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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course US: Religious Records - Part 2 by Beverly Whitaker, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
(Formerly: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Refer back to the introductory section of this chapter for a list of those beliefs which are NOT shared with the Mormons.
As described in Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 10th edition, the basic beliefs of this former RLDS church include faith in:
- The universality of God the Eternal Father
- Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of the Father
- The Holy Spirit
- The worth and dignity of persons
- Repentance of sin
- Baptism by immersion
- The efficacy of various sacramental ordinances
- The resurrection of the dead
- The open canon of Scriptures and the continuity of revelation
- The doctrine of stewardship
- The accountability of all people to God
Community of Christ recognizes three books of scripture: the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants.
Community of Christ clearly summarizes its beliefs at its webpage “Basic Beliefs". Included is this introductory statement, “We are an international Christian church with 250,000 members found in more than fifty nations. Our World Headquarters, including a Temple dedicated to the pursuit of peace, is located in Independence, Missouri. The church was organized in 1830 in New York State.”
On the “Community of Christ History” webpage are details of its 170-year history.
Recall that the early history of this group matches that of the Mormons until the aftermath of the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844. The Community of Christ claims to be a continuation of the original church which Smith had founded, basing its claim on the rule of lineal succession found in The Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Because the Mormons led by Brigham Young abandoned this rule, those holding to the lineal succession eventually reorganized as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on April 6, 1860, at Amboy, Illinois, under the leadership of Joseph Smith III, the eldest son of the founder. The name change to Community of Christ took place in April, 2001, a name which they consider more adequately represents the church’s theology and mission: “We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace.”
The church is administered by a First Presidency of three high priests and elders, a Quorum of Twelve Apostles who represent the presidency, and a pastoral arm under the high priests and elders. Ministry consists of two basic orders: the Aaronic (offices of deacon, teacher, and priest) and the Melchizedek (offices of elder, high priest, and the various specialized functions of the office of high priest). The bishops’ work covers church properties, the stewardship of members, and church finance.
In response to my query about what records the Community of Christ keeps which might be helpful to genealogists, I received information from their headquarters:
|Membership?|| Yes, Community of Christ members only|
|Death, Burial, Obituaries?||Yes|
|Biographic Sketches for Leaders?||Sometimes|
I was told that persons wanting to access these records should contact by letter, using the address below:
- Community of Christ
1001 W. Walnut
Independence Missouri 64050-3562
| Note also these added comments:
It would probably be helpful to your potential genealogy researchers if you could differentiate between the Mormon (LDS-Utah based) Church and the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS-Independence, Missouri based). Only refer individuals whose ancestors were members of the Community of Christ/RLDS to us while referring general genealogical and Mormon membership inquiries to the LDS Family History Library network.
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