Maxine Tate Shields Grimm

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Courtesy Deseret News

Maxine Tate Shields Grimm was considered a pioneer in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Philippines. She made it possible for missionaries to begin work there in the 1960s. She was a devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She was born May 18, 1914, and first went to the Philippines as a Red Cross worker in 1945. By this time she was already a widow (her first husband, Weldon Shields, died in 1940). She married E. M. “Pete” Grimm, a US Army colonel and long-time resident of Manila, and they settled in Manila. He joined the Church in 1967. She worked to open doors for the Church across Asia. According to the Deseret News, she was “present at almost every important occasion that led to the opening of missionary work in the Philippines.”[1] “Her home was the center of Church activity; most of the first 2,000 baptisms in Manila were performed in the Grimm swimming pool.”[2]

President Gordon B. Hinckley was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles assigned to supervise the Church in Asia. Grimm and other American servicemen and their families as well as others living in the Philippines pleaded with the Church through then Elder Hinckley to open the Philippines to missionary work.

President Hinckley said in an address at Brigham Young University on March 6, 1977:

She did all she could to teach the gospel to others; she pleaded that missionaries be sent. Her husband had legal work done and did many other things to make it possible for the missionaries to come. It would have been much easier for them to have simply gone along their way, making money and enjoying the fruits of it, but Sister Grimm was unceasing in her efforts and in her pleas.[3]

In May 1961, Elder Hinckley presided at a meeting to begin the work. He said that Grimm played her little portable organ she had carried through the campaigns of the Pacific war, and the group “sang the songs of Zion in a strange land. We bore testimony together and invoked the blessings of heaven on what we were to begin there.” One native Filipino member of the Church attended the meeting. On June 5, 1961, the first four missionaries had the necessary visas and were transferred from Hong Kong to Manila.[4]

Continuing in his BYU address, President Hinckley said, “That was the beginning of something marvelous, the commencement of a miracle. The rest is history, discouraging at times and glorious at others.” He recalled his feelings at a Philippines area conference held with President Kimball years after missionary work was established: “I remembered with appreciation the woman who largely forgot her own interests as she relentlessly pursued her dream of the day when the Church would be strong in the land in which she then lived, bringing happiness of a kind previously unknown to thousands of wonderful people.”[5]

According in the Deseret News tribute to her, “Today there are 728,295 Latter-day Saints, 21 missions, 176 family history centers, 1,201 congregations and 2 temples in the Philippines.”[6]

After her husband died in 1977, Grimm returned to her native Tooele. She passed away on February 10, 2017. She was the mother of two children.