Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fellowships - Groundwork for Something Better

I grew up LDS; or using the term more commonly known; I grew up Mormon.  In particular, I was brought up in the Brighamite branch that fled Nauvoo, migrated west, and established its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The official name of that church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Growing up in the LDS church had a lot of positive influence on me.  Through the LDS church, I was taught much of the gospel.  I was taught many important truths through the scriptures and through the classes and meetings of the church.  I was taught a number of positive principles and commandments which were meant to help me live a moral and upright life.  I was taught to love my family and my neighbors, to be honest, and to choose the right.  I was taught to have faith in Christ.

I could see that the LDS church also had a positive impact in the communities in which I lived. Most of my life has been spent in cities in Utah Valley in the state of Utah.  I observed that many lives of those around me had been improved for better through this organization.  In my opinion, there are a lot of favorable and beneficial aspects and characteristics of the communities in Utah which I feel can be attributed to the favorable influence the LDS church has in the lives of its members.

The LDS church - the organization, the people, the day to day aspects of the church / religion was not without its problems; but in my view and for most of my life, I felt it was one of the best options of which I was aware and that I could find for learning about how to love God, my family, and my neighbors.  It seemed like one of the best options for helping one learn to live a moral life of integrity.  At the time, it also seemed to me to be the only church that had the real truths about the gospel of Christ.  As happens in many churches; I was taught that the LDS church was the one true church with the correct set of truths that other religions just didn't have.  I was also taught that the LDS church was led by prophets that had been called by God.  Because of the many positive and beneficial aspects of the religion; I turned a blind eye to some of the problems and issues or glossed over them with the thought that most of the problems; whatever they may be; were due to the weaknesses in the members and not in the organization itself.

During these last few years; there have been some amazing and difficult changes in my life.  These changes have led me to find what I feel is something that is better than what I have had in the LDS church.  My intent in this post is not to attack the LDS church.  I feel that many, if not most of the positive aspects I wrote about above regarding the LDS church continue to be true.  I believe it has been and continues to be a positive force for good in the lives of its members around the world.  I also believe that I have found something that at least for me has been better.  In particular, I have found and become a part of the fellowships.

What are the fellowships?  The fellowships are groups of believers in Christ who have come together to learn about Christ and the gospel in love and support of each other.  The fellowships are not a church.  There is no central organization controlling the fellowships.  Each fellowship is mostly autonomous and independent of the other fellowships.  Anyone can start a fellowship at any time.  Most of those who belong to a fellowship will often belong to and associate with multiple fellowships.  So while there are many smaller fellowships, there is an overall feeling among the fellowships that we are all in this together as a larger group.

I belong to an online fellowship called Little Zion.  Most of its members are sprinkled throughout the various states of the United States.  I have also attended meetings of a fellowship that meets in the city of Orem.  I have particpated in activites with the remnant ministries fellowship which often will use Sundays as a day to go and minister and bless the homeless in pioneer park in Salt Lake City.  I have also participated in meetings of a fellowship located in Lehi called the Zarahemla foundation.  In addition to these groups, there are online facebook groups of like believers.  There are also online forums and google discussion groups that exist to learn, fellowship, and grow together.

In all of the fellowships with which I have participated and associated; there has not been a primary leader who dictates and controls the fellowship.  In all cases, there have been one or more individuals who have taken the initiative to create the group and to facilitate the group meeting together or to help bring about group activities and goals.  These people often act as servants to the rest of the group -- taking actions that help the group so that it can exist and function.  Members of the fellowships take turns helping out with whatever needs to be done.  We don't have any official callings, titles, or ranks.  We associate together as a group of equals and with a common goal - coming to Christ and becoming more Christ-like.

The fellowship I have associated with the most is the Little Zion fellowship.  Since it is online and we spread out across the nation, we use online social media to communicate with each other.  It is a community that is available 24/7/365.  We talk about the gospel. We study the scriptures together.  We talk about life.  We talk about what is happening in the world.  We share our struggles.  We share burdens.  We ask for prayers and we pray for each other.

Members of fellowships are not asked to leave their current church or religion.  There are members in fellowships from the various Mormon groups (LDS, RLDS, Community of Christ, AUB), from other christian religions, and from other backgrounds as well.  Many of the members continue to actively participate in their own religions from which they came.

Since the fellowship movement began, there have been a few conferences where all people from all the fellowships have been invited.  One of the conference happened in Colorado.   One happened in Moab and the latest one happened September 2016 in Boise, Idaho.

The conference in Boise focused on the Doctrine of Christ.  The talks and other information about the event can be found here:

There are other conferences with multiple fellowships getting together in various regions throughout the world as well.

If you would like to find a local fellowship in your area, a fellowship locator website has been created to help.  It can be found here:

Most of the fellowships that have been created also participate in collection and distribution of tithing.  Again, there is no central organization to which all donations are sent.  Rather, the fellowships collect money among themselves; determine needs within the fellowship and then distribute the tithing according to the needs of the group by common consent.  Some fellowships that have surpluses donate to other charitable causes or to other fellowship groups in need.

I believe that these fellowships -- which have been very good for me in helping me grow in my knowledge of the gospel and the scriptures, in my journey to come to Christ, and in learning to associate with others in love and without contention -- are preparatory to something even greater.  I love what the fellowships offer, but I realize that we all still fall quite short of the goal of a Zion community.  To me, the fellowships feel like Zion in training:  They are groups that are learning how to get along; how to take care of each other; and how to grow in the gospel together with Christ as our common head.  Our successes in all of these goals have been heart-warming and they are moving in a direction which I believe will help lay a groundwork from which a real Zion community can arise.  Whether or not that actually happens is yet to be seen.  The task and changes necessary to bring such a society about are daunting.  In any case, I don't believe it will happen through something initiated by a man or a group of men.  When it happens, I believe it will be completely orchestrated by God.

It should be clear from the prophecies that this work will start with a small group chosen to begin the work. A temple and rites will provide the legal, cultural, and covenant foundation for a new society. These people will learn how to become the “kingdom of God” and will learn His ways and to walk in His paths. When they know how to live in peace, and have obtained the original Holy Order, others will be invited to join them and learn how to live according to a new, higher way of life. The challenge of teaching new people this new way of organizing society will be daunting. The community will struggle together to learn how to overcome the social infection that comes from Babylon anytime a new family flees Babylon and comes to Zion.
As the group grows, they will increase their aptitude to assimilate new members. Skills will be gained in helping people overcome the world. The infections from Babylon, the Medes, Persians, Greeks, Romans and all modern world governments will be eradicated. People of the New Jerusalem will learn a godly way of governing and holiness of character.
As the New Jerusalem grows, eventually it will divide, and there will be another group established nearby where both communities will be able to take in new families and teach them of the Lord’s way."
This quote is from part 5 of a series of posts about the kingdom of God.  The first part of the series can be found here:  All or Nothing
If you’d like to learn more about this movement, there’s great information at this site or in the blogs linked on the sidebar of this blog:

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All are invited!  All are welcome!