Saturday, November 3, 2012
Mormon Church establishes new stake in Heath
The new stake has about 3,000 members.
HEATH So many Mormons – a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – have either moved into Rockwall area during the past few years, or converted to it from other faiths, that a new stake of the fast-growing Christian church has just been organized in Heath.
A “stake” is a geographical unit of Mormonism, similar to a diocese or district, comprised of several congregations called “wards.”
According to Mormon statistics, the missionary-oriented church is also growing rapidly nationwide and is now the fourth largest denomination in the U.S. with more than 6 millions members. Only the Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist churches have more members.
The new Heath stake is comprised of about 3,000 members who worship each Sunday and hold youth meetings during the week in seven wards in Rockwall, Heath, Rowlett, Forney, and Greenville. The stake also includes one Spanish-speaking ward in Rowlett.
Ten years ago, only about 1,200 church members lived within the same stake boundaries.
Appointed by church officials in Salt Lake City UT to preside over the new stake are Stake President Darwin Smith of Rowlett; First Counselor Ed Thatcher of Heath; and Second Counselor Dr. David Shirley of Rowlett. They oversee the spiritual and temporal welfare of church members in the area.
All leaders of the church serve on a volunteer basis without pay for approximately 15-20 hours per week. They all earn a living through their careers outside of church service.
President Smith said that Mormonism creates new stakes and wards to allow more members to minister to each other individually as the Savior did.
“As the church grows, we carefully divide and create new wards and stakes,” he explained. “This change will allow our members to continue to minister to each other individually as the Savior did.”
“In our church, all members are given opportunities to serve in callings and assignments that help them to grow spiritually and to strengthen individuals and families. This change will open up more of those opportunities to serve.”
“Although we serve in the church, we give our highest priority to teaching our children to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. All are welcome to our services.”
The wards in Heath and Rockwall meet at 9 & 11 a.m., respectively, in the big, colonial-style red brick “Stake Center” at 6819 S. FM 549 in Heath, at Rabbit Ridge Road, just east of Maurine Cain Middle School. The Heath ward is led by Bishop Chris Leach and the Rockwall Ward by Bishop Lance Stoddart.
The English-speaking Rowlett 1st and 2nd English-speaking wards, led by Bishops Paul Forthman and David McCauley, meet at 11 a.m. & 9 a.m., respectively, at 8201 Garner Road in Rowlett, just east of Dalrock Road.
The Spanish-speaking Rowlett 3rd Ward, led by Bishop Jesus Alvarez Jr., meets in the same building at 1 p.m.
The Forney congregation, led by Bishop Ian Smith, meets at 11 a.m. in its building at 8200 FM 741 in Forney, which it shares with the Kaufman Ward, which is currently in the Dallas East Stake.
The Greenville Ward meets at 5309 Utah St. and is led by Bishop Joseph Riddle.
According to the official website, members are nicknamed “Mormons” because of their belief in the Book of Mormon as a sacred record of holy scripture, which teaches that Jesus is the Christ and following his gospel plan will bring peace and happiness in this life plus eternal joy. They also believe the Christian Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.
Whereas the Christian Bible is written by and about the people in the land of Israel, and takes place from the creation of the world until shortly after the death of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon contains the history of and God’s dealings with ancestors of many American Indian tribes who lived in the Americas between 600 BC and 400 AD. The Book of Mormon records the visit of Jesus Christ to these people, shortly after his resurrection in Jerusalem, where he taught them the same Gospel he taught while he lived in Israel.
The official website reads that the foundation of their belief is that Jesus Christ came to earth in Israel, established his church and gave his life to atone for the sins of those who would follow him.
Mormons believe that after Christ and his apostles were murdered, early Christian church leaders corrupted his original church and his teachings, which led to the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, when thousands of men and women rejected the Catholic Church and started numerous Protestant faiths.
Mormons believe that, prior to the Reformation, the authority to minister and perform saving ordinances such as baptism in God’s name was taken from the earth by God.
But in 1820 in upstate New York, God and Jesus Christ personally appeared to the young Prophet Joseph Smith and restored the original Church of Jesus Christ and his authority to the earth.
Members call themselves Latter-day Saints to differentiate themselves from the early Saints because they believe we are living in the latter/last days of the earth, just prior to the much-prophesied Second Coming of Christ.
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