In this three-part series I interview Community of Christ Prophet-President Stephen M. Veazey. Community of Christ is the new name of what was formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
According to his bio:
Stephen M. Veazey is president of Community of Christ. Prior to his ordination on June 3, 2005, he served as a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, the leading missionary quorum of Community of Christ. He is the eighth president of the church and the second who is not a direct descendant of church founder Joseph Smith Jr. He was ordained as president of seventy at the 1988 World Conference and as an apostle at the 1992 World Conference. In April 2002, Steve was set apart as president of the Council of Twelve and was the director of Field Ministries. His responsibilities also included Church Planting Ministries and Young Adult and Campus Ministries. His past assignments include missionary and administrative work in the Southern USA Mission Field; the Africa/East Central Field; the Ontario, South Central, and East Central Regions; apostle for SPECTACULAR; Outreach Ministries commissioner; the North Central Region; Advanced Leadership Studies at International Headquarters; and African American Ministries.
Born in Tennessee, he received a bachelor of science in biology from the University of Tennessee, and a master of arts in religion from Park College, Parkville, Missouri. Steve was an executive minister to the Fremont Congregation in California, and was in charge of a missionary development project for the San Francisco Bay Stake. Steve’s other church activities include serving as young adult minister to the Pacific Northwest Region; director of youth camps and seminars; field associate for a young adult campus ministries office; presiding elder; and counselor to the pastor in Paris, Tennessee.
Community of Christ has 250,000 members in more than 60 nations. The church’s mission is to “proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. Community of Christ International Headquarters is located in Independence, Missouri.
For current and former LDS Church members interested in Community of Christ, check out the Latter-day Seekers program.
As a longtime friend of the Veazey family, I can vouch for their genuine kindness and devotion to the ministry of Christ. I was a devoted Latter Day Saint in those days and entirely obnoxious about the LDS claim to truth—-Steve and wife Cathy simply had nothing but love and patience for me. Salt of the earth people!
Is there a way to download the video as there is a way to download the audio? I want to take clips from the video to share on Facebook. Is this something you allow/encourage?
Thank you, John and Steve, for a most enjoyable podcast. This one left me with the same impression I had after hearing the MS interviews with John Hamer, that Community of Christ is what a church SHOULD be, what churches should have been all along. Be well.
It seems to me that the Community of Christ is to mainstream Mormonism something like what Unitarian Universalism is to the Judeo-Christian tradition. This from an ex-Mormon turned Unitarian Universalist, who is still married to (and still in love with) a diehard 150 percent devoted LDS wonderful man.
Now if only there were a CoC congregation meeting regularly in Anchorage Alaska where we live, and if only my TBM husband could become convinced that Joseph Smith III was the rightful successor instead of Brigham Young, then we might actually have an opportunity to share the same religion again. I’d certainly consider joining the CoC if my husband would, especially after hearing this (Thank you Dr. John and Prophet-President Steve). Oh well…
EDiL13 (Elohim’s Daughter in Law)
Masterfully done, John. You asked all the pertinent and hard questions very respectfully. i was impressed with Pres. Veazy, the focus and approach of the Community of Christ, its efforts to be transparent and inclusive.
After hearing these videos, I really wish I had joined Community of Christ instead of the LDS. Too bad I didn’t seriously consider it as a youth.
I deeply appreciate the insight into CoC. While I am active LDS with various faith challenges, I feel a great jealousy for the spiritual maturity reflected within your faith community. I see it lacking in mine.
Pres. Veazey, you strike me as a wonderful representative for your faith. Thank you.
Wouldn’t it be something if the general authorities of the LDS church were this open and honest. I think they have the capacity, but would probably see it as a sign of weakness.
Thank you jon and steve for being so honest and open and really interesting, l enjoyed hearing about steve’s version of the Coc gospel, it does seem so much more simplified which is how is see Jesus being, l would have liked to hear about how the Coc church feel about the plan of salvation and baptisms for the dead in more explanation and the use of the temple also how they regard the wearing of garments and how that would relate to the church’s principles and beliefs, it seems the Coc is far more clear in it’s ideas and thinking and that perhaps these issues are of less importance, anyway overall jon very interesting and well put together interviews, hope to see more like these and more discussions on the lds history and transparacy in the mainstream church, well done jon, keep up the good work, you’re helping so many of us struggling with faith,
Thank you jon and steve for being so honest and open and really interesting, l enjoyed hearing about steve’s version of the Coc gospel, it does seem so much more simplified which is how is see Jesus being, l would have liked to hear about how the Coc church feel about the plan of salvation and baptisms for the dead in more explanation and the use of the temple also how they regard the wearing of garments and how that would relate to the church’s principles and beliefs,very good, much enjoyed, thank you.
Thank you for your comments and questions, Beth. As a life-long member of the RLDS/Community of Christ church, I can say that 1) the church does not practice and has not since the time of the Reorganization (April 6, 1860) practiced baptizing the dead; 2) members do not wear special garments, as that is not part of the CofC doctrine; 3) the Temple is open to everyone to enter.
The purpose of the Temple, as articulated in our Doctrine and Covenants section
156:5a “…shall be dedicated to the pursuit of peace. It shall be for reconciliation and for healing of the spirit.
156:5b It shall also be for a strengthening of faith and preparation for witness.
156:5c By its ministries an attitude of wholeness of body, mind, and spirit as a desirable end toward which to strive will be fostered.
156:5d It shall be the means for providing leadership education for priesthood and member.
156:5e And it shall be a place in which the essential meaning of the Restoration as healing and redeeming agent is given new life and understanding, inspired by the life and witness of the Redeemer of the world.
There are no sealing ordinances performed in the Temple. So members and nonmembers of the Church are welcome to enter all parts of the Temple as we understand it to be a House of God for all peoples and a place of preparation, worship and healing; 5) historically the RLDS/CofC church taught the three glories (Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial). Those teachings are not as prevalent today. The church is very much committed to helping the cause of Zion and take seriously that part of the Lord’s prayer that says, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” As members endeavor to be faithful disciples of Christ in the here-and-now, many members believe the hereafter will be taken care of and determined by the love, mercy, and grace of God as understood through God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions.
Blessings of Shalom!
I have a question. Like the LDS church, Joseph Smith Jr is your founding prophet, and you use the Book of Mormon, but there is a point where you reject some of his teachings, correct?
Would that include most of what he taught in Nauvoo?
Thanks for your question. Since I wasn’t 100% certain which teachings came during the pre-Nauvoo and Nauvoo, I had to check with a friend (Blake) who just finished reading a new 2-volume history of the RLDS/CofC. I suppose in one sense you could say many of Joseph’s Nauvoo teachings were rejected. After Joseph’s martyrdom many of the Saints dispersed throughout the surrounding states, with Brigham taking the LDS out to Utah. That dispersal of those who did not follow Brigham remained until April 6, 1860, when Joseph’s son, Joseph Smith III, became the president-prophet of the dispersed Saints and brought them back together. (Hence the name Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) In that reorganization, teachings such as the practice of secret/sacred rites in the Nauvoo Temple, the huge issue of polygamy, plurality of Gods, sealing marriages in the temple for eternity, and the unquestionable, infallible word of God through the Prophet/President were not included in the Reorganization’s doctrines. We also move away from the storehouse concept and signing over our property and surplus to the church. To this day we do not teach any of those concepts. And since we don’t believe in the infallible word of God through a prophet, we do practice Common Consent, which serves as a kind of Check and Balance. So the church body could vote against any revelation or teaching put forth by the prophet that would be binding on the church. Even now we have members who disagree with some of our understandings and doctrines, such as the affirming same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT members, but they remain members in good standing as we have no creed for membership.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for your question. I wasn’t 100% certain on what teaching came in the pre- and Nauvoo periods, so I had to check with a friend who just finished a new two-volume set of RLDS/CofC history. I guess you could say, in one sense, that we did reject some of Joseph’s teachings from the Nauvoo period. After the church dispersed in 1844, those folks who did not head west with Brigham Young kind of scattered until April 6, 1860 when Joseph’s son, Joseph Smith III, was ordained prophet-president (Hence the name Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of LDS) The church did not bring into our beliefs doctrines dealing with the practice of secret/sacred rites in the Nauvoo temple, the issue of polygamy, a plurality of Gods, sealing marriages in the temple for eternity, and the unquestionable, infallible, word of God through the Prophet/President. We practice Common Consent and so we are able to vote on when or when not to include new words from the prophet in our Doctrine and Covenants as sacred scripture, and many other policies/doctrines that would be binding on the church at large, such as accepting believer’s baptisms performed in other denominations. We have also moved away from the “storehouse” concept and signing over our property and surplus to the church.
Hope this helps!
All the best!
Listening to this interview has brought a renewed sense of lightness to my soul: the fact that the same foundation could give rise to two very different churches – one proclaiming a prosperity gospel and the other a message of compassion and grace – gives me hope for the future. Thank you, John, for arranging the interview, and thanks to Stephen for being willing to speak so openly about the issues.
Linda thank you for expressing your position because it summarizes what I was thinking perfectly. “Who is this man?” When we look for Godly men in the world, this man would qualify for the title.
Everything Steve said seemed to be the opposite of what LDS leaders would say. It truly comes down to the money. The prosperity focus of Mormonism vs. the grace and love of Community of Christ.
This is a very interesting interview as it is completely different than the LDS General Authorities. It has been proven time after time the LDS General Authorities…well any LDS leadership for that matter, are quick to punish their congregation, while the CofC is understanding and more Christ like blaming the nature of man for short comings. But what I found most interesting this there is still discipline in the CofC for second offence adultery and a few other sins. Why punish people at all? What are the grounds to punish for some sins and not others? It is clear in the Bible/BofM that adultery is a sin, but what about all of the other sins listed too? Are the sins that are not punishable considered a human error just like text in the BofM regarding skin color? I also get the impression there are not manuals handed out and each congregation can teach what they want which of course is not the same as the LDS church. Would the CofC really be considered an Organized Religion? This was a great interview and the progression the RLDS /CofC has made is courageous.
An ideal solution for disaffected Mormons still clinging to Joseph’s Myth
I am 2/3 through watching John Dehlin’s interview of Stephen Veazey.
Geeze! The solution for many gay Mormons and oppressed female Mormons is now dirt simple:
Join the Community of Christ now!
You get to keep the Joseph’s Mythology you’re not ready throw under the bus yet, PLUS you solve ALL of the annoying, insulting problems that The Brethren hold dear with no sign of relenting … like the following:
= Discrimination against Blacks: RLDS figured that out after the Civil War. One of the CofC apostles is a man from Zimbabwe.
= Ordination of Women: Not sure of the date, but women were given full equality with men decades ago. One of their apostles is a Polynesian female. Stephen Veazey hopes a future prophet-president will be female or Black. One of his counselors in the First Presidency is female.
= Gays are welcomed with open arms, including married gay couples. In venues where gay marriage is not happening yet, the CofC will perform Covenant Ceremonies for gay couples.
Not only all of the above, but Stephen Veazey actually believes the most important thing his church can do is practice the teachings of Jesus Christ above all other considerations.
And not only all of the above, but he says that honest, open inquiry and study of all available sources of information and history is fully encouraged, and a wide variety of conclusions about Joseph Smith, Golden Plates, historicity of the cartoons, etc., is all tolerated. Excommunication (which means ex-communion – no sacrament for you for now) is rare, and ‘expulsion’ from membership is only for murderers and repeat adulterers.
All LDS problems solved! And you still get to keep Joseph Smith while shedding virtually ALL of the uncivilized aspects of Modern LDS homophobics and misogyny.
Of course, the best solution is to just get it done and throw JS under the bus and back over him a few times before leaving him behind as road kill, but if you need a half-way house on the way out of Mormonism, the Community of Christ looks ideal. Their leadership seems to fully embrace the teachings and compassion of Jesus extended unconditionally to everyone, regardless of genitalia or attraction proclivities. And it’s OK to believe that the BofM is fiction and the Golden Plates never existed. You can even toss out verses from the BofM you don’t like, cursing the Lamanites with dark skin, for example.
Seriously, if more disaffected Mormons knew more about the CofC, more would see it as an almost too-good-to-be-true solution.
It healed my soul to hear of other people who could take the same events and writings and be so intelligent and loving in how they implemented them in their lives and used them to bring them closer to God. I would have really liked to have grown up in the version of the gospel. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing.
This interview is absolutely mind blowing. After decades of watching LDS leaders spin and excuse and prevaricate, I was totally unprepared to watch a Mormon-tradition religious leader answer hard questions candidly and directly without showing evidence of carefully rehearsed dodging. Veasey shows it can be done, which leaves LDS leaders with no excuses.
If ever there was a man called by God, it is Seve Veasey. I had the pleasure and honor of having Steve as a teacher/mentoring influence. It is an inspiration to read the comments left here regarding Steve the CofC by LDS and non LDS alike. It affirms my belief in what Steve taught me so many years ago. God bless you richly Steve.
Any chance to get a printable copy of this interview with Stephen Veasey?
If the the oft quoted proverb “By your fruits ye shall know them” has any validity, then what this church has become over time testifies to their humanity and Christianity. I wish I could say the same for Utah Mormonism.
Please don’t hate me, but these interviews felt to me to follow this pattern: 1) interviewer claims “our” church is extreme, and asks is your church more moderate? 2) interviewee responds that we try to be moderate.
Still, I found it enjoyable. Thank you.
Great interview. Thanks for sharing!
I see the possibility to comment are closing … I still want to share my great gratitude for this Pearl of Great Price you gave us, John !
I am glad Pres. Veazy didn’t wear a tie and he sat comfortable and talked freely/unformal. This helped me to see a distance between the LDS Brethren, Pres. Veazy’s formal attitude on the CofC website and how he is as a human person. It broke down the wall of prejudice I was experiencing and I was able to listen without problems.
Just like the John Hamer podcasts, this one is very precious for me and I will listen again and again. It opened a possibility for me to be more open and positive toward CofC.
Yet, I’m not ready. I’m missing The Plan of Salvation in CofC. This is a very important inspirational vision for me Joseph Smith gave us. I think my life is empty without it. It’s a very important tool for me, a frame of thinking that gives me a good feeling. I’m not ready giving it up, even though I’m changing it for myself: kicking out the dirt that happened to have gotten into it, as the terrible ideas about our beloved black brothers and sisters and the lies that sustain polygamy. After cleaning up it’s a beautiful idea, it doesn’t exclude reincarnation, and gives way for beautiful ideas to sustain a positive self image and our relationship with our eternal spiritual self, life and others. This is a great gift Joseph Smith gave us, it’s a pitty it’s not in the CofC, I’m holding on to it. :o)
However, CofC perfectly fits in my idea of Plan of Salvation, time and insight will tell how it will come together. :o)
Thank you both so much for this glorious interview ! It means very, very much for me !
Adrie de Jong