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We are family: Over 500 descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith gather for one epic reunion

Every member of the Church needs “to find a little quiet time,” said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quourm of the Twelve Apostles.

“That is when we come to know that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world,” he said.

Speaking to descendants of Lucy Mack Smith and Joseph Smith Sr. during a reunion held in Salt Lake City on Aug. 2-5, President Ballard detailed his own family history and spoke of his great-great-grandfather, Hyrum Smith.

The Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum Smith, paid the ultimate price “to give to you and to me the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

President Russell M. Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, greets descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith during a family reunion, held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, on Aug. 4, 2018.
President Russell M. Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, greets descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith during a family reunion, held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, on Aug. 4, 2018. Photo: Sarah Jane Weaver

Because of Joseph Smith, “the Prophet of the dispensation of the fullness of times,” members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the plan of happiness and know the things “that will bring us joy and peace.”

Reflecting on the life and sacrifice of the Prophet Joseph and members of his family, President Ballard reminded their descendants that it is during times of trial that they can draw closer to God the Father and His Son.

He encouraged Smith family members to make time to ponder, to have courage and to stand strong through the trials of life.

“In the quiet moments (when I didn’t know what to do), that is when I have found heaven is very close,” he said.

President Ballard’s remarks were part of two addresses he delivered to the family during the four-day reunion.

More than 500 Smith family descendants gathered in Salt Lake City to participate in the reunion, which included a service project to help refugees, who — like the Smith family and other early Church members — have been driven from their homes.

Descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith participate in a family reunion, held in Salt Lake City on Aug. 4, 2018.
Descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith participate in a family reunion, held in Salt Lake City on Aug. 4, 2018. Photo: Lindsey Orton

“You descend from a long line of people who believe in the Two Great Commandments — to love God and to love your fellow man,” said Sister Sharon Eubank, the director of LDS Charities and first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, who also participated in the program.

Of their participation in a service project to build beds for refugees, Sister Eubank said, “Your family does not just believe this, you live it.”

She shared examples of the love and charity of early Latter-day Saints, and noted that the greatest good is yet to come. “We have beautiful examples in the past, but the best examples will be in the future,” she said.

Descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith participate in a family reunion, held in Salt Lake City on Aug. 4, 2018.
Descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith participate in a family reunion, held in Salt Lake City on Aug. 4, 2018. Photo: Lindsey Orton

Lachlan Mackay of the Council of Twelve of the Community of Christ was not able to attend the reunion. However, he wrote a paper on the members of the Smith family and other followers of the Prophet Joseph that were taken in by the people of Quincy, Illinois, in 1838, when they were refugees fleeing Missouri. This paper was presented by his mother, Anina Mackay Luff, a great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Smith.

“The people of Quincy invited the Smith family and the larger Church community in as strangers,” he wrote. “They satisfied the Saints’ hunger, quenched their thirst, provided them with clothing, and tended them in their sicknesses. Like the good Samaritan, they bandaged wounds, brought the homeless to the inn, and cared for those ‘in their greatest state of suffering and want.’ And for all of this, the good people of Quincy are remembered even today.”