The 20th Sunstone Symposium will be held this week, marking a milestone for the annual gathering of Mormon thought.
This year's motto "Faith Seeking Understanding" represents what takes place at the symposium, said Elbert Eugene Peck, executive director of the Sunstone Foundation."It sort of describes what people are about at Sunstone, trying to understand the world around them through their Mormon categories of understanding," Peck said.
About 1,500 people are expected to attend the conference, held Thursday through Saturday at Salt Lake Community College. Sessions include discussions on the recent conference of Southern Bap-tists in Salt Lake and what the 2002 Winter Olympics will mean for Utah and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In addition, a panel of non-Mormons, including Utah Supreme Court Justice Michael Zim-mer-man, will lead a discussion on ways that LDS culture influence leadership, policies and decision making in Utah and address ways that a bridge can be built between Mormons and non-Mormons in the state.
As in previous years, Peck sent presenters a letter asking them to refrain from bashing the LDS Church.
"In the past, there have been a very few sessions where people have been very strong on their attacks on the Church, which I think unfairly have given Sunstone a reputation (of a place) where people just come and bare their complaints," Peck said. "We're a much more thoughtful forum than that."
Peck said most attenders and presenters are active LDS Church members who come to Sunstone to explore the different aspects of Mormonism and Mormon thought.
Indeed, there will be panel discussions on Mormon mothers, Mor-mon cooking and Mormon divorces. On Friday, two University of Iowa doctoral candidates will discuss the media's portrayal of Latter-day Saints, which has altered from negative to positive over the last century.
There will also be a discussion on the histories of black Latter-day Saints and a panel that will address the question of whether the LDS Church is Christian.