Martin J. de Carlo
We are gathered here today to dedicate this new meeting place for the members of the Malta Mosta branch of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What was once a computer school is now a place where we, the members of this Church, can meet together often to worship God the Almighty, renew our covenants, serve one another and learn from each other.
The first time that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent missionaries to the island of Malta was in February of the year 1852. Only 22 years after the Church was organized and just eight years after the death of Joseph Smith, the first prophet and president of this Church.
The first missionary who came to Malta was actually one of the Apostles of the Church. His name was Lorenzo Snow who at the time was serving in the Italy Mission. He later also served as the fifth President of the Church.
Following the visit of President Snow, a branch was organized here on the island. Most of the converts were British military personnel. However, many of those converts left this country to serve in the Crimean War. Others immigrated to the United States and in 1856 the branch was dissolved.
One hundred and twenty eight years later, in January of 1980, 36 years ago this month, the government of Malta granted permission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have missionaries on the island.
Ten years later, in the year 1990, the Church rented its first building here in Mosta and we have been here in this beautiful town ever since.
Today, we are happy that we are celebrating the Dedication of this new meeting house of the Church together with some of you who belong to a different faith. We feel honoured with your presence.
I acknowledge that while we may have theological and doctrinal differences we also have much in common.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that each one of us – including anyone who is not a member of our Church – is a literal son or daughter of our Father in Heaven and therefore we are all heavenly siblings.
We believe that we all share a bond that transcends this life. Think about it, if we truly think of our neighbours as our brother or our sister, regardless of their religion, creed, race or circumstances, would we treat them any differently?
One of the hallmarks of Mormonism is the respect for the diverse belief and contribution of all the world’s faiths. Our current Church leader, President Thomas S. Monson made a plea during a general conference of the Church, a meeting which is held twice a year in Salt Lake City.
He said, and I quote,
“I would encourage members of the Church wherever they may be to show kindness and respect for all people everywhere. The world in which we live is filled with diversity. We can and should demonstrate respect toward all those whose beliefs differ from ours.”
The members of the Church accept all sincere believers as equals in the pursuit of faith and in the great work of serving humanity.
In the Book of Mormon, we read:
“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
I am sure that we can all learn much from the late Krister Stendahl, emeritus Lutheran Bishop, who established three rules for religious understanding:
1. When we are trying to understand another religion, we should ask the followers of that religion and not its enemies.
2. We should never compare our best to their worst
3. We should find elements in other faiths that we can emulate.
These principles foster relationships between different faiths that build trust and lay the groundwork for charitable efforts.
Every Year in Brussels, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe gives an award to individuals or organizations whose work and influence with the institutions of the European Union have a significant impact on family life within European Societies.
This award is called the “European Union Family Values Award.”
Last October the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented this award to the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe.
As a Church, we believe that the family is ordained by God and that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to His eternal plan.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of this country to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
We believe that we should build our families and our own lives on the principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, compassion and love.
Two years before he died, the prophet Joseph Smith was asked by a newspaper editor regarding some information about the Church. He replied by writing a letter to the editor. Today, we as members, refer to the content of his letter as the Articles of Faith.
Ever since the Articles of Faith were published, they’ve inspired and directed us in the basic principles of the Gospel.
I would like to close by quoting to you the last three Articles of Faith:
1. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and we allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
2. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, and in obeying, honouring, and sustaining the law.
3. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men ….. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
That the members of this Church here in Malta will use this building as part of the process of capitalizing on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and becoming sanctified individuals and families and that all men of good will put aside all their differences and join our forces in a combined effort to combat together the powers of darkness and elevate all God’s children is my humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Malta Branch Dedicatory Prayer
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Malta Branch New Church
c/w Triq il-kostituzzjoni
Mosta Mst 1176
President Michael G. Waddoups
Italy Rome Mission
January 23, 2016
Brothers and Sisters,
It is a real honor to be with you tonight. We are gathered here as friends, neighbors, civic leaders, religious leaders, people of various nations. I understand there are five or six different languages represented here tonight. I hope you can understand me. I understand perhaps English is the principle language spoken by most, but most that speak it, speak it as the English speak. Those of us from America speak it a little different so I hope you can understand.
As was explained by President Martin de Carlo, we believe that you are our brothers and sisters, each one of you. Children of God. We offer a sincere welcome to each of you for being here tonight--members of the church and to the community of Mosta, members of the nation of Malta.
I thought it would be appropriate to explain a little bit about why we do a dedication of our meeting house. What is a meeting house? For us a meeting house is a place where we worship God. God has said that we can worship Him wherever--even in our homes, on the mountainside--but we gather together as saints in a meeting house to share the teachings of Christ, to understand better our Father in Heaven and what he would have us do. It’s a place where we should show reverence. By reverence I mean that we think of Him. We try to show respect for those next to us. We should speak in hushed tones when we are speaking around others. It’s a place of teaching, a place of learning. It’s a place to study the scriptures and the holy word of God. It’s a place of fasting and prayer. It’s a place of music. It’s a place for children and for young adults. As indicated by President de Carlo, it’s a place for families. We have activities for primary, the children. For young men and young women. For the priesthood, holders of the authority of God. For the Relief Society. A place where we hold Sacrament Meeting, a place where we can partake of the symbols, the emblems of the last supper of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Here we will hold a series of meetings on the Sabbath Day, a day which we traditionally call our day of worship. We hold other meetings throughout the week. Perhaps social events, perhaps cultural events, sometimes even religious meetings. The chapel which we will dedicate is a place where we will hold religious ordinances such as confirmations, such as blessings of babies. A place where we will share God’s message and a place where we will participate in the teachings of Jesus Christ. It’s a place where we welcome friends, families, fellow saints in the household of God.
In that regard I would like to share with you a scripture. A scripture written by Paul in the New Testament. We find the scripture in the book of Ephesians 2:19-21. Paul wrote, speaking to the other saints, (I think it is appropriate. Paul visited here in Malta.)
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Paul described the fellowship of the church as a temple, a way in which we can become closer to God. The church is a place where we study God and where we worship God.
I would like to conclude today by bearing you my testimony of the divinity of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We speak of Jesus Christ. We teach of Jesus Christ. We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to earth, atoned for the sins of all mankind, and made it possible that one day, if we will repent and follow Him, we can return to live with our Father in Heaven.
I bear you testimony that it is available to each and every son of God, every daughter of God, every child.
Jesus Christ, indeed rose from the dead after three days. He lives. He leads and guides this church today. This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I bear you testimony that a prophet of God lives and shares the word of God with us today.
Tomorrow in this building a religious service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be held. The sacrament will be blessed, administered, and passed to the members of the church. You are all welcome. This will be a place for this holy ordinance. It is administered weekly in the church.
I bear you testimony that this is the work of the Lord. In His holy name, even Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Malta Branch Dedicatory Prayer
c/w Triq il-kostituzzjoni
Mosta Mst 1176
Michael G. Waddoups, Italy Rome Mission President
January 23, 2016
Our Beloved Father in Heaven,
We are gathered together this evening as members of Thy family, as saints in Malta, as friends and neighbors, and as religious leaders in the community.
Father in Heaven, we offer this prayer of gratitude and thankfulness for the opportunity of meeting together on this occasion. We are grateful for the bounties of life that allow us to have this privilege. We are grateful for those who have sacrificed that this building might be made available. We are grateful for the beautiful surroundings that we have. We are grateful for this earth. We are grateful for the sunshine. We are grateful for the moon and stars. We are grateful for the plants and for all that Thou has provided for us to enjoy life here.
This evening we are gathered to dedicate this building unto Thee. We dedicate it as a building in which saints, members, friends, and associates can gather together to worship Thee and give thanks for the sacrifice of the Savior, Jesus Christ. A place for children. A place for adults. A place for learning and a place for teaching.
We dedicate this building now unto Thee and unto Thy service. We dedicate it as a holy place, a place of peace, a place of gathering. We dedicate it as a place for the meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ to be held and pray that it will be protected, that there will be reverence here, that the gospel will be taught in a way pleasing unto thee. We pray, Heavenly Father, that our neighbors and friends will feel welcome here, that they will experience good things from the members as they share love, happiness, and faith. We dedicate this building as a place where people can meet together to learn about the gospel. A place where Thy children can bring others to be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. We dedicate this as a house where missionary work can share the gospel of Jesus Christ and where scriptures can be read, where an understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ can be shared.
We dedicate this building unto Thee, Heavenly Father and to Thy service. We pray for strength, for humility. We pray for the leaders who will direct the work here. For the teachers who will teach and the missionaries who will share teachings and for the children who will sing and learn. We pray for all those who enter herein that they might have the spirit of the Holy Ghost in their lives. We pray that the spirit will accompany us always and we leave this blessing upon this building and dedicate it unto thee in the holy name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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THE SUNDAY TIMES
Mormons move to new, larger chapel
Mormons in Malta·Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Sarah Carabott, The Sunday Times, 24th January, 2016
If we do not accept that people have different beliefs but still have good intentions, then we will never learn to live together, according to the leader of the Mormons in Malta. Martin de Carlo was speaking to this newspaper as the growing local congregation yesterday moved into larger premises.
Last night, the Mormons dedicated a new chapel and meeting place on Constitution Street in Mosta and leaders of other faiths were also invited for the service. “Several are committing the mistake of not accepting the inevitable growing diversity.
“It is painful to see a person preaching love but behaving in exactly the opposite way the very first time he meets someone who is different from him,” Mr de Carlo told this newspaper, flanked by one of his counsellors Assuero Vassallo.
Mormons are members of the ever-growing Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Restorationist Christian movement founded in Upstate New York in 1830.
In 1852, Malta hosted its first Mormon congregation, formed largely by English servicemen who had to leave the island to serve in the Crimean War. The remaining Maltese Mormons left for the US. Then, in 1980, the Maltese government granted permission to Mormon missionaries to settle here, and the community has kept growing ever since.
The dedication of the new chapel comes at a time of religious and cultural clashes, but the Mormons in Malta feel largely accepted, despite scepticism from a few. Worldwide, Mormons also have a good relationship with the Catholic Church and work hand in hand with Catholics in central Europe to provide aid for Syrian refugees, Mr de Carlo noted.
Moreover, last year’s winner of the Mormons’ yearly EU Family Values Award was handed to the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe. Despite theological differences with the Catholic Church, Mr de Carlo prefers to focus on the similarities, mainly Jesus Christ’s role as a saviour.
The Bible is also one of the Mormons’ standard works, along with the Book of Mormon.
Those unfamiliar with the religion have probably heard of the successful satire Broadway musical The Book of Mormon penned by the creators of South Park, which takes a dig at Mormon missionaries. Asked about the impact of this musical, Mr de Carlo said that while the church did not encourage its followers to go and watch it, it did not stop them either. Its missionaries in London were often found next to the ticket booth and instead of complaining, the church even bought space in the musical’s brochure with an advert reading: “You’ve seen the play, now read the book.”