Tea, Coffee and Alcohol Are Banned but So Is Polygamy; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Is Thriving and Not Just in America. in Fact the Headquarters of the Western European Church Is in Solihull. Jo Ind Reports on the West Midland Mormons

The Birmingham Post (England), March 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

Tea, Coffee and Alcohol Are Banned but So Is Polygamy; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Is Thriving and Not Just in America. in Fact the Headquarters of the Western European Church Is in Solihull. Jo Ind Reports on the West Midland Mormons


Byline: Jo Ind

Mention the Mormons and what do you think of? Donny Osmond? Polygamy? People dressed in suits standing on your doorstep in pairs? These were some of the images that the word conjured up for me and I noticed I found it much easier to empty my mind of pre-conceived ideas when visiting mosques, gurudwaras, synagogues and temples than I did before meeting the Latter-day Saints, as they call themselves.

Sitting in the reception of their efficient headquarters in Solihull, I realised I feared I was visiting a cult.

Before long Bryan Grant, the director of public affairs, came down to meet me. Bryan is a cheery man - short, undefensive and welcoming.

On the way to his office, I walk past desks of office workers, all neat, all clean, all busy and tidy.

The most striking aspect of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints is that it is much better organised than your average business.

Unlike some religions in which there is no initiation ritual or membership system, Latter-day Saints are recorded on a computer database.

There are about 8,000 members in the West Midlands. It is a fast growing church with more than 180,000 members in the UK and Ireland and ten million worldwide.

There are about 100 people from all over the world working in the Solihull headquarters where the membership is administered, and where decisions about the maintenance of the buildings, the church education system, the welfare department and the processing of money given by members are made.

Bryan is all set, ready to explain the faith of Latter-day Saints with the help of a DVD. That is another striking feature of the Church - the way it embraces technology.

Salt Lake City, which is where the church is based in the US, is known as the second silicone valley. Every church has a satellite dish attached so that two or three times a year the churches can be linked up in an international conference broadcast.

'Where shall we go first?' says Bryan with his finger on the mouse as we look at the icons on the DVD screen. 'Core beliefs? History? Humanitarian service?'

Bryan gets clicking and we are off. Mormons believe that after he was risen, Christ went to America. As well as the Bible, they have a sacred text - the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

The earliest writings of this book date to 600BC and the latest are about 400AD. It tells the story of God's dealing with the American civilizations of that period.

Click . . .

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints was actually founded in 1830 in New York State.

Ten years before, a young man called Joseph Smith was praying in a wood near his home when he had a vision of God the Father and God the Son.

Jesus told Joseph that many of his teachings had been lost over the centuries and he wanted his church to be restored according to his original way.

Joseph was led by God to a place called Hill Cumorah in New York State where he found gold plates on which was written the Book of Mormon.

It was the beginning of a new form of Christianity, one which was neither Roman Catholic nor Protestant.

But it was a form of Christianity which resulted in its followers being persecuted - so much so that in 1844 Joseph Smith was murdered. He was succeeded by a man called Brigham Young who led thousands of church members on a 1,400 mile trek in wagons across the American frontier to settle in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, in what is now Utah.

That is the home of the church to this day.

Click . . . The name Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came about because it is seen as a restoration of the early church established by Christ. …

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Tea, Coffee and Alcohol Are Banned but So Is Polygamy; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Is Thriving and Not Just in America. in Fact the Headquarters of the Western European Church Is in Solihull. Jo Ind Reports on the West Midland Mormons
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