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What’s the view of the RLDS Succession Crisis?

In the LDS Church we believe in an orderly succession from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young.  In the Reorganized Church of course they don’t accept Brigham as the prophet and instead accept Joseph Smith III.  What is the view of RLDS Succession Crisis? In this conversation with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church, we’ll learn that 16 years after Joseph Smith was killed, the Reorganized Church was established.

GT:  One of the things I want to talk a little bit about is the Succession Crisis.  As you know Joseph Smith, for those of my listeners who aren’t super familiar with church history, Joseph Smith was killed in 1844 in the Carthage Jail.  As I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong, I believe it was another 15 or so years before—Joseph Smith III was just a young boy.  He was probably about 14 or so?

Jim:  Yeah, that’s correct.  He was a young boy.

GT:  So it took about 15 years or so before Joseph Smith III felt called of God and then the Reorganized Church started in 1860.  I believe it was April 6, 1860?

Jim:  Actually that’s an interesting point.  It actually started in 1852.

GT:  Oh!

Jim:  We actually had met together, a number of people during the Succession Crisis had come together.  They organized at the apostle level, so the Second Presidency level if you will.  They had the church until the prophet came forth, and so when young Joseph came, he felt compelled to come.  That’s part of what he said, “I come by a power not of my own,” and he came to the church.  It was in April 6, 1860 and so forth.  Most people do look at that as the beginning, but honestly it was 1852, October of 1852 where they held the first general conference of the church at that point.

Similarly, following the 1984 revelation where women got the priesthood on the RLDS Church, 16 years later the Remnant Church was begun.  We’ll talk about similarities and differences between these two reorganizations, as well as talk about some priesthood differences between the LDS Church and the Remnant Church.

Jim:  We have quorums of seventy that are underneath the Twelve, so seven quorums of Seventy is what we have.  Now we don’t have seven quorums of Seventy, we only have one quorum.

GT:  We only had that for a long time but now we’ve got six or seven I think.  Yeah seven is the maximum.  We’ve got that.  I don’t believe all of our seven quorums have 70 in them.  They’re half that I believe.

Jim:  And if I understand correctly, your seventies are based on high priest, or are they based on elder?

GT:  They are based on High Priest.

Jim:  Ours are based on elder.

GT:  Oh really?

Jim:  Yes if you’re based on an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood, well obviously because your priesthood is an elder, you’re set apart to be a seventy from the office of elder, not the office of high priest.

GT:  Oh interesting.  I know it does seem very hierarchal in our church, and I don’t believe that’s the case in the Community of Christ and I’m not sure in your church as well.  Do you have adult members that are either Aaronic Priesthood or Melchizedek Priesthood holders?  Is that pretty typical?

Jim:  Yes that is pretty typical.  We don’t look at it as a progression.  We look at it as a calling.  It may be for instance you have a calling as a deacon all your life.  It doesn’t mean you didn’t magnify your call, it just means that that was what the Lord called you to do.  We have literally men who are 80-90 years old who are deacons, and also vice-versa.  We might have very young men who are elders or high priests, so there’s no progression.  The way we look at it is wisdom and revelation is what’s in our scriptures for that.

Check out our conversation….  (Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2!)


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From Convert to First Presidency in 5 years!

We’re continuing our discussion with Jim Vun Cannon, (see part 1 here)  a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  In this episode, we’ll talk about how he turned from Convert to First Presidency in just 5 years!  He became disillusioned with RLDS Church following the 1984 revelation giving women the priesthood.  How did he feel following this revelation?

Jim:  [I] tried to sift through the ashes of what felt like a burned down church.  I graduated high school in ‘83, so in ’84 it was like, what just happened?  Because I was right there in Independence so it was kind of a civil war with spiritual bloodshed on both sides.  It was just very unfortunate, because there obviously were a lot of strong feelings on both sides.

It sounds quite damaging spiritually.  I asked Jim when he first came to the Remnant Church.

Jim:  I started attending the Remnant Church in 2012 I believe is when I started.

GT:  Oh really, just that recently?

Jim:  Yes, that recently, yes.

GT:  Wow, and you’re in the First Presidency now!

Jim:  Yes, it was an experience where the Lord told me to go and join this church, and I was just told to go and worship with these folks and ministered with these folks and I really wasn’t told much more than that.  At the time I did not even have a testimony of President Larsen and his calling to be the prophet of the church, but that came very shortly afterwards.  I felt like it was one of those stepping out of the boat moments.  You know the water was a little squishy underneath your feet and trying to look forward, but yes, yes.

GT:  You know as we look at the early church with Joseph Smith, a lot of times he did take brand new converts and put them right in the First Presidency, so that’s pretty interesting.

So literally from five years to counselor in the First Presidency—that’s quite an amazing feat!  Can you imagine what that must have been like?  We also talk about priesthood and youth programs.  Check out the conversation!


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Found! A Literal Descendant of Aaron!

I’m excited to announce an interview with a counselor in the First Presidency!  His name is Jim Vun Cannon, and he is a member of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, based in Independence, Missouri.  Never heard of him?  Well, here’s a little introduction to their church.  (Later we’ll discuss a Literal Descendant of Aaron!)

Jim:  I would say where we started out was we left the C[ommunity] of C[hrist, which] was called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Of course I think you all know where that came from.

We left that in [19]84.  There were a number of people who went out to Restoration branches.  At that point, people were looking up, can the church—because everyone believed that the church had to have structure and order to it.

In 1999, a number of people started meeting together.  They were high priests and gathering other priesthood together to pray and to fast and to see what could be done.  What did the law actually allow?

It turns out we found in some of the writings of Joseph Smith III, and some personal testimony and revelation that came forth, we could indeed have a church restored again, so that’s what happened at that point.

So the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ is essentially a breakoff of the RLDS Church, officially organized in the year 2000, under the direction of a new prophet, Frederick L. Larsen.  He is a matrilineal descendant of Joseph Smith, and the Remnant Church believes in lineal succession.  Jim said, “We are approximately 2700 members.  About 1200 of those members are here in the United States, and the rest of those are in foreign fields.”  I met Jim in Idaho, as the church was holding a retreat for members in the Northwestern United States.  The most interesting thing I heard was this:

Jim Vun Cannon:  Our Presiding Bishop actually is a literal descendant of Aaron.

GT:  Oh really!

Jim:  Yes.  Kevin Romer is actually.  Yes

GT:  Ok.  Wow, that’s interesting.

Jim:  So yeah, that was new for us.

GT:  Oh.  I would assume that he got that through the patriarch.  Is that how you declare lineage?

Jim:  Yeah, typically the patriarchs will give you lineage.  In his particular case he had it from the patriarch and from the president of the church.  Both had testimonies of…

GT interrupts:  Oh that he was a literal descendant?

Jim:  literal descendant, yeah right.

GT:  Ok, so the interesting thing, that doesn’t happen very often in our church.  In fact I’m not aware of any.

Jim:  This is the first I know of.

GT:  Oh really!

Jim:  Yeah, I don’t know of any of our churches, yeah.

GT:  Oh, wow.  That’s interesting.  I know a bishop, and I don’t know any bishop that would want to do this but if a bishop that is a literal descendant of Aaron, he does not need counselors, which when you’re administering a ward, why would you not want to have counselors?  I don’t know.

Jim chuckles:  Yeah, he has counselors and he doesn’t want to give them up.  I can appreciate that.

GT:  Now is that a lifetime calling too, or is that just for a period of time?

Jim:  We kind of look at that as a lifetime calling too, right now at this point.  It’s really very new to us so we’re just kind of learning that.

In our next conversation we’ll talk more about Jim’s conversion to the Remnant Church.  Have you ever heard of the Remnant Church?  I want to thank media director Morgan Wigle for helping me arrange this interview.  Do you have any questions for Jim or Morgan?