In the LDS Church we believe in an orderly succession from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young. In the Reorganized Church of course they don’t accept Brigham as the prophet and instead accept Joseph Smith III. What is the view of RLDS Succession Crisis? In this conversation with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church, we’ll learn that 16 years after Joseph Smith was killed, the Reorganized Church was established.
GT: One of the things I want to talk a little bit about is the Succession Crisis. As you know Joseph Smith, for those of my listeners who aren’t super familiar with church history, Joseph Smith was killed in 1844 in the Carthage Jail. As I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong, I believe it was another 15 or so years before—Joseph Smith III was just a young boy. He was probably about 14 or so?
Jim: Yeah, that’s correct. He was a young boy.
GT: So it took about 15 years or so before Joseph Smith III felt called of God and then the Reorganized Church started in 1860. I believe it was April 6, 1860?
Jim: Actually that’s an interesting point. It actually started in 1852.
Jim: We actually had met together, a number of people during the Succession Crisis had come together. They organized at the apostle level, so the Second Presidency level if you will. They had the church until the prophet came forth, and so when young Joseph came, he felt compelled to come. That’s part of what he said, “I come by a power not of my own,” and he came to the church. It was in April 6, 1860 and so forth. Most people do look at that as the beginning, but honestly it was 1852, October of 1852 where they held the first general conference of the church at that point.
Similarly, following the 1984 revelation where women got the priesthood on the RLDS Church, 16 years later the Remnant Church was begun. We’ll talk about similarities and differences between these two reorganizations, as well as talk about some priesthood differences between the LDS Church and the Remnant Church.
Jim: We have quorums of seventy that are underneath the Twelve, so seven quorums of Seventy is what we have. Now we don’t have seven quorums of Seventy, we only have one quorum.
GT: We only had that for a long time but now we’ve got six or seven I think. Yeah seven is the maximum. We’ve got that. I don’t believe all of our seven quorums have 70 in them. They’re half that I believe.
Jim: And if I understand correctly, your seventies are based on high priest, or are they based on elder?
GT: They are based on High Priest.
Jim: Ours are based on elder.
GT: Oh really?
Jim: Yes if you’re based on an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood, well obviously because your priesthood is an elder, you’re set apart to be a seventy from the office of elder, not the office of high priest.
GT: Oh interesting. I know it does seem very hierarchal in our church, and I don’t believe that’s the case in the Community of Christ and I’m not sure in your church as well. Do you have adult members that are either Aaronic Priesthood or Melchizedek Priesthood holders? Is that pretty typical?
Jim: Yes that is pretty typical. We don’t look at it as a progression. We look at it as a calling. It may be for instance you have a calling as a deacon all your life. It doesn’t mean you didn’t magnify your call, it just means that that was what the Lord called you to do. We have literally men who are 80-90 years old who are deacons, and also vice-versa. We might have very young men who are elders or high priests, so there’s no progression. The way we look at it is wisdom and revelation is what’s in our scriptures for that.