Working the Divine Miracle
by Richard D. Poll
Stan Larson, editor
Counselor in the First Presidency
[p.186]The call of Henry D. Moyle to be second counselor in the LDS First Presidency came on 19 June 1959—a few months after his seventieth birthday.1 The whirlwind of activity that followed reflected his feeling [p.187]that his own time—and perhaps the world’s time—was short. It also reflected a keen sense of mission. After Christmas 1960 he wrote to President and Sister McKay on behalf of Alberta and himself: “We continue to stand amazed at the fact that we have been called to assist you, and what amazes us even more is the manner in which we feel the Lord is assisting us in doing what we should do. We have no doubt that greater wisdom and power and ability have been given us than we ever possessed before. …”
The death of President Stephen L. Richards led to Elder Moyle’s advancement to this new responsibility. The appointment of President J. Reuben Clark as first counselor surprised few people. President McKay’s choice as second counselor surprised many, including Henry Moyle himself. “I never dreamed that I would have the privilege of serving any closer to you brethren than I have been serving,” he acknowledged at the time of his sustaining by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve. President Clark was, of course, delighted. In a note to Henry and Alberta Moyle a few months later, he spoke of “the admiration for your great ability and most of all for your courage.” Harold B. Lee was delighted that his friend was chosen in spite of the links with President Clark and the Welfare Program that seemed to preclude such a choice. “It seemed to me almost too good to be true,” Elder Lee wrote in his diary at the time.
Several factors seem to have inspired President McKay’s selection. A leader with solid business experience was needed to pick up many business-related assignments that President Richards had been carrying. As an apostle, Henry Moyle had demonstrated both interest and competence in such matters. Like President Richards, Elder Moyle was a Democrat—a minor but not inconsequential factor in a church that had adopted a bipartisan stance when David O. McKay was a young man.2 The accelerating missionary program needed strong leadership, and here Elder Moyle’s enthusiasm had been demonstrated. Finally, President McKay saw Henry Moyle as a friend as well as a colleague—a recipient of affection as well as respect.
A short time earlier Henry Moyle had written in his son Richard’s missionary record book: “Always be a follower until you are called to be a leader.” Now, with the confidence of Presidents McKay and Clark—both [p.188]over eighty-five—President Moyle began to lead. The changes that occurred in the next few years were by no means all uniquely his ideas, but many bore the impress of his initiative, analysis, and operational style.
He continued to travel even though he no longer had stake conference assignments. Deseret Farms was visited once or twice a year, Consolidated Freightways board meetings were attended when possible, and Henry and Alberta still took the free plane ride to the April meetings of the Phillips Petroleum Company stockholders. Litigation over the tax status of the British temple dragged on till 1963, providing occasion for several trips to Europe. And the missionary work—placed in his charge by President McKay on the day he became a counselor—invited periodic field examinations. He thoroughly enjoyed the travel even though it taxed his unpredictable health. Sister Moyle or others of his family often accompanied him to watch over him as well as enjoy the adventure that was part of traveling with Henry Moyle.
Dedications, funerals, baccalaureate sermons, conventions, commencements, and general conferences gave him many opportunities to bear testimony to the efficacy of work and the power of faith.3 He met frequently with the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve on agendas that included doctrinal, curricular, and procedural matters, but he concentrated his attention on the interface between the church and the world. The correlation program that was destined to revolutionize the internal working of the church was taking shape under the leadership of Elder Lee, and this was fine with President Moyle. The failing health of President Clark and the limited strength of President McKay meant that much of the routine work of the presidency devolved upon President Moyle, and it also gave him a degree of latitude in directing the growth areas with which he was particularly concerned.
His job and the way he handled it gave him high visibility and an image that was in no sense bland. Journalists sought him out and, because he saw the value of good public relations for the church, he did not avoid them. After a press conference in which some embarrassing and some irrelevant questions were asked, he remarked to a friend: “I answered the [p.189]questions they should have asked me.”
Often the questions were about the business aspects of the church. Newsweek, in a 1962 article entitled “Latter-Day Profits,” described President Moyle as “something of a one-man holding company.” The magazine noted the number and variety of church enterprises and quoted
President Moyle as believing “the church can do anything anyone else can do” in the way of investing. “We are not averse to making a profit, but it is not our primary motive,” he declared. In taking exception later to some statements in the article, President Moyle stressed that “we have no money for commercial investments as such,” but added: “I don’t know that it will do us any particular harm to have you build us up as a stronger financial institution than we are. …”4
President Moyle saw several purposes for such investments: they could contribute to the over-all development of Salt Lake City, headquarters of the church; they could hold property until it was required for church programs; and they could generate income to supplement the tithes and offerings upon which the missionary, educational, and other activities of the church depended. Since the Second World War, income had exceeded expenditures and conservative management had emphasized the safety, rather than the earning power, of the reserves. Some of this accumulation had made possible Deseret Farms. Now, with the support of President McKay, Henry Moyle set out to use the surplus to house the church’s programs and people. J. Alan Blodgett, who followed events from the vantage point of the financial department, remembers that “deficit spending did not concern President Moyle as long as the church had the resources and so long as needed facilities were being constructed….”5
[p.190] To strengthen financial resources for these expanding demands, President Moyle urged a less conservative investment policy and more attention to expert management of the farms, commercial properties, and business firms in which the church had an interest. While he and others of the general authorities sat on the boards of enterprises like Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, Beneficial Life Insurance Company, Deseret News Publishing Company, Hotel Utah, and Z.C.M.I., he believed that they lacked the time and expertise to make management decisions. Better to employ competent executives and turn them loose to compete. President Moyle’s sons and a few of his friends remember him speaking of the desirability of the church’s getting rid of such businesses, but there is no evidence of a general policy initiative in that direction. In response to a specific request from a reporter about selling off companies that “might be conceived of as in conflict with businesses operated by good LDS members,” President Moyle wrote in January 1962: “We have no plans for the disposition of any other businesses, nor was the disposition of the Zions First National Bank the result of carrying out any preconceived plan.”
The sale of the church-owned bank in April 1960 was the end of a sequence of events that began while Henry Moyle was still an apostle. On the advice of a financial consultant, President McKay decided that three church-owned financial institutions should be combined. Zions First National Bank was born of the merger and a new expansion-oriented management was installed. President Clark, who had exerted a strong influence on the earlier conservative financial policies, now suggested that an aggressive church bank presented ethical and public relations problems whether it succeeded or failed. Elder Moyle moved into the middle of this policy discussion when he entered the First Presidency. A group of prominent Mormon bankers, including David M. Kennedy and Howard J. Stoddard, participated in the deliberations that led to the decision to sell and then to the rejection of an offer from First Security Corporation.6 The sale to a syndicate formed by Hotel Utah manager Leland Flint gave rise to some criticism of President Moyle, who pushed the sale over the objections of some of the general authorities. David Kennedy’s retrospective view is that “hard bargaining” might have secured a better price, [p.191]but the terms were favorable to the church, the transaction was safe, and the outcome was the transfer of the bank to a management sympathetic to church concerns. Although Elders Lee and Delbert L. Stapley went on to the new board of directors, the reorganized bank had by no means a monopoly on church business.
The redevelopment of downtown Salt Lake City was becoming an issue in the 1950s and Henry D. Moyle inevitably became involved. The expanded Z.C.M.I. Mall and the downtown location of the Federal Building were his initiatives. He initially favored a large church auditorium for conferences that the Tabernacle could no longer contain, but when the idea of the Salt Palace was broached by community planners, he was quickly converted. He urged that the projected 15,000-seat capacity be increased to 25,000. He was responsible for the remodeling of Eagle Gate and the widening of North State Street, but he rejected the concept of redeveloping the hill south of the state capitol around a complex of church administrative buildings on grounds of cost and inconvenience. Traditionalists and preservationists—for whom Henry Moyle had little empathy—persuaded President McKay to change his mind about replacing the wall around Temple Square with a see-through fence after the work had begun. Happily nothing came from President Moyle’s off-hand remark that if Beehive House and Lion House were taken down, a “good building” could be put up on the site. His initial reaction to restoring Nauvoo, Illinois, was cool, but he demonstrated that Henry Moyle, too, could change his mind. David Kennedy remembers receiving a long distance call while touring in Italy; it was President Moyle asking him to serve on the board of directors of Nauvoo Restoration, Inc.
Henry Moyle continued to think of land as money in the bank. A diary note in 1962 speaks of “the advisability of hanging onto all of our small properties for trading purposes, lest we later have to pay exorbitant sums for property we need; also, looking ahead and obtaining property in advance of need.” The assets of Zions Securities Corporation, the property management agency of the church, grew substantially between 1959 and 1963. Purchases were usually made through intermediaries to get the best price, but President Moyle was willing to negotiate personally when owners were Latter-day Saints who might respond to an indication of church interest. He was confident that he could receive inspiration in handling property negotiations. When a piece of property suitable for church purposes came up for tax auction in San Francisco, President [p.192]Moyle was there. According to A. Kyle Bettilyon, who was also present, the bids were to be submitted by noon. When the I.R.S. representative asked if President Moyle intended to bid, he said: “Yes, our bid will be in thirty seconds before closing time.” When the bids were opened, the church offer was $50 higher than the second bid.
Bettilyon also recalls how a large parcel of land on Salt Lake City’s Redwood Road was acquired. After two weeks of intensive study of each of a number of tracts that were to be combined, he went to see President Moyle. He was just beginning his analysis when the church leader said: “I have already been told what we are going to pay.” The figure was $2.5 million, considerably less than what Bettilyon had calculated. When he began to remonstrate, Henry Moyle replied:
It looks like I’m going to have more trouble with you than with the sellers. Now here’s what you’re to do. When you meet the group, take out your papers and then go over them briefly one at a time, and as you finish each item, put that paper back in your briefcase. And when you have completed the overview, tell them, “I have a cash offer. It’s available on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The price is 2½ million dollars.” Then you close your briefcase decisively and go to the door and close it decisively as you go out.
According to Bettilyon, not until several subsequent negotiating sessions had produced a deal at President Moyle’s price was it divulged to the sellers that the church was the buyer.
The political aspects of Henry Moyle’s years in the First Presidency have been highlighted in an earlier chapter. He enjoyed meeting with the presidential candidates and prominent figures who came to Utah. He corresponded and chatted with Utah’s members of Congress on a variety of themes, and he worked rather closely with the city government on downtown planning and development. When the First Presidency decided to support Mayor J. Bracken Lee when his firing of Police Chief W. Cleon Skousen generated a public furor, President Moyle blocked the publication of a front-page pro-Skousen editorial by the Deseret News. It was a Truman-MacArthur type of confrontation, and the LDS leadership had many reasons to back the feisty non-Mormon mayor against the articulate Mormon chief of police.
President Clark had the initial long-range vision of a skyscraper office building for the church. Henry Moyle took some convincing, but once [p.193]convinced he made it a “now” project. Architectural contracts were let and the site was prepared for a thirty-story administrative and archives building.7 President Moyle continued to advocate professionalizing the church bureaucracy, as he had done as an apostle. As the tenth anniversary of the centralized accounting system was being celebrated, he and Elder Stapley were working with the Presiding Bishopric to computerize and standardize accounting and auditing procedures. Salaries and fringe benefits for church employees were upgraded and, rather to President Moyle’s surprise, President McKay approved the employment of married women.
According to Arch L. Madsen, Henry Moyle recognized the electronic media as “a most powerful communication tool” for missionary work and internal communication. He oversaw the reorganization of KSL, the church-owned TV-radio station in Salt Lake City, and the acquisition of KIRO, a major TV-AM-FM operation in Seattle, Washington. Over the objections of cost-conscious colleagues, he worked to acquire some government surplus shortwave radio transmitters for overseas broadcasting and also to form a nationwide television and radio distribution system. The shortwave broadcasting venture was subsequently abandoned, but KSL and KIRO became the basis for Bonneville International Corporation. Formed in 1964 with Madsen as president, this product of President Moyle’s foresight had proved, like the Florida ranch, to be a very good investment.
Henry Moyle’s strong sense of family reinforced his interest in the church’s genealogical program. The Genealogical Society of Utah, then a separate corporation funded by the church, was moving too slowly, in his view, in applying current technology and business management procedures. George F. Fudge, who found himself for a time working under President Moyle’s personal direction, recalls that the society was reorganized, the computerization of records was begun, and new impetus was given to the construction of the granite vault for microfilm records in Little Cottonwood Canyon. When Elder Tanner returned from presiding over the European Mission in 1962, he became president of the Genealogical Society and its work was brought within the scope of the developing priesthood correlation program. [p,194]Since the society’s offices stood on the site of the proposed church office building, it had to be rehoused. In 1961 the First Presidency approved a plan to erect a genealogical building on the newly acquired Redwood Road property. The plan was subsequently abandoned, and this church program was located in rental facilities until the new administrative building provided a wing for it.8
President Moyle said of space: “It is impossible to bring the full program of the Church to our members without proper buildings.” When he made this statement to the Deseret News on his seventy-third birthday, he was reiterating a conviction formed long ago as a missionary in Germany. Now, in 1962, he was in the midst of an effort to meet the growing need. “I believe the greatest step forward this year will be in the building and maintenance of meeting places for the tens of thousands of converts that have come into the church and the even larger numbers who will come into the church in the immediate future,” he predicted.
Revolutionary changes in the building program of the church were in the making before Henry Moyle entered the First Presidency. He encountered them through his work with the budget and expenditures committees, since buildings vied with education for church funds in the 1950s. He was also acquainted with Wendell B. Mendenhall, who was called in 1955 to head a new Church Building Committee. Elder Lee had brought the two men together when the Sacramento ranch was acquired. Now Mendenhall was advocating a concept of building that seemed already to be getting results in the South Pacific area.
The labor missionary program was born in Tonga in 1950, when the construction of a church school faltered because the voluntary workers lacked skills. The mission president then called young men to work and receive job training on the project. The church provided housing, local members gave food, and the building supervisor taught skills. Successful completion of the project led the program to be applied elsewhere in Tonga and then in New Zealand. Then it expanded into a model for possible church-wide application.
With the new Building Committee’s support, a largely self-contained operation developed in the South Pacific, producing not only schools and chapels but the New Zealand temple and the first buildings for the Church College in Hawaii. Building supervisors—men with construction [p.195]experience-were called to direct projects, receiving living allowances. Workers were called to labor for keep and training, under quasi-missionary discipline. Funds provided by church headquarters and local members bought land, construction equipment, and materials. Shops were set up to produce components unavailable locally when that was cheaper than importing them from the continental United States. The approach was not without problems, but the special circumstances of the region—for which Elder Matthew Cowley was a persuasive advocate until his death in 1953—led the church leadership to accept and support the program.
To Henry Moyle the work missionary concept had much to recommend it. While battling the Great Depression as stake president and then as a Welfare Program pioneer, he wrote in the Improvement Era: “Every church building or other project entered into by the church calling for skilled labor should find upon it a reasonable number of young men as apprentices, getting their experience and training and, at the same time, earning a small but appropriate wage for the service rendered.” After the war the employment department of the Welfare Program provided some unemployed workers for building projects like the Pioneer Stake Center, the workers’ compensation coming from the welfare storehouses. The New Zealand program seemed a way to bring the self-help concept together with the building needs and cash deficiencies in many mission fields. He approved of it as an apostle and was ready to give it broader application when the time was ripe.
That time came quickly when Henry Moyle joined the First Presidency. With President McKay’s blessing, the Church Building Committee conducted a survey of the European missions, identifying needs for chapels and mission headquarters.9 George R. Biesinger and Stanford W. Bird were called to apply their New Zealand experience in Europe and other supervisory personnel were recruited in America. Wendell Mendenhall presented the labor missionary program to the mission leaders, and by June 1960 European Mission president Alvin R. Dyer could report to the First Presidency that “after extensive discussion” the program had been endorsed by all.
When President Moyle met with the European mission heads in November 1960, he pointed out that there was not an adequate chapel any-[p.196] where, if one thought in terms of wards and stakes and the assimilation of thousands of converts. One unit—a showplace chapel and mission headquarters—was under construction near Hyde Park, London. Five years later almost a hundred buildings were finished or under construction in the British Isles and another seventy-five had been dedicated or were in the process on the continent. According to Stanford Bird, at one time as many as 300 labor missionaries were working on British projects and another 500 across the channel. The success of the program had convinced President McKay to extend it to parts of the United States, Canada, South America, Mexico, and the Far East. The number of building projects in progress church-wide increased from an annual rate of about 150 to 400. Approximately 1,500 young men eventually served as labor missionaries. Many races and nationalities were among them, including blacks.
The First Presidency and most of the Council of the Twelve shared Henry Moyle’s enthusiasm for the program, but both enthusiasts and critics acknowledge that he was the prime mover. The Church Building Committee and its staff became a separate department, directly answerable to the First Presidency. Mendenhall became President Moyle’s alter ego in the field. He was a “bulldog,” in the language of J. Howard Dunn, who worked with him. “There was nothing impossible with him.” He did what he thought was proper to get the job done, even though “it might step on people’s toes here and there.” When he was in Salt Lake City, he met several times weekly with President Moyle or the First Presidency. When he was away, the long-distance conferences were almost daily, discussing site purchases, land management, project progress, and the many special situations that could arise under the laws and customs of a score of countries. Administrative offices were strategically placed in the overseas areas where the building program was instituted. To facilitate dealing with public officials and the press, the Building Committee published a full-color brochure, illustrated with views of the loveliest Mormon chapels and temples and titled A Church of Builders around the Globe.
At least once a year President Moyle went to Europe to forward the missionary and building programs. He visited the regional offices in England, the Netherlands, and Germany. According to Bird, “he would delight in personally meeting each staff member … and blessing them for their dedication.” He would go to construction sites “and talk with the [p.197]church building missionaries and make them proud of their calling.” He would also try to convert those within the church organization who were fearful of the new approach.
William Bates, counselor in the stake presidency and then head of the Manchester Stake (the first organized in Europe), remembers the push to acquire building sites. In order to secure an attractive lot for the Stockport Branch, he made a deposit without consulting anyone outside the stake. Someone in the building department reacted vociferously, and soon Henry Moyle, who happened to be in England, was in Manchester to straighten out matters. Bates described what followed:
When we arrived at the site … and we climbed over the fence, it was just like my first visit there. A shaft of sunlight burst through the clouds just as we emerged through the shrubbery. President Moyle was silent for a moment and then he put his arm around me and gave me a hard squeeze. “Go on sticking your neck out, President Bates. Go ahead; fasten the land. It’s perfect. And find us a dozen more like it!”
President Moyle authorized more than one stake president to “go ahead” when a purchase could not wait for routine procedures, and he told mission presidents whose building projects ran into bureaucratic impediments to send their problems directly to him. When Robert Sears asked President Moyle if the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Branch might adapt the building formula to use the technical and professional skills of some of the members, the reply was, as Sears recalls: “I wish you wouldn’t ask me that, because if I tell you, you’re not going to be able to do it.”
The building missionary program seemed well-suited to Europe and Latin America, where many young converts lacked the economic resources and/or educational qualifications to fulfill regular proselyting missions. Under the work program, participants were interviewed before referral to the Building Committee for assignment. During the two-year term of service, they were expected to participate in gospel study classes, attend church meetings, observe Word of Wisdom standards, and engage in only limited dating. They were usually sent to another mission; youths whose native tongue was English, German, or Swedish might work side by side, posing no little challenge to the project supervisor. They were supposed to accept family responsibilities in the homes where they were boarded and not to impose upon the hospitality. They might have opportunity to assist the proselyting missionaries, and in a few missions the [p.198]proselyters devoted part of their weekly “Preparation Day” to working on church construction.
The possibilities for non-conforming behavior and interpersonal friction are apparent. None of the work missionaries was supposed to be under eighteen, but a few were. Most of them were recent converts. When Elder Mark E. Petersen polled one group of about 300 at a 1962 conference, less than a third had been Mormons for more than three years; three of the youths were not yet members. A few of the participants saw the program as a way to get away from home, and some showed little aptitude or interest in learning the skills available to them. Some ate too much, were untidy or smart-alecky; or fell into sexual transgression. Some just quit.
The judgment of many who were close to the program, however, is that most of the building missionaries performed creditably and benefitted both themselves and the church. James A. Cullimore, who was in England as a mission president then, commented after a later visit: “I was amazed to see how many of these fine young men are now members of stake presidencies or bishops or members of bishoprics.” Irene M. Bates, the wife of the Manchester Stake president, remembers fondly most of the youths for whom her home was a “way-station” to placement with other members. A brochure prepared for the building missionary program carries the slogan: “As We Build Churches We Build People.”
The building program’s rapid expansion also generated problems. Some mission presidents felt that spending time approving sites and motivating work missionaries took them from the primary assignment to which they had been called. Some local leaders resented the pressure to raise building funds, to find housing for young workers, and to resolve problems involving them. Some Building Committee personnel were perceived as arrogant or inflexible. A few project supervisors fell short in diplomacy and/or deportment. The job-trainers sometimes did poor work. Many of the chapels seemed too big for immediate needs.10 Some of the mission headquarters and building staff residences seemed too extravagant. The movement away from centralized purchasing of equipment and furnishings produced unhappiness among some traditional suppliers in Utah.
The costs of the building program increased—impressively to some, [p.199]alarmingly to others. The increase was not proportional to the number of projects, because the concept of phased construction was instituted, giving some small congregations expandable facilities, and because labor was cheap. But costs were unpredictable, and not everyone shared President Moyle’s optimism that church growth would generate tithes sufficient to keep the budget under control. Nor did everyone approve the splendid new chapel built in President Moyle’s home ward. Critics called it a “Taj Mahal,” without knowing to what extent the special features represented private contributions.
* * *
To Henry D. Moyle the building program was epitomized by the impressive chapel build at Merthyr Tydfil, the town in southern Wales from which President David O. McKay’s parents had come. A crash program was required to finish it by the date in August 1962 when President McKay came to dedicate it. Several members of President Moyle’s family were among the crowd of church and public dignitaries, missionaries, and investigators who greatly outnumbered the local membership on that occasion.11
A sense of urgency about chapel building impelled President Moyle until his death. In May 1963 he wrote to Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who was visiting missions and church projects in the Pacific area:
The President is determined there should be no letup in the building program. We have already practically exceeded the budget for the year, but he intends to have them go on and supplement the budget. He told me the other day that he felt the building of meeting houses was our best investment and he was tremendously impressed with the spirituality of the building program. … I am becoming more and more convinced there is no department doing a more wonderful job than they are.
“The greatest work I have ever been engaged in, bar none, is missionary work.” Henry D. Moyle came to this conviction relatively late in life, and the testimony dominated and determined the outcome of his service [p.200]in the First Presidency. Most of the changes in church structure and procedures that he sponsored were to generate human and material resources for the proselyting effort, and the building program was to accommodate the fruits of that effort. He drove himself and—with the approval of President McKay—he drove the church toward an objective defined in a circular letter that the First Presidency sent in February 1960 to all the mission presidents and full-time missionaries. “As missionaries in the service of the Master, we know with certainty that we can accomplish in the 1960s what was accomplished in the 1860s. … This was one of the great epochs of conversion to the true and living gospel.”
The upsurge of missionary activity in the early 1960s was not, of course, only one man’s doing. President McKay had led the renewal of effort that followed the Korean War, stressing the responsibility of Mormon young men to serve missions and providing all Latter-day Saints with the challenge: “Every Member a Missionary.” New approaches to proselyting were being tried in various missions, and the Missionary Committee was addressing the problems of carrying the gospel to people and cultures outside the Protestant working classes of the United States and northern Europe that had provided most of the converts in the previous history of the church. The pace of change was deliberate and the results were insufficient to satisfy an impatient man like Henry Moyle.
When he was placed in charge of the missionary work, he took it as a mandate for action. Gordon B. Hinckley; the first secretary of the reorganized Missionary Committee and in 1957 an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, became his close associate, forwarding the program as energetically as Wendell Mendenhall promoted buildings.12 Most of the general authorities were caught up in the excitement of innovation and unprecedented growth and many were added to an expanded Missionary Committee. Several, including N. Eldon Tanner, Boyd K. Packer, A. Theodore Tuttle, Theodore M. Burton, and Alvin R. Dyer, became regional heads when the missions of the world were divided into administrative areas—a Moyle idea.
In the fall of 1959, a goal of having 12,000 full-time missionaries in the field was established and the minimum age at which young men [p.201]became eligible was shortly lowered from twenty to nineteen. To assist those going to non-English speaking missions, a translating office was established in Germany and a language training center was created at Brigham Young University. Attention was given to stimulating stake and district missionary work, using local members on a part-time basis. The first exploration of proselyting possibilities in Nigeria was undertaken. A church pavilion was planned for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
Funds were mobilized from priesthood quorums and affluent individuals to support young people in the foreign missions who were willing to serve as full-time missionaries but lacked sufficient family financial support. President Moyle’s correspondence shows him to have been involved in all of these activities.
Comparative statistics, available in greater detail as the church moved into the computer age, confirmed what Henry Moyle had observed as missionary and later as apostle. The key to conversions was the people on the front line of proselyting-the mission presidents and those whose full-time labors were under their supervision. Cultural factors like living standards, religious background, and political environment were not irrelevant, but they did not explain the generally low level of productivity—less than three convert baptisms per missionary in 1955 and barely four in 1958 and 1959. Nor did they explain, in his view, the wide range of conversion rates between contiguous missions. The February 1960 First Presidency message, which clearly bears President Moyle’s hallmark, expresses this conviction:
Our potential knows no bounds. There is no limit to our conversions other than those we create for ourselves. We could readily show a hundred percent increase over 1959. … It is possible to have on an average, a baptism a month for each missionary. … We can learn from 130 years of experience that the elders of Israel can succeed at anything they really want to do.
Beyond the blessings of a happy mission and the love of “those to whom you have brought life and light and joy,” the message promised: “When we build in such a manner in the mission field we qualify ourselves for the continued blessings of the Lord throughout our lives. We can be assured of success in life, indeed the realization of all our righteous ambitions, temporal as well as spiritual success for ourselves and our posterity.”
[p.202]The challenge was to all the missions, but several factors focused President Moyle’s attention on Europe. Missionary memories, genealogical links, good experiences as an apostle, ability to speak directly to the two largest language groups, and the size of the pool of potential converts drew him back time after time. Some exciting things were going on in the land of his forefathers when he made his first visit after accepting the leadership of the missionary work. They seemed worth testing elsewhere in Europe and perhaps churchwide.
The visit late in 1959 took President and Sister Moyle, their daughters Alice and Janet, and David Lawrence McKay to a conference in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, where over two thousand persons constituted perhaps “the largest congregation of saints in the British Isles in a century.” British Mission president T. Bowring Woodbury urged the 181 fulltime and 320 part-time missionaries at a special session of the conference to bring 197 people into the church in December to produce a year’s total of 1,400 convert baptisms. According to an excerpt from President Woodbury’s diary, President Moyle urged the missionaries to accept this challenge: “he lent his faith and his great courage and wise counsel, his enthusiasm and his determination to bear us up and give us fire for the accomplishment.” The goal was achieved without all the supervising elders having to deliver on their pledge to work all day on Christmas and Boxing Day if necessary.
The concept of short-range quantifiable objectives appealed to President Moyle as a motivating device—an antidote to the human tendency to settle for “good enough.” As he installed Edgar B. Brossard as president of the French Mission in December 1959, he noted that the year had witnessed only 130 baptisms. Wayne Owens, who was present, remembers President Moyle’s declaring that it was a “special time” for the mission. Four hundred convert baptisms were obtainable by 4 July 1960. He “electrified” the assembled missionaries by charging them to “free those four hundred souls.”13
Organizing and motivating an increased missionary effort was President Moyle’s objective in 1960. He met regularly with the new missionaries during their training period in Salt Lake City, assuring them that [p.203]“you are entering into the greatest activity—the greatest work—that is to be performed upon the earth.” He worked with the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve to divide missions and choose leaders to preside over the rising tide of missionaries. Henry D. Moyle, Jr., was called to head the new French East Mission. Elder Dyer presided over a reopened European Mission, charged with providing logistical support and coordinating proselyting efforts, as well as helping launch the building program. His reports indicate that the progress was not problem-free, and he looked to President Moyle’s planned return.
The whirlwind trip to Europe in November and December left Henry Moyle thrilled with the prospects and satisfied that any problems were growth pains. According to the minutes of his report to his colleagues in the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, he had never seen “a finer and more enthusiastic group of mission presidents.” After all-day missionary meetings in Manchester, London, the Netherlands, and Paris, he hosted four Thanksgiving dinners, the last at the Eiffel Tower. “The missionary’s Articles of Faith card was the ticket of admission.”
As for the new missionary program, it was good that Wendell Mendenhall was along, because everywhere the meetings taxed seating capacity. Recruitment efforts produced “more than enough volunteer labor missionaries to carry on the program in England and to send more to the Continent if we lack any there.” A dozen artisans who had their own businesses were among the volunteers. The missions were meeting goals and setting higher ones. The converts “are really serious and are, for the most part, a better class of people than we have frequently brought into the church.” They were potential leaders for the Manchester Stake already created and the dozen stakes likely to follow.
Even the preponderance of young people among the converts was seen in up-beat terms:
Another thing of significance is that during the past eighteen months, not only in England, but all over the Continent, groups of teenagers have been brought into the church who have been attracted to our young missionaries. In England they have used American baseball as a means of interesting the young people, and as a result we have had a lot of boys baptized. We now have an ample supply of young men in the branches to provide companions for our young women members, which has never been the case before in the history of the European Mission. Then, too, these teenagers—nearly all of [p.204]them—want to get into the building program and learn building trades. This thrills the mission presidents because they have been a little bit worried about having too many teenagers baptized, but they seem to be fitting in perfectly.
“This movement is keeping the saints in their native countries,” President Moyle noted. “There has never been anything like it before.”
The year 1961 saw the new missionary emphasis and procedures given churchwide application. In Europe each mission was given a “Challenge Plaque” setting a baptismal goal designed, as President Dyer wrote to President Moyle, to assure reaching the objective pledged to President McKay of at least 20,000 European converts. To handle the burgeoning administrative load, a West European Mission was created in London, with N. Eldon Tanner as president, while Theodore M. Burton, a nephew of President Moyle, succeeded Dyer in the Frankfurt headquarters. Four new proselyting missions were added to the three recently created in Europe; six more were established there in 1962 and 1963.
Everywhere missionaries were relieved of branch and district responsibilities to concentrate on their primary assignment. Local members were encouraged, even pushed, into accepting leadership roles. As quickly as feasible, stake and ward organizations were created to help assimilate new converts and implement church programs. The presidents of the First Council of Seventy were ordained high priests so that they could more fully assist in the work. The movement to form stakes outside the Mormon country in the American West had been gaining momentum since the Second World War. Now it went overseas. The first LDS stake outside North America had been formed in New Zealand in 1958 in connection with the building program there. Before President Moyle’s death, eighteen more stakes came into existence abroad-six in the South Pacific, eleven in Europe, and the first in Mexico City.
The emphasis on convert baptisms produced a variety of proselyting approaches, and President Moyle was inclined—as he had been in his secular pursuits—to give considerable latitude to some of the leaders in the field who seemed to be getting results. He once remarked: “We’ll have to wait twenty years to see what is the outcome of some of these experiments.” On the other hand, he did not believe in reinventing the wheel; so he secured leadership support for a seminar in which all mission presidents could be taught the techniques and programs that [p.205]seemed to work best. The Missionary Committee devoted considerable effort to developing a standard lesson plan, based primarily on one in use in the Northwestern States Mission. It was approved for universal application by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve.
The Mission Presidents Seminar that convened in Salt Lake City from 26 June to 6 July 1961 brought together the heads of more than sixty missions, their spouses, a number of couples newly called to these assignments, plus many general authorities and church functionaries. Elder Marion G. Romney conducted most of the meetings, but the minutes leave no doubt that President Moyle was the central figure in the enterprise.
President McKay sounded the keynote. “What the Statue of Liberty symbolizes to the oppressed and downtrodden of Europe, the gospel of Jesus Christ is to the world.” The conference, he declared, would deal with four aspects of missionary work: Contacting, Converting, Coordinating (fellowshipping and program involvement), and Celestial Attainment. The opening session also heard messages from President Clark, read because he was too ill to attend; Hugh B. Brown, very recently sustained as a counselor to the First Presidency; and Joseph Fielding Smith, head of the Council of the Twelve.
These were working meetings, briefings being followed by thorough discussion. Elder Hinckley introduced the missionary plan, stressing the importance of getting church members involved, lest a conversion be to a missionary or the proselyting program rather than the gospel. Mission presidents explained successful techniques for finding investigators. Team sports, language classes, youth missionary programs, and ways to use the “Golden Questions” were described and demonstrated; recently returned missionaries participated. The building missionary program, then being extended beyond Europe and the South Pacific, was explained and endorsed. President Moyle noted that the church was now beginning a new chapel each week in England and that the youthful converts engaged in these projects “will become the future leaders of the church.”
The seminar sought to relieve tensions and resolve conflicts that the accelerating activities in the mission fields had generated. Mission presidents were encouraged to be helpful to local leaders, some of whom felt bewildered, overwhelmed, or abandoned. The presidents were assured that building projects were not to go forward without mission or stake leadership approval, but they were reminded by President Moyle that [p.206]“our objective is to get the buildings built and get them built fast and get them built big enough. …” President McKay added this endorsement: “I still say that every building is an investment and not an expense.”
An issue of particular sensitivity was the impact of the drive for convert baptisms on the missionaries involved. It had been dramatized a few weeks before by the tragic death of an elder who had been sent home from his mission for psychiatric care and had taken his own life. In his address at the funeral, President Moyle had tried to absolve the youth’s widowed mother, his family, and the mission president of guilt in the sad affair. The larger problem of missionary stress remained, however, and several seminar speakers addressed it. President Brown, who had twice presided over the British Mission, noted in his opening address that in “all great movements that get the impetus of a prairie fire there is danger.” He continued:
Among your grave responsibilities there is none more sacred than your responsibility to your missionaries. Love them. Care for them. Pray for them. Be with them. Encourage them. … Teach your missionaries that their competition must be with themselves, and not with the other missionaries. And have them be idealistic, be enthusiastic, be humble, and prayerful, bur keep alive within them their self-respect. …
That Henry Moyle had difficulty empathizing with mental illness has already been noted. Unconvinced that “the psychiatrist can do something that the power of the priesthood can’t,” he urged the presidents to “see if there isn’t a way for you to handle these … problem cases, by straightening their thinking Out ourselves and bringing them around to realizing that they have a testimony of the gospel. …” As he expressed love and “absolute confidence” in the mission presidents during his closing address, he reaffirmed the opinion that “the greatest evil we have in the mission field today is still idleness, laziness, indolence, indifference.” He admonished: “If there is any effective way to stimulate this [missionary effort], I cannot see any reason why you should hold back.”
The seminar ended with a gala dinner at the home of President and Sister Moyle, a 4 July reception at which the mission leaders met with parents and friends of their missionaries, and a devotional service and endowment session in the Salt Lake temple. The participants returned—or departed—to their missions with the message that “the field is white, ready for the harvest,” and the assurance of the First Presidency that they [p.207]had the people and the tools to bring in the sheaves. A seminar handbook, in three loose-leaf volumes with detailed index, accompanied them.
Henry D. Moyle was the first counselor in the First Presidency when he next went to Europe in October to dedicate chapels, organize stakes, and lend his support to the missionary and building programs. As he dedicated a meeting house in Vienna, he also rededicated Austria to the preaching of the gospel. The Saints in the new Hamburg Stake were reminded that “there was room in Germany for a hundred stakes.” The Servicemen’s Conference at Berchtesgaden was assured that “the Army can’t place any obstacles in the way of our preaching. …” The few days with the American military families at the Bavarian retreat were a respite from the rigorous schedule he was pursuing with President Dyer. He was, however, asked to speak. The outgoing European Mission president, he confessed, had asked him for a text that could be sent home to the Deseret News. “I told him I didn’t have any. But when the Brethren speak to me, it worries me…. So I got up very early the next morning, and I’ve written out a talk that I think is pretty good. And I’m afraid that is a sign I shouldn’t give it.” He did not. Instead, he shared faith-promoting stories from his own life and the visits he and Sister Moyle had enjoyed in Germany in the past.
Because of his affection for the German people, Henry D. Moyle found it difficult to accept the fact that the new missionary program was not bringing in converts like the pace-setting missions in the British Isles and the growing French-speaking missions. He interviewed, encouraged, challenged, cajoled, and scolded the missionaries, as he felt the situation warranted. The erection of the Berlin Wall need not cause alarm, he promised; should the European situation deteriorate, the missionaries would be transferred to safe locations. The medicine for discouragement was prayer and work, especially the latter. The missionary who kept busy seventy hours a week would have no time for despair, and the results would dispel defeatism. “The reward is tremendous,” he pledged. “I attribute every blessing and every attainment and every success that has come to me to the foundation that the Lord helped me establish … right here in the mission field.”
In connection with the planning and follow-up for the 1961 seminar, almost all of the general authorities were added to the Missionary Committee. President Joseph Fielding Smith continued to serve as chairman, while Henry D. Moyle, as First Presidency representative, was the defacto [p.208]leader and Gordon B. Hinckley was something of an operations manager. During the spring and summer of 1962, President Moyle and Elder Hinckley undertook to visit as many of the missions as feasible. Their primary objective was to encourage the member referral system and group teaching of investigators, which some of the missions had shown to be more productive, as well as less tedious, than conventional missionary tracting. A second purpose was to reduce some of the negative side effects of competition for convert baptism without destroying the momentum that was bringing unprecedented numbers into the church. Elder Hinckley recalls that he and President Moyle visited twenty-one missions in twenty-three days, interviewing almost all of the missionaries in Europe. President Moyle told the First Presidency afterward that the new program had been presented to almost six thousand missionaries and plans were afoot to carry it to the rest.
Persuaded by experience that the drive for numbers could produce abuses—the exclusion of missionaries from Sunday services because they had not met their quotas or the baptism of children without the knowledge or consent of their parents—President Moyle now emphasized that each missionary simply do his best. Turn adversity into opportunity, he recommended, like the elder who was stopped for speeding, asked the Golden Question of the arresting officer, taught the first lesson by the side of the road, avoided a ticket, and made a convert.14 “Never be discouraged and never try to judge yourself by the conduct or performance of somebody else,” he wrote for a mission publication in England. He repeated the message to a missionary conference in Paris, adding:
The fact that I have a son down in the French East Mission who would like to beat you in baptisms is entirely aside from the point. The only fatherly advice I had to give him when President McKay called him, without my consent or approval beforehand, to come on this mission, was, “My boy, I do not want you to be concerned with statistics. I want you to be concerned about the individual missionary assigned to your mission.” … I know that if you do what you should do on your mission you will baptize all the Lord wants you to baptize.
[p.209]The advocacy of hard work was undiminished and the confidence that hard work would produce results was unshaken. If areas as different as the Northwestern States Mission under Franklin D. Richards and Don C. Wood, the Samoan Mission under John Phillip Hanks, the Central Atlantic States Mission under George Z. Aposhian, the Mexican Mission under Harvey H. Taylor, and the Scottish-Irish Mission under Bernard P. Brockbank could lead the church, others could follow. He told the missionaries in France that “this bugaboo about the difficulty of working among the Catholics … is being rapidly dissipated”—an assurance soon vindicated by events around the world. To a missionary conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he said: “If there are some people in the community who are not susceptible, you don’t waste your time with them. If you get down to brass tacks in the work, you soon find out the element of the society here that is susceptible. …” When a missionary in France asked about the problem of converts who did not remain active in the church, President Moyle responded with a question: “Is it better to baptize a hundred and retain fifty or to baptize six hundred and retain a hundred?”
When a missionary asked how to “get more spiritual power in your testimony,” President Moyle’s reply was unequivocal:
Use what you have. There is no other secret. It is just like the way you can get more power into a blow with an ax or with your fist. It is just developing your muscles. You will have to start to strengthen spirituality by using what you have. … It is something you cannot procrastinate. It is something you cannot acquire in any other way but by using. I know that answer.
The results of the emphasis on convert baptisms were spectacular. Twenty-seven missions and a hundred new stakes were organized in fifty-one months. As the full-time missionary force grew from 5,900 in 1959 to 6,800 in 1960, 9,200 in 1961, and almost 12,000 in 1962 and 1963, the number of convert baptisms increased from 23,000 to 37,000 (1960),77,000 (1961), 105,000 (1962), and 106,000 (1963). The number of converts per missionary year rose from four to nine and more than a dozen missions surpassed the goal of one baptism per missionary per month. Never since the founding generation of Mormonism had there been such growth, and never had the material and human resources of the church been more freely expended on building the kingdom.
* * *
[p.210]The last chapter in the story of Henry D. Moyle presents elements of Greek tragedy. A good man of uncommon ability. energy, and dedication, he gained great eminence and power, then lost that power for reasons that were only partly beyond his control. That the many changes which he sponsored would generate reactions in the Latter-day Saint community was to be expected. The nature of some of the reactions might have been different, however, if Henry Moyle had not been Henry Moyle. David O. McKay provided a clue to the tragic flaw in President Moyle when he set him apart as first counselor in the First Presidency on 12 October 1961. He admonished:
Remember … in all your dealings with the brethren of the Twelve and the general authorities and the officers throughout the stakes and missions, that human hearts are tender, and consider your brethren with that spirit of kindness and love that should characterize a representative of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, reproving betimes with sharpness, as the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, but afterwards showing forth a greater love towards him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.
By then many of the Moyle innovations were already in place and their impatient sponsor was pressing for more. Many of them were producing impressive results, some were disappointing, and some were too new to evaluate. Few pleased everyone, however, and President McKay’s gentle reproach suggests that his counselor may have been less than diplomatic in handling some of the opposition that surfaced from time to time.
The fiscal changes, the sale of the church bank, and the modification of downtown landmarks distressed those who were content with the status quo or saw the changes as wrong-headed. The bureaucratic alterations displaced some worthy people and disturbed some sacred cows. The proposed church office building was objected to on economic and aesthetic grounds and seen by some as unnecessary. The growth of the building program and the concentration of its control in the First Presidency were irritants to many in important positions. Some of the labor missionaries were bad actors and/or poor workers, and the costs of chapels so constructed were unpredictable. The free-spending on buildings and programs gave concern to those who did not share President Moyle’s [p.211]optimism that the tithes of new converts would replenish the diminishing church reserves.
Then there were the missionary problems. A program that seemed laudable when viewed overall became many programs when mediated through scores of mission presidents and thousands of missionaries in hundreds of different environments. Baptizing quotas became oppressive burdens to some missionaries and temptations to deception for others.15 Branch leaders complained that “baseball baptisms” made them responsible for unconverted youngsters. 16 Missions organized youth programs that competed with the Mutual Improvement Associations. Some mission presidents felt caught between their responsibility for their missionaries and the challenge to produce. New stakes and wards, with inexperienced and insufficient leadership, sometimes foundered for want of guidance. Horrible examples came to be seen as representative outcomes when reports of them moved up the communications networks to church headquarters.
Because President Moyle saw the problems as exceptional, he responded accordingly. He preached against baptizing children without their parents’ consent and he discouraged the quota system and short-term rewards and penalties that gave rise to abuse. But he attributed missionary defeatism and despair primarily to failure of will and was reluctant to see the negative potential in the often-repeated warning that a young man could not expect to rise higher in life than the level of his performance as a missionary. The answer to convert attrition was more effective fellowshipping by the Saints. The answer to inadequate leadership was creating more opportunities for on-the-job learning. President Moyle was so enthusiastic about the quantifiable evidences of growth [p.212]that the reports of complications and backlash only stiffened his resolve. He was so sure that he enjoyed the confidence of President McKay that he paid too little heed to the omens of change.
In retrospect the omens are discernible in the gradual disenchantment of some of the key people in the LDS leadership group. It began as soon as Henry Moyle began exercising de facto leadership with the tacit support of President McKay and Clark. Restless with time spent in inconclusive committee deliberations and with rules that got in the way of action, he moved dramatically forward on the prophetic mission for which he had been called and sustained by his colleagues, the general authorities, and by the Saints at large. It rather quickly became apparent for some of them that President Moyle was not impervious to the occupational hazard of prophets-confidence that he knew what was best for the church and the world.
President Clark was soon perturbed by the new directions of church investment and spending, but his affection for Henry Moyle kept him from interposing vigorously and his failing health soon moved him away from the center of action. Members of the Council of the Twelve who had known Apostle Henry Moyle to be a strong advocate of council participation in policy making now found themselves more than ever excluded from First Presidency decisions. They and other general authorities gradually became aware of various complaints and problems as they visited the stakes and missions and worked with the auxiliaries and the church bureaucracy. Senior members of the council were not insensitive to the fact that one of their former junior colleagues was now widely perceived to be “running the church.” Nor was President McKay oblivious to these perceptions or to the brusque manner with which President Moyle sometimes dealt with opposition in his drive to get things done.
The incapacity of President Clark led President McKay to appoint Henry Moyle’s friend, Hugh B. Brown, as an additional counselor on 22 June 1961. That there was a second reason is suggested by a remark the prophet made to Elder Brown at the time. As he had once needed help to tame a stallion on the McKay farm in Huntsville, now he needed help in controlling a counselor who showed maverick tendencies. Less than four months later President Clark passed away and President McKay chose the occasion of reorganizing the First Presidency to give Henry Moyle the counsel already noted.
[p.213]President Moyle and President Brown had much in common.17 Both were or had been lawyers, teachers, oil wildcatters, Democrats, stake presidents, and apostles. Henry Moyle was younger, more successful in business, more conservative in politics, less charismatic in the pulpit, and more impressed with the measurable indices of progress. Both men loved the missionary work, but Hugh Brown had served for more than a decade as mission president and LDS servicemen’s coordinator and he was now concerned about how the campaign for convert baptisms affected the missionaries and members in the areas most heavily impacted. The difference in perspective was discernible during the 1961 mission presidents seminar and it probably contributed to President Moyle’s increasing attention to possible excesses of proselyting zeal thereafter. President McKay’s two counselors from 1961 to 1963 also had in common testimonies that were devout but not doctrinaire. They could work compatibly to eliminate clear-cut apostasy in the French Mission in 1958 and three years later cooperate to prevent the dogmas of John Birch extremism from being imposed upon the church. President Brown willingly deferred to President Moyle in most matters of business management while responding to concerns that President McKay from time to time expressed. An apostle for only three years before becoming a counselor, Hugh Brown was not insensible to the opinions of those who had served much longer in the church hierarchy.
One of the saddest aspects of these years was the gradual estrangement of Henry D. Moyle and Harold B. Lee. Two proud men who were for years like Damon and Pythias, they reached a point where their mutual friend, Marion G. Romney, had to remind them that their breakdown of communication was causing distress among people who knew them and comment among some who did not. According to President Romney, Henry Moyle then took the first step to restore dialogue, but the breach was never really healed.
Elder Lee was pleasantly surprised, as earlier noted, when Henry Moyle was called ro the First Presidency in 1959. He noted “a remarkable [p.214]spirit of acceptance” among the members of the Council of the Twelve when presidents Clark and Moyle were set apart. That evening Henry and Alberta visited the Lees until almost midnight. “They wanted to share the joy of their new appointment,” Elder Lee recorded.
After watching President Moyle assume his new role, Harold Lee wrote in his journal of 14 July 1959: “It is becoming increasingly clear that Brother Moyle is going to become an aggressive mover of plans representing the First Presidency.” His leadership in the developing church correlation program and his standing in the Council of the Twelve placed Elder Lee at the focus of questions and misgivings that these plans were soon generating. Second among the apostles in seniority, he believed that President Joseph Fielding Smith was insufficiently consulted in matters that concerned the council, and he shared some of President Clark’s uneasiness about the tempo and some of the directions of change. He was not entirely comfortable with the shift from senior to junior status in his hierarchical relationship to his friend Henry, and his friend seemed unresponsive to suggestions and advice.
Relations within the Moyle-Lee foursome were inevitably affected by the tension between these two strong-willed men.18 There were tears in Alberta’s eyes as the Lees departed after a social call on Christmas 1961, that did not generate the warmth of so many earlier shared experiences. Fern Lee died suddenly the following September, leaving Elder Lee shaken and alone at the time relations with Henry Moyle reached their nadir. A poignant postscript to the story of the comrades-in-arms who shaped the Church Welfare Program is that Elder Lee asked President Moyle and Elder Romney to serve as witnesses when he remarried in July 1963-two months before Henry Moyle’s death.
The role of President McKay was, of course, decisive in the events of 1962 and 1963. He had called on Henry D. Moyle because he saw him as a man of action, and he was pleased to see the missionary and building [p.215]programs move ahead. At first he approved most of the initiatives that were proposed and President Moyle operated with considerable latitude. The head of the church was, however, a proud man as well as a dedicated leader, unlikely to ignore developments that threatened either his leadership or his vision of the destiny of the church.
Because the missionary and mission building programs were the most visible and vulnerable Moyle projects, it was about these that President McKay began to have second thoughts. Within a month after he made President Moyle his first counselor, he called Elder Marion D. Hanks, then a member of the First Council of Seventy, to preside over the British Mission and examine the impact of the baptizing emphasis on the church members and organizations there. Elder Hanks adopted a policy of retrenchment, with repercussions in some of the other missions. The two administrative heads in Europe, N. Eldon Tanner and Theodore M. Burton, began to put more emphasis on screening prospective converts and curtailing mission costs without losing proselyting momentum. When Elder Tanner returned to Utah in October 1962 to become an apostle, another senior member of the council, Mark E. Petersen, took his place in Europe. A doctrinal and fiscal conservative, Elder Petersen instituted a number of changes that apparently reflected a policy reorientation in Salt Lake City.
Henry D. Moyle and those who shared his enthusiasm for the growth program were not unmindful of the implications of these events. That President Moyle moderated his approach to missionary quotas and youth baptisms has been shown, but he remained convinced that the “golden contacts” were there if the missionaries and members cooperated to find them. At the small seminar for new mission presidents in the summer of 1962, he took Stephen Covey aside and cautioned him against trying to change things too fast, mentioning Brigham Young’s advice to “go in at the small end of the horn.” But caution was not a Henry Moyle trait, and he pushed ahead with the initiatives that he was convinced were right. It is probable that deteriorating health exacerbated some of his responses during this critical period.
The Merthyr Tydfil chapel dedication in August 1962 is, at least symbolically, the climax of President Moyle’s career as a member of the First Presidency. The building program, the proselyting program, and the optimism for the future seemed validated by President McKay’s delight at this evidence of esteem for the prophet and growth for the church.
[p.216]Soon afterward, however, President McKay instructed Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee to prepare a plan to integrate missionary work into the developing correlation program. The recommendation put proselyting back under the direction of the Council of the Twelve, a placement for which the Doctrine and Covenants provided support. Implementation coincided with President Moyle’s hospitalization in January 1963 for heart symptoms and dental surgery. He was back at work before the end of the month, but he never attended another meeting of the Missionary Committee.
No other formal changes were made, and few outside the church leadership and the Moyle family knew that anything had happened. But the substance of power became a shadow insofar as Henry D. Moyle was concerned. To one associate he complained that although he was still First Counselor, he could not even get in to see President McKay without an appointment. To another he confided sadly: “I have been relieved of every responsibility except my title.” 19
In the months that followed, President Moyle performed his public role to the limits of his strength and continued to work for the programs and principles in which he believed. He participated actively in the property management and business affairs of the church. He promoted the building and building missionary programs, which were not curtailed and reorganized until after his death. In addition to his other talks at the April general conference, he addressed 1,500 German-speaking Saints in their native tongue. He spent many hours undergoing medical examinations and tests. He flew once more to the Phillips stockholders meeting, and when he and Alberta toured the new Alaskan-Canadian Mission with President Milton Weilenmann, he went fishing for the first time in several years. He told a conference in the East Central States Mission: “It’s awfully hard to get lazy after you have been active for almost eighty years.” He still preached the gospel of work, but in mellower tones: “If you can give to the work of the Lord these two years the best that is in you, you aren’t going to have much trouble continuing that course of conduct thereafter. …”
President Moyle and David Lawrence McKay made three trips to Europe in 1963 to see the British temple tax case to a conclusion. Sister Moyle accompanied her husband on the first two and Marie Wangeman traveled with her father in May.20 President Moyle played an active part in devising the arguments to be used before the Law Lords—the English equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court—and he was well pleased with the way the British lawyers argued the church case. On the eve of the final presentation, all of the mission presidents of the West European mission, who were gathered for a conference, met with President Moyle and other church officials in a special prayer service. Grant Thorn, one of the mission leaders, later reported the event to his missionaries:
I wish I could describe the feeling of this occasion, but how do you describe the things of the Spirit? How do you describe what happened on the day of Pentecost? How do you describe a testimony? … President Moyle’s supplication and beautiful pleading lasted approximately thirteen minutes. I have never heard such beautiful language nor the literal pouring out of one’s soul to God as happened with him.
Much to Henry Moyle’s surprise and disappointment, the Law Lords handed down a decision against tax exemption. He recovered quickly, however. “After I had had twenty-four hours to contemplate,” he wrote in his diary, “I had a satisfaction come over me that was very gratifying. I had a feeling that the tax which we would be required to pay would be as good an investment as we could make toward establishing a better feeling on the part of everybody towards us in Surrey.”
On 5 September 1963, Henry and Alberta Moyle attended a party at the Hotel Utah honoring President McKay’s ninetieth birthday. The tribute that President Moyle paid to the venerable church leader was also a reaffirmation of his own approach to life:
I am drawn forcibly to the conclusion that there is a connecting link between President McKay’s stamina and zest for life and his ability to meet the challenge of change. Far too many of us fail to realize that progress is predicated upon change and that success in life is dependent upon our ability to adapt to changing conditions without compro-[p.218]mising those basic principles and beliefs upon which our eternal progress is based.
A week later the Moyles left for Dallas, where they had opportunity to visit with Virginia’s family and Janet. Virginia remembers her parents sitting on the couch, holding hands, and her father saying: “I think your mother is really glad to be with me.” He was happy to be with the grandchildren, playing chess with Henry and Robert Marsh and noting that “they both have a good feel for the game.” He was pleased that President McKay had supported him on an issue at the most recent meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve. A Saturday afternoon of answering missionary questions and an evening of preaching and dedicating a new mission home left him very tired, but he attended an early priesthood meeting and spoke “for a good forty minutes” before rejoining Alberta for a Sunday afternoon flight to Florida.21 At the airport Janet said impulsively: “Daddy, I think we should put you on a pedestal.” To which he replied: ‘‘I’m just a father—just a person like everyone else.”
That evening President Moyle spoke to a large congregation at the Orlando Stake Center. According to the local newspaper account, his entire sermon was based on Deuteronomy 28:2: “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.” The reporter added: “Never was I more impressed.”
Two busy days followed, working on Georgia and Florida ranch problems with Wendell Mendenhall, Leo Ellsworth, Coleman Madsen, and others who had helped build these church enterprises. Miles were driven, inspecting improvements, “getting right among the cattle,” and visiting the site “which we are offering to the state for a university,” Henry noted. Others who were present reported that he opened his share of the gates.
Medication for a toothache, coupled with fatigue, forced President Moyle to stop in the middle of a Monday evening talk to a small gather-[p.219]ing at the Ellsworth Ward chapel. 22 His dictation for his journal shows that he remained indomitable: “I felt that I had delivered a message on ‘Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself’ before I quit.” Tuesday he was back on the inspection trail again, and that evening he and Alberta had a quiet visit at the ranch headquarters with Fred and Dorothy Schluter, whose membership in the church stemmed from a contact with Henry Moyle a dozen years before.
Sometime during the early hours of Wednesday, 18 September 1963, Henry D. Moyle died quietly in his sleep. Alberta found him. The medical certificate states that his heart failed. Some of his close friends say that his heart was already broken.23
1. President David O. McKay explained the following about Moyle’s call to the First Presidency: “Yesterday afternoon following Council meeting, I had a conference with Henry D. Moyle at which time he presented several welfare problems to me. After we had considered these matters, I said to him, ‘Elder Moyle, there is another matter that will have to be considered immediately, as it pertains to your trip to Europe—(Bro. Moyle having received permission from me a few days ago to take his wife and grandson to Europe during the summer vacation)—you heard what Brother Marion G. Romney said about his being in Europe this summer and visiting the German missions at which time we told him that we should like him to make the same visit that you made last year during your trip and go behind the Iron Curtain. I know that you would like to go again this year, and that is all right for you to arrange that trip, but I am going to say something to you now—I should like you to be my second counselor.’ Tears welled up in his eyes, and he said, ‘My goodness! Then, I’ll not go to Europe!’ That was his first reaction, and I said to him, ‘Yes, you had better take Sister Moyle, as you have planned, but I thought you should know about this now, and if you feel all right about it and can support the President—’ ‘Support you! I should say I can!’ interrupted Brother Moyle. … I then said, ‘Do not say anything about this as yet; you may talk to Alberta (Sister Moyle), and no one else.’ So this morning, Brother Moyle came in and said: ‘Sister Moyle and I didn’t sleep all night—we have decided that we had better not go to Europe; we feel that I should stay here and be by your side to help you.’ I was very pleased with Brother Moyle’s attitude.” David O. McKay Diary, 12 June 1959, typescript by Clare Middlemiss, in possession of Gregory A. Prince.—Ed.
3. After listening to a speech that President Moyle delivered to a club in Salt Lake City, Ernest L. Wilkinson commented: “There is no question but what President Moyle has grown remarkably in the short time he has been counselor in the First Presidency. He has a humility which he did not even show when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and will be a great leader.” Wilkinson Diary, 16 Nov. 1959.—Ed.
5. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1997), 26, says the following about Moyle’s involvement in church finances: “The church issued its last public statement of expenditures at the April 1959 conference two months before Moyle’s appointment. As soon as he was a counselor, Moyle set aside the current budget and launched a massive increase, especially in the construction of new buildings. Six months later the church had spent $8 million more than it had received in all of 1959—an extraordinary development compared to its $7 million surplus at the end of 1958. Because the published report of expenditures included the building program, Moyle persuaded McKay not to publish even an abbreviated accounting of church spending. There has been no itemized financial report since.”—Ed.
13. When Brossard telegraphed on 5 July that the mission had 403 baptisms, “fulfilling your promise,” President Moyle wired back: “Congratulations and best wishes. Look forward to 800 by January.” The actual 1960 total approached 1,000.
14. President Moyle participated in the arrangement with George Romney’s American Motors Company that first provided cars to some of the Mormon missionaries in the United States. He also approved motorbikes as a time-saving device for Europe, remembering the many hours that he had spent hiking to out-of-town appointments years ago.
15. In 1961 J. Reuben Clark, Jr., cautioned that “we should not become too engrossed in the number of baptisms to the expense of actual conversions.” J. Reuben Clark Office Diary, 13 Apr. 1961, quoted in D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1983), 141.—Ed.
16. Peggy Petersen Barton, Mark E. Petersen: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), 122, states that early in 1963 President David O. McKay sent Mark E. Petersen to head the West European Mission, with particular instructions to discontinue the type of proselyting known as ‘‘‘baseball baptisms’ … whereby youngsters were baptized into the Church without any instruction and sometimes without the knowledge or consent of their parents.” For a discussion of the “baseball baptisms,” see D. Michael Quinn, “I-Thou vs. I-It Conversions: The Mormon ‘Baseball Baptism’ Era,” Sunstone 16 (Dec. 1993): 30-44.—Ed.
17. Hugh B. Brown recorded the following: “After President Clark died in 1961, I was made second counselor and President Henry D. Moyle, who had been second counselor, was made first counselor. President Moyle and I worked together with considerable harmony, although he was a one-man show and very self-confident,” Edwin B. Firmage, ed., An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1988), 132.—Ed.
18. Concerning relations between Moyle and Lee, Ernest L. Wilkinson recorded: “After the meeting I saw President Moyle and asked him if they had had a particularly rough day in the Temple because Brother Lee had certainly been in a bad mood at our meeting. President Moyle commented that Brother Lee hadn’t talked civilly to him since he returned from his long trip to South America, that on yesterday he ‘really bawled me out.’ In view of the fact that these two brethren have probably been closer than any two in the Twelve, this was unfortunate. It shows again the human qualities of these brethren, although I still count on them as servants of the Lord.” Wilkinson Diary, 4 Feb. 1960.—Ed.
19. Richard D. Poll, dictated notes of telephone conversation with Marion D. Hanks on 9 Apr. 1981, cassette audio tape, located in A0385, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.—Ed.
20. Before returning, he visited Hank and his family at the French East Mission headquarters; driving his grandson, John Rowe Moyle, around Geneva in a Mercedes-Benz roadster was “a highlight of the trip.”
21. On the tape that Henry D. Moyle dictated the night before he passed away, he said the following: “We were all very tired, but it was a wonderful day and enjoyed a wonderful spirit of the meeting. Grateful for the effort we had put forth to hold the meetings in Dallas in the morning and in Orlando at night” (typescript located in the Richard D. Poll Collection, Box 65, Fd 1).—Ed.
22. Farrell A. Munns, president of the Orlando Stake, attended the meeting at the Ellsworth Ward and remembers that Moyle’s “remarks were … strengthening, inspiring, motivating, reassuring, and reinforcing.” Munns then continues in general about Moyle: “He was a great builder of our Father in Heaven’s Kingdom in the earth. He was a worker, a mover, who got things that needed doing done. We learned to love him and looked forward to his coming again” (Farrell A Munns, letter to Stan Larson, 3 Nov. 1997).—Ed.
23. In a 1969 interview Hugh B. Brown said: “But Brother Moyle died a broken hearted man, so did Brother Clark” (Hugh B. Brown, interview, 30 Nov. 1969, typescript, 38, in Edwin B. Firmage Collection, Accn 1074, Box 3, Fd 3, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City). Firmage, An Abundant Life, 132, revised Brown’s words to: “For no matter how hard we work or whatever sacrifices we may make, we are all subjected to disappointment, heartache, and sometimes despair. Both President Moyle and President Clark suffered some heartache toward the end of their lives.”—Ed.