This coming Wednesday, July 24, marks the 172nd anniversary when the Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Their leader, Brigham Young, announced at the mouth of Immigration Canyon, "This is the place." Because we live in Utah, there's no escaping the significance of that event - it's part of this state's history and heritage. However, many non-Mormons struggle with celebrating what is looked upon as a "Mormon" holiday. Some argue, how can we embrace and enjoy a holiday for a belief system that is polar opposite of what the Bible teaches and we believe?
For you who struggle with celebrating this event, why not remember another "pioneer" who arrived in Salt Lake Valley on that same day only 104 years later. His arrival, with one wife and 5 children took place on July 24, 1953. His name - John Hornok. That's right, 66 years ago on July 24, 1953, my Dad arrived in Utah from Illinois with the express purpose of establishing a "Bible believing, Bible preaching" church in this valley. He came at the invitation of Rev James Baines, Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church. The plan was to start a church in the valley with some "seed" families from Bethel. While things did not go exactly as either Pastor Baines or Dad had planned, 2 months later on September 13,1953 with his family and a handful of people, a church was planted. Today, Midvalley Bible Church is that church. As a church, we've gone through a lot of changes and locations. People who were instrumental and indispensable in those early days and for it's later growth have moved on and in some cases are now in heaven. Through the years thousands of people have been ministered to, only God knows how many have come to faith in Jesus Christ and scores have gone on to serve God as missionaries, Christian educators, pastors and faithful people living for God in their community. So here's my recommendation - when you see all the celebrations taking place for "Pioneer Days," let's remember some of the other pioneers we owe a deep debt of gratitude to and thank God for our rich and wonderful heritage. After all, Dad used to say when he arrived in the valley in 1953, he thought the celebration was in honor of his arrival!
Finally, don't forget to engage people with these three important truths:
- Jesus is my Savior and He wants to be yours!
- The Bible is my only source of authority.
- Midvalley is my Church home and I'd love to have you join me.
See you Sunday!
In the light of His glory and grace,