Our Place in Church History

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 285–86


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands as a witness to the importance of following the living prophet. The pioneers of 1847, under the direction of President Brigham Young, established a legacy for future generations to follow. The faith and loyalty of the pioneers who settled the Salt Lake Valley can be found around the world today as people embrace the gospel, join the Church, and become pioneers in their part of the world. As one Latter-day Saint writer said:

“Down to the newest convert, we share in the heritage of the migration, in much the same way that we share in the heritage of the children of Israel under Moses or a remnant of Israel led by Lehi toward a Promised Land. That heritage is courage and commitment, responsiveness to the ‘call,’ compassionate sharing with the poor, a cheerful spirit of cooperation, and devoted faith in God” (Glen M. Leonard, “Westward the Saints: The Nineteenth-Century Mormon Migration,” Ensign, Jan. 1980, 13).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The faith and loyalty of the pioneers are duplicated around the world as people join the Church and sacrifice to build Zion among their own people. Each of us has an important role in building the kingdom of God (see “Our Place in Church History,” Student Study Guide, p. 230, par. 1–6; see also D&C 6:6; 65:5–6).

Additional Resources

  • Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 68–72; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 51–54.

  • Faith in Every Footstep Instructor’s Guide (Church Educational System manual, 1996).

  • “Plaque, Cabin Memorialize 1847 Pioneers,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 75.

Suggestions for Teaching

“Our Place in Church History,” Student Study Guide, p. 230, par. 1–6. The faith and loyalty of the pioneers are duplicated around the world as people join the Church and make sacrifices to build Zion among their own people. Each of us has an important role in building the kingdom of God.

(40–45 minutes)

Display pictures of pioneers (see Gospel Art Picture Kit, nos. 410–15, 421). Tell students that the Church used the theme “Faith in Every Footstep” for its celebration of the 150th anniversary of the pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. Ask:

  • What do you think would be the most difficult part of being a pioneer?

  • If you could talk to a pioneer, what would you ask?

  • Whose life was more difficult, yours or theirs? Why?

Read the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“If you are faithful, the day will come when those deserving pioneers whom you rightly praise for having overcome the adversities in their wilderness trek will instead praise you for having made your way successfully through a desert of despair, for having passed through a cultural wilderness and having kept the faith. … And yes, you will rightly go on praising them for what they did in their days, but one day [they,] including some of your ancestors, will praise you for having come safely home” (transcribed from CES fireside for young adults, June 4, 1995).

Read together paragraphs 1–6 of “Our Place in Church History” in the student study guide (p. 230). Discuss the following questions:

  • In what ways are our challenges different from those of the pioneers?

  • How are they similar?

  • How can we be like them as we face our trials?

  • How can we be “pioneers” in our day?

It is important to help students appreciate the faith and sacrifices of Latter-day Saints in your own country or area. You could do one or more of the following:

  • Have students share stories about members of their families who made sacrifices to join the Church and live the gospel.

  • Have students share stories of people who were the first to join the Church in your area or country.

  • Invite local Latter-day Saint “pioneers” to your class to tell students about the history of the Church in your area.

  • Have students report on local Church history sites they have visited.

  • Teach a lesson on how the gospel was introduced in your part of the world. (You may be able to find information in the Ensign, Church News, Deseret News Church Almanac, Church History in the Fulness of Times, and Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

Ask students: How might you become pioneers in the eyes of future generations of Latter-day Saints?

Give students a blank sheet of paper and have them trace the outline of their feet. Have them write above the footprints the name of one of the pioneers or early Church members they studied this year. Have them write by the name how they feel this person demonstrated faith in every footstep. Then have them write below the footprints the name of someone from their own family or a local pioneer and how that person showed faith. Have them write inside the footprints their own name and what they can do to have faith in every footstep. Have some of the students share what they wrote, and display the footsteps on the walls of the classroom.

Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency:

“Each of us has a small field to cultivate. While so doing, we must never lose sight of the greater picture, the large composite of the divine destiny of this work. It was given us by God our Eternal Father, and each of us has a part to play in the weaving of its magnificent tapestry. Our individual contribution may be small, but it is not unimportant. …

“I need not remind you that this cause in which we are engaged is not an ordinary cause. It is the cause of Christ. It is the kingdom of God our Eternal Father. It is the building of Zion on the earth, the fulfillment of prophecy given of old and of a vision revealed in this dispensation. …

“To those of the Church, all within the sound of my voice, I give the challenge that while you are performing the part to which you have been called, never lose sight of the whole majestic and wonderful picture of the purpose of this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. Weave beautifully your small thread in the grand tapestry, the pattern for which was laid out for us by the God of heaven. Hold high the standard under which we walk. Be diligent, be true, be virtuous, be faithful, that there may be no flaw in that banner” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1989, 69–72; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 53–54).

Sing or read “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (Hymns, no. 30).