Time since D&C 164
The hot-button topic at the 2010 World Conference was LGBT inclusion. Many people wanted the church to globally recognize LGBT marriages and ordain LGBT people to the priesthood, while others wanted the exact opposite of that.
What would become Doctrine and Covenants 164 was introduced for consideration for canonization on April 11, 2010 and it was canonized 3 days later. With this section we created a new level of polity in our church: National Conferences. This was seen as the balance which could be struck with allowing LGBT-affirming nations to be so, while also allowing other nations to continue “working on it” within their own cultures to get to that point. The World Church leaders absolved themselves of creating church-wide policies and instead left it up to individual nations to recognize the worth of LGBT folks.
Time Between D&C 164 and National Conferences
After the canonization of D&C 164 there was not clear direction about how to proceeded with these National Conferences. It wasn’t until 2012 that basic guidelines were released. During that time, LGBT folks were still denied access to the sacrament of marriage and access to the priesthood. Eventually the National Conferences did happen in several nations, and our God-given rights were recognized at them.
This is how long we waited between the canonization of D&C 164 and the National Conference so we could finally have out God-given equal rights recognized in our church:
April 14th, 2010 – March 31st, 2014
3 years, 11 months, 17 days
Can & Aus
April 14th, 2010 – June 1st, 2013
3 years, 1 month, 18 days
Time since Interim Policies were implemented
While its great that our rights were finally recognized at these National Conferences, there was a catch: our rights were only seen as “Interim” policies. Synonyms for “Interim” include “temporary”, which doesn’t feel fantastic that my rights could be described as “temporary”. In the secular world, LGBT folks have a history of having their rights systematically recognized only to have them voided, and many LGBT folks are worried that we may also lose our rights in the church.
Several other nations have also implemented Interim Policies. A full map of these nations can be found here. Its also important to note that a majority of church members live in affirming nations.
Official Policies SHOULD have been implemented
Luckily, there was a clear direction forward to move the Interim Policies to Official Policies: they were supposed to undergo a 2-year revision period and then be implemented as Official Policies. Our rights were finally recognized in the church, and we had access to the sacraments and the ability to be ordained.
However, somewhere along the way the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve had a miscommunication about how exactly to transition the Interim Policies to Official Policies; both thought that it was the other’s obligation to finalize these policies. Unfortunately, this miscommunication led to the 2-year revision deadline being missed and the revision being de-prioritized and largely forgotten about on a world-church level.
Time left until promises are broken again
LGBT advocates in Community of Christ LGBT tried for 5 years to get these to be Official Policies, but were given the run around from members of the Council of Twelve, the World Church Secretary, Mission Center Presidents, and the First Presidency. We had exhausted the official avenues for our equal rights to be officially recognized. Finally, on November 23rd, 2021 Harmony’s President, Parker Johnson, spoke about this need for Official Policies at his ordination service, and said that there was a petition asking for the First President to speak on this topic. It was a remarkably eloquent and peaceful protest, and over 500 people signed this petition.
It turns out that this was also an effective protest, because the First Presidency publicly responded to Harmony on December 9th, 2021 in a letter that can be read here. Among other things, the First Presidency clarified that this responsibility lies with the Council of 12. On or around December 17th, 2021 Harmony was approached by the apostles for the USA and Canada and were told Harmony would be working as active consultants to review and provide input on their respective policies. On March 9th, 2022 Harmony announced that the apostles had tentatively promised to have the revised policies completed and implemented by December 31, 2022. On July 22nd it was announced that they still intended that deadline, and they were moving forward with the revision process. On November 1st it was then announced that the revised policies were approved by the Apostles and was sent to the First Presidency for approval.
On paper, the First Presidency approved the revised policy on December 22nd, 2022. However, this wouldn’t be publicly announced until January 4th, 2023.
Doctrine and Covenants 164 specified that LGBT folks could have full access to priesthood and the sacraments, but this wouldn’t be truly actualized for 12 years, 8 months, and 12 days.
The sad fact of the matter is that giving marginalized people their first official rights in the church was not a top priority. The church’s bureaucracy got good P.R. from D&C 164 and the National Conferences, and no longer were motivated to finalize those policies. It was only because of queer people who were willing to give their blood, sweat, tears, and reputations to make our rights a full reality.