Church History Facts

1.  David O. McKay served as a General Authority 64 years, longer than anyone else in Church history.  Eldred G. Smith was a General Authority for 66 years, however not in an active position, serving as Church Patriarch until it was discontinued in 1979.  Eldred G. Smith lived 106 years and is the great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith.

2. Only two of the sixteen Prophets served as Bishops.  Those two were Thomas S. Monson (Salt Lake 4th Ward) and Howard W. Hunter (El Sereno Ward).

3. Orson Pratt was the last surviving member of the Original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Pratt was excommunicated in 1842, but was later rebaptized and readmitted into the Quorum in 1843.  However, it wasn’t until 1875 that his position of seniority was reduced.

4.  When dealing with in the council of the Twelve Apostles in 1875, Brigham Young ruled that if a council member had been disciplined and removed from the council, his seniority was based on the date of readmission.  By this ruling, both Orson Hyde and Orson Pratt were moved down in quorum seniority.  As a result, John Taylor replaced Hyde as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Therefore, Taylor rather than Hyde succeeded Brigham Young as President of the Church after Young’s death.

32495_all_002_09-conference5. The average age at the time of being called to the apostleship is 44 years and 10 months.  Interestingly, the average age for apostles called in the 19th century (47 apostles) is 33 years and 2 months; the average age for apostles called in the 20th century (52 apostles) is 54 years and 0 months; and the average age for apostles called in the 21st century (4 apostles) is 61 years and 7 months.

6. President Henry B. Eyring is the only man in this dispensation thus far to serve in the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, Quorum of the Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric.

7.  John Henry Smith and George Albert Smith have been the only father and son to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles together at the same time, serving together for eight years.

8. Thomas S. Monson was set apart as a Bishop at the age of 22 by his former Stake President, Harold B. Lee.

9. Luke S. Johnson is the only man in the Church to serve as a Bishop after having served as an Apostle.  Johnson was a member of the Original Twelve Apostles but was excommunicated in 1838.  In 1846, he was rebaptized but was not readmitted into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  After helping lead the Saints to Utah, Johnson was called as Bishop in rural Tooele County.

10. In the late 1840s, Phoebe Woodruff, was called and set apart as a missionary and served with her husband Wilford as he presided over the Eastern States Mission.  Phoebe would later be instrumental with her involvement in the growth of the Relief Society.  The first single sister missionaries assigned to labor as a companionship were called in 1898, shortly before the death of President Woodruff.  It is no doubt that Wilford Woodruff had a soft spot in his heart for the work sister missionaries performed.

handcarts11.  Apostles Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow (no known relation to Lorenzo) were in the first Mormon pioneer company to cross the plains. These men hold the distinction of becoming the first two Mormons to enter the Salt Lake Valley.

12.  In addition to his apostolic duties, Erastus Snow was a great colonizer who established Mormon communities in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.  Snow Canyon State Park (near St. George, Utah), Snow College (in Ephraim, Utah along with Lorenzo Snow) and the town of Snowflake, Arizona (along with William J. Flake) are named after Erastus Snow.

13. The city of St. George in southwestern Utah was named after Apostle George A. Smith.  Elder Smith was the cousin of Joseph Smith, Jr. and served as an Apostle from 1839 to 1875.  He was widely recognized as the “father of the southern settlements” as he spent considerable time building up and preaching in the southern part of the Utah Territory.

14.  General Conference used to be held for three days.  tabernacleThis made it possible to hold solemn assemblies, when necessary, and still give ample time for the speakers to give their prepared discourses.  It wasn’t until 1986 that the solemn assembly for President Benson was held during a two-day General Conference.  When a solemn assembly was held, conferences would be adjusted and held either on a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule or a Saturday-Sunday-Monday schedule.  For example, President David O. McKay was sustained as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator on the Monday morning session following the Saturday and Sunday sessions; whereas, President Harold B. Lee was sustained as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator on the Saturday morning session following the Friday sessions.  Today the length of a solemn assembly has decreased in time but prior to President Monson’s sustaining, solemn assembly voting would last nearly 40 minutes.

15.  There have been three Latter-Day Saint families in history with three consecutive generations to serve as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: George A. Smith – John Henry Smith – George Albert Smith, Franklin D. Richards – George F. Richards – LeGrand Richards, Amasa M. Lyman – Francis M. Lyman – Richard R. Lyman.  Some might contend that Hyrum Smith – Joseph F. Smith – Joseph Fielding Smith should be included in this list.  However, Hyrum Smith never served in the Quorum, although he was ordained an Apostle.

16.  Phineas Young was said to have been chosen by the Three Witnesses as a member of the Original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but Joseph Smith insisted that they call his brother William instead.  Because the placement of seniority of the Original Twelve was based on age, had Phineas been called and because he was older than any other member, he would have been President of the Quorum instead of Thomas B. Marsh.  Strangely, if this would have been the case, Phineas would have been next in line to lead the church after the death of Joseph Smith instead of Brigham Young.  Brigham Young would have never been President of the Church as he died 2 years before his older brother Phineas died.  Perhaps even greater emphasis can be given to the Lord’s hand in calling the Original Twelve.

hymnbook17. Eliza R. Snow, the older sister of Lorenzo Snow, wrote several hymns used today in the current LDS hymnal.  Those works include: O My Father, How Great the Wisdom and the Love, In Our Lovely Deseret, and Behold the Great Redeemer Die.

18. J. Reuben Clark served for 28 years as a counselor in the First Presidency, longer than any other counselor.  He served under Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, and David O. McKay.

19.  There have been 10 members ordained as Apostles who were never members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained Apostles in May of 1829.  Joseph Smith of course served as the First Elder of the Church and President of the High Priesthood while Oliver Cowdery served as Assistant President of the Church but held no offices in either the First Presidency nor the Quorum of the Twelve.  Upon Oliver Cowdery’s excommunication from the Church, Hyrum Smith was given all the priesthood and offices formerly held by Oliver, including the apostleship.  Hyrum served as an Assistant Counselor, Assistant President, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency, and as Patriarch of the Church, but never occupied a place in the Quorum of the Twelve.  Jedediah M. Grant was called to serve as 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency and subsequently ordained as an Apostle.  He would only serve in the office for 2 years and 8 months.  Daniel H. Wells was then called in the same manner to serve as 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency following the death of Jedediah M. Grant.  Although he would serve for 20 years in that capacity, he would never serve in the Quorum.  Joseph A. Young was ordained an Apostle in 1864 by his father, Brigham Young.  However, Joseph did not serve in the First Presidency or in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  John W. Young was also ordained an Apostle in 1864 by his father, Brigham Young.  John would serve as an Assistant Counselor and later the First Counselor in the First Presidency.  After the death of Brigham Young, these brethren who were called as counselors in the First Presidency, were not placed in the Quorum but rather would serve as Counselors to the Quorum.  John R. Winder was called to serve as Joseph F. Smith’s First Counselor in the First Presidency.  There is no record of his ordination as an Apostle.  He died serving in that position.  Last, Alvin R. Dyer and Thorpe B. Isaacson were called to be Counselors in the First Presidency to President David O. McKay.  Previously, both Dyer and Isaacson had been serving as Assistants to the Twelve and upon President McKay’s death, both resumed their positions as such.

20.  The members of the Original Twelve Apostles were placed in seniority based on their age.  Thus, Thomas B. Marsh, being nearly 36 years old, was chosen as the Senior member of the Quorum.  David W. Patten was said to have been older, although an exact age could not be determined due to him having no copy of a birth certificate.

21.  Of the 105 apostles that have served in this dispensation, 94 have been born in the United States.  45 worldmapapostles have been born in Utah, 10 in Vermont (including the Prophet Joseph Smith), 8 in New York, 7 in Idaho, 5 in Massachusetts, 3 in Illinois, New Jersey, and Ohio, 2 in Connecticut, and 1 in Arizona, California, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Tennessee.  Of the 11 born outside of the United States, 5 were in England, and 1 in Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Ireland, Mexico, and Norway.

22. There have been six sets of brothers to be ordained as Apostles: Joseph Smith, William Smith, Hyrum Smith – Orson Pratt and Parley P. Pratt – Luke S. Johnson and Lyman E. Johnson – Joseph A. Young, Brigham Young, Jr., John W. Young – Abraham H. Cannon and Sylvester Q. Cannon, – Hyrum Mack Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith.  However, only three sets of brothers would serve in the Quorum together at the same time: Orson Pratt and Parley P. Pratt, Luke S. Johnson and Lyman E. Johnson, and Hyrum Mack Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith.  It is interesting to note that among the Savior’s original twelve apostles, there were three sets of brothers: Peter and Andrew (sons of Jonas), James and John (sons of Zebedee), and James and Judas (sons of Alpheus).

23. The most common apostolic last name is Smith, shared by 9 apostles.  But there have also been 5 Richards, 4 Youngs, and 3 Cannons.

24. Not including current President of the Church, Thomas S. Monson, the average tenure for the Presidents of the Church is 11 years and 3 months.  President Monson has been serving as President of the Church for 7.5 years.

25. Eight out of the twelve Original Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles apostatized and were excommunicated.  Three of those would later rejoin the church.  Thus, only four out of the twelve Original Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were faithful since day one of their apostleship.

35685_all_008_01-river26.  Thomas S. Monson is the only Church President who was baptized in a traditional baptismal font.  He was baptized in the Tabernacle Baptistry on Temple Square.  All of the other Prophets were baptized in naturally-occurring bodies of water or swimming pools.

27.  On May 25, 1829, Samuel Smith became the third person baptized as a Latter-Day Saint.  Smith was baptized by Oliver Cowdery, who had become the first baptized Latter-Day Saint on May 15, 1829.  Joseph Smith, Jr. was immediately baptized after Cowdery.

28.  Only once in Church history has their been both a President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and an Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serving the same time in the Quorum.  This unusual situation came about when President Kimball died on November 5, 1985.  Elder Marion G. Romney was released from the First Presidency and resumed his position in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as the senior member.  Elder Howard W. Hunter was the 2nd most senior member of the Quorum. The new prophet, President Benson, chose Elders Hinckley and Monson to serve as his counselors in the First Presidency.  Due to Elder Romney’s advanced age and health problems, it would have been difficult for him to function as President of the Quorum of the Twelve.  Elder Hunter was thus called to serve as Acting President of the Quorum, assisting Elder Romney in his role as President of the Quorum.  They were both set-apart to their respective positions on November 10, 1985.  They held these positions until Elder Romney’s death on May 20, 1988, at which time Elder Hunter became President of the Quorum of Twelve.

29.  All of the original Twelve Apostles were ordained Apostles under the hands of the Three Witnesses (Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer) with the exception of one.  Elder Parley P. Pratt was ordained an Apostle by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer.

30.  In January of 1839, Lyman R. Sherman was nominated by the First Presidency to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve.  The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote of this in a letter to Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young while incarcerated in Liberty Jail, “We nominate George A. Smith and Lyman Sherman to take the places of Orson Hyde and Thomas B. Marsh in the Quorum of the Twelve.”  However, before Lyman was informed of his call to the apostleship, he passed away.  Thus, this makes Lyman R. Sherman the only man to be called as an Apostle but never ordained as such.

The_Battle_of_Crooked_River_by_C.C.A._Christensen31.  David W. Patten, one of the original members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, earned the nickname among saints, “Captain Fear Not” for being valiant and courageous time after time in defending the saints against persecution and injustice.  He later would die from wounds received in the Battle of Crooked River in 1838.  This battle ensued when a group of men from the Missouri state militia abducted three Mormon men.  In response, Elder Patten, serving as commander of the Mormon militia, led a group to rescue these men.  On the morning of October 25, 1838, the Mormon militia approached the ford where the state militia were camped.  Shots were immediately fired and Patten thus ordered a charge against the attack crying “God and Liberty!”.  The three men kidnapped by the state militia were rescued, however Patten was shot in the bowels and later died.  Joseph Smith would say of David W. Patten, “There lies a man who has done just as he said he would – he has laid down his life for his friends.”  It was also said of Elder Patten that, “Wherever assistance or defense was needed, Apostle David W. Patten was to the rescue among the foremost… In his presence the oppressed found a champion, and at his approach the wicked were filled with terror.”

32. Despite being generally unknown by Church historians until 1980, Jesse Gause was the Church’s first First Counselor in the first First Presidency of the Church.  He served in that position from March 8, 1832 to December 3, 1832.  The first First Presidency consisted of Joseph Smith Jr., President, and Jesse Guase and Sidney Rigdon as First and Second Counselors, respectively.  The revelation in D&C 81 was in fact intended for Jesse Gause, who did not remain faithful, and whose name was later replaced by Frederick G. Williams.  After Gause’s release, the First Presidency for the first few years of the Church’s existence was Joseph Smith Jr., President, and Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams as First and Second Counselors, respectively.

33. David O. McKay was the first Latter-day Prophet to have been ordained a deacon. Prior to the 1870s, very few boys received the Aaronic Priesthood. It wasn’t until a revelation Joseph F. Smith received during his administration that authorized young men to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and be ordained deacons as early as 12 years old.

dnews ldshuman.cit34. Heber J. Grant was a great letter writer. More than 50,000 of his letters are preserved in the Church Archives. He was the first native of Utah to preside over the Church. He launched, during the Great Depression, the Church’s modern Welfare Plan.

35. Over the last 30 years, The Church Welfare System has donated $1.4 billion (US Dollars) in cash assistance, medical equipment, food, clothing, disaster relief and other material goods to millions of people located in 178 different countries. These funds come from normal, everyday people who are members of the Church striving to uphold the mission to “help others as God would have us do”.

36. George Albert Smith was the first General Authority to fly in an airplane. This event appeared on the cover of Time Magazine for the pioneer centennial in Utah, 1947. He was also the first President to be televised at General Conference. He was an Honorary Chief among many Indian Tribes. He authorized a broad-based program of welfare assistance to war ravaged countries in Europe after World War II. During that time, the Church sent enough relief supplies to fill 140 railroad cars.

37. David O. McKay was the first Church President to have been married in the Salt Lake Temple. He was also the first to travel by jet to Stake Conferences and the first to complete a formal college degree.

38. Brigham Young organized one of the largest migrations in American History and founded 350 communities in Utah to accommodate more than 70,000 converts from North America and Europe. He founded the Young Men and the Young Women organizations (called at the time YMMIA and YWMIA – Mutual Improvement Association).

Joseph_Smith,_Jr__portrait_owned_by_Joseph_Smith_III39. Joseph Smith received more than 130 revelations, added 900 pages of revealed scripture in our day, and corrected 3,410 verses in the Bible. He commissioned the writing of the history of the Church, wrote the Articles of Faith, organized the Relief Society, and initiated the building of the first two temples in the Latter Days. He also founded 5 major communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois and ran for President of the United States in 1844.

40. Harold B. Lee organized the Welfare Service Department and the Single Member Programs. He also was the first President to visit Israel and organized the first branch of the Church in Jerusalem.

41. Membership in the church tripled while David O. McKay served as Church President for 19 years.

42. Under the direction of Joseph Fielding Smith, the Church set aside Monday nights for Family Home Evening.

presidentmonsontalk43. Thomas S. Monson has quoted selected verses of 43 different hymns in 82 of his sermons. He has mentioned a hymn in 62 of the last 92 conferences. It is obvious that President Monson loves the Lord’s Hymns. He teaches us, “If you love the Lord, if you love His Doctrine, you’ll love the Hymns. And when you love them, you sing them.”

44. When Lorenzo Snow became President the Church was in great debt. On one occasion, Lorenzo pleaded for three days for a manifestation of God’s divine will concerning the affairs of the Church. He received no answer until he was leaving the temple. He saw the Lord Jesus Christ and talked to Him face to face. Later he was inspired to call all Church members to pay an honest tithing.

45.  Out of the current 155 operating temples, only eight temples do not have an angel Moroni statue.  They are the St. George Utah, Logan Utah, Manti Utah, Laie Hawaii, Cardston Alberta, Mesa Arizona, Hamilton New Zealand, and Oakland California Temples.

46. David O. McKay is the only Church President to have four counselors serving with him in the First Presidency at the same time.  They were: Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner, serving as his first and second counselors, respectively, and two additional counselors, Thorpe B. Isaacson and Joseph Fielding Smith.  Alvin R. Dyer also served for a time as a Counselor to President McKay, although he was never ordained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

47. Alvin R. Dyer is the only person in the history of the Church to be ordained to the office of Seventy after having been ordained an Apostle.  Elder Dyer was ordained an Apostle in 1967 to immediately fill a role as Counselor to the aging President David O. McKay.  Following President McKay’s death, Elder Dyer served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until 1976 when that position was subsequently abolished Churchwide.  He then was placed in the First Quorum of the Seventy until his death in 1977.

48. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the first post New Testament church that actually had the name Jesus Christ in it’s title.  Up to then every Christian church was named after a man or religious movement.

49. Several Latter-day Saints have run for President of the United States: Joseph Smith (1844), George Romney (1968), Ezra Taft Benson (1968), Morris K. “Mo” Udall (1976), Orrin Hatch (2000), and Mitt Romney (2008, 2012).

50. Heber J. Grant was the first Church President born in Utah.  He was born November 22, 1856 in Salt Lake City.

BoM-29951. The original printing of the Book of Mormon consisted of 5,000 copies. Since 1830, when the book was first published, 150 million copies have been printed.  It has been published in its entirety in 94 languages, with selections of the book available in an additional 20 languages. The first edition of the Book of Mormon after English was Danish in 1851, followed by French, Italian, Welsh, and German in 1852.  President Ezra Taft Benson has said, “The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon … In this age of electronic media and mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way.”

52. The original translated Book of Mormon manuscript done by Oliver Cowdery didn’t have any punctuation or capitalization. John H. Gilbert, Grandin’s chief compositor, spent his evenings adding them all in by hand for the printing.

53. It took eight men and boys working 12 hours a day, six days a week, for almost eight months to print the original 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon.

54. Joseph F. Smith was the first Church President who was not a convert.  He was the son of Hyrum Smith and born into the covenant.

55. U.S. founding father & former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, a deist, predicted in 1820 that “The genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored: such as it was preached and practised by himself,” (LetterTo Van der Kemp, 1820). Ten years later it would be.

56. In 2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

57. President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated 85 temples during his time as an Apostle, Counselor in the First Presidency, and as Church President.  He has dedicated more temples than any other person in the history of the Church.

confcenter-crowd-b-Oct-2010-gconf-two58. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was officially organized on April 6th 1830 in Fayette, New York. There were 6 official members of the church and around 50 others in attendance in the Whitmer home for that first meeting.  Today, the Church has approximately 15,082,028 members, 29,293 congregations, and is in 176 nations.

59. In the October 2014 General Conference, Elder Chi Hong Wong of the Seventy delivered his address in Cantonese, becoming the first speaker in the history of the Church to give a General Conference address in a language other than English. Prior to this historic conference, the LDS Church had announced a new policy allowing conference speakers the option to give addresses in their native languages. The now world-wide LDS Church has 31 General Authorities who speak languages other than English as their first language.

60. The Mormons were some of the most successful settlers in the history the Western United States. Brigham Young directed the colonization of approximately 400 towns and settlements in Utah, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, and even nearby Canada and Mexico. This region known academically as the “Mormon Corridor” and the “Book of Mormon belt” includes the colonization of the cities of Salt Lake City, Utah; Las Vegas, Nevada; San Bernadino, California; and Mesa, Arizona.

61. Currently, women outnumber men in membership. Approximately 53%-47%.

Mormon-Tabernacle-Choir-AZ62. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the worlds largest full time choir with 360 members. The Choir has been broadcasting “Music and the Spoken Word” since July 15, 1929 and holds the record for the longest continual broadcast of any network show. Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush called the Grammy and Emmy Award winning Mormon Tabernacle Choir “one of America’s greatest treasures”.

63. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who built many famous buildings, including the Guggenheim in New York City, said the Salt Lake Tabernacle is “one of the architectural masterpieces of the country and perhaps the world.” Completed in 1867, the Tabernacle is now famous for being one of the most acoustically perfect buildings in the world. At the time it was built, there were no amplifiers or electronics, and it was designed so that all who were in attendance could hear the speaker’s voice. Today it is common for LDS missionary tour guides to demonstrate the acoustic properties of the Tabernacle by dropping a pin on the pulpit or tearing a newspaper there, which can be heard throughout the building.

64. Former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln once checked out a copy of The Book of Mormon from the Library of Congress.

65. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon, then Senator Nixon, spoke at the Wilshire California Ward Youth Conference in 1962.

66. Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to attend a Family Home Evening.  Eisenhower enjoyed Family Home Evening in the home of Ezra Taft Benson, who served in his cabinetry as his U.S. Secretary of Agriculture during both his terms.

67. Joseph Smith prophesied Kirtland Safety Society notes would eventually be as good as gold. The most recent Safety Society note to sell on eBay sold at approximately 18 times the price of gold.  The note sold for the equivalent of 9.09 ounces of gold. In 1837, $10 was approximately 1/2 ounces of gold.

Founding Fathers Vision68. In August of 1877, shortly after the dedication of the St. George Temple, the spirits of the founding fathers of the United States of America visited Wilford Woodruff in vision on two consecutive nights in the temple.

Wilford Woodruff recounts in his journal that the signers of the Declaration of Independance, along with George Washington, said: “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” 

Wilford Woodruff later testified in the April 1898 General Conference: “I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. Another thing I am going to say here, because I have a right to say it. Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence, with General Washington, called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them. Men are here, I believe, that know of this, Brother John D. T. McAllister, David H. Cannon and James S. Bleak. Brother McAllister baptized me for all those men, and then I told these brethren that it was their duty to go into the Temple and labor until they had got endowments for all of them. They did it. Would those spirits have called up on me, as an Elder in Israel to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not.”