Celebration: `faith in every memory'

Celebration of the Pioneer Sesquicentennial this year "must stir within each of us a resolution to stand a little taller, to be more gracious, more kind, more friendly, more respectful of one another," President Gordon B. Hinckley declared at a dinner in Salt Lake City Dec. 2.

This must occur "regardless of our faith, of our circumstances, of our racial background, of whatever," he said, adding each must "recognize one another as sons and daughters of God."President Hinckley made the remarks at an awards dinner and program sponsored by the Utah Pioneer Sesquicentennial Celebration Coordinating Council. The council was created by the state Legislature to support and coordinate efforts by various entities in Utah to observe the sesquicentennial of the coming of the Mormon Pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve also spoke as chairman of the Church's Pioneer Sesquicentennial Committee. Other speakers included Lt. Gov. Olene Walker of Utah and representatives of county ambassadors for the celebration in Utah, memorabilia makers, the Mormon Trail commemorative wagon train and the Utah Division of State History.

"I have only words of appreciation to everyone . . . who has participated to make of this a tremendous year of great historic significance," President Hinckley said. He mentioned a series of events in which he participated, including dedication of a commemorative building and monument in Nauvoo containing the names of all who died on the trek; dedication of the visitors center at Winter Quarters in Nebraska; in Wyoming, being at Simpson's Hollow, the last crossing of the Platte near Casper, Martin's Cove, the Willie rescue site, Rocky Ridge, and Rock Creek Hollow for observances at those places.

President Hinckley also mentioned celebrations in Utah in which he took part: the arrival of the commemorative wagon train at This Is the Place State Park; the celebration sponsored by Salt Lake City at the City and County Building; and the Sesquicentennial Spectacular at BYU Cougar Stadium.

"Now when all's said and done, that great trek

of 1847T was truly a matter of faith," he said. "They didn't come here for adventure . . . wealth . . . or economic opportunity. They came here to find a place where they could worship God according to the dictates of conscience, and I think we must never forget that."

He said he knew of no such observance that equals the Pioneer Sesquicentennial. "The vast publicity that we've had across the nation and across the world - magazine articles, newspaper accounts, day-by-day accounts, everything - has just been a tremendous outpouring of cooperation, respect, acknowledgment of the past and resolution for the future.

" Faith in Every Footstep' has been our motto. Letfaith in every memory' become the watch cry of the future."

Elder Ballard expressed appreciation to the Church and Utah sesquicentennial organizations and to people of other states along the Mormon Trail for the success of the celebration.

"As we

the Church Pioneer Sesquicentennial CommitteeT sat to receive our commission in 1993, President Hinckley looked at me and said, `This must be a grand celebration,' " Elder Ballard recalled.

"I believe we can report to you tonight that . . . the celebration occurred in the branches and in the wards, the districts and the stakes in every corner of the world. We had literally thousands of letters telling us of the kinds of celebrations that went on in our small congregations around the world. But each has made a statement this year on the great principle of service. Over 2 million hours of service was dedicated by these wards and branches. . . .

"And so, as we are coming up now on the closing of 1997, President, particularly we hope we have presented to you, the Church, to the state of Utah, to the whole world the grand celebration of Faith in Every Footstep of our pioneer forefathers."

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