Mormon dissenters from church teachings on women and gay rights have been switching to their liberal sister denomination, the Community of Christ, reports the Guardian (Oct. 1). Formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints, the 250,000-member denomination changed its name in 2001 to reflect its increasingly traditional Protestant identity. The church accepts women pastors and has recently made steps to the full participation of gay members, writes Garnet Henderson. The denomination has yet to have a woman leader, known as a prophet. Such a prominent Mormon feminist as Kate Kelly, who was excommunicated for her activism on women’s rights in the church in 2014, points to the Community of Christ as becoming attractive particularly in the Mormon heartland of Salt Lake City.
The change has been relatively recent. By 2012, the Community of Christ congregation in Salt Lake City had dwindled down to about six active members. Today, the congregation has a “full slate of classes and worship every Sunday, and our numbers are running between 50 and 100 at each service,” says Robin Linkhart, a church official. While both the LDS and the Community of Christ share foundational texts, including the Book of Mormon (although Mormons also use the Pearl of Great Price, a collection of writings by founder Joseph Smith), the decentralized nature of leadership that provides for more doctrinal change might be the sharpest difference from the hierarchical LDS.