By MARIESA WHITAKER
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not alone in celebrating the pioneer spirit this year.
The Provo congregation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated its centennial Saturday, honoring the pioneers of their faith in the Provo community at a ceremony in their meetinghouse at 255 S. 700 East.
The Provo congregation was organized in 1897 by C.M. Gardner, an itinerant evangelist, and had an original membership of 25.
Evah Bates, one of the approximately 100 members of today’s congregation, honored Gardner and his successors for their contributions to the community.
“This church has produced a long line of distinguished educators, physicians and other public servants,” Bates said. “These men and women must be commended for their faith.”
Representatives from the community and the state joined in this remembrance of the Provo congregation’s contributions.
“We appreciate the work each of you has done in the community in your different capacities,” Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert said. “Your contributions over the past 100 years are immeasurable.”
Provo Mayor George Stewart commended the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its contribution to the field of health, recalling the care he received at an Adventist hospital while serving a mission for the LDS Church in Lima, Peru.
“Your emphasis on healthcare is a wonderful part of what your church brings to our community and to the world,” Stewart said.
Raylene Ireland, representing the office of Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, and Ron Clark, Director of Public Affairs and Guest Relations at BYU, also joined in commemorating the congregation’s 100 years of service.
The centennial celebration included a tribute to two current members, Clyde Willard of Mapleton and Dr. Charles Smith of Springville, for their over 50 years of service in the congregation.
“Both men have served in numerous capacities for the Provo church,” Pastor Dan Martella said. “They have steered this congregation with prayer, outstanding leadership and many resources.”
Both men had grandparents who were members of the original Provo congregation.
Although the service was dedicated to honoring this original congregation and its contributions throughout its 100 years in Provo, Elder Larry Moore, Nevada-Utah Conference President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, urged members to develop a vision of the future.
“Give thanks for the past, but the best is yet to come,” Moore said. “We need to look ahead to what God will do with us and through us.”
The congregation shared its vision of the future at the end of the service, presenting plans for the expansion of the church’s facilities over the next five years.