I still remember my early days as a newcomer to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently known as “The ‘Mormon’ Church”). A former Catholic (Karen Trifiletti Merkley), I raised unanswered questions about the war in heaven, confession of sins, baptism, and many other doctrines, which I found later answered as I investigated the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ as mentioned in anti-Mormon literature written by ex-mormons. The claims of Mormons aligned themselves completely with the doctrines of Jesus Christ as I found them through personal, guided study of the New Testament (See www.mormontestimonies.org).

Mormon BaptismFollowing baptism, I was received warmly into a congregation of saints, and I really did feel the message fulfilled that I was no longer a stranger, but a fellow citizen in a new household. Still, there were waves of new understanding to surf, winds to stand up to, and waters to navigate that were not yet familiar. I’m thankful to those in Jarrettown, Pennsylvania, for embracing me as a new member, and to those missionaries who spent two years in the Savior’s service, teaching myself and others the way to live a rewarding life here and prepare for one hereafter.

For those new members who have experienced opposition from family, or who have entered a branch or ward still developing and who have desired extra guidance, the following letter may contain some morsel of help.

It was written by Ward Filmore, former counselor in the California San Francisco Presidency.

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Dear New Member:

On the occasion of your baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and on behalf of the members of the Church, we congratulate you on your choice and welcome you as a member of our ward. We join our Heavenly Father in rejoicing that another of His children has chosen to come unto Him through His Son, Jesus Christ by entering the waters of baptism.

The last question in your baptismal interview asks if you are willing to covenant with your Heavenly Father to come into the Church of Jesus Christ and serve Him and keep His commandments for the rest of your life. You have answered that question affirmatively by being baptized today. It is our desire and also the purpose of the Church to help you keep that covenant by teaching you, providing opportunities for you to serve, and making sacred ordinances available to you. Here are some milestones new members may use to set goals for themselves as they move forward as members of the Church over the next several months.

1. Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmation as a member of the Church which should take place next Sunday. This great gift will bless you always.

2. Join the Gospel Essentials Class where you will continue to learn the basic principles of the gospel as you study the textbook, Gospel Principles.

3. Receive the six new member discussions from the missionaries and members of the church. These discussions help you understand how the gospel blesses our lives.

4. Be interviewed by the Bishop so he can understand how best to help you.

5. Receive the Aaronic Priesthood and become part of the Elders Quorum which will fellowship you and provide you opportunities to serve using the priesthood.

6. Accept a calling to serve in the Church in which you can experience the joys of service to your brothers and sisters in the Church.

7. Be worthy and receive your patriarchal blessing which will be a guide to your life.

8. Attend the temple to do Baptisms for the Dead which will bless the lives of our departed ancestors and brothers and sisters.

9. Be worthy and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood which will allow you to bless. more fully, the lives of those you love.

10. Be worthy to obtain a temple recommend and receiving your endowment in the temple. In the temple you will make sacred covenants and be blessed (endowed) with additional knowledge and receive guidance as you listen to the Spirit in that holy place.

As your brethren, we offer the following counsel as you begin the great adventure of your new life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.

1. Be grateful. Thank your Heavenly Father for his marvelous Plan of Happiness, for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Atonement available through Him. Express gratitude to those who have helped you in any way. Feeling grateful brings us peace.

2. Be prayerful. Express your gratitude to Heavenly Father in daily prayer. Seek His counsel in all you do. Listen as you pray. Express your love to Him. Ask how you can serve Him. We promise you His guidance, comfort and protection as you do so.

3. Be patient. Be patient with yourself. Move forward steadily. You are on the right path moving in the right direction. Expect to be a learner all the rest of your life. We all are. Be patient with members of the church. They are not perfect. Like you, they all have other commitments. They make mistakes. Don’t use their misbehavior or weakness as an excuse for being upset with the Church. Patience brings peace.

4. Be dependable. Accept callings in the church. The church needs everyone to help. There is no paid ministry. The work of the church is divided among all members who are willing to serve. You can help the work of the Lord go forward as you serve with gladness and gratitude. You will feel great satisfaction as your serve dependably.

5. Be self reliant. There are things that only you can do for yourself. Only you can repent for yourself. Only you can gain a personal knowledge of the scriptures. Take responsibility for your own spiritual welfare. Don’t wait to be asked before you reach out to help others. You have direct access to Heavenly Father. He loves you and He will answer your prayers.

6. Be faithful. Pay your tithing gladly. When we pay tithing we step onto the Lord’s side of the line. We prove we are trustworthy and we open the windows of heaven for ourselves and our families. As you are faithful in keeping the commandments, you will feel cheerful, happy, and at peace.

7. Be a good learner. Love the truth. No other knowledge can substitute for a personal knowledge of the scriptures. Study them regularly. Set goals for yourself, over time, to finish the Book of Mormon and the other scriptures. Read the church magazines. Ask questions, be observant, and you will learn steadily and surely the truths of the Gospel. The Lord expects us to learn with our minds (acquiring knowledge) and our hearts (learning to be good). He wants us to know what is right and to also do what is right. We feel a sense of achievement as we learn and live the Gospel.

8. Be active. There is much good you personally can do; in your family, among your friends, as well as in the church. You can serve and bless the lives of others. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people who are assigned to this earth. Missionary work reaches out to those on the earth who are not yet members. The work for the dead helps those who have left this life already. Current members of the church are blessed through their participation in the church. As you bless others, you also bring blessings to yourself.

9. Be comforted. Our Heavenly Father’s love for you and each of his children is constant, steady, and unwavering. He will always assure you of His love for you if you seek to feel it. He will always counsel you out of His love and wisdom. No human counsel can match His. You can depend on His love, His wisdom, His goodness, and His availability to you as you seek to do His will.

10. Be worthy. Keep yourself clean from the sins of the world. After you have received your first temple recommend, do everything possible to be worthy to keep it for the rest of your life. Let virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly. Seek the welfare of those around you. Overcome selfishness and control your passions and your heart will be filled with love.

As the bishopric of the ward, we are called to serve all members of our ward. You will be assigned to a priesthood quorum or group and be visited by home teachers. Pray for your leaders and home teachers and seek their counsel. If you need to counsel privately with the Bishop, seek an appointment through the Executive Secretary. We send our love to you.

For new female converts, the milestones might be as follows:

1. Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmation as a member of the Church which should take place next Sunday. This great gift will bless you always.

2. Join the Gospel Essentials Class where you will continue to learn the basic principles of the gospel as you study the textbook, Gospel Principles.

3. Receive the six new member discussions from the missionaries and members of the church. These discussions help you understand how the gospel blesses our lives.

4. Be interviewed by the Bishop so he can understand how best to help you.

5. Join the Relief Society of the ward where you will have an opportunity to serve, learn, and grow.

6. Accept a calling to serve in the Church in which you can experience the joys o

About Candace

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