The Chinese Mormon Church

When we think of Mormons we usually think of white folks from Utah right? Think again.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered a Mormon church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn whose congregation was made up almost entirely of Chinese immigrants, with all the services in both Mandarin and Cantonese.

Here’s the article I wrote about it (originally published in The Brooklyn Ink,  Tuesday, Oct. 11th, 2011)

Chinese Mormon Church: How Mormons Are Using English Language To Reach Immigrants

Bing Ley asks me if I love English. The question takes me by surprise. I’ve been speaking English all my life and it never occurred to me that I could love the language. I tell him I think it’s alright. Ley looks down at his sneakers and takes his hands out of the pockets of his gray hoodie. He isn’t very tall but he hunches with apparent deference, making him look smaller. With an earnest smile, Ley tells me slowly and deliberately, “I…love…English.” With every word, he emphatically taps his chest and makes sure I understand him. He looks up at the two, tall, young Caucasian men, standing on either side of him. They nod their approval and one of them encouragingly puts his hand on Ley’s shoulder.

“How did you learn English?” I ask.

Ley once again looks at the two young men and with a broad grin and says “The church taught me.”

We are standing in a church in the heart of Sunset Park. The neighborhood is home to a large Chinese immigrant population and 22-year-old Bing Ley is a part of it. The neighborhood is filled with restaurants, bakeries, groceries and hair salons, almost every one of them has a sign in either Mandarin or Cantonese. The building we’re in is conspicuous with its white steeple and the neat, white lettering against a rust brown wall that says, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” This church, known as the Dyker Heights 4th Branch, is a Mormon church. Bing Ley is a recent convert to the religion. The two young men standing by his side are the missionaries who not only brought him into the faith, but also taught him how to speak English. …Read the whole article at The Brooklyn Ink

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