Courage & Hope

By Prophet-President Stephen M. Veazey
April 5th, 2009

A brief revelation from the annual address “A Defining Moment”

As I was preparing this address, I prayerfully asked God many times, “What more does the church need to hear?” On several occasions, I sensed the impress of the Spirit. In response, I want to give voice to what I sensed through the following words to the church:

Fear not! Do not be afraid to become who God is calling you to become. God, the Eternal One, has been with you in your past, continues with you in the present, and already is waiting patiently for you in the future. Through your lives the sacred story of the Restoration still is being written.

Engage the current challenges and opportunities before you with commitment and hope worthy of the dedication and sacrifices of those who went before you. Creatively build on the faith foundations they laid. Open windows and doors to the future.

Beloved community, God has chosen you to assist in accomplishing divine purposes if you will choose to live out of your better natures and potential. Deepen your faith. Refine your sensitivity to the guidance of the Spirit so that you are not distracted by other influences. Explore your scriptures with openness to new insights that will come. Increase your compassion and generosity. Strengthen your relationships so the peace of Christ may be magnified through you.

Have courage and hope. Gather in the gifts of all ages and cultures so the ministries of the body can become whole and fully alive. Others are being prepared around the world to join their efforts with yours, if you will move ahead according to the direction offered to you by the Spirit. Amen.

Brothers and sisters, there is a way into the future that holds the promise that our best days are yet before us.

May we choose it is my fervent hope and prayer.

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Section 160

By Prophet-President Wallace B. Smith
Note: This item is also available on the church’s website site, here (I thought it had been taken down, hence it’s inclusion here, but it turns out it is still up on the official church website, but just in case, keeping it here).

wbsmithPresident Wallace B. Smith submitted the following letter of instruction to the World Conference on Sunday, April 14, 1996, and to the quorums, councils, and orders of the church the following day. Conference delegates voted on April 15, 1996, to include this document in the Doctrine and Covenants. The pastoral letter referred to in the document is published in Rules and Resolutions—1996 supplement.

W. Grant McMurray was ordained April 15, 1996, as president of the high Priesthood and as prophet, seer, and revelator to the church. President McMurray presented a letter the following day to the World Conference reconstituting the Quorum of the First Presidency and making other changes in the Council of Twelve Apostles and Presiding Bishopric. He requested that instruction “not be included in the Doctrine and Covenants, leaving for the permanent canon of scripture words of counsel that may have a more enduring purpose in our sacred writings that the language by which we convey changes within the presiding quorum.”

To the Councils, Quorums, and Orders, to the World Conference, and to the Church:

1 In confirmation of the instructions contained in the pastoral letter dated September 19, 1995, naming him as successor in the office of President, my servant W. Grant McMurray is called and should be ordained without delay as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and as President of the High Priesthood and the Church, to the end that prophetic guidance and vision may continue to be brought to the church through the ministry of the Spirit.

2 Upon the ordination of his successor, Wallace B. Smith shall lay down the responsibilities of President and be retired with the title of President Emeritus.

3 Thus it is established according to my will and thus the conditions are fulfilled whereby succession in Presidency in my church is effected. Let it be so. Amen.

Your servant,
Wallace B. Smith
President of the Church
Independence, Missouri
April 14, 1996

2013 Words of Counsel

Presented by Prophet-President Stephen M. Veazey, April 14th, 2013

Note: This document is still available on the church website as a downloadable PDF that can be fond here.  Also, the video of this address can be viewed here.

Not to be confused with the 2013 Letter of Counsel.

veazeyUntil recently I thought words of counsel would not be given before or during the 2013 World Conference. However, over the past months, as I have prayed for the church and the world we serve, I have been surprised by regular promptings of the Spirit to offer words of counsel again.

Some themes of this counsel have been presented previously. Evidently, it is important to highlight and further clarify certain principles to advance the response God desires. Other parts of the counsel, while clearly related to previous instruction, begin to open new horizons for living the meaning of true community in Christ.

I pray these words will serve as a pathway for those who sincerely seek to discover God’s will through their own experience as we continue our faith adventure together. I do not intend to submit this counsel for inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants now. I believe broad exploration of the spiritual concepts in this counsel should precede any formal consideration in that regard. At the same time, this counsel is shared as an expression of my calling as prophet-president of the church in response to God’s gracious revealing of the way ahead for this faith movement.

To the church:

Community of Christ, a divine vision is set before you. Presented over the years through various inspired phrases and symbols, it is expressed now through initiatives in harmony with Jesus Christ’s mission.

As a spiritual venture, boldly follow the initiatives into the heart of God’s vision for the church and creation. Then, in response to growing insight about God’s nature and will, continue to shape communities that live Christ’s love and mission.

Lovingly invite others to experience the good news of new life in community with Christ. Opportunities abound in your daily lives if you choose to see them.

Undertake compassionate and just actions that seek to abolish poverty and end needless suffering. Pursue peace on and for the Earth.

Let nothing separate you from this mission.

Continue to align your priorities with local and worldwide church efforts to move the initiatives forward. Additional innovative approaches to coordinating congregational life and supporting groups of disciples and seekers are needed to address mission opportunities in a changing world.

Free the full capacity of Christ’s mission through generosity that imitates God’s generosity. Discover deep joy and life’s meaning by promoting divine purposes on Earth. Listen to the testimonies of those who are responding and follow your soul’s yearning to come home to God’s grace and generosity.

Remember, a basic discipleship principle is growing Christ’s mission through both local and world mission tithes according to true capacity. Giving to other worthwhile organizations, while an important part of A Disciple’s Generous Response, follows world and local mission tithing and should not diminish or replace it. If a law is needed to focus and balance response, then let these tithing principles serve that purpose.

Tithing is a spiritual practice that demonstrates willingness to regularly offer every dimension of one’s life to God. When defined by faith, love, and hopeful planning, including resolving indebtedness, capacity to respond becomes much greater than initially assumed.

Following the approval of Doctrine and Covenants 164, I continued to prayerfully explore certain principles in it. A particular focus was paragraph 5, where the following words appear, approved by the World Conference as authoritative for our life together:

It is imperative to understand that when you are truly baptized into Christ you become part of a new creation. By taking on the life and mind of Christ, you increasingly view yourself and others from a changed perspective. Former ways of defining people by economic status, social class, sex, gender, or ethnicity no longer are primary. Through the gospel of Christ, a new community of tolerance, reconciliation, unity in diversity, and love is being born as a visible sign of the coming reign of God.

As indicated in the preface to Section 164, study of Galatians 3:27–29 was foundational to this counsel. Following the approval of Section 164, I persisted in asking God about the meaning and implications of paragraph 5 and Galatians 3:27–29. I sought additional understanding of the spiritual condition that would allow us to see ourselves and others from the changed perspective emphasized in Section 164:5. My journey continued as I was encouraged to study

John 17. John 17 conveys the prayer of Jesus for his disciples as he approaches death on the cross. As I reflected on this text, the Spirit urged me to invite the church to go much deeper in its understanding of the oneness with and among his disciples, who Jesus prayed for. Catching sight of the possible future, I marveled at the blessings that could be enjoyed by the church as we respond. I was left with two questions: “Are we willing to continue to become such a community for Christ and the cause of Zion?” And, “What will it take for us to truly be a community of oneness, mutuality, and revelation of divine love through Christ?”

The following words arose as the Spirit’s voice to the church in response to that experience and those questions: 10. More fully accept and embody your oneness and equality in Jesus Christ, who dwells in oneness with God.

Oneness and equality in Christ are realized through the waters of baptism, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, and sustained through the sacrament of Communion. Embrace the full meaning of these sacraments and be spiritually joined in Christ as never before.

However, be aware, it is not right to profess oneness and equality in Christ through sacramental covenants and then to deny that equality by attitude, word, or action. Such behavior wounds Christ’s body and denies what is eternally resolved in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. You do not fully understand many interrelated processes of human creation. Through its wonderful complexity, creation produces both diversity and order. Be not consumed with concern about variety in human types and characteristics as you see them. Be passionately concerned about how God is revealing divine nature through sacred communities of love, oneness, and equality that embody God’s revelation in Jesus Christ.

Oneness and equality in Christ do not mean uniformity. They mean unity in diversity and relating in Christ-like love to the circumstances of others as if they were one’s own. They also mean full opportunity for people to experience human worth and related rights, including  expressing God-given giftedness through the church community.

Regarding priesthood, God calls whoever God calls from among committed disciples, according to their gifts, to serve and reach all humankind. Priesthood policies and procedures provide a clear way for disciples to respond to calling. They also define the difference between a sense of call as potential and the need to align one’s life with principles of moral behavior and relationships that promote the wellbeing of the church community.

Involvement in Christ’s mission is enriched and focused through spiritual growth and guidance. Following direction already emerging, the presiding evangelist and the Order of Evangelists, in concert with their colleagues in ministry, should concentrate on spiritually forming communities of disciples and seekers that live deeply and generously in Christ’s Spirit.

For this purpose, offer the sacrament of evangelist blessing not only to individuals and congregations, but to families, households, and groups of people seeking spiritual guidance to more completely give themselves to Christ’s mission.

The presiding evangelist will provide instructions for implementation at the appropriate time. Nothing in the instruction should be construed to lessen the importance of the sacrament of evangelist blessing for individuals.

In conclusion, the following words also are shared in response to the radiant light and love of God’s Spirit:

Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love, and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.

As Christ’s body, lovingly and patiently bear the weight of criticism from those who hesitate to respond to the divine vision of human worth and equality in Christ. This burden and blessing is yours for divine purposes. And, always remember, the way of suffering love that leads to the cross also leads to resurrection and everlasting life in Christ’s eternal community of oneness and peace.
Trust in this promise.

Amen.
Stephen M. Veazey
President of the Church