of a President behind the Iron Curtain.)


January 25

Missionary Department to be directed by the First Quorum of the Seventy.

February 8

Rededication of remodeled Church Administration Building.

March 14

Reduction in the frequency of certain ward and stake meetings.

March 31

New policy calling for stake conferences to be semiannual, with one General Authority visit and one regional representative visit to conference per year.

April 22

Adoption of controlled extraction program in genealogy.

June 1

South visitors’ center for Salt Lake Temple Square dedicated.

June 9

Revelation announced making priesthood available to all worthy male members.

June 13

Hawaii Temple rededicated.

June 18

Hawaii Area Conference.

June 28–30

Relief Society Monument to Women dedicated.

September 16

First all-Church Women’s fireside.

September 29

Women authorized to give prayers in sacrament meetings.

September 30

General Authority Emeritus designation instituted.

October 23–24

South Africa Area Conference.

October 26

Salt Lake Mission Home and the Language Training Mission consolidated into a single Missionary Training Center in Provo for full-time missionaries.

October 30

São Paulo Temple dedicated.

October 26–29, November 3–5

Area conferences in South America.

President and Sister Kimball in April 1980

President and Sister Kimball in April 1980, at the Peter Whitmer farmhouse in Fayette, New York.


LDS edition of the King James Bible published.

March 13

Logan Temple rededicated.

May 4

New policy discontinues sacrament meetings on stake conference Sundays.

June 23–24

Texas area conference.

August 4–5

Chicago and Milwaukee area conferences.

August 25–26

Canadian area conference.

September 8–9

Washington, D.C., area conference.

September 22–23

Atlanta area conference.

October 24

Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens in Jerusalem dedicated.

November 24–30, December 1–2

South Pacific area conferences.

December 15

Authorization for the manufacture of two-piece garments.


February 22

First Quorum of the Seventy reorganized to include Executive Directors of Missionary, Curriculum, Priesthood, and Genealogical Departments.

March 2

Consolidated meeting schedule instituted.

March 22

First all-Church Young Women fireside.

April 12–13

Rochester New York area conference.

April 21

Authorization given for nonmembers to attend priesthood meeting.

June 7–8

St. Louis Missouri area conference.

June 28–29

Lakeland Florida area conference.

September 10

Unified Church curriculum established on a calendar year basis.

September 20–21

Ann Arbor Michigan area conference.

October 8

Change in the age and term of service for lady missionaries and missionary couples.

October 18–23, November 1

Area conferences in the Far East.

October 27

Tokyo Temple dedicated.

November 17

Seattle Temple dedicated.


New edition of the Triple Combination published.

February 27

New policy allowing stake presidents, when specifically authorized by the Twelve, to ordain Patriarchs.

April 1

Temples announced for Peru and South Korea.

May 5

First Presidency statement on the MX missile basing system.

July 23

President Gordon B. Hinckley set apart and ordained to the First Presidency. Elder Neal A. Maxwell set apart and ordained to the Council of the Twelve.

November 16

Jordan River Temple dedicated.


March 18

Creation of three new Church executive councils: the Missionary Executive Council, the Priesthood Executive Council, and the Temple and Genealogy Executive Council.

March 31

Temples announced for Denver, Colorado; and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

April 2

Major changes in financing Church meetinghouses.

October 3

Subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” added to title page of Book of Mormon.

December 2

First Presidency reorganized with Marion G. Romney as First Counselor and Gordon B. Hinckley as Second Counselor.


January 3

Salt Lake Temple reopens after six months of renovation.

April 1

Changes in funding for welfare assistance.

April 3

Remodeled Assembly Hall is rededicated.

June 1

Atlanta Georgia Temple dedicated.

August 5

Apia Samoa Temple dedicated.

August 9

Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple dedicated.

September 15

Santiago Chile Temple dedicated.

October 16

Kirtland Ohio Stake organized.

October 27–29

Papeete Tahiti Temple dedicated.

November 13

Family Home Evening Resource Manual published.

December 2

Mexico City Temple dedicated.


April 4

Church museum dedicated.

April 7

Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks called to Council of Twelve. Six new members of the First Quorum of the Seventy to serve for 3–5 years.

May 25

Boise Temple dedicated.

April 7

Five new temples announced: Bogota, Colombia; Toronto, Ontario; San Diego, California; Las Vegas, Nevada.

June 24

Area Presidencies announced.

September 20–23

Sydney Australia Temple dedicated.

September 25–27

Manila Philippines Temple dedicated.

October 19

Dallas Temple dedicated.

November 17–18

Taipei Taiwan Temple dedicated.

December 12

Guatemala City Temple dedicated.


January 27

Fast day for Ethiopian famine victims.

June 14

Manti Temple rededicated after renovation.

June 28

Freiberg (German Democratic Republic) Temple dedicated.

July 1

Ground broken for the Frankfurt Germany Temple.

July 2

Stockholm Sweden Temple dedicated.

August 2

New hymnbook published.

August 9

Chicago Illinois Temple dedicated.

August 24

Johannesburg South Africa Temple dedicated.

October 6

M. Russell Ballard called to Council of the Twelve.

October 23

New genealogical library dedicated.

First Presidency from 1981 to 1982

The First Presidency from 1981 to 1982 (from left to right): President Marion G. Romney, President N. Eldon Tanner, President Kimball, and President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Eight years later, April 1984, the President is assisted by President Gordon B. Hinckley, right, and Brother D. Arthur Haycock, left, as he converses with President Ezra Taft Benson.

Top: The family in Salt Lake City (clockwise): Elder Kimball, Spencer LeVan, son-in-law Grant Mack, Andrew, Edward, Camilla, and Olive Beth. Above: The meetinghouse in Thatcher, Arizona, where young Spencer attended church. Below, left: Spencer W. Kimball and Camilla Eyring, married in 1917. Below, right: As a boy growing up in Thatcher, Arizona.

Top: Studying the scriptures with Sister Kimball. Left: As president of the Mt. Graham (Arizona) Stake. Right: Elder Kimball prized his assignment to work with his Lamanite brothers and sisters.

Top: President Kimball with counselors in 1973, President N. Eldon Tanner and President Marion G. Romney. Bottom, left: In the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Bottom, right: With his predecessor, President Harold B. Lee.

Below: President Kimball helped organize relief efforts for the Teton Dam disaster in June 1976. Bottom: he President attended general conference whenever health permitted.

Enjoying a moment of humor with President Gordon B. Hinckley and other Saints.