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The Community of Christ (CoChrist) & homosexuality

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A brief note about history of the Community of Christ (CoChrist):

The Community of Christ is the second largest denomination within the The LDS Restorationist movement. The movement is a group of denominations that trace their history back to the original Church of Christ, organized by Joseph Smith on 1830-APR-6. After his assassination by a mob in 1844, the church split into two groups. One went to Utah, and is formally called: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is often referred to as the Mormon Church and LDS church. It is centered in Salt Lake City and had a membership of about 16 million by the end of 2017.

The other group stayed behind. In 1872 their name become the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the RLDS was the original Mormon church group. They changed their name to the Community of Christ during 2001-APR. They have about a quarter million members.

CoChrist's headquarters is in Independence, MO. They are a relatively liberal church, and have rejected certain beliefs and practices of the Salt Lake City-based LDS church, including marriage sealing for eternity. They also allow either men and women into the priesthood. Their services are open to the public.

While the larger Mormon body has gradually become more homophobic, the CoChrist has become less so. They recently added homosexual orientation to their anti-discrimination policies. Gays and lesbians are welcome as members, whether celibate or not.

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2013-APR: CoChrist's USA National Conference recommended change to the Church's LGBT policies:

After study by the U.S. membership extending over three-years, CoChrist's National Conference debated the consecration of gay marriage ceremonies within the Church and ordination of members of all sexual orientations. The delegates approved three policy changes within the USA:

  • The legalizing of same-sex marriages in their churches. (The U.S. Supreme court legalized gay marriages across the country during 2015-JUN. Before then, many individual states had made them available.)

  • In those states where gay marriages had not been approved, commitment ceremonies would be available in CoChrist churches.

  • Change the Church's ordination policy to allow persons of all sexual orientations to become priests whether single or in a monogamous, committed, same-sex/gender relationship. 1

John Hamer, a Community of Christ historian, says the move:

"... is consistent with Community of Christ’s trajectory over the past half century, which has been to focus on building Christ-centered communities.

Jesus preached the gospel of inclusion and of love. He opposed the worship of senseless rules as hypocritical and ‘pharisaical,’ and yet ironically soon after Jesus’ death Christians began to fixate on their own senseless rules, using them to marginalize others."

LDS author Carol Lynn Pearson said that she is:

"... very glad to be Restoration Cousins with these good people [of the Community of Christ], ... [and] to be walking with them on the journey toward inclusion of our gay brothers and sisters”. 2

Similar changes had previously been approved by the Church's Canadian and Australian conferences, and subsequently implemented by the church leadership.

Webmaster's comment:

We have been unable to find the current status of the 2013 US resolutions. They must first be approved by the CoChrist's First Presidency and the Council of Twelve before they become official. There does not seem to be any postings on the Internet about the resolutions' approval or rejection. On 2018-AUG-21, we emailed an inquiry to CoChrist's head office about the resolutions' status and will update this essay with any responses.

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Same-sex marriages in other countries:

During mid-2012, the National Conference of the Community of Christ in Canada discussed conducting and recognition of same-sex/gender marriage, and ordination to the priesthood of those with same-sex/gender orientation. Both were approved by the Conference, the Council of Twelve and the First Presidency, with changes to begin on 2013-JUN-01, and to be "... evaluated after two years to determine if any updates or revisions in language are needed to address questions not previously anticipated." 4

During mid-2017-DEC, the Community of Christ in Australia passed a resolution at their Australia Mission Centre Council to allow same-sex marriages. This was quickly approved by their First Presidency. 5

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Alex Smith, "Community Of Christ OKs Gay Marriage And Clergy," KCUR-FM, 2013-MAY-03, at: http://www.kcur.org/
  2. Hugo Salinas, "Community of Christ to Start Marrying, Blessing Same-Sex Couples," Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, 2013-APR-30, at: https://affirmation.org/
  3. Reserved for future use.
  4. "What's Up...in the CWM, 2013-MAY, Community of Christ at: www.communityofchrist.ca
  5. Ben Smith, "Marriage Equality," Community of Christ - Australia, 2017-DEC-17, at: https://www.cofchrist.com.au/

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Copyright © 1996 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2018-AUG-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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