The Church is obviously blessed with converts. They account for so much of the Mormonism's growth around the globe in recent years, and the Church said in 1997 that two-thirds of its members were converts.

Converts bring enthusiasm, optimism, and energy to the Mormon experience. Those who were committed to their previous religious traditions contribute scholarship, fresh vocabulary, and a lifelong experience with the Spirit working in their lives. Aglow with conviction, they come with the expectation that they will find what has been promised--nothing less than the Kingdom of God on earth. Do they find it?

Why I Like Being a Latter-Day Saint
Beliefnet members discuss what they love about their faith.

PLUS: Join the discussion. I recently had a chance to talk to people with strong previous affiliations who have been Mormon for at least two years (some as long as 30). The answers were revealing.

"I feel enveloped in a marvelous new community--definitely a 'fellowship of the saints,' says one woman, a Mormon for more than 25 years. "I love the varied activities, the care and concern for the youth, the 24/7 mentality about spirituality. I had that in my previous church experience, and I'm delighted to see it alive and well here too. I don't technically share the pioneer heritage, but I feel adopted into it as a pioneer of my own sort."

When asked if she notices any cultural differences, she admits she does. "Sometimes, in America anyway, there's a political conservatism that overlaps the church experience. I can't speak to the experience in other countries. I found that a little surprising given that Utah [where the church has its headquarters] was one of the first states to grant women the vote. While I do feel some cultural reluctance to take women's teaching as authoritatively as men's, I've seen some progress in this over the years. As we learn more about following what the Spirit teaches us, the gender of the person communicating it doesn't matter."

Another convert, a theological-studies student, has studied the sacred scriptures of many traditions. "I really believe God preserved and inspired the Book of Mormon in ways unique among other volumes of sacred texts. I enjoy finding intellectual support for the Book of Mormon claims, but my feelings toward it are based on something much more personal. I have had my own private religious experiences with that book. The Christ-centeredness of the Book of Mormon is startling."

However, this convert recalls bringing up a question in the new members' Sunday school class about the Book of Mormon's version of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. The teacher passed over her scriptural scholarship, instructing her to limit her studies to LDS scriptorians. "The teacher's anxiety confused me," she said. "If something is true, there is nothing to be afraid of. Not being afraid of learning from other sources is what got me into the Mormon Church in the first place."

Why I Like Being a Latter-Day Saint
Beliefnet members discuss what they love about their faith.

PLUS: Join the discussion. A longtime convert from a Protestant tradition who also has a background in psychology expresses some of her views. "The Restored Gospel taught in the Church of Jesus Christ is beautiful and expansive. I had a powerful experience convincing me that God wanted me here. That power was almost tangible. It was the 'realest,' 'true-est' thing I've ever experienced."

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