Defending the restored church of Christ - I created this blog several years ago to provide an alternative to what I saw at the time as a lot of bad "Mormon blogs" that were floating around the web. Also, it was my goal to collect and share a plethora of positive and useful information about what I steadfastly believe to be Christ's restored church. It has been incredibly enjoyable and I hope you find the information worthwhile.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Kirtland Ohio temple

Dedicated March 27th, 1836.

The above photos were taken in the early 1900's. You might also notice the temple walls don't seem to be white, they seem to be a darker color. That's because the originally the temple was painted a light blue color. Yeah, light blue. That's hard to picture with what we are used to seeing when it comes to today's modern temples.

The Kirtland Temple today is owned by the Community of Christ and is still used for occasional church services. Available tours are enjoyed but thousands of visitors each year.


Kirtland Temple encourages cooperation between religious groups

(by Emily W. Jensen 6-30-12)

“Why doesn’t The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints own the Kirtland Temple?” many LDS Church members wonder this as they tour the Kirtland, Ohio, historic sites. Both LDS Church and Community of Christ members have learned to work together with one another in a spirit of cooperation fostered by a joint love of the history and holiness of the Kirtland Temple.

David J. Howlett, a professor of Bowdoin College, explained Friday afternoon at the Mormon History Association Conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, that “the staff at the Community of Christ’s Kirtland Temple and the full-time missionaries at the LDS Church’s site, Historic Kirtland, engage in direct forms of cooperation and sharing that allows for a somewhat harmonious and amicable relationship between the two churches.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith and early members of the church built the Kirtland Temple and it was dedicated in March 1836 (see Doctrine and Covenants 109 and 100). Ownership changed due to conflicts within Ohio and Missouri, pinacling after the martydom of Joseph Smith in 1844, as various leaders with claims to the church tried to take control of the temple, igniting many legal battles that lasted through much of the late 19th century.

By 1901, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ) legally secured ownership and has worked to preserve the temple for the benefit of those connected to the history and heritage of Mormonism (see this Kirtland Temple history on and "A History of Temples" on for more information).

During his presentation, Howlett quoted Barbara Walden, a former Community of Christ Kirtland Temple site director, compared the relationship between the two groups as a family: “Just like in any good family, there is mutual respect and appreciation for members of the family. This is kindness and affection, and a shared heritage. … We certainly have our differences in theology … but we genuinely get along despite our differences.”

This cooperation comes in various forms. For example, there are joint tours led by both Community of Christ tour guides and scholars along with Mormon scholars and missionaries. Karl Anderson is a well-known historian specializing in the area’s history who joined with Walden to conduct a tour in 2009 that Howlett referenced.

“Barbara Walden emphasized the construction, architecture and worship functions of the temple, allowing Karl Anderson to talk about parts of the third floor and the first floor as it related to LDS doctrine,” Howlett said.

Anderson even had participants take off their shoes on the third floor, remarking, “We are on holy ground because of what happened here and the presence of deity here.”

Another recent joint effort was a July 2011 hymn festival. Howlett described how members from “three different Restoration denominations or sects gathered to celebrate the 207th birthday of their common spiritual ancestor, Emma Hale Smith Bidamon.”

Members joined together and read portions of a biographical script, shared in the music of the festival and ended with them standing and singing a common hymn beloved by all, “The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning.” Other examples of cooperation include a Christmas hymn service, joint summer picnics and, as Howlett explained, the “LDS staff invites the Community of Christ staff to all major events at their sites, including a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and missionary send-offs.”

These and other cooperative efforts, including how both staffs of the respective historic sites encourage visitors to visit the other sites and to “treat staff at the other sites with respect,” is the product of years of cooperation that has proven to benefit both religious traditions.

Ensuring that, as Howlett concludes, “the Kirtland Temple remains one of Mormonism’s holiest (places).”

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Pentecostal Season at the Kirtland Temple

( 9-27-09)

The story of the building, preparation, and dedication of the Kirtland Temple is so spiritually rich and filled with visions that I quote below the entire section of the chapter in the Institute manual – ‘Church History in the Fulness of Times’.

A Pentecostal Season

In addition to their great personal efforts, the Saints spent from forty to sixty thousand dollars on the temple. Because they were so willing to sacrifice in building the temple, the Lord poured out great blessings upon them. From 21 January to 1 May 1836 probably more Latter-day Saints beheld visions and witnessed other unusual spiritual manifestations than during any other era in the history of the Church. Members of the Church saw heavenly messengers in at least ten different meetings, and at five of these gatherings different individuals testified that they had beheld the Savior himself. Many experienced visions, some prophesied, and others spoke in tongues.

One of the most important meetings held in the Kirtland Temple was on Thursday, 21 January 1836. The Prophet recorded the incident:

In the evening “at early candle-light I met with the presidency at the west school room, in the Temple, to attend to the ordinance of anointing our heads with holy oil. . . .

“We then laid our hands upon our aged Father Smith, and invoked the blessings of heaven. . . . The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof. . . . I saw . . . the blazing throne of God. . . . I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold.” Joseph Smith also saw many prophets in the celestial kingdom before the scene of his vision shifted (see D&C 137:1, 3–5 ). He then saw the recently appointed Twelve “standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, . . . and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold Him. . . .

“Many of my brethren who received the ordinance [of washing and anointing] with me saw glorious visions also. Angels ministered unto them as well as to myself, and the power of the Highest rested upon us. The house was filled with the glory of God, and we shouted Hosanna to God and the Lamb. . . .

“. . . Some of them saw the face of the Savior, . . . for we all communed with the heavenly host.” 38

Joseph Smith saw his brother Alvin in the celestial kingdom and marvelled because Alvin had died before the gospel was restored. Also with the vision the Lord revealed the principle of mercy: “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God” ( D&C 137:7 ). The Prophet also learned that all children who die before the age of accountability “are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” ( D&C 137:10 ).

Some of the most memorable spiritual experiences occurred on the day the temple was dedicated—Sunday, 27 March 1836. Hundreds of Latter-day Saints came to Kirtland anticipating the great blessings the Lord had promised to bestow upon them. Early on the morning of the temple dedication, hundreds of people gathered outside the temple hoping to attend the dedicatory service. The doors were opened at 8:00 a.m., and the First Presidency assisted in seating the congregation of nearly a thousand people, but many were left outside. When the leaders of the Church were seated at the elevated pulpits and benches at each end of the hall and when all the available seats in the temple were filled, the doors were closed. This left hundreds of people still outside, including many who had sacrificed tremendously for the temple’s construction and had come long distances to attend the dedication. Sensing their disappointment, the Prophet directed them to hold an overflow meeting in the schoolhouse just to the west. The dedicatory service was repeated a second time the following Thursday for their benefit.

After the choir’s opening number, President Sidney Rigdon spoke for two and a half hours declaring that the temple was unique among all the buildings of the world because it was built by divine revelation. After a brief intermission, the officers of the Church were sustained. The climax of the day was the dedicatory prayer, which had previously been given to the Prophet by revelation. He expressed gratitude for God’s blessings and asked the Lord to accept the temple which was built “through great tribulation . . . that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people” ( D&C 109:5 ). He petitioned that the blessings promised in the Lord’s initial command to build the temple (see D&C 88:117–21 ) might now be realized, and he prayed that Church leaders, members, and the leaders of nations would be blessed, and that the promised gathering of the scattered remnants of Israel would be accomplished (see D&C 109:60–67 ). This prayer became a pattern for other temple dedicatory prayers.

Following the prayer, the choir sang the hymn “The Spirit of God.” It had been written especially for the dedication by W. W. Phelps. The sacrament was then administered and passed to the congregation. Joseph Smith and others testified that they saw heavenly messengers at the service. The congregation concluded the seven-hour service by standing and rendering the sacred “Hosanna Shout”: “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb, amen, amen, and amen,” repeated three times. Eliza R. Snow said the shout was given “with such power as seemed almost sufficient to raise the roof from the building.” 39

That evening over four hundred priesthood bearers met in the temple. While George A. Smith was speaking, “a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels.” 40 “David Whitmer bore testimony that he saw three angels passing up the south aisle.” 41 “The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple).” Others saw angels hovering over the temple and heard heavenly singing. 42

The most transcendent spiritual manifestation of all occurred a week after the dedication. After the afternoon worship service, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery retired to the Melchizedek Priesthood pulpits in the west end of the lower room of the temple. The canvas partition, called a veil, was lowered so that they could pray in private. As they prayed, “the veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened” ( D&C 110:1 ). They saw a series of remarkable visions. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared, accepted the temple, and promised to manifest himself therein “if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house” ( D&C 110:8 ; see also vv. 2–9 ).

Moses next appeared and restored “the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north” ( v. 11 ). Elias then conferred “the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” ( v. 12 ). Finally, in fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy (see Malachi 4:5–6 ) and Moroni’s promise (see D&C 2 ) to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers” ( D&C 110:15 ), Elijah appeared to the Prophet and Oliver testifying that “the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands” in preparation for “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” ( v. 16 ). Through the sealing keys that were restored by Elijah, Latter-day Saints could now perform saving priesthood ordinances in behalf of their kindred dead as well as for the living. These sacred ordinances for the dead were not introduced to the members of the Church until the Nauvoo era.

This great day of visions and revelation occurred on Easter Sunday, 3 April 1836. What better day in the dispensation of the fulness of times to reconfirm the reality of the Resurrection? That weekend was also the Jewish Passover. For centuries Jewish families have left an empty chair at their Passover feasts, anticipating Elijah’s return. Elijah has returned—not to a Passover feast, but to the Lord’s temple in Kirtland.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

New film shares true story of Mormon teens who took a stand against Hitler

(by Cecily Markland 5-20-13)

During World War II, three Mormon teenagers took on the Third Reich and the new film “Resistance Movement” shares the history of the Helmuth Hubener Resistance Group.

The 94-minute DVD from Covenant Communications also movingly portrays the teens’ initial confidence and determination to make a difference, followed by a significant trial of their faith and the ordeal that would lead to arrest at the hands of the Gestapo and to the death of one of the members of the group.

Filmed in Utah, where descendants of the teens still live, “Resistance Movement” features an interesting combination of cinematic and theatrical approaches, including some allusions to musical theater throughout. While slightly affected in a few places, the technique ultimately succeeds in conveying a powerful message.

By writer/director Kathryn Moss and produced by Nathan D. Lee, owner/operator of the Utah-based Friday Feature Productions, the film begins when 16-year-old Helmuth Hubener pays a late-night visit to his friend, 15-year-old, Rudolf “Rudi” Wobbe. That evening, Hubener carries a shortwave radio. They soon discover that BBC London broadcasts reveal a much different story than what people are being told in Nazi Germany.

For six months, the two and their friend, Karl-Heinz Schnibbe, 17, write and distribute treasonous, anti-Nazi leaflets throughout Hamburg. One day, Hubener is arrested. Within a short time, the other two are imprisoned as well.

Filmmakers accurately show the lengthy interrogations and harsh punishments the boys endured; yet, they do so as tastefully as possible. However, some scenes may be disturbing to young children.

All in all, “Resistance Movement” is well-done, with a strong message of standing for one’s convictions and of relying on God as the only true source of strength.

The DVD is available at Deseret Book, Seagull Book, Costco and


Young women add to Mormon missionary ranks

A rule change by the Mormon church has led to more women serving missions, changing the public face of their church.

(Bob Smietana 5-18-13)

Kathleen McCleavy has lost count of how many doors she has knocked on as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nashville for the past 18 months.

But she still remembers the first.

McCleavy, 23, was newly arrived in the Bible Belt from her hometown of Cordoba, Alaska, a small town where she rarely encountered strangers. Her goal for the day — reach people who speak Spanish, a language she'd only begun learning.

Back then, communication trouble started right after Hola and Como estas?

Not anymore.

"Before my mission, I was kind of shy," she said. "Now I love talking to everyone."

McCleavy is a leader among the approximately 220 Mormon missionaries in the Tennessee Nashville Mission. She also is one of a growing number of "sister missionaries," who are changing the public face of their church.

When she arrived in 2011, there were about two dozen sister missionaries in Nashville. Now there are 60, with 40 more on the way.

In the past, young women such as McCleavy had to wait until they were 21 to go on a mission.

Young men, on the other hand, could serve at 19. Now women can serve at 19 and men at 18, after a rule change in October.

Numbers grow

The total number of Latter-day Saint missionaries has jumped from 58,513 to 66,731 over the past six months. The boom in missionaries led church officials to plan 58 new mission sites worldwide. In the U.S., those include Cincinnati; Wichita, Kan.; Macon, Ga.; and Salem, Ore. Places such as Nashville are getting more because the church saw room for expansion.

More than a third of the new missionaries are women. Joanna Brooks, Mormon blogger and author of "The Book of Mormon Girl," said that will change the brand of their church.

"For more than 50 years, the dominant public image of Mormons has been young men in white shirts and black suits," said Brooks, an English professor at the University of San Diego. "The image now will be equally well-scrubbed, well-dressed, young Mormon women."

Brooks, a Brigham Young University graduate, said the old rules made it harder for women to be missionaries. At 21, most were finishing college, getting married and starting careers. It's why Brooks didn't go on a mission herself, she said, but she would like her daughter to go.

Now they can do a mission first, she said. That puts them on equal footing with young men in the church.

"This sends a powerful message that men and women can serve shoulder to shoulder as leaders," she said.

Opportunity embraced

On a recent Tuesday after, a group of 28 local missionaries gathered for leadership training in Brentwood. Among them was 20-year-old Janeen Johnson, a native of Malta, Idaho.

She'd been a student at Brigham Young's Idaho campus when the rules were changed. She applied to be a missionary soon after she heard the news.

"I thought, 'This could happen now,'" she said. "It had always seemed so far in the future."

As least for now, the missionaries said, women get a warmer reception when they knock on doors.

That's in part because people are surprised that women can be Mormon missionaries.

Hollie Vandenberg, originally from Roy, Utah, said she is glad for new missionaries, both men and women. There's more than enough work to do for all of them.

"We are both needed out here," she said. Local church officials adjusted to their program to accommodate the influx of sister missionaries. William McKee, president of the Tennessee Nashville Mission, said that he tries to give the sister missionaries cars rather than bicycles to help them get around. Some of the sisters prefer the bikes, he said.

They've also taken a safety precaution for women and men, telling them to bring local volunteers along when they are out at night.

"We encourage all of our missionaries to go out with a local member anytime after 5 in the evening,"
he said.

Bound for Brazil

The rule change also means that Nashville will be sending out more missionaries as well.

Olivia Troseth, 19, of Franklin left in mid-April for Salt Lake City for training before heading to Brazil.

Troseth said the rule change came at a good time for her. She'd finished her general education classes at school but wasn't ready to commit to a major.

Along with buying a new wardrobe — including skirts that fall below her knees and loose-fitting blouses to keep cool in Brazilian heat — Troseth started a fitness routine to prepare for walking 10 miles a day as a missionary. She also listened to the Mormon Scriptures in Portuguese, a language she'll study in training.

Troseth said she hopes that more young Latter-day Saints, both men and women, will go out on missions in the future. "Holy Father has given us this wonderful gospel." she said. "And some of us just sit around and do nothing about it.

"We just need to get up and go and tell people."


Monday, May 20, 2013

Paying Tribute to Mormon Church’s Ohio Roots

(by Sean D Hamill 2-12-10)

Tim Powell remembers when the “Utah Mormons” first came to town with their plans in the early 1990s.

They wanted to recreate a historic village that would explain the role this city played as the Mormon Church’s headquarters in the 1830s and celebrate the fact that the faith’s first temple is here.

Kirtland is one of our best kept secrets, and we wanted to remove that cloak of secrecy and remind people of the importance it played in our history,” said Karl Anderson, 72, who helped push the church’s $15 million effort to renovate or rebuild 10 buildings or sites in and around Kirtland.

Mr. Powell, who has lived in Kirtland all his life and been on the City Council for 14 years, and some others did not like the idea. He had read how Mormons had swept into two other towns that played significant roles in the church’s founding — Palmyra, N.Y., and Nauvoo, Ill. — resulting in conflicts with non-Mormons.

“In other places you could see the Mormons were taking over those towns,” said Mr. Powell, 55.
Mr. Powell fought the church’s project every step of the way, worried, he said, about allowing such a relatively large tourist development in the middle of town.

But now, eight years after it was completed, Mr. Powell concedes that he was wrong. “I was a skeptic,” he said. “But now that the dust has settled, I think people are pretty happy with it.”

About 100,000 people, most Mormons, visit the site annually.

What the Latter-day Saints have done in Kirtland is akin to the church’s historic efforts in both Palmyra — where the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, first had his visions as a teenager in 1820 that led to his writing the Book of Mormon — and Nauvoo — where Mr. Smith was killed by a mob in 1844.

In all three towns, starting in the 1970s, the church bought buildings and land where historic Mormon events had occurred and began turning them into sites fit for religious pilgrimages. All Mormons are encouraged to visit each site to learn more about their faith and the sacrifices early leaders made.

During his time in Kirtland, according to the church, Smith received half the revelations that are found in one of the faith’s three sacred books, Doctrine and Covenants. At one point during his seven years here, Smith and another church leader were dragged from their homes and tarred and feathered, a moment depicted in a short film about the town’s history shown to visitors at Historic Kirtland.

But before the church opened the site in 2002, the city was seen by most Mormons “merely as a way station on the journey from Palmyra to Nauvoo,” said Steven Olsen, senior historic sites curator for the church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “And one of the things we’ve tried to do is correct that.”

By rehabilitating original buildings like the Newel K. Whitney General Store — where Mr. Smith lived for a time and had the revelation that Mormons should not smoke or drink alcohol or caffeine — and rebuilding long-lost buildings like a sawmill, the curators try to explain the town’s significance in vivid terms and allow people to walk in their prophet’s shoes.

“When Joseph Smith arrives in Kirtland in 1831, he’s the head of a loosely organized group of followers,” Mr. Olsen said. “When they leave Kirtland in 1838, the church has a fully recognized ecclesiastical organization.”

The church also addresses the reason Smith and most of his 2,000 followers left Kirtland, citing the Depression and the failed bank the church had started.

And while the tour has attracted the many visitors the church had hoped, non-Mormons say any fear of Mormons taking over the town have evaporated.

City and church leaders alike say there are several reasons that the conflict never escalated here, including the fact that even though the Latter-day Saints only opened a church here in 1981, a smaller branch of the Mormon Church, the Community of Christ, has been here largely uninterrupted since the 1830s.

“We were familiar to people; we lived here already, they knew us, and that benefited” the Latter-day Saints, said Ron Romig, a Community of Christ member and director of the Kirtland Temple Visitor Center, where people come to learn about and then tour the well-preserved 174-year-old temple, which is owned by the Community of Christ, not the Mormon Church.

In addition, unlike Nauvoo and Palmyra, which are both rural town centers, Kirtland and its 6,600 residents are just one town among a sea of suburbs 20 miles east of Cleveland, and the Mormon populace has spread into the surrounding area.

“I can count on my fingers the number of Mormon families in Kirtland; maybe a dozen,” said Mario Marcopoli, 77, the city’s mayor from 1980 to 2000.

But another reason why tensions never escalated is the personal relationship Mr. Marcopoli developed with Mr. Anderson and other Mormons.

Mr. Marcopoli, a retired college engineering instructor and administrator who is a “non-churchgoing Catholic,” said his approach was simple. “I didn’t know who the Mormons were and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway,” he said. “To me, I don’t see any difference in religions. I look at people, and these were unbelievably nice people.”

Moreover, where some residents saw unwanted development, Mr. Marcopoli saw an opportunity.
The city’s motto had long been “City of Faith and Beauty” — it has 11 churches of various denominations — and Mr. Marcopoli recognized that Historic Kirtland could help give the city an identity, and he spent years convincing his opponents of that.

“He understood our vision and had a vision of what this could mean for his city,” said Roger Butterfield, 67, a Mormon leader and current director of Historic Kirtland’s visitor center.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Oliver Cowdery, Second Elder of the Church

Born October 3, 1806 in Wells, Vermont.
Died March 3, 1850 in Richmond, Missouri.
(lived to be 43 years old)


Known as the Church's "Second Elder", Oliver Cowdery was Assistant President of the Church from it's founding in 1830 until 1834, and was present during the restoration of the priesthood.

He was Joseph Smith's scribe during the translation of the Book of Mormon as well as being one of the "Three Witnesses" to the of the book.

Although excommunicated from the church due to disagreements with the Prophet he was later re-baptized and never waivered when questioned about the Book of Mormon.

Shortly before Oliver died of a respiratory illness, he was visited by Jacob Gates, an early Mormon leader in the church, who asked about his witness of the Book of Mormon. Oliver said,

"Jacob, I want you to remember what I say to you. I am a dying man, and what would it profit me to tell you a lie? I know that this Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God. My eyes saw, my ears heard, and my understanding was touched, and I know that whereof I testified is true. It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind, it was real".


(by Dan Peterson)

This article of mine appeared in the Deseret News for 8 April 2010:

Oliver Cowdery can plausibly be considered the co-founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Commonly called the church’s “second elder” and, at one time, its “assistant president,” he wrote most of the Book of Mormon out by hand from dictation as Joseph Smith’s principal scribe, recopied the entire manuscript for the printer, and, as one of the Three Witnesses, beheld the angel Moroni, saw the plates and heard the voice of God testify that the translation was correct.
With Joseph Smith, he was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist and to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James and John. He was at Joseph Smith’s side in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, when Moses, Elias, Elijah and the Savior himself appeared there, to accept the newly dedicated building and to confer priesthood keys.
Yet Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated from the church in April 1838 and lived as a non-Mormon for the next decade. In 1848, he was rebaptized, and, two years later, he died.

For obvious reasons, Latter-day Saint historians have found Cowdery extraordinarily interesting, and they have written numerous articles about his life and career. Several of the very best of these have been gathered in John W. Welch and Larry E. Morris, eds., “Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness” (Provo: The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2006) — a book well worth the attention of anyone interested in the truth-claims of Mormonism and in its early history.

The cover of the book itself is important, as it features a recently discovered daguerreotype image of Oliver Cowdery that is discussed in an essay by Patrick Bishop. Other treasures include a brief biography of Cowdery by the premier expert on the Witnesses, Richard Lloyd Anderson, who also contributed pieces on “The Impact of the First Preaching in Ohio” and on the reliability of the scribe who recorded Cowdery’s testimony upon his return to the church; John W. Welch’s valuable essay on “The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon”; Steven Harper’s “Oliver Cowdery and the Kirtland Temple Experience”; and Royal Skousen’s “Translating and Printing the Book of Mormon.” There are 17 articles in the volume, written by 13 named authors.

“Oliver Cowdery and the Restoration of the Priesthood,” compiled by Brian Q. Cannon and the BYU Studies staff, gathers and analyzes several statements from Cowdery on that important subject.

Matthew Roper’s “Oliver Cowdery and the Mythical ‘Manuscript Found’ ” scrutinizes the zombielike “Spalding Theory” of Book of Mormon authorship and finds it wanting (yet again).

Scott H. Faulring’s “The Return of Oliver Cowdery,” which won the T. Edgar Lyon Award of Excellence from the Mormon History Association when it was first published in 2000, provides fascinating and even moving background to that 1848 event, which demonstrated Oliver Cowdery’s continuing testimony of Mormonism at a time when the Saints were headed westward and when casting one’s lot with them was anything but an easy road to prosperity or social status.
Larry Morris’ article on “Oliver Cowdery’s Vermont Years and the Origins of Mormonism” dismantles persistent attempts to link Joseph Smith Sr. with Oliver Cowdery’s father in a divining-rod incident that, so the theory goes, helps to explain (away) the founding of the church 25 years later. It also demolishes equally persistent efforts to tie Oliver Cowdery to the Rev. Ethan Smith and, thereby, to portray the Book of Mormon as plagiarized from the Rev. Smith’s “View of the Hebrews.”

As if that weren’t contribution enough, Morris’ “ ’The Private Character of the Man Who Bore that Testimony’: Oliver Cowdery and His Critics” defends Cowdery’s reputation, intelligence and honesty against writers who, in their ardent desire to negate his testimony, have attempted to besmirch his name. Morris, who is emerging as a treasure in his own right, demonstrates that the critics rely upon weak evidence, questionable sources and circular reasoning to make their fatally flawed case.
The founding events of the Restoration took place in the literal material world. They were not metaphorical. They were not merely symbolic. Accordingly, they are of immense significance to all of humanity. Oliver Cowdery’s unwavering eyewitness testimony of them, through persecution, suffering, illness, disappointment, anger and even excommunication, is powerful evidence of their reality. This book, “Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness,” provides powerful scholarly evidence that his testimony can be trusted.

Designer adds dimension to photograph of Mormon leader Oliver Cowdery

(by R. Scott Lloyd 3-11-13)

A rare photographic portrait likely of early church leader Oliver Cowdery, discovered in the Library of Congress collection seven years ago by an LDS researcher, has now been digitally restored and colorized by a church history enthusiast.

Bryce M. Haymond detailed his restoration project in an article he wrote for the online periodical Interpreter: a Journal of Mormon Scripture, for which he serves as a member of the executive board.

The 1840s daguerreotype (an early type of photograph) was found on Feb. 6, 2006, by researcher Patrick A. Bishop, who was then a Church Educational System coordinator in Casper, Wyo. Working on an unrelated project, Bishop was going through online images on an Internet site of the Library of Congress, looking for examples of 1840s style clothing. He came upon one image and immediately recognized it from its similarity to a published engraving as being the likeness of Oliver Cowdery, the "Second Elder of the church," a scribe to Joseph Smith in the translation of the Book of Mormon, who was with the Prophet when the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods were restored.

Through subsequent study and testing, Bishop determined with 95 percent certainty that the daguerreotype was indeed of Oliver, which would make it the only known photographic likeness of the man who, with Joseph Smith, was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist and to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James and John. Knowing the name of the photographer, J. P. Ball, Bishop was able to identify the general location, the vicinity of Tiffin, Ohio, where the portrait was taken. Oliver would have been practicing law in Tiffin in 1846, the likely year when the photograph was made. Bishop made a grid-line comparison with the extant engraving of Oliver that had been taken from another daguerreotype subsequently destroyed in a house fire. He found the facial features matched with exactness.

Bishop reported his finding later that year in an issue of BYU Studies, and spoke of it in a presentation at a Nov. 10, 2006, symposium at BYU marking the 200th anniversary of Cowdery's birth. The presentation was reported and the daguerreotype published in the Nov. 18, 2006, issue of the Church News.

Thereafter, he had to determine the colors to apply to the photograph. For this, he turned to Corbett, who had done the oil painting based on the photograph.

"Corbett's color choices were certainly far better than anything I could muster," he wrote in his article. "I contacted Corbett, and he kindly gave me permission to use his painting as a color foundation or base for the daguerreotype, utilizing the color values only to colorize most of the image. This method worked very well."

Through his work, Haymond revealed details not easily seen on the original: a checkered pattern on the bow tie; apparent black-velvet material on the collar; and blood vessels, bones and thumbnails on the hands.

"Being able to see the hands that transcribed the Book of Mormon as the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the translation makes this book of scripture that much more real," Haymond told the Church News. "Oliver Cowdery comes to life as a real person and individual when you can see what he really looks like."

Haymond is considering other photos from Church History to which he might give similar treatment, particularly of David Whitmer and Martin Harris, who, with Oliver Cowdery, comprised the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.

Earlier that year, The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation commissioned Ken Corbett to paint a portrait from the newly found photograph. Donated to the church, that painting now hangs in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
Haymond's involvement began in October of last year, when he read an article on an Internet blog of TIME Magazine telling about some of the classic photographs of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln being retouched and colorized using Adobe Photoshop, the computer imaging software.

Haymond, a product designer and Internet technologist by profession, decided to try his hand at doing similar work with photographs from church history.

"I don't claim to be a Photoshop expert, but regularly work in Photoshop in my profession as a designer," he wrote in the Interpreter piece. "I also recalled having read about the recently discovered daguerreotype that could be Oliver Cowdery. If it is Oliver Cowdery, as research and general consensus seem to suggest, it is perhaps the earliest photograph of a church leader extant, thought to be taken in 1846. This, I thought, would be a good candidate for a test."

He told the Church News, "I thought this would be a worthwhile side project, helping to make the early moments of the Restoration just a bit more palpable and real. Sometimes these early people and events from church history can seem so distant and detached from our experience as to seem almost mythic or legend. Projects like this can help bring them somewhat closer to us and bring them to life."

He said a significant portion of the work was in retouching the image, a copy of which he downloaded from the Library of Congress, "since most of the daguerreotype was littered with debris and dust, and all of that had to be carefully removed while trying to not distort or alter the original underlying image."

Oliver Cowdery photograph

Link to BYU Studies article about the discovery of an original Oliver Cowdery daguerreotype.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing


The Choir sang this to close the April General Conference 2013. I was listening to it in my car as I drove to work, it literally brought a tear or two to my eyes.

The Acts of the Apostles, 1: 6 - 11

(The Ascension, Harry Anderson (perhaps my all-time favorite LDS painting))

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

LDS Church is smart to reach out to 'Book of Mormon' musical audiences, priest says

(by Joseph Walker 5-16-13)

Watching two Mormon missionaries passing out free copies of the Book of Mormon to playgoers outside a theater in which “The Book of Mormon” musical was being performed piqued Danielle Tumminio’s curiosity and led her to believe “that maybe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was doing something really smart in cultivating relationships with people who saw the musical.”

“Yes, the musical might make fun of Mormons,” Tumminio wrote recently in her Huffington Post blog.

“Yes, the musical has a message that Mormons probably shouldn’t embrace if they want to remain true to their tradition. But that doesn’t preclude it from being a vehicle that God uses to speak into people’s lives.”

Tumminio is an Episcopal priest and the author of “God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom.” She said she was intrigued when she saw the missionaries at work outside the theater when she went to see "The Book of Mormon."

“I was curious about why they chose this place to market their religion, given that the folks who purchased tickets were walking into a show written by ‘South Park’ creators that involves a liberal dose of cursing and reference to sexual body parts,” Tumminio wrote.

When she spoke to the two missionaries, Elder Fenn and Elder Chapman, they confessed that they were originally hesitant to proselyte outside the theater.

“We were actually really reticent about it,” Elder Chapman told Tumminio.

“When I heard about some of the songs that were in it, it did make me a little uncomfortable,” Elder Chapman continued. “It says foul language, and it seems like it has some stuff that makes pretty blatant fun of what we believe, and so that hurts a little bit.”

The missionaries needn’t have worried. According to Tumminio, “they handed out 40 copies — an entire box — of the Book of Mormon in under an hour.”

“One girl ran up to them to get her picture taken once she realized that the missionaries were real Mormons and not actors,” Tumminio wrote. “Later a member of the cast named Kevin Mambo tweeted a photo of the three of them taken by a security guard. The missionaries forwarded it to their families.”

In addition to talking to the missionaries, Tumminio also spoke to Liza Morong, one of two people — the other being Californian Richard Marcus — whose recently reported conversions to Mormonism were launched, or at least positively impacted, by attending a production of “The Book of Mormon.”

“I asked Liza if she thought she would have become a Mormon if she’d never set foot inside that Broadway theater,” Tumminio wrote. “I thought it would take her awhile to answer, but she responded quickly, confidently, saying, ‘I believe that if the Lord wanted me to find the gospel, I would have found it eventually.

“ ‘I’m really happy that it happened the way it did,’ ” Morong continued, “ ‘because it goes to show you how well he knows me as a musical theater major. He’d be like, ‘I got her!’ ”


Monday, May 13, 2013

Inspired question, 'Book of Mormon' musical leads to former California mayor's conversion

(by Emmilie Buchanan 5-13-13)

For 35 years, Richard Marcus couldn’t remember going to bed without a drink.

Night after night, the California resident and former mayor of Culver City, Calif., would pour himself a drink or two and lay down to sleep. But on Oct. 20, 2012, Marcus recognized that something was different.

“I put the glass to my lips and the Spirit was gone like that,” Marcus said with a snap of his fingers. “I had gone from someone who was Spirit-filled and now I had nothing.”

Marcus, a married father of two, had spent the weekend watching sessions of the October 2012 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over and over, taking notes, trying to comprehend the messages of modern-day apostles.

The stark contrast between the Spirit he felt during the course of the day and the absence of it that night was riveting for Marcus. He knew he had some changing to do.

Marcus finished his liquor that night and put down the empty glass. It was the last one he had.

Two weeks later, Marcus was sitting in the doctor’s office for an annual check-up. He reported giving up drinking without experiencing a single negative side effect. As a self-described "high-functioning alcoholic," this was an incredible feat.

“That’s miraculous,” Marcus’ doctor said.

Marcus only smiled.

“That’s an interesting choice of words,” Marcus told his doctor. “Do you have about 15 minutes?”

He then proceeded to tell his doctor about the events that had occupied his life the few months prior to that fateful night in late October.

It all started June 2012 with a colleague from Arizona named Paula Gorbutt.

Gorbutt and Marcus met at a business convention in Las Vegas and formed a friendship based on their mutual political interests. Marcus works in finance but had been on the Culver City Council for years and served as mayor.

“You know I’m a Mormon, right?” Gorbutt asked Marcus.

He didn’t. And the question took him by surprise.

While he couldn’t understand why Gorbutt had asked the question, it didn’t stop the cogs in his head from turning. Over the next few months, Marcus found himself with an unending supply of questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Marcus had done some research on, even liked it on Facebook and spent hours talking with Gorbett about his questions.

One day, a friend called offering an extra ticket to the musical, “The Book of Mormon,” which was playing in Los Angeles. Marcus accepted.

“I was looking for anything I could,” he said. “I knew it was a goof, a spoof, a satire, but I thought, ‘I don’t have anything. Maybe I should check that out.’”

Marcus attended the irreverent, off-color but critically acclaimed musical at the Pantages Theatre in early September.

"I wanted even more to find out what this was all about,” Marcus said.

After the show, Marcus was buying souvenirs when he saw it: a book sitting on the counter titled "The Book of Mormon." He bought it, but to his dismay, learned that it was simply the script for the musical.

His questions continued, and finally Gorbett told him it was time for a visit from the missionaries. Though he was a little hesitant, Marcus did not protest.

After several unsuccessful attempts at locating the elders, Marcus logged on to with two goals — to find his meetinghouse and secure a visit from the missionaries.

He typed in his address. The results indicated that the closest building happened to be the same one he had been meeting in for the past 15 years as an active member of the local Scouting community.

“I had my first Cub Scout leader training at that church,” Marcus said.

With a feeling of encouragement that he was on the right path, he filled out the necessary information online for a missionary visit.

“Three days later, two angels showed up on my doorstep. Sister Davis and Sister Jones.”

They talked on the doorstep of Marcus’ home in Culver City for 40 minutes. Afterward, they prayed. Sister Jenna Davis then placed the blue softbound copy of the Book of Mormon into Marcus’ hand.

“You don’t know how much I’ve been waiting for this,” Marcus told the sisters.

He got choked up when the sisters had him read a passage from the Book of Moroni, which promised Marcus that if he would read and pray, he would be able to recognize truth through the influence of the Holy Ghost. Marcus committed to find out if the Book of Mormon was true.

And the answers came.

One of them was about his concern of living the Word of Wisdom, a belief that teaches members of the LDS faith to abstain from harmful, addictive substances such as tobacco and alcohol.

He turned to his new copy of the Book of Mormon. When he opened to a page in the book of Alma, this is what he found.

“See that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober.”

“You try and tell me this book’s not true,” Marcus said.

A few days after his first meeting with the missionaries, Marcus found himself praying about the Book of Mormon during his morning prayer.

“I don’t know from where, but this intensity came into me. I couldn’t even finish my prayer. I was so overwhelmed. I thought that maybe my head was going to explode or my heart was going to burst right out of my chest.”

Marcus drove to the Los Angeles Temple Visitors' Center where the sister missionaries were serving. He opened the book to a passage he found earlier that day, read them a portion of it and closed the book with a snap.

“This book is true,” he told them.

On Dec. 9, 2012, Marcus was baptized a member of the LDS Church, in the building he had first stepped foot in 15 years before.

During the services, Marcus was asked to share a few of his thoughts. As he stood in front of the group that had come to support him, he felt it only appropriate to sing one song — "Amazing Grace."

“I just belted it out. Before I knew it, everyone joined in,” Marcus said. “That’s the story right there, because I feel that I had been saved. You know the part in there about the wretch? That would be me.”

Since joining the church, Marcus has been called as assistant secretary of the high priest quorum, taught lessons with the missionaries, shuttled converts to and from church and sang in the choir each week.

Marcus said all of this started with Gorbett’s simple question.

“You know I’m a Mormon, right?”

Now he does. And he is, too.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pearl of Great Price; Joseph Smith History, verses 27 - 54

I continued to pursue my common vocations in life until the twenty-first of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-three, all the time suffering severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious, because I continued to affirm that I had seen a vision.

During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three—having been forbidden to join any of the religious sects of the day, and being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me—I was left to all kinds of tempteations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.

In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.

While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.

He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.

Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him, I was afraid; but the frear soon left me.

He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.

He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted "seers" in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.

After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the forth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:

"For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."

And again, he quoted the fifth verse thus: "Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." 

He also quoted the next verse differently: "And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming."

In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come.

He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here.

Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed While he was conversing with me about the plates, the vision was opened to my mind that I could see the place where the plates were deposited, and that so clearly and distinctly that I knew the place again when I visited it.

After this communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so until the room was again left dark, except just around him; when, instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended till he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.

I lay musing on the singularity of the scene, and marveling greatly at what had been told to me by this extraordinary messenger; when, in the midst of my meditation I suddenly discovered that my room was again beginning to get lighted, and in an instant, as it were, the same heavenly messenger was again by my bedside.

He commenced, and again related the very same things which he had done at his first visit, without the least variation; which having done, he informed me of great judgements which were coming upon the earth, with great desolations by famine, sword, and pestilence; and that these grievous judgments would come on the earth in this generation. Having related these things, he again ascended as he had done before.

By this time, so deep were the impressions made on my mind, that sleep had fled from my eyes, and I lay overwhelmed in astonishment at what I had both seen and heard. But what was my surprise when again I beheld the same messenger at my bedside, and heard him rehearse or repeat over again to me the same things as before; and added a caution to me, telling me that Satan would try to tempt me (in consequence of the indigent circumstances of my father’s family), to get the plates for the purpose of getting rich. This he forbade me, saying that I must have no other object in view in getting the plates but to glorify God, and must not be influenced by any other motive than that of building his kingdom; otherwise I could not get them.

After this third visit, he again ascended into heaven as before, and I was again left to ponder on the strangeness of what I had just experienced; when almost immediately after the heavenly messenger had ascended from me for the third time, the cock crowed, and I found that day was approaching, so that our interviews must have occupied the whole of that night.

I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.

The first thing that I can recollect was a voice speaking unto me, calling me by name. I looked up, and beheld the same messenger standing over my head, surrounded by light as before. He then again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night, and commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received.

I obeyed; I returned to my father in the field, and rehearsed the whole matter to him. He replied to me that it was of God, and told me to go and do as commanded by the messenger. I left the field, and went to the place where the messenger had told me the plates were deposited; and owing to the distinctness of the vision which I had had concerning it, I knew the place the instant that I arrived there.

Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground, but the edge all around was covered with earth.

Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever, which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there indeed did I behold the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate, as stated by the messenger. The box in which they lay was formed by laying stones together in some kind of cement. In the bottom of the box were laid two stones crossways of the box, and on these stones lay the plates and the other things with them.

I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.

Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction and intelligence from him at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.

Friday, May 10, 2013

LDS Church honored for donating 1 million pounds of food to hunger relief

(by Joseph Walker 5-9-13)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recognized Thursday for donating more than 1 million pounds of food to Feeding America, one of the country’s leading nonprofit hunger-relief organizations.

Angela De Paul, Feeding America spokeswoman, said the LDS Church is being recognized as a "Supporting Partner" in the organization, which has the stated objective of ending hunger nationally.

"With food donations totaling more than 1 million pounds during Feeding America's current fiscal year, the (LDS) Church is the only faith-based donor to have achieved Supporting Partner status with the organization," De Paul said in a press release issued Thursday.

The church's recent donations include fruit, vegetables and proteins that will be distributed for use at food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters for those in need. Included in the donations are 250,000 pounds of food to the Utah Food Bank, which is a member of the Feeding America network.

"The church has demonstrated a long-standing commitment and profound capacity to feed the hungry," the press release stated. "While it has a history of supporting many individual Feeding America food banks, within the last few years the church has increased national donations, significantly affecting hunger relief in communities across the country."

Bob Aiken, Feeding America's president and CEO, said "the commitment from our Supporting Partners helps make Feeding America's work possible and provides hungry Americans with food, hope and dignity every day."

"Thanks to the generosity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this most recent donation will provide the equivalent of 625,000 much-needed meals," Aiken said.

Such humanitarian donations by the LDS Church are made possible "by millions of Mormons who desire to follow Jesus Christ's example to care for the poor and needy and give of their time and money to help feed the hungry throughout the world," LDS officials said through a statement published on the church's Newsroom website.

The donations are coordinated through the church's massive welfare system, which includes a network of farms, ranches, canneries and storehouses to provide food for those in need, both inside and outside the church.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Locust Creek, Wayne County, Iowa

(by Kenneth Mays 5-8-13)

Following the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, William Clayton served in a similar capacity of clerk to President Brigham Young during the exodus to the West. Clayton's wife, Diantha Farr Clayton, had stayed back in Nauvoo because she was expecting a child.

Among Clayton's many responsibilities was that of counting the revolutions of a wagon wheel so the camp could keep track of the mileage covered. That method would later be abandoned at North Platte, Neb.

While camped at Locust Creek in Wayne County, Iowa, Clayton received word that Diantha had given birth to a healthy son. Clayton noted in his journal that in the spirit of the joyous news, he penned the words of "a new hymn," which he titled "All is Well."

That hymn is now known as "Come, Come Ye Saints." The pioneers felt the comforting influence of that hymn as they crossed the Plains, and it still has great meaning to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Modern temples echo ancient patterns

(by Daniel Peterson 4-4-13)

Temples have been important in every dispensation of the gospel and a focus of the divine plan. Jesus plainly venerated the temple of his day. In Exodus 25-27 and 35-40, the Lord gives Moses detailed instructions for building the Israelite tabernacle (a kind of proto-temple). Ezekiel 40-48 represents that prophet as receiving divine specifications for a still-future temple.

Consistent with this ancient pattern, which also existed in non-Israelite cultures, modern prophets too have claimed revealed guidance for the building of temples.

For instance, Doctrine and Covenants 95:14 directs that the temple in Kirtland, Ohio, be erected “after the manner which I shall show unto three of you.” And, in fact, like many of Joseph Smith’s most significant revelations, this one was experienced with others, who thus serve as corroborating witnesses. Together, Joseph, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams saw that temple in vision prior to its construction.

President Williams recounted the experience:

“Joseph received the word of the Lord for him to take his two counselors Williams and Rigdon and come before the Lord, and he would show them the plan or model of the House to be built. We went upon our knees, called on the Lord, and the Building appeared within viewing distance: I being the first to discover it. Then all of us viewed it together. After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us, and the Makeup of this Hall seems to coincide with what I there saw to a minutia.”

Truman O. Angell, architect of the later Salt Lake Temple, mentioned this event in a March 1885 letter to John Taylor:

“F. G. Williams came into the Temple about the time the main hall 1st floor was ready for dedication. He was asked, how does the house look to you. He answered that it looked to him like the model he had seen. He said President Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and himself were called to come before the Lord and the model was shown them. He said the vision of the Temple was thus shown them and he could not see the difference between it and the House as built.”

Non-Mormons were also aware of the story: “The pattern,” reports an 1836 letter in the “Ohio Atlas” newspaper, “was given by direct revelation from Heaven, and given to those individuals separately.”

Brigham Young saw the Salt Lake Temple in vision on July 28, 1847, four days after the first Saints arrived in the valley, and his first public act upon locating the site for Salt Lake City was to touch his cane to the ground and say, "Here we shall build a temple to our God.”

“Now, some will want to know what kind of a building it will be,” he remarked during a general conference of the church on April 6, 1853. “Wait patiently, brethren, until it is done, and put forth your hands willingly to finish it. I know what it will be. … (S)uffice it to say, five years ago last July I was here, and saw in the Spirit the Temple not ten feet from where we have laid the Chief Corner Stone. I have not inquired what kind of a Temple we should build. Why? Because it was represented before me. I have never looked upon that ground, but the vision of it was there. I see it as plainly as if it was in reality before me.”

In 1997, President Gordon B. Hinckley received an important temple-related revelation very much in the manner of earlier prophets. “It was here in Northern Mexico,” he said in his dedicatory prayer for the Colonia Juarez Chihuahua Mexico Temple on March 6, 1999, “that Thou didst reveal the idea and the plan of a smaller temple, complete in every necessary detail, but suited in size to the needs and circumstances of the Church membership in this area of Thy vineyard. That revelation came of a desire and a prayer to help Thy people of these colonies who have been true and loyal during the century and more that they have lived here. They are deserving of this sacred edifice in which to labor for themselves and their forebears.”

Temples are a central element in the restoration of all things, and, often even in the details of their origins, they represent powerful evidence for the divine calling of Joseph Smith and his successors.


Nice photo of Salt Lake temple

Friday, May 3, 2013

From "Book of Mormon" musical to Mormon convert

(by Emmilie Buchanan 5-3-13)

It was underneath the lights of Broadway on Sept. 25, 2011, that Boston resident Liza Morong’s life changed forever. She just didn’t know it then.

The 21-year-old musical theater major was sitting in the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City, watching “The Book of Mormon" musical.

Written by the creators of “South Park,” the edgy, irreverent but enormously popular musical is about two Mormon missionaries who try to share the Book of Mormon with the natives of northern Uganda.

“I laughed hysterically the entire show,” Morong said. “I thought, ‘Wow, these people are crazy. They must be brainwashed.’”

With her interest piqued, Morong, who was raised Congregationalist, found herself on the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,, simply to continue her amusement with this seemingly bizarre faith.

When she found a link for a live chat with missionaries, Morong felt like she had hit the jackpot. But what she found wasn’t what she expected.

It was when she started chatting with Elder Trevor Boardman, a missionary in the referral center at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, that everything changed.

“I thought, ‘These clowns are in for a treat with me,’ ” Morong said. “But (Elder Boardman) was so incredibly nice. I could not be mean to him.”

It was his genuine kindness, not his message, that caught Morong off guard.

Morong was able to ask sincere questions she had since attending the musical. After her questions, Elder Boardman invited her to chat again.

Her initial reaction was a resounding no.

“But then I thought, ‘You know, I do want to chat again.’ I caught myself by surprise,” she said.
The missionaries added Morong on Facebook and began teaching her the lessons through Facebook chat near the end of October. Not too long after this, Elder Boardman asked if he could send a copy of the Book of Mormon to her.

“'Here it comes,’ I thought,” Morong said.

But she agreed.

Elder Boardman sent her a hardback copy of the Book of Mormon. His testimony was written on the back cover, and with it was a reference to a passage from the book of Moroni inviting Morong to ponder and pray about the things she read.

On Nov. 3, 2011, Morong accepted the challenge and began to pray about the things the missionaries were teaching her, including the Book of Mormon. She started noticing a different kind of happiness come into her life, and an ability to make important changes.

Morong said the first time she recognized the feelings of the Spirit was after her first Skype lesson with the elders on Nov. 11.

“I was riding my bike to class one morning through some side streets in an older neighborhood in Boston. I remember the light was just passing through the branches of the trees. I felt this peace that I have never felt before. I thought to myself, ‘That just came from God.’”

Though she said it was a moment that lasted only for a few seconds, it was one that stayed with her.

Shortly after, Morong began attending a local singles ward. The first Sunday she went, she fortuitously sat behind two sister missionaries serving in the ward. Shortly after, Morong began meeting with the sisters, who taught her on campus at Suffolk University in Boston, where she is currently enrolled.

It was in a lesson with the sisters on Dec. 1, 2011, when Morong decided to be baptized. As the three of them sat around the table, Morong said she felt the Spirit strongly and knew that what she had learned was true.

“I looked at the sisters. They told me the next step was baptism, and I realized I wanted to do that," she said. "Suddenly all three of us were crying hysterically at my dining room table."

Morong's baptismal date was set for late December in Mapleton, Utah. Her one request — for Elder Boardman to baptize her.

Elder Boardman has muscular dystrophy, which made it a challenge for him to physically baptize Morong.

But on Dec. 31, 2011, three people dressed in white stood in a baptismal font in waist-high water.

Elder Boardman offered the prayer, and with some help from his companion, Elder Ahlstrom, the two missionaries baptized their online investigator.

While her family doesn’t understand why she has made the choice to join the LDS Church, their relationship is still strong. Morong said she knows this is because the gospel blesses families.

“My mom will sometimes say, ‘I can’t believe I brought you to that show. None of this would have happened.’ I tell her that it still would have, just in a different way,” Morong said.

And while she is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when she returns home to Maine where she grew up, she attends church with her mom as well as her LDS congregation.

“I am a member of Christ’s true church, but the church I grew up in is still part of me,” she said.

While the musical has been called irreverent and crude, some of the lyrics still have special, sentimental value to Morong. The words, “If you believe, the Lord will reveal it. And you'll know it's all true — you'll just feel it,” from the show’s song “I Believe,” still resonate with Morong because she feels that’s what happened for her.

“My life has changed. I am so much happier,” Morong said. “It’s a happiness that stays with me if I make the right choices. I was an optimist anyway, but (the gospel) has made me even more optimistic.”

This fall, Morong, who is currently a sophomore, will begin classes at the University of Utah. She will declare a double major in musical theater and communication.

She hopes her dream will lead her right back to where she began — the lights of Broadway.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Come, listen to a prophet's voice

(by Daniel Peterson 5-2-13)

I vividly remember my excitement when, in January 1972, I first heard a recording of Wilford Woodruff testifying to the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. Almost incredibly, this was the actual voice of someone who had not only known the Prophet but had worked closely with him in church leadership.

The recording was made on March 19, 1897, using a wax-cylinder device invented by Thomas Edison. An earlier and perhaps identical recording had been made exactly a week earlier by Joseph J. Daynes Jr., who was President Woodruff’s son-in-law and the president of Salt Lake City’s Daynes Music. But its quality had proven unsatisfactory, and it no longer survives.

President Woodruff wrote his statement out, and it’s interesting to see what he thought important enough to include in the first recording ever made by a church president.

“I bear my testimony,” he declared, “that the Prophet Joseph Smith said, before a large assemblage in Illinois, that if he were the emperor of the world and had control over the whole human family he would sustain every man, woman and child in the enjoyment of their religion. These are my sentiments today.”

President Woodruff chose to emphasize the Latter-day Saint commitment to religious freedom. He did so on other occasions, too, and in similar language. One 1898 diarist mentions his recounting that “he had heard the Prophet Joseph Smith say many times that if he, Joseph, were the Emperor of the whole world, he would let every man, woman, and child worship God as they pleased and would protect them in the free exercise of their religion.”

President Woodruff also spoke of the so-called “Last Charge” meeting, held on March 26, 1844 — the last meeting of Joseph Smith with the apostles before their departure for the East. (Joseph was assassinated just three months later; he seems to have expected his death.) This was a strictly confidential gathering, and no minutes survive from it.

“I bear my testimony,” said President Woodruff, “that in the early spring of 1844, in Nauvoo, the Prophet Joseph Smith called the Twelve Apostles together and he delivered unto them the ordinances of the church and kingdom of God; and all the keys and powers that God had bestowed upon him, he sealed upon our heads, and he told us that we must round up our shoulders and bear off this kingdom, or we would be damned. I am the only man now living in the flesh who heard that testimony from his mouth, and I know that it was true by the power of God manifest to him. At that meeting he stood on his feet for about three hours and taught us the things of the kingdom. His face was as clear as amber, and he was covered with a power that I had never seen in any man in the flesh before. … In all his testimonies to us the power of God was visibly manifest with the Prophet Joseph.”

President Woodruff testified on several occasions regarding the amber-like clarity of the Prophet’s face during that “Last Charge” meeting, and numerous others who knew Joseph left statements about his luminous transparency during the receipt of revelations.

Aware that he was the last living apostolic link to Joseph Smith, President Woodruff was plainly using Edison’s device in a bid to communicate his witness to future generations:

“I bear my testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, ordained of God to lay the foundation of his church and kingdom in the last dispensation of the fullness of times. … The Prophet Joseph laid down his life for the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ, and he will be crowned as a martyr in the presence of God and the Lamb.

“This is my testimony, spoken by myself into a talking machine on this the 19th day of March, 1897, in the 91st year of my age.”

Recognizing that he would soon die, Wilford Woodruff reiterated the Latter-day Saint commitment to religious liberty, bore record that Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles legitimately succeeded to church leadership, and testified that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. He wanted later generations to know that he knew.

For excellent historical analysis, see Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Stephen H. Smoot, “Wilford Woodruff’s 1897 Testimony” (



I had posted the same Wilford Woodruff video last month. (here is the link)