For other people named David McKay, see David McKay (disambiguation).
|David O. McKay
|9th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
|April 9, 1951
– January 18, 1970|
||George Albert Smith
||Joseph Fielding Smith
|President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
|August 8, 1950
– April 9, 1951|
||Became President of the Church
|Second Counselor in the First Presidency
|October 11, 1934
– April 4, 1951|
||Heber J. Grant
||Dissolution of First Presidency on the death of George Albert Smith
|Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
|April 9, 1906
– October 11, 1934|
||Joseph F. Smith
||Called as Second Counselor in the First Presidency
|LDS Church Apostle
|April 9, 1906
– January 18, 1970|
||Joseph F. Smith
||Resignation of Matthias F. Cowley and John W. Taylor from the Quorum of the Twelve; death of Marriner W. Merrill
|Reorganization at end of term
||Boyd K. Packer ordained
||David Oman McKay
September 8, 1873
Huntsville, Utah Territory
||January 18, 1970
Salt Lake City, Utah
||Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772°N 111.858°W
||Emma Ray Riggs
David Oman McKay (September 8, 1873 – January 18, 1970) was the ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), serving from 1951 until his death. Ordained an apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1906, McKay was a general authority for nearly 64 years, longer than anyone else in LDS Church history except Eldred G. Smith.
The third child of David McKay and Jennette Eveline Evans McKay, David Oman McKay was born on his father’s farm in Huntsville, Utah Territory, about 10 miles (16 km) east of Ogden. His mother, Jennette, was a Welsh immigrant from Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales. McKay’s father was a Scottish immigrant and was called on a two-year church mission to Scotland in 1880 after David O. McKay’s two older sisters died. The young David McKay took on responsibilities to help his mother.
McKay graduated from the University of Utah in 1897 as valedictorian and class president. Immediately afterward he was called on a mission to Great Britain. Like his father, he presided over the Scottish district of the church.
Upon his return in fall 1899, McKay taught at the high school level at LDS Weber Stake Academy (the predecessor of Weber State University) and became principal in 1902. He married Emma Ray Riggs in the Salt Lake Temple on January 2, 1901.
For his first three years at Weber, McKay taught mainly religion and literature classes. On April 17, 1902 McKay was appointed principal of Weber succeeding Louis F. Moench, the founding principal who had resigned after nine years at the helm of the institution. One of his first actions as principal was the organize a school paper.
McKay also oversaw the inauguration of sports programs at Weber. In 1905 they won their baseball game against the University of Utah. There were also men's and women's basketball teams organized during McKay's tenure.
In 1905, Apostles John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley resigned from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles due to disagreement over the manifesto forbidding polygamy. In early 1906, Apostle Marriner W. Merrill died. With three vacancies in the quorum, George F. Richards, Orson F. Whitney and McKay were called in the April 1906 General Conference of the church. McKay was 32 years old at the time.
Prior to this calling to a full time church position, McKay had planned on a career in education and educational administration. Even after his calling, McKay stayed active in education. He continued serving as principal of the Weber Stake Academy until 1908 when he was replaced by Wilford M. McKendrick. He stayed on to see new building projects that he had inaugurated completed. He also served on the Weber school's board of trustees until 1922 and on the University of Utah's board of regents from 1921 to 1922.
McKay enjoyed a long personal friendship with John F. Fitzpatrick, publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune (1924–1960). They would meet once a week for breakfast to discuss the betterment of the state of Utah. Fitzpatrick, the architect of the Newspaper Agency Corporation, a joint operating agreement between the Salt Lake Tribune (Kearns Corporation) and the LDS Church-owned Deseret News, consulted extensively with McKay to form this mutually beneficial business in 1952.
Member of the Quorum of the Twelve
McKay while second counselor in the First Presidency (ca.1939)
In October 1906, McKay became an assistant to the superintendent of the Deseret Sunday School Union. At the time, Joseph F. Smith was both President of the Church and Superintendent of the Sunday School, so much of the actual running of the Sunday School was performed by McKay. After Smith died, McKay became the Sunday School superintendent.
In 1920, the First Presidency assigned McKay to make a worldwide tour of the missions of the church with Hugh J. Cannon. They dedicated China for the preaching of the gospel, traveled to Hawaii where McKay first had the vision that led to the founding of BYU–Hawaii many years later, and visited Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Palestine. In Palestine they met up with Wilford Booth and visited the Armenian Latter-day Saints. McKay arrived back in Utah on Christmas Eve, 1921.
From 1923 until 1925, McKay served as president of the church's European Mission, headquartered in London. In this capacity, he had direct responsibility over all church functions in the British Isles and supervisory functions over mission presidents on the European continent. It was while in this position that McKay first used the slogan "every member a missionary" for the promotion of outreach. The philosophy has since become a standard practice in every unit of the LDS Church.
In 1934, McKay was called as second counselor in the First Presidency by Heber J. Grant. He also served as second counselor to George Albert Smith.
Influence on education
Within the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, McKay maintained his focus on education. As General Superintendent of the church's Sunday School organization from 1918 to 1934, McKay built LDS seminary buildings near public high schools throughout the state of Utah. Adjacent seminary buildings allowed students to take LDS religious courses along with their secular high school education. McKay also transferred three LDS colleges to the state of Utah in the 1920s: Snow College, Weber State University and Dixie College. He guided the remaining LDS school in Utah, Brigham Young University into a full four-year university. McKay was the fourth Commissioner of Church Education in 1920 and 1921.
Interestingly, the State of Utah underfunded the institutions and in 1953 the governor, J. Bracken Lee, offered to give them back to the LDS Church. McKay, then president of the church said he'd accept them, but the proposal failed on voter referendum.
Besides church education, McKay stressed missionary work, and traveled Europe extensively. He promoted the motto “every member a missionary.”
Heber J. Grant chose McKay to serve as Second Counselor in the First Presidency in 1934. He served in the presidency under church presidents Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith until 1951. In 1950 he became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, that is, the senior apostle. He was ordained president of the church on April 9, 1951 upon Smith's death.
In honor of his years of dedicated service as an educator, the Brigham Young University School of Education was named the McKay School of Education.
As President of the LDS Church
McKay became President of the LDS Church when he was 77 years old. He acted in this capacity until his death, for a total of 19 years. In this period, the number of members and stakes in the LDS Church nearly tripled, from 1.1 million to 2.8 million, and 184 to 500 respectively.
McKay was outspoken in his opposition to communism, which he saw as philosophically opposed to faith given its atheist underpinnings and its denial of freedom of choice. Furthermore, communist nations generally forbid proselytizing by the LDS Church and most other religions.
Under McKay's administration, the LDS Church's stance on Africans holding the priesthood was softened. Beginning in the mid-1950s, members of suspected African descent no longer needed to prove their lineage was not African. Instead, the church allowed dark-skinned members to hold the priesthood unless it was proved that they were of African descent. This policy made proselytizing and priesthood ordination much easier in racially mixed areas, such as South America and South Africa. Blacks of verifiable African descent (including most in the United States) were not permitted to hold the priesthood until eight years after McKay's death.
Under the auspices of McKay's First Presidency, the LDS Church spearheaded the Priesthood Correlation Program in 1961. By the 1970s, priesthood quorums directed women-led organizations like the Relief Society at all levels. Such organization became known as auxiliary organizations. Priesthood correlation continues to be a feature of the LDS Church.
Famous film director Cecil B. DeMille consulted with McKay during the production of The Ten Commandments. They formed a friendship that would last until DeMille's death. McKay invited DeMille to BYU, where he delivered a commencement address in 1957.
McKay kept a steady pace of travel until he entered his 90s. His deteriorating health in the mid-1960s ultimately to the appointment of three additional counselors to the First Presidency, as the existing leaders were increasingly infirm and often unable to preside at church meetings. By 1968, the First Presidency was composed of six members, which made the body larger than it had been since the death of Brigham Young in 1877. McKay's counselors in the First Presidency were Stephen L Richards (First Counselor, 1951–1959); J. Reuben Clark, Jr. (Second Counselor (1951–1959, First Counselor 1959–1961); Henry D. Moyle (Second Counselor 1959–1961, First Counselor 1961–1963); Hugh B. Brown (Third Counselor 1961, Second Counselor 1961–1963, First Counselor 1963–1970); N. Eldon Tanner (Second Counselor, 1963–1970); Thorpe B. Isaacson (Counselor, 1965–1970); Joseph Fielding Smith (Counselor, 1965–1970); Alvin R. Dyer (Counselor, 1968–1970).
McKay died on January 18, 1970, at age 96 and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Graveside services at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Grave markers of David O. McKay.
Lower portion of the monument.
Headstones McKay and his wife, Emma McKay.
McKay had multiple family ties to other influential Latter-day Saints and Utahns. His younger brother, Thomas Evans McKay (1875–1958) was a prominent missionary and mission leader for the LDS Church in Switzerland and Germany. He also served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles between 1941 and 1958.
McKay's niece, Fawn McKay Brodie, was the author of the controversial book No Man Knows My History, a highly critical biography of church founder Joseph Smith, Jr., the publication of which led to her eventual excommunication from the LDS Church.
McKay's oldest son was David Lawrence McKay, who was the eighth general superintendent of the LDS Church's Sunday School organization. When his father was ill, David Lawrence McKay often read his father's sermons during general conference.
One of McKay's granddaughters is the wife of former United States Senator Robert Foster Bennett. Another grandchild, Alan Ashton, was the co-founder and half-owner of WordPerfect, which was eventually sold off to Novell and then to Corel.
A building at Utah Valley University in Orem, the David O. McKay Events Center, was named for McKay after an anonymous multimillion dollar contribution was given in his honor.
- Prediction of the fall of Russian communism: "Russia enveloped with communism - a new religious freedom must come. God will overrule it, for that people must hear the truth, and truth in simplicity. Truly there is much for the church to do in the coming century." (At Brigham Young University, reported in Church News, May 28, 1960.)
- "Every member a missionary!" (Conference Report, Apr. 1959, p. 122.)
- "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." (Quoted from J. E. McCullough, Home: The Savior of Civilization , 42; Conference Report, Apr. 1935, p. 116.)
- McKay, David O. (1953). Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay. selected by G. Homer Durham. Improvement Era.
- McKay, David O. (1955). Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay. compiled by Clare Middlemiss. Deseret Book.
- McKay, David O. (1957). Pathways to Happiness. compiled by Llewelyn R. McKay. Bookcraft.
- McKay, David O. (1959). Home Memories of President David O. McKay. compiled by Llewelyn R. McKay. Deseret Book.
- McKay, David O. (1960). Secrets of a Happy Life. compiled by Llewelyn R. McKay. Prentice Hall.
- McKay, David O. (1962). Treasures of Life. compiled by Clare M. Middlemiss. Deseret Book.
- McKay, David O. (1964). Ancient Apostles. Deseret Book.
- McKay, David O. (1966). True to the Faith: From the Sermons and Discourses of David O. McKay. compiled by Llewelyn R. McKay. Bookcraft.
- McKay, David O. (1967). Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay. compiled by Clare Middlemiss. Deseret Book.
- McKay, David O. (1971). Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life. compiled by Llewelyn R. McKay. Deseret Book.
- McKay, David O. (1973). "My Young Friends...": President McKay Speaks to Youth. Bookcraft.
- McKay, David O. (1999). Stan Larson and Patricia Larson.. ed. What E'er Thou Art Act Well Thy Part: The Mission Diaries of David O. McKay. Blue Ribbon Books.
- McKay, David O. (2004). Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS Church publication number 36492.
- ^ George F. Richards and Orson F. Whitney were called at the same time as McKay to fill the three vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve.
- ^ Morrill, Jeanette McKay. Highlights from the Life of President David O. McKay. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966) p. 50
- ^ Morrill. Highlights. p. 52
- ^ Andrew Jenson. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1941) p. 931
- ^ Morrill. Highlights. p. 54-55.
- ^ Malmquist, O.N.:The First 100 Years, pp. 374-380.
- ^ Richard O. Cowan. The Church In The Twentieth Century. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985) p. 235–237.
- Ludlow, Daniel H., Editor. Church History, Selections from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, UT, 1992. ISBN 0-87579-924-8.
- Prince, Gregory and Wright, Wm. Robert. David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, UT, 2005. ISBN 0-87480-822-7.
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