Several years ago, FireTag did an interview with the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He referred to this post as “part 1.”  Unfortunately FireTag passed away, so I suppose this could be considered Part 2.  I had the occasion to sit down with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency, and I asked him to tell me about how their church started.

Jim:  I would say where we started out was we left the C of C was called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Of course I think you all know where that came from.  {GT agrees}

We left that in [19]84.  There were a number of people who went out to Restoration branches.  At that point, people were looking up, can the church—because everyone believed that the church had to have structure and order to it.  We believe that the church structure to a point is of a divine nature….

It turns out we found in some of the writings of Joseph Smith III, and some personal testimony and revelation that came forth, we could indeed have a church restored again, so that’s what happened at that point.  I’m leaving a ton of things out.

We are approximately 2700 members.  About 1200 of those members are here in the United States, and the rest of those are in foreign fields….

They’re pretty small congregations, yes, anywhere from the range of 0 to 50, then we have the intermediate range 50-100.  That tends to be the sizes that we have.  We don’t generally have really large [congregations], and that’s really by design.  We believe that we need to be in communities, small communities seeded out there.  So we don’t believe in the idea of a huge mega-church kind of a deal.

(You can listen to the interview here.)  I was surprised to discover that they have a literal descendant of Aaron in their church!

Jim Vun Cannon:  Our Presiding Bishop actually is a literal descendant of Aaron.

GT:  Oh really!

Jim:  Yes.  Kevin Romer is actually.  Yes

GT:  Ok.  Wow, that’s interesting.

Jim:  So yeah, that was new for us.

GT:  Oh.  I would assume that he got that through the patriarch.  Is that how you declare lineage?

Jim:  Yeah, typically the patriarchs will give you lineage.  In his particular case he had it from the patriarch and from the president of the church.  Both had testimonies of…

GT interrupts:  Oh that he was a literal descendant?

Jim:  literal descendant, yeah right.

GT:  Ok, so the interesting thing, that doesn’t happen very often in our church.  In fact I’m not aware of any.

Jim:  This is the first I know of.

GT:  Oh really!

Jim:  Yeah, I don’t know of any of our churches, yeah.

GT:  Oh, wow.  That’s interesting.  I know a bishop, and I don’t know any bishop that would want to do this but if a bishop that is a literal descendant of Aaron, he does not need counselors, which when you’re administering a ward, why would you not want to have counselors?  I don’t know.

Jim chuckles:  Yeah, he has counselors and he doesn’t want to give them up.  I can appreciate that.

GT:  Now is that a lifetime calling too, or is that just for a period of time?

Jim:  We kind of look at that as a lifetime calling too, right now at this point.  It’s really very new to us so we’re just kind of learning that.

Have you ever known of a literal descendant of Aaron in the LDS Church?

Another interesting thing I learned is that Jim converted to the Remnant Church just 5 years ago, yet he is in the First Presidency now!

GT:  So you grew up in the Reorganized Church?

Jim:  That is correct.

GT:  Then in [19]84 the revelation on women and priesthood.  So what did you do between [19]84 and 2000?

Jim:  Oh goodness.  [I] tried to sift through the ashes of what felt like a burned down church.  I graduated high school in ‘83, so in ’84 it was like, what just happened?  Because I was right there in Independence so it was kind of a civil war with spiritual bloodshed on both sides.  It was just very unfortunate, because there obviously were a lot of strong feelings on both sides.

What I was doing was trying to find out what was going on, trying to go back through my own testimony.  The one thing that held me so true was the Book of Mormon.  It carried the same spirit as the Bible.  In fact it carried a stronger spirit I believe in many ways than the Bible.  What I mean by that was that I could pick up just about any page in the Book of Mormon and read it and you just felt the spirit wash over you.  I didn’t always get that out of maybe Deuteronomy or Leviticus perhaps.  That’s not being fair but that’s basically it.

I went to Restoration branches and just tried to see what was possible at this point.  I did look at the LDS Church, but because of my beliefs on polygamy and my beliefs that Joseph Smith III as far as succession was concerned, I couldn’t join the LDS Church.  I couldn’t see that being the path that I could go, but here again, many lovely, lovely people there.

Jim:  I started attending the Remnant Church in 2012 I believe is when I started.

GT:  Oh really, just that recently?

Jim:  Yes, that recently, yes.

GT:  Wow, and you’re in the First Presidency now!

Jim:  Yes, it was an experience where the Lord told me to go and join this church, and I was just told to go and worship with these folks and ministered with these folks and I really wasn’t told much more than that.  At the time I did not even have a testimony of President Larsen and his calling to be the prophet of the church, but that came very shortly afterwards.  I felt like it was one of those stepping out of the boat moments.  You know the water was a little squishy underneath your feet and trying to look forward, but yes, yes.

GT:  You know as we look at the early church with Joseph Smith, a lot of times he did take brand new converts and put them right in the First Presidency, so that’s pretty interesting.  Obviously you weren’t a member.

In part 2 of the interview, we talked about similarities and differences between LDS and Remnant worship services, as well as priesthood.  In a lot of ways, the Remnant Church resembles the old version of the RLDS Church.  Their prophet is Fred Larsen, a descendant of Joseph Smith, and they believe in lineal succession.  Do you have any questions for the Remnant Church?  What do you think of his description of “spiritual bloodshed” on both sides of the women & priesthood issue?  Do you foresee a similar reaction in the LDS Church if women were granted the priesthood?