By Kent Larsen
RLDS Church Will Become 'Community of Christ' on Friday
INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI -- The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints, often called the RLDS Church, will change its name
this coming Friday to the "Community of Christ" in an attempt to
change the way outsiders and Church members look at the Church. Tom
Morain, an RLDS Church member in Ames, Iowa, says this move looks
forward instead of back, "The word "reorganized' looks back to an
event in the 1800s and defines us in relationship to the Mormon
Church, and we've moved beyond that. We're trying to get away from
the constant comparison to the Mormons," Morain explained.
The move is a watershed in the RLDS Church's history. While the group
shares 14 years of history with other Mormons, it has a separate
history since before its founding in 1860. Rev. Greg Page, who
presides over 14 RLDS congregations in the Des Moines area says the
change is appropriate, "The name Community of Christ honors our
history and calls to the future."
As it changes names to the "Community of Christ," the RLDS Church has
about 250,000 members in 40 nations. To prepare for the change, the
church adopted a denomination-wide program of prayer, fasting and
study observed during the past 40 days. Congregations will soon put
up new signs on Church buildings, and attempt to get others to refer
to it as the "Community of Christ," an effort that isn't necessarily
easy as members of the larger LDS Church have discovered simply in
trying to get people to use its full, official name.
Morain, administrator of the Iowa State Historical Society, says that
the "Community of Christ" and the LDS Church are very different,
"Historically, one of the big differences was the issue of polygamy
in the 19th century. Those who didn't accept multiple wives didn't go
west with those that went to Utah." Since then, relations with the
larger LDS Church have sometimes been strained, but have more
recently been cordial. And the RLDS Church has made doctrinal changes
that the larger LDS Church has not made, such as ordaining women and
celebrating open communion with other Christian faiths, says Page.
"Our central focus as a church has not been on the end times or
latter days, but on God's call to make a difference in the here and
now and create a positive future."
But despite the name change, the longer name, the Reorganized Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, will remain the group's legal
'Reorganized' church changes name to 'Community of Christ'
Des Moines IA Register 31Mar01 N5
By Patti Brown: Register Staff Writer