This article originally appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of Pioneer Magazine

by Dr. Ray Barton, Jr.

Recently as I sat in the huge new LDS Conference Center during general conference, my mind spanned back to another time when pioneers met to worship in primitive meetinghouses and under adverse circumstances- I realized how far w-e have come in a relatively short time and what a profusion of blessings we modem pioneers enjoy.

Then a wonderful and sentimental moment arrived. President Gordon B. Hinckley was at the pulpit. He leaned forward and stroked the beautiful walnut wood of the pulpit behind which he spoke. He emotionally related how, as a young married man, he had planted the seed from which the walnut tree had grown. He told the story of watering and nurturing and raising it to maturity. After many years, the great tree died. The tree had to be cut down, but an inspired wood worker envisioned a pulpit. Today we can see that pulpit and rejoice in the renewed life of hope and inspiration that it offers.

Today we modern pioneers are the recipients of so many and so much that was planned and planted by our forebears. We have so much for which to be thankful. Now it is our turn- Many and great are the oppor- trinities to leave something that will be a sentimental focus, not unlike that great walnut pulpit.

Recent research indicates that the most valuable family time in the home is the family dinner hour. Many things are crowding that special time out. We have to plan and work and insist on maintaining important family customs. Our pioneer magazine is a choice source of and history to help youth and adults unite in family feeling and values.

Now, let me say that 1 have enjoyed being your national president during this millennium year. We have seen an increase in membership, especially among younger men. We have welcomed new chapters in Blackfoot (Idaho), Bear Lake (Utah), and Beaver (Lkah). We have planted seeds in Las Vegas (Nevada) and other areas. Our Pioneer Magazine has emerged as a classical publication that is uplifting and educational

At national headquarters we have erected a large flagpole and crowned it with a beautiful American flag, which can be seen for miles around. Our national trek was a success; next year will be even better. The sunrise service in the Tabernacle kicked off the “Days of ’47” events, including the parade, which was watched by 200,000 people who lined the streets of Salt Lake City and many more who watched on television.

members have cleaned up pioneer cemeteries, dedicated historic sites, and erected monuments of great significance, including Tooele, Utah, and the This is the Place State Park in Utah. We rejoice in the Iron Town Mine restoration effort west of Cedar City.

We have rendered service and improved our communities. We had one of our best years in terms of the scholarship program, awarding 530,000 to many wonderful youth recipients. The SUP library located at national headquarters is a valuable resource to these young people.

Many of our fine members and their wives have been called to serve on missions in various parts of the world, thus carrying forth the gospel message of the glorious restoration and renewing faith with their pioneer forebears.

I give tribute to all of the national and chapter officers, without whose invaluable help this great organization could not have achieved so nobly. As our continuing gift to home and the community, we must strengthen our families in basic values and leave a legacy that, like the pulpit from the old walnut tree, retains luster and value and imparts inspiration for generations to come.

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