Summarized by Kent Larsen
Mormon church growing in NW
Tacoma WA News-Tribune 11Dec99 D1
By Steve Maynard
TACOMA, WASHINGTON -- Reporter Steve Maynard of the Tacoma, Washington
News Tribune interviewed Elder F. Melvin Hammond of the First Quorum of
the Seventy and President of the North America Northwest area of the LDS
Church, in the process discovering why the LDS Church is growing so fast
in the Northwest and in the world.
On the weekend of December 5th, Elder Hammond was in Federal Way to
choose a new stake president for the Federal Way Stake, which has about
4,800 members at the moment. The members in that stake make up part of
the 223,000 LDS Church members in the state of Washington and the
724,000 members in the Northwest Area that Hammond supervises, including
Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada.
>From 1990 to 1998 the Church grew by 17 percent in Washington alone,
making it the second largest denomination in the state, behind the
Catholic Church. Hammond says that the reason is the Church's emphasis
on families, "People are looking for things that are stable and
positive. It's very difficult to find that in the world. But in this
church there is a great and wonderful message of hope and solidarity of
"We talk a great deal about the unity of family," Hammond continues. "We
talk about not just mortality, but families, we say, can be together
forever. Of course, that's one of the purposes of the temples that we're
building. Families are sealed (through marriage ceremonies) in
those temples -- not just for a time, but forever."
This emphasis leads to growth -- about 4,000 are baptized into the
Church each year in the three missions that cover Washington, Tacoma,
Seattle and Spokane. In addition, the Church is seeing growth from
members moving into the state from elsewhere.
Hammond is a former political science and religion professor from LDS
Church-owned Ricks College who retired in 1984. After serving as an Area
President in Latin America for 10 years, he was appointed to serve over
the Northwest Area. A democrat, Hammond also served for 17 years in the
Idaho Legislature while he was teaching at Ricks.
At the stake conference, Hammond, along with his second counselor Elder
Gordon Conger, a retired lawyer and former editorial director at
KIRO-TV, set apart Ned Bjorn of Pacific, Washington as President of the
Federal Way Stake.