Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Great Debate in Cache Valley, 1899
The Great Debate in Cache Valley, 1899 
After 1890 the presence and influence of the Reorganized Church in Cache Valley was very small and insignificant.  The 1890 census showed 33 members in Richmond and a handful in Logan.  Most of those who had earlier converted had left the valley, returning to the East.  By the turn of the century very few members remained. 
However 1899 marked a significant event which was recorded in the Journal under the title “The Great Debate.”  For a week, January 17-22, the great debate took place in the second ward meeting house in Logan.  S.D. Condit, missionary for the Reorganized Church, and Melvin J. Ballard.  Melvin J. Ballard was a young man of 26, the son of a bishop, had been on a couple of missions, and twenty years later would become and apostle.
The debate was moderated by Reverend Newton Clemenson.  The debate lasted six days, and each day the church was packed and people had to be turned away.  The first three days covered the truthfulness of the Utah church and the last three days the veracity of the Reorganized Church.  Reverend Clemenson thought S.D. Condit the winner.  The local paper proclaimed Elder Ballard the victor.  The paper concludes, “Thus ended one of the most important events of a religious nature that has ever taken place here.  Elder Ballard in the opinion of his hearers had far and away the best of the argument, although Elder Condit made perhaps as good a showing for his church as anyone could have done.  People generally will do considerable thinking on the matter.”
A history of Melvin J. Ballard describes this event.  “In January, 1899, he held a week's discussion with one of the ministers of the Reorganized Church upon the question of succession, and succeeded in establishing in the hearts of the hearers the fact that the authority of the Priesthood is with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

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