Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently referred to by the media or friends of other faiths as "The Mormon Church") has over 16 million members in over 160 nations worldwide. Currently, 159 of its beautiful temples adorn sites in North, South, and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and numerous islands of the sea. There are 30 other LDS temples that have either been announced or are under construction. The relief and humanitarian efforts of the Church have helped bless the lives of millions around the world, regardless of faith, as it follows the example of its Living Head, Jesus Christ. Sadly, The Church of Jesus Christ is still greatly misunderstood, and many myths and falsehoods still exist. We hope that this site will provide information to those who visit hoping to gain knowledge about Latter-day Saints (nicknamed "Mormons"), either on a given topic in Mormonism or simply about Mormons in general. Articles cover topics about such things as basic Mormon beliefs, Mormon doctrine, Mormon history and leadership, temple work, family life, Mormon literature, controversial topics, and Church organizations and humanitarian efforts.
The first Mormon missionaries arrived in Sapporo, Japan, in 1905. The mission had closed by 1924, leaving only a handful of members, most of whom could not be located after World War II. When the mission reopened in 1948, the missionaries returned to Hokkaidō, and the Church began to grow. Hokkaidō members held to a belief that a temple would be built among them one day as early as the 1960's. Elder Koichi Aoyagi of the Seventy, in a reflection of his own missionary experience there remarked, "I was a missionary here in Hokkaidō 46 years ago. The members in the Sapporo Branch back then said to me, 'Someday we will build a temple in Sapporo.' I am happy that this day has come."
The first prophecy regarding the temples of Japan was made on 17 July 1949 during the dedicatory services for the older Tokyo mission home, which is now the site of the Tokyo Japan Temple. Elder Harrison Ted Price, a missionary serving in the Northern Far East Mission, recorded in his journal, "In this prayer, he told of countless blessings from the Lord that have been enjoyed here to date, and went on to prophesy—'there will someday be many church buildings—and even TEMPLES built in the land."
On Saturday, 22 October 2011, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, President of the Asia North Area, and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, presided at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sapporo Japan Temple accompanied by his counselors, Elder Michael T. Ringwood and Elder Koichi Aoyagi, both of the Seventy, and their wives. Tents, umbrellas, and plastic raincoats were in abundance as wind and rain showered over the services. Elder Stevenson commented, "I am thankful for this historic groundbreaking—even in this downpour. Everything today was wet with rain, but the spirit of the Saints was not dampened at all. They came with their hearts open and with complete joy as they saw the image of the temple at the groundbreaking ceremony. You could see that their eyes and hearts were just filled with joy to know that they are going to have a House of the Lord on the island."
The former prime minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama, was a special guest at the groundbreaking. He flew to Sapporo to participate in the ceremony, and in his brief remarks, he pointed out the contribution of the Church and its members to the people of Tohoku, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011. "You have made many social contributions in a spirit of service. I cannot express my feelings toward the quiet service you have rendered with kindness on behalf of the people." Prime Minister Hatoyama joined in the ceremonial turning of ground, and as he left, he paused to wave to the crowd. The congregation erupted into spontaneous applause as a reflection of gratitude to this former leader of their nation who honored them with his presence on a wet, but special day.
The goal to qualify for a temple on Hokkaidō was five stakes (groups of congregations).
This will be the third temple built in Japan, which has 29 stakes and 14 districts. Sapporo is Japan's fifth largest city and is located on the northern island of Hokkaidō.
On 2 May 2010, the location of the Sapporo Japan Temple was announced as a large parcel of land on the Atsubetsu River, adjacent to the campus of Hokusei Gakuen University. The site of the Sapporo Japan Temple is at 1-620-5 Ohyachi-Nishi, Atsubetsu-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, Japan. The site is 9.8 acres. A charming, well-known pedestrian bridge decorated with colorful circles and supported by a soaring, graceful arch—known locally as "Rainbow Bridge"—crosses the river at the north edge of the temple site. The land was once occupied by the Shin Sapporo Golf Center and offers convenient access from the Hokkaidō Expressway and the Ooyachi Subway Station.
The Sapporo Japan Temple was designed with inspiration from Asian architecture. The temple will anchor a complex of supporting buildings, including an Arrival Center, a Patron Housing Facility, a Temple Missionary Housing Facility, a combined home and office for the Japan Sapporo Mission, and space for a future meetinghouse. The grounds will feature distinctive trees and plants, large landscaping stones, and a pond and waterfall spanned by a pedestrian bridge.
Open House for the Sapporo Japan Temple
The open house for the Sapporo Japan Temple was held from Friday, 8 July 2016 through Saturday, 23 July 2016. An open house was not conducted on Sunday, 10 and 17 July. More than 13,000 people attended the public open house.
Japan's History and Church History in Area Honored During Cultural Celebration
On Saturday evening, 20 August 2016, the youth of the Church in the area performed in a cultural celebration honoring Japan’s history as well as the history of the Church in the country.
During the celebration, President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostlescommented, "We have the exciting privilege of being part of this latter-day work, when the gospel will go to every nation and those people of Japan particularly now will be able to have all the blessings of the temple."
The Sapporo Japan Temple is located at 620-50 1 Chome, Ooyachi-Nishi, Atsubetsu-ku Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, Japan. It will serve more than 8,000 Latter-day Saints who live on the island of Hokkaido and in Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on the main island of Honshu. It is the Church’s third temple in Japan and the 151st operating temple worldwide. The two other temples in Japan are located in Tokyo Japan (dedicated in 1980) and Fukuoka Japan (dedicated in 2000).
Humanitarian Aid Updates
Mormons Provide Humanitarian Aid Around the World
Following the admonition of the Master who taught, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40), members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actively engage in the service of their fellowmen in many areas of the world.
The service that they render is not limited solely to Latter-day Saints in need, but rather they stand ready, willing, and able to “lift up the hands which hang down, and [to stable] the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12) of anyone in their hour of need. Thus, as they perform their unselfish acts of service, the words found in the text of King Benjamin’s sermon as recorded in The Book of Mormon resonate with them. Said King Benjamin, “And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another” (Mosiah 4:21).
The Church of Jesus Christ Humanitarian Programs
LDS Humanitarian Services is a branch of the Welfare Services department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The organization’s stated mission is to relieve suffering, to foster self-reliance for people of all nationalities and religions, and to provide opportunities for service.
Throughout its history, The Church of Jesus Christ has always provided for those in need and is perhaps best known for taking care of its own members. In 1842, Joseph Smith organized the Women’s Relief Society, with a primary focus to provide “relief” to suffering members and an ultimate vision of aiding all people. During the Great Depression, the Church organized a welfare program, now administered by the church's Welfare Services Department, to help provide for the needs of its members.
To help as many people as possible, the Church has established various humanitarian projects which operate throughout the world. These programs include LDS Charities, Helping Hands, and LDS Philanthropies. The Church also maintains the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, which was established in 1991 to “prepare humanitarian supplies for use worldwide and train those desiring to develop employable skills to become self-reliant.”
The Members' Role in Humanitarian Work
The Savior taught, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). We show our love for one another when we are willing to follow the admonition of the Lord to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. We are also taught that we are to visit the fatherless and the widow in their afflictions. In his timeless sermon, King Benjamin exhorted the people, “For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?” (Mosiah 4:19).
Members can get actively engaged in humanitarian efforts in several ways. One way that members can become involved is through service in their local community. Service in the community can include things such as cutting a neighbor’s lawn, washing a neighbor’s car, offering to run errands for an elderly person or someone who is otherwise unable to do so themselves, or babysitting for a neighbor. Service in the community might also include taking part in projects that benefit the community. Members should also seek to build community relations by being actively involved in community service projects that may be spearheaded by people of other faiths, or if they identify something that would benefit the community that has not been addressed, they should take the initiative to bring about a solution. No matter how a person chooses to serve his community, and no matter how small the service may seem, the service alone will say myriads about that person and his or her faith.
Too often we notice the needs around us, hoping that someone from far away will magically appear to meet those needs. … When we do this, we deprive our neighbor of the service we could render, and we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to serve.
Another way that a member can be involved in humanitarian efforts is by donating to the Humanitarian Aid Fund. Donations can be made through a local ward or branch of the Church by filling out a Tithing and Other Offerings slip and indicating the amount on the “Humanitarian Aid” line, mailing a check, or donating online through the Humanitarian Services Giving section of the LDS Philanthropies website. Donations to the Humanitarian Aid Fund allow the Church to help people throughout the world by providing relief and ultimately helping them to become self-reliant.
There are also many members who become actively engaged in community service or helping with relief efforts during natural disasters and catastrophes by volunteering to be a part of the Mormon Helping Hands. The Mormon Helping Hands is a program of The Church of Jesus Christ, under the direction of the Priesthood, which provides community service and/or disaster relief for those in need. The service that is rendered by the Helping Hands helps to establish the name and reputation of the Church by dispelling some of the misconceptions about the Church, and proving that Mormons are Christians who are willing to give of their time and service for the good of the communities in which they live.
Church of Jesus Christ Humanitarian Initiatives
Emergency Response is the part of the LDS Church’s humanitarian efforts of which most people are aware. Funds and supplies in this area are used to help victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, and hurricanes, as well as other disasters such as wars or political unrest. Supplies in this area are gathered and stored before a crisis so supplies can be sent within hours of an emergency. Volunteers are also on call so they can be reached and organized within a few hours if needed. The LDS Church is renowned for its ability to organize its members in various regions of the world to respond to emergency and facilitate distributing goods immediately after a crisis, often before aid programs such as the Red Cross or the Salvation Army come to assist. In 2008, the LDS Church responded to 124 disasters in 48 countries.
Wheelchair Distribution is another church program crucial to helping those in need. Studies estimate that only one percent of the disabled in the world have wheelchairs. For the rest, being without a wheelchair means adults cannot provide for themselves or their families, and for children it often means not being able to attend school. By providing wheelchairs to those in need, the church hopes to help people become more self-reliant which is an important tenant of LDS beliefs.
The Clean Water Service provides clean water and wells to people who otherwise would most likely contract deadly diseases because of the dirty water. It is estimated that one billion people lack clean water. The clean water program is designed to partner with local community agencies to provide sustainable clean water.
The Neonatal Resuscitation program sends doctors and volunteers to areas where infant mortality rate is high. They are able to teach people in the area how to resuscitate newborns as well as provide simple medical equipment. This service is greatly needed as it is estimated that nearly 1 million newborns die each year due to birth difficulties. Up to 10% of newborns have breathing difficulties.
The Vision Treatment Training program teaches facilities and medical personnel in developing countries how to treat preventable or reversible blindness. There are 37 million people in the world who are blind, and up to 75 % of blindness is treatable. The vision care program works with local vision health care centers to help treat and prevent blindness for the poor.
The Book of Mormon resembles the Bible in that it contains a mixture of stories and sermons recorded by earlier prophets to help us learn about Jesus Christ and His dealings with mankind. It contains the records of several early groups of people who came from the Holy Lands to the American continent. Those who were righteous were led by prophets, just as were the people of the Bible. These prophets recorded the revelations they received about Jesus Christ, their testimonies of Him, and at one miraculous point, their visitation from Him.
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Gerrit W. Gong: Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder Gerrit W. Gong and his wife, Sister Susan Lindsay Gong. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Gerrit W. Gong, who is characterized by his kindness, interest in others, love of family, and desire to build the kingdom of God, was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 31 March 2018, during a Solemn Assembly, during the Saturday morning session of general conference. He is the first Asian-American Apostle. At the time of his call, he had been serving in the Presidency of the Seventy. He had been serving as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah South Area when called to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy at General Conference, April 2010.
Now, as a newly sustained member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he will share a different kind of light with God’s children throughout the world. He has said, "Ours is a worldwide Church. The restored gospel is for every nation, kindred, and tongue."
Elder Gong was born on 23 December 1953 in Redwood City, California, to Walter A. Gong and Jean C. Gong, both professional teachers, who collectively spent more than 70 years in the classroom. He is the oldest of three children and inherited his parent’s love for learning. Thus, he comes to the apostleship with a background rich in education and experience. He is a Rhodes Scholar who worked for the U.S. State Department and for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and his travels have taken him to all seven continents, including living in Asia for more than a decade.
Elder Gong received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian and university studies at Brigham Young University in 1977. In 1979 he received a Master of Philosophy and in 1981 a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford University. In 1985 he served as special assistant to the undersecretary of state at the U.S. State Department, and then in 1987, he served as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China. From 1989 to 2001 he served in many positions for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He was also the assistant to the president for planning and assessment at Brigham Young University.
Sister Gong has said, "There are three characteristics that are quintessential Gerrit Gong. One, he is unfailingly kind. Two, he is interested in everything, which makes him a fascinating person to live with. Three, he loves the Lord. He really desires with all his heart to build the kingdom and bless Heavenly Father’s children."
Elder and Sister Gong were married in January 1980 in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of four sons and have three grandchildren. The couple hosts "grandkids camp" every summer, which includes crafts and adventures, and loves to travel with their sons. They currently reside in Provo, Utah.
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Lydia loves musical theatre and aspires to be on Broadway. Favorite theatrical roles portrayed include Susan in Miracle on 34th Street, Young Fiona in Shrek! Pepper in Annie, and a member of the munchkin Lullaby League in The Wizard of Oz.
As a member of One Voice Children’s Choir, Lydia has performed as a soloist with the choir in appearances with Alex Boyé, Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix, Jenny Oaks Baker, David Osmond, and for former President and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. She also performed with the choir on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, toured with the choir to France, and is a soloist in the choir’s YouTube videos of "Where Are You Christmas" and "J’Imagine."
Lydia is a gifted dancer and studies ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, acro and musical theatre at Utah COPA. Her vocal coach is Shalee Schmidt, a member of the Musical Theatre Program teaching faculty at the University of Utah.
Lydia is also a competitive individual figure skater competing at ISI Freestyle level 4. This past season she placed first at the Denver Invitational, Skatefest, Oktoberfest, Copper Cup and Davis Cup.
Lydia is represented by TMG (Talent Management Group) in Salt Lake City, Utah.