CofChrist News Beat: World Conference Legislation

by: FireTag

February 23, 2013

Salt Lake City sees General Conference every six months. In the CofChrist, “World” Conference occurs every three years, and 2013 is the lucky year.

A Community of Christ World Conference is far more of a legislative exercise than its Utah LDS analogue. It features worship, of course, and normally will have approval to changes and ordinations to leading quorums (which have already been announced). It may halt in mid-stream for canonization of a new section of the Doctrine and Covenants. But only a couple of evening sessions will be taken up by “talks” by church leadership.

The bulk of the week-long conference will be devoted to things like budget, institutional board appointments — and a smorgasbord of resolutions brought to the Conference from lower-level jurisdictions. One thing that will not be on the smorgasbord will be issues related to gay rights within the church. The big news on that front is scheduled to be resolved at a United States national conference that will immediately follow the World Conference, and that I will probably post about separately.

The separation of forums for addressing of gay rights issues was the outgrowth of adoption by the 2010 World Conference of a revelation that directed the church to distinguish between general principles of the gospel applicable throughout human history, and the appropriate expression of such principles in particular cultural settings. Indeed, some national conferences in the Community of Christ have already adopted new policies that permit same sex marriage as a sacrament, and the ordination to priesthood of those in same sex marriages.

But the revelation is now a binding principle on the scope of World Conference legislation on topics other than LGBT issues as well. As a result, the legislation list for the 2013 Conference appears less cluttered with “social justice” concerns that mirror first world political debates than conferences over the last couple of decades. (In time, one would expect different issues with more of a developing world emphasis to emerge because the demographic future of the Community of Christ lies abroad, but at present the membership of the Community of Christ remains overwhelmingly North American.) The First Presidency can now rule out-of-order legislative proposals that are not of church-wide concern (in addition to other hurdles for a proposal to come to the floor).

The Presidency can also exert a great deal of agenda control simply by the order in which items of legislation are called to the floor. World Conferences share a certain characteristic with academic conferences: as the conference winds toward its close, people start worrying about catching flights home. So, toward Thursday or Friday, items to which any significant controversy is attached, and which do not have to be addressed (e.g., like budgets) tend to quickly get referred to the Presidency or a standing world church committee (Team) for further study and a report to the next conference. This can be the fate of proposals either favored or opposed by the Presidency, so things which they strongly support will be brought up fairly early in the week.

Nuclear Weapons

Which brings us to one of the more interesting pieces of legislation proposed for 2013. One of these “the-clock-ran-out” items at the 2010 Conference would have moved the church toward a more pacifist understanding of the gospel than the church has been willing to previously embrace. Since the legislation had the strong support of one of the standing teams initially, it is not surprising that related legislation is back, focusing on the abolition of nuclear weapons. The legislation is a joint proposal of  the World Church Piece and Justice Team and the Earth Stewardship Team, and the “actionable” parts of the legislation are:

Resolved, That Community of Christ affirms nuclear weapons pose a grave moral threat to the Earth and existence of life; and be it further

Resolved, That Community of Christ join the global voices seeking to halt nuclear weapons production, support prudent action to minimize the threat or use of nuclear weapons, and urge renewed efforts toward eradication; and be it further

Resolved, That wherever practical, Community of Christ convey its support for the responsible reduction and eventual eradication of nuclear weapons, urging policy to that end by all nations; and be it further

Resolved, That the Peace and Justice and Earth Stewardship teams be empowered and supported in

  1. sharing resources for education and dialogue that advance awareness of toxicity to the Earth, encouraging and supporting membership action on non-proliferation and elimination of nuclear weapons;
  2. encouraging justice, peace and reconciliation training, and activities that educate concerning the complexities of nuclear disarmament and international strategic deterrence issues;
  3. networking across the church, including access to the church’s website, periodicals, and social media; and
  4. connecting and encouraging the many individuals of Community of Christ and its affiliates such as PeacePathways, as well as advocates throughout the world committed to a peaceful, safe, and secure, nuclear weapons-free world; and be it further

Resolved, That progress toward these aims together with recommendations for further initiatives be reported to the 2016 World Conference.

Indeed, the church held its 2012 Peace Colloquy — the major fall event of this “peace and justice” church — on the subject of engaging nuclear questions in peacemaking, and so it would be something of an institutional embarrassment for the legislation not to pass. Whether such passage has any effect — positive or negative — on the number of nuclear weapons states or the number of explosions occurring to decrease or increase that number between now and 2016 is, of course, another matter entirely. And that is a point for discussions in the comments for this post, since the LDS church has certainly been accused of doing too much or too little recently in regard to controversial public policy issues about which members and non-member observers have strong, if contradictory moral convictions. Do such statements help or hurt? Should they be made? Can they be reduced to least-common-denominator without becoming meaningless?

Infant Baptism and Baptismal Prayers

The 2010 World Conference also took action on changing conditions for membership (i.e., loosening policies toward accepting baptisms performed by other denominations as valid for entry into the Community of Christ without rebaptism). The controversy over this issue was also part of the reason the clock ran out on discussions of pacifism.

An important part of the Prophet’s testimony regarding these changes was a reaffirmation that baptism was a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, and therefore did not apply to baptisms performed before the age of accountability. So the changes, traumatic for many raised in the “only-true-church” RLDS tradition, have not stilled the controversy for those advocating for still more change. They are back with legislation asking for more:

Resolved, That the World Conference request the First Presidency to continue exploration of the issue of rebaptism specifically in regard to those baptized by other Christian denominations before the age of 8 in light of the insights brought to the church through recent revelatory experience, including a review of the present policy based on historical, scriptural, theological, and experiential grounds; and be it further

Resolved, That the World Conference request the First Presidency to provide periodic updates on ongoing discernment as the church continues to reflect on the issues of church membership and to issue a formal report of its exploration no later than the next World Conference.

There is also a separate piece of legislation regarding creating alternative baptismal prayers that would be “gender neutral”; in this case neutral would mean not explicitly including feminine language, but excluding terms such as “Father” or “Son” that are explicitly masculine.

Resolved, That the World Conference authorizes the First Presidency to create baptismal prayers with contemporary, gender-inclusive language that may be used by Community of Christ ministers (priests or Melchisedec priesthood) as alternatives to the prayer recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 17:21c for the sacrament of baptism… To be clear, the First Presidency is authorized but not required to create alternative baptismal prayers, as in matters of scripture the First Presidency should be led by the Holy Spirit; and be it further

Resolved, That the First Presidency provide a report to the 2016 World Conference.

Do you see parallels with struggles within the LDS church in areas such as apologies for the priesthood ban, or changes in priesthood for women? How does an institution discern which principles are to be firmly held as global from those which are cultural in either time or population? How do you hold together those for whom change is always too much and those for whom change is never enough? Or do you even try?

The Counter Reformation on the Isles of the Sea

The Community of Christ’s small size, but global extent, has resulted in some geographically odd organizational compromises. One Mission Center (stake equivalent) organization encompasses Hawaii, Fiji, New Caledonia, and New Zealand, and this Center’s conference produced several pieces of legislation for World Conference that have a more conservative bent, and a clear North American orientation. That was a headscratcher for me until I counted the number of branches in Hawaii versus the number in Fiji. Trust the CofChrist to be reliably counter-cultural in any culture. We were always a bunch of rebels since before Nauvoo. :D So I guess we would have many conservatives in Hawaii, wouldn’t we?

One resolution notes that the church’s leadership made a statement on US immigration policy in 2007 (i.e., prior to the 2010 actions) and formally “requests” that the leadership of the church refrain from future statements on the topic unless they go through the National Conference route.

A second resolution similarly pushes back against a tendency in the church to rely on non-Restoration sources for our educational materials by focusing internal resources on the production of curriculum centered on unique Restoration scriptures (i.e., the Book of Mormon and D&C) which aren’t going to be produced by Protestants or Catholics.

The third resolution notes that the world church has produced a document known informally as the We Share document whose creation occupied the church’s scholars for a period of some years. This document, now in its third edition, has consolidated many of the theological principles the leadership felt necessary to proceed from an American-restoration-centered orientation to that of a global church finding its place within a larger Christianity. Although the Presidency has resisted any notion that this is a creed, the resolution’s concern is that this distinction merely permits the leadership to endlessly avoid having their theological understandings vetted by the common consent of the membership at large, as a revelation would be.

I suspect each of these resolutions will be ruled out of order by the Presidency as impinging on their teaching and interpretive authority.

Common Consent at All Jurisdictional Levels

The Pacific Islands Mission Center resolutions just discussed are symptomatic of another issue, which finds expression in another resolution on common consent: a feeling that legislative meetings at levels lower than World Conference (i.e., National, Mission Center, or congregation) are not expressing true common consent because of methods such as packing turnout, or ram-rodding by presiding officers. There is no specific side — other than whichever side loses — that is accused of this, but it is also true that most business meetings in the CofChrist are as exciting as a normal Congressional hearing. (Trust me on the latter; I’ve had to be at such hearings when the TV cameras aren’t there, and most of the Representatives or Senators on the Committee won’t be there either.) Thus, when controversies do arise, there is a potential for small groups or a presiding officer to exert a relatively large impact on the process; the system is not designed to routinely protect against them.

Therefore, legislation has been proposed that would focus attention on common consent as it applies to all legislative levels:

Resolved, That the First Presidency appoint a committee composed of church administrators and non-administrative members (congregational, mission center, and/or World Church), to review the principle of common consent, including our current official statement, but not limited thereto; to review, clarify, revise, and recommend changes that clarify the roles of presiders and participants in our legislative assemblies at all organizational levels in the church, especially the voting processes to be used and avoided when making decisions, and report to the next World Conference.

Well-Being and Intoxicants

Yes, you read that right. I could think of no more symbolic way to show today’s Community of Christ as a diverse group of people, left and right, trying to figure out whether God is calling the church to be a high entry-cost, high exit-cost institution or a low entry-cost, low exit-cost institution than to group the final two pieces of proposed legislation together.

The Australian Mission Center has proposed raising “health, wholeness and well-being” to a level of gospel principle equal to “other key principles such as generosity, peace and justice, and community” (see that We Share legislation mentioned above again). Simultaneously, a US Mission Center has proposed that the church rescind the World Conference Resolution that

“makes the consumption of alcohol by members and priesthood ‘a test of fellowship.’ The resolution further would request the First Presidency give the church contemporary counsel regarding the interpretation of Section 152:4b, specifically regarding how the consumption of alcohol pertains to Community of Christ’s understanding of sin. The resolution would request the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve Apostles ‘review church policy on abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages and confirm and/or revise the policy and administrative guidelines so there is a clear understanding of expectations for priesthood on this issue.'”

Of course, both the LDS and RLDS versions of the Word of Wisdom, as different as the respective interpretations may be, have frowned on intoxication for more than a century precisely as a health and wholeness issue. Had the proposal to revise policy toward alcohol consumption come from a jurisdiction being opened to the gospel now, I might not have been surprised. Other cultures do drink wine the way some of us in America drink tea. But American cultural mores toward drinking haven’t changed in generations, so it is difficult for me not to see this as an entry-cost issue rather than a health issue.

This piece of legislation does have a clever touch, however; if passed, it requires the Presidency to report to the church by April, 2014, rather than wait until the next World Conference in 2016. People are already learning how to get their items to the top of the church’s legislative agenda more quickly.

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20 Responses to CofChrist News Beat: World Conference Legislation

  1. mark on February 23, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    It seems to me that the actual agenda of some CoC members is to completely abolish all concepts/beliefs that identify it as part of the “mormon” religions. It has been supposed that doing this would make the church more acceptable in the Christian community at large.

    And so these members rely on resolutions instead of revelations.A resolution on changing the church name (after half-a-dozen attempts) was passed. Others include open communion, open baptism (which will eventually be allowed in any form to avoid “offending”) and all beliefs become subject to re-interpretation.

    Resolutions affirming the Bible as Scripture are supported; resolutions affirming the Book of Mormon as scripture are ruled out-of-order.

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  2. FireTag on February 23, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Mark:

    There is no doubt in my mind that you are correct about the view of many in the CofChrist that the church should sit firmly on the Protestant side of the Protestant-Restoration boundary. I place this in the context of a larger issue: should the church expect those joining to be clearly separate from their cultures, or should the church adapt itself to comfortably fit in those cultures?

    I’m not sure how that will play out as the membership of the CofChrist church continues to decline in the developed countries, because there is within Christianity as a whole a tactical political alliance emerging between first world conservatives and third world converts that could leave first world liberals on the outside looking in.

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  3. mark on February 23, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    FT:
    It is to me at least a slippery slope when members expect (or demand) that the church adapt to their culture within a culture etc.

    When a person joins the church, or is currently active for that matter, what cultural aspects do they have to separate themselves from? Reed M. Holmes said
    “what they gave up was a burden, needing to be dropped.” (1978)

    I just don’t see this ever resulting in anything than more contention. It may be naive, but a church roadsign stated “YOU DON’T CHANGE THE MESSAGE, THE MESSAGE CHANGES YOU”

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  4. FireTag on February 23, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Mark:

    I think you state the issue clearly. If a church is going to FAITHFULLY change from culture to culture, it must be because the second culture illuminates an underlying eternal principle — adding “line upon line” — that was true in both cultures but went undetected in the first.

    As a physicist, it’s natural for me to compare the relationship of Einstein’s relativity to Newton’s classical mechanics. Relativity was ALWAYS the true principle and classical mechanics the “low speed” approximation, but we couldn’t see the true principle until we experienced high speed measurements.

    I do see your slippery slope, because too many of the efforts to reduce entry barriers seem to forget that reducing the barriers to entry also reduces the barriers to exit, because they are the SAME barriers. If the composition of a body is the same on both sides of a boundary, there is no difference between being inside or outside the church.

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  5. mark on February 24, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    The tendency of the conference resolutions, even when I was RLDS, was to advocate a tolerance to new ideas/doctrines/concepts, and after gaining a degree of acceptance/support the tolerance ceased for any resolutions that might veer in another direction.

    Much talk is made about established beliefs being offensive, yet the members who want them changed worry not about offending those who cling to them. The fact that a member can denounce restoration beliefs from the pulpit under the guise of “personal faith stance” while one who expresses hesitancy over one of the many recent changes faces disciplinary action is very disturbing.

    How do you think most CofChrist member would respond to being asked “Which doctrines of the church do you believe are NOT subject to change/re-interpretation through conference resolutions?

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  6. FireTag on February 24, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Good question, Mark. I’ll have a better basis for answering after I see the reaction to the US national conference.

    Remember, however, that the Presidency and Twelve can effectively STOP any such movements (or at least delay them for decades) when they want to do so. It’s not so much a case of a legislative process run wild, as a legislative process that has the blessing of the leadership for institutional preservation reasons. The composition of the membership has changed as the result of voting-with-your-feet (as you did), and it is now firmly a church of the mainstream first world Christianity slowly evolving toward a smaller church dominated by “third world” Christianity in which left and right will take on different meanings.

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  7. mark on February 25, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    Not only do members vote with their feet but with their pocketbook. I know of CofChrist members who only contribute to their local congregations. But perhaps the principle of tithing got caught up in the “out-with-the-old” attitude of some. Your thoughts?

    You’re right about some pieces of legislation being scheduled to maximize results; the 1990 conference issue of changing the church name being a good example. Although the hearing was early in the week, and had to be re-located to the stone church because of over-flow, the vote wasn’t until friday. I think the leadership expected it to pass instead it lost.

    The resolution on baptismal prayers has a “may” and “alternative” in it. So if there was a gender-inclusive language prayer and someone used the traditional prayer, what would be the reaction?

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  8. FireTag on February 25, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Let me speak to your last point first: it would depend on the congregation. I presume that because we DO have alternative prayers for the bread and wine for communion, and in practice, that is how it works. No one has tried to change “alternative” to “preferred” or “required” yet, But, as I noted in the OP, people are trying to move beyond the most recent revelation expanding membership to allow baptism by other denominations. Whereas that decision reaffirmed the age of accountability, and the prophet’s testimony made EXPLICIT reference to baptism as a conscious choice by the individual to commit their lives to Christ, the pressure to extend to infant baptisms — which explicitly represent someone else’s choice for the infant — resumed immediately.

    As to your first point, it is very true, and the World Church stewardship teachings over the past few years have emphasized shifting giving from local to WC funding. Historically, giving has followed about a 2/3 local and 1/3 WC ratio, but the church is constantly trying to shift this to “equal” (i.e., a 50-50 split) local and world church giving.

    However, this trend is typical for all of the “social justice” churches; contributors in the congregations do not see the larger administrative organizations as providing sufficient value to justify support. For example, the National Council of Churches is having to close its offices in the “God box” adjacent to the Columbia University campus in New York and move in with the Methodists in DC.

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  9. mark on February 25, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Most LDS would freak at the idea of the prophet addressing an issue of concern and a segment of the membership immediately working to circumvent his counsel.

    Efforts to rescind/de-authorize section 156 were ruled out of order. What are the chances of the “infant baptism” resolution meeting the same fate?

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  10. Hedgehog on February 25, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Just wanted to say, this is very interesting, both the post and the discussion. Thanks, guys.

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  11. LDS Anarchist on February 25, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    OFF TOPIC

    This is for Firetag. I believe I read somewhere that you were a physicist. If so, and if you are up to giving your opinion, I’d like to know what possible conventional explanations there are for the pinch and column effect found in these videos:

    http://ldsanarchy.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/russian-chelyabinsk-meteor-to-ground-connections/

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  12. FireTag on February 25, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Hedgehog: Thank you.

    Mark:

    I think there is little difference whether the resolution is ruled out of order or not, since it can’t require the Prophet to come up with a different answer than he already gave. Prophets may go from “yes” to “no”, but they seldom go from “yes” to “no” to “yes” again, and even more seldom do so in successive conferences.

    I think this particular issue is settled as long as Veazey is the prophet and the church doesn’t completely schism along national lines. Future prophets or church organizations may see it differently, of course.

    Now, I have processed priesthood calls for women as a pastor, and would UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES have done so without profound personal testimony of their calls equal to that for a male. (In fact, I actually realized I was being harder in considering calls for females than I would have been for males, but that’s another story!) So I personally do believe that 156 authorizing women in the priesthood was correct.

    However, there is some history to the “overrule” decision that was not quite fair. The decision to overrule was immediately appealed to the floor, and the vote on the appeal was presented in the form of “you must uphold the chair (i.e., reject rescinding 156) if — forgive the math:

    (A IS TRUE) OR (B IS TRUE) OR (C IS TRUE) OR (D IS TRUE) OR (E IS TRUE)”

    Thus you could believe four of the five premises of the Presidency were wrong, and still have to uphold the chair. In fact, a majority could have believed EVERY premise was wrong, yet still have upheld the chair if they were not united enough to keep a minority of support on the various premises from adding up to a majority that something was right.

    Fair enough. But within a few months, the Presidency was making statements that individual premises alone had been upheld by the conference, and asserting a more general principle, never voted on by the conference, that ONLY the Prophet had the right to initiate rescintion of the canonical status of previous Sections. In other words, Prophets were not bound by previous prophets, but the common consent of future conferences WAS bound by the common consent of past conferences.

    That has interesting impacts on church government, if you think about it carefully, doesn’t it?

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  13. FireTag on February 25, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    LDS Anarchist:

    I can’t load the videos with my ancient gear (not limited to your videos, but videos in general). But you and I should have a discussion about plasma physics in general sometime. I once had an opportunity to hear one of the great plasma physicists talk about the role of plasma in solar system formation while at APL. That role is a lot less than I’ve heard some LDS advocate, but a lot more than some people realize. But you are right, it’s far more off topic than I can go into here. :D

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  14. Frank Sams on March 29, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    I know you said you would post separately about the National Conference and the LGBT issue, but I thought you might be interested in this recent email from Apostle Linda Booth. It reads as if action at conference may not be necessary after all. Alas, we have decided!
    —-

    From: [email protected]
    Subject: Information
    Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 16:02:25 +0000

    Friends,

    I know there is a lot of information below. Please read carefully.

    Some information should be shared with your leadership teams, pastors, and congregations. Other information will prepare you to answer questions from members and priesthood. There are also dates for you to put on your calendars and requests for a fall mission center conference time to meet with your priesthood.

    Less than four weeks now until the fun begins!

    Words of Counsel to the Church

    Please encourage your congregations to participate in the April 14 Sunday evening worship service where President Veazey will share Words of Counsel on the web. Steve does not intend for the words, which he describes as God’s gracious revealing of the way forward for our faith movement, to be submitted for inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants at this time. Instead, he is asking that we intentionally reflect on and study the spiritual concepts contained in the words.

    I will be interviewing Steve on May 5. The interview will be printed in a late-summer Herald and posted on the church’s website, probably by the first of June. His answers and reflections always take us to the heart of God’s concerns and provide inspired direction.

    2013 World Conference

    Some 2013 World Conference scheduling highlights (more details on 2013 World Conference web page)

    · Service of Honor and Recognition—Friday, April 12, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Temple Sanctuary—several of our retired Southern Field Leaders will be honored

    · Discussion and Info Sessions on Common Consent (Continents Room) and Ministry and Priesthood (Lecture Hall)—Saturday, April 13, 9 to 10 a.m.

    · Opening Session—Saturday, April 13, 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Conference Chamber—NOTE: this is a new start time.

    · Legislative Meeting—Saturday, April 13, 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Conference Chamber—Letter of Counsel concerning changes in general officers will be formally introduced

    · Worship Service: Words of Counsel to the Church and ordinations of Scott Murphy to Presidency, Steve Graffeo to Presiding Bishopric, Jim Poirier to Presiding Bishopric in Conference Chamber— Sunday, April 14, 7 to 8:30 p.m. webcast

    · Worship Service: Ordination of Barb Carter, Mareva Arnuad, and Art Smith to Council of Twelve Apostles in Conference Chamber—Tuesday, April 16, 7 to 8:30 p.m. webcast

    · Election of Council of Twelve President and Secretary—Wednesday, April 17, 8 a.m. The reason I bring this to your attention is that this will be the first time that the Director of Field Ministries (Scott Murphy) will reside in the First Presidency and the President will be another person from the C12. While each role has 10 (President) to 14 (Director) functions, basically the Director of Field Ministries supervises field ministries through supervision of field apostles and the C12 President presides over council sessions. This distinction may raise questions in the field so wanted you to have information. The new C12 President will be set apart on Wednesday afternoon.

    · World Conference concludes—Thursday, April 18, at approximately 5 p.m.

    USA National Conference

    I thank each of you for responding for my request to assess the impact of national conference on congregations—from little to no impact to the majority of members will struggle and some/majority will leave the church. I also thank you and your leadership teams for creating pastoral care teams to support individuals, families, and congregations who may struggle with the recommendations made by the USA National Conference. Because of your continuing support of congregations and individuals over the last three years, I believe we are in a better place as we journey together.

    In the national conference script, there is a time on Friday or Saturday when we pause to ask the body if they have any questions about the process of consent-building. Please support your mission center delegates by observing who raises their hands and then answering their questions based on information shared at delegate preparation and training sessions. All MCPs, MCFOs, and MCMCs should be ready to assist.

    · Begins on Friday, April 19, 8 a.m.

    · Several Southern Field ministers are featured in the opening worship video—Sidney Dawbarn and Fran Mazzefero

    · We will be singing from a 10-song, Community of Christ Sings hymn sampler. The USA Team of Apostles has printed an overrun so that the hymn sampler can be used during the summer reunion season. Tell your reunion directors. Let me know if they want copies and how many.

    · Ends around noon on Sunday

    · Monday, April 22, all MCPs, MCFOs, MCMCs are asked to meet at Woods Chapel Congregation in Lee’s Summit, 9 a.m. to noon.

    Ministry and Priesthood in Community of Christ (Priesthood Faithfulness)

    · As noted above, information will be shared at 2013 World Conference about disciples, ministry, and priesthood in Community of Christ.

    · The Council of Twelve is tasked with creating preordination studies with appropriate quorums, etc. More information to come about multi-media educational modules to be used by mission centers and congregations as well as regional priesthood events in 2014.

    · Two days, Wednesday, October 16, and Thursday, October 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., are now scheduled to listen to you (MCPs, MCFOs, and MCMCs) to assist the C12 in creating a plan to deepen discipleship and priesthood in Community of Christ. NOTE: this is when the Southern Field Leadership Team was scheduled to meet.

    Southern Field Leadership Team Meeting

    · Because of the last point above, the Southern Field Leadership Team meeting will be Monday, October 14, and Tuesday, October 15, followed by two days focused on discipleship and priesthood, followed by three days of Peace Colloquy.

    · If any of you need financial support from Southern Field Contingency Fund for travel, etc., please let me know.

    · Also, I have two bedrooms that can be reserved for some of you: One bedroom with queen-size bed; one bedroom with trundle bed (two single mattresses). First-come, first-served.

    Fall Mission Center Conferences

    I want to meet with your priesthood on the weekend of your mission center conferences. Please set a time and invite priesthood to attend so they can get it on their calendars. And let me know so I can prepare. I will be purchasing airline tickets in July for your fall conferences. I will fly in on Friday and leave on Sunday afternoon/evening. Please let me know if I need to extend days, etc.

    I will provide materials—“Ministry and Priesthood in Community of Christ.” This brochure focuses on ministry as humble service to communities, congregations, and the world by disciples who follow Jesus Christ; priesthood who are called by God for specific ministries and servant-leadership roles and serve as a team to more completely express God’s love and prepare, equip, and send disciples in Christ’s mission; a priesthood covenant with expectations that will help priesthood members serve more faithfully; and a comprehensive priesthood chart that shows specific priesthood ministry, sacramental ministries, partnerships with other priesthood, etc.

    Community of Christ Sings!

    Time is running out for congregations to order the new hymnal for a reduced cost. Please encourage your congregations and campgrounds to take advantage of the savings.

    Thank you again for your competent and compassionate ministry and leadership.

    Linda

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  15. Frank Sams on March 29, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    I want to call-out a particular paragraph from Apostle Linda’s email that I found striking:

    USA National Conference

    I thank each of you for responding for my request to assess the impact of national conference on congregations—from little to no impact to the majority of members will struggle and some/majority will leave the church. I also thank you and your leadership teams for creating pastoral care teams to support individuals, families, and congregations who may struggle with the recommendations made by the USA National Conference.

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  16. Frank Sams on March 29, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    And, of course, we will all know a lot more when we hear the non-prophetic Words of Counsel from President Veazey:

    Words of Counsel to the Church

    Please encourage your congregations to participate in the April 14 Sunday evening worship service where President Veazey will share Words of Counsel on the web. Steve does not intend for the words, which he describes as God’s gracious revealing of the way forward for our faith movement, to be submitted for inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants at this time. Instead, he is asking that we intentionally reflect on and study the spiritual concepts contained in the words.

    I will be interviewing Steve on May 5. The interview will be printed in a late-summer Herald and posted on the church’s website, probably by the first of June. His answers and reflections always take us to the heart of God’s concerns and provide inspired direction.

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  17. Frank Sams on March 29, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    And with that, let us proceed with the Common Consent process!

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  18. FireTag on March 30, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Frank:

    Thank you for sharing these things. I think the leadership is “informally polling” and may have a reading on how things are going to go, but the process will go on. I do NOT think the Words of Counsel will have anything to do with the LBGT issue, because the LAST conference was about separating the events on LBGT issues in the first world from the events in the third.

    The fact that the words of counsel won’t be placed in the D&C any EARLIER than the 2016 conference suggests to me that their contents are unrelated to the US conference this month.

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  19. Frank Sams on March 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Have you kept up with the “Theological Foundations” articles the church has been putting out? Leadership has decided, and they are pushing this issue in a very one-sided way.

    Veazey has already shared his “new” understanding of Galatians 3:28. “There is no longer male and female.” Unless they have seriously miscalculated and they get a rebellion and National Conference, this will happen.

    http://www.cofchrist.org/theology/default.asp

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  20. FireTag on March 30, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Frank:

    I have indeed been following the theological developments in the CofChrist for a number of years. The leadership has been very open about what most of them believe on this issue, but they have been very hesitant to push it forward because of the opposition it will bring from many of the third world countries where more conservative forms of Christianity grow while Western “liberalism” continues to decline.

    Those who advocate change toward more gay rights in the US are as angry that the church is moving “too slowly” as the conservatives are angry that the issue is being brought up at all. Indeed, it was a legislative stampede that was going to overwhelm the 2010 conference and promote gay rights that resulted in the last revelation separating world conference and national conference issues.

    The Community of Christ is living through interesting times. Hopefully, that is not “interesting” in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse.

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