The Mormon Family

by Nora

mormon-familyWhen people think “Mormon,” they also think “family.” Specifically, large, traditional families. I have a confession to make. I am a highly educated, successful Mormon woman. I have played the piano and sung professionally, and taught music for many years. I work at an alternative high school, and I can teach any high school subject well (except art). I’m learning computer programming in my spare time. And I also have ten children, six boys and two girls. My husband and I were married 32 years ago, and we consider our family to be the most important thing we could ever do with our lives. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have always known that although we enjoy many temporary earthly pursuits during this life, our family is forever.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes nicknamed “Mormons”), are strong advocates for the traditional family. Deeply held beliefs, rooted in basic Church doctrine, keep members of the Church of Jesus Christ from being swayed by contemporary attitudes toward sex, marriage, and child bearing. Mormons believe that marriage between one man and one woman is essential; that children are waiting to be born to loving, stable homes where they can learn about God and how to follow Jesus Christ; and that family relationships endure forever.

Mormon Beliefs about Marriage

Adam and Eve formed the first traditional family on earth, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ seek to follow their example. In temples, which are sacred buildings where ordinances are performed, a man and a woman can be married not just until death, but for time and all eternity. According to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” given in 1995 by the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley and the Twelve Apostles  of the Church,

…Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and … the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

mormon-templesWhen my husband and I were married, we were promised that if we remained faithful, our marriage would last beyond the grave, and that we would continue as husband and wife forever. Our children would always be ours, even in heaven. The continuation of our family life beyond the grave would be the setting in which we would find our greatest joy, happiness, and growth in this life and in the life to come. Such promises are both a comfort and a challenge to maintain a happy marriage through every changing circumstance of life. Couples who plan on making their marriage last forever tend to take their relationship very, very seriously. Temple marriages where both spouses remain faithful lead to lower divorce rates and greater long-term happiness in marriage.

Although not every faithful member of the Church has the opportunity to marry or have children in this life, all Mormons believe that if they are faithful, they will at some point in this life or the next have the chance to find a spouse and be married eternally. Those who are single through lack of opportunity or divorce still can be part of a family now through loving parents, siblings, and friends; and eventually, every faithful person who desires it will find an eternal companion. No one who loves God and keeps His commandments will be denied any blessing in the eternities, especially one so essential to eternal happiness as a family.

Mormon Beliefs about Children

Another basic doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ is that every human being who ever has lived or will live on earth is a spirit child of God the Father. We all lived together with Him before the earth was created. Children who are born have been waiting for the chance to come to earth to gain a body, experience mortal life, and learn to choose good rather than evil (see We Lived With God for more information). Mormon parents want to provide a safe, loving environment where the spirit children of God can learn about Jesus Christ and His gospel from the start. Children raised by faithful parents will have the best chance possible to avoid the suffering that comes from sin. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ are taught that:

Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ (from The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

mormon-momWhen we were young, my husband and I felt deeply the need of the spirits in heaven who were waiting to come to earth. Through bearing our own children and through adoption, we opened our home to as many children as we could handle. Although we have experienced much turmoil and grief, we have also experienced our greatest joys as we have raised our children and diligently taught them about God. They have also taught one another priceless lessons about love, loyalty, and forgiveness.

Families Are Forever

Mormons believe that the work we do in our home as parents will be  the greatest work we ever do, and the one with the most lasting consequences. God has provided a way for us to be with our families forever. A children’s song says:

Families Can Be Together Forever

I have a family here on earth;

They are so good to me.

I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Families can be together forever

Through Heavenly Father’s plan;

I always want to be with my own family,

And the Lord has shown me how I can.

(“Families Can Be Together Forever,” by Ruth Gardner and Vanya Watkins, Hymns #300)

Additional Resources:

The Family, A Proclamation to the World

Strengthening Families

Temples

Mormon Wedding

by Karla

One of the most awaited days of a person in his or her life is the day when he or she will get married and become tied to another person in the most meaningful way possible. A person’s wedding day is truly one of the most important in his or her life.

mormon-weddingThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church) believes that marriage is ordained of God. Mormons believe that marriage has been a law of the Gospel since the creation of Adam and Eve.

For Latter-day Saints (often called Mormons by friends of other faiths), a wedding should take place in a Mormon temple. Mormon temple marriage is very important because it is essential for the salvation of man, and because temple marriages can last for eternity. Latter-day Saints believe that Adam and Eve were married by God, and they had an eternal marriage.

However, there are two types of Mormon weddings: an official temple wedding or a standard church service. A temple wedding is always held within one of many Mormon temples, and is considered a marriage for all eternity (not just “until death do you part”). The devout strive for a Mormon wedding in a Mormon temple, which requires a high level of commitment to God and His commandments.

Mormon Wedding

Only faithful, worthy members of the Mormon Church are allowed to attend a Mormon temple wedding. All the guests must have a temple recommend issued by their bishop to enter the temple, which means the ceremony will likely be smaller than it would be in a non-temple wedding (usually it’s just family and close friends). The temple president or a temple sealer (a clergy member with authority to officiate a wedding) will oversee. At least two witnesses are necessary.

A Non-Temple Wedding

A non-temple wedding is open to anyone—Mormons and non-Mormons alike. A temple recommend is not needed to be able to attend to it, and a local bishop at any Mormon church can officiate the wedding. If this route, a civil ceremony, is taken, the couple may be able to have a temple sealing later (after following Mormon precepts and waiting at least a year) to seal the marriage for eternity.

Commonly asked questions about temple marriage:

Who can attend the temple ceremony?

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have a current temple recommend may be invited as guests to a sealing ceremony in the temple. A temple recommend is a small card that demonstrates the holder has interviewed with the appropriate priesthood leaders and has been found worthy to enter the House of the Lord (as Mormons believe temples to be). Wedding couples are asked to keep those guests to a relatively small number, primarily immediate family and a few close friends; this allows the service to remain reverent and sacred.

What can those who do not have a temple recommend do while the ceremony takes place?

Temples provide waiting rooms and some have visitors’ centers on site, which provide information about Jesus Christ, the Mormon Church, and the importance and sanctity of Mormon temple ceremonies. Also, the grounds of every temple are beautifully maintained and offer individuals a peaceful atmosphere for quiet contemplation.mormon-wedding

How long does a temple sealing take?

Most do not take longer than thirty minutes. There will, however, be some variation, depending on factors including the number of people attending and the advice that the officiator gives. Also, in a spirit of reverence and preparation, it is expected that a wedding couple arrive at least 75 minutes prior to their ceremony time. The couple’s guests should arrive at least 30 minutes early. The ordinance of the sealing itself is actually quite short, though.

What should guests wear?

Those attending the temple sealing should wear clothes that would be appropriate for church, such as a modest dress or skirt and blouse for women, and a suit (not a tuxedo) or white shirt and slacks for men.

Can the bride wear her wedding dress in the temple?

Brides may wear their wedding dress in the temple (barring any veil or hat), but it must have long sleeves and a high neckline, and all sheer material must be lined. Also, the dress should have no train or at least have a way for the train to be bustled up. Some temples provide jackets that can be worn under or over a dress to make them appropriate for the ceremony. The availability of such a jacket may be checked when setting up a sealing appointment.

When are rings exchanged at a Mormon wedding?

An opportunity for exchanging rings is given immediately after the ceremony concludes in the sealing room; no other place or time on temple grounds is considered appropriate for this practice, and the exchanging of rings is not part of the ceremony. Couples are encouraged to not have ring-exchanging ceremonies after the temple ceremony, because they should recognize the importance of the sealing itself and that, that is where the important promises have been made.

Is photography permitted?

No recording or filming is allowed anywhere within a Mormon temple. Couples may have a brief, simple photography session outside the temple following their marriage, and of course many pictures are taken at the reception.

How do couples set the time and date to be married in a temple?

Couples should call the temple where they plan to be married well in advance to set up a time.

When should a couple make an appointment to get their temple recommends?

Couples should allow enough time in order to not feel rushed. Most take care of getting their recommends at least two weeks before the ceremony. It should be noted that Mormons have to have been members of the Church for at least one year before they can obtain a temple recommend. Also, when entering the temple for their own marriage or other ceremony, they not only need a regular recommend for temple admittance, but also a Recommend for Living Ordinances. Plus, they should not forget their valid state marriage license. A couple should talk to their bishop as soon as they get engaged to make sure they take care of all necessary arrangements well in advance.

In summary, indeed, choosing to be married and sealed in the temple of the Lord is the best choice one can ever make. A wedding is a special day. It is also a very holy and sacred day, because it should be a day of covenants and ordinances that are of eternal nature and consequence.

References:

Gospel Principles, by Intellectual Reserve Inc., 1997, pages 241-246

“Chapter 38: Eternal Marriage,” Gospel Principles, (2009)

Information For Brides and Grooms Planning a Temple Marriage, by Jay M. Todd

“Lesson 33: Celestial Marriage—A Preparation for Eternity,” Aaronic Priesthood Manual 31995

Mormon Marriages around the World, by Elaine Cannon

http://ask.metafilter.com/32019/What-are-the-rules-of-etiquette-for-a-Mormon-weddingrelated-open-house

 

 

What is a Mormon Temple Open House?

by Karla

When a wonderful place is open for public viewing, would you go? When invited to visit the house of the Lord, even a temple, would you consider going inside the building? Surely, it would be a great opportunity. However, satisfying one’s curiosity about the Temple of God or visiting it for the sake of being able to say that you have seen its inside, is surely not all or everything about a temple open house.

A Mormon temple celestial roomAn online dictionary defines an open house as a social event in which hospitality is extended to all. It could also be an occasion when an institution is open for visiting and observation by the public. Before a temple is dedicated, it is open for public viewing. It gives a chance even to those not yet members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as the Mormon Church) to behold what is inside. A Temple Open house is then a great chance and an awesome experience both for members and friends of other faiths. Indeed, it is an event that is worth waiting for.

Reservations for entry into the temple open house is often required, but tickets are available and are free of charge. Oftentimes, Latter-day Saints (also called Mormons) invite people they know to go inside the temple with them when an open house is available. Missionaries of the Church can also extend the invitation. Everyone can be invited. However, they have to make sure that those that would go inside the temple will respect the place, and would not loiter or disrespect it.

Since it is open for the general public, anyone is allowed to come once he or she has secured a ticket. Guests will then be taken on guided tours in the temple. Even though the temple is not yet dedicated at the time of visit during an open house, all are still asked to observe reverence and respect the building as it is the house of the Lord. Surely, even if it is still to be dedicated, the Spirit can still be felt while in there.

Some nonmembers who have gone in an open house bear witness of the feeling they had. Some even bore a testimony that the Spirit testified to them that the building is truly a house of the Lord. It is a chance to share the restored gospel, and sometimes an opportunity that leads the people to want to be baptized as a member of the Church.  However, open house visitors are welcome, and there is no pressure to listen to a message about the Church.

Moreover, it is important to realize that an open house is not just a simple event meant to let others see the building and just appreciate its beauty. It is meant to let others feel the Holy Spirit and give them a testimony that what they are beholding is a true house of the Lord. An open house can change lives, even as a dedicated temple of the Lord helps people go back to his presence.  By experiencing the light and joy that are present in a Mormon temple, people can let go of their preconceived notions about Mormons and their temples, that temples are secretive, dark places.  The light of God is there to be felt by all.

References:

“An Open House Opened My Heart,” Wendy Kenney

http://lds.org/church/news/kyiv-ukraine-temple-through-missionary-eyes?lang=eng&query=temple+open+house

http://lds.org/church/news/laie-temple-open-house?lang=eng

http://lds.org/ensign/1993/05/news-of-the-church/san-diego-temple-open-house-attracts-thousands?lang=eng&query=temple+open+house

http://lds.org/new-era/2009/10/an-open-house-opened-my-heart?lang=eng#

http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/open%20house

Reflecting on Work for the Dead

By Karenrose.

Serving in an initiatory session in one of the Lord’s temples (of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)–an ordinance that involves a spiritual washing and anointing to become all that can ever hope to be–I was drenched with a compelling thought and accompanying spiritual outpouring.

Mormon at templeHow often we say to each other, “I’ll be there for you…” “If you need anything, please call me.” “I’m here for you.” Our deepest longing is to love and be loved. We desire to “be there” for others; to feel their joys, attend to their needs, co-mingle our hearts with theirs in sorrow, share one another’s life experiences.

In the temple, Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) serve in a vicarious way for those who have died and passed on life beyond this mortal veil or realm. We perform work for them that they can’t do for themselves without a physical body, but which they are free to accept, as living spirit beings in the spirit world. Those who’ve departed this life and continue on, have an opportunity to accept the gospel they may not have heard and to have their baptism performed here by someone else who cares, and to have additional ordinances required by Jesus Christ, performed in their behalf in His holy temples.

While serving in one such ordinance–an initiatory session as mentioned above–on behalf of another departed sister, I had the words form in my mind, “I’m here for you.” And then came the poignant thought: I was literally there for her, standing in her stead, in her very place, as proxy for her, for needed work for her eternal happiness. I was spiritually moved. I thought of our time in pre-mortality, as child spirits of God, when perhaps many of said to one another “I’ll be there for you.” In that holy edifice, God’s sanctuary, His courts, I felt I may have been fulfilling one of those very promises. Whether it was a promise kept to her or a promise to fulfill my covenants to serve God, either way, ” I was ‘there for her.” There is s sublime joy in serving others in that purest of ways in God’s house.

The Savior was literally there for us. He was lifted up on the cross in our place, vicariously. His vicarious atonement continues and we reap the blessings. We had to have faith pre-mortally, to be here, that He would finish His work for us. He did. He lives, and now He extends to us the opportunity to serve Him in his temples, to vicariously, stand in for another departed spirit who needs the Savior’s redemptive ordinances.

If you have the opportunity to visit an open house or Visitors’ Center of a sacred “Mormon” temple (temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), we hope you will, and that you’ll feel that is the Lord’s house where each of us can participate in ordinances that bind us together forever and that provide opportunities for us to offer the same to others: “to be there” for those we love.

Hartford Connecticut Mormon Temple History

In October 2010, President Thomas S. Monson, announced that a temple would be built in Hartford, Connecticut. President Monson is the president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons.

“This morning I am pleased to announce five additional temples for which sites are being acquired and which, in coming months and years, will be built in the following locations: Lisbon, Portugal; Indianapolis, Indiana; Urdaneta, Philippines; Hartford, Connecticut; and Tijuana, Mexico.” (See As We Meet Together Again by Thomas S. Monson.)

Manhattan New York Mormon TempleThis news was very exciting for people in the Hartford area. Plans had once before been made for a temple there. In October 1993, President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was then president of the Church, announced plans for a temple to be built in Hartford. It was expected to provide a closer temple for people in the New York and New England areas of the United States.

However, three years later, President Hinckley explained in General Conference that plans had to be changed. Church membership had grown so much in the areas north and south of Hartford in those few years that a single temple would not do. Instead, Church leaders decided to build two temples that would more centrally meet the needs of people in these fast growing areas.

One was announced for Boston, Massachusetts, and one for White Plains, New York. (The plans for White Plains were later suspended and a temple was instead built in Manhattan.) President Hinckley apologized to the people of Hartford, knowing how exciting news of a local temple was to members. However, as growth continued, the Church was eventually able to return to plans to give Hartford its own temple.

Connecticut has a long history in the Mormon religion. Mormonism began there in 1832 with a handful of converts. The people of Connecticut were first taught the gospel by Orson Hyde and Samuel H. Smith in Hartford and Litchfield Counties. However, the people did not respond and it took two months before Hyde and his new companion, Lyman Sherman, converted eleven people. Willford Woodruff, a native of the state and a future Mormon prophet, began to teach the Gospel in Farmington, his hometown, in 1838. As a result of his first sermon, he baptized several people, including his father, stepmother, and sister.

Growth was initially slow, simply because most people who joined the Church wanted to live nearer church leaders in a time of limited communication and transportation. They often moved to Mormon cities and later to Utah after they were baptized.

1n 1916, there were 53 Mormons in the state. In 1930, there were only 198 Mormons in Connecticut. The Depression and World War II made it difficult to send missionaries into the world, and so again, growth was slow, with only 184 brave Mormons in 1940. The first meetinghouse was not even built until 1952 and it was built in Hartford, where the new temple will be built. From that time on, membership grew fairly rapidly due to the blessing of having regular meetinghouses and also due to western Mormons who came east for work or school. Today, there are nearly 15,000 Mormons in the state in 32 congregations.

Learn more about the history of Mormonism in Connecticut.

early mormon missionariesThroughout the state’s history, it has hosted or been home to many important people in Mormonism’s history. Hyrum Smith, the brother of the church’s founder Joseph Smith, attended school there for several years before an outbreak of typhoid fever caused him to return home. Jeffrey Holland, a current Mormon apostle, attended Yale for several years.

Jane Manning, a black woman who became a Mormon in the very early days of the church, was also born in Connecticut. She was a free woman who, in the 1840s, led a group of nine black people from Connecticut to Illinois to live with the Mormons there. Because the group was turned away from the ferry due to race, they walked the entire 800 miles. Their journey was fraught with danger. In Peoria, they were threatened by law enforcement who thought they were escaped slaves. They crossed an icy river that rose to their necks. They were cold and hungry, often forced to sleep in the snow.

Once they finally arrived, they were taken to the prophet, Joseph Smith, who invited them to live in his home until they found jobs and homes of their own. All but Jane found jobs in town, so the Smiths invited Jane to live with them. When Joseph was murdered, she moved into the home of Brigham Young, the new prophet. She remained there until the Mormons fled persecution in Illinois. She then married Issaac James.

Connecticut contains strong ties to Mormon history and the Mormons there are excited to know a temple is finally coming to their city, decreasing the distance they must currently drive to attend.

Updates:

The LDS Church submits blueprints for the Hartford Mormon Temple.

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