Modern-day pioneers are those who prepare the way spiritually so others may find the way to Christ, Elder Albert Choules Jr. of the Second Quorum of the Seventy said July 24.
Elder Choules spoke at the annual Days of '47 Sunrise Service in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, sponsored by the Pioneer Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.Col. Paul Madsen of the Mormon Battalion led the pledge of allegiance after members of the battalion posted the U.S. and Utah State flags. The Salt Lake Symphonic Choir, directed by George Welch, presented a series of musical selections on American, pioneer and religious heritage.
Elder Choules encouraged parents to prepare for and establish a righteous heritage for their descendants. "On this Pioneer Day," he urged, "may we not only look back in reverence, but also look forward with love. May we be as responsive as our pioneer forefathers to the Spirit of the Lord, to the leadership and guidance of prophetic leaders, to a sense of love and concern for our wives and our husbands, our children, and for those who are coming after us."
He said he hoped that young people would grow in understanding of this day and its significance. "We pay tribute to those noble sons and daughters of God who, true to their faith . . . came to this valley many years ago. We honor them for their faith and courage to do right. What a rich heritage they left us. I pray that we may ever be true to that which they stood for and continue to stand for in our lives."
Everyone who comes into the Church has pioneer heritage, Elder Choules declared. While some celebrate that heritage on July 24, others may celebrate it on a baptismal or marriage date.
"Heritage received is something we should be proud of and grateful for," he continued. "But we have ever so much to do with the heritage our children and their children will inherit from us.
"We can all prepare the way for our children in their own future homes by establishing in their growing-up years a home of love and stability where sons and daughters know and feel and see fathers love their mothers, and mothers love the fathers," Elder Choules emphasized.
"They will learn service to God and fellow man as they see us serve," he continued. "They will develop a deep love in the Lord and faith in God, our Eternal Father."
Elder Choules said that while members today do not have log cabins to build, miles to walk and handcarts to pull, "we do have prophets to follow, home teaching to do, visiting teaching to do, sick to visit, youth to help, and elderly to comfort."
He suggested that the pioneers who crossed the plains taught generosity and love as they opened their small log cabins to family and acquaintances. "I wonder how many could stay in a log home 16 feet by 14 feet? I'd suggest that it doesn't depend on the size of the house, but on the size of the heart."
The pioneers had enduring faith, and performed a great service, emphasized Elder Choules. "We can and must be pioneers in our own lives."