I enjoyed Hawkgrrrl’s post on the Succession Crisis. This week I posted an episode to learn the RLDS perspective on the Succession from an RLDS perspective. Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church told me the RLDS Church formed earlier than I knew.
GT: One of the things I want to talk a little bit about is the Succession Crisis. As you know Joseph Smith, for those of my listeners who aren’t super familiar with church history, Joseph Smith was killed in 1844 in the Carthage Jail. As I understand it, and correct me if I’m wrong, I believe it was another 15 or so years before—Joseph Smith III was just a young boy. He was probably about 14 or so?
Jim: Yeah, that’s correct. He was a young boy.
GT: So it took about 15 years or so before Joseph Smith III felt called of God and then the Reorganized Church started in 1860. I believe it was April 6, 1860?
Jim: Actually that’s an interesting point. It actually started in 1852.
Jim: We actually had met together, a number of people during the Succession Crisis had come together. They organized at the apostle level, so the Second Presidency level if you will. They had the church until the prophet came forth, and so when young Joseph came, he felt compelled to come. That’s part of what he said, “I come by a power not of my own,” and he came to the church. It was in April 6, 1860 and so forth. Most people do look at that as the beginning, but honestly it was 1852, October of 1852 where they held the first general conference of the church at that point.
Similarly, following the 1984 revelation where women got the priesthood on the RLDS Church, 16 years later the Remnant Church was begun.
GT: I’m just wondering when you look at that period I guess between 1844 and 1860, did you feel kind of the same way in 1984, and I believe it was about 2000 when your church organized?
Jim: Yeah, it was very much. I wasn’t there for the very beginning of the Remnant Church. I was the one reading after and talking to people about it, but I believe it was the same feeling when Frederick Niels Larsen came forth, it was a very similar experience and he felt like he was coming with a power not his own, and he came to the church, and the church accepted him as the prophet, seer, and revelator of the church.
When you have a new church, and a new prophet, you get a lot of new revelations!
GT: How many have you had since 1984?
Jim: Considering our church started about 1999-2000, about 18.
GT: About 18, wow. That’s about one a year.
Jim: Yeah, pretty much.
GT: Can you about what are some of those revelations that you’ve had since 2000?
Jim: A number of those revelations are directional. As far as revealing doctrine, per se, so like when you look at Joseph Smith, Jr. and you look at his revelations, there’s a lot of doctrines that he’s revealing that we see there.
Gather to Missouri Now!
Some of these revelations tell the saints to gather to Missouri.
Jim: Our revelations as we call them from the Remnant Church forward, you’ll see a lot of direction around building community, so we were to go and build community in eastern Jackson County and so we’re doing that again, and we have done that.
GT: So you’re gathering to Missouri.
Jim: More or less. Yes, we are already in Missouri. Those of us there are starting to build that because we believe that Zion is a literal place, and that it is the kingdom of heaven on earth where God the Father will dwell and so we are trying to do the best we can.
GT: That’s an interesting idea. It seems like in the LDS Church when I was growing up there was this talk about returning to Missouri but I’ll bet in the last 20 years you don’t hear that in the LDS Church anymore. Nobody talks about going back to Missouri anymore. We’re very happy in Salt Lake. We’re building Zion where we are. That’s interesting to me. I do believe that’s something with the Community of Christ as well as the Remnant Church. That’s a big piece of your doctrine and theology is gathering to Jackson County. Is that correct?
Jim: Correct, yes. If you want to look at what really, of all the different groups that are out there, that is a defining point. How you define the kingdom changes a lot of things. It really does. As you look at it, some believe that there’s nothing you can do. They look at it as Zion’s going to show up one day. If you’re worthy then you get to go in. If you’re not worthy, you’re not going to get to go in.
We believe that we can actually build Zion and it’s a process that we go through and that at some point we’ll become sanctified to where it will be the Zion that is spoken of.
Do you wish the LDS Church had more revelations, or is this simply the function of a new church to get more revelations than an established church? Why do you think the LDS Church doesn’t emphasize gathering to Missouri anymore?