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Testimonies of Former RLDS Members

 

You can read the full testimony of each of the people below by simply clicking on their name.

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(Many of these testimonies were originally published in Reorganized Latter Day Saint Church: Is it Christian? by Carol Hansen.)

Peter Elliott, a fifth generation RLDS, grew up in Western Australia. His great-great grandmother converted to Mormonism during the first mission to England before the death of Joseph Smith Jr. Although Peter was immersed in the RLDS world view, his interest in history led him to investigate the church more thoroughly and he came to the point where he couldn't continue believing the RLDS story. He resigned his membership and embarked on a fascinating journey for truth which led him through 40 countries and eventually to the land of Israel. It was at the Garden Tomb that he had a life changing experience with the risen Lord. Peter has written a book "Reasons for Disbelief" about key RLDS issues which will undoubtedly help others to find the truth and be set free.

Dorothy Hill resides in Western Australia and is the mother of Peter Elliott, author of the book “Reasons for Disbelief.” She grew up a staunch believer in Joseph Smith and his claims and spent most of her life as a loyal member of the RLDS church serving her congregation as organist, singer and teacher. When evidence against Joseph Smith’s claims came to her attention she found it difficult to believe and decided to write to the First Presidency about her concerns hoping to find answers. One of the two letters she wrote is recorded in her testimony. Both of her letters and the reply from the First Presidency are recorded in her son’s book, “Reasons for Disbelief.” They are very eye-opening! Disillusioned, Dorothy spent many years not attending church but then began researching and as a result found answers to the questions she had asked so many years before. In her testimony she gives this challenge to her readers: “To any of you who may be struggling with your beliefs in the RLDS story – which survived for so many years without questions from its members, I know how you feel, but I urge you to read all you can, as there is so much now available.” Dorothy has now resigned from the RLDS/Community of Christ, accepted Jesus as her Savior, and found the peace she had sought for many years.

Jennifer (Benedict) Raines, attorney at law, had a wonderful time growing up in the “Centerplace” during the 1970’s and early 80’s. Nearly everything she did was “at church, for church, or with church members.” In her words she lived and breathed church. During the tumultuous conference of 1984 when delegates voted to accept the revelation admitting women into the priesthood, she actively participated in a march protesting the decision. It was about fifteen year later that she began seriously examining the faith she grew up in. She found many disturbing facts in her church’s history that caused her to doubt the validity of her beliefs. She accepted an invitation to visit a Baptist Church and began attending a class called “A Closer Look: Examining the RLDS Faith” where she viewed material she had not previously seen. It was during that time she read Peter Elliott’s book “Reasons for Disbelief” and as a result made the final decision to leave the church. She resigned her membership in the Community of Christ and in September 2011 was re-baptized. She is now a believer in the real and enduring God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus of the Bible.
 

Greg Marlin was born and raised into one of the smaller sects of Mormonism (RLDS). His family ties go back to the very founding of Mormonism. He became a member of the RLDS faith at the age of eight and never questioned the things taught to him while growing up. He called himself a Christian, and said that he believed, but he had no understanding of genuine Christianity.

Stefanie Ford was a convert to the RLDS Church and attended the Zarahemla Restoration Branch. She and her husband were active in their congregation and Stefanie said it was the love of "the church" that formed the strong bond between them. At the suggestion of her father, Stefanie began an in-depth study of Joseph Smith's teachings and discovered they were not in agreement with the Bible. Her husband, who grew up in the church, agreed with Stefanie's findings and together they made the painful decision to leave the church.

Kathy (Gouldsmith) Lundquist was raised in the RLDS Church, surrounded by many devoted family members, relatives and friends. After graduating from Graceland College she became very involved in church activities. She reached the point in her life where she began having an “unquenchable desire” to study the Bible more in-depth and found that the doctrines she had always been taught in the church were contradictory to what the Bible taught. She discovered that instead of key RLDS proof-texts pointing to a restoration of the gospel, the entire Bible was pointing to Jesus and His death on the cross in payment for our sins. She now rejoices daily for the free gift of salvation she has found in Jesus alone. 

Michele Vaughn was nineteen years old when she became a member of the RLDS church. Before that time she had never attended a church in her life. After she married, she and her husband John moved to the “Center Place” from Olathe, Kansas. They joined an RLDS congregation called Celebration Ministries and became very involved in church activities. While attending this group she and her husband were both called to the priesthood. It was during this time that they decided to do a serious study of the church’s teachings. As a result of their research they left the church. Michelle’s challenge to everyone who reads her testimony is to “seek the truth, love the truth and be saved.”  

Mike and Lisa Buchanan were members of the RLDS Church for twenty-five years and Mike served as pastor of a small congregation in Colorado. The church was the center of their lives. In 1994 they decided to move their family to the “Center Place” with the sincere desire to teach their children the Restoration distinctives. After being challenged to look more closely at the beliefs of the church they began an indepth study of RLDS doctrine and discovered many significant contradictions between the church’s teachings and the Bible. Consequently, they decided to leave the church. They received Christ as their Savior and now rejoice in the understanding that God’s offer of salvation is a free gift paid for by Jesus death on the cross. 

Marja (Parker) Waldon was raised in a devout RLDS family who attended church Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings. Joseph and Emma Smith were her heroes. At age seventeen she attended Graceland College and then entered the school of nursing in Independence Missouri, where she later graduated first in her class. It was a little Gideon Bible she was given while in nursing school that played a strategic role in opening her eyes to truth of the Biblical gospel. In April 1970, Marja accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. From that moment on she had a peace, hope and joy that she had never before experienced in her life and she testified; “Whatever crowns I may have earned will have a little Gideon nurse testament engrained on them when I cast them at the feet of our lovely Lord.”  

Jan Moon spent her life searching for the "one true church." She was involved in a variety of religions before converting to the Restoration Movement in 2004. It was when she began the research for a novel she was writing that she started having doubts about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and especially the RLDS priesthood. After the JCRB/CRE conference in the spring of 2007, she made a prayerful investigation of Joseph Smith's priesthood system comparing it with the Bible. What she found led her out of the RLDS Church and to the Jesus Christ of the Bible.

Christopher Evans was raised by a very loving and caring RLDS family who taught him that "divine truth" was only found in Joseph Smith's church. Chris was a staunch believer in the establishment of Zion. However, after doing a thorough research into the RLDS teachings he realized that his hopes for a literal Zion was only an imaginary utopia. He asked the Lord to show him truth no matter what the cost. God was faithful to answer and Chris now has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Bob Perkins and Elena Perkins attended a restoration branch in Independence, Mo. As they studied the scriptures together they found contradictions within the doctrines of the church and had many unanswered questions. After seeking answers from priesthood members and finding no satisfactory answers they decided to just stay home on Sundays. After their first child was born Elena felt the need to find a church home and began attending Woods Chapel Baptist Church in Blue Springs, Mo. It was there that she accepted Jesus as the Lord and Savior of her life. Bob attended church with her, but it was later at Promise Keepers that Bob surrendered his life to the Lord.

Jenny Farr was a 3rd generation RLDS member and attended the Stewartsville, Missouri congregation. Jenny was taught, and believed, that she was a member of the 'only true church' and that God had restored His original institution through Joseph Smith. In high school Jenny started dating Kevin, a Baptist boy and when their relationship became serious she asked Kevin to attend the RLDS church with her which he agreed to do. After they were married Kevin began to feel unfulfilled spiritually and went back to his Baptist roots. Jenny made an intense study of RLDS doctrine and began to have serious enough doubts about the Church that she knew she had to leave. She accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior and now serves along side her husband who pastors a church in eastern Mo.

Teri Beatty was raised in the Catholic Church but married a 4th generation member of the RLDS church. She and her husband Clyde lived in West Palm Beach, Florida for several years before moving to Independence. Teri's daughter began sharing with her the problems and contradictions in RLDS doctrine that she had found and as a result Teri stopped attending the RLDS church. She visited Eastside Baptist Church where her daughter attended and during a Bible study she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. About the same time she was miraculously healed of an eleven year bout with manic-depression and she praises the Lord daily for His mercy and love.

Todd & Carla Talcott were 6th generation RLDS members. After the RLDS church split in 1984 they began attending a Restoration Branch. They wanted to remain true to the "original gospel" as taught by Joseph Smith. In Dec. 1998 they read "Part Way to Utah: The Forgotten Mormons" by Paul Trask, and were forced to confront the questions and contradictions in church doctrine they had been struggling with. The more they searched the Bible the more problems they found. Finally, as a result of their research, the Lord led them out of "the church" and into a born-again experience for which they give God all the Praise and Glory.

Stace Webb joined the RLDS church as a child with no understanding of the fundamental teachings. As an adult he was called to the priesthood and served as a priest. While preaching a sermon one Sunday he felt he was just going through motions and asked himself the question, "Is this true Christianity?" This questioning led him to seek the answer and he subsequently left the church and accepted Christ as his Savior.

Carol Hansen was a member of the RLDS church for forty-eight years. After graduating from Graceland College in 1948 she became very involved in church activities at the Walnut Park and Beacon Heights congregations. In the early 1970's she began looking objectively at Joseph Smith's teachings and came to the conclusion they were diametrically opposed to Biblical Christianity. Consequently, she left the church and together with other former RLDS members, established Life Line Ministries to provide accurate historical and doctrinal information for RLDS members whose love of the truth surpasses their love for "the church." 

James Clark was born and raised in the RLDS church. He was baptized at the age of eight and participated in many church activities while growing up. He was ordained a deacon during his high school years and after attending Graceland was ordained an Elder. He later served as Presiding Elder for his congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After reading and studying church history and the writings of authors such as Fawn Brodie, Tanners and others he came to the conclusion that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. He and his wife now attend the Congregational Church in Ann Arbor. 

Paul Gouty, Jr.  was baptized into the RLDS Church at eight years old and raised in a family dedicated to the Church and the teachings of Joseph Smith. Regular church attendance was a must with most RLDS faithful, and as was the expectation, Paul attended Graceland College. However, during the years of turmoil in the church in the late 70’s and 80’s Paul began to realize that the “one and only true church” was not so true to Christ’s teachings. His curiosity led him to research church history and the teachings of Joseph Smith and that in turn led to many questions. Due to a career change, Paul and his wife Jelene lived in several different cities and visited many non-RLDS churches where he was exposed to Biblical teachings and the real message of salvation as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9. As a result, he accepted the Lord as his Savior and was re-baptized. Grateful for the Bible, the infallible Word of God, he now shares the message of salvation with RLDS family and other RLDS faithful.

Carrie Crawford Blackman was raised in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and always considered herself to be a Christian. After attending Fellowship of Grace church with her husband, God opened her eyes to the false teachings of Joseph Smith and to the true meaning of salvation found in Romans 10:9-10. As a result she received the gift of salvation, was re-baptized, and now serves the Lord in oneness with her husband.  

 
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