Today, I sent the following letter to the stake executive secretary. Instructions have been given that I’m to have no direct communication with the stake president. Only the go-between.
You can view the excommunication summons HERE. It was delivered to me last Wednesday evening. The tribunal will be held on Sunday, September 9th at 6pm in the Sugar Land chapel at 14555 Lexington Blvd, Sugar Land, TX.
As you know, I’m in receipt of your summons to the church court. Below are questions and concerns that I’d like addressed well before the 9th.
I. Thank you for your heartfelt reassurance of God’s love and Christ’s atonement. That was very meaningful.
II. I will be present at the council.
III. You have leveled 2 charges. In order to plan my response, please forward the evidence against me that you are going to present. Are you going to call witnesses? If so, who are they and what evidence will they present?
IV. Charge #1 is new to me. “Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders.”
We have never discussed this before. According to the Church Handbook, you are supposed to personally call my sinful behavior to my attention well before any disciplinary court proceedings. You have not done that. As a result, I ask that this new and unexpected charge be removed from the allegations to be considered on the 9th.
Last January, we clearly discussed indictment #2. So, it’s fair game. As for #1, if there was any wrong doing on my part, I should have been given the opportunity to repent. Up to this point, you’ve been good at following the handbook dictates. I would expect no less of you in regards to this matter. Charge #1 should be deleted.
V. With regards to not recording the proceedings in any form. As you should know, I have never recorded any of our meetings. I don’t plan to record this one either.
However, it does seem strange that you are requiring every person in attendance to sign a document. This is the Stake Presidency & High Council for heaven sake. It seems odd that you don’t trust this group enough to take them at their word.
Is this a new Handbook dictate? Or are there High Councilors and Stake Presidency members that you don’t trust? Right out of the gate, we seem to be starting out as adversaries with little trust in the room. Not even trust for the 15 men that will be surrounding you. Whatever happened to trusting those who have served with us for years? Whatever happened to the spirit of discernment that you as the Stake President are supposed to have?
I don’t have anything to hide. Hopefully you don’t either. So, I don’t care one wit if you or anyone else records. But, if all 15 tell me they won’t record, that’s just what I’d expect of them, whether in word or in writing.
VI. Please send me a copy of the document you are requiring all to sign. These days, I prefer not to sign anything that I have not seen in advance.
VII. Witnesses!! Oh man, you are killing me on this one. The requirements you have specified are a huge handicap. You are putting me on trial for excommunication. Think about that. What member in good standing is going to risk their membership, temple recommend, livelihood, family relations by being a witness in my behalf? There are many members of my ward and stake who totally support the changes I’ve been calling for. They don’t believe that I’m “expressing opposition to the Church or its leaders.” But they are afraid to state this out in the open. If they did, they would be in the very position that I am. We have such a culture of fear in the church. By calling this court action against me, you are reinforcing that culture of fear and silence.
At this point, I have only found ONE member “in good standing” who might risk being punished for speaking up as a witness. But, even this person’s commitment is tenuous.
It’s my eternal salvation that’s at risk. Nobody else’s. Only I risk being torn away from my family for eternity. Yet, your actions have intimidated the very witnesses that could come to my defense. How is that fair? It’s not. You and the Church culture have bullied credible witnesses into silence. There are many possible witnesses in good standing who live in my ward and in the stake you govern. But you and the Church have filled them to the brim with fear.
I’ve never viewed disciplinary councils as kangaroo courts. The restrictions you have placed on potential witnesses have eliminated the vast majority of my friends from being qualified. Your intimidation has effectively eliminated my friends who ARE ‘members in good standing.’ The way this tribunal is presently constructed IS a kangaroo court. ‘You can call witnesses. But, we have already scared the bejeebers out of all that we consider credible.’
I call on you to change your witness requirement stating that “witnesses must be members of the Church in good standing.” Otherwise, you are belittling & making a mockery of the Plan of Salvation. I should be given every opportunity to present a compelling defense so that I have at least a small chance at real justice. Not kangaroo justice.
With all that said, I do plan to call witnesses. You have simply made it a really daunting task to search them out. Please change the requirement.
VIII. 45 MINUTE time limit? Is that a new Handbook requirement? How disrespectful of the plan of salvation is that? I have put my entire heart and soul into serving Christ, my fellow members and the Church for almost 5 decades. And what do I get in return? 45 MINUTES! 45 MINUTES to defend my right to eternal salvation. 45 MINUTES to defend my right to spend eternity with my loved ones. Is that the value the Church places on my eternity? How sad is that? We spend 3 hours every week in church services. Just think how much accumulated time that is over the decades that I have dedicated to the Church. Yet, when push comes to shove, my eternal family ties are only worth 45 MINUTES?
Even the church toilets are worth more than salvation. I have spent hours and hours cleaning them and the rest of the church building. The defense of my eternal destiny isn’t even worth 1 hour. What kind of a time limit is that?
Here’s my request. Give me at least as much time as we dedicate to cleaning the church building. In my ward that’s 2 hours. Certainly, my years of dedicated service, my family and my eternity are worth as much time as the Church toilets.
IX. Option to request that my name be removed: I want to make it clear that this is not my desire. I value my church membership and am confident that the Stake Presidency and High Council will come to realize that there is no legitimate reason to excommunicate.
Your quick response will be very much appreciated.
Until Sept 9th, all my best wishes,
PLEASE SHARE AND COMMENT. The church has graciously provided us with another opportunity to bring greater and greater awareness.