I’m excited to introduce you to the House of Aaron, located on the Utah-Nevada border that practices the Law of Consecration, and celebrates many Jewish holidays. You could call them Messianic Christians. We’ll learn more about this group with Dr. John Conrad.
John: My name is John Conrad, and you are at the community of Eskdale in western Utah. This is a community that was founded by the House of Aaron, and it’s been here since 1955.
John: I am the head of the organization, the House of Aaron, you could say, and my father was before me, then Bishop Glendenning before him. We’re a Christian or messianic organization. I don’t know that you could say we’re really related to other groups. We’re very, you could say nondenominational or interdenominational. In other words, we will fellowship with anyone who will have us.
GT: Oh, wow. Well, I know when I came in, I had to stop. There was a picture that said, “Welcome to Eskdale.” And there was like a candelabra, right?
John: Yes. A menorah. Yeah, either one.
GT: So, I think would you would you call yourself Messianic Christians. Is that a good way to say it?
John: I think it is a good way to say it because we do a lot of things that you would associate with Judaism.
John: Maurice Glendenning, was raised in the Midwest, Kansas, that area. That’s where he met his wife, Helen. He received angelic revelations. Well, he heard them most of his life. In fact, when he was a young boy, when he’d go to the woods, he would hear singing. He would go get his father and listen. His dad would say, “I don’t hear anything, you’re nuts.” In fact, he told him once it was a bear’s nest. Over time, as he listened to this choir, one voice stood out above the others. Eventually, this voice spoke to him, and he wrote these messages down. When he showed them to his pastor, he was horrified and said they were of Satan. So, he quit writing them for a while, and then he started writing them again in 1923.
GT: Now, was he with the Temple Lot or the Community of Christ or anything?
John: No, he was not with any of the Restoration branches. What he did, his wife developed asthma, and their doctor told him thing to do–in fact, they were both practicing chiropractors. They got in a car started driving west until she could breathe. They got to Colorado Springs, and she was breathing better. So, they stayed there for a while, but she was still having–it was the depression. Or, it was actually before the depression. They had gone from having a thriving, the two of them, chiropractic medicine business to destitute. They went to Colorado. That wasn’t working out any better. Then, they were going to go back to Kansas. But they got on the road and he, and I think it was his brother-in-law, somebody who was with him, they took the wrong road and ended up in Salt Lake City.
GT: Oh, wow.
John: In Salt Lake City, when he came around the Mormons, a lot of words that had been in his revelations, Levi, Aaron, Israel, Ephraim, Mormons were acquainted with [those words.]
John: They were the first people that didn’t want to throw him over the river, when he mentioned those words. So, he actually, they moved to Salt Lake. I’m going off the cuff here. I don’t trust my chronology, perfectly, but I think they moved to Salt Lake around 1929, maybe 1928-29. It was just right about the time the worst of the Depression hit. Anyway, they joined the Mormon Church and developed some good friendships. But the writings which had served to connect them to the Mormons were a real blessing to some Mormons and other Mormons, not so much. So, he was probably not officially a Mormon for more than a year.
The House of Aaron is on the Utah-Nevada border. LDS are practically everywhere. How do they get along with their LDS neighbors? Do they consider themselves a Restoration group? Dr. John Conrad is chief high priest and will answer these questions.
GT: All right. So, you wouldn’t really consider this like a breakoff or a Restoration movement church?
John: That’s a great question, because for years, Mormon scholars have seen us as a break off because so many of us–oh, my dad. My dad was fairly high up in the Mormon Church. He went on a mission. I mean, and a lot of our early pioneers in the movement were LDS. You could never say that the LDS don’t have an impact on us, and that a huge number of us didn’t come from the LDS. What’s more, to this day, we’re a little different in that we’re quite friendly and open to the LDS, even though there are some things we would disagree, perhaps. We certainly, you know, the traditional Christian view that the Mormons aren’t Christians, they’re going to hell. I get material that says that no matter how much good they do, how wonderful they are with their families, they pay their tithings, and they love their–they’re still going to hell. I find it appalling, unscriptural. Anyway, we’re quite friendly. Then, let’s be honest. There are things we believe very similar. I don’t know, because I’m not part of an LDS congregation at all, but, at least at some point, they believed strongly in a restoration of Israel.
John: They saw themselves as Joseph/Ephraim, they saw themselves as part of those lost tribes coming back. If you read Joseph Smith’s early writings, if you read the Doctrine & Covenants, even the Book of Mormon, it alludes to that. That’s very much a belief we have that–the Bible talks a lot about restoring Judah and Ephraim, together. Us, the Mormons, and a few other people believe that. A lot don’t. The thing where we have great commonalities with the Mormons and other Christians is we believe Yeshua, or Jesus, is the Savior of mankind. He’s the Redeemer. He’s the one who purchased our freedom. He’s the Son of God. We believe he rose from the dead. You read Paul, in I Corinthians 15, he says, “The things of first importance are that Christ died for our sins,” according to the Scripture. “He was buried, and he was raised on the third day,” according to the scripture. You look at those three things and I agree with a couple of billion people on the planet.
John talks more about interfaith relations. Have you heard of this group? What are your experiences with Messianic Christians?
My understanding is that the House of Aaron members are very active with music. I wonder how they practice their religion? Are they open to visitors at Eskdale? The female members I observed in Logan wore uniforms. Why are they in the extreme West Desert?
A relative of mine was a bookmobile driver for years and Eskdale was a regular par of his route. He even engaged in some friendly banter with the leader as to the truthfulness of each one’s respective religion. He felt they were a very friendly people overall. I was under the impression they didn’t at all affiliate with the restorationist movement.
Roger, they follow the Jewish sabbath, and usually meet around 9-10 AM if I remember right. They often broadcast their services over Facebook, so you could check out their services minus the 3 hour drive! Yes, they seem very open to visitors, and refer to themselves as interdenominationnal. They are in the west desert because land was cheap, and I believe there were some tax incentives to settle there.
Eli, you are basically correct. John said they don’t consider themselves as part of the Restoration, but many BYU professors do. What I find interesting is that a few of Maurice Glendenning’s vision include one from Moroni! So that at least shows some Mormon influence.
Rick B, any info about their love of music? The drive out to Baker, NV, is interesting. Failed solar project, Sevier Lake (mostly dry), Notch Peak, Topaz Internment Site, trilobite beds, and Great Basin NP. A trip to Erkdale could be part of the trip.
My great aunt, grandmother’s sister, and her husband joined the group early on. We knew it as the Order of Aaron or just the Order. Aunt LaRue would come to visit occasionally, wearing her uniform. She was a teacher by training and did a lot with the Montessori methods. Always very kind and mild, which was a family trait but also something we associated with her religion.