Newly Released Saints Volume 1 Provides Honest Look at Early Church History
“I believe we will discover that even though times have changed, the same principles that helped the early Church members overcome their trials of faith will be equally valuable for us today.” —Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
On September 4, the Church will release a new history unlike any it has ever published before.
Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days presents the inspiring true story of the women and men who dedicated their lives to establishing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the world. Unlike past histories, which were primarily written as reference works, Saints is written as a narrative that is engaging to read.
“Saints is a different kind of history,” said Ben Godfrey, product manager for the Saints project. “Instead of a dry recitation of the facts, Saints relates the events through the eyes of the people who lived them. The result is fast-paced and enjoyable to read.”
Saints is also a multilayered history that allows readers to explore topics in depth with links to explanatory topics and the primary sources behind the text. It is based on decades of rigorous research. Every event, character, and statement is supported by historical sources. There is no historical fiction here, the history’s writers and editors say.
The explanatory Church History Topics provide detail that goes beyond the narrative. Each article has links to additional reading and trustworthy supporting sources. Readers will find links to the topic articles in the footnotes in Saints, or they can find them in the Church History section of the Gospel Library app or by visiting saints.lds.org.
Elder Steven E. Snow, Church Historian and Recorder and a General Authority Seventy, explained that “Saints was prepared in response to the Lord’s commandment to ‘keep the church record and history continually’ (Doctrine and Covenants 47:3).”
Speaking of the importance of Saints today, especially for younger generations of Church members, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “The young adults of the Church are truly remarkable. They face important life decisions during a time when Satan is raging in the hearts of men and women everywhere.
“I believe we will discover that even though times have changed, the same principles that helped the early Church members overcome their trials of faith will be equally valuable for us today.”
Saints illuminates aspects of Church history that have been lesser known or misunderstood. It includes details and context that are important for understanding topics like violence in Missouri and Illinois, plural marriage in the early Church, the Kirtland Safety Society, and many more.
Saints is also a global history, presenting the experiences of women, men, and children involved in important events of the Restoration all over the world.
The first volume in the series, titled The Standard of Truth, covers the period from Joseph Smith’s youth through the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple (1815–1846). It will be available on September 4 in 14 languages digitally and in print in English. Print editions in other languages will follow before the end of the year.
Volumes two through four will chronicle the growth of the Church worldwide, from the pioneer exodus to the present day, and will be released over the next several years.
Worldwide Devotional, a Face to Face Event with Elder Cook
To celebrate the Church’s history and the release of Saints, Elder Cook, joined by historians Kate Holbrook and Matt Grow, will speak and answer questions in a Face to Face event for young adults on September 9. Elder Cook said his faith has often been strengthened by learning about the early Latter-day Saints and their stories. “They were not perfect, just as none of us are,” he said, “but that makes it all the more remarkable to consider what they accomplished. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices they made to lay the foundations of this latter-day work.” (See related story.)
Institute students are invited to participate in a “Saints-a-thon” on September 7–8 to read Saints Volume 1 together as a way to prepare for the Face to Face broadcast on September 9. They can share their experience using the hashtag #Saintsathon.
Saints will be used as part of the Doctrine and Covenants curriculum in seminary this school year, and a new Church history class is being offered in institute: Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 (Religion 341). Saints Volume 1 will provide the student readings for this course, and lesson materials for teachers are available in English on LDS.org and in the Gospel Library app.
When Joseph Smith began the Church’s first history, he published it serially in the Nauvoo newspaper Times and Seasons beginning in 1842. Following that literary tradition, the first eight chapters of Saints, available in 47 languages, have been serialized in the Ensign and Liahona since February. Elder Snow introduced Saints with an article in that same issue. Chapter seven appears in the September magazines along with an article by Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy. The serialization will end with chapter eight in October.
The Saints podcast features interviews with historians, General Authorities, writers, researchers, and others involved with the Saints project. Listeners will gain insights on the stories behind the stories in Saints. A new episode airs each week.