Today President and Sister Walker took the missionaries on a local tour of church history sites.
The Old Cockpit: In July of 1837 Apostles Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde along with Elder Willard Richards and several priests including Joseph Fielding Smith landed in Liverpool and came on to Preston. They preached in Joseph Fielding's brother's church, but after several desired baptism, were not welcomed back. They then started holding meetings in the Old Cock Pit.The Cock Pit originally housed cock fights but eventually become the meeting place for the Temperance movement. One of President Walker's ancestors heard the gospel preached here in the Cock Pit and joined the church.
The building at the corner of Fox and Wilfrid Street: The top two floors of this building on Fox and Wilfrid Street were the first accommodations of those first missionaries. It was here that they were attacked by evil spirits the night before the first baptisms outside of North America were to take place.
15 Wadham Road, Preston: This was President Hinckley's first missionary apartment. Sister Walker tells of her father's discouraging letter home and his father's response: "Forget yourself and go to work."
River Ribble: The first baptisms in England occurred on July 30, 1837 where nine individuals were baptized in the River Ribble in the presence of approximately eight-thousand onlookers. Heber C. Kimball wrote: "I had the pleasure, about 9 a.m., of baptizing nine individuals and hailing them brethren and sisters in the kingdom of God. These were the first persons baptized into the Church in a foreign land, and only the eighth day after our arrival in Preston. A circumstance took place which I cannot refrain from mentioning, for it will show the eagerness and anxiety of some in that land to obey the Gospel. Two of the male candidates, when they had changed their clothes at a distance of several rods from the place where I was standing in the water, were so anxious to obey the Gospel that they ran with all their might to the water, each wishing to be baptized first. The younger, George D. Watt, being quicker of foot than the elder, outran him, and came first into the water."
Today Avenham Park borders the River Ribble where the baptisms took place, and the original wood bridge that the men ran across has been reconstructed.
|the bridge on the River Ribble|
|Avenham Park along the river|
Downham and Chatburn: The small villages of Downham and Chatburn sent for Heber C. Kimball to come and teach them. Downham looks very much like it did in the 1800’s. The entire city is owned by Lord and Lady Clitheroe so all properties are rented by tenants. Lord Clitheroe does not allow overhead electricity lines, aerials, or satellite dishes so all the utilities are underground. The only noticeable modern change is that the cobblestones have been paved over, although some can still be seen on the street edges. Everything is made from stone quarried just up the hill. The view from the front door of the church has been classified as one of the most beautiful in England.
|the view from the church in Downham|
Chatburn Baptismal Site: Elder Kimball sometimes baptized 15 people a day here. He would just get out and get dry when someone else would come requesting baptism. This sometimes happened when they had to chip 12-14 inches of ice to make a hole. Until 2008 historians thought all baptisms were done in the River Ribble, but they have evidence that those in Chatburn and Downham were performed here.
from Christian's e-mail:
The church history tour was AMAZING. I LOVE ENGLAND – most beautiful place on earth. I felt the spirit so strongly at some of those spots. It was so awesome – definitely a highlight of my MTC stay. Which by the way, I leave for London next week! I am pretty excited. Time is actually flying by – it is incredible. Tell people to actually write me. I’ll get you guys the address of my flat.
My favorite part of the church history tour was a little village called Downham. Google it – it’s awesome. It hasn’t changed since the 1800's apparently. It was sweet. Lots of great missionary work has been done there too.
I hope you guys know I love you and you are in my prayers.
By the way I’m starting to pick up an accent, my 'R's are becoming very soft.
P.S. Tell Sean that a Scottish slang word is Sassonack, which means traitor, I guess. That’s the only slang word I have heard so far. Plenty more to come.