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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)

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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!