I’m excited to start 2018 two amazing guests: a Seventy and an Apostle of the Community of Christ: John Hamer and Lachlan MacKay. I’ll let them introduce themselves.

Lachlan:  Sure, [I’m] Lachlan MacKay, a member of the Council of Twelve in the Community of Christ.  I oversee the northeast field in the U.S. which is Michigan and basically Kirtland to Maine to Virginia.  I have functional assignments including Community of Christ Historic Sites.  I oversee historic sites and lead the church history and sacred story team.

John: In terms of the history work that I do, I primarily have studied the broader Latter-day Saint tradition churches.  Like I say that would be all manner of –ites, so the Strangites,[1] especially but also Cutlerites[2] and Hedrickites[3] and everybody else, Josephites,[4] our tradition.  I’m a member of Community of Christ.  I serve as the pastor of the downtown Toronto congregation.  I’ve been called to be a Seventy.  I’m a Seventy-designate.  The ordination will happen in October.[5]  I am also a past president of the John Whitmer Historical Association (JWHA), which is essentially the other –ites, or the Community of Christ’s version of the Mormon History Association (MHA), those kind of things.

We’ll be talking a little bit about LDS myths.

GT:  One of my favorite blog posts was, it’s been a decade now, the Top Myths about the Community of Christ for Mormons.

John:  Oh yeah, the Top 10 myths, I don’t remember exactly how it was, the top 10 Mormon myths about the Community of Christ or something like that.  That one we ended up doing a couple of podcasts with that. I think we did one on Mormon Expression that was on that same topic.

One of the ones for the LDS Tradition, one of the blogs posts that gets the most traction is for whatever reason, sometime in your curriculum every spring you do the Milk & Strippings story.[6]  Then suddenly this essay that I’ve written that has been read more times is on the Milk & Strippings story because every May or something like that it comes up for some reason.  I don’t know why.

We will also talk about the construction of the Kirtland Temple.  (Don’t forget to check out our previous discussion with Dr. Mark Staker and Dr. Richard Bennett!)   What was most interesting to me was our discussion about differences in temple worship between the LDS Church and the RLDS Church.  (Note:  The Community of Christ has been historically known as the RLDS Church.)  

Lachlan:  So Kirtland in the 1830s, it’s a house for public worship with a strong emphasis on empowerment, both spiritually and intellectually.  Two-thirds of Kirtland Temple was classroom space.  You would worship in the temple on Sundays, and you would go to school six days a week.  Kirtland High School met on the third floor.  Students ranged in age from six through adults, so it was the center of their community life.

My sense is that in Nauvoo the same was going to be true, but you did start to have to have, I believe, a receipt saying you were a tithe payer in order to gain access to the baptismal font, and they didn’t welcome non-members in the temple in Nauvoo while they were performing ordinances, but it was still a public building.  That receipt, I think, is what many generations later would become the idea of a temple recommend.

John:  This idea for the LDS tradition of having what constitutes temple work and everything like that, almost all of this is extremely different than what existed in Kirtland.  There’s no font, like you say, in the Kirtland Temple.  That’s something that begins in Nauvoo.  The same thing, the Endowment ceremony, and things like that is taking place after Joseph Smith had been exposed to Freemasonry and things like that so that also isn’t taking place, the whole liturgy and things like that in Kirtland.

I have a chart.  I’ll give it to you so you can splice it in if you want for the videos, but essentially where you take the spaces that exist, you’ve taken Kirtland, like what Lach is telling you about, the spaces of worship, the space for learning, the space for order, the church offices and things like that, you can see where they have that same major portion of the space is devoted to that in Nauvoo, but then there’s also the space for the baptism of the dead in the basement and there’s a space for endowments in the attic.

Then you go to Salt Lake, all of that is preserved so there’s a big solemn assembly hall and things like that in the Salt Lake Temple.  There are the offices for the apostles and things like that, but then when you get to the little temples that are in the LDS tradition, which might be what most Mormons in the Utah tradition are exposed to, they don’t have any of those things that are from the Kirtland period.  All they have is the basement and attic part of the Nauvoo Temple and that’s their whole experience.  So they go and that’s their temple experience.  They go to Kirtland and say, “What did these Reorganites do to the temple?  It’s not even—it’s so alien.”  That’s what Kirtland is!  But anyway, we’re each honoring different parts of the heritage.

We’ll also talk about baptism for the dead as well as vision of Elijah in 1836 in the Kirtland Temple.  Did you know that there were baptisms for the dead in both Kirtland and Wisconsin in the early days of the church?  What do you think of some of these differences in temple worship practices between the two churches?  John has been a big presence in the bloggernacle.  Were you aware that he had been ordained a Seventy?

[1] Because so many churches founded by Joseph Smith have similar names, sometimes it is easier to name the groups by their next founder.  For example, the Strangites have a similar name as the mainline LDS Church.  Their church is officially known with slightly different capitalization and punctuation as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (vs. Latter-day Saints), and were founded by James Strang following an angelic visit.  We will talk more about them in a future episode.

[2] Cutlerites were founded by Alpheus Cutler and are officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ.

[3] Hedrickites were founded by Granville Hedrick and officially known as the Church of Christ or Church of Christ (Temple Lot.)  They are sometimes referred to as the Temple Lot Church.  We will discuss them in a future episode.

[4] Josephites are better known as Community of Christ or RLDS Church.  The official name is the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They are called Josephites after Joseph Smith III.  The Utah church is sometimes referred to as Brighamites, after Brigham Young.

[5] John was ordained in October 2017.

[6] The Milk Strippings story is a story in which the LDS Church claims that apostle Thomas B. Marsh was excommunicated for defending his wife.  As the story goes, his wife took extra milk for butter, known as “milk strippings.”  John wrote a post that there was more context to the story than is given in LDS Sunday School manuals.  See https://bycommonconsent.com/2009/07/01/the-milk-strippings-story-thomas-b-marsh-and-brigham-young/