With the recent presidential campaign and pop culture success of TV shows and Broadway plays, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints has been in the spotlight like never before. To address questions and the public's growing curiosity, the local "Mormons Next Door" would like to invite you to a special Open House on tomorrow, Oct. 21 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 1275 Flat Shoals Road.
The Conyers ward (congregation) has about 400 members and is one of the smaller wards in the metro Atlanta area. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has about 14 million members worldwide.
Though most commonly known as Mormons, members vary with their preference in whether to be known by that name or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Member Shayne Nolden said she prefers to be known as the latter, while member and former Bishop David Shipp said he didn't mind being called a Mormon. "We wear it proudly," he said.
A common misconception Mormons encounter is the belief that they are not Christians. Nolden said, "We are Christians and Christ is the center of our religion and the head of our church." Shipp said, "We believe God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are distinct individuals. We believe Jesus Christ is the son of God. Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer."
Another well known misunderstanding is the issue of polygamy. While both Nolden and Shipp agreed that polygamy was once practiced in their religion, they both went on to explain that it has been banned for more than 100 years. "Any member who practiced polygamy would be excommunicated from the church," said Nolden.
Another key component is service, said Nolden. "Service is a big part of what we do. I'm a part of our women's organization, which is called the Relief Society, and every year we hold a clothing drive. Members donate bags of clothing and after announcing it to the general public, people are free to come and choose whatever they need. This service project has helped many people in the past. Also, as a youth leader for many years, I often coordinated service projects for our youth such as raking yards, visiting the elderly and doing other similar activities to serve our community."
Shipp also emphasized the non-political nature of the church, pointing out that at one point, he, the former Rockdale GOP chairman, Rockdale Democratic party treasurer Doreen Williams and former Rockdale Libertarian Party head Randy Reynolds were all local members of the Conyers LDS ward.
Both members are looking forward to explaining their beliefs at the Open House and encourage curious minds to come out on Sunday evening.
There will be a slide show at the beginning, followed by an open house session. Participants will be able to walk around and visit various booths as well as openly ask and discuss any questions or ideas they may have.
Light refreshments will be served throughout.
For more information, call (770) 922-0495.