As president of the regional Odessa Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Christopher Steven “Chris” Vore says the crux of his role is to bring as many people as possible to faith in Jesus.
Like all Mormon leaders taking no money from the church, he supervises 15 congregations with a total membership of 4,000 at six church buildings here and in Midland, Andrews, Big Spring and Big Lake. He is president of the Incentivize Enterprises land development and multi-family housing company.
Each congregation is led by a bishop, or lay pastor, with whom Vore meets regularly. “Our No. 1 topic is that we are children of a loving heavenly father who cares about us, who created a plan to help us learn and grow and return to him through his son Jesus Christ,” he said.
“Our concept is that salvation is not just for individuals but for couples and families and that family relationships are eternal. We believe strongly that there is truth everywhere, for that matter in non-Christian religions. God loves all his children in India and China just as much as he loves us, and every one of his sons and daughters will have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus and accept their savior.”
Interviewed at the LDS Church at 5401 N. JBS Parkway, Vore said he and other leaders are eager to meet newcomers at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sunday services.
Three of Odessa’s four congregations are drawn from geographic areas while the fourth, a Hispanic group, includes people from throughout the city. Midland’s churches are at 4805 Gateway St. and 2101 Tarleton St. while Andrews’ is at 250 N.E. County Road 1500 and Big Lake’s at 901 N. Main Ave.
Vore said he is proud of the Salt Lake City-based LDS’s worldwide missions program in which young men and women pay their own ways to spend two years promulgating the Gospel.
He did mission work himself for two years in France after graduating from Permian High School in 1989, then took a B.A. in French and political science and a master’s in public policy at Brigham Young University and a master’s in European studies at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. He speaks Dutch, French and Spanish. He and his wife Angelique have six children and a grandchild. He is 47.
“We have 25 young men and women from here on missions all around the world, and there are 32 missionaries working in the Odessa Stake,” said Vore, who is in the fourth year of his 10-year appointment. “These are 18- to 20-year-old kids who have volunteered to leave their homes, schools, girlfriends and boyfriends and teach people about Jesus for two years. Thirty-five percent are young women.
“We’ve been able to avoid the trend of declining membership in organized religions through missions, proselytizing, a strong family base and internal growth.”
It’s not just the bishops who speak on Sundays, Vore said, adding that any man or woman may be called on to preach. Mormons follow a health code that prohibits drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs, smoking tobacco or drinking coffee or tea.
Vore’s top assistants are LDS Counselors Greg Young, an Andrews chiropractor, and Jack Moore, a Midland petroleum engineer. “Chris is an outstanding individual who is very intelligent and has a kind heart,” Young said.
“He is outgoing but also thoughtful in how he can help and assist. He’s a true minister who opens his home to people each week for counseling. I have always been impressed with his attention to detail. Chris is able to see how all the details need to be pulled together and to keep a vision of where we need to be headed.”
Young said Vore preaches throughout the stake.
Moore said the president “is very much seeking to help people come closer to Jesus Christ and to know who Jesus is and use that in their lives on a daily basis.
“What you see is not a sense of self-aggrandizement,” Moore said. “What we look for in leaders is not the best-looking, the best orators or the most charismatic. We look for those who help others come to Christ.”