Community

Last week was difficult for many of us. The other day I encouraged us to do 2 things:

  1. Create more love
  2. Express yourself

I ended up making this art piece to express how Holland’s recent sermon made me feel. I felt better after getting that out.

However, I wanted to recognize the love and the good in my life. My thoughts turned to my community in Community of Christ. I have made a lot of really awesome friends. They are supportive of me as a queer person, they are excited to see the things I do and create, and we love talking. It feel like a genuine community.

I decided to try my hand at expressing and depicting how I feel as a member of this community. Here is some of the symbolism:

On the outer edge is the window from the Kirtland temple I have added tons of color to it, but kept the squares white. This way it looks like a stylized rainbow with white clouds. The Kirtland Temple is a symbol of tradition and heritage, and having it be in the piece was meant to reflect that. The changing colors on it was meant to reflect how the tradition and heritage still changes. Side note: I will almost certainly be making stickers out of this.

Between the windows are 3 different icons for Community of Christ’s Mission Initiatives. They represent “Pursue Peace on Earth” (the dove), “Abolish Poverty, End Suffering” (the heart), and “Experience Congregations in Mission” (the spiral). I feel like these are some of the core values of CoC, and I feel them reflected through as a queer person.

Underneath the Kirtland Temple’s windows are a bunch of rainbow hearts. I wanted this to symbolize how queer folks deserve love regardless of if they’re in the church or not.

The rounded triangles are meant to represent the First Presidency. Late last year I wrote Steve Veazey, CoC’s prophet, and told him that I was bisexual and that I appreciated his part in making CoC an inclusive spiritual home. He ended up writing back to me and said that he was glad that i have found a spiritual home, and that “[my] life story illustrates the great need in our world to promote communities of faith and spirituality that truly affirm the worth and giftedness of all people.” The triangles are pointing to the Mission Initiatives.

The outer sun which is made of many triangles is meant to symbolize how big of a community it is and how we all stand together. I have friends in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the UK, and many across America that I hang out with fairly regularly. It is incredible having friends all across the globe! I actually have this page bookmarked to make sure I don’t accidentally message friends in the middle of the night hahaha

The 9 icons in the circles are The Enduring Principles. These are values that Community of Christ has strived to embody.

In between the Enduring Principle icons is another spiral. Community of Christ’s temple is a spiral, and the spiral has become a big symbol for us. According to D&C 156:5, the temple itself is a symbol for the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, healing of the spirit, strengthening of faith, preparation for witness, and education.

The circles are meant to symbolize the Seventies in Community of Christ. The Seventies that I have come to know are some of the most passionate, thoughtful, and caring people that I know. In my experience they have been crucial meaningful community building. Two of my favorite Seventies are /u/John_Hamer and Elray Hendrickson (who has an extraordinary commitment to peace).

The inner sun is meant to represent the Quorum of the 12. On FB I am friends with 5 of the 12. Robin Linkhart, Lachlan Mackay, and Art Smith in particular are very cool people. Robin was apostle and also pastor of the SLC congregation at the same time for a while; she’s very cool. Lachlan Mackay is a descendant of Joseph Smith Jr and a HUGE history nerd – he’s THE guy if you have a question about CoC history. Art is a great dad – his kid comes to a lot of the events that I put on in my congregation; he spend a lot of time with them and its clear that they feel loved and supported. In my firsthand experience with them the 12 are great examples of Chirst-like ministry.

If I had to boil my experience in Community of Christ down to one word it would be “loved”. In the middle is love, and everything in this art piece revolves around it and radiates out of it.

Having a community which is supportive, diverse, has accessible leadership, and speaks to my heritage and tradition was jarring at first. At first I thought that there had to be a catch, but there really doesn’t seem to be. What you see is what you get, and what I am seeing is love.

My art here is an attempt to capture the feeling that my community evokes, but it doesn’t do it justice.

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