Saints celebrate Joseph Smith’s 200th birthday

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    By Adrian Call

    Joseph Smith turns 200 this year and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are finding ways to celebrate.

    Events are being planned across BYU campus to celebrate the man who is so significant in LDS history. Among them are a history conference in Vermont by the Mormon History Association and a documentary being filmed by KBYU covering the life of Joseph Smith.

    ?We revere and honor all of our church presidents,? said Donald Cannon, a BYU church history professor. ?He [Joseph Smith] got it all started and oversees the whole course of events so he?s very, very important to us.?

    Cannon is also the president of The Mormon History Association, which will host the conference at the end of May in historic Vermont.

    Historians from across the country will gather to offer insights on the early life of the LDS church. The focal point of the conference will be on Joseph Smith?s life but various church history topics will be discussed at the four-day event.

    Members of the association, which is not affiliated with the LDS church, come from diverse religious backgrounds. Some of the members are only interested in the religion as a field of study, Cannon said.

    ?The thing that unites them ? is common interest and maybe even passion for Mormon history,? he said.

    The general public is invited to attend the conference that will include visits to many historical locations including Fort Ticonderoga and many Smith family sites. Registration forms can be found online at www.mhahome.org.

    Another commemoration activity is a six-hour documentary about Joseph Smith being prepared by KBYU. The documentary will feature artwork, actual scenery from church history sites as well as commentary from subject experts in the BYU religion department.

    Jordan Ormond, associate producer for the film, said Susan Black, a BYU religion professor and major part of the film production, had wanted to do a film like this for quite a while. A major goal of the film was to clarify any misconceptions of the actual events.

    ?[We wanted to] let the viewer see what happened, where it happened and how it effected Joseph and in turn the church,? Ormond said.

    The videos along with a book of the commentary associated with the film will be available in September when the video airs on KBYU-TV.

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