Hugh B. Brown’s through-the-veil experience teaches us much about the different ways the Lord works with, and guides, those He has chosen to represent Him.

Russell M. Nelson, Harold B. Lee, and Hugh B. Brown

Russell M. Nelson, Harold B. Lee, and Hugh B. Brown, all intersect in a most interesting and inspiring way with the Washington, D.C. temple. Here are some things to know in order to understand the context.

Hugh B. Brown entered the Twelve in 1958, and was called into the First Presidency three years later, in 1961, to serve with President David O. McKay. Upon the death of President McKay, a new First Presidency was called and President Brown resumed his place in the Quorum of the Twelve. He served there until his death in 1975.

Harold B. Lee was called to the Twelve in 1941, and was later called into the First Presidency, in 1970. He then became President of the Church in 1972 upon the death of President Joseph Fielding Smith. He served for eighteen months, until his passing at the end of 1973.

The Washington, D.C. temple was announced in 1968, while President Brown was in the First Presidency. It was then dedicated in 1974, the year after President Lee’s death and the year before Hugh B. Brown’s passing.

Elder Brown attended the dedication of the temple in 1974, and, because of his advanced age, Russell M. Nelson traveled with him as his attending physician.

Now here is how they all intersect.

On the morning of the temple dedication, Hugh B. Brown greeted his physician, Dr. Nelson, with the news that Harold B. Lee had visited him the night before from the spirit world.   Elder Brown described it as a glorious visit, one that meant much to him. President Lee had been aware of some of the difficulties encountered by President Brown leading up to the construction of the temple in Washington, D.C., and this visit from him was highly meaningful. Later that morning, President Brown greeted President Lee’s widow, telling her, “I had a glorious visit with Harold last night. He is just fine. It was so good to visit with him.”[1]

Visits from Beyond the Veil

Such visits from beyond the veil are not unusual. Wilford Woodruff, in particular, spoke openly about these types of visits from the spirit world. He reported, for example:

Joseph Smith visited me a great deal after his death, and taught me many important principles.  On one occasion he and his brother Hyrum visited me while I was in a storm at sea. . . . The night following this Joseph and Hyrum visited me, and the Prophet laid before me a great many things.  Among other things he told me to get the Spirit of God; that all of us needed it.[2]

As mentioned in our earlier article, “Miracles Happen at General Conference,” Wilford Woodruff also reported that “during my travels in the southern country last winter I had many interviews with President Young, and with Heber C. Kimball, and George A. Smith, and Jedediah M. Grant, and many others who are dead.”[3]

These are far from the only reports of such visitations from beyond the grave, of course. They are too sacred to share very openly, but we have included them in The Last Safe Place. They illustrate what Boyd K. Packer said in an interview in 2007: “We know that folks who led the Church in earlier days are very close to us at times. You can feel their presence and it’s very real.”[4]

Such experiences testify of the reality of revelation, in general, to the Lord’s servants. He does not leave them alone. President Spencer W. Kimball once observed:

I know that the Lord has contact with his prophets, and that he reveals the truth today to his servants as he did in the days of Adam and Abraham and Moses and Peter and Joseph and the numerous others throughout time. God’s messages of light and truth are as surely given to man today as in any other dispensation.[5]

The Lord has multiple ways of providing support and instruction to His prophetic leaders on earth. One of them is to use prophets who have lived on earth before. The experiences of Hugh B. Brown and Wilford Woodruff illustrate this—and they are just examples of one way the Lord works with, and guides, those He has chosen to represent Him.


Duane Boyce and Kimberly White are father and daughter. Learn more about modern prophets in their new book, The Last Safe Place: Seven Principles for Standing with the Prophets in Troubled Times.

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[1] Russell M. Nelson, The Gateway We Call Death (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1995), 100–101.

[2] See G. Homer Durham, ed., The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1990), 288-89, where more information is included.

[3] Ibid., 289–90. For further reports of this type, particularly regarding Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, see Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1964), esp. 234, 328, 529.

[4] 38 Boyd K. Packer, Interview transcript from PBS documentary, printed in Meridian Magazine, July 25, 2007,

[5] Spencer W. Kimball, “A Program for Man,” General Conference, April 1976,