Japanese LDS Membership 1930 to 2009

Japanese family
I had a number of requests to include Japanese LDS membership data. I have added a chart that gives a visual indication of the growth of the Church in Japan. The membership numbers were gathered from 36 years of Deseret News Church Almanacs.

To see the chart and the accompanying data table, go the the Japan LDS page.

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Mormons Living in El Paso Lumber Yard

Mormons living in El Paso lumber yard

This photograph was published by Bain News Service between 1910 and 1915. These Mormons were probably refugees from Mexico. In addition to numerous Mexican refugees, nearly 3,000 Mormons sought refuge in El Paso in 1912, going there from Mexico to escape dangers in the border areas during the Mexican revolution that started in 1911. The refugees received a warm welcome from the hospitable people of El Paso—so warm that many of them decided to stay.

When Salazar, a leading revolutionary general, demanded that the Mormons surrender all their guns to his army, they hurriedly made preparations to move their families out of Mexico.

At 7:30 a.m. on July 29, 1912, the Colonia Diaz colonists were informed that they would need to leave in three hours. By 10:30 a.m., 800 colonists were ready to board trains bound for El Paso. The trains contained mostly women and children. Many of the men rode north hoping to avoid militia in an effort to drive their remaining livestock across the border. Many were robbed, some were beaten, and a few were killed. As many as 1,500 colonists found themselves homeless in El Paso during the summer of 1912

Once villages were abandoned, Mexican troops ransacked and burned homes and property. Livestock was slaughtered and left to rot in the street. Furniture was set ablaze within comfortable, clean homes. Machinery was smashed to bits. For a revolution ignited by poverty, such wanton acts of destruction revealed an alarming rage. The Sonora colonies were utterly destroyed never to be resettled.

After 25 years of careful cultivation, the crops and orchards were particularly bountiful that season and the colonists were forced to leave just before harvest. George Sevey wrote in his memoirs of the day the women and children left:

Our gaze is now turned toward the north, there like field after field of corn, oats, and potatoes, clothed in that deep rich verdure which promises abundant harvest of mature products.

Source: The 1912 Exodus of Mormon Colonists from Mexico
Photo Credit: Library of Congress. Here is a high resolution 5784 x 4218 pixels version, in Tagged Image File (TIF) format, that you can download.
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Create a Profile on the new Mormon.org

New Mormon.org screenshots

New Mormon.org screenshots

The biggest change coming to Mormon.org is the profiles of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The site’s goal is to have 1,000 profiles of Mormons by the end of May 2010. Who’s profile? Your profile.

If you are a member of the Church it is easy to do. It just takes a little bit of thought to write your story in the different sections. Here’s what the new Mormon.org has to say:

Mormons come from diverse backgrounds and experiences who all share a deep commitment to Jesus Christ and to each other. The new Mormon.org is designed for visitors to learn more about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each profile is a collection of stories and testimonies from Mormons. Participation is optional, but you must be a member of the Church to create a profile. The profiles will be made public this summer when the new site will launch.

I decided to complete a profile. I signed in with my LDS account. I uploaded my photograph and entered links to my blog, Facebook, and Twitter sites. There are a number of sections to fill out. The About Me is simple, I basically said where I was born, that I emigrated and married and what my interests are.

Next was the section called How I live my faith. I wrote about since joining the Church I have improved my life and learned how to serve. In the Why I am a Mormon section I wrote four paragraphs on how I was converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The next two sections you have to pick at least one question to answer and one story to tell. You have a lot of choices from which to choose. When you do this I wouldn’t expect that someone as gifted and intelligent as yourself would have any difficulty. That said, I had a little trouble picking the question I wanted to answer but once I got started I found it easier than I had anticipated. The question I picked to answer was, “How can I know Mormonism is true?”

For my story I chose to write about “In what ways have your prayers been answered?” Perhaps here I should show you what I wrote so that you will have some idea of what is wanted. I’m sure you can improve on my efforts when you write your story.

In 1986 I was laid off from my employment in early December. I had bought a home two months before and my wife stayed home with our three children. In early January I was still out of work. I did not have much savings so getting a job was becoming critical. Our family was eating out of our food storage to help conserve money.
After reading the Book of Mormon in just a few days I knelt down and prayed to Heavenly Father. I told Him that it was time for me to go to work. I asked Him with as much concentrated faith as I could to please help me find employment by the end of the month. I rose from my knees with the most absolute surety that I have ever had that my prayer would be answered.
A few days later a friend who was laid off at the same time as I was called me and said there were jobs for engineers with a large local employer. I applied and interviewed for the last vacancy. Two days later I was hired with my start date set at February 2nd.
I was overjoyed that my prayer was answered but wondered why I was starting work in February. In my prayer I had asked Heavenly Father if I could have work by the end of January. I did not ponder this for long as I was happy to be able to go to work again.
Three days later the personnel department of my new employer called me and asked if I would be willing to start on a Friday rather than on Monday morning. They were having some layoffs on Monday and didn’t want new hires being processed in at the same time.
Looking at the calendar I realized that my new start date was January 30th.

There you go, that’s it. I saved my profile and eventually it was approved. Hopefully you will see it in all it’s glory on Mormon.org this summer. Now if I don’t see your profile out there I am going to be mighty disappointed.
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Those Mormons Keep On Growing

Salt Lake Temple

Salt Lake Temple viewed from the Church Office Building 1979

The 2010 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches reports total church membership of 147,384,631, up 0.49 percent over 2009. The top five churches listed in order of size of membership:

  1. The Catholic Church, 68,115,001, up 1.49 percent.
  2. Southern Baptist Convention, 16,228,438, down 0.24 percent.
  3. The United Methodist Church, 7,853,987, down 0.98 percent.
  4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,974,041, up 1.71 percent.
  5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875, no updates reported.

Churches reporting the highest membership losses:

  1. Presbyterian Church (USA), down 3.28 percent to 2,941,412.
  2. American Baptist Churches in the USA, down 2 percent to 1,358,351.
  3. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, down 1.92 percent to 4,709,956.

How many years will it take for the LDS Church to overtake the United Methodists and occupy third place? To find out I have assumed the UMC continues with a rate of decline of .98% and the LDS with a steady 1.71% increase. The figures reported in the yearbook are for 2008.

My calculations indicate that by the end of 2019, less than ten years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be the third largest church in the United States.

If the table formatting is scrambled, view the table here.

Year UMC -0.98% LDS +1.71%
2009 7,853,987 76,969 5,974,041 102,156
2010 7,777,018 76,215 6,076,197 103,903
2011 7,700,803 75,468 6,180,100 105,680
2012 7,625,335 74,728 6,285,780 107,487
2013 7,550,607 73,996 6,393,267 109,325
2014 7,476,611 73,271 6,502,591 111,194
2015 7,403,340 72,553 6,613,786 113,096
2016 7,330,788 71,842 6,726,882 115,030
2017 7,258,946 71,138 6,841,911 116,997
2018 7,187,808 70,441 6,958,908 118,997
2019 7,117,368 69,750 7,077,905 121,032
2020 7,047,617 69,067 7,198,937 123,102

Note: The result of the percentage decline or increase is shown in the following year, hence the result of UMC’s forecast -.98% decline of 76,969 in 2009 is shown in 2010 as 7,777,018 (7,853,987 – 76,969).
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Church is Helping with the Mongolian Dzud

This article was written by Sister Andersen and was published in the January 2010 edition of Mongolia Mission Moments.

In Mongolia this winter we are experiencing a natural disaster called a zud or dzud. There is no English equivalent for this Mongolian word. Zud results from one or a combination of phenomena: a very cold winter, a summer drought, an impenetrable ice cover and/or heavy snowfall occurring on the winter pasture lands.

Animals from the Mongolian dzud

Animals from the Mongolian dzud. Photo credit: CAMDA

A zud causes livestock to die from starvation and cold. Some parts of Mongolia experienced heavy rain and flooding this past year, however the areas most vulnerable to zud experienced a summer drought. The tall grasses which the herders would have cut to feed the animals through the winter were not available.

Additionally the animals were not able to build up their strength by eating well through the summer months. In an ideal Mongolian winter summer fattened animals will push aside a thin layer of snow with their front hooves to forage on the dried grass below.

At the end of January much of the countryside was covered by heavier than usual snow. Temperatures have been unseasonably cold, dropping to -40 C and below. Mongolia has 3 million people and 42 million livestock. A third of the people in Mongolia live a nomadic herder lifestyle. Herders are dependent upon their animals for food, transportation and heating.

It can take 5-10 years for a family to recover from a bad zud year. As a result many will migrate from the countryside into towns and cities where unemployment is already a big problem. Newspapers have reported that 1.9 million head of livestock have frozen and starved to death already due to the freezing weather and heavy snowfall.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 21,000 families have lost over half their herds of 100-300 animals. Many of these stricken herders have been cut off from necessary supplies due to poor road conditions. Zud has been described as being like a slow moving train wreck, with the most devastation occurring in April. It is estimated that livestock losses could reach 4 million by Spring.

The Church is helping in several ways. We are contributing money through the Ministry of Education to help repair broken heating systems at school/dormitory complexes which house the children while their parents travel with their herds to remote areas for the winter.

We are contributing money to the State Emergency Commission for the purchase and delivery of food, clothing, medicine, candles, fuel and hygiene items for herder families. We are also contributing to a government sponsored program to purchase meat that was slaughtered and frozen by herders last fall in anticipation of a harsh winter for distribution to families who are suffering from lack of food.

Related Articles

Winter in Mongolia is ‘an unfolding disaster’
Utah missionary: Mongolians hit hard by harsh winter

U.S., U.K. and Canadian LDS Church Membership

LDS Church AlmanacThe complete updated membership statistics are available at United States LDS Membership.

Three days ago I updated the World LDS Membership Statistics using the Deseret News 2010 Church Almanac.

The membership numbers are interesting in tabular form where one can make comparisons. So to the world’s LDS membership’s sortable table I have added U.S. LDS Membership, U.K. LDS Membership Statistics, and Canadian LDS Membership sortable tables. As a bonus I include the change in membership from 1 January 2008 to 1 January 2009 that is not present in the Almanac.

By sorting on the U.S. Membership “Change” column I found that only one state, South Carolina, had a decrease in membership (-173). The three biggest increases came from Utah (34,054), Texas (8,822), and Idaho (7,337).

The largest LDS populations by percentage are in Utah (68%), Idaho (27%), and Wyoming (11.5%). The states with the most members are Utah (1,857,667), California (755,747), and Idaho (406,764). The District of Columbia has the least members (2,200), followed by Rhode Island (3,661), and Vermont (4,323). The most temples are in Utah (14), California (7), and Arizona (5). There are 18 states (including the District of Columbia) without temples.

Canada is interesting in that eight provinces lost members, led by British Columbia at -572. In the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland lost five members but the Kingdom as a whole gained 1,916.

There are many more permutations to be found. How many states do not have a mission? Which state has no stake? Where are the least number of wards? Which state has no branch? Try it.
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Updated LDS Church Membership Statistics

2010 LDS Church Almanac

2010 LDS Church Almanac

The 2011 Church Almanac has arrived. See this post for the latest statistics.

Today I purchased the Deseret News 2010 Church Almanac. I like to browse through the membership statistics country by country. Sometimes I come across a country I have never heard of like Benin (east of Nigeria), Mayotte (NW of Madagascar), Palau (east of the Philippines). They sound like Disney characters to me. I don’t look at much else in the Almanac except maybe the occasional temple trivia.

All these membership numbers are all very fine but they would be a lot more useful if they were in tabular form. It’s the comparison that is really useful — well maybe not useful but entertaining. So I put the world’s LDS membership in a sortable table. I added the change in membership from 1 January 2008 to 1 January 2009. By sorting on the “Change” column I found that 16 countries out of 166 had a decrease in membership. The three biggest increases came from the United States (100,633), Brazil (41,403), and Mexico (36,343). Canada had the biggest loss with -502.

The largest LDS populations by percentage are in Tonga (45%), Samoa (31%), and American Samoa (22.5%). The United States comes in at 13th with 2%, tied with Palau — there’s that Disney character again.

The countries with the most members are the United States (5,974,041), Mexico (1,158,236), and Brazil (1,060,556). The Falkland Islands has the least members (5) of any country that has members. The most temples are in the United States (72), Mexico (12), and Canada (7).

There are many more permutations to be found. Try it.
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Byron at the Bountiful Temple

Byron at the Bountiful temple with his sisters, parents, and brother-in-law

Byron at the Bountiful temple with his sisters, parents, and brother-in-law

Byron’s Endowment

Last Saturday my nephew Byron attended the Bountiful temple to receive his endowment. He had several members of his family and extended family there with him. Byron will soon be leaving for the MTC. He will then serve in the Argentina Salta Mission. His father also served his mission in Argentina. After taking some photographs at the temple we went to eat at IHOP.

The Gift of the Endowment

For my readers who are not familiar with the term endowment the following may help:

An endowment is a sacred ordinance. Endowments take place in a dedicated House of the Lord, or temple. Temples were centers of religious worship anciently and Mormons build temples today to administer the ancient ordinances of salvation that have been restored to the earth.

The dictionary defines an endowment as a gift given by a higher power. The temple endowment is a gift of knowledge that helps Mormons understand who they are, where they came from, and where they are going. It helps members understand what they should do to prepare to meet God, and how Jesus Christ offers salvation to each of us.

The temple endowment conveys information in a highly symbolic manner. Symbols used in the temple endowment and the meanings of those symbols are sacred to Mormons. Mormons don’t talk about the details of what goes on in the temple—it is too sacred to be discussed, except in the most holy of places.

[Read more…]

Rick Speaking on Mother’s Day

On Mothers Day 2007 Jill and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting. I am publishing my words from two years ago to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday. Be sure to read Jill’s words also.

It is a great responsibility to speak on Mothers Day. My view of motherhood comes from observation which is not always accurate. Therefore I will include some quotes from the women in my life, the ones that raised me and had an influence in who I am.

Grandmother Florence

Grandmother Florence

Grandmother Florence

After school my cousin Philip and I would go straight to grandmother’s house to eat. We would open a can of stewed tomatoes and eat them with bread that we dipped in the juice. After several weeks we switched to a can of baked beans (pork and beans) and bread. Later I got very sophisticated with my meals and would prepare beans on toast. Mother was often short of money and although grandmother had much less to live on she would give me a two pound bag of sugar and some cans of food to take home. Once, in despair she said, I did not raise your mother that way. She then turned and looked at me and said words that are etched deep in my soul:

You first pay your rent, ‘lectric, and food.

Translated I understand it to mean first take care of your shelter, utilities, and food. Add to that tithes and offerings and you are set for life. Resilience will be your middle name.

I was interested in a toy and grandmother asked me if I wanted it. Thinking that she would buy the toy for me I replied, Yes, I want that. She said, This is how it is done. You save your pennies in this box and when you have enough we will purchase it. I didn’t want the toy that badly to have to save but I couldn’t back out now. This experience benefited me for life for I learned early grandmother’s law of acquisition—save.

When difficulties came to me I would sometimes talk to my grandmother (there were no grandfathers) and she would say, It is always darkest before the dawn. (Thomas Fuller, Pisgah Sight [1650], bk. II, ch. 2) As I experienced more of mortality I learned to apply that phrase when life was blackest by telling myself Richard, you know that it will get better—and it always did.

At 21 I told grandmother that I was going to be baptized and she said, Oh, the Mormons, they will never let you go! I was baptized and she was right and I am grateful that the Spirit of God will always move somebody to reclaim me to the Fold of Christ if I should wander from the safety of a Stake of Zion.

In town with my mother Sadie

In town with my mother Sadie

Mother Sadie

We never went to church as a family or individually but when I was very young I recall mother, who was a Catholic, telling me that there was God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. She said I can pray to God the Father and ask for what I needed. I could understand asking for what I wanted, a young child knows how to do that. She then said that you have to have faith. I didn’t understand that, I said to myself, what’s faith?

Fast forward to age twelve and I am having a difficult time at school such that I felt I could not talk to anybody. I lay quietly in bed, tears in my eyes, no-one to turn to. I remembered my mother’s words from years ago and so I prayed as best I could to God the Father. In my mind’s eye I pictured Him as a grandfather, a real person. I started the prayer something like this: God, I don’t know if you exist but please help me…. I don’t think that was very good faith but I did have my prayer answered.

During the coal miners’ strikes of 1972 and 1974 the electrical power to our neighborhood was cut off for several hours. The power would be cycled on and off to save coal. Our home had a gas range but many people used electric ranges. In the winter evening when the power was cut, mother was immediately thinking of others. A single mother lived close by and mother exclaimed, Valerie will be frightened in the dark, and she is all electric, I’ll fix her a meal and take it over.

When I was small, mother said, The little baby birds in the nest, when they are grown, they leave their mother and fly away and start a family of their own. When you are grown, you will leave and have a wife and you will look after her and have a family. It is right that you do and I only ask that you remember me. In 1999 my mother died alone in an apartment in England. All her children were living in America. In 2001 Elder Jacob de Jager with my wife as proxy for my mother, my son as proxy for my father, and me as me, sealed my parents to me forever in the Bountiful temple. Now she will always be remembered.


President Hinckley:

Notwithstanding this preeminence given the creation of woman, she has so frequently through the ages been relegated to a secondary position. She has been put down. She has been denigrated. She has been enslaved. She has been abused. And yet some few of the greatest characters of scripture have been women of integrity, accomplishment, and faith.

We have Esther, Naomi, and Ruth of the Old Testament. We have Sariah of the Book of Mormon. We have Mary, the very mother of the Redeemer of the world. We have her as the chosen of God, described by Nephi as a virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins (1 Ne. 11:15).

She it was who carried the child Jesus into Egypt to save His life from the wrath of Herod. She it was who nurtured Him in His boyhood and young manhood. She stood before Him when His pain-wracked body hung upon the cross on Calvary’s hill. In His suffering He said to her, Woman, behold thy son! And to His disciple in a plea that he care for her, He said, Behold thy mother! (John 19:26–27). Gordon B. Hinckley, The Women in Our Lives, Ensign, Nov 2004, 82.

I add my testimony that the most beautiful of all God’s creations is woman. Women have been an influence for good in my life and I am happy that Mothers Day is celebrated and women are honored. The Father of us all is pleased when His daughters are treated with kindness and respect.

Jill with her children

Jill with her children

Mother Jill

In July 2003 I was arguing with my wife one evening, I cannot recall what about. Jill was calm as usual and I was annoyed. She remembered she had an appointment and went upstairs to leave. I sat down fuming. Let me describe fuming. Years ago I took a mandatory hazard materials class. I recall that the instructor was insistent that we know the difference between vapors and fumes. For example when I fill the gas tank I smell gasoline vapors and not fumes. Fumes denote burning, hence when I start the car engine I now smell gasoline fumes from the exhaust. Hence I say I was fuming about Jill.

At the very moment the kitchen door closed when Jill left, the phone rang. It was Sister Kelson who was on a Relief Society committee. Relief Society was spotlighting a sister and she asked, What are the things you like most about Jill? Whoa, how that turned around my thinking! Try asking this question (but substitute the person’s name for Jill) when you are annoyed with someone and remember, if you fume, you will burn up inside. Extracts from what Sister Kelson wrote:

Her husband says, Along with her beauty, it was her brains that attracted me to her.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in computer science. She plays the piano and sings. She is always the first to say sorry if there is an argument. Her husband feels he does better at this now because of her example. Her husband feels that he is the one who is high strung and she is the one who is easy-going and calm. She is practical.

She has two brothers and a sister and she enjoys family get-togethers with them. She loves camping—she will camp in a tent. The guys at her husband’s work can’t believe he is that lucky. She enjoys going for walks with her husband so they can have time to talk.

Her favorite treats are red licorice, chocolate, cheesecake, cinnamon rolls.

I asked Jake to write something for me to use in my talk:

Feel free to quote as you need in your talk. Print the rest out, put it in an envelope to give to her just before the phone call on Sunday. The Bible says that we should honour our mothers and fathers that our days may be long. I would like to have more days, so it sounds like a good deal. There are various meanings of the verb honor. One is to regard or treat with honor or respect, and another is to confer honor on. I think the scripture refers to the first, but right now I’ll settle with the second. My mother is a mother of five children. Not your average family size in the world. My mother maintained the home with four boys. Not your average number of rambunctious males.

My mother prepared me to serve my mission.

Together with my father, my mother patiently taught me to keep the commandments; that we have an Eternal Father in Heaven; that we must pray to Him frequently and keep His commandments; that we must study the scriptures; that we must keep the Sabbath Day holy, including partaking of the sacrament each week; that we must follow the prophet; that we must keep the ten commandments; that we must live the law of chastity; that we must obey the word of wisdom; that we must always pay a full tithing; that we must fast and pay fast offerings; that we must obey the law of the land. My mother helped me live and understand to keep the commandments by word and example.

My mother encouraged me to save my money for my mission—both by word and by helping me with other expenses. She has worked hard for many years to help support the family. The extra money allowed me to focus on saving for my mission.

My mission right now is what her mission was from the day I was born. My mother’s mission was to bring a child into the world and teach him to follow the example of Christ—both by word and by example. My mission is to invite others to come unto Christ—both by word and example. The success that I have in my life and in my mission is a tribute to the effectiveness of her life and her mission.


Thank you for your love, work, and sacrifice.

I love you.

Martha with her children

Martha with her children

Grandmother Martha

Excerpts from her journal:

I was twelve years old when daddy gave consent for Dollie, Bessie and I to be baptized. Mamma had wanted to be baptized when we first came to live in Independence and she learned the gospel was true but daddy refused to give his consent. Mamma cried bitter tears but President Samuel O. Bennion said, No-o-o-o, a woman must have the consent of her husband. Mother and Minnie were baptized in 1921. We three sisters were baptized by Elder Given on 5 August 1923.

Across the street from our house the Stephenson family moved in; they are from the State of Tennessee and are members of the Re-Organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her church had its Headquarters in Independence, therefore most of the townspeople belonged to her church. My oh my, how we did fight over who’s church was right. Each time we always ended up screaming and pulling each others hair. I was taught at my church that it was the right church. Joseph Smith was the head of my church and Joseph Smith was the head of her church, too. It was many years later before I learned the Prophet was truly the head of both churches and the church in Independence were the Mormons who had not gone to Utah after the prophet’s death.

One day [Eli] ask[ed] me for a date which I accepted telling him there was a play at our church if he’d like to go with me. He said that was fine; my parents were agreeable; I am eighteen years old. I thought I was old enough to make my own decisions so when the play let out at 8:30 P.M. my date suggested a 9:00 P.M. movie at the theater a short distance away. I did not alert my parents of my theater treat so they became worried; by the time I got home it was 11:00 P.M. We went straight home but daddy had his old trusty double-barreled shot gun out. Dollie and Mamma rushed to meet us and got between me and my date so daddy couldn’t aim his gun at us. Now, Will, we don’t want any trouble! The young man hurriedly left and I was ordered into the house.

I was able to teach (by mail) the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a precious grandson whom I have never seen. He lives in Crewe, Cheshire, England. He is the only member of the family in Crewe to accept the gospel—so far. His name is Richard Jewel Willoughby, Jr. and is the son of an English mother married to my soldier Airman stationed in England during the Korean War. His mother chose her family in England instead of America and divorced my son, thus, I have never been able to see them. This precious spirit knew so much about the Gospel by the time the missionaries in England contacted him he was ready for baptism. He is an Elder now looking forward to filling a mission for the church. However, the Church authorities advised him to find a girl and get married which he did—by visiting his grandmother in Salt Lake City, Utah [and in] 1980 was married to an American girl—Jill Holst—in the Ogden Temple. Jill is a very lovely girl.

I close, hoping that all women will enjoy this day, and that mothers everywhere will feel of the Spirit of God and know that He lives and that He most dearly loves His precious daughters. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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