The Organization of the Church
The Book of Mormon was published on March 26, 1830. A few days later, on April 6, 1830, a small group of people convened in the log farmhouse of Peter Whitmer, Sr. On that day six men were elected as trustees of a new organization that would become known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were unanimously elected as the first and second elders of the newly organized Church of Jesus Christ.
Growth of the Church
One-hundred and eighty-four years later, at the April 2014 General Conference, Brook P. Hales, Secretary to the First Presidency, reported that as of December 31, 2013, there were 3,050 Stakes, 405 Missions, 571 Districts, and 29,253 Wards and Branches. The total membership of the Church was 15,082,028. There were also 83,035 Full-Time Missionaries and 24,032 Church-Services Missionaries serving at that time. And, there were 141 temples in operation.
17 years after the Church was organized, Brigham Young led a vanguard company in breaking a primary trail to the Rocky Mountains in search of a safe place for members to live and worship God in accordance with the restored gospel. These early pioneers were compelled to leave because of severe opposition and persecution experienced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They had earlier been driven out of Missouri. After rebuilding homes in and around Nauvoo, Illinois they faced more opposition. Eventually, in 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith, while in custody in Carthage, Illinois, were killed by a mob. Not long thereafter, the Saints were again forced to leave their homes and their recently constructed temple in Nauvoo, Illinois.
On July 24, 1847 Brigham Young first saw the Salt Lake Valley and declared: “This is the right place, drive on.” A monument now stands on the spot where he made this famous declaration. A “Pioneer Day Celebration” is held each year in the State of Utah. It is truly amazing to see how the Church has grown from its humble beginnings in that log farmhouse in New York. This enormous growth would not have occurred had it not been for the spiritual strength and sacrifice of many faithful members from the day the Church was organized in 1830.
Pioneers in the Philippines
There is also cause for celebration in the Philippines. In the month of July members of the Church in the Philippines should pause to reflect on the journey taken by about 70,000 Mormon pioneers who crossed the Great Plains and mountainous territory to relocate to the Salt Lake Valley where the Church would grow and prosper. It is a great heritage of faith and sacrifice that now blesses all members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The members of the Church in the Philippines should also remember and celebrate “pioneers” who have worked to establish the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Philippines.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a pioneer as “one who ventures into unknown territory”, a “trailblazer” and a “foot soldier sent to clear the way.” This definition of a “pioneer” should remind us all that we should be grateful for the many missionaries that have left their homes and “ventured” into numerous parts of the Philippines to share the gospel. We should also celebrate those “trailblazers” who were the first members of their families to join the Church. They are the “foot soldiers” that have cleared the way for their posterity to be blessed by knowing the truth of the restored gospel. These are “pioneers” of a different sort, but they should also be remembered and celebrated for their service and sacrifice in this great country.
We should make the effort to capture their history as modern-day pioneers who have strengthened The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines. The booklet entitled: “My Family – Stories That Bring Us Together” is an excellent way of not only recording the history of their faith and sacrifice, but it can also lead to saving ordinances performed in the temples.
Gospel Will Continue to Roll Forth
Let us all remember and witness that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is rolling forth and is filling the whole earth. As the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote on March 1, 1842: “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” Each of us should step forward to share in this “hastening” of the work of salvation.