President Stephen M. Veazey announced on Monday, March 6, that he plans to retire, effective with a scheduled World Conference in early June 2025. He has served as the prophet-president of Community of Christ since June 2005. President Veazey’s 66th birthday is this May.
About a year before President Veazey’s ordination, then-President W. Grant McMurray had unexpectedly resigned as prophet-president of the church, which led to a months-long, churchwide discernment process. Veazey had been serving as president of the Council of Twelve Apostles at that time.
Here is the text of his lettter to the church:
Beloved Community of Christ:
Now that dates for a World Conference in 2025 have been set, I am announcing that I will retire from my role as prophet-president and World Church employment at the 2025 World Conference, thus, creating a vacancy in the office of president.
Serving the church has been a labor of love, bringing deep meaning to my life through relationships with members and friends around the world. I look forward to sharing more about this in the time ahead and will continue to fulfill my responsibilities as president until I retire.
I believe my decision to retire is timely for me and my family. It also will create opportunities for younger World Church leaders to share their gifts more extensively, which will bless the church. Announcing my retirement at this time will facilitate an orderly leadership transition.
The calling of a successor will include a time of mutual discernment with the worldwide church. All ages are invited to a process that will include prayerful discernment, guiding questions, and opportunities to share. People may participate as individuals or as groups. In general, the discernment process will occur in four phases:
- Phase 1: March 2023: Announcing the prophet-president’s retirement, which will occur at the 2025 World Conference.
- Phase 2: March–November 2023: Sharing discernment steps and guiding questions with the church each month with opportunities to offer feedback to the First Presidency. This will include a discernment activity during the 2023 World Conference.
- Phase 3: December 2023–February 2024: Prayerfully holding and reflecting in the First Presidency on all feedback. The prophet-president will name the person called through a letter of counsel to be considered at the 2025 World Conference. The person called will be the president designate and will be associated with the current First Presidency in its work until the 2025 World Conference.
- Phase 4: May 30–June 6, 2025: Considering, approving, and ordaining the next prophet president at the 2025 World Conference. This discernment process will help us grow as a prophetic people in a time of unprecedented challenges and opportunities. It will enhance our mutual awareness of God’s creative activity in the world and the church. It also will lead to vital perspectives about where God is leading the church and who shall be called as the next president. More information will be provided soon about the discernment process, including how to share feedback with the Presidency.
May the Holy Spirit bless our journey with insight, inspiration, and wisdom.
In the peace of Christ,
Stephen M. Veazey, president
The church typically holds a World Conference at its international headquarters in Independence, Missouri, every three years. The scheduled Conference in 2022 was delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will take place April 22-29, 2023. However, because of the urgency of leadership changes and other pressing matters, the next Conference will be moved up to May 30 to June 6, 2025.
- Although this lengthy discernment process may be appropriate and feasible for a denomination the size of Community of Christ, how well do you think it could be adapted for other, larger organizations?
- President W. Wallace Smith was the first prophet-president to retire from office (unlike his two half-brothers, Fred M. Smith and Israel A. Smith, his father Joseph Smith III, and his grandfather Joseph Smith, Jr., who all died in office). President Veazey is currently 65 years old and will have just turned 68 when he becomes president emeritus. Doo you think he’ll be too young to retire, just the right age, or too old?
This is really interesting. I love the idea of the prophet-president retiring voluntarily. I don’t think he’s too young to retire, particularly as he’s been serving in that position for 20 years. While he certainly could serve longer, depending on his health, I think the reasons he gave were valid and no doubt the position takes a toll. My opinion is he deserves to enjoy his “golden” years.
The process is also interesting – I love that there is feedback from everyone. It is so different than how things roll in TCOJCOLDS. Perhaps I’m a bit cynical these days, but rising in leadership within the LDS church seems to depend on men’s business and financial success, not spirituality, as well as willingness to toe the line. I can’t imagine what things would look with with leaders who rose through the ranks due to more spiritual criteria. I can’t even fathom how the process the CofC uses would play out in the LDS world, but it’s a lovely thought.
He’s 65 and he says his retirement will provide opportunities for younger Church leaders. Meanwhile in SLC……
Rich, I so wish that the SLC branch of the restoration movement had something going down like this. Even having a 65 year old step up as president for 20 years would be a huge improvement. Could this work in a slightly larger institution like the CoJCoLDS? I can’t imagine why not. Certainly if the idea is to have a spiritual leader rather than simply a businessman. Both Jesus and Joseph Smith were in their 30s. They can have a few older men and women in the 12 to give the perspective of the older generations. But I think my GenX tribe would be about perfect to weigh the old and the new and lead the CoJCoLDS back to relevance and a spiritual reawakening.
That’s really interesting. The leader is retiring, and here’s the whole process for an orderly transition of power. I like it, and I hope you’ll post updates. I wish our Church leaders could retire – I wonder how many of them would want to?
Thanks, this is exciting and inspiring news. Rich, do you have any idea what this discernment process will involve? I assume such a process would take longer for a larger organization in order to be as thorough, but it would definitely be a good thing to do.
Tygan, I think the details of the discernment process will be spelled out more thoroughly next month at World Conference.
The Veazey era has certainly been a time of change and turmoil (especially regarding financial issues), but it’s also a continuation of spiritual transformation begun decades ago. A major challenge ahead is how to organize, structure, and fund a church with an aging membership in North America.
President Veazey’s challenge to the chirch when he was ordained in 2005 is worth noting:
“Share. . . share peace. . .share the peace of Jesus Christ! That’s it! No new programs, no new goals, no new themes, no new logos…just being faithful. Being faithful to God, being faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and being faithful to the central mission of the Restoration.”
That has meant a broadening of calls for justice, particularly among marginalized people, including the queer community.
Interestingly, next month when new apostles are ordained at World Conference, for the first time the Council of 12 will be majority born outside the USA.
The first 2 guiding questions for the CofC discernment process (obviously this is about more than discerning a leader):
1. God, where is your Spirit leading us next, as a worldwide church?
2. God, what do you want us to do next to make the world a better place?
I heard they have to smash his ring with a silver hammer.