Friday Forum: are you ready to gather to Missouri?

We shall go back to Jackson County…when we go back, there will be a very large organization consisting of thousands, and tens of thousands, and they will march forward — Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 15:364

So, imagine you arrive at your ward one Sunday, and there is an announcement that your stake president will speak to all the adults.  He tells you that the time to return to Missouri has taken place.

To continue this hypothetical event, your stake president says he has been in contact with the First Presidency, and they are asking members of some stakes, in an orderly fashion, to move to Jackson County and the nearby areas.  Not all stakes will be moving at the same time.  The stake president asks you to sell your house or apartment and be prepared to move within the next six months.  Land and houses have been purchased in Missouri and will be given or sold to members upon their arrival.

So, to continue the hypothetical, you go home and you pray about your stake president’s talk.  You receive no immediate answer.  You call a relative in another part of the country and find out that no announcement has taken place there.  But another relative calls to say that in their part of the country the stake president issued a similar calling.  Over the next week, you find out that members in different countries have also been told to prepare to gather to Missouri.

So, dear reader, what do you do?

Here are some things to ponder while you think about it.

D&C 82 2-4:

2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the arestoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his bprophets, and for the cgathering of his dsaints to stand upon eMount Zion, which shall be the city of fNew Jerusalem.

3 Which city shall be abuilt, beginning at the btemple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and cdedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.

4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city aNew Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which btemple shall be creared in this dgeneration.
How about this from Joseph F. Smith:
When God leads the people back to Jackson County, how will he do it?…They will find the journey back to Jackson County will be as real as when they came out here. (JD 24:156-157)
I want to make something very clear:  I think there are multiple ways of interpreting the “gathering” to Jackson County, and I am not prophesying that this will actually take place.  This post is primarily intended as a thought exercise:  what would you do if your stake president told you to sell your house and move to Missouri in six months?
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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

26 thoughts on “Friday Forum: are you ready to gather to Missouri?

  1. My wife and I have already imagined this scenario, and there are thousands of reasons why we would not want to move to Missouri, but we have agreed we would do it anyway under the scenario described above.

  2. If I could find a home with humidity control and good A/C, I would move tomorrow. :-)

  3. What, didn’t want to polish up the old chestnut and say that we’d all be walking or pushing handcarts back to Missouri? (That’s the groaning eye-roller of all Mormon folklore). Yeah, I’d go to Missouri, but I ain’t walking. I have a three-year-old and a pregnant wife. We’d be moving by truck, for sure.

    I don’t like to speculate, but I think that before it’s said and done there will be quite a lot of smaller gatherings. If this depression gets much worse, there may very well be enclaves of Saints gathered locally for protection and industry.

  4. There are plenty of Missouri homes, reasonably priced and with humidity control and good A/C, on the market today. Come join us!

  5. I think I would question why I was asked to go. The whole population of the Church cannot possibly be brought to Independence, there simply isn’t enough space. I believe a handful of members will be called up to go and perform sacred duties there.

    Yes, we as a people have been commanded to flock to Zion, but as McConkie clarified, the Brazilians are to build up Zion in Brazil, the Guetemalans in Guatemala, the Japanese in Japan, etc.

    Nevertheless, if I was asked by my priesthood leader to accomplish such a great task, I would feel grateful that the Lord deemed me worthy to do so.

  6. Jeremy, you are of course correct. My scenario is something I invented out of my head. I have no idea if it will ever happen or if it will involve just a few priesthood leaders being called, kind of like a mission.

    However, I would like to point out that the whole “exodus pattern” appears to be something that happens again and again in the scriptures and even in modern-day history. Abraham had to move, Moses had to move, the people of Israel were moved and then moved back, etc. The Book of Mormon is all about various exoduses. In modern times, the Saints were ask to move from NY to Ohio and then to Missouri and then to Nauvoo and then to Utah. So, it is not completely unreasonable to think there might be a need for another exodus of some sort. I have no idea how or when or why it would happen, so I don’t claim my scenario is even close to being real.

  7. I think it is far-fetched that we, as latter-day saints, will be making some mass exodus back to Missouri. However, I have seen that the saints are gathering back to Missouri, but they are moving there because of jobs or family connections, and some are feeling drawn back there to start businesses, etc. We vacationed there last summer to see some of the historical sites, and we met more than a few LDS members who have recently moved there. When the temple was announced in Jackson County, I noticed from our travels that it is in an area that is being developed commercially by what looked like one of the Church’s real estate investment businesses. So I think the gathering is happening now–but by 21st century methods, not 19th century.

  8. It makes for an interesting thought experiment. There are relatively few Mormons in the world (12 million +) we could all easily be gathered to Jackson county Missouri. Look at the population densities of many cities around the world, New York, Tokyo, Beijing, etc.

    If I and / or my ward was called, I would go. At least I would have less snow to shovel. :D

  9. Geoff B.,

    The difference between us today and those in Biblical/Book of Mormon times, and even 150 years ago, is that we are now a worldwide organization with mass communicative capabilities. Most of the exoduses recorded in scripture have to do with fleeing an oppressive/destructive force. The obvious parallel is that we are to flee evil (i.e., Babylon), which may entail moving from a city or the entire state – California exodus, anyone?

    On a related note, I worked on the Church-owned Deseret Ranch up in Wyoming for a period of time. The ranch encompasses thousands of acreage, and besides a few moose and elk herds, not much is there. However, much of the land is tracked with underground fiber-optic cable networks.

    Now, the conspiracy theorist in me asks why would the Church lay hundreds of miles of fiber-optic cabling on its ranch when there is no one there to use it. You tell me. At some point, as Revelation details, the righteous will be cast out from, or voluntarily leave, society and will seek refuge elsewhere. Will we be called to Deseret Ranch in WY someday to remove ourselves from Babylon?

  10. I would go, but it would be a huge challenge. I can’t imagine what 21st-century Mormon community-building would look like, but it would be foolish to go without understanding the many sociological and political issues that doomed the earlier Mormon Missouri communities.

    Jeremy, that’s interesting about the ranch. Every moose and elk should have broadband internet, clearly.

  11. We moved to Missouri about over a year and a half ago, so, we’ve already heeded the call :-). We are a little ways south of Jackson county though.
    A few weeks ago, we went and saw MoTab in KC and took the opportunity to see the sites in independence (as did the choir members the day before). The highlight of the visit was seeing the Temple lot and talking to one of the Church of Christ apostles. He gave us an earful of history, and of how the Church of Christ was the true “Mormon Church”. The impression I got from him and his organization is that there is no way, not for a billion dollars that anyone could get that temple lot from them.

  12. Jeremy H., Amazingly enough, this page is already in Google for a search on “Deseret Ranch fiber”.

    I am curious though. Was this fiber put in at the same time, and parallel to other pipes or utilities? Fiber is cheap, trenching is expensive. So if I were putting in a bunch of pipes, I would be highly inclined to put in direct burial fiber at the same time too – if there was any future plan to develop part of the area, in any case.

  13. Good point, Mark D. I would also like to point out that this is the internet where facts are not easy to confirm. I have no way of double-checking Jeremy’s points on fiber at the Deseret Ranch.

    Jeremy, that comment is not meant to claim your information is incorrect, just to remind readers that they should not exaggerate information they read on the internet. I don’t want anybody to start a rumor that we’re all moving to Wyoming — we need to concentrate on the rumor I started that we’re all moving to Missouri. :)

    I wonder if there is similar fiber at the ranch in Florida.

  14. Could be, Geoff. My old scoutmaster was telling me a bit about his mission served at the Florida ranch. He’s an old electrician, and said that he was servicing the residences on the ranch. But the man worked for decades at the Nevada Test Site, so there must have been something much, much more interesting that he had been called to wire up than just some lights and air conditioning. That’s right. Kim Il Jong has nothing over Thomas S. Monson.

  15. Mark D., I have no idea when the cabling was added. As I said, I simply worked on the ranch premises. I did, however, travel across a good portion of it where cabling was freuqently found.

    Ken, you may be right. It may just be an easement across the ranch itself in favor of the WY residents. There were areas, however, if I recall correctly, where a grid-like pattern was formed – that’s no easement.

  16. I see it as more of a gradual process. Consider, for instance, how many stakes and temples there are these days within a reasonable distance of Independence.

    As for a general gathering of Saints: As far as I can see, that’s one of the primary purposes of the membership record system. That way leaders at all levels (theoretically) know what baptized members are part of their respective stewardships.

  17. I hope I wouldn’t be in a Stake that was chosen. Imagine the job opportunities and deals on homes for those that were supposed to stay in Utah?

  18. According to DC 133:12-14, while ya’ll are liable to be called to Jackson County, I’m liable to be called to Jerusalem. Oy vey.

    Geoff: I don’t think mass callings to move on a ward level or stake level would happen. A couple reasons:

    - According to the Doctrine and Covenants, Zion (New Jerusalem) has to be built up via consecration, and by living the United Order, not merely just paying tithing. So my 1st guess is that only temple-recommend holders are going to get the call. That’s one reason why the early saints “lost” Zion/Jackson County, they couldn’t/wouldn’t live the law of consecration and didn’t build the temple like they were supposed to, along with the other “contentions and jarrings” stuff. This level of consecration required in New Jerusalem will go beyond tithing.

    - Eighty or so households moving out of one ward, or 600 households moving from one stake, even a sparsely populated stake like Indianpolis, is going to create a lot of upheaval in the local housing market, and job market. My guess is that it would be spread out thinner, with many stake presidents around the country (or the world!) given a “quota” of people to call to Zion. The quotas may even be more detailed, so many doctors, so many dentists, so many carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, contractors, etc.

    - As someone hinted above, the Lord may be calling people now by personal revelation, or via more subtle means by putting a desire in their heart that feels like their own desire. (Ever have that happen, where you suddenly get a hankering to do something, and it’s not a spiritual prompting, because it comes from your own heart, but you learn later that the Lord implanted that desire in you?)

    - The Lord may call specific individuals/families in the future, by actually giving their names to the Stake president or someone higher up to issue the calling to move. Or, the Lord may “come quickly to his temple” either in person or via messengers to extend the calling while the individual is patronizing their assigned temple.

    - I don’t see it as a mass or visible exodus. My mental picture has been that, when viewing the people leaving their origin/departure areas, it will be much slower, and will occur within the normal volume of move-outs that wards, stakes, cities, counties, and states have. It will likely only be noticeable on the receiving/destination end, in Jackson County. “Where in blue blazes are all these people coming from?”

    You could get over 100,000 adults just by calling a small handful of couples from each North American unit. If you called one couple per year per North American ward (leaving the branches alone), you could get over 100,000 adults in under 5 years.

    Plus there are plenty of able-bodied and temple-worthy widows, divorcees, and never-married senior women who don’t have dependents living with them, and are living independently on their retirement/pension, who would also be available to move with short notice, and enter Zion’s “workforce.”

    Naaah. After thinking about it, I don’t see whole wards or stake called at once. You can get big numbers by taking small, barely noticeable percentages, and applying it all over North America, or even the world.

    In fact, I think that much of the humongous immigration that has been occuring here in the States, millions of Hispanics, Asians, South Asians, and Africans, is part of a grand “staging” that will occur. Not all of them will join the church and move to Zion. But a small percentage will join the church, and a percentage of those will get called to Zion. Perhaps the rest were brought to America as some kind of a “support system” for the elect ones. Nets don’t catch just the choice fish, they catch all kinds of fish, including the ones you want.

    Fascinating.

  19. My previous comment assumes that _all_ North American saints won’t be called to go to Missouri by the 2nd coming. Everything I’ve heard and read is that stakes will still exist throughout the North America and the world. Going to Zion will be a special calling, and not for all members, and not even for all worthy members.

  20. It is worth mentioning that lots of national fiber optic networks share fibers in the same physical cable with other carriers and providers – typically by leasing or purchasing the right to use to one or more fiber pairs from the same bundle. A fiber optic cable often has 96 or 144 individual fibers.

    I don’t know what the deal is near Deseret Ranch in Wyoming, but most fiber routes follow existing rights of way – railroads, power and natural gas lines, and highways. Major cities are typically served with redundant fiber routes, but if someone (typically with a backhoe) accidentally cuts one of these major cables, that route would go down for a large number of carriers and backbone providers, each of which would reroute traffic along other routes until the damage was repaired.

    If you look at Level 3′s network map, the Wyoming – Utah route appears to parallel I-80 then I-84 down Weber Canyon, and connect to major routes along I-15, I-80, and I-84. Of course there are major railroads along most of those highways as well.

  21. While I don’t believe that the church’s return to Jackson County will be in the remotest like your scenario, accepting this premise for the moment, sure, I’d be willing to go. I’ve got nothing and no one to lose, so why not? It would be a grand adventure.

    But stepping outside the scenario, I did in reality spend two of my high school years in Jackson County. I’ve done my time. It’s a beautiful region with welcoming and wonderful people, along with great parks and museums and other public facilities, but gasping for breath in stifling humidity part of the year, listening to trees cracking and wires coming down in ice storms during other months, while watching churning green skies for pending tornadoes in between those seasons, is not anything I would choose on my own.

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