Mormons Try to Alter Perceptions

March 14, 2007

Author: Rebecca Rosen Lum

Source: The News-Sentinel/Contra Costa Times

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The Mormon church, long known for its inward-looking self-reliant nature, is making overtures to other faiths.

"We're trying hard to reach out," said Pleasant Hill, Calif., Bishop John Muir.

By joining in multidenominational service projects and sitting on interfaith councils, Mormons are bridging a gap that has kept them and the surrounding society at an uneasy distance for 177 years.

"They've set themselves apart and they have been set apart," over their short, complex history, said Brian Stein-Webber, director of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa.

"The history is pretty heavy on both sides," he said. "I think we are extending a hand. Is it becoming a movement? No. But they're much more open than they used to be."