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A revered leader

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we revere and acknowledge the great mission the Prophet Joseph Smith undertook in his day to establish the Church, bring forth the Book of Mormon and other scripture and open the dispensation of the fullness of time.

Joseph Smith's legacy is reminder that the Lord's work among the people of the Earth continues through the Church. Each succeeding generation of Latter-day Saints comes to realize the marvelous mission the Prophet Joseph Smith undertook on behalf of us all.

Those who knew Joseph Smith intimately shared their testimonies of his divine calling. President Brigham Young, who succeeded him as the Church's leader said this: "All that Joseph Smith did was to preach the truth — the Gospel as the Lord revealed it to him — and tell the people how to be saved, and the honest-in-heart ran together and gathered around him and loved him as they did their own lives. . . . All who believe and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ are his witnesses to the truth of these statements." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 463.)

Each of us walks the same path that the Prophet Joseph Smith walked. We want to know about our reasons for being here and how best to serve the Lord and our neighbors. The life of the Prophet was unremarkable until the First Vision in 1820. From then on, the boy Joseph grew through many trials and triumphs to become the revered leader and Prophet of the Restoration. Many persecuted him for his beliefs and rejected the invitation to embrace the gospel and be perfected in Jesus Christ. But others took upon themselves the truths the Prophet Joseph taught and followed the path leading back to God's presence.

Orson Pratt, who joined the fledgling Church shortly after it was founded, said: "In 1830, I became intimately acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and continued intimately acquainted with him until the day of his death. . . . I not only knew him as a public teacher, but as a private citizen, and as a husband and father. I witnessed his earnest and humble devotions, both morning and evening in his family. I heard the words of eternal life flow from his lips, nourishing and soothing and comforting his family, neighbors and friends. I saw his countenance lighted up as the inspiration of the Holy Ghost rested upon him, dictating the great and most precious revelations now printed for our guide. . . . I knew that he was a man of God." (As quoted in Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 505-6.)

The Prophet's nephew, Joseph F. Smith, who became the sixth president of the Church, said: "Where [Joseph Smith's name] is spoken of for good, it is by those who have had the privilege of hearing the gospel which has come to the earth through him, and who have been sufficiently honest and humble to receive the same. . . . They revere him, and they love him, as they love no other man, because they know he was the chosen instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring the gospel of life and salvation unto them." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church — Joseph F. Smith, p. 13.)

In our day, President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: "I worship the God of heaven who is my Eternal Father. I worship the Lord Jesus Christ who is my Savior and my Redeemer. I do not worship the Prophet Joseph Smith, but I reverence and love this great seer through whom the miracle of this gospel has been restored." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 509.)

Each of us can testify along with those associates and our present-day leaders of Joseph Smith's divine calling. That legacy we now share through him as members of the Church of Jesus Christ. We, too, can testify that God directs our lives as He continues His work this day. He has appointed prophets and apostles to guide us. They invite us to follow the Savior, just as the Prophet Joseph Smith did through his writings, teachings and throughout his life.

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