On October 5, it was reported that 58 percent of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reside outside of the United States, evidence that the Church is becoming more global.
Katy Pacy has recently been able to experience first-hand what it means to be a part of a growing global church.
Sister Pacy, a student at Western Washington University, was baptized into the LDS Church in September 2013, and has recently begun a study abroad experience in Grenoble, France. There, she attends the Grenoble Paroisse Ward. Her biggest worry as she left home was that the Church would not be the same in France.
“I was worried that I would get here and I wouldn’t like the ward and I would be stuck because there’s not going to be any other churches to go to. It wasn’t like that at all. When I got there, it was the exact same. I just felt exactly the same as I do when I am at my church back home.”
Sister Pacy studies French with the University of Stendhal at the University of Grenoble, though she said she is not fluent in French. However, she said she even feels the language barrier is benefiting her at church.
I feel the Spirit just as strong, even though everything is completely in French… I almost feel like it’s taught me to learn to be taught more through the Spirit. When you can’t understand, you really do have to rely on those feelings.
Through her ward in Grenoble, she has been able to become acquainted with other young single adults in the area and attend Family Home Evening with them, an experience that has been really cross-cultural. She said there are people from all over in her FHE group. She has heard prayers in French, Portuguese and Mandarin.
“Our church is a real mix of cultures,” she said. “Everyone’s speaking French, but a lot of people don’t actually come from France.”
According to the Mormon Newsroom, there are more than 37,000 Church members and more than 100 congregations in France. There are also more than 498,000 Church members, 42 missions and nearly 1,500 congregations in Europe all together.
Being able to leave her home and find the Church abroad has been a big blessing for Sister Pacy, as she has been able to keep the foundation she has built over the last 13 months in the gospel.
When I converted to the Church, I thought [it]… was going to be extremely different from what I already believe, but… I found it was a continuation of what I already knew and built my testimony and made it strong. It blended right in with my life.
Additionally, being able to attend the exact same church thousands of miles from her family, friends and home, has given her a sense of security from home.
“Even though I was afraid I wouldn’t feel at home here, … I still had the faith that it would be the same, so I was looking forward to still having that little piece of home, having that one thing that even though I’ve moved so far away, I can still count on that being consistent,” she said.
Sister Pacy also said she does not feel she could have had the blessing of being able to have church be the same had it been any other church.
“Here, there’s an on-campus youth group, and I imagine I would maybe be involved in that, but I feel like I would be here without that sense of home, which would be scary and lonely. It’s strange when you come abroad—you don’t know anyone and you don’t have any support system at all and your closest friends are people you’ve only known for a couple of weeks. Having the Church as that consistent thing has made the transition a lot easier.”