A time to remember, honor, respect

As the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith was commemorated Sunday, June 26, it was a time for remembering - not a time of sadness, nor a time for celebration, but a time of honor and respect.

The first prophet of this dispensation and Hyrum, his brother, were killed by a mob on June 27, 1844, while incarcerated in the Carthage Jail. That single act of violence infamously thrust Carthage out of the shadows of obscurity and indelibly onto the pages of Mormon history.Three services commemorating the life and mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith were held in Nauvoo and also in nearby Carthage. The two cities forever will be remembered by Church members - one the beautiful city founded by the Prophet on a bend of the upper Mississippi River; the other some 25 miles to the southeast where he met his death at age 38 at the hands of a mob with faces painted black.

The Church's 14th prophet, President Howard W. Hunter, attended and spoke at the three services. The meetings were President Hunter's first scheduled public appearances since he was ordained and set apart as Church president on June 5, following the death of President Ezra Taft Benson.

President Hunter arrived in Nauvoo on Saturday, June 25, accompanied by his first counselor in the First Presidency, President Gordon B. Hinckley, and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve. Traveling with them were their wives, Inis Hunter, Marjorie Hinckley and Barbara Ballard.

For the three Church leaders, the hot and humid Sunday in the Midwest was an especially busy day. Each spoke at a special sacrament meeting in the Nauvoo Ward meetinghouse in the morning, at the unveiling ceremony of a temple sunstone at the Nauvoo Temple site in the afternoon, and at a commemorative program in Carthage at the old jail site in the evening. The old jail has been restored by the Church to what it was like in the 1840s and a modern LDS visitors center has been added to the grounds. (See separate articles about the sunstone unveiling program on page 7 and about the Carthage commemorative service on page 6.) Also participating in the three services were members of the presidency of the North America Central Area, Elders James M. Paramore, Hartman Rector Jr. and William R. Bradford, all of the Seventy. Traveling with them were their wives, Helen Paramore, Connie Rector and Mary Ann Bradford.

After the General Authorities and their wives arrived in Nauvoo, they were feted at a dinner, along with many local priesthood leaders and their wives, in the Seventies Hall, one of the some 25 buildings restored by the Church to their 19th-century charm.

After the dinner, President and Sister Hunter took a horse and buggy ride along some of the streets of old Nauvoo, past many of the restored buildings and sites. At the Smith family cemetery, Elder Ballard, a great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith, explained the cooperation that took place between the Church and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in beautifying the burial site, which was dedicated three years ago.

Several groups of visitors recognized President Hunter as his buggy passed by. Some clamored to photograph him or get a chance to shake his hand. Others stood back and spontaneously began singing "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet," a favorite LDS hymn that President Hunter heard many times during his brief stay in western Illinois.

President and Sister Hinckley, meantime, traveled to Camp Eastman, a Boy Scout campground seven miles south of town, where he spoke to a group of Young Women from the St. Paul Minnesota Stake, who where there for girls camp.

That evening, President Hunter's party and others enjoyed a musical presentation at the Nauvoo Visitors Center, entitled "Nauvoo Adventure," written by Nonie Sorensen, which told of the history of Nauvoo in song and dance.

After the presentation, as President Hunter left the visitors center, he again was greeted by a group of members who had waited outside for the production to end. The prophet, as he made his way to his waiting car, shook many hands and greeted several people. As he did, the respectful crowd stood in the dark of night and sang hymns. As he neared his car, the crowd, quietly and reverently, sang, "God Be with You Till We Meet Again," an emotional experience for many who cried openly. "We love you, President Hunter," someone loudly proclaimed as President Hunter got into his car. "I love you, too," President Hunter responded."

The next morning, President Hunter, President Hinckley and Elder Ballard spoke at the sacrament meeting attended by about 1,500 people who had crowded into the Nauvoo Ward meetinghouse and in the visitors center to participate in the special meeting.

At least 21/2 hours before the meeting was to begin, members started arriving. Some brought their scriptures and read while sitting on the lawn, others sang Church hymns as they waited in line for the doors to open.

During the meeting, President Hunter delivered his first scheduled public address since being ordained president. He spoke on "The Pillars of Our Faith."

"As I have contemplated the foundation laid by the early Saints, I have reviewed with reverence the sacrifice and devotion which they showed to the cause of truth. The pillars of their faith are still resident with us as a people today," he said.

He spoke of four of those pillars:

"We, like the early Saints, believe and testify as the first pillar of our faith, that the Prophet Joseph Smith did indeed see the Father and the Son in the grove of trees in the spring of 1820."

President Hunter said the second pillar is a witness and testimony of the Book of Mormon. "It is through reading and studying the Book of Mormon, and prayerfully seeking confirmation of its contents, that we receive a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been restored to the earth," he said.

The third pillar, continued President Hunter, is that through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph, and the visitation of heavenly messengers, the sacred and holy priesthood was restored to the earth. "Without the holy priesthood, exaltation would not be possible inasmuch as the necessary ordinances and covenants come through the use of that sacred power," affirmed President Hunter. "Lastly, there comes the pillar of faith related to the salvation for the dead. The temple and its ordinances became Joseph's chief concern in Nauvoo. While the physical completion of the temple occurred after his martyrdom, the groundwork laid by the prophet and the keys and authority given to the Twelve, including instruction regarding the ordinances of the temple, laid the foundation for the numerous temples which now dot the earth."

After arriving in Carthage later in the day Sunday, President Hinckley and Elder Ballard held a press conference in the Carthage Visitors Center. At the conference, representatives of the media asked them to comment on the contrast between the conditions during the stormy days of June 1844, and the conditions in the Church today.

President Hinckley replied: "June 24, 25, 26 and 27, 1844, were days filled with tension and fear and trouble, and faith. I have little doubt that Joseph Smith knew when he left Nauvoo that he was going to his martyrdom. I think there are many things that would indicate that. But he came here, and what he found here was a fearsome thing. It was a terrible thing, terrible atmosphere here. Mob rule is always terrible."

Elder Ballard added: "We're back here 150 years later,

and as a Church areT rolling forward in a way that is frankly causing the leadership of the Church to exercise every strength we have to keep up with the growth. The eternal perspective that we have of the great work of Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith who were martyred here is the exciting part of the differences. We have an eternal perspective of what they did, where they are, what their great message was, and that our objective ought to be to live so someday we may be worthy of the great blessings that lie beyond."

President Hinckley said: "Their problem 150 years ago was a mob with painted faces. Our problem is accommodating growth of this Church. That's a fact as we move over the earth with tremendous responsibilities that provide meetinghouses for our people and train leadership wherever we go. Those are the two big challenges that we face, both the results of the tremendous growth of the Church.

"What a wonderful, wonderful problem it is to have the problem of growth."

In 1844 when Joseph Smith was killed, there were 26,146 members of the Church. Today there are about 8.8 million in 149 nations and territories.

After all the day's commemorations, it was almost dark when the Carthage program ended, but President Hunter, as he left the old jail grounds, greeted scores of eager and enthusiastic members who wanted to shake his hand or take his picture. He was very accommodating and stopped frequently to shake an outstretched hand or to wave to the crowd.

President Hunter was in western Illinois less than 48 hours, but he left a deep impact on faithful Church members here.

The sesquicentennial of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith was a time of reflection on the life of the Church's first prophet. But it was also a time to greet and listen to the words of counsel from the Church's 14th prophet.

For the 2,700 who attended the Nauvoo program and the 3,000 who attended the Carthage service, it was a time to reflect on the past, but it was also a time to be grateful for the present.

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