LDS Press Kit
A Church for all the World

Note: This material is from a press kit provided by the Church Public Communications Department

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Are Mormons Christians?
Organization
Priesthood
The Family
Health Code
Scriptures
Relief Society
Sunday School
Youn Men and Young Women
Programs for Single Adults
Primary
Missionary Program
Building Program
Genealogy
Temples
Education
Welfare Services
Personal and Family Preparedness
Storehouse Resource System
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Early History of the Church
Joseph Smith
Book of Mormon
Persecution
Martyrdom of Joseph Smith
Brigham Young and the Trek Westward
Mormon Batallion
Settling Salt Lake Valley
The Crickets and the Seagulls
Handcart CompaniesElder
Colonizing
The Articles of Faith


THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

The official name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is often called the "Mormon" Church and its members are frequently referred to as "Mormons" or "Latter-day Saints." When the Church was organized on April 6, 1830, in New York State, it had only six members. Today it has some nine million members throughout the world.

Headquarters of the Church is in Salt Lake City, Utah, but the thousands of Church congregations throughout the world are supervised by local area offices (see "Organization").

The Church places great emphasis on family and individual development. It emphasizes education and operates numerous schools, colleges, seminaries and institutes of religion. It Maintains a Vital Welfare system, a unique missionary program, and worldwide organizations for men, women, youth, and children.

ARE MORMONS CHRISTIANS?

The central doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Eternal Father. This Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth was proclaimed by an angel of the Lord and by a multitude of the heavenly host (Luke 2:8-14), is the Savior of the world, the Messiah and Redeemer of all mankind, and the only mediator between God and Man.

Christ lived, died, and was literally resurrected. Old Testament prophets foresaw, and the New Testament affirms, his divine mission.

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. As an ancient American prophet declared:

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; . . . .

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

"And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul;. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25;23, 26, 29.)

ORGANIZATION

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no professional clergy. Lay members chosen as regional and local officers are not paid for their services. The General Authorities of the Church have their headquarters in Salt Lake City. They are led by the President of the Church, whom members consider to be a prophet of God. The President and his two counselors comprise the First Presidency. Next to the First Presidency in authority is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Other General Authorities include the members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and a three-man Presiding Bishopric that oversees temporal affairs of the Church.

The major geographical subdivisions of the Church are called areas. The Church is further organized into regions and missions within areas, stakes within regions, and districts within missions. Congregations are wards and branches within stakes, and branches within districts. An ecclesiastical leader who is a member of the Church's First Quorum of the Seventy presides over each area.

Regional Representatives help the General Authorities of the Church to train stake officials.

A president and two counselors preside over each stake and district, and a bishop and two counselors preside over each ward. Each branch is led by a president and two counselors.

A president, assisted by full-time and lay member missionaries, directs each mission.

Each member of the Church has the right to vote on all officers and administrative proposals that are presented by local or general presiding authorities.

PRIESTHOOD

Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. Worthy male members 12 years of age and older are eligible to hold an office of responsibility in the priesthood.

Women do not hold the priesthood in the Church, but they are organized after the priesthood pattern in the Relief Society (see "Relief Society") and serve in the Church's governing councils.

The Priesthood has two major subdivisions called the Melchizedek, or higher, Priesthood and the Aaronic, or lesser, Priesthood. The three quorums, or units, of the Aaronic Priesthood are deacons, teachers, and priests. The quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood are made up of elders, seventies, and high priests. Each priesthood quorum has specific responsibilities to serve the members of the Church.

THE FAMILY

The basic unit of the Church is the family. The Church teaches that marriage is sacred and that temple covenants can bind a family together throughout eternity (see "Temples").

Because of its concern for the strength of the home, the Church is outspoken in its opposition to negative influences on the family.

The Church promotes gospel study and family activities in homes, and most programs of the Church are family oriented. For several years the Church has encouraged each family to hold weekly family home evenings to study principles of good living and to counsel together about family matters. Families also participate together in recreational and cultural activities that strengthen ties and provide opportunities for healthy communication. The Church provides attractive manuals to help parents plan interesting and meaningful family home evenings.

The Church also helps families through its home teaching program. As representatives of the bishop or branch president, priesthood holders called "home teachers" go in pairs into each Latter-day Saint home at least once a month. They bring messages of inspiration, guidance, and good will to the family. They also act as representatives of ecclesiastical leaders whenever the Church's programs Can be used to help families solve problems.

HEALTH CODE

As a result of a revelation to Joseph Smith in 1833, the Church has a health code known as the Word of Wisdom. The Church teaches abstinence from smoking; from alcoholic beverages, coffee, and tea; and from any other substance that is harmful to the body. It encourages a healthful diet of grains and fruits, and it recommends that meat be used sparingly. The Church also teaches its members the importance of keeping the body strong through physical exercise and keeping it pure through strict adherence to high moral standards. This life-style enhances both physical and mental health.

SCRIPTURES

Members of the Church use both the Old and New Testaments. They also accept as scripture the Book of Mormon, a religious and secular history of ancient American civilizations (see "Early History of the Church").

The two other volumes of Latter-day Saint scripture are the Doctrine and Covenants, which is a collection of revelations given to Joseph Smith and subsequent presidents of the Church, and the Pearl of Great Price, which contains a selection of the revelations, translations, and pronouncements of Joseph Smith.

RELIEF SOCIETY

More than 1.5 million women worldwide are members of the Church's Relief Society, one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world. The Relief Society was established in 1842 to help the sick, the poor, and others in need of compassionate service. During its weekly meetings, the society also provides instruction on a variety of topics, including theology, social relations, literature, fine arts, cultures of other countries, homemaking, and mother education.

The society also has "visiting teachers." Each woman in the Church is visited at least once a month by two of these visiting teachers, who are assigned to assist with temporal and spiritual needs.

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Members of the Church 12 years of age and older attend Sunday School, which provides religious training for each age group. Sunday School classes are held in all wards and branches throughout the world.

YOUNG MEN AND YOUNG WOMEN

Social and cultural activities for the youth of the Church are provided primarily by the Young Men and the Young Women organizations. Young people from 12 through 18 years of age meet in age-group classes on Sundays for religious study. They also meet several times during the month for social, cultural, and recreational activities that are designed to build faith, character, and physical fitness. All members are given the opportunity to develop their talents in speech, music, drama, dance, sports, and leadership.

The Young Men program includes the largest Church-sponsored Boy Scout program in the world in proportion to Church membership. Most Mormon boys of Scouting age are enrolled in Scouting in countries that have such a program. In other countries, the Church sponsors its own Scouting programs.

PROGRAMS FOR SINGLE ADULTS

The Church's programs for single adults serve young unmarried adults and also older people who are widowed, divorced, or who have never Married. The Young Adults program, for unmarried people 18 through 25, and the Special Interest program, with two age-groups for adults over 25, enrich the lives of those whose needs are not met by the Church's other family-centered programs. Those who participate enjoy associating together in spiritual, cultural, social, and service activities.

PRIMARY

The Primary helps parents to teach their children between the ages of three and 12 the principles of the gospel. Each Sunday children meet to receive religious instruction and to enjoy social interaction. The Primary also sponsors an early Scouting program for boys (and a similar program for girls).

MISSIONARY PROGRAM

The impressive growth of the Church has come about largely because of the Church's energetic missionary program, which is organized throughout the United States and in most other countries of the free world. Every year thousands of young men and women voluntarily accept calls to become proselyting missionaries for two years. They serve at their own expense, often receiving financial assistance from family or friends. When their service is concluded, they are honorably released and return to college or vocational pursuits.

Doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and medical technicians also serve as missionaries in developing countries, where the Church's expanding health services program emphasizes preventive health care.

In addition, the Church occasionally calls craftsmen, artisans, and construction supervisors to train and direct local members in the Church wide building program. Agricultural experts are also called to serve in some areas.

BUILDING PROGRAM

A worldwide building program meets the needs of the Church's rapidly growing membership. Thousands of stake and ward buildings provide facilities for religious assembly and worship; classroom instruction; and for recreational, social, and cultural activities. Many of these buildings accommodate two or more local congregations. At any given time, literally hundreds of Church meetinghouses are in the planning, construction, or remodeling stage. Each of these buildings is fully paid for before it is officially dedicated. The Church also constructs schools and temples (see "Temples"). Church building projects are underway in each of the states of the United States, as well as in dozens of other countries.

GENEALOGY

The Church has one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world. Under the direction of its Genealogical Department, the Church and its members have gathered millions of volumes of birth, marriage, death, and other records. Today hundreds of millions of microfilmed records are available for research through the Genealogical Department. The genealogical library is located in the Church Office Building at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

Copies of the records are stored in d spacious vault carved out of a solid granite mountain in a canyon near Salt Lake City. This massive cavern permanently safeguards these valuable records from natural disaster and preserves them under ideal storage conditions.

To appreciate the Church's emphasis on genealogy, it is necessary to understand the importance of the family in the lives of Latter-day Saints. Mormons who obey the teachings of Christ may enter into a marriage covenant that lasts not only until death, but continues eternally. These eternal marriages are solemnized in the temples of the Church.

In addition, the Church teaches that those who have died without a true knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ may be baptized by proxy as a first step in their exaltation. Proxy temple work, including baptism and marriage, opens the way for people who have died without a full knowledge of the gospel to accept the gospel's saving principles and to participate in its necessary ordinances. The living gather vital statistics on their ancestors so that the dead Can have all the blessings of the gospel.

TEMPLES

Wards and branches of the Church use chapels or other buildings for worship services on Sunday and for other meetings during the week. But the temples of the Church are reserved for such Sacred ordinances as marriage and baptism (see "Genealogy"), and only worthy members of the Church may enter these holy buildings.

Mormon temples are situated in Mesa, Arizona; Los Angeles and Oakland, California; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Logan, Manti, Ogden, Provo, St. George, Salt Lake City, and South Jordan, Utah; Washington, D. C.; Seattle, Washington; and in Brazil, Canada, England, Hawaii, Japan, New Zealand, and Switzerland- New temples are under construction in Mexico; Western Samoa; Atlanta, Georgia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Nuku'alofa, Tonga; Papeete, Tahiti; Santiago, Chile; and Sydney, Australia. Others are planned for Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Lima, Peru; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Seoul, Korea; Manila, Philippines; Frankfurt, Germany; Stockholm, Sweden; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

EDUCATION

The Church's educational system operates in the United States and in more than 50 other countries. Where public and private schools provide nonreligious education for most Church members, this system emphasizes religious instruction. It includes hundreds of thousands of high school and college students enrolled in seminaries and institutes of religion. These programs offer weekly religion classes in Church meetinghouses and in buildings owned and operated by the Church that are adjacent to school campuses. In areas where there are few Mormon students, home-study courses are offered.

The Church also operates elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in Bolivia, Chile, Fiji, the Gilbert Islands, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Tahiti, Tonga, and Western Samoa.

A significant development in recent years has been the establishment of a scholarship program for Mormon students in Latin America and the Pacific, including the Asian Rim. Through this program, students in developing countries receive additional schooling so that they can provide leadership in their families, the Church, and their communities.

The literacy program of the Church Educational System, first introduced in Bolivia in mid-1972, is also being expanded into other countries. It is designed to teach basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Thousands of children and adults have successfully completed the literacy lessons developed by teaching and language experts at the Church's Brigham Young University (BYU).

A basic concern of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that every member be able to read, write, do basic mathematics, and study the scriptures and other good books. The Church also uses local resources to teach these skills to all of its members.

In addition, the Church operates several institutions of higher learning. More than 25,000 students are enrolled each semester at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, serves another 6,000. Brigham Young University also has a Hawaii campus with 1,200 students. The LDS Business College in Salt Lake City accommodates nearly 1,000 students.

Many thousands of adult members of the Church (nonmembers also participate) are also involved in continuing education programs sponsored by BYU and the Church Educational System.

WELFARE SERVICES

Every society has members who, because of sickness, old age, economic depression, or occasional major disaster, have need of assistance. The Latter-day Saints believe that the responsibility for a person's spiritual and temporal well-being rests upon himself, his family, and the Church--in that order. When individual and family resources are not enough to sustain a person or family, the Church should provide aid.

President Heber J. Grant, President of the Church at the time the Church welfare services plan was established, explained that the purpose of the plan was "to set up, insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, P. 3).

Personal and Family Preparedness

The Church welfare services plan encourages individuals and families in the Church to become self-sufficient and to prepare themselves in each of the following areas:

1. Literacy and Education. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to become skilled in reading, writing, and mathematics, and to make use of public and other educational opportunities.
2. Career Development. Members are urged to select suitable vocations or professions and to acquire necessary training in order to satisfy economic needs and provide personal satisfaction.
3. Financial and Resource Management. Members are encouraged to establish financial goals, pay tithes and offerings, avoid debt, use economic resources wisely, and save during times of plenty for times of need.
4. Home Production and Storage. Latter-day Saints are advised to maintain gardens, to sew, and to Make household items. They are also taught how to can, freeze, and dry foods. Where legally permitted, and where physically and economically possible, they are urged to store a year's supply of food, clothing, and fuel. These supplies have saved many families from stress during times of personal need and widespread emergency.
5. Physical Health. Church members are encouraged to practice sound principles of nutrition, physical fitness, weight control, immunization, sanitation, accident prevention, and dental and medical health care.
6. Social-Emotional and Spiritual Strength. Latter-day Saints believe that to build social-emotional and spiritual strength, they must learn to love God and to communicate with him in personal prayer, be willing to love and serve their neighbors, and develop love and respect for themselves through righteous living and self-mastery. Social and emotional strength is a blessing that comes from applying religious principles to family living.

Storehouse Resource System

The storehouse resource system in the Church is the Mormon way of identifying the needs of the poor and distressed and providing resources to take care of those needs.

The bishop, leader of a local congregation, is responsible to seek out those in need and to minister to their needs, if they are willing to work for the assistance they receive. When individuals are unable to care for their own needs, the bishop uses the following resources:

1. Male Members

The men of the Church are organized into groups called priesthood quorums- Two men are assigned to visit each family in the Church every month. These "home teachers" report back to the bishop when a family is in need.

Priesthood quorum members and their families provide labor to produce needed commodities and services. Priesthood quorums also contribute funds to help the needy. While the bishop is primarily concerned with providing temporary assistance and work opportunities, the priesthood quorums help with prevention of problems and with long-term rehabilitation of needy members.

2. Female Members

Since 1842, the Relief Society, an organization of all Mormon women, has been a chief help to the bishops in administering relief to the poor, the destitute, the widow, and the orphan.

Women provide invaluable Compassionate service, produce and process needed commodities, and work to prepare themselves and their families for times of need. Relief Society "visiting teachers" visit each home monthly to identify needs and assist in obtaining necessary help.

3. Fast Offerings

The bishop has a fast offering fund set aside to care for those in need. All able Latter-day Saints are expected to abstain from two meals each month and contribute the equivalent cost (or a more generous offering) to the Church, thus providing cash for welfare services purposes.

4. Employment System

Church employment services are available to those in need. On the local level, priesthood quorums and lay members are encouraged to help find jobs for the unemployed and to find better jobs for the employed. In addition, the Church operates more than 26 full-time employment centers.

5. Bishops' Storehouses

Bishops' storehouses contain a supply of commodities produced in large part by Church members. While these storehouses provide many of the same services as any retail food store, no money is exchanged. The only way a person can obtain commodities from a storehouse is through a bishop's requisition order.

6. Production Projects

Each unit of the Church is expected to participate in a project that produces quality food or non-food commodities for the welfare services system.

7. LDS Social Services

Agencies of LDS Social Services help members with social and emotional problems. The two main areas of help are licensed services (such as adoptions, services for unwed parents, foster home care, and Indian student placement) and clinical services (including professional therapy for individuals and families).

8. Deseret Industries

Deseret Industries includes d number of nonprofit family thrift stores where the public can buy refurbished and "as is" items. This program provides an opportunity for people to donate all types of items they no longer use and to help train those in need. Deseret Industries also serves as a bishops' storehouse from which d bishop May requisition non-food commodities to provide for the needy.

Deseret Industries includes workshops to help the elderly, the handicapped, and others to help themselves. Unneeded clothing, furniture, toys, and other items are collected through regular drives and are then refurbished and recycled by employees, many of whom are crippled, blind, elderly, or handicapped in other ways. Meaningful work for these people helps them build their skills, self-esteem, and confidence.

9. Missionaries

Members of the Church with specialized training are often called as full-time missionaries to help Church leaders improve social-emotional, economic, health, educational, and other conditions in developing areas of the world.

10. Work for Assistance

Those who receive assistance through welfare services are expected to work to earn what they receive and to produce something to help others in need.

Those who receive assistance give of their time, talents, and means. They work on welfare production projects, at storehouses, and in Deseret Industries. They help maintain Church buildings and grounds and work on service projects as assigned.

There is no dole. Instead, independence and freedom from idleness and its attendant evils are encouraged.

11. Government and Other Forms of Charity

The Church's policy on government and other forms of charity is given in this statement;

"The responsibility for each member's spiritual, social, emotional, physical, or economic well-being rests first, upon himself, second, upon his family, and third, upon the Church. Members of the Church are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent to the extent of their ability. (See Doctrine and Covenants 78:13-14.)

"No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able, will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family's well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will work to the extent of his ability to supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life. (See Genesis 3:19, 1 Timothy 5:8, and Philippians 2:12.)

"As guided by the Spirit of the Lord and through applying these principles, each member of the Church should make his own decision as to what assistance he accepts, be it from governmental or other source. In this way, independence, self-respect, dignity, and self-reliance will be fostered and free agency maintained-" (The Presiding Bishopric, September 1977; quoted in "I Have a Question," Ensign, March 1978, P. 20.)

MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR

Music is an important part of Latter-day Saint culture. Every congregation sings, and many choirs and other singing and instrumental groups are organized for young and old. The most famous of all the Church's singing ensembles is the world-renowned Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a 325-voice group that began shortly after the Mormon pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

The Tabernacle Choir is best known for its Sunday broadcast over CBS in the United States. "Music and the Spoken Word," which originates from Temple Square in Salt Lake City, has been a radio tradition in America since 1929 and is carried on scores of television stations. It is heard in other countries via short-wave radio and the American Forces network.

The Choir is also known for its recordings, among them a popular rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" that won a Grammy award. The Choir has made recordings with some of the world's great orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic.

Concert tours over the years have taken the Mormon Tabernacle Choir around the world, where it has sung in the great concert halls of Europe, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. The Choir has also performed for several United States presidents, both at inaugural ceremonies and in the White House.

Another performing group, the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus, was organized in 1969. The 100-member symphony and 350-member chorus perform regularly in concert and on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

EARLY HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized April 6. 1830, in Fayette, New York. Among its six original members was Joseph Smith, first prophet and president of the restored Church.

Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont. Joseph lived with his family in the rural farm community of Palmyra, New York, in 1820, when a religious revival swept the area. Confused by the conflicting claims of the various faiths, the 14-year-old boy went to a wooded grove near the family farm to pray for guidance. There he saw in vision two personages who identified themselves as God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Joseph was told to join none of the existing churches. He was also told that, if he proved himself worthy, he would be instrumental in restoring to earth the Church originally organized by Jesus Christ, which had been lost from the earth through apostasy. This restoration was to fulfill biblical prophecy.

Book of Mormon

In 1823 a heavenly messenger named Moroni directed Joseph to a hill near Palmyra, where he showed Joseph golden plates containing the religious and secular history of an ancient American civilization. Four years later Joseph was allowed to take the plates from the hill and translate their engravings into English. The translated volume, named for one of the ancient American prophets and historians who had kept the records, was published as the Book of Mormon. The Church's nickname, "Mormon," comes from the title of this sacred book.

The Book of Mormon contains a history of several civilizations in ancient America between about 2200 B.C. and A.D. 420. It includes an account of the ministry of the resurrected Jesus Christ on the American continent after his resurrection.

Persecution

Only a few months after the Church was organized, persecution forced the Church to move from New York. Headquarters was established in Kirtland, Ohio, where the Church's first temple Was built in 1836. It was not long, however, before increasing persecution drove the members still farther west.

From Ohio, the main body of the Church moved first to Missouri and later to Illinois. In 1839 the Mormons established the community of Nauvoo, whose Population of some 11,000 Made it the largest city in Illinois in that period. Under the leadership of Joseph Smith, beautiful homes and prosperous farms and businesses sprang up swiftly in a previously unwanted area that had once been only swampland. The "Saints," as they were called, began a beautiful temple and lived for a short time in peace.

Martyrdom of Joseph Smith

After this brief respite, persecution of the Latter-day Saints began anew. False charges soon led to the arrest and jailing of Joseph Smith and his closest associates. On June 24, 1844, the Mormon prophet and his brother Hyrum were taken to the Carthage, Illinois, jail, where several others joined them voluntarily. Although the governor of Illinois had promised the prisoners safety, a mob forced its way into the jail three days later, killing both Joseph and Hyrum.

Brigham Young and the Trek Westward

In time, Brigham Young succeeded Joseph Smith as President of the Church. Mobs continued to attack, however, burning crops, destroying homes, desecrating the new temple, and threatening to exterminate the people. In 1846, Church members were forced to flee across the frozen Mississippi River for safety.

In midwinter of 1846, Brigham Young led his people from Nauvoo. They began the trek across the vast plains to the Rocky Mountains, 1,400 miles away.

The first pioneer party--148 men, women, and children--arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake nearly a year and a half later, on July 24, 1847. When Brigham Young first viewed the valley, he said, "This is the right Place." During the next few years, thousands of other members of the Church joined the first party in their newly found refuge.

Mormon Battalion

While the pioneers were still en route to the West, a full year before the first party arrived, the United States Army asked the Mormons to provide 500 volunteers to help in the Mexican War. The Mormon Battalion was promptly organized and they marched 2,000 miles, following the Santa Fe Trail through the Southwest and on to what is now San Diego, California. The battalion endured hardships so severe that their commander, Brigadier General P. St. George Cooke told the troops, "History May be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry (The Conquest of New Mexico and California, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1978, p. 197).

Settling Salt Lake Valley

The pioneers found the Great Salt Lake Valley to be a barren land, more than 1,000 miles from settled areas to the east and 750 miles from the Pacific Ocean. When the major body of pioneers finally arrived at this Rocky Mountain destination, it was already mid-summer, and crops had to be planted to provide food for the coming winter. Diverting water from canyon streams to soften the parched soil and provide moisture for gardens and fields, the Mormons inaugurated large scale community irrigation projects.

The following spring, the pioneers harvested their first grain crop, and within a few years the once barren wasteland had become a lush valley of trees, homes, and farms--fulfilling for them the promise of an ancient prophet that "the desert shall ... blossom as a rose" (Isaiah 35:1).

The Crickets and Sea Gulls

The first winter passed, and springtime brought renewed hope and the promise of a bountiful grain crop. But those vital first crops were threatened by an unusually large number of crickets which appeared in the summer and began to destroy the grain. Although the pioneers fought with every means at their disposal, the battle against the insect plague seemed hopeless. In answer to the prayers of the pioneers, however, great flocks of sea gulls arrived to devour the crickets and save most of the crops. Today, the sea gull is honored as the Utah state bird, and the Sea Gull monument stands on Temple Square to commemorate the miraculous rescue.

Handcart Companies

Soon after its organization, and again later, after the migration to Utah, the Church sent missionaries throughout the United States. Some were sent to places as far away as Australia, India, the Pacific Islands, and Northern Europe. These missionaries enjoyed considerable success in Great Britain and other parts of Europe and also converted people in other lands.

In the 1850s, when converts from Europe became so numerous that there were not enough wagons to take them all West, many pioneers were equipped with handcarts. Of five main handcart companies, three made the journey to the Salt Lake Valley safely.

These companies, whose members were mostly immigrants from poor Welsh and English milltowns and mining communities, left Iowa City, Iowa, in June and July. Each adult was allowed 17 pounds of food and baggage, each child 10. The companies covered an average distance each day of 20 miles. (The daily average for ox teams was only 10 miles.)

The last two handcart companies, which started too late in the season, were beset by many troubles. Their rickety carts collapsed, buffalo ran over their camps, and blizzards struck. Winter storms arrived before Church members in Salt Lake City heard about the plight of the companies. Rescuers and wagons were sent 300 miles to help them. Because of the hardships they had endured, more than 200 people died in these two handcart companies.

Colonizing

Four years after their arrival in Salt Lake Valley, members of the Church were building settlements throughout the West. They settled villages and towns in what is now Arizona, southern Canada, California, Idaho, New Mexico, northern Mexico, and Wyoming. By 1857 they had founded 135 communities with a total population of 75,335. By 1887 the colonies stretched 1,350 miles from Canada to Mexico. In all, the pioneers settled more than 600 communities.

THE ARTICLES OF FAITH of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors. teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11. We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul -- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

-- Joseph Smith, 1841 --

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Last updated Jul 28, 1995 3:37 PM

Copyright 1995 TM Publications

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