Hannah Field, Special Editor

     She sits patiently, a genuine smile crossing her face, surrounded by friends in a chapel filled with people dressed in neat clothing. Dresses, ties, and bows in their hair; it’s obvious she belongs. But senior Lucy Kratka didn’t always fit in so seamlessly.

     “There was no point,” senior Lucy Kratka says about how she felt about religion growing up. “I had bunches of friends who would invite me to Church and I would go sometimes, but I never thought too much about it.”

     Things have changed since then. Her perspective has shifted and now, at 17 years old, 

     Kratka’s been investigating in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, calling herself Mormon and a soon-to-be member.

     Like many people, Kratka was turned away by the prospect of religion. She went to church growing up, but as her parents fizzled out of it, so did she. With a father who was raised Jewish and a mother who was raised Christian, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was never an option. 

     But, contrary to her parents’ wishes, Kratka found herself intrigued by the religion and what it had to offer.

     “The biggest thing that attracted me to The Church was the idea of eternal life and eternal families,” she said. “After you and your mortal body die now, you get resurrected and you live in a perfect life with whoever you get [sealed to], which is really nice because I love that idea of eternal family and having the people you love with you at all times.”

     “[Something] that stands out about our faith is our belief that when we get married, we’re married for time and all eternity,” confirmed Bishop Zachary Jensen, the Bishop of the Takena Ward in Albany. “We believe that the family unit doesn’t end at death.”

     There was a lot more than the idea of everlasting happiness.

     When Kratka began going to church, it was the summer before her senior year. She was 16. Once she started going, she described the experience in The Church as very welcomingshe felt like she belonged. According to the Bishop, there are 200-400 members of the Takena Ward and around 150-200 of whom attend on a regular basis. Throughout Albany, there are around 1600 church members divided into the four congregations present.

It was because of her friends that Kratka took an interest and began reading the Book Of Mormon.

     “A lot of my friends were Mormon, then I was just hanging out with them for a long time, and I just realized what their beliefs were, and then I learned a bit more, and I started reading the Book of Mormon and realized I believe in a lot of the beliefs they have,” Kratka stated. “I decided to go to church and investigate a bit more.”

     When a non-member decides to look into The Church, they’re labeled as an investigator until they are baptised.

     “Lucy’s investigating our Church, and she’s had a varied upbringing and religious experience,” Bishop Jensen said. “We encourage all of our members to really come to their own testimony of the gospel.”

     As encouraged, Kratka says she has looked into her religion and forged a connection between herself and her Savior. It took her three months to decide that she was Mormon and wanted to follow the principles set by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While The Church has concepts very similar to Christianity, and all Mormons are Christians, there are a few differences that both the Bishop and Kratka recognize.

     They read the King James version of the Bible as they believe it is the most accurate translation. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and includes lessons about his existence.

     “At the very end of the Book of Mormon, it says that if you read these things and ask with a sincere heart if the words are true, then you will be told by the power of the Holy Ghost that they are,” Bishop Jensen said.

     Kratka had been encouraged to do so. “I visited with our missionaries a few times and [after] talking to them, they asked me to pray and just ask God if this Church was true and [if] it was meant for me to join, and I did that, and just through feelings of positivity toward The Church, it made me realize I do believe in this,” she said. “This is what’s meant for me.”

     While her determination and loyalty is present, Kratka is still unable to enter the Temple, which is considered different from The Church itself. The Church holds Sacrament Meetings and lessons, while events like Sealings happen at the Temple. To enter the Temple, you must meet certain qualifications.

     Those qualifications begin with being baptized. The Bishop has to determine if a candidate is worthy of entry, and on top of that, they must be a full member, which Kratka is not.

     “I haven’t been allowed to join yet because my parents have to consent. I would be converting from not having a religion to becoming a member,” Kratka said.

     Kratka’s parents were against her investigating The Church, but allowed her the freedom to choose what she wants to do when she’s a legal adult. The choice that will be made is clear to everyone. However, her struggle still remains. “When someone’s being so negative about something you believe in, you don’t really want to listen to them,” Kratka said. “But they’re your parents, so you have to listen to them.”

     Often, conversations about her religion were sit-down family talks. They involved Kratka expressing her feelings. “My mom would respond,” she answered. “Not always positively, but she would respond.”

Though efforts were made to contact Kratka’s parents, they refused to comment.

     While the religion impacts Kratka’s family, it also directly impacts her and who she is. She thinks she’s become a better person.

     Through The Church, her goals have been worked on and even accomplished. Kratka’s religion reminds her to stay hopeful, but also connected to the world and people around her.

     “She’s nice,” stated Kratka’s close friend Brady Tapanna. “It’s noticeable she likes being Mormon.”

     “I think that it has been pretty obvious to me that Lucy has really grown quite a bit in her relationship with her Savior while she’s been with us,” Bishop Jensen said. “I think she’s become a happier person.”