One of my favorite parts of the David O. McKay book was the discussion on his effect on the international church. Honestly, this book partly filled a gap for me because most of what I know about church history stops in around 1900. I didn't realize that so many changes were made under President McKay; I would have guessed that some things were more gradual. I find church history interesting, but there are too many other books that sneak in. If someone can recommend a good book about the Church in the early part of the last century (I'd love to read something good about Heber J. Grant), I'd appreciate it.
About a year before President McKay's death, he was asked what his most outstanding accomplishment had been as President of the Church, and he replied, "The making of the Church a world-wide organization."
In 1920, President McKay (then Elder McKay) left for a trip around the world. He was the first General Authority to go around the world. He spent time in a variety of places and with a variety of members. He also served a mission in Europe.
The policy of gathering to Utah also changed during his years as president. Soon after becoming the prophet, he announced the building of temples in Europe. When the members overseas had temples to visit closer to them, it wasn't necessary to gather to Utah anymore.
He also made an effort to use local leadership overseas instead of American missionaries or expatriates. I loved some of the stories about that.
Translation of Church materials into other languages also became much more coordinated and a new Translation Department was formed in 1965. I was so pleased to hear that the Book of Mormon is being translated in 46 more languages right now! I'm hoping for Kazakh or Kyrgyz soon.
I'm glad that the focus changed 50 years ago and not more recently. The new international emphasis certainly laid the groundwork for the many temples we have today. As someone who is living overseas right now, I'm grateful for the changes he made.
One more thing I liked (well, there's a lot more I liked, but just one more thing now)- President McKay kept Ricks College in Rexburg instead of moving it to Idaho Falls, as seemed quite logical at the time. It was a difficult decision to make, but in the end, President McKay said that he hadn't ever felt right about moving the school to Idaho Falls. I have to agree. Ricks, and now BYU-I, belong in Rexburg.