All Can Perpetuate Pioneers’ “Legacy of Faith,” Seventy Says

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 28 July 2016

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy, offers the keynote address at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016.  Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Help perpetuate the “legacy of faith” passed down by the pioneers.

The Mormon pioneers—and many of their faithful descendants—have crafted a legacy of faith that continues to inspire and bless lives.

That was the message shared July 25 by Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy, at the annual Days of ’47 Sunrise Service.

Hundreds gathered at the Salt Lake Tabernacle for the early-morning commemoration that included patriotic music and hymns and a flag ceremony presented by the Mormon Battalion Association.

Pioneer Day, declared Elder Curtis, celebrates Utah’s rich and distinct heritage.

“A noted scholar recently said that heritage is, in part, a matter of choice,” he said. “We choose to celebrate certain events in our people’s past and that becomes our heritage.”

All can perpetuate that “legacy of faith” passed down by the pioneers—regardless of one’s background.

“As members of this Church, or this community, or this nation, we all share the heritage of those who went before us,” he said. “None of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, but I share in that heritage.”

Barnard Silver smiles as he listens to a talk by Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy, at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Elder Curtis then spoke of his own recent ecclesiastical assignment in West Africa.

“There we got to see the impact of such Church pioneers as Anthony Obina in Nigeria, William Billy Johnson in Ghana, and the Assard and Affoue families in Cote d’Ivoire. Their courage, faith, and determination have blessed hundreds of thousands of lives. They are pioneers in every sense of the word. For five years I was allowed to bask in the glow of what they, and other African pioneers, accomplished. I obviously am not a descendant of any of them, but I share in the heritage that they left and strive to keep their legacy alive and well.”

He then shared a pioneer-themed quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the Church's First Presidency: “I love and honor the faith and courage of those early pioneers of the Church. My own ancestors were living an ocean away at the time. None were among those who lived in Nauvoo or Winter Quarters, and none made the journey across the plains. But as a member of the Church, I claim with gratitude and pride this pioneer legacy as my own.

“With the same joy, I claim the legacies of today’s modern-day Church pioneers who live in every nation and whose own stories of perseverance, faith, and sacrifice add glorious new verses to the great chorus of the latter-day anthem of the kingdom of God.”

During his remarks, Elder Curtis shared accounts of several of his own ancestors who built pioneer legacies of faith, dedication, and grit. Counted among them is his great-great-grandfather James Glade, an Englishman who joined the Church in Wales in 1854.

James and his newlywed bride, Mary, saved their money to gather with fellow Mormons in Utah. With their young daughter, Mary Jane, in hand, they left Wales for Utah in 1861. They embarked on an arduous journey that involved trains, a ship, harbor barges, a steamboat, and, finally, a covered wagon.

James Glade arrived in Utah four months later with young Mary Jane. His wife Mary would not see the Salt Lake Valley. Like many others, she died along the pioneer trail.

“In Utah, James helped build the Utah territory and the kingdom of God,” he said. “Both in 1862 and 1863, he assisted in the ‘down and back’ effort to help others immigrate to Utah. In each of those years he drove teams from Salt Lake City to Florence, Nebraska, and back again. His motto was, ‘When Brigham [Young] says, “Go,” I go.’ On each trip he stopped at Mary’s grave to honor her, fix up the grave site, and rebuild the crude fence.”

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy, offers the keynote address at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Elder Curtis also paid tribute to his ancestors who kept and maintained his family's legacy of faith. His great-grandfather Frederick Rasband was born a few days after his family arrived in Utah. He would later raise his own family in the mining town of Park City, where he helped establish the Church. He would later be called to missionary service in England. He was called home somewhat unexpectedly two years later to became the first bishop of the Park City Ward.

“Frederick Rasband is one of my heroes,” he said. “If the Lord wanted him in England so he could be a missionary, he willingly made the sacrifice and went. If the Lord needed him in Park City, he willingly returned, without even knowing what the need was.”

The Combined Salt Lake Valley Institute Choir performed several musical numbers at the event. The Days of ’47 royalty (who are all returned missionaries)—Baylee R. Hogan, Rachel Kennedy, and Stephanie Bland—all participated.

Days of ’47 queen, Baylee R. Hogan, sings “Pioneer Lullaby” at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

The annual sunrise service was sponsored by the Salt Lake Pioneer Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, in partnership with the National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers and the Days of ’47 committee.

The Combined Salt Lake Valley Institute Choir sings at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Kieth Bond, left, looks on after posting the American flag at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016.on. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Red, white, and blue light the Tabernacle as the congregation stands for the national anthem at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Christine Hansen smiles as she listens to the choir at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Maurine P. Smith presents the Days of ’47 royalty at the Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Suzanne Jones listens to the choir sing “Come, Come, Ye Saints” at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy, talks with Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy, greets a visitor at the Days of ’47 Sunrise Service held in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Monday, July 25, 2016. Photo by Hans Koepsell, Deseret News.