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The Ensign - News of the Church - British Isles - August 2000

Elder Jeffrey R Holland Dedicates Restored Historic Gadfield Elm Chapel in Worcestershire

Following the Easter Sunday regional conference in Bristol, Elder Jeffrey R Holland dedicated the recently restored Gadfield Elm Chapel in Worcestershire. The small country chapel in rural England was the first chapel owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the world.

In March 1836 land was purchased by the United Brethren to build the chapel. In April 1840 Wilford Woodruff preached there, which resulted in the baptism of 11 people. Three hundred of the United Brethren were baptised in a pond at nearby John Benbow's farm. Eventually 600 United Brethren joined the Church, largely due to the missionary efforts of Wilford Woodruff.

On 17 May 1840, Brigham Young and Willard Richards addressed the membership at the chapel. On 14 June the same year the first conference organised in the British Mission was held at Gadfield Elm.

The Bran Green and Gadfield Elm conferences were organised by Wilford Woodruff and comprised twelve branches. The chapel was given to the Church in 1840. Two years later, the Church sold the chapel to help fund the emigration of the members to America.

Over 150 years later, 1994, the chapel was purchased at auction by the Gadfield Elm Trust, under the chairmanship of Wayne Gardner, and rebuilding of the chapel and grounds began almost immediately. At the time of purchase the chapel was little more than a derelict ruin, having been used for various farming purposes and as a cow shed. Most of the walls and the roof had disappeared. The chapel has now been completely restored. Kind donations have provided rough-hewn wooden pews and an organ.

The chapel will not be used for religious meetings, but will be available for Church youth activities and other meetings.

Elder Jeffrey R Holland giving the dedicatory prayer was most apt, as his great-great-grandparents, Ellen Benbow of Hill Farm (known as Benbow's Farm) and William Carter of Ledbury, a few miles from Gadfield Elm, both emigrated to America and met each other for the first time in Nauvoo where they married. Among the congregation at the dedication were several descendants of the Benbow and Carter families who still live in the area.

Gadfield Elm chapel stands today as a reminder of one of the greatest Latter-day Saint missionary experiences of all-time. - John Ashmead, Olton Ward, Coventry Stake

New Area Authority Seventy Sustained

Rowland Elvidge of the St Albans Ward, St Albans Stake, was sustained as an Area Authority Seventy and a member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy at the Saturday afternoon session of general conference, 1 April 2000.

Elder Elvidge was born near Durham and lived his early years in Doncaster. He met his wife, Barbara, while pursuing his career in metallurgy. They were married in 1958 while he was serving in the RAF as a photographer. In 1965, they became the first converts to be baptised in the new chapel in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

Elder Elvidge has served the Church in many capacities since his baptism. He has served as a branch president, a bishop, stake Young Men president, stake president, and a counsellor in the London Mission presidency. He also served as the president of the England Bristol Mission.

Elder Elvidge has a great love for youth and has helped many young people achieve the Duke of Edinburgh awards, has helped organise activity camps, and has assisted in the qualification of youth leaders. He has also served as chair of Britain's Scout committee and has served as chaplain for the Boy Scout Association.

The majority of Elder Elvidge's working career was spent with Kodak, working both in the British Isles and in Europe. As a training manager, he was responsible for all service training in the UK and Europe. In 1988 he retired from Kodak to establish his won service network in England and the Benelux countries.

Elder and Sister Elvidge have six children, all of whom are married, and twenty one grandchildren.

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