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Hans’ View of Swedish Rescue (Part 3 of 5)

High profile church leaders flew to Sweden in 2010 to try to answer difficult church history questions to Swedish Latter-day Saints.  How did the meeting go?  Hans Mattsson gives his impressions of the meeting.

Hans:  First of all, it was a secret meeting. No one should know about it.

GT:  Oh, it wasn’t public.

Hans:  No. We had the New Area Authority Seventy Ingvar Olsson and he was inviting those that the bishops would [recommend] to have at the meeting, to straighten us out. I called him because I know him quite well. I said, “Hey, listen. I can help you. Because I knew all the people that you should have there.”  He said, “No, I’ll go through the bishops and stake president.”  We were there in the evening, a Sunday evening after everything was closed in the church. We were about 20 struggling, seeking-truth people. At the same time, they had also called bishops and stake presidents and some high councilmen and PR people from the Church. We were about 40-45 people, and also the Area President, Elder Kopischke came up from Germany. So there was quite strong leadership there.  Elder Jensen went out and welcomed him and helped him.  I said, “I’m glad to see you again.  I hope you can give us some good answers.”  They said, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here, Elder Mattsson.  I’m glad, and you can help me.”  I said, “Well, I only wanted to know the truth.”  So, we started there. So anyway, we were into the meeting and Elder Jensen says, after we introduce ourselves, and told why we were there and who we are, Elder Jensen started the meeting by [drawing] on the whiteboard, making a line from top to bottom, divided in two sides.  [On one side] was Jesus, God, and the Church. Another [side] was Satan and the world. He gave a lot of scriptures that proved that if you’re not in the Church, you’re in the world and in the hands of Lucifer.  So, it was a very, very tough way to start with them. We felt like we were not here to discuss if we are Satan’s people, or if we are God’s people. We just wanted to know the truth. But it was very black and white then. After that, Elder Turley went up and we were asked what kind of questions we had, and they wrote it down, I think about 12 questions down. [The questions were about] the hat and stone, polygamy, polyandry. Do we believe in polygamy still?  I can’t remember all the questions, but today [these questions] are very common. So, we really tried to ask questions, or discuss them, with them.

Find out what else went on during the meeting, and how it ended.  Check out our conversation….

Hans Mattsson tells about the Swedish Rescue meeting with Elder Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Hans!

497: First Doubts on Church History

496: Becoming First Swedish GA

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Becoming 1st Swedish General Authority (Part 1 of 5)

I’m excited to introduce Hans Mattsson.  Hans will talk about his calling as the first Swedish General Authority and growing up in the LDS Church.

Hans:  Well, my name is Hans Mattsson, and I’m a Swedish citizen. I used to be holding a call as an Area Authority Seventy from 2000 and on to 2005.  During this time, I met a lot of good, high-position members of the Church.

Hans:  [I wrote] a book called Truth Seeking.  It gives the story about my life and how I experienced my family, the Church and why I have got some problems and why I left the Church, really, and that includes meeting with Marlin Jensen, and includes Swedish Rescue, it includes the New York Times and things like that. I just wanted to say, also, that Christina Hanke is the one who wrote most of it. But I talked to her, as they interviewed me a lot. It’s the way it worked.

GT:  So, you’ve got that in multiple languages, I believe. So you’ve got an English and Swedish and what other languages?

Hans:  Actually, people just contacted me and asked, “Can I translate it into German? Can I translate into Spanish? Can I make an audiobook of it?” So I said, “I don’t have any money for that project.” But they said, “No, no, no, you’ve done so much for so many people, and I just wanted to do something.” I said, “Well, just go ahead.” So I’ve been really blessed. I used to say to my wife, “That’s a blessing for tithing I used to pay. The windows of heaven opened.  The only thing is, the money is not coming in, but the books are selling through Amazon.

GT:  That’s right. I really appreciate you sending me a copy. As I said before the interview started, I can’t figure out where I placed it, but it’s an interesting book. So, of course, my current interview right now is with Dr. Matt Harris and Dr. Newell Bringhurst and we talk about the Swedish Rescue, which you had a major part of there. So, I definitely want to talk about that.  As we go here, I think– some of my listeners, I think, are going to be very familiar with you.  Others are not. Can you give us just kind of a thumbnail sketch of how you were in the Church and how you became a general authority and that sort of thing?

Hans:  I was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. In Swedish, we would say Goteborg. There, I have three brothers, and a very faithful father and mother. We were really, really faithful and really believed in everything of the Church. I served a mission for two years in the England Central Mission that later became the England, Birmingham Mission.

GT:  And that’s how you learned English?

Hans:  Yeah, I tried to practice there. You’re right, really. Then after my mission, I did my military service in Sweden. Actually, there I met my future wife. She was working in the kitchen serving the militaries. That’s a wonderful story.  You can read all about in the book.

GT:  Yes.

Hans:  We had four wonderful children, no, five children. I’m so sorry. [We had] three boys and two girls. In the Church, I had callings as a branch president, Bishop, counselor to Bishop, counselor to a Stake President, High Councilman.  I served as a Stake President.  Then we moved to Stockholm. There I was called as a High Councilman, but also as the counselor to the mission president, because there are no stakes all over Sweden. So the northern part of Sweden is the districts. So that’s where I, as a counselor, had to take care of them. After a while, I was called to visit with one general authority up at the airport of Stockholm. There I received a letter from the First Presidency, calling me to be an Area Authority Seventy and belong to the Third Quorum of the Seventies. So, that’s 2000, in the early part of 2000, and then on the General Conference coming up the first Sunday in  April, I was sustained as a Seventy and Elder Holland, and Marlin Jensen were the ones who set me apart.

Hans:  From there, it’s just, “Go on.” I was nervous, happy, and delighted. Of course, in Sweden, I was the first Swedish Area Authority and that’s a humbling experience. I remember the first meeting, we had been taught by the Twelve and the First Presidency and Seventies every year at the Church Office Building, before the conference and when I looked around there–so, Brother Marriott, so some famous people, Elder Rasband. I was called as the same time as Elder Renlund.  They’re both apostles now. We get together and I thought to myself, “What are you doing here?”  You feel kind of humble. Kind of a voice from inside said, “Don’t blame yourself, blame God because He is calling you, so just do what, who you are and do the best.” So that’s what I felt. Of course, I have to travel in Europe, mostly, even part of the old eastern block areas like Hungary, Romania, those countries that used to belong to the Soviet Union from many years ago. Then, of course, [I travelled to] Germany, Austria, the Nordic countries.  About two different milieus, so to speak, [I traveled to] the ones where the Church was organized and had Stakes. Of course, I went to the countries that didn’t know anything really, that were brand new, that had missionaries for branch presidents and so on. So it was kind of exciting.

Were you aware of his story?  Check out our conversation….

Hans Mattsson was the first General Authority from Sweden. He later left the LDS Church.

 

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Dr. Matt Harris about the Swedish Rescue!

453: Swedish Rescue & Gospel Topics Essays (Harris/Bringhurst)

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Swedish Rescue & Gospel Topics Essays (Part 1 of 7)

In 2013, the LDS Church sent Elder Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley to Sweden to answer tough questions about church history.  This was a pivotal moment in addressing faith crisis, and led to the Church putting out the Gospel Topics essays to answer thorny questions of Church history.  We’ll learn more about this with Dr. Newell Bringhurst and Dr. Matt Harris.  I’m excited to have them back on the show.  They’ve put together an anthology on essays critiquing the Gospel Topics essays.  We’ll learn more about the key players behind the scenes.

Matt:  The topic that I gave or presented on that day was how the Gospel Topics Essays came about. The earlier sessions that Newell and I had worked on dealt with our respective content themes, Newell with polygamy, and I did the race one. Well, in this instance, at the MHA, I looked at the introduction and I recognized that there were many Church employees in the room that day, including the Church Historian, Elder Snow, who had inside knowledge about all of this stuff. So, I remember prefacing my remarks to the Church History employees, and also Elder Snow. I said, “Look, if there’s anything that I say today, that is incorrect, or you would like me to flesh out more of a detail or some lead to pursue, please let me know, this is the chance. This is why we do these conferences. I am eager and energetic to solicit your help.”

So, anyway, I presented the material and the first person who came up to me afterwards was Elder Snow. He pulled me aside and he said, “There’s something,” he said, “Congrats this is a great, I really enjoyed the presentation, the panel today”, and so that was nice. And he said, “There’s something I want you to know. Have you ever heard of the name Travis Stratford?” I said, “No, I have not.” For your viewers or listeners today, Travis Stratford is the person who really deserves most of the credit, much of the credit for getting the Church to release Church History essays. The introduction talks about that at length, how he does that. He works with the brethren, the General Authorities. He does a number of things. I guess we can talk about that in a second. But nonetheless, it was Elder Snow, who planted that name in my mind.

Then I remember telling Newell later on, maybe that night at dinner, “We’ve got some work to do. We got to find this Stratford guy, who is he.” So I went on this sleuthing mission to figure out who this Travis Stratford guy was.

It is important to note that Travis served a mission and is acquainted with Hans Mattson, the general authority Seventy whose faith crisis led to the Swedish Rescue, where Church leaders went to Sweden to help with faith crises of members in Sweden.  We also talk about several surveys put together by Travis, as well as John Dehlin, that helped motivate the brethren to put together the Gospel Topics Essays.  Check out our conversation….

The Swedish Rescue played a large role in helping the Gospel Topics essays to get published.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Matt and Newell on the topics of race.

Newell Bringhurst – Author of Saints, Slaves, and Blacks

135:  Critiquing the Gospel Topics Essays (Bringhurst)

134: Role of Women in 4 American Religions (Bringhurst)

133: More about Polygamy: Bennett, Bushman, & Compton (Bringhurst)

Dr. Newell Bringhurst, author of several books on Mormon Histor

132:  Bringhurst’s Approach to Controversy (Bringhurst)

131:  Bringhurst on Bushman-Brodie (Bringhurst)

130:  Walker Lewis: Faithful Black Elder (Bringhurst)

129:  Warner McCary:  Real Native Genius? (Bringhurst)

128: How Lester Bush Debunked the Missouri Thesis (Bringhurst)

127: Writing Saints, Slaves, and Blacks (Bringhurst)

 

Race Struggles at BYU 1965-1985

Dr. Matt Harris discusses the LDS race ban 1965-1985

353: Impact of Protests on Apostles (Harris)

352: BYU Law School Almost Lost Accreditation (Harris)

351: Civil Rights Investigation at BYU (Harris)

350: Sports Protests Against BYU (Harris)

349: Race & Religious Minorities at BYU (Harris)

348: How Brazil Influenced Official Declaration 2 (Harris)

347: Did Nixon & Carter Pressure BYU Over Race? (Harris)