Throughout my many travels I'm frequently asked by persons who don't know much about Mormons, Are Mormons Christians? With a smile I always give the same answer, "Yes we are, very much so."

Mormons quite often are referred to as Latter-Day Saint Christians due to the official name of the church which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But it's more than just a name, Latter-Day Saints strive daily to live the life of Christ and abide by his teachings and those of his apostles.

The Bible tells us the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:26) The word Christian means “a follower of Christ" but the word disciple means “student” or “pupil.” Hence a true Christian is not someone who simply says they believe in Christ but rather someone who ardently follows and studies the Savior their entire lives. Mormons do exactly that, therefore we are very much Christian in the truest sense of the word.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Two Minutes in Jail

written by Willard Richards
published in the Nauvoo Neighbor, July 24th, 1844


Carthage, June 27th 1844.

A shower of musket balls were thrown up the stairway against the door of the prison in the second story, followed by many rapid footsteps. While Generals Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Mr. Taylor, and myself, who were in the front chamber, closed the door of our room, against the entry at the head of the stairs, and placed ourselves against it, there being no lock on the door and no ketch that was useable. The door is a common panel, and as soon as we heard the feet at the stairs head, a ball want sent through the door, which passed between us, and showed that our enemies were desperadoes, and we much change our position. Gen. Joseph Smith, Mr. Taylor, and myself sprang back to the front part of the room, and Gen. Hyrum Smith retreated two thirds across the chamber directly in front of and facing the door. A ball was sent through the door which hit Hyrum on the side of his nose when he fell backwards extended at length without moving his feet. From the holes in his vest, (the day was warm and no one had their coats on but myself,) pantaloons, drawers and shirt, it appears evident that a ball must have been thrown from without, through the window, which entered his back on the right side and passing through lodged against his watch which was in his right vest pocket completely pulverizing the crystal and face, tearing off the hands and mashing the whole body of the watch, at the same instant the ball from the door entered his nose. As he struck the floor he exclaimed emphatically; "I'm a dead man." Joseph looked towards him, and responded, "O dear! Brother Hyrum;" and opening the door two or three inches with his left hand, discharged one barrel of a six shooter (Pistol) at random in the entry from whence a ball grazed Hyrum's breast, and entering his throat, passed into his head, while other muskets were aimed a him, and some balls hit him. Joseph continued snapping his revolver, round the casing of the door into the space as before, three barrels of which missed fire, while Mr. Taylor with a walking stick stood by his side and knocked down the bayonets and muskets, which were constantly discharging through the door way, while I stood by him, ready to lend assistance, with another stick, but could not come within striking distance, without going directly before the muzzle of the guns. When the revolver failed, we had no more fire arms, and expecting an immediate rush of the mob, and the door way full of muskets—halfway in the room, and no hope but instant death from within: Mr. Taylor rushed into the window, which is some fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. When his body was nearly on a balance, a ball from the door within entered his leg, and a ball from without struck his watch, a patent lever, in his vest pocket, near the left breast, and smashed it in "pie," leaving the hands standing 5 o'clock, 16 minutes, and 26 seconds, —the force of which ball threw him back on the floor, and he rolled under the bed which stood by his side, where he lay motionless, the mob from the door continuing to fire upon him, cutting away a piece of flesh from his left hip as large as a man's hand, and were hindered only by my knocking down their muzzles with a stick; while they continued to reach their guns into the room, probably left handed, and aimed their discharge so far around as almost to reach us in the corner of the room to where we retreated and dodged, and then I re-commenced the attack with my stick again, Joseph attempted as the last resort, to leap the same window from whence Mr. Taylor fell, when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward exclaiming, "O Lord my God!" As his feet went out the window my head went in, the balls whistling all around. He fell on his left side a dead man. At this instant the cry was raised, "He's leaped the window," and the mob on the stairs and in the entry ran out. I withdrew from the window, thinking it of no use to leap out on a hundred bayonets, then around Gen. Smith's body. Not satisfied with this I again reached my head out of the window and watched some seconds, to see if there were any signs of life, regardless of my own, determined to see the end of him I loved; being fully satisfied, that he was dead, with a hundred men near the body and more coming round the corner of the jail, and expecting a return to our room I rushed towards the prison door, at the head of the stairs, and through the entry from whence the firing had proceeded, o learn if the doors into the prison were open. When near the entry, Mr. Taylor called out "take me;" I pressed my way till I found all doors unbarred, returning instantly caught Mr. Taylor under my arm, and rushed by the stairs into the dungeon, or inner prison, stretched him on the floor and covered him with a bed in such a manner as not likely to be perceive, expecting an immediate return of the mob. I said to Mr. Taylor this is a hard case to lay you on the floor, but if your wounds are not fatal I want you to live to tell the story. I expected to be shot the next moment, and stood before the door awaiting the onset.




(photos and text borrowed from woodlandinstitute.com)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Millions shall know Brother Joseph again

(by Daniel Peterson deseretnews.com 6-27-13)

Our cynical era is skeptical of “great men.” And we have reason. We’ve learned about the complexities of human psychology, and, perhaps more importantly, we’ve seen too many hypocritical preachers, abusive priests, corrupt politicians and adulterous advocates of family values. An old Anglo-French saying captures the attitude well: “No man,” it says, “is a hero to his valet.” Seen up close, in other words, nobody is truly great or heroic.

This cultural inclination provides a fertile field for the literally thousands of critics who’ve been determined to expose Joseph Smith as either madman or knave or both. Even some Latter-day Saints today are slightly embarrassed by him. “He was a deeply flawed man,” they’ll say, “but God used him despite that.”

Such believers, I’m convinced, concede much more than they should.

Of course Joseph Smith was flawed. Only Jesus wasn’t. But not deeply. He was a good man; we have no cause to be embarrassed by him. According to his own 1838 account, after his first vision he “was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God.” But two following sentences are vitally relevant: “In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature.”

What were his offenses? “I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament” (JS-H 1:28).

After years of study, I’m convinced that Joseph’s self-assessment was substantially accurate.

“I honor and revere the name of Joseph Smith,” said Brigham Young, who worked very closely with him. “I delight to hear it; I love it. I love his doctrine. I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up. I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth. I am his witness.”

Consider, too, the song lyrics penned by W.W. Phelps, who had also known Joseph very well through good times and bad:

Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.
Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.
Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame.
Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.
Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know “Brother Joseph” again.

Mark McConkie’s 2003 book “Remembering Joseph,” which includes a CD-ROM containing more than 2,000 pages of material, offers one excellent way to do so. It expands upon “They Knew the Prophet,” by Hyrum and Helen Mae Andrus, a still-available 1972 collection of personal accounts from more than 100 of Joseph Smith’s contemporaries. Moreover, the continuing publication of his personal papers offers a clear window into the Prophet’s soul; his sincerity and goodness are evident on virtually every page.

The angel Moroni told Joseph “that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues” (JS-H 1:33). Against all odds, this obscure and uneducated young man — who was murdered by a mob nearly 17 decades ago today — is indeed known worldwide, which suggests that the other part of Moroni’s statement is likely also true: God did indeed call him to the work.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865582259/Millions-shall-know-Brother-Joseph-again.html?pg=1

Rebuilt Nauvoo Temple

(deseretnews.com 6-25-13)
 



Under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the cornerstones for the Nauvoo Temple were laid during a grand ceremony on April 6, 1841. The walls of the temple were only about half way up when Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. Brigham Young urged the Saints to keep working on the temple.

Though never fully finished, various parts of the temple were used by the Saints for a short time. This was the case with the temple font and third floor, in which nearly 5,600 people were endowed before Brigham Young and the Saints were driven from Nauvoo.

These images show the rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple and stone from the original temple, both loose and in the old Nauvoo jail, which is still standing.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765632852/Picturing-history-Rebuilt-Nauvoo-Temple.html

LDS Church responds to Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage

(deseretnews 6-26-13)

"By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates," LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson said. "Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

"In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

"Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three fourths of the states."

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765632897/LDS-Church-responds-to-Supreme-Court-decisions-on-gay-marriage.html

Monday, June 24, 2013

Who will be the next Prophet?

(by hedgehog ldsfreedomforums.com 1-26-11)

You know what I think some of you may like... Some years ago now I was thinking about this very thing and started looking up the dates of the ordinations of the 12 and thus made a list. Its dated now but I think that's even more interesting to see how things would have been different. Alternate futures so to speak. ie. President Tanner.

* President Boyd K. Packer - (ordained Apostle 1970) Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve since 1994
* Elder L. Tom Perry (ordained 1974)
* Elder Russell M. Nelson (1984)
* Elder Dallin H. Oaks (1984)
* Elder M. Russell Ballard (1985)
* Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1986)
* Elder Richard G. Scott (1988)
* Elder Robert D. Hales (1994)
* Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (1994)
* Elder Henry B. Eyring (1995)
* Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (2004)
* Elder David A. Bednar (2004)


-----------------------------------------------
Here is my even older list

# Howard W. Hunter (October 15, 1959) November 14, 1907
# Gordon B. Hinckley (October 5, 1961) June 23, 1910
# N. Eldon Tanner (October 11, 1962) 9 May 1898
# Thomas S. Monson (October 10, 1963) 21 August 1927
# Boyd K. Packer (April 9, 1970) 10 September 1924
# Marvin J. Ashton (December 2, 1971) 6 May 1915
# Bruce R. McConkie (October 12, 1972) 29 July 1915
# L. Tom Perry (April 11, 1974) August 5, 1922
# David B. Haight (January 8, 1976) September 2, 1906
# James E. Faust (October 1, 1978) July 21, 1920
# Neal A. Maxwell (July 23, 1981) 6 July 1926
# Russell M. Nelson (April 7, 1984)
# Dallin H. Oaks (May 3, 1984) August 12, 1932.
# M. Russell Ballard (October 10, 1985)
# Joseph B. Wirthlin (October 9, 1986) 8 October 1928
# Richard G. Scott (October 6, 1988) 7 November 1928
# Robert D. Hales (April 7, 1994) 24 August 1932
# Jeffrey R. Holland (June 23, 1994) 3 December 1940
# Henry B. Eyring (April 6, 1995) 31 May 1933
# Dieter F. Uchtdorf (October 7, 2004)
# David A. Bednar (October 7, 2004) 15 June 1952

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http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=15930

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Heber C. Kimball prophecy

After a while the Gentiles will gather by the thousands to this place, and Salt Lake City will be classed among the wicked cities of the world. A spirit of speculation and extravagance will take possession of the Saints, and the results will be financial bondage.
Persecution comes next and all true Latter-day Saints will be tested to the limit. Many will apostatize and others will be still not knowing what to do. Darkness will cover the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. The judgments of God will be poured out on the wicked to the extent that our Elders from far and near will be called home, or in other words the gospel will be taken from the Gentiles and later on carried to the Jews.
The western boundary of the State of Missouri will be swept so clean of its inhabitants that as President Young tells us, when you return to that place, there will not be left so much as a yellow dog to wag his tail.
Before that day comes, however, the Saints will be put to a test that will try the integrity of the best of them. The pressure will become so great that the more righteous among them will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes.
—Heber C. Kimball, First Counselor in the First Presidency, May 1868, in Deseret News, 23 May 1931; see also Conference Report, Oct. 1930, p. 58-59

Friday, June 14, 2013

What about those who have never heard?

(by Daniel Peterson deseretnews.com 6-13-13)

Years ago, accompanied by two friends, I had lunch with a conservative Protestant clergyman and his wife who were visiting from out of state. Personally friendly and pleasant, they were nonetheless outspoken critics of Mormonism who frankly considered its claims about God “blasphemous.”

Our conversation ranged over many topics, but, at one stage, it turned to the ultimate fate of the unevangelized, those who hadn’t heard the message of Christianity during their mortal lives. To make the question specific, I proposed the hypothetical case of a medieval Chinese peasant who, in the course of his lifetime, had never traveled more than perhaps 20 miles from his home and who had never so much as encountered the name of Jesus.

“He’s damned,” the clergyman said, flatly. Somewhat surprised by his decisive answer, I responded that such a fate seemed terribly unjust, since this Chinese peasant had never had a fair chance — actually, he’d had no chance at all — to hear the gospel. At this point, his wife, who had been silent for quite a while, spoke up. “Maybe God hates the Chinese,” she offered.

Shocked by her comment, I carefully examined her face for any sign of humor, any hint that this was just a very bad joke. But there was none. She was serious.

I think I remained calm, but I was pretty direct. The clergyman and his wife were strongly inclined toward Calvinism and had expressed uncertainty about whether even Roman Catholics are Christians, so I pointed out that their God seemed not only to hate the Chinese — not to mention Africans, residents of the pre-Columbian New World, and sinful, unredeemed humanity in general — but to be inordinately fond of the (historically Calvinist) Netherlands and Scotland.

“You say that my view of God is blasphemous,” I observed. “But your view of God seems to me infinitely worse. You believe that he created us out of nothing. He was under no obligation to create us, but freely chose to do so. Then, historically speaking, he put the overwhelming majority of us into situations where they could never possibly have accepted Christ. And, because those people haven’t accepted Christ, he intends to torture them forever. Forever. He could have given them another chance. Or, barring that, he could simply have snuffed them painlessly out of existence. But no, he keeps them alive eternally in order to punish them forever. Pointless torture. Not to teach them a lesson from which they’ll ever profit: They’ll never escape hell, not even billions of years after the slowest learners among them have mastered whatever lesson they needed to grasp.”

I could imagine worshiping such a being out of terror, I said, but I could never picture myself reverencing him out of love. Any earthly father who arbitrarily picked one of his children to inherit everything—and then beat the others mercilessly, incessantly, year after year—would be judged criminally insane. Whatever my own flaws as a father, I said, I would never treat my children that way. Nor would I happily worship a being morally inferior to myself.

“Maybe God’s justice is different than our justice,” proposed the clergyman. “Yes,” I said. “It sounds much more like our injustice.”

Now, I understand, since this is my account and the others can’t tell their side of the story, that some will suspect me of attributing all the good lines to myself while my conversation partners are left speechless with awe at my irrefutable reasoning. But I’ve tried to relate the exchange as it really happened. It impressed me deeply — and unfavorably. And the issue it raises represents a genuine problem for mainstream Christians.

A story is commonly related about an early eighth-century Frisian chieftain named Radbod, who very nearly accepted baptism into Christianity. Just before his baptism, he asked the Christian missionary who was to perform the rite where his dead forefathers were. “In hell, with all other unbelievers,” came the reply. At which Radbod decided that he would rather be damned with his ancestors in hell than to “dwell with the little starveling band of Christians in heaven.”

One of the very many aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I treasure is its belief in the vicarious redemption of the dead. Long before our shrinking world made the salvation of the unevangelized an acute problem for mainstream Christianity, Joseph Smith offered a fair and solid solution to it.

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865581566/What-about-those-who-have-never-heard.html?pg=1

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mormon History Association speaker: Brigham Young enigmatic, larger than life

(by Scott Lloyd deseretnews.com 6-9-13)

Brigham Young was an enigmatic, larger-than-life figure for many people, both in the past and present, a fact reflected in the varying reactions to his death on Aug. 29, 1877, at age 76.

The aftermath of his death was discussed by Ronald W. Walker, retired professor of history at Brigham Young University, at a Friday session of the 48th annual conference of the Mormon History Association at the Davis Conference Center in Layton.

Walker’s presentation was rich with quotations from diarists who knew the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and from newspaper accounts published at the time of his death.

But perhaps the most striking portion came near the end of the session, when a conference attendee asked the cause of the church president’s death.

"Food poisoning" was Walker’s response, contradicting some online sources such as Wikipedia that carry forward the belief President Young died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix.

Moreover, Walker believes that with more advanced expertise in diagnosis and treatment, President Young could have been nursed through the illness and lived on.

Historians have the advantage of a detailed day-by-day account of President Young’s symptoms leading up to his death, Walker said. He has shown this documentation to physicians, including an acquaintance who, having received the information just prior to an LDS sacrament meeting, came up with the diagnosis of food poisoning before the meeting had ended.

The man suggested a check to see if other members of President Young’s household experienced similar symptoms at the time of his illness. This Walker did and found that to be the case.

Prior to his death Brigham Young was in fairly robust health, Walker said.

He began to feel ill on a Friday evening, having met with bishops and exhorting them to do their home teaching (called "block teaching" in those days) and having spent time with some of his daughters discussing a possible lecture tour through the United States.

"That evening, he took violently ill, retching and vomiting, and within a week he was dead," Walker said.

"Brigham Young was a multiplicity of talent, policy, personality, image." he said. "Sometimes we try to find a common denominator and smooth those contradictions in his life; I’m not sure you can do that. Part of what I’m suggesting today is that this man is an enigma."

The contradictions were evident in the reactions to his death. Emmeline B. Wells, with her usual candor, wrote that it was "not so much mourned as one might imagine."

But other diarists wrote that his death left the church members feeling as though they were a sheep without a shepherd.

"Even some of the Indians felt heartbreak," Walker said. "They built signal fires 80 miles across the length of the Wasatch Front, which, of course, was their own kind of telegraph.

“ ‘All the Indians have lost a father, and their hearts cry,’ wrote an Indian leader in central Utah."

Not everyone grieved, Walker noted.

"The Salt Lake Tribune, an old opponent, could not resist a final thrust-and-parry" and said Young’s most graceful act had been his death.

"The Tribune’s terrible display of bad manners signaled that there would be no truce in its combat against Mormonism, even during this time of solemn bereavement."

Elsewhere, the vitriol was almost as strong. Walker cited a Massachusetts newspaper that wrote, "His friends have good reason to rejoice that he has escaped his hanging."

"Of course, not all newspapers were quite so fierce, but even admiration for Young usually came through clenched teeth," Walker said.

"As the nation’s newspapers puzzled about Young and his community, the Mormons continued with funeral arrangements," he noted. "Plaster molds were made of Young’s right hand and face, which seemed to preserve a slight smile, as if death had found him in peace."

A procession escorted his coffin to the newly completed Salt Lake Tabernacle about a city block away, Walker said. "The number in the procession was estimated at between 600 and a thousand, not much elbow room for a distance that was less than a city block."

During the procession, "gentle but copious tears fell from the sky; it was raining." Walker said. "It seemed that even the heavens were mourning."

During the 16 hours the body lay in state in the tabernacle, some 25,000 men, women and children passed by or stood about the grounds. "That would be about one out of every five people in the territory," Walker said.

"Some had walked long distances, literally. Others had arrived by horse or carriage, and still others traveled on specially arranged trains. The local railroad company borrowed cars from Union Pacific Railroad to meet the demand."

On the day of the funeral, every seat in the tabernacle was filled, "except for the prophet’s chair, a wooden hardback with what seemed to be a scepter of office extending from one armrest as if to proclaim ex cathedra," Walker said. On this day, "the chair was enrobed with folds of solemn drapery."

Four years earlier, President Young had left written instructions for his funeral, and he was so particular, he wanted the instructions read at the funeral to make sure they were followed, Walker said.

"His coffin, he said, should be made of plump 1½ inch redwood boards, ‘not scrimped in length, but 2 inches longer than I would measure and from 2 to 3 inches wider than is commonly made for a person of my breath and size and deep enough to place me on a little, comfortable cotton bed."

He wanted no black crepe on the men’s hats or coats and no specially bought black bonnets, dresses and veils for the women. His wives and daughters came to the funeral dressed in white.

One of the special visitors to Salt Lake City for the funeral was Thomas L. Kane, "perhaps Young’s best non-LDS friend" and a man who had been an influential benefactor of the Mormons at a time when they were in great need of his help.

Kane, who learned of the death by telegraph five minutes after it happened, was the first to be notified of it. On a family holiday, he felt his presence was necessary so he immediately departed for Salt Lake City. In Chicago, he was alerted by telegraph that Mormon leaders were waiting upon Kane before doing anything else.

"Continuing his train travel, he soon discovered that two Mormons had inconspicuously joined his car. They had been sent from Salt Lake City to protect him. It was at this point that he decided to no longer go incognito."

Kane visited some of President Young’s widows, including Mary Ann Angel Young.

"I have been with him for 44 years, during which my life has been enlarged by his life and the consciousness that every breath he drew was for the Lord and for the advancement of the Kingdom," she said. "I am comforted to think that he has withdrawn from the persecution that was in preparation for him."

Kane tried to comfort another of the widows, Amelia Folsom, who said "she had lost her prophet and her priest and her father and her baby."

"Those were telling nouns," Walker remarked.

At the gravesite on the hill above Salt Lake City, Kane encountered William C. Staines, who often served as confidential courier between Kane and President Young.

Kane penned these words in his diary: "It was not in either of us."

"These cryptic and unclear words may have had something to do with their respective disabilities or perhaps their suppressed emotions, or perhaps Kane was saying something about Brigham Young himself. Kane and Staines had known Young for decades. but there still remained a riddle. No one, then or now, knew just what to make of this man, even those who had been the closest."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Honors Wisconsin Pioneers Who Harvested Lumber to Build Historic Nauvoo

(mormontabernaclechoir.org)

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will make a special stop on its Upper Midwest Tour on 19 June to honor the Mormon pioneer loggers whose remarkable labor built Nauvoo, Illinois, a city central to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A commemorative historical marker paid for and donated by the members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be erected at the Trail of Honor Park in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, near the mills where Latter-day Saints harvested over one and a half a million board feet of lumber and then floated it down the Black River to Nauvoo 400 miles away. In recognition of the pioneers’ hard work and ingenuity, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform specially prepared musical numbers for members of the community.

“The sacrifices of these logging pioneers are not well known, even among Church members” says Choir president Ron Jarrett. “We wanted to honor these unsung heroes by singing their praises.” The special dedication will come near the end of a 10-day tour by the all-volunteer Choir, which they undertake every other year to share their love of music and to bring peace and joy into the lives of their listeners.

Black River Falls Mayor Ron Danielson will conduct the recognition event, which will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the Trail of Honor Park. It will include remarks from Elder Craig Cardon, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, one of the Church’s governing councils, in remembrance of the hundreds of pioneers whose unselfish labor provided shelter for thousands and in the process built character, integrity and strength.

Between 1839 and 1846, under the leadership of Church president Joseph Smith, Nauvoo grew from a humble town with one stone house and a few poorly constructed cabins to a metropolitan city rivaling the population of Chicago. During that period of rapid growth, Latter-day Saints built over 2,500 homes and numerous other business establishments like stores and mills. The most ambitious architectural projects were the Nauvoo House, a large hotel, and the Nauvoo Temple, the Mormons’ place of worship.

The decision to build both the Nauvoo House and the Nauvoo Temple simultaneously dramatically increased the need for lumber, which was scant in Nauvoo. Reports reached Church leaders that inexpensive, quality lumber could be obtained in Wisconsin, and the decision was made to establish sawmills there.
A small work party of 32 pioneers traveled to Wisconsin in September 1841, and within the next four years some 200 Church members were working the mills and camps. They ultimately operated four different mills and maintained six logging camps to supply the mills.

The work was difficult and the conditions harsh. The first season, before gardens were established, loggers’ diets sometimes consisted of only salt pork, flour and potatoes, augmented occasionally with game, fish, nuts and berries.

Between 1841 and 1845, Latter-day Saints harvested an estimated one and a half million board feet of milled lumber, over two hundred thousand shingles, and an inestimable number of loose logs, hewed timber and barn boards. The short, straight and relatively mellow Black River floated a dozen lumber-laden rafts 400 miles to Nauvoo.

Church members in Neillsville and surrounding areas have kept their forebears’ memories alive for over a century. “They came here to honor God,” says Mary Jurgaitis, a Latter-day Saint who lives a half a block from an early Mormon logging site. “I like to imagine the loggers’ satisfaction at the moment they came around the last bend in the Mississippi and the Nauvoo Temple was brought into their view,” she says.

 “What a thrill that must have been for them.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Who says Mormons aren't Christians?

(by Dean Obeidallah cnn.com 10-12-11)

The Rev. Robert Jeffress, a leading evangelical minister, claimed last Friday that Mormons are not Christians. Jeffress went on to declare that Mormonism is "a cult," meaning it's not a "real" religion, and he implored his followers to reject Mitt Romney, a Mormon, as a candidate for president because as Jeffress sees it: "As Christians, we have the duty to prefer and select Christians as our leaders."

Jeffress is infamous for his past "Christian" comments such as: Jews, gays, Muslims and Mormons are all going to hell; Islam encourages pedophilia; and that gays should be banned from the military because 70% of the gay population has AIDS.

At the time of Jeffress' comments about Mormons, I happened to be in Utah, the state with the largest percentage of Mormons in the nation. I'm not Mormon, meaning I'm not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And prior to this trip, I had met only a few members of the LDS Church.

I was in Salt Lake City because I'm performing as part of a stand-up comedy tour called "The Muslims Are Coming," featuring American-Muslim comedians performing free comedy shows across the country as a way, we hope, to counter misinformation and build bridges with our fellow Americans.

There we were -- Muslims and Mormons -- bonding on some level because we were both the subject of attacks from people on the far right. Earlier in this presidential campaign it was our time, with Herman Cain essentially arguing for discrimination against American Muslims simply because of our faith. Now the voices of hate had turned their focus to Mormons.

Over the last four days I have spent a great deal of time with members of the LDS Church. I'm not saying that I'm an expert on their teachings and, to be honest, I had some apprehension about Mormons because the LDS Church had publicly funded opposition to marriage equality in California, which I disagree with because I oppose discrimination against any American.

But I can now say without hesitation that the LDS Church members we met represented the best of Christianity. They were truly caring and compassionate people.

And perhaps it's overly simplistic to define an entire religion by the few hundred we met, but let's be honest: many define religions, races and ethnicities by a few of their worst examples. I prefer instead to define minority groups by their best examples.

While it probably doesn't matter to a person like Jeffress, the LDS members we met proudly consider themselves Christians. After all, the full name of their religion is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." If your religion has the words "Jesus Christ" in its name, it's kind of a tip off that Christ's teachings are important to you.

In contrast to the hate spewed by Jeffress, we found that the Mormons we met truly represent the Christian ideal of loving your neighbor. One of the best examples we found of a true Christian was Andrew Kosorok, a proud member of the LDS Church and a talented glassmaker who created an awe-inspiring glass exhibit called "99 Most Beautiful Names: A Sculptural Presentation of the Names of God from the Quran." Kosorok had sacrificed hundreds of hours of time from his family and friends and spent more than $7,000 of his own money to create this exhibit.

Why did Kosorok do this? Because he believed that fostering understanding and countering negative misconceptions about another faith -- in this case Islam -- was part of his duty as a Christian.

This passage from the New Testament is often cited as one that articulates Jesus' philosophy: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

In comparing the hate-filled language of Jeffress with the words and good deeds of the Mormons we met, it is clear to me who is best following the teachings of Jesus Christ and truly deserves to be called a Christian.

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see also https://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/the-church/what-is-a-christian/