Is there such a thing as a "Mormon face?"
The LDS ad campaign, "I'm a Mormon," seems to think so. A Mormon face may come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, but it's always fresh, alert, trusting and warm. Just as President Gordon B. Hinckley said the LDS "brand," if you will, could be found in the lives of those who belong to it, the "public face" of Mormonism shows up in the visage of each individual member.
Years ago, when I was a missionary, some mornings we'd set out looking for Mormon faces — faces that didn't yet know they were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We'd ride the buses and walk the streets, telling folks they looked like Mormons. Yes, part of the effort was simply a way to get out of having to knock on hundreds of doors. We were always searching for some new approach to replace the "door approach."
Did our "Mormon face" search produce results?
Yes, to a degree.
The problem is that gung-ho missionaries think every face looks like a potential Mormon face — even the faces of motorcycle gang leaders.
Still, the notion of a Mormon face remains.
Last Saturday night, I was at a fireside in Ogden when Maira Arce, the wife of the branch president, shared her own Mormon face story with me.
She was living in Maryland at the time, where she worked in the health care industry. She had never heard of the Mormons. But three different times people asked her if she was Mormon. They explained she simply looked like one.
Intrigued, she got in touch with the missionaries and listened to the first discussion. After one lesson, she says, she knew she'd found her home, found her people and found her place. She asked to be baptized right away. The elders told her she needed to wait for a spell. So she waited. And at the first chance she became a "fellow citizen with the Saints."
I looked at her as she was telling me this story.
Those three people were right.
Sister Arce did have an unmistakable Mormon face — fresh, alert, trusting and warm.
It was a face that would look right at home on a billboard as part of the church's campaign.
Jerry Johnston is a former Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in Mormon Times. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org