Presentation 1

Title: “The Story of the ‘Evacuees’: A Filipino Congregation, a Cold War Insurgency, and the Development of the First RLDS NGO, 1972-1974” by David Howlett, Ph.D.

Abstract: In 1972, the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, declared martial law to target political opponents of his regime. The New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, struck back, bringing armed conflict to several rural villages in northern Luzon. In one of those villages, members of a growing RLDS congregation found themselves caught in a war zone. This talk draws upon oral history interviews with congregation members who survived the conflict. It details their experience during the insurgency and their journey to establish new lives and a new congregation in a new area. In the process, this talk narrates the founding of the RLDS Church’s first humanitarian NGO and places the congregation’s story within a larger context of Cold War politics, religious affiliation in the Philippines, and changing Christian understandings of missions in the global 1970s.

Biographical Sketch: Howlett is the Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He is the author of Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (University of Illinois Press, 2014) and co-author of Mormonism: The Basics (Routledge, 2017). Currently, he is working on a monograph about globalization and the Community of Christ in the Philippines, India, and the United States. He serves on the steering committee for the Global Mormon Studies Network, the editorial advisory board for the Mormon Studies Review, and the editorial board for the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal. He is an eighth-generation member of Community of Christ.


Presentation 2

Title: “Nor any manner of -ites”: American Indians and Mormons by P. Jane Hafen, Ph.D.

Abstract: American Indians have long played a central role in Mormon history and its narratives. Their roles, however, have often been cast in support of traditional Mormon beliefs and as a reaffirmation of colonial discourses. With the aim of avoiding familiar narrative patterns of settler colonialism, this talk will seek to make American Indians the subjects rather than the objects of discussion in relation to Mormons, presenting new ways to explore and reframe these relationships.

Biographical Sketch: Hafen (Taos Pueblo) is a Professor Emerita of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  She edited Dreams and Thunder: Stories, Poems and The Sun Dance Opera by Zitkala-Ša, co-edited The Great Plains Reader, is author of Reading Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, and articles and book chapters about American Indian Literatures. She edited two collections of essays, Critical Insights: Louise Erdrich, and Essays on American Indian and Mormon History (co-edited with Brenden Rensink). Her critical edition “Help Indians Help Themselves”: The Later Writings of Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša), was published in January 2020.