Alex Boyé was born in England to Nigerian parents. When he was 11 years old, his mother told him that she was returning to Nigeria for three weeks. In his “I’m A Mormon” video, he remarks that three weeks turned into eight years. Subsequently, he was raised by foster parents in England who eventually kicked him out at the age of 16, leaving him homeless and aimlessly wandering the streets of London.
In an LDS Living.com interview, Alex recalls, “The only help I got was when I opened up and said ‘Heavenly Father, I can’t do this on my own.’” It was during those desperate hours of seeking help and guidance that he was introduced to the gospel and baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He would later serve a two-year full-time mission in the England Bristol Mission.
However, even though he had embraced the gospel and had a music career that was beginning to take off, Alex still felt alone and abandoned by his family. On an “Hour of Power” broadcast, Alex recalled, “It was tough. I had a lot of despair and depression. I felt like all the people I had loved rejected me in some way. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the reason my mom left, and then I cried.” As a young boy, Alex did not fully understand the sacrifices that his mother made to eke out a meager living. She worked three jobs, including walking the tracks of the underground “with all the rats and everything” picking up trash from 9 pm until 3 am.
In speaking about how he learned to love as Christ loves each of us, and how that love helped him to forgive and love his mother, he remarked:
I look at Jesus Christ, the trials that he went through, and here I am complaining about mine. What we realize is that God’s version of good is different than ours. You must go through it; you know what I mean? We’re just like, ‘Just give me ice cream, that’s good,’ but I tell you I am grateful for those trials. I am grateful for those times when I was 16 walking the streets of London eating from the trash. I’m grateful for all those experiences [be]cause sometimes when I meet friends or people who are about to give up and I’m like, ‘Let me tell you man, all this that you are going through right now, you are going to use it to bless other people.’ Sometimes it’s not for you.”
Even though it seemed that his mother had abandoned him, she never forgot about the son whom she loved. She was eventually able to put him in a boarding school and sent money to support him.
The gospel has helped Alex and his mother grow closer, and on Saturday, 9 October 2016, he was blessed to baptize his mother a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in London. He posted about the experience on his Facebook page stating, “So I baptized my mum in London today…Have been waiting for this moment for over 20 yrs. Cried like a baby. BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!”
Six Sister’s Stuff, comprised of six Latter-day Saints sisters – Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Steph, Lauren, and Kendra – all share a love of simple recipes, crafts, and home decor projects. They created a blog together called Six Sister’s Stuff to be able to stay in touch with one another as well as share their creative ideas. In addition to the easy recipes, craft ideas, and home decor projects, their blog also includes travel tips and date ideas.
Their blog is not only an excellent way for the sisters to stay in touch with one another, but it is also used to emphasize the importance of family time and togetherness. Speaking of their blog they write, “We are all busy, whether it’s with our kids, jobs, school, husbands, community involvement, or something else eating up our time, so all the recipes and projects you will find on this blog are quick and easy! Our recipes are family favorites that use ingredients commonly found in your pantry. Our crafts and home decor projects can be made with little or no money. We don’t claim to be amazing chefs- we just know the importance of feeding your family a home-cooked meal and sitting down to eat it together.”
Camille is the oldest sister. She and her husband Jared have been married for ten years and are the proud parents of three children. Camille and Jared met at Utah State University and were married nine months after their first meeting. She graduated with a degree in Elementary Education but later decided that she enjoyed working in retail and managing a business more. However, she does claim to use the things that she learned every day in raising her children. Her husband graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy and is a practitioner in Farmington, Utah. Camille is also a social media consultant for both businesses and bloggers and travels around the nation speaking at various conferences and events. She also enjoys going to the gym, reading, catching up on TV shows with her husband, and eating ice cream outside with her family on warm nights. She currently lives in Utah.
Kristen, the second oldest, has been married to her husband Ammon for nine years. They have three daughters, Addison, Ensley, and Mailey. She is a socially outgoing person and has enjoyed living in five states and meeting different people and making friends. She loves to run marathons, watch soccer, read, craft and spend time with her family. Her favorite food is a store-bought white cake with white buttercream frosting- especially if the icing is thicker than the cake.
Elyse married her eternal companion, Jared, in December of 2008. They are blessed with three beautiful children – Camden (5), Parker (3), and Riley (1). They lived in Logan, Utah, after they were married where Jared attended school at Utah State University. During the summer months, Jared managed a summer sales team, so they lived in Edina, Minnesota, and various parts of California. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, enjoying the outdoors, baking, shopping, jogging, and traveling to warm and exotic places. She also lives in Utah.
Steph graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Communication Studies. She married her husband, Andrew, in 2013, and they lived in Logan, Utah, while he completed his Master Degree in Accounting. In December 2015, they welcomed two new additions to their family, Brooklyn Sophia and Olivia Jane. The family currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where Andrew landed a job with the accounting firm Ernst & Young. Steph loves reading, running – she has completed numerous half marathons, Ragnar Relays, and one full marathon, shopping, traveling and hanging out with her husband watching Psych or The Office and eating Cookie Butter Ice Cream.
Lauren is a senior at Utah State University where she is studying Family, Consumer, and Human Development. She is a University Ambassador and is afforded the opportunity to share her love of and experiences at Utah State University with students all throughout Utah. She has always had an aspiration to attend cosmetology school and hopes to do so upon graduating. She immensely enjoys meeting new people, going on fun adventures with her roommates, playing tennis, and working out.
Kendra is the youngest of the six sisters. She is currently a sophomore at Utah State University where she is studying Business Communications. She is considered the stylish one of the family and keeps the others up to date on the latest fashion trends. She enjoys playing soccer (or any sport), working out, cooking, shopping, and being with family and friends. And she is also the favorite aunt.
The Six Sister’s Stuff blog is updated with fresh content on a daily basis. Each sister takes turns posting one recipe one day of the week – Camille (Sunday), Kristen (Monday), Steph (Tuesday), Lauren (Wednesday), Elyse (Thursday), Kendra (Friday0, and their mom, Cyd, posts the recipe on Saturday. Their mom also responds to all questions and comments on the site. And, just recently, the American retail food chain Kroger turned over its Twitter account to “Six Sisters Stuff.”
Five Brigham Young University (BYU) graduates were among those named on the prestigious Thinkers50 list of the best business management thought-leaders of 2015. In fact, this year, for the first time, BYU graduates made up 10 percent of those listed. The graduates that were listed include Clayton Christensen, the Harvard business professor who introduced the concept of “disruptive innovation, at No. 2, Dave Ulrich (27), Liz Wiseman (43), Hal Gregersen (46) and Whitney Johnson (49). As a note of interest, Christensen finished first in the biennial rankings in 2011 and 2013.
Dave Ulrich commented, “Like a smaller boxer who succeeds against bigger fighters, “BYU outpunches its weight.” But a person might ask, “How does this happen? Why does BYU make up a substantial portion of the Thinkers50?”
The answers range from the mundane — how lists are compiled — to the intriguing — what the dean of BYU’s business school calls the Clayton Christensen Effect. Christensen earned an economics degree at BYU and went on to write “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” which “deeply influenced” Apple’s Steve Jobs. His ideas on innovative disruption have had such a broad impact that “disruption” is becoming a household term describing, for example, what is happening right now with cable TV cord-cutting. Gregersen and Johnson have worked directly with Christensen.
Influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Dave Ulrich suggests that perhaps a more viable answer to the questions can be found in the influence that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had on the lives of the 5 BYU alumni that are listed. He further commented, “Five LDS people on the list is amazing. I credit the LDS learning system. BYU, I think, through the missions served by so many of its students, gets that benefit. I don’t think the world understands how great missions are for learning. Gospel and theology learning, of course, but also social learning, organizational learning, personal management learning. An 18-month or two-year mission is like five years working at one of the world’s best consulting firms.”
This is not the first time that the idea of a prodigious Mormon impact in business and business management has been considered. In 2010, a Financial Times article titled “The rise of a new generation of Mormons” indicated that the LDS culture has given birth to “a professional elite.” In 2012, Harvard Business Review published an article titled “How Mormons Have Shaped Modern Management.” Christensen and the late Stephen Covey made the first Thinkers50 list in 2001, 2003, and 2005. Ulrich, who was named by HR Magazine as the father of modern human resources in 2012, joined Christensen and Covey on the list in 2007, 2009, and 2011. In 2014, speaking.com ranked Ulrich the No. 1 speaker in management and business. His creation of an index to gauge the leadership strength of an organization earned him a spot on the short list of eight people considered for the 2015 Breakthrough Idea Award.
The Dynamic BYU 5
Liz Wiseman, the developer of the idea of leaders as multipliers (people who double the brainpower inside an organization by attracting talent and making people around them smarter) and diminishers, joined Christensen and Ulrich on the Thinkers50 2013 list. She earned a Bachelor Degree in Business Management and a Master Degree in Organizational Behavior at BYU, and was Oracle’s global leader of human resource development. In the past five years, she has written three best-sellers including Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.
Hal Gregersen earned a Master Degree in Organizational Behavior at BYU and served as a BYU faculty member. He is the executive director of the MIT Leadership Center. In 2015, the Forbes list of the world’s most innovative companies was based on methodology Gregersen created with Jeff Dyer, a BYU business professor. In 2011, Gregersen, Dyer and Christensen co-authored The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators. According to the Thinkers50 list, Gregersen is presently working with Christensen on a study about “the power of questioning and how the most successful leaders are able to identify the right question — rather than the solution — to unlock a vexing challenge.”
Whitney Johnson earned a music degree at BYU and later switched to studies in business. Last year, with more than 54,100 followers, she was listed as one of the 55 most influential women on Twitter by Fortune. Along with Christensen, she is the co-founder and prior president of the Rose Park Advisors’ disruptive innovation investment fund. In the fall of 2015, using Christensen’s theory of disruption and applying it on an individual level, she published Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work.
In the 3 January 2016 Deseret News article, Lee Perry, Dean of BYU’s Marriott School of Management, further noted:
I think the experiences we have in Church help us become more sensitive to leadership and organizational issues. I don’t think it’s just happenstance BYU had one of the earliest and strongest organizational behavior programs. We basically have a laboratory for leadership opportunities in the LDS Church that come with maybe even some additional challenges because it’s a volunteer organization.
They’ve done this by themselves, he said of the five Latter-day Saints in the Thinkers50, but I think their LDS and BYU backgrounds provided a nice little jumpstart.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be found all over the United States, as well as, in many different countries of the world. When most people think of Mormons, they envision that Utah, where the Salt Lake Temple and Church office buildings are located, has a higher percentage of Latter-day Saints than any other state, and they are correct.
The table below lists the top 10 states with the highest Mormon population (as a percentage of the overall population). It should be noted that all data is based on numbers from the Pew Research Center and Mormon Newsroom. It should also be noted that Colorado; Washington, D.C.; Maine; New Mexico; Virginia and West Virginia all claim 2 percent of their total populations as LDS, whereas all other states have LDS populations of less than 2 percent.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a family-oriented people. They understand the value and importance of home and family life, and believe that families are forever. The valuable life lessons that are learned in a loving home, for example, help to prepare youth to more easily transition into the real world where they will be faced with day-to day challenges. It is also within the family that each member of the family learns to love others as Heavenly Father loves each of us.
Research Shows Mormons Have Larger Families
The 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study reported that Latter-day Saints marry more than those in any other American faith. According to the report, 66 percent of LDS adults are married as compared to 60 percent for Hindis, and 56 percent for Jews. The study also found that Mormons have the largest families.
The Pew Research Center interviewed more than 35,000 Americans allowing for a margin of error of plus or minus 0.6 percent. The new study revealed that for Mormons between the ages of 40 and 59, the average number of children born to them is 3.4. According to an article from Deseret News, “The idea behind looking at that age group is to capture what the researchers called “completed fertility.”” The average for LDS births was well above other groups such as historically Black Protestant churches where the average number of births is 2.5, and for Catholics and Evangelicals, the average is 2.3.
The study further revealed that the Christian population, in particular among the mainline Protestants and Catholics, in the U.S. has declined from 78.4 percent in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014. However, as the study showed, LDS Church members have held steady with 1.6 percent of the rising U.S. population in 2014, as compared to 1.7 percent in 2007. David Campbell, co-author of “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” commented, “It’s also striking, and you see this in other national studies, that the percentage of Mormons doesn’t really change, and that’s interesting.”
The Central Role of Marriage and Family in the Church
The findings of the report align with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ as Latter-day Saints believe parents are co-creators with God, and that families are central to God’s plan. President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught, “The home is the center core of the LDS Church, and the most sacred relationships in the church are in the family.” During the 185th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in April 2015, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
God ordained that men and women should marry and give birth to children, thereby creating, in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him.
The percentage of Mormons who are married has decreased since 2007 when the percentage of those married was 71 percent, and the percentage of Mormons who have never married has increased from 12 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in 2014. However, the Mormons who were surveyed, stated that they are raising more children than members of any other religious groups. On the average, Mormon adults of all ages also reported that they lived with 1.1 children as parents or guardians.
Mormon Retention Rates Attributed to Family Life
Retention rates are also attributed to healthy family lives. The study showed that historically Black Protestant churches retain 70 percent of its childhood members, whereas Evangelicals retain 65 percent, and Mormons retain 64 percent. However, those who leave the Black Protestant churches or the Evangelical churches often become affiliated with another religion, whereas those who were raised in The Church of Jesus Christ, often do not become members of a different religion if they leave the Church.
Campbell, also the co-author of “Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics,” commented that he expects to see the number of Mormons as a percentage of the U.S. population rise based on church growth data. He also noted that it might be a sign of a potential issue with convert retention, stating that, “It’s significant it’s not dropping, but it’s not growing anywhere near the extent that you might think.” In the footnotes of Elder Quentin L. Cook’s April 2015 General Conference address he notes, “Over the last 25 years, the actual number of members leaving the church has decreased and the church has almost doubled in size. The percentage leaving is greatly reduced.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists to help families to obtain eternal blessings, the greatest of which is the ability to one day return home to Heaven to live with Heavenly Father and their families.
The phrase “Mormon Moment” is not new to many of us. Anyone who followed the 2012 presidential elections became very familiar with this catchphrase. With the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, being a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many people became keenly interested in Mormonism, a religion that beforehand had been somewhat of a mystery to many people.
However, it should be carefully noted that a Mormon running for the office of President of the United States was not the only reason that interest in Mormonism had suddenly escalated. The critically acclaimed satirical musical “The Book of Mormon” — the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda where a brutal warlord threatens the local population — opened on Broadway in March 2011, and it achieved immense popularity in a relatively short amount of time. The show set records in ticket sales for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. It was also awarded nine Tony Awards, one of which was for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
These two major events sparked the interest of the masses, and the phrase “Mormon Moment” soon became the buzzword of the day in both local and social media coverage. However, now that Mitt Romney is no longer running for President of the United States, and “The Book of Mormon” musical is no longer winning awards, it would almost appear that the spotlight of the “Mormon Moment” has suddenly faded. But, is that really the case?
Black Mormons and the “Black Mormon Moment”
Two years after Mitt Romney was defeated in the presidential elections by Barack Obama, Mia Love, the former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, became the first black female Republican ever elected to Congress.
According to the 17 November 2014 online edition of Deseret News, the 38-year-old Love commented in her victory speech, “Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black Republican LDS woman to Congress. Not only did we do it, we were the first to do it.” With her victory, an astute focus has once again been turned to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the “Mormon Moment” seems to have been revitalized, but this time, it is black members of The Church of Jesus Christ who are at the forefront.
Parker is also the seventh teenager in the last 30 years to have one double-double in his first three league outings. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ may recall that President Thomas S. Monson quoted Parker during General Conference this year citing the advice that he had been given by his father: “Just be the same person you are in the dark that you are in the light.”
Another prominent black Mormon is 25-year-old Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah from Accra, Ghana. As a boy in his native country, Ziggy played soccer and basketball and had absolutely no knowledge of American football. After converting to the Mormon faith, and being baptized at the age of 18 on 12 January 2008 in Madina, Ghana, he later came to the United States and attended school at Brigham Young University. It was there that Ziggy got his first taste of American football. After two and a half seasons, he was picked No. 5 overall in the NFL draft. He was also voted the Mel Farr Rookie of the Year by the Detroit Lions. Of particular interest is that the school motto of the Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon, where Ziggy attended in Ghana, is “In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen” (In Thy Light We Shall See Light). He is indeed a living witness and testimony of that school motto as he has embraced the Light – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and has allowed the Light within him to radiate throughout the world.
The spotlight is also shared by world renowned entertainer Gladys Knight who became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1997. She celebrates the success of being on the charts for her Top Gospel Albums. Her latest project, titled “Where My Heart Belongs,” released by the Mormon-label, Shadow Mountain, is a testimony of her life. The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought great peace and joy into her life – a peace that passes all understanding – that is evidenced as people notice the new radiance about her.
The Contribution of Black Mormons and the Growth of the Church
Latter-day Saints comprise less than 2 percent of the U.S. population with the exact number of black Latter-day Saints being unknown. However, in the state of Utah, where 60 percent of the population is Mormon, blacks make up less than 2 percent. Nevertheless, whether the current “moment” is dubbed as the “Black Mormon Moment” or not, the fact remains that the number of high achievers within The Church of Jesus Christ who are black is on the increase.
The short list of those who are high achievers includes, but is not limited to, Harvard-educated Kenyan-American Shaka M. Kariuki, who runs the investment firm Kuramo Capital; Yeah Samake, the Malian mayor who has run for president of Mali twice; Cathy Stokes, the former Illinois public health administrator who became a prominent Utah community leader; and Alex Boyé “whose cover of a popular Disney tune garnered more views on YouTube (54 million) than Coldplay’s latest hit,” according to the Deseret News article.
One person who commented on the Deseret News article stated:
I am incredibly pleased to note that there are so many examples of people in the LDS church who would formerly have been shunned or somehow excluded by some other members of the church but are excelling and, presumably, feeling accepted as fellow children of the same Heavenly parents. I hope it continues in and out of the church for people of African descent and everyone else.
I grew up in a part of Salt Lake that was as racially integrated as it could be in a city that was overwhelmingly Caucasian. It wasn’t until I was about 11 that I had any idea that racial discrimination even existed. I have been yearning for the day it no longer does every day since. It’s great to see these examples of steps toward that dream.
The fact is that black Latter-day Saints, whether famous or not, are contributing in monumental ways to the faith, all the while impacting the world for good. Even in light of perhaps not so favorable Church history dating from 1848 until June 1978 when men of African lineage were not allowed to hold the Priesthood, black membership in the Church has continued to grow. The Deseret News article points out:
There may be some differences between members of the Church because of heritage, culture, and background, but the reality is that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father, and therefore, we are brothers and sisters. We are all working towards the same goal of one day returning to live in His presence for all eternity. Therefore, whether the “moment” is simply dubbed the “Mormon Moment,” the “Black Mormon Moment,” or whatever the title that is chosen, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we all share in the “moment” because we don’t allow our differences to divide us, but rather we stand united as one big family.
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