Posted on Leave a comment

Hawley Leaves LDS for RLDS

In our final conversation with historian Mel Johnson, we will discuss early Mormon pioneer John Pierce Hawley’s conversion to the RLDS Church.  Find out how shocked his congregation was when he announced it to them!

Mel:  In early 1870, John has come to the conclusion that he wants to join with the RLDS Church. John Larson, a RLDS missionary, over near Mountain Meadows/Hamblin area, reads in the Herald, the RLDS newspaper out of Illinois, that (1) John Pierce Hawley has written a letter to Joseph Smith, III, saying that “I rejoice in the doctrines of Joseph Smith, Jr, as did my father, and I wish to join with the RLDS Church.” Larson reads that, and he’s a former LDS elder out of New Harmony on the other side of Pine Valley Mountain out near Fort Hamilton on the road to Cedar City. He reads this, and he comes galloping over to Pine Valley and Grass Valley, and John writes, “I was convinced that he was as crazy as people thought he was, but I became convinced also that he had the authority to baptize.” So, he baptized John and his family, George and his family, and then John, as first counselor…

GT:  Is this his fourth baptism now?

Mel:  There will be a total of seven.

GT:  Seven, oh my gosh.

Mel:  He stands up in Pine Valley Ward, as the first counselor and preaches his farewell sermon to a very startled audience. Only one historian of Pine Valley will write about John, one of William Snow’s, granddaughters, I believe, says, “And John Hawley, the first counselor apostatized.”  That’s the full story.  Yet they were among the first settlers, Presiding Elder, held the second anointing and the second endowment, quite a guy.  Erastus Snow heard.  He comes galloping up from St. George, won’t let John talk because he’s too vile of an apostate.  He lectures the two Hawley brothers for three hours. Then he asked George if he has anything. George says no. Then Erastus Snow rides away.  John and George bundle everything up, and they travel up to Salt Lake to catch the train to western Iowa.

Check out our conversation….

After Mormon pioneer John P. Hawley rejected polygamy, he rejected the LDS Church and joined the RLDS Church.
Posted on Leave a comment

Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Part 3)

Historian Steve Shields argues that Sidney's Unsung Role in the Restoration should be more widely acknowledged by LDS and RLDS historians.

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!

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot?

Posted on Leave a comment

Steve Shields own Divergent Path (Part 2)

Steve Shields describes his conversion from the LDS Church to RLDS Church, and we discuss RLDS Church hierarchy.

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)