Mustard Seeds and Mormons

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Matthew 17:20 He said to them: if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

You guys, this weekend was something else. I’ve resisted the urge to post my reactions to the State of the Mormon Church because … well… I didn’t know where I stood. I felt the ground on which I built had built a wispy testimony turn to swamp water. When I read the first article about the leaked policy, I threw my hands up and decided, ‘Well. I’m out. I’m done. There is nothing left for me here.’

And it felt easy. And it felt respectable. And I took a deep breath.

And I felt God.

Social media is chock full of analysis and testimony and resignations and evaluation and two teams volleying for the prize for most truth. I had to walk away from it, because for me, none of it changed the fact that I belong to a church that sits at the eye of this storm.

People have asked how I’m doing and what I think. Honestly, I’d be okay never going back. I can find another church, or just take back Sunday and walk around in my underwear because I can. I wanted to leave. The desire, believe me, is strong. And I don’t think many would blame me for doing so.

There is a lot I don’t know. There is a lot I don’t understand. There is a lot I don’t want to deal with.

But there is something I do know.

This church was the first place I felt God’s hand in my life. A hand that wrapped tightly around me while I begged to know if He knew me, let alone loved me. He showed up for me. When I was baptized into this church, I covenanted to mourn with those who mourn and to stand as a witness of God in all times and in all places.

Even in the hard times. Even in the ugly spaces.

I learned, through sweat and tears, that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. I learned that they love me, they have a plan for me, and that my family is part of that plan. I, in all my rainbow baby glory, am a child of a God who has known me and loved me from the very beginning.

I have a testimony of these truths. I’m not here to share my testimony of the Church Handbook of Instructions. I’ve not covenanted to it and, in this moment, it isn’t demanded of me to declare allegiance. I have never been asked to testify of the divinity of mortal beings. I’m not asked to do any of that. And I won’t. Instead, I am asked to lift where I stand, choose the right, and trust that God has a plan for us.

My testimony sits in the shade of a mustard seed. It’s a whisper. That whisper tells me it’s okay to take a break. To let the storm die down a bit. To catch my breath. But it’s a whisper that reminds me that God has kept his promise.

And with the faith of a mustard seed, I’m going to try like hell to keep mine.

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Room for All in this Church

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Room for All in this Church

We face a difficult and pivotal moment in Mormonism as LDS leaders and church members wrestle more openly with complicated aspects of our faith, its doctrine, and its history—often in spaces afforded by the Internet. In light of possible disciplinary action against prominent voices among us, we the undersigned Mormon bloggers and podcasters affirm the value of the conversations that take place in the LDS “Bloggernacle” and express our hopes for greater understanding and compassion from all of us involved in current tensions.

May we all remember, as scripture teaches, the intricate intertwining of mercy and justice. May we all follow the admonition to seek understanding before judgment, even as we address matters that can be difficult to talk about.

Scripture and tradition teach us that excommunication is one way of maintaining the boundaries of a religious community. But we believe that excommunication is not the best way to address conflict over doctrine, policy, or tradition. We ask our leaders to consider other ways of maintaining boundaries, strengthening Church members, and encouraging them to grow spiritually within Mormonism’s large and embracing community without the fear and despair the threat of excommunication sows not only in those threatened but in their families, friends, and those who share similar concerns about LDS Church doctrine or history—even those who do so silently. We are deeply encouraged by the recent news about the prospect of de-escalation in at least one of the current cases and pray for positive steps towards reconciliation.

The issues in Mormon doctrine, history, and practice highlighted by those facing church discipline are much larger than any one individual. It is not only unavoidable that these issues will continue to be discussed; such discussion is good for the health of our religious community and faithful to the truth-seeking spirit of the Latter-day Saint Restoration. As bloggers, podcasters, and passionate contributors to good, healthy online discussion, we affirm our commitment to continue speaking openly and publicly, and encouraging others to do so as well. We will continue to use online spaces to grow in knowledge and faith, to attempt to present and see many sides of each issue, and to reach out to those expressing pain, heartache, and loneliness. It is our experience that these conversations can bear good fruit as Latter-day Saints mourn with those who mourn and reflect on, deepen, and renew their faith.

We are grateful for our membership in this Church and for the unique opportunities the Internet has provided us to share our Mormon experiences, questions, and hopes. We pray that a spirit of clemency will guide the words and actions of everyone—especially those who bear the heavy responsibility of ecclesiastical discipline of Church members—and that the words of President Uchtdorf will hold sway: “Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.”

Signed:

Dan Wotherspoon, Mormon Matters podcastJana Riess, Flunking Sainthood blog (Religion News Service)
Natasha Helfer Parker, The Mormon Therapist blog
Paul Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
Michael Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
Mark Crego, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
Lisa Butterworth, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Joanna Brooks, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Gina Colvin, KiwiMormon blog
Lindsay Park, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Jared Anderson, Mormon Sunday School podcast
Daniel Parkinson, No More Strangers blog
Bill McGee, Sunstone
Mary Ellen Robertson, Sunstone
Stephen Carter, SunstoneMichael Stevens, Sunstone
Chelsea Shields Strayer, LDS WAVE
Tresa Edmunds, LDS WAVE
Chelsea Robarge Fife, Mormon Feminist Cooperative
Kalani Tonga Tukaufu, Feminist Mormon Housewives
David Landrith, Mormon Mentality
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Mormon Matters podcast
Jerilyn Hassell Pool, Rational Faiths blog
Spencer Lake, Clean Cut blog
Brittany Morin-Mezzadri, TheLadyMo blog
Katie Langston, Feminist Mormon Housewives blog
Hannah Wheelwright, Young Mormon Feminists blog
Erin Moore, Young Mormon Feminists blog
Kimberly Lewis, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Nikki Hunter, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Nancy Ross, Nickel on the ‘Nacle blog
Mark Brown, The Mormon Hub (Facebook)
Alicia Jones, LDS Left (Facebook)
Elise Villescaz, LDS Left (Facebook)
Emily Summerhays, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Mindy Farmer, The Inquisitive Mom blog
Jeff Krey, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
Lori Burkman, Rational Faiths blog
Laura Compton, Mormons for MarriageAlison Moore Smith, Mormon Momma blog
Heather Olsen Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
Brent Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
Ed Snow, Doves and Serpents blog
Erin Hill, Doves and Serpents blog
Meghan Raynes, Exponent blog
Aimee Hickman, Exponent blogRachel Hunt, Exponent blog
Liz Johnson, Exponent blog
Libby Potter Boss, Exponent blog
Heather Moore-Farley, Exponent blog
April Young Bennett, Exponent blog
Deborah Farmer Kris, Exponent blog
Jessica Oberan Steed, Exponent blog
Carolyn Kline, Exponent blog
April Carlson, Exponent blog
Sariah Anne Kell, Exponent blog
Chelsea Sue, Exponent blog
Emily Clyde Curtis, Exponent blog
Emily Updegraff, Exponent blog
Dayna Patterson, Doves and Serpents blog
Cheryl Bruno, Worlds Without End blog
Katie Evans, Zelophehad’s Daughters blog
Mike Cannon, Zelophehad’s Daughters blogKristy Benton, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Lori LeVar Pierce, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Rebecca Reid Linford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Paula Goodfellow, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Cheryl McGuire, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Kay Gaisford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Lorlalie Pallotta, All Are Alike Unto God blogWendy Reynolds, All Are Alike Unto God blog