President Wallace B. Smith of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints offered hope for reconciliation Sunday night in his address to the 1988 World Conference of the church.
The speech highlighted the opening day of the week-long conference at the RLDS Auditorium. More than 10,000 visitors, including about 2,800 delegates from nearly 40 countries, are expected to attend.About 6,000 people were present for the opening business session Sunday afternoon. Independence Mayor Barbara J. Potts noted that the conference is a special one because the world church is preparing to build a $60 million temple in Independence that will be dedicated to peace.
Smith began his address by stating: "I do not think there are very many in the church today who are not aware of the fact that recently we have been going through some turbulent times. In spite of the fact that there are many good things happening in numerous jurisdictions throughout the church, the past few years have been challenging, to say the least."
Smith was referring to fundamentalists' criticism of church policies, especially the ordination of women, which was approved by the 1984 world conference. Since then, the critics have been vocal in their dissent and have refused to support the policy.
Church leaders, unable to come to an agreement with the dissenters, have silenced members of the priesthood and most recently have suspended the administrative procedures of the Blue Valley Stake in eastern Jackson County, which has been a stronghold of opposition to the world church.
Smith told the members that there is reconciliation in Jesus Christ.
"Because of the message of universal divine love which Jesus came to proclaim, the barriers and partitions which persons have always erected to protect themselves at all cost can be taken down and discarded forever, (the Apostle) Paul says," Smith said.
"Instead, a process of building can begin to take place. And whatever form of building we are referring to whether a new individual, a new relationship, a temple for worship and study, or whatever the chief cornerstone must be Jesus Christ, so that the edifice, when completed, will be a proper habitation for God through the Spirit."
The temple will serve many purposes for the church, but one of the most important will be reconciliation studying ways to build bridges of understanding, he said.