TAYLORSVILLE, Utah–Members of a Mormon congregation in the U.S. encountered someone they thought was a homeless man at church on Sunday. What they did not know was the man was a bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At least five people asked David Musselman to leave the church property in the Salt Lake City suburb, some gave him money and most were indifferent.
He said he disguised himself as a homeless man to teach his congregation a lesson about compassion. He even asked a makeup artist to transform his face to that of a stranger not even his family recognized.
“The main thing I was trying to get across was, we don’t need to be so quick to judge,” Musselman told KUTV-TV.
“Many actually went out of their way to purposefully ignore me, and they wouldn’t even make eye contact,” he told the Deseret News. “I’d approach them and say, ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’” Musselman walked to the pulpit during the service and revealed his identity, taking off his wig, fake beard and glasses.
“It had a shock value that I did not anticipate,” he said. “I really did not have any idea that the members of my ward would gasp as big as they did.”
Ward member Jaimi Larsen was among those surprised. “I started feeling ashamed because I didn’t say hello to this man … He was dirty. He was crippled. He was old. He was mumbling to himself,” she said.
It wasn’t Musselman’s goal to embarrass ward members or make them feel ashamed, he said. Instead, he wanted to remind them to be kind to people from all walks of life, not just at the holidays, but all year long.
“To be Christ-like, just acknowledge them,” he said.