The Times of London just ran a major feature on the Church called Mormons: “We Don’t Want Bible-Bashers”, and by and large, they got it right. President Lyle Shamo and his wife, Tracy, who head the England London South Mission were interviewed for an hour for this article and, on this first outing with the press for them, they were encouraged, particularly because the article focused on the missionaries. They said, “The people in England know now that we are not weird, won’t tear down their religion, and are here to serve.”
Their hope was to get several points across: 1. Convince the readers that this was not just an American church but a church with a long-standing history in England; 2. England and her people are very near and dear to our members; 3. More of our members live outside the US than within; 4. The Bible and The Book of Mormon are both sacred to us; 5. We are a service-oriented church; and 6. Our young people are peculiar among all other young people of the world because of their faith and their passion for the gospel and because they genuinely love other people.
Here’s a sample from the article in The Times, and a link where you can read the entire piece:
Elder Karges and Elder Bång are men on a mission. Can they get someone interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before they reach the Tesco car park? Kade Karges, 20, from Arizona, and Marc Bång, a 21-year-old Dane, discuss their gameplan as they unload copies of the Book of Mormon from their car’s packed boot. The gold lettering on the dark-blue covers is in several languages. “We normally take a Hindi one with us. We find it comes in useful,” Bång says. There is a quick prayer and the young men, sporting dark suits and name badges, are off.
The pair may seem incongruous on the sunny streets of Feltham, West London, but they are among 750 such missionaries stationed in the UK and 50,000 throughout the world. The majority of these elders and sisters are between 18 and 25 years old, engaging in a two-year stint away from home that for many is like a religious gap year.
Bång originally hoped for an assignment in a Spanish-speaking country, but when he opened the envelope it was London. “I just felt a really good feeling,” he says. His own parents converted to Mormonism before he was born when missionaries knocked on their door in Denmark. “I’ve always felt a desire to do what brought me happiness,” he says.