Friday, July 17, 2015

LDS Missionary Elder Ricardo Alberto Cuevas Magdaleno Passes Away From Sudden Illness In Costa Rica

Costa Rica media sources have been reporting this for the past two days, but were withholding the name of the decedent. Now the Deseret News is reporting that 20-year-old Elder Ricardo Alberto Cuevas Magdaleno, a missionary serving in the Costa Rica San Jose East Mission, passed away in his sleep of unknown causes sometime during the night of July 14-15, 2015. Elder Cuevas was from the Xalapa Mexico Stake. His companion, who was also from Mexico, was not identified.

But the Costa Rica Star (English) published additional details in their July 16th story. Elder Cuevas, a veteran of six months mission service in Sarapiqui in northeast Costa Rica, has been approved for his mission despite suffering from chronic asthma and other pulmonary issues; he had a supply of medication on hand. But he originally requested the Sarapiqui area because he felt that's where God wanted him to serve. On the evening of July 14th, Elder Cuevas told his companion that he had not felt well in the last few days, and decided to skip the customary end-of-day briefing and Bible study. His companion offered to take him to the hospital, but Elder Cuevas declined, saying his life in God’s hands. In the morning, when Elder Cuevas failed to emerge from his bedroom, his companion entered and found he had passed away during the night. First responders rendered a preliminary diagnosis as a respiratory arrest, but the medical examiner will make the final call.

Diario Extra also published a story (Spanish) which can be easily translated using Google Translate.

Elder Cuevas developed a reputation as a kind young man who always traveled on foot or bicycle, wore buttoned-up and crisply pressed white shirts, and who was very respectful and passionate about his religion. He is the fourth LDS missionary to have given his life in service to the Lord while on a mission in 2015.

Note: LDS members are allowed to serve full-time missions with chronic medical conditions if a physician certifies their ability to serve and ensures they know the medications they need to stabilize and control their condition. It is the missionary's responsibility to ensure he or she has the medications available.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Anti-Mormon Utah Carpetbaggers From Tri-Grace Ministries Try To Spoil Open House For Indianapolis-Area LDS Temple

Update July 17th: Here's a short video showing the interior of the Indianapolis Temple.

As the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prepares for the open house for the new temple located in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Indiana, Satan has decided to show up to cast his negative vote -- using a bunch of anti-Mormon Utah carpetbaggers as his handmaidens.

Activists from the Utah-based Tri-Grace Ministries plan to set up a tent across the street to declare what they think is "the truth" about the LDS Church. They fired their first volley last week when they took out a 12-page advertising supplement in community newspapers in Carmel, Westfield and Zionsville that warn about the so-called "deception" of the religion. Tri-Grace Ministries founder Chip Thompson claims that the LDS Church is not telling the truth and Mormons are not following what Jesus taught.

So far, LDS Church officials have refused to dignify Tri-Grace Ministries with a response. But other Christians in the local area see through the hatred and bigotry spewed by this bogus ministry. Chris Duckworth, pastor of New Joy Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Westfield, was irked by the advertising supplements and was quoted as follows:

"We don't treat people, who have been seriously picked on, in that way. We know better than that. We are better than that."

"If my Mormon brother says he's a Christian, I'll accept his word at that. We might disagree in theology or have differences in opinion about what core tenets of Christianity are. But I'm not going to deny him the right to call himself what he or she in their faith believe they are."

Pastor Duckworth adds considerably more detail on his church's website. He plans to attend the LDS open house, and he further writes:

"Theological differences between the Mormon Church and the Lutheran Church are real. But so too is the unfair treatment our neighbors, friends, and fellow children of God of the Mormon Church receive to this day. My friends and neighbors don’t deserve to receive, on their doorstep, such a publication. I cannot remain silent. I have to speak out.

For me, living a life of faith is not about projecting my faith into the public square to the detriment of others, or seeking public assets – be they government or business – to enshrine and propagate my faith through their power and reach. Instead, living a life of faith is about coming to the defense of my neighbors, seeking the good of the community – particularly the most vulnerable and “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) – living into the promises of the coming Kingdom of God, and having the opportunity to worship and live according to the dictates of faith."

Although Pastor Duckworth does not claim to hold either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood, there is no question that the Lord is working through him and that he does access the Holy Spirit. Pastorship is a function of priesthood, and the Lord will recognize and use his ministry so long as he acts in a Christ-like manner. At his level of knowledge and light, Pastor Duckworth is a champion for Christ.

A visit to the Tri-Grace Ministries website shows that their sole objective is to denigrate and defame Mormonism. There is absolutely no effort on their part to actually win souls for Christ. During a time period when traditional Christian values are under attack by the elite nationwide, waging civil war against fellow Christians is tantamount to treason against God.

The open house will take place from July 17th through August 8th; details available at the dedicated website. On August 23rd, the temple will be formally dedicated, after which time only templeworthy LDS members will be allowed admittance. The temple, which will become the 148th operational temple in the world, will serve approximately 30,000 LDS members who currently go to the Louisville, Chicago, and Columbus temples. Read the complete fact sheet on the temple for further details about its construction and composition.

Friday, July 10, 2015

President Boyd K. Packer Lauded For Legacy Of Christ-Like Love And Service At Funeral Service On Temple Square

At the funeral of President Boyd K. Packer held in Salt Lake City on July 10th, 2015, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson noted that President Packer left a legacy of Christ-like service and love. He and other speakers also characterized President Packer a talented teacher, scriptorian, artist, example, friend and leader. President Packer died at home on July 3 at the age of 90 after serving as a general authority of the LDS Church for just over 53 years.

The funeral was held at 11:00 A.M. at the more traditional Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square rather than at the more modern Conference Center. And yes, although President Packer was an Apostle, he was also assigned to a home ward and home stake, and, in a touch of class, his bishop and stake president were invited to join the other VIPs up on the stand. Speakers included President Monson, President Packer's son Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy, and Elders M. Russell Ballard and Dallin H. Oaks, both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the service. It was also reported that the most senior-remaining apostle on the Quorum, Rusell M. Nelson, has assumed the duties of President of the Quorum.

The entire service is now available on YouTube. The video embedded below is 2 hours and 10 minutes long. Navigation highlights:

-- The first 38 minutes consist of music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
-- At the 38 minute point, the motorcade pulls up. The casket is removed and escorted into the Tabernacle by the VIPs.
-- At the 58 minute point, the service actually begins, conducted by President Eyring.

A private burial service took place at the Brigham City Cemetery following the funeral. There will be no public viewing. In lieu of flowers, the apostle's family has asked contributions be made to the LDS Family History Center. Donation instructions are available at LDS Philanthropies.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Once Again, Elder D. Todd Christofferson Said Mormons Can Support Secular Same-Sex Marriage Without Jeopardizing Church Membership Or Temple Worthiness

One would think that when a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks out on Church doctrine and policy, that would put an end to the controversy. But apparently some local leaders don't always get the message -- as a member of LDS Freedom Forum points out.

barrattasu » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:11 pm

I have a temple recommend interview on Sunday and I am having a serious internal dilemma. I have asked several people who serve in a bishopric if I can have a temple recommend and believe that gay marriage should be legal. I even asked a counselor in my current bishopric. He said that the bishopric talked about this specific question and they would not give a recommend to anyone that admits to supporting gay marriage. I have a friend who is a counselor in another bishopric and he went to the Stake President with this question. HIs Stake President said that you absolutely could have a recommed and support gay marriage. I did clarify with those who said I couldn't have a recommend if I support gay marriage, that it was simply agreeing with gay marriage that makes me ineligble. They said to refer to the question that states do you sympothize or agree with any individual or group.... I told them that the question/answer form that was given along with the statement to be read said that a persons membership is not in question if they support gay marriage. They said this is true but you can't have a temple recommend. My feeling is that there will be enough confusion that the Church will further clarify this situation. Has anyone run into this before or heard anything in regards to this in there local ward/branch?

It's already been clarified. In March 2015, during an interview by KUTV, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke out on this issue. He made it perfectly clear that LDS members who support secular same-sex marriage will not sacrifice their membership or temple worthiness. Here's the video of the interview:

There's also a written transcript of the interview. Here's the key excerpt:

Reporter: Members of the LDS Church have been watching this too, around the the country, and it brings up the question as they’re dealing with these issues, maybe within their families, or trying to understand how maybe religious freedom applies to them within the church. Obviously the church has its doctrine, but can members of the church, say, support gay marriage or other things that are related to this bill [Utah SB 296] that the Church teaches against – can they support that?

Christofferson: Well there is a diversity of opinion among church members in that regard and you know that’s always been true I guess on many subjects over the years over the decades and we don’t have qualms about that. We urge people to take part, for example, in the political process and we don’t tell them how to vote or who to vote for but that they exercise their own good judgment and make their decisions. Obviously that’s different than when somebody attacks the church, you know per se, or tries to hinder its work. But anybody pursuing their view of what ought to happen in the community – that’s what we hope to see, frankly. In a way you saw it here in the legislature. The vast majority of legislators in Utah are members the LDS Church and you see a wide variety of opinions in them and among them as you do in our at the federal level in the US and in other countries. So if we’re trying to get everybody to sing the same song and say exactly the same thing we’re failing miserably, but you saw that in this case as in most I hope people do work to come together on what can be the best solution for everybody.

Reporter: I know that in one of the temple recommend interview questions it asks do you agree with elements that are against the church and I guess, I mean, could it be interpreted that if people supported gay marriage that would be agreeing with something that was against the church? [Ed. Note: The specific question reads "Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?"]

Christofferson: Well it’s not do you agree with a person’s position or an organization’s position – it is are you supporting organizations that promote opposition or positions in opposition to the church.

Reporter: So would supporting gay marriage threaten somebody’s membership in the church if they went out say on Facebook or Twitter and actively advocated for it?

Christofferson: That’s not an organized effort to to attack our effort or attack our functioning as a church, if you will.

Reporter: So members can hold those beliefs even though they’re different from what you teach at the pulpit?

Christofferson: Yes. And know, our approach in all of this, as Joseph Smith said, is persuasion. You can’t, he said, you can’t use the Priesthood and the authority of the church to dictate. You can’t compel, you can’t coerce. It has to be gentleness, persuasion, love unfeigned as the words are in the scripture.

As blogger J. Max Wilson later pointed out on June 28th, Elder Christofferson did NOT say that there is nothing wrong with Church members supporting same-sex marriage. He merely said that expressing personal support for same-sex marriage in social media would not be cause for discipline, so long as it wasn’t part of an organized effort to undermine the church. LDS members who support same-sex marriage are still out of harmony with Gospel principles. But the Church will tolerate their erroneous views in the hope that over time they will be persuaded to repent.

So if a bishop threatens to withhold a temple recommend from someone who has supported secular same-sex marriage, the best advice is to simply remind him that an apostle has ruled otherwise.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Glassell Park LDS Chapel Severely Damaged By Brush Fire In The Los Angeles Area

Screenshot from KTLA video

Two congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are temporarily without a sanctuary as the Glassell Park chapel located in northeast Los Angeles was severely damaged by a brush fire on July 7th, 2015. The most complete news stories are available from KTLA Channel 5 and MyNewsLA; this post summarizes the highlights.

It began as a quarter-acre brush fire at the intersection of the Glendale Freeway and North Verdugo Road, first reported at 2:38 P.M. But the fire burned uphill, spreading to the eaves of the chapel located at 3845 Fletcher Drive. A reported 185 firefighters were eventually involved in suppressing the blaze, and while firefighters initially appeared to have knocked back the flames, the blaze erupted in the building’s attic, sending heavy black smoke over the area. Flames then burned through the roof, a portion of which collapsed and sent firefighters scrambling for ladders to get off the top of the structure. Fire crews then went into a defensive mode, pouring water on the blaze to drown the flames. Some flames spread to nearby palm trees. Two hours and 14 minutes later, the fire was suppressed, and firefighters assisted local church leaders in recovering documents and valuables from insider the chapel. Two firefighters were injured; one's in good condition despite an arm injury and the other in fair condition after complaining of dizziness. The very steep pitched roof with tiles was cited as increasing the difficulty of suppression. The official cause of the brush fire has not been determined.

The Eastsider published a timeline of events relating to the fire and has some good photos.

Bishop Carlos Diaz of the Fletcher Ward said "It's really sad news. I grew up in here so I know this building really well. It's a real tragedy." James Jenks, a former bishop of the church, said most of the interior damage was confined to the kitchen and some of the classrooms. The chapel area was spared. He also stated that over 1,000 people attended services at the building (KTLA reported 400 people, but the MyNewsLA report seems more realistic). According to, the resident congregations are the Fletcher Ward and the Arroyo Ward, both part of the Spanish-speaking East Los Angeles California Stake. The congregations will disperse to other nearby chapels to worship for the foreseeable future.

Update July 15th: On July 14th, graffiti was discovered on the remains of the Glassell Park chapel. It looks more like gang graffiti rather than any anti-Mormon tagging.

Screenshot from KABC video

Police confirm the graffiti is the work of a known tagging crew. The paint appears to be fresh and may have taken the suspects several nights to complete.