Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A Suggested Ten Year Program for the Missionary District of Utah, 1949 to 1959

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A Suggested Ten Year Program for the Missionary District of Utah, 1949 to 1959

Article excerpt

This program is written entirely by Bishop Clark, not as the result of any committee or general survey program, but it is the summary of his thinking after a year and a half's residence in Utah, following visits to all the established Episcopal Church work, several field trips to many distant parts of the state, and at least a stop and talk in practically every city and town of any size or influence in the state. In preparing his budget requests for the year 1949, and to clarify his thinking, he decided to attempt a look into the future.4

The State. Utah has approximately 85,000 square miles of territory, probably ¾ s of it either mountain or desert. Estimates of the arable land vary from five to fifteen percent, with a growing realization that, if water development can be afforded, much of the desert, especially in the southwestern part of the state, can be brought under good cultivation. The mountain territory will never have a large population, and it is developed chiefly for its minerals, which vary both as to area and profit in a fluctuating manner. The great northwestern area is a salt desert, except for a very limited salt industry which is practically worthless.

This is all to emphasize that the future of the state is still very limited in its scope. The population estimates are approximately 600,000, eighty to eighty-five percent of them living within fifty miles of Salt Lake City.5 The growing industrial development of the Provo area is making that a very important center, but even that area is within this fifty-mile limit. Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo, with the territory between, is the future of the state for many years to come. This valley is perhaps from twenty-five to fifty miles in width, hedged in by the Wasatch Mountains on one side and the Salt Lake desert and lake on the other.

The Mormon or Latter-day Saint population is also another definite factor in considering the growth of the Episcopal Church. Mormons are converted in the city areas to a small degree, perhaps eight percent of the total population. But in the rural areas where they predominate it is almost social ostracism and economic ruin to change religion, even if faith in the former is lost. Estimates as to the percentage are very difficult. Probably about eighty percent of the state is Mormon. In Salt Lake City, it is estimated as about fifty-fifty, but a survey which is still under way in the newer part of the city (that is the southeastern part) shows a seventy-five percent Mormon population from a thousand calls. Probably the wealthier areas, and the apartment house area nearer to Salt Lake City, will run a larger Gentile population, but it is difficult to estimate. My guess is that at least ninety-five percent of the Gentiles live within the fifty-mile area of Salt Lake City. The so called "jack" Mormon, or lapsed, is very prevalent in the city areas. They have lost both faith and interest in the teachings of their church, but four or five generations of history, which is constandy glorified, plus the general inertia in changing one's religion, keeps most from leaving the LDS Church: but they definitely have their influence in weakening the strength of the LDS Church. In rural areas, it is quite different.

One other factor of a general nature. The development of the automobile and good roads has changed the factors of all our church work. This is particularly true in mining towns, where living conditions have always been bad, and now (particularly since the war) the more ambitious people have bought small farms as far as fifty miles from the mine, and ride to work. Obviously this means that church work centering on Sunday is weakened. Likewise, few officials live in the towns any more. These towns where once we had fairly good church work, are slowly dying as communities, and our church has little future in several. The same is true in agricultural areas. Certain towns are growing much more rapidly than others, and have become shopping and recreation centers, while others are losing in population. …

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