When the Mormons (a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) tuned in for the semi-annual General Conference in October of 2012, life changed for hundreds of young people. It was announced that the minimum missionary age for young adults was being lowered to eighteen (after high school graduation) for young men and nineteen for young women. The Church anticipated missionary applications would rise, but they rose far more than expected. Many young people were anxious to take advantage of this new opportunity, some texting for appointments with religious leaders moments after the announcement was made. The increase in applications following the announcement was almost 500 percent.
To accommodate the extraordinary number of new missionaries, the Church has made some changes. It has divided a number of existing missions, which will improve management of the missionary force. There will be fifty-eight new missions created. This, of course, leads to a larger number of older adults needed to supervise the enthusiastic core of missionaries, but these adults are also making themselves available. (more…)
Long after the presidential election that saw the first Mormon candidate for a major political party has ended, people are still trying to figure out what the Mormon moment really meant for Mormons and for people who have an interest in the religion. Mormon is a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Mormon moment, as it has been called, has had several rounds, including the Winter Olympics that were held in Utah and were rescued by Mitt Romney. Romney also set off the other Mormon moment when he ran for president. From time to time, Mormons surface as a hot news topic and this isn’t going to change.
What did the last Mormon moment accomplish? A study showed most people don’t think they learned much about Mormonism during the Romney campaign. However, referrals to missionaries were strong, suggesting that although huge numbers didn’t convert, a significant number did take advantage of the opportunity to learn more and many did join the Church after studying the truth about the faith. (more…)
A New Zealand newspaper reports that mainstream churches in the country are struggling to maintain membership numbers while churches once labeled fringe churches are growing. There is great diversity in the types of churches that continue to grow, crowding out other more traditional faiths.
The article cites two very different religions, whose meetings are extreme opposites. City Impact Church is a mega church with pulsating lights, big screen tvs, rock music, backup singers, and a pastor who shows pictures of himself and his wife sipping alcohol on their vacation to Fiji. This church is growing rapidly in New Zealand.
At the same time, the reporter notes a worship service of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes nicknamed Mormons. This meeting is very quiet. The chapel fills, as does the overflow area. Entire families come dressed in their Sunday best to a simply decorated chapel and sit reverently throughout the service, which is carried out by members of the congregation. Mormons have a lay church and everyone helps. Even the prayers and the sermons are given by members ages twelve and older in turn. There are no flashing lights, no rock music, no backup singers, and no multimedia. The lighting comes from ordinary overhead lights and the music is provided by a traditional organ. Speakers use natural and quiet language to convey a spiritual message and there are no slideshows of vacations. (more…)
Orrin Hatch has written a new book to help people understand Mormonism. It is not an official Mormon resource, so any information in it should be verified by searching LDS.org. However, it is a look at Mormonism through the eyes of an ordinary member.
Hatch, a senator from Utah, believes that while the Mitt Romney campaign drew attention to Mormonism, people still lack a basic understanding of what Mormonism is all about.
See The Mormon Moment: Did it Change Anything?
Hatch would like people to use the full name of the church instead of the nickname. The full name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which makes clear the fundamental belief in Jesus Christ. It is inappropriate to call the church the Mormon Church. In the Book of Mormon, which Mormons use as a compliment to the Bible, contains an account of Jesus talking to a group of people he visited on the American continent after His death. They wanted to know what to name the church He was helping them organize. He told them that if a church is named after a man, it is that man’s church. Mormon was a prophet in ancient times—his story is told in the Book of Mormon. To call the church the Mormon Church would mean, according to Jesus Christ, that it was Mormon’s church, and it is not. It is the Savior’s Church, and so His name is central to the name as it is to the Church. (more…)
Paul Lamarr, also known as Cactus Jack, has created a Christmas musical that is capturing hearts in Utah. “A Time of Forgiving” is a musical about a man who has left his family. It is Christmas Eve, their anniversary and their daughter’s birthday. The wife depends on everyone thinking her life is perfect—and it’s about to become obvious it isn’t. Their daughter is going to learn about forgiveness whether or not there is a happy ending. And the husband will learn that he has to take responsibility for his own problems. Despite all the programs this family faces, the musical is uplifting and warm.
Many aspects of the program come from Cactus Jack’s own life. He was born in Utah, but moved to Australia in 1988, where many feel he became entirely Australian. Two years ago, he decided to sell everything he owned, return to Utah, and start carrying out his dream of writing and performing music. He rented a cabin in Park City and created a music studio for his guitar, grand piano, and violin, all of which he had taught himself to play long ago. On December 1, 2011, he took his first CD, a Christmas album to Deseret Book, which is Mormon owned. Lamarr is also a Mormon. They gently explained that it was too late to start selling his Christmas music this year. It took too long to get into the system, distributed, and promoted. He went to nearby Temple Square, the home of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, to sooth his sorrow and to reflect on what to do next. While there, he received a call from executive Debbie Simmons, an executive at Deseret Book. She had just listened to his CD and fallen in love with it. She asked for 2000 copies of it immediately. The CD became a Deseret Book best-seller, topping the chart in the number one position. They happily purchased his next CD as well and he began touring. (more…)
A recent interfaith discussion held in Lubbock, Texas recently helped students better understand four faiths. Represented on the panel were Mormons (a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Baptists, Jews, and Muslims. Each spoke on basic principles of their faith or about famous members of their faith.
Mormons have long held that the best way to dispel prejudice against any group of people is to provide information and personal contact. Studies have shown that people who know practicing, believing Mormons are less likely to hold negative views of the religion or to practice discrimination. When people receive authentic information on Mormon beliefs, rather than the gossip often spread by people who are not qualified to speak on the faith, they generally realize that many Mormon beliefs are not as different from the beliefs of other Christians as they thought and for those beliefs that are different, they are more likely to understand the appeal or even the reason for the beliefs. (more…)