We are pleased to have the author of For All the Saints – Kristen Smith Dayley – as a guest poster about her book.
By 1941, the rented hall that housed the Cambridge Branch was inadequate for the congregation’s needs. When Levi Edgar Young, second president of the New England Mission learned that a piece of property comprising the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow estate was available for purchase, he saw an opportunity to strengthen the Church’s fledgling roots in Massachusetts.
President Young had barely expressed interest in the property, however, when word leaked out that the Mormons were trying to buy it. President Young was at his office when he received a telephone call from the man handling the sale. “If you’re not here in an hour with the money,” he was told sternly, “the deal is off.” No one in the branch had funds for a purchase of this magnitude, and there was no way to raise the amount in so short a time.
Undaunted, President Young rushed downtown. At the agent’s office, he opened his personal checkbook and wrote a check for over $20,000, knowing his account could not cover such a figure. The agent eyed the check warily. “How do I know this check is good?” he asked. Breathing a prayer, President Young replied, “Call my bank.”
Giving President Young no chance to warn anyone what he’d done, the man picked up the phone and called the Utah bank imprinted on the check. “I have a man here named Young,” he barked. “He has just written a check for $26,000. Will you stand behind it?”
Processing the abrupt interrogatory, the bank president asked, “Who did you say?”
“Levi Edgar Young,” replied the man in Boston.
The response was immediate: “Mr. Young’s check is good for any amount he wants to write.”
President Young’s brash action allowed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to successfully purchase the property on Cambridge’s historic Brattle Street, where a lovely brick meetinghouse stands today. It was the hub of the Church in New England throughout the 1950s and 60s and is home to several wards today.
For All the Saints tells the compelling tale of the Church’s growth in New England over the last century. Drawing upon hundreds of oral histories from General Authorities, new converts and everyone in between, it demonstrates the miracles wrought by ordinary men and women who are partnered with the Lord. In doing so, it provides vivid examples of what active discipleship looks like and teaches us how to build the Kingdom in our own corner of the vineyard. Said President Henry B. Eyring of his experiences in the area, “It’s a story of heroes; it’s a story of how the Lord grows the Church.”