By Kent Larsen
Utah Christian Videos to Help Proselyte LDS During Games
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- A coalition of Christian churches in Utah has
produced "Bridges: Helping Mormons Discover God's Grace" as a
training tool to prepare the hundreds of evangelical Christians who
are expected to participate in fellowshipping and witnessing
activities in Salt Lake City during the Winter Olympics this coming
Salt Lake Seminary, headed by Ken MulHolland, produced the two-tape
series that comprises five training segments. The training program
includes printed materials and workshops and has been presented so
far in at least nine Protestant churches in the Salt Lake City area.
Approximately 500 people have participated in the training and the
expectation is that 150 congregations throughout Utah will become
familiar with the information offered in the Bridges program.
This new tape set marks a significant change in video presentations
about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Christian
groups. Most members of The Church of Jesus Christ are all too
familiar with films from the 1980s titled "The Godmakers" and "The
Godmakers II" with their claims that Mormons are a cult and
references to sacred temple ceremonies as pagan rites. Even the 1998
video, "The Mormon Puzzle", produced by the Southern Baptist
Convention in advance of its annual meetings held that year in Salt
Lake City, specifically classified LDS as non-Christian.
In describing the purpose of the Bridges training series, Mr.
Mulholland explains, "LDS people are our neighbors and friends. We
are part of that community and we wanted to speak about the good news
of Christ in a way where it does sound like the good news."
The tapes are expected to reach Protestant church congregations
throughout the United States and perhaps beyond. The UtahGames
Network is a Christian group working to recruit evangelical
Christians to come to Salt Lake City during the Olympic Games,
described on the group's website as "a once-in-a-lifetime event" that
"is a tremendous opportunity for Utah's Christian Community to leave
a spiritual legacy with visitor and residents alike." An
administrator for UtahGames Network says, "We're also training people
to take these videos back and train their own groups and churches" in
anticipation of the Olympics and as encouragement to recruit others
to come to the Games and participate in the preaching efforts.
Andy Wiebe, an independent filmmaker, and his film crew were given
permission by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to
shoot some scenes for the video on Temple Square in Salt Lake City as
well as on the grounds of the new Conference Center. Some church
members are interviewed during the tape. The Church, as one might
expect, does not endorse the video in any way and, according to the
Salt Lake Tribune, refused to provide any comment on the production.
The Reverend Terry Long of Calvary Chapel in Salt Lake City says of
the video effort, "It's always easier to find aspects of the Mormon
faith to ridicule. It is much more difficult to present a way of
reaching LDS people in love, respect and with genuine concern. It is
our hope to shine the light of Christ in this community and show them
that there is a Savior who loves them."
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