By DANIEL HODSON
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is scheduled to consider changing its name to Community of Christ during its world conference, April 1-9.
Howard W. Sheehy, First Councilor in the First Presidency of the RLDS church said that the proposal came from an associate of a congregation in Florida. Sheehy said the RLDS church uses a democratic procedure to govern and direct the church.
“J.R. Longsdorf will be the person to call it to the floor and will be the first affirmative speaker,” Sheehy said.
After the proposition is called and sustained, the other 2,800 delegates from 40 countries will vote, but it may not pass.
“This is a name change that has been proposed a number of times,” said Jessie Embry, assistant director of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at BYU.
Embry, who edits the John Whitmer Historical Journal for the RLDS church, said she doesn’t suspect that the proposal will pass. A local RLDS pastor said that in recent years the issue has been debated, but changing the name has been too expensive.
Sheehy said they will also vote on changing the world conference from every other year to every third year. The other two years will be filled with their youth and church leadership conferences.
Other topics that the delegates will discuss this year are resolutions on personal use of firearms, the U.S. Army school of Americas, and a stance on an international move to forgive Third World countries of their loans.
Of the 250,000 members worldwide about 6,000 attend the conference. Embry said that she has attended and described the meetings as “very Protestant.”
Besides church government meetings the RLDS church holds religious and prayer meetings.
“The members really seem to enjoy these meetings and they have a wonderful organ,” Embry said
If the name change does pass legislation it won’t be the first thing to differ from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In 1986 women were given the priesthood, the current president, W. Grant McMurray was voted into office in 1998 and though most pastors are lay-leaders, there are some paid members of the clergy.