Ogden residents challenged to volunteer more at Pioneer Days devotional

Monday , July 17, 2017 - 3:31 PM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Former Ogden resident Elaine Dalton challenged locals to give back Sunday night at the annual Ogden Pioneer Days Devotional at Weber State University’s Dee Events Center.

A former young women’s general president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dalton said Northern Utahns can fulfill the legacy of the sacrificing pioneers as they “come to Zion” by volunteering more.

“We must continue to lead the way to Zion,” she said. “We have not arrived.” 

According to the LDS Church, Zion is a place of the Lord’s people. Like the Mormon pioneers that settled Utah in 1847, Dalton said, “our faith will require us to move out of our comfort zones.”

As several thousand listeners left following Dalton’s speech, they were greeted by volunteers at computer stations ready to help them register and find volunteer opportunities on JustServe.org, an LDS Church effort to assist both organizations that need help and those wishing to offer it.

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell also spoke at the Pioneer Days devotional, urging those in attendance to examine their lives and “follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving and charitable,” he said. He was quoting LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson in his last General Conference address.

He also quoted a previous pioneer devotional that Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave two years ago when he said he believed Ogden had characteristics of Zion.

“Somehow there has grown up here a spirit of helping one another,” Caldwell quoted. “People put differences aside and strive for the common good.”

Dalton told the story of one of her pioneer ancestors who shared the mayor’s last name, Agnus Caldwell. 

Young Agnus was a member of the ill-fated Willie Handcart Company, one of the groups of Mormon handcart pioneers that started late and ran into heavy snow and harsh temperatures on their journey to Utah.  

At the age of 9, the pioneer girl wanted a ride from a rescuing wagon. Dalton said when her ancestor asked for a ride, the wagon driver sped up his team and made her run.

Later, he slowed to allow the girl to take his hand as he lifted her into the wagon and then wrapped her in a blanket.

Time passed before the girl realized that, by making her run, the man had likely kept her from freezing. The running increased her body heat and helped her combat the cold once she finally lay in the wagon.

Likewise, Dalton said, faithful followers of the gospel who work hard are strengthened through their efforts.

“We have a work as important in our sphere as the Savior’s work was in his sphere,” she said, quoting Brigham Young. “May we each seek to build up Zion by remaining faithful and keeping our eye on the temple.” 

Dalton urged listeners to be consistent in their efforts to serve.

“Zion will be built by ordinary people like you and me,” she said. 

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

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