Alfie Boe, Tony-winning British tenor who never saw a live musical show until he starred in one, completely enraptured audiences once again in the 2012 Temple Square Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. Beloved and renown for his showstopping rendition of “Bring Him Home”–the Les Mis prayer-song of Jean Valjean which Alfie added to the musical numbers performed at the Choir Concert–brought him and the Choir and orchestra, an unsurprising standing ovation. The Christmas extravaganza featured distinguished journalist, Tom Brokaw, NBC News Nitely Anchor and Today Show host. Brokaw narrated the story of the Salt-Lake City born, World War II Air Force Pilot “Candy-Bomber”–Gail Halvorsen, who dropped candy from C-47s to children he came to meet behind a barbed wire fence one day on his mission in Germany.
As the music crescendo-ed, Tom continued to recount Gail’s story of giving against the backdrop of airplanes and min-parachutes dropping candy on video sweeping across a white-screen floating vertically from top to bottom of the Tabernacle Choir Stage. Just as Tom completed the story of the candy-bomber, the screen lifted. The Candy-Bomber himself stood in uniform on stage, wrapping the audience in love and cheers. Meanwhile, mini white real parachutes dropped from the ceiling of the Conference Center mirroring those dropping from those WWII planes. The audience was riveted and overcome with the Spirit of Christ–the spirit of giving, the spirit of Christmas–as children approached the Candy-Bomber, and he has came to share a few words with Tom and the audience about giving, about gratitude, about finding real joy in service.
Merry Christmas to each of you.
May you also enjoy various other Christmas songs performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square are available for download on Mormon.org (list courtesy of mormonwoman.org).
- O Holy Night – Download
- Gloria in Excelsis – Download
- Silent Night – Download
- Away in a Manger – Download
- Deck the Halls – Download
- Angels, From The Realms Of Glory – Download
- For Unto Us a Child Is Born – Download
- Hallelujah – Download
- Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella – Download
- And The Glory Of The Lord – Download
In conjunction with the April 2012 general conference, the general auxiliary presidencies will hold training sessions for stake and ward auxiliary leaders, which will be available through a live webcast in English and Spanish. Stake, ward, and branch auxiliary presidencies are invited to participate. Training sessions will be held for the Primary, Relief Society, Sunday School, Young Women and Young Men. Additional information about the dates and availability of these meetings can be found in Church News and Events.
Learn about Mormon families at the official site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon Church”).
Learn more about General Conference.
Request a free copy of the Book of Mormon.Read More
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon Church” by friends of other faiths) has recently produced an updated version of For the Strength of Youth–a pamphlet that outlines Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Church standards and behavioral guidelines for not only the youth, but for all who seek to live an honest and virtuous life. It is also an excellent source of direction for Christian parents who wish to guide their children in righteousness.
The First Presidency (leaders) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) tells how the guidelines in For the Strength of Youth lead to good decisions, pointing toward a Christlike life.
The standards in this booklet will help you with the important choices you are making now and will yet make in the future….Our Father in Heaven has placed great trust in you. He has a work for you to do….The decisions you make now will set the course for much of what will follow during your mortal life and throughout eternity.
Of all the numbers in the Pew Research Center’s recently released survey of “Mormons in America,” the highest, most overwhelming numbers are these: 98 percent of respondents said they believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and 97 percent say their church is a Christian religion.
This comes on the heels of earlier surveys indicating that 32 percent of non-LDS U.S. adults say the LDS Church is not a Christian religion, and an additional 17 percent are unsure of LDS Christianity. The theological and semantic reasons for this can be complex, but for the 1,019 self-identified Mormons who participated in the Pew survey, their theological position is clear: Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, and they consider themselves to be Christian.
“Certainly in Latter-day Saint theology is this idea that if you understand who you are, you understand that there’s a purpose in life, you understand your connection to God, that certainly has an impact on how you live your life and what you do, but also how you feel about your life and what you are doing,” said Michael Purdy of the LDS Church Public Affairs office.
For the vast majority of Latter-day Saints surveyed, those life choices have much to do with their religious beliefs. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents indicate that religion is “very important” to them, 83 percent say they pray every day and 77 percent say they attend church at least once a week. Beyond that, a stunning 69 percent of respondents fit all three descriptions, saying that religion is very important to them, that they pray every day and that they go to church every week.
“By this measure,” the report says, “Mormons exhibit higher levels of religious commitment than many other religious groups, including white evangelical Christians.”
Part of the explanation for these high numbers may be that the survey focused only on those who self-identified as Latter-day Saints.
“The method they used tended to identify people who are strongly committed,” said BYU sociologist Marie Cornwall, who advised the Pew Forum on the new survey. “They don’t have the people who are kind of marginal. But that’s okay; we just have to be careful with the way we interpret the findings.”
One such finding is the relationship between religious commitment and education among Mormons.
David Campbell, a University of Notre Dame associate professor and another adviser on the survey, noted that the more educated respondents were, the higher their levels of religious commitment.
“I was a little surprised by that,” said Campbell, who is LDS and who has extensively studied on the role of religion in the public square. “The more educated a Mormon is, the more likely they are to be wholehearted in their commitment to the church and its teachings.”
That is different from other churches, he said, where more education tends to lead to more religious skepticism.
Pew Research Center officials also noted “a significant gender gap in religious commitment, with more Mormon women than men exhibiting a high level of religious commitment (73 percent vs. 65 percent).”
According to the Pew report, a similar “gender gap” is seen among the general public. A 2007 survey found 36 percent of U.S. women exhibited a high level of religious commitment, compared with 24 percent of men.
One series of questions asked about what it means to be a good Mormon. According to the respondents, in order to be a good Mormon it is “essential” to believe Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ (80 percent), work to help the poor (73 percent), hold regular family home evenings (51 percent), not drink coffee and tea (49 percent) and not watch R-rated movies (32 percent).
Combining those who said “essential” with those who said “important but not essential,” the order changes a little bit: working to help the poor (97 percent), holding regular family home evenings (96 percent), believing Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ (93 percent), not drinking coffee and tea (81 percent) and not watching R-rated movies (79 percent).
“I think that result is rather interesting,” said Cornwall. “Mormons are known for not drinking coffee or tea and not watching R-rated movies. But compared to believing that Joseph Smith saw God and working for the poor, Mormons don’t seem to focus on the coffee and tea as much as people probably think.”
Other manifestations of religious commitment in the survey included:
The number of respondents (65 percent) who say they hold a current temple recommend (a certificate from local ecclesiastical leaders, issued every other year, indicating that an individual has permission from the church to enter LDS temples and participate in temple rites and sacraments)
The number (79 percent) who say they pay tithing (donating 10 percent of their income to the church)
The number (27 percent) who have served full-time missions for the church (this number includes 43 percent of men and 11 percent of women and varies significantly according to the age and education of the respondent, as well as whether or not the respondent was raised Mormon)
The number (82 percent) who keep food in storage for emergencies or disasters, as they have been counseled to do by LDS Church leaders (This number includes 23 percent who say they have three months’ worth, 35 percent who say they have more than three months’ worth and 23 percent who say they have less than three months’ worth)
The percentage who pay tithing is especially interesting to break down. According to the survey tabulations, “tithing is most common among Mormons with the highest levels of religious commitment (96 percent) … fully 91 percent of college graduates say they pay tithing … compared with 66 percent of those with a high school diploma or less education. And among those whose family income exceeds $30,000, 83 percent say they pay tithing, compared with 69 percent of those with incomes of less than $30,000.”
While previous surveys have clearly established LDS agreement with certain key Christian doctrines — 90 percent of Mormons believe in God, 91 percent believe the Bible is the word of God and 98 percent believe in life after death — the new survey explores Mormon confidence in points of doctrine that are unique to LDS theology. And in these points of doctrine, Mormons proved to be unified and believing. They believe overwhelmingly that God and Jesus Christ are separate physical beings (94 percent), that the president of the LDS Church is a prophet of God (94 percent), that families can be bound together eternally in temple ceremonies (95 percent) and that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets and translated by Joseph Smith (91 percent).
Overall, 77 percent say they believe “wholeheartedly” in all of the teachings of the LDS Church. That number increases to 82 percent among Mormons ages 18-49, and to 85 percent among Mormons who are college graduates.
“Ultimately, I suppose other Americans will judge our church — and perhaps all churches — by their relevance in how they touch and improve human lives right here on Earth as well as what they offer in the life to come,” wrote Michael Otterson, Public Affairs director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in his “On Faith” blog in the Washington Post. “Meanwhile, we welcome the friendship and regard of all groups, even as we retain our commitment to a unique identity. In the end … Latter-day Saints will strive to be good Mormons, true believers, kind neighbors and faithful friends.”Read More
SMITHFIELD — After dinner, three baths, four bedtime stories and a half-a-dozen goodnight kisses for 2-year-old twins Brock and Isaac and 6-year-old Ellie, Erin and Brian Thompson finally sink into the couch with weary smiles.
Being parents is just what they always wanted. And they love it.
“Of course we have our crazy moments,” Thompson says, “but for the most part we just try to find the good things in the day and remember that they’re only going to be little for so long.”
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Thompsons believe that maintaining a strong marriage and raising and teaching children are essential keys to happiness and their most important responsibilities on earth.
In fact, 81 percent of Mormons say being a good parent is “one of the most important things in life,” according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life — the first survey of Mormons about Mormons, by a non-LDS research organization.
The survey of more than 1,000 self-identified Latter-day Saints from across the country asked how accepted Mormons feel in American culture, as well as their thoughts on religious practices, political issues and family roles.
The survey showed that Mormons are more likely to be married than the general population, 67 percent of the sample size compared to 52 percent of the general public.Read More
As the “Mormon moment” extends into 2012, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life today released a groundbreaking new survey, the first ever published by a non-LDS research organization to focus exclusively on members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their beliefs, values, perceptions and political preferences.
Entitled “Mormons in America: Certain in Their Beliefs, Uncertain of Their Place in Society,” the survey was conducted between Oct. 25 and Nov. 16, 2011 among a national sample of 1,019 respondents who identified themselves as Mormons. The results validate a number of long-held stereotypes (most American Mormons are white, well-educated, politically conservative and religiously observant) while providing a few interesting surprises (care for the poor and needy is high on the list of LDS priorities, while drinking coffee and watching R-rated movies aren’t as taboo among the rank and file as you might think).
“While this survey comes amid a contentious election campaign, it is not solely or even chiefly about politics,” said Luis Lugo, Pew Research Center director, in the published survey’s preface. “Rather, we hope that it will contribute to a broader public understanding of Mormons and Mormonism at a time of great interest in both.”
For example, in one very interesting section of the new survey, respondents were asked several questions about what is essential to being a good Mormon. According to the survey, 80 percent said “believing Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ” is essential to being a good Mormon, 73 percent said “working to help the poor,” 51 percent said “regular Family Home Evenings,” 49 percent said “not drinking coffee and tea” and 32 percent said “not watching R-rated movies.Read More