Friday, October 9, 2009

President Joseph F. Smith and Other General Authorities of the Church Visit Southern States Mission

Following the dedication of a chapel in Independence, Missouri, on Sunday November 22, 1914, President Joseph F. Smith and his party take a visit of the Souther States Mission.

711 Fairview Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee
From Left to Right.—Bishop C. W. Nibley, Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr.,
Sister Rebecca N. Nibley, President Joseph F. Smith, Sister Julina Smith, President Charles W. 
Penrose, Sister Romania B. Penrose, Elder Chas. A. Callis, Sister Grace E. Callis,
Elder Geo. Albert Smith. Sister Emily Smith is standing behind her father and mother.
[The following description was written by President Charles A Calllis of the Southern States Mission. and Published int he Liahona on December 29, 1914.]

The visit of President Joseph F. Smith, President Chas. W. Penrose, Elders George Albert Smith and Joseph F. Smith, Jr., of the Council of the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishop, C. W. Nibley, to the Southern States Mission, is the greatest missionary event in the history of the Mission. President Smith is the first president of the Church who has visited this mission. He and his party were well received. They spoke to large audiences: they made hundreds of friends and they preached the Gospel in the power and demonstration of the Spirit.


The president and his party arrived in this city Tuesday, November 24th. During the day they visited places of interest. A priesthood meeting was held in the afternoon with the elders of the Middle Tennessee and Mississippi Conferences, at which good counsel was givien by President Smith and the other brethren. A public meeting was held in one of the largest halls in the city that evening. Several hundred people attended. President Smith, Bishop Nibley and President Penrose delivered excellent doctrinal discourses. A well trained choir, under the able leadership of Brother H. LeRoy Stewart, one of the local elders, accompanied by an orchestra of four violins, two cornets and a piano, rendered excellent singing. A vase of beautiful flowers was on the table in front of the speaker and the platform was decorated with palms. The Commercial Appeal, one of the leading papers of the South, made the following comment on President Smith: "Joseph F. Smith, head of the Mormon Church, visited Memphis yesterday. He spoke to a meeting of missionaries in the tabernacle in the Woman's Building in the afternoon, and at night addressed an audience of several hundred who filled the big hall. President Smith is positive in speech. He is a speaker of great force. Nothing he said last night could be construed as out of the ordinary at all. But as he voiced the plea it was not quite usual. He did not seem to be trying for an effect, but he did secure one. Several of the women who were present held their handkerchiefs to their eyes; several men almost seemed worried. There were plenty of unbelievers in the crowd, but all listened to him with great attention—even smiles were lacking."


Wednesday morning, after an all night ride, the visitors reached Chattanooga. They were taken to the Mission headquarters where ' they were welcome and honored guests. During the day historic places were visited. That evening a public meeting was held in the Lyric theater. A great audience assembled. Leading business and professional men were present. The speakers were President Smith, Bishop Nibley and President Penrose. Their discourses were able and convincing. President Smith was applauded at the close of his splendid address. The opening and closing prayers were offered by Elders Joseph F. Smith, Jr., and George Albert Smith, respectively. A quartet of elders sang very nicely a number of hymns. The Chattanooga Times, in its report of the meeting said:"President Smith made an interesting and attractive figure as he stood on the stage of the Lyric last night. More than six feet in height, massive, vigorous and apparently in the prime of life, he dominated the meeting. He commanded attention to every utterance. He grew eloquent through pure earnestness and enthusiasm in his subject.

Dressed in simple black, with a long gray beard that falls to the middle of his breast, he has the appearance of a prosperous, contented farmer, until he turns those great luminous eyes toward his hearer, and when looking into them it is not hard to believe that this man, standing at the head of a great religious denomination, is endeavoring to end his life-work by carrying his teachings to every part of the globe through a campaign of persuasion and education. After the meeting, President Callis introduced all in the audience who desired to meet President Smith, and for sometime he held an informal reception on the stage. He had a handshake and a kind word for everyone."

The Chattanooga News made the following comment: "We believe it is necessary for men to have faith in the Father of Christ and the Father of the children of men," declared Joseph F. Smith, President of the Mormon Church, in the course of an eloquent address delivered before a large audience at the Lyric theater Wednesday night. President Smith is a pleasing speaker and held the attention of his hearers throughout his remarks. He is a picturesque figure, tall, commanding with snow white hair and flowing beard. Despite the fact that the burdens of seventy-six years, sixty of which have been spent in advocating the principles of peace, union, love, good will and good works, as he stated in his address, he holds himself erect and the lines in his face suggest strength of character and gentleness.

In closing President Smith said: "I believe in Mormonism with all my heart. I know its principles are correct and true." "One of the interesting men who is traveling with President Smith is Charles W. Penrose, second counsellor to the president of the church. Mr. Penrose is eighty-two years of age. Within two months he will pass the eighty-third mile-stone in life, and he declares he is as active and hearty today as forty years ago. For twenty years Mr. Penrose was editor of the Deseret News, the largest paper in Salt Lake. He is one of the most faithful and enthusiastic of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, and has done much for the church."

President Smith and his party were entertained by prominent citizens while they were in Chattanooga. They had a pleasant visit with the mayor. They ate their Thanksgiving dinner at the Mission home, and they held a Priesthood meeting and Thanksgiving service with the elders of the East Tennessee, East Kentucky, Virginia and Ohio and Kentucky Conferences, and visiting members.

President Smith's party also made stops in Atlanta, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. The building in the photo is no longer standing.


Bessie said...

This is a great post. I enjoyed the talks, and seeing the wives traveling with their husbands on assignment. Would you know if this is the building used for mission headquarters in 1883-1885 when John Morgan served as president?

Susan W H said...

I agree with Bessie--what a great post and a nice surprise for me on this foggy morning. Did the photo come from the Liahona article? The effect of Smith's talk and presence on his listeners is fascinating to read about.

BruceCrow said...

Elder Morgan described the mission home in 1884 as a room in a hotel in which the Elders working there both worked and slept. It doesn't sound like the same building to me.

The photo was sent by a friend with a title and a date. That led me to the article which included a copy of the photo.