The Mormon Newsroom article, ‘A Week in the Life of a Mormon Stake President’, sparked an interview with Ian Leneham, Newcastle stake president, on ABC Radio.
Noel Debien, of the ABC religion unit, airs a weekly Sunday evening program exploring the issues, events and people driving developments in religion.
After reading the article, Mr Debien requested an interview with President Leneham which was broadcast nationally on Sunday, June 9, 2013. It was titled ‘The Goodlife and Mormon Leadership’.
Here is an excerpt from Mr Debien’s introduction to the interview:
“A local Mormon leader and former missionary is our subject in this first of a series of episodes of ‘The Goodlife’.
“A record 85,000 Mormon missionaries are door-knocking the world as we speak (editorial note: this figure will be reached in the northern hemisphere Autumn according to predictions by Church departments). That's a lot of door-knocking and a fairly colossal effort to convert new people to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church's preferred full title). Here in Australia they now claim around 130,000 members since they first started out in Adelaide, 1840.
“Mormon Temples (a bit like a Cathedral, Grand mosque or Great Synagogue) are sacred for Latter-day saints; and are indeed closed to non-Mormons. Temples are where they baptise the dead or perform ‘eternal marriages’ for example. There are now temples in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.
“The equivalent of a ‘parish church’, for a Mormon, is a ‘ward’ or a ‘branch’ - where non-Mormons can make a visit. Their first Australian church was built in Brisbane in 1904.
“Stakes are made up of these grouped local church communities (wards and branches). A stake is a bit like a 'diocese' or a 'deanery' among Catholics, Anglicans or Orthodox Christians.
“Ian Leneham is a Latter-day Saint stake president and leader of the Newcastle stake - one of the 39 management areas of the Mormons across Australia. Before we talked about his day-to-day ministry, I began by asking him how he became part of the church.”
Alan Wakeley, Public Affairs Department staff adviser for Australia and Papua New Guinea, described the interview as one of the better examples of the media providing factual information on the Church.
“In the last decade, we have seen a marked increase in accurate news reporting about the Latter-day Saints, particularly with the greater international prominence of Church members and even the creation of a Broadway musical that has Mormon characters,” he said.
“The ABC is one of the few media organisations in Australia that has reporters who are dedicated solely to coverage of religious issues. This is important given that for millions of Australians religion is significant in their lives.
“As a church we welcome media interest. Like any church or other organisation we want others to know us for who we really are. That takes balanced and accurate reporting, and we welcome opportunities to assist journalists to achieve that,” Mr Wakeley said.
To listen to the interview click here.