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For week ended December 12, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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Mormon church growing in NW

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 family."

"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.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information