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Study aid will teach Church heritage -- book emphasizes 'spiritual legacy of all members'

Anew gospel study aid emphasizing "the spiritual legacy of all members" of the Church is now available at Church distribution centers.

Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been approved by the First Presidency for Church class and home use, according to a recent letter from the First Presidency to General Authorities and priesthood leaders. The 160-page book, the letter explained, "will help members throughout the world learn more about the history and heritage of the Church."The letter continued: "This book will make an excellent addition to home libraries. It will be available in approved languages and will be used to supplement and support the Gospel Doctrine course in 1997, the study of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history."

Our Heritage and Truth Restored, written by President Gordon B. Hinckley, complement each other as useful supplements for the 1997 Gospel Doctrine Course on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, according to Ronald L. Knighton, managing director of the Church's Curriculum Department.

Truth Restored contains a brief record of the restoration, westward movement of the Church and the administrations of Church presidents. Our Heritage briefly discusses the restoration and Utah settlement, and also describes the growth and challenges of a worldwide Church and the testimonies and sacrifices of Latter-day prophets and members throughout the world.

"The Restoration and the westward movement of the Saints and settlements in early Utah history portray principles and a heritage that have made us the people we are. Principles such as consecration, faithfulness, endurance, hope and service are part of the heritage that we all share today," Brother Knighton said. "The intent of Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to provide a brief history particularly for international members that enable them to understand these principles.

"Our Heritage draws from the history of the expanding Church and its global membership in the last 50 years. Another key benefit is that this book contains the testimonies of the latter-day presidents of the Church about the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ, and ties those testimonies to the principles that have helped us to become God's latter-day covenant people."

Brother Knighton commented on the hope that members of the Church internationally will "draw upon these heritage principles in building up the Church and meeting the challenges in their respective lands.

"Because the international areas are the frontier of the Church today, Our Heritage can especially benefit these members. However, we hope that a copy would be obtained and read in every Latter-day Saint home."

Josiah W. Douglas, manager of core curriculum for the Church, emphasized that Our Heritage does not replace Truth Restored, but, rather, is a companion.

In the "Outline for Using Resource Materials on Church History in Selected Gospel Doctrine Lessons for 1997," selections from both books may be used to supplement the lessons. For example, lesson 3 suggests chapter 2 of Truth Restored as supplemental study to the Doctrine and Covenants. For lesson 5, pages 8-11 of Our Heritage is listed. For lesson 14, selections from both books are suggested.

An example of a portion exemplifying the legacy of faith by those who helped settle the Salt Lake Valley is found on page 77 of Our Heritage: "Nellie Pucell . . . turned ten years old on the plains. Both her parents died during the journey. As the group neared the mountains, the weather was bitter cold, the rations were depleted, and the Saints were too weak from hunger to continue on. Nellie and her sister collapsed. When they had almost given up hope, the leader of the company came to them in a wagon. He placed Nellie in the wagon and told Maggie to walk along beside it, holding on to steady herself. Maggie was fortunate because the forced movement saved her from frostbite.

"When they reached Salt Lake City and Nellie's shoes and stockings, which she had worn across the plains, were removed, the skin came off with them as a result of frostbite. This brave girl's feet were painfully amputated and she walked on her knees the rest of her life. She later married and gave birth to six children, keeping up her own house and raising a fine posterity. Her determination in spite of her situation and the kindness of those who cared for her exemplify the faith and willingness to sacrifice of these early Church members. Their example is a legacy of faith to all Saints who follow them."

Brother Douglas said: "One of the great benefits of studying these books as a family is their ability to stimulate gospel discussion in the home. Adults, youth and children," he explained, "study courses based on the same book of sripture during Sunday School and Primary classes.

"Reading these books together," he added, "can foster teaching and sharing with one another."

Our Heritage is available at the Salt Lake Distribution Center for $1. Truth Restored is available for 75 cents at the distribution center.