Interfaith Conversation with Steve Gilliland
At the beginning of the speech, Steve Gilliland mentioned his trip to Turkey with Pacifica Institute and said that was a great experience. Dr Gilliland talked about the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival and its effectiveness in bringing Anatolian cultures and traditions alive to California and the United States. The speaker also recommended everyone to attend the festival and stated that the mission of Pacifica Institute is to promote intercultural understanding.
Steve Gilliland explained that community is a very important aspect for the lives of Mormons. He gave an example in which he and his wife went to Boston for his graduate studies. Without knowing Boston and the housing in Boston they drove all the way from Los Angeles to Boston and lost their way in Boston. He said that he called the pastor in Boston and asked for help. Pastor said to him that they assigned a family for them and the family would host two strangers. And he added that two students like Gilliland family and welcomed them to the host’s house like a brother and a sister. After this example he said wherever he went he could feel the brotherhood and sisterhood of Latter Day Saints.
One of the fundamental reason that God sent human beings to Earth, he said, is to progress and improve and that human beings progressed in the heaven as far as mankind could and God sent humankinds to the land of mortality to learn the quality of love and other spiritual qualities. Dr Gilliland stated that problems are not bad but it depends on from where you look at it and added all the problems in life has purpose to improve as human beings.
Steve said that there is no clergy in Mormon temples and there is no special school to be a clergy. Dr Gilliland said the life is the teacher and life prepares a person to be a religious leader in the Latter-Day Saints Church and also mentioned the importance of educating children by giving them chances to improve themselves such as giving them some time before the congregation to give pious speeches to people so that they can improve themselves through time. Dr Gilliland added that he has served in the church as bishop for five years and after five years the church asked him to teach little children and he accepted it. So from the place of bishop now he became the youth teacher. He said that he also loved this even though it caused him lose a big portion of his hair.
He said the opportunity for children to improve themselves is also implemented by giving them chances to serve in the community. Gilliland family went to some foreign countries to serve and mentioned the special health code in the church which prevents members to drink alcohol, smoke or use any kind of drugs except for medical use. Steve said that they also have an internal welfare system. If someone is in need, the church members come together and help the person as brothers and sisters. The final goal for this is to make the brothers and sisters self reliant.
Steve Gilliland said that marriage and sexuality are sacred for Mormons. Dr Gilliland said that they follow the rule of total abstinance of sexuality before marriage and being loyal to one’s spouse. He said that a family is heaven for them and is very important and from their perspective spouses will live together in eternity and even though one’s spouse dies they believe that they will be together again in afterlife. The sacred institution is the family.
He added they as Mormons believe in Jesus and its teachings; however, they also believe that prophecy is not finished with Jesus he said God continues to talk. So they believe the Book of Mormons which has a collection of the “words of God heard by the prophets of Americas” especially the founder of Mormon Church Joseph Smith and added that God even now continues to talk to prophets and Mormons believe their messages. Dr Gilliland said the prophet Mohammed was one of them. He said they respect Quran.
Steve Gilliland also said even though they believe in Jesus their perspective to believe him is different and said they worship God but praise Jesus. And Mormons believe that Jesus sacrificed his life for humankind. Dr Gilliland said even Jesus said in bible don’t worship me worship to Father. So Steve Gilliland said they view Jesus more than a human but less than God.