Friday, September 18, 2009

Is the Community of Christ Priesthood a Hierarchy?

"The Community of Christ priesthood is not a hierarchy."  It is repeated often and has been long part of the church's teaching, yet the notion that our church's priesthood system is not hierarchical is simply absurd.  At a gathering of Central Mission priesthood tonight, Apostle Stassi Cramm made the claim that there is no hierarchy in our priesthood system, during her otherwise quite excellent sermon.  However, the fact that hundreds of metro area priesthood members were gathered to listen to the apostle should have at least made us suspicious of that claim.  (One of my friends remarked that when Stassi made that claim, he had the desire to shout in Joe Wilson fashion, "You lie."  I don't know if my friend's restraint means he is worth of a higher or lower priesthood office).
    The scriptural evidence is clear.  The Doctrine & Covenants talks about a higher and a lesser priesthood.  We have priests and we have high priests and even someone outside of the church can easily guess which one of the offices is above the other on the priesthood totem pole.
    I know, I know:  the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  Those that are called to lead are to be servants and all of that.  I think the hope that the priesthood system is not hierarchical is a lovely desire, yet it is far removed from reality.
    The tradition in the church was that our priesthood system was a restoration of the model from the New Testament church.  That traditional notion is not taught by the church and has been largely discredited.  (For instance, the first century church had no high priests and generally only had deacons, elders and bishops that carried out functions very different from those of deacons, elders and bishops in the Community of Christ).
    Perhaps another point could be made about priesthood offices.  If you are an Aaronic minister, you most certainly will never be hired as a professional minister in the Community of Christ, until a call, at least to Elder comes along.  If you have the priesthood office of Apostle, you almost certainly will not lose your job when the church has staff cutbacks (at least that has been pattern during the last two rounds of lay-offs).
    President Steve Veasey's efforts on Priesthood Faithfulness are welcome.  But perhaps examining the structures of priesthood itself should be a part of our faithful reflection.  It seems that being honest about realities of our priesthood system is an important step in that process.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leadership & Discernment

I was looking at an paper I did on Leadership & Discernment in the Community of Christ. It was published in the Theology Colloquy collection for that year. I'm posting it on the web on Google Docs. You can go to it by selecting the hyperlink above.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

St. Louis Post Columnist Revises Statement About Community of Christ

Kevin Horrigan posts a comment on the article stating:
Dr. Pasley and I are advised that we may be clinging to an outdated notion of
the Community of Christ in Independence. The former Reorganized Church of
Later Day Saints is, in fact, the second-largest Mormon affiliated church as
the column states. But its policies and doctrines are quite different from
those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in
Salt Lake City.

He wrote directly to me saying:

Apparently the RLDS church has changed more than its name since I worked in
Kansas City years ago. We have posted a comment noting the change in emphasis
and approach. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and best of luck in
your work.

So he gets points for revising the record (though not in the main body), plus he answered he email. That is very nice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is the Community of Christ a breeding ground for right-wing, hate groups?

According to a St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist, we are. See:

I wrote an email to Dr. Jeffrey L. Pasley in response:

Dr. Pasley, you were quoted in Kevin Horrigan's column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch (which I accessed online) as saying:

[A] "number of conservative religious groups have their headquarters and
powerful establishments here: the Assemblies of God (in Springfield); the
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (in Kirkwood); the second-largest Mormon group
(the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Latter Day Saints in
Independence), in recent pro-life times, I would have to count the Archdiocese
of St. Louis.

As an elder in the Community of Christ and having worked for the church full-time for over 11 years in the past, I have to question labeling the church as a conservative religious group with ties to right-wing activities.

Part of my work with the Community of Christ including chairing the Interfaith Peace & Justice Group, Missouri Impact ( As chair of Impact, we worked very hard to oppose the legalization the carrying of concealed weapons in Missouri. The Community of Christ leadership was very much in support of that activity. There were those who have broken away from the Community of Christ (a broad group that can be called RLDS Fundamentalist that had supporters of Concealed Weapons, but there was no organized support of the pro-gun position in the Community. Nor are there any organized pro-life groups in the church. Actually, the work I was involved with was often labeled as left-wing activities (lobbying for hunger relief, opposing Missouri Medicaid cuts, putting limits on payday loans, Third World debt relief and I could go on.)

Our Temple is dedicated to the pursuit of peace and if you look at the program for our upcoming Peace Colloquy ( you will see the theme is "Justice for Women, Dignity for All." An international award will be presented to to Halima Bashir a doctor and activist for women and children in Darfur. Are these the activities of a right-wing organization?

Of course, I don't know the context of your statement and perhaps you are aware of these activities, but from Kevin Horrigan's column, it seems the church was not fairly represented.

I look forward to hearing your response.

(slight edit to say that I was opposing concealed weapons).

Saturday, March 07, 2009

ToddElkins.Net Banned by Sears and the K-Mart Corporation!

Of course, the best way to sell books is to get someone to ban them. Well, I stopped at a Sears Grand store (they have them in suburban Kansas City in place of K-Marts). Sears Grand stores are very cool. One of the neat things is they have free computer terminals that one can have 60 minutes of Internet access on.

However, I was surprised to find that ToddElkins.Net (this blog) was blocked by their spam filtering, because apparently there is sexual content on my website. Hmmmm, I'm not sure what that could be, perhaps my paper on sexual ethics, my mention of breast cancer, or homosexuality?

I guess I don't try to make my blog kid-friendly, per say, but it shows the problems of filtering software. Also, it was blocking a new effort my Missouri Impact, called the Long Spoon Coalition.

So, thanks for the internet access, but please unblock my site!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A little dark humor . . .

I thought this was very funny.