Joseph Fielding Smith: Wikis

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Joseph Fielding Smith
Full name Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr.
Born July 19, 1876(1876-07-19)
Place of birth Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
Died July 2, 1972 (aged 95)
Place of death Salt Lake City, Utah
LDS Church President
Ordained January 23, 1970 (aged 93)
Predecessor David O. McKay
Successor Harold B. Lee
LDS Church Apostle
Called by Joseph F. Smith
Ordained April 7, 1910 (aged 33)
Reason for ordination John Henry Smith added to First Presidency
End of term July 2, 1972 (aged 95)
Reason for end of term Death
Reorganization at end of term Bruce R. McConkie ordained
LDS Church General Authority
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Called by Joseph F. Smith
Start of term April 7, 1910 (aged 33)
End of term January 23, 1970 (aged 93)
End reason Became President of the Church
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Start of term August 8, 1950 (aged 74)
End of term April 4, 1951 (aged 74)
End reason Became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Start of term April 9, 1951 (aged 74)
End of term January 23, 1970 (aged 93)
End reason Became President of the Church
Counselor in the First Presidency
Called by David O. McKay
Start of term October 29, 1965 (aged 89)
End of term January 18, 1970 (aged 93)
End reason Dissolution of First Presidency upon the death of David O. McKay
President of the Church
Start of term January 23, 1970 (aged 93)
End of term July 2, 1972 (aged 95)
End reason Death

Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. (19 July 1876 – 2 July 1972) was the tenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1970 until his death. He was the son of Joseph F. Smith, who was the sixth president of the LDS Church. His grandfather was Hyrum Smith, brother of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith, Jr., who was Joseph Fielding's great-uncle.

Smith was named to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1910, when his father was president of the church. No church president had a greater length of time as an apostle, (1910–1972), nor had any church president succeeded at such a high age up to that point. He became the oldest LDS Church President, and continued to hold that honor until Gordon B. Hinckley reached Smith's age in June 2006 (Hinckley continued as President for another 19 months). Smith's time as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1951 to 1970 has been surpassed by few; he served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the entire nineteen-year presidency of David O. McKay.

Smith spent some of his years among the Twelve Apostles as the Church Historian and Recorder.

Smith was a religious scholar and a prolific writer. Many of his works are used as references for church members. He wrote the text of a hymn called Does the Journey Seem Long? which appears as hymn #127 in the current edition of the LDS hymnal.

Grave marker of Joseph Fielding Smith.

Contents

Early life

Joseph Fielding Smith was born the son of Joseph F. Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Julina Lambson. His mother was a midwife. As a boy he often helped his mother by driving her carriage to the various deliveries that she attended in Salt Lake City. Growing up, Smith lived with his family in the immediate vicinity of the current West High School (Salt Lake City).

Family and personal life

Smith married his first wife, Louise Shurtliff on April 26, 1898. In March 1899, Smith was called on a mission to Great Britain by Lorenzo Snow, the President of the Church. On May 12, 1899, Smith was was set apart as a missionary and ordained a Seventy by his father. A small group of missionaries, including Smith and his older brother Joseph Richards Smith, left the next day for England. After his return from the British mission in July 1901, Smith and his wife Louise had two daughters. Louise Shirtliff Smith died of complications of a third pregnancy on March 28, 1908.[1]

Smith's married Ethel Reynolds, the daughter of prominent LDS Church leader George Reynolds, in November 1908. They had four girls and five boys. Their youngest daughter Amelia married Bruce R. McConkie; McConkie became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shortly after Smith's death. Ethel Reynolds Smith died of a cerebral hemorrhage in August 1937, at age 47.[2]

In 1938, Smith married Jessie Evans, who was at that time a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.[3] The couple had no children. Smith's third wife died in August 1971.[4]

Church service

After completing his mission in 1901, Smith began working in the office of the Church Historian and Recorder. He was the acting recorder of the general conference in 1910 when he was called as an apostle. Prior to his call as a general authority Smith served as the secretary and treasurer of the Utah Genealogical Society.[5] In 1921 Smith assumed the office of Church Historian and Recorder which he held until 1970.

Early in his apostleship, his creationist[6][7][8] views on the dispute between Mormonism's Biblical teachings and the Theory of evolution brought him attention. (See Mormonism and evolution).

Smith spent most of his time as an apostle living in Salt Lake City. He also was president of the Salt Lake Temple from 1945 to 1949. During this time, Smith was sent on a tour of the Spanish-American Mission of the church. Before his return to Salt Lake he informed the president of the Arizona Temple that he would recommend to the First Presidency that the temple ceremonies be translated into Spanish.[9]

Smith served as president of the Genealogical Society of Utah and its successor the Genealogical Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1934 to 1961. At the time of his release from this position he had already been president of the Quorum of the Twelve for over a decade. During the late 1950s, Smith attempted to reduce staff turnover at the Society by trying to convince the First Presidency that women should be permitted to stay on as employees after they married. However, Smith was only able to get a change to allow them to work six months past marriage.[10]

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Service abroad

Smith did, however, at times take church assignments abroad. In 1939 he was touring the missions in Europe and supervised the withdrawal of missionaries immediately prior to the outbreak of World War II. In 1950 Smith toured the Mexican Mission of the church.[11] In 1955 Smith made an extensive tour of Asia. On this journey he dedicated Korea and the Philippines for the preaching of the gospel. In 1957 he went to Europe for the dedication of the London Temple and also presided over the excommunication of several missionaries in the French mission who had apostatized.

Administration as President of the Church

Smith became President of the Church on January 23, 1970, following the death of President David O. McKay. Although he only served as president of the church for two and a half years, his administration introduced several new initiatives: Area Conferences were introduced; some significant organizational restructuring in the Church Sunday School system and the Church Department of Social Services; and the church magazines were realigned into the Ensign, New Era and Friend in English, with centralized planning for all publications. His tenure was also marked by steady growth in the number of serving missionaries and the dedication of LDS temples in Ogden and Provo, Utah.

See also

Works

Notes

  1. ^ Smith, Joseph Fielding Jr. and John J. Stewart "The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith" p. 162
  2. ^ Smith, Joseph Fielding Jr. and John J. Stewart "The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith" p. 249
  3. ^ Smith, Joseph Fielding Jr. and John J. Stewart "The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith" p. 254
  4. ^ Smith, Joseph Fielding Jr. and John J. Stewart "The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith" p. 373
  5. ^ source=Hearts Turned to the Fathers. Authors=James B. Allen, Jessie L. Embry and Kahlile B. Mehr. Publisher=BYU Studies. Place=Provo, Utah. Date=1995 pp. 71-74
  6. ^ Richard Sherlock, "'We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation of the Discussion': The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 13(3):63–78 (Fall 1980)
  7. ^ William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffrey (2005). Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books) ISBN 1589580931
  8. ^ Joseph Fielding Smith (1954). Man, His Origin and Destiny (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book)
  9. ^ Balderas, Eduardo. "Northward to Mesa", Ensign, September 1972, p. 30
  10. ^ source=Hearts turned to the Fathers. Authors=Allen et al. pp. 72, 150
  11. ^ http://kennedy.byu.edu/academic/LAS/RESOURCE/PDFS/CHURCH_NEWS.pdf Church News Index

External links

Religious titles
Preceded by
David O. McKay
President of the LDS Church
January 23, 1970–July 2, 1972
Succeeded by
Harold B. Lee
Preceded by
David O. McKay
President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
April 9, 1951–January 23, 1970
Succeeded by
Harold B. Lee
Preceded by
Anthony W. Ivins
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 7, 1910–January 23, 1970
Succeeded by
James E. Talmage
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