Purpose of the
Conference of Restoration Branches
For over 20 years, members of the church meeting in Restoration Branches have been excluded from church conferences. We held our respective branch conferences, but, with the exception of the Elders’ Conference, which did not include all saints, we did not gather in any larger conferences until now. We had no opportunity during that time to confer in a deliberative assembly with other saints meeting in other branches. That lack of corporate association may have dampened our ability to confer together in constructive and integrated ways that benefit and expand the latter-day work.
For those of us who participated in church conferences years ago, we often experienced legislative assemblies whose leaders followed secret agendas, allowing the misuse of parliamentary procedure and the abuse of church law to further their private goals. Many of us became accustomed to that process and may have come to assume that it was the proper method for church government. That type of procedure continued in some Restoration settings. This abuse of the legislative process has made the saints sensitive to conferences beyond the branch level and suspicious of those who lead and support them.
The lack of opportunity for the saints to confer in a deliberative assembly and the abuse of the legislative process in some past conferences have injured many saints. A number of us gathering for this joint conference carry emotional scars. This condition makes us sensitive and cautious. As a result, this conference is a mixture of emotions and conditions that stem from a difficult past. We are inexperienced in conferring in deliberative assemblies, suspicious of the motives that other participants might have, sensitive to the potential abuse of parliamentary procedure, and cautious about the consequences of our activity.
We no longer live in a time or among a people where the church can be governed from the top down. The average saint today does not readily submit to decrees from church leaders or resolutions of conferences. Legislation that tells others how to discharge their sacred duty, takes positions on political issues, whether civil or ecclesiastical, or advances a hidden agenda is often ignored and occasionally decried. If this conference stoops to such activity, it will have little impact on the saints and will impede unification among Restoration Branches.
The purpose of a conference is to confer. It is not just to pass resolutions. A successful conference listens to the needs, considers the ramifications, consults others opinions, and seeks God’s advice before rendering a decision. It is not the place to offer our own solution or craft legislation that marshals the saints down a path of our own choosing.
We have an opportunity in this conference to unite participating saints and the branches that they represent to further the preaching of the gospel and advance the kingdom of God on earth. To be successful in the emotional climate in which we meet, we must be disciplined, deliberative, consulting, patient, sympathetic, submissive, and kind — in other words, images of Jesus.
I am willing to set aside my personal hopes about rescuing or directing the church from its confused and fragmented state so that I can patiently work with others to better unite us in the Savior’s doctrine. I am willing to suffer with the members of this conference as we confer about the best ways to advance the cause of Christ. I invite all the members of this conference to set aside their personal aspirations and patiently confer with the saints, always showing each other respect and courtesy. Let us be disciplined, deliberative, consulting, patient, sympathetic, submissive, and kind so that our actions console the saints and conform to the will of Jesus. If we all do this, our efforts will be blessed by God and the powers of heaven attend us as we move forward in the latter-day cause.
Brother Bob Moore