The following is excerpted from the Church News. To read the full article, CLICK HERE

More than 700 Indigenous members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered in Mesa, Arizona, rising to the charge to build the kingdom of heaven by fortifying gospel principles and traditional values.

They left with support, encouragement and more hope in their Savior and His Atonement.

“I see this gathering as a spiritual lifeline,” said Cindy Quinney, of Calgary, Alberta, who was instrumental in organizing the event after planning a similar gathering in Calgary last year. “This was an opportunity for my brothers and sisters to come together, find more hope and move forward.” Quinney is from Onion Lake Cree Nation in Canada.

Indigenous peoples are culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a region. In attending the “Gathering of Tribes,” 30 North American Indigenous communities were represented, as well as people indigenous to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Samoa, Tonga, Peru, New Zealand, and the Maya, Totonaca and Purepecha Aztec of Mexico, according to event planner Shane Manning of Gilbert, Arizona, who oversaw registration. Some attendees also brought family members and friends.

“This gathering was organized by Indigenous people for those who see themselves in the promises of the Book of Mormon about the gathering of Israel and the many roles the different tribes play in that,” she said. “We wanted people to be able to claim their own identities as they feel appropriate.”

The “Gathering of Tribes,” held at a large Church-owned facility called the Interstake Center near downtown Mesa, was the first of its kind in the United States. During its two days of activities, March 10-11, participants attended the temple, took part in traditional dances, listened to speakers, learned through workshops, enjoyed meals together and shared testimonies.

Speakers focused on the Book of Mormon, forgiveness, repentance, testimony and the gathering of Israel.

Ezekiel C. Sanchez of Mesa, one of several event planners, spoke about the Book of Mormon, stating this is “our book.”

To read the full article, CLICK HERE