In our final conversation with historian Jean Addams, we will talk about similarities and differences between LDS and Church of Christ (Temple Lot) worship services.
GT: Tell us a little bit more about their worship services. Is it pretty similar to an LDS service?
Jean: Yes, and no. I mean, they have an opening and closing prayer, that sort of thing. They have speakers scheduled, so that’s all similar, and they sing songs. So those main ingredients are the same. The sacrament is a different situation altogether. That’s once a month.
Jean: They still use the common cup.
GT: Oh, really?
Jean: Uh huh, and they actually use two common cups. So they have two red trays and two common cups. Those are just passed down by row, by row, by row and they make a point before the ceremony, the service, that is only for baptized members of their church.
Jean: On the other hand, if you go to Sunday School and it’s a Book of Mormon class, it wouldn’t sound any different than going to an LDS Gospel Doctrine class.
Let’s face it. Missouri settlers didn’t take kindly to outsiders. When the state of Missouri held a public auction to sell state lands, non-Mormon Jones Flournoy bought the land. A week later, Bishop Partridge came and purchased land that would be known as the Temple Lot. Did Partridge get a fair price? Historian Jean Addams will tell us fact from fiction.
GT: [I heard that] Jones Flournoy had just purchased that property, probably a week before the Hedrickites arrived and basically just made a bit huge profit and he didn’t actually own it for that long. Is that true?
Jean: That’s where the stories started going every which way but correct. Flournoy, as the original squatter, when the state of Missouri made that land available. It wasn’t federal land. It was seminary land. The state have been given the seminary land as part of their statehood. They got two townships and that equal 72 sections. Forty some sections were in Jackson county as it turned out and Independence was surrounded by them. So the individual squatters who thought that they could purchase the surveyed property from the federal government in 1828 are now told nope, that’s state land, and you’re going to have to wait for them. So the state in December of 1830 authorized it to be sold in December of 1831, not for $1.25 an acre which the federal sold it for, but for $2 an acre, the idea being raising more money for the eventual University of Missouri.
Jean: Flournoy had the right, as a squatter, to make the first purchase. Furthermore, he’s the postmaster in town, a well-established individual. Nobody’s going to ace out those original squatters. In fact, they were so intent on this, Rick, they were so intent that an individual that came to town speculating to buy up lots around Independence and so forth, they actually took him and put him in jail.
GT: Who in jail?
Jean: This individual from Virginia, so that he could not go to the auction. He then tried to get a local judge to help him and the individuals, “landholders” in good old Jackson County–can you imagine that happening? They threatened the judge that they would put him in jail with him if he interfered in any way.
GT: Oh, really?
Jean: Anyway, so as a result, nobody interfered with the squatters. They bought the property. Jones Flournoy sold it a week later, a portion of his acreage. He sold it to Edward Partridge.
We’re about ready to finish our conversation with John Hamer and Lachlan MacKay of the Community of Christ and do a Mormon Schisms Tour! In this next conversation, we’ll talk about how confusing it must have been to live following the death of Joseph Smith.
John: You might have a branch where at a certain point, you’ve heard Joseph Smith has been killed. You are very sad. Brighamite missionaries come through. They say the Twelve are now in charge and things like that. Everyone says, “Hey, now we got it. We’ve read about that in the newspaper and this kind of thing.” Then, a couple of months later, somebody from Voree comes with the Voree Herald and they explain how the Twelve are in apostasy, and this and that, and why all of the prophetic gifts that prove that Strang is the successor, and they are like, “Oh, we’re Strangites now.”
There isn’t anything in particular that necessarily happens for the branch. So like I say for the Hedrickites, they are one of five, maybe, of these branches that are in a cluster around Bloomington, Illinois. I think probably at some point or another, they will have been affiliated with Strang, but at a certain point, maybe when he “affiliated,” whatever it even means. Strangite missionaries will come through there, and that’s one of the reasons why maybe they didn’t gather and go west.
We’ll talk about the founding of the RLDS Church.
John: This is the origin of the Reorganization. So the branches start to pray about it. They fall back on individual personal revelations for the individual congregations, the pastors. They start meeting together. As they are thinking about it, William Smith has a church in the meantime and William Smith has been promoting the idea of lineal succession. There has been, (I think I mentioned a while ago), there’s the sense that Joseph Smith’s posterity, somebody, one of his sons is going to be the successor or will emerge as the successor. They start to regather these branches and the form a conference organization, which is a loose structure. There’s no corporate entity here still.
So they pass resolutions together in conferences where they say they are going to wait for one of Joseph Smith’s sons, probably Joseph Smith III to emerge to receive the prophetic calling and to accept that mantle. So when that happens in 1860, he comes to a conference of the New Organization, what becomes the Reorganization and what becomes Community of Christ, then that becomes something that all these little branches start to get really excited about. Fairly quickly, then that Reorganization draws from all the different tradition churches, including people who had gone west who are dissatisfied with what was going on under Brigham Young in Utah.
It turns out that some other Mormon schismatic groups are contemporaries of Joseph Smith III. John talks briefly about several of these churches, “There’s more –ites; that’s hardly an exhaustive group so I don’t mean to be leaving anybody out. They are very interesting.” He’ll briefly discuss founding of the Hedrickites, Williamites, Josephites, Cutlerites, Whitmerites, and their relationship to the RLDS Church. Lachlan MacKay will also tell when and why the Kirtland Temple changed from a bluish-gray color to the current white color it is today. It’s going to be a fun conversation. I hope you check out our Mormon Schisms Tour!