Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » 2012 Priesthood/Relief Society Course: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith

2012 Priesthood/Relief Society Course: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 25, 2011

While I haven’t seen any announcement anywhere, and can’t find this item mentioned on or in the catalog for purchase, the new lesson manual Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith is printed and publicly available at the Church History Library, presumably prepared for use in next year’s Priesthood and Relief Society curriculum.

George Albert Smith (1870-1951) was president of the Church from 1945 to 1951. In his 81 years (he died on his birthday, April 4), he filled a mission to the Southern States (1892-94); was president of the European Mission (1919-21); was called as an apostle (1903); and was sustained as president of the Church in 1945. I think it is interesting that he served in Europe during its recovery from World War I, and directed the Church’s efforts to help the world, primarily Europe, recover from World War II.

His interests apart from church administrative duties included Scouting, marking and memorializing historic sites of the Church, and assistance to the blind – his own poor eyesight may have been a motivator in his service to the Society for the Aid of the Sightless in Utah and his supervision of the publication of the Book of Mormon in Braille. He is remembered for his compassion and for his commitment to peace, both in the hearts of individual men and women and between men and nations.

Contents of the new manual are:

Historical Summary
The Life and Ministry of George Albert Smith
1. Living What We Believe
2. “Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself”
3. Our Testimony of Jesus Christ
4. The Prophet Joseph Smith, God’s Instrument in Restoring the Truth”
5. The Holy Priesthood – for the Blessing of God’s Children
6. Sustaining Those Whom the Lord Sustains
7. The Immortality of the Soul
8. Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors
9. Open Your Soul to the Lord in Prayer
10. The Scriptures, the Most Valuable Library in the World
11. Revelation from God to His Children
12. An Enthusiastic Desire to Share the gospel
13. Doing Our Part to Share the Gospel
14. How to Share the Gospel Effectively
15. Advancing the Work of the Lord
16. “Offer Up Thy Sacraments upon My Holy Day”
17. The Strengthening Power of Faith
18. Stay on the Lord’s Side of the Line
19. Temporal and Spiritual Blessings from the Word of Wisdom
20. Temporal Salvation for Ourselves and Others
21. The Power of Kindness
22. Bringing Up Children in Light and Truth
23. “Of You it Is Required to Forgive”
24. Righteous Living in Perilous Times
List of Visuals



  1. Ardis,

    I know you will miss the Gospel Principles manual.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 25, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

  2. You probably have nooooooo idea how much I will miss that manual, Chris!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  3. Will it discuss his nervous breakdowns?

    Comment by RobF — August 25, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  4. What do you think, Rob? Which of the listed lessons does that illustrate?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

  5. Let’s discuss my nervous breakdowns instead.

    Comment by Chris H. — August 25, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  6. Okay, Chris, we’ll put that in the lesson on “staying on the Lord’s side of the line” and use you as an example of what happens when we don’t. :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  7. I collect these books, but I haven’t been to an adult priesthood lesson for years. And I only have for about 2 years total in the past 25. I am apparently eternally assigned to Aaronic Priesthood classes.

    So, I also miss those 5th Sunday lessons which is just fine by me.

    Comment by Grant — August 25, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

  8. Thanks for the heads up, Ardis.

    Do you by any chance know where he served in the Southern States mission? I somehow did not know he has served there.

    Comment by Christopher — August 25, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  9. … had* served there.

    Comment by Christopher — August 25, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  10. I don’t know, Chris, other than seeing that he was mission secretary part of the time and therefore was probably in Chattanooga. I’ll poke around and see where he and his wife Lucy (his mission companion) might have served away from mission headquarters.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  11. The chapter in Gibbons’ bio (brief) doesn’t mention working anywhere except as mission staff, which required him to tour the mission regularly. Maybe he was based in Chattanooga his entire mission, Chris.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

  12. I like G.A. Smith. His compassion for the European Saints after World War II is remarkable. I also like how he lived very meekly while president of the church. If I recall, he lived with his daughter after his wife died. (I think that was the case).

    Comment by Steve C. — August 25, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

  13. I actually would like to read a lesson titled “The Power of Kindness”. After two years of Joseph Smith and two years of Gospel Principles, I’m excited for this! Of course, it doesn’t really matter because I’m in YW.

    Comment by HokieKate — August 25, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

  14. Ardis and Chris: I have looked at portions of Lucy’s mission diary, for she took a trip to the Chicago World’s Fair during the mission. I don’t have the whole thing,but I can get you the call number from the Archives. From what I can tell, she lived a boring existence as a missionary wife, and didn’t reveal much about her husband’s activities.

    Comment by Andrea — August 25, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

  15. I don’t know Ardis, but the way I had understood it, young Elder Smith felt a lot of pressure and probably was too hard on himself, but there well may have been other mental issues going on–perhaps this was a missed opportunity to let people with mental illness or emotional issues know that God loves them, sometimes even prophets have to struggle with these issues, etc.?

    Comment by RobF — August 25, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

  16. He was also the president of thhe church during the first televised general conference. You can find video of him speaking on YouTube.

    Comment by Bambi — August 25, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  17. Does this mean the new RS “History” will not be used for lessons?

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — August 25, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  18. I’m excited for this new lesson manual. I’m getting really tired of the Gospel Essentials manual.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — August 25, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

  19. Thanks, Ardis and Andrea.

    Comment by Christopher — August 26, 2011 @ 6:51 am

  20. I have no knowledge of that, BiV — but there’s room for both, since surely we wouldn’t use either book for every lesson each month.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2011 @ 6:57 am

  21. I have enjoyed the GP discussions in my HP Group, even on “ready, aim, read” days. I suppose we’ll now have to relearn how to “teach” these lessons again. I know very little about President Smith, so I’m looking forward to it.

    Comment by Paul — August 26, 2011 @ 7:33 am

  22. This is interesting. in some ways, GAS is one of the least, if not, the least known Presidents of the Church having been sandwiched in between Heber J Grant and David O McKay. I am looking forward to it.

    Comment by Jeff Spector — August 26, 2011 @ 8:16 am

  23. When I was in the Santa Monica stake the breakdowns that interest RobF came up because that is where Elder Smith went to recuperate. One of the stake president’s counselors told of tracking down the house Elder Smith had stayed in, which was still there. My ward included Venice Beach, which in my time was a bit of a magnet for Mormons with strained relations with the Church. Two General Authorities’ inactive daughters were among them.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 26, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  24. The Mormon History Association published a very well done article on Smith’s breakdown in the Fall 2008 JMH. It was by Mary Jane Woodger and is titled “Cheat the Asylum of a Victim”: George Albert Smith’s 1909–12 Breakdown”

    If you have access to the JMH I would highly suggest reading it. The U of U has digitized the JMH at least through 2004 but I do not know if this issue is online.

    The Fall 2008 issue of the JMH is a very good one overall. Other excellent articles include:

    – “Temple Pro Tempore”: The Salt Lake City Endowment
    House by Lisle G Brown

    – “They Shall Be Made Whole”: A History of Baptism for Health by Jonathan A. Stapley and Kristine L. Wright

    – Under the Gun at the Smoot Hearings:Joseph F. Smith’s Testimony by Michael Harold Paulos


    – Buchanan’s Thrust from the Pacific: The Utah War’s
    Ill-Fated Second Front by William P. MacKinnon

    Comment by andrew h — August 26, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  25. Like Grant, I’m perpetually stuck in Aaronic Priesthood, but I’m one of those for whom GAS is the “least known.” (Well, as president of the church maybe a three-way tie with John Taylor and H.B. Lee).

    I can tell I need to do some extracurricular reading.

    Comment by The Other Clark — August 26, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

  26. Especially looking forward to lessons 7, 9 and 23. I actually think it would have been great if there was a lesson on mental illness. We could use it.

    Comment by BHodges — August 26, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

  27. G.A. Smith served the first four months or so of his mission in the Middle Tennessee Conference before moving to the mission office.

    Comment by Justin — August 26, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

  28. Of course, what everyone will want to know is if the manual portrays George Albert Smith as a monogamist.

    Comment by Left Field — August 27, 2011 @ 8:35 am

  29. #28 – Yeah, especially since the manuals are focused on the teachings of the prophets. :)

    I’m looking forward to this manual, for the same reasons as others have mentioned. I don’t know enough about him.

    Comment by Ray — August 27, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  30. There will be problems somewhere if it suggests otherwise, Left Field.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 27, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  31. Left Field – Don’t confuse the George Alberts (hey even “The New Era” has done it).

    George Albert Smith the Church President was born in 1870 and married Lucy Woodruff (Granddaughter of WW) in 1892. There is no record I am aware of that there was a post manifesto plural wife (neither Quinn nor Hardy mention one).

    In fact, one unique thing about George Albert Smith was that he was single when he was President of the Church, his wife having died in 1937. It will be interesting to see if this is brought out in the manual.

    Comment by andrewh — August 28, 2011 @ 3:31 am

  32. Help! I’ve been asked to teach on Sunday(lesson 5 2012) and I am looking for some ideas..lesson helps! I’m not very creative and I don’t want to bore the sisters! Thanks!

    Comment by Joni Sittler — February 17, 2012 @ 8:41 am

  33. What’s the lesson topic? The Holy Priesthood. For Relief Society, you’d want to pull out a unifying theme. That could be hard with this lesson since it’s a very straight set of quotes about the priesthood with very little surrounding material. Pres Uchtdorf is very good with unifying themes: the forget-me-not, the “happily ever after,” etc., that give people something to organize their thoughts around. (A good one for this lesson might be to show a copy of a Priesthood Line of Authority.)

    If you can come up with a secondary unifying theme, great; if not, rely on personal experience. Start the lesson with a story about an influential home teacher or a time when you or your family have been blessed by the priesthood. Stories are more memorable than quotes, and they will prompt memory and allow the sisters to be ready to share their own thoughts and experiences.

    Very important for these lessons: prayerfully choose the materials to present. Don’t try and get through too much reading.

    If I were to teach this lesson (instead of the one I’m teaching in Young Women) I’d choose three or four quotes and then prayerfully consider questions to ask the class. As Ardis has explained repeatedly on this blog, coming up with good questions is key to a good lesson.

    Consider the needs and circumstances of your sisters. If your ward is primarily made up of retired people, don’t bother talking about how to prepare sons for the priesthood. But if it’s a young marrieds ward, that could be a vital part of the lesson. If there are single sisters or women without priesthood holders in the home, you would want to structure at least part of the discussion around that.

    In presenting the lesson, talk about one of the principles outlined the manual, present a quote, and ask some discussion questions about peoples’ experiences and the things they’ve learned about this gospel principle. Give them time to share. If people don’t speak up immediately, either wait, or share another experience and then ask the question again. Don’t worry about “getting through” the material you prepare. Use the scriptures, too, at least once!

    Well, that’s how I would do it. Figure out something that works for you and your ward.

    Best wishes!

    Comment by Researcher — February 17, 2012 @ 9:53 am

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI