The administration of President Heber J. Grant saw the dedication of three more temples: the Laie Hawaii Temple in 1919 (which was also the first temple constructed outside of the continental United States), the Alberta Temple in 1913, and the Arizona Temple in 1921.
The growth of the Church was taken special note of in 1920, the one hundredth anniversary of the First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized April 6, 1830, with only six official members. During the next ninety years, the Church gained several hundred thousand members. The Church’s assets, including meetinghouses, temples, and other buildings, were valued in the millions of dollars in 1920 and there were 83 stakes, 871 wards, and 24 missions. The efforts of Church members were beginning to fulfill the prophecy that the gospel would one day be brought to all nations of the earth.
When the Great Depression hit, the Church was also hit hard. As incomes dropped, so did tithing donations. People were hungry and out of work. Most were willing to work, but there was no work to be had. Harold B. Lee had developed a welfare program for the Pioneer Stake, of which he was president, and when it was successful, it was adapted and applied to the Church as a whole. There were several elements to the welfare program. Its purpose was not only to take care of those who had fallen upon hard times, but more importantly was to help those people find new ways to take care of themselves. Idleness is unacceptable and detrimental. President Grant remarked, “Many people have said, . . . ‘Well, others are getting some [government relief], why should not I get some of it?’ I believe that there is a growing disposition among the people to try to get something from the government of the United States with little hope of ever paying it back. I think this is all wrong.” Huge efforts were made to assess needs appropriately, meet them immediately, and help people to be able to meet those needs independently in the future. The welfare program was and continues to be a huge success.
Another cause for celebration during President Grant’s presidency was the acquisition by the Church of the Hill Cumorah and the Whitmer Farm. These are two of the most significant places in the Church’s history. The Hill Cumorah is where Joseph Smith received the ancient records, often called the Gold Plates, which he translated through divine power and which came forth as the Book of Mormon. The Peter Whitmer Farm is the location of the Church’s organization on April 6, 1830. Since this time, as appropriate opportunties have arisen, the Church has been able to purchase other significant landmarks in Church history.
The Church continued to grow as President Grant expanded the Church’s international missionary efforts. South America was opened for missionary work in 1925. More missions were created within the United States. By 1935, there were an additional five missions, which included the Swiss-German and German-Austrian Missions, an additional German mission (the original was split in two), the French Mission, and the Palestine-Assyrian Mission. After the failure of the armistice after World War I and after it became apparent that another world war was about to begin, the Church withdrew its 674 missionaries from European nations and brought them back safely to the United States, where they were able to fill the rest of their missions. The Saints in Europe suffered from the loss of these missionaries. They also suffered devastatingly from the ravages of war. They were cut off, some for decades, from strong communication with Church headquarters, but they continued to live the gospel and to exercise their faith regardless of their circumstances. Despite the sad condition of the world at this time, the gospel continued to roll forth. In 1945 the number of stakes had grown to 149. There were 1150 wards and 9,730 young men serving missions.