Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why It's Great Being LDS in the UK

When I was first baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I thought wistfully about those lucky people in Utah who didn't have to explain ten times a day why they were turning down the offer of a cup of tea, or travel fifty miles to do their Visiting Teaching, and who could, in all probability, find modest clothing in every local clothes shop. Lucky folk, they weren't considered somehow strange or abnormal or viewed with suspicion by those around them. It must be so much nicer, I thought wistfully, to be a Utah Mormon.

Well, since then I've changed my mind and come to realise that there are huge advantages to being a Mormon in the UK.

Leaving the chapel after our wedding.
Under the medieval coat-dress was
the dress I wore for the Temple sealing.
Temple marriages are not legally recognised here because weddings have to take place in licensed public buildings. So standard practice is to get married in the chapel of the local LDS meetinghouse and then go to the Temple that same evening, or a day or two later, and be sealed. Unlike the US, due to the legal situation, there's no requirement to wait the requisite year before the sealing ordinance.

So whereas US brides and grooms agonise over how to avoid offending their non-LDS family members if they want a Temple wedding, we get to do both. Roderic and I got married in our chapel. My non-LDS Dad walked me down the aisle and we were followed by my bridesmaids, two of whom were Sikh. Our non-LDS families were all in attendance and we had a traditional marriage service including the exchanging of rings. Then we all gathered in the Cultural Hall afterwards for the Reception (wedding breakfast) and early that same evening we and a few ward members travelled to the London Temple for our sealing.

Despite the Church shouting until it's blue in the face that it is politically neutral, most US Mormons seem to be Republican. I think this is a pity because Democrats may turn away the missionaries thinking the gospel doesn't fit in with their leanings, and I would prefer the Church not to be associated with any one party in people's minds.

Well, over here we don't have Republicans or Democrats, and the church really is nothing whatsoever to do with politics which means there is no danger of anyone thinking they need to vote in any way other than according to their conscience.

Youth Programmes
I have read a couple of blogs recently complaining about the perceived inequality in the youth programmes of the church in the USA. The boys, it seems, have Scouting, with uniforms to wear, fun activity programmes filled with adventure and challenge, all culminating in a well-attended Court of Honour when they earn their Eagle Scout award. Meanwhile the girls have Young Women and Personal Progress, learn to knit baby hats and arrange flowers, and might get to collect a medallion from the Bishop when they complete it.

Well, not so here. The church is not involved in Scouting in the UK (it pulled out of the programme a couple of decades ago in protest at girls being allowed to join) and so the boys have Young Men and Duty to God, which seems almost identical to the programme for their sisters except with more playing of football in the Cultural Hall.

Missionary Work
A good friend of mine lived for many years in a small town in central Utah where 95% of the population were active Mormons. Missionary work was a huge challenge for her. She just didn't know anyone who wasn't an active member of the church.

My youngest daughter is the only member of the church in her Junior school, my middle daughter is one of only two members in her Senior school and my eldest daughter is the only member in her college. Less than 10% of the UK population ever goes to any church. Missionary opportunities abound.

So we may have only two LDS bookstores in the entire country, and have to travel extremely long distances to go to Stake Conference, but there are advantages to belonging to what most of my neighbours seem to view as "some weird American sect" outside America.


  1. It's actually quite good being a non-LDS Anglican minister in the UK. Most people know what you are, what you are about, and most are happy to talk.

  2. Thanks for the insight. Really interesting to hear about the church in other countries.

  3. You bring up some good points. I've been LDS in Utah County my entire life. I've always wondered what it would be like to live outside the state (or country).

  4. Enjoyed your blog, Anna. I've lived in Utah, and I've lived in areas where the LDS population is very small (Massachusetts, Ireland). We're in more of a middle-ground type area now (California) where we're a definite minority, but not the only members in schools/neighborhoods. I'm glad I've had the opportunity to experience the church in different areas and be blessed by it no matter where I live.

  5. I'd lived in Washington State, where at least most people had heard of the church, and Utah, where everybody has. So when I spent a year in England I was a little surprised to meet people who had never even heard of us. But it led to a lot of good conversations about religion, and I loved our small but close-knit Unit (which probably was not small at all in the English scheme of things.)



Related Posts with Thumbnails