Newspaper looks inside a LDS ward in Guyana

On a recent Sunday, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Jamaica gathered in a second-floor conference room for their weekly meeting. During the sacrament prayer, members ate pieces of bread and drank thimble-sized plastic cups filled with water instead of wine because Mormonism requires abstinence from alcohol, as well as tobacco, gambling and even caffeine.

Then congregants rose to sing “I Stand All Amazed.” The first chords rang out and the room was filled with accents from Africa, the Dominican Republic and Guyana.

For many Americans, the term Mormon may conjure a popular and incomplete stereotype: a largely white, Utah-based religion of missionaries. But the gathering in Queens offers a different glimpse. Of the 50 church members attending that day, more than half were immigrants, most of them from the West Indies.

Brother Bhojdeo Ramnaraine, 58, is the newest convert. “This church teaches what is beautiful, and how to be good and loving,” says Ramnariaine,who became a Mormon three months ago. “But even as missionaries, we try not to force anybody into it. If you digest it, it’s yours.”

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