Reunions as Sacred Spaces, Sacred Metaphors

As the weeks of summer slip by, Community of Christ reunion grounds have sprung to life across North America and Europe. Tens of thousands of church members will attend reunions this year, giving us pause to consider the theological and historical connections that reunions share with the wider Christian tradition as well as our own unique understandings of sacred space.

As noted in a previous post, annual Community of Christ reunions in their earliest incarnations resembled the camp meetings familiar to so many Protestants in the early 19th century. Indeed, the history of reunions parallels the evolution of the camp meeting among American evangelical Protestants. For instance, early 19th century Methodist-style camp meetings evolved from tent meetings that varied from place to place to settled meeting grounds where people camped during the summer and engaged in recreation beyond simply prayer and preaching. Continue reading

Community of Christ Reunions: A Very Brief History

Since the fall of 1883, Community of Christ members have gathered annually to attend reunions, or family camp gatherings, in their local areas. Listen to this 1911 description by Elbert A. Smith (a grandson of Joseph Smith, Jr) of a reunion that occurred on the grounds of Kirtland Temple.

I reached Kirtland the second day of the reunion and found that I had been elected to preside . . . Some 25 or 30 tents were on the ground just back of the temple, and a great many people had taken rooms in the hotel and private houses. . . . Our meeting passed off very pleasantly and profitably. The meetings were spiritual and the solemn and sacred atmosphere of the temple seemed to influence the minds of those who were present. Continue reading