The British Pageant Story
1. The world is seeking the truth
For centuries, the people of the British Isles have been seekers of the truth. Many who sought reforms in the established churches were punished for their ideas and suggestions, with many losing their lives and freedom as a result. In 1837, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called an Apostle of God named Heber C. Kimball to lead a mission in Great Britain. He arrived with 6 other missionaries in Liverpool in July that year to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and establish the Saviour’s original Church. He preached that the priesthood authority Jesus had given His first Apostles, which was lost in the Apostasy, had recently been “restored” to the earth by John the Baptist to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
2. God sends His apostles to preach the truth
The missionaries travelled to Preston where one of them, Joseph Fielding had a brother James, a minister, who had invited them to preach to his congregation. Truth seeking Christians in the town immediately became interested in the restored gospel. They were thrilled to hear of prophets and of the restored priesthood authority. Because this reception made their preachers nervous of losing their congregations, Heber and the others were not allowed to preach in their churches again. Even so, nine people were baptized in Preston, in the River Ribble within a week of Heber's first sermon—like nine little seeds being planted. Thousands of people watched on the riversides.
3. The meek and the lowly accept the truth
Since the missionaries couldn’t preach in the churches they preached in the market square. They travelled to other local towns and villages to preach. Two of those villages were thought (mistakenly) to be unfriendly. They were Downham and Chatburn. As Heber preached, many individuals and families believed, were baptized, and enjoyed the fruits of the Spirit. They came to love Heber, and many wept when he said his farewells prior to returning home in 1838. With Heber gone, what would happen to the growing band of believers and the restored Church?
4. By God’s miracles the truth goes forth
The Church continued to grow. In 1840, the Prophet of God sent more apostles to the British Isles, where they found even more people—from Ireland, Scotland as well as England and Wales—who were prepared to hear and embrace the message of the restored gospel. It was no longer just individuals and families who became members. In some places, whole congregations of Christian believers received the gospel and were baptized, and enjoyed blessings such as healings. There were so many new members that the apostles sent for more copies of the Book of Mormon to be printed. By the miracles of God, the gospel went forth and the Church began to grow in strength and numbers.
5. God gathers believers to establish the truth
Within a short time God directed, through His prophet, to call the newly baptized members to come to America to establish the centre of the Church there. It was not easy for those emmigrants to leave behind familiar and beloved lands for an unsettled frontier, but they were excited about the prospect of joining other members, founding new communities, helping to build a Temple, and to prepare their youth to take the restored gospel to the whole world. The British people had faith in the Prophet and Apostles. Though it required great personal sacrifice, they left their homes and travelled to America.
6. The truth goes forth to all the world
In America, the Church was eventually established in the tops of the mountains, as prophesied in the Bible (Isaiah 2:2-3). God relied upon the British people. They brought their rich traditions, their gifts and talents, and their deep love of the truth, which blessed the Church in immeasurable ways. They became spiritual and civic leaders, and help found literally hundreds of communities. As the decades rolled on, missionaries left from the new land to preach the gospel across the world, including in the homeland of their ancestors—the British Isles. Within the British Isles, the Church continued to grow, and likewise sending thousands to share the gospel with people in other nations, just as Heber and the other apostles had. Today, the Church and its Temples are spread across the earth, with two magnificent Temples in the British Isles—one in London and one here in Chorley (The Preston Temple). The Church continues to flourish here, in part because for centuries the British people have a history of seeking and loving the truth.
Elder Nelson said in 2013, "do you realise that the best part of the history of the church in the British Isles is yet to be written? You’re it! You’re the future! And I see nothing but continued growth and faith and courage in the church here in the British Isles. The truth is, we look forward to the future here. I see more temples, I see more stakes, I see more missions, I see more members, and you’ll be part of that history!”