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!