President Ballard honors Joseph Smith’s ancestors and all who carry on his work today

GEORGETOWN, Massachusetts — Addressing missionaries serving in New England — an area steeped in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — President M. Russell Ballard paid tribute Friday to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the generations who preceded him and all who carry on the Prophet’s work today.

“What a miracle,” he said of the continuing restoration of the Savior’s Church.

President Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, traveled to the northeastern United States to dedicate a monument honoring the five generations of Joseph Smith’s family who lived, served and worshipped in Topsfield — a small, quiet community about 20 miles outside of Boston.

The Prophet Joseph Smith’s father, Joseph Smith Sr., was born in Topsfield. Four generations of Smiths lived there before he did, beginning with Robert Smith, who came to the United States from England in the 1630s and settled in the community.

Accompanying President Ballard to Massachusetts were Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy and Church historian and recorder, and Brother Craig B. Ballard, President Ballard’s son and a member of the Young Men general advisory council.  

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, acknowledges the work of stake and mission presidents during a meeting where he addressed missionaries from the Massachusetts Boston and the New Hampshire Manchester missions of the Church, in Georgetown, Massachusetts, on Friday, May 13, 2022.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, acknowledges the work of stake and mission presidents during a meeting where he addressed missionaries from the Massachusetts Boston and the New Hampshire Manchester missions of the Church, in Georgetown, Massachusetts, on Friday, May 13, 2022. Credit: Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret News

The power of heaven

During the visit, President Ballard met with missionaries from the Massachusetts Boston and the New Hampshire Manchester missions, reminding them of their purpose “on the errand of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. This is Their Church and we carry with us the power of heaven to reach out and bless the lives of our Heavenly Father’s children and share with them the glorious message of the Restoration of the fullness of the gospel.”

President Ballard said that Restoration was so important that President Brigham Young once said, “The Lord had his eyes upon [Joseph Smith], and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to … Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was foreordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation.”

President Ballard said thinking about the Smith family is a tender thing for him.

“My mother is Geraldine Smith. She is the oldest daughter of Hyrum Mack Smith, who is the oldest son of Joseph F. Smith, who was the youngest son of Hyrum Smith.”

Missionary Jocelyn Hanson of Boise, Idaho, takes notes as she listens to President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, address missionaries from the Massachusetts Boston and the New Hampshire Manchester missions in Georgetown, Massachusetts, on Friday, May 13, 2022.
Missionary Jocelyn Hanson of Boise, Idaho, takes notes as she listens to President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, address missionaries from the Massachusetts Boston and the New Hampshire Manchester missions in Georgetown, Massachusetts, on Friday, May 13, 2022. Credit: Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret News

To the missionaries, he added, “And so here you are, carrying a message that has been revealed to a young Prophet, whom we declare is the Prophet of this dispensation, even Joseph Smith.”

The Restoration of the everlasting gospel is an abundant blessing, he said.

Missionaries, he added, have the privilege and opportunity to represent the Savior and to come to know Him. “You don’t have to see His face to know Him; you know Him by serving Him.”

‘Important prelude’

Elder Curtis also spoke of Joseph Smith’s heritage — calling his family tree an “important prelude” to the Restoration. “We are here to celebrate Joseph Smith’s ancestry,” he said.

Quoting his own ancestor who knew the Prophet Joseph, Elder Curtis said his relative felt like “shouting hallelujah all the time” because he knew Joseph and because of the Restoration that came through him.

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy and Church historian and recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addresses missionaries from the Massachusetts Boston and the New Hampshire Manchester missions in Georgetown, Massachusetts, on Friday, May 13, 2022.
Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy and Church historian and recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addresses missionaries from the Massachusetts Boston and the New Hampshire Manchester missions in Georgetown, Massachusetts, on Friday, May 13, 2022. Credit: Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret News

Brother Craig Ballard not only paid tribute to the Prophet Joseph Smith but also to those who followed him.

Quoting Church President Joseph F. Smith, Craig Ballard spoke of the early pioneers who traveled west and, in the process, became “rooted and grounded” in the faith.

“They had occasion to put their trust in God and their faith was developed,” he said.

Among the missionaries at the meeting, Elder Tage Heels of Midway, Utah, said he was touched to hear President Ballard testify of the truth “that this is Christ’s Church on earth.”

Sister Annabelle Woolner of Hillsboro, Oregon, said President Ballard encouraged the missionaries “to work harder and expect more of ourselves.”

“I love how bold he is,” added Sister Isabella Fife of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Elder Dane Miner of Layton, Utah, said he felt strengthened as he listened to President Ballard share the history of Topsfield and the surrounding communities. “It is such a blessing to see all the small things that led to the Restoration,” he said. “Small and simple things bring great things to pass.”

Kim Wilson, chairman of the board of Ensign Peak Foundation, speaks during a dinner program Friday, May 13, 2022, highlighting efforts to construct a monument honoring the five generations of Joseph Smith Sr.’s family who lived in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
Kim Wilson, chairman of the board of Ensign Peak Foundation, speaks during a dinner program Friday, May 13, 2022, highlighting efforts to construct a monument honoring the five generations of Joseph Smith Sr.’s family who lived in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Credit: Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret News

Celebrating ancestry

The missionary meeting was followed by a program held in Coolidge Hall on the fairgrounds in Topsfield and attended by community leaders and Smith family descendants, many of whom traveled to New England for the Saturday, May 14, monument dedication.

Rick Cochran, project manager for the monument built in Topsfield, Massachusetts, said he hopes the three-year project to construct and then dedicate the historic marker will lengthen and extend Joseph’s history to the generations who came before him.

Kim Wilson, chairman of the board of Ensign Peak Foundation, which funded the project, spoke of Joseph Smith’s relatives, his own Mayflower relatives and other “courageous people” who sought religious freedom and made unthinkable sacrifices to settle the United States.

“Fast forward 400 years. We look back upon their sacrifices, their nobility, their good intentions, their pivotal lives, and we do it from the prospect of the power of very favored and blessed circumstances. All of us have people like that.”

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a dinner program Friday, May 13, 2022, highlighting efforts to construct a monument honoring the five generations of Joseph Smith Sr.’s family who lived in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a dinner program Friday, May 13, 2022, highlighting efforts to construct a monument honoring the five generations of Joseph Smith Sr.’s family who lived in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Credit: Brian Nicholson, for the Deseret News

A person does not need to be a descendant of the Pilgrims or the Smith family to celebrate their ancestry, he said.  

“We are all descended from noble, noble people who lived difficult lives, made difficult choices and paid a heavy price. And we stand on their shoulders,” he said. “All what we experience today is because of those sacrifices.”