Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Ready-Made Congregation in Alabama, 1921

A Ready-Made Congregation in Alabama, 1921

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 08, 2013

William Carlyle Olson (1899-1982) of Ovid, Idaho, was serving as president of the Alabama Conference of the Southern States Mission in 1921, when he took advantage of unusual circumstances to preach the gospel:

“I’m going to tell you of the best open-air meeting I have ever held or attended. Elder Ivan R. Howell and myself arrived in Scottsboro (the county seat of Jackson County) Monday night. We learned that the next day there was to be an aeroplane exhibition.

“The people came to town just like it was a circus. The plane appeared at 10 a.m. and did a few stunts, then retired to a field at 11o’clock, to reappear at 2 p.m. Here was our opportunity. We went to the mayor and received permission to hold a street meeting. As the majority of the people were gathered on the Court House Square we decided that it would be the proper place to hold forth. So, mounting the steps of a small tower, we commenced our meeting. By the time we had finished the second song, over 500 men, women and children had gathered on all sides of us. And for an hour we spoke on the first principles of the Gospel. I don’t think I ever felt better in my life. After the meeting, we sold 11 small books, two Books of Mormon, and passed out 500 tracts.”



  1. I actually did have a mission experience like this one in Buenos Aires. Some elders built four very nice signs on 4′ x 8′ plywood with sturdy legs. Each side had the pictures from a different discussion and temples and such like in a visitors’ center. It was in the park that was between a train station, bus station, subway station and shopping center. As people walked by, they would look at the signs and we could teach dozens of discussions each day and get referrals. It was a great experience.

    But one day another preacher set up his place next to us with a bullhorn and started gathering people to tell them about the evils of cults like Mormons. He gathered quite a crowd who listened for a few minutes then came over to see what we had that was so bad. It turned into a great street meeting.

    Comment by Carol — May 8, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  2. Scottsboro, Alabama was my first area on my mission in October 1964. I loved that area and the people were very friendly. I baptized one of my best and lasting converts there.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — May 8, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

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