Explore this year’s theme Our Stories Fashion Order out of Chaos through the variety of presentation opportunities.
Session 201 (Panel, 8:00 a.m., Friday, September 21)
Overall title: War and Peace in the LDS and RLDS Traditions by David Pulsipher, Bryce Taylor, and Andrew Bolton
Title: Sharpness and Love: A Paradox of Revelatory Rhetoric by David Pulsipher
Abstract: Joseph Smith’s revelations display some intriguing rhetorical turns. On the one hand, the Lord often speaks with vehement force and martial imagery—sharp swords, terrible armies, rods and wrath, anger and suffering. Such rhetorical violence, however, is often paired with more conciliatory imagery—encircling arms, peaceful walks, persuasion and gentleness, love unfeigned. This paper will explore this rhetorical tension in the 1835 and 1844 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, as well as Joseph’s 1839 letter from Liberty Jail, with an eye to how the Latter-day Saint traditions have since interpreted and emphasized various aspects of this revelatory paradox.
Biographical Sketch: David Pulsipher is a professor of history at Brigham Young University–Idaho. In 2007-08 he was a visiting professor and Fulbright scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, India. In addition to authoring articles on the Latter-day Saint experience with nonviolence, war, and nationalism, he also co-edited, with Patrick Q. Mason and Richard L. Bushman, War and Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives. He is currently working with Patrick Mason on a book entitled Weapons of Peace: A Mormon Theology of Nonviolence.
Title: Non-Passive Pacifists: Reorienting Latter-day Saints as a Peace Society in Antebellum America by Bryce Taylor
Abstract: On July 20, 1833, Latter-day Saints in Jackson County, Missouri, leaders of a Missouri mob approached William W. Phelps and other Latter-day Saint church leaders with their frustrations concerning a perceived threat by the Saints’ belief that Jackson County was their Zion as well as other concerns. In essence, Missourians wanted the Saints to return back to Ohio. Shortly thereafter, a violent mob destroyed the printing press and tarred and feathered Edward Partridge and Charles Allen. What would be the Latter-day Saint response to the imminent threat in Missouri? In this paper, I will contextualize the revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith during this turbulent period in Latter-day Saint history and argue that the Latter-day Saints, similar to other peace churches, received a defensive declaration from the Lord that required a complete resignation of oneself, a paradoxical logical and illogical treatise to the question of forgiveness and perhaps the only way to defend Zion.
Biographical Sketch: Bryce Taylor holds a PhD in History from the Ruprecht-Karls-Universitaet Heidelberg. He currently teaches LDS Church History and US History at Brigham Young University and previously taught American Religious History courses at Heidelberg University in Germany. When he is not teaching, researching, and writing, Bryce enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, writing music, traveling, and reading.
Title: Surviving Latter Day Saint Nauvoo by Andrew Bolton
Abstract: What were the strategies of LDS and RLDS for surviving Far West/Nauvoo? What are parallels and also differences between Joseph Smith III and Menno Simons, both of whom felt responsible to rescue their respective religious movements from the distortions of Nauvoo and Münster? The British Mission was initially very successful and in the period 1849-1852 there were more British LDS than in the rest of the world. How did the British LDS respond to the difficulties of Nauvoo and later developments among LDS and RLDS churches? Finally, an exploration will be made on addressing the problems of Nauvoo theologically.
Biographical Sketch: Andrew Bolton, PhD, taught world religions and peace and justice issues at high school and college level in the UK and in the USA. He has written a number of books on peace and justice and papers on Latter Day Saint history that have been published in the MHA Journal, Dialogue, JWHA Journal, and Restoration Studies. Recently retired, he worked for the last 18 years for Community of Christ, first coordinating peace and justice ministries, and then supervising the church in Asia.
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Session 211 (9:30 am, Friday, September 21)
Title: All May Be Saved: Young Joseph & Blacks in the Priesthood by Ryan C. Tittle
Abstract: Community of Christ (CofC) Doctrine and Covenants Section 116 may seem like a revolutionary document, adopting African-Americans into the Priesthood a full one hundred and thirteen years before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While a careful exegesis of the text does reveal it to be revolutionary, it also shows the prejudices of the time in which it was written and, while the Prophet Joseph Smith III may have called for his leaders to “[b]e not hasty” in ordaining Black men, the document does serve as a prophetic harbinger of CofC’s eventual progressive acceptance of women and others into its inspired Priesthood.
Biographical Sketch: Ryan C. Tittle is a writer from Walker County, Alabama. He is pleased to be accepting his second John Whitmer Historical Association Scholarship Award for his work at Graceland University’s Community of Christ (CofC) Seminary, where he will accept his MA in Religion this Winter. He is also a graduate of Athens State University, Bennington College, and the Alabama School of Fine Arts. At the Birmingham, Alabama congregation of CofC, he serves as Historian, Publicity Director, and Sunday School teacher of the course “Discoveries in the Doctrine and Covenants.”
Title: Singing Our Story by Kathy Fallon
Abstract: Emma Smith compiled the first hymnal of the Restoration movement in 1835 and went on to work on at least three other hymnals in her lifetime. The hymnals contained only the hymn lyrics only, making it difficult to match up hymn tunes with hymn lyrics. Using both shape-note and standard notation hymnals of the early to mid-century 1800’s hymn tunes will be offered that may possibly be paired with lyrics found in the 1835 hymnal. Some of the Community of Christ’s favorite hymns will sound very different in their original form as we sing and compare them with their contemporary form in the 21st century.
Biographical Sketch: Kathy Fallon is a musician who focuses on the traditional music of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as music from the Appalachian Mountains. She has spent her life teaching, performing and arranging music for guitar, most recently concentrating on hymns. Besides touring and playing in the U.S. she has played in festivals and concerts in Ireland, the U.K. and Canada, as well as teaching American folk music to Welsh school children. Kathy received her BA from Graceland University in English and Music and studied classical guitar and Early Music History at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music after graduation. Currently she is working on a Master’s degree from Graceland University’s Seminary program.
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Session 212 (9:30 a.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Laurel Club-Feeding the Body, Feeding the Soul by Rachel Killebrew
Abstract: For over 112 years the service organization known as the Laurel Club has labored to serve the Community of Christ and the greater community. Money earned from meals and other money making ventures has supported numerous organizations ranging from the building and improvement of the Auditorium and Temple to providing scholarships to local high school students. They have funded police dogs, ministry positions, helped children, the sick, Graceland College, Stone Church, and much more. This paper examines the contributions and long-standing dedication of this service organization that has worked to bring order to chaos by using their own special skillset in order to better the church and the people.
Biographical sketch: Rachel Killebrew is the Librarian-Archivist for the Community of Christ headquarters. She is a member of the Church History and Sacred Story Team. She is the President-Elect of JWHA, having previously served as Awards Chair, on the scholarship team, numerous program committees, and the membership committee. She lives in Independence, Missouri with her husband.
Title: Train Up a Child in the Way They Should Go by Dan Kelty
Abstract: 1866 saw the prospectus for the JUVENILE INSTRUCTOR, to support this scripture and the growing Sunday School program in the Great Salt Lake Valley. In 1869, the Reorganized church introduced ZION’S HOPE to the membership. This paper will review the format, scope, editors, and attitudes of the churches during the period of 1866-1884 and how they viewed their task of preparing their children to be good Saints, and good missionaries of the faith. Special attention will be to the correspondence by the young readers to get their views as opposed to their adults.
Biographical Sketch: Daniel M. Kelty, is the historian for the Headwaters Mission Center, Community of Christ, in Minneapolis Minnesota. He is chair of the Awards Committee for JWHA 2018 and works at the Hennepin County Library, Minnesota. He is currently documenting all the branches of the restoration that did not go west for the website mormonplaces.byu. He has two grandchildren one is in college and the other is in first grade.
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Session 213 (9:30 a.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: The Missouri-Mormon War on National Television: A Portrayal of Alexander W. Doniphan’s Involvement in the 1838 Conflict on NBC’s Weekly TV Series Profiles in Courage by Alex Baugh
Abstract: Beginning in the fall of 1964, NBC aired a nationwide weekly television series on Sunday evenings titled Profiles in Courage. The series was a spin-off of a book by the same title, authored by John F. Kennedy in 1955. Each fifty-minute episode of Profiles in Courage featured a historical figure in American history and depicted a particular event in the life of the individual that exemplified moral courage. Profiles in Courage ran for twenty-six weeks (November 1964–May 1965) and included portrayals of such notable Americans as John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John Marshall, Daniel Webster, Sam Houston, Frederick Douglas, and Woodrow Wilson, among several others.
On January 17, 1965, Profiles in Courage highlighted Alexander William Doniphan, a prominent Missouri attorney, state legislator, brigadier-general in the state militia, colonel of the 1st Regiment of Missouri Mounted Volunteers in the Mexican War, a founder of William Jewell College, and a Missouri delegate to the February 1861 Peace Conference in Washington, DC. Although Doniphan gained national fame for his dynamic leadership in the Mexican-American conflict, he is perhaps most remembered today in his role as chief legal counsel to the Latter-day Saints living in Missouri in the 1830s, and his courageous defense of the Mormon leaders charged with wrong-doing during the 1838 Missouri-Mormon War. When Joseph Smith and several other Church leaders were arrested and ordered to be executed by state militia authorities, Doniphan intervened in their behalf, sparing their lives.
The Profiles in Courage episode show casing Doniphan depicts his involvement in the 1838 Missouri-Mormon conflict. Peter Lawford, a well-known Hollywood actor, and brother-in-law to the famous Kennedy brothers (John F., Ted, and Robert—Lawford’s first wife was their sister, Patricia Kennedy) plays the leading role of Doniphan. The episode features several other prominent actors including Robert Emhardt (Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs), Michael Constantine (Samuel D. Lucas, major-general from Jackson County), Simon Oakland (Samuel Bogart, captain of the Ray County militia), George Lindsey (Adam Black, justice of the peace in Daviess County), Paul Stevens (Joseph Smith), and Tim O’Connor (Sidney Rigdon).
This paper/presentation will highlight the historical accuracies and inaccuracies depicted in the episode, noting that in spite of some deficiencies, the episode has some positive depictions and portrayals of the Mormons. The episode also tends to help viewers understand to some extent, the political, social, and religious intolerance that characterized this period of American history.
Biographical Sketch: Alexander L. Baugh is a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, where he also serves as chair of that department. He received his BS from Utah State University, and his MA and PhD degrees from Brigham Young University. He specializes in researching and writing about the Missouri period of early LDS Church history (1831–1839). He is the author, editor, or co-editor of ten books including three volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers. In addition, he has published over eighty historical journal articles, essays, and book chapters. He is the past editor of Mormon Historical Studies, and past president of the John Whitmer Historical Association. He currently serves on the board of the Mormon History Association. See complete CV.
Title: Catharsis from Catastrophe: Healing at Historic Carthage Jail by Scott Esplin
Abstract: Dark tourism involves pilgrimage to scenes of suffering. Mormonism shares in this fascination with the macabre in some of its historic sites. The most prominent is Carthage Jail, the site of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and a starting point for the fracturing of the faith. This paper examines how the jail was acquired and transformed into a place of healing for the branches of Mormonism.
Biographical Sketch: Scott Esplin is a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. He is an author of numerous articles on Latter-day Saint historic sites and a forthcoming book on the impact of Nauvoo’s restoration on faith relations in the city. He is a member of the board of John Whitmer Historical Association.
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Session 214 (9:30 a.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Community of Christ Sings: Global Songs…New Challenges by Pam Robison
Abstract: Singing and hymnody have always been important to churches rising out of the Restoration tradition. Hymn singing provided a way of joining in community, and the hymnals have often become an additional book of scripture and provided significant theological statements.
Community of Christ Sings (2013) broke new ground for the denomination with the decision that this hymnal would include songs from both Western and non-Western cultures and languages, reflecting the diversity of membership. Including music from non-Western musical cultures created significant challenges for those involved in the hymnal creation.
Biographical Sketch: Pam Robison is a lifelong member of Community of Christ who has also been involved as a church musician for over 60 years. She worked at the church’s international headquarters during the time Community of Christ Sings was being developed, with the responsibility of transcribing the recordings of songs from the various cultures of the church.
She has an AA degree from Graceland University, a BS in Education (English) and an MA (music composition) from CMSU (now the University of Central Missouri), as well as the Master of Arts in Religion from Graceland University.
Title: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Music and the Spoken Word: Ambassadors Yesterday and Today by Lloyd Newell
Abstract: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and its weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word, are known across the world as ambassadors for the LDS Church. That must have seemed unlikely when the Choir’s story began—with a group of travel-weary pioneers within a month arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Eighty years later, Mormons were still an obscure and misunderstood people when Music and the Spoken Word first went on the air. Now the Choir and its broadcast are changing misconceptions and building bridges to millions of viewers and listeners on radio, television, cable, and the Internet.
Biographical Sketch: Lloyd D. Newell is a professor in the Church History & Doctrine Department of Religious Education at Brigham Young University. He is the author of more than a dozen books and numerous articles. He has held the Moral Education Professorship at BYU and has been associated faculty in the BYU School of Family Life. He has been the announcer and writer for Music and the Spoken Word for 28 years.
Session 221 (11:15 a.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Embaye Melekin and the Book of Mormon as the African Bible by Steven Shields
Abstract: Embaye Melekin (b. 1956) was born and raised in Eritrea, in the Horn of Africa. As a young adult, he studied in Nigeria, and later emigrated to Canada. He resides in the Toronto, Ontario metropolitan area. His family has been Christian for generations, as Christian heritage extends many centuries into the past in Northeastern Africa. Ethiopia and Eritrea have some of the oldest Christian church buildings on earth. Melekin’s grandfather converted to Catholicism, so Melekin was raised in that faith tradition. Aware of Mormonism since moving to Canada about 30 years ago, he was baptized into the LDS Church in 2006.
He argues that although Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the truth about the book was sealed to him, the white race, and subsequently the Mormon Church. His edition of the Book of Mormon was published in 2011, taking the text as published in Salt Lake City, but adding hundreds of footnotes and commentary explaining how the people of the Book of Mormon, the places in the Book of Mormon, and the “reformed Egyptian” script all are of African heritage and location.
He has made linguistic connections, argues that “reformed Egyptian” is the Sa’baean language, and that the Nephites were, in fact, the Sa’baean people. He argues that the Jaredites were the first people to inhabit the African continent; that the Nephites were the first immigration of Israelites, and became the ancestors of the various tribes in Africa. Melekin does not proclaim himself a prophet, nor has he attempted to gather a following.
Melekin’s story, and especially his work on the Book of Mormon, placing it in a historical and geographical context, provides insight into the vast array of understanding and interpretation that has been the hallmark of the Smith-Rigdon Latter Day Saint movement since its inception. His story is especially valuable because it is one of few that take place outside the Western, Caucasian context.
Biographical Sketch: Steven L. Shields is an independent historian, and author of the forthcoming book Divergent Paths of the Restoration, 5th edition (Greg Kofford Books, Inc.). He recently retired from almost thirty years of service in Community of Christ. He divides his time between Missouri and Korea.
Title: Reterritorializing Hills and Valleys: Globalization, the American RLDS, and the Sora RLDS, 1964-1998 by David Howlett
Abstract: Based upon oral history interviews and archival sources, this essay analyzes the effects of religious affiliation between Sora villagers in the highlands of eastern India with Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) members in the American Midwest between 1964 and 1998. In the Americans, Sora converts found a new patron for long-standing client-patron relationships between highlands people and valley people; in the Sora, the Americans found an “indigenous other” who could be used to justify reforms within their local church body along more cosmopolitan lines. As an upshot of these interactions, Soras and Americans effectively reproduced a common pattern of interactions between the highlands and the lowlands of upland Asia, albeit within a new non-contiguous “territory,” the global denomination.
Biographical Sketch: David J. Howlett will be a visiting assistant professor of religious studies at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio for the 2018-2019 school year. Currently, he is a teaching professor of religious studies at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is the author of Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (University of Illinois Press, 2014), winner of the Smith Petit Best Book Award from JWHA, and, most recently, the co-author of Mormonism: The Basics (Routledge, 2016). David also serves as a volunteer World Church Historian for Community of Christ, as well as on the advisory board for the Community of Christ Seminary.
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Session 222 (11:15 a.m, Friday, September 21)
Title: Montrose–The City Across the River by David and Brook Le Fevre
Abstract: Montrose, and nearby Zarahemla, is nearly straight across the Mississippi river from Nauvoo, Illinois, and was home to many important individuals in the Church during the late 1830s and 1840s. This area was one of the earliest post-Missouri Mormon settlements and became one of the first Nauvoo stakes. Here, Joseph Smith taught sermons, was sealed to Louisa Beaman, and took refuge for a time. It is where the first saints leaving Nauvoo staged their journey west. This paper will review Joseph Smith’s visits to and interactions with the residents of Montrose and Zarahemla, the role the area played during the exodus from Nauvoo, and what happened to Montrose after the saints’ departure.
Biographical Sketch: David A. LeFevre is an independent scholar living in the Seattle, Washington area. He has been published in The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies and several Sidney B. Sperry Symposium books, and has taught at BYU’s Education Week several times.
Brooke LeFevre is a student at Brigham Young University. She has two upcoming publications on Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, of which she won the second-place award for at BYU’s Religious Studies Center Student Symposium, and the city of Warsaw, Illinois, the latter which was co-authored with BYU professor Craig J. Ostler.
Title: A Home with a Name but no Story!by Barbara Morgan Gardner
Title: A Home with a Name but no Story! by Barbara Morgan Gardner
Abstract: As a child I visited the two-story red brick home just kitty-corner to the Red Brick store. My dad explained that although the name of the home was Jonathan Calkins Wright, as noted on the plaque outside, the picture of the man and the inscribed words on the plaque were not describing the same person.
My father explained that Jonathan Calkins Wright, while a Methodist, could not be settled as such, and upon meeting John Taylor and Hyrum Smith among others, felt that he had found the representatives of God’s truth on the earth. Not wanting to cause a problem with his own family just across the river, he attempted to leave Nauvoo without being baptized, although he admitted that he knew this newfound religion was of God, but became so terribly sick he could not leave. Eventually he succumbed to baptism in 1843 by Hyrum Smith in the Mississippi River. He eventually became the Marshall of Nauvoo and was a member of the city council.
On June 26, 1844 he entered into a conversation near the mansion in Nauvoo with Enoch March and George Davis, who told him of the planned murder of Joseph Smith. Although, at the time he did not believe their story, on January 13, 1855 he swore an affidavit to that affect to Jedediah M. Grant in Salt Lake City.
Biographical Sketch: Barbara Morgan Gardner, assistant professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, dialogue participant with BYU and Community of Christ, great-great granddaughter of Jonathan Calkins Wright and frequent visitor of Nauvoo and this home.
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Session 223 (11:15 a.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Life Was a Great Adventure by Marian Peck-Rees
Abstract: The lives of Mary Turpin Bennion, and her parents William and Elizabeth Tidswell Turpin, are interesting examples of those whose lives “fashioned order out of chaos.”
Living in Yorkshire in England they were converted to Mormonism, and chose to join with others of their faith by immigrating to Nauvoo. How could they know that their time of leaving Yorkshire, where they were eking out a living by William’s work as a carpenter, and Elizabeth’s selling sundries in a little shop set up in a corner of their home, that they would be arriving in Nauvoo at the very worst possible time? The martyrdom of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum left Nauvoo a place where even those who were already settled in town, could no longer find work, or someone who could buy their wares, or hire their skilled labor.
William and Elizabeth, along with their two young daughters, became part of the Nauvoo poor. With no money, no one to hire their skills, they had no way to put together enough for another journey. What would become of these strangers in a stranger land? What would make Mary say, years later, that “Life Was a Great Adventure?”
Biographical Sketch: Marian has a BS degree from the University of Utah in Elementary Education, and does not claim to be a historian either by training or experience. She is, however, very interested in history, especially that of her progenitors, and others, particularly as that history relates to Mormonism.
After spending her adult life raising five children and teaching young children in the public schools, Marian has spent a good deal of her retirement in learning about the lives of her ancestors, especially the women. She became very interested in the lives of two of her great-grandmothers when she inherited large portraits of them. One of these is Mary Turpin Bennion, whose parents brought her and her younger sister from Yorkshire, in England, to join with fellow Mormons in Nauvoo, and eventually, on to Utah. The story of their lives of triumph over hardship and chaos has been a great example to their descendants.
Title: Congregational Life Cycle and Renewal: The Story of the Toronto Congregation by John Hamer
Abstract: Toronto figures early in the history of the Restoration, beginning in 1830 with Joseph Smith’s failed Canadian copyright prophecy. A congregation of the church was first organized in the city in 1836 with John Taylor serving as its pastor. As with most eastern branches, emigration west meant that the branch stopped meeting regularly and had to be re-organized twice. From 1891 onward, the congregation has met at least weekly in downtown Toronto, first as a cottage church then in 1900 in a church on Camden Street quickly followed by a second church on Soho Street in 1906. The church moved to Bathurst Street in 1931 and significantly renovated and added onto the facility in 1964.
In the early 20th century, Toronto Congregation was home to R.C. Evans, perhaps the greatest preacher in the Restoration of his era. Evans served in the First Presidency under Joseph Smith III and expected to succeed him as prophet-president of the church. When the presidency passed to Frederick M. Smith, Evans retired back to Toronto where he was made head of the Canadian church as “Bishop of Canada.” The congregation would routinely rent large theaters in the city on Sunday afternoons and Evans’ preaching would attract as many as 7,000 listeners. Eventually Evans broke with the church and established his own denomination, splitting the congregation. He died soon afterward, and his church survived on for about a generation.
Toronto congregation rebuilt from the wreckage and by the middle Twentieth century was among the largest, leading congregations in the Reorganization. However, the movement of members to the suburbs and the establishment of half a dozen suburban congregations in the 1950s and early 1960s, significantly reduced the membership. Those left behind sometimes felt abandoned and struggled as attendance continually declined. In the early 2000s, the congregation rejected a plan to close an amalgamate with the suburban congregations, preferring to soldier on in the heart of the city.
But members never lost hope. Roger Dodson, pastor 2011-2014, had a vision that the congregation would not only survive, but one day congregations across the church would “look to Toronto.” The congregation began an intentional process of discernment to consider what was their calling going forward. The resulting “Renewal Plan” led to a move to a new facility “Toronto Centre Place” just a few blocks from where John Taylor lived in 1836. By making the church’s mission relevant in the heart the most diverse city in the world, the congregation has once again become a signal community, a model for congregations across the denomination seeking renewal in the 21st century.
Biographical Sketch: John Hamer is a past president and past executive director of the John Whitmer Historical Association. He is co-author of “Community of Christ: An Illustrated History” and “In Pursuit of Peace: Community of Christ’s Journey.” John serves as historian for the Community of Christ Canada East Mission Centre, as Pastor of Community of Christ Toronto Congregation, and as education officer of Community of Christ’s Eighth Council of Seventy. John is a frequent blogger and podcaster in the Restoration Bloggernacle.
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Session 224 (11:15 a.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Deconstructing the Story of Apostasy and Restoration: Holy Spirit and Retelling the Story of Restoration in Trinitarian Perspective (RS) by Matthew Frizzell
Abstract: This paper responds to a personal and timely question in Community of Christ faith. If one rejects the story of apostasy in Christian history and Joseph Smith, Jr.’s sole Restoration of an “original” or “pure” New Testament church, what exactly does the Restoration restore? While LDS and Restorationist traditions retain belief in the apostasy and claim Joseph Smith, Jr.’s restoration of a “one true church,” the Community of Christ does not.
In Community of Christ, this mythology of apostasy and restoration has been historically and theologically deconstructed by critical theology and historical methods. In its place, an alternative theology of history has begun to form that places the Restoration amidst the work of God and mission of Christ in history, which culminate in the Kingdom of God, Zion, or Shalom. In this paper, I will retrace this theology of history and suggest Trinitarian theology better reconstructs a fresh and more enduring understanding of the story of Restoration.
Such a story is not based solely on Joseph Smith, Jr.’s restoration of God’s authority in this or that church. Rather, the story of the Restoration is retold in light of the universality of Christ and a theology of the Holy Spirit. Pneumatology, or theology of the Holy Spirit, then, becomes the protagonist and center of the Restoration story helping us reconsider how the hallmarks of Joseph Smith, Jr’s ministry: the cause of Zion, the emphasis on the prophetic role, the opening of the canon, manifestation of spiritual power, and freedom of the Holy Spirit makes better sense of the Restoration story in the freedom and spirit of America’s Second Great Awakening.
Biographical Sketch: Matthew J Frizzell, PhD, is Dean of the Community of Christ Seminary. He teaches in the area of contemporary theology and social ethics. His research interests are liberation theology, critical social theory, postmodernism, and secular politics. He is married to Margo E Frizzell (Flowers), and is father of three girls, Katy, Kenzlee, and Kyla. He drives an old Volvo, vacuums with a Kirby, likes tacos, to ride motorcycles and go camping in the woods. Interested in understanding and pursing God’s intention for creation, his favorite color is midnight blue.
Title: Ecclesiological Bombshells: Schneebeck’s Body of Christ (1968), Landon & Smith’s For What Purpose Assembled? (1969), and the Unmaking and Remaking of a Denomination (RS) by Anthony Chvala-Smith
Abstract: The 1960s brought creative disruption to the RLDS church. Amid the church‘s travail, two small books – Harold Schneebeck’s 1968 book Body of Christ and Donald Landon’s and Robert Smith’s 1969 sequel text For What Purpose Assembled? – unleashed new chaos. Schneebeck compellingly deconstructed a century of RLDS certainty that it was the restoration of original Christianity.
Landon and Smith argued the church had become a domesticated, irrelevant clique needing a radical missional makeover. Amid the explosions, both books nevertheless offered glimpses of a different future. Quite paradoxically, Community of Christ’s present identity was forged out of the chaos these books generated.
Biographical Sketch: Anthony J. Chvala-Smith, PhD, is Community of Christ Seminary’s Paul E. Morden Seminary Chair of Religion and Assistant Professor of Theology and Scripture. Dr. Chvala-Smith is trained in both biblical and historical theology. His academic interests include early Christian literature and theology, the Augustinian tradition, Trinitarian thought, theologies of liberation, and 19th and 20th century European theology.
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Session 241 (3:00 p.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Growing into an Elect Lady: the historical setting of the Elect Lady revelation and Emma’s involvement in the creation of hymnals and church exhortations by Maclane Heward
Abstract: Women’s influence in the nineteenth century was significantly limited by cultural paradigms, reducing their authoritative sphere and diminishing their overall impact. Exceptions to these standard rules are notable not for their generalizability but because of their aberration from it.
The directions given to Emma Smith in 1830 stand in surprising contrast to those norms. The purpose of this presentation is to place Emma’s involvement in the creation of the 1835, and 1841, 1861 and 1864 hymnals as well as her exhortations to the church in their proper historical setting enabling these departures from the norm to be clearly visible.
Biographical Sketch: Maclane Heward is currently a PhD candidate at Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation will illuminate the historical development of teen engagement in Protestant and LDS mission work.
Title: Ordering Emma’s Chaos: Findings from the Restoration Cousins Oral History Project by Taunalyn Rutherford
Abstract: Our stories fashion order out of chaos yet at times that chaos exists as a result of stories told in an effort to fill gaps in historical documentation or bring order to difficult historical realities. Memories of Emma Smith from various Mormon and Restoration movements are illustrative.
In an effort to increase understanding of Emma’s history as well as the ways she has been remembered in Restoration traditions, the Restoration Cousins Oral History Project was instituted in 2017. After one year of research and several introductory interviews with members of Community of Christ and other Restoration branches, this paper will present findings that demonstrate how examining the history of Emma Smith through the theoretical lens of memory is key to understanding Emma and the institutions who remember her.
Biographical Sketch: Taunalyn Rutherford received her PhD in History of Religion from Claremont Graduate University focusing on Mormonism in India. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Religion at Brigham Young University.
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Session 242 (3:00 p.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: The Order of Sacrifice: Fraud and Chicanery in C.B. Thompson’s Communal Society by Junia Braby
Abstract: “Jehovah’s Presbytery of Zion” founded by Charles B. Thompson proved to be a small, short lived group with fraudulent financial practices ending in the mutiny of his followers.
From the very beginning of the organization in St. Louis, Thompson articulated his way through a convoluted, “code word” filled theology that only he claimed to fully understand. His chaotic “Order of Sacrifice” robbed individuals of the ownership of their Western Iowa land and personal effects and resulted in the hasty departure of Thompson and his associate Guy Barnum. It is extraordinary that many of the members of this group who previously experienced chaos in Far West, Quincy and Nauvoo, at the demise of Thompson’s group later established homes in the area and organized branches of the RLDS (Community of Christ) Church.
Biographical Sketch: Junia Braby has an interest in Mormon History and has been a volunteer in the Community of Christ’s Archives. For some time she has been captivated by the story of Charles B. Thompson and first heard the story from family members who passed it along to the younger generation. She is a musician by training, graduating with a Master of Music Degree in organ Performance. She lives in independence, MO with her husband Howard. They are the parents of four children.
Title: To What Extent was W.W. Phelps Joseph Smith’s Ghostwriter in Nauvoo? by Bruce Van Orden
Abstract: W. W. Phelps was among the most influential Mormons in Nauvoo, primarily through his newspaper editing and writing. My most stunning discovery in my thorough research of Nauvoo-era newspapers–the Times and Seasons, The Wasp, and the Nauvoo Neighbor—is that Phelps was through and through a ghostwriter for Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. This was true theologically and politically from late 1841 through Joseph Smith’s death and beyond.
Phelps returned to the Church from his apostasy in 1840, but he was not able to reach Nauvoo with his family until November 1841. Even though he had a bad reputation among the general membership, Joseph Smith and other leaders confidentially entrusted him with compiling the official history of Joseph Smith, running the day-to-day operations of the Nauvoo Printing Office, and even writing key theological pieces in the Prophet’s behalf. Many of these treatises made their way into modern compilations of Smith’s teachings. Phelps’s ghostwriting and other entrusted positions continued even after Joseph Smith gave up his nominal editorship of the Times and Seasons in October 1842.
Beginning in 1843, Phelps became Joseph Smith’s chief political clerk. When Smith decided to become a presidential candidate in January 1844, Phelps was assigned to write Joseph’s multiple political tracts. Phelps also promoted Smith’s candidacy vociferously in the pages of the Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor.
This paper will detail the enormous extent of Phelps’s ghostwriting for Joseph Smith in Nauvoo.
Biographical Sketch: Bruce A. Van Orden is an emeritus professor of church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University. He has authored numerous articles and a few books on Latter-day Saint history and doctrine including a recent biography of W. W. Phelps. He is an advocate of complete transparency in researching and narrating our past. He appreciates friendships forged at the John Whitmer Historical Association annual meetings.
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Session 243 (3:00 p.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Mormons and Lineage: The Complicated History of Blacks and Patriarchal Blessings, 1830-2018 by Matthew L. Harris
Abstract: This presentation utilizes previously-restricted archival collections in Utah. I argue that BYU’s defacto policy shunning black students put the Mormon-owned university under an intense spotlight during the turbulent civil rights decade. In the spring of 1968, investigators from the Civil Rights division in Denver, Colorado, began exploring BYU’s alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Having to satisfy his ecclesiastical superiors on the one hand, while also having to comply with the Civil Rights Act on the other, posed significant challenges for BYU president Ernest L. Wilkinson. This paper explores the ways in which Wilkinson sought to comply with the federal law while at the same time maintaining strict fidelity to Mormon norms preventing interracial dating, racial equality, and priesthood ordination for black Latter-day Saints.
Biographical Sketch: Matthew L. Harris is Professor of History at Colorado State University – Pueblo, where he teaches and writes on Religion and Politics, the US Constitution, race and the law, civil rights, and the separation of Church and State. He received a BA and MA from Brigham Young University and an MPhil and PhD from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
He is the author and/or editor of six books and scores of scholarly articles in professional journals. His book with Newell G. Bringhurst The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2015. His forthcoming books include Thunder from the Right: Ezra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming 2018); The Gospel Topics Essays: The Scholarly Community Responds (University of Utah Press, forthcoming); and Ezra Taft Benson: A Documentary History (University of Utah Press, forthcoming).
He is currently at work on a monograph entitled “The Long-Awaited Day”: The LDS Church, Blacks, and the Lifting of the Priesthood and Temple Ban, 1945-2015.
Title: “Utah became the last state to recognize the Martin Luther King Holiday”: Mormons and the Quest for Racial Justice, 1985-2000 by Madison Harris
Abstract: On the basis of previously-unused oral histories, this paper examines non-Latter-day Saints and their quest for racial equality in Utah, in a state heavily populated and influenced by Mormons. The paper explores the ways in which the Utah state legislature denied black people civil rights and how the state’s relatively small, but noteworthy black population pressured the legislature to support bills allowing for public accommodations, Fair Employment, and interracial marriage.
A significant component of this presentation examines the escalating tug-of-war between black Utahns, the Utah legislature, and leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Biographical Sketch: Madison S. Harris is in the Honors Program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where she is double majoring in History and Biomedical Sciences with Minors in Leadership Studies and Pre-Medicine. She is also a Kane Scholar and member of the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. Her paper “A Cloud of Controversy: George Washington and Smallpox Inoculation During the American Revolution” won the best paper award at the annual Phi Alpha Theta Conference in Colorado.
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Session 244 (3:00 p.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Alice and Sir: Faith and Reason in the One True Church by Paul Edwards
Abstract: At twenty four F. Henry Edwards became secretary for the Quorum of Twelve and served in the Joint Council for the next forty-four years. Beginning in poverty and ignorance he emerged to become an intellectual leader who sought to introduce reason without destroying faith. During much of this time he fought the society, the presidency, the joint council and often his family over the degree and speed of the liberalization that was rampant within the church.
Designed to be serious but light hearted the paper will look at the conflicting ideas and powerful expectations that are reflected in twenty of his favorite aphorisms. “Keep the straw down where the donkeys can eat it!”
Biographical Sketch: Paul M. Edwards, BA, MA, PhD, DHL, 25 years teaching history and philosophy, and 17 directing the Community of Christ Temple School. Author and presenter he is a past president of both the MHA and JWHA.
Title: Envisioning a Social Gospel Through a Book No One Read by Greg Edwards
Abstract: During the early years of his presidency, Fred M. Smith was greatly influenced by Julian Huxley and G. Stanley Hall, founder and first president of Clark University, where Smith received his PhD. Greatly affected by the socio-religious atmosphere of Clark University, and the emergence of the social gospel, Smith became involved in the search for evolutionary methods to expand human mental health, and inspire vision.This paper will discuss the ideas openly presented but never understood by the church, with additional information concerning his experiments with Indian (American) mysticism.
The paper is designed to be a serious, but light hearted, look at the concepts emerging in this man, as seen by an experienced analyzer of literature, and the subject’s great-grandson.
Biographical Sketch: Gregory Edwards, BA, MA (University of Missouri, Kansas City), is Director of the Center for the Study of the Korean War, and an adjunct instructor of literature and creative writing at Park University.
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Session 251 (4:45 p.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Informal Reflections on the St Paul School of Theology and the RLDS Church: Why, How, and What For? by Keith Wilson, William Russell, and Peter Judd
Abstract: In 1960 RLDS students began to attend theology and ministerial classes at the St Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. The relationship with this school quickly intensified and by the late “60”s professors from the school were invited to come and teach the First Presidency and the Twelve about Christian doctrine and history. This created a firestorm amongst conservative members, but the relationship continued during the next decade until the RLDS Church began their own school of theology. Bill Russell was the third student to attend St Paul’s in 1961 and Peter Judd was one of the final students to attend in the late 70’s. Keith Wilson is just a history buff with the question: Why would any restoration church ever invite a traditional Christian church to instruct them about religion and theology?
This session will be an informal discussion about personal experiences of attending St Paul School of Theology, the impetus for attending, the impact of the school on the RLDS church, and what caused the relationship to dissipate.
Biographical Sketch: Keith J. Wilson is an associate professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University where he regularly teaches Book of Mormon, New Testament, and Old Testament courses. He recently returned from a teaching assignment at the BYU Jerusalem Center.
Professor Wilson was born in Ridgecrest, California, the fourth of ten children. He served an LDS mission to Vienna, Austria. He received Bachelors and masters degrees from Brigham Young University in German. He also received a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Utah. His research specialty is institutional change and he is currently researching/writing about the fundamental changes in the RLDS Church over the past 50 years.
Biographical Sketch: William Russell is a founder of the John Whitmer Historical Association and served as president of JWHA and of the Mormon History Association. Bill has published widely in the area of Mormon Studies, including the book, Homosexual Saints: The Community of Christ Experience. He taught American History, including a course on American Religious History, and Community of Christ History, the latter of which he continues to teach in retirement after 41 years on the Graceland University faculty. Bill still teaches Community of Christ History in retirement.
Biographical Sketch: Peter A. Judd JWHA president (2016-2017) and JWHA Journal editor (1986 and 1987). Retired from employment with RLDS Church/Community of Christ, including serving as apostle, member of the First Presidency, and 24 years in various capacities on the church’s international headquarters staff.
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Session 252 (4:45 p.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: The Nauvoo Temple Angel by Joseph Johnstun
Abstract: Joseph Johnstun seeks to explore the history of the original angel weather vane of the Nauvoo Temple, including its possible escape from destruction when the temple was burned.
Biographical Sketch: Joseph Johnstun is an independent historical analyst living in Fort Madison, Iowa. He has been obsessively compiling information related to the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith for nearly a quarter century, and hopes to soon have an exhaustive history ready for publication. His article, “Weapons Related to the Murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith” (JWHA Journal Fall 2015), won the Best Historical Article Award for 2016.
Title: Architectural Symbolism of the Original Nauvoo Temple by Shalisse Johnstun
Abstract: A cataloging of the numerous architectural symbols on the original Nauvoo Temple. Johnstun also explores the contemporary interpretation of these symbols, and connects them to the inherited cultural symbolism of the first generation of Mormonism.
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Session 253 (4:45 p.m., Friday, September 21)
Title: Sacred Space as a Means of Fashioning Order out of Chaos by Alonzo Gaskill
Abstract: This paper will examine the role of sacred space—in ancient history, in contemporary religious cultures, and in the restoration—as a means of bringing order to a people who perceived themselves as called of God. The paper will examine sacred space as a visual aspect of religion, and as a source of transcendental experience—commonly seen as a means of fashioning order out of chaos. It will also examine the tension between the sacred and profane, and also the role ritual plays in fashioning sacred space.
Biographical Sketch: Alonzo is a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University—where my focus in Comparative Religions.
Title: The Untold Story of the Acquisition of the Original Temple Lot: Independence, Jackson County by R. Jean Addams
Abstract: The story of the December 1831 acquisition of the Millennial Temple Lot, preceded by the dedication of that “sacred space” in early August 1831, has been, at least, partially misunderstood or misconstrued as imparted in the oft recited early Mormon Missouri experience.
Indeed it has, heretofore, been a story only partly told. Upon Smith’s arrival in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, in July 1831, the Lord designated where the “spot for the temple” was to be located. This article will discuss the necessary and essential property access and financial arrangement between Joseph Smith and/or Edward Partridge and Jones H. Flournoy before the dedication could have realistically taken place.
Furthermore, the reason for the necessary four months delay between the dedication of the Temple Lot and the acquisition of a odd-shaped 63.27 acre parcel (of which the Temple Lot was the key portion) will be explained.
Additionally, this paper will review the virtually unknown fact that a two-story brick building was included in the Flourney to Partridge purchase. The structure became a meeting place of the Saints for worship and other gatherings for the growing Mormon population in Jackson County between 1832 and 1833 when the Church was forced out of the county by the local early settlers.
Finally, an examination of what transpired over the next 157 years to this original structure that was situated on the Temple Lot Property will be detailed, including the relocation and continued use of the upper level of said building until 1971. Also, the recovery of a brick from the lower level of the original building recovered at the time of the 1990 excavation for the Community of Christ Temple will be discussed.
Biographical Sketch: R. Jean Addams is a lifetime Mormon History enthusiast and independent historian. He and his wife Liz reside in Woodinville, Washington. He holds a BS in Accounting and an MBA from the University of Utah and is retired. Addams has presented and published several articles dealing with the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) and more recently the Redemption of Zion.
His first book Upon the Temple Lot: The Church of Christ’s Quest to Build the House of the Lord, (Independence: John Whitmer Books) was published in late 2011. Addams is past president of the John Whitmer Historical Association, a member of the Mormon History Association, and a member of the Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation.
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Session 254 (4:45 p.m., Friday, September 22)
Title: Eunice Kinney: A Strangite Woman Alone in the Faith by Kyle Breshears
Abstract: Eunice Kinney (b.1813) was an early convert to Mormonism, having been converted and baptized by Elijah Abel in the spring of 1838. Researchers frequently call upon her for her memories of Abel, an early black elder. It has been suggested that Eunice herself was a woman of color, which would make her one of the earliest black Mormons. Eunice converted to the Strangite movement in 1845 and spent most of her life isolated from fellow Strangites after the 1856 diaspora. This paper will tell the story of her experience as a Strangite woman alone in the faith through her correspondence with Wingfield Watson.
Biographical Sketch: Kyle R. Breshears is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Mobile. His research interests include Mormon studies and American religious history. He may be contacted via email at email@example.com.
Title: Strang’s Summer of Exile by Vickie Speek
Abstract: In the summer of 1856, hundreds of Strangite Mormons were set upon by an armed mob and forced from their homes at Beaver Island, Michigan. None were ever compensated for their loss. The biggest heartbreak of all was the death of their prophet, James Jesse Strang, who had been shot by members of his own church. Strang died without naming a successor. Lacking the leadership of a prophet, the Strangites were unable to overcome the differences among themselves needed to remain a viable religion. This paper will examine the events of that summer of exile, how they affected the Strangites personally and spiritually, and determined the future of the Strangite Church.
Biographical Sketch: Vickie Cleverley Speek is an award-winning freelance writer and former newspaper reporter currently living in the Chicago suburbs. She is the author of God Has Made Us A Kingdom: James Strang and the Midwest Mormons (Signature Books, 2006) and The Amazing Jimmi Mayes: Sideman to the Stars, the memoirs of an African American blues drummer (University Press of Mississippi, 2013). A former editor of John Whitmer Books and the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, Speek has been recognized by the Mormon History Association, the Illinois Press Association, the Illinois Associated Press, and the Illinois History Society.