In the April 2019 General Conference, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said:
“In whatever ways seem natural and normal to you, share with people why Jesus Christ and His Church are important to you.”
For the Walmsley family, there is nothing more normal or natural than singing.
In this large family, the gift for singing is a talent shared by all. There are four boys and four girls, all of whom sing and have done so since early childhood. Now they are setting out to use this gift to share with the world why ‘Jesus Christ and His Church are important’ to them.
Matriarch Fiona Walmsley remembers the direct line that music seemed to create between the Holy Ghost and the hearts of her children as they grew up.
“Time after time I’d see my children weep as they sang about the Saviour’s love for them.” She said, “I’d see those listening to them as they sang at the pulpit share in that spirit. For us and many others, there is no better way to grow closer to Heaven Father, Jesus Christ and each other than worshipful singing.”
As the children got older, some developed a talent for playing the guitar and composing music.
Jenna Walmsley, the second eldest daughter wrote many songs in her teenage years but found the themes of her songs become more spiritual while serving a mission in London, England.
There, Jenna learned first-hand the power of spiritual music when she and her companion knocked on the door of a very angry man.
“He was immediately aggressive,” she remembered, “he made it very clear that not only was he ‘anti-Mormon’ but ‘anti-religion’ in general and certainly not a believer in Christ.”
The man continued his verbal assault until he noticed the guitar on Jenna’s back. He stopped and asked about it.
“I told him that my companion and I had been practising a song I’d written about the Saviour. He said, ‘Well go on then, sing it to me.’
“I was so surprised. We sang him the song and his countenance and manner softened dramatically. He said that we seemed like lovely girls and that while he did not believe in Christ, he could certainly appreciate music.”
The man agreed to have them back and was even open to receiving a copy of the Book of Mormon.
The Walmsley’s have always known the power of music as a tool of the Spirit, but it wasn’t until Jenna’s mission that the Lord revealed the extent of His plan for their family to use that tool to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. And—when Jenna returned to her hometown, Hamilton, New Zealand, the ‘Author’s Bay’ band was formed made up of five of the Walmsley siblings plus, Jenna’s husband Luke.
Among other things they have felt that the Lord’s purpose for the band was to show the rest of the Christian world that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in fact Christians.
“I’ve had many people at Christian music events share their surprise at the songs we sing,” Jenna said. “They were surprised to hear how Christ-centred our music was. They thought we worshipped Joseph Smith. We’ve told people that we are followers of Christ but it’s not until they hear us singing His name with reverence and power that they can’t help but believe it.”
The band has wasted no time fulfilling its sacred mission and less than a year after forming they have already released their first album. The band has performed live at a number of venues both in and out of the Church, either on its own or alongside other Christians, and band members have felt the Lord increase their abilities while they perform using instruments they’ve barely started learning.
From women’s retreats to prisons where they’ve performed, Author’s Bay is determined to reach out to and touch the hearts and minds of all of God’s children.
“I know that God knows each of us very well,” Jenna said, “He knows our individual strengths and talents. He has a work for each of us to do and if we are willing to be instruments in His hands, He will guide us every step of the way.”