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.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mormon-centric Utah epicenter for food storage


 
(by Brady Mccombs deseretnews.com 12-24-13)
 
Towering grain silos overlook the main highway in Salt Lake City at the Mormon church's Welfare Square. At grocery stores, there's a whole section with large plastic tubs with labels that read, "Deluxe survivor 700." Radio ads hawk long-term supplies of food with 25-year shelf lives.
 
And houses are equipped with special shelving for cans of beans, rice and wheat.

Storing away enough food and water in case of disaster, job loss or something worse is not just part of the fundamental teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it's an idea that is increasingly catching on nationwide. And it's also big business.

A large majority of food storage companies that do Internet sales are based in the state. Terms once used only by Mormons, such as 72-hour kit, are mainstream, as is the survivalist "preppers" philosophy that taps into the Mormon church's century-old teachings on the topic.

"The wisdom behind preparing is taught heavily in this population," said Paul Fulton, president of Ready Store, based in Draper, Utah, about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City. "They've led the way."

The Mormon emphasis on self-reliance dates back to the mid-1800s when food storage began as a pragmatic way to ensure survival as church members trekked across the country to Salt Lake City, said Matthew Bowman, assistant professor of religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

Church leaders gave everyone lists of what to bring, and then stockpiled food at storehouses as towns were settled.

By the mid-1900s, church leaders worried about nuclear war were using more apocalyptic rhetoric in encouraging food storage. During the Cold War, church members were encouraged to have a two-year supply, Bowman said.

In the last two decades, the focus on food storage has shifted back to practicality.

"A lot of times we are thinking in terms of food storage that we are preparing for this major calamity or major disaster or for Armageddon," said Rick Foster, manager of North America Humanitarian Services with the LDS church. "It's not about that.

"It's about helping all of us individually to get through these bumps that occur in our lives," he said.
If members are prepared, they can help themselves and others in times of need, Foster said. When a water main broke in his neighborhood, Foster's family was able to provide drinking water from their supply to a neighbor who needed water to make formula for her baby.

The church has a massive warehouse near the airport in Salt Lake City where shelves are stacked tall with boxes of food it uses to stock 143 grocery store-like storehouses it runs across the Americas to provide food to members in need.

Foster said the church tries to keep a six-month supply of food for each of the storehouses, a practice that helped it weather the recession when donations dwindled and need spiked. The church sends food from here or one of their smaller regional warehouses to help domestic disaster victims.

While food storage has long been a core Mormons belief, the church has had to modernize.

The church operates 101 food storage centers where it sells large cans and bags of oats, wheat, sugar, potato flakes and beans, and it recently announced a series of changes at these locations in the U.S. and Canada to ensure that food preparation and packaging is safer.

With more stringent guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration about how foods are handled and distributed, the church is now pre-packaging the foods at all but 12 of the centers. Before, church members could go into the centers and pour the flour into bags, or scoop beans into cans.

Much of the food the church stores is homemade. The church owns farms, ranches and dairies and operates canneries. The peanut butter is made from a peanut farm the church owns in Texas. The apple sauce is made from apples at a church orchard in Idaho.

Chris Rutter and his family of six found their food stash vital after he lost his job in 2009 when his company made major layoffs during the economic downturn. It took Rutter two years to find full-time work again.

During that rough patch, they relied on savings and leaned heavily on the stored food. Rutter's wife, Jodi, made homemade bread, soups and spaghetti sauces from her canned tomatoes, and made gallons of milk last longer by mixing them with powdered milk.

They still buy many of their supplies at their nearby storage center, including 50-pound bags of oats and large tins of chocolate milk powder, a family favorite. Jodi Rutter uses the oats, which have a shelf life of five years, to make her own granola, pancakes and cookies.

She also buys food in bulk at Costco, keeps an eye out for grocery store coupons and has a garden with tomatoes and zucchini and a peach tree.

"We honestly never felt like we were going without," she said about the period when her husband was unemployed. "We always felt so blessed to have enough to feed our kids."

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765644117/Mormon-centric-Utah-epicenter-for-food-storage.html?pg=1
 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

LDS Philadelphia Temple picking up attention in the news


(by Abby Stevens deseretnews.com 11-26-13)

In addition to Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Comcast Center and the Philadelphia City Hall, The City of Brotherly Love has a new building under construction that is gaining attention: the LDS Philadelphia Temple.

On Nov. 25, Philly.com ran an article about the unique requirements workers agreed to in constructing the temple, which is owned and will be operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“To the union workers toiling away on-site, the 60,000-square-foot project is vastly different from any they've undertaken before,” wrote Alex Wigglesworth in her article for Philly.com.

The rules construction workers uphold include no smoking, coffee or swearing. Meetings with foremen and project managers begin with prayer, though the prayer sessions are optional, according to the article.

Working on the temple are Alex and Pamela Carr of Salt Lake City. Alex is the LDS Church project manager over the Philadelphia Temple, and Pamela is serving as a full-time service missionary.

Thanks to some extra efforts of Brother and Sister Carr, the temple construction workers have a special treat to look forward to on Wednesdays.

“Every Wednesday, he and his wife bake 100 cookies — homemade cookies — and they deliver them to the construction workers,” Corinne Dougherty, LDS director of public affairs for the Philadelphia region, said in the article. “The construction workers say, 'It's cookie Wednesday! It's cookie Wednesday!' They love it.”

Among their other duties, Brother and Sister Carr help people in Philadelphia understand the purpose of temples from a construction trailer on the site’s parking lot, which is serving as a temporary visitors center.

The Philly.com article also mentioned a teaching opportunity Brother and Sister Carr created when construction workers discovered granite 30 feet under the temple’s site.

“Many people would see the (granite) development as a setback — it took about six months to chip through — but Alex Carr saw it as a teaching moment,” Wigglesworth wrote in the article. “It brought to his mind a scripture passage in which Christ said a wise man builds his house on rock so it’s not toppled by winds and rains.

“Each day the granite was exposed, Carr climbed down into the pit and returned with bucketfuls of rocks. He began giving them away to visiting youth groups and missionaries as a visual reminder of the importance of building one’s life on firm footing — the rock, of course, serving as an analogy for faith.”

The Philadelphia Temple is on track for a 2016 completion. It will be four stories high and have a Colonial feel to it, with rugs (instead of carpet) and wood, according to the article. The temple will serve around 35,000 members in the area who currently travel to the Manhattan or Washington temples.

“That, while seemingly in distance isn't very far in time to get there, in commitment and so forth, it becomes a struggle for families,” Elder Robert Smith said in the article. “So Philadelphia was chosen as a natural place to have us build a temple, and we are excited about it.”

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http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865591375/LDS-Philadelphia-Temple-picking-up-attention-in-the-news.html
To the union workers toiling away on-site, the 60,000 square foot project is vastly different from any they've undertaken before.
At the time of the ground-breaking, Mayor Michael Nutter hailed the project at 18th and Vine Streets for its projected infusion of millions of dollars into the local economy, as well as the 300 construction jobs it would create.
Church officials contend the worship site is much-needed to serve the Philadelphia area’s estimated 35,000 parishioners. The closest area temples are in Manhattan and just outside of Washington, D.C.
“That, while seemingly in distance isn't very far in time to get there, in commitment and so forth, it becomes a struggle for families,” said Elder Robert Smith, the highest-ranking church official in northeastern North America. “So Philadelphia was chosen as a natural place to have us build a temple, and we are excited about it.”
He said after the temple plans were announced in 2008, it took church officials between six and eight months to find the right property to build on. They then went forward with the purchase and planning of the project.
“We have found that the city council, the planning department, the Logan Square Association and the surrounding neighbors have all been very supportive about it,” Smith said, noting Nutter has also been a strong champion. “It's been a great experience, and I think everyone feels like the addition of this building in the city will add to the value of the city in terms of beauty and architecture, and will be a beautiful piece of land when it's finally finished.”
Though Philadelphia has plenty of experience handling large construction projects, when it comes to building sacred spaces, local building officials must bow to church leadership headquartered in Salt Lake City. The international LDS temple department is responsible for both commissioning and funding the project, as well as drawing up contractor agreements that contain some unusual requirements.
"There's no smoking or coffee drinking, and, obviously, no booze or anything like that on the site, at all," said Pat Gillespie, business representative for the Philadelphia Building Trades Council.
Workers must go to a break area across the street if they want a fix of caffeine or nicotine.
“The reason is because it's holy ground,” said Steffanie Anderson, assistant regional director of LDS public affairs. “We dedicated it a couple years ago.”
Smith said the church considers the rising temple “a sacred edifice” being built on a site consecrated for its use.
“We had a ground-breaking and a special prayer that made that happen, and we believe that we need to treat it with the same respect we would with one of our churches,” he said. “And so we've asked our contractors to follow similar things as we expect on all of our private property.”
The temple’s building contracts also give hiring preference to union-affiliated Mormon workers in the Philadelphia region. But none could be found, aside from one carpenter who may join the team when his skills are needed during the project’s later stages.
As is custom for LDS temple construction, each meeting with foremen and project managers at the Philadelphia site begins with a review of the day's assignments and prayer — all under the watchful eyes of specially-appointed temple minders, who are always on-site to keep vigil over the proceedings.
"They're very precise and attentive to the process," Gillespie said, though he asserted any kind of prayer sessions are purely optional.
Brother and Sister Carr’s ‘cookies!’
Alex and Pamela Carr moved from Utah and will remain in Philadelphia until the temple’s construction is complete. Alex, with his plaid shirt and rolled-up sleeves, shock of white hair and piercing blue eyes, draws more than a passing resemblance to Paul Newman. When speaking, he easily lapses into folksy sermons, moving from pleasantries to parables and back again. He can rattle off at length endless facts about the tenets and customs of his faith — and bake a mean cookie.
“Every Wednesday, he and his wife bake 100 cookies — homemade cookies — and they deliver them to the construction workers,” said Corinne Dougherty, LDS director of public affairs for the Philadelphia region. “The construction workers say, 'It's cookie Wednesday! It's cookie Wednesday!' They love it.”
Located in the site’s parking lot, the visitor’s center is appointed with large poster boards depicting renderings of the temple and stacks of leaflets and literature about the LDS faith. Visitors are encouraged to take a pamphlet, a handful of candy from several glass bowls or a chunk of rock.
Yes, rock.
That’s another symbolic aspect of the construction. When workers dug about halfway down into the 30-foot pit that will serve as the temple’s underground parking garage, they hit granite. Many people would see the development as a setback — it took about six months to chip through — but Alex Carr saw it as a teaching moment. It brought to his mind a scripture passage in which Christ said a wise man builds his house on rock so it’s not toppled by winds and rains.
Each day the granite was exposed, Carr climbed down into the pit and returned with bucketfuls of rocks. He began giving them away to visiting youth groups and missionaries as a visual reminder of the importance of building one’s life on firm footing — the rock, of course, serving as an analogy for faith. He’s amassed an estimated 2,000 pieces of granite but expects he’ll soon run out: demand has been high.
Soon, Carr plans to hold weekly Monday morning “job prayers” over the site, its workers and building materials. Though all of the project’s 100 workers are invited, attendance will be optional. He’s not sure anyone will show up, but he feels the temple's construction is just as special as the worship services that will eventually take place inside the finished temple.
‘Cleanest construction site he’s ever seen’
Smith pointed to the ritualistic regulations as evidence of the Mormons’ precision and pride, tenets he indicated have spread to the lay workers on site.
“In a recent meeting with Mayor Nutter, he made the comment that we have the cleanest construction site he's ever seen in the city,” Smith said. “We sweep the sidewalks and the roadways. The fencing is beautiful. It doesn't have graffiti on it, and it's reflective of the effort that the workers are putting into it. The workers have a certain pride about the project, so they feel it's special as well. The experience we've had is that they feel a special spirit about the property and about the construction.”
He said the church is using top-notch building materials and enforcing safety rules and site inspections “to the highest standards.” For example, church officials looked at thousands of types of granite for the temple’s edifice before settling on one sourced from an island off the coast of Maine and shipped down from Quebec.
“We spend a lot of money per square foot to make that happen, and it's worth it because we'll have a building that will be in the city for not just decades but, we hope, centuries,” Smith said. He acknowledged the meticulous standards are likely to push the project’s budget over its initial $70 million estimate, though he was unable to say by how much. “We're going to do our best to control the costs, but not at the expense of cheapening the project.”
Construction is “right on schedule” for a 2016 completion, according to Anderson.
In August, the majority of concrete was poured for the substructure and two levels of underground parking are nearing completion. Workers are hoping to begin steel work in January on the temple, which will rise four stories above ground, or about 75 feet above the sidewalk. The exterior walls are slated to begin to rise next summer.
“It will be four stories of meeting rooms and worship centers ... not a big, cavernous cathedral-type building, as maybe the outside presence would lead you to believe,” Smith said. “It will be a beautiful structure once it's done.”
The building’s tallest of two spires - the east spire - has been meticulously measured so to be level with the tops of the adjacent Free Library of Philadelphia and family court buildings. The spire will be topped by a statue of the angel Moroni.  The inside of the temple will have a Colonial feel riffing off Independence Hall, with rugs instead of carpeting and wood that’s painted - never stained.
Despite some of the more unusual requirements the project entails, Gillespie said he's not aware any of the practices are deterring workers from signing on.
"I don't want to make it seem like it's a peculiar job,” he said. “It's a job with some unique requirements, but we're happy to accommodate. The construction workers are versatile and they can adapt. This is what the customer wants, it's a sound request and they're paying the bill. It's going to be a beautiful, beautiful building. This is phenomenal for the city."

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Construction_of_Phillys_Mormon_Temple_without_caffeine_smoking_swearing.html#h6EvpsYEjitIAt3i.99
It's been two years since ground was broken in Center City on a massive Mormon temple and visitors' center, and it might just be one of the more remarkable construction sites in recent city history.
Let’s just say the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) goes by its own rules — not those typically found in local union handbooks. And it makes sure those rules are enforced.
No smoking. No coffee. No swearing.
Praying optional — but encouraged.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Construction_of_Phillys_Mormon_Temple_without_caffeine_smoking_swearing.html#h6EvpsYEjitIAt3i.99
It's been two years since ground was broken in Center City on a massive Mormon temple and visitors' center, and it might just be one of the more remarkable construction sites in recent city history.
Let’s just say the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) goes by its own rules — not those typically found in local union handbooks. And it makes sure those rules are enforced.
No smoking. No coffee. No swearing.
Praying optional — but encouraged.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Construction_of_Phillys_Mormon_Temple_without_caffeine_smoking_swearing.html#h6EvpsYEjitIAt3i.99
It's been two years since ground was broken in Center City on a massive Mormon temple and visitors' center, and it might just be one of the more remarkable construction sites in recent city history.
Let’s just say the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) goes by its own rules — not those typically found in local union handbooks. And it makes sure those rules are enforced.
No smoking. No coffee. No swearing.
Praying optional — but encouraged.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Construction_of_Phillys_Mormon_Temple_without_caffeine_smoking_swearing.html#h6EvpsYEjitIAt3i.99
It's been two years since ground was broken in Center City on a massive Mormon temple and visitors' center, and it might just be one of the more remarkable construction sites in recent city history.
Let’s just say the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) goes by its own rules — not those typically found in local union handbooks. And it makes sure those rules are enforced.
No smoking. No coffee. No swearing.
Praying optional — but encouraged.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Construction_of_Phillys_Mormon_Temple_without_caffeine_smoking_swearing.html#h6EvpsYEjitIAt3i.99