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 Latter-day Saints 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 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.
The nation of South Africa has 12 stakes, 4 districts, and 1 operating temple in the city of Johannesburg, over 350 miles (570 kilometres) northwest of Durban. The city of Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. With a metropolitan population of almost 4.5 million people, it is the country's third-largest city, behind Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The design for the Durban South Africa Temple was inspired by the buildings of downtown Durban. The corners of the building and tower employ simple and elegant detail, while fluted stone panels accent the window openings. In the center of the fluting, simple geometric carvings highlight the African roots of the region. Similar to the houses in the surrounding neighborhood, the temple has a pitched red clay tile roof.
The indigenous landscaping brings color and life to the temple grounds. The entire site is 14.49 acres. More than 800 trees dot the grounds, including symbolic king palms and flowering trees such as the coral tree, with its vibrant red flowers. Among the 2,800 square meters of lawn are thousands of shrubs, vines, and flowers, including South African aloes that flower in winter and the striking strelitzia juncea, well known in the region. In addition, decorative motifs of the king protea, the national flower of South Africa, have been used around the temple on the entry gates, stone benches, and art glass.
The Durban South Africa Temple features more than 50 exquisite art pieces, including many scenes from the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and several pieces depicting African landscapes. The temple walls are adorned with scenes of sunsets, rivers, waterfalls, African wildlife, and indigenous flora and fauna.
Early Church History in South Africa
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a long-standing history in South Africa. In August 1853, only 23 years after the Church was officially organized, the first congregation in South Africa was formed four miles from Cape Town. The growth of the Church was amazing. In just two years' time, one congregation became three, and South African Latter-day Saints in the area totaled almost 130. Government restrictions and challenges in speaking Afrikaans led to a period from 1865 to 1903 in which no Latter-day Saint missionaries were sent to South Africa. Just a few years after missionary work resumed there, the first Latter-day Saint church building was constructed in Mowbray in 1917.
The growth of the Church moved steadily onward. By October 1978, there were 7,200 church members in South Africa, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and southwest Africa (Namibia), 3,450 of whom attended the area’s first conference. Fourteen years later, 4,200 church members attended a conference in Johannesburg, and four years after that, a regional conference celebrated the attendance of 5,000 church members.
As of 2014, South Africa had over 59,000 Church members of all races, worshiping in unity and working together to overcome some of South Africa’s cultural challenges. Throughout South Africa, there are 154 congregations, and 61 family history centers, where members and others can learn how to do genealogical research.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Durban South Africa Temple
The ground was broken for the Durban South Africa Temple on Saturday, 9 April 2016, as hundreds of Latter-day Saints and other community members gathered to celebrate the event.
Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy and President of the Church’s Africa Southeast Area presided at the groundbreaking. He was joined by his wife Lynette. Elder Stanley G. Ellis and Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, also of the area presidency, and their wives Kathryn and Claudia, respectively, attended along with dignitaries and community leaders.
Elder Cook commented, "Today the ceremonial shovels will turn the soil, and the construction of the temple will begin. We can likewise begin building. We can build our personal lives in preparation for the temple. Today we can increase our faith, we can increase our obedience to God, and serve Him more fully."
Today there are more than 61,000 Latter-day Saints in South Africa. The first temple in the country was completed in 1985 in Johannesburg.
During remarks to the Latter-day Saints and members of the community, Elder Andersen commented, "This holy house will also bless the country and the people who surround it, whether or not they are members of the Church. It will be a light upon a hill, and the glory of the Lord will be upon it." He also paid tribute to the people of Africa and of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He stated, "They are a spiritual people. They trust in God and they pray to God. Our Heavenly Father loves His sons and daughters here and answers their prayers."
The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple Dedicatory Services
On Sunday, 14 April 2019, under a beautiful African sky, hundreds of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered to witness a historic moment - the dedication of the Kinshasa Democratic of the Republic of the Congo Temple. Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles led the dedication and performed the cornerstone ceremony, which symbolizes the completion of the temple and its readiness to be dedicated for sacred use. He was accompanied by his wife Sister Ruth Renlund, members of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency and their wives, and other leaders.
In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Renlund offered a blessing upon the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that they may be provided for in their needs and that there may be continued peace in the country. He also gave a blessing upon the members of the Church that they may be made strong amidst their challenges.
In his remarks at the dedication ceremony, Elder Joseph W. Sitati, a member of the Africa Southeast Area Presidency, highlighted the significant growth in the number of temples of the Church worldwide, and the blessings that these holy edifices bring to the lives of the members of the church and the countries in which they are located.
The dedication of the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple marks an important milestone for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the DRC, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa by area. The history of the Church in the DRC dates to the 1970s when the first Congolese converts were baptized in Europe. Today there are more than 60,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the DRC, where the Church is experiencing phenomenal growth.
The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple is the 163rd operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide and the fourth operating temple on the African continent. The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple will serve seven countries in the surrounding area, including Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Gabon.
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. They are also reminded of the words of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon who exhorted, "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). "And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also" (1 John 4:21).
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
Latter-day Saint Charities 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.
North Star - A place of community for Latter-day Saints dealing with issues surrounding homosexual attraction who desire to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the values and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The following articles discuss the topic of Religious Freedom:
Henry B. Eyring - Second Counselor in the First Presidency
President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
Henry Bennion Eyring was born on 31 May 1933, in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the second child of Henry Eyring, Sr. then a professor of chemistry at Princeton and later the dean of the graduate school at the University of Utah and president of the American Chemical Society, and his wife, Mildred Bennion. Henry Eyring, Sr. earned numerous awards in his field and Mildred Bennion was a graduate of the University of Utah and had pursued a doctoral degree. Henry Eyring, Sr. was also the brother of Camilla Eyring who married Spencer W. Kimball who was the 12th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making Elder Eyring a nephew of President Kimball.
Henry lived in Princeton until his early teenage years. He grew up in a small branch of the Church that often met in a hotel room or in the Eyring home. Until the start of World War II, his family attended Church meetings at the branch in New Brunswick, New Jersey, but with the gasoline rationing of the war, they received permission to hold meetings in their home, which often had only the Eyring family. As a teenager, he and his family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where his father took a post at the University of Utah.
Henry graduated with a degree in Physics from the University of Utah before entering the United States Air Force. The Air Force sent him to New Mexico. When he arrived he was called as a district missionary in the area and served almost exactly two full years. He then completed a Master's and Ph.D. in Business Administration at Harvard Graduate School of Business. From there he decided to teach and found a position at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He met Kathleen Johnson in 1961 and they were married in July 1962 in the Logan Utah Temple.
In the following years, Henry B. Eyring continued to teach, served as an officer and director of Finnigan Instrument Corporation, founded and directed System Industries Incorporated (a computer manufacturing company), taught early morning seminary, and served twice as a bishop.
In 1971, Henry B. Eyring was inaugurated as President of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). While president, he also took the time to teach religion classes. The Eyring family grew to include four boys and two girls. After serving for five years as president at Ricks, Elder Eyring was asked to become deputy commissioner of the Church Educational System. Three years later he became commissioner.
In 1985, Henry B. Eyring was called to be in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church. He was then called to the Seventy and continued working as Commissioner of the Church Educational System. On 1 April 1995, Henry B. Eyring was ordained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
On 6 October 2007, Elder Eyring was sustained as the second counselor in the First Presidency to fill a vacancy that occurred upon the death of President James E. Faust.
Quotes by President Henry B. Eyring
There has been a war between light and darkness, between good and evil, since before the world was created. The battle still rages, and the casualties seem to be increasing. All of us have family members we love who are being buffeted by the forces of the destroyer, who would make all God’s children miserable. For many of us, there have been sleepless nights. We have tried to add every force for good we can to the powers swirling around the people who are at risk. - "The Power of Teaching Doctrine," Ensign, May 1999
Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or have decided that I was an exception, I have come to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path that was prepared with loving care. - "Finding Safety in Counsel," Friend, Aug. 1998
Featured Latter-day Saint Music Artist
Father and daughter duet from Kaysville, Utah - Mat and Savanna Shaw
Mat and Savanna Shaw, the father and daughter duet from Kaysville, Utah, have teamed up to share their God-given talents in hopes of bringing a ray of sunshine into the lives of others.
15-year-old Savanna is the oldest of the four kids in the Shaw family. Her 13-year-old brother, Easton Matthew, is the next oldest. He is followed by Eric William who is 10, and Pennie Jean, the youngest sibling, who is six years old. Brooke Shaw, who is a marathon runner, is the matriarch of the family. The family are faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mat served a two-year mission for the Church in the Philippines.
Before the pandemic outbreak, Savanna had joined a new youth choir led by choir director Kelly DeHaan at the Hale Center Theatre and was just starting to make friends and feel confident about being in the spotlight. So, she decided to create an Instagram account to stay in touch with her choir friends from school, and for her first post, she was going to sing "The Prayer" but she did not want to sing it alone. One day while Mat was working in his backyard, she asked him if he would sing the song made popular by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, with her.
In late February 2020, Mat and Savanna recorded their rendition of "The Prayer." A few days later, after posting the video to Facebook, Mat sent a screenshot to Savanna, with the number of views – 2,700 – circled. He told her, "You’re not going to believe this. Sixty people have shared the video!" In the days that followed, the numbers kept rising.
They decided to keep recording songs and making music videos. They have also created a YouTube channel, with "The Prayer" being the first music video on the channel. The video was posted on 6 March 2020, and as of late September 2020, it has garnered more than 7.6 million views on YouTube alone.
Since recording "The Prayer," Mat and Savanna have performed several duets. They have recorded everything from Beauty and the Beast to The Phantom of the Opera to The Greatest Showman. A handful of the duets have been viewed more than a million times. The duo has also recorded and released several solo covers like Savanna singing "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" from The Phantom of the Opera, and Mat singing "Evermore" by Josh Groban. Their rapid success gives a whole new meaning to the song "A Million Dreams," which they also recorded as a duet and released on their YouTube channel on 8 March 2020. That video has garnered more than 5.6 million views.
With 24 featured songs (19 duets and five individual) on their YouTube channel and more than 529,000 subscribers, Mat and Savanna Shaw have caught national attention from outlets like Good Morning America, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and Inside Edition. Their names even appear in Google searches, and they were even interviewed on a morning news show in Japan.
The father-daughter duet currently have 1,980 Patrons who support them via TheShawFam on Patreon. Their latest music video release, "You’ve Got A Friend In Me," from Disney’s Toy Story was released on their YouTube channel on Sunday, 27 September 2020, and has already gone viral with more than 93,000 views. Their music is also available now on iTunes, and they have even caught the attention of a prominent Broadway manager.
They both refer to their unexpected rise to fame as "an amazing, wild ride." Matt said, "The one thing more contagious than a virus is hope and so we’re just doing our small part in the world to spread some hope." During a recent Zoom call with the Deseret News, Savanna said, "I really genuinely only thought that my friends and my family were going to see it. And I think if I would have known how big it would get, I probably would have been a lot more nervous. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know that." Mat told the Deseret News, "Savanna’s always been a little bit shy with her music. It was surprising because after having posted these songs, some of her good friends didn’t even know that she could sing like that."
Mat Shaw always loved singing. As a child, he aspired to record music and to someday be on Broadway. Those dreams soon changed when at the young age of 14 his father passed away. After his father’s death, the family was faced with financial hardships and moved from Los Angeles, California to Kaysville, Utah. In high school, he kept his passion alive by singing in choirs and participating in musical theater. He even attended Weber State University on a vocal performance scholarship, although his major was accounting. After graduation, music fell to the wayside as he began to focus more on his real estate business and his growing family.
Wife and mother, Brooke Shaw, said, "I love it because before all of this they never sang together and so this is new and just really special for our family." And, 6-year-old Pennie Jean Shaw said listening to her sister and father singing helps her fall asleep. Mat Shaw added, "Never in a million dreams would we have ever thought that our music would have this kind of impact. That has been the best part."
The father-daughter duo have just completed recording their debut 13-track album, which is due to be released in late October 2020, and they have also recorded a Christmas EP. Fans can send messages and gifts to Mat and Savanna at the following address: 447N 300W Suite #2; Kaysville, Utah 84037.
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