For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Easter often falls on or near the church's spring general conference, held on the first weekend of April. Members from around the world gather to hear from LDS Church leaders who often use the Easter season to talk about the meaning of Jesus' suffering and resurrection. This year was no exception:
"Today, some believe in the literal Resurrection of Christ, and many doubt or disbelieve. But some know. In due course, all will see and all will know; indeed, 'every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him,'" Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in conference, quotng a passage in the LDS scripture Doctrine and Covenants.
Although Latter-day Saints do not formally celebrate Holy Week, they often find other ways to commemorate the Easter season and share the Easter message with others.
This year the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is performing a full production of Handel's "Messiah." In another effort to spread the message of Easter to all, the LDS Church created the online "Because of Him" initiative. The page included an instrumental video about the life of Jesus, information about his life and the opportunity to speak with those in the faith about Jesus.
Personal expressions also abound in family gatherings on this day.
Easter is "a renewal time" for LDS Church member Gloria Holmstead of Salt Lake City. She uses it as a time to gather her family, reflect on Easter and remind herself and others that "life can be renewed," because of the Savior's sacrifice, she said.
This year an Episcopal congregation in West Valley is also working to make sure all can worship comfortably.
"Worship in particular speaking to God, asking things of God, bringing your heart to God, I mean, that's something that you have to do in your own language," said the Rev. Matt Seddon.
He leads the St. Stephen's Episcopal congregation in West Valley and works with the Rev. Pablo Ramos, who is head of the San Esteban congregation that meets at the same location, to determine when and if they should merge their congregations.
They agreed that Lent and Easter are important enough holidays for bilingual services.
Seddon, who is fluent in English and Spanish, acts as a "bridge" between the English and Spanish parishes. Combining congregants of different backgrounds has not always been easy, he said, but it is vital for congregants to "see the cross from a different place."
Friday was the first time the two congregations came together for Good Friday worship. Ramos delivered the sermon and Seddon interpreted what he said every few minutes.
"I would hope that even being able to simply see that this is a meaningful story to folks who have a very different experience of suffering, you know, and can take hope from it, can help us take hope from it," he said.
The sanctuary at St. Stephen's shows evidence of the blending of the two cultures, including a 4-foot-tall statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a symbol revered by Catholics and other Christians worldwide.
It is important for people to worship in their own language, but it is just as important to build up the diverse kingdom of God as described in the Bible's book of Revelation, Seddon said.
"Diversity or other cultures doesn't mean you give up who you are. That isn't the point. I'm not asking my Anglo congregation to give up their culture and who they are. It's a matter of appreciating and having your vision expanded by other cultures and other ways of seeing the world," he said.
Pastor Jim Ayers of LifeChurch said that his services draw about 1,000 people. People hail from India, African nations and parts of Asia. Almost as many Hispanic people show up to services as do whites.
"I have just really felt that the other cultures have benefited us tremendously," he said.
LifeChurch is a branch of the Assemblies of God faith. The church offers what he describes as contemporary service with drums, guitars and keyboards. The expressions of worship of other cultures "brought life in and they're helping us stoic Anglos," he said.
He also spoke about the description in Revelation 7:9 of heaven as a place that that includes all nations, languages and people. Because his congregation reflects this, worship services are "a little piece of heaven here on Earth," he said.
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