A pair of young missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are taking the initiative to help city residents learn more about their faith.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Mormon missionaries Elder Condie, left, and Elder Leavitt are providing free tours of the Latter-day Saints church in Prince Albert. The painting depicts God the Father and Jesus Christ appearing to Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.
Elder Condie and Elder Leavitt are offering free tours of the LDS church in Prince Albert. The Utah natives recently enacted a poster campaign in the downtown area to provide contact information for anyone interested in attending a tour, church service or open house visit on Saturdays from 2 to 4 p.m.
“We try to make it as non-threatening as possible,” the 19-year-old Condie said. “We’re not here to convert people and tell them they need to join. But we are opening the doors to let people know what we believe so they can decide for themselves how they want to take the information we give them.”
Mormons who travel on missions as young adults go by the title Elder, followed by their last name. The mission of Condie and Leavitt — whose respective given names are Jared and Nicholas — covers all of Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well as half of Ontario. Transfer orders from the mission president in Winnipeg come at different intervals, usually six weeks.
Part of the impetus for missionary work lies in the Church’s desire to correct misconceptions people may have about the Mormon faith.
“We’re Christian,” Condie said. “We believe in Jesus Christ. We respect the Bible as Scripture as well as the Book of Mormon. A lot of people will think that we don’t read the Bible and that the Book of Mormon is the only book of Scripture we have, but we also believe the Bible to be true as long as it’s translated correctly.”
Leavitt, 21, explained that while members of the LDS church believe in the Ten Commandments and the Bible, they also adhere to a number of additional teachings starting with Church founder Joseph Smith, whom they consider a latter-day prophet.
“We believe in modern revelation, and we believe in a prophet living today,” Leavitt said. “So we believe that commandments have been restored back to the earth, such as … the Word of Wisdom, which is a health code asking us to abstain from certain things like alcohol and tobacco, and also the Ancient Law or … the Law of Chastity, which prohibits sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage, and different things like that.”
We’re not here to convert people and tell them they need to join. But we are opening the doors to let people know what we believe so they can decide for themselves how they want to take the information we give them. Elder Condie
About 50 to 60 people regularly attend Sunday services at the LDS church in Prince Albert. The building boasts a number of amenities and facilities. Typical tours last up to half an hour and guide guests through the chapel — where services and the Sacrament take place — a fount where the faithful are baptized, a cultural centre with sports equipment, and special rooms for infants, children, young women and mothers.
The Mormon desire to help people understand their religion is the crux of missionary work, which tends to revolve around going door-to-door. But Leavitt hopes that the church tours will serve as a less intrusive method by reaching people who are already interested.
“Everybody has their religious beliefs, and some people are very set in those beliefs and they’re not really open to the idea of learning about a new religion,” he said.
“I can respect that just because I have my religious beliefs, obviously, and it’d be a little difficult for me to accept others’ beliefs, but I would be willing to learn about it. And so we do have a good reception … There’s obviously a few cases of people being rude, but generally I like Prince Albert.”
Those interested in touring the local LDS church can reach the missionaries at 987-1146.