- Reflect upon the past
- Focus on pioneers- Feel urgent responsibility
Church members today need the same dedication in every one of their footsteps as the pioneers had in theirs, said Elder M. Russell Ballard Saturday afternoon.
Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve reminded members that in 1997 the Church will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. During the susquicentennial celebration, called "Faith in Every Footstep," Church members worldwide will have the opportunity to focus their attention on the pioneer trek from Nauvoo and on pioneers in other countries, Elder Ballard said.
In August, he walked in the footsteps of the pioneers along the Mormon trail through Wyoming and Utah.
"I wondered why our dedicated ancestors suffered so terribly and yet willingly faced such tremendous obstacles," Elder Ballard said. "Perhaps one reason they sacrificed and endured was to leave a legacy of faith for all of us to help us feel our urgent responsibility to move forward in building up the Church throughout the world."
Elder Ballard explained that the pioneers sacrificed virtually all they had, including their lives in many cases, to follow a prophet of God to the Salt Lake Valley.
As chairman of the Church susquicentennial committee, he asked stake and ward leaders to place the Church sesquicentennial celebration on their next council meeting agenda and choose activities that will assure a spiritually fulfilling experience for their members.
Elder Ballard said that before the railroad reached the Utah Territory in 1869, approximately 70,000 pioneers, 9,600 wagons, and 650 handcarts made the trek to the Salt Lake Valley.
"Each pioneer who walked from the Mississippi River to the Great Salt Lake took millions of steps to traverse that distance," he explained. ". . . In total, billions of footsteps of faith were taken by our pioneers."
Elder Ballard said the Lord encourages Church members to walk in faith to the edge of the light and beyond - into the unknown.
"After our trial of our faith, He, once again, shines the light ahead of us, and our journey of Faith in Every Footstep continues," he noted. "Now, it has swelled into billions and billions of footsteps throughout the world."
Elder Ballard said he marvels at the result of the work of the pioneers in every country, where, through their faith and sacrifice, established the Church. He asked members to make sure the faith received from the pioneers is never lost.
"Let their heroic lives touch our hearts, and especially the hearts of our youth, so the fire of true testimony and unwavering love for the Lord and His Church will blaze brightly within each one of us as it did in our faithful pioneers."