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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended December 15, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 19Dec00

By Rosemary Pollock

Missionaries At Work In Tennessee

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE -- Over 160 missionaries are currently serving proselyting missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the West Tennessee, East Arkansas and North Mississippi areas. Two of those young men are Elder Nicholas Ludwig and Elder Nathan Bleak. Dressed in crisp white shirts, neckties, riding bikes and carrying backpacks, the two elders often walk or ride long distances to go from door to door.

"I don't think the Jesus you serve is the same one I believe," responds the woman at the door. "That's typical," Elder Bleak said. "People can be pretty strong in their faiths." It is a daunting task to preach the gospel in a town where the entire Mormon community could barely fill the sanctuary at Bellevue Baptist Church. "We're normal 19 and 20-year-old guys trying to live our religion," another missionary adds.

Yet the Mormon Church is one of the fastest growing denominations in the country. With a membership of over 11 million members, the membership in Tennessee has nearly doubled since 1980 from 15,800 to currently about 31,000. Shelby County has 3,200 members.

Coke Newell is a convert to the Mormon faith and author of the book "Latter Days". "Church growth has been steady. Membership has increased about 40 percent in the last decade," he said. Newell attributes this to the church's "appealing message."

State prosecutor John Tibbetts of Shelby County District Attorney's Office recently joined the church. "When I read the Book of Mormon I was surprised at how familiar the lessons were. I was shocked about how shocked I wasn't. I knew it was true the first time I read it."

Memphis Stake President, Robert McBride, believes that relations with the community have gotten better. "The normal reception among people today is usually very warm, but it wasn't that way 25 years ago," McBride said. "Many, particularly Southern Baptists, come across as tolerant of the church, but intolerant of our beliefs."


Men on a mission
Memphis TN Commercial Appeal 10Dec00 N1
By Jacinthia Jones: The Commercial Appeal
Mormons walk the walk, talk the talk of their faith


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See also:
Latter Days
More about Coke Newell's "Latter Days : A Guided Tour Through 6 Billion Years of Mormonism" at

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