Sesquicentennial was `fulfilling experience'

The Sesquicentennial celebration was a fulfilling experience - primarily because of the spiritual impact it had on Church members around the world, said Elder M. Russell Ballard.

"We have had celebrations of some kind or another in almost every ward or branch in the Church - nearly 23,000 units," said Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Church Sesquicentennial Committee.Summarizing activities for 150th anniversary of the 1847 pioneers' entrance into the Salt Lake Valley, Elder Ballard said that from every stand point the celebrations were abundantly sucessful and blessed by the Lord.

He said sesquicentennial plays, musicals, dances, songfests, and trek re-enactments took place all over the world. More than 3 million hours of service were completed on July 19. About 50,000 people felt the spirit as the participants of the Mormon Trail wagon train re-enactment entered the Salt Lake Valley. And thousands of people supported the Church's sesquicentennial spectacular - viewing it in person or over the LDS satellite system.

Through it all, Elder Ballard surmised, the Church has received more media coverage than at any other time in its history. It is possible, he continued, that the Church received more national and international media coverage this sesquicentennial year, than all the other years in Church history combined.

"The credit goes to the Lord, to a committee that worked very hard and to the First Presidency who were encouraging every step of the way as we accomplished the objectives of the celebration."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve and co-chairman of the Church Sesquicentennial Committee, said he "could not be more gratified with the response that has been made by members of the Church, as well as by many not of our faith."

"President Hinckley asked all of us to `pick up the pioneer torch and rekindle it.' I believe members all over the world have done that with a spirit of both joy and sacrifice. Latter-day Saints have looked back at their heritage and at the same time have looked deep into their own souls.

"I think there has been a recommitment to the faith, courage and virtues which carried those earliest pioneers westward."

Now, he said, Church members must move into the future pioneering the way for generations who will follow.

Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and co-chairman of the sesquicentennial committee, said the events went "phenomenally well." "The celebrations helped so many of us in the Church turn our thoughts to our pioneer heritage," he said.

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