BY ED REHDER
Happy New Year from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. On this first month of 2013 it falls to us as a member of the IFC to offer some thoughts for this month’s article. So I thought that as we turn our backs on the old year and face forward with faith looking into the new, and with the promise of spring coming soon, that I should like to talk somewhat about the faith I have.
We often hear that “Mormons” are great neighbors and friends and generally good people. We are grateful for that reputation and try hard to live up to other’s expectations. The following may shed some light on as to why we are blessed to have good relations with our fellow citizens.
In 1842, about 12 years after the LDS Church was organized, the editor of the Chicago Democrat wanted something about the then-new church that he could publish in that newspaper. He requested an overview of the church and its beliefs from the founder Joseph Smith Jr. The response was a broad yet succinct look at the church’s experiences, a short history and it included a list of beliefs, principles and doctrines that were and are foundational to the church. While not exhaustive, it gave a good outline of Latter-day Saints’ basic beliefs. That list has become known as The Articles of Faith. There are 13 articles. Number 13 shed some light on why we may have developed the reputation I noted above.
The 13th Article states: We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul — We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Taking just the first phrase and the last sentence, I watch those in our congregation demonstrate, or sincerely try to emulate the attributes noted. Let me share one story that illustrates this.
One of the women in our congregation had the opportunity to help her 90-plus-year-old neighbor of many years completely pack up her household in preparation to move into an assisted living facility.
During the packing project, the woman found an old doll with the hair missing, an eye gone and appearing as bedraggled as a doll that was used for years and abandoned in a box could look. The clothing was ragged or nonexistent as well. When the woman showed her neighbor the doll she had found, the elderly woman took the doll in her arms and cuddled it and shared that it had been the treasure of her childhood. It was then set aside with this woman in our congregation left to decide whether to keep it or throw it out.
Having been touched by the elderly neighbor’s reaction, she decided to do something benevolent, virtuous, lovely and of good report. She found a person who could and did restore the porcelain face, added exquisite hair back on the doll’s head, and recreated an era-appropriate dress and shoes that restored the doll to the beauty that it had when originally purchased in the 1920s. I can only imagine the elderly neighbor’s joy.
A gracious, caring and simple act made a wonderful difference in one life. And I am sure these types of things happen everyday to many folks on our island carried out by good folks in all walks of life. Keep up the good work, spread hope!
That 13th Article of Faith holds wonderful truth, and it has made a better man of me as I try to live according to these precepts. I personally recommend them to you.
Ed Rehder is First Counselor in the Bishopric of the local LDS Ward.