The Latest: Mormons leader preaches inclusivity

AP News
|
Posted: Apr 01, 2017 5:17 PM
The Latest: Mormons leader preaches inclusivity

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Latest on a Mormon conference in Salt Lake City(all times local):

3:15 p.m.

A top Mormon leader says there's room in the faith for people of different "sexual attractions" if they love God and honor his commandments.

Jeffrey Holland's brief remark during a speech about inclusivity Saturday at a Mormon conference marks the latest attempt by the faith to foster a climate of empathy for gays and lesbians while the religion still clings to fundamental doctrinal beliefs that homosexuality activity is a sin.

He said there's room in the faith for all types of people, including from different cultures; those from different family structures; and those questioning their faith.

Holland also encouraged church members to embrace their uniqueness and forget trying to conform to unrealistic stereotypes idealized by social media.

Holland is a long-time member of a top governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

This weekend's conference is broadcast online to church members around the world.

___

2:45 p.m.

Mormon church leaders say worldwide membership has reached 15.88 million.

Church officials announced the new figure Saturday during a church conference in Salt Lake City while presenting updated membership figures through the end of 2016.

The number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is significantly less than other religious denominations such as Catholics, 1.2 billion worldwide, and Muslims, 1.6 billion. But the Mormon religion is also much younger than those religions, having been founded in 1830.

Church membership has tripled since 1982, when there were 5 million members. Membership has grown by about 2 percent each of the past nine years.

The figures also show that the average number of people converted per missionary remained at about 3.4 for the fourth consecutive year. That's down from an average of five per missionary the previous decade.

____

11:45 a.m.

A high-ranking Mormon leader is cautioning church members not to be judgmental.

Dale Renlund told a worldwide audience Saturday during a twice-yearly Mormon conference in Salt Lake City that church members must guard against bigotry that sometimes occurs when people fail to respect the religious beliefs of others.

Renlund says Mormons have historically endured hatred and bigotry and must not persecute anyone inside or outside the church.

Renlund is one of the newest members of a top governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

This weekend's conference is broadcast online to church members around the world.

Earlier Saturday, Mormon leader Henry Eyring spoke about the importance of performing ceremonial baptisms on deceased ancestors who didn't receive the ordinance while alive.

___

11 a.m.

A top Mormon leader is reminding church members about the importance of performing ceremonial baptisms for deceased ancestors who didn't receive the ordinance while alive.

Henry Eyring told a worldwide audience Saturday during a twice-yearly Mormon conference that God wants all his children "home again" and encouraged members to use the religion's massive genealogical database to trace their ancestral roots.

Eyring is a member of a top governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Mormons believe the baptism ritual allows deceased people a way to the afterlife if they choose to accept it. The belief that families are sealed for eternity is one of the core tenets of the faith.

But the practice offends members of some other religions, especially Jews, who became upset years ago when they discovered attempts by Mormons to alter the religion of Holocaust victims. They included Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager forced into hiding in Amsterdam during the Holocaust and killed in a concentration camp

The conference this weekend in Salt Lake City is broadcast online to church members around the world.

___

1 a.m.

Mormons will hear guidance and inspiration from the religion's top leaders during a church conference this weekend in Salt Lake City as well as getting an update about church membership statistics.

Updated figures for total worldwide members and new converts are among the stats released during the Saturday afternoon session of the spring conference.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is approaching 16 million members.

Matt Martinich, an independent Mormon researcher, says he's eager to find out how many new members were converted by missionaries last year.

Church figures show the average number of people converted per missionary has been on the decline in recent years.