Global Mormon Studies 2022 Conference
Monday, March 21, 2022
2:30pm: Walking Tour of Coventry
Richard Dixon, Rising UK
5:00pm—6:00pm: Registration [Elm Bank, Coventry U.]
6:00pm—7:00pm: Keynote #1 [Elm Bank, Coventry U.]
James Holt: Towards a Latter-day Saint theology of religion: How do we live theologically in a pluralist world
Dr James D. Holt is Associate Professor of Religious Education at the University of Chester. James is the Chair of Examiners for Religious Studies with one of the major awarding organisations in England. James is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Freedom Declared Foundation, a UK based charity focussed on Freedom of Religion and Belief, particularly in the United Kingdom. Prior to his role at Chester, James was a secondary school Religious Education teacher for 13 years. He holds BA, MA, and a PhD from the University of Liverpool, an MEd from the University of Birmingham, and a PGCE (Secondary Education) from Manchester Metropolitan University. His PhD constructed a Latter-day Saint theology of religions. He is the author of Beyond the Big Six Religions: Expanding the Boundaries in the Teaching of Religion and Worldviews (University of Chester Press, 2019), Religious Education in the Secondary School: An Introduction to Teaching, Learning and the World Religions (Routledge, 2015) with a second edition to be published in June, Towards a Latter-day Saint Theology of Religions (2020) and is currently writing a series of six books for Bloomsbury introducing each of the six largest world religions. The first of these, Understanding Sikhism is due out this summer. James has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since his teens, served a mission in Scotland and has served as a Bishop, on a Stake Presidency, on the National Communication Council for the UK, and on the Curriculum Writing Committee of the Church.
This paper will draw on the experiences of the presenter as a Latter-day Saint who has been involved in teaching world religions and in inter-faith activities over the last 30 years in striving to accomplish two tasks. First, with regard to Latter-day Saint belief it seeks to formulate a theology of religions. To assist with the construction of a theology of religions the paper will utilize existing Christian scholarship on theology of religions. This will argue that the debate surrounding theologies of religion and engagement with other religions from the perspective of wider Christianity can be used to help to develop a Latter-day Saint approach to these issues.
The role of any theology of religions should not be merely to inform a person’s belief but also to provide a basis for inter-faith relationships. Thus the second task of this paper is to explore how a Latter-day Saint theology of religions may influence the Church and its members’ engagement with other religions. The main argument will be that Latter-day Saint involvement in inter-faith conversation can continue to flourish, but must do so with a much firmer background and idea of intent. Establishing a theological background for dialogue will provide Latter-day Saints with a greater understanding of why these interactions are important, and will offer the principles that conversations should uphold and be guided by. This paper begins an exploration of the framework for inter-faith dialogue within a pluralist world. The main writings within Mormonism with regard to other religions have tended to focus on surface convergence and have sometimes been apologetic in nature. Other writings have been of the attitude that Mormonism should stand independent from the world and its religions. This paper attempts to posit a middle way, where both strands of Latter-day Saint teaching are respected. While some Mormon engagement with other religions has been taking place, the majority has been focused on particular traditions with no systematic development of a theological paradigm for such engagement.
8:00pm—9:00pm: Reception [TBA]
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
All meetings will be in Barn Owl, Elm Bank, Coventry U.
Dr. Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor
9:15am—10:15am: Keynote #2
Prof. Douglas Davies: Rethinking research: Anthropology, theology, and the LDS
Professor in Study of Religion Durham University (previously at Nottingham University).
B.A. Anthropology; BA Theology (Durham). PhD. Religion (Nottingham).
M.Litt and D.Litt Anthropology: (Oxford). Honorary Doctor of Theology (Uppsala, Sweden).
Fellowship Elections to Academies, Visiting Fellowships, Leaderships.
2017 Fellow of The British Academy. 2012 Learned Society Wales. 2009 Academy Social Sciences.
Visiting: Harris Manchester College, Oxford (2014). University of Helsinki (2011).
Rothermere American Institute, Oxford, and Huntington Library, USA (2008).
British Association for the Study of Religion: President 2009-2012.
British Sociological Association: Religion Study Group: Chairman:2000-2004.
This paper brings together ideas, theories and insights, developed over fifty years of LDS study. These include the force of inspired imagination and experience of pain, death, grief, and the sense of evil in Joseph Smith’s life, as well as the grand narrative of the Plan of Salvation whose pro-active Christ and Gethsemane experience mark LDS ethics, identity, and sense of destiny. Complementary themes of salvation and exaltation are then interpreted through sociological ideas of church, sect, and world religion in domestic, chapel, and temple Mormonism, with anthropological ideas of legal and mystical authority framing a variety of church activities, issues of discipline and blessing. Not forgetting the soteriological lineages of LDS genealogy. From these past ideas, the lecture sketches a new potential analysis of emotions and moods in church organisation, doctrine, corporate and personal life before suggesting that the role of prophets and ancestors invites a particular description of LDS culture in terms of my recent worldview typology of religious studies. A final mention of my current interests in betrayal in Christianity and cultural life at large hints at work just underway.
10:45am—12:00pm: Panel 1
Melissa Inouye: “A Symbiotic Relationship”: Chinese in Utah
Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye is a Historian at the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of Auckland. She chairs the Global Mormon Studies Research Network. Her book, China and the True Jesus: Charisma and Organization in a Chinese Christian Church, explores the history of a Chinese Pentecostal church as it unfolds against the backdrop of the history of modern China.
This paper complicates understandings of relations between mostly White Latter-day Saints and Chinese Americans in twentieth century Utah by highlighting the relationship between two families: the Jus and the Soderborgs. Against a frequently dismal backdrop of discrimination against racial and religious majorities by members of the majority White-Latter- day Saint population, the case study of the “symbiotic relationship” between the Jus and the Soderborgs in the 1930s provides a rare example of productive interconnection.
Historical records of Chinese Americans in twentieth century Utah are hard to come by, in part because many Chinese left the state around the turn of the century due to the end of the railroad building era and the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment in the West. This paper draws on oral histories, newspapers, and court records to reconstruct a context of positive and negative interactions between the Latter-day Saints and minority-group neighbors against which the Ju- Soderborg relationship unfolded.
Chinese Americans in Utah are best known for contributions they made by way of goods and services—working on the railroad, washing clothes, running restaurants, raising vegetables. This paper uses the friendship of the Ju and Soderborg families and other friendly and adversarial relationships between Chinese and others in Utah as a way to discuss contributions made by way of relationships and lives lived in tandem. It argues that, far from being isolated or inconsequential as the current historical record suggests, Chinese interacted frequently with Utah’s largely White, mostly Latter-day Saint majority in a state of everyday coexistence and even codependency.
Jason Palmer: Forever Familia in Utah: Peruvian Mormon Modes of Relatedness
Jason Palmer holds a PhD in anthropology and is a junior research fellow at the University of California, Irvine. His forthcoming book with the University of Illinois Press is about how Peruvian Mormons recalibrate the settler colonial technologies of rationalization, race, religion, kinship, and gender in order to infuse Mormonism with Peruanidad and vice-versa. Since Mormon studies is largely conducted from the disciplines of history and sociology, his book will be one of only a handful of anthropological monographs ever produced about Mormonism.
Jacoba Costa, the Lamanite-identifying matriarch of a large, transnational, Peruvian family headquartered in a suburb near Utah’s Great Salt Lake, acquired familia through voyages, matchmaking, and ancestral artistry from the 1980s to the 2020s. Though the Mormon spiritual technology of binding dead individuals to the living officially involved only conjugal nuclear couples and their children during her kin-building, Jacoba rewired it so that it involved the common-law, serial-polyandrous, matrifocal relationships that abounded in both her “extended family” (a non-Peruvian concept) and “ancestry” (an oft-misrecognized Peruvian concept). Meanwhile, though many of her kin immigrated to Utah in search of Anglo Mormon spouses, she traveled back to Peru to find more suitable—i.e., more Peruvian— Mormons for her grandchildren to marry, even when doing so required finessing her Mormon family tree in order to procure their visas.
This paper explores how Mormon templar feuds, genealogical apparitions, and Jacoba’s creative kin-making transgressed both the “forever family” values of her Mormon settler neighborhood and “familia” as a Peruvian construct.
Bri Romanello: Borderland Testimonies: Latina Mormon Migrants in Arizona Remember the Impacts of SB1070 and Other State-Sanctioned Violence at Church and Home
Brittany “Bri” Romanello (she/her/ella) is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. Trained in both cultural anthropology and qualitative sociology, her general research interests are Latin@ migrations, gender, race, and religion in the US. Her dissertation project utilizes ethnographic methods to better understand how Latina immigrant Mormons experience ethnoreligious identity formation, belonging, and parenting in the American Southwest.
Latina immigrant Mormons’ experiences within US spaces are understudied, especially in the Borderlands of the American Southwest. Throughout 2021, I interviewed n=42 Mormon Latinas living in Maricopa, Yavapai, and Pima counties in Arizona. Women described how immigration policies, borderland violence, and membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all impact their individual and family lives. Arizona remains an ongoing hotspot for controversial immigration policies and activism work. Arizona Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities have come under scrutiny by human rights groups for their harsh treatment of unauthorized immigrants and unnaturalized citizens, including sexual and physical abuse, torture, and negligent homicide. Much of the state is populated by Latinx immigrant communities, so conflict inevitably arises when Mormon Latinas must share spaces with CBP employees, many of whom are Church members. Arizona’s state agencies, social history, and political leaders share a deep history and contact with the religion. Arizona, a primary location for early Church missionaries, was settled and colonized by Mormons in the late nineteenth century. With over 436,000 members statewide and over 45 Spanish congregations, much of statewide membership consists of first or 1.5 generation Latina immigrants and their families. This paper shares participants’ remembrance of how laws like SB1070, legislation which allowed Arizona Police and CBP to racially profile Latinx communities and more easily justify state-sanctioned violence, altered their Church feelings of belonging since its passage in 2010. Highlighting these oral histories from a Latina Mormon perspective offers unique contributions to existing scholarship on gendered migration experiences, borderlands theory, religious politics, and Latin@ heterogeneity within global Mormonism.
1:30pm—2:45pm: Panel 2
Robyn Spears: Bless the Sick: A Global History of Women and Medicine in Early Mormonism
Robyn Spears is a doctoral student and lecturer in the Department of History of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in zoology/medicine at Brigham Young University and her master’s degree in history at the University of Arkansas. She and her husband live in the Ozark hills of Northwest Arkansas. They have five brilliant children and one adorable dog. Robyn’s hobbies include long walks, cooking fine food, and travel.
Joining the early Latter-day Saint movement in vastly different parts of the globe, Ann Dawson of England and Telii of French Polynesia both rose above religious and hierarchical tension to bless the sick by implementing healing power. New research defines healing power as the enlistment of both faith and science to battle disease. Healing power promotes the religious conception of blessing the sick through prayer, the laying on of hands, and anointing with consecrated oil while also espousing treatment by trusted medicine. These pioneers—the first female converts in each of their respective nations—embraced commitment to this new set of beliefs notwithstanding herculean challenges such as legal threats, class conflict, religious prejudice, and gendered tension. This scholarship encompasses comparative religious studies, global studies, and gender studies as it traces the international diaspora of the practice of healing power. While scholars Jonathan Stapley and Kris Wright have published some of the most recent historiography concerning Latter-day Saint women and healing, their story is largely confined to the United States. This new global research broadens the narrative by exploring female ritual healing in other parts of the world. Primary sources include missionary journals, church records, and government records. In our modern day, each nation’s response to the suffering caused by the coronavirus pandemic involves a precarious dance between science and faith—making this historical research highly relevant. These innovative international women of conviction championed healing power by engaging both faith and science to battle disease despite tremendous resistance.
Philippa Meek: Won’t You Be My Neighbour?: Finding Community Within in and Without Fundamentalist Mormonism
Julie Allen: Constructing Communities of Women within the Church and outside in Botswana and Denmark
3:15pm—4:30pm: Panel 3
Brian Cannon: Reciprocal Influences: David O. McKay and the International Church
Brian Q. Cannon is the Neil L. York Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Brigham Young University. He directed the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU for 15 years and is the past president of the Mormon History Association and the Agricultural History Society. He is the author of three books, the editor of three books, and has published over 40 articles and book chapters regarding Western American history, Latter-day Saint history, rural history, and social and cultural history. He is currently writing a biography of David O. McKay.
In his 95th year, David O. McKay was asked by a New York Times reporter to identify “the most outstanding accomplishment of [his] ministry.” His answer: “The making of the Church a world-wide organization.” The first Latter-day Saint apostle to circumnavigate the globe, McKay traveled internationally to a much greater degree than any preceding church president. Influenced by his observations, conversations and experiences abroad, “he was the first [church president] to consider seriously how policies would affect congregations overseas,” as historian Harvard Heath has noted. McKay’s international travels and considerations serve as an important corrective to popular perceptions of Mormon history. Many Latter-day Saints view their history through the lens of what Leonard Arrington labeled the “centrifugal bias” – “the notion that the important influences and forces in Mormon history originated from the center and moved outward from there.” Although the church is a hierarchical organization headquartered in Utah, general church leaders spend much of their time traveling among and interacting with lay members away from church headquarters. My paper will chronical McKay’s observations of the church abroad and his interaction with members worldwide. Those interactions motivated significant shifts in ecclesiastical policy and practice. In response to conditions abroad, McKay superintended the construction of the church’s first temples outside the United States and Canada. He initiated an ambitious and expensive international program of modern meetinghouse construction, encouraged converts to remain in their homelands rather than emigrating to America, expanded the church’s educational footprint outside the United States, and took the first tentative steps away from the church’s absolute ban on priesthood ordination and temple worship for those of African descent. None of these changes percolated up from the grass roots level, but all were inspired by circumstances and people on Mormonism’s international peripheries.
Joe Chelladurai: The Christ of the Indian Road and the Indianization of Christianity
I am an independent researcher. I was born and raised in Madras, India, and currently live in Salt Lake City, United States. I have graduate and postgraduate degrees in Social Work, Development Management, and Family Studies. My research interests range from global issues, human development, and family psychology. Currently, I’m interested in exploring the connections between religion and mental health. I’ve published a few papers in academic journals and given conference presentations.
India has had a long history of Christianity. Through art, music, literature, and culture, Indians situated Christ in an Indian context. In The Christ of the Indian Road (1925), Stanley Jones translated Christianity to the Indian context. Rhetorically asking “How differs this Christ of the Indian Road from the Christ of the Galilean Road?”, Jones replies, “Not at all”.
The East India Mission (1852 – 1855) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints struggled to find converts and eventually closed the mission within a few years. Latter-day Saint congregations were difficult to gather and retain and subsequent missions to India were still unsuccessful. On the other hand, their contemporaries and their later missionaries were relatively successful in gathering Indians. This paper seeks to understand why and proposes that differing approaches to Indianizing Christianity may help explain these divergent outcomes.
In this paper, I introduce the idea of “Indianizing” Christianity with brief sketches of art, music, and culture. I then illustrate specific approaches of the East Indian mission and its limitations. I conclude with a contextual discussion of the challenges faced by Indians and how they saw the Christ of the Indian Road.
Ryan Saltzgiver: Lessons from the Global History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
6pm: Group Dinner at the Cosy Club
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
All meetings will be in Barn Owl, Elm Bank, Coventry U.
Henri Gooren: The Impact of Leadership on Mormon Growth in Latin America and Europe
Henri Gooren (PhD Anthropology, Utrecht University, the Netherlands) is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Religious Studies at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan (see oakland.edu/socan/faculty/gooren). He published the monographs Rich among the Poor: Church, Firm, and Household among Small-Scale Entrepreneurs in Guatemala City (1999), Religious Disaffiliation and Conversion: Tracing Patterns of Change in Faith Practices (2010) and edited the Encyclopedia of Latin American Religions (2019). Gooren studied the Pentecostalization of religion and society in Paraguay and Chile in 2010-12, and published 13 encyclopedia entries, 17 book chapters and 19 journal articles on conversion and religion in Latin America.
Mormon membership growth in Latin America and the Caribbean exploded in the 1970s and 1980s, but stagnated in almost every country after 2000. By contrast, Mormon membership growth in Europe only briefly boomed in the 1960s, yet remained modest afterwards and slowed down even further in recent decades. Unlike my earlier paper assessing the role of secular transition theory in declining LDS membership growth (Gooren 2019), this paper explores the impact of leadership on Mormon membership growth. I analyze the sociocultural background and performance of local leaders, differences in local church and leadership cultures, leaders’ use of the standard (Utah headquarters) LDS manuals, leaders’ perceptions of the United States, and how all these factors impact membership growth. Have the Mormon Church’s strong U.S. roots indeed slowed membership growth in Europe, yet encouraged growth in Latin America (or perhaps only in early stages)? If so, how and under which circumstances? Data come from an older survey of Mormon leaders in Chile, from newly collected firsthand surveys of the occupations of stake presidents and their counselors for all countries in Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala), Chile, and Belgium and the Netherlands for 2000-2019, as well as from my ethnographic fieldwork research in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
Matt Heiss: “I am involved in Mankinde”: Documenting the efforts of Latter-day Saints to be good neighbors
Brent Smith: Furthering the Cause of a Global Zion in Our Day: Opportunities and Near-Term Obstacles
—Retired international affairs specialist; worked at NASA Office of International Affairs and as Director of International Affairs, NOAA Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
—Currently serve as Area Church History Adviser, LDS North America Northeast Area
—BA from BYU (International Relations); MA/PhD from Harvard (Government)
—Living experience in Germany and Japan
—Member: Mormon History Association, Global Mormon Studies Network, LDS International Society
Building upon the blueprint of his vision of the City of Enoch, Joseph Smith famously declared the need for the truth of God to penetrate every continent/sound in every ear, coupling this to establishing a “cause for Zion” in which the “righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations.” The paper will briefly touch upon Joseph Smith’s fascination and personal identification with Enoch as a prophet and seer and on the evolving LDS concept of Zion. The quest for Zion motivated LDS global proselyting efforts, beginning in the 1830’s, and has led to an increasing global presence in connection with a reinterpretation of the notion of gathering. The paper examines the subsequent effort to knit together individuals from all nationalities and cultures in a common commitment to build a global Zion and addresses the relationship between the LDS Church hub in Salt Lake City and peripheral areas of church membership. Finally, it will focus on the situation in our day in identifying key opportunities for, as well as significant near-term obstacles to establishing Zion and a Zion people. Opportunities include leadership efforts to decry racism and foster inclusivity; both centralized as well as local humanitarian outreach efforts, often involving partnering with other organizations; and endeavors to integrate minorities and to engage with and succor displaced refugees. The “African Beam” effort of a northern Virginia LDS stake to strengthen/fellowship a large number of migrant LDS health profession laborers from Africa will be highlighted—a model that could benefit efforts toward inclusivity involving similar groups of minority LDS emigrants and “guest workers” in other global areas. Near-term obstacles include manifestations of divisiveness and cultural bias—indeed tribalism– including virulent nationalism, rampant individualism, and even racism, often connected with political ideology that can overshadow individual religious belief/allegiance and collective community interests, thus greatly impeding the development of harmony and unity critical to establishing a Zion society.
11:15am—12:30pm: Panel 6: Roundtable on Gender and Trauma across the Global LDS Church
Religion News Service senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including “The Prayer Wheel” (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and “The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church” (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.
Louise Paulsen is the founding CEO of By Women, For Women, a European non-profit that works to amplify the voices, stories and impact of European Latter-day Saint women. Louise has a background in international politics, research and non-profit management. She has lived and worked in Denmark, Belgium, the UK and the US. She holds an MSc in Organisational Behaviour from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in Political Science from Brigham Young University. Louise is a native of Denmark and is currently residing in the UK.
1:30pm—2:45pm: Panel 7
Naomi Krüger: “A Flickering Flame”: Exploring Heritage Narrative, Representation and Mormon Identity in Britain
Naomi Krüger is a Senior Lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Central Lancashire (Preston, UK). Her debut novel, May, was published in 2018 by Seren and highly commended in the Yeovil Novel Prize. In 2021 she was awarded an Eccles Centre Fellowship at the British Library to explore transatlantic connections of faith, conversion, and emigration in early Mormonism. She has an MA and PhD from Lancaster University, and current research interests include representations of faith in fiction, the ethical and aesthetic challenges writing of historical fiction, and the intersection of creative and critical writing.
In 1987, as part of the celebration of 150 years of the Mormon Church in Great Britain, President Ezra Taft Benson shared his appreciation of the crucial role early British Saints played in the development of the Church in the US. He stated that ‘before the gospel could shine forth its resplendent light, a flickering flame of religious and political freedom had to commence somewhere.’
This paper will draw on my experience growing up as a member of the Church in Preston, Lancashire (the oldest continuous branch of the church in the world) and the complex intersection of pride in this heritage combined with a growing awareness of how difficult it was to access. I will explore the mostly oral stories of legacy and heritage I encountered and how they intersected with (and were often eclipsed by) the correlated, US-centric written narratives provided in lesson manuals and other official publications.
As part of this exploration, I will draw on my own practice-based research as a fiction writer currently completing a historical novel set in Nauvoo and Preston in 1842 (and populated with characters who are connected with or encounter the Mormon Church in a number of different ways). I will use archival research as well as debates around the challenges and possibilities of historical fiction to examine some of the frames, and perspectives of those heritage narratives, drawing attention to historical evidence that signals the presence of untold stories. I will also touch on the ethical and aesthetic challenges of producing new fictional representations. What role (if any) can fiction play in expanding, questioning and reclaiming existing narratives of faith, sacrifice and emigration?
Jeffrey Cannon: A Different Covenant: Anti-Catholicism, Anti-Mormonism, and Nativism in Inter-war Scotland
Jeffrey G. Cannon is a Laura F. Willes Research Associate at Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. His research focuses on local manifestations of Christianity and their relationship to the worldwide church. He has a PhD in world Christianity from the University of Edinburgh, an MA in church history and church polity from the University of Pretoria, and a BA in political science from BYU. Previously, he was an archivist for the Church History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On 18 June 1922 around 80 students from the University of Edinburgh rushed into a sabbath meeting of the Edinburgh Branch . Upon entering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The students informed the missionaries conducting the meeting that “It is our pleasant duty to tar and feather you.” They then proceeded to smear the missionaries with various substances, including treacle and green paint (no actual tar), before throwing handfuls of feathers on them. Four of the students were arrested.
The incident occurred shortly after two other notable events. First, Trapped by the Mormons was released in British theaters in March of that year. Second, in May the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, which met in Edinburgh, passed one motion from several congregations requesting the Scottish national church ask Parliament to curb Irish-Catholic immigration and another motion to set up a commission to study what many Scots saw as the problem of Irish-Catholics in Scotland. This paper will explore the incident with Edinburgh Branch within the context of anti-Mormonism, anti-Catholicism, and Scottish nativism between the two world wars.
Michelle Graabek: “Regarding the Mormons”: Danish Lutheran Priests reports to the Bishop of Zealand on Latter-day Saints in 1854
Michelle Graabek is a doctoral researcher at the European University Institute in the department of History & Civilization. Her key research interest lies in cultural identity and community among migrant groups, women’s religious history and transnational history. Her current research focuses on culture and community among Danish Latter-day Saint immigrant women in Utah during the late nineteenth century. Michelle Graabek has a BA in Archaeology from the University of Reading, and an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from University College London, where she developed her research interests and interdisciplinary research skills.
Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints arrived in Denmark in June 1850, quickly building the largest and most controversial religious movement in nineteenth century Denmark. As a new religious movement, in a country that had only recently gained religious freedom, tensions quickly developed between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbours in their local communities. As knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ spread throughout Denmark, Danish Lutheran ecclesiastical leaders began to express concerns. The Lutheran Church saw the Latter-day Saints as a threat to both religious life, social order, and cultural identity in Denmark.
In order to understand the situation more clearly, the Bishop of Zealand, Hans Lassen Martensen, sent a request on 16th June 1854 to all the parish priests in his diocese. He asked them to report on the presence of Mormonism and other sects in their parish, and what had been done to counter them. The 188 letters from these parish priests provide a fascinating snapshot of religious life within the parishes of Zealand in 1854, and the Lutheran priests awareness, attitudes, and social interactions with the Church of Jesus Christ on a micro scale.
In this paper I explore the accounts in these letters of parish priest’s social interactions with
Latter-day Saint missionaries, members, and investigators in local communities in the early
1850s. In particular I focus on the impact of gender and socio-economic class dynamics on
these interactions. These letters paint an engaging picture, through the eyes of the Lutheran
parish priest, of how Latter-day Saints were simultaneously intimately integrated, and
distressingly disconnected from their neighbours and local community.
3:15pm—4:30pm: Panel 3
Taunalyn Ford: Restoration(s) in India: A Case Study for ‘Prophets and Polity’
Taunalyn Ford is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship where her current book projects focus on the intersection of Mormonism and the religions of India. She received her BA and MA degrees at Brigham Young University and her PhD in History of Christianity and Religions of North America at Claremont Graduate University. Her dissertation “Conceptualizing Global Religions: An Investigation of Mormonism in India,” was awarded best dissertation from the Mormon History Association in 2018. Prior to her appointment at the Maxwell Institute, she was an adjunct professor in the BYU Religion department. She currently serves on the board of the Mormon History Association.
Interfaith dialogue informs and nuances the study of Mormon globalization, and this is true for the case study of Community of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in India. My chapter “Prophets and Polity” in the Restoration(s) volume, written with Matthew Frizzell of Community of Christ, concludes that globalization creates similar daunting challenges for both restoration churches. India provides an interesting case study that demonstrates some of the key differences in the path each faith has chosen in their international development. Does globalization, secularization in Western cultures, and struggles to retain young people in both churches mean we are now not so much competitors as companions, with a shared heritage, facing common issues? In dialogue with Jewell and Andrew Bolton who worked with Community of Christ in India, this paper explores various approaches to internationalization from the 1950s to today. The paper reconsiders an argument from my doctoral dissertation comparing Latter-day Saints and Sora Christians who were formerly part of Community of Christ in India before separating over issues of church polity. I hope to underscore the importance of interreligious dialogue in examining global “Mountain Saints” and the “Prairie Saints” as various Mormonisms have expanded onto a global stage.
Casey Griffiths: Restoration: Scholars in Dialogue from Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Casey Paul Griffiths was born and raised in Delta, Utah. He served a Latter-day Saint mission in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before returning home to complete a B.A. degree in History at Brigham Young University (2002). He later earned a M.A. In Religious Education and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Foundations at BYU (2007, 2012). His studies focused on the development of religious education programs among the Latter-day Saints. Prior to joining the faculty in Religious Education at BYU, Brother Griffiths served in Seminaries and Institutes for eleven years as a teacher and a curriculum writer. His research focuses on the history of religious education among Latter-day Saints, the history of the Church in the Pacific, and diverse movements associated with the Restoration. He is married to Elizabeth Ottley Griffiths and they live in Saratoga Springs with their four adorable children.
Since 2015, scholars from Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have come together in a series of dialogue meetings designed to increase understanding and cooperation between the two groups. Springing from a common origin, today the “mountain Saints” and the “prairie Saints” are both worldwide Saints. Nearly two hundred years since the first revelatory experiences of Joseph Smith Jr., perhaps a family reunion of sorts is in order. We carried many misunderstandings and misconceptions into our first conversations. Over time we gradually grew to respect each other and even became comfortable enough to engage in some good-natured teasing in our fellowship together. Our conversations have resulted in a book, “Restorations,” that is filled with honest, frank conversations but also collegiality and friendship. From the beginning we all acknowledged that our work was not about uniting the two churches or converting each other. Each faith has a unique and vibrant character that has flourished under greatly different circumstances. This dialogue is about bringing together informed scholars from the two churches—scholars who are working together, with good will, to accurately understand each other. We now warmly invite you into our shared conversation on twelve themes, from Jesus Christ to Zion.
Andrew and Jewell Bolton: Reflections on the History and Significance of the Dialogue
Andrew Bolton, PhD was a British state school teacher in multi-faith religious education in Leicester, a college lecturer in religious education/studies at Westminster College, Oxford, and schools’ advisor for Religious Education for the Leicester Education Department. He worked for Community of Christ for 18 years, first in leading peace and justice ministries internationally, and then coordinating the church’s pastoral and peace mission through 215 congregations in 10 countries in Asia. His essays have been published in Dialogue, MHA and JWHA Journals, and Restoration Studies. He is one of the founder members of the dialogue between the two churches.
Jewell Bolton, MEd, has been a primary school teacher in Leicestershire and inner city Kansas City Missouri. She has served as a Community of Christ bi-vocational minister for over 30 years in the USA and the UK. Together they have returned to live in Leicester, England. She has been a part of the dialogue between the two churches from the beginning.
Andrew and Jewell Bolton are charter members of the interfaith dialogue between the two faiths. This presentation shares how the evolving identity and mission of Community of Christ over the last 50 years has resulted in engaging in ecumenical and interfaith dialogues as part of its mission to pursue the peace of Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also began to engage in interfaith dialogue, encouraged especially during the presidency of Gordon B Hinckley. Dialogue with Evangelical Christians, and more recently with the Jewish community, has been significant for the Church of Jesus Christ. These developments in both Latter Day Saint traditions now made it possible for the two churches to also begin dialogue with one another. Something of the history of the dialogue will be discussed, whether this engagement is ecumenical or interfaith, achievements, and what are some issues.
Evening: YSA Meet and Greet?
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Excursion Day to the Cotswolds
Friday and Saturday, March 24-25, 2022
Mormon Scholars in the Humanities