Missions are Fun

Preston Temple photo taken 21 Nov. 2010

A missionary is someone who leaves his or her home for a little while so others can have their families forever.

Curious about Mormons? Go to the source and find real people at mormon.org--read what they believe and have live chats if you wish! (an official Church website)

Or, go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, official web site: lds.org.

Note: The Blain's England Manchester Mission blog is a personal blog that is not endorsed, approved, or sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Our Mission Scriptures

Our Mission Scriptures:

"Oh, that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart . . . Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth." Alma 29:1-2 (Book of Mormon)

" . . . be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (Bible)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blackburn Ward History--1980s--The Blossoming

A Corner of the Vineyard
by Denise Johannsen

The Blossoming

Man wanted between the ages of 20-25
2.50 (BPS) per hour.  To work 
as a machine operator in a shoe factory.
Must have previous experience.
30 hours per week.

 Female wanted, aged between 40-65 to
work in large store.  1.25 (BPS) per hour.  35
hours per week.

Dozens of eyes scan the few cards that are on display on the notice board.  Having selected a possible occupation, making a careful note of the reference number, one by one they saunter across the room, heading for one of the eight or so pleasantly disposed assistants who are waiting patiently to offer advice.  "Can I help you?" the smiling face chirps.  The same repetitive procedure is repeated day in [and] day out.  In what seems like a few moments, interviews are arranged.  The prospective employees rise, and make their way through the doors of the job centre.  When they arrive for their interview, they will find at least another thirty hopefuls, all after the same job.  School leavers, who can't find employment (which applies to about 80%), are placed on government training schemes, choosing a profession they would aspire to attain at the end of their course--hastening to add, that there is very little work available at the end of their training.  At least 65% of the population of Blackburn is unemployed at this time. 

 The 1980s [is] the age of the microchip, an invention that has revolutionised all forms of industry.  Computers, videos, televisions, microwaves, washing machines, hi fi's, cars, space ships--the list is endless.  Sadly, there is a price to pay for this marvellous technology.  It mean't that less manpower was required, which coupled with the recession, had caused massive unemployment.
One would think in this day and age of space shuttles to the moon, computers, aeroplanes, etc., that homelessness and hunger would have been eradicated.  Not so.  Literally thousands of men and women across the country, through no fault of their own, find themselves in this situation.  The social security department, which deals with the welfare of the unemployed, were pretty fair.  Placing into categories the disablement, invalidity, sick, single parents [and} assigning pension books an fortnightly giro's to those who qualify.  Added to this, there is the family allowance that is given to everyone who has a child, irrespective of whether you are working or not.  This, together with The National Health Service, has created a fairly decent and fortunate society.  The homeless, on the other hand, are caught in a catch 22 situation, whereby to obtain a payment, they need an address.  If you have no money, you can't get accommodation, if you have no accommodation, no money, a vicious circle.  Despite all this, there were still quite a few affluent people, although many of them were down the south of England where there tended to be more jobs.  Nevertheless, 99% of householders owned a television set.   Even on the poorest level, they have better housing conditions than the poor of 29 bygone days.


A majority of the terraced houses had gone.  They had disappeared under the guise of "slum clearance."  A massive house clearance scheme.  Those that were left had been modernised and were selling for around 15,000 (BPS).


Those were the days of the cheap package holidays to Costa del Sol and Tenerrife.  Many couldn't afford a day trip to Blackpool, yet many could fly away into the sun.  Public houses, being a popular source of entertainment, [provided for some] to get drunk and forget all their problems for a little while [thinking that] was the answer.  This was not the case with many who enjoyed an evening out.  Not everyone got inebriated.


Moral standards were slipping further and further into decline.  A decadent society was fast approaching [with] sleazy films, child pornography, and sex shops.  Drugs [were] having a stronger grip than the sixties or seventies, [and] crime was on the increase [with] more murders than ever before.  Abortions, [were] legalized by the government.  Witchcraft resemblance to the last days in the Book of Mormon when the Nephities were ripening for destruction.  A general authority had stated that, "Never before had there been so much wickedness upon the earth at one time.  But, on the other hand, neither had there been so much priesthood upon the earth at one time.


Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was growing steadily in the British Isles.  Towards the end of the 80s, it was to surge forward at an amazing rate. Blackburn Branch at this time was going through great trials and tribulations.  Having become a ward in 1975, only to lose it and return to a branch in 1983.  This was attributed to members moving to other wards and branches, plus many losing their faith and falling away.


The saints now met in a tall Victorian building, situated in an alley, next to the cathedral above the Skipton Building Society, overlooking the main street (Church Street).  To reach the first floor, there was an arduous climb of no less than five flights of stairs.  The amenities comprised of two attics, wherein the resident spirit, nicknamed, Charlie, had his domain.  As he was not a good spirit, the rooms were never used.  Apart from the last year when it housed the branch library, on the first floor there were two toilets; next to these was a large sunny room overlooking the main street.  A little further  along the corridor was the branch president's office.  Then, further along again, at the far end, overlooking the cathedral and grounds, was the nursery.  Up another flight of stairs was the kitchen.  Adjacent to that was another large room, which was used as the chapel.  This was the venue for many, many memorable socials.  This room also overlooked the main street.  Along the far side of the corridor, overlooking the cathedral and grounds, was the Relief Society room.  Although towards the end of their stay in this building, it quite literally started to crumble around them.  It was a wonderful, warm building, where the members had experienced very often times of spiritual succor.  They rented the building for the sum of 60 BPS per week.  It had also been their home in the 1920s.  Funny that they should end up there again in the 1980s.  Was there something they had yet to learn?  Everyone joined in the cleaning.  There was a rota and every family took their turn to keep the place sparkling.  That was no mean task as the stairs were a nightmare, having to be mopped weekly and periodically scrubbed and polished.


As mentioned before, the saints were being sorely tried.  They were desiring to be in their very own chapel.  Many buildings were viewed for prospective purchase.  Heavenly Father would have none of it.  The saints had to work hard and prove to Him, and the Saviour, their worthiness [to be] righteous enough to have their very own purpose built chapel.  The year is now 1984.

1984-1986 brought perilous times for Blackburn Branch.  Satan knew what was in store for this area if the chapel got built, so he set out to totally destroy the branch, spreading contention wherever he could.  They were down to 25 members and there was talk of them closing the branch.


The Saviour was determined Satan was not going to win this battle, so [he]started sending strong families to Blackburn.

[Sister Johannsen listed many families separately in her history, but for the sake of space, I've left out the names, which can be found in the original record in Blackburn library.  Many members contributed their time and talents during this era, including bringing Accrington members back into the Blackburn Ward.  There was a a time of growing from 1986-1988, with many families and individuals moving into the ward].


[1988]  To qualify for a chapel, there needed to be 70 members attending Sacrament every week.  The numbers had surpassed this.  They were now breaking the fire regulations for the building.  They were literally bursting at the seams.

The stake was to find 10,000 BPS towards the initial cost of the building.  As there were ten wards and branches in Preston Stake, this mean't a 1,000 BPS per unit was to be found.  Everyone dug deep into their pockets.  The amount was raised in a matter of weeks.  Also, grateful thanks was acknowledged to all the saints in the other units throughout the stake.

In the early 80s, it was decided, quite rightly, that every unit should put their individual building funds into a joint stake one.  This would then provide equal opportunity to all units.  Blackburn, at that time, had over 350,000 BPS due to the sale of lands in the past.


April 1989, the long awaited day had arrived--the ground breaking ceremony.  Presiding was President Kendall (Preston Stake) and also present was President Davies (Manchester Mission President).  It was a very emotional experience for all present.  Hearts leaped for joy, as President McGee sank the shiny spade into the ground.   Hymns were sung [and] prayers were offered.  The faithful saints of Blackburn had finally, after all the years of caring for this tiny spot of the Lord's vineyard, these gardeners of souls, had seen the blossoming. Yes, at last the tree was in full bloom and in its full glory.



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