It’s been some time since I wrote here, so I thought it about time I checked in and dumped my thoughts on church and stuff. It’s now Q2 2018, and the last few months have been quite a shitstorm in Mormondom.
First we had Monson passed away, the man who up until is recent demise into dementia had been very much running the church for years, and had been at the helm in I would argue one of the most tumultuous times in Mormon history. I personally have good thoughts of him as a teenager, I have a memory of him coming to speak at Hyde Park chapel when I was a youth in the 80’s and commenting to friends that he was one of my more favourite speakers. He certainly had the charisma, and the widows were fond of him! And the NYT had to respond to 160,000 Mormons complaining about their coverage of him.
Following Monson’s passing, the deathmatch that is the apostolic secession procedure in the LDS church had Nelson step up as president, giving him the permission to reorganise the 1st Presidency, which he did, and in the process dissing Dieter.
Like any incoming CEO, Nelson wanted to make his stamp and so he rebranded Home and Visiting Teaching, into Ministering and combined the priesthood quorums.
Then we had the Joe Bishop debacle, the former MTC President, and Mission President who turns out to have been a lifelong sexual predator. And despite the church being told about him several times, did sweet FA and in fact rewarded him with high callings. No one will come out of this well, and I suspect there is more crap to come, as the accusers case unfolds against the church, and people are called to the witness stand. If you haven’t already read these have a look at the original audio release, timeline of events, and the letter that the church should have released.
All this is very interesting, I hear you say but what have I been doing with church? Well I am still technically active as I do walk in the building most Sundays, but I only go to drop my family off, I stay for 10mins and the leave.
Probably around the last time I wrote in this blog, I got curious about another church not far from my LDS chapel, and also prompted by some podcasts John had done. It’s Community of Christ (RLDS). On the religious scale I would put myself as an agnostic,I have a hope in a supreme being, I like the Jesus of the Bible, not sure about the supernatural parts, and walking dead side of things. But I can identify with the lessons, and radical message against the culture of the time, love, inclusion and social justice. I thought could a church accept me like that, and also be a place where my believing wife and children could also feel comfortable.
Well 2 years later, I am still attending Community of Christ, helping out and even led some services. They continue to amaze me, the local congregation I attend does amazing work with the youth of the community, a weekly attendance at the Monday night youth club of 40+ kids. The wider church amazes me with leaders who are theologians rather than businessmen, and that comes through in awesome scripture such as this…
7 a. Scripture is an indispensable witness to the Eternal Source of light and truth, which cannot be fully contained in any finite vessel or language. Scripture has been written and shaped by human authors through experiences of revelation and ongoing inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the midst of time and culture.
b. Scripture is not to be worshiped or idolized. Only God, the Eternal One of whom scripture testifies, is worthy of worship. God’s nature, as revealed in Jesus Christ and affirmed by the Holy Spirit, provides the ultimate standard by which any portion of scripture should be interpreted and applied.
c. It is not pleasing to God when any passage of scripture is used to diminish or oppress races, genders, or classes of human beings. Much physical and emotional violence has been done to some of God’s beloved children through the misuse of scripture. The church is called to confess and repent of such attitudes and practices.
d. Scripture, prophetic guidance, knowledge, and discernment in the faith community must walk hand in hand to reveal the true will of God. Follow this pathway, which is the way of the Living Christ, and you will discover more than sufficient light for the journey ahead.
In the UK they also run a residential centre in Herefordshire called Dunfield House, that during most weeks is used by schools and other secular organisations as a activity centre. It is also used for many church activities, camps (it would be a great place for a LDS youth or ward camp, I am sure they would have you), and other gatherings such as the recent bloody amazing Peace Colloquy, I only went for one day, but I drove down with my 11yr old. What an amazing day, and one again where I came away thinking Community of Christ has really got it sussed, messages and thoughts that are so relevant and needed, and makes me feel proud and honoured to be associated with them.
So there I am, I pop my head in the door of the LDS church, but rush to Community of Christ after. The two churches while having common root have diverged so much. I look at the recent issues the church is having in trying to cover up Joe Bishops activities, and I think that, even if I could get over the mass of historical issues around the truth claims, is it a church I could look at and think is it a ‘Good’ church? Does it have the moral high ground, and one I can look to as an example. The answer is a big fat NO … with bells on.
I think of Lehi’s dream, and I now see the great and spacious building being the LDS church and all those who cling to it, and Community of Christ being the simple, and modest, but ‘right’ Tree of Life.
The Community of Christ is doing all the right things, yes it needs a few more members, and it can be a little disorganised at times, but it’s doing amazing things. I would urge anyone to check them out, also have a look at the video above, its a ‘thinker’.