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 Democratic Republic of the Congo has experienced rapid membership growth since the first stake of the Church in Kinshasa was created in 1996. There are currently 9 stakes in the combined conurbation of Kinshasa-Brazzaville with a total of 15 stakes and 4 districts in the countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo. The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple is a tremendous blessing to over 23,000 Church members spread throughout the vast region of Central Africa.
The completed temple contains instruction rooms, sealing rooms, a celestial room, and a baptistery. In instruction rooms, Church members learn about the purpose of life and make promises to live faithfully. Marriages are performed in sealing rooms, and Latter-day Saints believe families can be sealed, or joined, not only for this life but for eternity. The celestial room symbolizes eternal life in the presence of God and Jesus Christ.
Rapid Church Growth in Africa
The construction of Latter-day Saint temples (Temples are separate from chapels, where members gather for weekly worship services), no matter the location, is a sign of not only a Latter-day Saint community that is strong and mature but also one that is growing. The fact that the Church in Africa has grown exponentially in the past 30 years is surprising to even those who understand the culture and complexity of this vast region of the globe - whether they are leaders and converts living and serving in Africa, or those who journey to Salt Lake City, Utah to help guide the affairs of the global Church.
In 2014, more than 12,000 people were baptized and became members of the Church in Southeast Africa (about 4 percent of growth Churchwide) and 24,000 people were baptized and became members in West Africa (about 8 percent of the 296,000 converts around the globe). And in 2015, growth merited the creation of the Church’s first two stakes (groups of congregations under the direction of an ecclesiastical leader) in Mozambique. Also in 2015, the Church created 17 new stakes (each similar in size to a diocese) throughout Africa.
An understanding of historical context helps a person appreciate the rapid growth in membership that has occurred. In Africa 30 years ago, the Church had 137 separate congregations and about 22,000 members. Today, there are more than 1,600 congregations and half a million members — that’s 11 times more wards and branches and 20 times more members than in 1985.
Establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kinshasa
Kinshasa’s first Latter-day Saint missionaries arrived in February 1986. Church services were organized in members’ homes until September of that year when the remodeled villa the Church purchased was ready to accommodate its 208 members. By July 1987, there were 300 members in the country, many of them young men and young families. Nine years after the Zaire Kinshasa Mission was established, the first stake (or group of local congregations) was organized. As of 2014, there were 37,909 Church members in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 130 congregations, 11 Family History Centers and now a temple.
The Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple is constructed next to the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Stake Center on land that has been reserved for several years. An institute and seminary building also operates on the 10-acre property. The temple is located in the Quartier Bosoko, Ngaliema, area of Kinshasa at Avenue de l'OUA, Commune de Ngaliema, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on nearly five acres. Stone from Egypt and porcelain tile from South Africa covers the floors of the building, which is over 12,000 square feet. The interior design features a subtle elegant geometric and diamond motif. Landscaping offers a vibrant array of local flora in contrast to the white plaster exterior and zinc roof.
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:
Dallin Harris Oaks was born on 12 August 1932, in Provo, Utah. He attended both Provo High School and Brigham Young High School. His father died of tuberculosis when he was only eight years old, and three years later he began working to help his mother. His first job was to sweep at a radio repair shop. It was this first job that led the young boy to gain a keen interest in radios. Before his sixteenth birthday, he had earned his radio/telephone license and landed a job working for a radio company. Soon after, he began working regularly as an announcer. It was while he was announcing a high school basketball game that he met June Dixon. They later married on 24 June 1952, while both were attending college at Brigham Young University.
President Oaks worked steadily to earn a degree in accounting and later attended the University of Chicago Law School. His wife recalls him saying that although there were plenty of students at the law school who were smarter than he, none of them worked any harder than he did. He graduated with honors and earned the opportunity to serve as a clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court. At the completion of this internship, he and his family moved back to Chicago, where he entered into a private law practice.
In 1961, Dallin Oaks was called to be the mission president of the Chicago stake and was also offered the opportunity to teach at the University of Chicago. Two years later he accepted a calling as the second counselor in the Chicago South Stake Presidency. Along with his responsibilities in the Church, President Oaks had many responsibilities in other areas of his life. He was well known in his profession and had served as the assistant state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois, as the acting dean of the law school, as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, as a legal counsel to the Bill of Rights Committee for the Illinois Constitutional Convention, and as an executive director of the American Bar Foundation.
In 1970, he was asked by the Church to be the new president of Brigham Young University. While serving as the president, he focused on academic excellence and became a spokesman for private colleges and universities nationwide as the president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities.
On 1 January 1981, Dallin H. Oaks was sworn into the Utah Supreme Court, and he continued to be offered many important federal jobs. At the April 1984 General Conference, when he was sustained as a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Gordon B. Hinckley also announced: "With reference to Dallin Oaks, I should like to say that while we nominate and sustain him today, he will not be ordained to the apostleship, nor will he be set apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve, nor will he begin his apostolic service, until after he completes his present judicial commitments, which may require several weeks. He is absent from the city, and necessarily absent from the conference. We excuse him." When he received this calling, he resigned from the Utah Supreme Court, so that he would be able to focus all of his attention on serving in the Church. This strong desire to serve has never wavered. Just after his calling was announced, the Washington Post’s Supreme Court reporter called him because he was a likely candidate for the United States Supreme Court. The reporter wanted to know if his new calling in the Church would mean that he would no longer be available for the position in the Supreme Court. He affirmed that he was no longer available. He further explained that even an appointment in the Supreme Court did not take precedence over the service he had just been called to give.
President Dallin H. Oaks was married to June Dixon from 1952 to 1998 when she passed away. He married Kristen Meredith McMain in 2000. His daughter is a renowned violinist, Jenny Oaks Baker. He has four grandchildren - Laura June Baker, Sarah Noelle Baker, Matthew Dallin Baker, and Hannah Jean Baker.
Featured Latter-day Saint Music Artist
Mary Hiett, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is an awe-inspiring songwriter who hales from Idaho Falls, Idaho. She currently resides in Etna, California, which is a small valley with a minute population. She has three CDs and some Christmas music recorded digitally.
Her most recent release, The Best of Mary Hiett: Bar None, is perhaps her greatest opus. The recording is actually a project that Mary began working on four years ago at the age of 60. It became her dream project. It is a project that is nothing short of a creative masterpiece. From beginning to end, each of the 16 tracks is a superb example of Mary Hiett’s genius as a composer.
The incredible music on the 16-track full-length album was arranged and orchestrated under the expertise of her dear friend and producer, Morgan Byers. In fact, the last track on the album titled “Just a Bach Rock” is dedicated to Morgan. When Morgan first started taking piano lessons from Mary, she soon discovered that he is a huge Bach fan. So, she felt inspired to write a cinematic Bach pop-rock song as a tribute to him.
Speaking about her music, Mary says, "When God gave me this music, I did not know what to do with it. I’m not from Utah where everything is accessible, but I do live in an age where my phone has been a great asset to me. I am at the mercy of not having the best of everything." To record her music, she had to find her own recording technician, arranger, vocalist, and a place to record.
Trying to get her music out to the world has not been a cheap venture, nevertheless, Mary has not allowed any of those obstacles to deter her. She continues to press forward realizing that the work and the good that she is doing is not about her or for her. Because of her love and devotion for the Lord Jesus Christ, Mary believes that she is on a mission and her errand for the Lord is to create music that is uplifting and inspiring.
It was Leo Tolstoy who once said, "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Perhaps this is a thought settled deep within Mary’s subconscious as she sits at her piano to prepare a melodious feast that will feed the souls of all who will listen. The music that she composes is full of passion and compassion and evokes the emotions of anyone who hears it, with the overt intention of playing with the heartstrings. Within each song and melody that she composes is an amazing story – a story that captivates even the most casual listener of her music.
The album, which is available for purchase from CDBaby, bears the following description, "Bar None is an album with 16 beautiful piano/orchestrated cinematic pop songs that will certainly take you on your own cinematic journey and [help you] create your own story while listening." Jane Swan who taught history and served as the director of the Women’s Center at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, asked the direct question, "How is that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?" Mary Hiett manages to answer that question with her creation of The Best of Mary Hiett: Bar None. Not a single word is spoken or sung on the entire album, yet our laughter, fears, and high aspirations are all evoked.
Knowing about her music, Mary’s StakeRelief Society President asked her to write a song for the Relief Society’s 176th birthday celebration. She was able to compose the melody for the song in a day but found that writing the words was a little more challenging. The song, "Turn On Your Light," is an anthem about women standing up and turning on their light. It is based on a talk given by Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the October 2017 women’s conference. The talk was titled Turn On Your Light. The Lord sent Mary a college student named Melissa, whom she has known since Melissa was eight years of age in the primary, to sing the song. It would be Melissa’s first experience of recording a song.
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