Sunday August 12, was another historic day in Mormon history. A gathering was held entitled “The Samaritan’s party.” You’ll discover the significance of the title below. Hundred’s joined together to hear the words of survivors, therapists and Mormon bishops. The music was very touching and inspirational.
President Russell M. Nelson was invited to come. Hopes were high that he would show up. The format of the meeting was set with him in mind, very similar to a Mormon sacrament meeting…without the sacrament.
Even though President Nelson failed to arrive, many said the meeting was the most spiritual they had ever experienced. Many shed tears. I shed hard tears. I’m not sure how a gathering like this could ever be duplicated.
You can witness it yourself on Youtube. The actual program begins at the 46:30 minute mark.
Several items made this an historic moment in Mormondom
- It marks 16 days of a hunger strike by an ordained Mormon bishop to change a dangerous policy that has harmed many many children.
- The sitting head of a Mormon congregation publicly called for the policy to change.
- Thirty-nine Mormon bishops openly apologized to past victims for the shame, self-loathing, sexual abuse and other horrific trauma that they have endured.
- An ordained Mormon bishop issued a second open challenge to the apostles of the Mormon Church.
I don’t have the transcript of the many wonderful speeches. However, I do have the text of the Bishops’ Apology and the Samaritan’s challenge.
As Bishops having been ordained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with humility and boldness, we apologize to you, the thousands of children, now adults, who were harmed by bishop interviews.
We didn’t understand how our words and actions could be dangerous and damaging. We know now. Some of you were groomed for tragic sexual abuse. We apologize. Some were sexually assaulted by their own bishops. How can we apologize for something so unconscionable? We.are.sorry.
We recognize that thousands were mercilessly and most often inadvertently shamed. Shamed into self-loathing as youth. Oh how we apologize for that. Many were shamed into making very poor life choices. Some were shamed into taking their own lives. To the parents, we sincerely apologize. Many of you have suffered for decades with open wounds from what happened to you behind closed doors. We are sorry and offer our sincere apology.
You are worthy. You were always worthy. We see you. We hear you. We give you voice. What happened to you was wrong. So wrong. Hand in hand with you, victims of our dreadful policy, we now march forward to protect the children and youth of today. Our sorrow is not expressed in words alone. Hopefully, you will recognize our contrition by our actions.
We love you.
Many bishops, branch presidents and councilors have come forward to publicly declare their apology to you. We will now read their names. (Names are found below.)
The Samaritan’s Party—Sam’s Address and Challenge to the Apostles
30 A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
What a gorgeous parable. One of the many reasons I love the teachings and example of Jesus. We are all gathered here as part of the Samaritan’s party.
For decades, church policies have struck down our children as wounded on the side of the road. For those same decades, we had no idea that these little ones were stripped of their self-worth and left for half dead. My dear wounded friends, we see you now. Unlike the priesthood in Christ’s parable, we are attempting to act as the Samaritan. We come to where you are, we bind your wounds with compassion, validation and apology. We now see you. We will not pass you by on the other side of the road. We love you.
Now, as an ordained bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on behalf of my wounded friends, I make my 2nd challenge to the apostles of my church. The 1st being 29 Questions
Dear apostles, you are special witnesses of Jesus Christ. That should carry a special responsibility. On this 16th day of my fast, I challenge you as special witnesses to embrace Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Act like the Samaritan. As Jesus said, “Go, and do thou likewise.”
Certainly, you must see the wounded on the side of the road now. Thousands of their stories were painstakingly delivered to your doorstep last March. I challenge you to cross the road. Bind up their wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set them on your own beast, bring them to an inn, and take care of them.
They were not beaten by thieves. Rather, they were wounded and stripped behind the closed doors of good men. Good men without understanding. Good men following an unfortunate mandate emanating from your office.
So, here is my 2nd challenge to you, dear apostles: Be Samaritans, not priests who pass by on the other side of the road. Cross the road and join this party of Samaritans. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ whom I serve, Amen.
- Jeni Gozart: Program Conductor
- Melissa Draper: Music Director
- Martine Dirick Smith: Music Conductor
- Technical Director: Tim Coray
- Where Can I Turn For Peace: Opening Hymn
- Lisa Mayo Murphy: Opening Prayer
- Melodi Diamond: Survivor #1
- Tara Workman Tulley: Therapist
- Jessalyn Speight: Survivor #2
- Melissa Draper & Tamsyn Spackman: Instrumental, Jesus Once Was a Little Child. Violin and Keyboard.
- Brian Bresee: Survivor #3–Son died of suicide.
- Tammie Johnson Ellis: Therapist
- Bishop Stuart Smith: Bishop’s address
- Bishop Bill Moore: Bishops’ Apology
- Bishop Earl Erskine: Reading of Councilor names
- Bishop Russell Bennion: Reading of Bishop/Branch President names
- Kristen Jenson: Vocal, You’ll Never Walk Alone
- Jaimee Echert-Griffin: Survivor #4
- Bishop Sam Young: The Samaritan’s Apology
- A Child’s Prayer: Closing Song
- Emily Micklos: Closing Prayer
A special thanks to members of the choir and other musicians They all contributed to wonderfully sounding music.
Bishops Who Publicly Apologize
- Lane Bagley
- Eric Bendorf
- Russell Bennion
- Joshua Biggley—Canada
- Vince Cockbain—South Africa
- Brian Cowley
- Matthew Crandall—Currently serving as Branch Pres of the Tallin Branch in Estonia
- Earl Erskine
- Sebastien Faudin
- Mike Hancey
- Rick Hansen
- Heber Henke
- Scott Hoyt
- Matt Ireland
- Steve Johnson
- Kirby Justesen
- Tom Kauffman
- Kevin Kloosterman
- Mike LeBaron
- Jared Lusk
- Isaac Mathews
- Gary Mitchell
- Bill Moore
- Bryant Richard Newell
- Garth Ogzewalla
- Bart Pascoal
- Brent Patterson
- Kevin L. Priddy
- Scott Purvis
- Casey Randall
- Bill Reel
- Robin Richey
- Russ Ryan
- David Silsby—UK
- Stuart Smith
- Wally Taylor
- Frederick Volcansek
- Sam Young
Councilors Who Publicly Apologize
- Benoit Allmbert
- Ammon Buehler
- Reed Burk
- Jamie Lee Christensen
- Thomas Christensen
- Wade Christensen
- Curtis L. Craven
- Rob Thomas Damascus
- Matt Dana
- Scott Davis
- Dean Doll—Canada
- Brock Ebmeyer
- Wagner R. Ferreira
- Abe Gardner
- Matt George
- John Griffith
- Greg Hanning
- John Harwood—Australia
- Chad Hastings
- Joseph Hollenbaugh
- James Jenson
- Peter Jeppsen
- Kevin Johnson
- Ron Johnson
- Bryce Kerby
- Jake Malouf
- Joe McCaul
- Paul Miller
- David Murdock
- Ben Rogers
- Douglas S. Satterfield
- Tyler Slack
- Jeremy Steenblik—Currrently serving as 1st bishopric councilor
- David Vance
- David Wilson