Brigham Young’s Birthday: Celebrating a Legacy of Hope & Help Through Saints the World Over

Imagine you’re Brigham Young

It is 1844. Six years ago, open warfare broke out in Missouri between your people and local “militias” (mobs). Homes were torched, and 20 people, including women and children, were murdered. Ten thousand of your people were forced to flee to Illinois. Your church’s leader and prophet, Joseph Smith, has been arrested by Illinois officials and you’ve just received word that another “militia” stormed the jail and murdered him and his brother. 

Many are saying that your church will not survive.

What do you do?

Brigham Young
Brigham Young (Photo by Charles William Carter/Public Domain)

Young stepped into the void left by Smith’s death. Two years later, he led an exodus of 16,000 people out of Illinois across the wilderness to Utah, where, until his passing in 1877, he oversaw the resettlement, survival and subsequent growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

His was a remarkable life of leadership.

He was born June 1, 1801. Members of the Church recognize and celebrate his birthday worldwide.

In 2021 the Latter-day Saints devoted 6.8 million man-hours in 188 countries, spending $906 million on over 3,900 humanitarian projects.

The church he saved has grown a thousandfold since that exodus. It now numbers 16 million worldwide. Fortunately for the world, its Saints (the term the Church has requested be used for its members) are remarkably active and effective in helping others.

Statue atop building
Angel Moroni atop the San Antonio, Texas temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Photo by Grindstone Media Group/

Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Church foresaw the conflict to come and began placing resources around Ukraine to service the flood of refugees they knew would follow. “We have (made) a commitment. We’re going to stay,” said Sister Eubank, first counselor in the Latter-day Saints’ Relief Society. “We’re not just there for the first month or the first week. We will stay until that situation is resolved,” she added. “The disaster is only the very beginning. What we really care about is helping people spiritually, emotionally and physically recover and build their societies back.”

Ukraine was only one of their projects. According to Church reports, in 2021 Latter-day Saints devoted 6.8 million man-hours in 188 countries, spending $906 million on over 3,900 humanitarian projects.

It is a virtuous and honorable legacy. Brigham Young would be proud.

Leland Thoburn
Leland has been a Scientologist for 45 years. His writings have been published in numerous magazines and literary journals, including Foliate Oak Review, Writers’ Journal, Feathertale Review, Calliope, Vocabula Review and others. Formerly an executive at EarthLink Inc., he works as a business consultant.