What Is a Church Community?
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Hi I'm Belinda

I'm an artist, gamer, and writer, proudly hailing from the United States Midwest.

About Me

Currently, I'm earning my undergraduate degree in communications (with a minor in visual arts). I spend a lot of my free time improving my art and animation skills.

Why I am a Mormon

Well, if I wasn't a Mormon, I really think I'd be very unhappy. Transitioning into "full adulthood" is pretty stressful between figuring out what I should be studying in school, deciding what I should be doing after I graduate, managing work and finances, and trying to make friends with the right people who will help me become a better person. The restored gospel of Christ teaches that divine help and inspiration can come to anyone who is earnestly wanting to do the right thing. When I'm worried out of my mind about the future, I can seek and receive comfort from my Heavenly Father. When I have a decision to make, even if it's a seemingly inconsequential issue, I can pray for guidance and He will give His opinion in His own way. There is so much good in my life even in the midst of trials, but I don't think I would as easily see that without the hopeful lens of my spiritual beliefs. If I wasn't dedicated to my faith, I would try to cope with stress in self-harming and detrimental ways. The restored gospel keeps me optimistic and working for good in the world.

How I live my faith

I participate in my ward (local church unit) as a ward missionary. This is different from serving a 2-year proselyting mission like many young LDS men and women choose to do; instead, I help members learn how to create Mormon.org profiles like this one, and find other everyday ways to share the truths of Jesus Christ. Many LDS people are easily intimidated by the thought of sharing their beliefs with friends or coworkers because they don't want to be perceived as intolerant or "too religious." My calling at church is to help them realize that just practicing the gospel of Christ in their daily lives will naturally create moments and opportunities to tell others about Christ.

What do Mormons believe about the Bible? Do they regard it as Holy Scripture and the word of God?

Belinda
We believe the Bible is very much the word of God; however, we also know that it has undergone many translations and edits, and sometimes important phrasings or even entire doctrinal concepts can go missing in the course of compilation, because of human error or deliberate tampering. Thus, we believe the Bible is holy scripture, but that it alone does not tell all of God's teachings and could stand to use a complementing support. (The line in the Book of Revelation about not adding more to the word of God solely referred to the Book of Revelation; scholars tell us that the Bible as we know it today was compiled from many separate authors over a span of centuries, not penned and published in one sitting.) The complement is the Book of Mormon: similar to the Bible in that it testifies of Christ, but its chronology unfolds in the ancient Americas, whereas the events of the Bible unfold in the Old World. It is written in a style of language similar to the King James Bible. The book was translated by Joseph Smith in the early nineteenth century. It has undergone only one translation, which process we believe was truly divinely inspired. The Book of Mormon and the Bible reference each other and together stand as a stronger witness of Christ than they could as stand-alone works. Show more Show less

Are all Mormons required to serve a mission?

Belinda
Not at all! Missionary service is a volunteer opportunity, not a military draft. Men can go when they're 18, and women can go when they're 19. Additionally, there are retired senior missionaries (some of whom serve with their spouses), and service missionaries who volunteer their technical skills in various Church departments instead of going abroad to preach the gospel of Christ full-time. Concerning the full-time proselyting missionary service: men typically serve for 24 months, and women for 18 months. They are assigned to serve in whatever area of the world they are most needed. During this time, there are no vacations, "personal time" is almost non-existent, and contact with family/friends is restricted to snail mail, email, and phone or video calls twice a year. A mission is not an exotic traveling excursion; it's a dedicated opportunity to help others feel God's love in their lives through service and through sharing Christ's messages. Putting worldly and social concerns aside for a time enables missionaries to serve more selflessly and draw closer to God themselves. Show more Show less

What is a ward/stake/branch?

Belinda
These words are different ways of describing local congregational units throughout the Church. A stake is a geographical area under which wards and branches (smaller wards) are organized. Members and interested investigators attend the congregation closest to them; we don't "shop around" and choose the church with the clergy we most agree with, or the church with people of our socioeconomic status. No matter where one locally attends church, the doctrine is still the same, the meetings are organized the exact same way, and there are always at least a few friendly souls. Community is a critical aspect of our religion; we are commanded by God to "love our neighbor," after all, and we do! Show more Show less

What is done with the tithing that Mormons pay?

Belinda
Tithing funds can be used for: -church building construction and maintenance -printing lesson materials and scriptures -humanitarian aid -maintaining various Church programs, such as genealogical research and missionary work -assisting struggling families and individuals (however, this is not "free welfare"; it is given on a case-by-case basis to those who are willing to work hard and contribute to the church community) -and anything else that keeps the Church financially able to look out for its members' needs and further God's purposes. Local clergy, the President of the Church, and others in leadership positions do not ever profit from the tithing funds; they support themselves from their own funds/personal careers unrelated to religious service. Show more Show less

Are Mormons Christians?

Belinda
Of course! Our official name is "The Church of Jesus CHRIST of Latter-day Saints," not the church of Joseph Smith or some other man. Everything we do is based in our belief and understanding in Christ's teachings and Atonement for humankind. Show more Show less