In this special edition of Mormon Stories, we interview Mel and Stu Brown from Cache Valley, Utah. Many of our listeners will find Mel and Stu’s experience as a mixed-faith couple inspiring and full of wisdom as they share how they navigated differing beliefs—eventually leading to the decision to both leave the LDS Church.

We cover:

  • Mel’s upbringing in the LDS Church and how she never wavered in keeping the standards expected of her
  • Stu’s efforts to be clean and worthy to go on a mission and how his experience as a missionary in Oklahoma solidified his testimony
  • How Mel and Stu met and formed a life as a pair of successful entrepreneurs
  • How Stu’s testimony began to waver the deeper he studied the scriptures, and how he made the decision to share his growing doubts with Mel from the beginning
  • Why Stu made the decision to resign from the LDS Church
  • How Mel reacted to Stu’s doubts by listening and not judging—utilizing Impact training she had previously received
  • Mel’s growing realization that the gospel was not brining her the happiness she had been promised
  • How Mel and Stu have molded a new life and share advice for couples who are experiencing a mixed-faith marriage and faith transition


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Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


  1. Nate December 4, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Mel and Stu interview was awesome. Great couple. Stu is so lucky that Mel came along and the marriage survived. You guys are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Scott Turley December 5, 2017 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Loved this interview as well, but I do think you can believe in Santa Claus again (I’m just listening to this part of the interview), you just have to think differently about what it means to believe in Santa Claus…

    Here’s the way I put it:

    I think the church is true because I believe in the members of individuals in the congregation that make it so.

  3. CJ December 5, 2017 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I’ve been out a year. I’m now an atheist. My husband is still a believer although doesn’t attend. I feel like I’m stuck between two worlds. I haven’t made any friends outside of mormonism because I feel like I can’t. It’s too awkward with my husband. Is this something that just takes time? Any tips for making friends as a mixed faith couple? Any other interviews you can point me to? Great interview! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    • Bert Fuller December 5, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

      I don’t have any advice but on the off chance you’re in Utah my wife and I always need more friends. We live in Vineyard (by Orem); both out 12+ months; she’s apatheist; I’m believer-ish. Either way, best of luck. It does get better.

      • CJ December 7, 2017 at 11:39 am - Reply

        Thank you! We live in Ogden so a couple of hours away. But if you are ever interested in meeting halfway sometime for dinner or something we’d go for that, ha ha. My grandpa grew up in Vineyard. 😊

    • Melinda December 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Here is a link to a mixed faith support group if you are interested:

      That’s cool you guys are in Ogden, we are on logan and would be happy to meet up sometime if you want to chat more

  4. beth December 5, 2017 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Great interview mel and stu, your stories are so inspiring and uplifting and the freedom that you both must feel and give out to others around you is so much like a breath of fresh air, its so nice to see and hear how much you are both supporting each other throughout your whole ordeal, so lovely to see and watch, keep coming with these interviews Jon they help so many of us out here who are struggling and just need truth and love to be shared with us, thank you mel and Jon,

  5. LT December 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Just curious what program Mel attended that she found so inspiring?

    • Paul December 5, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      It is called Impact Training; Do a google search and you can get hooked up. It is pretty intense and really introspective and powerful…….some call it dangerous as the level of authenticity and freedom and acceptance of self and others can be threatening to the church. If done right, it can be amazing. All the best LT.

      • Fan of John- December 7, 2017 at 10:51 am - Reply

        Impact Training is their a specific place you went to or a specific instructor? Things things are not all equal. Thanks

        • Melinda Brown December 7, 2017 at 10:39 pm - Reply

          Ya impact training was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It was an intense three day experiential training where you let go of anything holding you back from the past, you figure out who you are and how to spread your gifts and light to the world. I learned so much from this, it’s hard to sum up briefly. They said it’s the equivalent of 40 years of life experience you get to figure out over several days basically. I would rather have 3 intense days of working through everything and letting go than trying to figure it out myself and make life harder for myself. They have done an amazing job with that training and I have never found so much love, peace and acceptance and growth in my entire life. It was amazing and really assisted me in getting through the faith transition in a graceful more mature way. I would have been much more of a wreck and coming from fear if I didn’t learn a new way of thinking and to approach hardships differently. They have more info on their website:

          • Lauren April 16, 2018 at 1:03 pm

            Did you attend the Life Master, Core Training or different one? I am really intrigued by this and would love to attend one.

  6. Paul December 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm - Reply

    John, M and I loved this. Truly. Mel and Stu are inspiring and lovely…..authentic, good, free and so courageous. Thank you both for your courage and you John for bringing these stories. We need more of these. They speak to us and resonate so much.

    John…….I wanted to echo strongly your beautiful evolving paradigm of the Crisis of Enlightenment (whatever words you used about how a faith crisis can and should expand and open us…..and should make the whole world more beautiful and expansive and inclusive………..) This is so so hard but so so so true. When I was a Bishop and my members would come in “Faith Crisis” they were always shocked after I listened and listened and then would reach across the table and hold their hand and tell them how excited I was for the amazing journey of growth and adventure and expanding goodness they are about to have. I would share how they are NEVER going to be the same and how this is going to painful but oh so beautiful. The paradox is that the church and especially the Leaders’ zeal to protect and keep people safe and in the bubble is exactly what they should not be doing if they valued growth. The church has become obsessed with simple minded, myopic, small happiness that comes from a protectionist, fear based paradigm verses the deep and expansive growth and deepening that comes. This is real growth and John…..I think there is a lot of meat that needs to be put on this bone. The reframing and pursuit of a spiritual life or expanded life with this new lease on life and the authentic transformation that can come! Thank you J and all! (BTW, this can happen in every aspect of life!) Love you J and All!!!

    • Jay December 5, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      I’m sort of with your train of thought.

      I equate it to drug addicts and alcoholics. I’ve know quite a few who have recovered and are clean & sober. It seems that for many of them, going through that process requires such work that they end up with more than their fair share of wisdom and insight.

      In the same way, I think in order to free one’s self from the mormon church, it often requires a level of self-understanding, self-reliance, confidence, insight & wisdom – these people who manage to leave have overcome an obstacle that required so much growth, they end up amazing, insightful people.

    • joy December 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

      Paul, May I ask if you’re still in the church or not? I am always so interested in transitions, especially from people that have been in roles of leadership. You mentioned you were a Bishop, where are you at now with the church?

      Also, John, These are truly the best kind of interviews. Listening to real people, amazing people, go through this and come out the other side happy is better than thousands of dollars on therapy. I cannot thank you enough for these types of interviews, they actually physically help me cope. Also, your interview with Trevor Haugen was the best!! Can you get him back on for another interview? Would love to hear where he is at now and his thoughts on the whole process a little further out. Are they happy? Do they miss the church? Would they do anything different? Anyway, thank you so much for what you do. You help more people than you possibly realize.

  7. Vince December 6, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

    This is one of my favorite MS ever. I can relate to these people so much. I had my faith crisis when I was 30 and working for the church. I learned the REAL history and it blew my mind. My wife still believes an it’s hard. I felt like my entire world flipped over and now I finally feel like I grew up. Thanks for the podcast.

  8. Tina December 6, 2017 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Can anybody weigh in on the cult-like qualities ascribed to Impact Training seminars? Hearing about it reminded me of Werner Erhard in the 70’s and 80’s so I did some research. Impact Training shows up on websites warning against cult-like activities and organizations. Have Mel and Stu traded one cult (the church) for another cult-like organization? Heroin addicts switch to methadone, AA meetings can be filled with heavy smokers…do we all just trade one addiction or high-demand support group for another but tell ourselves we have “recovered from” or “left” something when all we really do is trade-off to something else?

    • Melinda Brown December 7, 2017 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      Hey Tina,
      I totally get your concern. Before I did the training I did a google search and it freaked me out too with some of the negative responses. But I decided to trust the person that I admired and looked up to who had gone through the training 20 years previously and said Still uses those tools everyday of his life. I was impressed by that and by him. The training was an intense several days But was incredible. I personally grew and developed so much those few days it was amazing to see. I never felt So much love, peace and acceptance anywhere else like I did at that training. I haven’t been back since I went through quest, summit and lift off so it doesn’t own my time or money like a cult would. Anyways, it worked for me and I’m so grateful I had the experience. It really did put me in a place of peace, respect and love as my husband left the church with me still being a full believer.

      • Tina December 8, 2017 at 11:56 am - Reply

        Thanks so much for the good information. Your reply was very reassuring.

  9. Happy in the Hills December 7, 2017 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Great interview, John. And thanks to Stu and Mel.

    I can remember when we had recently stopped attending, we were in a Walmart, looking to buy a coffee maker and some coffee. I kept looking around, hoping no one would see us. And the Walmart was more than an hour from our home, but I had seen members there before. After more than 5 years, now, I can do that with no concern at all. And after a few months, a tbm would visit and my wife would hide the coffee pot. How crazy we can be on this journey. But at least we were on the journey together.

    I can now meet a member of our past ward on the street and greet them like they are ordinary persons and no one ever asks me about my family and the church.

    My wife can’t seem to get over her anger regarding priesthood control, but I have no such concerns.

    But the hardest things has been with my adopted child (adopted from LDS Social Services). The relationship with that child, now in her 40’s is not the same. Growing up, she did a lot with her dad. They live 7 hours away, in the heart of Idaho Mormon country, and my wife and I see our 5 grandkids a couple days each summer. We are the only grandparents they have, but still the grandkids never communicate with us. I call my daughter a few times a year and get an occasional e-mail from her but never from the husband or kids.

    My wife will have been married 50 years next spring, and we will celebrate that occasion alone but free. Of our lives on this earth more than half has been in the Church, where I had good times and bad. Part of life!

    And I had a couple of friends close enough to be friendly who have completely broken off relations. That was hard, I helped one to go on a mission and find the girl he married and I helped the other in a bad marriage.

    I had a shelf but it really only took me a few months to add to it. From reading what B.H. Roberts had said in “The Documentary History of the Church” regarding his admonition to the new apostles–“Your ordination is not complete until the Lord has laid his hands upon your head”, I reached a turning point. Going for a recommend interview with a stake president’s counselor, I was asked whether I sustained the living prophet. I mentioned that quote and said that I did not know whether or not Pres. Monson had been ordained by Jesus. I couldn’t know if he had even seen the Lord since he never said he did. The counselor didn’t know what to do so he called in the stake president to hear my problem. The stake president got real upset, took my recommend, and told me that I was not worthy to attend the temple. And then, I read in Mormon Think about Joseph telling the witness of the plates, that they were to see the plates in a bag with their spiritual eyes rather than with their physical eyes. I was through.

    I think the journey is easier in a city rather than a rural area, though. It is difficult making new friends when you are in your 70’s, and though one other couple in our ward went on the journey, they branched into a new kind of religion so our only place to realize the trips others take is on Mormon Stories with youngsters like Stu and Mel. Thanks so much for Mormon Stories!

  10. Bruce December 7, 2017 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Well done, John! Thank you, Stu and Mel, for your down-to-earth interview! This will probably do more good, overall, for others than all the Indexing/temple visits/genealogy/VTing/HTing/prayers/church attendance/tithing/offerings/scripture study you could do in the church over your lifetime!

  11. RobG December 8, 2017 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Very nice.

    It emphasizes again a common take-away message on Mormon Stories — people are fully capable of evaluating the issues and the history and evidence, and absolutely do not need FAIR or BYU-NMI or the church “essays” to see what’s really going on. There’s nothing difficult about any of it that needs either the expertise or the testimony of an apologist or church leader.

    Good luck to Mel and Stu going forward…. very nice interview from both. And glad they knew John Dehlin during their transition.

    Sunday as family time rather than church can be a great trade-off on so many levels. Not least, the cuddling and talking Sunday morning for an hour or two.

    It’s a shame that still-believing family, whether parents or sibs or whatever, do the distancing thing. Or are so hurt and crushed because the Mormon church is their entire life and world.

  12. Celeste December 8, 2017 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Very healing episode, thanks so much. My mom was always in trouble at church for not making us all constantly do ALL the activities that would keep us in the protected bubble. In the past I thought it was because she just had not been a member her whole life. I thought she did not realize the importance of the activities to our spirituality. I always liked my mom, but you know she seems even smarter than I thought. I told her this the other day and she said, ” Yes I always felt like the black sheep at church.” Luckily, my dad who loved the Book of Mormon, the temple and the doctrine, liked mom even more. He pointed out that mom was a great example of a compassionate, service oriented person despite the church. And she put on one heck of a family home evening, even the months we did not go to church. My mom loved her chosen vocation of being a mom, she really wanted us to be a child and she read widely and taught at the community center on the subject. The lady peddled cases of Family Home Even Manuals to the non Mormon community pointing out age appropriate lessons, lessons about the Golden Rule and enjoying games together. Isn’t it funny that she was the one told she was not doing it the right way. I guess it was those lessons that she chose to skip that got
    her in trouble.

    It is so paradoxical. The church says they want you to be temple worthy, pay tithing, be chaste, go to church, pray, read your scriptures, have pure thoughts, do genealogy, stay home with your kids if you are a mom and serve serve serve away from your family if you are a man. It is supposed to increase spirituality, but actually the shaming messages attached crush your spirit and it makes it really hard to just be quiet and think a clear thought.

    Mel and Stu, who knows what your kids will think later; but, I bet the voices in their heads have a high chance of being positive.

    • Tina December 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing this. You have described so well those church attributes that brought me so much confusion; your second paragraph states “It is so paradoxical”. The activities required to make one feel like a “good” member took so much time it eliminated the time necessary to read scripture. It was deeply confusing to me how the church preached the importance of family but constantly pulled family members in different directions away from one another with so much busyness.

  13. Brandt December 9, 2017 at 6:59 am - Reply

    Epic interview! I can relate so perfectly to so many of the things shared by Stu and Mel. This has been one of my favorite interviews John. I think it might one I can share with believing family members to help them understand what my wife and I have been through .

  14. Cachevalleymom December 9, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Melinda, I am in Cache Valley and wondered where you are finding alternative social groups?

    • Melinda December 9, 2017 at 11:50 pm - Reply

      You could join the oasis Facebook page and mention you would like to meet some more like minded people. You can also pm me and we could plan a get together with some of the cool exmo people I know. There are a lot of great exmos in cache valley! My facebook name is: melinda Reese brown😀

  15. Lois December 10, 2017 at 9:06 am - Reply

    I loved this! I wonder, Sterling, if you are related to Iris and Harlo Brown? If so, I’m related to you. You have so many mannerisms that make me think you are perhaps Iris’ grandson. I went through the process of discovering the Church’s history about 12 years ago. I can relate to you very much. Thanks to both of you for sharing your story. It’s very helpful.

    • Sterling December 10, 2017 at 10:16 am - Reply

      Hi! Yes Harlow and Iris are my Grand Parents. So how are we related? Find me on Face Book. Im so glad you liked the interview!

      • Lois December 10, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

        Thanks for responding. I just sent you a friend request on FB.

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