Who runs the Mormon church?

Quick answer: Jesus Christ runs The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Long answer: He runs the church through His prophet and apostles. Before Jesus Christ was born, He directed His gospel through prophets; Adam, Noah, Moses, and Malachi are a few. When Christ was on the earth, He ordained apostles to preach the gospel and lead His church. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14). After Christ’s death and resurrection, Peter became the prophet. When Peter and the rest of the apostles were killed, the authority to act in Christ’s name was taken from the earth.

 

The priesthood was restored to the earth through Joseph Smith. Acting under the authority of Peter, John the Baptist appeared as an angel and ordained Joseph Smith with the Aaronic Priesthood. Later Peter, James, and John ordained Joseph to the Melchizedek Priesthood.

 

Our Fifth Article of Faith is “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” That is how authority and leadership is passed on in our church. The ordained leaders pray to know the will of God in who should serve. They then issue the call and by the laying on of hands, give the authority to preach and administer. While women are not given direct authority, they act under the direction of the priesthood. Recently I was called to be the Relief Society President in my ward or congregation. The bishop of our ward prayed and fasted to know the will of God. He received spiritual confirmation that I should serve as the Relief Society President at this time. He then met with me and my husband and asked if I would be willing to serve. I said yes even though I was scared of the responsibility. Later, the bishop along with other priesthood leaders, laid their hands on my head and set me apart as the Relief Society President in my ward. I now have the duty and privilege to serve the women in our congregation and administrate the needs of the Relief Society organization.

 

That is how all responsibilities are taken care of in our church. Each adult member has a specific calling or responsibility to serve. From the newest baptized member to the current President of our church, President Thomas S. Monson, we each do our part under the authority of the priesthood. Jesus Christ communicates with the prophet and other apostles for the administration and teachings of the church. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:38). Christ runs the church through revelation to his leaders and we are His hands on earth to carry out His will.

Do Mormons think they have all the answers?

Two years ago, I felt inspired to write a weekly blog about what Mormons believe. I thought it would be a good forum for helping my friends and others see that Mormons may do some things differently, but that we are like everyone else too. Maybe more than teaching others, writing the blog helped me to articulate what I know and believe and as I did that my testimony–my belief system about my religion–grew. But then within the last few months, I discovered that all was not well within my own home or my extended family. That going to church every week, having daily scripture study, weekly Family Home Evening, and personal prayer and scripture study, had not prevented our family from being affected by the very trials I feared. How could I write a weekly blog about Mormon beliefs when I didn’t have all the answers anymore? How could I give advice when I wasn’t perfect?

 

Times of trial and sorrow are the very times when I needed to test my beliefs. For a brief moment, I wondered, could this all be a lie? Why would a church profess something that is at conflict with the love I have for a family member? But then I remembered Jesus Christ. I remembered my testimony of the Savior. I remembered the times He’s given me comfort and guidance, and I remembered a few very real, personal experiences from which I cannot deny the existence of my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I then turned to the Lord in pleading prayer and dug deeper into the practices that will not prevent trials but will strengthen me through those trials.

 

This past Sunday I was asked to share my testimony in Relief Society, the women’s meeting during church. As I finished my testimony, my faith was stronger. I felt stronger. I realized that writing this weekly blog does not have to be about having all the answers. It is about sharing my beliefs and then my beliefs being strengthened by my sharing.

 

I do not have all the answers. I do not know the best way to be the parent of a married daughter. I do not know how to be the mom to a missionary. I do not know how to parent a teenage son or daughter and a precocious child. I do not understand why people are attracted to someone of the same gender. I do not understand why Heavenly Father’s eternal plan emphasizes marriage between a man and a woman, therefore excluding those who act on same gender attraction. I also can’t comprehend how our society has gotten to the point that same sex marriage is acceptable, but I also can’t relate to a desire other than what I have. I hate that pornography is too readily available and extremely addictive. I don’t know why some children choose to follow the gospel and others don’t. But there are many things I do know. I know Christ lives. I know the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness includes coming to earth to gain a body, making choices, and that marriage between a man and a woman is part of God’s Plan of Happiness. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a current apostle, said, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” Someday I hope to understand all that doesn’t make sense to me now. Until then I will continue to pray, study the scriptures, attend church, and serve. And when I’m unsure or waver, I will plead with my Savior and because He is real, because He lives, because of the Atonement, He will strengthen me.

 

 

 

 

I believe in family

This past month we’ve participated in two family reunions–one from my husband’s family and one from mine. During these reunions I saw tantrums, dirty dishes, tired children and parents, and sulking teenagers. Our families are flawed. We are imperfect in our interactions as families and as individuals. We make mistakes as children. We make mistakes as parents. So why are families part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness? How can sending babies to flawed parents be the best way to learn and grow? I have to believe that Heavenly Father planned on families being messy and parents learning from children and children learning from parents as we progress. I have to believe that He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. I do believe that He expects us to improve and that family is the best way for us to learn to be like our Father in Heaven.

 

At these reunions I also saw smiles, hugs, yummy food, children swimming and playing, and the encouragement and support of cousins, siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I know that my family loves me and always will. I know that the experiences we had as children and now as adults bind us. I know that even though attending reunions is a sacrifice of time, resources, and sanity, strong family relationships are developed through spending time together. And I know that Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness is not just for our time on this earth, but for eternity. I believe in family now and family forever.