News Story

Church Members See Fatherhood Differently

The third Sunday in June is set aside as Father’s Day in Hong Kong and celebrated by nearly 25,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who live here. People often wonder about the Church and its members in Hong Kong when it comes to holidays. Is there something different about the way Church members celebrate Father’s Day?

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a unique perspective on fatherhood. Because they believe families are meant to be eternal, fathers are fathers forever. For the average “Latter-day Saint” (LDS), fathers are extremely important, not just in this life but in the next. To LDS fathers, the understanding that fatherhood is forever means added motivation to develop the characteristics that make great fathers—kindness, patience, love, compassion, caring.

An unusual perspective on fatherhood, however, doesn’t necessarily mean LDS people celebrate fatherhood differently. How do members of the Church celebrate Father’s Day? In much the same way it is done in their country of origin. A visitor to an LDS home on Father’s Day would see the celebration happen in the same way it is done in the country and culture in which they live. The difference, however, is that in the hearts and minds of the LDS community, Father’s Day honors men who will maintain that critical role long after mortal life has ended.

This is an important distinction, especially when a father’s mortal life is nearing an end. Elder Charles Chamberlain, serving with his wife as a public affairs missionary for the Church in its Asia Area office in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, is awaiting word about his father’s struggle with pancreatic cancer. Elder Chamberlain is from Utah, USA and arrived in Hong Kong in early May. Shortly before flying to Hong Kong to begin the couple’s 18-month mission, he was informed that his father’s cancer was not responding to treatment and he had only a short time to live.

Elder Chamberlain recalled, “When I said goodbye to my father the night before our plane left for Hong Kong, I knew that I would never see him again in mortality. I was completely comforted, however, in knowing that I would see him again after this life. It is sad to lose a father, even if it’s only for the duration of this life, but I am happy to know that family relationships go beyond mortality.”

Members of the Church generally have deep respect for their fathers, even though all fathers have flaws, and even when fathers are not members of the Church. A love for their Heavenly Father helps them feel love for their earthly fathers.

Annie Wong, a native of Hong Kong, described her childhood with a father who was fairly “distant” and “authoritarian.” After joining the Church and gaining an understanding of its beliefs, Annie recognized something different about fatherhood. As she puts it, “I learned that fathers also play an important role in rearing the children, even though mothers generally spend more time nurturing them.”

Because of her religious beliefs and a relationship with her Heavenly Father, Annie saw her earthly father differently. She describes the change in their relationship, “I was more willing to communicate with him and seek his advice, as well as to reach out to him and learn of his needs.” Later, as Annie decided to serve a full-time mission for the Church, she was at first nervous about his reaction to her decision. But when she opened up to him about her commitment and desires, she found him to be very supportive. “Throughout my mission, my father really got to know more about me as I became more open in sharing my thoughts and feelings through my weekly letters to him. As for me, I learned that he actually wasn’t a control freak, but in fact, a very loving father who wants me to be happy and successful in every way.”

Latter-day Saints honor all fathers on Father’s Day and believe in the eternal nature of all family relationships.  

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