Bill Shepard is an amazing Mormon historian, and a former president of the John Whitmer Historical Association. He is also a Strangite. In our first conversation with Bill, we will get acquainted with him, and learn more about these other Mormons, & James Strang, a prophet many of you may not have heard of.
GT 0:46 Welcome to Gospel Tangents. I’m excited to have an amazing historian and I’m going to start this a little bit differently. But, first of all, could you tell us who you are?
Bill 0:55 Bill Shepard, I’m a life-long Strangite. Maybe more importantly, I’m a historian.
GT 1:03 Yes. You were the president of the John Whitmer Historical Association.
Bill 1:07 In 2008, yes. We had John Whitmer [Conference] at Voree, Wisconsin or Burlington, Wisconsin. We had a nice turnout of people, including Mike Quinn and Roger Launius.
GT 1:19 So, you’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve got a really awesome book. Do you want to show the camera? Your book was published in 1977!
Bill 1:30 This was basically intended to get out the positive things about James J. Strang and his teachings. It basically [tells] why the other Mormons sects are not correct. So if I would redo it, I would redo it a lot more professionally at this point in time. But it does have the positive things showing James J. Strang’s teachings. I think they’re quite significant.
GT 2:08 Well, let’s do a few things here. I don’t normally do this but tell me the name of your church because I think a lot of my listeners will be very surprised to hear the name of your church.
Bill 2:20 It’s actually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). We had to put the appendage on. We couldn’t use the term Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for obvious reasons.
GT 2:37 In fact, I think the only difference between your church name and my church name is I have a lowercase d, and you’ve got a capital D with no hyphen.
Bill 2:46 Right.
GT 2:47 We have a hyphen, lowercase. So that’s pretty funny. So would you call yourself a Mormon?
Bill 2:53 Oh, very definitely. We are asked many times, just like the LDS Church or Utah Mormons are asked, “Are you Christians?” [We have the] same problem, same identification, same basic goals. Strangites accept Joseph Smith certainly. They break, of course, with the transition to the Twelve Apostles into Brigham Young. So there was a critical period there when Joseph Smith died in that the Brighamite church did not have a prophet. Now the Strangites claimed that an angel had appeared to [James J. Strang] at the time that Joseph Smith was martyred and ordained him to be a prophet. It’s interesting to think that in this early period, the Strangites had a song by John Hardy. It wasn’t theirs, but it was “A Church Without a Prophet is not a church for me.”
GT 4:10 Oh, wow.
Bill 4:12 Of course, at that point in time until the 27th of December, 1847 the Brighamite church reorganized with Brigham Young as a prophet as their head.
 The book is called “James J. Strang: Teachings of a Mormon Prophet.” It is out of print and can be hard to find at a reasonable price.
Dont Miss our other conversations about Strangites with John Hamer, Michael Quinn, and Steve Shields!