On Sunday, January 7th, 2018, a new Blairsville Branch Presidency was sustained and set apart. President Jim Burgess, who had been the branch president for over 7 years, and his first counselor, Brother Nelson Locke (who had also served the same amount of time) were released, as was the branch executive secretary, Brother William Wallace. Called as the new branch president was Brother Mark Miller, with Brother Joe Stansel as first counselor, Brother David Legg as second counselor, and Brother Tom Tejera as executive secretary. Brother Tejera had been serving as the branch high priests group leader, and he was release from that calling and Brother Joseph Langer was called to that position.
(The article below appeared as submitted in the November 12 North Georgia News. Written by Walter B. Kerr.)
On October 6th and 7th and on November 1st and 2nd, Blairsville members, along with members throughout the world, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) assembled to hear messages from their leaders. In October, the talks and testimonies by members of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, the Quorums of 70, and other leaders, were sent by satellite and internet to members in every country of the world from the conference center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This General Conference takes place twice a year. The proceedings were translated instantaneously into 50 languages and several speakers spoke in their native tongue.
In November, members from western North Carolina and northern Georgia assembled in Asheville, NC to hear messages from international and local leaders. Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, Mission leader Steven P. Griffin and Cherie, his wife, and R. Randall Bluth, a member of a Council of 70, talked about fasting and prayer, the sacrifice of Jesus, his resurrection, service, and enduring to the end of our lives in righteousness. Elder Nelson released, from seven years of service, leaders Wallace W. Booth III, Grant Ricardo Hardy, and Dale Allen Curriden. Elder Nelson selected new area leaders President Bartel Van Oostendorp, counselors Steven Dudly Hargadon and John Franklin Garner. All spiritual leaders in the church are unpaid servants of God. The church does hire people to build buildings, print books, print lesson manuals, and implement help for nations in need because of natural disasters. Most of the church work is done by unpaid volunteers.
The Mormons in their conferences have taken action to implement the wishes of Jesus. One wish is to have unity in the church. In John 17: 11, 20-22 Jesus prays that believers in him, “may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I (Jesus) in thee, that they, also may be one in us.” “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one,.” In 1 Corinthians 1: 10 Paul wrote: “ Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” In every church conference, every member is given the opportunity to sustain or not sustain leaders. Leaders selected must have unanimous approval. Members thus agree to follow the counsel of the leaders, and unity is preserved.
Another wish of Jesus is expressed in John 14: 15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” The mission of the church and indeed the mission of every conference is to teach the commandments of Jesus and to encourage members to keep them. Elder Nelson expressed gratitude for the 88,600 unpaid missionaries of the church in the world who serve six months to two years. Missionaries teach interested persons and seek to do service for others. The two missionaries in Blairsville are Elder Shumway and Elder Hunt. Missionaries try to fulfill the commandment to love their neighbors as themselves by teaching and helping others. President Steven P. Griffin and Cherie, his wife, preside over, and guide, the missionary effort in eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and northern Georgia.
(Published last week in the Georgia Mountain News, written by Walter Kerr.)
Blairsville members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormons) joined their church members in most of the world’s countries for a day of organizing genealogical records. July 20 at 8 PM to July 21 at 8 PM EDT was the day selected. To find information about your family without an index of their names is just about impossible. The actions of millions of people are mentioned in obituaries, passport applications, ship passenger lists, church records, marriage records, and legal documents of all conceivable types. To find a person, and information about a person, you want to know about, an alphabetical list of names is essential.
The Mormons are indexing records worldwide so that researchers can find information about family and friend. The church trains volunteers that want to join this indexing effort. The indexing effort takes place in many languages. New indexers can visit https://familysearch.org/indexing/ to learn more about how to join the FamilySearch indexing effort
Mormons of Blairsville, and millions of their faith worldwide, remember July 24, 1847. The day, 167 years ago, when the persecution for their beliefs appeared to be ended.
(Written by Walter Kerr, submitted to the Georgia Mtn. News)
After years of bitter persecution in New York, Ohio, and Illinois, the first party of pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley July 24, 1847. They were part of a group that was driven out by force from the city of Nauvoo, Illinois. The Great Salt Lake Valley was part of Mexico when the pioneers left the city of Nauvoo, and the members hoped that freedom to practice their religion would take place in the remote desert of what would become the state of Utah 50 years later.
One must wonder why there was so much hate for the little church trying to grow. Two reasons for the irritation among the native population where the “Saints” moved in were their political power and their practice of polygamy. The members of the church were very industrious, and where they settled they built homes, farmed the land, and engaged in all sorts of commercial enterprises. The church believed that men could have more than one wife.
The church groups were a powerful force for change. Thousands of converts from Europe enlarged communities and irritated their neighbors who were losing control of their communities. Nauvoo, Illinois became larger than Chicago. People felt that the cities, counties, and the state authorities were losing control to the "Mormons." People did not like the Mormons coming in and becoming a majority of the population.
Some male members of the church had more than one wife. It was a commandment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to allow men to have more than one wife. Christians objected to this. The practice of having plural wives is a practice followed by many civilizations throughout history, including the House of Israel, but Christians had reasons for their belief. In Bible verse 1st Timothy 3:2 it states,” a bishop should be the husband of one wife.”
The Mormons sought religious freedom and Biblical verses justify polygamy. In Jesus' time, men were sometimes supposed to take more than one wife. Jewish law, as recounted in a New Testament story about the seven brothers mentions that when a man dies, his brother should marry his widow. This resulted in many men having more than one wife. David had at least 7 wives. The Bible states that he sinned only with Bathsheba. 1 Kings 14:5 states that "David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." Some modern Biblical translators translate the verse in Timothy as, “a bishop should be the husband of his first wife.”
Mormons believe in honoring and sustaining the law of the land, and when the United States Supreme Court finally declared that polygamy was against the law of the land, the Mormons obeyed. Regardless of what happened before 1847 the dream of freedom is being realized as the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now number over 15 million. To learn about them call 706-851-9066 or key lds.org into your computer.
The Blairsville branch put a new roof on a members house. Ten or so members congregated May 3rd and spent the day enjoying the work and the fellowship of each other.
[Published by the North Georgia News]
In Luke 17, Jesus Christ said something unusual to the Pharisees when they were questioning him about his coming again to the earth to establish the Kingdom of God. Jesus first told them that huge storms would occur and that there would be widespread immorality and lack of interest in spiritual matters. He said that there would be people saying Christ was here or there and that we must be careful in our trust. Jesus said that at the time of his coming, one person would be taken and another one would be left behind. He then said, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” What does this mean?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, believes that God has not changed his way of dealing with his children on the earth. The church believes that God desires to, and has again spoken directly to mankind. The church believes that the ‘body’ is a group of righteous people that has been called to prepare for his second coming and that the ‘eagles’ are truth seekers who are attracted to the group and want to partake of the blessings available to the group. The church believes, wants to share the message, and is testifying, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the body spoken about in Luke; and the eagles are believers that have accepted the message, and are flocking to join the church from the countries of the world.
What evidence is there that this message the church wants to share with you is the truth? At this moment the church’s 80,000 unpaid missionaries, which serve around the world for 1 to 2 years, are finding hundreds of thousands of people that are accepting their testimony and the testimony borne by the Holy Spirit, and a modern day prophet. These witnesses testify that a marvelous work and a wonder has taken place to teach us how to live and be part of the Kingdom of God. They testify that a modern day prophet has translated from ancient records, the story of the visit of Christ to the American continent after his resurrection in Jerusalem. They testify that modern day prophets have also received instructions from God during the last 200 years showing how the Church of Jesus Christ should be organized, and what the church should teach.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants, and in fact has been commanded by God, to share the messages received. In addition to the Sunday Service at 10 AM, there is a detailed study session Wednesday at 7 PM about the purpose and principles of the church and how God has directed this modern church to be organized. Sunday services and the Wednesday informal study for members and friends, where questions, answers, and discussions are welcome, are conducted at our church at 34 Rogers Street. (behind the old court house)
If you are curious about the progress and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, if you are searching to learn, if you want to hear some shocking messages, drop by either Sunday or Wednesday to have your questions answered.
By Walter B. Kerr of the church in Blairsville, GA
[Published by the North Georgia News]
As children can lead wild animals according to Isaiah, they can also lead adults. Once a year in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) the children ages 3 to 11 share what they have learned by conducting the Sunday morning service. This year this took place on Sunday November 24, 2013. They sang, gave talks and conducted the prayers by themselves. At the beginning of the service they prayed for the influence of Jesus to be with them. At the end of the service they expressed gratitude for His help with their presentation. They conducted the service under the direction of what is called the Primary Organization. The leaders of the Primary are Ashley Waters, president, and teachers Linda Pittman, Shirley Phillips, and Rosemary Kerr. The meeting was attended by many families, relatives and friends. Ashley thanked the children and the teachers for their efforts in preparing for their task.
The theme for the presentation was “I am a child of God.” The children shared many messages in song and the spoken word. We should strive to please and love God. If we seek to do this we will be happy in this life and the next life. Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice so that all who follow Him can be saved through obedience to the Gospel plan.
They expressed gratitude that Jesus is ever standing next to them to help them. They told of a special event in history when one of God’s servants, Joseph Smith, became the one to restore the same principles that Jesus taught when He was upon the earth in person. The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph and taught him the principles with which He was well pleased. They told about the necessity to follow the commandment of Jesus Christ to be baptized and to receive the laying on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The congregation was encouraged to look for rainbows instead of complaining about the rain. The children encouraged and hoped that everyone would be the best they can be. They expressed gratitude that modern day prophets have learned that families can last forever. Marriages take place just in this life but they can endure forever. The children expressed love for their parents and are taught that they will be with their parents in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The children encouraged all to pray, as Christians have done throughout history. They stated the commandment that we should love God with our might, mind and strength. They encouraged all to look for ways to help others. They encouraged the sharing of the Gospel message with our friends and all others. They believe that Christ will come again and they hope to be ready. They encouraged the congregation to build their lives through listening to the message of Jesus.
After the children’s messages President James Burgess, the local leader of the church, thanked the children for the messages they had expressed. Then the members partook of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
Any persons who desire additional information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may telephone Elders Hunt and Watson at 706-851-9066.
By Walter B. Kerr of the church in Blairsville.
[Published by the North Georgia News]
Mormons in Blairsville, Georgia and around the world enjoyed, and received inspiration from their world conference. On the 5th and 6th of October 2013, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) gathered at their church in Blairsville, or around their televisions or their computers at home to watch their 183rd Semi-annual General Conference. Members from most of the countries of the world also had the opportunity to watch and listen. The messages that came from Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City included messages from the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, the Quorums of Seventy and other leaders concerned with the young men and young women of the church. Subjects that were emphasized were chastity before marriage, fidelity to one’s spouse after marriage, avoidance of abortion, rearing and teaching of children, service to others, spiritual development, education, avoidance of pornography, avoidance of illicit drugs and harmful substances, following the laws of your land, missionary work, and the donation of tithing money which is 10% of your earnings.
The worldwide effort of missionary work and service after natural disasters was noted as was the worldwide coverage by satellite of the church message. Within a few days members from 189 countries will be able to watch the broadcast in 50 languages. Good news for church members was that at present there are 80,000 unpaid missionaries who serve in 189 countries of the world. Most of these missionaries serve for two years. Men and women of the church who are in good health may serve if they are the age of high school graduates or older. Senior members of the church may be called to serve just one year. The home teaching program of the church was stressed. Members are assigned to visit every member of the church in the world once a month to teach and discuss spiritual and physical needs. This program helps to lead our flock, as Jesus did, and not just follow the herd.
The missionary effort of the Latter-day Saints church provides many opportunities for those seeking information about the church. The church will provide a Bible and Book of Mormon to anyone who desires one. Missionaries will visit you in your home to explain the doctrines of the church. Blairsville missionaries can be reached by calling 706-851-9066. The church also encourages you to learn from the convenience of your home by visiting the online sites mormon.org, and lds.org.
By Walter B. Kerr, the news coordinator for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Blairsville, GA