Tag Archives: Latter Day-Saints

Why do Mormons baptize the dead?

By Daniel Burke
Religion News Service

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has apologized for a Mormon who baptized the late parents of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal. But despite calls this week from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and others to rethink the controversial rite, the church is unlikely to drop it entirely.

Mormons practice baptism for the dead in special temple baptismal pools to offer salvation to ancestors who may not have had a chance to accept the Mormon faith. RNS photo courtesy LDS Church.

Latter-day Saints trace posthumous baptism to the Apostle Paul, who wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:29, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” Mormons believe that Joseph Smith, their faith’s founding prophet, restored the apostolic practice after centuries of neglect by mainstream Christians.

Proxy baptism was also Smith’s answer to a classic Christian conundrum: What happens to people who, through no fault of their own, did not join the church during their earthly lifetime? Should they be barred from heaven?

Mormons believe that vicarious baptisms give the deceased, who exist in the afterlife as conscious spirits, a final chance to join the Mormon fold, and thus gain access to the Celestial Kingdom. To Mormons, only members of the LDS priesthood possess the power to baptize.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a Baptist or a Buddhist,” said Kathleen Flake, a Vanderbilt University scholar who has studied the church, “it’s about who has the authority to perform the sacrament.”

Flake said Mormons are encouraged to baptize at least four generations of forebears to seal the family for eternity. So the LDS church has built the world’s most extensive genealogical library in Salt Lake City with 700 employees and more than 2 billion names.

Baptisms need bodies, so young Mormon men and women dressed in white robes stand in for the departed souls in temple ceremonies worldwide. Mormons youths consider it an honor to be immersed in baptismal founts while the names of the deceased are recited.

LDS leaders emphasize that the spirits of the dead must accept the baptism — it cannot be involuntarily imposed. And Mormons are instructed to only baptize family members, particularly after Jewish genealogists discovered in the 1990s that 380,000 Holocaust survivors had been vicariously baptized. In response, the church imposed safeguards and spent $500,000 removing Jewish names from its baptismal registries.

But with 13 million Mormons worldwide, the church insists that it cannot control “pranksters or careless persons” who submit Jewish names or famous people such as President Obama’s late mother, Stanley Anne Dunham. And the church considers the ritual too essential to forswear.

“With deepest respect to our Jewish friends, the church cannot abandon fundamental aspects of its religious doctrine and practice,” the church writes on its website, “and it should not be asked to do so.”

Blessing Foods delivers food, hope as part of nourishing mission

Courtesy of Latter-day Sentinel

Most people have heard of the parable of the fish and loaves. Lisa Bickham is living it.

Spokane resident Lisa Bickham founded Blessing Foods Inc. in May 2009 by delivering donated food from the back of a truck. These days, Bickham provides nutrition to around 3,000 people throughout the region each month. Photo by Craig Howard

It began three winters ago when Bickham gathered frozen turkeys from Spokane-area food banks and navigated through the snow and ice to deliver Thanksgiving dinners to stranded residents. By May of 2009, Bickham was receiving donations from area grocery stores and dropping off food to shelters, group homes, retirement centers and apartment complexes.

A single mom, Bickham had relied on food banks herself for years. Now she was driving across Spokane County, carrying shipments of nutrition and distributing the Bread of Life, or in her words, “the good news of the salvation of Jesus Christ.” She calls the ministry, Blessing Foods Inc.

Read full post here.

Hayden Lake Stake prepares to haul handcarts over pioneer route

By Gloria J Warnick
Latter-day Sentinel

Members of the Hayden Lake Stake will be trading in their cars, trucks, bikes and skateboards for handcarts this summer.

Authentic handcarts like this one will be part of the Hayden Lake Stake reenactment pioneer trek this summer. Contributed photo

A reenactment pioneer trek is scheduled for the Hayden Lake youth this summer, from June 20-23. They will traverse similar terrain traveled by the famous Willie and Martin Handcart Companies over 155 years ago.

The original two handcart companies were comprised of poor European emigrants and consisted of 980 people and 233 handcarts. They started in Iowa City, Iowa, and literally pushed and pulled their belongings from Iowa to Salt Lake City, Utah without the benefit of horses or covered wagons.

Because this company started their trek late in the season, they had to build their own handcarts. The journey was filled with mishaps and misfortunes. With the lateness of the season and the harsh travel conditions, 220 members of the two companies died on the high plains, the majority freezing to death in early snowstorms near the Continental Divide in central Wyoming. Many others suffered the amputation of fingers, toes, and legs due to frostbite.

Under the direction of President Brigham Young, rescue parties from Salt Lake City were organized and helped avert further tragedy. Over the years, faith-building stories from the survivors have been passed from generation to generation.

This June, over 200 people will leave their cell phones and other electronic devices at home, and will push or pull a handcart with their belongings 18 to 20 miles. They will leave Bing Canyon near the Columbia River on the Washington side in rough terrain and have the opportunity of learning to work together as they push their handcarts to Zion. This contemporary Zion will be a place of rest, with green grass and running water. In keeping with the spirit of the trek, no modern-day equipment will be seen or used by members of the trek. The delivery of mail is expected via pony express.

A total of 20 handcarts, owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be packed with 5- gallon buckets of belongings for each of the eight youths and two adults assigned to it. It will also have enough water necessary for the trip. Advance supply wagons (actually Jeeps and pickup trucks, not seen by the walkers) will shuttle in tents and advance supplies, a luxury the original pioneers did not have.

A couple assigned to be a “Ma and Pa” will walk the entire distance with the eight youths assigned to each cart. The trek will feature many of the same games and music that the pioneers enjoyed. The day will end with a campfire and stories of the pioneers who made the original walk.

The youth participating in this shortened version of the trek are being prepared in ways the original pioneers may have considered a luxury. Square dancing, quilting, and even a 5-mile hike, using the same shoes they will walk in, have been planned. Other precautions, such as supply checks and health certificates must be completed before a youth can participate.

Approximately 60 adults will be leaders on this trek. They have been banded together under the direction of Hayden Lake Stake President Dirk Baird and Counselors Grant Oyler and Dave Asper. Dave and Kathy Freeman have been called as trek leaders.

Meet Diane Kipp, our LDS blogger

Diane Kipp

Diane Kipp is a life long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).  She graduated from Brigham Young University“Long ago in the previous century,” she said.

Kipp currently lives in Spokane Valley with two of her four adult children, her mom, one dog, three cats, and her “extraordinarily patient husband.”

“I look forward to writing about how living the LDS faith looks in my daily life,” she said.

Her daughter, Laura Kipp, is also a SpokaneFAVS blogger.