Thoughts on Zion

Build­ing Zion From Day One

Serve Daily - - NEWS - By Jesse Fisher

In re­cent ar­ti­cles here, we’ve seen how build­ing Zion was a cen­tral doc­trine of the LDS Church. Ac­tu­ally, the early Saints were ac­tively build­ing a Zion so­ci­ety here in Utah from the very start, and not just spir­i­tu­ally.

LDS his­to­rian Leonard J. Ar­ring­ton re­ported how the ad­vance company set the pat­tern of cen­tral plan­ning and united la­bor for the en­tire col­o­niza­tion of the West by the Mor­mons at their first camp meet­ing held in the Salt Lake Val­ley in July 1847. “Lead­ers and fol­low­ers reached a con­sen­sus that they would not ‘scat­ter’ their labors—that they would com­bine and con­cen­trate their ef­forts and work co­op­er­a­tively—that a King­dom built in any other way was a fraud....”

So, they broke up into teams and got to work co­op­er­a­tively pro­vid­ing the group with food, land, homes, pro­tec­tion, and build­ing ma­te­ri­als. One group plowed and planted 35 acres of land with gar­den vegetables and grains. Another group tried their hand at hunt­ing and fish­ing, which did not go so well. Another com­mit­tee pro­duced an abun­dant sup­ply of salt from the lake. One group laid out the grid sys­tem of streets and home lots for Salt Lake City. A large group of 92 peo­ple were as­signed to build a fort and tem­po­rary log cab­ins inside. They built 29 log houses, six­teen feet long by four­teen feet wide. The tim­ber com­mit­tee lo­cated trees in a nearby canyon, con­structed a road, and ex­tracted logs used for the cab­ins.

This unity of pur­pose and la­bor char­ac­ter­ized the next 40 years as mod­ern Is­rael la­bored to carve out an ideal so­ci­ety in the wilder­ness. Dur­ing this time, the Church lead­ers “un­com­pro­mis­ingly held to self-suf­fi­ciency as the of­fi­cial pol­icy” of the Church–they were de­ter­mined that the Saints as a peo­ple would work to­gether to be­come eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent of Baby­lon.

That drive for an eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent Zion so­ci­ety led to the Church to es­tab­lish the Per­pet­ual Im­mi­gra­tion Company, The Pub­lic Works Depart­ment, nu­mer­ous in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment “mis­sions”, rail­road com­pa­nies, co­op­er­a­tive mer­chan­dis­ing in­sti­tu­tions, and fi­nally, United Or­ders in ev­ery stake.

Even after the rapid and wide­spread fail­ure of the Church’s sec­ond at­tempt to im­ple­ment United Or­ders, and, after the death of Brigham Young, enor­mous ef­forts were made un­der Pres­i­dent John Tay­lor through the in­stru­men­tal­ity of his Zions Cen­tral Boards of Trade. For four decades the cen­tral fo­cus of the LDS Church was to build a Zion so­ci­ety to pre­pare for Christ’s re­turn.

Dis­cuss this ar­ti­cle at Build­ingZion. org. © 2014 by Jesse Fisher.

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