Church History
Anthon Lund

“Anthon Lund,” Global Histories: Denmark (2019)

“Anthon Lund,” Global Histories: Denmark

Anthon Lund

A year after joining the Church in Aalborg in 1856, 13-year-old Anthon Lund was called as a missionary. Because he had already learned English, German, and French as well as Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, he spent much of his time tutoring converts who wished to immigrate to Utah. He also spent much of his time distributing tracts and inviting people on the street to attend missionary meetings.

Before one such meeting, Lund and his companions were warned that a mob planned to disrupt their meeting and that the local blacksmith had been given as much liquor as he could drink in return for his pledge to “pound the Mormon Elders.” The missionaries thanked the person who warned them but said they would keep the appointment.

When Lund saw the large, one-eyed blacksmith with “fists like sledge hammers” enter the meeting, he later said he felt like he was seeing the cyclops from Greek mythology. Some critics of the Church in the crowd, encouraged by the blacksmith’s arrival, began heckling the missionaries. After several minutes, however, the blacksmith rose to his feet. “I want you all to understand that these are men of God,” he declared. Under the blacksmith’s protection, the missionaries were able to preach a two-hour sermon and left unhurt.

Similar experiences of harassment and even violence were common during the early years of the Church in Denmark, but Church members like Lund pressed on. At the age of 16, Lund was ordained an elder and appointed president of the Aalborg Branch. As part of his calling, he continued to travel and preach throughout the region, following the biblical pattern of traveling with “no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse” (Mark 6:8) and relying on the hospitality of strangers for meals and shelter. On one occasion, an affluent man was so impressed with Lund that he offered to pay for him to attend a theological college if he would become a Lutheran minister. “I have no doubt you are a rich man,” Lund replied, “but you have not enough money to buy my allegiance to the Church of God.”

From his baptism in 1856 until he emigrated in 1862, Lund worked tirelessly to build the Church and to support his fellow converts. Even after settling in Utah, Lund returned to serve Saints in Denmark as a missionary in 1871 and a mission president in 1883. In 1889 he became the first Dane called as an Apostle and later served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1901 until his death in 1921.