Prophetic pattern of ministering

Joseph F. Smith, Charles W. Nibley and A. William Lund pose in front of a train. Credit: Utah State Historical Archives, Utah State Historical Archives
President David O. McKay in Australia, 1955. Credit: Adam Droge, Provided by Dennis O’Riordan, Provided by Dennis O’Riordan
LDS Church President David O. McKay at the site dedication and groundbreaking for the Bern Switzerland Temple in 1953. Credit: Deseret News Archives, Deseret News Archives
Elder Spencer W. Kimball and his wife, Camilla, arrive at the airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1964.
From left: President Ezra Taft Benson and President Thomas S. Monson, then second counselor in the First Presidency, stand together at the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple. Credit: Courtesy John Hart, Courtesy John Hart
After dedicating the Hong Kong Temple May 26-27, 1996, President Gordon B. Hinckley and his wife, Sister Marjorie Hinckley, visited Shenzhen, China, a “sister cultural center” to the Church’s Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii. A burst of confetti added Credit: Gerry Avant, Church News
Amarachi Kamu-chukwuma, 6 years old, handing a bouquet of flowers to President Gordon B. Hinckley on Aug. 5 upon his arrival at Aba Nigeria Temple grounds. (Submission date: 08/06/2005) Credit: Julie Dockstader Heaps
Ezra Taft Benson was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 1, 1943. He was set apart as President of the Church in November 1985. Credit: Courtesy Church History Library, Courtesy Church History Library
LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson greets people at the Curitiba Brazil Temple dedication on June 1, 2008. Photo by Gerry Avant Gerry Avant
The image shows President Thomas S. Monson and President Henry B. Eyring saluting the 87,000 people inside Mexico City's Aztec stadium during the LDS Mexican cultural event. Monson and Eyring are wearing Mexican serapes to stay warm. Jason N. Swensen/Deseret News Credit: Jason N. Swensen, Deseret News, Deseret News
George Albert Smith and his wife, Lucy, standing in front of an airplane.
Second from the left, President William F. Perschon of the Swiss-Austrian mission, Elder Samuel E. Bringhurst, president of the new temple, LDS Church President David O. McKay and Elder Richard L. Evans of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles leave the Bern Credit: Deseret News Archives
President Spencer W. Kimball in Jerusalem in October 1979. Credit: Courtesy Church History Library, Courtesy Church History Library

For most of the 19th century, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged converts from outside the United States to migrate to Utah. Around the turn of the 20th century, however, Church leaders reversed this policy of gathering, which began a pattern of LDS Church presidents visiting the units of the Church around the world. The following list, compiled by the LDS Church History Library, details some of those travels:

• Joseph F. Smith visited the LDS Church’s missions and branches in Europe on two occasions as prophet, in 1906 and 1910.

• Heber J. Grant visited members and missionaries in Europe in 1937; he also traveled to Hawaii in 1919 and Canada in 1923, coinciding with temple dedications at both locations.

• George Albert Smith made two international trips as president of the Church to visit the members in Mexico in May 1946 and to organize a stake in Canada in 1948. He was the first LDS prophet to use commercial airlines in traveling for LDS Church business, although David O. McKay was the first prophet to travel overseas by airplane.

• David O. McKay traveled extensively as president of the Church, visiting the missions and branches in Europe in 1952, Latin America and South Africa in 1954, and the Pacific in 1955. He also dedicated temples in Switzerland in 1955, New Zealand in 1958 and England in 1958.

• Joseph Fielding Smith made two international trips as Church president, to visit members in Mexico in July 1970 and to preside at the Church’s first area conference in England in 1971.

• Harold B. Lee visited members and missionaries in Europe and the Middle East in 1972. He also presided at area conferences in Mexico in 1972 and Germany in 1973.

• Spencer W. Kimball continued to preside at area conferences as president of the Church, visiting multiple countries on each trip. He made 10 international trips from 1974 to 1980.

• Ezra Taft Benson made an international trip as Church president to dedicate the Frankfurt Germany Temple in August 1987. In July 1987, he presided over several events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Church in the British Isles.

• Howard W. Hunter made one international trip as prophet to preside over the creation of a stake in Mexico City in December 1994.

• Gordon B. Hinckley traveled extensively as prophet, logging more than 1 million miles during his tenure and visiting more than 160 countries. He was 95 years old when he traveled to Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Kenya and Nigeria in 2005.

• Thomas S. Monson made several international trips as prophet, mostly to preside at temple dedications or temple groundbreaking ceremonies, including Brazil, Panama and Mexico in 2008; Canada, Philippines, Ukraine and Italy in 2010; and Canada in 2011. He also visited the members in Germany on an extended trip in October 2012.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed