The first weekend of April and the first weekend of October are special times for Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often erroneously called the Mormon Church). Every six months a “General Conference” is held in five two-hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday. General Conference is translated into dozens of languages. In addition to being able to watch on cable TV, internet streaming or watching DVDs later, downloading, or reading from the Ensign or Liahona Magazines one month later, most of the over 14 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ are able to receive the messages delivered at General Conference.
With music traditionally provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and choirs from local Mormon congregations (called “wards”), talks are given by the prophet, apostles, female leaders, and seventies of the Church. They are timely and revelatory, prepared through inspiration from God. In conjunction with Mormon General Conference, a Young Women’s organization meeting or Relief Society (womanhood organization) meeting is presented yearly.
For those who travel to Salt Lake City to be personally present for General Conference, free tickets are available, and the Conference Center seats nearly 30,000 people. Overflow sessions are held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, and in other buildings nearby. Closed circuit television also carries the sessions into stake buildings (stakes are administered groups of wards).
October and April are transitional months in Utah, as far as weather is concerned, and it can be gorgeous—or not. People come from far and wide to attend General Conference. Mormon missionary reunions are held near that time, often nearby. Families, even local families, get together to watch on TV and enjoy meals in between. My daughter’s family calls Conference Sunday “Crepes Sunday.”
A lot of preparation goes into preparing for the influx of visitors to Temple Square. Temple Square Hospitality is fully engaged at this time of year. Dining venues on Temple Square—the Nauvoo Cafe, the Lion House Pantry Restaurant, the Garden Restaurant and the Roof Restaurant (in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building) must prepare early and well. Spence Herzog, vice president of operations for Temple Square Hospitality, explained that over 500 box lunches are made, point-of-sale locations are set up, and stanchions are brought in.
The Nauvoo Café offers a view of Main Street Plaza and Temple Square. On General Conference Saturday the number of customers can top 1,300.
With extended hours, the cafe serves a hot breakfast on conference Saturday from 7-10:45 a.m. It also sets up extra rooms full of tables, orders larger food and beverage inventories, and brings in extra staff. On an average day, the staff consists of approximately 12 employees, whereas on conference Saturday that number nearly triples to 30. 
It’s a 19-hour day for employees at the café. Preparations begin two weeks in advance and desserts and pastries made ahead are triple the usual amount. Three hundred pot pies are made on Friday.
The Lion House Pantry Restaurant is famous for its rolls. On conference Saturday, the staff bakes 30 pans to begin the day, totaling 1,200 rolls. The bakery also makes additional rolls for purchase by the dozen at the Pantry and at Deseret Book stores. The Pantry serves about 1,300 people on conference Saturday. The biggest project is bringing on and training new staff for the event, especially coming off the winter months toward April conference. Winter months are slower, as fewer tourists are in Salt Lake. The Pantry can accommodate around 200 people an hour, and it also offers the same box lunches as the Nauvoo Cafe for conference-goers. The Lion House Pantry is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on conference Saturday, and is the historic home of Brigham Young. 
The Garden Restaurant is located on the 10th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. It offers pastas, salads, sandwiches, soups and other entrees for lunch and dinner, but is famous for its unique fried pickles. On conference Saturday, the restaurant serves as many as 365 people for lunch and 425 for dinner. The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on conference Saturday.
The Roof Restaurant is found directly across from the Garden Restaurant and has an amazing view of the Salt Lake Temple. The restaurant is buffet style and is open for lunch and dinner. “On conference Saturday, the restaurant reaches capacity, serving 300 people for lunch and 500 for dinner, but dinner on conference Saturday is not much different for the restaurant than dinner on a regular weekend. For both, it fills to capacity and runs with a full staff.”  Things change, however, from usual after the Priesthood session of General Conference.
“Priesthood,” according to Mormon belief, is the power and authority to act in the name of God, and all worthy men and boys twelve and over may have some priesthood power. On Saturday night a session of General Conference is held just for them. Anyone, however, may download, stream, or read the transcript of the session. After Priesthood session, the Roof Restaurant is full of men and boys in Sunday best dress. The pianist entertains them with church hymns and jazzy pieces.
For more information about the restaurants on Temple Square, call 801-539-3100 or visit Temple Square Hospitality.com.
When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak of the Apostasy, we are speaking of a time of darkness, as the light of truth was lost on the Earth. We believe that the people of the Earth have cycled through several periods of apostasy as our mortal frailties and the temptations of the adversary have led us away from God; and that individuals often experience personal periods of apostasy that will also cycle throughout their lifetime. As we turn away from the teachings of our Savior, we fall away from His light and truth, and enter a state of darkness and confusion, but when we repent and turn to Him we are restored to the light.
The word ‘apostate,’ carries with it heavily condemning connotations; as most of the Christian world see apostates as those who not only lost the truth but rejected it. Such a person calls upon himself his own damnation, as he turns away from the knowledge of His grace and willfully rebels. The Catholic Church, for example, holds those Lutheran and Protestant branches which took root when individuals rejected the authority of Catholic leaders, to be apostate. These Catholic leaders believe they hold the keys of leadership and authority passed down to them through apostolic succession from Christ, and thus anyone who rejects that authority will summarily find their place as one of the condemned, come judgment day.
However, apostasy need not carry with it a willful rebellion or rejection of the truth. Such truth can be lost to us in the mist and haze of confusion, as we rely on our own faulty reason and give way to the tempting influences of the adversary. It is quite possible for someone lost in the darkness of apostasy to be striving their very best to live a Christ-like life and adhere to what truths they have. There have, in fact, been many peoples throughout history who found themselves adrift in a sea of moral and religious confusion, as they had no guidance to steer their course. These people, who have done their best, need not be consigned to an eternity of fire and brimstone. God extends His mercy to those who strive to live a life of righteousness, but lacked a knowledge of the fullness of the truth.
Mormons believe that God established His church with Adam. He gave Adam the power and authority of the Priesthood (defined as the authority and power to act in God’s name), through which he could call upon God’s name and seek out guidance and revelation for his children. As generations passed, God called a number of prophets to hold these keys of revelation and authority, in order to guide His people and prepare the way for the coming of His son. The people frequently rejected these prophets, or accepted them and failed to fully understand their teachings. When Christ came, the church was lost in hypocritical leadership, and He sought to restore the foundation of His gospel through His missionary service and the calling of apostles. Yet, as happened again and again in the Old Testament, the people gradually fell away from His plain and precious teachings, losing the knowledge of the truth.
The Great Apostasy was a time in which Priesthood authority was entirely lost upon the earth. We had no prophets, no direct line with which to commune with our God, and the people strived to do the best they could while walking in darkness. The Lord’s church was once again restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, heralding the end to this apostasy and the start of the period in which the gospel will roll forth across the entire earth, as a stone cut without hands and never again to be lost. This gospel will extend to the four corners of the earth, until everyone has had a chance to hear it, before Christ returns to rule and reign.
This article was written by Melissa, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Many people are unfamiliar with what actually takes place during a worship service in a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Research also shows that there are many people who feel that they are not welcomed inside an LDS chapel to worship with Latter-day Saints to be able to observe for themselves that Mormon worship is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is often the basis for misunderstandings among communities where Latter-day Saints live and leads many to believe that the close-knit ties of the Latter-day Saint community is both clannish and secretive. Part of this misconception may be caused by the differences between worship services in LDS chapels and temple worship. All are invited to attend services in LDS chapels, but only those members of The Church of Jesus Christ who are deemed worthy and hold a valid temple recommend are permitted to enter the sacred temple – the House of the Lord.
The infographic below is an excellent comparison of worship in an LDS chapel and temple worship.
You are invited to worship with a local LDS congregation
Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is frequently misnamed the “Mormon Church”) are one of the important elements in God’s Plan of Salvation. They are so important that there are forms of sacred worship that can only done in the temple. Temples are considered the most holy place on earth, and only the home can be compared to them in sanctity. Temples are a holy sanctuary where the Spirit of the Lord can be strongly felt—for they are literally the House of the Lord.
There are many examples in the scriptures that describe temples’ significance. For example, during their wanderings and travels in the wilderness, the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses and under the direction of God, built a portable temple known as the Tabernacle. God Himself gave them details on what standards His holy sanctuary should meet, including its materials and design. “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exodus 25:8–9). After its construction, the Tabernacle became the dwelling place of the Lord, where He gave His people, the Israelites, instructions and where sacred ordinances were performed in which ordinances were intended to bless the Israelites in their tribulations.
The New Testament also tells us of the significance of the temple. In the Gospel of Matthew, the record shows Jesus being brought to the temple as a baby and being presented to the people as the Savior of the world. “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34–35).
The Savior often taught in the holy temple and He has been the greatest example of how people should view the importance of the temple in their lives. “And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him” (Luke 19:45–48). The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) view the temple as the place of most sacred worship and follow the commandments of the Lord regarding it.
In the latter days, God commanded His children to once again commence the building of holy temples as part of the restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first Mormon temple was dedicated to the Lord on March 27, 1836, and is known as the Kirtland Temple. Today there are around 135 temples currently in operations to bless the lives of the children of God.
Mormon beliefs focus on the power and righteous influence of the temple and the knowledge that temples bring Latter-day Saints closer to Christ. That is why there are many Mormon temples built all over the world. The temple helps the members of the Church to understand the purpose of earthly existence as a mere fraction of the Plan of Salvation (God’s plan for His children) which provides hope that all the unfairness and trials of life are just temporal. The temple also provides many blessings and rich experiences for qualified Latter-day Saints, as they often testify of. In the temple, Mormons learn more about Jesus Christ and His infinite love for all people, and that salvation can only come through Him. “And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17).
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.
The Book of Mormon (musical) which was a Broadway hit has been another instrumental catalyst in bringing the discussion of the Mormon faith (appropriately and officially called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to the forefront of the media. When two respected members of the Republican party (who also happen to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) announced their intention to work for the Republican nomination for president, what has now been dubbed the “Mormon moment” received even more fuel.
“Mormon” has become a buzz-word in the media, and will likely remain under discussion and debate for some time. There have been people on both sides of the issue of whether being a Mormon is likely to play a large role in Mitt Romney’s success or failure in his run for election in the presidential race.
The New York Times published a piece by Josh Kron on April 13, 2012, taking a deeper look into what Mormon missionaries’ lives are really like in Uganda (the setting of The Book of Mormon [musical]). (Read full article here.) Kron discovered a much more meaningful existence than is portrayed in the play (which should really come as a surprise to no one, since the creators of the play are comedians and more often went for punch lines than doctrine.
First of all, it is important to clarify what the Book of Mormon is. Many Christians unfamiliar with Mormonism believe that it is the Mormon Bible and that Latter-day Saints (as “Mormons” prefer to be called) do not believe in the Bible. This is false. In fact, Latter-day Saints do believe the Bible to be the word of God, and it is included in their canon. However, Mormon doctrine states that many plain and precious truths were lost from the Bible. Some things were lost due to the wickedness of men, others were simply lost in translation and in the transmission of the text. The Book of Mormon is considered by Latter-day Saints to be another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a sacred and ancient record of some of the inhabitants of the ancient Americas, and records Jesus Christ’s dealings with them. Thus, the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is meant to be a complementary book of scripture to the Bible, not a replacement for it.
Mormon missionaries serve all over the world. Young men between the ages of 19 and 25 may choose to serve for a period of two years; single women may serve from the age of 21 and older for a period of 18 months; senior couples may choose to serve for a variety of lengths of time. Missionaries usually finance their own missions. It is a huge sacrifice of time and money, and missionaries dedicated their entire lives, for this period of time, to serving the Lord. They can be called to serve anywhere in the world. They may be required to learn a new language, and they serve the people in the areas where they work.
Kron spent a good deal of time with Mormon missionaries in Uganda, trying to capture an accurate picture of what their lives are like there and how they interact with Ugandans. It was not long before Kron discovered how serious the missionaries there were about their calling. They gave up girlfriends or boyfriends, school, possibly careers, marriage, etc., putting everything off while they chose to serve the Lord.
A church spokesman, Eric Hawkins, explained to Kron that a mission is “something we hope all Mormon young men will want to do—a time of meaningful personal sacrifice, service, testing and growth.”
Kron learned for himself what a sacrifice a mission truly is. Missionaries are expected to adhere to an “intensive airtight and sometimes lonely schedule of prayer, Scripture study and door-to-door proselytizing six days a week, 52 weeks a year. They are to abstain from virtually every earthly pleasure — not just the usual temptations prohibited under Mormonism, like premarital sex, alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, but also magazines, television and music not sanctioned by the church. They can call home two days a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day.” Depending on the mission, some missionaries are permitted to email, but only one day a week. Amazingly, the vast majority of all missionaries who serve follow these strict rules quite willingly, taking very seriously their commitment to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.
Due to the ages at which most missionaries depart on their missions, many leave in middle of their schooling. Some colleges will allow them to pick back up right where they left off, but not all colleges are so lenient. Even when colleges are lenient, it can be difficult to get back into such a different schedule and way of life. On the bright side, many missionaries who are required to learn a foreign language can take proficiency tests upon their return to gain significant college credit for the skills they have picked up.
Mormon missionaries learn much more than a foreign language, if they serve with their whole hearts. “Their personal values sharpen, and they begin to understand whom they want to be when they return to college,” says Kron. Some of the missionaries he met with had decided to focus on special-needs social work because of experiences he had had with a family he taught who was headed by an alcoholic father struggling to overcome his addiction. Another missionary, who had planned on pursuing international business as a career, has now starting thinking about a different career that will allow him to spend more time with his family.
Elder Lee (all male missionaries carry the title “Elder”) said of his missionary experiences, “I have learned more about myself in the last 20 months than I could if I was back home. You begin to understand what really matters in your life.”
Missionaries shared with Kron some of their struggles. “Between six months and 18 months everyone forgets you,” Elder Lee says. “All your friends back home, they stop writing you. That’s when the umbilical cord is cut, that’s when you start realizing a lot of different things.”
Missionaries try to impress on the people they teach that they have no wish to take away one’s current faith, only to share what they believe and invite others to accept more truth. “We don’t expect anyone just to take our word for it; we ask them to pray for it, to ask God if it’s true or not,” Elder Lee says. “Everyone knows that God is not a God of lies. We’re not trying to convert you to us; we’re trying to convert you.”
Missionaries are expected to serve the people in their communities. They never ask for money and they are not pushy. They often volunteer to help local citizens digging ditches, hauling bricks, or whatever else they may need help with.
Says one Ugandan convert, Mr. Kagodo, “I found what I wanted. It is the way of life. I’ve met many other Christians who would be very comfortable just saying they are born-again or what, but their character does not depict it. . . . For me, the fact that nobody pushes you, but asks you, and read the Scriptures, and just keep the gospel, that matters a lot.”
Kron noticed that Mormon missionaries also spend some time correcting people’s misperceptions about the religion. Polygamy is no longer practiced, for one, and has not been since 1890. The Bible is accepted as scripture, not replaced by the Book of Mormon. Most importantly, Latter-day Saints worship Jesus Christ as their Savior, something many people still do not realize.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had nearly 400,000 new members join in 2010. Nearly 70 percent of these new members were converted by college-age missionaries like Elder Lee.
Mormon News: Mormon Missionaries