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The faith of our fathers - both our own ancestors as well as the pioneers of the gospel - give us inspiring examples to revere and emulate.
This speech was given on August 20, 1996.
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"I am grateful to be with you in this Campus Education Week of the Church Educational System. Most of us in attendance had the chance to read the sixty-six-page class schedule, not counting the covers, before we came. It is worth careful study. It describes an offering that has grown to more than 1000 classes in this seventy-fourth year, with 180 faculty members and more than 600 volunteers. The description of what has been accomplished and will be provided fills our hearts with gratitude for those who have spent more hours than I can imagine to plan this great enterprise, for teachers who have invested lifetimes preparing for their presentations, and for those who will make it so enjoyable, including hundreds of BYU employees. For the Church Educational System and for all of us I ask that President Merrill J. Bateman extend our thanks to the people of BYU who in this Campus Education Week bless our lives and may not be able to be with us to hear our thanks.
That excellent class schedule also presents our theme: “Faith of Our Fathers,” chosen in part because of the centennial of the state of Utah. Here is what it suggests we consider:
Much could be said about the toil and hardship endured by the Saints in their westward migration. Our focus is on their faith, obedience, and steadfastness in the face of immense difficulty and uncertainty. Although their physical circumstances were much different than ours, the personal trials and challenges may, in fact, be very similar.
That set me to thinking about similarities in our lives. If I could visit with each of you and listen to the story of your life and what you know of your ancestors’ lives, my guess is that we would discover great differences. Each life is unique. That struck me as I reread journals and histories that have been passed down through the generations, describing lives of people as diverse as that of Mary Bommeli, my great-grandmother, and of Wilford Woodruff, a prophet of God. Yet I see a thread of faith, a particular faith, running in the lives of those heroes of the Restoration whose steadfastness and courage leave us in awe. Perhaps if we examine that thread today, we may find it in our own lives and strengthen it.
Those histories reveal as much about faith from what people did as from what they declared in words. Different as were their challenges and their responses, I thought I saw a recurring pattern. Here it is.
They shared a faith that the kingdom of God had been established for the last time, that it would triumph over great opposition and would become glorious in preparation for the day when the Savior would come to accept it, that it would stand forever, and that theirs was a rare privilege to have been called out of the world to build it.
They were sure that they were establishing Zion, a place of refuge. It is not surprising then that they plead for that Zion and that they expected not only to build it but to enjoy living in it. What is surprising is that their faith increased when they pleaded for Zion to be established even as they saw times of safety turn to times of testing.
Listen to the Prophet Joseph’s pleadings in a letter from Kirtland to the exiled Saints in Missouri, December 10, 1833:..."