Chapter 4: The Pioneer Heritage of Faith and Sacrifice

This is the lesson that I am blessed to get to teach in RS this Sunday morning. I thought that I would share it with y’all too. I hope you enjoy it.


The introduction of this lesson talks of Pres. Hinckley’s ancestors and his connection to pioneers.

The final paragraph of the introduction jumped out at me and I wanted to emphasize it:

“When President Hinckley spoke of the early pioneers, his purpose was much bigger than focusing on those who lived in the past. He looked to the future, hoping that the faith and sacrifices of those Saints would “become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family.” ”

Section 1

Section 1 is all about faith!!

The questions at the back of the lesson for this section are:

Why was faith essential for the pioneers who wanted to gather in the Salt Lake Valley?

How did they put their faith into action?

How can we put our faith into action to help bring about the “great future” ahead of us?

Paul’s Hebrews 1:11 was quoted (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”)

And some of the quotes from Pres Hinckley are very notable:

“The power that moved our gospel forebears was the power of faith in God. It was the same power which made possible the exodus from Egypt, the passage through the Red Sea, the long journey through the wilderness, and the establishment of Israel in the Promised Land. …

We need so very, very much a strong burning of that faith in the living God and in his living, resurrected Son, for this was the great, moving faith of our gospel forebears.”

And I absolutely love: “A personal and individual recognition of God their Eternal Father to whom they could look in faith was of the very essence of their strength”

And this last paragraph of section 1 is wonderful: “Behind us is a glorious history. It is bespangled with heroism, tenacity to principle, and unflagging fidelity. It is the product of faith. Before us is a great future. It begins today. We cannot pause. We cannot slow down. We cannot slacken our pace or shorten our stride.”

I know that for me, building a relationship with Heavenly Father has been a long process. I looked for a “spiritual connection” for many, many years but was  unable to find a rewarding connection. In the last 10 ½ years I have been blessed to have developed a beautiful relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It has taken a lot of work, and it still takes work today, But that work is so worth the many, many blessings that I receive! I had to find my own relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus before I could find the faith that President Hinkley is talking about. I know and understand about faith today. It took a lot of faith and courage to come back to church 4 years ago, by myself. But, now look at me, I get the blessing of sharing with you ladies once a month a lesson from the Presidents of the Church! I never could have imagined that 4 years ago.

So, now let’s look back at those questions and discuss them.


Section 2

This section is about how the Mormon pioneers overcame enormous heart break and heart ache trying to find “Zion”

He stated of them:

“They had doubts, yes. But their faith rose above those doubts. Their optimism rose above their fears. They had their dream of Zion, and they were on their way to fulfill it.”

President Hinckley taught that the early pioneers looked to the future, with Zion as their “grand objective,” “great hope,” and “dream”.

Why do you think this was such a powerful motivating force for the early pioneers?

What similar hopes motivate us today?


Section 3

This section is about how “The rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers speaks of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Once President Young knew about the need for their rescue, he did not delay! He told the people the next morning. He wasn’t going to wait until Monday, it had to be started on that day, Sunday. Among many other things, he told them “I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you.”

President Hinckley said “My brethren and sisters, I would hope, I would pray, that each of us … would resolve to seek those who need help, who are in desperate and difficult circumstances, and lift them in the spirit of love into the embrace of the Church, where strong hands and loving hearts will warm them, comfort them, sustain them, and put them on the way of happy and productive lives.”

What can we do to rescue and lift those who are in need today?


Section 4

“It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before, to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans, so well nurtured, has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. Their tremendous example can become a compelling motivation for us all, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family, and many of us pioneer daily in trying to establish a gospel foothold in distant parts of the world.”

“Whether you have pioneer ancestry or came into the Church only yesterday, you are a part of this whole grand picture of which those men and women dreamed. Theirs was a tremendous undertaking. Ours is a great continuing responsibility. They laid the foundation. Ours is the duty to build on it.”

“They marked the path and led the way. Ours is the obligation to enlarge and broaden and strengthen that path until it encompasses the whole earth. … Faith was the guiding principle in those difficult days. Faith is the guiding principle we must follow today”

How does looking to the past help you “gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future”?

In what ways is each of us a pioneer? (I know that I am somewhat of a pioneer, I am the only active LDS member in my household. I am the only Mormon among my friends. I get to help alleviate a lot of the bad publicity that we have.)


Section 5 – We honor the sacrifices and heritage of the pioneers by following their example and building on their foundation:

“Our forebears laid a solid and marvelous foundation. Now ours is the great opportunity to build a superstructure, all fitly framed together with Christ as the chief cornerstone.”

“You are the fruit of all of [the pioneers’] planning and of all of their labors. … What a wonderful people they were. There is nothing like their great effort in all of history. … God bless their memory to our good. When the way seems hard, when we are discouraged thinking all is lost, we can turn to them and see how much worse was their condition. When we wonder about the future, we can look to them and their great example of faith. …”

“With so great an inheritance, we must go forward. We must never let down. We must hold our heads high. We must walk with integrity. We must “do what is right [and] let the consequence follow” “

In what sense are all Church members blessed by the faith and sacrifices of those pioneers?

How can the examples of the early pioneers help us as we face challenges?





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