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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Best Read on Mormons

The Washington Post allowed the head of the LDS Public Affairs Department, David Otterson, to write an article. It is wonderful. Here are some highlights, but please read the entire thing if you have a mere five extra minutes of time.

First he explains how wards (congregations) work, with everyone serving in some way. These local congretations epitomize who Mormons are, because this is where most of the service happens. He gives examples of the service needed and given.
The overarching goal which everybody works for is to lift others in a way that reflects a community of latter-day, Christian disciples. Everyone needs help from time to time, and everyone also needs to give help. Wards and stakes (a regional grouping of wards, like a diocese) also try to reach out and serve with others of goodwill in the community.
I’ve lived in a number of wards in my life, in several different countries, and to be sure not every ward works precisely as it’s supposed to. Since every congregation is made up of fallible humans, that’s to be expected. But most do have this collective sense of shared responsibility and obligation to serve. It’s so central to what being a Mormon is all about that to ignore it is to miss the point of this continually growing faith, which is to love God by loving our neighbor. The ward where I live at present is as close to a text-book example of that model as I’ve ever seen – a few hundred members who work together more as a large family than a small community.
He ends with an invitation to those interested in learning more, including journalists. Attend your local LDS ward!
Those journalists who have already done this have found the experience enlightening. In the New Republic, Eliza Gray wrote about Mormons near Washington D.C. One interviewee recalled U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) standing up to his waist in a stopped-up septic tank. Another related how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faithfully served as friend and caretaker for a prominent, politically conservative Mormon family, working as a home teacher. These are unusual mental images that say something deeply significant.
They sure do. These images say something about who Mormons are at their core: followers of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is a lifelong pursuit. All are welcome to see this service in action or even join in with us in your respective communities.

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