What Is a Church Community?

The video player could not be built.

Do you want to chat with a missionary?

We are happy to answer any questions you may have. Start a chat or call us at 1-888-537-6600.

Hi I'm Erin

Our little family turned 100 this year! 35+34+10+8+6+5+2 I'm grateful for each and every day. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I was born into an active Mormon family, the fifth of seven children. I claim Virginia as where I grew up, but we moved around a lot: I was born in Chicago, lived five years in upstate New York, and in Indonesia for two years, Taiwan for one, and Arizona for three. My husband and I met at an ice cream shop in Massachussetts, when we were both freshman in college. We started dating sophomore year, and then wrote weekly letters for the next two and a half years (the semester I spent in Ethiopia, the eighteen months of my mission to Hong Kong, and the two years he spent as a missionary in Spain). We got married after one semester back together in Cambridge, and our oldest daughter was born the day we graduated. My favorite memories of my college years center on the people I knew there: my Korean freshman roommate who introduced me to all of her New York friends and many adventures (including rowing intramural crew), the eight students in my filmmaking class, the women in my writing workshop, my thesis advisors, and the large group of Mormon students who were family to me. My husband and I stayed on in the Boston area as resident tutors in the dorm where I had lived as an undergrad, while he attended law school, and then moved to New Jersey where he completed a one-year judicial clerkship. We now we make our home in Southern California, where he practices Intellectual Property law, and I stay home with our five (great!) children (I can say that because I'm their mom!).

Why I am a Mormon

I have often felt grateful that I was born into the Church (my family on both sides, going back multiple generations, were Mormon), because I wonder if I would have sought this out otherwise. First of all, there are so many strange misconceptions about the Mormon Church--would I have been able to see beyond the distortions? Second, the world is so full of interesting things—would I have even missed religion if it weren’t there? I don’t have to answer these questions because for me, it was there. It was the air I breathed growing up. And I'm grateful that it was because it provided me with security, direction, and light. I knew that I mattered because God was my spiritual father. I knew I could pray and He would hear me and help. I knew that I could be forgiven when I made mistakes. As I get older, I feel like everything I learn about myself and others and the world around me complements and confirms what I have been taught within the Church. I truly believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of God, and that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and has put us on this earth for a reason. The reality of that continues to humble and awe me, especially as a parent now myself, as I try to figure out how to raise each of my own children. I have five, and they each need different things, and it really stretches me to try to be tuned in with each of them to figure out how to help each grow. Our God is an awesome God who knows each of us on this planet, as mind-boggling as that is, and he gives each of us exactly the challenges and situations and blessings that we most need to stretch ourselves and to grow and to reach our full potential.

How I live my faith

Two things strike me as interesting, and even contradictory, in answering that question. First, growing up and going to school in the Eastern United States, and now living in Southern California, the majority of my friends have always been non-Mormon. But more often than not, I don’t have to tell them that I am Mormon. They just know. Funny, right? I ask them, "How did you know?" And they brush it off like it’s the most obvious thing in the world: "You can just tell." How? How can they tell?? I don't know! You might think it's because I have a bunch of little kids. But other people sensing my Mormon-ness predates kiddos on the scene by a long shot. The other funny thing is that from my point of view I don't live my faith nearly as well as I wish I did. I'm pretty idealistic, so maybe it isn’t surprising that I feel I’m constantly falling short of living my religion. I have many friends, both inside and outside of the church, who are more loving, thoughtful, patient, giving, disciplined, hard-working, and industrious, than I will ever be. More Mormon. So there you go. I don't think I'm "Mormon" enough, but to the rest of the Christian world, everything about me says "Mormon." When it comes to what I believe about what matters most (I believe we have a loving, all-wise Father in Heaven, who sent us here, and to whom we will one day return), I’m all Mormon. And I guess the people around me can tell!

Why do Mormon missionaries proselyte?

A more interesting question might be why we don't proselytize more than we do (and I'll answer that one in a minute). But I think there are two reasons we do at least as much as we do. First, we are answering the charge of the Savior when he was on the earth to "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It's the principle of "if you've been warned, then warn your neighbor." If you believe (as Mormons do) that it is only through Christ that we are able to return to God, then you share the responsibility we feel to spread the word of Christ. Second, we believe that the real and weighty problems of the world have solutions in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember sitting in a small Mormon church in Ethiopia with a local congregation when I was a college student. At that point, I had lived in and visited several countries, and I guess I prided myself in having seen a few things in my day. Even so, nothing had prepared me for the overwhelming poverty and need I saw in Africa. A visiting church authority from Utah had come to address this congregation, and I honestly couldn't imagine what words he could share that would be applicable and helpful to them. So I sat, curious, as he opened the Bible to Acts, and shared the account of the disciples Peter and John on their way into the temple, being asked for money by a beggar, who, crippled from birth, sat at the temple gates each day. These were Peter's words to the beggar: "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And Peter healed him, and he got up and walked. And that about sums it up. The problems in that congregation in Addis Ababa were real, diverse, weighty, urgent, and important, as are the problems faced by the human family throughout the world. We Mormons believe that they will be solved in due time through Jesus. As one of our leaders put it, "The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums . The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." So given the potential for good that we believe is embodied in the Gospel, why don't we proselytize more that we do? I rule out of a lack of commitment to the cause. By and large, Mormons are committed. Consider two examples, one economic and the other social. First, we tithe ten percent of all we earn to the Church and we go beyond that to give to the Church's considerable humanitarian aid relief efforts. Second, we routinely decline invitations to participate in social and work-related activities if they fall on Sunday--activities which are otherwise attractive to us--so that we can observe the Sabbath. Mormons wouldn't do that if we weren't committed. Again the question: if we think the Church is so great, why don't we share it more? Or, in other words, if you have friends that are Mormon, and they've never invited you to a Mormon meeting, why is that? I can identify at least three factors at work for me. First, we may feel that as messengers, we don't do justice to the message. I'd hate to know that someone might have been receptive to the Church were it not for my poor delivery of it. Second, we may worry that sharing something so personal might cause awkwardness in a friendship. No worries if I recommend a good restaurant or parenting book, and you opt against it, but if I share the religion that means everything to me, and you aren't interested, would that be socially awkward? Third, we recognize and value the sincerely held convictions (religious and secular) of our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Many of those convictions overlap our own, but even those that don't, we still respect. One of my husband's college roommates, a strong Evangelic Christian, articulated this tension when he confided to my husband that he was torn about whether or not he needed to witness to him. My husband assured him that he had accepted Christ as his personal Savior, but I don't know if this persuaded his friend that he had fulfilled his responsibility. It's tricky. I do believe that "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear." If I have friends who are interested in learning about the LDS Church, I hope they would feel comfortable asking me about it, but I worry that I will offend if I am the one to bring it up. Maybe I need to have more faith. It certainly stands to reason that if this Church has brought me peace, and helped me in my marriage and in my parenting and in my life, it would help other people too. But it's not something I bring up a lot, and I think a lot of Church members are like me. Show more Show less

What blessings can you receive from reading the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other scriptures?

Reading the scriptures does three things for me. First, it calms my mind. I tend to worry about things--not specific things, just low-grade, background worry. Reading God's word quiets those incessant thoughts that maybe I should be doing more (of what? I don't know! that's the problem) by allowing me to feel God's love for me and everyone else on this earth. This leads to the second thing: reading the scriptures reminds me of why I'm a believer. The scriptures are full of story after story of God keeping His promises. I know I can trust Him. I know "He's got the whole world in His hands," that everything's under control, and that everything will work out for the best. Finally, reading the scriptures is the surest way for me to be inspired. That is, the act of reading puts me in a mindset where I can receive ideas for my life--what I can do to help someone, how I can relate better to someone around me, ways I can feel more content. In my experience, the content of what I'm reading doesn't necessarily always contain the ideas. Rather, the act of reading is what opens my mind to the ideas that are already out there for me. Show more Show less