World Conference 2023

We Belong to God

17 September 2023

By Barbara Waldon, Community of Christ Historic Sites Foundation executive director

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Romans 14:7–10

As church members prepared for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in 1836, they continued to experience tension and divisions. Change was happening quickly, and some struggled with the transitions in church leadership and priesthood structure.

The stress of building the Temple, living in poverty, and feeling concern for the safety of those residing in Missouri was overwhelming. These issues led to judgment, criticism, and blame directed in every direction.

During this period, Sidney Rigdon presided over a small worship service in a schoolhouse directly behind the Temple. Shortly before the service, Sidney recognized that what he had planned was not going to meet the needs of the community gathered that day. He laid aside his service plans and invited the congregation into a time of confession.

Sidney called the members of the First Presidency and twelve apostles to come forward and confess their faults one to another. As congregants witnessed the healing and reconciliation among those in leadership, they began sharing openly with one another.

One wrote about the experience in his journal, relating that those in the congregation “were soon overwhelmed in tears and some of our hearts were too big for utterances.”

This moment in Community of Christ history reminds me that healing and reconciliation can be found when we listen to the Holy Spirit and are willing to be honest and vulnerable with one another. The community’s experience in the schoolhouse that day reminds me that even in the midst of tension, we belong to God.

Prayer Phrase

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Spiritual Practice

All That Lives

Take a walk and find a tree where you can sit (or imagine walking and sitting beneath a tree). Lean against the tree and feel the texture of the bark. Listen to the wind move through the leaves. Sit quietly and sense God’s presence flowing through the trees and all creation. Offer a prayer of gratitude for your connection to all that lives. Ask for grace to discern and carry out one small act of justice or healing that creates greater wholeness for the plants, animals, trees, waters, air, and land that are part of the community of creation.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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