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Hi I'm Rich

I love seeing new parts of the world. I had the type of childhood that was unusual -- and maybe just like yours. And I'm a Mormon.

About Me

As an eight year old, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ. However, as a 12 year old, I found myself as part of five members of the family who were moving away from our father. Over time, that separation was formalized with a divorce that left us on two sides of the continent. I have gone on to marry and to raise a family of four children with my wife. I am so much more than the child of a broken home, but I have chosen to mention that aspect of my life as others certainly struggle with that same challenge.

Why I am a Mormon

Born into an LDS household, I have had the opportunity to observe the tremendous impact that the Gospel brings in nurturing our natural tendancies for the better. As I have experienced personal exhiliration of simple answers to prayers, I have come to know that God is aware of me as an individual and looking after my well being. WIth other Christians, I thrill at the knowledge that a plan for my happiness was established long before this earth was set in motion.

How I live my faith

Just like the knowledge of the Resurrection can ease the pain of losing a family member to death, the steady diet of gospel teachings about being an exceptional father, a worthy husband and loving family member more than adequately provides me with the tools to move on from my challenges of childhood. My choice is one of how quickly and completely I implement the gospel teachings and the tools offered me to reap their blessings. I have enjoyed a full lifetime of steady, upward gazing and SOMETIMES I even take substantial steps in the direction that I should go! Any stalling along the outlined path represents my own choice to accept the status quo, counter to the motivation for continual growth that the gospel offers me.

Are Mormons Christians?

Rich
While I was in graduate school, I had an experience with a friend that reflects on this question - Are Mormons Christian? This friend was not from the area, was Christian and was in the process of contacting a church where she wanted to have her wedding, but where she had not attended. This religious congregation had a policy that, as a condition of using their facility, my friend was required to come before the board of the congregation and bear witness. The stated intent was to determine if she was a Christian. As I initially contemplated whether I would be able to pass such an inquiry, I quickly smiled - realizing that 30 seconds would be sufficient to prove my discipleship! Yes, Mormons are Christians. Show more Show less

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

Rich
The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. (Personally, I wish the King James translators had not translated that name as Holy Ghost - I prefer the Holy Spirit. I wonder why the word "Ghost" was chosen at that time.) The Gift of the Holy Spirit in our theology involves the manner in which God communicates to man. The blessings that we can receive from the Holy Spirit depend on the circumstance and need at the moment. Is it physical relief that is needed, the Holy Spirit can be the source of healing. Is it emotional relief that is needed, that same Spirit is available to "bring" the blessing to us in the form of spiritual communication. I have personally been the recipient of tremendous and sweet experiences that lead to an undeniable confirmation that God is involved personally in my life. How did they come? Through the Holy Spirit. They show me that God knows Rich personally. I have been comforted. I have been cleansed of sin. I have been relieved from suffering. In all cases, the message was communicated from God through His Holy Spirit. 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?

Rich
There are no restrictions on who can participate at any level as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I would add that personally, I long for the day when a racial and social-economic diversity is IMMEDIATELY evident in every LDS house of worship. That situation does not currently exist in all areas. There is diversity in race, culture and social-economic background, but not sufficient diversity of satisfy me. The question that lingers in my mind is: Christ invited His apostles to share the gospel message with all the world. What is there about my background, prejudices, biases or style that prevents me from presenting the gospel message in such a way that people of ALL backgrounds will recognize the message as from Christ and flock to it? One aspect of Church diversity involves the past restriction on Blacks receiving the priesthood. I remember distinctly the time and the moment that I learned that that restriction had been rescinded by divine proclamation. The then-latter-day prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, described the experience of approaching the Lord on this topic, questioning if the restriction might be rescinded. As I remember his description of the answer, it was "YES! YES! YES! ..." The Lord was so anxious to have him (Spencer Kimball) ask, that He almost answered the question before it was asked! But the Lord waited until His prophet thought to ask. The Lord, the prophet, and all the member rejoiced at the new revelation. Show more Show less

Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?

Rich
Young Mormons are encouraged strongly to go on a mission. The request emphasizes young men, but young women are also welcomed, if they feel so inclined. Despite the request that they strongly consider serving, it is well understood that the request is a voluntary decision. A strong tradition is currently developing for senior couples to volunteer their time as well and many serve in their retirment years. Our response to a missionary call is viewed as setting aside our goals and responsibilities for a time, not as an escape from the world. Those with children at home, for example, are not eligible to serve standard missions. After completion, we return to our typical responsibilities. In my own family, my wife and I have both served missions. I have a sister and a brother and two sons who have served. But similarly, I have one brother and one son who have chosen to not serve missions. That decision was their decision, which we readily support. From that point forward, they have the exact same opportunities in front of them that someone who has served a mission would have. There is not many experiences in our Church dedication that include "requirements". Although mission call volunteerism is certainly on the "close to expected" end of the spectrum, it is not required and those that choose not to serve, may well have a valid reason and remain "first class citizens" in the ecclesiastical community. Show more Show less

What is done with the tithing that Mormons pay?

Rich
Have you ever been part of an organization that spends an inproportionate amount of its effort in raising funds? I have. What a blessing comes to the Church of Jesus Christ when members voluntarily donate tithing. The impact is liberating! No real time is spent in fund-raising. In most cases, it is expressly discouraged, with all operational expenses coming through the voluntary tithing donations. Instead of constant fund-raising, the membership is free to serve others and pursue higher goals. Would Christ be happier with a message of reaching out to the elderly or time spent preparing for a bake sale? Thank God that due to tithing, the gospel is the focus of our messages. Of the approximately 800 gospel messages I hear in a year, probably less than 1% involve tithing (fund raising). So where do those volunteer funds go? Operational expenses is the answer. We enjoy non-ornate, but highly functional buildings. The utilities are paid. The outreach program to the community and in disaster relief are all funded. The youth programs, sometimes pricey, but usually of modest budgets are similarly funded from tithing. And don't be surprised at the invitation to Christmas dinner festivities. Essentially, all programs and properties are funded adequately when members of the Church of Jesus Christ follow the Lord's plan with tithing. Our planning meeting can then focus on people, the Christian ideal. Show more Show less

How are the activities of the Mormon missionaries funded?

Rich
In order of significance, the funding of Mormon missionaries is at their own expense. Alternatively, if a missionary who wishes to serve is unable to afford the many thousands of dollars that are involved, family and friends may assist in covering those expenses. One can imagine that some missionaries who have only recently discovered the gospel will not be able to save the funds to embark after only a year or so. However, the norm is that the missionary and his family will pay for mission expenses, not unlike college expenses. This policy coincides completely with the policy of having non-paid ministry in the Church as a whole. In order to fairly distribute the burden, the expenses are "equalized" among all missionaries. A missionary in Mexico (could be cheaper) will pay into the missionary fund for his/her own support at the same rate as a missionary called to serve in Tokyo (could be more expensive). All are equally sharing their part. The mission expense, like so much of the service that we offer throughout our life are intended to be an offering, given of our freewill. Time is precious to a young missionary going out to share his own witness. She/He gives it freely and at their expense. It is equally precious to a young mother starting her career, yet willing to share many hours each week to fill responsibilities within the local church community. Show more Show less

What is a ward/stake/branch?

Rich
As we know, nomenclature for congregations of the faithful have widely varying names. LDS congregations have the same dilemma. One significant point to make before providing a lexicon is that some of the words have reference to New England geographic terms. An important distinction with LDS congregations is that they are geographically designated. Thus, a "ward" is a geographically bounded congregation unlike other demoninations where members of the congregation are free to choose their congregation, irrespective of their address. A "stake" on the other hand has scriptural reference to tent stakes of the nomadic Israelites. A stake is a group of congregations in the same geographic region. Show more Show less