On August 2, 1831, a small group of Latter-day Saints1 met on the American frontier, just west of Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, and symbolically laid the foundation for the gathering of the Saints to Zion.2 Joseph Smith had identified the setting by revelation and envisioned a complex of sacred temples, a city of refuge, and a gathering place for the kingdom of God in preparation for the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Their success would require unity of purpose, what Joseph called “a long pull, a strong pull and a pull all together.”3
Though the dream of Zion in Missouri was not realized in the early days, the Saints did gather and establish communities. “He who scattered Israel has promised to gather them,”4 the Prophet explained, to build up the kingdom of God, “a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family.”5 Today, the place of gathering for Latter-day Saints is to their respective stakes all over the world.
Joseph Smith Quotes
“He who scattered Israel has promised to gather them; therefore inasmuch as you are to be instrumental in this great work, He will endow you with power, wisdom, might, and intelligence, and every qualification necessary; while your minds will expand wider and wider, until you can circumscribe the earth and the heavens, reach forth into eternity, and contemplate the mighty acts of Jehovah in all their variety and glory” (History of the Church, 4:129).
“We feel disposed to go forward and unite our energies for the upbuilding of the Kingdom, and establishing the Priesthood in their fullness and glory. The work which has to be accomplished in the last days is one of vast importance, and will call into action the energy, skill, talent, and ability of the Saints, so that it may roll forth with that glory and majesty described by the prophet [see Daniel 2:34–35; 44–45]; and will consequently require the concentration of the Saints, to accomplish works of such magnitude and grandeur” (History of the Church, 4:185–86).
“The cause of God is one common cause, in which the Saints are alike all interested; we are all members of the one common body, and all partake of the same spirit, and are baptized into one baptism and possess alike the same glorious hope. The advancement of the cause of God and the building up of Zion is as much one man’s business as another’s” (History of the Church, 4:609).
Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church, 1995–2008
“If we are to assist in moving forward the work of God, we must carry in our hearts a united conviction that the ordinances and covenants of this work are eternal and everlasting in their consequences; that this kingdom was established in the earth through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith and that every man who has succeeded him in the office of President has been and is a prophet of the living God; and that there is incumbent upon each of us an obligation to live and teach the gospel as interpreted and taught by the prophet of our day” (“To the Bishops of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 48).
How can a worldwide Church be gathered into one people?
“Now, the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their coming to a knowledge of the true God,” explained President Spencer W. Kimball. “Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 439).
Why is it so important for the Saints to be united?
To gain eternal life is to become one with our Savior Jesus Christ, who prayed that His followers might be one with Him and His Father (see John 17:11). Through Joseph Smith the Lord said, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:27). When we embrace the gospel of Christ, we also embrace His teaching to “love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
How can we become more united in the cause of truth?
We become united by yielding to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Unity, as President George Q. Cannon explained, “is the true sign by which the people of God may be found. I do not care what we may claim, or what our pretensions may be, we are not the people of God when we are not united. Union is one of the fruits of the Spirit” (“Discourse . . . by President George Q. Cannon,” Deseret Weekly, June 26, 1897, 1).
Online Resources at ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Sacrifices of Saints in Gathering to Ohio”—in “Building the Kingdom in Kirtland, Ohio,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 23
“Gathering to Ohio”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 89–101
“Gathering to the Land of Zion”—Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 102–12
“The Early Years in Missouri”—in “Establishing Zion in Missouri,” Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1996), 37–39
Online Resources at BYU
“We Had a Very Hard Voyage for the Season: John Moon’s Account of the First Emigrant Company of British Saints”—James B. Allen, BYU Studies, vol. 17, no. 3 (1977), 339–41
Letter describing the emigration voyage of the first British Saints.