Origin of the “Threefold Mission of the Church” Statement

The Salt Lake Tribune is announcing, apparently on the authority of a statement by Church spokesman Scott Trotter, that a fourth “mission” — to care for the poor and needy — is indeed being added to the traditional formulation of the Church’s unique responsibilities in the world to “proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead.” This news has already been discussed in the bloggernacle (by Chris Henrichsen here, for example, drawing on David H. Sundwall’s report here), and will no doubt receive even more attention now and when the additional phrase is presented to the Church in a more formal way.

Keepa’s angle on this story is, naturally, historical.

The Tribune article quotes what has become the accepted history of these three (now four) missions:

This mission first was coined by late LDS President Spencer W. Kimball in the 1980s and since then has been repeated as a mantra by the church’s more than 13 million members.

This dating of the statement refers to Pres. Spencer W. Kimball’s April 1981 conference address A Report of My Stewardship, wherein he said:

My brothers and sisters, as the Brethren of the First Presidency and the Twelve have meditated upon and prayed about the great latter-day work the Lord has given us to do, we are impressed that the mission of the Church is threefold:
Read the rest of this story at keepapitchinin.org
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