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After the MHA Convention: A Very Schismatic Day 4

All trip long, I have been looking forward to attending the Community of Christ Devotional at the Independence Temple.  The meeting began at 8:30 AM, and was a wonderful hour of singing and spoken word.  Professor Alex Baugh of BYU, and Apostle Susan Skoor of the Community of Christ

you can see my shoulder

CoC Apostle Susan Skoor

gave background on many hymns written or revised by WW Phelps.  It was a truly inspiring meeting.  I haven’t enjoyed singing that much since I was in the MTC!

Following the service, I went on a tour of the temple.  We visited the meditation chapel, as saw many beautiful sculptures inside the temple.  Unlike LDS temples, we were able to take photos everywhere except for the museum.  I was lucky enough to be led on a personal tour by Ron Romig, Director of the Kirtland Temple (Community of Christ.)

CoC Kirtland Temple Director Ron Romig

Displayed in the museum were actual copies of 1830, 1837, and 1840 copies of the Book of Mormon, along with facsimiles of the printer’s manuscript.  The famous oil painting of Joseph and Emma were also there, along with photos of the previous 6 or 7 prophet/presidents of the Community of Christ.  It was truly fascinating.

Following the tour, I wanted to visit some of the other Restoration churches.  There are quite a few Restoration churches in the vicinity.  When Joseph designed the city of Independence, he had allocated 63 acres for 24 temples to be erected on 3 city blocks.  The original plan called for 12 temples for the Melchizedek Priesthood, and 12 temples for the Aaronic Priesthood.  These temples apparently were supposed to serve a more administrative role than for worship.  As you can imagine, many followers of Joseph Smith, both inside and outside the LDS and RLDS churches have clamored for this land.

Temple Lot Church Building

A group calling itself the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) actually owns the location for the spot where Joseph Smith said a temple should reside, and they have a church on that location now.  The RLDS owns a portion o fthe temple lot, where the Independence Temple resides, and the LDS church owns a visitor’s center and a stake center on part of the temple lot.

I really would like to attend some of these other Restorationist branches, so it was difficult for me to choose where to go.  I attended part of the service for the Church of Christ (Temple Lot), also known as the Hedrickites.  The group was founded by a man by the name of Granville Hedrick.  There is an article in the Journal of Mormon History outlining many legal battles between the Hedrickites and the RLDS church, with the Hedrickites prevailing.  I attended about 20 minutes of the service.  During the service, a baby was blessed, and I heard references to both the Bible and Book of Mormon.  I was late for the service, but I did not see a sacrament table, so I’m not sure if that was part of the service.

Stone Church

Wanting to visit a few other churches, I attended the Stone Church— the oldest church in Independence. The RLDS church began construction in 1873 and it was dedicated in 1888.  I arrived just in time for the last song and prayer.  The church had a balcony, similar to the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  The congregation stood during the last song, and I was so tall that I had to duck into the aisle to see the organist.  There were old wooden benches there, but they had cushions.

You can see the balcony and benches

I asked if I could take photos, and they said I could.  There were 3 beautiful stained glass windows: one showing Moroni, Joseph Smith, and

Moroni with Gold Plates and Book of Mormon

the Golden Plates, another showing Moses, Jesus, and the resurrection, and a third symbolizing the Trinity.  The people were extremely friendly, and it was nice to have one of the members take me on a mini-tour.

view of Pipe Organ and podium in Stone Church

Following that service, I noticed another Community of Christ church a short distance away.  I was surprised to learn that they had a Jazz band playing.  I recorded a few minutes of their last song!  (I tried to post it, but the file is too big–I’ll try to condense it somehow.)  They mentioned that the neighborhood was full of drugs and gangs, and they were tyring to help citizens in the area avoid these problems.  They invited me back next week for a baby blessing, but I told them I had a plane to catch.

They have a Jazz band for church services

A friend told me that I really needed to attend the Cutlerite Church.  It was founded in 1853 by Alphaeus Cutler, who I believe is mentioned in the D&C.  On my way there, I mistakenly thought this was a Cutlerite church.

Not sure of origins, but I’m pretty sure it is Mormon–I may call the number to find out

I knocked on the door, but nobody answered.

Bigger view of this “Restored” church

Just a few houses down was the real Cutlerite church.  My friend told me that the Cutlerites are the only group that still maintains an Endowment Ceremony, and it is conducted in the upstairs portion of this church.

founded by Alphaeus Cutler 1853

Apparently they only have about 10-15 people meet on a weekly basis.  The MHA pre-conference tour flooded them with about 50 interested participants.

Cutlerite Chapel

Unfortunately, I arrived too late: the doors were locked.  Here are a few photos, and I stuck my camera up to the door to peer into the chapel.

Cutlerite Chapel

As I looked at my map, I decided to try to find Lilburn W Boggs house.  Unfortunately, I never found it, but I did find another interesting church: the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They meet across the street from the Independence Temple in a converted high school (formerly Crisman High School.)  I walked around the building, and discovered a man.  Apparently, they hold luncheons for the needy and homeless.  Their freezer had broken, so he was loading food into his van.  I asked him if I might be able to tour the building, and he reluctantly agreed.  His name is Arlo Stevenson.

Arlo Stevenson of the House of Aaron

I learned that he is not a member of the Remnant Church, but his church has partnered with them to help out the needy.  The Remnant Church is a break-off from the RLDS church.  Arlo is a former member of the RLDS church, but has joined the House of Aaron, and I learned that this church has a branch about 50 miles west of Delta, Utah on the Utah/Nevada border.  Arlo showed me the Remnant Church offices, and then I learned that the Remnant Church has rented a room for the House of Aaron to hold meetings.  I purchased a “Sunday School” manual, and I hope to do a future post on the House of Aaron.

I also ran into some interesting people.  I had a nice chat on Saturday night with Paul Savage, Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Elijah message.  He is from Independence as well, and has a small congregation.  I had recently purchased Scattering of the Saints by John Hamer and Newell Bringhurst, and he pointed to the cover to his name.  I said, “Wow, I thought these were all dead people.”

“I’m not dead!” he exclaimed.  He was a really interesting person.  We didn’t have much time to chat, but I got his email address and hope to discuss this group further as I learn more.

I also took my picture with 2 apostles from the Community of Christ:  Andrew Bolton and Susan Skoor.  Here is Elder Marlin Jensen, Historian for the LDS church.  I was pleased to meet many authors including John Hamer, Newell Bringhurst, Kathy Daines, Rick Turley (asst LDS Church Historian), and Greg Prince.  It was a real blast— I remarked to some that Independence felt a bit like Mormon Disneyland to me.

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14 comments on “After the MHA Convention: A Very Schismatic Day 4

  1. “Mormon Disneyland!” Perfect terminology.

  2. Thanks for the virtual tour. It is amazing how many splinter groups still exist. I really need to get Scattering of the Saints and read it.

  3. I can easily imagine how you felt like being in ‘Mormon Disneyland.’

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone. MCarp, you’ll have to say hi to Doug for me. I hope things are going well for him.

  5. Wonderful set of write ups, MH — it was great getting to hang out with you in person. As a point of clarification, Ron Romig is a historian and he is director of Kirtland Temple; the Community of Christ Church Historian is Mark Scherer.

    It’s cool that you got to visit so many congregations and churches of the Restoration around the center place! I’ve been to all the ones you mention except the House of Aaron — I hadn’t realized that the Remnant Church had reached out to other Restorationists to create Lunch Partners.

  6. John, thanks for the clarification–I updated my post.

    I have to say that I think you and Vicky’s Strangite presentations were the best! The funny thing is that I ran into a guy at the SL Airport on the way home, and I asked him what his favorite session was, and he said the same thing! It was fun to meet you, and I hope you’ll be in St George next year!

  7. MH,I enjoyed our visit. For your record,the Remnant church solely sponsors the Lunch Partner program. I am a volunteer with many others from the area. The broken freezer was my own and I was allowed to use theirs for a day or so. Concerning the classroom space, it is not rented by the House of Aaron, but graciously provided for our Saturday class for all restoration members interested. We are exploring the Restoration of the House of Israel. The House of Aaron does enjoy a friendship with the Remnant Church and a common desire for the Kingdom.

  8. Arlo, I am so glad you stopped by my blog. I know our conversation was rushed, so I appreciate your clarifications. I was wondering if that class on the tribes of Israel was a core belief of the House of Aaron, or simply a special topic-it sounds like it was a special topic. I hope to be in contact with you over the next few months so we can discuss your church some more.

  9. Looks like this conference was well worth the time and effort, if only for the new acquaintances.

    I didn’t catch this in the original post. Did you attend the conference on business or personal business?

  10. MH: I’m glad you enjoyed our Strangite session. I’m a little surprised it was your favorite, since it was so esoteric, but (again) I’m very glad you enjoyed it.

  11. Bishop Rick, I took a couple days off work to go, so it was definitely personal. I tried to get my wife to go, but she’s not as interested in this stuff. When I got home, I discovered she took the kids to SeaWorld in San Diego, so she had a good weekend too. (She works for Southwest, so the flights are free for us, in case you were wondering.)

    John, I’ve heard your interviews on Mormon Stories, I’ve enjoyed your writing on MM, and I think you are a gifted speaker. Let me say I’ve become a big fan. I had not heard of Vicki Cleverly Speck prior to that session, but I found her background on the Strangite movement fascinating as well. Mark’s comments about the Strangites made the session a hat trick.

    Your opening remarks on Day 1 were awesome as well. My other favorite session was Ken Ballentine’s documentary, Trouble in Zion. I’m not sure I liked the comic book style graphics, but I thought his content was amazing. The Bushman/Gordon/Shipps session was good too, but Shipps was not quite as interesting to me, so no hat trick for that session. 🙂

  12. Thanks! You would have liked the post-conference tour. I talked for 8 1/2 hours straight — the bus went all the way to Adam-ondi-Ahman and back — essentially relating the whole Missouri Mormon experience, including a pretty detailed version of the 1838 war. People were very engaged and I was fielding questions all the way until the bus pulled in back at the Temple.

  13. Sounds like a fun trip… Sadly… none of the photos on the linked page show up using Internet Explorer or Google Chrome… I look forward to seeing them! Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2015 01:37:05 +0000 To: jeffschrade@hotmail.com

  14. Yes, it was a fun trip. My server crashed about a year ago, and I am slowly re-introducing some of the old posts. I’ll have to see if I can find the photos again. I was hoping they would reappear (sometimes they do).

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