Cradling Mormonism: The Rise of the Gospel in Early Victorian England

“The Gospel is spreading,” jubilantly wrote the Mormon Apostle Heber C. Kimball from England in 1840, and “the devils are roaring.” Elder Kimball, along with six missionary associates, first landed in England from America in July 1837. Their proselyting efforts produced what seemed to them a remarkable success. In less than a year, they added approximately 1,500 to the handful of members they had found in the British Isles.

Why had Victoria’s subjects found this imported religion from America so compelling? The answer lay partly with the cradling social conditions of the time. Too, the reason for Mormon success was the result of the qualities of the religion itself. Mormonism as it was first preached in Great Britain was a youthful and vibrant faith that spoke in the British industrial and preindustrial vernacular. Its message fit perfectly (some would say providentially) with the social and religious upheaval of the time.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 27:1
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