Local congregations and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have made many appearances in local newspapers throughout the United States and the world this week, doing everything from organizing a flash mob in a shopping mall to spending three or four days pulling handcarts in sometime triple-degree heat.

The Fredericksburg Patch wrote about a group of members from the Fredericksburg Virginia Stake that pulled off an 8-minute line dance in the Spotsylvania Towne Centre Mall on Saturday, July 7. Reporter Dan Telvock called it a "flash mob Mormon style" in one photo caption.

On tour in Oklahoma, the Utah Valley Children's Choir sang hymns about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, The Norman Transcript reported. The choir, composed of youth ages 9 to 18, will perform in seven more cities before its concluding concert July 18, aiming to live its mission statement to "sing for the Lord."

Church membership has grown in Dickinson, N.D., and Fox Valley, Ill., requiring additional wards and chapels. The Dickinson Press ran an article about how Sunday attendance at the LDS Church has grown from 66 at one point in 2009 to 346 last month.

"Something is happening in this area — some people feel they are being led here," Michael Cartmill, a bishop in Dickinson told the Press. "It's a good faith place to raise kids. It's what the church focuses on."

For Latter-day Saints in Fox Valley, this will be the first time in 24 years the church has created another ward there, according to the Geneva (Ill.) Patch.

A new chapel in New York will allow members of the Auburn Ward to spread out a little, wrote Samantha House for The Citizen.

In other news, re-enactments of the Mormon pioneers' 1,300-mile journey to Utah made local headlines in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Oregon. In total, about 850 teenagers pushed and pulled their gear, packed in wooden handcarts, for an average of three days with adult leaders.

"It's not supposed to be an easy three days and it's designed to make young church members aware of that brutal trip by foot across the great plains," Chambersburg (Penn.) Public Opinion explained.

A pioneer trek is more than just physical exertion, church member Cynthia Talbot told the Frederick (Md.) News-Post. Its real value is in helping participants feel a connection to their ancestors. It can be a powerful spiritual experience, she said.

Village (Va.) News and OregonLive reported on the treks in Virginia and Oregon, respectively.

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Meanwhile, other Latter-day Saints were donating significant amounts of time to their communities. LDS Church members wearing the yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests did gardening work at the Plumpton Public School in Australia, according to the Blacktown Sun. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant wrote about the more than 100 members spent a weekend painting and cleaning a local park, and the Rockford Register Star reported on a service project planned by Latter-day Saints in Illinois to work on the grounds of some of its public schools.

The Orange County Register in California profiled Nancy Kraus, a local nurse who travels worldwide to assist in surgeries to correct children's cleft lip or palate through Operation Smile and LDS Humanitarian Services.

Mormons in Lubbock, Texas, donated more than 14,000 pounds of food to the South Plains Food Bank, KCBD News reported, while Latter-day Saints in Winnipeg, Canada, prepare to launch their seventh annual summer food drive, Metro News said.

Email: jhenrie@desnews.com

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