Pure Religion Moment: Sunday miracle

In 1946, the presidency of the Wells Stake in Salt Lake City helped establish a tannery to tan hides and produce fine leather for the Church’s welfare program. Lowell G. Fox, who had studied the process of tanning leather, was called by Elder Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to work under the direction of the stake presidency, Fred W. Schwendiman, Nicholas J. Teerlink and Clarence E. Schank. Brother Fox wrote about what he called a miracle:

“We have experienced many blessings at our welfare tannery. Let me tell you of a miracle which happens there every weekend. It was brought to our attention the day following our first holiday.

“Upon returning to the tannery after the holiday the hides being processed were spoiled, and we wondered what caused it. A careful check was made to see if these hides had been handled in a different way. They had been washed, cleaned, cut, and placed into large vats filled with lime water where they were to stay for four days. At the end of this time the hair would come loose from the skins.

“On regular work days the hides were removed from the vats every twelve hours, the solution strengthened with fresh lime, stirred thoroughly, and the hides returned to the lime solution. This had not been done over the holiday. However, the change was never made on Sundays, and we had never found spoiled hides on Monday morning. That could not be the trouble! There seemed to be no reason for the spoiled hides.

“All went well at the tannery until the next holiday when the incident repeated itself. Once more the hides spoiled. Not understanding why, we wrote the Technical Institution of New York to help us solve our problem. They verified the fact that while hides are soaking in the lime solution they must be stirred several times each day in order to keep them from spoiling during the time the hair is loosened; they must be taken from the vats every twelve hours, while fresh lime is added to the solution.

“This brought a strange fact to our minds: holidays are determined by man, and on these days just as on every week day, the hides need to have special care every twelve hours. Sunday is the day set aside by the Lord as a day of rest, and He makes is possible for us to rest from our labors as He has commanded. The hides at the tannery never spoil on Sundays. This is a modern-day miracle, a miracle that happens every weekend” (Handbook for Guide Patrol Leaders [Primary manual], 1964, p. 37).

— “Pure Religion The Story of Church Welfare Since 1930,” pp. 169-171, by Glen L. Rudd