The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Mark and his family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mark and Me describes several experiences while he was at church. Additionally the book includes brief references to doctrinal issues. This section provides additional information on subjects mentioned in the book by accessing the church’s various on-line sites.
Baptism by immersion
Baptism by immersion in water by one having authority is the first saving ordinance of the gospel and is necessary for an individual to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to receive eternal salvation. All who seek eternal life must follow the example of the Savior by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Baptism in the Lord’s Way
The Savior revealed the true method of baptism to the Prophet Joseph Smith, making clear that the ordinance must be performed by one having priesthood authority and that it must be done by immersion: “The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
“Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:73–74).
Immersion is symbolic of the death of a person’s sinful life and the rebirth into a spiritual life, dedicated to the service of God and His children. It is also symbolic of death and resurrection. (See Romans 6:3–6.)
Age of Accountability
Accountability is the natural product of agency and is the basis of the plan of life. We are responsible for our own actions and accountable to God for what we choose to do with our lives. Life is God’s gift to us, and what we do with it is our gift to him.
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that “all the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 210). All of God’s children are on earth to be given the opportunity to learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Members of the Church with differences or disabilities that affect their activities or interactions also have meaningful opportunities to minister, teach, serve, and lead. Every person’s contribution is needed in the Lord’s kingdom. And anyone with a desire to make sacred covenants may do so if he or she is worthy and demonstrates an appropriate degree of responsibility and accountability.
Our Father in Heaven knows and loves all of His children, and He is aware of the challenges we face. As taught in John 9:1–7, a disability is not a punishment—neither to the individual nor to the parents. President Russell M. Nelson taught: “A perfect body is not required to achieve one’s divine destiny. In fact, some of the sweetest spirits are housed in frail or imperfect bodies. Great spiritual strength is often developed by people with physical challenges, precisely because they are so challenged” (“Thanks Be to God,” April 2012 general conference).
We should treat people with any kind of disability with respect and look for ways to serve them and their families with Christlike love—and to support them as they serve others.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints functions in large measure because of the unpaid volunteer ministry of its members. In fact, this lay ministry is one of the Church’s most defining characteristics. In thousands of local congregations or “wards” around the world, members voluntarily participate in “callings” or assignments that provide meaningful opportunities to serve one another. It is common for Church members to spend 5-10 hours a week serving in their callings. Some local leadership may require 15-30 hours per week.
Callings in the Church are not sought after or campaigned for. Members are simply asked to be willing to accept assignments that come to them through Church leaders. These leaders seek inspiration through prayer about whom to call. Church members, for the most part, are willing to accept these callings.
Ministering is Christlike caring for others. It is motivated by our desire to follow the commandment to love our neighbor and includes serving people out of concern for their spiritual and temporal well-being.
The Savior set an example of ministering during His life. The Savior asks us to follow His example to “love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
We naturally minister to our families, those we love, and others around us. In wards, we also receive assignments as ministering brothers or ministering sisters to care for ward members in an organized way (see Moroni 6:4). We ensure that all are cared for and no one is forgotten.
Generally, each adult sister has two ministering sisters assigned to care for her and each household has two ministering brothers assigned to care for the members of the household. Occasionally, married couples may be assigned as ministering companions to better meet members’ needs. Beginning in January of the year they turn 14, young men and young women may be assigned to serve as ministering companions to adults.
As ministering brothers or sisters, we participate in quarterly ministering interviews, where we talk with our leaders about our efforts and specific strengths and needs of the people to whom we minister.
Ministering efforts can take many forms. Where possible, ministering brothers and sisters visit members in their homes. Interactions can also take place at church or in the community. The methods used will vary, from service of any type to a visit, phone call, email, or text. Individuals are unique, and effective ministering is individualized and led by the Spirit. Through prayer and inspiration, we will be blessed to know how to minister as the Savior did.
The Missionary Program
The missionary effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving others, teaching the gospel and baptizing believers in the name of Jesus Christ (see, for example, the work of Peter and John in the book of Acts).
More than 54,000 missionaries, most of whom are under the age of 25, are serving missions for the Church at any one time. 11,000 senior missionaries and humanitarian missionaries also serve throughout the world. Missionary work is voluntary, with most missionaries funding their own missions. They receive their assignment from Church headquarters and are sent only to countries where governments allow the Church to operate. In some parts of the world, missionaries are sent only to serve humanitarian or other specialized missions.