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ENGLAND AND WALES
The church still followed the custom of having two conferences a year, and in 1862 the fall conference, known as the semiannual conference, convened October 6, 1862. There were two important questions before the conference: the proposal to buy and locate a printing press, and the sending of a first foreign missionary. Both passed the conference. The mission proposed was, as it had been in the old church, a mission to England, and was to consist of three: Jason W. Briggs, Samuel Powers, and Charles Derry who had been ordained a seventy at Little Sioux, Iowa, in September, 1861.
An unusual number of baptisms occurred at that conference including that of a twelve-year-old boy by the name of Heman C. Smith, who was baptized with his parents--Spencer C. Smith, the schoolteacher son-in-law of Lyman Wight and for so many years his secretary and scribe, and the daughter of Lyman Wight, Anna C.--as well as many of the Lyman Wight colony who had come north before the War. All communication had been cut off with their loved ones in Texas, but they waited hopefully the lifting of the war cloud to tell them also the joyful tidings of the return of Young Joseph. Young Heman C. was anxious to have it known that he was "prompted to this action by my own convictions and not by solicitation on the part of my parents or anyone else."
Heman C. Smith was confirmed by William W. Blair and James Blakeslee, and his mother's heart was thrilled by the promise of Brother Blair that, "If faithful, your voice shall be heard in the mountains to the salvation of many souls, and thousands shall yet rejoice that they have heard your voice." Time has tested the truth of this prophecy.
These three were baptized by William H. Kelley, who was a son of an old-time Latter Day Saint, Richard Yancy Kelley, at one time an elder in the church and one of the leading members of the church in southern Illinois, and the grandson of Benjamin Franklin Kelley, one of the first to accept the gospel message in Johnson County, Illinois. Richard continued his work in southern Illinois without question after the death of the Martyrs, until 1847, when, making a trip to Kanesville to examine for himself certain unsatisfactory rumors, he returned disillusioned. His home even then, however, was open to the missionaries of all factions. J. J. Strang, Brigham Young, Sidney Rigdon, Gladden Bishop, and Alpheus Cutler sent elders to that community. All were gladly received as brethren and shared the Kelley hospitality, but after careful examination, he refused to join with any of them until, in the year 1859, E. C. Briggs and W. W. Blair came and told of the little band waiting until the "due time of the Lord" to bring to them Young Joseph. With them he united, and his third son, William, was soon engaged in the missionary work. A younger son of Richard Y. Kelley, Edmund L., then at school, joined the church in 1864 and became the beloved Bishop of the church, so well known as "Bishop Kelley" for nearly thirty years.
Young David H. Smith, youngest son of the Martyr was present at that conference. He was a sensitive, beauty-loving young man, and had written many songs and poems even in his childhood and youth. Now he had turned his abilities to the benefit of the church, and wrote a number of the early-time hymns, often set to music by a young friend of Nauvoo, Imogene Austin.1 He loved to attend conference, and often earned his way by drawing or painting pictures for the citizens of Nauvoo, usually from original subjects. He was deeply moved by the first foreign mission of the church and wrote a poem, much quoted by the early Saints, "The Three Missionaries."
On December 6 of that year, Charles Derry started on his mission "without purse or scrip," as he had always gone, leaving his family in a log cabin near Glenwood, Iowa, as comfortably situated as he was able to do. There were no church allowances in those days, but seven men of that vicinity jointly pledged themselves to see that the family of the Reorganization's first foreign missionary did not suffer. These men, Jairus M. Putney, William Brittain, John Leeka, Elijah Gaylord, Noah Green, John Pack, and Joseph Carven assumed their part in that first mission cheerfully, and as Charles Derry said later, "right nobly did they keep their pledge."
With just thirty-five cents in his pocket, Charles Derry said good-by to his family in the little twelve-by-twelve log cabin in western Iowa and started for the East. He spent a week in Nauvoo, also visited Israel Rogers, who had been ordained the first Bishop of the Reorganized Church at the Amboy Conference of 1860, and had since controlled with admirable economy the funds of the church. From Brother Israel Rogers, Derry received seventy dollars with which to pay his way to England. Brother Rogers told him that much to his regret Brother Powers and Brother Briggs felt unable to fill the mission because of their temporal affairs. The two had prayer together, and Derry departed for New York City, spending his money as frugally as he could for a very good reason; he was thinking of the loved ones back on the Iowa prairies. Arriving in New York, he had only four days to wait before a ship, the steamer "City of Baltimore was sailing for England. Derry engaged passage on her, steerage for forty dollars. Other help had been given him by Saints along the way and by traveling as cheaply as he could, and subsisting upon the least expensive food he could buy, he was able to send forty dollars to his family and had ten dollars for himself when he went on board.
The first missionaries in 1837 had not been more lonely than he; they had each other; he had no one, despite the fact that this was his homeland. He went to the lodging house from whence he had departed with such high hopes just nine years before to go to Zion. Mrs. Powell's lodging house of Great Crosshall Street had another landlady, but Brother Derry engaged lodging at sixpence a night (he to board himself) and enjoyed the first good night's sleep since he left New York, for it had been a very stormy passage. With his ten dollars he bought actual necessities and had enough left to order one thousand of Joseph Smith's first epistle to the church. While waiting for them to be printed, he visited George Q. Cannon, then president of the Utah faction of the church in England. He requested the privilege of visiting the branches and preaching but was refused. He offered some pamphlets, but Cannon refused them also and called the leaders of the Reorganized Church "apostates."
In a few days the Millennial Star came out, with the statement by the editor that he had been told by the "whisperings of the Spirit" to warn the Saints that apostates would soon be in their midst seeking to lead them from the truth. The Millennial Star went to every good Mormon home in England, and wherever Charles Derry knocked at the door of an old friend and tried to tell them of his experiences, he succeeded only in convincing them that Brother Cannon was a wonderful prophet. Before he left Cannon's office, Elder Derry also made a prophecy, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Reorganized Church would make their message ring from one end of the land to the other. That remained to be fulfilled. As soon as his literature was ready, he began distributing it among the Saints, the old-time Saints, of Liverpool. Many of them, having read the Star, would have none of him; others had left the church when the doctrine of polygamy was first introduced in England but a few years since and wanted nothing more to do with Mormonism in any form. His money was now all but exhausted.
He had bought what food he had, spending his money sparingly, often going without meals. One morning, his money now entirely gone, he was leaving his lodging place without breakfast when the landlady said, "Mr. Derry, you have had no breakfast!" He answered that, he was temporarily without money to buy breakfast, but that he expected to receive some that day (he had no idea from whence it would come). She insisted that he come into her part of the house and have breakfast, but he with equal insistence said he did not wish to impose upon her kindness. However, she soon brought him a plate full of toast and butter, and a pot of "tea in good old English style" and bade him eat and be welcome. He had made it a practice to call on every old "Mormon" who he heard was dissatisfied at the introduction of polygamy in the church (which was at a later date in England than in the United States). This morning he made his way to the shop of a Mr. Collinson who was a shoe merchant in Bold Street. He told Derry that he had seen so much that he had turned away in disgust and felt he wanted nothing more to do with it. Elder Derry went on with his story, but his hearer neither assented nor objected, only as he was leaving pressed five shillings into his hand, and asked him to call again. Returning homeward, happy at this manifestation of Providence, he frugally spent one penny for oatmeal and boiled it for his supper. "My heart rejoiced in God," he wrote in his journal, "that I had not prayed to him in vain."
On February 13, he left Liverpool for Chester and found an old friend, Joseph Coward, who had emigrated to Utah, lost a fortune, and returned, disgusted and disheartened. He wanted no more of the church. Charles Derry walked on to Wrexham, Crassford, Overton, Lightwood Green, Elsmere, Shrewsbury, and Wolverhampton, and on the 18th found himself at West Bromwich, where he had been baptized and where he had married his wife, Alice Stokes, and made his home during his early married life.
My mind had been very unsettled in every town I had visited, and no prospect of doing anything by way of preaching had presented itself, but here in West Bromwich I felt to make a stand. The news quicky spread that Charles Derry had returned from Utah.... Some said I was "broken," that is worn down. Poor souls, they knew not what I had suffered in mind and body since I last saw them. . . . I then went to a Brighamite meeting in West Bromwich, but found their minds very much poisoned against me. One man named Southwick saw me as I came in and remarked aloud to me, "Charley, thee be'st a weak team, lad." I acknowledged the corn, but I realized that the Lord was strong.
Everyone took special pains to cast a slur or utter a sneer in their testimony, but thee fell powerless. I arose to bear my testimony, but I was commanded to sit down. I did so, and the president told me I should have the privilege to say what I pleased at the close. I thanked him and kept my seat till the close; then I arose to claim the privilege promised. The president then demanded what I wanted to say. I told him he would hear by the time I got through. He then insisted upon limiting me to two minutes. I had to submit, but I put in my two minutes, nor did I waste words. None dared a reply, but all seemed to shun me, or to utter some contemptuous sneer. And this in the branch in which, nineteen years ago, I had been baptized, and from which I had been sent out to preach the Gospel. Yet I thank God not a soul among them could point to any wrong I had done.
The way was hard. He could only go from house to house to tell his story where they would receive him. Sometime in March a Mr. Withers obtained the rent of a room in Park Foundry for the sum of eighteen pence a week, for which Derry was to have the use of the place on Sunday and one night a week. He went to the landlord to obtain the key, but the man had changed his mind. Another religious denomination had interfered. The missionary had gone to some expense fitting up the place with seats and had advertised his services, but to no avail. He could have the place the next Wednesday. But when John Pardoe and Charles Derry went there upon the following Wednesday, they were again refused entrance. There was no choice but to occupy a "piece of waste land" near by and preach in the open air. Soon after, he visited a man by the name of Charles Tyler who had left the Mormon Church. He said Derry would find a friend in his brother, Henry Tyler.
Brother Derry was then taken ill but struggled on. By the 25th of March he had obtained another room, but was unable to occupy it until the 31st. For nearly a month he was very ill, but finally was able to resume his work and to baptize upon May 3 the first fruits of the English mission, Henry Tyler, the man whose friendship had been pledged to him by Charles Tyler.
At the April conference of 1863, Jason W. Briggs's mission to England was reaffirmed; Samuel Powers was released, as he was unable to go, and Jeremiah Jeremiah appointed in his stead. On the l1th of May, calling at the post office, Charles Derry found there four Heralds, but they were not prepaid. It would cost him four shillings and nine pence to get them. He had no money. His homesick heart longed for the church news, but he turned away disappointed. Passing a pawnshop later, he went in and pawned his overcoat and with the proceeds went back for the Heralds. It was still a bit chilly without his coat, but he did not regret his choice. The little papers warmed and cheered him.
Mrs. Henry Tyler had now become interested in the work, also William Tyler, his wife, and his niece; Charles Tyler, William Morgan and wife of Oldbury, and George Morgan. On May 3 Mrs. Jane Fox of Birmingham Heath, gave in her name for baptism. He felt no longer alone.
The day after Mrs. Fox presented her name for baptism, as he sat writing letters, Mrs. Stokes, his landlady, asked him if those were the two men he was expecting, and looking out of the window he saw Jason W. Briggs and Jeremiah Jeremiah. He records in his journal: "My heart was truly glad to see them. I invited them in, and Mrs. Stokes prepared dinner, after which I took them around to see my friends. I am now no longer alone. I have two able men to bear the burden with me, and my hopes for the future are greatly enlarged. We all slept at Stokes'."
On the morning of the 17th, he baptized John Pardoe, Joshua Lyall, and Richard Stokes, who were confirmed by the three elders. In the afternoon the first branch of the Reorganized Church in England was organized with six members,2 Sarah Withers and Jane Fox besides the four previously named. Elder Henry Tyler was chosen to preside, John Pardoe ordained an elder, and Richard Stokes a deacon.
The next day, after consultation, the three missionaries concluded to publish the Word of Consolation, written so many years ago in the early days of the Reorganization. Some changes had to be made to adapt it to present events. Charles Derry read it over aloud, and all suggested changes. During the day, somehow, the two others learned what had become of Brother Derry's coat. Brother Jeremiah's hand went into his pocket at once and produced two shillings, and six pence, to which Brother Briggs added two shillings, and the coat was soon off the pawnbroker's shelf. "My heart swelled with gratitude to my brethren," says Charles Derry, in speaking of it.
On the 20th of May, 1863, their revision being complete, they ordered one thousand copies of the Word of Consolation printed by a Mr. Hudson, for two pounds and ten shillings. Jeremiah Jeremiah had already started to Wales, his objective.
On the 23rd came an encouraging letter from John H. Morgan of Lydney, Gloucestershire. He assured them of his joy in receiving Brother Derry's letter and of hearing of the Reorganized Church and the Presidency of Joseph, son of the Martyr. He had been looking forward to this day and was with them, heart and hand. He was sure if they visited them, they could organize there.
In the meantime, meetings were continued with a few additions in West Bromwich until the 31st, when the first Communion service was held. The branch now numbered ten. On June 3, Charles Derry visited Thomas Angel in Dudley, and on the 7th preached his first sermon in Blakely, a branch he had himself organized many years ago. His effort was to teach them that polygamy was no part of the gospel. He had good crowds here, all wanting to see Charley Derry again. Particularly was he received in a kindly way by John and Mary Heywood, former converts of his.
Soon word was received from Jeremiah Jeremiah in Wales, that he was in need of help, and Jason W. Briggs hastened there on the 10th of June. On the way to Wales, Briggs went into Gloucestershire and remained ten days, organizing a branch with ten members at Lydney, from whence Brother Morgan had written. Briggs left Brother Morgan holding meetings in that vicinity "with every prospect of building up a large branch."
Jason Briggs hastened on to meet the call of Brother Jeremiah from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, where he found Jeremiah with eighteen ready for the formation of a branch. They "placarded that and the neighboring town and called a large number together two Sundays, in an open space in the city." By the first of August the Word of Consolation had been translated into Welsh and was on the press. Brother Jeremiah went to Monmouthshire, while Briggs visited old members of the church not now connected with the Utah people. A conference was called July 19, and eight elders and two priests were appointed to fill Sunday appointments.
About the middle of July, Brother Derry was challenged by a William O. Owen. Owen had been to Utah, and had become convinced that a great imposition had been practiced upon him, had returned to England, and was exposing "Mormonism" from town to town in lectures. Charles Derry, having more confidence in his colleague, sent to Wales for Briggs.
The debate began at Birmingham, July 18. Before it was finished, Briggs became ill and had to retire, leaving Derry to finish. On the 25th of August, Derry had another debate with Owen on the unique question of "Are the Abominations of Utah the Legitimate Fruits of Mormonism Proper?" Needless to say Owen affirmed. Derry denied.
While in Birmingham, Derry heard of another Latter Day Saint, Thomas Taylor, who had returned disappointed from Utah. Derry visited him on September 13, but he did not appear particularly interested. Leaving Briggs in Birmingham, he took a trip through the adjacent counties, and at Lydney found a branch raised by Morgan and Briggs. From there he went to Wales to help Elder Jeremiah.
On the 18th of November, a special conference convened at Pennydaren, presided over by Brother Briggs, who had been spending much of his time in the vicinity of Birmingham, having held nine public discussions at Birmingham, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, and Wolverhampton. There he found some of the old Saints who had not yet heard of the Reorganization and were now much interested to learn of the coming of Young Joseph.
A conference met at Pennydaren in Wales the day after Christmas, 1863, a little over a year since the appointment of the first missionaries to England. A number of elders and six branches reported. So great had grown the demands of the work that seventeen more elders and two priests were appointed to missions. Also the publication of a mission paper was provided for at this conference. Up to this time the restored gospel, under the banner of the Reorganization, had met with its greatest success in Wales. "I never experienced more disinterested kindness than I received from the Welsh and English Saints, whom it was my privilege to meet in Wales," says Charles Derry, who was constantly going from place to place preaching and teaching.
In Birmingham, Elder Derry visited Thomas Taylor, whom J. W. Briggs had previously seen but once. He records of him:
On the 2d of March, Brother Charles Sheen went with me to see Mr. Thomas Taylor, in Birmingham, formerly a member of the church, but having been to Utah and finding there had been a great departure from the truth, he had returned to his native land, disgusted and discouraged. When he heard the truth as God had revealed it at the first, he acknowledged it with gladness. He treated me very kindly and aided me with means.
In March of 1864 the mission paper, appropriately named the Restorer, appeared, edited by Jason W. Briggs at Number 305 High Street, Pennydaren, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. That all of the Saints might enjoy it, the paper was printed partly in Welsh and partly in English.
In the meantime, Charles Derry continued to call upon Thomas Taylor in Birmingham, whose interest he thought was constantly increasing. One George B. Follows wrote to him and came sixteen miles to see and hear him, He was baptized, ordained an elder, and sent into the mission field. James Wiltshire, whom Derry had recently baptized, was preaching in Gloucester. The conference at Pennydaren on May 15 showed a continued uptrend in missionary work, and the numerous workers were advised by the president of the conference, "The winter is past with its rain, cold, and sleet, and the weather is beautiful, and when we are denied all other places, Nature's temple is open, and upon some spare ground, on some highway, or beside some hedge, let us lift up our voices and call men to repentance, and those that 'have departed from the faith' to return to the law of God."3
Charles Derry closed his work in England and sailed from Liverpool to New York on board the "James Foster, junior," on June 21, 1864. Three days later J. T. Phillips, a new missionary, appointed to Wales by the General Conference, arrived.
The next conference, held at Pennydaren on July 24, took up the matter of the division of the English mission into districts, with proper district presidents in each case. The elders reported that in following the advice given in May to hold meetings outdoors a great increase in membership had resulted.
On August 11, 1864, another Welsh missionary, Thomas E. Jenkins, arrived from the States and published an address to the Saints in Welsh in the Restorer. On September 18, 1864, a branch was organized in Birmingham, over which none other than William O. Owen, Briggs's opponent in debate, now a member of the church, was chosen to preside. On October 6, Jason W. Briggs, accompanied by Elder E. Griffiths, sailed for New York.
Except for one interval from this time to the present, the English mission has always had one or more American missionaries and in addition has produced many able men from their own land, among them the Thomas Taylor mentioned in this early history, who with Charles H. Caton and Joseph Dewsnup, formed the first bishopric in Europe. The mission has also contributed some important representatives to the general church, notably John W. Rushton, F. Henry Edwards, and Arthur A. Oakman. The mission has been weakened materially by emigration to America, a fund having been created and maintained at one time for the purpose of transporting those who wished to come to this land. While the result has not contributed to the strength of the English and Welsh mission, it has helped the branches in the United States, hardly one of which has not benefitted by the addition of members from Great Britain.
In 1869 George M. Rush opened the work in Scotland and continued there for two years, contending against much opposition and prejudice, but succeeding in building up a membership. The work in Scotland also suffered greatly from emigration.
In 1933 and 1934 under the direction of Apostle John W. Rushton, the gospel was preached in Ireland with success, but never followed up.
The influence of British Saints upon the church since 1840 until now has been tremendous. A list of persons descended from early and later English emigrants to the Zion in America who have affected the history of the church from its highest councils down, would probably run into the thousands. Perhaps that is too conservative a statement. With the renewed interest in missionary work now commencing, the future of this mission will possibly exceed the brightness of its past.
1 Mrs. Miriam [Shippyl Claus, now deceased, of Detroit, Michigan,
remembered visiting with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Shippy in Nauvoo and often told
how after dinner the young folks, including David and Imogene Austin, went to the river
and spent the afternoon putting music to one of David's poems.
2 There is said to have been a branch organized in Sheffield prior to this and before the coming of Derry. But I have found little account of it.
3 The Restorer, Volume 1, page 40; Church History, Volume 3, page 402.
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