Together forever

Marriage and the traditional family unit are fundamental to Mormon theology. Gary Blakely, president of the Chicago Illinois Stake, which oversees 11 local congregations, explains that Mormons believe families can be together forever, and this eternal relationship represents the highest level of salvation they can reach. Because family stability is key to the eternal relationships, the church places a special emphasis on promoting it and offers an extensive network of resources for families, such as marriage counseling. Church members are expected to hold formal gatherings every Monday called Family Home Evenings, where families get together to sing, pray and engage in other activities. No other church activities are planned for Mondays.

Colorblind faith

It’s late on a February afternoon when Karen Sowu shows up at the Starbucks at 55th Street and Woodlawn Avenue. “I’ve never been here before,” she says as soon as she walks in from the cold. She’s not just talking about this particular store, but the entire chain of coffee shops. Still, Sowu wastes no time ordering herself a hot chocolate, one of the drinks here permitted by her religion’s restrictions on caffeine. Though she’s already had three hours of services at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hyde Park, Sowu chats enthusiastically about her faith, pausing only to sip her drink.