President Brigham Young

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 242–45


Introduction

After their difficult journey of 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley, the Saints faced more hard work and sacrifices. Some trappers and explorers who visited the valley before the pioneers’ arrival doubted that grain would grow there because of the shortness of the season. The ground was so hard that it broke the first plows the pioneers used to turn the soil. The pioneers faced the real threat of starvation.

The spiritual challenges of the people were just as serious. The Saints had lost their beloved temple in Nauvoo, and many had lost loved ones on the plains. They accepted their challenges and, under the inspired leadership of President Brigham Young, made their new homeland blossom as a rose, both physically and spiritually (see Isaiah 35:1).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The gospel of Jesus Christ is an ensign to the world. It gathers and protects the children of Israel in all nations (see “President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, p. 165, par. 1–2; see also Isaiah 5:26; 18:3; 2 Nephi 29:2; D&C 115:4–6).

  • Through obedience to the counsel of inspired Church leaders, the Saints will build the kingdom of God and receive the Lord’s blessings (see “President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, pp. 165–70, par. 3–4, 9–22, 30–39; see also John 7:17; D&C 1:14, 28).

  • The early Saints had to be diligent and work together to build God’s kingdom and provide for their own needs. We must also work hard and cooperate to build God’s kingdom today (see “President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, pp. 166–67, 169–70, par. 5–11, 30–37; see also D&C 64:33–34).

  • Missionary work is essential to establishing the kingdom of God on the earth. We should be willing to serve and keep ourselves worthy to do so whenever we are called (see “President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, p. 168, par. 23–29; see also D&C 4).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 352–79.

Suggestions for Teaching

“President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, p. 165, par. 1–2. The gospel of Jesus Christ is an ensign to the world. It gathers and protects the children of Israel in all nations.

(50–60 minutes)

Show students a flag from your town or country, or show them pictures of flags. Discuss how flags are used today and the meaning of some of the symbols on them.

Write on the board Isaiah 5:26; 11:10, 12; 18:3; 49:22; 2 Nephi 29:2; D&C 45:9; 105:39. Ask students to find what these references have in common (they all refer to an “ensign” or “standard”). Tell students that in ancient Israel an “ensign” or “standard” was a banner or flag displaying a well-understood symbol. Ensigns were raised on poles and used to rally the people. Have students summarize what they learned about the ensign or standard described in these verses.

Read paragraphs 1–2 of “President Brigham Young” in the student study guide (p. 165). Ask:

  • What challenges did the Saints face when they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley?

  • How did Brigham Young inspire the Saints to imagine the possibilities of their new home?

  • What name did Brigham Young give to a round bluff on the mountainside?

  • What is the significance of this name?

Tell students that the pioneer Saints envisioned the gospel spreading to all the world from the Salt Lake Valley.

Divide the class into groups, and give them cloth or paper, short sticks, paint, colored pencils, or other materials. Assign them to draw or construct flags that represent what the Saints did as they began to build their homes in the Salt Lake Valley. Have them scan paragraphs 3–22 of “President Brigham Young” for ideas on what to put on their flags. When they have finished, invite them to display their flags and explain their meaning. Read Doctrine and Covenants 115:4–6 and discuss ways the Church is a “standard for the nations.”

Share the following statement by Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Let me say that the Church of itself cannot be this standard [to the nations]. Since the Church is made up of individuals, it becomes an individual responsibility to make the Church a standard for the nations. I must be a standard in my life. I must so conduct myself that I may be a standard worthy of being followed by those who seek the greater joy in life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1940, 35).

Ask:

  • What expectations might your non–Latter-day Saint friends have of you because you are a member of the Church?

  • What can you do to be a better “standard” for your friends and neighbors?

“President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, pp. 165–70, par. 3–4, 9–22, 30–39. Through obedience to the counsel of inspired Church leaders, the Saints will build the kingdom of God and receive the Lord’s blessings.

(25–30 minutes)

Make copies of the puzzle on page 314 of the appendix and cut out the pieces. Divide students into teams of two or three. Give each team a set of puzzle pieces, and tell them to put the pieces together to form a name. After they struggle with the task for a few minutes, show one member of each team the pattern from the appendix. Allow these students to help their teams complete the puzzle. Discuss the following questions:

  • Why was it easier to finish the puzzle after a member of your team had seen the pattern?

  • Did it still require effort to complete the puzzle? Why?

  • How might the students who saw the pattern be compared to a prophet? (Prophets tell us what the Lord would have us know about what will happen and what we must do.)

  • How does having guidance from a living prophet bless and help us in our lives?

Explain that when the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, they had much work to do to build a city and the kingdom of God. Because they were led by a prophet, they knew what the Lord wanted them to do and how they were to proceed.

Assign each student one of the following three sets of paragraphs from “President Brigham Young” in the student study guide: 3, 9–11; 12–22; 30–39 (pp. 165–70). Have them search the paragraphs to find what President Brigham Young told the people to do. List their findings on the board. This list should include:

  • Begin work on a temple (par. 3).

  • Explore the area for resources (par. 9–10).

  • Avoid land speculation (par. 10).

  • Give of their means to help others come to Zion (par. 11).

  • Gather to the Salt Lake Valley (par. 12–22).

  • Build other colonies in the western part of the United States (par. 30–35).

  • Give the American Indians food and teach them the gospel (par. 36–37).

Invite students to share from their reading what the Saints did or how they felt about these instructions from President Young. Discuss the following questions:

  • How were the people blessed because they followed Brigham Young’s teachings?

  • What are some instructions the prophet has given in our day?

  • How have you been blessed because you followed his direction?

Share the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales:

“If we listen to the prophets of this day, poverty will be replaced with loving care for the poor and needy. Many serious and deadly health problems will be avoided through compliance with the Word of Wisdom and the laws of sexual purity. Payment of tithing will bless us, and we will have sufficient for our needs. If we follow the counsel given by the prophets, we can have a life in mortality where we do not bring upon ourselves unnecessary pain and self-destruction. This does not mean we will not have challenges. We will. This does not mean we will not be tested. We will, for this is part of our purpose on earth. But if we will listen to the counsel of our prophet, we will become stronger and be able to withstand the tests of mortality. We will have hope and joy. All the words of counsel from the prophets of all generations have been given so that we may be strengthened and then be able to lift and strengthen others” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 20; or Ensign, May 1995, 17).

Testify of the blessings that come from following the living prophet.

“President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, pp. 166–67, 169–70, par. 5–11, 30–37. The early Saints had to be diligent and work together to build God’s kingdom and provide for their own needs. We must also work hard and cooperate to build God’s kingdom today.

(35–40 minutes)

Show students a world map and have them select a place they think is one of the most remote and desolate on earth. Divide students into groups and have them create a plan for surviving in that place with 1,000 other people. Their plans should include answers to the following questions:

  • What are your group’s most pressing needs? Why?

  • What are the three most important things you must do? Why?

  • What would you do to encourage people to stay with the group?

  • On a scale of 1–10, how easy would it be to build a society that met the physical and spiritual needs of your people?

Invite groups to share their thoughts and feelings about accomplishing this task. Have students search paragraphs 5–10, 30–37 of “President Brigham Young” in the student study guide (pp. 166, 169–70). Have them list on the board, in chronological order, what the Saints did to establish the kingdom of God in the Salt Lake Valley from 1847 to 1877. Have them look for words and phrases that describe the Saints’ dedication, hard work, and cooperation.

Have students read paragraph 11 (p. 167), and ask:

  • Why did President Young set up the Perpetual Emigrating Fund?

  • How did it work?

  • Who contributed to the fund? Who received money from it?

  • What gospel principles would the Saints have to follow for the fund to succeed?

Tell students that in the April 2001 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund. This fund, patterned after the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, would be used to help young people in many countries throughout the world get educations. Students borrow money from the fund to pay the costs of attending universities or vocational schools. They are then expected to repay the money when they complete their educations and start to work. Ask:

  • How can getting an education in our day be like emigrating to Zion in President Brigham Young’s day? (One answer is that as students lift themselves out of poverty, they are better able to help build Zion in their own countries.)

  • How does it bless the student to be required to repay the loan? How does it bless others?

Invite students to think of problems the Church faces in your area. (You could ask local priesthood and Relief Society leaders what problems they see, and share those with your students.) Discuss the following questions:

  • Why might it be difficult to make progress in these areas?

  • How could the organizations and members of the Church work together to help solve these problems?

Share the following statement by Elder Harold B. Lee, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve: “If we would be united in love and fellowship and harmony, this Church would convert the world” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1950, 97–98).

“President Brigham Young,” Student Study Guide, p. 168, par. 23–29. Missionary work is essential to establishing the kingdom of God on the earth. We should be willing to serve and keep ourselves worthy to do so whenever we are called.

(15–20 minutes)

Announce that several class members have been called on full-time missions. Read their names and their mission assignments to the class. Tell those who were “called” that they must leave for their missions in two days. Ask:

  • Why do you think it would be difficult to receive such short notice when being called on a mission?

  • What do we need in order to serve a mission? (see D&C 4).

Invite students to consider if they would be ready to accept a mission call. Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:13–16 and ask: According to these verses, what blessings come from missionary work?

Have students study paragraph 23 of “President Brigham Young” in the student study guide (p. 168) to find how President Brigham Young called full-time missionaries. Ask students what they think it would be like to receive a mission call over the pulpit in general conference. Have them read paragraphs 24–29 and list the places these missionaries were called to serve. Remind students that we should be willing to serve wherever the Lord calls us, but ask them where they might enjoy serving a mission someday, and why.