In 1957, Elder Ayers & Elder Palmer knocked on my parents door and began to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. In those days, it was 20 one hour lessons/discussions- after about 7 lessons my father, Clifford Dyson, wanted no more to do with “those Mormons”. But my mother, Victoria Louise, continued with the lessons, and was baptised in the local swimming pool.
In 1959, I turned 8 and wanted to be baptised, but my father would not give his permission. I continued to attend Primary with all my church friends, then at age 12 I started to attend MIA (which stood for Mutual Improvement Association) as it was then called. My friends obtained the Aaronic Priesthood, and progressed from Deacon to Teacher to Priest.
In those days we met in a big house, and as members we were asked to raise money towards the building of a chapel, and to also to give X amount of hours in labour. Once I turned 15 and about to leave school, I decided to go on a building mission on the Worcester Chapel, as a site had been found. My parents were divorced by that point, and my mother kept me and gave me ten shillings a week pocket money. Whilst building the chapel, I turned 16 and my father told me- “If you still want to join those Mormons go ahead.” I told our then branch president, President Smart, that my father had given permission for me to be baptised but that I had decided that as “I’ve waited this long, I’ll wait a little longer if I can be the first to be baptised in the new chapel.”
On March 10th 1968, the chapel was dedicated by President Cullimore. On the following day, Monday 11th March, I was the first person to be baptised in the Worcester Chapel, by Brother Ken Chapman. Followed by four others also getting baptised, I was then confirmed a member of the church by Brother Des Gorman, who was the building supervisor in charge of the construction.
Time moved on, and in the 80’s I was Bishop of the Worcester Ward. We were having an extension built on our chapel, and in discussion with the parents we waited until the extension was finished to baptise our children. I am the first to perform a baptism in the new font, for my youngest son Alexander Jared, followed by Emily Shore baptised by her father Andrew.
Over the years I have served in just about every ward calling and a few stake callings, including on the High Council. I’ve taught in every auxiliary (including Relief Society when I was Bishop!). Recently I was called to be the Worcester Ward Building Representative- it is the one calling I have never held before, and I am filled with gratitude that I am able to look after this chapel with all my history in it.
The role of Building Representative is not just organising the cleaning rota, but to order supplies, and liaise with contractors. Luke Bailey and his assistant Vivine Fraser, who work for the Church’s Meetinghouse Facilities Department, help me no end in my calling. So now my time with the Worcester chapel has gone full circle, from building it to caring for it.