Historian Steve Shields tells us that Sidney’s unsung role in the early Church was larger than LDS or RLDS historians have acknowledged. When Sidney joined with Joseph, Sidney’s followers overwhelmed the small group of Smith followers. Should it be called the Smith-Ridgon movement?
Steve: But, eventually, the Rigdon followers outnumber the Smith followers five or six to one. And so, I argue it really ought to be called the Smith-Rigdon Movement rather than the Latter-day Saint movement. Because in the beginning the word “Latter-day Saint” wasn’t even there, and it was Rigdon who came up with that.
GT: Oh, it was?
Steve: Oh yeah.
GT: Oh really?
Steve: [In] 1834 Rigdon announces that the church will now be called the Church of the Latter-day Saints.
GT: I knew that they changed the name, but I didn’t know Rigdon was behind it.
Steve: Oh yeah.
Who else were highly influenced by Rigdon? Do you think Sidney’s role has been downplayed in the modern LDS and RLDS Churches? Check out our conversation….
Don’t forget to check out our other conversations with Steve!
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?
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!
Kurt Francom recently interviewed David Ostler on his podcast about faith crisis research Ostler has done regarding reasons why people quit coming to church. Is there a disconnect between what leaders believe and what these people say? Kurt will answer that question.
Kurt: Another question he asked, “The percentage who strongly agree about the contribution of issues in individuals’ faith crisis in regards to questions about church history and then went the other way, right? A lot of a faith crisis members, that was a biggie: more than 85 percent. Gender roles within the church, that was another biggie.
GT: How about the leaders? Did the leaders see that as a problem?
Kurt: The leaders were around 40 percent, but it wasn’t the 80 percent. Right? There’s still a discrepancy.
GT: Yeah, 40 and 80, there’s a big difference.
Kurt: The Church’s LGBT policy, same thing. I mean they almost look identical. Transparency with decision making, same thing, right? And so with this information, I feel like a leader can better approach some of these situations when they have the right statistics, right? The right the right data. So does that make sense?
GT: Yeah. So, the big issues or the real issues I guess we should say are our church history was, was 85 percent, you said?
GT: LGBT was probably second?
Kurt: Yeah, that was just under 80 percent.
GT: Under 80 percent. So Church history….
Kurt: Gender roles was the other one which was about 70 percent.
GT: Seventy percent.
Kurt: Yeah. And to me that doesn’t mean, in my opinion, no doctrine, absolutely zero doctrine has to change. It’s not about getting doctrine to change, it’s about the culture. If we can change the culture and start talking, and having a dialogue about these things, then then I think that’s where we’ll see those pews start to fill up with those that maybe have separated themselves from the church.
He thinks that if more leaders were armed with correct information, they can come up with other ways to make our congregations more friendly to people who are experiencing issues of faith. Do you agree? Check out our conversation, as well as our previous conversations with Kurt.