Written by Michael Fones
Monday, 28 January 2008 07:35
Sherry and I missed our connection from Salt Lake City to Colorado Springs last night, and may spend most of the day here until we're able to catch a flight back to Colorado.
It's a significant time to be in Salt Lake City. Last night Gordon Hinckley, the president of the LDS church died. I imagine the airport will become more crowded as Mormons come to Salt Lake to pay their respects and perhaps attend his funeral.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) claims a worldwide membership of 13 million people, but fewer than half of them actually live in the United States.
Thirty-six percent of church members reside in Latin America and 17 percent outside of the Western Hemisphere. A significant LDS community exists in Canada.
Mormons recognize Jesus Christ as the head of their church, but they accuse the leading Christian denominations of a Great Apostasy, or loss of the original authority to lead the Christian movement.
In its formative years, the church and its members were subjected to intense religious persecution, which caused many members to flee to the interior West and settle in what is now the US state of Utah.
The church encourages its young members to serve for up to two years on full-time proselytizing missions around the world.
As a result, nearly 53,000 Mormon missionaries are working currently in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and other parts of the planet.
In addition, more than 3,500 special church envoys work worldwide as health care specialists, teachers, construction supervisors, agricultural experts and leadership trainers.
The LDS president is considered a prophet through whom God gives ongoing revelation. Last week I had a long conversation with a Mormon young man on a flight from a workshop. He explained that the Mormons believe the early Church erred in not choosing more apostles to replace the twelve as they died or were martyred. He wasn't convinced that the Catholic bishops continue the ministry of the apostles.
You may know that many fervent young Mormon men (and now some women) leave their homes at the age of 19 for a two year mission assignment (made by the president/apostle) somewhere in the world. This is a tremendous commitment to evangelization, for sure!