Today was our stake conference, and we had a visiting general authority: Elder Terrence C. Smith, one of the North American Area Seventies. His talk was one of the finest, most doctrinally insightful sermons I’ve ever heard at a stake conference. But what really caught me came in the first minute of his talk. He’s Canadian, specifically an Albertan, and he mentioned being from a little town “that’s probably 90% LDS.” That’s interesting, I thought.
I’m not an expert about the Mormon presence in Alberta, but I know a little: my father’s mother was from Lethbridge, and she and her husband were eventually sealed in Cardston; after some Googling, I figured that Elder Smith was talking about the little Mormon town of Raymond. And that got me curious. Here we have, hundreds of miles away from Mormonism’s historical homeland, and more than a century removed from the original Mormon settling of the American west, a couple of small, long-ago-settled communities that are Mormon enough to partake of some of those same quirks and blessings that we–or, at least, people like me–usually associate only with Utah and perhaps parts of Idaho, Arizona, or Wyoming. How many more might there be, and where might they be? I really couldn’t say. And so I decided to ask the Plain People of the Internet, of course.
Here’s what I’m looking for–any community (of any size, really, so long as it has an actual, historical, enduring presence), from anywhere in the U.S. or abroad, which is overwhelmingly Mormon, in population and presumably culture. It cannot be from anywhere in the Rocky Mountain states (no Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, or Colorado); all other locales are fair game. What will we find? I’m thinking that you might, just might, find odd little towns spread across parts of California, Nevada, New Mexico, or Oregon which are heavily Mormon; I doubt you’ll find them anywhere else in the U.S. There might be a few more in Alberta or British Columbia, but I don’t think they’ll be any elsewhere in Canada. In Mexico, well, did any of those colonies go native? Or were they all abandoned when the American Mormons left in 1920s and 1930s? How about elsewhere in Central or South America? I can’t believe any will exist anywhere in Europe or Asia–either the Mormon converts there were all encouraged/forced to leave or the church just hasn’t been around long enough. But perhaps some island communities in Hawai’i, Tonga, Samoa, or New Zealand? Come on, all you global travelers and armchair historians, help us find and give some credit to all the distant Little Zions out there.
(Yes, I know that in some ways this post might be understood as undermining exactly what Wilfried’s superb post is aiming to explore. My apologies.)