Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, RLDS, RLDS Church, Reorganized Church, Reorganization

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  Church History  

Our history begins after the first Christian era.  Jesus told Peter, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:19).  The apostles supervised and completed the church that Jesus built, extending it throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.  Unfortunately, the early Christian Church deteriorated in righteousness and humility, polluting both the gospel that it taught and the ordinances that it practiced.  In time, devout and committed Christians rose to correct the abundant corruption.

The history of the latter-day work began with the Reformation. We believe that the apostasy that overtook the original Christian Church left the entire world without both the pristine gospel and an authorized priesthood.  That apostate church proved an obstacle to the completion of God's purpose for time's final dispensation.  A way had to open for entire nations that had been bound by falsehood and oppression to return to the freedom and light that thrives under God's Holy Spirit.  The Reformation provided the means to accomplish that goal.

Despite its success, the Reformation was unable to break the unholy alliance of church and state that permeated the Old World.  Humble believers were regularly persecuted and sometimes martyred as they tried to serve God as best their conscience directed.  The return of a purified church depended on a better location to which the reformers could flee.  America provided that land of refuge.

We believe that God directed the development of the American colonies and the establishment of this nation, encoding the principles of equality and freedom that only abides in the Savior's gospel.  He even aided our victory in the Revolutionary War and enlightened the authors of our Constitution to establish the political climate and the legal protection that would allow the restoration of the Savior's church.  If, in fact, the church that Jesus built was apostate and too corrupt to continue His work, it had be restored by its founder, Jesus himself, for it to exist again on earth and complete its divinely commissioned tasks.  The establishment of America provided that opportunity.

We testify that Jesus restored His church again to earth through Joseph Smith, gracing it with the Savior's pristine gospel, returning His original ordinances and authorizing new apostles and prophets to proclaim the glad tidings.  The Restoration began with the revelation that scattered Israel would be gathered and cleansed.  The Lord even provided a book, written by an ancient remnant of Hebrews to facilitate that work.  Translated by the gift and power of God, the Book of Mormon is the foremost witness to the Restoration movement.  Its appearance, coupled with marvelous manifestations of spiritual gifts similar to those endowing the apostolic church, attracted thousands to the restored church.

The church grew too fast and some members made excuse for immorality under the claim that its was a part of the restored light.  The accompanying adultery overtook many church leaders and almost ensnared Joseph, but before the Palmyra Seer could correct the perversion, he was murdered while jailed under frivolous charges.  The latter-day church fragmented at his death into over 20 factions, with most of its leaders under the direction of Brigham Young.  They took about 10% of the members west to Salt Lake.  Other claimants scattered members among groups in Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Kentucky and Illinois.

Before his untimely death, Joseph anointed his oldest son, Joseph III as his successor.  He was only 12 at the time of his father's murder and for some time remained aloof from all the factions.  About 9 years later, the Holy Spirit moved on a few saints in Wisconsin, commanding them to reorganize the missionary quorums of the church and promising to bring young Joseph to lead them.  The prophecy proved true seven years later in April, 1860 when Joseph III assumed the presidency of the church.  Under his leadership the church councils and quorums were reordered, the latter-day commission reinstituted, the scattered saints gathered, the spiritual gifts and manifestations reappeared, the Book of Mormon re-published, and the church returned to the land of Zion.  For a century the Reorganized Church grew and flourished.

By the 1960s the Reorganized Church was on a strong financial and spiritual foundation.  The church at home was well organized and missions were opened around the globe, with new ones emerging continually.  Various social and supportive institutions operated in several locations., but underneath the apparent success threatening changes were brewing.  Church leaders began re-evaluating and re-interpreting the basic teachings and mission of the church, often without involving the membership.  Once modifications were prepared, members were asked to approve them.  The drastic shift and pressured decisions stretched the saints patience with their leaders and fellow members until the harmony broke, first in internal dissention and then in mass exodus.  By 1989, the church was fragmenting with the formation of several hundred Restoration Branches and the creation of a few Restoration Churches.

The confusion among members as the church divided created dissension and suspicion.  Many carry still the pain of that tumultuous period.  In fact, over half the contributing members are apparently no longer active in any part the church.  According to the Presiding Bishop's report, 86,000 members contributed to the General Church in 1972, but by 2002 only 26,000 members did, a lost of 57,000 members or 70.4%.  Today, Restoration Branches and Church amount for no more than 15,000 members, leaving about 50% of the active members unaccounted for.

In 2005, the World Conference supported the decision of the Quorum of Twelve and authorized the ordination of Steve Veazey.  His ordination violated the scriptures (D&C 99:6) and was as invalid as the ordination of Brigham Young to the presidency was in 1847, 158 years before.  Just as the 1847 unlawful act disorganized the original church and created the Utah Mormon Church, the 2005 unlawful act disorganized the Reorganized Church and created the Community of Christ.

2005 is also the date of the first conference of Restoration Branches, convening four months later, after a year of planning.  Because the acts of the World Conference disordered the church and placed the only lawful organization of the church in faithful branches, the Conference of Branches became the highest level of church government.  Its beginnings were modest, but in April 2007, it declared itself a lawful successor and continuation of the RLDS Church and chose to abide the laws of the church as extant on January 1, 1958.  In April 2008, it convened as a General Conference of the church and authorized the formation of a quorum of Seventy, which in turn selected a Council of Presidents of Seventy.  New Seventy were subsequently ordained in November 2008.  At the 2009 conference, it determine the lawful steps by which new High Priests could be ordained.  Meanwhile, districts began forming at home and abroad, while supervision of missionary activities advance.  A bishop agreed to accept the accounting required in church law and receive tithing to support the missionary program of the church.  These important steps are giving stability and substance to those faithful branch that are continuing the work divinely placed on the Restored Church.  It provides a place for faithful members, no matter how weary from the past years of turmoil and confusion, to revive their faith, comply with their saintly obligations and assist in the building up of the kingdom of God on earth.  We invite your participation.


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