A Corner of the Vineyard
by Denise Johannsen
by Denise Johannsen
The Glory of God is Intelligence
"We're gonna rock around the clock tonight, rock, rock, rock, till broad day light." Yes, the fifties and rock and roll had arrived by storm. It was to change the face of popular music forever.
Work, too, was in abundance; you could literally walk out of one joy, walk a little way up the road to the next factory, and straight into another.
The saints in Blackburn were holding their own and running the affairs of the branch quite proficiently, as we see from the ledger that remains of 1954-1959. Such a treasure. What we would have learn't if the others had survived.
The saints were at this time meeting in a large house up Preston New Road, just past Corporation Park. Now, in Sister Dobson's own words, we get a small insight into the branch at the time she joined, and her first impressions (in the following):
"The services were held in a house, and the chapel it'self was just a sitting room, with a big coal fire, as it was the middle of winter. On the mantle piece was a little log cabin on one side, and a caravan on the other. The end of the room facing was a platform with a banner over the top saying, "The Glory of God is Intelligence."
I kept staring at the banner and couldn't understand what it mean't. But was soon to learn, when I was given a Bible and Book of Mormon to study and learn. It was a hard period in my life, when I look back. I worked full time and was called to do many things, such as teaching children, teaching in Relief Society, and 1st councilor, speaking in church, visiting teaching--there was so much to do and so few of us. The President made sure that we all had offices to hold.
When I look back, I saw little of my husband. He worked nights and I worked days. All my spare time was taken up at church. He died at age 54 years. I felt so sad at giving all my life to my church, as I had seen very little of him at that period of my life. I felt the Lord was testing me, but I carried on with my church work.
At this time, all the other branches and wards in Lancashire were bonded together. We were all going to each other's branch or ward, having jumble sales, sales of work, dances, and all our activities were with each other. They all seemed to hold their meetings in rooms, but there was a far closer bod then than there is now. As the Church has grown now to such an extent, that this is sadly not possible any more. We also used to sell potatoe pie for 6d a plate, and the money we made at these events was spend on cards and flowers, etc. These things we took with us when we went visiting the sick or the poor.
When I was baptized, I was just recovering from a heart attack and rheumatic fever. I was taken to Burnley Chapel; it was freezing hard you couldn't see out of the train window for ice. When we arrived, the water was frozen. It was a little old building. They had taken up the floor boards in the middle of the chapel floor. There was this hole in the ground and they carried buckets of ice cold water from the kitchen.
I thought I would die when they put me in it. There was no time to dry ourselves because the train was due for our journey home. I was rushed out with my hair soaking wet. I could never forget, and the road was all iced up. I just thought, after my serious illness, I would not survive, but I did.
There were many happy times to be had. Going to the Gold and Green Ball, and when we all went to see the Prophet Spencer W,. Kimball, at King Georges Hall, Blackburn, in 1975. Again, when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir came to Manchester. It was lovely being with friends with all the other church members. When I look back through it all, I have met such wonderful brothers and sister through the Church. I am an old lady who can live on her memories and thank my Heavenly Father for all the blessings I have received since the days two young men knocked on my door and brought me a message. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Accrington ward joined forces with Blackburn to strengthen the branch during this time period. They were needed to support the existing members, to help cultivate this very special spot of the Lord's vineyard. When you read the account of the 1980s, you will find that they were called upon yet again by Heavenly Father and the Savior to serve in Blackburn. For their obedience, they were rewarded greatly, in 1992, to become a ward of their own. The members worked diligently, they were patient and long suffering. Although few labourers, they pulled together and kept the branch open. With tender loving care, they looked after the precious olive tree. It was growing stronger and stronger, with the branches ever reaching upwards towards their goal.