1988 Community of Christ Statement on the AIDS Pandemic


So Community of Christ’s Conference works very similar to a legislative session. People create legislation/resolutions at a local level, and then (what is today referred to as the) Mission Center level, and then on to World Conference. Mission Centers send delegates to represent them and their beliefs and interests.

The 1st resolution was passed on June 12, 1852 and the most recent one (#1,320) was passed on April 13, 2019. Many of these resolutions have become obsolete or otherwise irrelevant, and they are no longer enforced. The currently enforced resolutions can be found here.

However I, being a lover of history that I am, wanted to read through all the legislation that we’ve passed over the 167 years we had been doing so. I reached out to a couple of people and found a couple scans of very old papers which had the resolutions scattered between a couple .PDFs. I decided to sit down to consolidate and transcribe them all into one indexed .PDF, which will make future historical research much easier. As of typing this post I am over 75% done transcribing! I will post a link publicly when I am finished.

Today I came across resolution #1,201, which was passed by the delegates of the church on April 12, 1988. This resolution deals with the fact that we needed to provide better ministry to people with AIDS/ARC. I’d like to give that resolution in full and then give some brief thoughts on it:

Ministry to people with AIDS/ARC

WHEREAS, AIDS/ARC is recognized as a human health problem affecting the entire human community, is not confined to any one segment of the world community, and will soon be a disease of epidemic proportions worldwide; and

WHEREAS, The impact of AIDS/ARC in terms of human relations, employment of medical research, and treatment resources and economics is now and will be increasingly felt by all persons in all societies; and

WHEREAS, Many more resources need to be devoted to determining the nature, cause, treatment, and prevention of the disease as well as the recovery from AIDS/ARC; and 

WHEREAS, The emotional and spiritual impact on both those suffering from and those directly and indirectly affected by those suffering from AIDS/ARC is such that the caring ministries of support reflecting the love of Jesus Christ for all are urgently needed; and

WHEREAS, Great damage is being done by cruel and ignorant statements which interpret AIDS/ARC as divine judgment upon disapproved life-styles, adding to the serious distress and pain of the disease themselves; and

WHEREAS, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is faced with an opportunity to create and expand the ministries of caring with a Christlike love that can provide the emotional and spiritual support to those infected and to those affected during this critical situation; and

WHEREAS, The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is called to recognize and support the worth of all persons; therefore, be it

Resolved, That this very important area of ministry be researched by a committee to be appointed by the First Presidency, to include representatives from North America, other worldwide church jurisdictions, persons knowledgeable in this area of concern, and persons with AIDS/ARC; and be it further

Resolved, That regular reports of their work over the next two years be shared in church publications and resources, with a detailed report and recommendations brought back for consideration to the 1990 World Conference; and be it further

Resolved, That church members and church jurisdictions continue to be encouraged to participate in and/or initiate ways that responsibly deal with this vital concern.

My Thoughts

We recognized that AIDS affected all of humanity, not just LGBT folks. We recognized that the pandemic wasn’t just going to go away, and it would keep affecting all of humanity. We recognized that we needed to take action to study the pandemic so we could help treat people affected by it. We recognized the suffering it was causing.

Then, we did something remarkable; we called out the homophobic rhetoric that said that AIDs was a punishment for being LGBT. We said that that statements like theses were “cruel and ignorant” and just cause more pain during an extraordinarily painful time.

We saw all of this, and realized that we as a church needed to take action to try and alleviate some of this suffering. We created a committee of experts, including people with AIDs, to create reports and recommendations on how we as a church could best help.

I am astounded. While most churches were writing off our deaths, Community of Christ was recognizing our worth, seeing and validating our pain, and boldly calling out hateful rhetoric. In 1988.

We try our best, but my church has not always been on the right side of history. It should be called out for its failings and they should be remembered so they aren’t repeated. That being said, on April 12, 1988 my church did something good. We chose to follow Christ’s example. We overcame the cultural ignorance and hatred which permeated this time and chose to stand with the marginalized. We chose justice and peace.

It is now 34 years later, and that powerful statement still echoes to me, an openly LGBT member of Community of Christ. I got chills reading this resolution; I got misty-eyed reading it. I am thankful that in this instance, we were on the right side of history. I am so thankful that we have continued to take steps. I am so thankful that we are willing to continue to take steps.

I am thankful, overwhelmed, and awestruck by the spiritual community I have found.