By Kent Larsen
Church Raising Profile in Scotland
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND -- The Edinburgh-based newspaper The Scotsman says that
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is raising its profile in
the land, launching a "charm offensive" in this northern part of the United
Kingdom. The newspaper says the Church has sent public relations officers to
Scotland, is forging links with local groups and is staging events in the
country that feature Mormon celebrities. The article goes on to imply that
the purpose behind this activity is 'recruitment.'
Elder and Sister Duane LeSueur, of Mesa, Arizona, have been sent to Scotland
as the Church's first public relations missionaries there, says the
newspaper. But Elder LeSueur says "Our intent is not to try to push the
religion. If we do good things and people see it, people will be
interested." In addition to the LeSueurs, wards and stakes in Scotland have
participated with other local groups to clean playgrounds and paint
community centers to forge ties with local community organizations.
Then, during the summer, Mormon astronaut Don Lind will visit Scotland to
give a series of lectures. BYU's folk dancers will then perform in
Edinburgh. Finally, in August, the Scottish port of Grenock will host the
ships of the Sea Trek as they re-enact the voyage of Mormon converts from
Europe to the US.
But Edinburgh stake president Stephen Kerr, one of five stake presidents in
Scotland, says that this activity and the LeSueur's job is simply meant to
show the Scots what Mormons are about, "There's a lot of hocus pocus spoken
about different churches, including our own. Their job is to make the public
more aware of the existence of the church. If more people join that's good,
but it's really about getting our story over to people."
But the Scotsman's Frank O'Donnell remains unconvinced, finishing his
article saying, "Despite the denials about recruitment, the scent of
expansion is in the air," and observing that the Church is looking to build
a new Edinburgh building.
Mormons in charm offensive
Edinburgh UK The Scotsman 26Mar01 N1
By Frank O'Donnell