From George (For Context see Chapter 3)
Dec. 20, 2016
Geography makes this impossible. I used to travel to Houston frequently for work, but that was a previous employer. I expect that I would not be considered “safe” by your group. I would defend the doctrine and teachings of the Church. I would encourage the invited people to reconcile themselves to the prophets of God and to subject themselves to the will of their Heavenly Father like a child despite places where their opinions and understandings differ. Your guests would not be happy to have me there.
Jan. 3, 2017
Oh, that darn geography. You are probably right. Your presence might not contribute to a ‘safe’ environment. When trying to find answers to questions and doubts, being called to repentance can be very off-putting.
Defending the doctrine and teachings of the church is absolutely permitted in the Talkeria. But, the discussions have to be totally open to examine the complete history and doctrine from all sides.
A faith crisis is often painful and lonely. The purpose of our meetings isn’t to tell someone what decision to make or what direction to take. Rather, it’s to listen, support, and empathize without judgment. These are intelligent, thoughtful adults who are hurting and confused. They’ll make the choice that is right for them and their family. I trust them. Those who choose to leave, I can and do support. Those who choose to stay, I absolutely support.
The last 2 Talkerias have been dedicated to help struggling members remain active and continue to serve in their callings. Of course, that’s what these folks desire. The heavy weight of silence is lifted from their shoulders as they are able to talk and share openly. At the end of the gathering one person said this, “I’m looking forward to going to church, now.”
This Thursday’s Talkeria will be much more diverse. One person wants to stay. One person left the church 15 years ago, but still has issues. One couple has decided to leave. Again, I’ve asked members to come who can relate to specific concerns that have been expressed.
George, you are selling yourself a little short. I think you would be surprised at how well you could express love to people in all stages of testimony. After all, we are in the Church of Jesus Christ. His great commandment is to love. Charity never faileth.
By the way, I plan to respond to the longer email soon.
Best Wishes for a Happy New Year,