Pioneer qualities we need today: Counsel from President Oaks, Elder Evans, and more


Editor’s note: “This week from the pulpit” highlights recent messages by General Authorities and General Officers of the Church.

When you think of pioneer qualities, what comes to mind? Obvious answers might be faith, sacrifice, or courage. But what about inclusion? Or unity? Or unselfishness? These are lesser-acknowledged traits that many early Latter-day Saints were required to have to survive emigration and the harsh conditions they faced.

Church leaders this week encouraged us to develop these traits in our own lives—both the obvious ones and the less-obvious ones—to help us face modern-day challenges.

President Oaks declares faith, inclusion, unity as important pioneer qualities

As the keynote speaker of this year’s SUPer DUPer Day, President Dallin H. Oaks spoke highly of pioneer qualities like faith, unselfishness, sacrifice, cooperation, unity, and inclusion; and encouraged the practical application of these qualities in our own modern-day circumstances and discipleship.

Credit: Deseret News“We praise what the pioneers’ great qualities have done for us, but that is not enough. We should also assure that these same qualities are guiding principles for each of us as we have opportunities to sacrifice for our nations, our families, our quorums, our members, and our Church,” President Oaks said. “Are these pioneer celebrations academic, merely increasing our fund of experience and knowledge, or will they have a profound impact on how we meet our current challenges?”

The program, held on Monday, July 19, is an annual celebration for the families of the Sons of Utah Pioneers (SUP) and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) at This Is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

President Oaks shared stories from his own pioneer ancestors including Mary Fielding Smith and Joseph F. Smith.

“Their heritage of faith, strength, and determination shapes who we are today,” he said.

Read more about the event and President Oaks’ remarks at Church News.

Elder Evans shares appreciation for first-generation international pioneers

A beloved Pioneer Day tradition for many families, the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service, held at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, returned on July 23 after last year’s event was canceled to due COVID-19. Elder David F. Evans, General Authority Seventy and president of the Asia Area, spoke at the event.

“To those who rode in the last wagons or walked across the Plains,” Elder Evans shared, “Let us remember and revere, and be eternally grateful for their sacrifices, their faith, and their willingness to follow the Lord, whatever the cost.”

Credit: Deseret News 

Among more traditional pioneer stories, Elder Evans also called attention to first-generation Latter-day Saints. He shared the story of his own ancestor, Alfred Frewin, who was not a member of the Church and emigrated from England to the Salt Lake Valley in 1876 for unknown reasons. Their family lived in Utah for generations, and none were Latter-day Saints until Beverely Frewin, Elder Evans's mother, was baptized at age 8 in 1934 at the invitation of her Primary teacher.

Elder Evans shared, “This little girl from nonmember parents whose grandfather stopped in Salt Lake City—for reasons none of us would ever know—would go on to raise a righteous posterity, preach the gospel around the world, speak in general conference and bless the lives of thousands of Latter-day Saints around the world.”

As president of the Asia Area, Elder Evans also highlighted international pioneers. “[I] love the pioneers the Lord has in each country. … Throughout Asia, I see these first-generation pioneers and witness their faith and willingness to follow the Lord, regardless of the personal cost or sacrifice.”

Read more about the event and Elder Evans’s remarks at Church News.

Elder Christofferson, Elder Rasband honor a ‘pioneer’ Seventy who laid the foundation for global expansion

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder D. Todd Christofferson presided at the funeral service for Elder Rex D. Pinegar, emeritus General Authority Seventy, earlier this week.

When Elder Christofferson was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1993, Elder Pinegar was serving as the senior president in the Presidency of the Seventy. The expansion and addition of more global responsibilities for the Seventies quorums were made possible, in part, “because of the foundation laid by Rex D. Pinegar,” said Elder Christofferson.

Elder Pinegar’s “signature phrase”, “I love you — and I beat you to it,” was a true testament to his playful love for his family and Christ-centered life.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband also read a letter from the First Presidency to the Pinegar family at the funeral. Much like early Latter-day Saints and many pioneer families, Elder Pinegar “was a model of diligence and hard work,” the letter read. “He demonstrated love for the Lord throughout his life as he spent time in selfless service to family and fellow men.”

You can read more about the event and addresses at Church News.

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