Doctrine and Covenants 160
President 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.
Wallace B. Smith
President of the Church
Doctrine and Covenants 161
On April 21, 1996, I brought to the church words of counsel which I felt led to share, without any specific instruction as to their ultimate disposition. I felt it was important that the church live with the words and not feel compelled to make any urgent decisions about them. During the intervening four years I have been led back to them many times and have pondered their meaning and their timeliness. Without clinging to every word or phrase, I have remained assured of the rightness of the message, but I have also sensed that it was incomplete, that there was more to be said. I did not then understand that our journey of transformation would instill new depth and insight.
I have continued to wrestle with the message, sensitive to the importance of expressing it with integrity and always aware of my own human failings and uncertainties. In accordance with the responsibilities I carry, filled with love for the church and its people, and grateful to a God who sustains me in my many weaknesses, I humbly present the following counsel to the church for whatever formal consideration may be appropriate. I do so confident that the Spirit which accompanied its preparation will also abide with those who embrace its challenge.
To the Councils, Quorums, and Orders, to the World Conference, and to the Church:
1a. Lift up your eyes and fix them on the place beyond the horizon to which you are sent. Journey in trust, assured that the great and marvelous work is for this time and for all time.
b. Claim your unique and sacred place within the circle of those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Be faithful to the spirit of the Restoration, mindful that it is a spirit of adventure, openness, and searching. Walk proudly and with a quickened step. Be a joyful people. Laugh and play and sing, embodying the hope and freedom of the gospel.
2a. Become a people of the Temple–those who see violence but proclaim peace, who feel conflict yet extend the hand of reconciliation, who encounter broken spirits and find pathways for healing.
b. Fulfill the purposes of the Temple by making its ministries manifest in your hearts. It was built from your sacrifices and searching over many generations. Let it stand as a towering symbol of a people who knew injustice and strife on the frontier and who now seek the peace of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
3a. Open your hearts and feel the yearnings of your brothers and sisters who are lonely, despised, fearful, neglected, unloved. Reach out in understanding, clasp their hands, and invite all to share in the blessings of community created in the name of the One who suffered on behalf of all.
b. Do not be fearful of one another. Respect each life journey, even in its brokenness and uncertainty, for each person has walked alone at times. Be ready to listen and slow to criticize, lest judgments be unrighteous and unredemptive.
c. Be patient with one another, for creating sacred community is arduous and even painful. But it is to loving community such as this that each is called. Be courageous and visionary, believing in the power of just a few vibrant witnesses to transform the world. Be assured that love will overcome the voices of fear, division, and deceit.
d. Understand that the road to transformation travels both inward and outward. The road to transformation is the path of the disciple.
4a. Do not neglect the smallest among you, for even the least of these are treasures in God's sight. Receive the giftedness and energy of children and youth, listening to understand their questions and their wisdom. Respond to their need to be loved and nurtured as they grow.
b. Be mindful of the changing of life's seasons, of the passage from the springtime of childhood and youth to the winter years of life. Embrace the blessing of your many differences. Be tender and caring. Be reminded once again that the gifts of all are necessary in order that divine purposes may be accomplished.
5. Be respectful of tradition. Do not fail to listen attentively to the telling of the sacred story, for the story of scripture and of faith empowers and illuminates. But neither be captive to time-bound formulas and procedures. Remember that instruction given in former years is applicable in principle and must be measured against the needs of a growing church, in accordance with the prayerful direction of the spiritual authorities and the consent of the people.
6a. Stand firm in the name of the One you proclaim and create diverse communities of disciples and seekers, rejoicing in the continuing fulfillment of the call to this people to prophetically witness in the name of Jesus Christ.
b. Heed the urgent call to become a global family united in the name of the Christ, committed in love to one another, seeking the kingdom for which you yearn and to which you have always been summoned. That kingdom shall be a peaceable one and it shall be known as Zion.
7. The Spirit of the One you follow is the spirit of love and peace. That Spirit seeks to abide in the hearts of those who would embrace its call and live its message. The path will not always be easy, the choices will not always be clear, but the cause is sure and the Spirit will bear witness to the truth, and those who live the truth will know the hope and the joy of discipleship in the community of Christ. Amen.
W. Grant McMurray
President of the Church
4 April 2000
Doctrine and Covenants 162
For many months I have struggled with a persistent conviction that God is calling the church to a clearer understanding of what it means to be a prophetic people. I have sensed as never before that we are uniquely called to be faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ and to claim again the principles of Restoration in our own time. These thoughts have haunted me, perhaps in part because I have resisted expressing them, painfully aware as I am of my own sinfulness and personal shortcomings. But still the urgency rested upon me, until one night I tossed fitfully in my bed, unable to yield to the sleep that needed to come. Finally, I arose and in the silence of the night tried to embrace what was written on my heart.
The words did not flow as if dictated, but were wrested out of my own encounter with the Spirit that had been working with me these many months. I wrote, and then in subsequent days I pondered the words, recasting them here and there as further clarification would come. Even as I present them to the church, I do so sensing that there is more to be said. But the same Spirit that leads me to write these words also compels me to invite the church to join in the task of discerning God’s will for us. I am not yet sure what form that will take, but I believe it is our next step as we continue the process of becoming a prophetic people.
To the Councils, Quorums, and Orders, to the World Conference, and to the Church:
1a. Listen, O people of the Restoration—you who would become a prophetic people, embodying in your life together the ministries of the Temple. Listen to the Voice that speaks from beyond the farthest hills, from the infinite heavens above, and the vast seas below.
b. Listen to the Voice that echoes across the eons of time and yet speaks anew in this moment. Listen to the Voice, for it cannot be stilled, and it calls you once again to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom, even Zion, on behalf of the One whose name you claim.
2a. Listen carefully to your own journey as a people, for it is a sacred journey and it has taught you many things you must know for the journey yet to come.
b. Listen to its teachings and discover anew its principles. Do not yearn for times that are past, but recognize that you have been given a foundation of faithful service, even as you build a foundation for what is yet to be.
c. As a prophetic people you are called, under the direction of the spiritual authorities and with the common consent of the people, to discern the divine will for your own time and in the places where you serve. You live in a world with new challenges, and that world will require new forms of ministry. The priesthood must especially respond to that challenge, and the church is admonished to prayerfully consider how calling and giftedness in the Community of Christ can best be expressed in a new time.
d. You have already been told to look to the sacraments to enrich the spiritual life of the body. It is not the form of the sacrament that dispenses grace but it is the divine presence that gives life. Be respectful of tradition and sensitive to one another, but do not be unduly bound by interpretations and procedures that no longer fit the needs of a worldwide church. In such matters direction will come from those called to lead.
e. Again you are reminded that this community was divinely called into being. The spirit of the Restoration is not locked in one moment of time, but is instead the call to every generation to witness to essential truths in its own language and form. Let the Spirit breathe.
3a. Do not be discouraged. You have not been promised an easy path, but you have been assured that the Spirit that calls you will also accompany you.
b. That Spirit is even now touching alive the souls of those who feel the passion of discipleship burning deeply within. Many others will respond if you are persistent in your witness and diligent in your mission to the world.
4a. Listen carefully to the many testimonies of those around the world who have been led into the fellowship of the Community of Christ. The richness of cultures, the poetry of language, and the breadth of human experience permit the gospel to be seen with new eyes and grasped with freshness of spirit. That gift has been given to you. Do not fail to understand its power.
b. It is for divine purpose that you have been given the struggles as well as the joys of diversity. So must it always be in the peaceable kingdom.
5a. Do not be defined by the things that separate you but by the things that unite you in Jesus Christ.
b. Over and over again you have been counseled to be reconciled, to seek the unity that is imperative to the building of the kingdom. Again the Spirit counsels the church to not allow the forces of division to divert you from your witness.
c. Listen together to one another, without judgment or predisposition. Do not assume that the answers to matters of conflict have yet been perceived. There is much labor to be done. Reason together in love, and the Spirit of truth will prevail.
6a. From the earliest days you have been given a sacred principle that declares the inestimable worth of all persons. Do not forget.
b. The One who created all humankind grieves at the shameful divisions within the human family. A prophetic people must work tirelessly to tear down walls of separation and to build bridges of understanding.
c. You hold precious lives in your hands. Be gentle and gracious with one another. A community is no stronger than the weakest within it. Even as the One you follow reached out to those who were rejected and marginalized, so must the community that bears his name.
7a. There are many lives waiting to hear the redeeming words of the gospel, or to be lifted from hopelessness by the hands of loving servants. But they will be lost to you without the generous response of disciples who share from their own bounty that others may know the joys of the kingdom.
b. Many are fearful and believe their security is to be found in the accumulation of possessions. The answers you seek are not inherent in the things of this world but in a faith that places its trust in the promises given to all who would follow Jesus Christ.
c. You have been given the principles of generosity, rightly interpreted for a new time. These principles call every disciple to tithe faithfully in accordance with means and capacity. Those values, deeply rooted in the Restoration faith, affirm that stewardship and discipleship cannot be divided and are dependent upon each other.
d. The call to respond is urgent. Look to the needs of your own congregations, but look also beyond your walls to the far-flung places where the church must go. Each disciple needs a spiritual home. You are called to build that home and care for it, but also to share equally in the outreaching ministries of the church. In that way the gospel may be sent to other souls also yearning for a spiritual resting place.
8a. You are a good and faithful people, but sometimes you fail to see the power that is resident in your own story and fellowship. Look carefully, listen attentively, and sense the Spirit among you.
b. Do not be unduly concerned with numbers. Be fervent in your witness, passionate in your discipleship, and vigorous in your labor on behalf of peace and justice. Where two or three such disciples form community, there will the Spirit be. Many will come to see.
c. Continue your journey, O people of the Restoration. You have been blessed thus far but there is so much yet to see, so much yet to do. Go forth with confidence and live prophetically as a people who have been loved, and who now courageously choose to love others in the name of the One you serve. Amen.
W. Grant McMurray
President of the Church
29 March 2004
Doctrine and Covenants 163
Every day since being ordained as prophet-president, I have carried the needs of the church on my heart. Sometimes the weight of concern has seemed almost unbearable. Perhaps this is as it should be, because the heaviness of responsibility has pressed me to seek the mind and will of God as never before. Striving to be open to the guidance of the Spirit, while attempting to lay aside my own preconceived notions, has been a challenging but necessary learning experience. And, as I have sought to perceive God’s will for the church through prayer, study, and listening for the Creator’s voice in the voices of the faith community, I have been blessed by the Spirit in various, sometimes surprising ways.
The words and images that follow have been birthed through much struggle, not because of any lack of inspiration, but because of the limitations of the human vessel entrusted with responsibility for articulating divine encounter. Attempting to communicate in words what is ultimately beyond words always leaves one with a sense of incompleteness. Added to this is the challenge of creating phrases that can be translated into the languages of the international church without loss of essential meanings. Fortunately, we have the promise that one of the primary functions of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness of divine truth beyond the confines of language and culture.
Therefore, it is in deep humility and with heartfelt gratitude to God that I offer the following counsel as a witness of God’s eternal purpose and continuing activity in the life of the church. In so doing, I place these words in the church’s hand, trusting that the Spirit will enable the faith community to hear the call of God today with increasing clarity.
1. “Community of Christ,” your name, given as a divine blessing, is your identity and calling. If you will discern and embrace its full meaning, you will not only discover your future, you will become a blessing to the whole creation. Do not be afraid to go where it beckons you to go.
2 a. Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God’s shalom, invites all people to come and receive divine peace in the midst of the difficult questions and struggles of life. Follow Christ in the way that leads to God’s peace and discover the blessings of all of the dimensions of salvation.
b. Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive relationships in sacred community. The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith.
3 a. You are called to create pathways in the world for peace in Christ to be relationally and culturally incarnate. The hope of Zion is realized when the vision of Christ is embodied in communities of generosity, justice, and peacefulness.
b. Above all else, strive to be faithful to Christ’s vision of the peaceable Kingdom of God on earth. Courageously challenge cultural, political, and religious trends that are contrary to the reconciling and restoring purposes of God. Pursue peace.
c. There are subtle, yet powerful, influences in the world, some even claiming to represent Christ, that seek to divide people and nations to accomplish their destructive aims. That which seeks to harden one human heart against another by constructing walls of fear and prejudice is not of God. Be especially alert to these influences, lest they divide you or divert you from the mission to which you are called.
4 a. God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.
b. The earth, lovingly created as an environment for life to flourish, shudders in distress because creation’s natural and living systems are becoming exhausted from carrying the burden of human greed and conflict. Humankind must awaken from its illusion of independence and unrestrained consumption without lasting consequences.
c. Let the educational and community development endeavors of the church equip people of all ages to carry the ethics of Christ’s peace into all arenas of life. Prepare new generations of disciples to bring fresh vision to bear on the perplexing problems of poverty, disease, war, and environmental deterioration. Their contributions will be multiplied if their hearts are focused on God’s will for creation.
5 a. The Council of Twelve is urged to enthusiastically embrace its calling as apostles of the peace of Jesus Christ in all of its dimensions. The Twelve are sent into the world to lead the church’s mission of restoration through relevant gospel proclamation and the establishment of signal communities of justice and peace that reflect the vision of Christ. As the apostles move out in faith and unity of purpose, freeing themselves from other duties, they will be blessed with an increased capacity for sharing Christ’s message of hope and restoration for creation.
b. To accelerate the work of sharing the gospel, the Twelve and the Seventy should be closely associated in implementing wholistic evangelistic ministries. The seventy are to be the forerunners of Christ’s peace, preparing the way for apostolic witness to be more readily received.
c. Procedures regarding the calling and assignments of the Presidents of Seventy and members of the Quorums of Seventy shall be developed to facilitate the maximum level of collaboration with the Council of Twelve. The Twelve, the Presidents of Seventy, and the Quorums of Seventy should spend sufficient time together to ensure a mutual understanding of evangelistic priorities and approaches.
6 a. Priesthood is a sacred covenant involving the highest form of stewardship of body, mind, spirit, and relationships. The priesthood shall be composed of people of humility and integrity who are willing to extend themselves in service for others and for the well-being of the faith community.
b. Truly authoritative priesthood ministry emerges from a growing capacity to bring blessing to others. Unfortunately, there are some who have chosen to view priesthood as a right of privilege or as a platform for promoting personal perspectives. Others hold priesthood as a casual aspect of their lives without regard to appropriate levels of preparation and response.
c. The expectation for priesthood to continually magnify their callings through spiritual growth, study, exemplary generosity, ethical choices, and fully accountable ministry is always present. How can the Spirit fill vessels that are unwilling to expand their capacity to receive and give according to a full measure of God’s grace and truth?
d. Counsel given previously regarding the need to develop ways whereby priesthood can magnify their ministry or determine their commitment to active service remains applicable and should be more intentionally implemented. The First Presidency will provide guidelines for processes to be applied in culturally respectful ways in the various fields of the church. Fundamentally, however, the ultimate responsibility for priesthood faithfulness rests on the individual in response to the needs and expectations of the faith community.
7 a. Scripture is an indispensable witness to the Eternal Source of light and truth, which cannot be fully contained in any finite vessel or language. Scripture has been written and shaped by human authors through experiences of revelation and ongoing inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the midst of time and culture.
b. Scripture is not to be worshiped or idolized. Only God, the Eternal One of whom scripture testifies, is worthy of worship. God’s nature, as revealed in Jesus Christ and affirmed by the Holy Spirit, provides the ultimate standard by which any portion of scripture should be interpreted and applied.
c. It is not pleasing to God when any passage of scripture is used to diminish or oppress races, genders, or classes of human beings. Much physical and emotional violence has been done to some of God’s beloved children through the misuse of scripture. The church is called to confess and repent of such attitudes and practices.
d. Scripture, prophetic guidance, knowledge, and discernment in the faith community must walk hand in hand to reveal the true will of God. Follow this pathway, which is the way of the Living Christ, and you will discover more than sufficient light for the journey ahead.
8 a. The Temple is an instrument of ongoing revelation in the life of the church. Its symbolism and ministries call people to reverence in the presence of the Divine Being. Transformative encounters with the Eternal Creator and Reconciler await those who follow its spiritual pathways of healing, reconciliation, peace, strengthening of faith, and knowledge.
b. There are additional sacred ministries that will spring forth from the Temple as rivers of living water to help people soothe and resolve the brokenness and pain in their lives. Let the Temple continue to come to life as a sacred center of worship, education, community building, and discipleship preparation for all ages.
c. As these ministries come to fuller expression, receptive congregations in the areas around the Temple and throughout the world will be revived and equipped for more effective ministry. Vital to this awakening is the understanding that the Temple calls the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls, as a fulfillment of the vision for which Jesus Christ sacrificed his life.
9. Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint. Break free of the shackles of conventional culture that mainly promote self-serving interests. Give generously according to your true capacity. Eternal joy and peace await those who grow in the grace of generosity that flows from compassionate hearts without thought of return. Could it be otherwise in the domain of God, who eternally gives all for the sake of creation?
10 a. Collectively and individually, you are loved with an everlasting love that delights in each faithful step taken. God yearns to draw you close so that wounds may be healed, emptiness filled, and hope strengthened.
b. Do not turn away in pride, fear, or guilt from the One who seeks only the best for you and your loved ones. Come before your Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew. Be vulnerable to divine grace.
11 a. God is calling for a prophetic community to emerge, drawn from the nations of the world, that is characterized by uncommon devotion to the compassion and peace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Through divine grace and wisdom, this faith community has been given abundant gifts, resources, and opportunities to equip it to become such a people. Chief among these is the power of community in Christ expressed locally in distinctive fashions while upholding a unity of vision, foundational beliefs, and mission throughout the world.
b. There are many issues that could easily consume the time and energy of the church. However, the challenge before a prophetic people is to discern and pursue what matters most for the journey ahead.
In addition to the words offered above, I want to express my heartfelt love for the church as it is and as it is becoming. Despite the challenges involved, it is my pleasure to be able to serve you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, who have been claimed by the adventurous vision and spirit of the Restoration movement. May we journey into the future trusting one another, confident that the One who called the church into being continues to guide it toward fulfillment of divine purpose.
Grace and Peace,
Stephen M. Veazey
President of the Church
Doctrine and Covenants 164
President Stephen M. Veazey released counsel to the church on January 17, 2010, at the Temple in Independence, Missouri. Counsel also was printed in the February 2010 Herald. The church had time to consider the counsel and its implications before World Conference. President Veazey formally submitted the following counsel to the World Conference on Sunday, April 11, 2010. On Wednesday, April 14, 2010, the World Conference voted to accept the inspired document as the mind and will of God for the church and ordered its inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants. President Veazey prefaced paragraphs of the inspired document with introductory statements.
While sharing with the church in prayer, discussion, and discernment about important issues, I received an increasingly strong sense of divine direction about conditions of membership and other pressing questions. A significant aspect of my experience was God’s Spirit drawing me to consider various scripture passages. After I thoroughly explored many passages, the Holy Spirit focused my attention on Galatians 3:27–29:
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
While I studied this passage, the Spirit helped me see much broader dimensions of God’s grace working through Christ to transform human relationships in a divided world. As a result, I have an even-greater testimony than before of the power of the gospel of Christ to birth a new creation among those who dare to live its message in sacred community.
As the significance of what was unfolding became more obvious, the Spirit led me to consider a series of Doctrine and Covenants sections. Each addressed spiritual and relational dynamics of being a prophetic people. (For example, see Sections 10:6, 147:7, 149:4, 161:5, 162:2, and 163:7.) These include distinguishing between more-universal spiritual principles and particular expressions of them within the confines of human history and understanding. Being a divinely led prophetic people involves—as a necessity—reevaluating at times some existing understandings and customs to allow added insight and interpretation under the Spirit’s guidance.
With that background in mind, I present the following counsel to the church in response to the guidance of God’s Spirit. I offer this counsel in humility, fully aware of my limitations and weaknesses, which I always carry as a burden. I also present these words with full conviction of their truthfulness as an expression of the spirit of wisdom and revelation that flows from God’s eternal being.
To the Councils, Quorums, and Orders, to the World Conference, and to the church:
1 All who actively engaged in prayer, discussion, and discernment about important issues in the church’s life are commended for your faithful response. Your disciplined effort to open your lives more fully to God’s Spirit in response to the call to be a prophetic people has become a blessing to the entire church. Your spiritual yearning for light and truth has created a favorable environment for the Spirit’s movement to provide inspired counsel as authoritative guidance for the church.
2 a. Instruction given previously about baptism was proper to ensure the rise and cohesiveness of the church during its early development and in following years. However, as a growing number have come to understand, the redemptive action of God in Christ—while uniquely and authoritatively expressed through the church—is not confined solely to the church.
b. God’s grace, revealed in Jesus Christ, freely moves throughout creation, often beyond human perception, to achieve divine purposes in people’s lives. In harmony with God’s will, the Holy Spirit leads some people already committed to Jesus Christ through Christian baptism to further focus their response through church membership.
c. Individuals previously baptized of water in an attitude of humility and repentance and as an expression of faith in Jesus Christ may become church members through the sacrament of confirmation of the Holy Spirit.
d. Confirmation should follow a time of intentional preparation that includes exploring the church’s mission, beliefs, and understanding of discipleship expressed through covenant with God and others in sacred community.
e. During the confirmation prayer include an acknowledgment of the grace and authority of Jesus Christ through which baptism occurs. Also, bear witness to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, which weaves people’s giftedness into beautiful patterns of community to enrich their discipleship and to strengthen the fabric of the church.
3 a. All church members are urged to examine the depth of your baptismal commitment. Having been baptized and confirmed, become fully immersed in the servant life of Christ.
b. Live the meaning of your baptism daily as you grow in the skills and qualities of discipleship. Actively and generously support the ministries of the church, which was divinely established to restore Christ’s covenant of peace, even the Zion of your hopes.
c. The Eternal Christ invites those who have yet to experience the blessings of baptism to “Follow me in the way of righteousness and peace.” Be baptized of water and the Spirit and discover your spiritual home as a fully functioning member of the body.
Some have continued to express concerns about how the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper should be conducted. In other places, the meaning and potential power of this sacrament have been lessened by a lack of understanding and preparation. Because of these circumstances, the following counsel is given as confirmed by the Spirit:
4 a. Serve the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to all committed followers of Christ as a visible witness of loving Christian fellowship and shared remembrance of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Individuals may choose whether or not to receive the emblems according to their faith and understanding in harmony with guidelines provided by the First Presidency.
b. This pastoral provision does not lessen additional meanings associated with this sacrament in the church’s life. When the church gathers for Communion, highlight the opportunity for members to reaffirm their baptismal covenant, to reconcile strained relationships, and to commit together to the church’s mission of promoting communities of generosity, justice, and peacefulness.
c. Explore all the ways the Lord’s Supper can spiritually form the church community into a true and living expression of the life, sacrifice, resurrection, and continuing presence of Christ. Inherent in this sacrament is the divine call for the church to be a sacramental offering for the blessing, healing, and peace of creation.
Serious questions about moral behavior and relationships continue to arise in many nations. These issues are complex and difficult to understand outside their particular settings because of strikingly different cultural histories, customs, and understandings of scripture. For example, the issues include female submission, female genital mutilation, child brides, forced marriages, and sexual permissiveness. They include cleansing and exploitation of widows, harsh conflicts over same-gender attraction and relationships, and varying legal, religious, and social definitions of marriage, to name just a few.
Over the last several years the need to resolve various moral and justice issues has intensified and become more complicated because of the growing international diversity of the church. The church has been told in previous counsel that we have been given the struggles and joys of diversity for divine purposes (Doctrine and Covenants 162:4). In response to my prayerful pleas for light regarding God’s purposes being worked out through our difficult struggles over various issues, God graciously blessed me with the following counsel:
5 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 yourselves 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.
6 a. As revealed in Christ, God, the Creator of all, ultimately is concerned about behaviors and relationships that uphold the worth and giftedness of all people and that protect the most vulnerable. Such relationships are to be rooted in the principles of Christ-like love, mutual respect, responsibility, justice, covenant, and faithfulness, against which there is no law.
b. If the church more fully will understand and consistently apply these principles, questions arising about responsible human sexuality; gender identities, roles, and relationships; marriage; and other issues may be resolved according to God’s divine purposes. Be assured, nothing within these principles condones selfish, irresponsible, promiscuous, degrading, or abusive relationships.
c. Faced with difficult questions, many properly turn to scripture to find insight and inspiration. Search the scriptures for the Living Word that brings life, healing, and hope to all. Embrace and proclaim these liberating truths.
7 a. A worldwide prophetic church must develop cultural awareness and sensitivity to distinguish between issues that should be addressed by the World Conference and those that are best resolved nationally or in other ways.
b. Fundamental principles of ethical behavior and relationships should be addressed by the World Conference. The Conference should not decide specific policies for all nations when those decisions likely will cause serious harm in some of them.
c. However, timely resolution of pressing issues in various nations is necessary for the restoring work of the gospel to move forward with all of its potential. Therefore, let the proper World Church officers act in their callings—as already provided in church law—to create and interpret church policies to meet the needs of the church in different nations in harmony with the principles contained in this counsel.
d. Where possible and appropriate, convene national or field conferences to provide opportunities for broader dialogue, understanding, and consent. In those gatherings, let the spirit of love, justice, and truth prevail.
The Council of Twelve and the Council of Presidents of Seventy have given ample attention to the previous instruction calling for the greatest collaboration possible among the leading missionary quorums. Because of their diligent efforts to create even-closer relationships to strengthen the church’s evangelistic and community-building mission, I now am free to offer the following counsel:
8 a. The importance of evaluating and aligning ministerial roles and relationships to reach individuals and nations most effectively with the liberating truths of the gospel is always incumbent on the church.
b. For this purpose, the number of quorums of seventy and presidents of seventy may be adjusted at times to respond to evangelistic strategies in apostolic fields. The First Presidency, in concert with the Council of Twelve and the Council of Presidents of Seventy, will provide procedures for determining the number, makeup, and roles of quorums of seventy and presidents of seventy.
c. Let the evangelistic ministries of the church accelerate.
While finishing this counsel, I paused for a time to rest with God in prayer and meditation, seeking added confirmation and clarity. From that devoted time with God, these closing words of challenge and promise unexpectedly sprang forth and found their place in this document:
9 a. Beloved children of the Restoration, your continuing faith adventure with God has been divinely led, eventful, challenging, and sometimes surprising to you. By the grace of God, you are poised to fulfill God’s ultimate vision for the church.
b. When your willingness to live in sacred community as Christ’s new creation exceeds your natural fear of spiritual and relational transformation, you will become who you are called to be. The rise of Zion the beautiful, the peaceful reign of Christ, awaits your whole-hearted response to the call to make and steadfastly hold to God’s covenant of peace in Jesus Christ.
c. This covenant entails sacramental living that respects and reveals God’s presence and reconciling activity in creation. It requires whole-life stewardship dedicated to expanding the church’s restoring ministries, especially those devoted to asserting the worth of persons, protecting the sacredness of creation, and relieving physical and spiritual suffering.
d. If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ.
e. The challenges and opportunities are momentous. Will you remain hesitant in the shadows of your fears, insecurities, and competing loyalties? Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision?
f. The mission of Jesus Christ is what matters most for the journey ahead.
The burdens of the prophetic office have increased dramatically since the last World Conference. However, my dedication to the church, my love for our people, and my conviction regarding the church’s divine calling have not waned, but have grown stronger.
With deep trust in the spiritual competency and maturity of the church, I turn the words of this counsel over to you for prayerful consideration and continued discernment. As we continue our journey together, may the gracious Spirit that blessed me similarly bless those who seek divine affirmation of this counsel.
Stephen M. Veazey
President of the Church
Doctrine and Covenants 165
For three years the church prayerfully studied the words of counsel given in 2013. The Holy Spirit confirms the church would be blessed by considering this counsel for inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants. This document is offered humbly for that purpose as an expression of our cherished principle of Continuing Revelation.
While preparing the final document, I stayed open to more divine direction that might enhance the church’s understanding now or in the future. Guidance refined some sentences. In several instances, it also added content for reasons known to God.
I also considered prayerfully what portions of the words of counsel applied specifically to when they were given and did not necessarily need to be in the Doctrine and Covenants. So some sentences have been removed. Those sentences either have fulfilled their purposes, or the concepts they highlighted are expressed sufficiently elsewhere in the Doctrine and Covenants.
The testimony I offer is assurance that God, the eternal One, lovingly and patiently guides the church according to divine purposes. Let us be grateful for that guidance. May it serve as a pathway of light and hope for all who seek to follow God’s will.
To the councils, quorums, and orders, to the World Conference, and to the church:
1 a. 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.
b. 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.
c. 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.
d. Undertake compassionate and just actions to abolish poverty and end needless suffering. Pursue peace on and for the Earth.
e. Let nothing separate you from this mission. It reveals divine intent for personal, societal, and environmental salvation; a fullness of gospel witness for creation’s restoration.
f. 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.
2 a. Free the full capacity of Christ’s mission through generosity that imitates God’s generosity.
b. Listen to the testimonies of those responding generously. Follow your soul’s yearning to come home to God’s grace and generosity. Let gratitude show you the way.
c. Remember, a basic discipleship principle is growing Christ’s mission through local and world mission tithes according to true capacity. Giving to other worthwhile organizations, while an important part of A Disciple’s Generous Response, should not diminish or replace mission tithes.
d. Tithing is a spiritual practice that demonstrates willingness to offer every dimension of one’s life to God. When defined by faith, love, and hopeful planning, including resolving unwise debt, capacity to respond becomes much greater than initially assumed.
e. Stewardship as response to the ministry of Christ is more than individual giving. It includes the generosity of congregations and jurisdictions that give to worldwide ministries of the church to strengthen community in Christ in all nations.
f. Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion.
3 a. More fully embody your oneness and equality in Jesus Christ. 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.
b. However, it is not right to profess oneness and equality in Christ through sacramental covenants and then to deny them by word or action. Such behavior wounds Christ’s body and denies what is resolved eternally in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
c. You do not fully understand many interrelated processes of human creation. Through its wonderful complexity, creation produces diversity and order.
d. Be not consumed with concern about variety in human types and characteristics as you see them. Be passionately concerned about forming inclusive communities of love, oneness, and equality that reveal divine nature.
e. 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 in the church and society.
4 a. Regarding priesthood, God calls whomever God calls from among committed disciples, according to their gifts, to serve and reach all humankind.
b. Priesthood policies developed through wisdom and inspiration 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 well-being of the church community.
5 a. Spiritual growth and guidance enrich involvement in Christ’s mission. The presiding evangelist and the Order of Evangelists, with their colleagues in ministry, should concentrate on spiritually forming communities of disciples and seekers that live deeply and generously in Christ’s Spirit.
b. Offer the sacrament of evangelist blessing not only to individuals and congregations, but to families, households, and groups seeking spiritual guidance to more completely give themselves to Christ’s mission. Nothing in this instruction should be construed to lessen the importance of the sacrament of evangelist blessing for individuals.
6 a. 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.
b. 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 blessingisyours for divine purposes.
c. 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.
Stephen M. Veazey
President of the Church