I grew up in this church – a small, insignificant church, but one that was everything for my parents, and their generation.
I have given a lot of thought to its history – and concluded that it was very much a product of its time – something they would never admit – and when its time ended – it ended also.
Which leaves me with a question – what was its time? And how did it differ from the time of the LDS church – which is still going strong?
This is not a hard question to answer. The RLDS (the Reorganized LDS) was organized by some rich Illinois farmers, originally members of the LDS church – who wanted their church back. They needed someone to head their church, and finally got Joseph Smith III, Joseph Smith’s oldest son, who was only a child when he was murdered, to act as the head of their church.
He was not interested in reviving his father’s church, at first – he grew up in the ruins left by his father. But after trying some other occupations – becoming the head of his own church didn’t seem like such a bad job.
JS III always let his bakers run the show, after all they had all the money – and concentrated on making the church grow, and him along with it. He was successful, and the church grew rapidly. But after his death, his sons were much less capable – and provided poor leadership. The church grew less rapidly – and then, in the Fifties, none at all.
It was a church of farmers, in a nation where farmers had become unimportant. The LDS church, by contrast, became part of Corporate America – and had capable leadership. They were strongest in the western states – but eventually moved eastward and now own most of my hometown of Nauvoo, Illinois – which they are converting into a historical museum.
History as they want it remembered.