A Photographic Look at the LDS Church in the British Isles
In 1837 the church at Kirtland was experiencing great apostasy. One third of the members had left the church and many of Joseph’s friends had turned against him. In the midst of this crisis, Joseph received a revelation instructing him that “something new must be done for the salvation of the Church” (Smith, History of the Church 2:489). That something was the Church’s first foreign mission, one that eventually took nine members of the Quorum of the Twelve to the British Isles. The incredible results of their missionary efforts created a firm foundation for the church first in Nauvoo and then in the intermountain west. At one point nearly 50% of the membership in Utah came from the British Isles. But those early British saints built up Utah and the church at the cost of building up their own country. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the number of saints in England finally matched the number of saints that had immigrated during the mid-19th century.
The idea for this project was planted three years ago as I sat atop the Malvern Hills in England and looked over the countryside below where Wilford Woodruff had baptized 2000 souls in the space of a few short months. I felt I was on sacred ground as I contemplated the contribution of both those early missionaries and the English converts. When I returned home, I wanted to show my family and friends these places but wasn’t able to find pictures that truly captured the beauty and the history of those Church history sites. The church history sites in America are well documented, but not the ones in the British Isles. So I returned in the summer of 2005 to capture and preserve the foundation that was so vital for the eventual spread of the gospel to the whole world. In short, the early British Saints saved the Church, and I wanted to help save and share their history.
Amy Beth Orton graduated from BYU in 2005 with a BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in History. She is a true Anglophile and loves everything dealing with that “Sceptered Isle.” She would like to thank the Library for funding her project, Dr. and Sister Whittaker for first introducing her to the sites, and then helping her with research and being great friends. She is grateful to John and Chris Fell who opened both their home and their knowledge this past summer while she was in England. She would especially like to thank her parents and her siblings for their faith in this project. Above all she would like to thank her sister Laura for sharing this three week adventure with her and for being such a good sport about being the photographic assistant. If you would like any more information about Amy’s project, she would love to hear from you and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.