“Faithfully Funding Our Future” Transcripts

Community of Christ’s leadership released a series of videos regarding the Kirtland Temple. These videos were from the First Presidency and the Presiding Bishopric, and several of the Apostles. The purpose of these videos was to help mitigate backlash regarding the unilateral decision of Church leadership to sell one of the holiest spaces in the Restoration.

The First Presidency

Scott Murphy:

We extend our warmest greetings to each of you in the peace of the Living Christ. Today, church leaders shared a major announcement through various communication releases.  

On March 5th, Community of Christ officially transferred ownership of the Kirtland Temple, the Joseph Smith Historic Site in Nauvoo, and various manuscripts and artifacts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an agreed upon amount. The details can be found on the church’s website at CofChrist.org.

Steve Veazey:

In sharing this news, the First Presidency and World Church Leadership Council want to convey the depth of thought and prayer that went into this decision. We experienced a broad range of emotions through this journey, and I agonized over the impact that selling these historic sites would have on members and friends who deeply valued the church’s ownership. On occasion I wept tears of concern for the disappointment and grief some would experience.

At the same time, I felt rising hope for the future that the proceeds would make possible.

I think it is important to emphasize that the church remains committed to the exploration and telling of all our sacred story. Doctrine and Covenants 162:2a reminds us to continue to listen to the stories of our past because they will teach and prepare us for moving forward as a faith community.

Stassi Cramm:

The World Church Leadership Council arrived at this decision through spirited discussion, prayer, and discernment over multiple years. Leaders came to understand that letting go of these physical assets —as painful as it was — would generate financial resources to invest in our current and future mission.

As a group, we also recognized that continuing to honor and learn from our history was not dependent on ownership. The sale agreement includes the commitment to keep the sites publicly accessible to all.

Through this process, leaders deepened our passion for stewarding our sacred story as a foundation for the story yet to be written.

Scott Murphy:

I found solace in seeing this decision as an investment in our future, providing capacity to grow our response to Christ’s mission of seeking justice, pursuing peace, and creating sacred communities that reflect God’s vision of shalom for the world. The sale’s proceeds, totaling $192,500,000, will significantly strengthen our endowments to help support current and future mission in new and expanding ways that are still being determined.

This opportunity was made possible through the generosity and faithful service of those who have gone before us. In this moment, we give thanks for the generations of members, friends, volunteers and servant leaders who dedicated their time and passions to preserving the historic sites and sharing the story of the church for well over a century.

The Presiding Bishopric has provided written and video information about the investment, management, and use of these funds. They also explain how supporting Worldwide Mission Tithes and increasing other income sources are essential to sustaining and growing our global mission.

Stassi Cramm:

This decision to sell goes beyond a mere business transaction. It represents a challenging, long-term commitment to help secure our current and future mission.

Initially, when we explored possibilities, I was convinced there had to be a way to fortify the church financially without resorting to this sale. The idea of selling these cherished physical assets seemed unimaginable. As we discerned about the future, it became increasingly clear that parting with 
these precious sites and items was the best way to embrace the opportunities to serve God through 
serving others.

The realization dawned that we were choosing people over property and paper. This became a guiding principle that bolstered us when the prospect of proceeding with the sale felt unbearable. Even as we mourned the loss, the potential opportunities of the future fueled our hope.

Completing this sale emerged as a crucial step in strengthening our response to wherever the Spirit leads us.

Steven Veazey:

Church history knows no boundaries and is not restricted to any one place or structure. We must continue to lift up the lessons of the past and the people who have given us a strong foundation as we forge ahead. We are called to faithfully follow the Holy Spirit  into the future and make history as we pursue our mission to effectively “Proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, 
love, and peace” throughout the world.

We have been praying for our worldwide church family and we will continue to hold you in our prayers as we journey together. 

Scott Murphy:

As we move through whatever thoughts or emotions, we experience in the days to come, we trust that the Holy Spirit will stir our prophetic imagination, helping us lean into the future. Doctrine and Covenants 164:9E and F provides a guide for us: 

E. The challenges and opportunities are momentous. Will you remain hesitant in the shadows of your fears, insecurities, and competing loyalties? Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision?  

F. The mission of Jesus Christ is what matters most for the journey ahead.

Stassi Cramm:

As we move into this next chapter in our journey, we look forward to the hospitality and mission that will be experienced through Community of Christ historic sites in Independence, Lamoni, and Plano as well as places around the world of shared heritage where we gather as a faith community. Our church history principles remind us that God’s Spirit equips us with tools, insights, and experiences for divine purposes. A shared memory of our past and an informed understanding of its meaning prepare us to courageously move into the future.

As President Veazey stated last year at World Conference:  

“Community of Christ has a hopeful future of continuing adventure with God, if we choose it! But make no mistake, choosing the future God envisions will require discernment, courage, sacrifice, generosity, flexibility, and creativity.”

As you navigate your own feelings and thoughts, I invite you to explore the other testimonies and resources available on the church’s website. May we move onward together, guided by the light of our divinely instilled call and vision, with the mission of Jesus Christ as our compass.

The Presiding Bishopric

Ron Harmon:

On behalf of the Presiding Bishopric, I extend greetings to each of you in the peace of Jesus Christ.

As news of the sale of historic properties, manuscripts, and artifacts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being shared with the church, we reflect on these words from Doctrine and Covenants 161:7 “the path will not always be easy, … but the cause is sure.”

From its earliest beginnings, our faith movement has sought to live God’s guidance by responding with our whole lives.

As you will hear from others over the next days and weeks, the decision to sell historic assets was not an easy one. It was a decision filled with emotion, but one that ultimately reflected a willingness to respond with our whole lives to a hopeful vision for our future, a cause that is sure amid the disruption of letting go.

Carla Long:

Discernment of God’s continuing call to pursue Christ’s peace in all its dimensions, created a compelling case for decisive action that would make a significant difference in the church’s ability to respond to this call.

Although selling these physical assets causes a variety of emotions, the sale generates financial resources to invest in our present and in our future. The sale’s proceeds, totaling $192.5 million, will significantly strengthen our endowments and help support mission in new and expanding ways.

Willem van Klinken:

With the sale now complete, the Presiding Bishopric is working through the detailed planning of how the sale proceeds will be invested and used to help support the church’s mission. We can share that most of the proceeds will be used to increase the capacity of the Temple and Worldwide Mission Endowments as one source of annual income.

Worldwide Mission Tithes and other sources of income are still critical to maintaining the current level of ministries and services.

This investment is made possible due to the church’s response as we close out the Bridge of Hope retirement responsibility and turn our focus towards the future.

Ron Harmon:

Growing the endowments is an important financial strategy as we look to the future.

One of the consistent themes the Presiding Bishopric has shared in recent Financial Updates is the growing gap between income and expenses. In nations where participation in church life has been declining, there has been a gradual aging of active membership and a drop in contributors for over four decades. The trajectory of decreasing Worldwide Mission Tithes and increasing expenses meant that in 2025 we were looking at drastic reductions in ministries and services including the possibility of losing 1/3 of current employees.

Carla Long:

The projected reduction would have eliminated major services and ministries that support the global mission of the church. Like other church denominations and service organizations, Community of Christ is exploring creative ways to convey and live our message and mission in rapidly changing contexts.

Although leaders across the church have been discerning and responding to changing ministry contexts, change takes time. Also, some cultural trends impacting church participation are beyond our control. These factors led to the sale of Historic assets as the only remaining assets that could sufficiently fund endowments and in part generate the needed income over time to change our trajectory in some parts of the world.

Willem van Klinken:

By directing a significant portion of the sale proceeds to the Temple and Worldwide Mission endowments, recurring income can be added to the budget beginning in 2025 to continue current levels of support for ministries, services, and employees across the global church and the operations, witness, and ministries of the Temple.

We are grateful for the dedication of generations past that has made possible this financial resource for generations to come.

Ron Harmon:

As church leaders continue to discern and implement missional strategies expanding the church’s ministries around the world, growing our endowments, increasing contributors, and identifying other sources of income are key financial strategies.

The sale proceeds of $192.5 million dollars is substantial, but it does not fully address our funding needs. Engaging generous disciples who are passionate about the church’s global mission and impact is critical to our future funding strategy. Mission Tithes help fund vital ministries now and in the future as the church responds to diverse global-ministry contexts by innovating with new forms of ministry, responding to growth opportunities, and bringing all the dimensions of Christ’s peace into the lives of individuals and communities.

Carla Long:

Proceeds from the sale will not cover the projected decline in contributors to Worldwide Mission Tithes. However, it will help replace projected income loss in the next 4 to 5 years giving leaders time to develop and implement strategies that will bring additional income to support our mission.

The sale proceeds will also help sustain the operations, witness, and ministries of the Temple for future generations by increasing the annual income available from the Temple Endowment.

Willem van Klinken:

For a more thorough explanation about how the sale of historic assets will support the church’s mission, please read the Presiding Bishopric Financial Report available on the church’s website. We hope you will take the time to review it.

As planning continues and more details become available, we will share information in future Financial Updates.

Ron Harmon:

God calls us beyond the limits of our imagination. The spirit’s persistent invitation to follow Jesus the Peaceful one compels us as disciples to make challenging decisions about how to best use our assets to pursue what matters most.

Carla Long:

As we’re reminded in Doctrine and Covenants 163:11A, “God is calling for a prophetic community to emerge… characterized by uncommon devotion to the compassion and peace of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”

Willem van Klinken:

“Through divine grace and wisdom, this faith community has been given abundant gifts, resources, and opportunities to equip it to become such a people.”

The Presiding Bishopric remains committed to the cause of pursuing God’s vision of Shalom and writing the next lines of our sacred story.

Presiding Bishop Ron Harmon

I know the recent sale of historic properties, manuscripts, and artifacts has stirred a variety of emotions for members and friends of Community of Christ. I want to share the personal significance of this sale. It represents much more than a business transaction. It is a significant part of my personal story and the journey to get here has not been easy.

Sacred places are important to us, and the Kirtland Temple was a 30-minute drive from my home as a child. The memories are many and meaningful. As I remember what it was like growing up so close to this symbol of a people who gave everything they had to support a bold experiment of Christian community and erect a temple that would be a place of preparation and endowment of the Spirit in mission. My early memories are vivid and include the distinct aroma of the Temple, the sound of the door latches at the end of each pew box, and especially the stories of what transpired within its walls inspiring to me to wonder whether an encounter with “The Spirit of God” was something attainable for a young child. 

From playing hide and go seek in the cemetery across the street at night – and I still remember it being scary – to spiritual experiences at countless retreats, special services, and conferences, we always went in a spirit of expectation. I loved Christmas eve services in the Temple. It was stunning lit up against the night sky.

When I was 12, I remember walking down the steps of the Temple after an easter service. I was greeted that day by the stake president. He shook my hand, looked into my eyes with that characteristic wide grin, and said “Ron, God has a work for you to do.” Even as a 12-year-old I sensed something significant had just taken place.

I could go on, but hopefully the picture is clear, this sacred place and its memories are part of my living faith story today. But as important as this sacred place has been in my life, it pales in significance to the deep stirrings I have within about our future – a future for which all creation yearns, a future which the prophetic impulse of times past calls us to risk reimagining once again.

I want my grandchildren Emma, Maddie, Oliver, and all the world’s grandchildren to be shaped by a movement that upholds the worth of all people and casts a compelling vision of loving interdependent communities that are our hope for a more just and peaceful world.

What is it worth to ensure this global community continues to inspire and shape lives committed to such a vision? For me, it is worth all we could hope to give. I hope I can be worthy of the sacrifice made by generations past and present in working to bring this vision to fulfillment in our day.

Apostle Mareva Arnaud Tchong

The Kirtland temple, a sacred Place far from our islands, has forged deep ties with the people of French Polynesia.

During World Conferences in the United States many Polynesians had the opportunity to take could detour into a part of history by exploring the historic sites and soaking up the spirituality of the Kirtland Temple.

The journey of our church people, including the Kirtland Temple, has become dear to our hearts through the stories of our parents and Sunday school teachers who passed these stories unto us with love for God and the mission of the church. I remember the precious moments spent in classes at Tiona Chapel or in island congregations where we heard the history of the Kirtland Temple. Our mature parents elders and church historians revealed to us and our children of the time contributed to the lining of the Temple by collecting fragments of crockery. Every stone of this Temple, House of prayer, learning, and order, brought dedication illustrating the sacrifices and expressing the hope of the church people according to their understanding of God’s will.

Another moving part of the history of the Kirtland Temple is the moment of its dedication when all stood for hours listening to the sermons. In our class time in Polynesia we love to conclude lessons of this subject with singing. It connects us to our history, touches us deeply, and we raise our chests with confidence thinking of the faith of our ancestors who shaped who we are today. For Polynesians, history is intrinsic to our culture and inseparable from our faith journey.

The sale of the Kirtland Temple raises questions about our future, but in the midst of this unsanity hope emerges. In my humble discipleship I believe that our history, forged by faith and sacrifice, also lies in our essence. The connection to the Kirtland Temple remains and the attachment of our sacred history persists. It is deeply embedded within us, for we carry the values that built that Temple. Hope lies in this opportunity for transformation and opening to new promises and opportunities.

I invite you to hope even in the unknown. This unknown, though intimidating, could be the ground where future wonders unfurl rather than a rupture. The transition is a step toward continuity a hopeful invitation to reimagine our mission in line with the prophetic imperatives that have marked our history. Hope emerges from the prospect of generating adequate resources, creating the space necessary to assemble our missionary and financial approaches and spread the wings of love towards a future imbued with promise. A future that causes to the needy riches that await the Peace of Christ that we are.

With immense gratitude for our past and boundless love of God’s call in our world today, we will never forget where we come from, who we are, and we welcome with hope what the future may hold. We will continue to raise our chest and sing, like a fire that blazes in our hearts, carrying the memory of sacred history. Moving forward with all that shapes our identity today, our hands out stretched towards the future full of promise and hope.

Apostle Lachlan Mackay

As an introvert I hate talking about myself; today I’m going to make an exception.

My grandmother was Lois Smith Larson, a daughter of President Frederick Madison Smith, and granddaughter of Joseph Smith III. I grew up attending Smith family reunions in Nauvoo and Independence, but it wasn’t until after university that I fell in love with our story. Following several summer internships I ended up as director of the Kirtland Temple historic site and spent 15 years living literally in the shadow of Kirtland Temple.

I moved to Nauvoo in 2007 and have lived on the Joseph Smith Historic Site for 18 years. These places have been my home for almost my entire adult life. I met my wife Christin in the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo and was ordained to my first and favorite priesthood office, Teacher, in Kirtland Temple. I’ve almost certainly given more tours of Kirtland Temple than any living person, and the Nauvoo House, Homestead, and Mansion House are my ancestral homes.

For me the decision to part with these places has been devastating emotionally. There was a time when I thought it might break me, but if I inherited anything from Joseph Smith III it’s his pragmatism. Intellectually, the path forward is clear. I care deeply about our past, but I care even more about our future.

The post-pandemic world has changed, the needs have never been greater, and we no longer have the resources, human or financial, to care for these places the way they deserve to be cared for.

The Smith family like larger church family in the 1830s and 40s suffered extraordinary losses in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, but they faithfully persevered. The most important items in this transaction came to the church from the family, so the proceeds from the sale, at some level, are an extraordinarily generous gift from them that will sustain us as we move into the future. I think they would feel good about that. Amid my grief, so do I.

Apostle Art Smith

Historic Sites have profoundly shaped my life. My journey with these sites began when my wife and I met as summer interns at our Nauvoo sites. It was there that we shared our first kiss 35 years ago. And when it came time for our honeymoon, there was no better place than the Kirtland Temple, where we spent the summer as guides, right after our wedding. We’ve been lodged in the Hiram Clark House, the Bidamon Stable, and the homes of Sidney, Phoebe, and Nancy Rigdon. Even our kids have had the privilege of experiencing the richness of our church’s history as interns in Nauvoo. These places hold a special significance in my heart that words can’t fully capture.

However, my ministry experiences in places like Bolivia, Haiti, India, and beyond have highlighted a contrast. In places like these, it’s not about the physical sites but the powerful stories they represent – tales of mission, courage, love, escape, and refuge.

I’m heartened by efforts in recent years to bring our church’s story to life, expanding beyond Kirtland and Nauvoo to embrace our global narrative. Barbara Walden and the church history team have been instrumental in championing this inclusive storytelling approach, incorporating the stories of places like Tahiti and Israel.

I’ve had the privilege of attending “Story Teller” events, where people from diverse backgrounds share their personal takes on our shared story.

The internet has played a pivotal role in democratizing this storytelling, fostering connections and learning opportunities regardless of location. Many of us have watched lectures by John Hamer or the fantastic lecture series organized by our Historic Sites Foundation. From our living room, with our kid, we’ve seen friends from the former East Germany tell the story of the church on the other side of the wall, and black church leaders telling about people of colour in our church past. 

While I cherish my personal memories of Nauvoo and Kirtland, what truly unites us as a Community of Christ family worldwide is our shared story.

There’s a Community of Christ Historic Sites T-shirt I wear that helps me remember that it isn’t just about buildings. The shirt proclaims “Your Story is Church History” – it’s a statement of pride and solidarity with people who share a common story across the globe.

In my personal family, our church story is truly our story. Tiona is named after the most sacred place from Community of Christ history in Tahiti. My wife is a descendant of James Strang, and when our oldest daughter chose a name for herself, she chose Eliza, a name that among other significances connects her with Strang’s wife Elvira Eliza.

In this moment, some are saying it’s about people, not buildings. I agree, and for me, and my Community of Christ family around the world, it’s about stories, not site ownership.  

Our commitment to an authentic and inclusive approach to our history remains steadfast. Our 17-year-old, Tiona, spent last summer as a church history intern and guide. They were taught to embody the values of honesty and meaningful storytelling.

This investment in our future ensures that more storytellers will carry our narrative to every corner of the world. I invite you to explore and celebrate our church’s rich history. Remember, your story is part of our collective journey – it’s church history in the making!

Apostle Catherine Mambwe

First of all, I would like to say that I mourn for those historic sites to be let go. I am aware of the personal, emotional attachment it holds for some people due to the memories, experiences, or even relationships associated with it. Letting go of something with sentimental value can be incredibly difficult to handle. On behalf of the people I serve, I am deeply sorry for those who feel a great loss. I do understand how tough this decision to sale was.

I personally only visited the Nauvoo. I have never seen the Kirtland Temple. I have only read the historical books of how it came to be and the part it plays in our collective history. I, and the people I serve, are more inclined to the Independence Temple. Our people visit it often and were part of its dedication. The great connection to it is not only its beauty, but the ministry that happens here, the deep meaning of the worshiper’s path, and the Labyrinth. Like our church ancestors in Kirtland, we also have pieces of ourselves built into this Temple. Our offerings of little bits of wood make up the cross here in the Temple foyer. We also love and are dear to the ministries of this Temple.

Doctrine and Covenants 156:5 a-d reminds us why it was dedicated: “As a symbol of peace, education, wholeness, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit.”

My dear brothers and sisters, I truly mourn with those who are grieving. At the same time, I feel we have not lost because these precious sites are now in the hands of people who will take care of them with the same deep love and respect we have shown. I am also sure that all of us are welcome to visit the sites even though they will be owned by others. 

My hope is that our history will continue to be told and shared in all the places we live and serve around the world. Our heritage and the stories of our people are a witness to God and provide blessing to the world.