Thoughts on Zion

Gath­er­ing Is­rael to Zion

Serve Daily - - NEWS - By Jesse Fisher

The spirit of Zion, of co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual ben­e­fit, which char­ac­ter­ized the Saints’ tem­po­ral labors upon ar­riv­ing in the Great Basin in 1847, car­ried over in their ef­forts to as­sist oth­ers to “gather to Zion” as well.

LDS his­to­rian Leonard J. Ar­ring­ton re­ported how in 1849 the Per­pet­ual Em­i­grat­ing Fund was es­tab­lished to ac­com­plish the work of the gath­er­ing of Is­rael and thus ful­fill the pledge made back in Nau­voo to “as­sist the poor in em­i­grat­ing”. In its first year, $6,000 was raised in do­na­tions among the Saints. The funds were used to buy wag­ons and pro­vi­sions back East to suc­cess­fully bring 2,500 souls to the Salt Lake Val­ley who had re­mained in Win­ter Quarters.

The Fund’s work­ings and gen­eral pur­pose were de­scribed in a First Pres­i­dency Let­ter dated 6 Oc­to­ber 1849: “....the Funds are to be ap­pro­pri­ated in the form of a loan, rather than a gift; and this will make the hon­est in heart re­joice, for they love to la­bor, and be in­de­pen­dent by their la­bor, and not live on the char­ity of their friends; while the lazy idlers, if any such there be, will find fault, and want ev­ery lux­ury fur­nished them for their jour­ney, and in the end, pay noth­ing. The Per­pet­ual Em­i­grat­ing Fund will help no such idlers; we have no use for them in the Val­ley, they had bet­ter stay where they are... th­ese funds are de­signed to in­crease un­til Is­rael is gath­ered from all na­tions, and the poor can sit un­der their own vine and in­habit their own house, and wor­ship God in Zion.”

Un­til the US Gov­ern­ment de­stroyed it us­ing the Ed­munds-Tucker Act, in nearly 40 years the Fund spent around $12 mil­lion to gather about 100,000 Saints to the Ter­ri­tory.

His­to­rian Philip A. M. Tay­lor de­scribed this her­culean ef­fort thus:

“The great im­pe­tus [for the im­mi­gra­tion ef­fort] came from a belief in­te­gral to the LDS faith in the mid-nine­teenth cen­tury: ‘gath­er­ing to Zion.’ Be­lieved lit­er­ally and fer­vently, this tenet was nearly as fun­da­men­tal as bap­tism. It reen­acted the gath­er­ing of the Is­raelites to the Promised Land and was a nec­es­sary prepa­ra­tion for the com­ing of Christ in the ‘Last Days.’”

If you think that was im­pres­sive, wait un­til next time when we re­view the Zion-like ef­forts that hap­pened when those im­mi­grat­ing Saints fi­nally ar­rived in Zion.

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

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