Working the Divine Miracle
by Richard D. Poll
Stan Larson, editor

Missionary Apostle

[p.143]Henry D. Moyle was in New York City seeking a buyer for Wasatch Oil Company when he was called to be an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The event moved him onto the stage where the last sixteen years of his life were primarily spent. There his talent and drive carried him to great influence, power, and disappointment.

The chain of events of that watershed weekend, 4-5 April 1947, is recalled by Robert Sears, who was there when it began. A message for Henry to call President George Albert Smith was responded to after some delay caused by the time-zone differential and President Smith’s involvement in general conference meetings. All Sears heard of the phone conversation was: “Yes, President Smith, I’ll do anything you want me to; you know that.” And after a pause: “Well, I can drop what I’m doing and come right back now. Yes, I’ll do it.” When Henry hung up, he said with more surprise than any other emotion: “President Smith has asked me to be an apostle.” To Sears, looking back on the event years later, it seemed evidence that “these callings are divinely inspired, because just three days earlier President Smith had told him [Henry] to go to New York because he wasn’t needed there for conference.”

Business appointments were cancelled and Henry headed for the airport. Reservations were unavailable; the airline options were limited in those days and storms were playing havoc with schedules. On a stand-by basis, he made his way alone to Chicago and then Omaha, where weather grounded commercial flights. It was by then midday Saturday and efforts to charter a flight west failed. While contemplating prospects with some [p.144]frustration, Henry overheard two pilots talking about ferrying an empty plane to Salt Lake City. Without hesitation he asked if he might hire or hitch a ride. Arrangements were made and a long flight ended with a rush home to a surprised but happy family.

Wilford M. Burton, one of Henry’s law associates, remembers being at the office that Sunday when Henry dropped in before the afternoon session of conference. Surprised at the unexpected return from the East, Burton guessed: “You must have been called to the Quorum of the Twelve.” Henry replied: “That’s right. Now help me write an acceptance speech.” In fact, the time was spent mostly in talking, Henry sometimes weeping. Burton’s memory of the occasion is vivid: “I never heard a more fervent testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ than I heard then.”

When Henry Moyle was submitted to the conference that afternoon to fill the apostolic vacancy created by the death of Charles A Callis, he had an opportunity to give public expression to that testimony. The Church Welfare Program was naturally included in his brief remarks: “I know that this Church and this people are capable of taking care of their own.” His own concept of obedience was reaffirmed: “I have never understood that it was my privilege as a member of the Church, holding the priesthood, to say no.” Furthermore, “I know that the Lord can take away that which he giveth, if we give him cause so to do. …” His closing witness was unambiguous:

There has never been a question of a doubt in my mind that our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. I have stood in that spot. … I have felt with all the feeling there was within my being, that that was where the gospel of Jesus Christ was again restored to mankind in this day and age. It shall be my hope and my desire that I shall ever be worthy in the sight of my Heavenly Father to retain that good will and the confidence and the love of these my brethren who have called me into their quorum and that I may be an honor and a credit to my family and my people and be able to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and to bear this testimony throughout the world. …

The reactions to the appointment were diverse. Those who knew only the aggressive side that Henry Moyle sometimes presented in the arenas of politics and business were surprised; a few were critical. Henry’s family was pleased, of course, though the role of apostle’s wife looked a bit [p.145]intimidating to Alberta. The first reaction of Henry’s recently widowed mother was that the appointment should have come to James H. Moyle. Henry quite agreed with her.

Expressions of confidence and good will came from many quarters. It is likely that none pleased him more than the note that came a few months later from his longtime associate in the Welfare Program, Harold B. Lee. An apostle since 1941, Elder Lee wrote:

As I read the history of this great Church, the Lord has always placed a great premium upon loyalty and in some instances the Prophet designated individuals as “a lion of the Lord.” I can think of no term that to me so well fits you in your present position with reference to the leaders of this Church as that same term “a lion of the Lord.” As I see you grow in strength and power, I find myself exultant and happy because of my association with you. May the Lord continue to bless you.

It was a thrilling moment for Henry Moyle when the First Presidency—George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay—and the eleven members of the Council of the Twelve placed their hands on his head in the Salt Lake temple on 10 April 1947. President Smith ordained him an apostle and set him apart as a member of the council, and gave him a beautiful blessing. The senior member of the council, George F. Richards, then charged him to “forget a good deal of the things that have occupied your attention” and “give your best thought and your time and attention” to the new calling. He should share his experience and judgment freely in the deliberations of the council, but accept decisions and sustain them publicly, even if they went counter to his recommendations. He would be subject to being called to perform any apostolic function, “no matter what sacrifice it might entail.” But the pervasive spirit in the council, President Richards affirmed, was of love and peace. He concluded humbly: “I think that the Lord is with us, that the work is going forward perhaps as well as it might under the direction of mortal men, such as we are, guided by the Spirit of the Lord.”

The other “mortal men” who made up the council were Joseph Fielding Smith, Stephen L. Richards, John A. Widtsoe, Joseph R Merrill, Albert E. Bowen, Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E. Petersen, and Matthew Cowley. Delbert L. Stapley, Marion G. Romney, LeGrand Richards, Adam S. Bennion, Richard L. Evans, George Q. Mor-[p.146]ris, Hugh B. Brown, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley, and N. Eldon Tanner came into the council between 1947 and 1963, and elders George F. and Stephen L. Richards, Widtsoe, Merrill, Bowen, Cowley, Bennion, and Morris died before Henry Moyle.

When Elder Moyle moved into the church office building, he brought his law office furniture with him. As quickly as possible he wound up the Wasatch Oil Company sale and re-programmed his life to fit his new calling. If, as noted in earlier chapters, he did not give up all his business activities, he crowded most of them into the early morning, evening, and Saturday hours or fitted them into scheduled travel to stake conferences and other church assignments. To the limits of his health—and it was often bad—he was a very busy apostle. He wrote to his brother Walter: “I am not only very busy with my Church work, but I am enjoying it extremely. I find that far greater satisfaction comes from helping others than worrying all the time about ourselves.”

Elder Moyle changed perceptibly as he moved into his new vocation, according to David Lawrence McKay, who had been his law partner and now became his associate in handling some legal concerns of the church. Previously Henry Moyle had pretty well hidden his capacity for affection and love from people outside his family; now he expressed it more openly. His demeanor became more friendly and he seemed to be happier. His diaries and correspondence show how thrilled he was to be in the new companionship with church leaders. A temple session that he and Alberta shared with some of the Council of the Twelve in August 1949 is described as “the outstanding blessing of our life. …” That evening the Moyles entertained all of the general authorities, the Relief Society presidency, several other guests, and all the Moyle family. It was a “grand day.”

Elder Moyle became more and more sensitive to what he perceived as the promptings of the Holy Ghost. After a Mutual Improvement Association conference address, he wrote: “I had the greatest composure I have ever had in the tabernacle and am thankful to the Lord for his help. … I hope to become more and more dependent on His inspiration as I go forward in His ministry.” On the other hand, after working for a while on a funeral sermon, he acknowledged that he “got little or no inspiration.”

George Z. Aposhian remembered Henry D. Moyle in connection with a call to be president of Wilford Stake. When he accepted the call, elders [p.147]Lee and Moyle showed him the names of six men who had been approved as possible counselors. He indicated his tentative choices before leaving the office. That evening he changed his mind about one, called the two men he wanted, and both accepted. When he reported with them to Elder Lee’s office the next day, Elder Moyle said: “Brother Lee, I would like to show something to President Aposhian before you start.” Elder Lee agreed. So he took a piece of paper with two names written on it and laid it on the table; they were the names of the two men Aposhian had finally selected. Elder Moyle said: “These are the names of the men we had chosen for you, but we wanted you to choose your own.”

Because he expressed himself so forcefully as a very junior member of the Council of the Twelve, Henry Moyle experienced some gentle chastising from President George Albert Smith. In one meeting of the Council and First Presidency, Henry presented a viewpoint so persuasively that all opposition seemed to be overcome. Whereupon President Smith said: “No, Elder Moyle, we won’t do it that way; we’ll do it this way.” The latter was proved to be the better way, as Elder Moyle often afterwards acknowledged. He was again reminded of the limits of his expertise during a boat trip to Hawaii. When a fellow traveler asked President Smith an intricate gospel question, he replied with a smile: “I don’t know. Ask Brother Moyle.”

The transition from President Smith to David O. McKay as head of the church in April 1951 had little effect on Henry Moyle’s assignments and performance, even though his intimate friend and mentor, President Clark, was a less dominating figure as second counselor in the new presidency than he had been as first counselor to presidents Smith and Grant. Elder Moyle was never personally close to the new first counselor, Stephen L. Richards, though legal and business experience and political background gave them much in common.

Much of Henry Moyle’s time as an apostle was taken up with such “routine” matters as attending committee meetings, organizing and reorganizing stakes, reviewing priesthood handbooks and lessons, visiting welfare projects and church ranches in the United States and Canada, interviewing and setting apart missionaries, and answering the myriad letters that people write to members of the Council of the Twelve. Liliu D. Perry was his helpful secretary for many years, while Millicent Cornwall assisted occasionally at the office and continued to handle some of his personal business. To all these tasks Elder Moyle brought the incisive [p.148]mind and dynamic style that had gained him success in earlier vocations. They were tempered but not tamed by his new calling.1

Disciplined use of his fine memory permitted him to learn names as he read stake and mission reports in advance of visits and to identify people as he met them. “I marveled at your ability to call each one by name,” wrote a branch president in Florida. The interest went beyond memory tricks. Thank-you notes went out by the dozens after conference visits and mission tours, each tailored to the recipient and many enclosing snapshots after Elder Moyle caught camera fever from his returned-missionary son. One mission president, Berkeley L. Bunker, wrote: “It may be that you treat everyone as graciously and kindly as you do me, but I have always felt that you have gone out of your way to help me and I want you to know that I love you with all my heart for your goodness to me.”

At the same time Henry Moyle’s law professor technique of interrogation produced mixed reactions in priesthood leadership meetings. When a stake president or bishop was invited to stand, asked about home teaching or some other program, and responded apologetically or defensively, he might be questioned pointedly about what was being done—or might be done—to produce a better outcome. Although it was intended to evoke repentance and better efforts, that approach sometimes produced tension and resentment. Glen Rudd, who traveled with Henry Moyle as a Welfare Program representative for several years, once ventured to scold him “for going around making people mad at you.” At the next conference they attended together, Elder Moyle brought laughter by telling the leadership group that an unnamed associate had told him to be careful not to hurt people’s feelings; then he launched another cross-examination. His primary duty at such meetings, he later explained to Rudd, was to teach, not to make friends.

Traveling to conferences and other distant appointments was taxing. Alberta often accompanied him to metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and New York, where she could visit family or shop or rest while he handled church and sometimes business tasks. Occasionally Hank or Richard Moyle went with him, sharing the driving and planning for the future. Usually, however, Elder Moyle traveled with one or more church associates. Trips with close friends like Harold Lee were a delight, whether [p.149]they talked about church projects or Henry picked his traveling companions’ brains for insights into Mormon doctrine or history. In the pre-freeway era, automobile trips were arduous. En route to one Nevada conference, he and a companion got stuck in the salt flats near Wendover and then were stranded for hours at a small town garage. Elder Moyle’s diary contains one notation, written with almost adolescent pleasure, that Elder Lee was at the wheel when they were pulled over for driving eighty miles an hour near Las Vegas.2 They were such a surprise to the officer that he let them off with a warning.

Train travel was more comfortable and Henry Moyle spent many hours in Pullman cars during the early years of his apostleship, reading Joseph Smith’s History of the Church and other volumes on Mormonism. Together with elders Lee and Romney he pushed the church into the air age over the adamant resistance of President Clark and the cautious concern of Elder Joseph Fielding Smith. President McKay readily saw the advantages of air travel, and soon the missionaries as well as almost all of the general authorities and headquarters personnel used the plane for travel outside the Intermountain area.

Henry Moyle’s role in the political relations between the church and government and politics has been discussed elsewhere. His legal background made him the logical church representative in such property-related transactions as purchases, sales, tax-exemptions, and incorporation of property-holding entities around the world. He did not practice law, but he could understand—and sometimes instruct—the lawyers who did. When the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that certain types of released-time religious education violated the constitutional separation of church and state, he spent hours studying the case and conferring with the church’s commissioner of education on the decision’s implications of the LDS seminary ptogram.3

Committee work was interminable. For varying periods of time, Elder Moyle served on the welfare committee and its subcommittees, the board of education and its executive committee, the general priesthood committee, the missionary committee, the budget committee, and the expenditures committee of the church—plus various business boards of directors and governmental advisory groups. His office calendar for 1956 [p.150]lists 102 regularly scheduled committee meetings, not counting the weekly sessions of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve.

His business experience made Henry Moyle a strong member of the budget and expenditures committees. With Presiding Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin and Elder Stapley, he helped to develop a centralized accounting and distribution system for the church and retirement and fringe benefits programs for employees. He was less reluctant than some of his fellow general authorities to increase expenditures, and he found satisfaction in submitting the annual budget on time when he was chairman of the committee. A diary notation after his first meeting with the Expenditures Committee in 1951 suggests that the institutional church had problems similar to other bureaucratic organizations: “Interesting meeting-forces there in action that seem almost uncontrollable—Pres. Clark remarked that Lincoln once said he had little influence with the administration.”

As an alumnus of four universities, Henry O. Moyle naturally took a lively interest in the church’s program of higher education. He participated in the planning of a junior college at Laie, Hawaii, and in the ill-fated project to transfer several public junior colleges in Utah back to the church. He followed the growth of the institute system closely, being concerned that Latter-day Saint youth not slip their religious moorings as they encountered the tides of secular education. The same concern made him a strong supporter of Brigham Young University and a pioneer advocate of the concept of student stakes at campuses with large LDS populations.

Alice, Marie, Virginia, and Janet Moyle all attended the University of Utah before their father became a general authority. Henry Jr., however, was a student at BYU in 1949 when Elder Moyle wrote the First Presidency:

My heart and soul are set on seeing us make a great university of this school to which we can all send our children and advise the members of the church to do likewise and make it possible for them not only to receive an outstanding education but to receive the same in an atmosphere and among associates conducive to their welfare eternally as well as here.

Elder Moyle was elected to a reorganized board of trustees on 2 July 1950, the same day that Ernest L. Wilkinson was appointed president of the university. As a member of the same Washington law firm as Walter [p.151]Moyle, Wilkinson was already well known to Henry Moyle. Both men were lawyers, both were growth-oriented, and both were drivers. They did not always agree and Henry Moyle did not always prevail in such cases. But they shared a desire to make the school the educational hub of the church and Elder Moyle was often an effective advocate of Wilkinson proposals in the executive committee of the board of trustees and before the board itself.4 Soon after Wilkinson wrote in 1954: “On the larger matters you and I have always seen alike,” Henry Moyle responded: “I want you to know that you can depend upon me at any time to be of such service to you as I am capable. … that I am loyal to you and to the best interests of the school.”

Such support included recommending that BYU faculty members be sent to stake conferences to promote the university and that dormitories be built to accommodate the recruits. The proselyting engendered some resentment in the neighborhoods of other colleges and universities, but in two or three years the growth at Provo was taxing campus facilities and the program was discontinued. The building of classrooms and support facilities for a student body that trebled in twelve years was a commitment of church resources that Henry Moyle fully approved. When it appeared that federal funds might become available for college buildings, he favored accepting them on the same pragmatic grounds that had led the church to accept similar hospital construction grants.5

Henry Moyle also recommended the consolidation of all LDS educational programs under a single board of education, with Wilkinson as the chief administrator; the plan was implemented and retained for many years. The concept of a graduate school at BYU was also adopted. Elder Moyle’s view was that the school “must more and more confine its effort to the taking care of the graduates of junior colleges throughout the church. …”

The logical extension of this concept was a system of church-owned junior colleges, an idea that President Wilkinson began to urge as soon as the church commitment to BYU—tenuous at times during the first seventy-five years of the school’s history—became secure. In 1954 he wrote [p.152]to Henry: “I hope that in the future you and I will be successful in converting the brethren to the idea that our junior colleges must be put in areas where there is a large urban population.” Some property acquisitions were made, but the project ultimately foundered on the resistance by the church members in some affected areas and a determination by the board of education that the costs of a junior college system would outweigh the benefits. By then Henry Moyle was a counselor in the First Presidency, and it fell to him to advise Wilkinson in mid-1963 that an effort to reverse the decision would be to no avail.

The idea of organizing a student stake at BYU also originated with Wilkinson, but Henry Moyle’s persuasive and persistent advocacy was the key to its adoption and the extension of the concept to other campuses. He and Apostle Adam S. Bennion were assigned by the Council of the Twelve to investigate the matter, and the plan they developed in consultation with the university president was carried to the council and the First Presidency early in 1955. Its key provisions were:

1. That a stake be organized, its officers to be chosen in consultation with the BYU president from “men of experience and mature judgment,” either on or off campus.

2. That the stake include priesthood quorums and auxiliaries “as needed to serve the families and members.”

3. That the membership consist of all single students living away from home, either on or off campus, and such married students as elected to affiliate.

Because of concerns expressed by some stake and ward leaders in Provo, church auxiliary leaders, and members of the Council of the Twelve, the proposal was first approved on an experimental basis. Elder Moyle presided at the formation of the Brigham Young University Stake Organization on 8 January 1956,6 and he and Elder Bennion worked [p.153]closely with stake president Antone K. Romney in setting up the twelve wards and adapting various church programs to their special needs. Within a few years the word “organization” was dropped,7 the stake was several times divided, and the pattern was followed in creating campus units at a number of other universities, including Henry Moyle’s alma mater in Salt Lake City.

Another Ernest Wilkinson proposal that Henry D. Moyle and Harold B. Lee piloted toward implementation was the Missionary Training Center at BYU. First brought to the executive committee in 1954, the idea lay dormant until Elder Moyle became a member of the First Presidency and head of the missionary program. He was aware from experience and observation that the effectiveness of many missionaries was impaired while they struggled to learn a foreign language in the field. Now he could help launch the Language Training Mission on the Provo campus. Ernest J. Wilkins, a BYU professor and Elder Lee’s son-in-law, was its first director.8

Like his colleagues among the general authorities, Henry Moyle was often invited to speak to audiences at BYU and other universities and colleges in the Mormon country. Eventually he received honorary degrees from the University of Utah, Utah State University, and the church university. He took these speaking assignments as seriously as his general conference addresses, collecting ideas and dictating paragraphs and pages of material—usually more than the time permitted him to deliver. His practical perspectives on higher education are reflected in these paragraphs prepared for an address to the Provo student body on 29 January 1957:

There should never be any hesitancy upon our part to change our major studies when we become convinced that we are in any wise handicapped in pursuit of the course which we initially outlined for ourselves. … We should look upon the university in large measure as a course to assist us in selecting, ascertaining, finding out that for which we are best fitted. The guidance, direction, and suggestions of the fac-[p.154]ulty along these lines are always extremely beneficial, and should always be sought. I suppose I could speak with some authority upon this subject because I originally graduated as a mining engineer, only to end up as a lawyer. Of this experience I became convinced that that which we may originally study is never lost no matter what direction the change in our academic pursuits may take.

I well remember the satisfaction that came to me, the extent to which my horizon was lifted when I found in the laboratory I could measure the diameter of a hair of my head with a micrometer, the feeling of power which such a simple thing seemed to vest in me. What joy comes from reading and for the first time understanding a revealing passage of scripture, a beautiful poem, the solution of a quadratic equation, the application of calculus, … the virtues of the common law. Emerson says, “The scholar is the delegated intellect of mankind.”9
As he toured the missions in the early years of his apostleship, Elder Moyle found his interest more and more engaged by this aspect of Mormonism. He loved the travel, the missionary meetings, the conferences, the cordiality of the members, and the hospitality of the mission presidents and their wives. The socializing side was particularly pleasant when Sister Moyle traveled with him; the stimulation of interviewing missionaries and helping leaders develop goals and strategies was always there. His reports to the Council of the Twelve after such tours were incisive and constructive. When administrative responsibility for all church proselyting was assigned in 1954 to a new Missionary Committee chaired by council president Joseph Fielding Smith, Elder Moyle was appointed to it. Thereafter his enthusiasm for this part of his calling came to transcend even that for the Welfare Program, the Deseret Farms, and the church building program.

It was a propitious time for missionary work. The end of the Korean War, with its military service obligations, freed LDS men for full-time missionary service, and by the end of the decade over one-fourth of all male members between twenty and twenty-four years of age were in the field.11 A systematic plan for teaching the gospel had already been devel-[p.155]oped by a committee headed by Gordon B. Hinckley on the basis of experiments in individual missions, and by 1960 it was in widespread use. President McKay inspired the slogan “Every member a missionary,” and the 1950s saw converts comprise 30 percent of church growth as membership climbed from about 1.1 million to 1.7 million.

All this pleased Henry Moyle, but it was not enough. He returned from mission visits excited more by the potential than by the productivity he encountered. James D. Moyle remembers talking with his brother about the relative fruitlessness of their own missions years ago, and Henry’s confident declaration: “That’s true. There was very little conversion done, but it was building up something for the future.”

Elder Moyle believed that the future had arrived. Illustrative of his attention to detail and the range of his analysis is the report he submitted to the First Presidency soon after returning from his first visit to some of the European missions. There was much to praise, he noted, but room for improvement. Large branches should be divided and some “old branch presidents who have become in varying degrees a law unto themselves” should be released. Missionaries should spend less time in branch and district administration and should not impose on poor Latter-day Saints for meals and entertainment. Mission presidents should more closely supervise their missionaries. The practice of excusing them for sightseeing visits outside the mission at Christmas should be discontinued.11 There was widespread need for more translated materials and better translation services.

Finally, the report suggested that the forthcoming opening of the first European temple at Zollikoffen, Switzerland, presented management problems that needed attention. A spin-off was Elder Moyle’s assignment to review the German translation of the temple ordinances. He finished the task in December 1954, finessing the problem of translating the key terms “celestial,” “terrestrial,” and “telestial” by recommending that they be carried over directly into the German language ceremonies.

The first apostolic trip to Europe was a particular delight to Henry Moyle for personal and family reasons. Too busy to return to Germany since his Freiburg student days, he had prepared for several years by meeting periodically with the German-speaking LDS congregation in [p.156]Salt Lake City. Now, as he and Sister Moyle sailed on the Queen Elizabeth in November 1953, they were accompanied by a prospective daughter-in-law, Joyce Crowton. Henry Jr. was in the United States Army in Germany, and the performance of a marriage was Elder Moyle’s first priority on arrival.

Then Henry and Alberta visited branches and mission headquarters in Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. She had her first experience being translated into a foreign tongue and her remarks were always brief. In Denmark she reminded one congregation that behind every good man is a good woman.12 In Sweden Elder Moyle required a translator as he dedicated a number of small buildings that had been acquired as chapels, but a mixture of admonition and blessing was communicated to those present. A recurring theme, “may the doors of this meeting house ever be open to our friends,” expressed his conviction of the importance of the chapel to the proselyting program. In German-speaking branches, he dispensed with a translator. “I rather surprised myself in Basel when I spoke in three meetings in German,” he reported. “I am sure this would have been impossible had the Lord not blessed me with a lively recollection of the German language which I formerly possessed. … ”

Addressing the men and women in the missionary training home in Salt Lake City and setting apart as many as a hundred each week gave Henry Moyle the opportunity to get acquainted with many. He could then renew acquaintances as he systematically interviewed all the fulltime missionaries in the areas he visited. Sometimes he relayed messages from parents encountered somewhere in his travels, and sometimes he quietly gave a ten- or twenty-dollar bill to a missionary who needed help. He had no qualms about rebuking laziness and lack of enthusiasm, but he was quick to recognize excellence and to give sympathetic support when illness or bereavement caused difficulties for individuals. As more than one missionary later testified, an interview with Elder Moyle was an experience not to be forgotten.

A second visit to Europe in 1955 was highlighted by the temple dedication in Switzerland and ground-breaking for a temple in England. Elder Moyle was also a guest of honor at a banquet given by the mayor of Frankfurt, where he had been a district president in 1911. He visited the part [p.157]of his old mission that was now in East Germany. There he found the proselyting going forward entirely through local missionaries, the law prohibiting outsiders from engaging in such activities. It reinforced his opinion, expressed a year later in Rio de Janiero: “It is not the wish of our Heavenly Father that anyone people should teach all the others.”

The three-and-a-half-months’ trip to South America in the summer of 1956 was the longest tour Henry and Alberta Moyle ever took together. It was also the only one on which he kept a systematic journal. The record tells more about what he did than about what he thought and felt, and it shows that at sixty-seven he was still a creative speller. Through the journal he can be seen taking Spanish lessons on the boat each morning, making notes for talks, arranging meetings for the handful of Mormons on board, raking the three missionary traveling companions along whenever he and Sister Moyle went sightseeing at ports of call along the way, and recording historical and geographic data about the places visited. He was similarly attentive to detail while viewing much Latin American hinterland from small airplanes and automobiles. At Mexico City he showed his wife a shrine that he had visited with his Dinwoodey grandparents when he was ten years old. Sightseeing was done with the same intensity as other undertakings; motion picture and still cameras recorded the beauties of Rio de Janiero from Sugar Loaf Peak and the Chilean Andes from the air.

The bold handwriting in this black notebook describes Henry Moyle discussing problems and making plans for the missionary work in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, EI Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. He checks sites for possible church buildings, negotiates with governmental departments, brings up the gospel to civic dignitaries and other non-Mormons encountered along the way, and reads by the hour when angina pains make it necessary to rest. He and Alberta shop often and extravagantly for their children and grandchildren. He comments on the quality of hotels and the warmth of mission home hospitality. Frequently he speaks with pride and affection of Alberta’s talks at the many meetings they attend. In his general conference report after the tour, he credited Sister Moyle with having several times used this story to illustrate the close ties between God and mankind:

There was a boy five years old who was accustomed to kneel down at his bed at night and say his prayers. On this particular night the [p.158]mother listened at the door to see just what he said. This is what she heard: “God bless Mama, bless Papa, bless Grandma,” and then he usually hopped into bed. But on this occasion he remained on his knees and said: “And dear God, please take care of yourself, for if anything happened to you we would all be sunk.”

The more comprehensive message that Alberta Moyle carried to the Latter-day Saint women of Latin American appears in another chapter.

To an impatient man like Henry Moyle, talking through a translator was a chore. He frankly confessed it to the Rio congregation: “He never gets through as fast as I want him to, but if you will bear with me, I will try to be as good a boy as I can.” Here and before a score of other audiences reached by rail, air, or motor car over bumpy roads, he explained basic gospel doctrines, urged the Saints to study the scriptures, keep the commandments, and teach their neighbors, and shared his own experiences. James H. Moyle’s visit with Book of Mormon witness David Whitmer was often recounted. Always he bore his own testimony. Once he traced his commitment back to childhood:

The first time I heard my father bear his testimony that God lives, do you know what I wanted? I wanted the same kind of testimony. It wasn’t enough for me that my father had this testimony. I wanted one of my own, and I told my father, and he said: “Don’t you believe me, my son?” I said: “Yes, I believe you. If I didn’t believe you, I wouldn’t want the same testimony. …”

The South American journal shows real love and admiration for the missionaries, most of whom seemed to be working hard in rather discouraging circumstances. The Moyles treated several groups to lunch, dinner, or ice cream. They took a number to the opera in Buenos Aires. In El Salvador Elder Moyle offered to sponsor two young men if they were called on missions and to support an elder who was in financial as well as emotional straits because of his parents’ divorce. In Mexico he left a fund to help local missionaries. Messages were accepted for relaying to parents back home, and they were followed through. Elder Moyle encouraged the elders to greater efforts by telling them “that there was a spiritual awakening in process in South America; that the elders who were then working there would, during the short time of their mission, become conscious of this awakening; and that it would bring a great joy and satisfac-[p.159]tion into their lives.” In opening Chile for missionary work and organizing a branch for the handful of North American Mormons in Santiago, Elder Moyle predicted that “these people will accept the gospel rapidly and soon there will be a mission with at least ten branches.”

His report to the First Presidency again emphasized the importance of training, organization, and discipline. Missionaries should be more carefully screened for language capabilities and then equipped with high-quality translated materials, printed in overseas centers. They should be relieved of administrative work, and building supervisors should be sent overseas to relieve mission presidents of property responsibilities. The missionary lesson plan should be modified for areas where “people are ignorant of the Bible.” And finally: “Instructions for mission presidents before they go to their field of labor would be very helpful in many ways, and especially to insure greater uniformity in the behavior and dress and practice of elders. …” To the October 1956 general conference, he suggested an obligation “to see to it that the next generation of missionaries that come from our homes come better prepared in two respects. … First, to learn those languages that are in any way native to the family, [and] second, to know the restored gospel and understand the great plan of life and salvation and have a love of the work.”

The headline that the Church News applied to its story of the South American trip is applicable to the tours of many U.S. and foreign missions in the next few years: “Elder Moyle’s Visit Spurs Missionaries.” What Henry Moyle told a group of supervising elders in the Northern California Mission in early 1958 he told many other groups in similar words. “Faith is the key,” he emphasized, and missionary faith grows with prayerful concentration on the task at hand. “Until you get to the state where this mission consumes you, you have not reached your point of effectiveness.” He mentioned one of the elders who had crammed Spanish on the boat trip to Latin America and was consequently prepared to bear his testimony in the new language on arrival. “You are privileged to go out on the first day and be understood and understand. But the spirit that gives the power of speaking in tongues is just as necessary to you to speak your own tongue with conviction.”

He proposed a Spartan lifestyle. “See how much you can get along without. …” Cars, cameras, and movies were all distractions to be avoided or handled with great care. “Any activity, for that matter, that takes your mind and thoughts off your work is a violation of a covenant you made … [p.160]to come on this mission and dedicate yourself to the Lord.” It was strong doctrine. The conclusion did not relieve the sense of urgency:

What is there to be gained by doing this job well to the best of your ability? Everything is to be gained and nothing is to be lost. You will develop a pattern of life you will never be able to get away from. … What you are now, you are going to be all of your life. You can change, however, even in the last six or three months of your mission. It is never too late to do an about-face and redouble your efforts.

Mine is a sentence for life. Yours is of equal importance, but only for two years. We cannot afford to give this work anything but our very best. …

The Kungsholm13 carried the Henry Moyles to Europe again in the summer of 1958. This time Elder Moyle went with three talks prepared, both in English and in German. Congregations heard him speak of “Love,” “Obedience,” and “The Way unto Salvation” in Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and England. The missionary spirit pervades them all, as it does the dedicatory prayer-in German-for a chapel in Salzburg. The missionaries were collectively admonished and individually encouraged in typical Henry D. Moyle fashion.

The low and high points of the tour both came in September. Elders Moyle and Hugh B. Brown, newly ordained an apostle, conducted hearings and excommunication trials for several missionaries who had been teaching heretical doctrines in France.14 In the midst of this sad business, the Moyles and Browns joined many other church dignitaries for the dedication of the British temple, and Henry and Alberta hosted a gala eighty-fifth birthday parry at Claridge’s Hotel for President David O. McKay.

Although he still had serious health problems, Henry Moyle seemed to grow stronger as he pursued his fast-paced, multi-faceted schedule into the years when some of his contemporaries were on social security pen-[p.161]sions. In a Church of the Air message in October 1958, he declared that “all the world hungers for a scheme of life” and demonstrated from the Bible and other LDS scriptures that the gospel of Jesus Christ is such a plan. He showed how the plan was finding increasing acceptance when he spoke movingly in general conference about the dedication of the Mormons behind the Iron Curtain. “These brethren and sisters are part and parcel of this great organization, this society of friends, of saints …,” he declared. “I have no hesitancy in stating that we constitute the greatest society of brethren and sisters the world has ever known, and if that is not true, I am sure it will shortly come to pass, because that is what the Lord wills of us, his people.”

Henry Moyle was excited about his role in this religious drama.


1. There is a trace of amusement in the diary notation of his reaction after interviewing a woman who had slapped her bishop: “I gave her a blessing.”

2. Compare the deleted information found in fn 5, chap. 11, above.—Ed.

3. The issue was not, in fact, tested in Utah for another generation.

4. Gary James Bergera and Ronald Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 27, state that “Wilkinson succeeded in more than doubling the church’s appropriation to BYU during his first five years in office.”—Ed.

5. After his death a policy of opposition to federal aid to education was adopted by the church.

6. When this initial BYU stake was divided into three stakes four years later, Ernest L. “Wilkinson recorded: “As they [the stakes] were being divided, I whispered to President Moyle that I recalled when Brother [Mark E.] Petersen was very much opposed to the original stake being created on our campus. President Moyle turned to me and said, ‘Funny church, isn’t it?’ This was just another way of saying that, while the general authorities have their individual opinions, when decisions are made they are loyally supported by all.”‘Wilkinson Diary, 17 Apr. 1960, Ernest L. Wilkinson Collection, Manuscript 629, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.—Ed.

7. According to Ernest L. Wilkinson and Leonard J. Arrington, ed., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1976), 3:347, the announcement of the new BYU stake was made on 26 December 1955, but “by the time the stake was organized on 9 [8] January 1956 the term organization had been dropped.”—Ed.

8. The development of separate facilities, separate administration, and an abbreviated training program for all newly called missionaries came after 1963.

9. The quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “The American Scholar,” an address delivered to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge, 31 Aug. 1837. See Richard Poirior, ed., Ralph Waldo Emerson (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 1990), 38.—Ed.

10. Henry D. Moyle, Jr., was in France when the decade began; Richard Moyle was in Uruguay when it ended.

11. Perhaps Henry Moyle felt a little guilt about the traveling he had done during his own mission.

12. The minutes soberly note that “a small boy had told her that last night in Randers.”

13. The Kungsholm, built in 1953, was a trans-Atlantic steamship of the Swedish American Line.—Ed.

14. Kahlile Mehr, “The Trial of the French Mission,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 21 (Autumn 1988): 45, indicates that William Tucker, second counselor to the mission president, was the ringleader and that seven of the nine excommunicated missionaries (four elders and three sisters) not only never returned to the church but “lived in Mexico for some time and supported the [polygamous] LeBaron movement.”—Ed.