Cultural Shift Assignment
For my Cultural Shift Assignment, I choose to go to a Mormon Church. I went to The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Sunday February 5th in Ventura, California. I
decided on going to a church because religion is a central component of many people’s culture.
Our customs, holidays, dress and expectations are largely derived from our religious beliefs.
Typically, children are converted to their parents religion. The events and services act as a way
for families to socialize with their community, align with a group, establish core beliefs and
Overall, this is a break from my norms because I personally have found that religion can
serve to segregate just as much as it can bring people together. Hence, I do not go to church
often. But ultimately why I choose to attend a Mormon church is because I have never been to
one and a very good family friend converted to Mormonism when he married his wife.
Unfortunately, this caused us to drift apart as he looked to align with the customs of the Mormon
Church and began to socialize with people of the Mormon congregation. For me, it was very
weird. I went from having someone that I grew up with since I was 2 month old and having tons
of relatable experience and thoughts to someone that viewed the world differently.
Leading up to going to the church, I definitely had my reservations and was nervous
about attending. I have never liked having someone try to convert me to their religious beliefs. It
makes me very uncomfortable and I believe it is rude. The Mormon Church has a long history of
trying to convert people as the males are required to do a mission trip to convert people to their
religion. The whole white shirt, black pants and a tie walking door to door with the message of
mormonism. I wasn’t looking forward to going to their spiritual place as a non-mormon. But that
is the point of this assignment and there is a large chance that I could have a Mormon student in
one of my classes. I hope that this experience can help me better understand my friend and to
become more culturally aware.
I arrived a bit early to the Mormon church and walked around the premises. It looked like
and felt like the majority of churches that I have been to. I entered into the main room and
scanned the area. It was fairly quiet from what I expected but there were a couple of people in
the main service room moving around. Everyone looked like they were dressed in formal wear. I
felt a bit underdressed but moved to the back and grabbed a seat. The coir group was singing
songs that reminded me of the Christian Churches I have attended. Additionally, the
atmosphere felt very similar to the christian churches. As the service began they started with
some hymns and songs which seemed to pull from the Christian belief. Afterwards the priest
moved to the main portion of the service; The Sacrament. This is the main sermon that is give to
the congregation. In this case, the priest was talking about the power of community and the
need to rely on each other to further their understanding of God. They also do a Sacrament
Communion of bread and water and pass a tithing around. Afterwards, one of the members of
the congregation was invited to speak about his experience of staying true to Jesus. You could
tell that the community was tight knit and that the congregation members were familiar with
each other. Most of my interactions with the congregation were simple hi, a quick smile and
moving on. Hence, my expectation of having someone try to convert me was far from the truth.
It seems like the majority of their outreach is done through mission trips and events but not at
their church. I ended up doing some research and joining a temple requires an invite from a
member. You need to show that you are prepared to follow the teaching of the church, align with
the group and to have the support of a current congregation member. Hence, I think they were
surprised that I was there as a non-congregation member.
I am glad that I was able to go to the Mormon Church. I was able to get out of my
comfort zone and experience a new religion. Although, I do not think that Mormonism is
something that I will ever be interested in. I can understand the need for community and respect
that people find solace in practicing their faith. It was nice to be able to have casual interactions
with a couple of the congregation members and to find that they operate very similarly to any
other church I have been to.