The general failure of the United Orders coincided roughly with the passing of Church President Brigham Young in 1877. One might wonder if at the end, Brother Brigham was discouraged about building Zion, and whether, after he passed, his successor John Taylor would move on and focus elsewhere. This was definitely not the case.
To the very end, Brigham Young was adamant that the Saints were obligated to build Zion. In his last General Conference, President Young said, “We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God.” Pretty clear.
In that same conference he asked a rhetorical question that demonstrated his understanding that building Zion was as much an economic effort as a spiritual one. He asked, “What would be the first lesson necessary to teach the people, were we to commence to direct their labors to the great end of becoming of one heart and one mind in the Lord, of establishing Zion…? It would be to stop expending and lavishing upon our dear selves all needless adornments and to stop purchasing the importations of Babylon.” A Zion society must be economically independent from Babylon.
In the very next General Conference after Brigham’s passing, John Taylor, as president of the Quorum of the Twelve, made a statement clearly showing that he was holding high the torch of building Zion going forward.
He said, “I wish to make a few remarks in relation to what we term the United Order. We are united today with God, and with the holy Priesthood that existed before us, with Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and with the ancient Prophets and Apostles and men of God, in building up the Zion of God upon the earth. They, in their different spheres and callings, are operating with us, and we with them, and the whole thing is a grand Cooperative Society; and everything we do here should be with the view of uniting our earthly interests, that we may be one in things temporal and one in things spiritual, one on the earth and one with those in the heavens….”
John Taylor went on to make a grand contribution to the effort to build Zion, by establishing an economic organization, of which, sadly, you have probably never heard – Zion’s Central Board of Trade.