Thursday, April 2, 2015

1909: LDS General Conference ‘too large’ and needs divided?

                  Inside the historic LDS Tabernacle on Temple Square.

“Conference has grown too large” was a Sept. 16, 1909 headline of an editorial in the Standard-Examiner.
This story stated that General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “has grown to such large proportions that the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City are too small to accommodate the crowds that gather there for their special uplift.”
As a result, this editorial suggested that “With proper representation, we decline to the idea that President Smith can be made to see the wisdom of discontinuing this Salt Lake conference of the entire church and may be persuaded to next year call for a division of the conference.”
This Standard editorial was suggesting that besides a Salt Lake conference, two similar ones for their areas be created and held in Ogden or Logan in the north and Provo or Manti in the South.
This would not only alleviate overcrowding, since many can no longer find a seat at the Salt Lake conference, but would also mean that other businesses in Utah would gain from the economic benefit of conference goers.
As it is, Salt Lake and the railroad receive too much of the surplus wealth of those attending conference.
Of course none of that proposal happened and eventually microphones, speaker systems, radio, TV, satellites and the massive Conference Center meant that just about any LDS Church member could listen to, or see conferences of the church.
Other historical tidbits:
-“Conference rush has begun” was a Standard headline six months earlier, on April 4, 1909. This story reported that eight train coaches came to Ogden from Malad, Idaho, filled with conference hopefuls.
“One coach was filled with Mormon Indians, who evinced deep interest in conference proceedings.”
A six-coach train had also rolled through Ogden from Cache Valley and another train was due from Coalville.
-“Mormons told how to gain a temple” was a Sept. 22, 1927 Standard headline.
Commemorating the anniversary of the Golden Plates, a vast gathering of LDS Church members had gathered in the Ogden Tabernacle to hear Elder Melvin J. Ballard, apostle.
“Interest in temple work is the thing that will bring a temple to Ogden, and not the mere asking for it,” Elder Ballard stressed. He had commended local members for their strong interest in temple work.
Many church members were turned away from the meeting, not being able to find a seat inside the Tabernacle.
-“Facts and figures” on Weber County were provided in an April 20, 1912 Standard article.
There were 25,580 county residents and 40,000 acres of irrigated land back then, valued at an average of $200 per acre. There were two cement plants, one sugar beet factory, five candy factories, five flour mills, two pickle factories, one meat packing plant, seven banks, 15 hotels, six theaters, one brewery and three broom factories in 1912 Weber County.

               The historic Clinton meetinghouse today, a business property.

-“Rejoicing at Clinton Friday” was a Feb. 27, 1911 Standard headline. The story stated that the new Clinton LDS Ward meetinghouse was finished and featured a grand banquet on Friday, Feb. 24, to commemorate the occasion.
The building had cost $15,000 “and is a credit to any community and a building that the people with their bishop, O.D. Hadlock may well be proud of.”
President Joseph F. Smith and President John Henry Smith of the First Presidency attended the banquet. A dance in the hall followed the dinner.
-Today, that Clinton building is still around and in excellent condition. However, it is no longer and LDS Church meetinghouse and was for sale recently for possible business use.

(-Originally published on April 2-3, 2015 on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner by Lynn Arave.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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