“‘Every Member a Missionary’ for 50 Years,” Ensign, Apr. 2009, 77
Fifty years ago this month, in the spring of 1959, President David O. McKay (1873–1970) addressed members gathered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for the 129th Annual General Conference of the Church. As President McKay closed the meeting, he shared his testimony of the restored gospel and left the members a charge that remains in effect today.
President McKay related how in 1923, in response to negative public opinion in the British Mission, the Brethren sent instructions to the members stating: “Throw the responsibility upon every member of the Church that in the coming year of 1923 every member will be a missionary. Every member a missionary! … Somebody will hear the good message of the truth through you.”
“And that is the message today,” President McKay said, extending the challenge to that 1959 audience. “Every member—a million and a half—a missionary!”
He then quoted Doctrine and Covenants 107:99: “‘Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.’
“That is the responsibility of every man and woman and child who has listened to this great and wonderful conference,” President McKay said. “God help us to be true to our responsibility and to our callings.” (See Conference Report, Apr. 1959, 122.)
With the Church growing from 1.5 million member missionaries to more than 13 million, Church leaders have continued to echo the call.
“For years we have remembered the words of President David O. McKay: ‘Every member a missionary,’” said President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, during the April 2008 general conference. “I am confident that the day is coming that through the faith of the members we will see increasing numbers of people invited to hear the word of God who will then come into the true and living Church” (“The True and Living Church,” EnsignMay 2008, 20).