Thursday, September 13 was an inspiring night. Thanks to the joint efforts from the Front Range and Columbine stakes and the Colorado Catholic Conference, 400+ attendees gathered for a Religious Freedom Forum in Columbine. With a full line-up of speakers, Colorado Mormon Chorale’s powerful patriotic numbers, and a timely message – the combined result was one to remember. Attendees learned the importance of standing for religious freedom, and increasing the ability to do so. Presenters tied together both examples of early leaders who created a framework to protect our freedoms, and the efforts that continue to maintain said freedoms. Elder Thomas Priday, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opened the evening, sharing gratitude for the opportunity for multiple faiths “to come together in unity.”

Rebecca Jenson, Public Affairs Director, North America Central Area, stands at attention during “The Star Spangled Banner”

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we are reminded regularly of our civic duties. Elder Bednar said recently, “There is a paradox in religious freedom — if I want my religious freedom to be protected, then I must protect the religious freedom of those who believe in a basically different way from my own. This is our task. And it will be our ongoing challenge. Religious freedom is more than a right; it is a duty.”

The message is clear, but from time to time we can all use some bolstering in our determination. Brother Gary Truman, of the Front Range Stake Public Affairs committee, pointed out we should ask ourselves what values our laws should reflect. He continued, religion is more than a belief system, and “how one acts in the world is a direct reflection of one’s faith.” Of course this won’t be without opposition. Do we have the strength to speak up? Early Christians were willing to undergo beatings, yet in this day some can’t handle tweetings. He reminded us that, on the “path of advocacy, we may be called judgmental, we may be called bigots, just make sure it is never deserved. Sometimes people will use language to obfuscate the issue. Remember that we are speaking of principles rather than personalities.” Should it be this way? Isn’t religious freedom for one religious freedom for all?

Audience members raise hands to indicate their youth

It’s exactly so. Steven Collis serves as the Religious Freedom Specialist for the North America Central Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the keynote remarks of the evening, Brother Collis involved the youth, and with an interactive approach, taught us all both the complexity of religious freedom and our next steps to fulfilling our duties. He said, “We need to be able to say, “I’m willing to stand up for anyone’s beliefs,” and mean it.” In securing fairness for one belief system, we help pave the way to fairness for all.

The varieties of religious beliefs, including claiming “none” as a religious affiliation reaches far and wide. Doctrinal differences should not be creating enemies. We need to all learn about and participate in advocating for religious liberty – with each other. As Brother Collis asserted, “the enemy is not the person who believes something different than you. It’s not the person who is passionately on the other side of an issue. The enemies are the people who don’t understand these principles of religious freedom and aren’t willing to stand up for them.”

The Colorado Mormon Chorale ended the night with a favorite arrangement of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” All calls to action and conviction were further driven home with the familiar lyrics, so eloquently sung, “As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.” And that is what we intend to do.

Note: Jennifer Kraska, Executive Director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, was scheduled to speak at Thursday’s forum and couldn’t attend. Her prepared handouts detailed the starting resources regarding legislators, elections, and the voting process. In addition, three things she suggests we all do are: 1) Pray 2) Take action and 3) Stay informed. 

There might be a reason why it seems members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t spend much time on the question: Are Mormons Christian? Perhaps it’s because it feels like an obvious conclusion. A straightforward definition of Christianity is believing Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer. And we do. With that, the discussion seems over. However, even as a child, I remember being challenged on this topic by classmates, and as an adult, it still comes up. It made no sense to me how a church called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could be seen as anything but Christian. Yet in the meantime, I’ve learned that there are some Christians who have a more specific definition of Christianity, and that is where we might diverge. Here are the important basics:

  1. Latter-day Saints do not accept the creeds, confessions, and formulations of post–New Testament Christianity.
  2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not descend through the historical line of traditional Christianity. That is, Latter-day Saints are not Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant.
  3. Latter-day Saints do not believe scripture consists of the Holy Bible alone but have an expanded canon of scripture that includes the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

In unequivocal terms, we as members of the church assert belief in God, our eternal Father, his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. Some creeds call for a belief in the Holy Trinity, where it is understood that all three are without form and are one. We do not believe in a trinity. From there, other distinctions include adoption of the Nicene creed and the belief that all prophets and revelation from God are contained in, and do not extend beyond, the Bible. However, we believe The Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and is a book of scripture written by prophets about the coming of the Savior. We also believe in modern prophets and subscribe wholeheartedly to continuing revelation.

What does this mean to members of the church? We might understand a bit better why some say we aren’t Christian. It doesn’t mean we agree. For we are. Religious scholars, citing the above differences may say that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not part of traditional, reformist or historical Christian sects. Scholars recognize, however, they’re referencing the creeds, reformist histories, and closed canon type of Christianity when they do. But when said in front of, and repeated by, the average lay person, this can bring confusion. With the simple definition of Christianity as belief in Jesus Christ, we as members of the restored church of Jesus Christ find that we are still answering the question that never seemed germane.

There is a lot to be said for the simplest approach being the best approach. Truly, if we as a group asserted that Christians are people who believe in and follow Jesus Christ, instead of overanalyzing semantics, we have room to grow together. As is evidenced by the multitude of Christian religions, the interpretation of doctrine varies. But does that matter? For as Jesus said, “be one, and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” What would happen if we embraced all whom declare themselves to be followers of Jesus, and included each other in Christian conversation?

Perhaps if I had the panache to eloquently converse with the early naysayers in my life, or even the current ones, I could simplify the discussion with my emphatic witness that I believe in and follow my Savior Jesus Christ. I’m humbled by his life of service and the sinless sacrifice that he offered for our eternal benefit. I rejoice in his resurrection and the hope of his Second Coming. Despite the doctrinal details where we differ, our hope is that, as disciples of Christ, we can come together in the virtuous application of a Christian life.

Each year the Colorado Rockies select one home game to be “Mormon Night At the Rockies.”

This year’s game was well attended as members of the church statewide were able to purchase discounted tickets.

The Colorado Mormon Choral sang the national anthem, conducted by Kent Jones. This has become a wonderful tradition each year.

Also 3 young men from Boy Scout Troop 372 of the Alameda Congregation in Aurora presented the colors. (more…)

On Thursday, June 21, hundreds of people gathered at Temple Emanuel for an evening of education and insight. The arrival of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) has seen popular attendance. It has also meant an influx of peripheral activities as people seek avenues to learn even more. Thursday’s event, brought about through the combined efforts of Colorado Council of Churches, JEWISHcolorado, Temple Emanuel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints highlighted three experts, both local and out of state. Dr. Donald Parry, BYU professor of Hebrew Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Samuel Boyd, CU professor of Judaic Studies, and Dr. Rick Hess, professor and Old Testament scholar at Denver Seminary were the evening’s panelists.

While Dr. Hess gave an overview of the origins and discovery of the scrolls, he also taught about the caves, the Qumran community, and the translations as they tie into our current codex. Dr. Boyd shared his passion for the Bible and how the scrolls influence our understanding of it. Of the thousands of scrolls and fragments found and translated, a portion of them are Biblical text, another portion are commentary on the text, while a third portion are writings related to the day. Between all of these sources, Dr. Boyd taught that what we understand about the Bible still leaves a lot of room for learning. (more…)

Dr. Skinner Presents to A Full Crowd At Trinity Presbyterian Church

A standing room only crowd gathered for part 3 of a 4 event lecture series on the Dead Sea Scrolls in Arvada on Saturday, June 23. The event, which was hosted by Trinity Presbyterian Church and
sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, drew members from both faiths as well as others from the community who were interested in learning more about the origins of the scrolls and their relevance to modern religious beliefs.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been a recent curiosity in the area due to the exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which opened March 13. The first scrolls were discovered in 1947 in the Qumran community located on the Northwest shore of the Dead Sea.

At the lecture event, entitled “The Religious and Archaeological Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls” presentations were made by Dr. Andrew Skinner – BYU Professor of Ancient Scripture and Former Dean of Religious Education and Dr. Craig Blomberg – Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Denver Seminary. (more…)

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) attended a beautiful Iftar dinner hosted by Multicultural Mosaic Foundation (“Mosaic”), and its President, Ismail Akbulut.  The purpose of the event was to deepen friendships while increasing mutual understanding, among local Latter-day Saints and Muslims.

Elder Thomas T. Priday and Dr. Ismail Demirkan

In the tradition of Islam, an Iftar is the evening meal in which Muslims complete their daily fast as part of their holy month of Ramadan.  Throughout this special month, Muslims strive to more fully observe the principles of virtuous and generous living that are central to their beliefs.  For example, in his highly informative opening presentation (following a welcome given by Brother Akbulut), Mosaic’s Interfaith Director, Dr. Ismail Demirkan, explained that for devout Muslims the Ramadan fast is about abstaining from more than just from food and water, but from other more worldly activities and sin–indicating that one’s words, thoughts, and treatment of others receive greater attention during Ramadan. (more…)

High school seniors across Colorado will be graduating next week, and youth from the Brighton stake took a special moment to honor the teachers who helped them along the way.

At their annual teacher appreciation event, “Oh the Places You’ve Inspired Us to Go,” 18 seniors from the LDS youth program expressed gratitude to a teacher who has had a positive impact on their life. The teachers honored included a wide range from high school teachers to coaches, religious instructors to middle school teachers, and all the way back to some of the students’ elementary teachers.

“A teacher’s work is difficult and demanding,” said Peggy Robertson, a member of the Brighton Stake Public Affairs Committee. “It is a rare and highly treasured event when a student says ‘thank you.’”

The seniors wrote tributes to their teachers, which they read to the audience. Some teachers had made such an impact on their students that they were honored by more than one.

Robertson said, “It was a wonderful evening filled with gratitude for work well done.”


In 1846 Mormon settlers as part of the Mormon Battalion established a temporary settlement about one-half mile east of Pueblo on the south side of the Arkansas River. In total 275 men, women, and children from 4 different detachments made up this settlement.

They might not have known it at the time but this settlement was the first branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Colorado and was the first Anglo settlement of any form in what is now the modern state of Colorado.

On June 2nd and June 3rd 2018, the Fort Vasquez Museum in Platteville Colorado will be hosting a series of formal presentations about the Mormon Colony at Pueblo and the history of the fur trade along the forts of Colorado’s Front Range.  (more…)