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ONWARD TO ZION

New times have brought new problems; the difficulties of missionary work have increased; the poor are poorer, and the rich getting richer. The plan for economic brotherhood, as the standards of living become more widely separate, is a little harder to realize, and it was never very easy. But Latter Day Saints are not discouraged.

In the eighties and the nineties, churchgoing was at its zenith. Preaching was an event, and if the moon was full and the weather good, the whole countryside turned out, coming for many a mile. On a Sunday, when there were special meetings, many a home had from thirty to forty guests and a proportionate number of horses in the barn. Hitching room was a problem as well as seating room. The church was the community center. Cold weather meant protracted meetings; old and young men, and women, and children attended. Evening meetings in early times was always set for "early candlelight," but as candlelight gave way to kerosene and kerosene to gas and electric light times changed. There are many counter attractions; church no longer has the center of the stage. The inevitable adjustment to the new is not always easy. The Latter Day Saints have their modernists and their fundamentalists, as have other faiths. To attain the proper balance of progress, we need the old and the new, the conservative and the radical. Such extremes have always formed part of the social fabric, and always will. The Latter Day Saints have them also.

It is the tendency to look back with longing on the good old days and wonder why, when equipment was the meanest, roads the poorest, and methods of travel the slowest, the interest in church attendance was greatest. Perhaps the interest in church has never really declined, but the universal desire to see and mingle with the rest of mankind has other means of satisfaction. Latter Day Saints believe that there will eventually be found a group of people who are so regenerated spiritually that they will have the will and desire to live together in a great brotherhood, where want and oppression will be unknown, and each one will have the opportunity to develop the faculties within him for great achievement, but always for the good of the whole. If it should be but a dream, it is a great one, and worthy of any people.

The Latter Day Saints in Independence have sought to make themselves a part of the community. The church has endeavored not to overwhelm the town with immigrants, but has permitted itself to be absorbed by the community. In political matters the members are encouraged to act individually and not as a church, except where moral issues, such as temperance, are under consideration. There are over thirty congregations in Greater Kansas City and vicinity, an old people's home, and a college in Lamoni. In addition to this, in recent years the church started to build an immense Auditorium which seats seven thousand on the main floor. This building has a frontage of two hundred and fifty feet, a depth of two hundred and seventy feet, and its height from basement to dome is one hundred and thirty-one feet. Although the universal financial depression and other causes arrested the building of this structure, it was far enough completed to house the big Centennial Conference of 1930 with its ten thousand visitors from all over the world. During the past few years, phases of completing the building have been in process. It is anticipated that the foyer and facade of the Auditorium will be completed in 1955. The interior of the main assembly room is the next major project. The dome, visible for many miles in any direction, proclaims the peaceful "gathering" of the Saints to the "goodly land," from which in exile their fathers wandered for so many years.

As a church, the Latter Day Saints are not rich; in fact, the church might be accounted a poor one. The gathering of large fortunes in the hands of church leaders, the bane of all communistic enterprises of the past, has been zealously avoided. Individual enterprise and initiative have been encouraged, but always with the idea of benefiting the whole. Appreciating, as they must, the value of wealth in the successful propagation of any movement, the church has still found its greatest riches in a membership of industrious, intelligent, patriotic, and law-abiding citizens. The building up and gathering together of such a body of people is still the greatest aim of the Reorganized Church. With an ambitious program for social betterment as a prominent ideal for generations, the training of a people fit to take their place in the highest social organization attainable has become the lifework of a corps of devoted ministers.

To this end, missionaries have been sent throughout the world, proclaiming the "old Jerusalem gospel," modeled on the New Testament plan, securely founded upon the principles laid down in the Scriptures, the fundamentals of that good oldfashioned, sturdy type of Christianity, which is after all the best foundation for the highest type of citizenship. In a modern world, the Latter Day Saints have sought to cling to the ancient things of the Spirit; their missionaries promise to believers the gifts and blessings enjoyed by the early Christian Church, including that of healing. They welcome progress, but temper modern trends with the ancient things of God that have comforted generations of tortured humanity, rejecting not the old because of its age, nor refusing the new without a trial.

In many a great city, in many a little town and hamlet, the doors of Latter Day Saint churches swing open to receive the investigator. There are a few large churches, but, large or small, within all of them is a genuine fellowship. They are eager to share it with all who will hear, for they still believe, as they have believed for a hundred years, that they have the most wonderful message in the world. They still pray that they may be worthy to enter into Zion, when it comes--Zion, the pure in heart--and sing today the short, but expressive challenge to achievement of their late President, Frederick M. Smith.

Is such an ideal in a capitalistic world worth while? In the making of lives, yes, in the making of an ideal society, time still holds the answer.

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