Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What I Believe - Excommunication

As promised, I have decided to speak on the topic of excommunication within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To me this is such a private issue that I have been loth to speak on it. But Kate Kelly has made it a public one, so I feel I need to discuss how I feel about this subject.

My personal feelings, based upon one excommunicated gentleman I met in the church, is that it is a loving action taken by the church when someone has spiritually stumbled in a very serious manner.

He was neither sad nor angry with the church for being excommunicated. He knew that he had truly fallen as per the dictates of our faith. He accepted his excommunication with renewed hope and faith in God. It had taken him close to a year to arrive at this new place, but he was soon to return to the church in full fellowship again.

"Excommunication is the most severe judgment a Church disciplinary council can take. Excommunicated persons are no longer members of the Church. Therefore, they are denied the privileges of Church membership, including the wearing of temple garments and the payment of tithes and offerings. They may attend public Church meetings, but, like disfellowshipped persons, their participation in such meetings is limited. Excommunicated persons are encouraged to repent and so live as to qualify for eventual baptism.
Great consideration is given regarding the confidentiality of the decisions of a Church disciplinary council. No announcement is ever made when a member is placed on formal probation. Decisions to disfellowship or excommunicate are generally not announced publicly unless the transgression is widely known." Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Ensign Magazine 1990; A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings.

So, you see, excommunication in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have to be a permanent state. If you repent of your trespass and follow the help and guidance of church leaders you can and will be reinstated as a member of the church.

That is not to say that I think it is a wonderful thing to be excommunicated. I'm sure anyone who has been excommunicated has felt shocked, pained, and even frightened when faced with expulsion from the church. But excommunication enables the person to have the slate wiped clean, so to speak, and to begin again.

My heart goes out to Kate Kelly and I feel a certain sadness about her excommunication. But I hope that she will be able to come to see it as a way to begin again just as the gentleman I met in the church did.

Excommunication doesn't have to mean The End.

This is what I believe.


Anne Marie Dranchak said...

Sorry I didn't get to this earlier. Thanks for your thoughts on this topic.

Lee Lane said...

No worries. Glad you could get by to read it. :-)