I opened my door and two young men with white shirts, black ties, and bicycles stood before me. "Have you heard about the Mormon church?" they asked, "Sure have, come on in and let's talk!" I replied. Karen gave me a dirty look as these freshly scrubbed, blonde hair, blue eyed neophytes sat down and began their spiel. I listened politely, with some interest to the witness. It seemed to come from the heart but suggested the untested passion of their youth. When they finished they leaned back and gave me time to take it all in. "Thank you," I replied "I must say that I admire Mormons. Your sense of discipleship is without parallel. Look at the two of you. You have given two years of your life to ride around on your bicycles, knock on doors and bare witness to the love of God, American Jesus, and Joseph Smith! As a United Methodist pastor, I struggle to get the people of our church to commit to an 8 week, one hour Bible study. It is clear, on this one, you Mormons get it right." Our young evangelists beamed.
I then took a turn that surprised my house guests,"And yet, whereas you nail a strong discipleship model, there are a couple of things you do not get at all. Why did it take you so long to welcome African Americans into your faith? Even now, leadership positions are limited for African American men. Tell me why women take on second class citizenship in the Mormon faith? Women are not encouraged to be church leaders like men. And what about God's open arms for the LBGTQ community? Like I said, you get that discipleship thing right but there is still a lot that needs to happen if the Mormon church is to be accepting and demonstrate that God loves everyone, there are no exceptions."
The young men had some training in how to respond to the full inclusion of women but they were clueless about the Mormon church's history with minorities and gays. I invited them to come to an 8 week Bible study with me but apparently they had too many irons in the fire to make that work.