Missionary Teaching Materials – A New View
Evaluation by Bill Herod
In the 1960s another approach was made to develop a comprehensive missionary program that could be used in low tech and high tech environments. This approach combined the open bible
study concept, with the chart concept. Using a flannel board, the story of the gospel was built up as
each scripture was read and studied. This approach was first produced by Wayne Simmons, and
went through many revisions and improvements. It was endorsed by the Presidents of Seventy in
1969 as the replacement for the Go Ye and Teach slide series, but the Council of Twelve Apostles
declared that it was “too doctrinal” and prevented the general distribution of the program. However,
it survived because those who used it had discovered that it was an exceptionally powerful tool for
conveying the doctrines of the Restoration. “Underground” sets were made and eventually Seventy
Wayne Simmons, wrote a manual about how to use the flannelgraph presentation of the Gospel.
During the early years of the Independent Branch Movement, Bill Herod then an Elder in Texas,
discovered the flannelgraph. His testimony by letter follows:
In 1963, my wife and children and I transferred our membership to the Oak Cliff Branch of the
church in Dallas, Texas where Elder John Midgorden was serving as Branch President. In
1965, I was called to the office of Priest and began to assist brother Midgorden in that capacity.
This included meeting with him in classes with interested nonmembers to teach the gospel and
to show them the church that Christ built when He lived among us.
For this purpose, John had acquired a well worn copy of a list of scriptures and some flannel
board material. The scriptures were arranged in groups to provide six lessons. The lesson titles
II. Paradise and Hell,
III. Millennial Reign and Final Judgment,
IV. Body of Christ,
V. Apostasy and
VI. Restitution of All Things.
The procedure was to have a nonmember couple take turns with the priesthood in reading the
scriptures aloud. The priesthood would then explain the scripture and place a piece on the
flannel board to build a picture illustrating the theme of the lesson; creation, paradise, hell, etc.
As a new priesthood member, I was impressed with the attention and interest shown by
nonmembers as they had such intimate exposure to the scriptures and their meaning.
A young couple moved to Dallas in 1967 from Indiana. He was a member of the church but his
wife was not. His parents were dedicated to the church but, like many young people, it was not
a priority in his life. He had not made his presence known to the church in Dallas. With every
telephone call, his mother would ask if they had attended church yet. He would keep giving
excuses including that he didn’t know where it was. Finally, as his parents were planning a visit
to Dallas, she told him that if he can show her where 1883 South Beckley is, she can show him
where the church is. Furthermore, she said, “your wife will meet someone she knows at that
church:’ That someone was me. When the family showed up that Sunday morning, his wife
and I immediately knew that we worked for the same company. We were not acquainted but
we had seen each other in the halls and elevator.
They began to attend church regularly after that and eventually John and I began the study
series with Tim and Linda. Linda was very interested in this approach to scripture study and
Tim learned more about the church than ever before. Linda was baptized that year and later
she became my secretary at work. Tim was called to the priesthood and several years later, he
served as Branch President of the Oak Cliff Branch.
I was called to the office of Elder in 1968 and soon after that, Brother Midgordon accepted
church appointment and I was elected Branch President of the Oak Cliff Branch. John passed
along the missionary material to me. I had no idea where he got it or who created it but after
examining other programs designed for this purpose, I felt this one was far superior. I
continued to use it as the occasion arose. Frankly, I didn’t understand the purpose of some of
the scriptures and I didn’t know what to say about them, so I would skip them.
The Texas branches began to hold “Elders Conferences” in Marlin, Texas during the late 70s.
During one such meeting, Elder Frank Frye was presenting a missionary program to the group.
He was talking about a list of scriptures which explained the church from the creation to the
restoration. Nonmembers would read these scriptures together and learn of their meaning. He
showed some flannel graph material that went with it. He mentioned an instruction manual that
included suggestions on what to teach about the various scriptures.
I was stunned. I’m thinking, “There’s an instruction manual?” I learned that this program was
created by Seventy Wayne Simmons and I got an instruction manual from Brother Frye. This
made presenting the program much easier and more meaningful.
The Dallas Restoration Branch was incorporated in 1987 and moved to a central location in
Dallas. I was elected Branch President. Several years later, a young man who had moved from
Independence began attending church occasionally. He eventually met a young woman and
they were married. She was not a member of the church but she attended with him regularly.
After a couple of years, she said that she would like to learn more about the church. I started
this missionary series on a Sunday morning class with her and a few other interested persons.
About midway through the fourth lesson, she told me that she wanted to be baptized, that she
knew this was the true church. I jokingly told her that we couldn’t do that because we hadn’t
finished the lessons. I scheduled a baptismal service, of course, and we also finished the
lessons. High Priest, Bill Herod, Dallas Restoration Branch The program is that effective. It has
since been updated by Seventy Neil Simmons and is available as a very contemporary kit in a brief case. The kit includes an elaborate color instruction manual and four King James Bibles, which is most appropriate for nonmembers. The brief case can be converted into a magnetic board on which the magnetic pieces can be placed.
I would recommend that all Branch President’s purchase this kit for their branch. It is a marvelous program for telling the story of Christ’s church restored to a nonmember.