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Posted 01 Apr 2001   For week ended March 30, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 29Mar01

By Kent Larsen

New York Times Looks at Missionary Work in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- An article in today's New York Times looks at the LDS Church's missionary efforts in Utah, saying that the effort is due to two trends -- the growth of the LDS Church worldwide and the boom in Utah's population, which has raised the non-Mormon portion of Utah's population to 30%. Looking at missionaries in Utah, reporter Gustav Niebuhr discovers that they are like missionaries elsewhere, but they get more referrals from local members.

According to the article, the LDS Church began placing missionaries in Utah in 1975. Now the state has five missions and the number of missionaries has doubled in the past dozen years. Niebuhr interviewed Salt Lake City South Mission President James A. Stephens for the article. His mission covers just the southern suburbs of Salt Lake City, and includes 180 missionaries.

But unlike missionaries elsewhere, Stephens and his missionaries get a lot of support from the community. LDS home builders let the mission know about new home developments, so missionaries can approach the new arrivals. When Stephens speaks in local church meetings, members tell him about new neighbors. Along with the Salt Lake City North mission, baptisms reach 1,800 people a year, and Stephens estimates that each missionary may talk to 25 prospects a week.

Like missionaries elsewhere, however, the missionaries in the Salt Lake City South Mission face rejection. They are told to be curteous and advised not to argue over religion. And, they are expected to be bold, approaching people on the street to talk about religion. Neibuhr spent an afternoon with two missionaries, Elders Enkhtogtokh Yura of Mongolia and Elder Adam Whitney of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, noting that "their cold-calling is not for the faint-hearted." But, he says, the missionaries take it in stride, telling him that the week before they had baptized a resident of the same building they were tracting.


Mormons Intensify Missionary Effort in Utah
New York Times 29Mar01 N1
By Gustav Niebuhr: New York Times
[Thanks to Romney Biddulph for passing this on to Mormon News]


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