My family joined the LDS Church when I was 7 years old, so I had been raised Mormon a good part of my life. I had a pretty typical childhood, went to youth activities/camps, graduated seminary, and was overall quite involved in church. One of the most memorable experiences of my teen years was during a bishop’s interview. Just as we were finishing up, the bishop said to me, “You have a good heart”. No one had ever said anything like that to me before, because I was often praised for my intellect, and that experience changed me and set me on a course I could have never imagined.

Not long after this experience, I went on my mission to Canada. I saw a different side of the church while serving as a missionary. I realized how unforgiving many of the Mormons I encountered could be. It was as a missionary that I was exposed to so many types of people and I came to love them.

After I returned home from my mission, I tried to settle into the normal routine of life. I began to be challenged with what I read in scriptures with what was being taught at church. I saw how church members could be judgemental and how the culture encouraged me to do the same. Eventually, I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore.

I thought I was done with religion after leaving the LDS Church, but my wife encouraged me not to give up on spirtuality altogether. Shortly after this, I found Community of Christ (formerly named the RLDS Church). Being part of Community of Christ helped me focus on the simple principles that Jesus taught that meant so much to me. Community of Christ was affirming to LGBTQ individuals, and they ordained women to the priesthood. Being part of Community of Christ allowed me to honor my Restoration heritage and approach it on my terms. I am taking the good I gained as an LDS member and letting my experience in Community of Christ add to it.

I was really good at being LDS, I knew all of the correct answers and things to say. Being part of Community of Christ is challenging to me and I’m realizing how much more I have to grow and I would have never seen these things if I had remained LDS. I’m focused on learning more about Jesus and his gospel message of love and peace. I was recently accepted into a Master’s of Religious Studies program at Graceland Seminary and I’m grateful for the chance to better understand the Christian message. I’m not yet the person I want to be yet, but I am part of a sacred community that fosters and nurtures my ability to have a good heart, because I believe what the scriptures say that “All are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 11:113-115 RAV, 2 Nephi 26:33 LDS)

Kevin in UT

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