My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Archive for the category “In the News”

Hey Christians, You’re Doing It Wrong

Hey Christians, you’re doing it wrong.

Seriously. Reallllly wrong.

I went to Target four times this week (my wife LOVES Target). And guess what. I wasn’t accosted by any trans people. No one assaulted Anna Melissa in the bathroom. And no official in a red polo shirt standing at the front door handed me this month’s copy of “The Homosexual Agenda”.

Flocking to Facebook and calling for boycotts of Target is about as useful as using cotton swabs as nails. You’re just wasting your time.

I’m a staunch conservative. I go to church every Sunday. My wife and I (try to) read from the scriptures each day. We’re teaching our son to say his prayers, and we try to serve our neighbors in-between work, family, and the hurry of every day life. But at the end of the day we are just simple Christians, and because of that, videos like this really bother me.

Jesus was loving. Yeah yeah, I get it. I hear it all the time. Even Jesus threw over tables in the temple and whatnot. But you know what else Jesus did? He ate dinner with harlots, tax collectors, and people even worse. He went into their houses. He was kind. He was cordial, and He respected their individual practices and places. The only time we have any evidence of Jesus getting all “Old Testament Kinda Angry” is during the incident in the temple, which was in His Father’s house.

Dear fellow Christians, Target is not your house. So don’t go stomping through it, tossing over tables so to speak, and causing some holier than thou ruckus. If you have a terrible fear that a transgender person might hurt you or your children in the bathroom, then don’t go into the bathroom. Simple as that. Go next door. Or hold it. It’s that simple.

I’m not transgender. Obviously. And I cannot imagine the true challenges that come from truly identifying as someone who is. I only personally know a handful of people who are. But the people I know who are transgender are – wait for it – REALLY decent people. They’re kind, smart, and the kind of people I would never hesitate introducing my children to. I may not agree with every political/religious/philosophical point my transgender friends and family espouse. But, y’know what? I don’t have to. Because part of being a rational adult is recognizing that not everyone agrees with your political/religious/philosophical points either.

“But what about the children?” you may be asking. Well, y’know, I never knew of a pedophile rapist who was too keen on following proper public bathroom policies in the first place. So if you’re afraid this will invite some new class of weirdos in, please refer to my “Hold It” counsel I previously gave.

As Christians we need to recognize that the world is changing. It doesn’t mean we need to change our doctrines, but it does mean we need to, more than ever, actually live like Christ lived. We need to be loving. We need to respect others. And we need to show compassion in difficult situations.

So next time you’re in Target if you see some whackadoo such as this, please refrain from saying unkind things to her. She’s just a Christian who is struggling applying the teachings of Christ. She deserves the well wishes and prayers of all.

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The Newly Called Alabama Birmingham Mission President: Stanford C. Sainsbury

A photo of Stanford Sainsbury from the Daily Herald upon his retirement in 2012. Photo by Jim Mcauley

A photo of Stanford Sainsbury from the Daily Herald upon his retirement in 2012. Photo by Jim Mcauley

With yesterday’s exciting announcement of 3 new missions being created in the world, the Church also publicly listed nearly all of the 168 new mission presidents who will begin service this summer with their wives.

Here in the great state of Alabama we will be welcoming Stanford C. Sainsbury and his wife Sister Melanee Sainsbury.

Living on a 50 acre farm in West Mountain, Utah (Payson/Spanish Fork Area), President and Sister Sainsbury will be leaving behind their lives and trading in the Rocky Mountains for Appalachian Hills for the next three years. Sainsbury, who turned 60 just last month, with his wife Melanee, are the parents of seven children. President Sainsbury spent his professional life as an employee for the city or Orem, Utah. After graduation from BYU and earning a law degree, Sainsbury spent 10 years as a city prosecutor for Orem city, then deputy city attorney. During that time he became a certified planner. He then spent his final 16 years of employment as the director of development services. He retired in December of 2012 after 29 years of service for the City of Orem.

A graduate of BYU, President Sainsbury served a full-time mission as a young man in Sweden under the direction of President Paul Oscarson. President Oscarson, who was only 29 years of age at the time of his call as mission president, was known for his youth and enthusiasm in the Swedish Mission. Perhaps President Sainsbury will bring some of the same vigor of his full-time mission as a young man to Alabama as the mission president. His wife, Sister Melanee Anderson, is originally from Manassa, Colorado. According to an online profile from President Sainsbury he enjoys “[spending] time visiting children, working in the yard and garden, farming, following BYU sports, spending time in the temple, ward callings, traveling, reading,etc.”

President and Sister Sainsbury have served in a variety of church callings throughout the years, including recently as a ward mission leader for President Sainsbury.

As members of the Church residing in the Alabama Birmingham Mission we will deeply miss President Richard D. Hanks and his beloved wife Elizabeth. However, we recognize that with the hastening of the work comes a hastening of the years, and we are thankful to be have been blessed with the acquaintance of such fine saints here in Dixie. President Sainsbury will have very large shoes to fill, both figuratively and literally, but we have no doubt that with the blessings of the Lord he will do so exceptionally.

President and Sister Sainsbury. (Picture from one of their personal blogs - they also blogged here for a period of time.)

President and Sister Sainsbury. (Picture from one of their personal blogs – they also blogged here for a period of time.)

 

My Feelings About Today’s Supreme Court Decisions

supremecourtgaymarriage

In a pair of landmark decisions, the Supreme Court today struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide the case regarding the 2008 California voter initiative Proposition 8, which defined all marriages in the state as between a man and woman.

The court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples who are legally married in their states, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision, said that the act wrote inequality into federal law and violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of equal liberty.

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he wrote.

In the second case, the court said that it could not rule on a challenge to Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California passed by voters there in 2008, because supporters of the ban lacked the legal standing to appeal a lower court’s decision against it.

The court did not rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage, but the effect of the decision will be to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California. That decision was also 5-4, written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

I had eagerly awaited, along with many Americans, the outcome of these two cases, and wondered when the Supreme Court’s rulings might come. Shortly before 1PM I left work for the day and was on the phone with our full-time missionaries as I was driving through the local Taco Bell drive thru to grab some lunch. As I ordered and chatted with one of our missionaries I also began checking emails on my phone, and (since I wasn’t already doing five things at once) turned on the radio to catch NPR’s top of the hour news. It was there, while paying for my lunch, talking on the phone, and reading emails, that I first heard of the court’s decision regarding Propostion 8, and I was so surprised I nearly ran into both the car in front of me and the side of Taco Bell.

I have written extensively before in regards to my personal feelings in regards to gay marriage and civil rights, and the church released the following statement today regarding the decisions announced by the Supreme Court on the cases involving marriage:

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

As the afternoon progressed I saw social media explode with people outspoken on both ends of the same sex marriage spectrum. Some of my closest friends on Facebook rejoiced and put up rainbows as their profile pictures. Some others of my closest friends decried today’s SCOTUS decision as a sure sign that Jesus will be coming back soon to burn the whole planet. It was interesting to see people from both ends of the spectrum interacting, commenting on one another’s posts, each calling the other side a group of bigots, and both groups of people being equally nasty towards one another.

My personal feelings are simply this:

Today the Supreme Court struck down a law defending traditional marriage nationwide and a voter initiative defending traditional marriage in California. As a Christian there are parts of this that trouble me. However, Jesus Christ at no point today struck down the Golden Rule. At no point did the Lord descend in a pillar of fire and say it was now okay to be uncivil and unkind to people who you happen to disagree with politically or on social issues. Christian love and charity of heart were not struck down. So my fellow Christians, although today is a day that many find entirely dreadful, that does not excuse us from showing love and kindness. Period. End of story.

Do I disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling? Perhaps. But what the Supreme Court rules does not change how I live my daily life as a Christian and a Latter-day Saint. All are children of God, straight folks, homosexuals, and everyone else. It is the call of the Master to love everyone as He loves them. And perhaps the best way to show our love won’t be in mean spirited comments online, but then again, what do I know?

Stan Way

Sister Monson – A True Saint, A Woman of God

 

Last Friday morning I sat at work at my desk and saw the little blue indicator light go off on my phone. Casually picking it up I wasn’t prepared for the text message I was about to read from my girlfriend:

KSL NEWSRADIO: The wife of President Thomas S. Monson has died. LDS Church confirms she passed away peacefully this morning. Tune to 102.7 FM/1150AM.

I sat numb, in shock for a moment, and then tears came to my eyes as I thought of our beloved prophet and his deep feeling of loss at this time. For a moment, in a busy office with phones ringing and people talking loudly, my desk became a sacred spot as I asked for the Lord’s blessings upon the Monson family and gave thanks for a great woman of faith.

Today was Sister Frances J. Monson’s funeral.

To quote the Deseret News article on the services from this afternoon:

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, hailed Sister Monson as “a great lady and a true woman of Zion.”

Although she was primarily known by church members as one who complemented and supported her husband in every way, President Uchtdorf said “we also know of her depth of spirit and character.”

“She was indeed a wonderful woman in her own sphere,” he said. “We have enjoyed listening to her as she candidly shared her opinions and experiences. The sweetest compliment President Monson could give to (my wife) Harriet was when he said, ‘Frances and you are so much alike.'”

President Uchtdorf also noted Sister Monson’s personal desire to stay out of the spotlight.

“I don’t think that we have ever heard Sister Monson give lengthy talks,” he said. “But her compassionate, kind and gentle life is full of sermons by which we and the membership of this church are richly blessed and which will never be forgotten.”

Also from the Deseret News article,

Representing the family, Dibb shared four ways that her mother showed love during the course of her life — her love for her parents, her deep love for her family, her love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and her love for her husband, President Monson.

She told of a time about 12 years ago when her mother was recovering from double knee-replacement surgery and her father was scheduled to travel.

“The night before Dad was scheduled to travel he said, ‘I guess I’d better pack my bag. Where is my bag?'” Dibb said. “Sensing he might need some help, I took the shirts he had laid out and began to fold them and place them in the suitcase. My mother, in bed and in pain, said, ‘Ann, bring the bag to me and put it by my side. Give me the socks and Dad’s shirts. I know how to fold them just the way he likes them. That is my job. I’ve been packing his bag for 40 years.’

“My father and I watched and assisted, as directed, while my mother lovingly packed each item, ‘just the way he likes them.’

“As a girl,” Dibb continued, “I loved to read my mother’s beautiful and poetic patriarchal blessing, which concludes: ‘By the force of a noble and pure life (you will) be able to influence the lives of many with whom you will come in contact, for out of you will come forth an influence radiating hope adn cheer and holiness.’ That night was my mother packed my father’s bags, I was blessed to witness once again the force of her ‘noble and pure life.'”

Frances Monson led a noble life. She was a wife. A mother. A daughter of God. She led a pure life, and through her humble service provided countless millions with the gift of her husband’s ministry.

Thanks be to God for Frances Monson, her personal life, and the ministry which she quietly led as a mother in Zion. She was a true saint and woman of God.

President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints listens during funeral services for his wife, Sister Frances J. Monson, at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Thursday, May 23, 2013.

President Thomas S. Monson, ever smiling, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints listens during funeral services for his wife, Sister Frances J. Monson, at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Thursday, May 23, 2013.

 

President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances, wave as they exit the conference center following the morning session of General conference Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012.

President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances, wave as they exit the conference center following the morning session of General conference Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012.

Mormon Apostle Linda Booth Recommends Gay Marriage

Approximately 2,000 people gather in the Auditorium of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri for meetings and worship.

Approximately 2,000 people gather in the Auditorium of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri for meetings and worship last week during the faith’s annual World Conference. – Photo from the Kansas City Star

Each spring the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, invites members and elected church delegates from throughout the world to their headquarters in Independence, Missouri for their annual World Conference. Held in the church’s spacious Auditorium (located next door to their iconic temple which to me looks like a giant ice cream cone), the conference held last week over a six day period attracted about 2,000 people, including about 1,500 church delegates. Considered a time of spiritual rejuvenation, the conference is translated into multiple languages, and in the past few years has been recorded and made available to view online later by followers of the faith.

World Conferences are made up of delegates elected to represent the church’s Mission Centers (roughly equivalent to a Catholic diocese or LDS Stake), meeting together to discuss and vote on the business of the church. Three years ago prior to World Conference, various Mission Centers throughout the church had passed resolutions calling on the church to embrace allowing gay members to be ordained to the priesthood (without any stipulations) and to end discrimination in marriage on the basis of sexual orientation. These resolutions then came before the sessions of the World Conference and were considered according to parliamentary procedures. Unlike General Conference, the semiannual meetings held by the Utah based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these meetings are conducted according Robert’s Rules, with motions, seconding, discussion, questions of privilege, calling the question, and the such. Historically, in the World Conference of 2010, the first business that came before the conference was whether or not to approve a new revelation brought to the church by President Stephen M. Veazey, the church’s leader and prophet. The approval of the World Conference would mean that the revelation (initially referred to as “prophetic counsel”) would be added to the Community of Christ’s Doctrine and Covenants. Like the resolutions referred to the conference by the Mission Centers, the prophetic counsel addressed the issues facing LGBT members of the church. The result of the procedural voting three years ago ended with the church leaders accepting the revelation “as the mind and will of the Lord”, and it was canonized as scripture as Doctrine and Covenants Sections 164 (the most historic change in church history since Section 156 approved in 1984 which allowed women to be ordained to the priesthood). But the steps made three years ago did not officially sanction gay marriages. That happened just a few days ago.

The Missouri Mormons of the Community of Christ are not to be confused with their doctrinally different cousins in Utah though. While this month’s General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City expounded on traditional values and marriage between a man and a woman, last week’s World Conference of the Community of Christ solidified and expounded just how glaringly the differences in practice and doctrine have become in the past 150 years.

Apostle Linda Booth reads the recommendation of the nearly 1,500 delegates to those gathered in Independence, Missouri last week for the annual World Conference of the Community of Christ.

Apostle Linda Booth reads the recommendation of the nearly 1,500 delegates to those gathered in Independence, Missouri last week for the annual World Conference of the Community of Christ.

The specific recommendations of the conference to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the two highest governing bodies of the church) last week were as follows:

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends the sacrament of marriage be extended, where legal in the USA, to persons of the same sex/gender. Thus the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA on the sacrament of marriage; and

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends that a church-recognized way for two persons of the same sex/gender to publicly express their covenant to each other be made available in places in the USA where marriage is not legal. Thus, the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA regarding same-sex/gender covenant commitment services where marriage is not legal; and

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends allowing a priesthood call to be processed according to established procedures regardless of sexual orientation, including a person in a monogamous, committed, same-sex/gender relationship (e.g., legal marriage, civil partnership, covenant relationship) in the USA. Thus, the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy on ordination for the USA.

Read by the church’s newly elected president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Apostle Linda Booth, and sustained with a majority vote by the church delegates present, the message was loud and clear: Gay marriage is okay.

Since gay marriage is only authorized in a small number of states in the United States (currently 9 with Rhode Island preparing to be the 10th), and since marriage is a state contract, the Community of Christ appears to be preparing official commitment ceremonies for those couples that reside in states without gay marriage. Also, the Community of Christ will acknowledge monogamous committed relationships as on par with marriage, in matters of priesthood calls, no matter whether they are labeled as legal marriage, civil partnership, or a covenant relationship. In other words, the legal difference between states will not impact how the Community of Christ approaches these relationships.

The Community of Christ in recent years has struggled not just to grow but to maintain their fledgling membership. With approximately 250,000 church members wordwide, the church just last year sold land to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a deal, that according to numerous sources, helped replenish nearly empty church coffers. Meanwhile, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to be among the fastest growing faiths in the United States and has over 14 million members wordwide.

For many members of the Community of Christ last week’s motions and resolutions may be accepted as “the will of the Lord”, and to many in the world the change will likewise be seen as a good and timely action. However, there are also those who are left wondering, “Just how far will a church stray from their original doctrine just to appear popular?”

While some groups of faith may change their beliefs with those of society, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to emphatically declare “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (See The Family: A Proclamation to the World). The Lord’s commandment to love everyone includes those of the LGBT community, and recently the church came out with an official website, MormonsAndGays.org, which adopts a more conciliatory tone toward gay men and women than many Latter-day Saints have heard in the past. Official Church doctrine has not changed, but with the realization that their are many among the faithful who struggle with same sex attractions, there is an outreach to love and rescue them like never before.

Only time will tell what may become of the Community of Christ with their watershed announcement on gay marriage, but for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nothing has changed, and few expect that it will.

The local NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri lead off their newscast on 21 April 2013 with the Community of Christ's announcement to allow same sex marriage.

The local NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri lead off their newscast on 21 April 2013 with the Community of Christ’s announcement to allow same sex marriages and commitment ceremonies.

The Newly Called Alabama Birmingham Mission President: Richard D. Hanks

Elizabeth W. and Richard D. Hanks. - Photo from LDS Church News.

Elizabeth W. and Richard D. Hanks. – Photo from LDS Church News.

With yesterday’s exciting announcement of 58 new missions being created world-wide, the Church also publicly listed nearly all of the new mission presidents who will begin service this summer with their wives.

Here in the great state of Alabama we will be welcoming Richard Duff Hanks, 52, and his wife Elizabeth Ann Winters Hanks. According the Church News the Hanks have three children, and currently live in the Holladay 8th Ward in the Salt Lake Holladay South Stake.

Prior to being called to serve as president of the Alabama Birmingham Mission Brother Hanks served as Chairman and President of Mindshare Technologies, a leading provider of real-time customer and employee feedback solutions. According to Mindshare’s website their “proprietary survey technology captures the voice of the customer in real-time and immediately transforms it into actionable intelligence through powerful and incisive enterprise reporting.”

Mr. Hanks was also a senior executive of several Fortune 500 companies as well as several start-up ventures. He was a corporate officer at Marriott, an executive with PepsiCo and Price Waterhouse, and CEO of Blue Step, a software start-up. Rich, as he is commonly called by his friends and family, was named “The Leading Sales Innovator in the Lodging Industry,” and Marriott’s sales team was rated one of the top 25 among all companies in the U.S. for four years under his leadership. Rich also led Marriott onto the Internet, prompting Bill Gates to refer to him as an “Important Internet champion” in his book Business “@ the Speed of Thought“.

That’s right, Bill Gates gave a shout out to the guy. So he has to be pretty awesome.

Earlier in his career, Rich was called the “Leader of Hotel Revenue Management and Strategy” for his leadership in hotel pricing and yield management. He is also a CPA. Rich was nominated as Utah Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001, 2007, and 2008.

Richard D. Hanks is the author of “Delivering and Measuring Customer Service” (which you can purchase on Amazon by clicking here), in the past has been a frequent teacher/speaker at trade, academic and professional gatherings, and has been widely quoted in top business journals and trade publications. Brother Hanks was also a lecturer and adjunct professor at Cornell University for 10 years and on the Board of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and his MBA from Northwestern University.

Currently Brother Hanks is a stake institute teacher. He has also served as a stake executive secretary, high councilor, bishop, bishopric counselor, mission preparation teacher, and missionary in the Scotland Edinburgh Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Marion Duff and Maxine Christensen Hanks. Brother Hanks’ father, Elder Marion D. Hanks served in the First Council of the Seventy, as an Assistant to the Twelve (a calling which no longer exists), in the First Quorum of the Seventy, and in the Presidency of the First Quorum of Seventy. Elder Hanks was only 31 years old when first called as a General Authority in 1953, and raised his family, including Brother Hanks, during his many years of full-time service in the Church.

Sister Hanks is a gospel doctrine teacher and former ward Relief Society president and counselor, ward Primary teacher, ward young single adult advisor, and ward Young Women leader and teacher. She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Richard Keith and Mary Nebeker Winters.

First Black Mormon Stake President in Alabama Took Winding Path to Leadership

Peter M. Johnson, president of the Bessemer stake and the first black regional leader for Mormons in Alabama, recently sat down for an interview with The Birmingham News. (Photo by Greg Garrison/ggarrison@al.com)

Peter M. Johnson, president of the Bessemer stake and the first black regional leader for Mormons in Alabama, recently sat down for an interview with The Birmingham News. (Photo by Greg Garrison/ggarrison@al.com)

From the Birmingham News and AL.com

By Greg Garrison | ggarrison@al.com 
on February 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM, updated February 22, 2013 at 2:14 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Peter M. Johnson took a winding path to become the first black Mormon regional leader in Alabama.

Johnson grew up in New York, was recruited to play college basketball for a Mormon university in Hawaii, later moved to Utah and worked as an accountant in Salt Lake City, before eventually taking a job at the University of Alabama.

Being chosen as the first black Mormon to serve as a stake president in Alabama caught Johnson somewhat by surprise.

“I realize it’s significant now,” said Johnson, president of the Bessemer, Alabama stake, who serves as a regional leader for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an area that covers central-west Alabama from the Mississippi line to Birmingham.

“I had no knowledge that I would be the first black stake president in Alabama. My goal is to invite all to come into Christ.”

He’d never served as a bishop of a congregation, or a branch president, which is often considered a stepping stone to regional leadership.

“I was awed, overwhelmed,” said Johnson. “It was definitely unexpected.”

Read the rest of the article at al.com by clicking here.

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