Restoration Branches

Restoration Branches

Restoration Branches are the primary organizational and congregational units of the Restorationist movement. They were formed primarily by church members withdrawing from active support of the RLDS church organization during the 1980s. The Restoration Branch organizers considered the RLDS church organization to have become corrupt or to have fallen into apostasy. Their primary disagreement with the Community of Christ, as the official RLDS church renamed itself in 2001, was over the church's decision to ordain women to the priesthood. Restoration Branches continue to assert that only men have priesthood authority; however, other religious and doctrinal issues were and are also disputed. No universally recognized central organization exists currently within the Restoration Branch movement, so any figures concerning membership numbers are difficult to ascertain. However, current estimates range between 5,000 to 10,000 baptized members.Fact|date=February 2007 The Restoration Branch movement is centered around Independence, Missouri which followers believe, as Joseph Smith Jr. and Joseph Smith III taught, is the centerplace of Zion.


Basic Restoration Branch beliefs reaffirm what they perceive as the original RLDS doctrines as taught by Joseph Smith Jr. and Joseph Smith III. These are expressed concisely by the "Epitome of Faith" by Joseph Smith Jr. [ [ An Epitome of Faith and Doctrine] , [] , Retrieved on June 4, 2008] , and at greater length in the "Go Ye and Teach" slide series.

The "six fundamental principles of the Restored gospel" are often cited as the foundation of traditional RLDS belief. They are found in the sixth chapter of Hebrews in the Bible. They are:
* Faith towards God.
* Repentance
* Baptisms of water and of the Holy Ghost.
* Laying on of hands. (such as priesthood ordinations and administration to the sick)
* Resurrection of the dead.
* Eternal judgement.


In the RLDS church, there are prophets, apostles, high priests, bishops, patriarchs, seventy, elders, piests, teachers and deacons. Although some members of the higher priesthood offices (such as high priests, seventy and Ppatriarchs) still survive within the Restoration Branches movement, at this time the group only claims to be able to ordain elders, priests, teachers, and deacons due to the scattered conditions they perceive in their Church. [ Church Member's Manual - Chapter 5] , [] , Retrieved on June 4, 2008]

Major ordinances

Ordinances in the Restoration Branch movement are seen as sacred covenants between the individual or married couple and God. Restoration Branch members believe that only individuals with priesthood ordinations that can be traced back to the original RLDS church leaders can perform legitimate ordinances today. These ordinances include: [ Church Member's Manual - Chapter 5] , [] , Retrieved on June 4, 2008]

Blessing of children

Performed by two elders at the request of the parents, child blessings are performed with the purpose of dedicating the child to God. The parents are recognizing as taking upon them the responsibility of raising the child to maturity and that they will do their best to raise the child, teaching him or her the ways of Christ and the church. This ordinance is not considered a baptism and is viewed as different from the christenings and infant baptisms performed in other denominations.

Administration for the sick

From time to time, members with physical, mental, or spiritual ailments call on the elders for administration. Two elders are usually present for this ordinance, in which "the elders of the church anoint the head of the sufferer with consecrated oil, lay their hands upon his (or her) head and offer a prayer for healing and blessing."

Baptism of water

All Restoration Branches agree that baptism by full immersion in water, symbolizing physical rebirth and remission of sins, is requisite for membership. This ordinance may be performed by an elder or priest, and generally occurs in a baptismal font, when available. However, any body of waist deep water is acceptable for use in this ordinance. Prior to baptism, the recipient is required to receive instruction in church beliefs, generally in the form of a pre-baptismal class. Baptism is viewed as a covenant between the recipient and God.

Baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost

Also referred to as confirmation, this ordinance represents the spiritual rebirth of the recipient and seals the member into a covenant with God. Baptism of fire may occur during the same service as baptism of water, in an evening service following a morning baptism of water, or weeks, months, even years in some extreme cases may lapse between baptism of water and baptism of fire. In this ordinance, two elders participate. Both elders lay their hands on the recipient's head, and one of the elders prays for the receiving of the Holy Ghost by the member, thus completing the member's entry into the church.

Sacrament (communion)

The purpose of this ordinance is to remember the Savior and to renew the covenants made by the member at baptism. This ordinance entails adequate preparation by the members in reconciling with each other, a specific prayer of blessing is read over the bread, the participating priesthood is served first, then the priesthood serves the members in attendance. This process is repeated with non-fermented wine (new wine) that has also been made to scriptural specifications. This process is generally adhered to by all members, unless for any reason the emblems cannot be homemade, in which case the bread may be replaced with saltines and the non-fermented wine with grape juice. The Restoration Branches practice "close communion," which means that only members who have been baptized in accordance with the original doctrines of the RLDS church may partake of the emblems.

Patriarchal blessings

In the Restoration Branch movement, the chief function of the patriarchal blessing is "to give authoritative, priestly blessing, invoked by a spiritual father representing God and the church...Other chief functions...are to give comfort when needed, or admonition, and especially good counsel as to a godly way of life, to rededicate and to consecrate, to bring a benediction from above, to help one find himself or herself and make an adjustment to life and its problems." Members of the Restoration Branch movement believe that the revealing of lineage may occur during a patriarchal blessing, as may the revealing of future events, but neither of these are main functions of the blessing or the spirit of prophecy that may be present at the blessing.


Each individual marriage service is unique, but members are encouraged to have the service performed by an elder of the church, in a branch building, when possible. The prevailing attitude in the Restoration Branch movement is that marriage is between one man and one woman.


In the Restoration Branch movement, priesthood are called by revelation of the Holy Spirit to the presiding elder of a branch and at least one other priesthood member, or if in an isolated area, to the visiting missionaries, and to the member who is being called. In branches, the approval process varies somewhat, but it always culminates in the member being ordained in a service by the laying on of hands of two priesthood members. Requirements for the office of the ordainers varies according to what office the recipient is called to. Examples also exist in church history of individuals being ordained, as in set aside or chosen for a specific task, for purposes other than priesthood office.

Three Standard Books

The Restoration Branches body of scriptures consists of:
* The RLDS Inspired Version of the Bible (does not contain the Song of Solomon)
* The RLDS 1908 Authorized Edition of the Book of Mormon, not to be confused with the edition of the Book of Mormon in use by the LDS Church, or the RLDS 1966 Edition. Some Restoration Branch members also use the [ Restored Covenant Edition] .
* The RLDS Doctrine & Covenants up to Section 144.

Differences from the Community of Christ

As the Restoration Branches have no universally-recognized central organization, no one organization is able to speak for all of them at this time. However, here is a sampling of some of differences in their beliefs from the Community of Christ:

*The Restoration Branches believe in an unchanging God, and so they do not believe in "disjunctive revelation" - meaning all genuine new revelations must completely agree with all genuine revelations given in the past. They see new revelations from the Community of Christ as disjunctive, and thus, false.
*The Community of Christ ordains women to priesthood offices. The Restoration Branches believe that women have different, though not inferior, callings from men and that the Lord never intended women to hold priesthood offices. They do not recognize female priesthood callings in the Community of Christ or ordinances performed by women. As support for this doctrinal position, Restoration Branch members cite the lack of women's ordinations, (though there are women mentioned holding offices such as apostle and Deacon mentioned in the New Testament it is silent on their ordination), in the Scriptures up until the recent changes that took place in the 1980s which were the cause of the schism. The Restoration Branches specifically reject the Community of Christ's Doctrine & Covenants Section 156, which called for women's ordinations, as disjunctive and contrary to the word of God.
*The Community of Christ, following instructions given in Section 156 of their Doctrine and Covenants, built a sacred space of worship, education, and church administration called the Independence Temple on the greater Temple Lot in Independence, Missouri, including a "World Plaza." Many members of the Restoration Branches refuse to worship in or near this house of prayer and no known Restoration Branch recognizes the Community of Christ's claim of divine direction to build it. Though they do recognize that Joseph Smith Jr. did receive revelation(s) ordering the construction of a temple on the Temple Lot site sometime in the future, they feel the Community of Christ's efforts in this regard to be illegitimate.
*Many members of Restoration Branches believe they have been disenfranchised in church government by the Community of Christ, citing the rights of branches listed in the "Articles of Incorporation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." (1872.) A legal document incorporating the church under the laws of the state of Illinois. They argue that the methods employed to institute Supreme Directional Control violated the branches and individual members rights to voice and vote in the deliberative assemblies of church government.
*No known Restoration branch recognizes any person who currently claims to be a functioning President of the Church of Jesus Christ restored under Joseph Smith, Jr., as a legitimate president of the High Priesthood or Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.
*Most members of Restoration Branches regard all preserved changes to the restored gospel (as understood by them to have been taught and practiced in the Church of Christ organized under Joseph Smith Jr., and reorganized under Joseph Smith III) and the alteration made to its ordinances as apostasy and an abomination in the sight of God. []
*As previously mentioned, most Restoration Branches are close-communionists, meaning that although all are welcome to attend church meetings, they do not serve the sacrament to non-members.

Differences from each other

Each Restoration branch currently exists as an independent entity. Though all generally follow the traditional doctrines of the RLDS church, many have unique views on specific doctrinal and church government-related issues, and specific standpoints differ from member to member. These include:
*Name of the church Some members dispute whether Restoration branches should claim to be members of the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," as that name was used for many years after the dissension within the Community of Christ, which currently holds the legal right to the name. Those in favor of using the name cite various historical precedents, such as Joseph Smith III's remarks during the Temple Lot case, to support their position that the Restoration Branches can and should use the name.
**A lawsuit was filed by the Community of Christ against the South Restoration Branch in Raytown, Missouri over this issue and on 5 May 2008 the court stated Community of Christ held all right, title and interest in and to the trademarks and servicemarks "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" and "RLDS". []
*Tithing Restoration branch members have diverse opinions on financial issues. Some believe that one's tithes should be 10% of one's "increase" (defined as income after expenses) but the exact principle(s) are disputed, as is the distribution of funds.
*Doctrine and Covenants vs Book of Commandments Most Restoration Saints (as church members are called) believe only the Doctrine and Covenants should be officially recognized, but some groups argue for the supremacy of the Book of Commandments.
*Holy Ghost vs Holy Spirit. Most Restoration members believe the Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit to be the same thing, as part of the Holy Trinity, but others argue that the Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit and Comforter are separate entities.
*Divorce (and remarriage) Some Restoration branches and members believe that a couple's marriage covenant remains literally "until death do they part." They would consider someone who divorced a spouse and remarried as being in adultery and use the term "serial marriage" to describe such situations. The term "serial marriage" has a political meaning that implies a similarity to "plural marriage". (the RLDS have always rejected plural marriage)

Organizations and attempts to unify

Different organizations have formed in the Restoration attempting to unify the branches.
*The Joint Conference of Restoration Branches is an attempt to restore order to and unify the branches. It has been misconstrued by many members as an attempt to have the Restoration branches rejoin the Community of Christ, while actually it represents an important movement further away from the Community of Christ - establishing the Restoration's identity as a separate denomination.
*The Conference of Restoration Elders' councils act as a Restoration news and information service. They maintain a schedule for joint activities (including youth activities) and services, and generally assist with many common church goals, such as missionary work.
*The Pastors of Zion is an informal meeting of the chief executive officers of some Restoration branches, most of whom reside in the Independence, Missouri area. They hold an annual joint communion service for all members each April, usually by renting the Independence Auditorium from the Community of Christ for this purpose.


External links

* [ RLDSWiki's entry on the Restoration Branches]
* [ The Restoration Patriarchs]
* [ The Restoration Seventy]
* []
* [ The Restoration Branch Directory]
* [ Restoration Voice magazine]

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