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The ‘ex’ factor: Videos help former Mormons find new faith
‘Transitions’ » New videos help those leaving the LDS Church make the sometimes difficult and lonely jump to evangelical Christianity or mainline Protestantism.

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It has been 15 years since Logan resident Jonathan Edgar left the LDS Church, and he said tension still persists between him and extended-family members who remain active Mormons.

"We talk and we’re polite and all that," said the 37-year-old father of five, "but we don’t really have deep relationships anymore."

At a glance

Learn more about “Transitions”

“Transitions: The Mormon Migration From Religion to Relationship” is a video series and workbook aimed at supporting Latter-day Saints making the switch to evangelical or mainline Protestant Christianity. It was created by the Western Institute for Intercultural Studies, an evangelical nonprofit organization.

The first video addresses finding new individual and collective identity; the second covers friends, loved ones, marriage and children issues; the third goes over sorting out new church culture; the fourth examines “God’s Grand Story”; the fifth explores the mission and community of God; and the sixth looks at “life in the new heavens and new earth.”

To learn more, go to www.ldstransitions.com.

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That stress, he said, likely comes partly from an inability to discuss their religions with one another. He said his loved ones may also feel betrayed — that by rejecting Mormonism, he has rejected them.

And they’re concerned, he suspects, for his immortal soul.

"With people you care about, you do worry about their ultimate destiny," he said. "You do worry about where they will end up."

Edgar’s transformation began when his wife, a Mormon convert, left the church after her father’s death. His passing raised questions in her mind about the afterlife.

Ultimately, her questions led her to become a born-again Christian, and her husband followed, feeling touched by God during a service at the couple’s new church.

Edgar attended a screening of the videos with his pastor at Logan’s Cache Valley Bible Fellowship to see if they would work for members of that congregation, a few of whom came from the LDS faith. The church bought the program and hopes to implement it soon, said Pastor Eldon Peterson.

Edgar said a program such as "Transitions" would have helped him years ago.

"A lot of the things in the videos I kind of had to learn the hard way, kind of through trial and error," he said. "It probably did take me five to seven years to transition from Mormonism to being a Christian. … Sometimes I feel like I had a lost five years of my life where I had to unlearn things and learn new things."

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Learning a new way » Learning a new culture, new doctrine and new beliefs is a challenge for many Latter-day Saints who trade Mormonism for other forms of Christianity, said Morehead, who followed a similar path himself, leaving the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Phil Hughes, pastor at Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church, said his east-bench church sees anywhere from half a dozen to a dozen Mormons each year exploring the faith. Mount Olympus has also purchased the "Transitions" program.

"We see them not understand some of the language and some of the culture, and some of the beliefs of mainstream Christianity," Hughes said, "so we try to help them adapt to that and understand that so they can fully enter into the Christian faith."

Sheila Barnish, an ex-Mormon who worships and works at Mount Olympus, said it can be disorienting at first.

Lent and Pentecost are unfamiliar terms. Certain words, such as "deacon," "heaven" and "elders," suddenly hold different meanings. Women are allowed to be ministers.

"There a lot of things within a traditional Christian church that, coming out of the LDS Church, you have no idea [about]," said Barnish, adding that the "Transitions" videos, which address some of the differences, were "right on target."

Barnish quit the LDS faith as a teen, saying she couldn’t subscribe to Mormon beliefs about the afterlife. But she never lost her faith in God or Jesus. She eventually returned to religion for her children but soon found herself feeling at home in her new church as well.

She remembers the moment when it all seemed to click.

As a child, Barnish’s mother taught her the Lord’s Prayer. Barnish said it every night before she went to bed.

During her first service at her new church, the Lord’s Prayer — an expression of God’s greatness and a request for provisions and forgiveness — was recited.

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