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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended August 27, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 29Aug00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Birmingham Temple Attracts Articles

GARDENDALE, ALABAMA -- Newspapers in Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama covered the open house of the LDS Church's new Birmingham Temple ahead of its dedication on September 3rd. The articles looked at the temple's purpose, LDS missionaries, the critics of the Church handing out flyers nearby and talking to Elijah Allen Rich, who will serve as the temple's president.

Rich recounted for the Birmingham News how LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley called him to be the temple president in an unexpected August 8th phone call. "It was a surprise. I recognized his voice immediately," said President Rich. He also told the newspaper that the experience was very exciting, "I was absolutely elated. I can't explain the excitement I felt." Rich is a former Huntsville, Alabama stake president and a temple worker.

Meanwhile, the Huntsville Times interviewed temple project architect Robert Waldrip of Huntsville firm Joyce, Prout &Associates about the quality of the building's workmanship. "They have very strict standards they go by when building anything, especially a temple," said Waldrip, who also worked on the temple in Franklin, Tenn., which opened in May. "It was a challenge for us, but I am extremely pleased with the way they both turned out. The workmanship was outstanding. The quality and caliber of work they require has to be second-to-none."

The Times also looked at the work done by LDS missionaries, concentrating on the community service they provide for four to ten hours each week. In Huntsville, the missionaries have worked at the West Side Health Care Center, calling out bingo numbers each Wednesday afternoon, and at the Calhoun Community College's Sci-Quest, a hands-on science museum. There the missionaries do a little of everything, from janitorial work to working directly with children visiting the museum.

The Elders told the Huntsville Times that the service project isn't meant to help their proselyting. "We never use it to proselytize, and we never take any money," said Elder Chris Deuel, of Twin Falls, Idaho. The Elders also told the Times that living with a missionary companion is good practice for a future marriage.

But, the Birmingham News also covered the efforts of the evangelical "counter-cult" group, the Watchman Fellowship, which set up a tent on the grounds of the First Assembly of God Church across the road from the Temple during the open house. Bob Waldrep, the group's Alabama director claims, "We're not out here to cause a fight. This is not about bashing the Mormon faith." But the group claims that the LDS Church tries to conceal doctrinal differences with mainstream Christianity.

"You make a covenant not to reveal the secrets," says former missionary Timothy Oliver, now director of research for the group. He says that the ceremonies in LDS Temples are unbiblical and different from mainstream Christian teachings. But not all Gardendale, Alabama residents agree with the Watchman Fellowship's efforts. "It just seems in very poor taste," said resident Ed Sellers. "If you don't agree with them, then don't go to their church."


Mormon leader presiding at temple dedication services
Birmingham AL News 25Aug00 D1
By Greg Garrison: News staff writer

Birmingham temple will serve 21,000 Mormons in Alabama
Huntsville AL Times 26Aug00 D1
By Yvonne Betowt: Times Religion Editor

At your service: Mormon missionaries do more than ride bikes and knock on doors
Huntsville AL Times 26Aug00 D1
By Yvonne Betowt: Times Religion Editor

Critics gather at temple
Birmingham AL News 24Aug00 D1
By Greg Garrison: News staff writer


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