Section 37 of the Doctrine and Covenants is the first commandment issued from the Lord concerning a gathering. He commands the saints to gather in Ohio because of the persecution of the enemy, and so they can receive the law (Section 42).
The geographical gathering that occurred throughout church history has had a huge impact on where I am in life today. Many of my Brimhall ancestors were pioneers and participated in this gathering—all the way to Salt Lake City and then to Arizona. All my relatives remain in the western U.S., and if it wasn’t for this command to move early in the church, then my parents wouldn’t have grown up where they did, and I wouldn’t have been raised in the area I was. This situation is similar for many kids in the area I grew up in—Mesa, Arizona. There is an outrageous amount of members in my neighborhood, and I was blessed with in-school seminary and an amazing amount of wards and stakes in such a small distance. The many commands in early church history for the saints to continue moving west has profoundly impacted the path my family has gone down, and the influence of the gospel in my life.
Today the Lord continues to issue a command to “gather.” We are to gather in our wards and stakes, and to lift where we stand. I cannot express how powerful my home ward is. I was taught by Sunday school teachers and Young Women’s leaders that took a great interest in my life and my spiritual needs. I was prepared by an army of leaders who wanted to send our youth into the world, equipped and ready to face the tactics of Satan. There was constant gathering occurring in my ward as I grew up. Ward members were always reaching out to other ward members and neighbors of other faiths. We visited each other, we looked out for each other, we lifted each other in the gospel. It was a ward where the members tried to emulate Christ and give momentum to the Father’s plan through constant love and gospel teaching. I was spoiled as a youth. In my particular circumstances, the gathering impacted my growth in the gospel profoundly. I was surrounded by a strong body of saints who shaped me into who I am today, and despite the cultural disadvantages that can arise, I wouldn’t trade that kind power that comes with a gathering of saints for anything.