Posts Tagged ‘Mormon faith’

Latter-day Saints Singles Wards – Perfecting the Saints

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Why does there appear to be a vast number of 20-somethings who are leaving religious institutions of all faiths? Christian author Naomi Schaefer Riley addresses this important question in her new book Got Religion? She answers the question from an optimistic viewpoint as she discusses ways some religious communities are actively engaged in helping to make sure that number of 20-somethings who are exiting remains at a minimum.

How Religious Communities Can Help Perfect the Saints

Jana Riess in her Religion News Service (RNS) article dated 18 July 2014 points out that Riley cites three important key elements that the most successful religious communities incorporate in order to help retain their number of 20-somethings:

  • They provide stability during a period of transience. .
  • They give them important things to do to make the religious community work.
  • They help them form spiritual habits to last a lifetime.

Mormon Single WardsAn entire chapter in Riley’s book is devoted to discussing how Mormon singles wards are providing crucial help in all three of these areas. The following guidelines as set forth in section 16 of Handbook 2: Administering the Church (instructions for leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) which is titled “Single Members” supports what she says in the chapter:

Men and women who have not married or who are divorced or widowed make up a significant portion of Church membership. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders reach out to these members and include them in the work of the Church. Worthy single members should be given opportunities to hold leadership and teaching positions, including positions in Elders Quorum presidencies, High Priests Group leaderships, and auxiliary presidencies.

Leaders support single members by helping them draw near to the Lord, strengthen their testimonies, and take responsibility for their own spiritual, social, and temporal well-being.

In ministering to single members, leaders seek to strengthen family life, not compete with it or detract from it. They teach and testify of the importance of marriage and parenthood. Even when young single adults are not living with their parents, Church leaders encourage them to honor and nourish their relationships with their parents. Leaders also support single parents in their efforts to teach and nurture their children.

Important Questions That Warrant an Answer

In a follow-up conversation with author Naomi Schaefer Riley, Riess was able to ask some pointed questions regarding the mass exodus that religious institutions of many faiths are currently experiencing. She specifically focused on the chapter in Riley’s book about Mormon singles wards and asked questions about Mormon dating and marriage, leadership opportunities, and the pros and cons of the singles ward system. What follows are a few of those questions and answers.

Question: How has the overall trend toward later marriage affected Mormons in their 20s and 30s?

It looks like the Mormon age of marriage is starting to creep up as well.

During the 1990s, the General Social Survey found an average age of Mormon first marriage of 21.6. In a survey I conducted in 2010 for my book on interfaith marriage, it was up to 23.

This age may not seem high yet, but if the Mormon population follows the trend of the rest of the American population (albeit at a slower pace), it could have a significant effect on rates of religious observance and retention across generational lines. In that survey I found also found the later the age of marriage the more likely people were to marry someone of a different religion.

Young Single Adult LeadershipQuestion: You make the point that religions that don’t provide leadership opportunities to young adults are doomed. The success stories are religious traditions that are enlisting 20-somethings into service. How does Mormonism fit into that?

As we are living longer, healthier lives, some church members start to get a little territorial, staying in the same volunteer position for years or even decades. Young adults who show up often feel as if their presence is superfluous.

This is one of the things that really impressed me about Young Single Adult wards. The LDS church was willing to say to 20-somethings, “Even though your parents may treat you like children because you’re not married, not done with school, don’t have full-time employment, etc., we, the church, are going to treat you like grownups — putting you in charge of collecting tithes, religious education and a variety of other important functions.”

The church came to what I think is the correct conclusion — if you treat 20-somethings like adults, they will act like adults.

Question: You talk about the poignant transition when YSAs age out, Logan’s Run style, after age 30. What are the pros and cons of such a system?

I think the pros are that these young people are able to take more responsibility and that the services and messages of religious leaders can be more closely tailored to their needs.

I think the cons are that the ward itself has a very transitional feel. People are constantly moving in and out. Whether they age out or get married, it can feel very impermanent. Which is how a lot of 20-somethings feel already. Every time you force a young adult to make a transition, you risk losing him or her and so adding another step to this process can be risky.

Riley also praised the multi-generational experience that Young Single Adults (YSA) get in The Church of Jesus Christ. She notes that such an experience helps to keep them grounded and helps them to realize that the world does not revolve around them and their needs alone. She also notes that this has been a recurring problem with such Christian programs as Campus Crusade. She further commented, “I think the Mormon Church avoids some of the problems that could come with an YSA arrangement because many of the young people are still living close to large extended families. So they get the multi-generational experience outside of church.”

Where Two or Three are gathered – The LDS Church in Hong Kong

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) realize the importance of meeting together to worship the Lord. They also realize that worship is not restricted to Sunday, although that is the usual day of worship in most parts of the world, but they are admonished to not forsake the “assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The Savior Himself taught, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). And so, there are some places in the world where Church services may be conducted more frequently.

The Church of Jesus Christ in Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong China Mormon TempleIn Hong Kong, Church meetings are held every day of the week in order to accommodate the domestic helpers who only get one day a week off, and that day may vary from week to week.

Melissa Inouye of the University of Hong Kong stated that there is a missionary couple specifically called to conduct daily church meetings for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for whoever comes. Inouye also made mention of the fact that the missionary couple’s Preparation Day (P-day) is actually on Sunday.

Bridging the Differences between Schedules and Cultures

Hong Kong China District Humanitarian AidOn 27 March 2014, in Berkeley, California, in her presentation at the Global Crossroads: Mormonism and Asia in the Twenty-First Century Conference, Staci Ford, also of the University of Hong Kong, discussed the “Gathering and Grafting in the Hong Kong International District” in greater detail.

In introducing the voice of a domestic helper by the name of Marissa Carino Estipona, Ford commented, “With over 1,000 domestic helpers, our district is the most gender imbalanced of its type in the church. We are a predominantly matriarchal society at church.” Estipona recalled being asked by a woman in Church if the long hours that she worked as a domestic helper away from her family in order to support and sustain them was worth it, and replying that everything was worth it for the sake of her family.

During her presentation Ford also quoted Benjamin Tai, the International Hong Kong District Leader, as saying,

In my view, the purpose of church boundaries is not to cause grief, heartache and headache for members of those in leadership callings. I am just very glad that anyone is willing to come and spend three-plus hours of his or her day off with us. My only desire is to make sure that for those that come, we are organized appropriately so that they can get the most out of their time and that spiritual growth is fostered.

 

Mormons Are Still Going to Church–Why?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Religion is falling out of vogue. We’ve all heard it. Though people may identify with Christianity on a census form, in reality they are not  particularly interested in religion anymore. People don’t attend church with regularity. But, what about  Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)? They still attend Church services on a regular basis.

Why? And how does The Church of Jesus Christ manage to grow and stay strong in a world that continually diminishes the importance and role of religion? The answer is simple: Mormons keep the message of the gospel at the forefront of their lives.

Doctrine Never Changes

mormon-jesus-christ4The message of The Church of Jesus Christ is simple: Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and when we commit ourselves to Him, we find lasting peace, qualify for saving ordinances, and will eventually live with God and our families forever. The core doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ remain constant, and if there is a change in church operations or policy, it comes directly from general church leadership. (more…)

A Mormon Apostle Speaks at Harvard

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Speaks at Harvard Law SchoolThe Mormon Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland spoke on March 20, 2012 to students of the Harvard University Law School as part of the school’s annual “Mormonism 101″ series. Elder Holland (Mormon leaders are traditionally addressed by the title, “Elder”) explained about the history and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are often called “Mormons.” He then engaged in a question-and-answer session with members of the audience. Elder Holland’s remarks helped shed some light on the Church, which has received a lot of media attention lately due to the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Elder Holland began his remarks by congratulating the students on their openness to discussions of religious belief. “In the western world religion has historically been the basis of civil society as we have known it, and if I am not mistaken, men and women of the law are committed to the best—that is, the most just—civil society possible,” Elder Holland pointed out. “So thank you for taking religion seriously. You will not only be better attorneys but you will be closer to the truth in your own personal lives.” (more…)