Four churches in celebrate Pioneer Day with music in Iowa

By Jane Hales

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Aug. 1 2011 5:19 p.m. MDT

John Watson, left, director of the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters and Kanesville Tabernacle, with chorister Dennis Bell and Sisters Lianna Bonelli, and Michelle Myers, who performed Sister Myers’ original song at a recent hymn festival where members of four church with ties to the Prophet Joseph Smith sang hymns in celebration of Pioneer Day. Bell also has a leading role in “Come Home to Kanesville,” the pioneer musical performing at the Kanesville Tabernacle.

Jane Hales

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — About 200 members of four churches with ties to the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. met together in the Kanesville Tabernacle and shared their common heritage of music in celebration of Pioneer Day on July 24.

The churches included the Community of Christ, Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Emma Smith received instructions from the Lord through her husband Joseph in Doctrine and Covenants 25 to “make a selection of sacred hymns.” Today many of these songs are still included in the hymn books of all four churches.

W.W. Phelps had several hymns in that first collection, and three of his songs were part of the hymnfest program: “Redeemer of Israel,” “The Spirit of God,” which is common to all, and “O Jesus, The Giver of All We Enjoy,” which remains popular in the Community of Christ and other hymn books.

“Come, Come Ye Saints,” a much-loved LDS hymn, was sung along with a special Kanesville Choir rendition of “Lord I Would Follow Thee.” Other hymns shared by all included “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Nearer My God to Thee,” “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.”

The program also included recently written hymns, “Keep Trimmed Your Lamp” by Vicki Argotsinger of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and “I Walked with Angels,” written by Sister Michelle Myers and sung by Sister Lianna Bonelli, who are missionaries serving at the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters in Omaha, Neb.

The planning committee included: Rinda Evans, chairman, Broc Brockway and Terry Latey from the LDS Church, Ted Webb from Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Evelyn Spence and Anna Mae Harvey from the Community of Christ. Narrator for the evening was TV personality John Oakey, who is LDS, from KETV Channel 7 in Omaha.

Pianists were Barbara Sherer of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Stuart Jewett, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Choristers were Dennis Bell, of the LDS Church, and Haley Gregory and her father, Jeff Gregory, the Community of Christ.

Sister Jane Hales is serving as a missionary with her husband at the Mormon Trail Center in Omaha, Neb.

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