Four Tips for Attending MHA as a Non-Mormon

By June 6, 2018

MHA is one of my favorite conferences. People are friendly and approachable, there are always a wide variety of panels, and it’s a great place to catch up on what’s happening in Mormon Studies. That said, MHA is also a very Mormon space. Here are four tips for getting through MHA with your Gentile-ness intact.

–do your research. You don’t have to walk the walk, but it’s helpful if you can talk the talk. Familiarity with Mormon history, doctrine, and culture will let you get a lot more out of your conference, and using Mormon lingo will ease your conversations. (Of course, if you’re a JI reader, chances are you’re well-versed in all things Mormon already!)
–pass, or don’t pass: it’s up to you. You can stand out a little in a sleeveless shirt and a coffee cup or blend in with a midi skirt and a Diet Coke, however you’re more comfortable. Invariably, however, when people find out I’m not a Mormon, I get the question, “So why study Mormons?” That leads to my following point:
–Have your elevator pitches ready. As a non-Mormon at Mormon conferences, it’s helpful to have two elevator pitches ready: one about your research interests, the other about what drew you to that research.
And most of all:
–find your tribe. Without fail, at every Mormon conference I go to, at some point I’ll find the other Gentiles. Want to go for a coffee run or drink a glass of wine at dinner, need to vent about something offensive a well-meaning Mormon said to you when they figured out you weren’t a member, or just want to compare notes about your experiences in Mormon Studies as a non-Mormon? The other Gentiles are your friend, and bonding happens quickly.
Any other helpful tips for first-timers out there? Any questions you’d like answered before you go? Post them below.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


Comments

  1. Great post! I love attending MHA (and am disappointed to be missing it this year). From the start, I found it an incredibly welcoming community, and that goes for all of the various sorts of people who come.

    I think people are pretty forgiving of Gentile ignorance, unless those Gentiles make important and unsubstantiated claims in conference presentations. But I have embarrassed myself on occasion by mispronouncing Utah place names.

    Comment by John G. Turner — June 6, 2018 @ 11:01 am


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