Describing the character of Latter-day Saints, Newsweek magazine wrote: “No matter where Mormons live, they find themselves part of a network of mutual concern; in Mormon theology everyone is a minister of a kind, everyone is empowered in some way to do good to others, and to have good done unto them: it is a 21st century covenant of caring.”
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This caring is not limited to Church members alone, but extends far beyond. According to Church President Thomas S. Monson: “As a church we reach out not only to our own people but also to those people of goodwill throughout the world in that spirit of brotherhood which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Membership
More than 14 million people now constitute the Church’s membership, a majority of whom live outside the United States. And within the United States, it has the fourth-largest membership of any church. Since its humble founding in 1830 with a mere six people in a log cabin in upstate New York, the Church has continued to grow in membership and influence.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of New Testament Christianity as taught by Jesus and his apostles. It is not Protestant, evangelical, Catholic or Orthodox. Nevertheless, the basic values of morality, civility and family espoused by the Church are similar to those of most other Christian faiths. Church members find refuge from the uncertainties of the world in the gospel message of hope and happiness. The reality that life has divine purpose, that God cares for each individual, and that everyone has the capacity for improvement through correct choices is a central theme of Mormon thought.
Latter-day Saints believe in a loving, personal God as our Heavenly Father. Since he is the Father of our spirits, all people are his children and thus all people are brothers and sisters. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem mankind from their sins. Church members try to model their lives on the Savior’s teachings. All individuals are entitled to personal revelation. God has called new apostles and prophets in our day through whom he reveals his word, as he did anciently. Thus, God still speaks to humankind. Mormons believe in the Holy Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. In addition, they use other scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, which serves as another witness to the ministry of Christ and his divinity. Used together, these scriptures offer insight into such vital questions as the nature of God, salvation, and the atonement.
One of the highest values of the Church is education. It is considered a spiritual imperative as much as a secular one. Thus, according to the late President Gordon B. Hinckley, “the Lord has laid a mandate upon the people of this Church that they should learn by study and by faith, that they should seek not only after spiritual knowledge, which is most important, but that they should seek after secular knowledge.” The Church offers its youth ample educational opportunities: seminary is a four-year program that prepares high school students for the spiritual challenges of life; institutes of religion provide general religious instruction and a social atmosphere for college-age adults. Over 700,000 students are enrolled in these programs, which are established in 132 countries.
In addition, the Church has created the Perpetual Education Fund to provide young men and women of the Church in developing nations with the means to gain education and training. This fund, which comes largely from the contributions of Church members, offers loans to students, enabling them to attend school and find employment opportunities in their own