The Latest: Mormon leader encourages baptisms for the dead

The Latest on a Mormon conference in Salt Lake City(all times local):

11 a.m.

A top Mormon leader is reminding church members about the importance of performing ceremonial baptisms for deceased ancestors who didn't receive the ordinance while alive.

Henry Eyring told a worldwide audience Saturday during a twice-yearly Mormon conference that God wants all his children "home again" and encouraged members to use the religion's massive genealogical database to trace their ancestral roots.

Eyring is a member of a top governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Mormons believe the baptism ritual allows deceased people a way to the afterlife if they choose to accept it. The belief that families are sealed for eternity is one of the core tenets of the faith.

But the practice offends members of some other religions, especially Jews, who became upset years ago when they discovered attempts by Mormons to alter the religion of Holocaust victims. They included Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager forced into hiding in Amsterdam during the Holocaust and killed in a concentration camp

The conference this weekend in Salt Lake City is broadcast online to church members around the world.


1 a.m.

Mormons will hear guidance and inspiration from the religion's top leaders during a church conference this weekend in Salt Lake City as well as getting an update about church membership statistics.

Updated figures for total worldwide members and new converts are among the stats released during the Saturday afternoon session of the spring conference.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is approaching 16 million members.

Matt Martinich, an independent Mormon researcher, says he's eager to find out how many new members were converted by missionaries last year.

Church figures show the average number of people converted per missionary has been on the decline in recent years.