Angie, produced by the Tom Russell Family

At the October 1947 general conference, after Latter-day Saints had spent the summer commemorating the centennial of the pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, President J. Reuben Clark delivered possibly the finest, and most literary, discourse of his ecclesiastical career. “They of the Last Wagon” extols the work of the dusty, weary, rank-and-file Saints, “unknown, unremembered, unhonored in the pages of history, but lovingly revered round the hearthstones of their children and their children’s children,” those who “worked and worked, and prayed and followed, and wrought so gloriously” without ever receiving public adulation for their lifelong efforts.

The Fit for the Kingdom documentary movement (begun around 2000) is designed, among other things, to bring out of anonymity some of the usually anonymous Saints who make up the heart and soul of the LDS Church today. Using consumer-level video equipment, the men and women who make up this informal coalition of documentarians strive to shoot portraits of average yet remarkable Latter-day Saints in their personal environments. The result is visual records of what Neal A. Maxwell might have described as people working out their salvation within their own individualized mortal laboratories. The roughly two dozen films—twelve of which, as of this writing, are available online at fitforthekingdom.byu.edu—are generally known by their protagonists’ first names: Emilia the curious toddler, Ramona the hassled mother, Rusty the unlikely poet, Leroy the octogenarian crossing guard, Earl the mischievous Primary child, and so on.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 46:2
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