I have never been in one in my entire life. Like, ever.
I want to go in. Let’s check it out.
Hello, Saints. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Jeff. I am a Christian pastor exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. And for me, this journey started a couple years years ago when I took a trip out to the beautiful state of Utah. And it was while I was there that I saw so many things that were really similar and also different from Midwestern Bible bell Christianity, which is what I’m familiar with.
And I wanted to make a video for my LDS friends to basically show them the things that jumped out at me. And I wanted to make a video for my non LDS Christian friends to show them some of these similarities and differences. So let’s go to Utah.
So one of the most unique things about Utah you’re going to see right in the airport, and that is the presence of missionaries. These are the guys that wear the suit and tie and wear the name tags and go door to door telling people about the Mormon gospel. The first time I ever flew into Salt Lake City, it seemed like everywhere I looked, you saw these guys walking around with name tags. In fact, on my flight here from St. Louis, there was a missionary on the plane with me who was making his way home.
The LDS Church, I’m learning, sends out tens of thousands of missionaries every year. Every young man in the LDS Church usually aspires to go on a mission. It’s something that they will save up money for because they have to pay their own way. They don’t know where they’re going, but somewhere between the age of 19 and 26, they’ll get a calling from the church. They’re told where to go.
And they serve on that mission. And it’s pretty rigorous because for two years, they don’t really have contact with their family. And they spend six or 7 hours a day going door to door, a couple hours a day studying the Scriptures, and they get one day off a week, and they do this for two years, which leads me to another place in the Salt Lake City airport. It’s totally unique. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I want to take you there and show you right now. Come on.
So behind me is the greeting room. The first time I was made aware of the greeting room was when I was watching some family Vloggers called the Tannerites, and one of their sons, I think his name was Branson, went on a two year mission. But I don’t want to get too close to kind of respect what’s going on here because these are family members who have not seen the missionary in two years. But there’s a lot of happy reunions that take place in this part of the airport in Salt Lake City, which is totally unique from any airport I’ve ever been to.
This is definitely not Bornfield Illinois. That is for sure. Different views in Illinois.
Welcome to Utah. Now, usually someone’s going to show you around Utah. They’re going to show you some of this stuff, or, I don’t know, maybe over here, show you some of this stuff. You can hike, you can climb, you can raft, you can zip line, you can see. But that’s not why we’re here.
We’re going to go downtown. We’re going to check out simple square. Let’s do it.
I’m trying really hard to get some cool shots at Temple Square, but everywhere I go, sidewalk is closed.
See what I can find here.
Check it out. I can see something. Thank you.
All right, so here’s the deal. Temple Square is undergoing a massive renovation right now. It’s a fouryear project that started in 2020. But I still learned a couple things, even though I’ve not been able to get as up close as I’d like to. First thing is when the LDS pioneers left NABU, Illinois, and they came out west, they arrived in this area.
And this is where Brigham Young, who was the president at the time, said, we’re going to make this sort of the central part of where we’re going to reside. This is where we’re going to build the temple. And today it still operates as sort of the central hub of all things LDS. There’s office buildings here. There’s different research areas.
I found out that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir actually performs in a large building here that they call the Tabernacle. There’s a meeting house. There’s also various sort of historic markers around here that have been preserved through the years that show where various important historical things took place when the LDS pioneers way back in the 1840s came out here and settled. Let’s keep going, people. Look, I found an open date.
It’s pretty cool. Let’s go in here and see what is in here. Okay. All right. This is something.
This wasn’t open a second ago when I was here. I’m getting a little bit closer to the buildings. I think this is a meeting house. And this is the tabernacle I believe. And then right here is the temple, which we’ve already seen.
And then here’s some of the historical markers we’ll check out.
Giving up on seeing anything here until I found this area, but this is an LDS assembly hall meeting house. I have never been in one in my entire life. Like, ever. I’ve never stepped foot in one. So it’s open.
I have no idea what to expect. I want to go in. Let’s check it out.
All right. So I just spent some time talking to what’s called a sister missionary. There’s a young lady that’s on what they call a mission, and they’re serving here at Temple Square, basically helping everybody understand what the different sites are what they should go see and even talking a little bit if people are interested about the LDS faith. And we had about a 45 minutes conversation. It was really cool, helped me understand a lot.
And she just explained to me that this is the first assembly hall built from LDS Church members that came out west from NABU, Illinois, and is really the first place where a lot of the initial pioneers worshiped when they first got here. And I’ve got to be honest, this is really similar to a lot of churches in my context. I’ve been in a lot of maybe more historic buildings, whether they be Methodist or Presbyterian, that have this very similar look and feel. There’s something about this actually seems a lot more familiar than I was expecting it to. Although she did tell me that Eldias churches now aren’t quite as ornate, they’re not quite as stacked out, but there’s a pretty decent time capsule of one of the first meeting houses.
So one thing that’s pretty unavoidable to see when you’re in and around Utah is a lot of emphasis on the idea of pioneers. There’s pioneer parks. There’s actually a Pioneer Day in July. And what that is, is that the celebration of all of the LDS Church members that came from Navu and settled in this area. They are the pioneers.
They are the ones who blaze the trail out west. It was an incredibly hard journey. A lot of people didn’t make it when they got here. Survival was very difficult for many years. And one of the things you’ll hear LDS Church members talk about when it comes to what the pioneers experienced in that hardship was pulling all of their possessions across the plains, across the mountains with twowheeled pull carts.
So that’s where the statue sort of commemorates behind me. It’s to commemorate people who, because they were getting run out of Navu and Joseph Smith had died, brigham Young took them out in this area. And those individuals, those first settlers, are known as pioneers. So you’re going to see pioneer stuff all over, not just Temple Square, all over Utah.
Video I know I’ve talked about this a lot already on this channel, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the Wardhouse or the LDS Church. This is actually the first thing that perked my curiosity the first time I came out to the Salt Lake City area, when I noticed all these churches around that a friend had to tell me weren’t churches as I know them in the Bible Belt, but they’re actually what are called wardhouses or LDS churches. Wards are neighborhoods or they’re sections of neighborhoods, and people will worship with their ward at their neighborhood Wardhouse. And where I’m from in the Bible Belt, there aren’t a ton of wards. There’s actually probably more branches because it’s not as concentrated with LDS Church members out here.
However, in the Salt Lake City region and in greater Utah, especially on the outskirts of Salt Lake City and beyond. In Utah, you’ll actually have three or four or more wards that meet in a Wardhouse or an LDS church. They just meet at different times. And everywhere you go on almost every street corner in very residential areas where there’s a lot of houses, you’re going to find these LDS meeting houses.
So just over my shoulder here, this beautifully built structure that’s beautifully lit is an LDS temple. LDS temples are places where Latterday Saints go to fulfill specific religious duties and rituals that they believe are important to salvation and ultimate exaltation. Only Eldias church members are allowed in these buildings. But there’s a high concentration of these temples in the Salt Lake City region and in Utah at large, but specifically in Salt Lake. If you look across the valley at night, you see these dots of light all throughout the valley with these beautifully lit temple.
Just making it very obvious, the presence of this church and the heritage of this land.
Bars. There are very few bars in Utah, and the reason for that is because the LDS church, who were the first settlers out here, they didn’t believe that drinking alcohol was something that they should do. So the fact that my hotel is in a parking lot where there’s a couple of bars is pretty unique, but it’s probably because I’m really close to Salt Lake City. I think the locals in the Salt Lake City region would say that they’re more liberal here compared to the rest of the state. But there’s some municipalities and counties that don’t have any alcohol whatsoever.
Now, even though that’s unique to the state, that’s not too different from evangelical Christianity that I’m used to, because technically the LDS church was founded around the time that a lot of evangelical churches were taking off, and it was in the 1800s during what was called the Timberance Movement. But the whole idea that if we’re gonna be closer to God, if we’re gonna have more holiness, we should probably abstain from things that are in some way, shape or form, gonna be a vice that can be addictive or they can lead to unruly behavior. I will say one of the things that is unique about the LDS belief on this is that it is actually in their teachings. Joseph Smith actually passed down teachings and said you need to abstain from alcohol. So this is actually, even though we have bars in the Bible Belt, drinking alcohol definitely has a stigma attached to it.
And there’s a lot of Christians that look down on it and might even say that it’s sinful, though the Bible doesn’t teach that. I will say the younger generations are a little bit more open to it than the older generations. And also there are certain denominations within noneldious Christianity, like Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, that weren’t really part of the holiness movement. So they don’t really get hung up on alcohol. Now, one thing that is very different here, in addition to their not being bars, is this other thing, which I cannot relate to.
Let me show you.
That’s right. Coffee. LDS church members. I didn’t know this until recently. They don’t drink coffee.
So again, the fact that my hotel is in a parking lot, basically with a bar and a coffee shop, if you’re a native to Utah, you’re probably thinking, yeah, that’s pretty unique. You must be up by Salt Lake. I’ve been through counties before where I could not find a cup of coffee because there were no coffee shops. But this is not something that non LDS Christianity can relate to. In fact, I might even say that a non LDS Christianity wouldn’t survive without coffee.
I have seen numerous T shirts. If you are non LDS Christian, the whole the only thing I need is Jesus and coffee. Yeah, that’s kind of a thing. We like our coffee.
Sadly, my trip to Utah is coming to an end, but I’m glad you came with me. I hope you learned a lot. I’m going to be coming back, so we’re going to do this again. So that means you need to like this video and you need to subscribe because we have so much more to talk about. So until that time, I’ll see you later.