“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” -Acts 5:42
In the early Jewish sect that would become Christianity, worship services took place mainly in homes, as we see described in the book of Acts and various epistles (see Acts 2:46, 5:42, 2020; Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15; and Philemon 1:2). It is clear that these brothers and sisters found fellowship and practiced their religion by walking closely in Christ together. Christianity grew and eventually dotted the lands with both simple and grand places of worship. Meanwhile, the Jewish people suffered a collective loss when the second Temple was destroyed, creating the Judaism we know today—a shadow of its former self.
Latter Day Saints in Exile
Today we see many Brighamites being cast out of their temples, and some even out of their churches. Like the early Christians, they are being persecuted for their beliefs or their identities. I have met families that had restraining orders put on them after being excommunicated for practicing polygamy. Brothers and sisters have been locked out of their temples or even excommunicated for their sexual orientation or their gender identity. And, there are those cast out for their open support for those in the LGBTQ community.
To be clear, I do not say this to condemn the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or any other Brighamite sect. When this group left the Church to start anew in what is now Utah, they built a church that they feel is inspired by the same God that all Christians worship. Like all denominations, their creeds are their own and we must respect what works for them. At the same time, we must also make room for those brothers and sisters that they reject.
Lost in the Wilderness
Unfortunately, it is not as simple for these Latter Day Saints to merely go out and join a new denomination. Community of Christ is very open and accepting, but they lack temple endowments and not all congregations agree on the use of the Book of Mormon. Likewise, the Cutlerites have temple worship, but there are currently only nine members and they meet in their church/temple in Missouri. This doesn’t help those living anywhere else. They are not a missionary/evangelical church, thus they are dying out.
The Brighamites are not alone in these problems. For example, I have met members of Community of Christ seeking a church with stronger ties to the Book of Mormon. There are now at least three Strangite sects of various sizes with their own creeds and issues. The list goes on. What then do we do?
The Church in Your House
Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Spiritual leader Lazer Gurkow have written excellent articles about Jews moving to home temples. As Latter Day Saints, can we not do the same? I have spoken before about the idea of home temples, and this may be accomplished by individuals, families, or as groups meeting in homes, regardless of their standing in a LDS denomination. What is needed now are Saints willing to open their homes, or lead online worship and/or study groups.
My wife and I did this during the Covid-19 lockdown and it was very successful. We opened our home via Zoom for both worship and various study groups, and we were not alone. Sisters Victoria Ramirez, and Anni Rose, and brother Alexei Mattanovich created excellent study groups. Before Covid-19, brother Allen Broadus opened his home to those seeking worship services and grew a small congregation.
Seeing that we are both a small group and spread out all over the world, it is not currently possible for us to build synagogues and temples everywhere that those supporting the Fellowship exist. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot meet as Saints. My wife, Kristine, and I can testify of spiritually powerful Priesthood ordinations and Endowment services we have offered for Saints all over the world. These spiritual blessings are not tied to any one denomination or to any particular place or places on the earth. Temples are not holy because God is waiting in them for us, they are holy because we bring God into these buildings.
If you are reading this article, I would like to ask you a question: What brought you here? I have talked to enough people in the past 6 years to organize not merely a congregation, but many congregations. However, the overwhelming number of people I have spoken with aren’t looking to be builders, they are looking for the work to be done for them. They don’t want to build the temple, they want to show up and enjoy the work done by others. I understand this, we all seek what we are accustomed to.
However, every Latter Day Saint sect and their buildings that dot the earth today didn’t just pop up out of the earth. They were built by people just like you, women and men who God sent to small groups of people, with a whispering of the Spirit saying, “come and see.” The Fellowship of Christ is unique in that we are not trying to organize yet another LDS sect. We are a unity movement. And as a part of that unity we seek to gather the spiritually homeless and build a place for them. They may stay, they may move on to other branches of the faith. Regardless, we need these spiritual shelters and we need you to help us build them.
You followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to come and see. I would like to now invite you to follow that same Spirit in inviting you to come and build.