Mormonism in the 20th century

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This is a timeline of major events in Mormonism in the 20th century.



  • January 25: The U.S. Congress votes to not admit B. H. Roberts, who had been denied a seat since being elected in 1898, because of his practice of polygamy.[1]
  • April 19: Reed Smoot is ordained an apostle.


Joseph F. Smith became LDS Church president.



  • January: Reed Smoot, an apostle, is elected by the state legislature to the 58th congress as a U.S. Senator. Controversy over his election arises immediately.
  • February: Despite allegations and controversy, Reed Smoot is allowed to be seated in the Senate.
  • March: Reed Smoot takes the senatorial oath and formally becomes a member of the senate.
  • October 15: Brigham Young Academy becomes Brigham Young University.[9]
  • November 5: The LDS Church acquires Carthage Jail, to be used as a historic site.[3][10]
  • Samoan edition of the Book of Mormon.


LDS Church president Joseph F. Smith testified before congress at the Reed Smoot Hearings.
  • January – Reed Smoot submits carefully prepared rebuttals to allegations against him and his church.
  • March – The Reed Smoot Hearings begin, evaluating whether Reed Smoot should be allowed to be a senator.
  • April 6 – Joseph F. Smith issues the "Second Manifesto", which reinforces the 1890 Manifesto and prescribes excommunication for those who continued to practice plural marriage.
  • April 14 - The LDS Church purchases 25 acres in Independence, Missouri, originally part of the 63-acre Temple Lot from 1831. Church leaders intended this to be the site for a temple in Zion, fulfilling a prophecy of Joseph Smith.[10]




Reed Smoot remained a senator for 30 years.
  • January 10: The LDS Church becomes debt-free.[3]
  • February 20: After more than two years of hearings, the Smoot Hearings are resolved by a vote. The republican majority overturns objections to his seating. Reed Smoot serves another 26 years.
  • June: The Smith Family Farm is acquired for the LDS Church.[3]
  • December 7: Charles W. Nibley becomes the Presiding Bishop and brings financial reforms, including tithing payments only in cash, no longer taking donations in kind.[3]
  • December 14: Converts in Europe are advised to remain in their home countries instead of gathering to Utah.[11]
  • Zion's Printing and Publishing Company is started at Independence, Missouri by the LDS Church.[3]


  • April 8: The General Priesthood Committee is created.[3]
  • October: A financial auditing report is presented at General Conference for the first time.[12]


  • November: The First Presidency issues an official statement regarding questions concerning the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution and the origin of man.
  • LDS Church purchased property in Far West, Missouri, including the former temple lot.[3]
  • LDS priesthood meetings begin to be held weekly.[3]
  • Japanese translation of Book of Mormon, the first in an east Asian language.




John W. Taylor was excommunicated for violating the Second Manifesto.
Publicity for A Victim of the Mormons, which ushered in a number of sensationalist anti-Mormon films.



MIA Scouts in front of the Church Administration Building.



  • June 30: "The Father and the Son", an official declaration from the First Presidency, discusses the identities of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.[3]



Heber J. Grant became LDS Church president.




  • December 2: Apostle David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon, editor of the Improvement Era, are set apart for a year-long tour of LDS missions and schools across the world.[21] As the most widely traveled general authority,[22] McKay retains a vision for worldwide church growth.[23]
  • The LDS Church closes its system of academies.[3]


  • Lectures on Faith removed from Standard Works.
  • New programs for young adults are created, called M-Men and Gleaners.[3]
  • Joseph Fielding Smith's Essentials in Church History is published, an influential book of devotional LDS history that remained in print for more than 50 years.[24]






Arizona Temple





Stage of the pageant on the Hill Cumorah




  • April 2: A new emphasis is placed on Word of Wisdom observance, especially in tobacco abstinence.[3]






  • August 8: J. Reuben Clark calls for church educators to focus on building students' faith in his speech "The Charted Course of the Church in Education", which became a classic text influencing the mission of CES.[34]
  • August 14: Deseret Industries is started.[3]
  • November: The Genealogical Society of Utah (now called FamilySearch) begins to microfilm records of genealogical data.[3] This grew into a massive collection from around the world, which is being digitized today.
  • Local church education boards are replaced by the new General Church Board of Education.[3]



Richard R. Lyman, the most recent apostle of the LDS Church to have been excommunicated.




  • April: Because of war-time travel restrictions, General Conference was limited to certain priesthood leaders in the Assembly Hall, and not the general public.[12][20]
  • May: The Improvement Era begins devoting an issue for each General Conference, publishing all the talks.[20]
  • October: The LDS Servicemen's Committee is created, headed by Apostle Harold B. Lee.[3]
  • October: Helmuth Hübener, a German Latter-day Saint is the youngest opponent of the Third Reich to be sentenced to death by the infamous Special People's Court (Volksgerichtshof) and executed.[35]
  • The first time an evening meeting of General Conference is held.[12]


  • LDS Church apostle Richard R. Lyman was discovered to be cohabitating with a woman other than his legal wife, in a relationship that he defined as a polygamous marriage. Lyman was excommunicated on November 12, 1943 at age 73, on grounds of a violation of the law of chastity, which any practice of post-Second Manifesto polygamy constituted. He was later rebaptized and died in the church. He is the most recent apostle to be excommunicated.
  • 1943 October 7: Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson are ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.






  • George Albert Smith is said to have petitioned the Lord to lift the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood. He claims he is denied. The ban was not lifted until 1978.


  • October: The first public broadcast of General Conference on television.[3] Conference talks are given time limits for the first time, to fit with broadcast station timetables.[12]






The schoolhouse where the Short Creek raid took place.


Leroy S. Johnson's fundamentalist Mormon followers would become the FLDS Church.






  • BYU Studies, a journal for LDS scholars, commences publication.


Entrance to The Polynesian Cultural Center.












Millennial Star





  • February: Agricultural missionary work is introduced in South America.[3]
  • April 7: The Welfare Services Department is created by the Priesthood Correlation Program, combining existing services, including the Welfare Program.[3]
  • June : The Plan, a concept album by the Osmonds is released. Although it is not one of their more successful albums, it explicitly deals with Mormon theology, including the plan of salvation.
  • December 26: After serving for little more than a year as president, Harold B. Lee dies.
  • December 30: Spencer W. Kimball becomes the 12th president of the LDS Church.


Washington D.C. Temple as seen from the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway




  • April: General Conference is reduced from 3 days down to 2 days, and moves from April 6 to the first Sunday in April and October.[12]
  • May 14: The title Young Men is adopted for the Aaronic priesthood program.[3]
  • September 19: The Mormon sex in chains case becomes a major scandal in the UK, after a missionary is abducted in Surrey. The coverage was extensive in part because the case was considered so anomalous, involving as it did the issue of rape of a man by a woman.


  • March 31: Stake conferences are changed from quarterly to semiannual.[3]
  • April 1: The name extraction program is announced for local members to identify deceased persons from vital records and prepare their names for proxy temple ordinances.[68][69]
  • June 1: Spencer W. Kimball receives confirmation and revelation after supplicating the Lord regarding blacks and the priesthood. Moved by the exceeding faith of the Genesis Group, and moved by the dedication and perseverance of the mulattos in Brazil in building the São Paulo Brazil Temple, he takes the matter before the Lord, as many previous presidents of the church have done.
  • June 9: Spencer W. Kimball, after receiving the revelation, and discussing the matter with the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Quorum of the Seventy, announces that the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood has been lifted, and all males may receive the priesthood according to their worthiness, regardless of race. Despite previous understanding that blacks were not to receive the priesthood until the millennium, the members of the church receive the announcement with jubilation and it gains worldwide press attention.
  • June 23: Joseph Freeman, Jr., 26, the first black man to gain the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, went in the Salt Lake Temple with his wife and 5 sons for sacred ordinances. Thomas S. Monson, a member of the church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles, conducted the marriage and sealing ordinances. This event shows that blacks not only are able to gain the priesthood, but are able to interracially marry in the temple with the church's blessing. (Salt Lake Tribune, June 24, 1978)
  • June 30: Spencer W. Kimball dedicates the Monument to Women Memorial Garden in Nauvoo, Illinois.[70]
  • August 19: Delbert L. Stapley dies.
  • September 9: The Missionary Training Center opens in Provo, Utah, replacing the Language Training Mission and also the Mission Home in Salt Lake City.[64]
  • September 17: Battlestar Galactica first airs on American television. It is produced by church member Glen A. Larson, and he incorporated many themes from Mormon theology into the shows.
  • September 30: N. Eldon Tanner reads Official Declaration—2 in General Conference, and it is unanimously adopted as the word and will of the Lord. This is the declaration released publicly earlier in 1978, allowing blacks to receive the priesthood.
  • September 30: General authority emeritus status is introduced for those above age 70, with the exception of the First Presidency and the Apostles.[3]
  • October 1: James E. Faust is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • October 30: São Paulo Brazil Temple opened, the first in South America, Latin America and in Brazil.
  • Gospel Principles, an official church lesson manual, is released.
  • LDS Church membership surpasses four million.[71]






  • April 2: Local congregations are now only required to fund 4% of building their new meetinghouses, with the remaining 96% paid by the LDS Church's general fund.[3]
  • June 1: Ground broken for construction of the Triad Center on June 1, 1982 by Essam Khashoggi, chairman of Triad America.
  • October 3: The subtitle Another Testament of Jesus Christ is added to the LDS Church's recently revised edition of the Book of Mormon.[64]
  • October 30: The Grandin Print Shop opens as an LDS historic site in Palmyra, New York.[3]
  • November 27: N. Eldon Tanner dies. Consequently, Marion G. Romney is named as First Counselor, and Gordon B. Hinckley is named as Second Counselor.
  • December 31: The God Makers, an anti-Mormon film by Ed Decker, is premiered, finding screenings in evangelical Christian churches. Its popularity results in books and sequels, and impacts public perception of the LDS Church, although its claims and tone are strongly criticized, even by opponents of the church, for misrepresenting or defaming Mormonism.
  • LDS Church membership surpasses five million.[76]





  • October: The general women's meeting is first held, and would continue on the Saturday before General Conference.[12]
  • October 4: Stake quorums of Seventy are dissolved.[3]
  • October 9: Joseph B. Wirthlin is ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • Arabic edition of Book of Mormon.
  • Protests against BYU president in Jerusalem by Jewish groups, shouting slogans such as "Conversion is Murder!" and "Mormons, stop your mission now".



  • May 15: A stake is created at Aba, Nigeria, the first in West Africa.[3]
  • May 20: Marion G. Romney, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dies.
  • August: The 100 millionth proxy temple endowment for the dead is performed.[3]
  • October: The General Conference at this time marks the point at which women would be included as speakers in every General Conference going forward.[12]
  • October 1: Richard G. Scott is sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  • Hebrew edition of Book of Mormon, later withdrawn.




  • March 31: Helvécio Martins becomes first black general authority.
  • April 2: The release of FamilySearch software, which allows Family History Centers to access the church's genealogical resources on CD-ROM.[93]
  • April: Wording of endowment and temple ceremony altered, and wording changed to remove penalty oaths.
  • November 20: Costs are equalized for all missionaries, so all pay the same amount regardless of where they are serving, effective January 1, 1991.[94]




The San Diego California Temple is dedicated.


Howard W. Hunter becomes President of the Church.


Gordon B. Hinckley becomes LDS Church president.


The Hong Kong China Temple is dedicated.


Reenactments celebrate the Utah pioneer sesquicentennial.


The Monticello Utah Temple was the first of the new, small design.


The Salt Lake City Tornado of 1999 rips through downtown

See also[edit]


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  1. ^ Saturday/Sunday Bulletin World Conference 2019, pp.15-16