Writing My Stake President--
I sent this e-mail this morning:
I just wanted to inform you that I am now a member of Vintage21 Church in downtown Raleigh.
I have no interest in resigning my membership or severing my LDS connections. Mormonism was and is extremely foundational in who I am and how I look at the world, even as an adult convert. I could just as easily take out my liver as remove the “Mormonness” from my worldview.
I am giving you this information because I am aware that the more recent versions of the Church Handbook of Instruction mention joining another church as grounds for excommunication, although I’m told there is a lot of latitude for local leaders to make their own decisions. I have done what I have done, and if you choose to take this to a church court I would rather just get it over with and not have it hanging over my head as some random event to be worried about in the future.
I am informing you directly because my bishop, Bishop A___, is one of the best men I have known in the LDS church. He has enough problems of others to deal with, without having to decide how to handle this and feeling responsible for any negative consequences. As a Melchizedek priesthood holder you have jurisdiction over this anyway, so you are the best person to decide.
To be clear my “issues” are not with Mormonism as I interpret it from the Book of Mormon and much of the Doctrine and Covenants. Nor have we been offended to any great degree by anyone locally. It has more to do with the institutional church and the oversimplification of the gospel, to include the rich history we have as a people and the breadth of the doctrines preached in the standard works. I cannot sustain a church president who largely remains in Salt Lake City and preaches simple Christian ethics to the faithful and seems to mainly go to temple dedications, as opposed to a lion of the Lord who preaches Christ crucified at every opportunity to audiences both hostile and friendly. And much much more.
Accordingly I can never serve a meaningful role again in the LDS faith community, so I have to belong somewhere I can serve without being considered such damaged goods. Honestly, I feel like Vintage21 Church is closer to the spirit of the Book of Mormon than the current LDS church is, which is why I have taken this step.
Enough about my “issues”, I think. I respect your dedication to serving the Saints in our stake. You have always gone the extra mile in everything you have done, and I think you are truly one of the “good guys” here. Despite everything I have said, I think we have some of the best leaders in this area that can be found in any area of the LDS church. I will respect and abide by whatever decision you choose to make in this matter.