'Day of service' to honor legacy of 1847 pioneers

Latter-day Saints worldwide have been invited by the First Presidency to participate in a Pioneer Heritage Service Day on Saturday, July 19, in observance of this year's Pioneer Sesquicentennial.

In a letter to general and local Church leaders, the First Presidency invited "each ward and branch to contribute a minimum of 150 hours of community service where possible. As modern-day beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by pioneers who have gone before, we can show our gratitude by unitedly rendering charitable service to others in our communities."We encourage priesthood leaders to plan and coordinate local service projects on this day of service."

The desire, said Elder Robert L. Backman, emeritus General Authority and vice chairman of the Church's Pioneer Sesquicentennial Committee, is that members be given the opportunity to join with millions of others on this one day throughout the world in rendering charitable service to local communities.

Questions have been raised, he said, relative to substituting a service on another day.

"Christlike service to others whenever contributed is charitable and greatly appreciated," he explained. "For the Pioneer Heritage Service Day, however, the intent is to have all participants do so during this one Saturday, provided it does not cause undue personal hardship upon members wherever they might live worldwide. In smaller branches 150 hours of service may not be possible, and members should contribute only what they can. This day should be viewed as an opportunity to give within our means and not be a mandated burden."

In the letter, the First Presidency notes that the Church in 1997 is celebrating the anniversary of the first LDS pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley and that the sesquicentennial also honors "pioneers of all times and places who have helped establish the Church throughout the world."

The state of Utah, which annually observes a statewide day of service in May, has moved its event this year to July 19 to coincide with the Church's Pioneer Heritage Service Day. The change is consistent with the state's aim to celebrate the spirit of pioneering throughout Utah. (See Jan. 18 Church News.)

The Church's sesquicentennial committee is encouraging local Church units to submit their plans for service projects in connection with the Pioneer Heritage Service Day so that the committee and the Church News can disseminate information about noteworthy projects. The committee requests that plans be sent in writing to the Church Pioneer Sesquicentennial Committee, Joseph Smith Memorial Building Second Floor, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.

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