Hello! I thought it would be interesting to share a testimony by Patti Walrod, who is one of the members of our congregation and the Community of Christ. Some of you may be wondering what draws people to our church or what experiences do they have when they attend one of our services? Patti’s testimony gives an insight into that. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
So I wanted to offer up my testimony. The time was 1977-1979 and I was in junior high. Donny and Marie were popular at that time and I was fascinated by their religion, like a lot of people. By 10th grade I was in high school and I have memories of scouring through religions of the USA books to learn more about this LDS faith. Meanwhile my Mom told me about my own family connection with the LDS –faith. My great grandparents came from Denmark as LDS converts and settled in SW Utah. My grandfather was never baptized as LDS, and never attended after he left home.
So the more I learned and read, the more I would stumble into this “other church”, the RLDS/Community of Christ. I was 15 at the time and living with my parents – one time I filled out an LDS info card and “oops” the LDS missionaries came knocking. I remember my parents not being happy with me. So my thought was “maybe this Community of Christ would be more acceptable to my parents vs the LDS.” Around the same time a woman in the LDS church was strongly supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, Sonia Johnson, was being kicked out of the LDS church. It was ugly and to me as a young lady in high school I got this strong sense that the LDS church wasn’t the best place for me.
So as I was working on a project with my Mom, I was poking around in the yellow pages of the phone book and I learned there was a “churches” section. I found a local congregation of the Community of Christ, the Clairemont Congregation in San Diego, California. So one day after school I rode my bike over to the church and peaked in the windows and saw a HUGE COFFEE POT. I remember thinking “OK that means they view the Word of Wisdom differently, I wonder what else is different?”
In December of 1979 on a Sunday in between Christmas and New Year’s I went to church, I snuck over – I was afraid of my parents’ reaction so I went while my Mom was still asleep and my Dad was golfing. I got to meet a few folks (some still even attend there!) and the pastor. I went home that Sunday thinking “I will be baptized in this church in 8 months – August 31st 1980”…and I was I made my decision but it was extremely important to me that my parents would accept my decision.
So what drew me? I believed that the teenager Joseph Smith Jr had a powerful experience with God when he was a teenager, which told me that God paid attention to teenagers..essentially that I was a person of worth. The message of Jesus Christ was found in the pages of the Book of Mormon for me. I wanted to be baptized and I wanted it done as Jesus led as example, by immersion and with repentance.
Also (in hindsight this next thing cracks me up) it wasn’t one of those “crazy churches with female pastors” At the time there were Scientology “churches” in San Diego that had female pastors and they just seemed crazy to me.
I remember a tract that I was given – it showed a young Korean woman holding a baby and it said inside it that “you have brothers and sisters all over the world….” And to be a part of a group like that was powerful to me.
Another important thing to me was that living the gospel was a 7/24 experience, it wasn’t something that was just talked about – it was lived. That also was very important to me…I didn’t fully understand why, it just seemed right.
That God is still active and involved with our lives, and the world, that God guides this church in it’s sacred role of being peacemakers and building God’s kingdom. Is this “the true church”? That’s an awfully big question and for me all I know is that this is where I feel called to be.
I haven’t veered much from this over the years – a lot of specifics have changed in 32 years. Female pastors aren’t crazy (ok maybe some of them are but they make our best pastors!) I am not worried too much about what Joseph Smith exactly experienced in the grove. He had an experience and that’s fine with me.
I don’t study and read as much as I used to – because I found myself so caught up in the details I felt I was missing the point – and the point is..The Kingdom. The two greatest things are those two commandments that Jesus focused on ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
I firmly believe everything we do, every act of service, every moment of “ministry of presence” is focused around these two commandments. Collectively our salvation (eternal life with God) Is dependent on our sharing and serving these commandments.