What Is a Church Community?

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Hi I'm Eric

I'm a son of veterans, international developer, community organizer, future politician, landlord, husband, father and I'm Mormon.

About Me

Trying to explain who I am in brief can be a real challenge. I began life moving from house to house with my Air Force father living in 22 different houses (some for only a matter of days) in my first 21 years of life. I spent an inordinate amount of my life struggling to fit my non-conformist nature and intellect into the American educational system that may be the most systematic factory of mediocrity ever perpetuated on mankind. As a father of exceptionally bright children I still struggle with an average educational system. After fifteen years of marriage to a woman way too good for the likes of me, I am coming to understand how hard and how wonderful marriage can be and likewise to understand how God above can love us through the good times and the bad times. Marriage and parenthood truly are the greatest school-houses that we will ever have. Having spent the last six years volunteering and donating to create a group of neighbors that are working to revitalize a first generation sub-urban neighborhood with a heavy industrial past I have come to understand the inequities in our society and the inherent challenges that surround efforts to address these inequities. I now spend too much time trying to reconcile the vibrancy of my red-head personality with the expectations of me as a reliable responsible husband and father. And I, like others, am at times overwhelmed by the responsibilities that I feel as a father, a Christian, a husband, citizen, and a neighbor.

Why I am a Mormon

I spent many years trying to decide if I should stay in the faith my parents gave me as a child. There were many life paths seemingly more attractive and more congruent with my dreams and aspirations. At times I left and tried other belief systems. I allowed the perceptions of society about religion and about my parents’ church to color my perception of what I could believe. Some still try to tell me that my aspirations for myself, my children, my neighbors, and for society at large are incompatible, or even opposed to the teachings of my Christian faith. They do not know what it is that I have found over all those years of searching and struggling. In my 19th and 20th year, the challenge of living in two worlds became too much; the demands of both were more than I could complete. Neither life path was coherent without a benchmark or touchstone belief on which to found subsequent reality. In fact I was as Descartes when he embarked on the Second Meditation. I knew only that I must find an original truth that could not be denied or else perish in indecision and paralysis. For Descartes it was the oft cited Cogito; for me it was God's invitation to subject belief in Him to the very scientific method that had seemed such an obstacle to religion among my instructors and professors. For God has said "knock and it shall be opened unto you" and "if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God" and "let us reason together" and many other such admonitions. He has asked us to form a hypothesis as to his existence, he has told us to design an experiment that we believe will prove our hypothesis and He has promised to be a willing subject in the experiment confirming to the honest seeker of truth that there is indeed a God in heaven. When I finally put Him to the test in a small college apartment He confirmed that He was not only the Prime Mover of the ancient Greeks, but verily the God of the Bible and the Savior of human kind and that Joseph Smith was one of His holy prophets.

How I live my faith

Now my faith colors everything that I do. Christ said "in as much as ye have done it unto the least of these ye have done it unto me." My church teaches me "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Because of these teachings I choose to live in a neighborhood that is economically and socially challenged. I choose to purchase and renovate homes that I can rent below market rates to provide affordable housing. I choose to organize neighbors to stand-up for themselves in the face of organized economic and political oppression and to believe in themselves as the only people that can or should change the environment in which they live. Because of these teachings, I serve in the church by teaching the adult Sunday School class (this year the New Testament), by acting as the Assistant Clerk for Finances (similar to a controller for our local congregation), by serving as an Employment Specialist trying to find employment not only for myself (I am currently without a paying job) but more importantly for others, and by seeking ways to explain the Church to others as a Public Affairs Specialist for my congregation (I'm really bad at this last one). Because of these teachings I raise my children to care for others in tangible ways. Sometimes that means spending all day Saturday building a pocket park for neighbors a few blocks away, or spending their fall vacation from school working with other neighbors cleaning the curbs and gutters so long neglected by city government and out-of-state landlords alike. Sometimes that means reading the history of the civil rights movements and challenging them to stand-up against civil liberties violations in their lives. Because of these teachings I seek to find new ways to reduce my demand on society in order to allow more of society's resources to be available to others. I don't always succeed in my efforts and I am often overwhelmed; but I try to serve the Lord the best I can.

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

The first most direct answer to this question is that God tells me that there is a God. In the brilliance of our Heavenly Father's plan for His children He provided us leaders to help us along our path here on earth but has not asked us to follow these leaders blindly. Instead, He has admonished us to hear the words that He has given these leaders to speak and then required us to come directly to Him in Prayer to ask if the words we have heard are in fact his will for us. In an amazing act of divine mercy, He has promised that when ever we ask he will answer. In my life He and I have a conversation through my prayers and his answers. Thus I know that there is a God in heaven and He is aware of the struggles of my life. The more complicated answer to this question begins at least as far back as the ancient Greek philosopher-scientists. They postulated that there had to be some entity that "moves with out being moved." Without such an being nothing could come to be in existence. They termed this entity the Prime Mover. The need for such is drawn out by Sir Isaac Newton in his second law of motion; "For every action there must needs be an equal and opposite reaction." If there were no prime mover, one who was beyond the reach of Newton's second law, there could be no existence as no motion of creation could be possible lacking a counter force to impel its motion. There must be a prime mover to trigger a Big Bang or there can only be a perpetual state of stasis. There is a God. Show more Show less

To what do you attribute the growth of the Church?

It is for me the reality that the church provides a doctrine of reason for belief, culture of acceptance, and emotional connection to God. As the general culture of both western and eastern culture becomes more confrontational with Christian norms and values, persons who want to believe in God's word are in greater need of answers to these challenges. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they are given answers that do not ask that they set aside their reason and logic and attribute their belief to "the mysteries of God." The Church grows because we answer the intellectual questions of the Theist believer. As the general culture of all societies becomes more impersonal and hectic all people seek a "tribe" or "pack" where they belong; where they feel loved. This is basic human nature we're a social species; in isolation we wither and die. The Church doctrine teaches a vibrant culture of treating congregants, members and visitors, as family. In the Church people feel genuinely loved as Brothers and Sisters in Zion. This is accomplished through volunteer leadership with no paid clergy and no positions for which to aspire or politic. Love and equality for all draws people to the Church. In the insistence of Church doctrine that each member communicate with God directly through prayer and thereby develop a personal relationship with their personal Heavanly Father the church provides a person with divine value. The Church grows because it serve the whole person. Show more Show less

Why don’t Mormons have paid clergy?

Again the simplest answer is that we do not have a paid clergy because god told us we should not have a paid clergy. Beyond that I see real drawbacks in a church having a paid clergy. here are some that have concerned me ofer the years: When there is no paid clergy everyone is required to atain a levelof doctrinal understanding sufficient to preach the sunday sermon or teach the various lessons at church, with a paid clergy the congregants are allowed to neglect this relationship with God as they know they have a preacher to do this work for them. We received the gospel from Christ and his prophets free of charge to sell what they gave us to make a living seems like stealing, or at least defrauding. Everyone is a child of God and as such has a right to the gospel that he freely gave us. Did not the profet refuse Namon's payment for makeing him clean? If we are not allowed to work on behalf of the Lord, to serve him how will we be his servants? Did he not send all his disciples unto all the world, not just the 12 apostles? Doesn't a paid clergy rob me and the other congregants of the opportunity to serve God with all our hearts, mights, minds and strengths? If it was not wise for Moses to judge all of israel by himself, why would it be wise for the paid clergy to serve the congregation by themselves? It seems to me that the paid clergy through their common educational experience, of neccessity, have a lack of diversity of perspective on the gospel and this leads to dogma Show more Show less