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Former  Member Of Unitarian Church


The Symbols Fell Into Place

By Andrew Burns

I have always been interested in the organized religions of the world, but I had done pretty well without them. So then why did I decide to finally choose one, and why the LDS church?

I made it a goal for myself to start to attend religious and/or spiritual functions on a regular basis for the year 2005. My previous employer had always said that I worked way too hard and way too much and that I needed a balance in my life. OK. What would that be? Zig Ziglar, one of my favorite motivational speakers and personal heroes, always talks about having a balance and strong personal goals in areas of life including one which I had never had, the religious/spiritual side.

In hindsight, it is ironic that the fraternity I had joined in college referred to each member as The Balanced Man. However, I would not be considered such because of my lack of faith and religion in my life. People have asked me time and time again what religion I was or if I was Jewish because almost half of our fraternity was Jewish? I never had an answer, except that I was a spiritual person.

This statement was really a falsehood; I was just lying to myself as well as to everyone else. My only exposure to religion was attending a Unitarian church a few times when I was really young, attending Mass at the Cadet Chapel at West Point when I lived there, and getting into lengthy conversations with my grandmother about metaphysics, the New Age, and the Unity Church.

I also happened to take a religion class in college, which is rather notable since I received my only Dís at Arizona State University twice after I retook it. However, never once was the Church of Latter Day Saints mentioned I might add. Growing up as an only child was tough at times. I had no one to model for or anyone to model myself after. There was also very little extended-family interaction.

I always wished for a larger and closer family. Since my mother had died in 1999 from cancer, I have not since spoken to anyone on her side of the family? How is that for a family? Losing two important people from a very small family already--my grandfather and mother, who simply were amazing people--made it even more of a challenge. The LDS church believes families can have an eternal family.

I wanted this, so I truly believed it is possible! One of the books that my father gave me at an early age, which had a wonderful impact on my life, was The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. I have always wanted to be successful, and I strive to make this a life-long dream. The author of the book is a member of the Church and I did not know that some of the basic principles in his book are based on principles found in the Book of Mormon.

I was interested more and more by the LDS church after finding this out. Oddly enough, I love the game show Jeopardy. And who recently became the reigning champion but another member of the Church: Ken Jennings. His total winnings on the show were in the $2 million dollar range. The second closest winner garnered only about $184,000 in comparison. Strange as it might sound, this was another tidbit about members of the Church that strengthened my interest.

The gentleman who is considered to have formally introduced me to the church was Michael Garrow. I had actually met him when I was a VIP doorman in the club business in 1999. We instantly hit it off and at the time he was not a convert or even an investigator. Summer business in Arizona always slows down especially when the college students were back home and Michael was at the club on one of our slower nights.

Not being familiar with or having ever seen him, he had asked to go inside and look around the club before he paid. Michaelís calm, cool nature intrigued me, and since we were so slow that evening anyway, there was no harm in letting him in and see the place. Our relationship did not develop much more than becoming occasional running partners and we eventually lost touch with each other. Almost three years since I had last spoken to Michael, I had sent out an email to all my contacts stating that I had left the restaurant/service business to begin my new career in my true calling and passion in life, the personal finance field.

He was one of the only individuals to reply about his excitement for me and had even told me what he was doing for work. He had become the CEO of a Native American casino in Idaho (which is an oxymoron in the church), and he stressed how mentally successful he had become. I again was intrigued by his statement and asked what he had done.

Well the main reason I had not seen him for so long was because he had become a member of the Church. I was instantly interested in his decision and wanted to learn everything. He had not only gone to Berkley, but also got his MBA there, so respect had been fully developed around the time when we first met.

He just so happened to call me on New Yearís Eve and having the goal to explore a faith in depth, here it was! Since I was being rather low-key for the first New Yearís since grade school and just having dinner at my friendís/first clientís house, I had time for him to explain everything and why he had come to the church. It all sounded really good and I wanted to learn more.

Michael called the bishop--who was his bishop at the time of his own conversion--who in turn called me the following day and invited me to Church that next day. Members had told me that Bishop Painter was an exception to most bishops in that he was truly more extraordinary than most. From the first time I met him, he had not only been a true role model, but an inspiration as well.

Being a convert himself, he told me about how he came to the Church and the life he wanted to lead. He was always there for anything that I needed-- a spiritual shrink, in a sense. If I ever had any questions or issues, he was there for me. Being interested in the field of psychology, people pay large sums of money to have people listen to their struggles while an investigator received this at no charge at all.

I have always wanted that and at that time knew that I it was finally mine, but in a new way. Another personal interaction with the Church occurred with the chairman of our company, who had an instant impact on the associates of our company, which compiles all non-members.

At a conference from a previous company we had all been a part of, James Catledge had been the absolute highlight of the event. Everyone had said that during the two-day event, the first day was the best because of James and his powerful speech. He had made an instant impression upon me when I heard him speak for the first time. Finding out that he was a member again strengthened my desire to become a member of the Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a Church of perfection. I have and always will consider myself to be a perfectionist in a sense. However, while members of the church are by no means perfect, including myself, the Church itself is. I am thankful and extremely lucky to have been brought up without a faith and open to see how all the pieces fell into place.

My father had always stressed to do the right thing while growing up and I would never have to worry. When someone had explained to me what Choose The Right (CTR) ring meant again another symbol piece fell into place. There are a number of reasons for me to have an interest as an investigator and--as of Friday, May 22, 2005--a new member. In order for non-members and active members to fully understand my story, I had to write this out.

Every time I read this there are new things that I add and my testimony grows stronger and stronger. I know that the LDS is the only true Church of God and that he atoned for all of my sins. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and today Gordon B. Hinckley is as well. I am blessed to have found the Church and am honored to be around such strong members.






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