About a 1,500 person increase in the Knoxville Mormon churches in the last several years

1:15 PM, Aug 24, 2012   |    comments
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In the deeply religious Knoxville, a faith that isn't as familiar to some is getting more members.

According to the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), there are currently about 7,000 members that attend the three Greater Knoxville area churches. That's about 1,500 additional people in the last five to six years.

"We have grown pretty consistently over the years," said LDS stake president Shane Cruze. "That factors in folks that come and go for employment opportunities, but also those that join the church because of the interest they had when they heard the gospel."

According to NBC's Rock Center, there are some 6 million Mormons nationwide. However, according to a PEW Research study, 98% of people surveyed do not know much about the LDS religion.

According to LDS bishop Doug Rose, some people don't believe Mormons are Christians. He disagrees and says they are.

"As we go out in the community and meet with people in the community, and we speak with them about our faith in Jesus Christ, there's a lot more that we share in common than we have differences," Bishop Rose said.

It's a message LDS member Sawyer Irving wants people to know, as the church increases community efforts such as recent work with their disaster response team, and a growing need in their food pantry, known as the "Bishop's Storehouse," near Parkside Drive in West Knoxville.

"We're just a normal church that loves to help, like other churches do," 15-year-old Irving said.

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