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Lorenzo Snow

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5th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
September 13, 1898 (1898-09-13) – October 10, 1901 (1901-10-10)
PredecessorWilford Woodruff
SuccessorJoseph F. Smith
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 7, 1889 (1889-04-07) – September 13, 1898 (1898-09-13)
PredecessorWilford Woodruff
SuccessorFranklin D. Richards
End reasonBecame President of the Church
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29) – September 13, 1898 (1898-09-13)
End reasonBecame President of the Church
Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
May 9, 1874 (1874-05-09) – August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29)
Called byBrigham Young
End reasonDissolution of First Presidency upon death of Brigham Young
Counselor in the First Presidency
June 8, 1873 (1873-06-08) – May 9, 1874 (1874-05-09)
Called byBrigham Young
End reasonCalled as Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 12, 1849 (1849-02-12) – June 8, 1873 (1873-06-08)
Called byBrigham Young
End reasonCalled as Counselor in the First Presidency
LDS ChurchApostle
February 12, 1849 (1849-02-12) – October 10, 1901 (1901-10-10)
Called byBrigham Young
ReasonReorganization of First Presidency; excommunication of Lyman Wight[1]
at end of term
Hyrum M. Smith ordained
Personal details
Born(1814-04-03)April 3, 1814
Mantua, Ohio, United States
DiedOctober 10, 1901(1901-10-10) (aged 87)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting placeBrigham City Cemetery
41°30′10″N112°00′28″W / 41.5028°N 112.0078°W / 41.5028; -112.0078 (Brigham City Cemetery)
Spouse(s)Charlotte Squires
Mary Adaline Goddard
Sarah Ann Prichard
Harriet Amelia Squires
Eleanor Houtz
Caroline Horton
Mary Elizabeth Houtz
Phoebe Amelia Woodruff
Sarah Minnie Ephramina Jensen

Lorenzo Snow (April 3, 1814 – October 10, 1901) was an American religious leader who served as the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1898 to his death. Snow was the last president of the LDS Church in the nineteenth century and the first in the twentieth.


Snow was the fifth child and first son of Oliver Snow (September 18, 1775, Massachusetts – October 17, 1845, Illinois) and Rosetta L. Pettibone (October 22, 1778, Connecticut – October 12, 1846, Illinois), residents of Mantua Township, Ohio, who had left New England to settle on a new and fertile farm in the Connecticut Western Reserve. Lorenzo had siblings Leonora Abigail Snow (1801–1872), Eliza R. Snow (1804–1887), Percy Amanda Snow (1808–1848), Melissa Snow (1810–1835), Lucius Augustus Snow (born 1819), and Samuel Pearce Snow (born 1821).

Despite the labor required on the farm, the Snow family valued learning and saw that each child had educational opportunities. Snow received his final year of education at Oberlin College, which was founded by two Presbyterian ministers. Snow later made his living as a school teacher when not engaged in church service.

Introduction to Mormonism[edit]

In 1831, Joseph Smith, the Latter Day Saintprophet, took up residence in Hiram, Ohio, four miles from the Snow farm. The Snow family was Baptist, but soon took a strong interest in the new religious movement. Snow recorded that he heard the Book of Mormon being read aloud in his home in Mantua and met Smith at Hiram in 1831. By 1835, Snow's mother and his older sister Eliza, had joined the Latter Day Saint church. Eliza soon moved to the church headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio, and worked as a school teacher. She, in her biography of Snow, claims to have fostered his interest in Mormonism while he was at Oberlin. Eliza invited Snow to visit her and attend a school of Hebrew newly established by the church. During his visit there, in June 1836, Snow was baptized by John F. Boynton, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Early church service[edit]

While living in Kirtland in 1837, Snow was called to serve a short mission in Ohio, traveling "without purse or scrip." He recorded that relying on the kindness of others for his meals and lodging was difficult for him, as he had always had sufficient means to care for himself. When he returned to Kirtland in 1838, Snow found Smith's followers in turmoil over the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society. Snow and the members of his extended family chose to move to Missouri in the summer of 1838 and join the Latter Day Saints settling near Far West. Snow became seriously ill with a fever, and was nursed for several weeks by his sister Eliza.

On his recovery, Snow left for a second mission to Illinois and Kentucky in the fall of 1838. He served there through February 1839, when he learned that the Latter Day Saints had been expelled from their settlements in Missouri. He traveled home by way of his former mission area in Ohio. He was again taken ill and was cared for by members of the church. He remained in Ohio, preaching and working with church members until the fall of 1839. During the school year of 1839–40, Snow taught in Shalersville, Ohio. He sent money to his family, which had by then settled in Nauvoo, Illinois; he joined them in May 1840.

Shortly after he arrived in Nauvoo, Snow was asked to serve a mission in England. After an unpleasant sea voyage from New York City, Snow met with some of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve who had opened the British Mission in 1839, including Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Parley P. Pratt. Snow worked briefly in the Manchester area, and had success in Birmingham, where he baptized people in Greet's Green and organized a branch in Wolverhampton. Snow was assigned to preside over church members in London. During his administration, church membership in the city increased from approximately 100 to 400 members. He was released from his mission by Pratt, who by then was president of an expanding European Mission. Snow arrived home on April 12, 1843, and was accompanied by a shipload of 250 British converts.

After visiting with his family, Snow again secured a teaching position for the winter, teaching at Lima, Illinois, thirty miles from Nauvoo. In late spring 1844, he returned to Ohio, preaching and baptizing new converts and distributing recent church publications to members. He was working in Cincinnati, Ohio, when he learned of the assassination of Joseph Smith. Snow closed his Ohio mission and promptly returned to Nauvoo.

During the period of disorganization and schism that followed Smith's death, Snow chose to follow the Quorum of the Twelve under Brigham Young. In 1845, Snow was involved in work in the Nauvoo Temple.

Wives and children[edit]

Before leaving Nauvoo, Snow accepted the principle of plural marriage and took two wives. Later, he took seven more.

  • Charlotte Squires (19 November 1825 Ohio – 25 September 1850). Married October 1844.
    • Leonora Charlotte Snow (23 January 1847 – June 1847)
    • Roxcy Armatha Snow (14 December 1849 – 9 July 1931)
  • Mary Adaline Goddard (8 March 1812 Connecticut – 28 December 1898). Married 1845.
    • Rosetta Adaline Snow (7 November 1846 – 1 January 1933)
    • Oliver Goddard Snow (20 February 1849 – 13 August 1931)
    • Isadore Percy Snow (24 February 1855 – 1 May 1925)
  • Sarah Ann Prichard (29 November 1826 Ohio – 30 November 1900). Married 21 April 1845.
    • Eliza Sarah Snow (30 November 1847 – 5 October 1937)
    • Sylvia Snow (16 January 1850 – 2 January 1934)
    • Lorenzo Snow, Jr. (7 July 1853 – 26 August 1942)
    • Parinthia Snow (5 October 1855 – 23 November 1933)
    • Laurin Alvirus Erastus Snow (2 December 1863 – 22 April 1947)
  • Harriet Amelia Squires (13 September 1819 Ohio – 12 May 1890). Married 17 January 1846.
    • Abigail Harriet Snow (16 July 1847 – 9 May 1914)
    • Lucius Aaron Snow (11 December 1849 – 3 October 1921)
    • Amelia Herrietta Snow (15 February 1854 – 30 October 1854)
    • Alonzo Henry Snow (15 February 1854 – 1 November 1854)
    • Celestia Armeda Snow (2 December 1856 – 13 March 1938)
  • Eleanor Houtz (14 August 1831 Pennsylvania – 13 September 1896). Married 1848.
    • Amanda Eleanor Snow (19 April 1850 – 21 October 1850)
    • Ida Snow (2 January 1854 – 15 January 1923)
    • Eugenia Snow (5 July 1856 – 13 January 1946)
    • Alphonzo Houtz Snow (13 October 1858 – 22 February 1933)
    • Susan Imogene Snow (4 May 1861 – 16 October 1864)
    • Roxcy Lana Snow (22 October 1863 – 17 July 1951)
    • Hortensia Snow (17 July 1867 – 17 January 1931)
    • Chauncey Edgar Snow (8 July 1870 – 1 February 1940)
  • Caroline Horton (25 December 1828 England – 21 February 1857). Married 9 October 1853.
    • Clarissa Caroline Snow (19 July 1854 – 15 October 1917)
    • Franklin Horton Snow (3 February 1857 – 2 January 1939)
    • Sarah Augusta Snow (3 February 1857 – 17 February 1857)
  • Mary Elizabeth Houtz (19 May 1840 Pennsylvania – 31 May 1906). Married 1857.
    • Lydia May Snow (21 Jan 1860 – 22 December 1898)
    • Jacob E. Fitzroy Snow (31 October 1862 – 2 December 1862)
    • Virginia Marian Snow (30 January 1864 – 30 March 1951)
    • Mansfield Lorenzo Snow (8 September 1866 – 26 October 1923)
    • Mortimer Joseph Snow (19 November 1868 – 20 June 1935)
    • Flora Bell Birdie Snow (19 July 1871 – 23 February 1950)
  • Phoebe Amelia Woodruff (4 March 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois – 15 February 1919). Married 4 April 1859. Phoebe was the daughter of Wilford Woodruff.
    • Mary Amanda Snow (4 September 1860 – 6 September 1860)
    • Leslie Woodruff Snow (6 February 1862 – 28 November 1935)
    • Orion Woodruff Snow (6 September 1866 – 7 March 1939)
    • Milton Woodruff Snow (7 February 1868 – 24 January 1943)
    • Phoebe Augusta Florence Snow (7 August 1870 – 6 February 1964)
  • Sarah Minnie Ephramina Jensen
    • Le Roi Clarence Snow (28 August 1876 – 31 December 1962)
    • Minnie Mabelle Snow (23 May 1879 – 3 December 1962)
    • Cora Jean Snow (16 February 1883 – 11 August 1883)
    • Lorenzo Lamont Snow (26 August 1885 – 7 May 1954)
    • Rhea Lucile Snow (5 November 1896 – 9 July 1976)

Migration to Utah[edit]

Snow and his family, with wagons and livestock, joined a group of emigrants and moved across the Mississippi River into Iowa in February 1846. On the way west, Snow again became ill and the family stopped at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. Three Snow children were born at the Mormon refugee settlement, but none of them survived. Snow was called to preside over the church organization in Mt. Pisgah and actively raised money to assist the bands of emigrants in their move west. The Snow family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1848.

Call to the Twelve and missions abroad[edit]

In 1849, Snow was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was added to the Quorum on the same day as Franklin D. Richards, Erastus Snow (a distant cousin), and Charles C. Rich. They were called to fill vacancies caused by the re-establishment of the First Presidency and Lyman Wight's apostasy.

Shortly after his call to the Twelve, Snow left on a mission to Italy and French-speakingSwitzerland. He later sent missionaries under his direction to India (1849–52). Snow was directly involved in missionary work in Italy and Switzerland, and also preached in Malta. He had planned to visit India, but various circumstances prevented this journey.

Snow began his mission in Italy among the Waldensians, an ancient sect of Christians who inhabited the Piedmont Valleys in the Alps. (Waldensianism predates the Reformation by several hundred years and is completely separate from Catholicism.) Snow and his companions Joseph Toronto, Thomas Stenhouse, and Jabez Woodard initially had very little success in converting the Waldensians to Mormonism. However, after healing a three-year-old boy named Joseph Gay, they began to find converts. In the end, more than 150 Waldensians converted to Mormonism, and 70 eventually emigrated to Utah. [2][3][4][5]

In 1850, Snow wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Voice of Joseph" to advance missionary work in the Italian mission. He was unable to find anyone in Italy to translate it so sent it to Orson Pratt, then the president of the British Mission, who eventually found someone in Paris to translate it. In 1851, Snow published a pamphlet entitled "The Italian Mission"[6] about the church's missionary efforts in Italy. It was published in London.

In January 1851, Snow went to England and found a person there whom he hired to translate the Book of Mormon into Italian.[7]

The efforts of missionaries under Snow, especially the ones he sent to Turin, inspired an article attacking the Mormon missionaries for undermining the Roman Catholic Church in the Turinese paper, L'Armonia. Snow and his successors were unsuccessful, winning fewer than 200 converts all of whom had either emigrated or were excommunicated by the time the mission closed in 1867, in no small part because of Italian laws that circumscribed publication of non-Catholic religious materials.[8]

Activities in Utah[edit]

On his return to Utah Territory, Snow founded a society called the Polysophical Society to conduct study into the various aspects of human knowledge. He encouraged church members of all ages to join and some view this organization as a predecessor of the church's Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association.

In 1853, under the direction of church president Brigham Young, Snow brought additional settlers to Brigham City, Utah. Settlement had begun on a limited scale at this site under the name "Box Elder." Snow changed the name and moved the community towards living up to its name. He was also a key backer of the Brigham City Cooperative, which was the inspiration for ZCMI and other cooperatives.

In 1864, Snow was sent on a mission to the Sandwich Islands. He went on this mission with Ezra T. Benson and Joseph F. Smith. The mission was prompted by messages from Jonatana Napela and other Hawaiian church members about the irregular administration of the church by Walter M. Gibson. While in Hawaii, Snow was seriously injured but was healed through the ministration of holders of the priesthood.[9]

Snow tacitly helped engineer the 1901 election of Thomas Kearns, his friend and a wealthy Catholic, to the United States Senate. Though this was criticized at the time and subsequently, the election of a non-Mormon may have helped Utah retain its statehood,[10][11] and contributed to a detante between the LDS Church and the non-Mormon journal the Salt Lake Tribune.[12]

Political offices[edit]

Snow was first elected to the Utah Territorial Council, the upper house of the territorial legislature, in 1855. Originally, he represented Weber County along with Lorin Farr. At that point, Weber County encompassed all of Utah north of Davis County. By 1857, Box Elder County, Cache County and the short-lived Malad County were added to the area Snow and Farr represented. In 1863, Weber and Box Elder Counties were broken off from Cache County (Malad County was by then defunct) and made a single-representative district, with Snow remaining as their lone council member. (Ezra T. Benson had replaced Farr as the other councilor in 1861; he was a resident of Cache County and remained the other councilor after the district was split.) In 1872, Snow became the president of the council. He held this position for through the end of 1881. In 1882, Snow remained a member of the council but he was succeeded as its president by Joseph F. Smith. In 1884, Snow was succeeded as a member of the council by Franklin S. Richards.[13]

Other activities[edit]

Activities in Idaho[edit]

As the church expanded into the surrounding states, members of the Quorum of the Twelve would be sent to other states of assignment.

In 1888, Snow went to Rexburg, Idaho, where he told the leaders of the stake that Karl G. Maeser had been appointed Commissioner of Church Education and recommended that they form a stake academy. The local leaders followed Snow's instructions and the institution they formed eventually evolved into Brigham Young University–Idaho,[15] formerly known as Ricks College.

Snow in the U.S. Supreme Court[edit]

Snow was the subject of a United States Supreme Court case regarding polygamy prosecutions under the Edmunds Act. In late 1885, Snow was indicted by a federal grand jury for three counts of unlawful cohabitation. According to his indictments, Snow had lived with more than one woman for three years. The jury delivered one indictment for each of these years, and Snow was convicted on each count. After conviction, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court which convicted him. The petition was denied, but federal law guaranteed him an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. In Ex Parte Snow,[16] the Supreme Court invalidated Snow's second and third convictions for unlawful cohabitation. It found that unlawful cohabitation was a "continuing offense," and thus that Snow was at most guilty of one such offense for cohabiting continuously with more than one woman for three years.


The first notable action of Snow as president of the church was that he organized the First Presidency almost immediately after Wilford Woodruff's death, rather than waiting years as his predecessors had.

As he began his tenure as president, Snow had to deal with the aftermath of legal battles with the United States over the practice of plural marriage. Men engaging in plural marriage were still being arrested and confined in Utah. Some members of the LDS Church did not accept the 1890 Manifesto put forth by Woodruff, and there was a strong division of opinion on plural marriage even in the priesthood hierarchy of the church.

The LDS Church was also in severe financial difficulties, some of which were related to the legal problems over plural marriage. Snow approached this problem first by issuing short term bonds with a total value of one million dollars. This was followed by emphatic teaching on tithing. It was during Snow's presidency that the LDS Church adopted the principle of tithing—being interpreted as the payment of 10 percent of one's income—as a hallmark of membership. In 1899, Snow gave an address at the St. George Tabernacle in St. George, imploring the Latter-day Saints to pay tithes of corn, money or whatever they had in order to have sufficient rain.[17] Eventually, it rained in southern Utah.[17] For the remainder of his tenure, Snow emphasized tithing in his sermons and public appearances.[17] By April 1907, the members' practice of paying tithing had eliminated the church's debt.[17]

On March 31, 1900, Snow, along with the First Presidency, changed the policy of presidential succession.[18] Under the then-existing rules of presidential succession in the church, John Willard Young would have become the President of the Church when Snow died, as Snow was the only living person who had been ordained an apostle prior to Young.[19] Snow was 85 years old and in poor health, so it appeared to many that Young would be the next president of the church. However, many of the general authorities of the church felt that Young's succession to the presidency would be a disaster for the church.[19] Under the new policy, the new president of the church would no longer be the person who had been an ordained apostle the longest; rather, the new president of the church would be the person who had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the longest period of time.[18] Since Young had never been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he could not become the president of the church if Snow died. On April 5, 1900, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve unanimously approved the new policy.[20]

Snow died of pneumonia in Salt Lake City, and was succeeded in the church presidency by Joseph F. Smith.

LDS doctrine and teachings[edit]

Snow is credited with succinctly summarizing the LDS doctrines of exaltation and eternal progression, in his often repeated couplet: "As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be."[21][22]

Snow's teachings as an apostle were the 2013 course of study in the LDS Church's Sunday Relief Society and Melchizedek priesthood classes.

Portrayal in film[edit]

The role of Snow was played by Francis L. Urry in the LDS Church-made film The Windows of Heaven.



  • James B. Allen; Glen M. Leonard (1976). The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Deseret Book Company. ISBN 0-87747-594-6. 
  • Beecher, Maureen Ursenbach; Paul Thomas Smith (1992). "Lorenzo Snow". In Daniel H. Ludlow. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Macmillan. Retrieved 2009-02-26. 
  • Daniel H. Ludlow, ed. (1995). Church History: Selections from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Deseret Book Company. ISBN 0-87579-924-8. 
  • "Lorenzo Snow". Presidents of the Church: 'They that Move the Cause of Zion'. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dept. of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. 1979. 
  • Nibley, Preston (1974). The Presidents of the Church. Deseret Book Company. ISBN 0-87747-414-1. 
  • Smith, Joseph Fielding (1964). Essentials in Church History. Deseret Book Company. 
  • Snow, Eliza R. (1999) [reprint]. Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
  • Snow, Lorenzo (1984). The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Fifth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. compiled by Clyde J. Williams. Bookcraft, Inc. 
  • Compton, Todd (Winter 2002), "John Willard Young, Brigham Young, and the Development of Presidential Succession in the LDS Church"(PDF), Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 35 (4): 111–134 .

External links[edit]

This audio file was created from a revision of the article "Lorenzo Snow" dated 2007-05-29, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)

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Works written by or about Lorenzo Snow at Wikisource

  1. ^Snow, Charles C. Rich, Erastus Snow, and Franklin D. Richards were ordained on the same day to fill four vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  2. ^Mormon Historic Sites Foundation
  3. ^Maxwell Institute For Religious Scholarship BYU
  4. ^Diane, Stokoe, (1 January 1985). "The Mormon Waldensians". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  5. ^Christianity Today Library
  6. ^
  7. ^Il Libro di Mormon: Anticipating Growth Beyond Italy's Waldensian Valleys - Maxwell Institute JBMSArchived 2007-08-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^Homer, Michael W. (Spring 1996). "LDS Prospects in Italy for the Twenty-first Century"(PDF). Dialogue. 29 (1): 139–158. , esp. fn 4
  9. ^See Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow.[full citation needed]
  10. ^Malmquist, O.N. (1971) The First 100 Years of the Salt Lake Tribune.
  11. ^See also entry in Utah History Encyclopedia
  12. ^Paulos, Michael Harold (Fall 2011). "Opposing the "High Ecclesiasts at Washington": Frank J. Cannon's Editorial Fusillades during the Reed Smoot Hearings, 1903–07". Journal of Mormon History. 37 (4): 1–59. 
  13. ^Utah State Archives list of Utah Territorial Legislature members
  14. ^[1]
  15. ^Public Relations Office – BYU–Idaho
  16. ^120U.S.274 (1887)
  17. ^ abcd"Chapter 12: Tithing, a Law for Our Protection and Advancement", Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2011).
  18. ^ abCompton 2002, p. 127
  19. ^ abCompton 2002, p. 126
  20. ^Compton 2002, pp. 128–129
  21. ^Lund, Gerald N. (February 1982), "I Have a Question: Is President Lorenzo Snow's oft-repeated statement—"As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be"—accepted as official doctrine by the Church?", Ensign 
  22. ^Millet, Robert L.; Reynolds, Noel B. (1998), "Do Latter-day Saints believe that men and women can become gods?", Latter-day Christianity: 10 Basic Issues, Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, ISBN 0934893322, OCLC 39732987,  

Invite a child to give the opening prayer.

Attention Activity

Give a gift box drawing to each child (or refer to the gift boxes you have drawn on the chalkboard). Ask the children to imagine that inside each box is a blessing from Heavenly Father.

  • What blessings might we find inside these boxes?

Give each child a pencil and have him or her write on the gift box the name of a blessing Heavenly Father has given us. Have the children share their answers and display their boxes on the chalkboard, table, or floor. (If you have drawn the gift boxes on the chalkboard, have the children name some blessings out loud. As they do so, write a blessing inside each box on the chalkboard.)

  • What do we have to do to receive Heavenly Father’s blessings?

Accept the children’s answers, and then explain that one thing we must do is mentioned in Malachi 3:10. Have a child read aloud the first phrase of Malachi 3:10 (through storehouse) while the other children follow along in their Bibles. Explain to the children that in this lesson they will learn more about tithing and the blessings we receive from paying a full tithe.

Historical Accounts

Teach the children about the colonization of the Utah territory under the direction of Brigham Young, as described in the following historical accounts. Then help the children understand how paying tithing blessed the people in St. George during a serious drought and how tithing money enables the Church to carry out the Lord’s work. Emphasize how members of the Church are blessed individually and collectively when they pay a full tithe.

New Settlements Are Organized

During the Saints’ first ten years in Utah, Brigham Young organized approximately one hundred colonies (new settlements) throughout the Utah territory. Thousands of Church members were arriving each year, and they all needed places to live. President Young sent people to the north, south, east, and west of Salt Lake City to find and settle places where there was enough water, fertile soil, and other necessary resources and where the settlers would be safe from attacks by unfriendly Indians.

Brigham Young chose wise and capable men to lead these colonies. Bishops, presiding elders, and stake presidents supervised the building of towns as well as the development of wards and branches. When a new colony was to be created, often the families called to establish the colony found out about their callings when they heard President Young announce their names in general conference. Other times President Young chose leaders for the colony, and the leaders then found other families willing to move to the new colony with them. As Church members arrived in Utah from the East, they were usually assigned to live in one of the new settlements. They were often assigned a place to live depending on the skills they had. Each settlement needed a variety of workers, such as farmers, carpenters, brickmakers, butchers, bakers, and schoolteachers.

Not everyone was happy about moving to the new colonies, but the Saints were usually obedient and did as the prophet directed them. Once, all of the settlers in Nephi, Utah, had gathered to welcome President Young and other Church leaders to their town with bands, banners, and a pathway of evergreen boughs and flowers. The young women of the town were all dressed in white to meet the prophet. One of these young women was fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Claridge.

After eating a fine dinner in the homes of local residents, President Young and the other leaders conducted an afternoon meeting for all the Saints in Nephi. Near the end of the meeting President Young read some names of men called to move their families farther south and settle an area called “the Muddy.” The people did not know who would be called until President Young read the names. Samuel Claridge, Elizabeth’s father, was one of the men called. When Elizabeth heard her father’s name, she cried, because she did not want to move from her home. The father of the girl sitting next to Elizabeth was also called, and the girl said to Elizabeth, “What are you feeling so badly about? My father has been called, too, but you see that I am not crying because I know he won’t go.”

“That is just the difference,” Elizabeth answered. “My father is called and I know that he WILL GO: and that nothing can prevent him from going. He never fails to do anything when called upon; and badly as I feel about it I would be ashamed if he didn’t go.” Even though it was hard for Elizabeth to leave her home and friends, she knew her family would be blessed if her father obeyed the Lord and accepted this call to establish a new settlement. (See S. George Ellsworth, Samuel Claridge: Pioneering the Outposts of Zion, pp. 80–81.)

The Saints Build Tithing Houses

President Young wanted the Saints in the settlements to be able to take care of their own needs, so he instructed them to build tithing houses, or bishops’ storehouses, in each settlement. The Saints needed storehouses to hold the tithing because in those days most tithing was paid “in kind.” This means that instead of paying money, people paid their tithing with the goods they produced. For example, for every ten eggs a farmer’s chickens laid, the farmer brought one egg to the storehouse as his tithing. People brought food they had grown, animals they had raised, and goods they had made at home to the tithing houses. Many people also paid tithing with their labor, working one day out of every ten on various Church projects instead of their own work. About one-third of the tithing collected in each community was used to supply things needed by the Saints in the community, and the rest was sent to the general tithing office in Salt Lake City to be used for general Church needs.

One day Mary Fielding Smith, widow of Hyrum Smith, went to the tithing office in Salt Lake City to pay her tithing with a load of the best potatoes she had grown. One of the clerks at the tithing office scolded her, saying, “Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.” Mary replied: “William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold his blessings from me. I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper, and to be able to provide for my family.”

Joseph F. Smith, Mary’s son, recorded that Mary did prosper by obeying God’s commandments. The family always had enough to eat, and they developed strong testimonies too. Joseph F. related: “When William Thompson told my mother that she ought not to pay tithing, I thought he was one of the finest fellows in the world. … I had to work to dig and toil myself. I had to help plow the ground, plant the potatoes, hoe the potatoes, dig the potatoes, and all like duties, and then to load up a big wagon-box full of the very best we had, leaving out the poor ones, and bringing the load to the tithing office. I thought in my childish way that it looked a little hard, [especially] when I saw certain of my playmates … playing round, riding horses and having good times, and who scarcely ever did a lick of work in their lives. … Well, after I received a few years of experience, I was converted, I found that my mother was right and that William Thompson was wrong. … [Paying tithing] is a blessing that I enjoy, and I do not propose that anybody shall deprive me of that pleasure” (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 228–30).

Lorenzo Snow’s Revelation on Tithing

Over the years the settlements in Utah continued to progress. The telegraph was invented, making it easier for people to communicate with others in distant places. The railroad was built all across the United States, making it easier for people to travel and for the people in Utah to obtain supplies from more developed areas. The Church had problems with the United States government and with the American Indians in the Utah area, but all of these situations were eventually resolved. President John Taylor became President of the Church after Brigham Young died. He was followed by President Wilford Woodruff, who was followed by President Lorenzo Snow (show the picture of Lorenzo Snow).

When Lorenzo Snow became the fifth President of the Church, the Church was deeply in debt. It had been expensive for the Church to solve its problems with the government, and there was no longer enough money to pay for everything the Church needed. President Snow prayed earnestly to learn what he should do about this serious problem. His prayer was not answered immediately, but he did receive a feeling that he should visit St. George and other towns in southern Utah. He did not know why he should go to southern Utah, but he knew he must obey the promptings of the Holy Ghost. He and other Church leaders traveled to St. George by train and horse-drawn carriage.

At the time of President Snow’s visit, there had been no rain in southern Utah for months. As the Church leaders traveled south, President Snow noticed the dry earth and the thirsty plants and animals. Without rain the people in southern Utah did not know how they could grow crops to provide the food they needed to survive.

On 17 May 1899 President Snow spoke at a conference in St. George, Utah. During his talk, he suddenly paused. The room was still as everyone waited for him to speak. When he started talking again, his voice was strong, and the people could tell that he was speaking under the inspiration of the Lord. He said, “The word of the Lord is: The time has now come for every Latter-day Saint … to do the will of the Lord and to pay his tithing in full. That is the word of the Lord to you, and it will be the word of the Lord to every settlement throughout the land of Zion” (quoted in LeRoi C. Snow, “The Lord’s Way Out of Bondage,” p. 439).

President Snow told the Saints that the Lord was displeased with them because they had not been paying their tithing. He promised the people that if they paid their tithing, rain would fall and they would be able to plant and harvest good crops.

After his talk in St. George, President Snow wanted the whole Church to know about the revelation he had received. On his way back to Salt Lake City, he stopped in many settlements to preach the law of tithing to the people, and when he returned to Salt Lake City, he called an important meeting in the temple to talk to priesthood leaders about tithing. In one talk he said: “The poorest of the poor can pay tithing; the Lord requires it at our hands. … Everybody should pay tithing. … The law shall be observed. … And we shall pay our debts. … God bless you” (quoted in Carter E. Grant, The Kingdom of God Restored, p. 546). The Saints everywhere accepted what President Snow said and started paying tithing.

President Snow anxiously waited for the weather reports from southern Utah. One month passed, then two months, but no rain came. The people in St. George were not only paying a full tithe but were giving even more as offerings to the Lord. The prophet prayed more earnestly that the Lord would bless the people. He had promised them rain if they would pay their tithing. Finally, on 2 August 1899, he received a telegram that read, “Rain in St. George.” The Saints were blessed and were able to harvest their crops that fall.

In the year following President Snow’s revelation, the Saints contributed twice as much in tithing as they had the previous two years. Not only were the Saints in St. George blessed with rain, but within eight years the Church was able to pay all its debts. Since that day, the Church has continued to have enough money to carry out the Lord’s work because faithful Church members pay their tithing.

Discussion and Application Questions

Study the following questions and the scripture references as you prepare your lesson. Use the questions you feel will best help the children understand the scriptures and apply the principles in their lives. Reading and discussing the scriptures with the children in class will help them gain personal insights.

  • How did members of the Church find out they were called to settle new colonies in the Utah territory? How did they show their faith by settling these new colonies?

  • Why did Mary Fielding Smith pay tithing even though she did not have much money or many possessions? Invite the children to talk about experiences when they or their families have been blessed for paying tithing.

  • Why did President Snow travel to St. George? (The Holy Ghost prompted him to go.) How was President Snow blessed because he followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost? How are we blessed when we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost?

  • What problem was President Snow worried about when he went to St. George? (The debts of the Church.) What problem were the St. George members worried about? (The drought.) How did the Lord say the Saints could solve both of these problems?

  • Why do we pay tithing? What are we doing if we fail to pay a full tithe? (Malachi 3:8.) Why is tithing the Lord’s money? Remind the children that everything on the earth was created by Jesus Christ under the direction of Heavenly Father. All that we earn or receive on the earth is a gift from them.

  • What does the Lord promise those who pay a full tithe? (Malachi 3:10–12; D&C 64:23.) What is a full tithe? (D&C 119:4; see enrichment activity 1.) Explain that to pay a full tithe means to pay one-tenth of our increase, or what we earn, to the Lord.

  • How were the Saints in St. George blessed for paying tithing? How long did they wait before it rained? How did the Saints show their faith as they waited for the rain to come?

  • How was the Church blessed when the members began to pay a full tithe? How does the Church continue to be blessed today because members pay tithing? How is tithing money used? (See enrichment activity 3.)


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