“Home-Study Lesson: Succession in the Presidency, Leaving Nauvoo, and the Trek West (Unit 30)” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Home-Study Lesson: Unit 30,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
Through this lesson students will understand that they exercise faith when they follow the counsel and direction of our Church leaders. They will also learn that the Lord will bless them when they help others in need and prepare the way for them.
Blindfold a student and place him or her on one side of the room. Then rearrange some objects in the room, making noises so the student can tell that the objects have been moved. Ask the blindfolded student to choose a classmate to provide verbal directions to help him or her get to the other side of the room. When the student chooses someone, ask:
Why did you choose that person?
How does our trust in another person influence how we follow their directions?
Ask the guide to give directions so the blindfolded student will be able to walk safely to the other side of the room. Then instruct the two students to return to their seats.
Invite a student to read aloud the following paragraph about the Saints’ exodus from Nauvoo. Ask the class to listen for ways the Saints’ experience may have been like the experience of the student who was led across the classroom.
Under threats of violence from local mobs, the Saints began leaving Nauvoo in February 1846, journeying west across the state of Iowa. “Leaving Nauvoo was an act of faith for the Saints. They departed without knowing exactly where they were going or when they would arrive at a place to settle. They only knew that they were on the verge of being driven out of Illinois by their enemies and that their leaders had received revelation to locate a refuge somewhere in the Rocky Mountains” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 309).
How was the Saints’ experience of leaving Nauvoo similar to the experience of the student who was led across the classroom?
What can we learn from the Saints’ experience of leaving Nauvoo? (Students may use different words, but they should express the following principle: We exercise faith when we follow the counsel and direction of our Church leaders. You may want to write this principle on the board.)
Invite students to turn to Map 6 (“The Westward Movement of the Church”) in the Church History Maps section of their scriptures and locate Nauvoo and Winter Quarters. Explain that because of excessive rain and insufficient supplies, the Saints who left Nauvoo in February 1846 spent four months making the 300-mile journey across Iowa. The group’s pace was slowed because of these conditions and because they lost the services of more than 500 able-bodied Latter-day Saint men. These men, who became known as the Mormon Battalion, had heeded the call of President Brigham Young to enlist in the United States Army to earn money to help poor Church members make the journey west. This sacrifice helped in many ways, but it also left many families without husbands and fathers for part of the journey. Considering this slow pace, Church leaders decided not to continue west to the Rocky Mountains until the spring of 1847. They counseled the Saints to settle for the winter. One of the largest settlements, Winter Quarters, was located on the west side of the Missouri River, in the modern-day state of Nebraska.
Invite a student to read aloud the following description of Winter Quarters and the other temporary settlements:
Many of the Saints lived in log houses and in dugouts made of willows and dirt. Many people were inadequately sheltered from the cold weather. Diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cholera, and scurvy resulted in widespread suffering and death. More than 700 people died in the camps by the end of the first winter. (See Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 71–72; Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 319–20).
If you had been with the Saints at Winter Quarters, what feelings might you have had, realizing that you would still have to travel many hundreds of miles?
You may want to point out that even during this time of suffering and death, the righteous Saints were blessed because of the covenants they had made. You may also want to explain that the Lord has promised great blessings to those who die in His service (see Alma 40:11–12; 60:13; D&C 42:46).
Ask students to scan the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 136, looking for where this revelation was given and who received it. Ask them to report what they learn.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 136:1 aloud.
How do you think it might have helped the Saints to know that the Lord continued to reveal His will to them?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 136:2–5. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord instructed the Saints to do to prepare to continue their journey west.
How were the companies to be organized?
Why do you think it would have been helpful to organize the Saints into groups with designated leaders? How is this similar to the way the Church is organized today? (After students respond to these questions, you may want to write the following truth on the board: The Lord organizes His Saints into groups so that each person can be guided and cared for.)
Explain that because of sickness and death at Winter Quarters and the surrounding camps, many families and individuals needed financial assistance so they could continue their journey west.
Divide students into pairs. Ask them to study Doctrine and Covenants 136:6–11 together, looking for ways the Saints were to care for those in need. (You may want to suggest that they mark what they find.) Before students read this passage, explain that the Saints did not all leave Winter Quarters at the same time. The phrase “those who are to tarry” in verse 6 refers to Saints who were to remain for a time at Winter Quarters and the surrounding camps.
What words and phrases in verses 6–11 indicate how the Saints were to care for those in need?
What word in verse 7 refers to people who prepare the way for others? (Pioneers.)
Write the following definition on the board. (It is quoted from the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. , “pioneer.”)
According to verse 11, what did the Lord promise to those who would help others in need and prepare the way for them? What can we learn from this? (After students respond, you may want to write the following principle on the board: The Lord will bless us when we help others in need and prepare the way for them.)
Who has prepared the way for you to enjoy the blessings of the gospel?
Ask students to ponder the following question. Then invite a few to share their responses with the class.
What will you do to be a pioneer—to help others in need and prepare the way for them to enjoy the blessings of the gospel?
Conclude by testifying of the truths you have discussed and encouraging students to act on those truths.
To help students prepare for their study in the coming week, ask them to consider the following question: What are some of the consequences of trying to hide sin? In the next unit students will learn about a tragic event called the Mountain Meadows Massacre that occurred when some Church members attempted to hide their sins. They will also learn about the development of the Church as the Saints settled in the Salt Lake Valley.