Sunderland Ward

Brief History of the Sunderland Ward

Compiled by Sheila Hughes. If you have any information on the History of the Sunderland Ward or its members email:

1837-2000    2001-2007    2008-2009    2010-2012    2013

1837 Heber C.Kimball and Orson Hyde two Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints arrived at Liverpool to open up the first foreign mission of the church.

1838 Sunday 18th April was the date of the second General Conference of the church in Great Britain. It was held in the Cockpit, Preston.

1840 July 7th a council meeting of the officers of the church was held in the council room of the Star office at Manchester, here it was approved by Apostle Wilard Richards and seconded by Apostle Herber C. Kimball that Brothers Amos Fielding and John Wych to go to Newcastle upon Tyne to labour as Missionaries.

1843 August 13th the Sunderland Branch was organised at the Hylton Ferry Landing. On this day Brother William Kent was Baptised and Confirmed at the age of forty two in the river Wear and confirmed at the home of William Knox who was also baptised on the same day by Brother J. Fraser.

1844 February 13th was the baptism of John Steabler and his wife Mary Thompson, both John and Mary were baptised in the North Sea at Hendon Bay. It is interesting to note that John Steabler was the 2nd Great Uncle of Pres Frederick William Oates.

1845 At the Carlisle Conference held May 18th, the Sunderland Branch was represented by Elder Kent, and contained seven members including one Elder and two priests.

1847 By the end of 1847 Sunderland again attended the Newcastle Conference, the Branch of Sunderland was repesented by William Knox, President, and now contained thirty eight members.

1849 By 1849 Sunderland contained eighty nine members, Emigration took its toll of this Branch as of all the others. William Knox emigrated to Salt Lake City and wrote several letters back to his family at Hylton telling of his life there.

1850 By 1850 Sunderland Branch had one hundred and sixty two members on the books but many had emigrated, some were cut off church or had apostasized. 1852 John Steabler emigrated with his wife Mary and there children, unfortunately Mary died on the way on the Mississippi and John died at Council Bluffs.

1855 Another President ot the Sunderland Branch was appointed in 1855. Elder Benjamin Newton was to replace Elder James Robson who was about to emigrate to Zion. Elder Newton was the G.G.Grandfather of president Leslie B.Pearce.

1856 December 14th a Conference of Durham was held at Sunderland in the Saints meeting room, this was attended by Apostle Ezra T.Benson the great Grandfather of Prophet Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Church.

1886 Letter from William Knox from 164 West St. 4th South St. Salt Lake City "My dear Brothers and Sisters and all my relatives and all friends that know me I again pen these few lines, hoping that you will get them. It is over 38 years since I and my family left Hylton the last night we lodged with Sister Dorothy in the morning my wife Elizabeth's brother was ready with his horse and cart to take us to the rail road."

1906 The start of Sunderland Relief Society.

1910 William Waslin France was taught the Gospel by the Missionaries and was Baptised in the North Sea on the 5th May 1910. William Waslin France was the Father of Sister Ida Fenwick the wife of Jack Fenwick.

1912 June 23rd anti-Mormons had organised a procession attended by several thousands, chiefly of young people. They gathered in Tunstall Road near the Mormon church to await events. The procession was headed by a brass band and a banner on which were inscribed the words "Mormons must leave Sunderland." The procession passed the church as the service was concluding and continued into town. The crowd near the church was enormous and it was very difficult to get through. As the Elders left, there was a rush for them but the Police surrounded them and escorted them to their lodgings. Outside of their lodgings some thousand people assembled and after waiting for a while dispersed.

1913 The Saints suffered much persecution at this time, during the riots Elder R.H. Hendricks seeing the mobs outside of the Church, knowing the sisters of Relief Society were inside, thinking they may come to harm ran to the Church to help, he went inside holding the door closed with his shoulder, the mobs forced their way in crushing Elder Hendricks behind the door. After suffering a haemorrhage Elder Hendricks died on 24th February 1913 although the death certificate states cause of death was continued fever, Elder Joseph Parnaby was present at the death. All this only served to make the Saints stronger and more determined in their work.

1916 6th November Florence Mary France was set apart as a Missionary in the Newcastle Confrence, at the time a mother of four young children.

1918 May 11th Frederick William Oates was Baptised by William J.Loosle and confirmed by William W.France.

1923 13th May was the time of the Newcastle annual conference, held at Gateshead. Elder McKay was serving as President of the European Mission. Elder Ezra Taft Benson then a young Missionary served his mission in Sunderland, he became very good friends with Brother and Sister Oates and their family.

1931 Sister Gladys Quayle was Baptised 21st March 1931 by John A.Freestone and confirmed 29th March by Earl B.Cragun. 1931 was also the year President F.W.Oates formed the first football team in the mission. He is one of the few members in this country who are qualified Scout Masters.

1934 M.I.A. presented their annual Gold and Green ball held in the Alexandra Hall, Toward Road, Sunderland, music furnished by Garry Maddison.

1935 June 8th - 9th - 10th Members of the M.I.A. from from all part of Great Britain and Ireland attended the three day first June conference of the British Mission of M.I.A. Which opened at Kidderminster on the Saturday.

1940 Sunderland started a unique budget system carefully though out and launched by W.W.France and President F.W.Oates which eventually spread throughout the British Isles, each family was given a card and asked to pay a small amount each week into the budget. Payments were entered on the card on which was also listed coming social events. Every Family were asked to pay the same amount into the budget whether there were two or ten in a Family. Those who paid into the budget were entilted to attend any social events free and all members of that family. Those who were not paying or had lapsed had to pay for themselves and each member of their family who wished to attend the social event. Those paying into the budget also recived free copies of the Millennial Star.

1946 It was April of 1946 that President Benson had an opportunity to attend a Newcastle District conference in Sunderland, this was the district where he had served as president twenty three years earlier.

1950 A District Genealogical convention was held at the Sunderland chapel on 17th May conducted by Sister M.Cuthbertson.

1955 June of 1955 Sunderland Branch took advantage of the fine weather and held their June budget event in Back House Park. Members both young and old participating in energetic games, refreshments were served back at the chapel.

1960 The first all British Mission Youth convention of recent years was held on the week end of May 23 - 24th with 1,560 members of the church in attendece. This was probably the largest gathering of the British Saints since the turn of the century. Saturday afternoon was the time for M.I.A. activities and competitive trials were held in public speaking, dancing, drama, singing, and swimming. Keith Hughes represented Sunderland at swimming.

1963 Sunderland Stake was organized by Mark E.Peterson on March 17th 1963. Frederick W.Oates became the first President of the new Stake with J.Laurie and K.Taylor as counselors and Norman Griffiths as clerk.

1967 Sunderland Chapel dedication on Friday 1st September.

1973 Brother John Maxwell took over the Stake Presidency from President F.W.Oates.

1976 Many of the Saints travelled from Sunderland to Manchester for the British area Conference, some travelled all night to be there, some camped out, others even slept in their cars, the lucky ones managed to find room in a Hotel every one made every effort to attend the confrence.

1978 Members of the Sunderland Ward have completed a labour of love and saved 320,000. A 3100,000 modernisation scheme has been completed by the Sunderland saints after several months of work. 1980 Sis Amelia Walton celebrated her 90th birthday.

1986 Members of the Sunderland primary and young men and young women got together to collect fresh fruit and vegetables and tin food for their harvest festival to which it was distributed to the older members of the Sunderland ward and local old peoples homes.

1990 August bank holiday 1990 was a good year for Sunderland Ward Garden Fete there was many stalls, craft, home bake, white elephant, test your skill and many fun stalls. It was a very good day out for all the family. There was a very good turn out of non-members who were very impressed. The saints all worked together to make it a good day.

1992 Again the saints exceled themselves and put on a grand show in aid of Joseph Spence appeal to help to raise money to help in buying a computer to give Joseph Spence some independence. Everyone who took part should be praised for the good job they did. Many of our youth took park and again excelled themselves but the star of the show must go to Sister Doreen Patterson and Steven Donague for the "Phantom of the Opera" event.

1993 7th July 1993, Sister Gladys Oates, passed away today, Sister Oates was a much love Sister of not only the Sunderland Stake, but of the whole British Isles, and was a firm friend of many of the visiting Authorities and their wives.


1994 Michael Bell, age nineteen, has received the top goal scorer trophy in the Newcastle District Welfare League.  Michael plays for the League's only Latter-day Saint team, which in two years has pulled itself from bottom to fourth in rankings. During the past season, Michael scored a total of forty-four goals. A member of the Sunderland Ward.


1995 Saturday 1st April 1995, saw some of the members of the Sunderland branch clambering up and down Tunstall Hills collecting the litter as part of the national Tidy Britain Campaign.  The day was dry but very windy, however this didn't blow away their efforts, as they collected a large amount of litter and rubble, which included the remains of a three-piece suite.  Apart from a mention in the local press, 'Sunderland Echo,' 'Northern Echo,' and the 'Sunderland Star,' the efforts of the members was mentioned on the 'Wear FM' radio station.  The event was organised by Sister Fran Watt

8th September 1995, Today "Pres" Oates died, at the age of 89 years.


1996 Sunday 4th February 1996, today Bishop Trevor C. Kennington was released with a vote of thanks for all the work he has done for the Sunderland Ward during the six years as Bishop of the Ward.  For the last four months the Sunderland Ward under the direction of Bishop Kennington has fasted each Wednesday for the growth of the City of Sunderland, and for the Saints of Sunderland ward to be united to see the Sunderland ward grow in strengthBishop Kenningtons counsellors Michael McGrath and Keith Hughes were also released.

Brother Neil Patterson was sustained as Bishop of the Sunderland Ward


1997 The 5th July 1997 was the day of the Sunderland ward reunion to celebrate the year of ‘Faith in every footstep.’

One missionary, Rulon Scoville, who served in Sunderland in 1928 said when he received the invitation, “I want to go” and at the age of 88 years travelled with his daughter Rula from Daly City, California, to England, to join in the celebration.  He contacted us just a few days before the event and it was a very pleasant surprise. It was 60 years ago since Rulon had served in Sunderland so much of the town had changed, but the Saints were still as friendly.


1998 9th June 1998. This was the date of the dedication of the Preston Temple. Many of the Sunderland members travelled together by coach. With travelling together it gave the Saints the chance to talk to each other and prepare each other for this memorable day.

When we arrived, everyone walked together along the path to the entrance to the Temple, It was a beautiful day and the grounds were in full bloom with beautiful flowers.

As we made our way into the Temple most of the Sunderland members were able to sit together and some were even blessed to be in the same room as the Prophet, some even were lucky enough to shake hands with him.


1999 28th January 1999 was the date of the funeral service of Stewart Deacon. The service was held at the Sunderland Chapel, it was the only building big enough to hold everyone who wanted to pay their respects there were about six hundred who attended the funeral. Stewart was the son of David and Else Deacon from the South Shield ward. David was the Sunderland Stake President in 19 – to ???? . Stewart leaves a wife Katy and three children.


2000 The refurbishment of the church is well on it way the inside of the Church is gutted which makes the church look so different, many of the door ways have been changed and rooms complete changed around. While the building work is going on the members are meeting in Portland school.

 Friday the 10th Sept 2000 was the date of the hand-over meeting where Bishop Keith Hughes was given the keys to the Sunderland Ward Chapel. It has took nine months for the refurbishment of the Chapel. There has been so many changes to the building, the Chapel front has been brought out with a ramp for easy access for the disable people, but the rest of the building has made it impossible for the disable to get around, the fire doors are too stiff to open without the help of two people. It seems such a shame that this beautiful building has made it impossible for any one in a wheel chair to get around unaided.