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Church Building Missionaries Reunion makes history

by UK Church History Specialists

Church Building Missionaries

Over the weekend of 17th - 19th August 2018, Church Building Missionaries who served in the 1960s made history when they gathered together at a reunion in the Chorley Stake centre. Around 70 came from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, with a few others travelling from America and Canada.

On entering the foyer of the building, in addition to everyone receiving a friendly greeting and a warm embrace, they viewed a wonderful display, bringing back a mixture of great memories and feelings of deep appreciation. Many photos of the church building missionaries and the chapels they built were exhibited there. There were also photos of building site events and statements of incidents that had happened during construction. One display board that drew particular attention was a remembrance board listing almost 150 names of those who served during the building years and have now moved on. You could not read the names without a sense of gratitude and reverence enveloping you. It was pleasing to look around and see the many who remained true to that faith that they embraced all those many years ago.


“The weekend was amazing from the minute we arrived to when we left. It was so well organised and each section just hit the spot and was so appropriate.”


On Friday evening everyone enjoyed a meal together and continued mingling.Those conversations produced their own buzz as all present caught up with the past and chatted about people, places and events from so long ago.

On Saturday morning, breakfast was served and a general session was held. During the session Arnold Jones, Church History Advisor for the UK and Ireland gave a few words of introduction. Frank Blease, the Chairman of the Reunion Committee, conducted the session and welcomed everyone. He spoke of a ‘common bond between us,’ not just through building together, but that we share a common bond in the atonement of Jesus Christ – and our allegiance to Him.


“My many thanks for a wonderful weekend the CBM Re-union was fabulous, so well organised, the food was great, the workshops informative, the miracles countless, the blessing endless.”


A presentation was given by James Perry. He spoke of the background to the building programme of the sixties, and the impact it had on the builders, the missionaries and the members, as well as on the future of the Church in the UK and Ireland. By 1982, 172 chapels had been constructed. He concluded with a sincere thanks to the building missionaries, for their service and sacrifice.


“I have enjoyed the spirit of the weekend, being with people who have the Spirit.”


Three workshops were then held.  Firstly, oral histories (12 individual and 4 group oral histories were completed). Secondly, a ‘show and tell’ on memorabilia and mementos that had been brought along. Thirdly, a roundtable session that teased out even more stories and experiences of the building missionaries.

A fun activity then ensued – five groups putting their old skills to work – to build a cardboard chapel in 40 minutes!  The creations produced during that time were quite remarkable.

Late afternoon and some embarked on a historic tour of the Preston area, whilst others chilled out until the buffet dinner was served in the evening.

After dinner entertainment was led by four former building missionaries. There were various sketches including the ‘Two Ronnie’s,’ songs by the ‘Baritoners,’ the ‘Munday Family,’ and a missionary quartet. The evening ended up with all of singing, ‘When our Missions Over,’ a song that had first been sung at a building missionary convention in the 1960s. What an absolutely wonderful evening of entertainment was enjoyed by all.


“This reunion has not just been historical, it has been sacred.”


On Sunday morning a Sacrament and Testimony meeting was held.  A welcome letter was read out received from Elder Kenneth Johnson, Emeritus General Authority Seventy. He wrote of the miracles that took place during the building programme years and the growth that followed. He also expressed appreciation for those who served in such an inspired cause.

Arnold Jones spoke of our message, our ministry and our mission. In the 60s, our message was the building programme, our ministry was building physical places where the saints could worship, and our mission was salvation, providing sacred edifices of worship where salvation could be preached and fostered.


“The reunion has brought four fellow building missionaries together who have not been together for over 50 years.”


David Pickup spoke of the arrival of the Church in 1837 and the use of buildings up until 1937. He talked of the emigration activities that reduced the numbers in Great Britain, and the visit of President Heber J. Grant in 1937, when he dedicated six buildings. He reminded us of the drive in the 1950s under the direction of President David O. McKay to build up the Church internationally and the impact that this drive to build had throughout the world as well as in Great Britain. His talk concluded with a challenge, a quote from President McKay who said:
“And so, with you I say we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I am looking upon a segment of the Church of Christ who share the responsibility of preaching this gospel to all the world. For we are part of a world-wide organisation and you and I must share part of the responsibility of declaring the gospel to all the world.”


“My mission has brought me to where I am today.”


Many moving testimonies followed, that reflected the feelings of all those in attendance. A small selection of sentiments expressed are as follows:
“I have enjoyed the spirit of the weekend, being with people who have the Spirit.”
“This reunion has not just been historical, it has been sacred.”
“The reunion has brought four fellow building missionaries together who have not been together for over 50 years.”
“My mission has brought me to where I am today.”
“What joy I have felt during the time we have all been together.”

Many thank you messages have been received from those who attended. Here are just two that reflect the feelings of all who attended:
“The weekend was amazing from the minute we arrived to when we left. It was so well organised and each section just hit the spot and was so appropriate.”
“My many thanks for a wonderful weekend the CBM Re-union was fabulous, so well organised, the food was great, the workshops informative, the miracles countless, the blessing endless.”


“What joy I have felt during the time we have all been together.”


The event didn’t just make history; it was a great history-gathering occasion that brought together so many stories and historical details that will now be documented. The work of the committee continues, articles will be written, books will be published, journals entries will increase and ways will be found to ensure all these things are recorded. For it is true to say, “WHERE THERE IS NO RECORD, THERE IS NO HISTORY.”