As The BamboosSway: Mormons celebrate acceptance of Blacks in Church


In 1987 I was a very new convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also commonly known as the Mormon Church. Knowing I am a Filipino, an office mate, a Polish lady, who used to be a Mormon confronted me, asking why I joined the Church when I am Filipino and Blacks were banned from the temple and other blessings of the Church. I was surprised because, being new, I did not know about a policy in 1952 that such banning on Blacks was imposed by the Church Leadership. My office mate did not also know and apparently had a falling out with the Church earlier than June 1, 1978 when that policy was lifted and Blacks all over the world were given all the rights and privileges that are due to every member of the Church regardless of any color – priesthood, temple ordinances and blessings, and others – “for all are Children of God and all are like into God.”

Last June 1, 2018, the Church of Jesus Christ Latter of Day Saints celebrated the 40th year of the policy lifting amidst remarks of acceptance that though the Gospel is perfect, those who interpret and implement the scriptures are not perfect but by the continuous unfolding revelation, we are striving for perfection. “Only the comprehension of the true Fatherhood of God can bring full appreciation of the true brotherhood of men and the true sisterhood of women,” said President Russell M. Nelson, the claimed Prophet of the Church. “That understanding inspires us with passionate desire to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.”

President Nelson’s concluded a 90-minute event at the Conference Center on Temple Square in Utah that celebrated, through song, dance and the spoken word, the 1978 revelation. One of the highlights of the event was Sister Gladys Knight singing ‘Somewhere’ in the context of Blacks, who have joined the Church and being steadfast members in spite of the ban, having the faith that “Somewhere, Sometime, Somehow” the revelation will prevail. Sister Knight, a renowned Grammy awarded chanteuse, joined the Church, baptized by her son, Jeremy, in 1997.

The event also catapulted me back to memories of my family’s earlier conversion to the Church while in Zambia, Africa. There were no members there at that time, no units called wards of branches, no Church. No nothing. All there was in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city, in 1986, were two families who were members – the family of a US consular officer who had a boy and girl with his wife; and a Filipino who had two sons with his wife. My wife then was a nurse instructor while I was teaching Zambia college students to become journalists and photojournalists. In spite of their only being just two families, these members held Sunday services at the consular officer’s home. I, my wife, along with our four boys were invited to these services, simple but very spiritual. What impressed me most was their keen focus on the family specially the spiritual growth of the children.

Migrating to the US in 1987 and seeing the administration of the Church, the more my family resolved to stay members are the concrete programs of the Church with regards to the sanctity of the family, saving the whole family and past generations, and steps to really serve church members and others who are in need.

To date, out of 407 Mormon missions all over the world, 31 are in Africa of which Zambia has 4,000 members. The Philippines has 22 missions with 17,000 members and has the fastest growth in Asia.

Given all the above, the celebration, to me, is really significant in that it comes at a time when racism is resurfacing with vengeance in the United States. The atmosphere of bigotry has found expression in the prevailing atmosphere that has targeted not only Blacks but all colors tagged as undesirable immigrants.

I appreciate the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for bringing to the fore the issue that affects me, personally, as a Filipino, who due, though not intrinsically by policy, but by ignorance, attitude, and perception has still walls to break through to be fully accepted in the state prevailing in the United States of America today; and in the entire world were those who think they are superior to others impose their will to the extent of not having any qualms in annihilating those they believe are inferior to them.

But whoa to those who persist to break the will of the Lord. The June 1, 2018 event was titled “Be One,” a reference to Church’s Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord had said “Be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine.” #


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