1930 First Presidency Address
In 1930, Herbert Hoover was the 31st President of the United States. After just over a century and a half of its existence, the country had a population of approximately 123 million people--around 88% of whom were white, non-Hispanic, and just under 10% of whom were black.1 Most urban American homes had electricity, while it would take longer for rural homes to be so supplied.2 Means and modes of transportation were expanding rapidly, carrying passengers and cargo all over the country and the world.3 The early decades of the twentieth century also saw significant improvements in education for many American children and youth, although inequities still abounded between races, as well as between urban and rural, and between rich and poor.4 Despite many of these positive developments, the United States was also nearly six months into the economic crisis that would later be known as “The Great Depression.”5 The manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol was still illegal in the United States as a result of the adoption of the 18th Amendment in 1919.6
The year 1930 was an important one for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, marking 100 years since its organization with six original members in a small farmhouse in New York. At the beginning of 1930, Church membership consisted of over 660,000 members, only half of whom lived in Utah.7 Twenty-two of its thirty-two missions were outside the United States.8 The Church had seven operating temples: four in Utah, one in Hawaii, one in Canada, and one in Arizona--all of which were illuminated with large flood lights for the centennial observance.9 Overall, the Church was enjoying unprecedented favor with the United States government and its leaders, thanks in large part to the service of Apostle-Senator Reed Smoot.10 Indeed, public opinion toward the Church had shifted considerably. During this celebratory year, “more than 3,000 newspapers [gave] favorable publicity to the Church, causing President [Heber J.] Grant to comment later that year: ‘The great change that has come about since the days of my boyhood in the general attitude toward this people is almost beyond contemplation or expectation.’ (Gospel Standards, p. 91).”11 As a historical tribute to the Church’s first century in this dispensation, Elder B.H. Roberts also presented his six-volume, A Comprehensive History of the Church.12
The year before, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (now the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square) began broadcasting its hallmark weekly production, “Music and the Spoken Word.”13 The use of radio featured prominently in the Church’s plan to commemorate this sacred moment in its history. During the week of planned festivities and pageantry,14 overlapping with the Church’s 100th Annual General Conference, the 1930 Statement would be heard via radio on April 6 in over a thousand Latter-day Saint meetinghouses, and read by local leaders all over the world at the same time where radio transmission could not reach. At this moment, Latter-day Saints around the world simultaneously participated together in the “Hosanna Shout,” reserved only for the most sacred and solemn occasions in the Church.15
For this centennial message, only the members of the First Presidency appear as signatories on the 1930 Statement. President Heber J. Grant, and his counselors, Anthony W. Ivins and Charles W. Nibley, having served together in the highest quorum of the Church together for nearly five years, presumably authored and issued this statement.
Other than a few words at the beginning of the Statement to Church members to “rededicate their lives to the service of the Master and the establishment of His kingdom upon earth,” (Millennial Star, April 10, 1930, p. 289) and at the end to “put their houses in order” and live lives of righteousness and service (Ibid., p. 300), the 1930 Statement seems directed mostly to the those who are not members of the Church, addressing them as “our beloved brothers and sisters throughout the world” (Ibid., p. 289). As befitting the office of those designated as special messengers from the Lord Jesus Christ, the 1930 Statement opens and concludes with a sincere invitation to come unto Jesus Christ and receive all the blessings of His Gospel, both in this life and the next (see Ibid., pp. 289-90, 300).
Following the brief introduction as already outlined, the 1930 Statement recounts the remarkable achievements of what it deems “the Miracle Century of the ages,” from 1830-1930. It lauds the “increase of scientific knowledge, invention, and industrial development” and its closely related corollary of improved educational opportunities that now provided “temples of learning” for children, youth, and young adults (Millennial Star, April 10, 1930, p. 290). It celebrates agricultural innovations and the proliferation of efficient modes of transportation and “application of scientific methods” to enhance medical and surgical practices and relieve the world of much suffering from disease. As the “greatest miracle of the century,” the First Presidency heralds the radio, presumably because of its capacity to facilitate the spreading of gospel messages around the world. All of this, the First Presidency felt was “in fulfillment of the words uttered by inspired prophets, thousands of years ago” (Ibid., p. 291)
Mostly, the First Presidency’s 1930 Statement presents a narrative that has become a template for Latter-day Saints’ understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ and a pattern for their proselyting. This narrative begins with the birth of Christ and His efforts to establish His Church on the earth in the meridian of time. It then recounts what Latter-day Saints refer to as “the Great Apostasy,” or rejection of the Savior’s Church on the earth. The First Presidency begins the turn from Apostasy to Restoration with a reminder of the great covenant God made to Abraham and his faithful posterity in the House of Israel across generations and into the modern era. Restoring Israel to their covenant relationship with God required the Reformation of the Christianity of the Middle Ages as well as political reformations that culminated in the settling of the United States and the establishment of a government under which the true Church of Christ could be restored and prosper. The primary events of the Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ include: the First Vision of Joseph Smith, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of Priesthood authority and keys, and the organization of Christ’s Church once again on the earth on April 6, 1830. The First Presidency points to the success of the Church’s missionary efforts, the building of temples, and the general prosperous circumstances of the Church as evidence that it is indeed the “great and marvelous work” prophesied of in ancient scripture (see Isaiah 29:14; 1 Nephi 14:7; 3 Nephi 21:9), ascribing all the glory to “God our Father, through Jesus Christ, His Son, forever, for He is the Author of it all” (Millennial Star, April 10, 1930, p. 299).
The 1930 Statement concludes with a prophetic, hope-filled look toward the future, a “future [that] passes beyond the vision of human comprehension” (Millennial Star, April 10, 1930, p. 299). The House of Israel will ultimately be restored to their covenant relationship with God and receive all that they have been promised. God’s Kingdom will triumph over all earthly kingdoms, as foretold by Daniel (see Daniel 2:44; also D&C 65). New Jerusalem will be established and an era of millennial peace will come to all those who remain on the earth after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. At this milestone moment in the history of the Church, the First Presidency captured the glories, miracles, and goodness of God throughout the Church’s first century without any animosity toward its detractors in the past and invited all people to partake of the future glory that God has promised to the faithful.
- “Historical racial and ethnic demographics of the United States,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_racial_and_ethnic_demographics_of_the_United_States , accessed June 22, 2021.
- See “History of Electricity,” Institute for Energy Research, https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/history-electricity/ ,accessed June 22, 2021; Novak, Matt (2013), “How the 1920s Thought Electricity Would Transform Farms Forever,” Gizmodo, https://gizmodo.com/how-the-1920s-thought-electricity-would-transform-farms-510917940 , accessed June 22, 2021; “Water and Power 1928-1941,” Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-and-education-magazines/water-and-power-1928-1941 , accessed June 22, 2021.
- See “The 1900s’s Education: Overview,” Encyclopedia.com, https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/culture-magazines/1900s-education-overview , accessed June 22, 2021; Lynch, Matthew (2017), “How the 20th Century Changed American Education,” The Edvocate, https://www.theedadvocate.org/20th-century-changed-american-education/ accessed June 22, 2021; and Kober, Nancy and Rentner, Diane Stark (2020), “History and Evolution of Education in the US,” Center on Education Policy, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED606970.pdf , accessed June 22, 2021.
- See Amadeo, Kimberly (2020), “Black Tuesday, Its Causes and How It Kicked Off the Depression,” The Balance, https://www.thebalance.com/black-tuesday-definition-cause-kickoff-to-depression-3305819 , accessed June 22, 2021.
- See “Prohibition” (2020), History.com, https://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties/prohibition , accessed June 22, 2021. This would remain the law of the land until December 5, 1933, when the 21st Amendment would be passed, repealing the 18th Amendment; see “Presidential Proclamation 2065 of December 5, 1933, in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces the Repeal of Prohibition,” National Archives, https://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/?dod-date=1205 , accessed June 22, 2021.
- So reported President Gordon B. Hinckley in this article by John L. Hart, “Church Keeps Faith with Pioneers,” Deseret News, March 15, 1997, https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/1997-03-15/church-keeps-faith-with-pioneers-131240 , accessed June 22, 2021.
- Van Orden, Dell, “Bookends of decade: Depression, war,” Deseret News, April 19, 1999, https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/james-e-talmage-and-scientific-consulting-in-early-modern-utah/ , accessed June 15, 2021.
- See Olsen, Steven L. (1992), “Centennial Observances,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Centennial_Observances , accessed June 22, 2021; see also “The Mormon Centennial,” Iron County Record, April 2, 1930, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/details?id=3770596&date_tdt=%5B1930-03-31T00%3A00%3A00.000Z+TO+1930-12-31T00%3A00%3A00.000Z%5D&q=%28%28church%29+AND+%28centennial%29%29 , accessed June 22, 2021.
- See Winder, Michael K. (2007), The Story of America’s Presidents and the LDS Church: Presidents and Prophets, pp. 183-243.
- Van Orden, Deseret News, April 19, 1999.
- See Hartley, William G., “The Church Grows in Strength,” Ensign, September 1999, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1999/09/the-church-grows-in-strength?lang=eng , accessed June 22, 2021.
- See “Music and the Spoken Word,” The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square https://www.thetabernaclechoir.org/music-spoken-word.html , accessed June 22, 2021.
- A special pageant entitled “Message of the Ages” was produced with over “a thousand actors, singers, and musicians that chronicled a sacred history of the gospel” (see Olsen, “Centennial Observances).
- Olsen, “Centennial Observances.”
The 1930 Statement closes with an invitation for all people to come unto Christ. With the challenges of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II in the 1930’s, there would only be 75,617 convert baptisms in the decade following the 1930 Statement. However, by 1947 there were over a million members worldwide. That number would double by 1963 and triple by 1971. At the close of 2020, Church membership sat at 16.6 million members worldwide. Additionally, the 6 operating temples in 1930 rose to 100 by 2000 and 168 by 2020. In the April 1930 General Conference, Elder Melvin J. Ballard referenced the achievements outlined in the 1930 Statement and then made this prophetic statement:
I believe we are at the dawn of far more glorious things than have ever been known in the history of all the glorious past.Read More: https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/1999-04-17/bookends-of-decade-depression-war-123874
In a special series for the Ensign, Arnold K. Garr outlined some of the events preceding the restoration of the Gospel in this dispensation. In speaking of the Puritans who came to North America and set the foundation for the United States Constitution, he quoted from the 1930 Statement and from President Ezra Taft Benson, who said:
The Pilgrims of Plymouth, the Calverts of Maryland, Roger Williams, William Penn—all had deep religious convictions that played a principal part in their coming to the New World. They too, I believe, came here under the inspiration of heaven.Read More: https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1999/06/preparing-for-the-restoration.html?lang=eng#series_title1
The 1930 Statement fits into a pattern of modern prophets and apostles affirming the “God-given system of government” found in the United States Constitution. As Roy A. Prete wrote:
The celebration of the rise of freedom in the United States has long been an official part of the heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Read more: https://rsc.byu.edu/window-faith/merging-secular-spiritual
In the first General Conference held in the newly completed Conference Center, Elder L. Tom Perry spoke of the way the Lord blesses us with technology to further His work. He made a connection between the First Presidency’s comments in the 1930 Statement on technological advances of the last two centuries and the technology available to us now:
...President Grant began by bearing his testimony of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then he went on to emphasize some of the great scientific knowledge, inventions, and industrial developments that have harnessed the forces of the universe and been adapted for the comfort and convenience of men… Technology has blessed us with many new innovations to spread the message of the gospel through satellite systems, our own network Web site, television, radio, as well as the written text in our magazines and newspaper. All of these add to our delivery systems, which greatly increase our ability to receive the messages that are delivered.Read more: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2000/04/thou-shalt-give-heed-unto-all-his-words?lang=eng
In the Teachings of the Presidents Manual: Heber J. Grant manual, there are several references to the 1930 statement. These teachings were selected because of their relevance to Church members today. One such example includes this teaching about the First Vision:
Looking backward to the organization of the Church, which occurred under the most humble and, to the world, obscure circumstances, and following its history through persecution, poverty, and distress, can it be denied that a great and marvelous work has been accomplished, that the promises of the Lord have been fulfilled, and his power to accomplish that to which he sets his hand to do [has been] manifested?Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-2?lang=eng
In his twenty-six years of service as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Heber J. Grant spoke of the First Vision frequently. In the 1920’s, he referred to the First Vision in General Conference more times than any President of the Church ever has in a single decade. This emphasis certainly would have primed the Saints for the 1930 Statement. Of course, President Grant’s influence doesn’t stop there. In 2020, as the Church prepared for a historic april General Conference, the Church News “gathered statements from each president about the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” noting that, “In the 200 years since God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in upstate New York, [only] 17 men have served as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. Of all the statements President Grant had made about the First Vision, the one selected by the Church News came from the 1930 Statement:
The glory of the Lord overshadowed Joseph Smith, and God himself, in the glory and majesty of his person, with his Only Begotten Son, Jehovah, revealed himself in vision, and with his own voice designated Joseph Smith to be the instrument through whom the greatest gospel dispensation of the ages was to be ushered in.
There was nothing of ostentation, pageantry or dramatic display; it was a simple, solemn occasion, superlatively glorious and impressive beyond expression.
The voice of the Lord, which had been silent for ages, was heard again. Again that divine message, so oft repeated, was delivered: “This is my Beloved Son. Hear him!” The personality of the Father and his Only Begotten Son was again revealed that mankind may know them as they are.
[Note: According to one report in the Iron County Record (Cedar City, Utah), the 1930 Statement was to be translated into “a score of languages” (April 2, 1930, p. 6). Researchers on this project have searched diligently to find as many versions of the 1930 Statement as are available digitally. Unfortunately, not many of these translations appear to be extant. Additional versions of this 1930 Statement in other languages may be submitted to the BYU-Idaho McKay Library, Special Collections.]
[Featured version] This version of the 1930 Statement was prepared by the First Presidency in preparation for the centennial commemoration of the organization of the Church on April 6, 1830:
The 1930 Statement was read for the first time in public on April 6, 1930, at the 100th Annual General Conference of the Church:
Read in English-speaking congregations in Europe on April 6, 1930, the Statement was subsequently published in the Millennial Star on April 10, 1930, pp. 289-300:
The 1930 Statement was reprinted in the April 1930 issue of The Instructor on pp. 209-218:
The 1930 Statement was translated into Dutch and published in De Ster on April 15, 1930, pp. 121-145:
The 1930 Statement was reprinted in the May 1930 issue of the Improvement Era on pp. 453-458:
The 1930 Statement was included as an appendix in B.H. Roberts’ A comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 6, pp. 559-573. This was fitting since Roberts’ monumental historical work was published in 1930 during the year-long centennial celebration of the organization of the Church.
The 1930 Statement can also be found in Clark, James R. (1971), Messages of the First Presidency, 5:274-286.