The Mormon Land newsletter is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Support us on Patreon and get the full newsletter, exclusive access to all Tribune religion content and podcast transcripts.
Chapels as community centers
Amid all the buzz about “home-centered, church-supported” programs, some Latter-day Saints fear and foresee a loss of community among members.
“Temples are far inferior to chapels as sites of building community,” argues Ziff, the pen name for a blogger at the Zelophehad’s Daughters website. After all, chapels are open to everyone (even nonmembers) and temples admit only recommend-carrying Latter-day Saints.
“Chapels are, at least potentially, at the center of community-building,” the writer states. “We not only go to worship there, but also to ward activities.”
Under Latter-day Saint theology, temples carry more eternal significance — tying together couples, families, even generations — and have become a cornerstone of church President Russell Nelson’s six-year administration. Of the faith’s 335 existing or planned temples, he has announced 153, or nearly 46%, of them — by far the most of any church president.
That impact is showing up. Check out, for instance, how the ratio of members per temple has shrunk in Utah alone, courtesy of this chart from independent researcher Matt Martinich:
A luxury that may help link members in the here and now.
The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: Women off the stand
The recent removal of women’s Relief Society leaders from routinely sitting on the stand during Sunday services in the Bay Area continues to cause a stir. We discuss the issue with women from the region — the fallout, the frustration, the pain, the push for a reversal and the hopes for a resolution.
Listen to the podcast.
Nelson’s first public appearance in three months
The 99-year-old leader also spoke, in a recorded message, at the Yule event in downtown Salt Lake City’s Conference Center.
“During the past few months, I have learned a lot more about pain and its refining influence,” Nelson said. “My heart has been drawn out to our Savior as I have tried to imagine the extent of his suffering. … We revere the babe of Bethlehem precisely because he later offered the incomprehensible, infinite sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary.”
Church expansions, contractions
Independent church tracker Matt Martinich reports at ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com that leaders recently formed five new stakes in Utah (in South Jordan, American Fork, Lewiston and two in Lehi) and eliminated one (in West Valley City).
He notes that six Utah stakes (regional clusters of congregations) have been discontinued this year — the most in any year in the state — but 10 new stakes have been established.
The Beehive State is now home to 633 stakes.
Meanwhile, Martinich writes, the church created three new stakes in Chile, two in Ivory Coast and one apiece in California, Madagascar, Mexico, Missouri, Nigeria, South Carolina and Zimbabwe
From The Tribune
• An Associated Press investigation uncovered recordings in an Idaho case that show how the church protects itself from child sex abuse claims.
• A new website on slavery in early Utah includes a fiery debate on race between Latter-day Saint prophet Brigham Young and fellow apostle Orson Pratt.
• In this holiday season, our guest columnist Eli McCann explains how sacrifice can bring forth the blessings of gift-giving.
• In the wake of our recent story about Bay Area Relief Society leaders being removed from the stand at Sunday meetings, a guest commentary suggests that women stay away from services March 17, 2024, the 182nd anniversary of the female Relief Society’s founding.