Christine Jeppsen Clark is a mother of six, a former Mormon Tabernacle Choir member, a Ph.D. graduate student focusing on dementia, and a dear personal friend. She is also the daughter of the late Elder Malcolm S. Jeppsen — former LDS General Authority, personal physician and best friend to Elder Boyd K. Packer, and a GA who was directly involved in the excommunication of Avraham Gileadi (one of the September Six). In this multi-part episode with Christine we discuss:
- What it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s in Salt Lake City as a very orthodox, devout member of a somewhat elite LDS family.
- What it was like to grow up the daughter of an LDS General Authority, who was both a physician to, and best friends with Elder Boyd K. Packer
- Elder Jeppsen’s personal and direct involvement in the excommunication of Avraham Giliadi — one of the September Six
- How such an orthodox, committed LDS family including Christine (the daughter of a General Authority), her husband David Clark (former bishop of eight years, recent Stake Presidency member) and four of her six children could ultimately decide to leave the LDS Church, and
- What it’s like to leave the LDS Church as a grandparent in your 50s and 60s.
Below are excerpts from “Up Close And Personal: The Life History of Malcolm Seth and Marian Jeppsen” relating to Avraham Giliadi (pages 433 – 437), shared with permission of Christine Jeppsen Clark (editing for spelling/grammar by Christine). This excerpt describes how Elder Jeppsen was directly involved in the excommunication of Avraham Giliadi — a member of the September Six — all while the LDS church was claiming that the September Six excommunications were local matters (see here for the history surrounding the denials of high-level GA involvement in the September Six). As the LDS church claims that the disciplinary councils of Kate Kelly and myself are local matters — this provides important insight into how LDS General Authorities influence local leaders in such matters (acknowledging that my disciplinary council is not yet a foregone conclusion).
“A Widely Known Priest Crafter.”
“In October of this year another challenge presented itself concerning a brother who lived in the Salem Stake. His Stake President was President Randall Gibbs, an oral surgeon. The man had studied for a year in Jerusalem and then placed himself up as a “Jewish Scholar,” and became a true priest crafter. He would go up and down the state giving lectures on the end of the earth, etc., for $50 admission fee. He wrote a book entitled “The Last Days,” and that’s how I got involved. The Ensign was going to print a chapter of his book, which became immensely popular, as an article in the magazine.
I was serving on the Correlation Committee of the Church at the time, and our committee looks at everything the Church publishes, even music it sings or letters written by headquarters or anyone else, etc. The chapter was obvious false doctrine. We disapproved it, and even contacted the members of the Twelve whose responsibility was Deseret Book, and they agreed it was false doctrine.
His stake president was not interested in doing much about the problem. I prodded him two times and actually gave him a copy of a report from the correlation committee outlining his false doctrines that he was teaching. On his third visit to my office he thanked me for my counsel and was leaving when I put my arm around him and said “We’re short on counsel in this office but long on direction. I’m directing you to take action to correct or else excommunicate this man. He cannot be allowed to be teaching what he is teaching and remain a member of the Church.”
Still nothing happened, so he was released as a stake president. The new one called was a professor at BYU by the name of Leaun Otten. He was appraised of the problem, and moved to correct it quickly. I gave him permission to use his regional representative in any fashion he wanted, to cross boundaries of responsibility, and gather whatever evidence he felt he needed.
Let me just tell you what happened on the other side of the telephone call I made. President Otten came home from work that day really troubled about this disciplinary council he was going to conduct on this brother the following evening because of only having one witness. He even said to his wife I’ve had the feeling that my Area President is going to call me with another witness, and had barely said it when the phone call from me rang through. When I went to talk to President Otten on the telephone he didn’t answer. I was wondering what was the matter, when it finally dawned on me that he was in tears. He finally got out, through his crying, the statement :” President Jeppsen, we know who runs this Church don’t we”? To which I agreed we did.
I went to the meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve that morning being held in the upper room of the temple where we were always invited to meet with them, also the first Thursdays of each month, and reported directly to them what had happened. They were most interested in learning of this incident.
The brother was excommunicated, and immediately the next day other dissidents who heard about it came to him wanting him to sign on to a full page ad in the Tribune blasting what they were calling religious freedom. He would have none of it. Telling them he had made a mistake, but he still loved the Church immensely and would stop his seminars, etc., and do whatever he needed to do to get his membership restored. This he was faithful in doing, and in about 18 months he was rebaptized into the Church. I sent him a letter of congratulations when that happened and called it to the attention of the First Presidency.”