Sunday, July 8, 2007

It Must Be Said

In order to prevent my head from exploding I have decided to start a blog in which I can air all my "stuff" and invite you to share in the airing. This blog is not intended to tread on any toes—well, not too hard—nor is it an invitation to say ugly things about people, places or things. Briefly, I am an adult convert. About four years ago I was baptized in a hot tub in Las Vegas, Nevada, into the Restored Church of Jesus Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints prior to the apostasy and subsequent split in 1984.) Since then I have been watching with some degree of alarm the changes which are taking place within the church, and have reached the conclusion that there needs to be a heightened awareness among the branches in these latter days regarding just who we are, where we are going, and who comprises the heirarchy. Rather than post questions on various discussion boards and risk stirring the pot, as it were, I'm going to post my questions and comments here on my very own blog, and I encourage you to share with me any comments, testimonies, and further questions you have.

Question #1: What is the name of our church?

Question #2: Who and what is the JCRB?

Question #3: What is a "faction" and who determines upon whom this label is placed?

Question #4: The dreaded "if the JCRB takes the RLDS name . . ." where does that leave those of us who have chosen not the join up with them? Possible answer: refer to question #3

Just a few things to chew on. My one request is that anyone who chooses to respond to this blog do so lovingly and prayerfully, remembering that we are all creations of our Heavenly Father.

12 comments:

Brother Ev said...

Dear sister Jan:

You said, "...there needs to be a heightened awareness among the branches in these latter days regarding just who we are, where we are going, and who comprises the heirarchy."

You sure said a mouthful. The "who we are" seems to be dependent on what branch one attends. The "where we are going" is in a direction that is very frightening. And "who comprises the heirarchy" again often depends on which branch one attends or what organization they might lean toward.

It seems everyone has their opinion about "who we are" and we are having great difficulty forming an acceptable identity as the continuation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I fear this WILL NOT change until we become strongly committed to following the will of God alone, with no hint of mortal man's hands or agendas "steering" the work. Some of the following comments come back to this identity situation.

Question 1 - What is the name of our Church?

That is hard to say because you will get a different answer from every branch, and even possibly from every member of every branch. The "independent" nature of the branches has certainly created more problems than anyone could have surmised. There are many who believe that we (the independent Restoration Branches - along with many scattered, unorganized Saints throughout the land/world)are the true continuation of the the Reorganized Church, but when others start using the original name again it only serves to deepen the mists of what the true Church is to be called. I am beginning to believe that He will reveal the name of His Church once a body of Saints is so committed to Him that they will be blessed with His True Revelation and continued guidance to re-establish the Church the way He wants it! Earthly man will not save this Church of their own volition. Personally, I do not believe the JCRB (as presently assembled and organized) will "save" His Church. With all of the splits that have taken place, I think it is obvious that God Himself has not yet moved His people as He desires because they have not surrendered themselves or become submissive enough to understand what He wants them to do. When we put aside self, when we put aside agendas, when we put aside pride, and then put on the full armor of God, then I believe He will Speak as never before and restore the Church as He shall have it.

2. Who and what is the JCRB?

I really wish I knew! It seems to be an organization that is bent on being "the" foundational cause of re-organizing the broken Church. Yet there seems to be division amongst the ranks as to how to achieve purpose. The JCRB does not have a Revelation that they can point to and say, "See, God TOLD us to do this." Yet, the organization seems to think it is okay to wreak havoc among the already greatly splintered Restoration Branches by causing even more division. The JCRB seems to believe it "speaks" for the great majority of Restoration Branches, but that is very debatable at present. Even if they represented 51 or 90% of the branches, I don't think that is acceptable for leaving 10% or 49% out of the scope of God's True Church. To some there seems to be a penchant for rebuilding His Church from the bottom up, instead of from the Top down. Building a Church from the bottom up does not seem like a realistic approach (i.e. begin with Priesthood through Elders, call Seventy, call High Priests, call Patriarchs, and then possibly the First Presidency, etc. - and then during that process or at the end of that process God will realize we are THAT people He needs to do His Work, and then He will provide the Prophet and the Zionic Leadership that is necessary). I would much prefer that we beseech God that He would give us direction every step of the way.

3. What is a faction ... ?

Again, the answer is befuddling, because there are so many variations to the answer. Some say to be a "faction" the group has to have created a new "movement" (or church) such as the Lamb of God, Remnant, CofC, or other "splinter" groups. Others will say the new group must believe in a new form of hierarchy to be a "faction". And, apparently the JCRB will accept "faction" Priesthood IF they have a proper baptism/ordination in the Reorganized Church regardless of what organization they presently belong to. Again, there is great confusion about factions throughout the RB movement.

Question 4: The RLDS name problem.

This is a tremendous problem for those who believe that the true Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints left the RLDS/CofC Church when the Section 156 split took place. Since no action was ever taken to try and retain the name, the Restoration Branch movement is in a quandary now, and even more so if one organization legally obtains the name. If the God-desired body does not end up with the name, what happens? My guess is we go back to what was said earlier -- when a certain body of people "gets it right" God will reveal His Will and will straighten this whole mess out.
Until then, it appears that we (the RB movement) are headed into even thicker and blacker mists of darkness.

Yes, Jan, you gave us an awful lot to "chew on". So what do we do?
Do we continue on as we have for 20 some years? Do we all jump on the JCRB bandwagon? Do we all go separate ways?

Or - do we seek to establish Zion-like branches; do His Will in our own locations, building up the Church in a grassroots movement - completely dedicated to seeking His Will every single step of the way?

We have unexpectedly proven that the will of man cannot conquer our problems.

We have brought upon ourselves a tremendous destructive implosion of what we perceive as His Church, and are witnesses to the continuing decay of that Church as "man" attempts to dictate the solution.

We plod along, as we have for 20 plus years, not willing to surrender to our God and let Him do the leading. Being 110% committed to the work, working tirelessly toward a goal of bringing back His Church and doing everything possible to achieve "our" goals is fruitless endeavor, IF we will not surrender our will and our pride, and realize that He MUST be the one who directs us every step of the way.

I know I haven't given any hard-and-fast solutions to all of our problems. Perhaps, that is because mortal man cannot fix this mess. Therefore we must become that people that God can mold, shape and transform into the body of Christ that will assist God in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Brother Ev

Cec said...

Jan,

I find it very easy to respond to your blog with love. Responding to you with love, as a result of your love, is what I have enjoyed for twenty three years. You constantly astonish me.

Ever since we were drawn to each other in an unlikely setting, in response to mutual prayer, we have been a work in progress. The greatest progress so far was the spiritual experience which brought you into the fellowship of the Restoration Saints. Coming to Christ was a given, coming to His True Church was a further step in development. I rejoice daily in your fervor, your concern, your scholarship and your strivings to retain all the characteristic qualities of the church of which you had no knowledge at the time.

My prayer is to echo your request that responders to this blog do so prayerfully with due respect to each other. Having known the Saints for a longer time I believe they will not disappoint you. They have all been taught at the feet of the Master.

Finally, I offer congratulations on what can be a significant work for the Lord. There is nothing to hide here. Legitimate questions need legitimate answers. May the Lord allow the sunshine on this and subsequent discussions.

Love,

Cec

Equally Coy said...

Both the commenters thus far have made reference to "Jan".
How is it known from the Blog thus far that "Seeker" is "Jan"?
We see only "seeker".

The link to this Blog has been mysteriously posted on another site by a friend. NO explanation.
Why all the secrecy???

Already this blog highlights one of the biggest problems in the church.
Nobody trusts anybody, let alone God.
brother ev makes reference to the "independent" status of the branches (and the people) and I agree this is a spot on observation.
However, brother ev also suggests the answer to this dilemma is for people to trust only God.
While this sounds very "right" on the surface, the immediate question that comes to mind is,
"what exactly does that mean?"
Are you suggesting that God is literally going to independently act to set things right and plop them on us as it were?
If so, what do you have as evidence that that has ever happened?
If not, then who is going to be the one that we all have to trust as being the one who has completely trusted God so that God can do all this revealing that you have suggested?

I'm just looking for the practical side of what you have suggested needs to happen. It is hard to quarrel with what you say from a conceptual platitude standpoint but I cannot see how it is at all realistic or practical.

Who are you, seeker?

Equally Coy said...

Seeker,
Thank you for your prompt reply to my comment.
You are obviously well spoken and your writing is clear and concise.
I also sense, I hope correctly, that your moniker is well-applied.
I also appreciate your husband's post today.

This kind of seeking is precisely what is necessary for the church today, in my opinion.
When I make that statement, the underlying assumption is that there is an inherent receptiveness to what may be found.
My impression of most of the journey"people" participants on the internet discussion boards today is that they say they claim they are seeking but they have already determined what the answer is, or what it needs to be, or what it cannot possibly be. No amount of discussion or persuasion can sway them from their firmly entrenched positions. And all sorts of "pet" beliefs have been formulated and cobbled together, and sanctified, by their own making, into litmus test doctrines on which the very basis of the church and one's participation in it hinges. This has been exacerbated over the past 20-25 years because of the independent branch movement, as BrotherEv so astutely observes.


This "seeking", which is really not seeking at all, is due to several fundamental reasons:

1. Persistent ignorance
2. Reverence to Tradition
3. Reverence to rite and form rather than Spirit
4. Scriptural illiteracy
5. Scriptural stagnation
6. Intransigency and pride

I will likely come back and comment on each of these; but for now I will let them rest and allow others to ruminate.

I like your blog.
E.Coy

Brother Ev said...

Equally Coy:

Thanks for you comments. I believe that when the Saints decide to do whatever it takes to become the people He would have us to be we will see great changes within the Restoration.

I don’t believe there is any attempt at secrecy in this blog. I received an e-mail asking if I would be interested in responding to this blog. After reading the first comment, I felt led to respond, especially since the e-mail I received informed me that Jan had created this blog as an open forum to continue discussing Church questions.

You said, “Already this blog highlights one of the biggest problems in the church. Nobody trusts anybody, let alone God.” You are entitled to your opinion and I am sure all will respect your commentary. As for myself, I trust many, many Saints as well as non members – but I trust God above all else. He has led me for many years and He has never, NEVER failed me. (I cannot same the same for everyone else!) When I have totally placed my trust in Him, He leads me and guides me in ways that I could never have accomplished by myself. Is it a bad thing, to completely trust in God?

You ask, “… what exactly does that mean?” To me, it means that I have complete confidence in my God. When I am confronted by problems, I take them to God and ask Him to direct me. He has never led me in the wrong path yet, but when I do not follow His lead I find myself gravely mistaken most of the time. When I was forced into early retirement, I was instantly prompted by His Spirit to trust in Him, despite great personal anxiety and fears. When I felt lost, depressed or angry, I prayed to Him and He assured me that HE had everything under control – and He did and still does! I decided to trust Him implicitly, and He amazed me by providing ALL the answers to all of our problems.

I DID NOT say we cannot trust others, but I know from years of Spiritual experiences that I can trust my God with every facet of my life. Humankind has proven a completely different story! There are many Saints, friends and acquaintances who I also trust to a very high degree, yet others have failed to sustain that kind of personal trust.

You also said, “Are you suggesting that God is literally going to independently act to set things right and plop them on us as it were ..” You know, E Coy, I wish I had the answer to that question, but I believe (trust) that God will resolve all of our problems if we are willing to let Him do just that. I don’t know how He will resolve our problems but I do know, without any doubt, that He is in control and as long as mankind strives to establish earthly will and power in His Church, man will not succeed.

Then you said, “If so, what do you have as evidence that that has ever happened?” Are you suggesting that God has never literally acted to set things right? Did He not speak to Moses via the burning bush? Did He not send His Son as a sacrificial Lamb for us? Did He not restore His Church as prophesied? Did He not prepare a Promised Land, make it possible for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and thousands of other Divine events?

Lastly you asked, “If not, then who is going to be the one that we all have to trust as being the one who has completely trusted God so that God can do all this revealing that you have suggested?” Obviously, I do not know the answer at the present time. But, I do know that God still speaks to mankind today. And I trust, that when He so desires, He will reveal His Will – and those who have properly prepared to do His Will shall know beyond any doubt whatsoever that God has spoken.

The tragedy may be that we have become so out of touch with God that we are in danger of losing the mission before us, and are in grave danger of having that mission given to another. We have been warned, and yet we dare to keep splintering the Church by following the dictates of man. When will we get back to the foundational basics of the Restoration and truly seek Him out?

My “conceptual platitude standpoint” is, indeed, based on trusting God, and to me that IS a very “realistic” and “practical” method of fulfilling His mission for His Church. I might ask in retrospect, how have we been doing on our own, following the dictates of man, for the last 20 plus years?

brother Ev

Joy Muir said...

Dear Jan,
I will try to answer some of your questions.
1.How many baptisms in 2005,2006? We do not have a data base that shows this. Any restoration branches that chose to do so can send that info to the office (CRE) but all do not choose to do so.

2.How to reach priesthood in Vegas etc?
Call the CRE office and we have a list of any members who receive the Tidings of Zion. We try to keep it current and have priesthood listing, address and phone if they chose to share that info with us.
3.How many members in grain valley etc.
Call the CRE office and we can look in our RB directories (if a given branch chooses to send us one each year) or we can give you the name and phone number of the pastor and you could call them directly.
4. How mnay filled tithing statements?
Since we do not have a bishop working (in that capacity)with the CRE we do not have any record of this.
5. We have a wonderful set of SS quarterlies that have been compliled by the education council of the CRE. they are available at a very reasonable price from the CRE office. They are absolutely restoration based.
Hope this helps. Call me anytime at the office if you have anymore questions.
Blessings,
Joy

Joy Muir said...

Me again Jan,
Just saw you have another set of questions. here are a few more comments.
1. Church name?
This is one of the big problems with us NOT having a name. If you asked a teenager who has been in a restoration branch all of their lives I am sure they would answer I belong to the (fill in the blank) Restoration Branch. Not actually a church name. When asked what church I belong to I say I am a member of the RLDS church attending and active in the restoration branch movement.

2. JCRB?
I suggest you bring up their website and read what they say. I wear two hats. I manage both the CRE and the JCRB offices and do not see there is a conflict of interest although some would have you belive differently. Both groups consist of good dedicated men and women who are diligently working for the cause of Zion and who get an unbeliveable amount of criticsm regardless of what they do or do not do.
3.
Faction?
Some would have you believe anyone who does not attend a restoration branch is part of a faction. The early church accepted any members who chose to come back after the splits(without being rebaptized)as members in good standing. I think this policy should be good enough for us today. Man cannot judge who is or is not worthy to be called a member in His church. I shall let Him be the judge.
4. RLDS name?
This issue is not a JCRB issue. It is an issue which (if we have an opportunity) will have to be decided by each memeber on a personal basis. I was baptized into the RLDS church. My parents were members of the RLDS church. My grandfather was one of the early RLDS ministers in Ontario. My hubby was converted and baptized into the RLDS church. Our childen were baptized into the RLDS church. None of us have ever removed our names from the RLDS rolls. So..I guess you can say we are an RLDS family. Not a CoC family..but an RLDS family.

Just a few of my thoughts this evening.
Blessings,
Joy

Brother Ev said...

Joy said:

"4. RLDS name?
This issue is not a JCRB issue. It is an issue which (if we have an opportunity) will have to be decided by each memeber on a personal basis. ...."

I wish to reference the following portions of a letter (the minutes?) of a recent JCRB Logistics Committee meeting, written by Elder Rudy Leutzinger, Secretary of the JCRB:

Joint Conference of Restoration Branches Logistics Committee Minutes Faith Branch 1100 Truman Road Independence, MO

May 26, 2007 At 2:04 PM, ....

Elder Rolfe ordered the meeting by referring to the published agenda (attachment #2) and asked Elder Whiting to bring an opening prayer. As this is the first meeting of the Logistics Committee, Elder Leutzinger had no minutes to submit for approval. ...

Elder Evans moved that the Logistics Committee appoint a committee of seven members to discuss and negotiate with the Community of Christ (CoC) on issues of mutual interest such as the use of the name Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with all actions subject to ratification by the JCRB Conference. Elder Whiting seconded. After discussion, the committee voted unanimously in favor with one abstention. Elder Rolfe asked which Restorationists were currently involved in discussions with the CoC. Elder Leutzinger named Elder Bob Moore, Elder Patrick McKay, Seventy Ron Smith ....

... Elder Thomas raised a question about how the JCRB plans to use the RLDS name. The consensus opinion, after discussion, was that the JCRB would follow the lead and dictates of the branches.

... Respectfully submitted, Elder Rudy Leutzinger, Secretary
------------

If the use/acquisition of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints name (or RLDS as some would call it) is not a JCRB issue, may I ask why they have created another committee to discuss the use of the name?

Regarding the name, I wonder what the legal ramifications of using the name of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints might be. Since that name has been carefully "salted away" by the now CofC, is there a legal entity comprising the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? If one were to say "Yes", it is still legally a part of the CofC, then how can one reconcile the current beliefs of the CofC to the original Reorganized Church? How can one claim to be a member of the Reorganized Church if the legal entity entitled to the name has drastically different beliefs?

As a personal comment, when someone asks me what "church" I belong to I tell them I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, Restoration Branch, of Sunset, Maine, which we believe is the Spiritual continuation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I used to say "legal" continuation, but since I cannot prove that point I have changed to saying "Spiritual" continuation.

Last question for now, if God did not designate the name "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" by Revelation, and since the name has been legally (apparently) stashed away by the CofC, just what does that name mean (or what should it mean) to the Restoration Saints of today?

No more questions today, just one final comment:

With hundreds of Restoration Branches, and many thousands of members, I find it difficult to believe that a minority of the Saints would be considered "legal heirs" to the name if any branch, or small minority grouping of branches, should maneuver to legally claim the name.

brother Ev

Anonymous said...

Dear Jan,
I have no desire to become a participant in another debate with Everett. We have had way too many of those.
But since he quoted my comments I would just like to point out one of the strengths of the JCRB. Regardless of how many committees form or how many meetings they have it all comes down to one thing. THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE.
This is what separates the JCRB from the CRE. The people have a voice and a vote. So, if indeed the people vote (if this should become a reality) to accept the RLDS name back it is because the PEOPLE have spoken. EVERYONE in the world who was baptized into the RLDS church would have the right to use that name. This is the point I was trying to make in my previous post. It would not be a JCRB decision..but would instead be up to each individual to decide for themselves if they want to use that name.
Blessings to you and your dear hubby this beautiful morning.
Joy

Book of Mormon Warrior said...

In brother ev's 1 comment he made an 'or' statement about if we should "build Zion-like branches where we are". I believe that is exactly what we should do, preach the gospel where we are at, bring them to the truth of the Book of Mormon and Restoration, and teach them of Zion. We need to quit confusing them with talk of organizational issues that they know nothing about. My 2 cents.

BOMW

JOY MUIR said...

Dear Jan,
I just want to say how sorry I am that your blog has become just another place for people to bash the JCRB and the good people who are part of this group.

When I saw the only reunion you were promoting on your blog I had a little suspicion about the intent of this effort but I hoped I was wrong.

I am in daily contact with many of the people who are part of the JCRB as well as those who work with the CRE. I just want to go on record as saying I am very impressed with their dedication and knowledge and desire to serve the Lord. Are they perfect people? No way! Have they made mistakes? Of course. We all fall short of what we should be. But my first hand observations are that these good men are diligently and prayerfully trying to make a difference. They are trying to bring the hope of the gospel to a world that is hurting.

Sometime when you and your dear hubby are in town for a while please call me. I would love to be able to just sit and talk with you.
Blessings always,
Joy Muir

Seeker said...

Joy,

Thank you for your comments. We started this blog to provide an unedited,
free exchange of thoughts among those who love and cherish the Restored
Church of Jesus Christ. In its brief, but active history, we have only
chosen to reject one contribution. It fell into a category of
“tinfoil hat” ramblings, not related to the issues facing our people.

The reason no other reunions are mentioned is simple: no one else has seen fit to
submit information. The intent of this blog is grossly misunderstood if you
feel we are intentionally restricting any contributions. The intent of
Zion Beckons is to air, in the sunshine of Truth, the opinions,
observations, and beliefs of all interested parties. There is a definite
agenda here which Jan will freely admit. That intention is to sublimate
self to the will of God for the enhancement of His Kingdom. The
objectivity of the blog is evidenced by the lack of monitoring exercised.
If one wishes to publicize an event, state an opinion, question others or
support opinions previously expressed; this is their forum. We only
request a reasonable level of decorum with the reminder that opinions
differ on the best pathways to Zion.

God blessed me greatly when I was led to buy property years ago (1965) in
the midst of the Saints in Bedison RLDS in Far West Stake. The priesthood
there consisted mainly of the Jensen brothers who shared their wisdom and
their uncompromising love of their Savior. They demonstrated, daily, by
example, everything that was good about the RLDS. The lessons learned
from these holy men enhanced my life at the time and have guided me ever
since. It is a rare day that I do not recall some bit of wisdom or
testimony which they shared. As a consequence, I tend to measure all
priesthood against their impossibly high standard. Judgment is for God
alone but comparisons are difficult to avoid. That is my sin.
Unfortunately, my search for their equivalent is rarely successful. Note,
I said rarely, not, never. I have met men in authority in our church who
approach the level, and perhaps equal those fine men. However, many I
have met have a level of assertive bullying and lack of humility which
makes me blanche to contemplate the hopes for Zion. Even scarier are the
number who have an agenda of self-aggrandizement, cloaked in the glibness
of priest craft. Joy, I have a post up which deals with this in even more
detail. My final thought on the matter is to quote the words from an old
song: “Everybody talkin’ bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.”

In closing, let me say that I continue to hold your personal contribution
to the greater body of Saints in very high regard. Few would be willing
to accept the onerous responsibilities you have. It might be best
exemplified by either “herding cats” or “juggling chainsaws.”

Submitted in our mutual love of Christ,

Cecil Moon