Dating for mormons
The police appeared without warning one December night in Harlem, hustling five passing young men against the front wall of the Mormon Church at 128th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard.Just feet away, a Mormon missionary, wearing her long black coat and tall boots, was dispensing hot chocolate from an orange Gatorade cooler.It has five floors and is home to three congregations, or wards—a Family Ward, a Spanish Ward for Spanish speakers and a Young Single Adults Ward.For Mormons, missionary work is a longstanding and rich tradition.In August, when the two became companions, Taylor was straight out of high school, having arrived in Harlem from Salt Lake City to begin his two-year mission.Montierth came to the tri-state area almost a year earlier from outside of Los Angeles, but spent his first six months in the New York City suburb of Yonkers. “Woah, this is different,” he said, describing how he felt when he first arrived. I didn’t know what to expect.” Taylor, just beginning his service, came to the area with especially fresh eyes.Police activity at the front of the church was hardly enough to distract from the music and the aroma of hot chocolate.As the young black men, some wearing hoodies and others baseball caps, raised their hands to the wall, the missionaries just kept singing. From “Joy to the World” to “Silent Night,” their carols were heard from blocks away by chilly Harlem residents, some of whom wandered by to sip hot chocolate and learn a bit about a modern American religion.
Each morning they would wake up in their Harlem apartment at for a required half-hour of cardio and strength exercises before breakfast. Taylor is nineteen years old with short, wavy blond hair, and Montierth is twenty, slightly taller, with brown hair that he gels up in the front.Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t mandatory for all Mormons to serve missions, but the Church teaches that it is a privilege to do so—to share testimonies and knowledge of the Gospel with people around the world.In October 2012, the age at which Mormon missionaries worldwide are allowed to serve was lowered from nineteen to eighteen for men, and from twenty-one to nineteen for women.With regards to their wardrobe, New York New York North Mission President Tom Morgan explained that people should be able to pick out the missionaries from their dress. By late morning, they would be out on the streets, knocking on doors in Harlem from 110th Street to 155th Street. They simply asked to share their faith with those who would listen because they truly believe it can change lives for the better.“We know that if we try to force it on someone…” Taylor finished his sentence by making the gesture to indicate “in one ear and out the other.” “Those people who want to listen, those are the people we look for.” Montierth, whose father and grandfather both served missions, confirmed that to have faith in the Book of Mormon, to be baptized in the church and especially to serve a mission, you have to first desire it for yourself.