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Hi I'm Mark

I am a convert to Mormonism!

About Me

My wife and I have three grown children and we are pleased to be participants in our local branch of the Church. I am a Computer Programmer, looking to go back to school and get training to match the job market. In the mean time I post articles and recipes to my blog and use social networking and email to keep contact with friends and relatives. (Look at the "Follow Me On:" blog button on my profile here.)

Why I am a Mormon

I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of a spiritual experience. When I was seven years old my younger brother died. I prayed and prayed that he could be brought back to life. I knew Bible stories of how God's prophets and apostles had raised people from the dead. I also knew the Easter story. So I asked God to bring back my brother. I asked Him why there were no more prophets or apostles anymore. I got no answer at that time except peace. One day, ten years later, I saw a copy of the Book of Mormon for the first time. I saw on its cover a picture of the statue of the angel, Moroni, with a trumpet to his lips, proclaiming the return of the Gospel in its fullness. In that moment, my mind was returned to those many nights as a child I had prayed about apostles and prophets, and the still, small voice of God said, "This is what you are looking for." I have had many special experiences since then, but this first one is the anchor of my membership and of my trust that God answers prayers. Because God speaks to each of us, you can get this kind of witness for yourself. And like me you can know that this is what you are looking for.

How I live my faith

Currently, I have a responsibility, once a month, of leading spiritual discussions amongst a group of men my own age. They are a mix of new members and long-time participants who share their thoughts on the life of Christ and the teachings of the prophets. I like that we study from the scriptures and liken them to our own lives. Rather than a strict "what would Jesus do?" It is more like "learn to be like Jesus so that we automatically do what he would do."

What are some things that tell to you there is a God?

Mark
Many look at worldly troubles and say that there is no God. But I have discovered that God's existence is not proved by His interventions. Rather, by experimentation, I see His hand in all things. And when I acknowledge His hand, I begin to see His influence, to the good, in everything. I look back down the road of my life, and I see tragedies that have nudged me in the direction of discovering this Church. And I have begun to see that tragedies in this life truly have no lasting consequences because the power of God corrects all problems and dries all tears. The atonement of Jesus Christ reverses this life's tragedies and they endure "but a small moment." My brother died when he was five years old and I was seven. At the time, the loss of my best friend was devastating. I prayed to understand why God would take him. I also prayed to ask God to bring him back to us. I asked why there were no more prophets and apostles who had power to raise the dead. After a year of crying myself to sleep and crying to God to get my way, as children do, the initial response was peace and a forgetting. Fully ten years went by, and I came across a copy of the Book of Mormon. As I looked at its cover, with a golden angel having a trumpet to his lips, I heard the whisper of the Spirit of God say, "This is the thing you have been looking for." I now know that what seemed like a tragedy was nothing to my brother, who lives on, who will be given back his body and a chance to grow up. I know that I will see him again and that all the "bad" things that have happened in my life have turned to my benefit. There is no greater evidence of God than the answer to an earnest prayer. As long as I saw this life as the beginning and the end of our existence, I saw my tragedies loom large. But I now know we existed before this life, that we came here as part of a test, and that we will be reunited with all those who have left it, whether too soon, in our view, or not. May God grant you the peace that says, "The answer is coming." And may you be rewarded for all your waiting with answers that fill the your own cup to overflowing. Show more Show less

Can husband and wife be together forever? Do you believe that families will live together in heaven?

Mark
This is more than just instinct. We are indeed eternal beings whose origin is before the creation of the earth. And one of the things we come to earth to do is to find a companion, not only for this mortal existence, but for eternity as well. God has provided the place, the Temple of the Lord, and the authority, the power to seal things on earth and in heaven. So that eternal relationships can be established here and enjoyed after this life is done. Do I believe it? I feel certain that these principles are true. The Holy Ghost confirms that to my spirit. Show more Show less

Why is authority to perform a baptism important?

Mark
The answer rests with the importance of baptism itself. If baptism is merely a symbol of a personal commitment to God then anyone can help a person be immersed in water as part of that commitment. But baptism is in fact an ordinance that is provided by God to remember the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. And this ordinance is administered by someone authorized by Jesus Christ to represent God in the forming of the baptismal covenant. In the covenant of baptism we make promises to God while He makes promises to us. We promise to become members of the body of Christ, His Church, to seek out the naked, the imprisoned, the poor, whether physically or spiritually, and to give them succor. We promise to always remember Jesus Christ and His example, to keep His commandments which He has given us, and to take upon ourselves His name. As part of the covenant, Jesus Christ, in return, promises that we will become His sons and His daughters, that He will send His Spirit to always be with us to teach us His ways, and that His sacrifice for the sins of all mankind will apply to our sins so that we may return to the Father, cleansed from all sin and mistakes. Only someone authorized by Jesus Christ to stand in His stead and make this covenant can administer the ordinance of baptism. And since baptism is the gate through which we enter the Kingdom of God, it is effectively Christ who stands at the gate to welcome us in. Show more Show less

What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' attitude regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage?

Mark
Same-sex attraction is not sin. But to act on it is. God's plan for happiness has, as its final outcome, the creation of a great network of relationships that focus on married men and women who have connections with their children throughout eternity. Traditional marriage parallels this future relationship and was created by God to introduce the concept to His mortal children. To counterfeit this relationship is to mislead people into thinking that all personal relationships are of equal value in the eyes of God; this is not a philosophy based in scripture. The Church is sympathetic with people who have this affliction, but does not condone sexual relationships of any kind outside of the marriage of a man and a woman. Show more Show less

What are Mormon church services like? Are visitors allowed at church meetings? Can I attend church?

Mark
Visitors are definitely welcome. And you may attend without any further commitments. I have compiled a list of things to make you feel at home during the worship service. Meeting format: Church services consist of a three hour block of time, but only one hour is used for the worship service. Because the arrangement of meetings is done to minimize travel and time consumed on Sundays, the other two hours are tightly packed with meetings where members of the congregation are divided according to age and sometimes gender so that the interests of each group are addressed while the Gospel is taught in a kind of Sunday School-like setting. What to wear: If you are planning to come to our meetings you should know that we try to wear, "Sunday best" clothing or at least the nicest clothes we have that are clean and modest. Our jewelry and makeup use is simple. Head covering for women is not required. Hats for either gender are generally not worn inside the building. Although we do not wear crosses as a symbol of Christ, no one would be offended or ask you to remove one. Reverence: In the worship service, families sit together. If there are small children it is not always possible for a parent to take a momentarily noisy child out of the chapel. We try to be understanding and helpful when possible. Verbal communication before services should be at a normal tone and whispered during the meeting. When a cell phone must be on, we try to silence it promptly. (Doctors, Firemen, etc. need to be on call, and this is understood.) Congregational Participation: Prayers are spoken by one person while the congregation remains seated. And the only words spoken by the congregation are an "amen" at the end. Because prayers are not repeated aloud there are no books of prayers necessary. Although we have people get up to preach or to sing to the congregation; applause is very rare (once in my forty years). With a sermon or "talk", or when "bearing testimony", the person speaking may invoke the name of Jesus Christ at the end of his or her remarks. It is tradition to respond to her or his "amen" with one from the congregation. In the worship service, hymns are sung before prayers. Many hymns have tunes which are familiar to people of other faiths, but words will tend to be unique. Most congregations have hymn books that carry words and music. Administration of the Sacrament: Lastly, the worship service contains the administration of the emblems of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is the reason for the meeting, and all other things done during the meeting are secondary in nature. During this time a greater personal focus on reverence and the meaning of the sacramental prayers is expected. Holders of the Aaronic Priesthood offer the prayers over bread and water as emblems of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. These are distributed, in turn, to each member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the congregation. Because it is symbolic of a renewal of the commitment made at baptism into the Church, it is most appropriate to simply pass along the tray without partaking of the bread or the water. Show more Show less

Do you really believe there is a prophet like Moses alive today?

Mark
As a matter of fact, yes. I believe that God spoke to Moses and all the other prophets. And I believe that He is an unchangeable God. Therefor there is no reason to suppose that He should not continue to speak. The Holy Ghost whispers directly to me that the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's mouthpiece today. In the last 40 years I have watched his predecessors receive the responsibility of that office. And I have witnessed, once again, the transformation that happens when the power of Love envelops the man of God. Every year I raise my hand to sustain him as a prophet, seer, and revelator because I am blessed with the witness of the Holy Ghost that it is true. Show more Show less

What are Mormon women like? Do Mormons believe in equality of men and women?

Mark
Mormon women are kind and caring, which seems to be the inclination of most all women. In addition they are interested in the salvation of their families. That interest includes a strong desire to be married for time and all eternity to the man of their choice. This is at the heart of having a family that believes in Jesus Christ, that learns about Him in the home as well as at church. And Mormon women teach. They teach each other. They teach their children. They encourage their husbands to take the lead in family matters. This is what my wife has chosen to do in our family. She teaches me by her example of humility, patience, and loving kindness. And she sends me out into the world to do the same. Are men and women equal? In the sense that each has value in the eyes of God, absolutely and completely. The ultimate reward in the hereafter is reserved for men and women who have committed their lives to each other and to the Lord. Do men and women see things the same way? No. Are women stronger than men physically? No. And yet, a pattern has been provided where we can grow together and strengthen one another. We persuade one another to greater things, both spiritually and temporally. Although the roles of men and women are different, we are blessed to be complementary companions, one to another, on a journey which leads us to return Home to where God is. Show more Show less

Why don’t Mormons have paid clergy?

Mark
We believe that no man can be saved in ignorance of that which saves him. In other words each person must seek out God for himself, understand His will, and choose to conform himself to it. To create a separate group of people who are keepers of the understanding of God's ways is to keep the body of the membership in ignorance. Each of us must pray for himself, study for himself, and choose to take upon himself the name of Jesus Christ. Piety and purity is not just for clergy, but for every true Christian. Therefor we take it upon ourselves to teach each other from the scriptures, guided by the whispering of the Holy Spirit which comes to each member individually. Reliance upon the Spirit is the key to how it can be done. Show more Show less

What blessings can we receive through the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Mark
The Holy Ghost has several roles in our lives. He is a testator; He confirms the truth. He bears witness of the Father and the Son and their roles in our lives. His influence causes us to be trained in making good choices. His whisper guides us in times of confusion or danger. He is the messenger of peace when we are troubled or grief stricken. His voice is like a rod of iron to guide us along the path to the Tree of Life. Show more Show less

Is it true that Jesus appeared in North America after his crucifixion and resurrection according to the Book of Mormon?

Mark
This is the main purpose of the Book of Mormon-- to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the God of all the earth. He is no respecter of persons, and in likewise fashion He is no respecter of nations. The Book of Mormon record indicates that the ancient American Christians that Jesus visited were only some of His other sheep mentioned in the passage in John 10:16. While He was with the American believers He taught them that they were a group of His sheep which would hear His voice. These received His message of the Sermon on the Mount for themselves. And they were witnesses of other teachings of equal importance. The Savior also explained that He had still other sheep that were neither in America nor at Jerusalem and that He intended to visit and teach them personally also. We don't yet know who these others were, but we have a witness in the Book of Mormon that God loves all of His children. That message is equally demonstrated by the coming forth, in modern times, of the Book of Mormon. And its existence is a testimony that Jesus Christ is the God of Israel and the God of the whole world and that He has laid down his life and taken it up again to complete the Father's great plan of happiness for all of His children. Show more Show less

Why do some call Mormonism a cult?

Mark
The word cult comes from the word occult, meaning hidden or unknown. Use of the word 'cult' to describe a church gives the impression that knowing anything about it is undesirable. In an effort to prevent others from finding out more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some have called it a cult. This, however, is your opportunity to understand for yourself so that nothing is hidden or unknown. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe concerning the doctrine of grace?

Mark
Grace is defined by some as the love of God, His mercy, etc. but these are manifestations of His Grace. The atonement of Jesus Christ is the foundation for all of these. In the final analysis we are saved from the effects of the fall of man (physical death and a separation from God called spiritual death) through the atonement. But some of those effects are reversed for us without having to do anything, while other effects are conquered because we are willing to enter into covenants with God. First, all mankind is subject to death, and the atonement of Christ accomplishes the resurrection of all men. Second, man is also subject to the consequences of sin, and those who enter into a covenant with Christ become His sons and daughters and pledge to keep his commandments. These are protected from sin because the atonement, the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins, makes it so that mercy can be applied to our situations, based on our faithfulness to the promises made at baptism. Even subsequent sins can be forgiven through repentance and a return to the original promises. Third, a child who has not reached an age where he/she knows right from wrong is covered by the Grace of Christ without the need of a covenant. This age of knowing is set at 8 years old by revelation to a modern prophet, and it is the responsibility of the parents to teach her/him the significance of being baptized in order to make the promises that come with the covenant. Some children never reach a maturity where they are accountable to God for their actions. And they are covered, the same as are small children, by His Grace without need of baptism. All of these things constitute being saved. 1) In the first case mentioned, all mankind will be saved from physical death.. 2) In the second case, only those who believe in Christ and are baptized are saved from the separation with God that we have all experienced. 3) In the third case only little children, i.e. the innocent, are saved and return to God as innocent as they left. But the overuse of the term "saved," without clarification, has confused some discussions of Grace and of how God's plan provides for all of His sons and daughters. The most important thing to say is that without the Savior there would be no Grace; He is the rock upon which our salvations are all founded. Show more Show less

What is the Book of Mormon?

Mark
Although the Book of Mormon is a book of scripture like the Bible, it is not a replacement for the Bible. Instead, God has brought forth an additional volume of witnesses of His love for mankind. It demonstrates that God sends prophets to every nation to testify of Jesus Christ, and those prophets who lived in ancient America wrote their scriptures for the benefit of their people and also for all those to whom God would choose to reveal them. One of the last of the ancient American prophets was named Mormon, and God commanded Mormon to make a "best of" book out of the many things that his people wrote down. These were stories that were passed down and preserved by the hand of God to establish further witnesses that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior. Jesus mentions these ancient Americans in John 10:16 saying, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold." These are some of those sheep he promised to bring together by a personal visit. And after His Resurrection the Savior did visit the Americas as witnessed by Book of Mormon prophets, predecessors of Mormon, who saw the nail prints in His hands and feet and felt the wound in His side and testified that He was the one that was promised to come. Great things are in store for the person who searches out the additional witnesses of Jesus Christ contained in the Book of Mormon. Show more Show less

To what do you attribute the growth of the Church?

Mark
The Church has always experienced growth in fits and starts as large groups of people with similar experience and interests suddenly become aware of its doctrines and teachings. Early instructions from the first prophet of this new dispensation of the Gospel indicated that documenting the Church's history would be important because "... there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it." And it is our responsibility to seek out such people. It is up to the Spirit of God to guide us to them and to touch them in a way that they are awakened to the existence of such a marvelous work. Show more Show less

Why do you have 12 Apostles? They were just meant to be around for the time of Jesus Christ, not to be replaced with new apostles.

Mark
The principle of a perpetuating body of twelve special witnesses of Christ comes in ancient times from the fact that the eleven survivors of the death of the Savior chose a twelfth to replace Judas Iscariot (see Acts of the Apostles 1:15-26) Two were considered worthy to take his place, but only one was chosen. When the apostles cast their lots, the inspired choice fell upon Matthias. In modern times, the Church's organization has been one of gradual building. As the needs of the Church have continued to grow, the prophet of the Lord has been directed to add not only the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but other supporting quorums of the Seventy as well. The structure of the local organization of wards and stakes has been given by revelation to complete it. But as the needs of the Church continue to evolve so will the structure which supports it. Christ remains the chief cornerstone and the Apostles as the foundation with Him. (see Ephesians 2:19-20 also Ephesians 4:11-14) Show more Show less

Who chooses the Mormon prophet?

Mark
In two words, God does. The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the man who has been an ordained Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ for the longest time. As the President of the Church he is also the prophet who is mouthpiece of the Lord in all things. Through the Lord's prophet, God calls new Apostles to fill vacancies created in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. And Apostles are only released from this calling by death (or transgression). Thus God arranges for a successor to the prophet through the process of time, and the manifestation of His will. Show more Show less

What is the First Vision?

Mark
The First Vision is the answer to a fourteen year old boy's prayer when he had gone to a place in the woods to seek wisdom from God. Because the boy, Joseph Smith, Jr., was confused about which church to join near his home in up-state New York, he was studying in the scriptures and came across James 1:5 which says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." And because this scripture touched him so deeply, he determined to ask God which church to join. When he went to the place and prayed he was surprised by a visit of two Personages whose brightness and glory were beyond description. The First pointed to the Second and said, "This is my beloved son. Hear him." Joseph was answered at that time that he should join none of the churches because all came short of the glory of God. He was also told that the Church he was seeking was not yet upon the earth and that he was to wait. Show more Show less

Why are Mormons asked to donate 10% of their income to their Church?

Mark
This is a commandment of the Lord to provide for the operational needs of the Church. No one is paid to serve in the Church so the money is used for building new places of worship, water, electricity, etc. Show more Show less

Do Mormons practice polygamy?

Mark
Some who practice polygamy claim to be Mormons, but they are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The practice of polygamy was discontinued in 1890 by revelation to the Church's prophet, Wilford Woodruff. Those claiming to enter into plural marriage from that time forward were not and are not authorized by the Church to do so. . Show more Show less

How do I become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church)?

Mark
You can become a member by qualifying for and receiving baptism. To qualify you need to be taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why missionaries are sent around the world, to do the teaching. Although you may have been baptized to become a Christian prior to this, it is important to realize that this baptism is different from the previous one. It is something that missionaries can explain. You will want to invite them to your home to teach you. They will assess your understanding and introduce you to other members of the Church in your area who will become part of your support. Once the missionaries have established that you have a firm understanding of the Gospel you will be invited to be baptized. Show more Show less

Does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorse political parties?

Mark
No. The Church encourages members to seek out capable, honest, and good women and men and elect them to political office regardless of party. This means that it is the voters' responsibility to figure out which candidate will do the best job. Show more Show less

How can I find someone to talk with, in person, about the Mormon religion?

Mark
The best answer is to come and see. There are meetings held every week, usually near you. Depending on the local culture, the regularly observed holy day of the week might be Friday or Saturday or Sunday. That would be when you are most welcome to visit. If you look elsewhere on the lds.org website you will find meetinghouse locations and schedules of meetings which match where you live. If you enter your home address into the web page it can show you places and times where your neighbors who are members come together. When you arrive at the door there is nothing to set you apart from everyone else. So you need to ask for help by identifying yourself as a visitor who has come to learn more about the Church. From that point on you will be taken in hand and introduced to those who can help answer your questions and make you feel most welcome. Show more Show less

How is the Book of Mormon different from the Bible? How did Joseph Smith obtain the “golden plates” or Book of Mormon?

Mark
The Bible and the Book of Mormon are both volumes of scripture where the message from God concerning His love is woven into a historical setting. They differ in their origins. The Bible's claim to authenticity comes from being kept and collected over the centuries by monks and scribes. And in the time of the Reformers like Martin Luther and others, the Latin text was compared by scholars with the Greek texts. Translations were made, starting in the 1500's, in multiple countries in Europe, and these translations were published for "the masses." New translations continue to be made in an effort to come to a better understanding of God's word. On the other hand, God, knowing that this collection would be incomplete and sometimes inaccurate, prepared an additional witness of the Lord Jesus Christ by raising up prophets that he led from Jerusalem into Central America. These prophets and their descendants recorded God's dealings with them, including a personal visit of the Savior after His death and resurrection in Jerusalem. And while this group of American Christians survived in the Americas they wrote their stories of Jesus on golden plates and these were saved to come forth in the 1820's by the angelic visitation of the keeper of the plates to a young man named Joseph Smith, Jr. God also prepared a method for Joseph to translate the ancient American hieroglyphs into English. While he read aloud through special “glasses”, one of his scribes, separated by a curtain, would write for him. This translation became the single source for the published copies of the Book of Mormon. Some might argue that the Book of Mormon could be used to supplant the Bible because of the purity of its source. But the fact is that the prophets of the Book of Mormon, knowing that we, the beneficiaries of their effort, would also have the Bible, referred to its witness to help establish the truthfulness of their own words. In addition, only the Bible contains the words of the eyewitnesses of Jesus' mortal ministry, the words of His parables, and the testimony of His miracles. Truly, these were meant to be together, to reinforce the testimony of Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God. Modern man no longer believes the Bible as he once did. Some claim Jesus was merely a myth perpetuated by monks; others admit that He had some wise things to say, while questioning His divinity. But they are wrong, and God has timed the coming forth of the Book of Mormon to strengthen His followers in this time of doubt. Jesus Christ has been seen by more witnesses, both ancient and modern. This is His work, and He has established its truthfulness through them. And I am one who is grateful to have them all.   Show more Show less

Why is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Mormons or Mormonism?

Mark
The reason for this nickname comes from the origins of the Church. Even before it was organized as an official church, the Lord had commanded its future leader, Joseph Smith Jr., to receive from an angel ( the one mentioned in Revelation 14:6) a set of ancient records and translate them into English. These ancient records were compiled by one of God's prophets from many other records that were kept by peoples in America, long extinct. That ancient American, Christian Prophet was named Mormon. As Joseph Smith finished the translation of the record by the gift of God he found a page that contained what became the title of the translation: "The Book of Mormon, an account written by the hand of Mormon ...". This translation was published in book form with the title, "The Book of Mormon." After the publication, God commanded Joseph and those who had come to know about the book to organize the "Church of Jesus Christ" according to the laws of the state of New York. As missionaries from the new church spread the news, about the Book of Mormon as a further witness of Jesus Christ, the followers were nicknamed Mormons. Show more Show less

What is the difference between attending church and the temple?

Mark
There are two distinctions between church meeting attendance and temple attendance. These are based upon the kinds of activities in each place. First, church attendance is open to anyone who will come, whether they have membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not. Such meetings include the Sacrament Meeting where the ordinance of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is performed by holders of the Priesthood for the benefit of the members. These meetings may also contain singing, preaching by members of the congregation when called upon by the leadership of the congregation, and/or bearing of personal testimony concerning Jesus Christ as the Holy Ghost may direct those called to organize those meetings. Second, temple attendance is intended only for members who have taken their baptismal covenants to heart, diligently seeking to serve God and their fellowmen, and who wish to take on additional covenants. Such covenants include, a covenant to keep the law of chastity, and the covenant of marriage between a man, a woman, and God for time and all eternity. These various covenants, including baptism, are performed for the dead, by proxy by those who have already accepted such covenants for themselves. Because God requires the dead to have a living proxy for these various covenants and ordinances they can only be performed within the walls of the temple. Although some instruction is included it is not a classroom situation. And there is no preaching since that is reserved for public meetings. Thus the distinctions between church meetings and temple attendance has a lot to do with who may attend. But this is tied directly to the kind of activities which are conducted in each place. Show more Show less

Who founded Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Mark
The most direct answer to the question is a group of six men who signed their names to a founding document on April 6, 1830. The room was filled with believers, but six signed to fulfill New York state law. Preeminent among them was Joseph Smith, Jr. who was designated the first elder and apostle by revelation. It is Joseph Smith, Jr. who is most often referred to as the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph, as a young man of eighteen years of age, was visited by an angel, the one mentioned in Revelation 14:6, who told him where an ancient record was buried which contained a history of a group of ancient, American Christians, and which also contained the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This record was translated by the gift and power of God by the young man with the aid of others as scribes and witnesses of the translation. During translation they learned of the need of further organization, and this tiny group sought out God who sent additional angelic messengers which conferred authority from God to organize His Church again upon the earth, as it was in Biblical times. This group and those who believed their stories of miraculous events met in a farmhouse on April 6, 1830 in upstate New York to create an officially recognized organization that could hold the copyrights to the record that was translated as the Book of Mormon as well as other rights granted to religious societies. It is called the Mormon church because of the book revealed from heaven, which is unique from all other Christian churches. Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe is the purpose of life?

Mark
This life is a small part of God's plan of happiness. We are all children of God and were created first as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. At some point we were called together and told that we had progressed to a point where we must leave our heavenly home with God in order to be tested. The test begins by being born into mortality with mortal parents who could give us the physical bodies that house our spirits. At this point all of our previous, spiritual existence is forgotten and we are left to ourselves to choose freely of all that this world has to offer. But God's plan contained a way to find out what we would like to become when this mortal existence is over. By letting us choose between the good and the evil of this life and make mistakes God lets us come to know what we want. And if we choose the good we are rewarded with good. If we choose evil we are rewarded with evil when this mortal life is over. God's greatest rewards are reserved for those who would most like to be like Him. But God's life is a sinless one. And in order for us to come to this world of sin and return to a sinless one we must be cleansed from those things we regret. God's plan included a Savior to take upon Himself our sins and to be punished in our place. And He chose Jesus Christ, the best of all of His children, to carry out this plan of redemption from sin. Because Jesus Christ took upon Him the sins of us all, He becomes a father to all those who accept His gift, of taking our place. By so doing, we become Christ's sons and daughters in a spiritual re-birth and we are empowered by the Son to return to live with the Father. Thus the purpose of this part of a never-ending life is to give each of God's children what they want, demonstrated by what they choose here. When we are restored from death to living immortal bodies, like God's own immortal body, and we are rewarded according to our desires, the purpose of this life is fulfilled. And God's great plan of happiness is fulfilled in a way that matches our own infinite variety of choice. Show more Show less

What is the Church’s position on abortion?

Mark
One of the touchiest subjects we have today is the voluntary termination of a pregnancy. When such things are done to hide our sins or for our own convenience it is wrong. And termination of a new life for anything other than the protection of another life or in the case of rape or incest would be considered a grave sin, similar to murder. But because every potential mother's situation is unique no one should consider to make such a heavy decision for her. Church leaders, because of the potential for sin, give advice concerning abortion to match the situation and may counsel with the potential parents on whether an adoption might be the best solution. In the end, the intent is that God's children receive bodies to call home during mortality. And all deserve a loving home where they may be taught the way of the Lord, to walk in it. Because this life is not the beginning of existence, it is wrong to assume that one of God's children would refuse to come to mortality because the body has flaws or the parents do not have worldly means. We all deserve a chance to come to this life and find our way in it. And this life is a chance to see how we may do with the gifts and limitations given. Freedom of choice, what we call Agency in the Church, was the first gift of God to His children. It applies not only to a potential parent but to the potential child as well.  Show more Show less

What do Mormons believe about the Holy Ghost? Who is the Holy Ghost?

Mark
The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, separate and distinct from the other two members of the Godhead. Because He is a spirit He can bring convincing witness of the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is also called the Comforter because He can reassure us in times of need, and  He is the one who bears witness of the reality of the Father and the Son. Because of His ongoing presence with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they are guided to do God's will. He comes to the honest seeker of truth. But He stays with those who have committed to God to be like His Son. Show more Show less

Mormons believe Jesus Christ is their Savior. Why do we need a Savior?

Mark
Before our world was created God, our Heavenly Father, put forth the plan of happiness. This plan required that we, his spirit children, come to Earth and receive mortal bodies. Adam and Eve, our first parents, partook of the forbidden fruit, causing them, and us, to become fallen mortals, capable of choosing our own paths, whether for good or evil. And being fallen we needed a Savior to counter the effects of the Fall. According to our Father's plan, Jesus Christ destroyed the power of death to keep us in the grave. And He offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins and ills of of our world, allowing us to return to our Father, knowing good and evil, with bodies like His glorious body, to receive individual rewards according to the choices we have made in mortality. The role of Jesus Christ as our Savior is central to our Father's plan of happiness for us all. Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

Mark
In the simplest terms Mormons are Christians. We worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father, and the Savior of all mankind. We differ from other Christians in what we believe God expects of us and how we have come to believe as we do. Our origins are not through the Catholic Church nor are they through Bible study alone. Rather, we believe that God has chosen to correct errors in doctrine and practice that Christians have experienced over the centuries. This was done in modern times by the visit of God, the Father, and of His Son, Jesus Christ, to a boy in frontier New York, named Joseph Smith, Jr. This miraculous vision was the beginning of many more such events which culminated in the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This Church is therefor a restoration of things lost to Christians over the centuries since the deaths of Christ and His apostles. And we invite all other Christians to consider the possibility that God is actively involved, even now, as He was in Jesus' day, in the salvation of His children. Show more Show less

How can I know Mormonism is true?

Mark
The first thing to remember is that God is the source of all truth. If something is true then He will confirm its truthfulness to you. Second, the Godhead is made of three distinct personages, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Ghost who is called the Testator. He bears witness of the Father and the Son. He is also the messenger of peace who confirms truth to us. To receive the witness of the Holy Ghost about any truth we must ask God the Father, in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, if something is true. Lastly, in order to establish the truthfulness of Mormonism many, including myself, have sought to know the truth of the Book of Mormon, which is the keystone of Mormonism. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or in other words, by reading the Book of Mormon and praying to God to know it is true, we have received a confirmation through the Holy Ghost that it IS true. Because we know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, we know that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a prophet of God. We know that all of the things that he claimed to have seen are also true. And the cascade of truths begins from there. In order to feel the confirming witness we must believe that God will answer. James 1:5 says "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." This is not just an answer to Joseph Smith, but to all men. Being God's child He stands ready to make it happen for you. I know that God will give you an answer that you cannot mistake for something else. Show more Show less

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

Mark
To be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a great treasure,... to some. But to recognize which of us in this wide world thinks so requires interaction with each individual. And the Lord's way has always been to visit someone, discern their needs, and make a difference. If making that difference includes teaching about our fundamental doctrines or inviting a person to come to Church meetings then any member of the Church would be pleased to help you find out what you want to know. Show more Show less

Why is self-reliance important to Mormons? Why do Mormons talk about emergency preparedness?

Mark
There will always be someone who can't provide for himself. But if I have made myself capable of withstanding the stress and strain of this life, with sufficient food, clothing and housing, then I might be an instrument in God's hands to lift up someone else. It's about being more than a consumer of this world's goods. The ideal would be to visit the sick and the hungry and the naked and to do something about their situation. One who is busy with the day-to-day needs of his own family is in no shape to reach out to another. Show more Show less

Why is family so important to Mormons?

Mark
Family in this life is a model of life in the hereafter. God is literally our Father and He has created this earth so that we can experience trials and tests that can be had in no other way. And during this test, if we find someone to journey with we may create a relationship that parallels His relationship with us and our own future relationships with each other after this life is done. In a sense this life is all about family.  Show more Show less

Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?

Mark
The servants of God are not objects of worship. (see Rev. 19:10) But the servants of God, His prophets and apostles, do have our respect because they represent Him. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the man who has been an apostle the longest is the leader of all other apostles and is the President of the Church. He is also the apostle to whom we refer as the prophet. The first apostle and prophet was Joseph Smith, Jr. And because he was the one chosen to break the drought of hearing God's word through living prophets he is termed the Prophet of the Restoration. Some would try to tear down the reputation of this first prophet in order to invalidate the Church's claim to living prophets today, who are Joseph Smith's successors. It is always more important to have a living prophet than to merely honor a dead one. (see Matt. 23:29-30,39) We do proclaim that today's President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's mouthpiece. We also affirm that all the things that Joseph Smith and his companions claimed to have occurred, the visions, the angelic visitations, the miracles, the gift of additional scripture, etc. did happen. More important than anything, we claim that every person has the right to talk to God and to confirm these claims are true, to know it for himself or herself, and come to trust that God has not forgotten us. Show more Show less

What is a ward/stake/branch?

Mark
A ward is a geographical unit of the Church which contains an organization large enough for between 300 and 800 souls, approximately. It corresponds with what might be termed a congregation, but multiple congregations will typically share the same building, holding separate meeting schedules on the same day. A stake is a geographical grouping of approximately 6 to 16 wards which has a President and a council of twelve men who are directed by him to visit the wards and guide their leaders in the administration of spiritual and temporal needs. A branch is a less mature geographical unit than a ward, similar to a ward, which draws on the resources of the stake as it continues to grow large enough to be a ward. Sometimes branches are organized in remote places because of travel costs of the members they serve. And sometimes the problem to solve is that the members' only language is not spoken in the rest of the geographical area. Services are then conducted in this less common language. For example, in Germany, the common language is not spoken by American servicemen who are stationed there. So small, English-speaking branches have been created. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons believe in the Bible?

Mark
We believe in the Bible because the Book of Mormon affirms that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God. And it actually says if we believe the ancient Americans' witness of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, then we will believe the Jews' witness of Jesus Christ, the Bible. This is what happened to me. I believed that it was all true because I believed the witness of the Book of Mormon. Show more Show less

What blessings can you receive from reading the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other scriptures?

Mark
When I realized in February of 2009 that the small company I worked for was going to downsize I told my wife that we needed to pray more earnestly for peace in the troubling times that we might be guided to know how to react. We began to read a scripture randomly from any of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the other scriptures before prayer to invite the Spirit of God to stay with us and give us peace. Each time we were led to scriptures that made a difference for the two of us. It was as if our answers were coming bit by bit through the words we found and the sincere prayers that came after. We have never been closer as a couple. We have been on the same page literally and figuratively since that time. When the house was foreclosed on and our friends from Church realized they could help us by buying our furniture and helping us pack our treasures, we didn't cry because the Spirit was with us. When the army of helpers came to help us throw stuff away that we should have done long before the embarrassment was gone in an instant because the Spirit transmitted their Love for us. In these hard times my wife and I have never been closer to each other or to God. Show more Show less

Are there restrictions based on race or color concerning who can join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have the priesthood?

Mark
Although we don't fully know the why regarding restrictions, God has previously placed some restrictions that were based upon lineage. And although I trust His wisdom implicitly, I am grateful to live in an age when such restrictions have been done away. In June of 1978, the prophet of God, Spencer W. Kimball received revelation indicating that the time of all restrictions, based on race, was at an end. Having grown up in Texas and having lived there during the 1960's I awoke to a realization that not all of my brothers and sisters were treated the same. And as the turmoil began to subside I found that we, the people of the United States, had only begun on a journey of opening our eyes to various injustices. But I see that as we have made ourselves ready, the Lord has provided a way for our people to progress in truth and righteousness. Most people know where they were when they heard the news of a big event in history. Members of the Church look on that day when the change was announced as one of the biggest of our lifetimes. As I look back on the summer of 1978 I revel in the notion that the Lord knew what was necessary and when we would be ready. And I pray that the people of the United States will not feel so much pain before we are ready for the next thing to change. I am grateful for a living prophet, now Thomas S. Monson, whom the Lord has put in place to pass along the next instruction, when we're ready. No doubt we will all remember where we were at that day, as well. Show more Show less

What is the Relief Society?

Mark
It is the name of the Church's organization of Women. Its origin begins with the efforts to aid in the construction of the temple in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842. The women there organized themselves as a ladies aid society which was intended to clothe and feed workers at the temple site. When the prophet Joseph Smith was made aware of their intentions he called the sisters together and announced that the Church, itself, would be incomplete without such an organization to allow the sisters, as daughters of God, to minister to those in need, to teach each other how to sustain their families, and to lend love and support to one another. It is what is termed an auxiliary to the Priesthood, meaning that the ability of the Priesthood organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to minister to the needs of members and non-members alike is enhanced because women are organized to reach out a helping hand to the hungry and the needy and to teach the rising generation to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Its motto is “Charity never faileth.”  Show more Show less

What is Mormonism? OR What do Mormons believe?

Mark
Mormonism is the collective teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Among these is that the Church was established by God as a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ originally founded by Christ while He taught His disciples during His mortal ministry. By personal visitation and by the directing of heavenly messengers, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ have delivered a new dispensation of the Gospel to men on earth. By divine revelation God has clarified doctrines and practices of the ancient Church. And He has provided a mechanism, through continuing revelation to His living prophets today, whereby all truths respecting His Kingdom may be revealed. The Church is organized as it was anciently with twelve apostles, and the senior apostle (the one who has been ordained the longest) is termed the prophet. It is he who may speak for God in all things. He is also designated as the President of the Church. And since Jesus Christ tells him what to do, Christ is the Head of the Church while his prophet is only its President. The doctrines of the Church are based upon the canon of scripture which includes the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. I will explain each of these below. The officially accepted translation of the Bible in English is the King James Version or KJV (published in 1611, revised 1769). The Bible is considered incomplete and flawed because the original sources had passed through the hands of so many scribes and others before being translated and published in the 1500-1600's in a standardized way. And because such flaws are in the original sources, we cannot have today a modern translation which can be considered perfect.(More about this later) The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, is a complete volume of scripture which testifies of the lives of ancient American Christians who lived before and after the coming of Jesus Christ. And it contains an account of His personal visit to them after His resurrection. During this visit he taught them the same things that were taught in Jerusalem, and He organized His Church among them. All these things were recorded by ancient American prophets. Before the extinction of this people through war, a great prophet, named Mormon, abridged their records into a history of his people. At his death Mormon's son, Moroni, was given charge of the records. He buried the ancient record in a place where the Lord directed him. This same Moroni, the keeper of the record now known as the Book of Mormon was sent in 1827 as an angel to a young man named Joseph Smith, Jr. And the uneducated Joseph was given power by God to translate the record. The publication of the record as “The Book of Mormon” caused the use of the terms Mormon (a believer in the book) and Mormonism (the collection of the teachings of its translator, the prophet, Joseph Smith) to become part of our vocabulary. Because the Book of Mormon was compiled by a prophet of God and because it was also translated by the gift and power of God into English it is called “the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion.” The Doctrine and Covenants is a volume of modern scripture given through Joseph Smith and his successors. It contains directions for the organization of the Church during its growth as well as revelations received during the re-translation of the KJV Bible which clarify doctrine. Early in the development of the Church, the prophet Joseph Smith was directed by the Lord to begin a systematic re-translation of the Bible. Although this effort to re-translate the Bible is called the Joseph Smith Translation or JST it is more easily understood as divine revelation of where Biblical words were omitted and should be re-inserted or where ambiguous phrases should be clarified. During this time of Biblical revision the prophet received visions which went beyond the scope of a translation and were given the status of scripture in their own right. These were included in the Doctrine and Covenants. The JST itself was never completed and did not receive canonical status. But it exists today in the Pearl of Great Price (see below) and as study aids (footnotes and appendix) in the official copies of the KJV Bible published by the Church. The Pearl of Great Price is a collection of writings of Joseph Smith which were published in his lifetime, but only gathered together years after his death. It includes portions of the Joseph Smith Translation which were completed, i.e. parts of Genesis called the “Book of Moses” and the 24th chapter of Matthew called “Joseph Smith – Matthew”. It also contains a translation of ancient papyri called, the “Book of Abraham” and excerpts from Joseph's early history called “Joseph Smith – History.” This last part contains the most complete account of the visitation in 1820 of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ to the fourteen year old Joseph. “Joseph Smith - History” also contains the description of the visits, in 1827, of the angel Moroni to the young man directing him to the hiding place of the record which was to be translated as the Book of Mormon. In these four volumes of scripture are all the teachings of Mormonism. And when anything is taught within the Church it is judged against this standard. But because it is an open canon, the Lord may yet reveal more of His word through his living prophets and apostles. The most recent of their teachings to be published over the signatures of all the apostles is “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. It may become part of the canon someday, but since 1995 it has been an inspired guide for the members of the Church as we are confronted with challenges in the world today. I am grateful to God that such things are put in place to help my understanding and that He has confirmed the truth of these things to me through His Holy Spirit. He can do the same for you because you are also His child. Seek Him out and know for yourself. Show more Show less

What is the Law of Chastity?

Mark
The Law of Chastity is that no man shall have sexual relations except with his wife to whom he is legally and lawfully wedded. Or that no woman shall have sexual relations except with her husband to whom she has been legally and lawfully wedded. Show more Show less

Why do Mormons baptize their new members?

Mark
To be baptized is to symbolically die and be reborn a child of Jesus Christ. To receive baptism a person must repent of all of his or her sins and thus demonstrate faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a belief that the authority to perform such an ordinance has been restored in these latter days. By becoming a son or daughter of Jesus Christ we become members of the body, using the language of Paul, to help one another and to strengthen and lift those who stand in need. Show more Show less

Where did Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begin?

Mark
The organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took place in Fayette, New York, in a small, log farm house where some 30 plus people gathered and 6 of them were chosen to sign legal documents to make the Church an official institution in the state of New York. Show more Show less

What is a “testimony” that Mormons speak of?

Mark
Testimony is the sum of our spiritual experience and is a personal list of all the ways in which God has demonstrated to us that He exists, that He cares about us, and that Jesus Christ, His Son was sent to redeem us. Part of the foundation upon which this testimony rests is a conviction that God sends His messengers to reveal His plan of happiness. Some of these messengers are the very angels of heaven, sent to explain the conditions of salvation whereby all mankind can be returned to the presence of God. Other messengers, no less important, are His prophets, men chosen to receive the message of angels and broadcast it to the rest of us. Lastly, the spirit of God is a messenger to each humble soul who seeks answers to his prayers. To “have a testimony” of Jesus Christ and His mission of redemption is to believe that He sends messengers to tell us in our own language and tongue of the reality of that mission and its ability to change our lives, one by one. I have a testimony, through all of these ways, that Jesus Christ is not only my personal savior, but He is the Savior of all mankind, and there is no greater privilege than to be an instrument in His hands to deliver that message to some other soul who would find joy in such a message. Show more Show less

In whom should we have faith?

Mark
The simple answer is to have faith in God. But to have faith in God we need to understand His nature and attributes. brIn the spring of 1820, a young boy named Joseph Smith went to the woods near his farm in upstate New York to pray. He wanted to know which of the churches vying for his attention was correct in their teachings and which one he should therefor join. The answer to that prayer was unique because God chose to answer it personally. As he prayed, two personages whose brightness and glory defy description appeared to him. The First called Joseph by name and said, pointing to the Second, “This is my beloved Son. Hear Him.” In those few words came the first clarification of the nature of God. First, God is a personal being. Second, He has a Son. Joseph explained that they both had glorious bodies “as tangible as mans.” The Son identified Himself as Jesus Christ, and instructed Joseph that none of the churches which he was then visiting were His Church, and told him to await the day when His own Church would be established. This personal visit of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith was the beginning of many miraculous manifestations wherein God sent angelic messengers to re-establish His church by the systematic addition of knowledge, witnesses, and supporting direction. We now know that God is the father of our spirits as well as the father of His only begotten Son. And we receive witness through the power of the Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead, that this is true. Ultimately, faith in God is faith that Jesus Christ was sent to earth as part of a plan, and that His Father sent Him to redeem all mankind from the effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve. Those effects are death and the consequences of sin. And we must have faith that the Son was indeed capable of doing this task for us. As part of our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness, our faith in Christ then opens the door to our becoming better men and women in the here and now, but more importantly it empowers us to return to live again with our Father and His Son.    Show more Show less