Tuesday, May 31, 2022

50 years ago: The new gathering place

In 2019, when we were in Singapore to see the conference attended by President Nelson and Elder Christofferson, President Nelson emphasized the key point that Latter-day Saints everywhere in the world are entitled to the identical blessings of the Gospel.

The setting of the Book of Mormon events is sometimes confused with the latter-day place of gathering. In our day, they are not the same thing.

The promised land for Lehi is described in the Nephite record. Moroni explained that the abridged record was "written and deposited" not far from Joseph's home near Palmyra, New York. He also told Joseph Smith that the hill where they were deposited was the ancient Hill Cumorah.

It is fitting that the Restoration took place in the same area where it lingered longest on Earth. 

In the early days of the Restoration, the gathering place for the Saints was also in America: in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and ultimately Utah, as explained in the Doctrine and Covenants and the teachings of the prophets.

That changed 50 years ago.

In our day, the gathering place is the entire world. 

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Fifty years ago, in August, 1972, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve, explained:

“Of this glorious day of restoration and gathering, another Nephite prophet said: ‘The Lord … has covenanted with all the house of Israel,’ that ‘the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God’; and that ‘they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.’ (2 Ne. 9:1–2.)

“Now I call your attention to the facts, set forth in these scriptures, that the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church; of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of his saving truths; and of worshiping him in the congregations of the Saints in all nations and among all peoples. Please note that these revealed words speak of the folds of the Lord; of Israel being gathered to the lands of their inheritance; of Israel being established in all their lands of promise; and of there being congregations of the covenant people of the Lord in every nation, speaking every tongue, and among every people when the Lord comes again.”

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In the ensuing years, Elder McConkie's explanation was reiterated in General Conference by President Lee (1973), President Kimball (1975), again by Elder McConkie (1977), and Elder Packer (1992).  

Then, in 2006, Elder Russell M. Nelson reiterated it once again.

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The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord” without leaving their homelands. True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation. The Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. Scripture foretells that the people “shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.” “Every nation is the gathering place for its own people.”

(citing Bruce R. McConkie, in Conference Report, Mexico City Mexico Area Conference 1972, 45)

The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart.” Zion is wherever righteous Saints are. Publications, communications, and congregations are now such that nearly all members have access to the doctrines, keys, ordinances, and blessings of the gospel, regardless of their location.

(2006, October, Russell M. Nelson, ‘The Gathering of Scattered Israel,’ Ensign, November 2006, ¶ 38)

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In an area conference held in Mexico City in 1972, Bruce R. McConkie said: “[The] revealed words speak of … there being congregations of … covenant people of the Lord in every nation, speaking every tongue, and among every people when the Lord comes again. …

“The place of gathering for the Mexican Saints is in Mexico; the place of gathering for the Guatemalan Saints is in Guatemala; the place of gathering for the Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; and so it goes throughout the length and breadth of the whole earth. … Every nation is the gathering place for its own people.” (Mexico and Central America Area Conference, 26 Aug. 1972, p. 45.)

The following April, President Harold B. Lee quoted those words in general conference, and, in effect, announced that the pioneering phase of gathering was now over. The gathering is now to be out of the world into the Church in every nation. (See Conference Report, Apr. 1973, p. 7.)

(1992, October, Boyd K. Packer, ‘“To Be Learned Is Good If …”,’ Ensign, November 1992, ¶ 14–16)

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As the Book of Mormon says, in the last days, “the saints of God” shall be found “upon all the face of the earth.” Also: “The saints of the church of the Lamb and … the covenant people of the Lord”—scattered as they are “upon all the face of the earth”—shall be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” (1 Ne. 14:12, 14.)

We are living in a new day. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is fast becoming a worldwide church. Congregations of Saints are now, or soon will be, strong enough to support and sustain their members no matter where they reside. Temples are being built wherever the need justifies. We can foresee many temples in South America in process of time.

Stakes of Zion are also being organized at the ends of the earth. In this connection, let us ponder these truths: A stake of Zion is a part of Zion. You cannot create a stake of Zion without creating a part of Zion. Zion is the pure in heart; we gain purity of heart by baptism and by obedience. A stake has geographical boundaries. To create a stake is like founding a City of Holiness. Every stake on earth is the gathering place for the lost sheep of Israel who live in its area.

The gathering place for Peruvians is in the stakes of Zion in Peru, or in the places which soon will become stakes. The gathering place for Chileans is in Chile; for Bolivians it is in Bolivia; for Koreans it is in Korea; and so it goes through all the length and breadth of the earth. Scattered Israel in every nation is called to gather to the fold of Christ, to the stakes of Zion, as such are established in their nations.

Isaiah prophesied that the Lord “shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” The Lord’s promise is: “Ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.” (Isa. 27:6, 12.)

That is to say—Israel shall be gathered one by one, family by family, unto the stakes of Zion established in all parts of the earth so that the whole earth shall be blessed with the fruits of the gospel.

This then is the counsel of the Brethren: Build up Zion, but build it up in the area where God has given you birth and nationality. Build it up where he has given you citizenship, family, and friends. Zion is here in South America and the Saints who comprise this part of Zion are and should be a leavening influence for good in all these nations.

And know this: God will bless that nation which so orders its affairs as to further his work.

His work includes the building up of Zion in the last days. He has commissioned us to do that work for him. The foundations of Zion have already been laid in North America, in South America, in Europe, in Asia, in the South Pacific and in every place where there are stakes of Zion. But Zion is not yet perfected in any of these places. When she is perfected, it will be as it was with Zion of old—the Lord will come and dwell with his people.

(1977, April, Bruce R. McConkieᵇ, ‘Come: Let Israel Build Zion,’ Ensign, May 1977, ¶ 43–51)


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The “gathering of Israel” is effected when the people of the faraway countries accept the gospel and remain in their native lands. The gathering of Israel for Mexicans is in Mexico; in Scandinavia, for those of the northern countries; the gathering place for the Germans is in Germany; and the Polynesians, in the islands; for the Brazilians, in Brazil; for the Argentines, in Argentina. We express our appreciation to the Lord for his goodness as we direct the activities of three and a half million people, ever growing more populous, and more independent, and even more faithful.

Nearly 19,000 missionaries preach the gospel today. “The field is white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4), and the missionaries and the members are bringing many to a knowledge of the gospel.

We are sending missionaries to the four corners of the earth and to the ends of the world and look forward to the day when we shall take the exalting message to all places in the North, the South, the East, and the West, and the islands of the sea. Truly, this is now a world church with nearly 700 functioning stakes and about 7,500 wards and branches, and about 150 missions. We are approaching the covering of the earth with the gospel as the depths are covered with the mighty oceans.

The Church is healthy. The people generally are faithful. They are happy. Recently a prominent eastern visitor asked me the question “Why are you, the Mormon people, such happy folks?” And my answer was, “It is because we have everything—the gospel of Jesus Christ, the light, the priesthood, the power, the promises, the covenants, the temples, our families, the truth.”

(1975, April, Spencer W. Kimball, ‘“Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?”,’ Ensign, May 1975, ¶ 22–25)


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At the Mexico City Area Conference last August, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve, in a thought-provoking address, made some comments pertinent to this subject, and I quote a few sentences from his address:

“Of this glorious day of restoration and gathering, another Nephite prophet said: ‘The Lord … has covenanted with all the house of Israel,’ that ‘the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God’; and that ‘they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.’ (2 Ne. 9:1–2.)

“Now I call your attention to the facts, set forth in these scriptures, that the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church; of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of his saving truths; and of worshiping him in the congregations of the Saints in all nations and among all peoples. Please note that these revealed words speak of the folds of the Lord; of Israel being gathered to the lands of their inheritance; of Israel being established in all their lands of promise; and of there being congregations of the covenant people of the Lord in every nation, speaking every tongue, and among every people when the Lord comes again.”

Elder McConkie then concluded with this statement, which certainly emphasizes the great need for the teaching and training of local leadership in order to build up the church within their own native countries:

“The place of gathering for the Mexican Saints is in Mexico; the place of gathering for the Guatemalan Saints is in Guatemala; the place of gathering for the Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; and so it goes throughout the length and breadth of the whole earth. Japan is for the Japanese; Korea is for the Koreans; Australia is for the Australians; every nation is the gathering place for its own people.”

(1973, April, Harold B. Lee, ‘Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,’ Ensign, July 1973, ¶ 31–35)


the end

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