The Rome Mormon temple complex will be a magnificent tribute to our Lord Jesus Christ by His followers, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There will be an open house conducted before the dedication of the temple for higher ordinances, and when the public has the opportunity to tour the temple, they will feel the unmistakable spirit of God filling it with light and peace. The public will also be impressed with how beautiful and well-appointed the temple is, how perfect the workmanship. A Mormon temple is literally a House of the Lord, and it needs to be as close to perfect as possible. What will really amaze visitors is that no debt was incurred in the building of the Rome Temple complex. The Church of Jesus Christ believes in being debt-free. Its house is in order.
Temple building is made possible by the tithing of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Tithing is, by definition, an offering of ten percent of one’s income, and paying tithes has always been part of God’s kingdom on earth. No one is too poor to pay tithing, and if even the poorest person should experiment on God’s word and test the process, he would find that the Lord blesses the full tithe-payer so abundantly that by giving ten percent, the person has more than if he had withheld the tithe. In Malachi 3:10 it says,
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Tithing goes for more than building and maintaining Mormon temples. The LDS Church builds approximately one new meetinghouse each week, somewhere in the world. Meetings all over the world are correlated — all congregations are organized the same way and use the same manuals. All materials, translated into many languages, are paid for with tithing funds.
The LDS Church has a remarkable educational system with three universities and one business college (BYU Utah, Idaho, and Hawaii, and LDS Business College) supported by tithes. Seminary for high school students and Institute for college students provide a venue for scripture study and gospel learning, plus social structure for LDS students. Often, seminary and institute classes take place in buildings constructed just for that purpose, with trained instructors — all financed with tithing.
The missionary program of the LDS Church is also funded by tithes. Even though Mormon missionaries support themselves on their missions, the Church of Jesus Christ pays to maintain the mission and necessary buildings, plus transportation and training for those who serve, plus materials costs. In the fall of 2012 there were about 58,000 Mormon missionaries, but that number will quickly swell since the qualifying age for service has been lowered.
Mormons Donate More than Tithing
As if ten percent of one’s income were not enough, Mormons continue to give (studies name them as the “givingest” people in the United States). The first Sunday of each month is called “Fast Sunday,” because Mormons fast for two meals (24 hours) and donate the value of the meals to the poor. Many Mormons give much more than the value of two meals, too. These donations go to fund the vast welfare system of the Church of Jesus Christ. The welfare program is based on self-reliance, and while temporarily helping members (and disaster victims) who are down and out, offers training and employment counseling.
At the heart of the welfare system is a recently opened facility in Salt Lake City, the Bishop’s Central Storehouse. It warehouses mountains of food and supplies, which are distributed to central storehouses in five other regions of the United States and Canada. From those five regional storehouses, food and goods are again distributed to more than 200 smaller bishops’ storehouses, to be used for the Church’s welfare system. The Bishop’s Central Storehouse also keeps emergency equipment and supplies that can be instantly dispatched whenever a catastrophic disaster occurs.
The size of the Bishop’s Central Storehouse gives a sense of scale to Mormon welfare and humanitarian efforts. Situated on 35 acres, the building’s current footprint is 570,391 square feet, with plans to add 100,000 more. The total planned capacity of the building is 65,000 pallets, and it stocks hundreds of foods—from corn, beans, and cereals to cheese, ice cream, and peanut butter—as well as toiletries, tools, and electric generators. It has its own trucking company, complete with nearly 50 tractors and 100 trailers, as well as a one-year supply of fuel, parts, and tires for the vehicles. The facility has even been built to withstand a 7.5-magnitude earthquake. 
Mormons give fast offerings to the welfare program, but they also invest their time and energy in making it work, volunteering by canning peaches, harvesting crops, etc.
The Church of Jesus Christ also has a vast Humanitarian Aid program, which due to the volunteer efforts of members, is able to give 100% of earmarked donations to real aid. The LDS Church has many ongoing projects around the world and stands at the ready to offer aid in case of disasters. Mormons are not only often the first to arrive in these cases, but the last to leave. Rebuilding projects are still going on from the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia. Mormons may give specified donations to the HA department, but again, they also volunteer their time. There are HA projects going on all the time on the congregational level and at large events, and in the members’ own homes, where they make quilts and assemble hygiene and baby care kits and other necessities for aid.
The Church has a Perpetual Education Fund to help returned Mormon missionaries in poorer countries achieve higher education. Once they begin to earn money, they pay the fund back. There is also a general missionary fund for those who want to serve but can’t afford it, a fund to help families get to the Mormon temple once in their lives, a fund to supply Books of Mormon for the mission field. There are so many ways to give. Mormons will often give in other ways, helping missionaries in their own congregation finance their missions, helping poorer members who are also their neighbors, attending to the sick and lonely, and in addition, doing good in their community and schools. To read more about the good Mormons do, go to Mormon Church.org.
Some people say the leaders of the LDS Church live richly off of tithing funds. This is completely untrue. The leaders of the Church, called General Authorities, who serve full-time as long as they live, may choose to receive a modest stipend, though not all need it. They are called out of their chosen vocations, and many are already successful and have funds. Those who need a stipend are never paid from the tithes of the Church, but are paid from the profit-making ventures of the Church — broadcasting, publishing, and the farms and ranches that also support the welfare system.
There is no paid clergy in the LDS Church, but there are employees, again paid from profit-making ventures or other sources as warranted.
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.
The Mormon Temple Endowment is the main ordinance that is received in a Mormon temple. Mormon doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the “Mormon Church”) teaches that there is a series of ordinances that are essential to obtaining salvation. They are all equal in importance, so the endowment is not any more or less important than the others, but it often comes to mind as the ordinance performed most frequently in Mormon temples.
The first ordinance necessary to salvation is baptism and confirmation. The second is the Sacrament, which is similar to the Eucharist or Communion, and is administered every Sunday to members of the “Mormon Church.” It is a renewal of one’s baptismal covenants. The third ordinance, according to Mormon doctrine, is the Mormon temple endowment. In this Mormon temple rite, the participant learns more about his or her true relationship to God. Participants covenant to live a higher law than other people are held to, though there are no surprises in the covenant. All these commandments are contained in the scriptures; the difference is participants are making sacred promises to live these commandments.
Consequences come along with the covenants. If the person keeps the promises he or she has made, specific, wonderful blessings are promised in return. If the person fails to keep those covenants, there will be eternal consequences. The purpose behind all of this is to live with God again. However, God cannot tolerate the least degree of sin. This means that in order to live in His presence, we must also be perfect beings and live His laws exactly. This lifetime is a probationary time we have to learn, by trial and error, to live the laws that God lives. Certainly no one will achieve perfection in this life, but if we are doing our best to live these laws, constantly exercising the cleansing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives, we will be much further along the road in the next phase of our existence.
The Mormon temple endowment is a sacred ordinance and is a wonderful experience. It is filled with symbolism to keep the participant learning at his or her own level. Each time someone returns to the temple, he or she can learn something new. Impressions come through the Holy Spirit which speak peace to the heart and soul and enlighten the mind.
Some people feel suspicious that there must be something shady going on if people refuse to talk about these things outside of Mormon temples. However, it is only because of the sacred nature of these things that they are not discussed outside of Mormon temples. They are not to be mocked or treated lightly, so only those who have already proven themselves willing to live a higher standard are permitted to enter Mormon temples. Again, this is not to keep people from participating; it is to protect them from the consequences of breaking eternal covenants with God if they are not prepared to keep them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ invites all who will come to come and partake of the living water of His teachings. His whole purpose is focused on bringing souls back to God. There is not one soul He esteems above another. However, He also recognizes that God’s law is absolute and those who wish to be in His presence must abide by that law.
I can say from personal experience that participating in Mormon temple ordinances like the Mormon temple endowment is a wonderful opportunity that I cherish. It brings me closer to the Savior and makes me a better person. I am grateful each time I go to a Mormon temple for what I learn and am able to participate in. It gives me a chance to separate myself from the cares of the world and serve selflessly, boosting my spirit and bringing me peace.
There are a lot of questions about how Mormons worship. Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They prefer to be called Latter-day Saints, but their church is also frequently misnamed the “Mormon Church.” This mix up with names gets to be confusing, because there are radical groups which have broken off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who also refer to themselves as “Mormons,” but who practice and believe very different things than Latter-day Saints do.
The most important thing to understand about Mormon worship is that they recognize Jesus Christ as their Savior. Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) are often accused of not being Christian because they do not hold to the traditional Christian creeds. This is because the creeds were created by men two hundred years after Christ’s ascension into heaven. The fulness of the gospel had already been lost when the keys of the priesthood were lost with the Apostles. Just because Latter-day Saints do not accept the creeds as doctrine does not mean that they do not recognize Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.
Mormon doctrine teaches that faithful Latter-day Saints should model their personal lives after the Savior’s life. This means that Mormon worship entails a great deal more than just going to church on Sunday. Mormonism is truly a way of life.
Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) meet each Sunday for a block of three hours. The most important meeting is Sacrament meeting. During this 70-minute meeting, the Sacrament (Eucharist or Communion) is blessed and passed to the congregation. Traditionally, bread and water are used in this ordinance, though in times when one of those things is not available, other items can be used instead (“Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1980). Water is generally used rather than the wine that is traditional in other Christian denominations because Latter-day Saints do not drink alcohol. The bread is blessed and passed first, then the water. Visitors who have not been baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not encouraged to take the Sacrament, because the ordinance is seen as a renewing of one’s baptismal covenants. If a person has not been baptized, he has not covenants to renew.
After the Sacrament has been passed, the balance of the meeting typically consists of speakers from the ward (congregation) who have been invited by the bishopric (local ecclesiastical leaders) to speak on a certain topic. All Mormon clergy is lay clergy. This means they are everyday people who have separate careers. They serve voluntarily in their local congregations when asked to by their leaders, and they are not compensated, though they are certainly blessed for their service. This is a unique aspect of Mormon worship.
Once a month, the congregation has a Fast Sunday. This is a day set aside for members to fast from two consecutive meals. They are encouraged to seek guidance through prayer during this time for any personal issue, or sometimes for a member of their ward. The money that a family or individual would have spent on those two meals is typically donated to the bishopric, who then decides how to use those funds. If there are people in the ward who need financial help, the funds are used for that. If the funds donated exceed the need, the balance is sent on to Church headquarters to be redistributed as needed. Mormon worship shows how much the community cares about those in need. On Fast Sundays, special meetings are held during Sacrament meeting. Rather than having speakers assigned to share their thoughts on a particular gospel topic, anyone from the congregation may stand and bear personal testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The two other meetings held on Sundays for Mormon worship are 40–50 minutes each. During Sunday school, class members learn more about specific gospel principles. The Mormon canon consists of four books of scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of modern revelation), and the Pearl of Great Price (a collection of ancient scripture translated or revealed in modern day). Each year, the Sunday school lessons will focus on a book of scripture. The Old and New Testaments are taken separately, and the Pearl of Great Price is combined with the Old Testament. This means that every four years, the whole canon is studied: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. Sunday school classes are divided by ages for children with teachers for each class, and the adults meet together.
During the last block of meetings, the men and women separate and the children have a meeting together. The men’s meeting is called Priesthood; the women’s is Relief Society. The young men and young women (ages 12–17) meet as separate groups, and the children under age 12 meet together in Primary.
No matter which class a person is in, he or she is taught the gospel. Members of the ward discuss gospel topics and learn from each other about how these things are relevant in our daily lives and how we can apply gospel principles. Mormon worship is about focusing on the Savior and His atonement for repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. We all need each other and should reach out in service to all those who stand in need.
Many have used the existence of evil and suffering in the world as reason to disbelieve in God. They envision a God who controls all aspects of life in order to prevent any sort of suffering, evil, or unhappiness. Mormons (as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often nicknamed or misnamed) understand that such a God would render life on Earth meaningless, empty, and devoid of opportunities to grow, learn, and overcome.
For Mormons, the explanation for the why evil and suffering exit is found within the explanation of the purpose of life. Mormons believe life began before birth, when God created our spirits. We stayed with Him in a premortal existence for a while, and during that time we developed our personalities and character. We knew God’s plan for us and had time to think about whether or not we wanted to be a part of that plan.
The plan required us to come to Earth for the next stage of our eternal progression. In this stage, we would gain a body, a family, and an opportunity to have new experiences. Since we wouldn’t remember our life before Earth—because that would interfere with the need to develop faith—we would need to seek out and find God, Jesus Christ, and the gospel. We would have help, of course, in the form of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. From time to time, small reminders of our past or confirmations of truth would be offered to those willing to listen. For those who lived at a time when the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was on the earth, they would also be able to accept or reject that gospel.
What does all this have to do with evil and suffering in the world? Another gift God gave us is that of agency—the right to choose for ourselves, make our own decisions. We had this agency before we were born and used it to choose whether to come to earth or to follow Satan from the beginning. We are expected to use our time on this earth to have experiences and make choices that will impact our eternal lives. We can choose our actions—choose good or evil, choose obedience or disobedience—but we cannot choose the consequences of our actions. Prior to birth, we had the opportunity to choose God or Satan. Those who came to Earth are those who chose God. We have agency today. We continue to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, God and Satan.
One of the challenges of agency is that while we can choose our actions, we can’t choose who the consequences impact. This means that sometimes innocent people suffer because of the choices of others. There is no way to avoid this. In order to prevent all evil and suffering, we would have to come to Earth as puppets, with our every action and thought controlled. This is what Satan wanted for us. He wanted us to be entirely controlled in order to make sure everyone was “saved,” but of course, that couldn’t save us, since salvation must be freely chosen. We rejected Satan’s idea, which was the result of his own selfishness and desire for power, since it came with a price tag that required us to reject God and replace Him with Satan. And so, we have evil and suffering in the world today, because we were wisely unwilling to sacrifice agency.
Agency, while it has the potential to bring suffering, also has the potential to bring joy and growth. We learn from our experiences, our choices, and our mistakes. Many who have experienced great trials in life have leveraged those trials to become more than they ever imagined they could be. They’ve found joy despite their suffering and in the growth that came when they chose to face trials with joy, faith, and hope.
Mormons see the world from an eternal perspective. This life is only a very small part of an eternal life. Everything we become goes with us when we die, and so the trials and experiences we have will affect who we are in the next life as well. Our trials are often calculated to give us just the experiences we need to grow and meet our potential. That doesn’t mean God creates suffering and trials, but He allows them to happen, sometimes to protect the concept of agency and sometimes because He knows we can, if we choose, use the trial to strengthen us and make us more than we would have been without the trial. Of course, we can also choose to spend our lives feeling sorry for ourselves because of our trials, but that is our choice. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our attitudes toward those events.
We also cause some of our own trials. We all make foolish choices in life and those choices sometimes cause us trouble—and sometimes also cause others to suffer. We need experiences and trials, but we don’t need to have more than necessary. The ones we cause ourselves through our poor choices are generally unnecessary, but even these can be used for our good if we repent and call upon the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
There is evil and suffering in the world because this is a temporal existence—imperfect and separated from God. People choose evil and that affects others. Imperfection in this world causes suffering through myriad ways: disease, death, etc. God intended life to be joyful, and most often, whether or not it is joyful will be up to us. He can help us cope with trials and suffering and can make the best out of bad situations.
The Church of Jesus Christ distributes free copies of the King James Version of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. For your free copy of the Bible, go to Free Holy Bible and for a free Book of Mormon, go to Free Book of Mormon