“G-5 Universal Scripture Access” from the Canada East Mission Center

I’m voting “YES!”

Currently Community of Christ only makes a select few of its scriptures available online. This prevents many from reading the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, Inspired Version, and the Doctrine and Covenants.

On August 22nd, 2021 the Toronto congregation sat down for a business meeting and passed “The Resolution for Universal Scripture Access”. We are currently waiting to being it forward to a Mission Center conference. If it passes there we will be presenting this at the World Conference of 2023.

I have made a .PDF of this page which can be downloaded and shared with others if you’re interested. You can read download it here.

“G-5 Universal Scripture Access” from the Canada East Mission Center

Whereas, World Conference Resolution 1216 declares that “A primary purpose of the church is to fulfill Christ’s mission of preaching good news to the poor”;

Whereas, the Mission Initiative of “Abolish Poverty, End Suffering” specifies that we are to be “reaching out through compassionate ministries that serve the poor”;

Whereas, Doctrine and Covenants section 1:6A teaches: “And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth, I, the Lord, am willing to make [the scriptures] known unto all flesh, for I am no respecter of persons”;

Whereas, Doctrine and Covenants section 42:15B teaches: “And I give unto you a commandment, that then ye shall teach [the scriptures] unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people”;

Whereas, Community of Christ currently only makes the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants available for purchase through Herald House or Amazon;

Whereas, Community of Christ fosters the concept of the worth and equality of all persons and it is important to understand that there are many people whose financial situations bar them from being able to expend the resources to purchase a copy of scriptures, therefore be it

Resolved, That the First Presidency, or a committee it so designates, be directed to explore ways that digital editions of the scriptures be made available for no charge and be easy-to-access through the church’s website (or similar platform) in Community of Christ’s current three core languages of English, Spanish, and French, and other language translations as they become available.

Frequently Asked Questions

I created some “Frequently Asked Questions” to help explain why why I believe this Resolution is crucial to our future.

Why is Universal Scripture Access important?

Our scriptures tell the story of how we as a people have walked with God to become more peaceful. Doctrine and Covenants section 116 (which was given in 1865 during the United States’ civil war) explicitly specifies that people of color have access to the priesthood; sections 149, 149A, and 156 speak about the purpose of the temple and how it is a beacon of peace which is accessible to all; section 150 speaks about how we are desecrating the earth by thoughtlessly wasting resources and we are called to fight for the planet; section 156 explicitly specifies that women have access to the priesthood; and many section prefaces speak about how the revelatory process works. These scriptures speak powerfully and boldly on pressing topics, and they have a profound effect on those who hear them, particularly with Latter Day Seekers.

However, currently all of these powerful and bold scriptures are not accessible on the church’s website and many people who would otherwise be interested in our church will not learn more.

Aren’t the Scriptures already online?

The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Inspired Version of the Bible are not currently available on the church’s website in their entirety.

Isn’t Centerplace.org a church website?

On occasions where I have seen people plead for universal access to scripture, I have seen members of our church direct people to the website “CenterPlace.org.”

“CenterPlace.org” is owned and operated by the Restoration Branches (a Restorationist sect), and they have been providing universal scripture access for The Inspired Version of the Bible, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Book of Mormon since at least 1999.

We should not be pointing people to a different church for people to read our scriptures.

Is Universal Scripture Access meant to replace physical copies of scripture?

Universal Scripture Access is meant to be a starting point for peoples’ journey with scripture, which then in turn generates more interest in buying physical copies. Nothing is able to replace the feeling of a good physical set of scriptures!

Why not buy and gift sets of scripture to those who can’t afford them?

Many in Community of Christ are incredibly generous and are eager to show love in the form of gift giving. If you reach out and ask for nearly anything, there will be someone who will move heaven and earth to give it to you, and copies of scripture are no different.

However, if you are living in poverty, reaching out and asking for a copy of scriptures, which is something many people are able to afford, can be a humiliating experience. We should not be forcing people to announce their poverty in order to access our scriptures. Who knows how many people we have unknowingly denied the blessings of scripture to because we have not provided universal access to them.

Won’t this affect the church’s budget?

One of the most common concerns about extending universal scripture access is how it will impact the church’s budget.

Luckily, the church’s finances are relatively transparent, and we can read the 2021 budget. The total anticipated income for the church is just over 15 million, but Herald House’s income is only 330 thousand. This means that the entire income for Herald House accounts for less than 3% of the church’s overall income. Keep in mind that scriptures are also only one of many things that Herald makes available for purchase.

Regardless, the fear that universal scripture access would impact the budget starts with the assumption that it would decrease interest in buying physical copies. Many argue that providing a free avenue to explore our journey with God would would get more people interested in our church, which in turn would generate more interest in buying physical copies of scripture. After all, nothing can truly replace the feeling of flipping through a physical book.

Lastly, all of the discussion surrounding the impact of the budget should be done with the knowledge that CenterPlace.org has already been providing universal scripture access for over 2 decades.