By KAMBER HON
To acknowledge the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California, a new book chronicling activities of California saints from the past 150 years has been published by the BYU Religious Studies Center.
“California Saints: a 150-Year Legacy in the Golden State” was written by Richard O. Cowan, professor and chair of the Department of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, and William E. Homer, a San Jose real estate agent and educator who is a member of the LDS Public Affairs Council in the San Francisco Bay area.
Although the book itself has only been in process for the last three years, Homer said the idea and manuscript of “California Saints” has taken more than 10 years to develop.
Publication of “California Saints” was planned to coincide with the celebration of the sesquicentennial of church activity in California, said Robert Millet, dean of Religious Education and director of the Religious Studies Center. Saints arrived in California as early as 1846. Stories of these saints and others who followed are compiled into the 400 pages of the book, Cowan said.
While some books published by the Religious Studies Center are for factual reference, this book is designed to reach a broader audience, including many who are interested in the historical progression of the church, said Kent Jackson, publications director of the Religious Studies Center.
“It’s been exciting as we’ve worked together to see some of these less-known stories of the saints,” Cowan said. Homer and Cowan have researched and documented stories from several sources, including personal diaries and eyewitness reports to gather the information for their book.
Homer worked with the different ideas for a manuscript from 1985 to 1992 before he was joined by Cowan. The resources available at BYU added new dimensions to the production of the book after Cowan became involved, Homer said.
Specific stories in “California Saints” include detailed accounts of the Mormon Battalion, the settling of San Francisco, and the challenges faced by saints from the 19th century through the Depression years and World War II.
President Howard W. Hunter was used as thread throughout the book, Jackson said.
“He, like so many members of the church, moved to California as a young person to take advantage of California’s new opportunities,” Jackson said. “He was typical to the active California Mormon who held leadership positions and helped build churches and temples.