2015 Cedar City Symposium

On Saturday, April 11, I had the privilege of spending a day in Cedar City to participate in a regional symposium. Cedar City Chapter President, Harold Shirley and members of his chapter had organized a first rate program. It was an extraordinary spiritual and intellectual experience for all who attended.

The speakers offered us a feast in faithful history. The first speaker was Dr. Douglas Alder former president of Dixie State University, former member of the St. George Temple Presidency, and co-author of an excellent history of the St. George Temple. Doug spoke on the history of the St. George Temple. A second speaker was Dr. E. Leo Lyman, formerly a professor at Victor Valley College in California and currently an adjunct professor of history at Dixie State University. Leo spoke on mail and freight trails to Southern Utah. A third speaker was William Hartley, formerly a professor of history at Brigham Young University and editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. Bill cleared the air on trails and travel from Nauvoo to Utah. Many members of the church believe that most of the members came by handcart. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even during the years that handcarts were used, most members came in wagon trains. I spoke on the role that Wilford Woodruff played at the St. George Temple. He received a vision of the founding fathers, but he was also inspired to prepare a list of prominent men and women whose temple work he and the temple workers completed. He inaugurated temple work for persons unrelated to the proxy receiving the endowments for the individual.

Following a delicious Dutch oven dinner, we enjoyed a spiritual feast in talks by Elder Bruce Hafen and Sister Marie K. Hafen. They told us both about the spiritual experiences they and others enjoyed at the St. George Temple and during its construction. They also provided vignettes from the history of the temple. It was a particular joy for me to meet again with the two of them since I have known them for many years, and they served in the area presidency while Marilyn and I served as missionaries at the Institute of Religion in Berlin.

Several upcoming events deserve notice here. On Saturday, May 9, the national organization will sponsor a symposium on the life of Parley P. Pratt. We encourage all members to attend. All except one of the presenters are direct descendants of Elder Pratt. All of the presenters, Matt Grow, Mitch Pratt, Steve Pratt, and Alex Baugh are scholars who have researched aspects of Elder Pratt’s life and work. The keynote address at the dinner meeting will be given by Elder Craig Cardon of the Seventy.

We also encourage you to take an opportunity to attend the Major Howard Egan symposium on June 12. The SUP is a cosponsor along with a number of other organizations. You will find this a spiritually and intellectually uplifting event as well.

On July 24, the Sons of Utah Pioneers is sponsoring two events. We urge all to attend the Days of 47 Sunrise Service at the Tabernacle. It was organized by the Salt Lake Pioneer Chapter and will begin at 7:00 a.m. We also encourage all members and their families who wish to do so to participate in the Days of 47 Parade in downtown Salt Lake City. SUP members and their families will be pulling handcarts and walking from South Temple to Liberty Park. Both of these will be outstanding events.

Another event of interest is the annual SUP day at the This is the Place Heritage Park. It will take place on Monday, July 27. Members of the SUP are invited, but anyone who is interested may purchase tickets for themselves and their families. We encourage all to attend. Bring your friends and families.

SUP members also have another opportunity. On June 4 through 7, the Mormon History Association will hold its annual convention at the Utah Valley Conference Center on Center Street in Provo. The MHA was organized in 1965 in San Francisco. This year marks its 50th anniversary. I feel a particular affinity for the organization since I was one of the founders who attended that meeting fifty years ago. The Sons of Utah Pioneers will sponsor a table at the convention to attract those in attendance to our Family and Friends initiative and the Pioneer Magazine.

Cordially,
Tom Alexander,
National President, 2015