World Conference in the Blogosphere

The Community of Christ Blogitorium has been as lively as the conference chamber as the church’s World Conference gets underway. In addition to the thoughts posted on this blog, a variety of people have been posting their reflections:

John Hamer journals his positive impressions of his first conference here. Todd Elkins (here and here) offered concerns about the consolidation of power around the First Presidency, a theme that ‘Beware the Chicken’ seems particularly alarmed by (here and here). Matt Frizzell takes a more upbeat tone here, impressed by President Veazey’s sermon. Cross-posting some of his thoughts on this blog, Rich Brown has been doing some theological reflection on the issue of sexuality and the church. Lyle Anderson II has been offering a few initial impressions too.

As more people blog on World Conference, please post links to them in the comments section below.

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98 comments on “World Conference in the Blogosphere

  1. Todd Elkins says:

    I would say my concern about consolidation of power is more than just The Presidency, but would include the World Church Leadership Council. What is interesting is that the trend of power consolidating at the top of the church has also gone hand-in-hand with the great reduction of inter-council rivalries that use to exist (First Presidency vs. Presiding Bishopric vs. Council of Twelve).

  2. What we need is a few people live-blogging the Conference. Anyone there with a lap-top?

  3. Rick Collins says:

    I’ve posted a few blogs on World Conference at http://mustardseedmanifesto.wordpress.com/

  4. Todd Elkins says:

    Chicken, I had actually sent a request to communications and asked for blogging credentials. I’m not sure I communicated clearly what I was looking for, but it would be a place that one could either have access to the press box, or room with a monitor of the conference activities and a good internet connection. I was told last Saturday that they didn’t have anything like that.

  5. I just wanted to say thank God for the upbeat analysis of the likes of Matt F and John H. It’s easy for us negative nellie’s to drag down what is otherwise a momentous occassion and one of my favorite times.

    The energy around conference the other day as I walked around was, as usual, palpable and uplifting. It is always a positive thing to be in the presence of those trying to do good in the world.

  6. Todd Elkins says:

    It is interesting that I watched Steve’s speech on the Web and not in the conference chamber. I wonder if that made me a little more negative towards it than if I was there. Kind of like those those that listened to Kennedy/Nixon debates on the radio vs. watching it on TV.

  7. FireTag says:

    I posted twice on the process and background of the issues in regard to canonizing Sec 164 for an LDS audience on Mormon Matters back in January, and I’ve promised a summary of what happened and what it means at the close of conference. The Utah saints find our process rather amazing, though they don’t seem clear whether they think that’s a good thing or bad thing.

    The earlier posts can be reached most easily at:

    http://thefirestillburning.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/a-guest-post-appearing-on-mormon-matters/

  8. Matthew Bolton says:

    Matt Frizzell’s latest on what he perceives to be misinterpretations of the Veazey’s Counsel: http://mattfrizzellonline.com/2010/04/13/counsel-to-the-church-ii/

  9. FireTag says:

    Passage of 164 has been announced.

  10. John Hamer says:

    My upbeat analysis continues here.

    • Upbeat is certainly the word for it. I’m going to have to go read the Section again. I’m afraid the First Presidency will be concerned your analysis will put our overseas ministers in harms way.

      • Todd Elkins says:

        I feel this approach that we can’t put anything on the web about what our church is doing with gay and lesbians issues is really overstated. And yes even bigoted. Perhaps the church in the developing world can have time on the issue, but they can’t have the entire church’s silence.

      • John Hamer says:

        I think you’re correct and it may well get me in trouble with some of the leadership. However, despite the porous nature of the internet — different audiences can follow links and read writing intended for wholly different audiences — it is very important for the audience I’m communicating with in the Mormon Bloggernacle to hear the message in this way.

        I can tell you that yesterday, prior to my post, but after news of the acceptance of D&C 164 broke, I was emailed by a Mormon who had left the LDS Church in part because of Prop 8. He’d been investigating Community of Christ, but he now wanted to know the logistics of exactly how he could join.

        I believe that the Community of Christ is being called to provide a spiritual home of disaffected Mormons who have left their church but remain spiritual seekers.

      • FireTag says:

        John:

        Somehow, in the storm of comments that were going on on April 16, I missed this one until I saw Todd’s link this morning. I do agree that the CofChrist can be a port in the storm for such disaffected Mormons that will allow them to fulfill their personal missions in a better place.

        One of our historians, Roger Launias has pointed out that the RLDS always found its niche among those comfortable somewhere between the LDS and Protestantism. Your beautiful fantasy map of the religious world shows how much fertile land exists for searchers willing to homestead in the borderlands between the Mormon left and the CofChrist left.

        The phrase in Section 164 “Beloved Children of the Restoration” doesn’t just apply to the denomination Community of Christ if we grasp its full meaning.

      • John Hamer says:

        Firetag — Agreed. I think the geography says it all.

        For the faction in the Community of Christ that wants to cut the church off from its roots and eliminate its “distinctives,” I have yet to see it explained how that path strategically positions the church to welcome in any new members. Why not join the Episcopalians who are better at being progressive pioneers? Why not join the Quakers who are uncompromising in their commitment to peace? Why should any liberal Protestant with no Restoration background join a church that is struggling even to pass its own self-reinvention on to its own younger generations because it’s so seemingly burdened with baggage?

        In fact, it ultimately will turn out that the “baggage” is a blessing to the church and, indeed, that the baggage is the church. Of course we don’t need to be burdened by our baggage such that we live shackled to its errors, but we do need to embrace our baggage so that we can mine it for its truths.

      • FireTag says:

        John:

        Re your April 20, 503PM comment, I think the map we have to consider is a “terrain” mao rather than a “political” map. It doesn’t matter where the institutional boundaries are — they’ll change — but it is the strategic terrain between the Mormon left and the Community of Christ that offers opportunity for many to find a home. One percent of LDS Mormonity, already disaffected, is as large as the entire CofChrist. The CofC doesn’t have to even BE the home; it just has to be a bridge to the home.

        To use your example of the Restorationists, their institutions may be frozen, but their people are not.

  11. I remeber telling friends years ago who insisted that the issue would be addressed and resolved at Conference that the First Presidency would find a way to delay it once more and would maintain the current discriminatory status quo. Most vehemently disagreed with me (Margie!)

    Not even I could have forseen that leadership would find a way to continue disrminatory practices while simultaneously convincing people on all sides that that they had actually resolved the issue in their favor.

    Truly a remarkable feat.

    • John Hamer says:

      Chicken — What’s remarkable to me is that you can look at a glass that’s full and declare it totally empty.

      I haven’t pulled my interpretation out of thin air. I’m here, I listened to every word spoken in the 3 sessions of the conference devoted to this Section of the D&C. The implications of this compromise were quite clear to the delegates who spoke for and against it.

      And I’ve also been interviewing many people, including those intimately involved in the struggle, such as Bill Russell, who is sitting next to me in the Temple library here right now.

      • Metaphors and name-dropping aside. The actual effect of the new Section just isn’t what you say it is. If it is to become what you say it is, it will be by action of the First Presidency. I continue to hope they will do the right thing – but to date they have not.

        I hope that they are finally setting the table to do the right thing – but it’s just not a valid argument to claim that they have done so.

      • Ask Bill – if he agrees with you that Section 164 means that accepting of GLBT is now a near-term certainty.

      • John Hamer says:

        His answer is: “in friendly jurisdictions, yes, it is now a near-term certainty.” He said that includes Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. He also believes there will be near-term action in the U.S., but he does not yet know the exact mechanism. He would like to see it devolved to the Mission Center level in the U.S. since a national conference would be so big. He says he hopes to find out more today about the mechanism of how this will happen in the U.S.

      • John Hamer says:

        When the amendment to the Church’s bylaws went through, it allowed for special National, Jurisdictional, and Cultural Region Conferences, that are able to be called for specific business with 12 weeks notice. I talked to members of the Canadian delegation who had met with Susan Skoor and who believed that there were no obstacles to resolving these issues in Canada immediately. It also sounds like Australia will be on a very fast track and the chair indicated to a delegate from Central and South America that there would be some capacity to deal with some of this very rapidly there. I’ve been told that Hawaii wants to have a Cultural Region conference of its own so that it can deal with this immediately.

        The inclusion of “Juridictional Conferences” implies that it would be possible to break the U.S. up into apostolic jurisdictions, although I agree that it looks more likely that there will just be a giant General Conference of the U.S. church organized to deal specifically with these issues. Legally now that can be called with 12 weeks notice, but Firetag has made a very good point that the planning logistics may demand that it be set a year in advance.

        Susan Skoor indicated to the Canadian delegation that it would be possible to conduct their conference electronically. If that’s the case, it might be possible to cut down the lead-time for a U.S. conference too.

  12. Hey – I posted something upbeat at my blog.

    http://bewarethechicken.blogspot.com/

    I want it noted that I can be upbeat.

  13. FireTag says:

    Please also be aware of something about the selection process of delegates. The primary qualification for being a conference delegate is the willingness and interest to go to conference. This means that delegates bear roughly the same relationship to membership that participants at a political party rally have to the voters.

    Very many CofChrist members have NO such connection to the World Church. So the success of the compromise in avoiding schism is going to depend on what the bulk of the North American conservatives do when they actually realize what’s changed.

  14. John – in his Q&A, Veazey said that there would be no room for different policies within any nation – ie. there is no platform for mission center level changes.

    If he finds out more – make sure he lets us know.

  15. Matt F. says discussions about a US conference will be underway immediately.

  16. I’m at Conference too and am convinced that it will not be long until the more local conferences will be addressing the issue. There is much to be read on the church’s web board about the Conference. John Hamer’s report is right on as well.

    If it all works out as planned, I will have to apologize to Steve. I talked to our former Mission Center President and they are staying another two weeks following the Conference to work out details. Also, that is what Len Young will be doing this next year…working on implementation.

  17. FireTag says:

    It’s very interesting because my WordPress dashboard shows Margie’s comment immediately above the headline from John’s BCC thread.

    The Examiner reporter headlines it as Delegation Takes No Action. John headlines it as Gay Rights Resolution Added.

    Two people in the same room, seeing it very differently.

    I thought the most hopeful thing is that they’ve cut out a field jurisdiction for Susan Skoor that covers ONLY those jurisdictions such as Canada and Australia, etc. that are most friendly to the ideas that produced the pro-gay-rights proposals.

    Outside of the US attracts a lot less media attention than in the US, and any change in national policy at the US church level will make its way around the world instantly regardless of what we choose not to discuss on our own official web sites.

    You ultimately cannot proclaim Christ in secret unless you do it non-institutionally.

    • John Hamer says:

      The media take is correct as far as the reporting goes, which is that legislation will not be dealt with on the World Conference level.

      What the media failed to realize is that it won’t be dealt with on the World Conference level because the World Conference near unanimously voted to approve a compromise, embodied in D&C 164, which returns the issue to National Conferences so that the church within different countries can create policies within those countries.

  18. Todd Elkins says:

    Firetag, the secular media has woefully covered the conference. The article by the Independence Examiner misses the point. Community of Christ’s Communication operation also doesn’t want to make a big deal about how the revelation will deal with LGBT issues.

  19. FireTag says:

    Todd and John:

    My daughter reported to me yesterday that her biggest shock was coming out of her hotel room and seeing the Examiner. The shock was seeing ANY paper with a CofChrist story on the frontpage. What made the headline? And what made the AP reports that went out before the conference?

    Now imagine a national conference in the US at time X in the future. The church decides to endorse all of the gay rights issues envisioned in the proposed legislation. How will the AP report that?

    The compromise is what the government would call “giving plausible deniability”. I don’t mean that in any bad sense. Within the framework of preserving the church, plausible deniability is the only way we’ve found to protect the third world church and grant gay rights anywhere. The need for plausible deniability isn’t going away any sooner than the need to protect our third world members does.

    The basis for the calculations the leadership have, in good faith, been making all along hasn’t changed. If completing the mission –> preserving the church, then full rights for gays within the US church will continue to be a lower priority than protection of the third world church.

    • John Hamer says:

      I appreciate your thinking this and I understand your analysis. Since we both have the same hopes, it’s a happy thing to me — and, indeed, for both of us — that I have total confidence in my analysis. I’m quite sure that you don’t wish to be proved right and that you will be happy when I am proved right.

      The leaders do care about the church in the developing world, but that does not trump their care for the church in the developed world. They are keenly aware that the latter is the existential question for the church and they understand that failure to act on this means the end of the church in the developed world; having lost the conservatives, they cannot now lose the liberals, including all young people. We also should not discount the fact that this issue is among their own personal core beliefs about Christ’s gospel and that while they must act responsibly in their callings, they also desire to do what is right.

      I know that the skepticism of many members is borne from a long series of disappointments, and that during the struggle, members have endured extraordinarily painful injustices. However, if we can look up at the big picture, the movement in society is generational. As we all know, the U.S. itself is still divided until the elderly generation passes from the scene. There are only a handful of nations, states, and churches that have embraced full equality. When jurisdictions of the Community of Christ begin crossing that threshold in the next two years, they will still be in the vanguard.

      The time that has been bought was dearly paid for with untold pain and suffering. But the purchase wasn’t blown on some crass political maneuver. It was spent winning hearts and minds. Allan Fiscus told me that the delegate who had been most aggressive with him at the GALA booth — who had become almost violent when he saw pictures of gay members performing ministry and priesthood functions — came back the next day with a change of heart and apologized. And the delegate then voted to accept D&C 164. Again, I’ve heard story after story of these changes throughout the church. And the reality is that once someone crosses the threshold on this issue, that heart is permanently won. People do not embrace marriage equality and then go back and change their minds.

      Susan Skoor called the results of this week’s conference a miracle, and rightly so. We’re not to the end yet — we have several thresholds to cross — but again, I have total faith that the most necessary changes will occur in the very near-term.

  20. What I don’t get is – this is exactly what I’ve expected for months. Margie – when I said that Steve would use the revelation to get rid of the resolutions, you didn’t believe me. Now that he’s done it – you say it’s a surprise and a good thing.

    John, Margie – did you suspect something different would happen? If so, what? If not – why didn’t you express these assumed outcomes before?

    At the end of the day, so long as things are put off, things can happen. If Grant had stayed FP we likely would be open and affirming now – but things happen when you delay.

    I have no doubt and have never doubted that one day the Church would be open and affirming. The test is to see how we respond to issues of justice in general and whether we are willing to be on the forefront as a radically inclusive Church – or whether we will always be willing to sacrifice true peace and justice for stability and status quo.

    • John Hamer says:

      No — I didn’t suspect anything different would happen. This is precisely what I anticipated (and hoped) would happen as long as three years ago.

      The only difference is that I imagined there would be much, much greater opposition. Instead, the conference achieved a startling consensus, even from antagonists who came hoping to do everything they could to derail the process.

      I now believe that we will be able to have a radically open and affirming church without overly significant losses of membership. That’s why my mood is so buoyant.

      • I pray you are right and will continue to press leadership to make it so.

        Hard to imagine and all-USA conference, without the influence of Canada or Europe, and heavily influenced by Center Stake (as one would imagine an off-year conference to be) to go in that direction. But, obviously, stranger things could happen.

        If Canada, Europe and the more progressive areas can start the ball rolling, it will certainly make things easier.

    • Yes, but chicken, the issue was not raised at World Conference but it WILL be raised in the more local conferences where there can be discussion without the fear of the African and Haitian delegations in the room. The outcome will affect ONLY the area of the USA that can handle the issue.

      Remember, there are STILL areas in the church, some near my area, that do not ordain women…after twenty five years.

  21. FireTag says:

    John:

    Perhaps our difference in optimism here comes from a more fundamental difference in how we view the world working. Although I take a “progressive” view on this issue, I don’t look at life from a “progressive” framework. The movements of God toward the future are very uneven; societies can move toward AND away from justice, just as economies or ecosystems can rise or fall. Those rises and falls are the way God works; He doesn’t suspend those laws to make happy endings, but works through them to achieve those endings.

    If there is one thing I think we have to grasp to be a prophetic people — and that immersion in ANY church culture can blind us to the way fish are blind to water — it is that while Christians are expected to do a great many things, SURVIVE is not necessarily one of them. The followers of Jesus never saw that resurection would come AFTER the cross.

    A “one and only true church” may believe the cross will never be required of it. A “true church” should not leave that assumption unexamined.

    • John Hamer says:

      I’m not interested in institutional survival for survival’s sake. However, I do see institutional survival as vitally important because I believe that the institution has a very particular and vital calling on its immediate horizon.

      I thoroughly agree with you that we have to look at much more elaborate interplays of connected systems when we’re dealing with social change. As a student of ancient, classical, and Medieval history, I’m very aware that both progress and regress exist, side by side, and I hope that I am constantly reexamining my assumptions based on new data.

  22. Rich Brown says:

    Just because there was little opposition at Conference to what is now Section 164 does NOT mean there will only be token opposition in the church “back home.” Somebody earlier pointed out it will be interesting to see what the liberal wing and the conservative wing of the CofC do now. And I agree, but it will also be important to see what the “broad middle” does, too. I recall that in 1984, World Conference delegates approved Section 156 by a substantial majority (not as decisively as this year but still notable) and then after Conference the real fireworks began.

    We heard relatively little before and during Conference about the current operating fund deficit. This year’s fiscal year budget is 25 percent below last year’s–and even at this much lower level we’re still not meeting hoped-for income projections. With the recent sale of The Groves in mind, we’ve run out of things to sell in Independence (granted there is still the development of the Little Blue Valley but that depends on a dramatic turnaround in the overall housing market). Staff are already being quietly told that if the trend continues, there will be more cuts in the near future.

    It’s probably safe to assume the bulk of WC mission tithes come from the “broad middle” (and to a great extent, the age 60+ segment of that group). So, in short, let’s follow the progress of national conferences on sexuality issues, but let’s also continue to follow the money.

  23. The Conference material mentioned that 80% of the money donated was from 20% of the members and that the average age of that group was 69. It is still my contention that if the younger generation doesn’t start donating to the World Church soon, the church will only survive another decade or two.

    It seems the younger generation always has finds for I-pods, computers, blackberries but nothing to donate to the church. Many of them are loaded with credit card debt and huge house payments too.

    Priorities, priorities, priorities!!!

    • Rich Brown says:

      “The average age [of contributors]… was 69.”

      Obviously, that’s the reason why the Estate and Financial Planning division at IHQ the past few years has had an essentially unlimited budget, when just about everybody else had to count their pennies.

  24. FireTag says:

    Rich:

    I will be eager to see the statistics, because they don’t seem to be showing any changes in previous trends. (Not surprising — if they had changed dramatically, it would have been quickly publicized.)

    Margie:

    Did the G-28 as passed permit field conferences that only covered parts of nation-states or not? As I read the legislation, it does not permit a conference for, say, Iowa, in which other mission centers in the field don’t vote.

  25. You know, I’m not sure. It was my understanding that the US would be one field. I may be wrong though.

  26. FireTag says:

    Margie: Ot is my current understanding — which I’m trying to clarify — that individual nations within fields are the smallest unit for which G-28 authorizes conferences. I am not sure whether cultural regions could be extended to Iowa, although I might be surprised.

    • John Hamer says:

      I believe the bylaw change was national, jurisdictional, and culture region conferences. It’s been suggested that Hawaii could be considered a cultural region, but I agree it’s unlikely that Iowa would be. By the changed bylaws, it seems that the smallest unit contemplated for the U.S. would be apostolic jurisdiction.

      However, I believe that those three words were inserted between the words “World Conferences” and “Mission Center Conferences” — already in the bylaws — so it’s possible that the legal effect would be to allow special Mission Center Conferences to be called to consider the issue too. (I don’t have any information of any such plan, I’m just speculating about what might be legally possible.)

  27. I’m afraid someone else who was there will have to answer your question, FireTag.

  28. G-28 gives broad authority for pretty much any size/jurisdiction of conference. However in his Q&A President Veazey has said that he will not permit differing policies within one nation.

  29. Rick Collins says:

    Which is interesting, because you could say that there are several different cultures within the United States.

  30. Yes, there are. In the deep south people are very different from those on the West Coast and even the northeastern US. In the Bible belt in the center of the nation, many people still believe in a literal reading of the Bible.

  31. We heard a paper at RSS from a member of the LDS and he said 50% of LDS are inactive. Maybe we could reach that 50% with our story. Also a met about a dozen former LDS at Conference that are now members of Community of Christ.

    • mark gibson says:

      By contrast, Margie, in our local ward (Pascagoula,Ms.) we have five adult converts from the RLDS to LDS. I converted eleven years ago at age 41.

      • Margie Miller says:

        To each his own. Personally, I don’t care for anyone telling me what I must believe and I don’t accept the esoteric teachings of the LDS.

        Some folks prefer to have a church dictate their belief system…Catholics, LDS…just to name a few.

        In the LDS, Pres Kimball received the 1978 revelation, they drafted a press release, and the policy was changed. Four months later, it was ratified in Conference, but that ratification was a rubber stamp. If someone had come out in opposition, they would have probably been told they weren’t following the brethren, and if they continued to resist, they would have been excommunicated.

  32. mark gibson says:

    On saturday april 3rd I was viewing the afternoon session broadcast of the LDS general conference when Apostle Todd Christofferson gave his talk. IN it was a remark that made me think of the C of C’s current message, at least of some of its members. Elder Christofferson said “They have imagined a Jesus who wants people to work for social justice but who makes no demands upon their personal life and behavior”.

    • What he likely means is – “,…who’s demands upon personal lives and behavior are at odds with what I would demand, if I were God.” Certainly God makes demands upon our personal lives and behavior. He asks us to stop jutifying the shortcomings in our relationships by attacking the relationships of others. He asks us to get over our own hangups and accept others notwithstanding how uncomfortable we may be.

      These behaviors are difficult for some to accept.

    • Todd Elkins says:

      I remember Martin Marty writing how John Wesley said the Christian path required one to practice personal piety, love towards one another and seeking justice. He said that most people are good at one, some at two and very rarely all three. Yet the Gospel requires us to seek all three. (See also Micah 6:8).

      I think it is a cheap shot to say the Community of Christ doesn’t call for all of these.

  33. Mark,

    I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. Everyone I know has their own mission agenda as well as congregational agenda and works very hard to fulfill it.

    I don’t know where you got your information, but I think you’re wrong…dead wrong.

    • Rich Brown says:

      I think Elder Christofferson was perhaps just channeling his “inner Glen Beck” (an LDS convert who believes social justice has everything to do with socialism/communism and nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus). BTW, I’m sure the LDS General Authorities greatly appreciate Brother Beck’s tithing payments made possible by the “Fair and Balanced” TV network.

      • Todd Elkins says:

        I suspect you are right Rich, but it is creating a straw man portrayal of one’s faith “opponents” that isn’t fair. Our tradition has been guilty of this in the past.

        I have been wondering how the call to seek that there “Are No Poor Among Them” is indeed a social justice theme.

    • mark gibson says:

      I am former RLDS; my brothers and their families are still active although traditional in their beliefs. Even when I was still a member the RLDS church shied away from preaching about personal responsibility as given in scripture. The law of chastity, the word of wisdom, even the law of tithing were looked upon as “you do or you don’t; its no big deal”. We still have our agency, but how often in the c of c are members encouraged to try and live up to these standards?

      • Todd Elkins says:

        Mark, you talked about “demands upon their personal life and behavior” and now you are defining it more narrowly as relating to sexual activity, the words of wisdom and the law of tithing.

        I think there is a broader understanding of what ones personal ethical demands are. You are correct that those things are talked about far too often. The individuals whose sexual activity is questioned in the church today, are gays. The word of wisdom has largely been placed into realm of historical background for the church. But I think stewardship and giving the church has a solid teaching on.

  34. mark gibson says:

    Margie, of course it’s to each his own; That’s our agency. I think every denomination has a set of priciples that members are expected to believe and uphold. If you agree with their beliefs and find them spiritually uplifting, you associate with them. Why would anyone join a Church and immediately start disagreeing/finding fault?
    Esoteric teachings? “understood by the specially initiated alone”. I’m okay with that. The scriptures tell us that many priciples of the gospel are only understood after prayerful study and consideration, often fasting as well. I would be interested in knowing just what LDS teachings you consider such.
    I wasn’t LDS when the 1978 counsel on priesthood was presented, but I have no doubt that many members struggled with the change and many couldn’t accept it, which led to excommunications. As I said, gospel priciples need study and prayer. I remember the struggles of the RLDS Church in 1984 over women’s ordination, and how it led to excommunication of some members, although most of the objectors simply withdrew or went inactive. There were no “fundamental” groups in our area. The point is the RLDS also expected its members to “follow the brethren” with the change, just as you are now expected to do with section 164.
    You, nor I, nor anyone should follow their religious leaders blindly, we receive no blessings from our Heavenly Father by doing so. When the LDS Missionaries came to our home (they didn’t know we were RLDS) they encouraged us to ponder and pray over every matter we discussed. Good advice then, and now!

  35. Margie Miller says:

    “I would be interested in knowing just what LDS teachings you consider such.”

    I would consider baptism for the dead to be one of them.

    Also, the belief that marriage continues after death in an afterlife where the man is a god and the family continues as the inhabitants of his own personal world. Spiritual wifery or polygamy ties into that. Even though it’s no longer practiced it is still generally believed.

    Also, the belief that the woman must be married to a man who goes to celestial glory in order to be sent there herself. Way too sexist for me.

    There are others but I guess those are the ones I would object to the most.

    But, as I said, to each his own.

    • mark gibson says:

      The only concepts we had to familiarize ourselves with when converting to LDS were the temple ordinances; however I remember reading lots of material from RLDS scholars and general authorities that stated temple ordinances would be performed once the temple in the center place was built. That belief was eventually discarded.
      Regarding the eternal family, since I never knew either of my grandfathers or extended kinfolk, the concept greatly appealed to me and I believe it helps those who do believe strive harder for a close-knit family. We know that the temptations of the world tear at the fabric of our homes. When I hear sociologists encouraging time spent together as families today and realize that LDS President Joseph F. Smith instituted the idea of Family Home Evening in 1915, I know it was a divinely inspired concept way ahead of its time.

      gotta go, severe weather in our area!

  36. Margie Miller says:

    “The only concepts we had to familiarize ourselves with when converting to LDS were the temple ordinances; however I remember reading lots of material from RLDS scholars and general authorities that stated temple ordinances would be performed once the temple in the center place was built. That belief was eventually discarded.”

    I have never heard of that belief even being considered in the RLDS Temple. I have been a member of John Whitmer Historical Associating since the late 70’s and I have never heard a RLDS historian say anything of that nature. President Smith himself said such would not be a part of the Temple. It was dedicated to the pursuit of peace from the very beginning.

  37. FireTag says:

    Mark and Margie:

    I’d also recommend that you both read anything from Launius (unrelated to the space program) you can get your hands on. He’s much more sympathetic to Mark than those who have commented here, and was himself driven away from the church because of its unwillingness to find ways to keep conservatives in the fold.

    It’s something to really keep in mind over the next two years as we consider Section 164.

    • mark gibson says:

      There was a book published in 1991 that Roger Launius may have contributed to titled LET CONTENTION CEASE: THE DYNAMICS OF DISSENT IN THE REORGANIZED CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS.
      While I’m thinking about it, did you view or read AMERICAN PROPHET THE STORY OF JOSEPH SMITH. It came out not long after we converted. Grant Macmurray was at least one RLDS source of input. I thought it was pretty well balanced and wondered what was your opinion?

      • FireTag says:

        Mark:

        I have neither of those documents. The first one, however, was written in support of a Standing High Council opinion that was published in the Herald in 1988. I do have the SHC statement as a word file which I’ll be happy to e-mail you privately, if you wish.

  38. Margie Miller says:

    “Margie, Joseph Smith III seemed to be open to Baptism for the Dead, but not the other Temple practices”

    I’m not surprised because almost all the converts in his day were from the Strangite movement and they would have remembered the practice from the Nauvoo period. In fact, the teaching of the proctice had to die out with that generation.

    I do not believe any modern prophet would have advocated it because of it’s esoteric nature.

  39. mark gibson says:

    Thanks for all the responses. Firetag I didn’t know that Roger Launius had left the RLDS; when did that happen? Years ago I read his book on the Kirtland Temple.
    Margie in 1884 the RLDS conference, referring to baptism for the dead, stated “commandments of a local character, given to the first organization of the church, are binding on the Reorganization, only so far as they are either reiterated or referred to as binding by commandment to this church.” Two years later, six leaders of the RLDS, including J. W. Briggs and Z.H. Gurley who were instrumental in its founding, withdrew from the church. Among their reasons was the inability to believe in BFTD. My point is forty years after Nauvoo and twenty-six years after the reorganization BFTD was still a hot issue. Remember the RLDS kept the relevant sections of the D&C active until 1970. This info comes from F. Henry Edwards’ A NEW COMMENTARY ON THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS (1977)

    • FireTag says:

      Launius wrote an essay circa 1997 (it appeared in a Restoration Studies volume, but I do not recall which volume number) that was critical of the treatment by church leaders of those who became Restorationists. Grant responded with an essay, published in the same volume, which attributed Launius’ criticism to letting family ties to Restorationists bias his judgement as a PROFESSIONAL HISTORIAN.

      Roger dropped out of activity shortly thereafter, and I can only speculate from the timing that the two incidents are related, although I know that why a person leaves a church is seldom due to a single issue or easily understood by anyone else.

      I don’t know if he is active in any church, but he does still appear in the literature, still critical of the leadership, from time to time.

      His primary historical work is with NASA in recent years.

      • Margie Miller says:

        Roger used to come out for John Whitmer Historical Association but I haven’t seen him in several years. I have to agree with him about the way the church handled the dissension following 156.

        Hopefully we have learned something since them.

      • mark gibson says:

        Thanks for the info. Roger’s situation reminded me of something similar except it involved a group instead of an individual. The Foundation for Research on Ancient America was affiliated with the RLDS Church. Roy Weldon was a member of their Board of Directors as of 1970, perhaps later. I have several of his publications.
        Then, something happened. I can’t recall exactly when or where (quite likely the HERALD) notifying readers that the FRAA was no longer permitted access to Church facilities, namely the Auditorium. Reasons were not specified but the speculation was FRAA’s position on the Book of Mormon was at odds with the leadership. I personally have no idea and thought someone with experience in mormon history might know, not that it really matters now, but if true it does provide another example of intolerance.

      • FireTag says:

        Mark:

        I cannot tell you specifically about Roy Weldon although I also read and loved much of his work; I do remember the announcement. At the time, the Restoration Branches movement was just getting started, and it was roiling my Stake. I was getting unsolicited mailings from the groups, and since they were not mass mailings to all of the priesthood, I presume people who knew me were specifically trying to recruit me to join the movement.

        Some close friends and some mentors did join, but I found their literature to be increasingly stident rather than persuasive. It was an angry time — on both sides — and it got angrier into the 80’s.

        I think it’s a lesson in the importance of trying to look at the other side with a “best case” analysis to balance our “worst case” analysis.

        Not that I don’t get my own buttons pushed all too frequently, mind you.

  40. Margie Miller says:

    Yes, I am aware that the very early reorganization had to deal with the issue but nothing of late.

  41. mark gibson says:

    Is Dr. John Obetz still the Auditorium Organist? I visited with him several times during my membership and he was a great guy, as well as a Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia brother.

  42. Margie Miller says:

    No, he has moved on. We now have a woman organist. her name is Jan Kraybill. She too is very good.

  43. mark gibson says:

    I had a recent phone conversation with a dear friend living in central MS. He was LDS until the late 1960’s, converted to RLDS where we attended together, and re-joined the LDS about 13 years ago. He asked about Steve Veazey; his position in the C of C church prior to his appointment as president, how he was designated, etc. I couldn’t tell him for sure and would like a bit of bio.

  44. mark gibson says:

    ‘salright, Firetag! Looking thru my RLDS D&C helped me prepare last Sunday’s Elders quorum lesson on Prophets as I shared the different perceptions from our two churches. Any religious insight from the LDS Prophet can be part of the canon of scripture without actual inclusion in the D&C; an example being THE FAMILY: A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD (1995). In the RLDS, only documents voted into the D&C carry any binding authority. Rarely does anything presented otherwise become scripture; an example being the latter half of section 157. Was that a fair observation?

    • FireTag says:

      About 157, yes. I’m still unsure from discussions of the Family Proclamation exactly what its status is, since it doesn’t seem to be quite the same as, for example the statement eliminating polygamy on earth or removal of the priesthood ban on African Americans.

      Perhaps you could clarify.

  45. mark gibson says:

    The Family Proclamation was presented on September 23,1995 by then-President Gordon B. Hinckley during a Women’s Relief Society meeting. I’m not sure if it received any “official” action, but since then it has been published in several of our Sunday school lesson books, as a missionary tract, and even as a document suitable for framing. I find it to have great spiritual insight for my family. It’s also included as part of booklet used by the young men/young women’s groups called FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOUTH, which I also have no problem regarding as scripture.

    Truthfully, in my eleven years as LDS I’ve not heard any references to the “manifesto” or the Priesthood document of 1978; probably since the presenting of both created controversy.

  46. […] bad, but I’m starting to think that other LDS World Conference was better. You know, the one where — instead of praying for a handful of people to get a […]

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