Mormon Church passes 13 million members June 2007

More than 800 people join the Mormon Church every day. With the fastest growth occurring in Africa and Asia, and the most growth coming in North and South America and the Philippines. How interesting that more members live outside of the United States and Canada than live inside. Does anybody recognize where Mr. Ballard is?

I find it amazing to be part of a Church that shares a purpose across the world.

International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in Salt Lake City

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) held their meeting in Salt Lake City in order to use The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints family history library. I thought this was a wise decision as the attendees were able to go to seminars, but also able to use the family history library to do research. I find it heartening that Jews and Mormons were able to work together.

Mormon Prophet Gordon B Hinckley Dies at Age 97

I got a call about 9:30 PM EST from a friend of the family saying President Hinckley had passed away. About 10:00 PM EST the ksl news posted the story and at 10:56 PM EST, CNN posted the breaking news. President Gordon B Hinckley passed away at 9 PM EST surround by his family in his Salt Lake City apartment.

President Hinckley served as the Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since March 12, 1995. He oversaw the growth of the Church from around 9 million to 13 million members. He also expanded Mormon Temple building around the world. In addition to over 3,000 chapels, President Hinckley oversaw the tripling of Mormon Temples.

His legacy includes the following gospel principles:
  • Fellowship new converts,
  • Befriend members of other faiths,
  • Perpetual Education Fund,
  • Live exemplary lives, and
  • Avoid the evils of the world.
My favorite is his constant reminders to be a little kinder. This video gives just a glimpse about his life.

Trust in God

Throughout the ages there have been so many different ideas on the nature and existence of God as well as the role and teachings of Jesus Christ. With so many different ideas leading to so many different religions and teachings throughout the world, I find great comfort in know that God can reveal to me through the Holy Ghost that which is just and true, right or wrong, light or darkness.

The Mountain of the Lord

The Mountain of the Lord
By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet

Throughout history, there has been a deep and abiding desire in the human family to seek for the presence of God. There seems to be an internal drive to worship God in almost all of the people who have lived upon the earth. Many religious faiths have incorporated the top of mountains as Holy Places. In the History of Israel, Mountain tops have been very important, as when Moses received the Ten Commandments from God directly, upon the top of a mountain.

There is a hill in Jerusalem called the temple mount. There is a great deal of turmoil in our world over the ownership and control of this hill. As we read from the Old Testament we find that the record indicates the existence of more than one sanctioned temple at a time. In addition to the preceding truth, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe, there was a branch of the House of Israel that was led by the hand of the Lord to the American Continent. These people also built temples after the pattern of Solomon’s Temple. Thus, God always accepted the existence and functionality of more that one temple at a time and intended that there should be temples available throughout the earth. Many modern-day Jews believe that there are not currently any temples upon the earth recognized by God. These Jewish worshipers also believe that the only location upon which a temple can be built is where the Dome of the Rock stands today (A Muslim place of Worship). These conflicting systems of belief have resulted in struggle and turmoil for many years.

There is a record that was written by the descendents of the house of Joseph, (One of the sons of Israel) on the American Continent. This record is called the Book of Mormon. In this Book of Scripture, we are taught that the Book of Mormon would be used with the Bible, “unto the confounding (of) false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace... and bringing (us) to the knowledge of (our) fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.” This ancient record serves as the testimony of a second Nation that Jesus is the Christ. This record was translated by the gift and power of God through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Using the Prophet Joseph Smith as a modern-day Prophet, God restored his fullness of Doctrine, Covenants, and Priesthood Authority upon the Earth. When the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth in these latter-days the Lord also commanded that temples again be built. The Authority to administer Ordinances in the house of the Lord is found once again upon the earth, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In our time, once again, the mountain of the Lord’s House has been established and all of the people of the world are invited to prepare themselves to enter the Modern-day temples (There are now over 100) that have been built throughout the earth. These temples have been built under the direction of Modern-day Prophets in the LDS Church. The invitation to come to these houses of prayer and learn how to enter the presence of God, is one that is extended to all the people of the world. This message from the Lord, through the restoration of the fullness of his Gospel, can bring peace, joy, and happiness to every child of God.

Faith, Hope, and The Love of God - Motivator and Harmonizer

I heard somewhere that Faith, Hope, and the Love of God can make a life more enjoyable. While some discount faith right off the bat by saying, "How can you have faith in something you have never seen?" I suppose it depends on your definition of faith. Does it really make sense to say "I believe that something is there; although, I have never seen the something there"? Perhaps faith can be defined as more than "blind belief"?

I propose a bold definition of faith
Around 1250 AD, faith was defined as the "duty of fulfilling one's trust". Could faith not also be defined as a "principle of action"? As one has faith, or in other words fulfills the duty to one's trusts, the individual is propelled forward in action. I think faith then is a motivator. And faith in Jesus Christ represents a motivation to become more like him: kind, thoughtful, gentle, peaceful, and confident.

Hope now enters the mind
With the principle of action represented, or in other words, faith in Jesus Christ as a fine example to follow. I believe one may now hope for better things. Suppose one did not have faith in Christ and instead placed their faith in money, what would be the consequence? If the principle of action is faith in money, then the individual would be motivated to make financial gain, and hope for better monetarily purchased things - clothes, cars, houses. With faith in Christ, the individual is motivated to make self improvements and to hope that such changes will be made permanent. My favorite definition of hope is "to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence". With Jesus as an example of what to look forward to, the modern Christian then has a pattern for love, kindness, respect, confidence, and friendship.

Charity - The Pure Love of Christ
Once one recognizes faith in Christ as a principle of action, develops the forward looking hope of becoming a little more Christ-like, then the individual is ready to both receive and give the pure love of Christ. Charity, not just alms giving, becomes an attitude. A way of viewing and treating those around us just, fair, and right. This ability to view and temper our responses provides the individual's spirit the opportunity to receive joy. I think of this using a small parable I wrote.

A small river running down from the mountains was needed by a man to provide water for his family and farm. Recognizing the high stakes, the man felt motivated to bring together his resources and build a dam to provide for his family. Having never built a dam before, the man researched until at last he found a book written by a man long ago. After reading the book and making some drawings, the man looked forward to his project with desire and confidence that he could harness the water. Feeling his motivation empower him and with his confidence assured, the man built the dam. Able now to harness the water, the man recognized his unique position brought about by the example of the builder that went before and left his message in a book. The man felt greater humility and a stronger connection to earth. His thoughts turned to the good that had come to him, he felt pleased with his work, thankful for his learning, stronger from his motivation, and joyful at what had been accomplished for him and his family. Perhaps this is what Faith, Hope, and Charity can do for you and me.

Brigham Young Interviewed by New York Tribune

I found a reference to this article about Horace Greeley who interviewed Brigham Young for the New York Tribune, I wonder if the New York Tribune is related to the New York Times? Greeley's article was published in Harper's Weekly September 1859.

During 1859, the the US government was trying to decide what borders the Territory of Utah whould ecompass. The map shows the territory that Brigham Young and the Mormons continued to petition as the State of Deseret. In Greeley's article, he wrote the following.

"Let the Mormons have the territory to themselves - it is worth very little to others, but reduce its area by cutting off Carson Valley on the one side, an dmaking a Rocky Mountain territory on the other side, and then let them go on their way rejoicing. I believe this is not onlly by far the cheapest but the safest and best mode of deeling with the difficuluties already developed and daily developing here."

It's kind of refreshing to see that Mormon's were hospitable to many that crossed their paths, even when the people didn't agree with them.

Here is the full article:

SALT LAKE CITY 14 February 2008 In his homes in New York, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, Joseph Smith often entertained visitors, those he invited and others passing through town. In fact, he built a hotel in Nauvoo, Illinois, to accommodate the frequent guests who called upon him and other leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The geographic locations differed for Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, but the extension of hospitality continued as the members of the Church settled in the West. In fact, one early guest, Horace M. Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, called on President Young in 1859. Greeley, traveling through the western regions of the country on a crusade to encourage settlement of the vast spaces, stopped in the recently established Salt Lake City. Greeley recorded his impressions in a September 1859 issue of Harper’s Weekly magazine.

“We were cordially welcomed at the door by the President, who led us into the second-story parlor in the largest of his houses,” Greeley explained. The editor then interviewed Young and other Church leaders about the “doctrines and policy of the Mormon Church.”
Other notable people visited Salt Lake City during the early years of the Church.

The rousing marches of composer John Philip Sousa likely inspired toe tapping in an 1896 concert at the Tabernacle on Temple Square. Renowned speaker and author Helen Keller and aviator Charles Lindbergh also appeared in the landmark building based in the heart of the city.
Greeley’s recorded visit and those of many other guests reflect the warmth and welcoming attitude displayed by Church leaders and members alike. Visits to Church sites, such as the Temple Square complex, rank high on the itineraries of tourists and travelers to Salt Lake City.

At no time in their histories did Utah and, by association, the Church garner more worldwide attention than during the 2002 Winter Olympics, when thousands of athletes, media and spectators descended on the city. Historian Jan Shipps of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis recently told National Public Radio that the Olympics showcased Mormons as “gracious host[s] … friendly and welcoming.”

Millions of visitors, famous or not so famous, annually tread the manicured grounds of Temple Square, the site of not only the architecturally significant Tabernacle but also the granite-walled temple that has become a symbol synonymous with the Church itself.

Folks arrive at Temple Square and the surrounding sites of the Church headquarters — the Conference Center, Family History Library, Museum of Church History and Art, Joseph Smith Memorial Building or even the Church Office Building — as visitors on family or personal vacation treks, as business people on a break from conventions or other meetings, as leisurely wanderers or as notable or invited guests.

Upon arriving at Temple Square, guests are greeted by young women from all parts of the world serving as full-time missionaries for the Church. These young missionaries are supported by a group of nearly 1,300 part-time volunteers — couples or individuals who, with the young missionaries, give brief tours and explain Church history and beliefs to interested visitors. Volunteers invested nearly 240,000 hours in their 2007 hosting assignments on Temple Square.

In 2007 an estimated five million people stopped to explore Temple Square, one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the state. Records indicate visitors represented every state in the United States as well as 83 different countries of the world.

A Baptist couple from Cyprus described their visit as a “spectacular stop on their world tour,” while Georgian Orthodox guests from the Republic of Georgia observed, “Your church is not just a building but a way of life and an example to others.”

Among other guests were a group of Asian ministers of many faiths from California, all wearing bright red shirts bearing the message “marriage — one man and one woman.” The group, traveling to a national meeting in Washington, D.C., stopped in Salt Lake City because they “knew many people here feel the same way we do.”

Previous exposure to Church teachings and practices often influences government, business and religious leaders of many countries to carefully examine such teachings in a Salt Lake City stopover.

On a recent visit from New Jersey, a group of Hindu swamis inquired about Church methods of teaching young people. These religious leaders of another faith expressed concerns about the youngsters of their own belief system and invited help from Church leaders. The swamis discussed the various types of teaching materials employed by the Church in classroom and missionary training and also investigated printing and distribution operations in the everyday business management of the Church.

Such visits sometimes occur after community leaders in other countries or states encounter the local Mormons as neighborhood volunteers, participating in vital area service or humanitarian projects.

The First Ladies of Peru and Paraguay, for example, visited Salt Lake City to tour humanitarian and welfare facilities of the Church. Both represented their respective countries as ambassadors of appreciation for the supplies and services distributed in their homelands.

Whether guests arrive on Temple Square with titles and pedigrees or not, the enthusiastic and dedicated guides who serve as full- and part-time missionaries show the traditional hospitality that has existed in the Church since the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

Article about Danzig

Fallout from debate over gays leads musician to leave LDS Church
By Peggy Fletcher Stack

To read the response from the Church follow this link.

ROSE PARK -- Peter Danzig did not set out to be a Mormon activist. The gentle musician spent his life serving the church he loved. He went on a mission, married in the temple, composed pieces for Mormon pageants, and taught hymns to children. He and his wife, Mary, also a returned missionary, were raising their three daughters in Levan, but driving to Salt Lake City each week to play in the LDS Orchestra at Temple Square - he on viola, she, the violin. Both believed their music was their gift to God. Danzig said nothing in 1993 when church officials charged six well-known Mormon scholars and intellectuals with apostasy for their writings or speeches about LDS issues. He kept quiet when Brigham Young University fired history professor Steven Epperson, a member of Danzig's Mormon congregation, for serving the homeless rather than attending church. But in 2006, Danzig finally felt compelled to protest. BYU adjunct professor Jeffrey Nielsen lost his job for arguing in a The Salt Lake Tribune column that the LDS Church was wrong to oppose gay marriage and to enlist Mormon support for a constitutional amendment against it. The dismissal appalled Danzig, who had explored the questions of homosexuality while pursuing a graduate degree in clinical social work. "I wish to express to Jeffery Nielson that I admire his courage and that I stand with him," Danzig wrote in a letter The Tribune published on June 14, 2006. "I was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ." What happened next is disheartening to many who believe the church should allow its members to express divergent political and personal views. While others wrote letters in support of
Nielsen without facing discipline, Danzig endured months of grueling attacks on his motives and membership. "There is room in the [LDS] Church for honest disagreement regarding church positions," LDS Spokesman Scott Trotter said. "Disagreement on doctrine only becomes an issue when a church member acts in open opposition to the church or its leaders." Deciding when a person is in "open opposition" varies among Mormon bishops and stake presidents. Clearly, someone at the top thought Danzig had crossed that line. In his Tribune letter, Danzig mentioned he played in the orchestra, which is open to Mormons in good standing. He wanted to make it clear he was not a church opponent. Within a week, LDS officials contacted Danzig with concerns about the letter. They suspended him from the orchestra and for the next year, he and, ultimately his wife, defended their loyalty, faith and actions. No amount of persuasion or pleading could convince these ecclesiastical leaders they meant well.
Ultimately, the Danzigs moved out of their Levan house and, in December, resigned their membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather than face excommunication. "Part of the reason for writing the letter was to find out if there was room for personal conscience in this church. I was very hopeful," Peter Danzig said. "But now I know there is none. This has been a painful journey for me." Set in motion: It began with a call from Michael Watson, secretary to the church's governing First Presidency, to Barry Anderson, orchestra administrator, and Mac Christensen, president of the Tabernacle Choir, which is associated with the orchestra. Danzig said Anderson told him Watson wondered whether "an enemy had infiltrated the orchestra." Eventually, the Danzigs' bishop and stake president in Levan got involved. All of the leaders declined to comment or offer any written accounts of their actions. "Communications of this nature between church leaders and members are considered confidential," Trotter said. Danzig wrote an outline of his version of events and sent it to several of the leaders, offering to correct anything they thought was inaccurate. He received no reply from the orchestra or choir reps, but local leaders said if he published any part of his outline, they would hold a disciplinary hearing. "In hindsight I could have used some different language, but what I wrote expressed the feelings of my heart," he said. "I have seen the church abuse too many, including my family, without anyone daring to speak out. It is important to me that the silence about this abuse end." Initially, Mary Danzig thought it was all a big misunderstanding. But soon, her own devotion to the church came into question. She, too, felt unwelcome in the orchestra. Her parents wrote letters to church authorities, begging for an audience or at least some understanding. They were unsuccessful. "I felt like my world had come crashing down when Peter told me he might be excommunicated," said Mary Danzig, at the time a member of the Primary Presidency in her ward. "What would happen to my family in the eternities, in our community, in our extended family? I found myself coming completely unglued every Sunday. I spent a great deal of time hiding in the bathroom crying with my little girls." Shifting approaches: Between June 2006 and December 2007, the LDS Church came out with several statements acknowledging homosexuality may be inborn and difficult to change, even with much effort and prayer. It was exactly the position Danzig had been defending. Many committed Mormons, including philosophers, psychologists and some politicians, disagree with the church on the Federal Marriage Amendment, said Nielsen, who now teaches at Utah Valley State College and Westminster College. Several members wrote letters to The Tribune defending Nielsen and sharing his view. He is unaware of disciplinary action taken against any of those letter writers. Nielsen could no longer teach "gospel doctrine" in adult Sunday school and has not been called to any other position in his Orem ward, but has suffered no other ecclesiastical consequences. Bill Bradshaw, a recently retired BYU professor of microbiology, has given several public addresses about the science of homosexuality, detailing published evidence that argues strongly for a biological origin. He is also the chairman, with his wife, Marge Bradshaw, of Family Fellowship, a support group for the LDS families with gay and lesbian children. After a relative complained to their bishop, the man invited the Bradshaws in for a discussion. "Our bishop responded very favorably to the conversation," Bradshaw said. "He was very sympathetic." Bradshaw doesn't entirely blame the Mormon leaders for what happened to the Danzigs. Human interactions like this are too complicated. But he does feel an overwhelming sadness. "Now I can't sit in church next to Peter and Mary and their kids and I can't sit next to gay members of the church, whom they were defending," Bradshaw said. "The bottom line is I don't have the fellowship of loving people and that's a hurt for me."

African Americans and the Mormon Church: 10 Brief Points

A Senior Political News Analyst at MSNBC went on a rant on December 7th, 2007 during the taping of the McLaughlin Group report. What makes his rant so interesting? It was about Mormons. He was borderline hysterical at times, interrupting others and shouting. Even as he angrily accused Mormons of being racist, his pejorative treatment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was similar to the vehemence of racism itself.

The following points are made concerning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

1. In 1832, just two years after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized, Elijah Abel became the first black man baptized as a member. He served in the Quorum of Seventy the third highest governing body.

2. Jane Manning James, a wonderful black woman, and her eight family members were baptized into the Church. They crossed the plains in 1843 as pioneers to join the Mormons in the Salt Lake Valley. She is quoted as saying, "I am Mormon and I will always be Mormon."

3. Blacks joined the Church across the world and were baptized as members. It is true they were not allowed to hold the Priesthood until the marvelous revelation given to Spencer W. Kimball and announced June 8, 1978, a day celebrated by Mormons.

4. While other religions had segregated congregations (one for whites and another for blacks), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has always had combined meetings for which they were condemned by other religions.

5. Black members of the Church have held callings since 1832 including Relief Society President, Sunday School President and Instructors, to name a few.

6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was driven out of Missouri partially because the population knew the Mormons were against slavery. In fact, many of their neighbors thought the Mormons were abolitionists intent on starting a slave revolt.

7. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church, ran for President of the United States because the government failed to protect freedom of religion. Part of his presidential platform was against slavery, and for the freedom of blacks.

8. Unlike most churches who only allow a few select individuals to hold the priesthood, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, today, allows every worthy male member, 12 years old and older, to hold the priesthood. How many in your church do?

9. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has always taught little children who die before the age of accountability are automatically saved by the grace of God and will live with him in heaven - race has nothing to do with it.

10. When Jesus came in the New Testament, he restricted his teaching, with some exceptions, to the Jews. It was not until Paul that the gospel was taught with authority to the gentiles. In Moses day as found in the Old Testament, the priesthood was restricted to the Levites and the High Priest was specifically a descendant of Aaron. I don't claim to know why the restrictions occurred, but just like every other religion in America the Mormons have had their struggle with race.

Interesting history, no matter how you look at it. Some claim blessings, others claim convenience - what else is new?
This is an interesting site.

Why do Mormons wear "magic underwear"?

I can't help but laugh about this every time someone asks me about "magic underwear". I personally have never asked anyone about their under garments, even Hanes commercials have shown the awkwardness of discussing underwear, remember when Cuba Gooding Jr shouts to Michael Jordan "I'm wearing your underwear". Let's keep this discussion civil.

Anyway, let's clear up two things: First, Mormons do not believe their underwear is "magic". However, they do believe their under garments serve as a reminder of their personal commitment to God, and it should be noted that remembering the love of God has saved many a person from harm, danger, or error. Second, Mormons do not call them "underwear" but they call them "garments".

Is there any indication that clothing serves as a reminder of God?

Numbers 15: 37 - 41 gives an indication as to why the children of Israel wore some types of clothing.

Numbers 15:37-41
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel,
and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments
throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.

The analogy I like to use is a watch. Every morning thousands of people awake in the morning and in their routine put on a wrist watch. For me, my watch provides me with a reminder of the time, although I admit I did have one of those cool calculator watches back in the day. With a simple glance at my watch I can tell whether I am late, early or on time for a meeting. I can see how much time I have before lunch or how many hours to go before I head home. The watch serves as a reminder of the movement of the sun, which we recognize as the time of day or night. The wrist watch is a useful part of my wardrobe.

Following this line of thought, the Mormon garment becomes a daily reminder of the promises a Mormon has made to follow Gods commandments. Both Mormon men and women wear the garment "that [they] remember, and do all [God's] commandments, and be holy unto your God" (Numbers 15:40). For a practicing Mormon, the garment serves as a useful part of their wardrobe.

Read another great explanation at The Beehive.