Most clergymen are distinguished by the collar, flowing priestly robes and other symbols of office. Not Mormons. A suit will do. But they do have priestly garb: white underwear.
But did you know that religious ceremonies and covenants necessary for eternal exaltation can only be made within a temple and not an ordinary church and that the African continent only has three temples; in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa?
The Mormon temple is also not the sort of place everyone can walk in and worship.
A serving member deemed worthy is interviewed by the presiding bishop and if found fit, is issued with a card that allows him or her entry into any temple in the world. Remember that white underwear? That’s what you wear to the temple- beneath your suit or dress, of course!
Among Mormons, you also don’t just wake up, admit yourself in a theological college and declare yourself a pastor, evangelist or prophet.
The articles of faith are clear: Priesthood is conferred to any worthy male member of the church by one who has authority. It is the elders who, upon observing you, decide that you are worthy of priestly office.
But whereas all worthy male members of the church hold the priesthood, that does not make them priests.
Church deacons can be as young as 12 years old. And something else… Members who have that responsibility, say bishops, are not paid!
“The church operates a voluntary lay leadership. These people are called by one in authority and sustained by members,” says Dr Evelyne Jepkemei, Kenya’a church’s public affairs director.
If a member is guilty of serious transgressions (say fornication), he or she gets excommunicated.
So important is marriage among Mormons that young male missionaries are encouraged to find a spouse as part of the journey through priesthood.
Mormons also believe that families can be ‘sealed’ and remain together forever.
President Munene explains: “The family is ordained of God and marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.”
Women do not become priests, but a man’s priesthood is considered incomplete without a wife.
Unlike other Christian faiths, the Mormons believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgressions, or the sins of our forefathers and that our forbearers, who did not subscribe to the Christian faith, will get a chance to hear the gospel in the spirit world and then decide whether or not to accept the gospel.
Living members do vicarious baptisms on their behalf to complete the ordinance of baptism if they choose to accept the gospel.
Their Bible is also different, because apart from the Old and New Testament, it incorporates three other books: the Book of Mormon (written by the founder of the church), Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.
And oh…Mormons pay tithe quietly in the bishop’s office.
Adapted from The Standard