The Restoration Church of Jesus Christ (RCJC), based in Salt Lake City, Utah, was a church in the Latter Day Saint movement that catered primarily to the spiritual needs of Latter Day Saints who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT). The church was dissolved in 2010.
Founded by Antonio A. Feliz, Lamar Hamilton, John Crane, Pamela J. Calkins and other members of the Los Angeles Chapter of Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons on August 23, 1985, in Los Angeles, California.
Feliz is a former bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who had been excommunicated for homosexual acts. Feliz had also served as the Director of Church Welfare for what was then called the Andean Region (now called the South America West Area) of the LDS Church during the 1970s.
Feliz originally named the church the "Church of Jesus Christ of All Latter Day Saints", but when the LDS Church informed him of their intent to sue, he changed the name to the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ.
The RCJC had rotating general officers. At a church conference in Sacramento, California, in May 1987, Feliz resigned as president. He was succeeded by Robert McIntier, who served as president of the church since 1987 through at least 2009, except for a period from 1997 to 1999 when Douglas B. Madrid served as president.
The church was dissolved by the vote of the members of the board of the Corporation in November 2010. Later, two new groups were formed: the Reformation Community of Christ, and the Church of Christ – Community of Christ (based in Uruguay).
The scriptures of the church are the Bible (officially the King James Version, but others are accepted), the Book of Mormon (LDS Church edition), the Doctrine and Covenants (both the LDS Church and the Community of Christ versions, since the RCJC accepts that God can speak to different denominations), the Pearl of Great Price, and The Hidden Treasures and Promises, a book which members say consists of revelations given through the president of the church and other leaders.
Beliefs and practices Edit
Unlike in the LDS Church, RCJC women could hold the priesthood. The Heavenly Mother was regarded as an equal member of the Godhead along with the Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Thus, the church believed in a four-part Godhead. The Heavenly Parents (i.e., the Heavenly Father and the Heavenly Mother) were worshiped in prayers given in the name of Jesus Christ.
The priesthood leaders of the church were called "general officers" as in the Community of Christ, not general authorities as in the LDS Church. Church conferences were held periodically.
Re-baptism was not required for anyone who has been previously baptized in a Latter Day Saint church that can trace its authority back to Joseph Smith, Jr. New members who had never previously been a member of a Latter Day Saint church, and those who chose to be re-baptized upon joining the RCJC, were baptized by immersion in the name of The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
When passing the sacrament, either water or grape juice was used.
The Word of Wisdom was regarded as good advice, but not as an absolute requirement. The church counseled that it is best to consume meat in moderation; however, use of alcohol or tobacco by the church membership was discouraged. As in the LDS Church (called the "Orthodox Mormon Church" by the RCJC), it was popular to serve Jell-O, cake, and milk (or fruit punch and cookies) at church gatherings.
Members were encouraged to store a one-year supply of food. Home teaching was practiced.
The church practiced endowments, the law of adoption, and celestial marriage. In addition to heterosexual marriage, the church also practiced same-sex marriage. The church believed in the practice of baptism for the dead but did not practice it.
Homosexual polygamy Edit
In an 1986 interview with Sunstone magazine, Feliz stated he believed that it was good to practice "The Principle" (as polygamy is known in Mormonism) and that he would be open to performing homosexual polygamous marriages if requested by any members.
Pamela J. Calkins, of Sacramento, was the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the RCJC. Later, she entered into a polygamous homosexual betrothal sealing in advance of a celestial marriage with three female partners, thus becoming the first women in Mormondom to do so. Calkins and Lynn R. LaMaster were the first lesbian couple to be sealed for time and eternity (celestial marriage). Later that same evening, Leanna R Anderson and Carole L. Dee were also sealed for time and eternity to each other and to Calkins. No other polygamous homosexual celestial marriages were performed for any other members of the church.
In theory it was conceivable that a heterosexual member of the church (someone who joined the church primarily because of its liberal principles, not primarily because of its compatibility with LGBT people) could ask to be sealed in a regular heterosexual marriage, but this did not happen.
Position on reincarnation Edit
In the summer of 1986, Feliz gave a lecture at the Metropolitan Community Church in The Castro, a predominantly gay neighborhood in San Francisco, California, "Joseph Smith and the Concept of Multiple Lifetimes". In the lecture, he said that there was evidence that some early Mormons may have believed in reincarnation. In the question and answer period after the lecture, he stated that although reincarnation is not an official doctrine of the RCJC, individual members of the church may believe in the doctrine if they wish.
During the period 2000-2010 the total membership of the church was about 500 on the rolls (of which approximately 25 were active members who attended services at the meetinghouse in Salt Lake City, Utah). The church had one congregation (known as a "family" in the RCJC) in Salt Lake City. There were members on the rolls in many U.S. states (mostly Utah and California), as well as several foreign countries. There was also an online "Internet Sunday School" in which members discussed gospel topics, shared ideas, and offered support to one another.
See also Edit
- Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
- David and Jonathan
- Homosexuality and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- John the Beloved
- LGBT-affirming churches
- Queer theology
- Secret Gospel of Mark
- United Order Family of Christ
Further reading Edit
- Feliz, Antonio A. (1988). Out of the Bishop's Closet — A Call to Heal Ourselves, Each Other, and Our World; A True Story. Aurora Press (San Francisco, California). ISBN 978-0-929582-00-9.
- Quinn, Michael D. (1996). Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans — A Mormon Example. University of Illinois Press (Urbana, Illinois). ISBN 978-0-252-02205-0.
- Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, official website
- Blog in Spanish of the RCJC
- Christ's Church A Reformation Community - one continuing pro-gay LDS church
- Community Church of Christ (in Spanish)
News and articles Edit
- Memoirs of a Utah gay activist 1986 (posted Dec. 23, 2006)—-details early proselytizing efforts of the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ:
- Unto All Peoples (Official RCJC Publication) Christmas Issue--December 1997:
- "Same Sex Temple Sealings: Did the Early LDS Church Embrace Homosexual Relationships?". Salt Lake Metro. September 2004.
- History of “Homosexuality and Mormonism 1840-1980” (1994) by Connell O’Donovan:
- "Private Pain, Public Purges: A History of Homosexuality at Brigham Young University (1940-1992)"—Address given by Connell O'Donovan on April 28, 1997 at UC Santa Cruz:
- "Prologue—An Examination of the Mormon Attitude Towards Homosexuality" by Cloy Jenkins et al—1977 Pamphlet which led to the founding of "Affirmation—Gay & Lesbian Mormons":
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