Happy Pioneer Day! Across the state of Utah and in LDS congregations around the globe, today we celebrate the pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 24th of July marks the day that the first company of Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake valley, but the significance of memorializing the pioneers goes far beyond that single event. A new and still developing online-video series, “The Saints of San Antonio,” offers one such modern-day perspective on what it means to be a pioneer.
Yesterday, I received an email from an old college friend, Mark Sanderson, who opted out of the film program at BYU after having taken the intro to film classes. His chosen course work then led him to complete his undergraduate work in history and then he moved down to San Antonio, Texas, where he pursued a graduate degree in advertising.
While in Texas, Mark, with the help of some friends, set about to complete a rather ambitious task of assembling an oral video history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the mouths of church members themselves, in many cases the direct descendants of the first members of the Church in San Antonio.
Originally planned as a television program, after attempting and failing to secure any funding for the project, and long after his roommates abandoned ship on the project, Mark realized that he had a significant amount of footage that he had to do something with. The idea to generate a website where his videos could reside resulted in having several advantages. It was easier to produce and distribute the videos online, and the content became immediately and freely available for viewers to access at their convenience. The end result is “The Saints of San Antonio” website.
In talking with Mark from earlier today, he observed “We really don’t value history, until it become history.” Additionally, he pointed out that if we don’t act soon, there are members of our families and communities that are with us today that tomorrow will be gone. Many of them in many parts of the world are the pioneers of the Church in their respective lands. Video offers a powerful medium for capturing and retelling their unique stories a thousand times over.
In October of last year (2008), Mark presented the website to the LDS Church’s Historical Department. He presented the idea for an on-going series of similiar short films collecting the histories of the Church as it has been organized through out the world. Since that time, Mark has continued to develop the site, adding content as he has had time. Eventually, he hope to complete the video-history up to the year 2005 which would include recent historical events, including the dedication of the San Antonio Texas Temple.
In the meantime, Mark Sanderson is an example of that dream that keeps us as latter-day saints moving forward “inspired by a dynanism for a cause.”*
Visits the Saints of San Antonio website
Contact Mark Sanderson
*Kimball, Spencer W., “Gospel Vision of the Arts”, Ensign May 1977