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:
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
Jason Lyle Black ( a.k.a. The Backwards Piano Man ®)
Jason Lyle Black who is professionally known as "The Backwards Piano Man"® is a music composer, performer, YouTuber, educator, and entrepreneur. In his short bio on his Facebook page, Jason states, "I perform and share videos of virtuoso piano and musical comedy."
He is a full-time national touring entertainer who appears at performing arts centers all across the United States, as a guest with orchestras and choirs, and as a headline performer on luxury cruise ships around the world.
Jason Lyle Black was born and raised in Livermore, California. At the age of eight, he began playing the piano and studied classical piano with Mary Beth Cheney until he graduated from high school. He also studied piano with Professor Roy Bogas of Holy Names College for a short time. In addition to learning to play the piano, Jason studied trumpet with Jay Rizzetto of then-Cal State Hayward, and he also plays the organ.
In his own right, Jason has had a very successful career in the music business thus far. He is a published arranger with Hal Leonard, the largest sheet music publisher in the world. His most recent Hal Leonard folio, Disney Medleys for Piano Solo, was released in 2018, along with an accompanying Disney album, Friend Like Me.
Jason has 30 million music video views worldwide. His viral Disney videos have been featured by Huffington Post, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, Yahoo, CNN, and Seventeen Magazine.
He is a frequent concert performer and has performed various times in concerts with popular artist Jon Schmidt (now of The Piano Guys). He has also appeared in several live television performances in Hollywood where he is perhaps best known for his performance on the Ellen Degeneres show in 2010, playing his trademark backward piano act, and in Tokyo, Japan on Fuji TV.
He is also the composer and self-publisher of three piano solo albums: Another Point of View (original compositions and classical remixes, 2009); Midnight Clear (Christmas music, 2011), and Hope of Israel (instrumental religious, 2012). The albums are available for purchase on iTunes or Amazon MP3 and can be streamed free on Spotify.
Jason is a music composition teacher in both private and group settings. He is also the creator of the Montage Method™ for composition. He founded Montage Music in June 2015. The company is located in the Greater Salt Lake City, Utah area.
He has entertained audiences at the Draper City Amphitheater (Draper, UT – 2013, 2014), Oakland Temple Hill Visitor’s Center (Oakland, CA – 2013), Phi Kappa Phi National Convention (St. Louis, MO – 2012), and at numerous other public and private events. He has had the honor of sharing the stage with renowned artists such as William Joseph, Nathan Pacheco, Marshall McDonald, and other pianists and vocalists.
In his live shows, Jason focuses on piano entertainment: making creative piano spoofs and using comedy + classical music to entertain audiences of all ages. Jason is also known for taking requests on the spot in shows, which sets him apart from other pianists and performers of the day.
On Wednesday, 3 February 2016, Jason announced on his Facebook page that he had just signed a record deal with one of the top independent labels in the industry – Stone Angel Music, which was founded by Steinway concert artist and Billboard recording artist, Paul Cardall. Paul writes and performs music, and has played the piano since he was a young boy of eight. He has numerous #1 Billboard albums to his credit. He produced Jason’s album, Piano Preludes (an album of original piano music). The album was released in May 2016 and debuted at #1 on iTunes and #2 on the Billboard music charts.
Jason Lyle Black was honored as a 2018 Juried Showcase Artist with Performing Arts Exchange in Orlando, Florida, and as a 2018 National Showcase Artist with Live on Stage in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a frequent guest on television and radio programs, and has also shared his keynote message Upside Down: It's a Matter of Perspective on how small shifts in strategy create huge impacts for individuals and organizations.
Jason Lyle Black currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee where he works full-time in the music industry.
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