Dude, where’s my pew?

Recently I had the opportunity to volunteer for an outreach program for homeless youth, or more accurately, youth with housing insecurity.  Most of them are not homeless per se, but their family circumstances are such that they can’t live at home and have to move from friend’s couch to friend’s couch, or something like that.  The program is sponsored by a local United Church of Christ.  Every Thursday they offer a hot meal, a video and a chance to take a shower, as well as good old-fashioned fellowship.  A year or so ago our Relief Society worked one of these Thursday night things, and one of the women was so moved by the experience that she decided she wanted to be involved on a regular basis.  She and her husband have taken on the obligation of providing one meal every other month, confident that other members of the ward would support the effort, which they have.

Last month I tagged along to help serve the meal.  Ordinarily I am not a people person.  Well, in fact, I am just about never a people person, and so I don’t ordinarily volunteer to do things like serve meals, which might require…I dunno…talking to people…or worse, smiling.  I am happy to donate food, cook, stuff envelopes, even clean stuff–anything to be helpful that doesn’t involve copious amounts of human interaction.  It’s not that I don’t like humans.  All of my best friends are humans.  I’m just not customer-service material.  For example, I’ve worked several jobs that required me to answer phones.  I can’t tell you how many times people on the other end of the phone would inquire as to whether I were insufficiently rested and/or depressed.  That is the quality of my demeanor in general.  (Not pertinent to the rest of the post, but just as an aside:  If you’re the type of person who calls up a place of business and asks the administrative assistant if she is depressed, I just want to tell you…you’re not funny.  That’s all.)

However, I decided that 2009 is to be my year for Doing Stuff I Usually Avoid Doing.  And thus I found myself serving tacos to youth with housing insecurity.  I had a pretty good time.  I certainly plan to do it again.  But this is not going to be about how gruff old Rebecca J had her heart melted by adorable homeless teens.  No, I am thinking more about the differences between how the LDS church does outreach and how other faith communities do outreach.  While I was hanging out in the UCC, I noticed a lot of posters in their hallway–just simple text-only posters with statements like “Never put a period where God has put a comma.”  (The comma, apparently, is iconic for the UCC.  It refers to the fact that “God is still speaking [and here is where I end with a comma but the English major in me just...caaaan't].”)  There were other statements, the exact wording of which escapes me, to the effect that Jesus reached out to the prostitutes and the other unsavory elements of society and we should go and do likewise.  The wording was intentionally provocative, but there was no illustration, just bold black letters on a red background.  I don’t think the red was an accident.  It made me think of sin, and Jesus’s blood.

Aside from us visiting Mormons who were serving the meal, it was hard, at this supper, to tell who were volunteers and who were guests.  This is deliberate on the organizers’ part.  They used to have separate sign-in books for volunteers and guests, but they found that everyone just signed in as a volunteer.  Nobody wanted to self-identify as a “guest.”  So now they still do a volunteer log, but on the down-low.  For the most part, volunteers and guests just blend together.  After serving the meal, we were able to mingle.  I felt a little more at home.  (In retrospect, I wished I’d worn my blue fingernail polish.)  Ironically enough, I felt a lot less pressure to be friendly, with the net result being that I was probably a lot more friendly.  (I might have even smiled at one point, but I can’t swear to it.)

The UCC is one of those more liberal Christian denominations that go out of their way to welcome all kinds of folks.  I mean, they have a sign on their front lawn that specifically welcomes you, regardless of your race, color, gender or sexual orientation.  You just can’t get much more explicitly welcoming than that.  The LDS church, whilst being comprised of some wonderfully friendly people (me excluded), does not really have that same welcoming vibe.

I’m trying to say this in as neutral a tone as possible because I really like the LDS church, and I like Mormons–like them a lot, actually–but I do think that in some ways we are like an exclusive club.  You are welcome to visit, and you are welcome to join–but you can only visit so many times before people start expecting something of you (you know, like joining), and you can only join after you’ve met a number of criteria (e.g., living the Word of Wisdom, marrying the person you’ve been living in sin with, etc.).  Once you have joined, you’re expected to take on certain responsibilities.  If you fail to meet those responsibilities, we might start to consider your presence more of a burden than a blessing.  It’s not because we’re suckheads (even though some of us are), but it’s just that we’ve got this project we’re working on, see–proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the saints, redeeming the dead, basic Kingdom of God stuff–and if you’re not going to contribute, well, forgive us, but why are you here?

There’s also the fact that by virtue of our peculiar lifestyle, we tend to set ourselves apart from the world.  Well, that’s deliberate.  We want to be set apart from the world because the world is kind of nasty, truth be told.  Let’s be honest.  This is part of our appeal.  We’ve gone to great lengths to cultivate this image of wholesomeness, and I would be hard-pressed to call it a bad thing.  If other folks see us as the super-nice people with the good teeth, what’s so wrong about that?  Nothing, I guess.

However, I knew a girl in college–a “liberal” Baptist–who was talking to me about the Church, and she said that she had gone to a Mormon service once and had really enjoyed it, i.e. the service, but she just didn’t feel comfortable with the people there.  Not because they were unfriendly–they were, in fact, super-nice (probably had good teeth, too, though I didn’t ask).  No, she just felt out of place.  For one thing, she was wearing a knee-length skirt and all the girls there were wearing tea-length or longer.  That wasn’t the only thing she said, but it’s the thing that sticks in my memory–because for Pete’s sake, what a silly detail, and hardly a pernicious flaw.  But it’s just one of many tiny things that may inadvertently make others feel like they don’t quite belong.

My point is not to solicit a bunch of comments about how far afield of Jesus’s mission we’ve gotten as a people.  I think as a people we rock pretty hard.  I know that I’ve been lucky, but I’ve seen the church in lots of different places, and my experiences with fellow (and sister) Mormons have been overwhelmingly positive.  However, I was born into this.  I’ve worked through a lot of angst, and I’m at the point where my relationship with the Church is like a marriage that has grown comfortable.  Yeah, some stuff gets on my nerves, but I’m used to it, and I’m too lazy to start over.  Mostly, it’s just grown on me.  Mostly, I like belonging to this exclusive club.  It’s what I know, and it’s my home–but also, it’s kind of cool.  Maybe I just think so because it’s my family, but even the shortcomings I find kind of endearing.  The church can’t be all things to all people.  My daughter wishes we had more stained glass windows.  My step-mother wishes our music were less crappy.  (Also, that we had more exciting speakers and less sexism.  But some folks just like to complain.)  The fact is, we are what we are, and some people are going to find us appealing–welcoming, even–and others aren’t.

I just can’t get those silly red posters with their prostitutes and their commas out of my mind.  When it comes to welcoming every soul, the most important thing that we can do as a people has to be done as individuals.  Individually, we can always do more to include others, to be less judgmental, to not put a period where God has put a comma.  I am curious, however, if there is anything the Church can do–or do less of–institutionally that would (better) communicate the message that God intends to meet us where we’re at, and that the church is a safe place for us to find our way to where He wants us to be.

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Comments

  1. Rebecca, this is really beautiful. With you, I wish we were better at outreach. I fear that we take the “peculiar people” description to heart and then fail the world in some way.

    Of course, I’m saying this to myself more than anyone.

  2. And when I say outreach I mean good old-fashioned christian no strings attached love the people kind of service.

  3. anonthistime says:

    /raises hand, waves wildly/

    I have one!! When one of the big quarterly Primary activities is an art show, we could not make the theme “My Eternal Family.” That makes kids whose parents are divorced feel like crap, and makes them wonder if they’re even allowed to attend. Then they have to ask their parents about it–“should we draw you or daddy with us in front of the temple?”–and their parents already feel like crap because they just heard for the 4,000th time that no other success can compensate for failure in the home. If we can’t even welcome all the *kids,* who presumably haven’t yet done anything that would disqualify them from fellowship, it seems reasonable to suspect that we won’t do a great job with grownups who have had more time to sin.

    While we’re at it, we could even change the theme of the Primary program, so it wouldn’t be about families every year. Heck, we could even make it about Jesus!

  4. I love this line: “to not put a period where God has put a comma.” One of my most repeated lines to my kids when they’re telling me about a friend in difficulty is, “The end of that story hasn’t been written.”
    Thanks for this beautiful post, Rebecca.

  5. I have had a feeling for a while that I need to do more for the truly poor in my community. As such, I’m thinking of helping at the local Anglican church in town. My ward does many things to help build the kingdom, but this isn’t one of them. We’d be so good at it.

  6. Mark Brown says:

    I don’t know what the institutional church can do. However, I know there are things I can do. A majority of our members are what we call inactive, and at least some of that is because they don’t feel comfortable among other LDS people. I think our individual visits are an opportunity for us to keep it real and make sure people understand that everybody has problems and that they are among friends.

    P.S., nobody keeps it real like you, Rebecca J. I disagree completely with your assertion that you are not a people person; on the contrary, you are the best kind of people person, one who is authentic. May your tribe increase.

  7. Thanks for the post.

    We have this sister in my ward who has some obvious and publicly known lifestyle differences from the church standards. And yet, she comes often and brings her young child.

    I find strength in her dedication. She could feel out of place -and maybe she does. But she keeps coming back. And why?

    I imagine that she loves the church, and loves the strength that comes from attending and being with the other saints.

    She has expanded my definition of “saints” and “welcoming” and “outreach”. I am blessed by her actions.

  8. Latter-Day Guy says:

    I think this is related to Natalie’s earlier post. If we are indeed the only true church, then is it any wonder that our attitude is sometimes “get in, get with the program, or don’t and be damned”? I am not sure what concrete things we can do to change that. To some extent it is merely culture, the thousand threads of responsibility and expectation and shared experience that hold us together are often what keep others out. Anytime someone joins a ward, they have to work their way through those strands, sometimes cutting and re-stringing as needed. It isn’t a quick process.

  9. I mean, they have a sign on their front lawn that specifically welcomes you, regardless of your race, color, gender or sexual orientation.

    I wish it were possible to imagine such a sign in front of an LDS building.

  10. Natalie B. says:

    #5 – Like Ronan, I have also been thinking about what I can do to serve the community more. Recently I had the chance to volunteer with a lot of community organizations, and it was eye opening to see how so many other churches were actively involved in the community. These churches do so much to keep low-income neighborhoods afloat. I know our church is involved behind the scenes, but I can’t help thinking that we would seem more engaged with the community if we members served it more directly. Serving one another is fine and important, too, but it does encourage us to isolate ourselves.

    Also, unlike our church where there is a clear distinction between members and non-members, many of these churches appear to just welcome people without requiring such a high burden of entry. When I recently invited a friend to church, she suggested that she would like to keep coming to RS, even though she has no intentions of converting (yet). I think that her remark reflects that she comes from a culture where one can move from church to church as one’s needs change. She has an attachment to and belief in God, not a belief in the truth of a particular church.

    I suppose that to some extent our desire to spread the gospel everywhere is in tension with the fact that in our church coming to the gospel and converting requires the burden of becoming part of a new culture as well that has very specific obligations. The maintenance of our “peculiar” culture and the importance we attach to ordinances make it harder for us to have broad appeal.

  11. Steve Evans says:

    I agree with what you’re saying, Rebecca, but what are the institutional barriers to being more welcoming or to reaching out more to the community? I can’t think of any that we cannot completely get around with a little personal effort. What those community churches have is an established infrastructure and method for outreach that Mormons have never developed. So it’s easier to help the local poor via the UCC. But that doesn’t mean Mormon’s can’t.

  12. Kristine says:

    One important thing to consider is the sheer amount of work it is to run a church–it’s easier for members of the UCC to volunteer because there’s a full-time youth minister to run the equivalent of YM/YW, a full-time priest to do many of the things that bishopric members and elders’ quorum presidencies do. (Actually, most of the priests/ministers I know do a job much more like the Relief Society president’s…)

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Enjoyed the post.

    (You can tell your daughter that as I grew up I attended an LDS church with lots of stained glass windows. It was a building our branch purchased before it later became a ward and built a specifically LDS building. It really was a beautiful way to grow up Mormon; I have fond memories of gazing at those lighted biblical scenes during lessons in the classrooms of that old building.)

  14. Mark Brown says:

    Steve, I can think of something the institutional church could do. While I agree that most of our barriers could be gotten around, we tend to hesitate because we are wary of doing anything that is unauthorized. People are willing to donate hundreds of dollars per month to the fast offering, but are wary of micro-lending, just for instance. So, I think the church ould make it clear that we are to be anxiously engaged, and that we don’t need to be commanded, and that it is OK, and even desireable for members to undertake outreach efforts that are not officially sponsored.

    Just to be be clear, I think that the church has already said this, but I think it needs to be repeated, perhaps more forcefully, because the message obviously isn’t getting through. Efforts like the one Rebecca has described are still the exception.

  15. Rebecca, this is one of my favorite posts ever. I don’t know how to add another ball to what I’m juggling, but your experience makes me want to try. Thank you.

  16. Peter LLC says:

    a full-time youth minister to run the equivalent of YM/YW, a full-time priest to do many of the things that bishopric members and elders’ quorum presidencies do.

    This.

    I would say in most cases the church gets far more than it pays for, but there are certainly areas where a lay clergy just isn’t going to outperform dedicated professionals.

  17. StillConfused says:

    This is why I am more affiliated with my local Jewish Community Center than the Mormon equivalent — if there were one. I enjoy giving to those in need — my personal passion is post-crisis education to women. Obviously crises happen to women of all faiths and walks of life so my charitable work is religiously neutral — something the LDS church isn’t particularly cool with. I like a true community center — one that helps all of the people in its target audience, not just those who espouse a particular brand of religion.

  18. I can’t tell you how many times people on the other end of the phone would inquire as to whether I were insufficiently rested and/or depressed.

    OK, I almost snorted my cherry Coke Zero through my nose reading that. Great post, BTW. ..bruce..

  19. Stillconfused,

    I’d take issue with your statement about religiously neutralcharity – “something the LDS church isn’t particularly cool with.” I think that when you look at the overall picture, ie humanitarian/disaster relief, the wheelchair project, and others, the church doesn’t tie that to a specific religious response. It’s when it gets down to us lesser mortals in the wards and stakes that we sometimes get it wrong. I remember in particular moving into a ward where activity was particularly low, and only 10% of the ward was paying tithing. We were met at our front door in the first week by someone introducing themselves as a neighbor across the street, and by the way, were we LDS? After we said yes, there was an audible sigh of relief, and a cake produced. The unspoken message was that if we were not LDS, maybe no cake.

    On the other hand, our home in that neighborhood was primarily known as the one where a man came flying through the front window, followed by a shotgun blast (Lynnyrd Skynnyrd’s Gimme Three Steps comes to mind).

  20. StillConfused says:

    #20, Have you ever tried to have the LDS church work with an existing charity that is religiously neutral? That is what I am talking about. Not Church run and mandated specific projects where they may choose the intended audience. I would suggest that you talk with people in the charitable arena about what it is like to try to “partner” with the LDS church on charitable matters.

  21. Rebecca J says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

    anonforthis (#3) – Your post breaks my heart. This year’s Primary theme has been troubling to me in a few respects–not because I have a problem with the Proclamation on the Family per se or with teaching the aspirational ideal, but your comments illustrate how teaching this theme has been problematic in practice (not universally, but in many cases). But that’s probably a whole other post.

    Latter-day Guy (#8) – “the thousand threads of responsibility and expectation and shared experience that hold us together are often what keep others out” – That is well-put, and I agree, which is why I guess if a change is warranted, it has to be effected on a personal level–which brings me to

    Steve (#11) – I think I’m wondering how individuals can effect an institutional change by virtue of specific behavior. It’s fairly useless to talk about how the Church should change if we’re going to put it all on “the Church,” which we have no control over, rather than examining what we can do individually to get around whatever barriers, artificial or otherwise, exist. I agree with Mark that we hesitate to do things that are unauthorized, and I think that can be especially true for women, who usually don’t understand how the authority structure really works in the church–they just know that they’re not part of it, so I think they (we) feel that our hands are tied (when in fact they may not be).

  22. I think you described one of those invisible barriers the Church has when you said you couldn’t tell who were the volunteers and who were the guests. Our dress code makes it pretty clear in most cases who is LDS and who isn’t.

  23. Beautiful post, Rebecca – and incredibly important. My thoughts:

    1) “The Church” has emphasized for years that members should be actively engaged in their communities. The global leadership practically begs us to do so – at least by their standards of begging.

    2) “Organized” service at the local level is a local unit issue, and, as Kristine says in #12, many members spend far more time involved in running their local units than most non-Mormons do running their congregations.

    3) The organization is in place, however, to have “organized, group” service – the Relief Society. I’m not saying the women need to do it all, but I am saying the RS is set up explicitly to direct compassionate service – and it can involve both men and women. It simply needs to include consciously a community outreach component – and many units away from the Inter-Mountain West are small enough that such a focus is difficult.

    4) Given these realities, the most effective efforts I have seen ALL have been focused on one of two efforts:

    a) Stake RS coordination;
    b) Local units helping existing, established efforts of other religious or community organizations. This is my personal preference, since it requires less time and coordination and doesn’t reinvent the wheel.

    My fundamental summary:

    Every single one of us can do one thing, at least. **Talk to your RS Pres. NOW (or on Sunday) about opportunities to serve in the community – or, for men who don’t feel comfortable with that for some reason, talk with your HPGL or EQ Pres and ask him to talk with the RS Pres.** Either do it without any organization or project in mind, or find something about which you can talk with her. Frankly, it will have a greater chance of success if you suggest something.

    This is something that can change immediately IF each person who is touched by this post actually does something to make it change. It won’t change anything if we all wait for someone else to do it for us.

  24. As to the final paragraph, Rebecca, our Stake President has challenged each leader throughout the stake to think of what it would take to have 50% of all people attending all of our meetings and activities be non-members. What would it take on an organizational level to make that work – without having to compromise our core doctrines?

    I love that thought exercise, and I think it is crucial to actually consider that question – to examine carefully and consciously what we do that is off-putting, and, at the most core level, how we can separate “sharing the Gospel” and “missionary work”. Our point at the stake level is that we need to do MUCH more simply to “go about doing good” and inviting people to participate in our religious and social lives simply to share in the joy of that life, no conversion strings attached.

    I wrote the following a while ago that sums up my feelings about Sacrament Meeting. It applies to all of our activities:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008/12/my-dream-collective-mighty-change-of.html

  25. Our Stake has a relationship with our community “Life Shelter.” (That’s the PC way to say that these people are homeless.) We take turns— Relief Society, YW, YM, Elder’s Quorum—being in charge. We decide on the menu, solicit the food from the ward members, take the food to the shelter each Thursday night, serve it, and mingle with the people. None of us expect anything from these people. We do this simply to serve. All of us return home humbled and grateful. Some of our members volunteer there on other days than Thursday. (The shelter assigned us Thursday.)
    Also, getting involved in your local PTA (or PTO) can, in some cases, be a way to serve. You’d be surprised at how many needy children there are in a so-called middle-class neighborhood. You don’t have to have a student in the school. (Can you tell I’m a teacher?)
    I loved this post and know that there’s more I as an individual ought to do to help my fellowmen. Thanks for the reminder, Rebecca J.

  26. StillConfused,
    I’m not entirely sure I understand what you’re getting at, but I know that in New York, at least, the Church has provided religiously-neutral charitable work of a type: we had, beneath the Stake Center, a come-as-you-will family history center. Probably 95% of its users were not members of the Church. (It was unfortunately closed as a result of significant remodelling, but there is still hope that it will reopen).

    Is that the kind of thing you’re thinking of? I know it’s not crisis counselling (although frankly, most of us don’t have the skills necessary to do that), but is that in the direction you’re thinking of?

  27. I read somewhere that a Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. However I think a lot of times that the LDS ward turns into a museum for saints. Talks talk of an eternal family, the Celestial Kingdom… but when you are sitting next to a spouse you can’t stand …

    Yes our dress code very clearly shows who is a member and who is not. As we don’t smoke, if someone comes in after having a ciggy… well that’s pretty clear too.

    We don’t show up in jeans. I’m wearing slacks at work right now, and I’m not going to the RS birthday party tonight because it asks for church dress. I don’t have time to go home and swap out a skirt, nylons, and heels. I’m professionally dressed, but don’t want to get the “look.”

    My family has gotten the “look” so many times. My mom works on a volunteer ambulance in a small rural Utah town. And YES, ambulances are needed on Sunday. She tried wearing a dress to church, and hurrying and pulling on pants, but that was really uncomfortable for her. What ended it was when she forgot her work boots and ended up on a car accident in heels, pretty unable to work because her shoes were unsafe. So when she’s on call, she wears her uniform to chuch. (It’s a nice uniform, the one they only get out for parades and funerals.) But yes it involves pants and work boots. And Oh the SCANDAL! She’s wearing pants to church. Funny thing, one of the ladies in the ward who protested most loudly was oh so humbled when my mom responded to her husband having a heart attack on a Sunday. (He was fine, BTW) What helped with this was when one of those lovely old sisters got up and gave a “testimony” about how proud she was of all the advances sisters were making and how glad she was to see they were able to do things only men used to be allowed to do, include wearing big work boots. She also said she loves wearing pants. RIP Alida

    Also, my mom was right there in her work clothes when a member had a heart attack, during Priesthood no less, and with the AED that building has, she had shocked him twice before the ambulance got there.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled. However I’m sure the church you are describing would have no problem what so ever with my mom showing up in her uniform or me showing up in pants to a weekday activity. And I’ll be honest, I long for that welcoming that you describe. It’s part of why I’ve been inactive. People are very friendly, but at times not welcoming.

  28. Also, it’s worth noting that our Stake public affairs committee is expressly tasked with finding service venues for members of the Stake, not as proselyting opportunities, but as community-building.

  29. Ray, thanks for linking to your sacrament meeting post. I enjoyed reading that.

  30. Cynthia L. says:

    > I think as a people we rock pretty hard.

    Amen!

    And we could be a lot better at inclusiveness and reaching out to the outside world.

  31. Stillconfused #21, we’ve had a couple of significant efforts where our stake partnered with religiously neutral charities. One involves an ongoing project to feed the homeless in conjunction with several other denominations and a Jewish synagogue. We’re certainly not in charge, and it works fairly smoothly. Another was a rather large, stake-wide effort to clean up and refurbish some low income housing in connection with several groups representing some religious denominations, and totally secular charities. Our involvement was purely one of service, and our major effort was to line up a couple hundred volunteers and some tools.

    Where problems arise, as I know they do, is when an opportunity for service is viewed primarily as a missionary opportunity first, instead of just focusing on the service needed. That’s what I meant my losing our focus on the stake and ward level. If everything wasn’t viewed as a missionary opportunity, we’d get a lot more missionary work done.

  32. It feels like with younger generations, there’s this unwritten rule that we’re all supposed to think conformity is bad, like people wanting to change their dress to fit in and be a part of something is shameful. I certainly don’t want robot drones and mindless sheep running around. Individuation is a good thing, but the reality is that most humans need some level of conformity. From a mental health perspective, there is great safety, identity, security and a sense of belonging , respect and purpose in conforming, as long as it doesn’t delete the essence of the person (Except the natural man part of us:) to the point of damaging their mental health. Even then it may benefit them to conform over a process of time less traumatically. It often shows symbolically a willingness to submit (another dirty word in a PC society where power mongers have damaged the use of it), which appears to me to be a necessary part (in healthy ways) to joining a movement or cause, like The Church. Having said that, I am very comfortable going up to the guy with the “holie” (not Holy) jeans and t-shirt, reeking of cigarette smoke and sit with him. But after a few weeks, if he hasn’t picked up on the fact that many around him are affected or put-out by his smell or hairy thighs showing through the holes, what does that say about him? From my experience, he will eventually conform or leave, and I hope he conforms because I want him to stay and also not disrupt others’ worship. Would I be a bad missionary if I offered to buy him church conforming clothes after I found out that he couldn’t afford to buy new clothes, and that he felt inadequately dressed for the sacred nature of the sacrament? I think not.

  33. our stake RS furnishes a local hospital with handmade burial gowns and quilts for the stillborn and preemies who don’t go home. Other than the seamstresses, I don’t think anyone knows about it.

  34. SA-weet! What does mine say?!

    (Somebody had to say it.)

  35. Jeanie M-B says:

    I had to chuckle at the assertion that a UCC congregration would find it easier to do community service, work with youth, etc. because they have a paid pastor and youth minister and don’t rely exclusively on volunteers. (#16) As a former LDS member for over 40 years and now as a member of a UCC congregation I can attest that this is rarely the case. While we do have a paid minister, most UCC congregations are relatively small. Our church serves two communities of over 150,000 each and we only have 80 members. We don’t have a paid youth minister. Most of us serve in multiple positions of responsibility, not just one church calling. To us, having the volunteers that would be available in an LDS ward would be a dream come true. By the way, our small congregation hosts the community homeless dinner twice a month at our building and have been doing so for over ten years. When I was active in the LDS church, the stake in my city would provide the food and help with the homeless dinner once a week during the winter only. They couldn’t “host” it at one of the LDS buildings–insurance issues they said. And they were worried that homeless people might start hanging around the church. The assignment was rotated among the ward R.S.’s so they only had to worry about it every 7 weeks.
    I have to admit, I’m rather grateful for UCC’s inclusive welcome. They didn’t have a problem welcoming a Mormon refugee.

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