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For week ended February 13, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Baptist Ministers Oppose Oklahoma City Temple
Oklahoma City OK Oklahoman 9Feb00 D1
By George Lang: Special Correspondent

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- A group of Baptist ministers, church staff and parishoners met in a conerence on Tuesday to learn about the threat that they claim the LDS Church's new Oklahoma City Temple will pose for their congregations. About 50 people attended the conference, hosted by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

"How Does Mormonism Compare With Biblical Christianity?" was presented by UMI Ministries of Marlow, Oklahoma, which is described as a ministry "confronting Mormonism with the Gospel of Christ since 1954."

"Please understand that what we're doing today is not to be construed to be bashing Mormon people," said UMI's president, Dennis Wright. "The people who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, if they have believed the doctrine of their church, they are as lost as they come." Wright and UMI vice-president Preston Condra gave attendees an overview of the LDS Church's teachings, emphasizing points where its doctrine differs from those of fundamentalist Christians.

Wright warned of LDS missionaries arriving in the area in anticipation of the Temple's completion in May 2000. "If you have not seen the missionaries beating down your door, you will. When this temple opens up in a few months, there will be five or six hundred Mormon missionaries brought from all over the country to be here in Oklahoma City to saturate this community."

But Oklahoma City stake president John Jacobsen disagreed with many of Wright's claims. He said that the Church plans several open house sessions for when the Temple opens, and that no additional missionaries will be added to the area. He declined to comment on most of Wright's specific allegations, saying that "it would be un-Christian to comment other than to say that Jesus Christ is the center of our church."

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons as we are commonly called, are Christians, and we invite everyone, through prayer, through study and through acquaintance with members of the faith, to understand the faith and its center with the Savior," he said. "The Mormons believe in family, and that is why temples are built, so that families can be together forever.

Meanwhile, Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, distanced his group from UMI and the recent conference, saying that not all Baptists agreed with the attitudes expressed in the conference, "It undermines what Baptists are trying to do," he said. "Baptists need to be aware of the differences between what Mormons believe and what Baptists believe. What I would do differently is to be less confrontational, so that you build a bridge to your own faith."


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