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LDS Genesis Group a great stepping-stone

Every now and again I get involved in a discussion among other black members about the LDS Genesis Group. The discussion revolves around whether such a group is really needed. Generally, there are three viewpoints — one being that the Genesis Group is needed because of cultural differences and the support it offers. The second viewpoint is that the Genesis Group is needed for new converts but not on a long-term basis. The third viewpoint is that the Genesis Group is not needed because it perpetuates a division when we should all be one body in Christ. For those of you who may be wondering who or what Im referring to, let me give you some background information. The Genesis Group in Salt Lake City is an auxiliary organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that was formed under the direction of President Joseph Fielding Smith in 1971. According to the groups Web site, it was established to meet the needs of black members of the church. The Genesis Group is not a substitute for ward activities. Members meet once a month with a fireside format, sing a black gospel song as a practice hymn, have speakers and share testimonies. I first heard about the Genesis Group a few years after I had joined the church. I was thrilled that such a group existed and wanted to find out how to start our own group. It wasnt that I was having a hard time assimilating in my ward, because my ward was great. The members included several ethnicities and cultures, and everyone loved each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. I think at the time, I missed having that connection and the Genesis Group seemed like the perfect way to regain it. I wish that we had an LDS Genesis Group here in my area, but not for the same reasoning as in the beginning. I wanted a Genesis Group for me before, but now I want it because I think it would be a great missionary tool. I think it would help so much with sharing the gospel with and reactivating African-American members. Living in the South in the Bible Belt, I see so many segregated congregations. I feel blessed to attend a ward filled with racial and cultural diversity. However, there are many blacks who wont consider the LDS Church because to them it is a white church. I think having a Genesis Group available in our area would help to dispel that myth and be an invaluable missionary tool to help more African Americans join the church.My stance on the Genesis Group is in line with the second viewpoint that it should be a temporary stepping-stone. I look at it as a way to get blacks in the door to actually hear what we are about and see other black members thrive and embrace the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I have never attended a Genesis Group meeting, so the following statement is based on the description from the Genesis Group Web site. I do not agree with the singing of black gospel songs as practice hymns. The mere fact that it is distinguished as such bothers me a little. I listen to gospel music from time to time, but I must admit that there have been more LDS Church hymns that have stirred me spiritually than gospel. And I think that is what we ought to be doing: tugging at the investigators or inactive members heart spiritually. Besides, many investigators and new converts have a harder time learning the church hymns, so it would make sense to me to practice those, instead. That aside, I think that the Genesis Group is a good thing and I wish that there was such a group in my area. I would love to hear about others' viewpoints on this topic, so send me an e-mail at tequitia@yahoo.com.