Enter a Mormon blog contest

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Enter your 600-750 word personal essay by September 22 and you could win the $250 grand prize.


Enter your 600-750 word personal essay by September 22 and you could win the $250 grand prize.

Enter your 600-750 word personal essay by September 22 and you could win the $250 grand prize.

Enter your 600-750 word personal essay by September 22 and you could win the $250 grand prize.

Do you have an unusual or compelling Mormon experience to share?

Then I want to hear it. And possibly even pay you for it.

Maybe this is the time to tell that inexplicable story from your mission, or explain what it was like to be the only kid in Primary with autism, or describe the moment when you washed and dressed your father in temple clothing to prepare his body for burial. Maybe you need to tell a sacrament story or explain how you’ve been empowered by the example of your pioneer ancestors.

Over the next two weeks, I will be receiving short personal essays about Mormon life, three of which will be published here on the blog in the days leading up to General Conference and one of which will receive $250.

Details are below. My readers and I hope to hear from you. — JKR

Grand Prize: $250 and online publication in the “Flunking Sainthood” RNS blog

2 Runner-up prizes: $50 to the charity of your choice and online publication in the “Flunking Sainthood” RNS blog

Deadline: Monday, September 22

Entry fee: None


1)   All entries must be original, never-before-published first-person essays that address a specific aspect of Mormon life, culture, or belief as the author has experienced it. Tell us a good story, one we have not necessarily heard before about Mormon life. Help us to see the familiar from a new angle by delving into one topic deeply and memorably. (Hint 1: Go narrow. The best short personal essays take on a single issue, memory, or moment in your life. Hint 2: Help readers connect emotionally and to feel what you have been through.)

2)   Essays will be judged based on their clarity, emotional resonance, and spiritual content.

3)   Entries must not exceed 750 words. The best candidates will fall between 600 and 750 words.

4)   Essayists must write under their real names unless they have a compelling reason not to do so, like protecting privacy after a traumatic event.

5)   Writers who have had their posts previously published on the Flunking Sainthood blog are ineligible for the “New Voices” contest. (Comments do not count.)

6)   Entries must be received no later than midnight on Monday, September 22, 2014 at this email address: FlunkingSainthoodBlogContest@gmail.com. They should be typed in a Microsoft Word document and double-spaced, then attached to an email with “Flunking Sainthood contest submission” in the subject line. Entrants should provide their name, email address, and phone number.

7)   Entries may be edited for publication, but writers will have the chance to approve all editorial changes prior to publication.

8)   The Grand Prize will be $250 and online publication on the “Flunking Sainthood” blog at RNS. Two or more runners-up will each receive $50 donated to the charity of their choice and online publication on the blog.


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  • Sherri Park

    We had an unusual experience while serving an inner city mission in Salt Lake City. We were one of four senior couples in the ward. The main problems in the ward were a lack of male leaders and the fact that no one really knew who was in the ward. My spouse asked the Bishop for a ward list. The Bishop said, “I could give you one but then I would have to kill you.” There was no list. One of the things we did was to go door to door to see who lived there.

    On the male leadership front, the Bishop had only one counselor. There was a High Priest group leader and an Elder’s Quorum president. That was it. There were other men who were unable to serve for one reason or another. But, mostly there just weren’t many active men. That’s where the missionary couples came in.

    One Sunday, we were looking around for materials in the library. We discovered there was no librarian so my hubby offered to do it. Teaching Primary was one of my skills so I offered to teach for the next two years.

    Things got interesting when the Bishop announced in Welfare meeting that he needed help with four convicted sex offenders who were asking to come back to church. I started studying my shoes and hoped to avoid the whole thing. That ended when I heard my husband saying we would do it.

    That was the start of a long saga involving these four men. We talked to their parole officers and took some instruction on how to keep the ward members safe. The parole officers had many requirements that had to be met before they could attend church. Their church activity was limited to supervised activities. They could come to Sacrament Meeting but could not sit near children or use the bathroom alone. They could attend activities such as ward dinners if they were under our supervision.

    Only two of the men actually jumped through enough hoops to make it to church. One of them had severe health issues and decided meetings were too much for him but we continued to visit him at home. The remaining man had been active in the Family Home Evening program at the prison. He developed a true friendship with the man and wife who were his teachers. They took over the responsibility to supervise his church activity. His was a true success story.

    This whole experience showed us the depth of compassion that church officials showed for these men who had sinned so grievously. We fulfilled the mandate of the inner city that we not only serve our members but search out those who needed and wanted our help. Their mantra was that the pioneers who came across the plains did not leave anyone behind. It was our job to go find the people who being left behind and offer help.

    There was a Bishop’s Storehouse of doctors, dentists and other professionals who volunteered their services. There were people who donated their cars and others who donated car repairs. Almost any need could be met through these donated services.

    But, the question that came up over and over in my mind was that many members were not only left behind but pushed out of the church. Many of these were gay or lesbian. Why did we spent months working with these men who were an actual threat to the ward and yet we couldn’t reach out a hand to a lesbian or gay person?

    Sherri Park is on the steering committee of Mormons Building Bridges and the founder of Sit With Me Sunday, a program to welcome gays and lesbians to attend church with friend.

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  • Sherri — To be eligible, please be sure to send your entry as a Word document to flunkingsainthoodblogcontest@gmail.com. Thanks.

  • Britt

    Jana, it seems that you are looking for faith promoting essays? Or am I reading that wrong?

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