Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Seventy and president of the United Kingdom/Ireland Area gave the first in a series of annual lectures to theology students at Nottingham University May 7. The university houses the first center for Mormon Studies in the British Isles, established Oct. 23, 1990, for post-graduate work in Mormon theology. (See Church News, Nov. 10, 1990.)
Forty theology students – all non-LDS – attended the 50-minute lecture, which was titled "The Reading – and Making – of Mormon History." Elder Holland prefaced his remarks by saying that although the Church has formally been established for 161 years "Mormonism is not a new, but a very old religion." He then spoke about the "restitution of all things," foretold by the apostles Peter and Paul.Elder Holland walked students along the course of Church history, finishing with the rise of the Church in Great Britain, and telling of the prominent part that British saints have played in the history of the Church. He emphasized that during one point in the 1850s there were nearly three times as many members of the Church in Britain than were then in the United States.
The Reverend Professor J. Heywood Thomas, head of the Theology Department, gave closing remarks and said this was a "most appropriate and inspiring lecture . . . to have been introduced into the living past of Mormon Church history." He said he "rejoice[d] in seeing this as simply the beginning of such a series of lectures."
After the formal lecture, a group of students requested to visit with Elder Holland about Church policies and beliefs. The group was led by Professor Douglas Davies, the senior lecturer in the Theology Department and the main organizer for the Mormon Studies Center.