“Long ago I promised the Lord that I stood ready to give or to do anything
and all things which he would ask of me through his servants. I have tried
to do that.”
That statement, made October 11, 1951 when he was sustained as
an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, and set apart by Elder Stephen
L. Richards personified the life and service of Elder ElRay L. Christiansen.
His family was a source of strength to him as he
fulfilled the responsibilities of his callings in the Church. Speaking
in the October 1951 conference, Elder Christiansen said, “I have never yet been
up against a task that was difficult for me but what I have found the immediate
and sustaining support of my wonderful wife, and along with that, the
encouragement of my children. That support has been one of the most helpful,
strengthening influences that has come to me in my life. With their
help, and with the help of the Lord, we have gone along and done our best.”
Born at Mayfield, Utah [on. July 13, 1897], Elder
Christiansen was a descendant of early Church and Utah colonizers. His
father was a farmer and a forest ranger, areas of interest that were to
influence the life of the young man who studied at Utah State Agricultural
College. Graduate work was to follow at Brigham Young University and the
University of Utah. Specializing in education, Elder Christiansen was both
a teacher and a school administrator, and was to serve as principal of
the school then sponsored by the Church at Kelsey, Texas.
Prior to holding that position, Elder Christiansen,
with his new bride, was called to serve a full-time mission in the Central
States Mission. In 1933 he was ordained a High Priest by Elder George
F. Richards of the Twelve. Later, in 1937, he was called to serve
as president of the Texas-Louisiana Mission, a position he held for more
than four years.
In other Church callings, Elder Christiansen served
as a bishop, stake president, counselor in a stake presidency, stake high
councilor, seminary teacher, and in a YMMIA presidency. From 1943 until
his calling as an Assistant to the Council of the
Twelve, he served as president of the Logan Temple, and from 1954 through
1961 he was president of the Salt Lake Temple. In 1964 he was appointed
coordinator of temples throughout the world.
In community endeavors he was the Logan, Utah, president
of Rotary International, actively interested in the Boy Scouts of America,
and, as a talented cellist, he performed in string ensembles and, for a
while, played with the Utah Symphony Orchestra.
In death Elder Christiansen left a great legacy of service
and the memory of a man devoted to temple work, a man who constantly and
lovingly encouraged the Saints to reap the benefits that come with attending
the House of the Lord.
Elder Christiansen died December 2, 1975, following a heart attack. He was 78.
(Note:Some sources give December 1, 1975 as his date of death.] Elder Christiansen was survived by
his wife, the former Lewella Rees, three children, fifteen grandchildren, two great-grand children,
and a sister. His widow, Lewella survived him only a short while, for she is mentioned as having died
in the statistical report given April 1977.