Sacred Places Initiative

Commemorate 201 Years with 201 Service Projects

Brigham 2021
As of this month, 201 years ago, Joseph Smith went into a forest near his home in New York to offer a prayer that would result in the opening of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In recounting that prayer, members of the Church refer to that stand of trees where Joseph prayed as the Sacred Grove. Joseph follows a long line of prophets to commune with God in nature—John the Baptist lived and preached in the wilderness, Moses spoke to God on a mountain top, and even Jesus fasted in the desert before facing down Satan’s temptations.

This year, LDS Earth Stewardship has set a goal to host 201 service projects as a way to mark the First Vision in the Sacred Grove.

Before discussing how you can help, let me explain why I plan to organize an event myself.

At critical junctures of my life, I found myself feeling closer to God in nature. I think that this is true for many of us.

One of my favorite scriptures are the words Alma uses to rebuff Korihor: “The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).

George Washington Carver once said, “I love to think of nature as having unlimited broadcasting stations, through which God speaks to us every day, every hour and every moment of our lives, if we will only tune in and remain so.” What are God’s creations saying to us? I believe they are testifying of God’s love for us, that God made this beautiful Creation as a testament of His love for us.

I have come to believe that one way to show God that we love Him is to care for His Creation. This is something that the great Latter-day Saint ecologist Paul Cox has taught: “Brothers and sisters, if we truly love the Artist, let us not slash His painting.” President David O. McKay taught that if we are to be great, we must reverence Deity and all things associated with Deity. “To the degree that we believe the earth is associated with Deity, we must reverence the earth itself.”

Please consider joining us in this endeavor. During this past year, as we have faced COVID-19 as a society, many of us have been pressed to our limits. As we have, many of us have found some relief in the beauties of the Earth that are all around us. To each of us, these have become recognized as sacred places in their own right. And they are just that. They were created by God under the direction of His Son for our benefit. It is our turn to give back. As we do, in this simple way, we can tell God, “I love you too.”

Find a Group Project Near You

Local LDS Earth Stewardship groups are busy planning projects for the Sacred Places Initiative. Connect with a group near you and you will be invited to their projects as they are announced. If there is no group near you, choose to hold your own project and keep it simple. A Sacred Places project can be done by a single person. However, maybe you would like to consider starting your own local group. It only takes five committed people to start group. We provide support to help our local groups carry out activities in their communities. Find out about local groups, upcoming volunteer projects, and learn about starting your own group by visiting the group page. Click here to get connected.

Hold Your Own Sacred Places Project, Big or Small

You can easily support our goal of reaching 201 projects in honor of the First Vision. Spend time picking up trash, weeding, removing graffiti, planting native plants, the possibilities are endless. Listen to your favorite session from General Conference, enjoy a podcast, or sing along to your music list while having alone time with nature. This could be wonderful for family service. Bring along one of our Family Home Evening lessons to enjoy with lunch on your blanket. Take some RS sisters to help a family in need of yard care. Get a group together and take on a bigger project. We have created a tip sheet to help you plan and carry out your projects, large and small. Make sure you submit a quick project report when you're finished, so your project can be counted. Feel free to do as many projects as you can this summer / fall. Click here for the project tip sheet. Click here to report your project and have it listed on this page.