Orson Hyde: Extending an Olive Branch in Israel
Read the legacy of a disfellowshipped apostle who later became one of the greatest global missionaries in the history of the Church.
The experience of Orson Hyde (1805–78) with the LDS Church began when he openly preached against what many disapproving nineteenth-century Protestants called “the Golden Bible.” According to an Encyclopedia of Mormonism article by Howard H. Barron, Hyde, who was then a member of the Reformed Baptist Society, first argued against the truth of the Book of Mormon but became converted after a deeper study of LDS scripture and doctrine.
Once he became a member of the Church, Hyde dedicated his life to sharing the gospel. He served missions around the United States and helped Heber C. Kimball open the first mission in Great Britain, where they baptized more than 1,500 people.
However, the turmoil surrounding the Church in Far West, Missouri, caused Hyde to worry that the Church had turned away from God. In October 1838, Hyde and fellow apostle Thomas B. Marsh signed an affidavit denouncing the Church. Hyde was removed from his position in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was disfellowshipped.
The weeks that followed were “the blackest and most dreadful period in Orson’s life.” According to another article by Barron, Hyde struggled to reconcile his faith in the gospel with the turmoil surrounding the Church. Eventually Hyde recognized that his testimony and faith could not be shaken by any outside force, and he asked Joseph Smith if he could return to the Church. After renouncing his previous affidavit, Hyde was reinstated as an apostle (less than two months after he had been removed from that quorum) and resumed his missionary work with renewed vigor.
His doubts diminished, Hyde left on a mission that would take him halfway around the world. Starting in New York, he traveled through Europe, stopping in London, Amsterdam, and other areas to talk to Jewish leaders. He ended up in Jerusalem, where he dedicated Israel for the gathering of the Jews and prayed that the Lord would “remove the barrenness and sterility of this land.” The mission was a fulfillment of a vision in which the Lord told Hyde that he would labor among the children of Abraham.
Read Howard H. Barron’s biographical sketch of Orson Hyde.
Source: Encyclopedia of Mormonism
—Emily Hales, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Read “Orson Hyde’s 1841 Mission to the Holy Land,” by David B. Galbraith.
Read “Orson Hyde: Olive Branch of Israel,” Howard H. Barron.
Read “Orson Hyde: A Life of Lessons Learned,” by Roy B. Huff.