Good Will Among Nauvoo Faiths


NAUVOO, Ill. -- On the bluff above Historic Nauvoo stand two tall steeples. On one is a statue of the Angel Moroni. On the other is a cross. The first, of course, is the steeple of the Mormon temple; the second, just a couple of hundred yards north, is Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

Some may see irony in this juxtaposition, but in Nauvoo the closeness has become symbolic of a fine friendship between people who love Jesus Christ and seek to follow his teachings. The friendship also extends to members of Christ Lutheran Church, a block to the south, and to the congregation that attends the First Presbyterian Church a few blocks to the east. It extends across town to the United Methodist Church and certainly to the members of the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

On Oct. 22, pastors of these churches met in the LDS Historic Nauvoo Visitors' Center and compared beliefs. The subject of the community meeting was, "Popes, Prophets, Priests, Pastors and People: Where Does the Church Get Its Earthly Authority and Why Does It Matter?" President Robert Ludwig of the Illinois Nauvoo Mission represented the LDS point of view and explained the concept of a restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Father Thomas Szydlik presented the Catholic claim to authority, and Pastor Gayle Pope spoke of Bible-based authority from a Lutheran point of view. Lay Pastor Mark Anderson articulated the Methodist understanding, and Lee Ourth spoke for the Community of Christ. One pastor, Lyren Haney, was unable to attend.

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My question to all is, why can't we have more of this harmony between faiths? We have differences to be sure, but all Christian faiths have one thing in common, Christ. In a time when Christan virtues are so threatened, we need to present a unified front, not a fractured community, easily broken. Ultimately, we need to take a Christ-like perspective towards other Christian faiths, and not accuse, belittle, demean, slander, oppress, or otherwise do harm to each other. Can you imagine Christ acting in such a way?

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