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Learning from Mormon Cousins (Part 3 of 5)

While the LDS Church is the largest Mormon group, there are lots of other churches tracing their founding to Joseph Smith.  John Larsen of the Sunstone Podcast sat down with Rick Bennett to discuss some of these groups who aren’t well-known. Rick refers to them as “our Mormon cousins.”

Rick: I was back in Independence earlier this summer. I wanted to go to the Temple Lot of church. I talked to that guy, probably for six or seven hours. It was amazing. I wish I could have gotten than one recorded. I asked and he said, “No.”  I went to the Cutlerite Church, and I talked to that lady for probably two hours. I got a tour of the church. I even got a quote in Sunstone because it’s something I learned from her. So listen to Mel Johnson’s Sunstone presentation if you want to hear that. I tried to talk to the Remnant Church because I got some friends there and their building was closed. I went to the Community of Christ temple, and then I just would drive around and I would see something that looked–I’m trying to remember what it said. It was like the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ. I said, “That’s got to be one of our churches.”  So, sure enough, it was this guy, he was missing a bunch of teeth. He was out fixing a fence on their church property. I talked to him for probably an hour and I felt bad because he was trying to fix this fence, and I’m stopping him. He’s telling me about angels. He showed me this picture.  He goes, Do you see this white area here? That’s like an angel.”  It was just so interesting to listen to him. I think he was surprised because I listened without judgment, like that’s not an angel. I was like, “Wow, what a story.” The guy named Randy Sheldon at the Temple Lot Church. I found out that they still do speaking in tongues.

We talk about several other groups.  Check out our conversation….

Rick talks about interactions with several other Restoration groups. (Sign in front of Cutlerite Church.)

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

414:  LDS Leaders and Historical Issues

413:  Intro to Gospel Tangents

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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.
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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?