GRANT, Lucy: The First Sister Missionary

GRANT, Lucy: The First Sister Missionary

GRANT, Lucy: The First Sister Missionary

Lucy Grant Cannon (1880-1966)

When Lucy Grant was about 12 years of age, her mother died. When her father [Heber J. Grant] told Lucy that her mother was dying, Lucy could not believe him.

She hurried from the room and returned with a bottle of consecrated oil, with which she implored him to bless her mother. He blessed his wife, dedicating her to the Lord. As the children left the room, he fell to his knees and prayed that his wife’s death might not affect the faith of their children in the ordinances of the gospel. “Lutie” herself ran from the house feeling very bad, as she expressed in the following words:

“I was stunned and shocked and felt my father had not sufficient faith to heal her. I went behind the house and knelt down and prayed for the restoration of my mother. Instantly a voice, not an audible one, but one that seemed to speak to my whole being said, ‘In the death of your mother the will of the Lord will be done.’ Immediately I was a changed child. I felt reconciled and almost happy.”

(Mnrbn C. Josephson, “Careers of Service to Young Womanhood,” The Improvement Era, vol. 40, no. 12, December 1937)

The Colorado Mission was five years old when Lucy Grant, 21, was called to serve as a missionary. She is generally acknowledged as the first “lady missionary” of the church, along with her companion, Fannie Wooley. The mission was organized in December 1896, when Elder John W. Taylor of the Council of the Twelve was appointed to begin proselytizing work in that state. Accompanied by three elders, John H. Boshard of Provo, Herbert A. White, and William C. Clive of Salt Lake City. The four departed for Denver in December. A few days later, eight more missionaries were called to assist President Taylor. Within a few weeks, a branch was organized in Denver, and shortly thereafter, missionary work was extended to Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and other communities.

In November 1900, the states of Nebraska, and North and South Dakota were added to the Colorado Mission, and work extended into New Mexico, Arizona, and Wyoming. In 1901, Sisters Grant and Woolley arrived in the mission. Although they were not the first women to go into the mission field (wives of a few missionaries had accompanied their husbands previously), the two young women were the first to be formally called and set apart. Lucy Grant was the second daughter of President Heber J. Grant and his wife, Lucy Stringham.

Lucy served faithfully and, after her return home, married George Jenkins Cannon in the Salt Lake Temple. The couple became the parents of seven children. Prior to her mission, Lucy Grant was a Sunday School teacher, organist, secretary, and counselor in her ward Primary. At 18, she became president of the ward Mutual Improvement Association. Returning from her mission, she served on the MIA boards of two stakes, and in 1917, she was called to the General Board of the MIA. She served for 32 years as a board member, a counselor to two presidents, Martha H. Tingey and Ruth May Fox, and finally, as president for 11 years, from 1937 to 1948.

One of the major accomplishments of her presidency was the restoration of the as a social center. Lucy Grant Cannon died May 28, 1966, at 85, revered and honored for her service to the church. (Church News, February 1974)

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