Steve Shields was raised in the LDS Church and attended BYU. So why is he now a member of the Community of Christ?
Steve: I was really interested in church history and I started reading these books and pamphlets that were not approved by the general authorities and my mother warned me that if I kept reading that kind of stuff, I would lose my testimony and leave the church. She wasn’t happy that she was right. I don’t see it as losing my testimony. Did I leave one organization for another? Yes, but I think my faith in Christ is stronger than it has ever been. I’m not saying that I didn’t have faith before. By going this different route, I began to focus more on what I think matters most.
Steve: And history then, didn’t become the main focus of my faith, but became a main interest. That sort of–Oh, do I dare use the word tangent? Tangential to my faith.
GT: We like that word.
Steve: Yeah. It was a big deal to make that move. By the time I had been on my mission and, and done that, I had some pretty out of the box ideas about God.
Steve discusses his reasons for changing his religion, and we discuss the RLDS/Community of Christ hierarchy. What are the similarities and differences with the LDS Church?
GT: I know John Hamer was recently called to be a Seventy.
Steve: He’s a Seventy, right.
GT: He would be more like an Area Authority?
Steve: He’s like an area authority. Yeah, that would be. Yeah. Our Seventies are more like Area Authorities. Now, there may be some official expenses that they’re provided for travel and things like that. And I don’t know. Every jurisdiction, every mission center of the church and mission centers for us are like areas for the LDS organization.
GT: I’ve heard that they’ve been compared to a stake.
Steve: Well, but stakes are different from LDS, have always been different from LDS stakes. It’s not been uncommon for us to have 30 or 40 congregations in a stake.
Steve: And the stake presidents were full-time world church appointees. So, stake looks and feels like it might be the same in both, but it really wasn’t because of the size. So, I really think the mission centers replaced stakes, as we tried to reduce the number of levels, so we used to have the general officers and then the fields. Each apostle had a certain geographical area. Then we had stakes and regions and districts. And so, we tried to compress all of those stakes and regions and districts are now all mission centers and we reconfigured that.
Check out our conversation…
You may also want to check out our previous conversations with John Hamer and Community of Christ apostle Lach MacKay!
120: Start of RLDS Church & Mormon Schisms Tour (MacKay & Hamer)
119: Surprising Word of Wisdom Insights from an Apostle (MacKay & Hamer)
118: Mormon Followers of the Prophet James Strang (MacKay & Hamer)
117: Alice Cooper’s Roots in Lively Mormon Schisms (MacKay & Hamer)
116: Different Succession Claims: Other Mormon Groups (MacKay & Hamer)
115: Strange Kirtland Temple Ownership Problems (MacKay & Hamer)
114: Comparing LDS & RLDS Temple Worship (MacKay & Hamer)
113: A Seventy & Apostle discuss myths & Kirtland Temple (MacKay & Hamer)