Missions are winners for women; ‘white’ Jesus need not apply

Urging a more diverse art of Christ and a call to save the Great Salt Lake.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Latter-day Saint missionaries cheer at the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City in 2021. A new study shows the value of young women on missions.

The Mormon Land Newsletter is the Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel covering developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Keep supporting us Patreon and get the full newsletter, exclusive access to religious content, and podcast transcripts for Tribune subscribers only.

How mission helps young women

According to a new study by Utah State University’s Utah Women & Leadership Project, Latter-day Saint women who choose to serve a religious mission during their college years can expect lifelong benefits.

Based on a sample of more than 17,000 female students enrolled at Brigham Young University, the paper identified not only personal, but also educational and financial benefits for those who wore black name tags.

Among the more notable findings: A third of those who completed missions later moved on to majors with higher earning potential. Those struggling with school, meanwhile, seemed to have an easier time getting into competitive academic programs upon their return.

“We found that 96% of women who took time off for missions returned to college after their absence,” said Maggie Marchant, one of two authors on the report and assistant librarian at BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library , in a press release. “Returning to school after recess increases the chances of academic success, which in turn affects job opportunities and future income.”

However, the researchers warn that the decision to postpone or suspend school also comes with downsides. Missions can be costly and inevitably delay completion. The study also found that women who took time off for missions were 10% less likely to graduate in eight years than their peers who stayed behind — even after accounting for “personal characteristics.”

“The study showed that gap-time experiences have the potential to transform a person’s life trajectory and improve their understanding of themselves and the world,” said Jocelyn Wikle, author of the report and an assistant professor at the School of Family Life BYU. “Our study findings and recommendations will help individuals, families, and higher education institutions understand the impact of gap-time experiences and provide appropriate support for Utah students as they face decisions about beginning gap-time experiences.”

Bottom line, the authors concluded: Women should carefully consider the choice of whether to sign up for a mission and recognize that each person’s experience will be different.

Looking for a brown Jesus

(Gerald Herbert | AP) A black Jesus is depicted in this painting at a Catholic facility in New Orleans in 2020. Latter-day Saint artists have banded together to create more diverse depictions of Christ.

Nearly three years ago, the reigning First Presidency declared that artwork of Jesus—and Jesus alone—should adorn the foyers and doorways of Church meetinghouses.

The leaders even provided a list of nearly two dozen paintings that have been approved for such use, and are reportedly working to expand those offerings to include a more diverse depiction of Christ.

Seeking to jump-start this effort, women and artists of diverse races and cultural backgrounds have come together in hopes of filling Latter-day Saint buildings with a “meeting-house mosaic” of pieces that more accurately represent Jesus .

“Christ historically had brown skin,” reads the group’s website, “and that is the portrayal we believe will be shared on our walls, in our manuals, on our bulletin boards, in our lessons and should be the standard for all of us. ”

A gallery of new artwork of Jesus is planned for a year from now in February 2024 at Provo’s Writ & Vision, according to a By Common Consent blog.

“Judges will not accept white depictions of Christ for this show,” the post adds. “The goal of this show is to expand the vision of how Christ, the Redeemer of the world, can be represented and to spotlight the religious artworks of people of color.”

The latest Mormon Land podcast: A new mission – save the Great Salt Lake

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The shrinking Great Salt Lake looms in the distance before the Bountiful Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As the church’s name suggests, the Great Salt Lake is in its final days and could disappear in five years, causing toxic dust storms to threaten the faith’s headquarters. A BYU ecologist explains how the church and its members can help prevent this from happening and why it fits with Mormon mission. Listen to the podcast for a deeper dive into this topic.

From the stands

— Christian Kimball, author of the new Mormonism bestseller Living on the Inside of the Edge: A Survival Guide, says that conducting temple recommendation interviews as a bishop ultimately led him to become a “backbencher” in the church. Find out why in these excerpts from our Mormon Land interview, or listen to the full podcast.

– Institutions like churches are important, even as more Americans are taking more individual paths, says Latter-day Saint scholar Matthew Bowman.

– Tribune columnist Gordon Monson has finally found a cinematic savior to embrace as a messiah: Jonathan Roumie’s Redeemer in The Chosen.

(“The Chosen”) Jesus (Jonathan Roumie) and Simon the Zealot (Alaa Safi) feed the 5,000 in a scene from season three of The Chosen.


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