I’m excited to introduce David Patrick and Benjamin Shaffer. David is an apostle and Ben is a Seventy in Christ’s Church based in southern Utah. We will get acquainted with them and find out more about the organization of their church and how it relates to the LDS Church.
GT: How big is your church? How many members do you have, would you say?
Benjamin: Just a few hundred at the most. The other thing, too, though, is this brings up the question of how do you count your church membership? We don’t count everyone who’s ever been baptized, until 120 years later, the way that mainstream church does. We really count our membership by those who actually show up to a solemn assembly, which you do need to recommend for, but it’s sort of like our General Conference. People who come to that, then that’s basically what we assume our membership actually is because these are the active members. But, you could come maybe to one and miss one, and we’d still count you, right? If we’re not counting someone as a member, it doesn’t mean we think that they’ve necessarily lost their blessings. We’re not excommunicating them. We’re not assuming that their ordinances aren’t valid. That’s all fine. So I suppose you could add a few hundred more if all those people counted who haven’t been here in a few years, but we figure it’s not exactly accurate to count them as full members if they’re not going to show up.
GT: Yeah, well, that’s fine. So is your church relatively new then? How long has it been in existence?
David: Just over 40 years.
GT: Oh, it’s 40 years. Okay.
Benjamin: So it’s relatively new.
GT: Oh, I should ask you this question. Are you guys Mormons?
Benjamin: Oh, yeah. In fact, I have an “I’m a Mormon” bumper sticker.
GT: Oh, you do?
Benjamin: Yeah. A friend of mine who wasn’t in our church. When Nelson gave the talk, she made up some “I’m a Mormon” bumper stickers. So that we could say, “Hey, you know, if the larger, mainstream church doesn’t want to claim it, we can be the real Mormons and they can be ex-Mormons. (Chuckling)
David: We’re very comfortable with being called a Mormon because I love the Book of Mormon. I just love it. It’s a definite part of our canon of Scripture.