Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy focused his talk on the pioneer heritage that we all share as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It would be a wonderful thing if every Latter-day Saint knew the conversion stories of their forefathers,” he said.
He said even for those members who are not personal descendants of pioneers, the Mormon pioneer heritage is still theirs as members of the Church.
He told the story of his great-great-grandmother, Hannah Mariah Harris, who was taught by Wilford Woodruff in England. She was intent on getting baptized, but her husband, Robert Harris, Jr. opposed. He said he would accompany her to a church service to “straighten her out.” But much to his surprise, he was touched by the Spirit during the service and ended up getting baptized himself.
“Their story of faith and devotion is similar to thousands of others: when they heard the gospel message, they knew it was true.”
After they were baptized, the Harris family left their home in England and traveled to America. There they met much trial and persecution, including Robert having to leave his wife and six children to join the Mormon Battalion.
He quoted his great-great-grandfather’s in a letter he wrote home to his wife while he was away. “My faith is so strong as ever, and when I think of the things that Brigham Young told us, I believe it about the same as if the Great God had told me,” he said.
Elder Walker said his grandma shared these stories with him and her other grandchildren when they were young, and the testimonies of his ancestors have become “like scripture” to him.
“The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices,” he said. “Each of us will be greatly blessed if we know the stories of faith and sacrifice that led our forefathers to join the Lord’s church.”