Reminder: Plan to Attend Restoration Studies

The third annual Restoration Studies Symposium (Sunstone Midwest) kicks off tomorrow (Thursday) night with the third annual Wallace B. Smith Lecture, presented by Don H. Compier, Dean of the Community of Christ Seminary. Dr. Compier will address the symposium’s theme by discussing: “Who is a Christian? The Perspective of Ecumenical Christianity.” The lecture begins at 7:00 PM and the conference registration tables will open at 5:00 PM. If you haven’t registered, walk-ins are very welcome — be sure to arrive in time both to register and also to peruse the book tables. We will have copies of several newly released titles, including Restoration Studies XI, Community of Christ: An Illustrated History, and 150 Years of Song: Hymnody in the Reorganization 1860-2010. The Wallace B. Smith Lecture will be followed by an opening reception.

We have a full program that promises to enlighten. This year’s presenters and panelists include: Phil Barlow, Christopher Blythe, Don Bradley, Newell Bringhurst, Seth Bryant, Carol Cease Campbell, Ryan Combs, Don Compier, Ron Dawbarn, Marcello Jun de Oliveira, Craig Foster, John Glaser, Rachel Gostenhofer, Michael Humiston, Liana Kerzner, Page Kimball, Christine Magula, Sherry Morain, Stuart Parker, Mary Ellen Robertson, Michael Reed, Ryan T. Roos, Bill Russell, Gordon Shepard, Steve Shields, George D. Smith, Chrystal Vanel, and Barbara Walden.

You can view the whole program here: View Program

And you can still register online, just bring your printout and check to the symposium registration table: Register Now

All sessions will be held at the Graceland University Independence Campus, 1400 W. Truman Road in Independence: Map

If you’re planning to attend the Community of Christ World Conference, this will be a great way to kick off your experience. Hope to see you there tomorrow!

Summarizing the Church: Then and Now

David Howlett, Barb Walden, and I have spent a lot of time in the past few months getting a new, 72-page, full-color illustrated history of the church ready in time for World Conference. (I’ve previously blogged about it and shared pictures of some of the mockups here.) I have the first printer’s proof in my hands now and I have to say I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We’ll share more details about it soon, but it does look like we’ve finished in time to have plenty of copies at World Conference and Restoration Studies. (If you haven’t registered for Restoration Studies, do so right away, it looks like it’s going to be a great program!)

As we were working on the new book, Ron Romig sent me a beautiful 14-page brochure, printed c. 1956, that summarizes the church at that time. As might be expected, there are some differences between the way the story was told then and the way we have just now told the story again.

Continue reading

Mormon Stories on RLDS History

The Mormon Stories podcast has long been one of the most popular features of the Mormon blog universe or “Bloggernacle.” John Dehlin is an impassioned interviewer, who has elicited a number of fascinating stories from a wide variety of Mormons. Some past highlights include a five-part interview with Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, and a two-part interview with Anne Wilde, a spokesperson for fundamentalist Mormonism.

After a long hiatus, Mormon Stories is back. John recently asked me to talk about the 1844 Succession Crisis and the history of the Community of Christ for an LDS audience. You can hear part 1 of the interview here.

In the second hour, John asked me about the transformation of the RLDS Church into Community of Christ. You can hear part 2 of the interview here.

Devastation in Haiti! Please Help!

Much of Port-au-Prince has been destroyed, including even the Presidential Palace (above) and the United Nations mission.

Outreach International has issued the following concerning the catastrophe in Haiti:

Thousands of people, possibly 100,000, have been killed by the earthquake that hit Haiti at 5pm Tuesday evening.

Outreach International has been working in Haiti since the 1980s and currently supports a network of 90 schools serving over 9,000 children. Some of these schools have been severely damaged or destroyed. Worse yet, schools were in session at the time of the quake. Students and faculty undoubtedly suffered serious injury or death.

Let’s work together to help Haitians in their time of tremendous suffering! Please do what you can to help! Donate HERE at the Outreach International website.

Outreach International helps people overcome the effects of poverty and develop the capacity to create a new future for themselves and their community. We do not believe in short-term fixes, but in long-term solutions. We call this Sustainable Good.

Painting an Inspiring Story

New Illustrated History of the Church
I’ve been working around the clock the past two weeks with Barb Walden and David Howlett to create a new, brief, illustrated history of the church. We want to have the book published in time for the sesquicentennial of the Reorganization next year, so time is tight.

Our goal has been to tell the church’s history vividly, using the graphic-intensive format we created for last year’s illustrated history of the Kirtland Temple. The new book will be 74 pages long. Writing a 74-page book doesn’t initially seem like that big a deal, but some times it can be harder to write a short book than a long book. Continue reading

Feast Your Soul on This: Church HQ Officiousness

I’m just back from a week in Independence. One of the things I picked up there was an old 1980 souvenir booklet from the sesquicentennial of the church (bought from the Temple Library for 25¢). As we’re approaching another sesquicentennial — the first was 150 years since the organization of the church, next year is 150 years since its reorganization — I was eager to see how the last one was commemorated.

This 48-page booklet, entitled Called to the Work, is a concise summary of the church in 1980. The photos of church leaders were the first thing that jumped out at me. These headshots take up 14 of the total pages. But out of 237 pictured leaders, there was only a single woman: Marjorie Troeh, who was a “staff executive” and “Commissioner of the Women’s Ministries Commission.” It’s incredible how recently and how completely church leadership was a boys-only club. Continue reading

Ron Romig: Scholarship Catalyst, Scholar, and Missionary

Ron RomigThe Acknowledgments section of my very first essay in Mormon history begins:

Ronald E. Romig of the Community of Christ Archives suggested this project to me when we met on April 6, 2003. From that moment to the present, his assistance in moving the project forward has been invaluable.[1]

My indebtedness to Ron is hardly unique. In a quick perusal of acknowledgments sections of books and journals in my own library, Ron’s name shows up more than a dozen times. These works individually acknowledge Ron’s contribution to their creation, but they barely scratch the surface of the overall contribution Ron has made to Mormon studies in general, both as a scholar himself, and (even more importantly) as a catalyst for scholarship.

It is this overall contribution that we need to acknowledge today, because after more than twenty years of work in the Community of Christ Archives, Ron will be taking early retirement at the end of next month — a casualty of steep budget cuts the church has been forced to make due to the current economic recession. Continue reading

The Spirit of God in Kirtland

This rendition of “The Spirit of God” was recorded during the Sunday morning hymn festival on September 30, 2007, in Kirtland Temple. The festival was the final event of the annual conference of the John Whitmer Historical Association (which was held that year in conjunction with CSA). I’ve added a slide show of images of Kirtland Temple.

This was a very remarkable event combining people from across the Latter Day Saint traditions, along with scholars and students of history. There was an incredible energy, which everyone present felt, when we sang that historic song in that holy place. It’s something that can’t be reproduced on YouTube, but I thought I’d share something of the experience with you here.

An Architectural Precursor to the Independence Temple

Mike and I spent the end of last week on a self-guided architecture tour of mid-20th century modern buildings in Los Angeles County. While we were in Norwalk (visiting the city’s incredible modernist government complex) we were surprised to stumble across a little spiral church.


Spiral-shaped buildings are rare, and we were immediately reminded of the Temple in Independence. Continue reading