group of pioneer children

Enduring with Cheer: Aurelia Spencer Rogers, Founder of the Primary

Through trials of faith and heartaches, Aurelia refused to give up, using her love heightened by loss to help the children of the Church.

After her mother’s death, Aurelia Spencer Rogers (1834–1922) and her older sister cared for their four younger siblings for two years while their father was on a mission in Great Britain. During their father’s absence, a young teenage Aurelia and her siblings crossed the plains from Winter Quarters to the Great Salt Lake Basin, showing perseverance and dedication throughout their hardships.

Of the Rogers children, Wilford Woodruff said, “Although in childhood, their faith, patience, . . . longsuffering and wisdom . . . [were] such as would have done honor to a Saint of thirty years.” As President Woodruff emphasized, Aurelia’s age did not matter. It mattered only that she was faithful.

The difficult trek was only the beginning of Aurelia’s trials. After she married, she had 12 children, five of whom died in infancy. Again and again, her faith was tested, and time after time she proved herself true and willing to endure what God had in his plan for her. She knew that even when her trials were difficult to bear, God knew best.

This is not to say that Aurelia never questioned her faith. In a short biographical sketch, Shirley A. Cazier writes that “when three [of Aurelia’s] infants died in succession, she despaired and nearly lost her faith and belief in God,” yet she pulled through with her faith strengthened and with a heightened sense of the “preciousness of life.” Through her trials she gained an appreciation for childhood that would eventually lead her to found the Primary Association.

Read Shirley A. Cazier’s biographical sketch of Aurelia Spencer Rogers.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Mormonism

—Charlotte Noelle Champenois, Mormon Insights

Find more insights

Read an article by the Primary general presidency about the focus of the first Primary meetings.

Read Elder David B. Haight’s April 1978 general conference talk on the beginnings of the Primary Association.

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