The Mormon Talkeria

3D colourful people talking

Two Traveling Talkerias:  #29 & #30

Coming this weekend to a city near you.  Well…maybe.  At least, if Phoenix and Las Vegas are cities near you.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Phoenix:  Saturday, Sept 9, 3:00pm.  At…..a private residence.  If you would like to come, send me an email or PM me or make a comment on this blog and I’ll share the address with you.  It’s in Scottsdale near the intersection of Shea & 142nd

Las Vegas:  Sunday, Sept 10, 1:00pm.  At…The Macayo Mexican Restaurant, 1741 E Charleston Blvd, 8245 W Sahara, Las Vegas, Nevada 89104.

Talkeria #28.  Wow, it’s been 1 1/2 months since the last Talkeria.  Twelve were in attendance.  About half were first timers.  The stories…the heartache…the light that were shared that night created wonderful bonds of  empathetic friendship that will not be forgotten.

Talkeria #28

Sorry about the late notice in announcing TOMORROW’s talkeria.  Thursday, July 20, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford., TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria #27 had 6 attendees.  Two were first timers.  I loved the discussion.  Especially love the people.  I’d really like to list each person’s name and write how amazing each one is.  Of course, that would violate a core value of our get togethers.   The conversations aren’t secret…they’re sacred.

The two newbies are both active in the church.  Love the church.  Have no intentions of leaving.  Good for them.  They received complete support and understanding for their chosen path.  The other four are at various stages away from the church.  They received complete support and understanding from those still in the church.  In this kind of environment, there is such love and connection between all; active & inactive, believer & non, atheists & god-fearing.  It is so beautiful.

#27 The Daugher Talkeria

That’s right…one of my TBM daughters plans to attend.  She’s terrific.  Non-judgmental.  She gets where I’m at and what I’m doing.  You’ll really like here.  The Talkeria will convene Thursday, June 15, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location: James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX. For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria #26 was held two weeks ago.  Tears well up as I think of the amazing people who were there.  Four first time Talkerites.  A young couple with their 2 super well behaved children.  A prior acquaintance who I hadn’t seen for several years.  One year ago he was in a bishopric.  Another man who I became FB friends with only a few months ago.  Also, recently serving in a bishopric.  Such lovely people.  The church is truly losing it’s best and brightest.

Recently, the Talkeria has taken a new direction. Click HERE to read about it.

We talk about ANY Mormon issues you’d like to discuss. Especially, those you are afraid to bring up at church. Here are some of the reasons people have come to the Talkeria.

You want to share the story of your faith crisis/journey/transition.
LDS history and doctrine are troubling you, family members or friends.
You have left the church, but still have Mormon issues to discuss.
You have a child who is doubting or has left the church.
You have a parent, sibling or friend who is doubting or has left the church.
Your faith has changed, and you are having difficulty interacting with family or friends
.
Your faith has changed and are having difficulty navigating a mixed faith marriage.
The faith of your spouse has changed.
You are LGBT, in or out of the closet.
You have an LGBT child, sibling or friend.
You have left the church, but still want to maintain contact with Mormons.

Talkeria #Twenty Six

Thursday, June 1, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location: James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Five people attended Talkeria #25.  Five fabulous people.  Three veterans.  Two fledgling visitors.  One was an amazing woman.  Asked why she came, she responded, “To be with other people who have left the church, but can’t leave it alone.  Until recently I felt so alone.”  Over the past 2 years she has been attempting go get her temple sealing cancelled.  It’s been a demeaning, cruel and grueling process.  The wringer that the church puts women through, and only women, is misogynous and MUST be changed.

The other newbie flew all the way from North Carolina, just to attend the Talkeria.  That’s right.  He lives in North Carolina.  Flew to Houston in the afternoon.  Rented a car.  Spent the night in a hotel and flew back home the next day.  Obviously, he felt a great need to talk about what he’s facing with his faith transition.  And talk he did.  It was cathartic for him.  Frankly, it was cathartic for all of us.

Talkeria #25–Turning in a New Direction

Thursday, May 18, 2017, 7:00pm. Location: James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  Click HERE for more details.

Talkeria #24–Voting Opposed

Simply amazing.  Held in SLC, Saturday evening, April 1.  Earlier that day I along with 2 friends voted opposed in the Conference Center.

Eighteen people attended.  Lasted 5 hours.  I need to make sure the time doesn’t get out of control.  Wonderful people.  Tender and heart rending stories.  Great friendships established.

Talkeria #23–Trailblazing!

Thursday, February 9, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

A very special visitor is coming.  Click HERE for more details about my honored guest.

Talkeria Twenty-Two

Thursday, February 2, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria Twenty-One.  Back to Houston.

Thursday, January 19, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX. For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Sincerity in Sin City.  Oh boy, was last week’s Talkeria amazing.   4 1/2 hours of discussion.  How in the world did we manage to talk that long?  The meeting in Las Vegas was held in a private residence.  After about 3 1/2 hours, I tried to wrap it up.  The homeowner said, “Just 15 more minutes.”  Another hour transpired.  Of course, the conversation was poignant and passionate.  Here’s the  juicy part……Sorry, talk in the Talkeria stays in the Talkeria.

For all those who came out, all I can say is..THANK YOU.

#20:  Traveling Talkeria–Las Vegas

Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 7:00pm.  Location:  Private Residence in Las Vegas, NV.  Please private message or e-mail me for the address.  If you are new to the Talkeria concept, see all the details by scrolling down to “Original Post.”

Last Sunday’s Talkeria in Salt Lake City was totally terrific.  Eighteen attendees.  Six still active and want to continue so.  Two resigned.  One gay man.  One transgender youth.  One pink haired woman.  One amazing hostess.  And…..my MOM.  That right there made it worthwhile for me.

Eighteen new friends as a result of sharing and discussing personal journeys.  I’ve come to recognize the recounting of these journeys as sacred stories.  Of course, all the narratives were interesting, touching and insightful.  There were 2 that I was stunned by…in a good way.  I plan to write a short blog about them both.  Thanks to all who came.  It’s an honor to be counted as your friend and you as mine.

#19:  Traveling Talkeria—Salt Lake City

Sunday, January 8, 2017, 2:00.  Location:  Private residence.   Please private message or e-mail me for the address.  If you are new to the Talkeria concept, see all the details by scrolling down to “Original Post.”

Embarking on a new adventure.  Several friends have expressed a desire to have a Talkeria near them.  OK.  Here goes nothin!  I’ve decided that in the course of business travel, I’ll attempt to schedule something.  First up….the world headquarters of Mormondom…Salt Lake City.

BTW, last Thursday’s Talkeria was amazing. Twelve people came. One non-member and her Mormon wife. One resigned. Five active members in various stages of faith, 4 not-active faith transitioned members. Poignant. Fascinating. Four shed tears during the course of their story. All of us FULLY supported the others in the faith choices they have made or are in the process of struggling through. We parted with a hearty hug of friendship, forged in the crucible of trust and openness.

Talkeria Eighteen….the 1st of 2017

Thursday, January 5, 2017, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

The Tannenbaum Talkeria was terrific.  Nine of us gathered to share an intimate dinner at delightful and delicious Fung’s Kitchen.  The food was great, but the real highlights were the conversations and personal stories.  Five of the attendees were first timers.  This gathering had a somewhat a different flavor in that 8 of us are still active members.  Amazing and open were the narratives that were shared.  Some shocking.  Some heart rending.  Some topics never discussed before.

#17—O Tannenbaum Talkeria

Special Christmas Talkeria.  Dec 21, 2016.  For details, click HERE.

Talkeria Sixteen

Thursday, December 8, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX. For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Sorry about the month long hiatus.  But, the Talkeria hasn’t stopped.  It’s just gone underground this past month.  Several ‘individual’ Talkerias were held at lunch or in people’s homes.  Some trying to stay in the church.  Others who are in the process of leaving.  I’m finding that when we open up our deepest concerns to one another, something magical happens.  A spiritual connection is established.  A bond of love is established.  Of course, this beautiful bridge is only built if judgement is totally absent.

Some Personal News.  I’ve decided to give up my temple recommend. No one is asking that I relinquish it.  I’m worthy to keep it.  But, here’s the problem I’m trying to resolve.  Over the past 2 years, it has been super difficult to get any attention to the concern of people leaving the church.  None.  It’s been very weird.  So counterintuitive.  One of the distractions has been my temple recommend.  Members continue to criticize and complain that I have one.  In their view, the sin of voting opposed in conference is of such magnitude that my temple privileges should be yanked.  OK, I cry uncle.  Now, can we just focus on the painful faith struggles that our friends are enduring in excruciating silence.

I have made the sacred temple covenant to live the law of sacrifice.  It basically says that I will sacrifice everything to sustain the kingdom of God.  Elder McConkie said that includes my good name, reputation, and honor.  This past year, I’ve definitely put my good name on the sacrificial altar.  To many of my friends, it’s been trashed.  At this point, I’m willing to sacrifice my temple privileges in the attempt to draw attention to the cause of sustaining the kingdom of God.  What we are doing is not sustainable for so many of our friends, family and children.  It’s time to do something different.  If not, the steady bleed of church members will start to gush.  In England, the activity rate is now 22% and declining.  The same trend is emerging in the U.S.  Are we going to wait until it’s ‘English’ bad before taking any action?

No temple recommend to distract.  So, let’s act.

Talkeria Fifteen

Sunday Nov. 6, 2016, 3:00pm, 8744 Westpark, Houston, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

To accommodate more people’s schedule,  I’m alternating between Thursday and Sunday. If you have a hard time finding the location, send a PM on FB.

Last week a sad, fascinating, and hopeful discussion with a strong woman who drove across state lines to attend the Talkeria.  She inspired and heartened me.  Thank you, my friend.

Talkeria Fourteen

Thursday, Oct 27, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

We’ve taken a 2 week hiatus due to travel.  The last 2 Talkerias were held on Sunday.  At this point, I plan to alternate.  So, this time it will be moved back to Thursday.

Over the intervening weeks, lots of great discussions being had, over the phone, by e-mail and in person.  If you want to talk about anything Mormon, feel free to come.  Groups are usually small.  I’m hearing about lots of family issues related to faith transitions.

Talkeria Thirteen

Sunday Oct. 9, 2016, 3:00pm, 8744 Westpark, Houston, TX.  New time & place–my business office.  Hopefully, this new day and time will be more convenient for many.  If you have a hard time locating it, send a PM on FB.

Last week another amazing discussion was had.  At this point, over 30 different individuals have come to talk about Mormon issues.  From Mormon atheists to current Relief Society presidents, and all the way in between. No Mormon topic is forbidden.

For more details of what the Mormon Talkeria is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria Twelve

Sunday Oct. 2, 2016, 2:30, 8744 Westpark, Houston, TX.  We’ve moved the time and place, this week.  This is my business office.  Hopefully, this new day and time will be more convenient for many.  If you have a hard time locating it, send a PM on FB.

Today’s GC has been very exciting.  Many reports of opposing votes, including one at the conference center.  My wife and I voted together at home, seated side by side, in front of my laptop.  More on all this later.

For more details of what the Mormon Talkeria is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Talkeria Eleven

September 22, 2016, 7:00pm.

James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Last week, four intrepid souls shared intimate concerns and issues.  One atheist, one questioning, one transitioned, on traditional believing.  No judgmentalism interferred. We shared problems, concerns, compassion, wisdom.  When all was said and done one Talkeria attendee had this to say, “We both really enjoyed the evening. This is one of the first times we’ve been able to discuss our situation openly with others. It was very therapeutic.”

Talkeria Times Ten

September 15, 2016, 7:00pm.  James Coney Island, 11940 S.W. Frwy., Stafford, TX.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Shocking that 2 1/2 months of Talkeria have already transpired.  With the release of the Mormon Stories podcast, there has been a ton of activity.

Talkeria Time #9

September 8, 2016,7:00pm.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Last Thursay was like Christmas in September.   I gained a new perspective on my favorite holiday.  It’s going to make a difference on the next Dec. 25th.  This week I have a topic submitted by someone out of state.  This person is struggling in the church and is looking for input.  His wife has no idea that he has doubts.  Of course, he can’t discuss anything at church.  So, loniness and isolation has set in.

Talkeria Tonight #8

September 1, 2016, 7:00pm.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  For more details of what this is all about, scroll down to “Original Post.”

Last Thursday was amazing.  7 people attended.  One from Utah, here on business.

Whether you are angry or at peace, at the start of your journey or years into it, whether you don’t have the courage to speak yet or are bursting to speak out, this is a safe space to talk.  Whether an active member (like me), inactive, resigned, or never been Mormon, you are welcome.

Talkeria #7

Next meeting, August 25, 2016, 7:00pm.   James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  If you have any questions or problems regarding Mormon issues, please come.  Whether you are angry or at peace, at the start of your journey or years along it, whether you don’t have the courage to speak yet or are bursting to speak out, this is a safe space to talk.

Twenty-two different people have now attended our little Talkeria.  People from all across the spectrum:

Non-memeber & members: inactive, active non-believing, active believing, resigned, left to go to other churches, left to become atheist.  Current RS Pres, HPGL, Ward mission leader, several former bishops.

P.S. I buy the hot dogs!!!

Talkeria #6

Next meeting, August 18, 2016.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas

What an amazing discussion in #5.  An active RS president & her husband, in the HP leadership joined us.  They sincerely wanted to know how to interact with those who have doubts without offending or pushing away.  The 5 other attendees had great feedback for them.

Total run down:

  • One in-active
  • One non-member spouse.
  • One resigned
  • One recently left
  • One active, transitioned faith
  • One active R.S. Pres
  • One active HP group leadership

Talkeria #5

Will be held Aug 4, 2016.  Same time.  Same place.  James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.

Last week, amazing and amazingly frank  discussion.  There were four attendees.  A pretty perfect number.  Two new.  Two veterans.  Here is the run down.

  • One active, traditional believing member
  • One active, with very nuanced belief
  • One active, non-believer.  Has YM calling.  Major concern:  authenticity
  • One ex-member.  Left church 20 years ago.  Major concern:  how to discuss church with adult children who are still active.

At this point, 16 different people have joined in the Talkeria discussions.

Talkeria #4

July 28, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.

14 people have now attended.  Many more have wanted to come.  Today, I received a heartfelt message from a very good friend.  I cried through most of it.  For the past 3 to 4 years, he has been wrestling with faith issues.  As many experience, it has been done in silence and loneliness.  His wife is aware of his struggles.  But, he doesn’t have the confidence to discuss with his parents, siblings or members of his ward.  He has witnessed all the judgmentalism so commonly leveled at those with doubts and questions.  Unfortunately, he lives far from Houston.  I wish he could visit in on our Talkeria.

If you are anywhere near my home town, & need to talk about Mormon issues, feel free to join us. -All My Best to ya’ll.

Talkeria #2

July  7, 2016, 7:00pm, James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.

Talkeria One was terrific.  Eight wonderful souls showed up.  Much needed talk ensued.

Original Post

Six weeks ago, I started this blog.  At the time I had no idea if anybody would be interested.  I was willing to write, even if I were to be the only reader.  To my pleasant surprise, as of this moment 11,765 views have been registered from 63 countries around the globe.  Thanks for reading.  I hope you have enjoyed, learned, or experienced new thoughts.  It’s certainly been a learning experience for me.  Your comments have been especially meaningful.

Tomorrow Night, Thursday, June 30, 2016, something new is in the offing.  It will be called The Mormon Talkeria.  YOU….are invited.  7:00pm at James Coney Island, 11940 Southwest Frwy, Stafford, Texas.  Of course, I know most of you can’t make it.   There might only be 3 of us in attendance, me, myself and Irene.  I’ll be sitting there from 7 to 9, in my gray hair and black, long sleeve shirt.  Oh, yeah, I’ll have pants on, too.  This is not a one time affair.  I plan to be there talking at the Talkeria for the next several Thursdays that I’m in town.

Gut-Wrench in the Closet

Over the past 2 years, I have undergone a gut-wrenching faith transition.  I am still a faithful member of the LDS church.  However, I look at the world much differently.  I say gut-wrenching because my journey has been accompanied by a good bit of anguish, pain, anger, disappointment and loneliness.  Navigation has been difficult for me…..and my family.

For the first 7 months, I thought that I was completely alone in searching out new truths.  Little did I know that there were, and are, many treading the same path.  But, that was not initially evident.  There was a part the LDS culture that I was naively unaware of.  Much of the history and doctrine of the Mormondom is forbidden to discuss at church.  Asking certain questions in public or in private yields judgment but no answers.

The suppression of honest discussion causes a number of unintended consequences.  I have personally experienced several.   I have also witnessed the difficult experience of others.  1 1/2 years ago, I started suggesting to my local ecclesiastical leaders that there was a need to find a way to discuss troubling issues.  As the months have passed, I have watched as more and more friends and family walk away from the church that they had once been so committed to.  All of them had basically grappled in private with their gut-wrenching faith transition.

So, absent any other venue for open & in-person discussion, I’m starting a Talkeria.  A casual sit-down to kindly and respectfully talk.

TopicsTalkeria Topics

If you find yourself in any of these situations, let’s talkeria.
  • LDS history and doctrine are troubling you, family members or friends.
  • You have a child who is doubting or has left the church.
  • You have a parent, sibling or friend who is doubting or has left the church.
  • Your faith has changed, and you are having difficulty interacting with family or friends
  • Your faith has changed and are having difficulty in your marriage.
  • The faith of your spouse has changed and you are having difficulty in you marriage.
  • You are gay, in or out of the closet.
  • You have a gay child, sibling or friend.

Mormon Talkeria

The Mormon Talkeria is meant for both believing Mormons, ex-Mormons and anybody in-between.  Whatever path a person choses or has chosen,  judgment has no place here. Discussions are not intended to try to sway  anyone to leave, stay or come back to church. Rather, this will be a place of support for the journey each has chosen.

I am not an expert at anything.  I’m certainly not a professional counselor.  That’s not the purpose of The Talkeria.  It’s simply a venue for talking face-to-face and friend-to-friend.

Recently, I was called in for Jury Duty.  Four hours at the courthouse.  Rounds of questioning by the prosecuting and defense attorneys.  Finally, the actually jurors were selected.  The judge turned to those of us who didn’t make the cut and said, “Thank you for your service.  Being a part of the jury selection process is very important to our system of justice.  We have found that the best way to discover the truth is through a jury.”  I was kind of blown away.  Twelve ordinary, untrained men and women from all walks of live, are the best way to determine truth.  Whatever The Mormon Talkeria turns into, it will just be ordinary, untrained men and women trying to ferret out the best course to take at this time in their life.

For the next few weeks, I plan on being at JCI every Thursday.  Me, myself, and anyone else.

Not in Houston?

Well, that’s pretty much 99.9% of everybody reading this.  But, if you would like to be a part of the discussion, feel free to send an issue my/our way.  We’ll chew on it at our little Talkeria and share whatever wisdom might pop out.

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

Empty Chairs

“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken

There’s a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.

Oh my friends, my friends, forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on.”

Friends have left and friends are leaving.
Why, oh why, am I so sad?

For five years, a good friend sat at my side as counselor to me, his bishop. Years later he came out.  No friends he could count on. Now, he’s gone.

My close siblings with gay children.  November came.  Now, they’re gone.

Ten years ago, a leader’s baptismal talk touched me. Passionate, poignant, & perceptive.  I still remember what he had to say.  Recently, hidden facts of history came out.  Now, he’s out.  His wife and he are gone.

Twenty-five years ago, I was bishop. A single man, returned missionary, came in to say he was gay.  My clueless counsel was to “keep coming”.  My clueless action was to take none.  Every Sunday, I watched for him.  Any Sunday I saw him, my heart melted with joy and relief.  He’s still here!  For twenty-five years he managed to stay. November came. Now, he’s gone.

A former bishop & his wife, members most of their life. Hidden facts of history came out. Now, they’re out.

This weekend I saw an old friend from 20 years ago. History came out, her husband’s out. Out of the church, not the family.  She stays for her kids.  But, for how long?   I’m concerned that like her husband, she’ll soon be gone.  Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere for her to discuss, and for that she longs.

Several more examples, I could give, of friends and family who have left. And, left in just the past 2 years, many since November’s veer.

Why does it sadden me?

That they have chosen a lesser path?  No, I don’t believe that.  If there is a heaven to get to, that’s exactly where my friends who have gone will go.  I wish them joy & godspeed on the road they have chosen. This is a happy thought for me.

But, tears well up.  I miss the days when they were reliably in neighboring chairs and tables. Chairs of instruction. Tables of counsel. Chairs of service. Tables of camaraderie, community, & cordiality.  Now, empty chairs at empty tables. My friends are gone.

Perhaps, I’m sad from seeing little done to help my friends stay.  Questions and doubts must be halted and hidden.  “A grief that can’t be spoken.”  Or worse, a grief dismissed as if merely token.  That is, if they muster the courage to be outspoken.

It’s definitely sad, that one’s orientation is better undisclosed. Love spoken for those closeted unknowns, is proscribed from our expression. After all, in the church none are homosexual.  Another “grief that can’t be spoken.”

It makes me sad that I can’t do more to ease the emptying of chairs at tables.

In reality, I am THE only part of the puzzle that I can direct and control.  My sadness is causing me to drastically reform my thoughts and actions.  Stand silently on the sidelines?…..No Longer!  I’m going to stand up for what I have been taught is right, all my life.  What I believe in my heart, is right and just and fair.

I’m willing to discuss, to empathize, to understand, to reach out.  I’m willing to follow Jesus and love unconditionally.  At least, attempt to love in His way.  More of my friends are going to leave. That’s OK. But, I want them to know that neither one of us has abandoned the other. We are still friends. Probably, better friends for having supported each other, wholeheartedly, in our respective journeys.

Oh my friends, my friends, forgive me
That I STAY and you are gone.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on.

 

Handicapped Heartbreak

image

Over 20 years ago, a wonderful woman was brought to church by the missionaries. During the preceding weeks, they had taught her the discussions.  She was single, in her upper 40’s, an overall delight of a person, and . . . excited about the restored gospel.  One characteristic set her apart from all other members of the congregation.  She was wheelchair bound.

A baptismal date was scheduled for the next Saturday.  The bishop was so happy to see such a quality person coming into his Ward.  Her wheelchair was brought to the edge of the font stairs.  Four Elders lifted and gently carried her down into the water.  A beautiful and sacred ordinance was performed in a crowded and joy filled font.

One day later, the new convert was warmly welcomed into the ward, both from the pulpit and by the membership.  One week later, the bishop was happy to hear that the new member wanted to meet with him.  Unfortunately, she informed him that this would be her last Sunday at church.  Being in meetings for any length of time was too uncomfortable.  There were no handicap equipped bathrooms!!!  An embarrassing accident was all too likely.  This sweet woman was going to be denied all the benefits of church attendance because of deficiencies in the building’s toilet facilities.  In effect, a person who was different from all others in the congregation was being excluded from church blessings.  The bishop was heartbroken.

The existence of this problem was already known to the bishop.  It just hadn’t directly touched him yet. One of the other wards in the building had a member with limited control of legs or arms.  From time-to-time, discussions were had about bathroom difficulties.  But, no action had been initiated to acquire handicap accessible facilities.

Now, that a new convert had been lost, the bishop sprang into action.  His mission was to secure a bathroom makeover, ASAP.  He contacted the Stake President, who seemed sympathetic. The high councilman over meetinghouse remodeling was assigned the task.  Then, organizational red tape set in.  Eight months passed.  Calls were made, letters exchanged, discussions had, but no action. Finally, the bishop, in frustration and with a bit of anger, decided to take matters into his own hands.  He was not going to watch another handicapped member slip away because of a potential bodily function mishap.

A bid was obtained to retrofit one of the building’s bathrooms.  $16,000.  Of course, this was way out of the budget bounds allotted by Salt Lake City. At the time, fundraising was only permitted for youth camps. This did not deter the bishop’s plans.

He called the construction department at church headquarters. With one of the head architects on the phone, the bishop made the following statement. “We have no handicap equipped bathrooms.  I recently lost a new wheelchair bound convert because of this. In the other ward, there is a member who has limited use of his arms and legs. Bathroom visits for him are difficult and dangerous.  Over the past 8 months, I’ve tried to get the needed remodel done through the proper stake channels.  Nothing is on the horizon.  I’m not calling to ask permission. Rather, I’m calling to inform you of my plans.  The build out is going to cost $16,000.  Two weeks from today, I’m going to start a fundraising campaign.  I thought you would like to know.”

Less than two weeks later, a church architect crossed the same chapel threshold that the wonderful wheelchair woman was never to cross again. In three months, construction was completed with funds, design, and support from Salt Lake.  But, it was too late. The convert, from 12 months prior, was not to return.

Fast forward twenty years. All the LDS churches now have handicap stalls.

However, there are still people in the church who are in a situation that sets them apart from all other members of the congregation.  As a result, they are excluded from the blessings that can be found in the church.  This situation did not exist until November of last year.  Like the bishop of years ago, I feel heartbroken.

Oh, how I wish that I could just call the church construction department, describe the situation of members leaving, and then have a ‘policy’ architect quickly cross the threshold of my chapel.  And . . . do it before more of my friends depart, never to cross the chapel threshold again.

Greetings World!

OK.  I know it’s a pretty small world, with only one lonely inhabitant.  Me.  At least for the moment.

For a long time, I have wanted to put my thoughts down on paper, metaphorically speaking.  Over the past couple of years, unexpected philosophical developments have shaken my life.  They have been quite disconcerting.  In October 2015, seven months ago, a friend suggested that I start posting my thoughts in certain social channels.  I did.  By golly, I found it to be delightfully addicting, cathartic and validating.  It also helped me move forward and hone my life’s direction.

Over the past week, several people, in the groups where I post, have suggested that the amount of time I invest in composing would be better served by a blog.  I love the Facebook communities.  There, I know many and am known by many.  The feedback is plentiful, interesting, and helpful in refining my thought processes.  The posts by others frequently enlightens and uplifts.  At my friends’ gentle nudging’s I’m following their recommendation to venture into a new world.  One that is exposed to public scrutiny.  No longer behind the protective blanket of closed groups.

For my blog’s theme, I’ve selected religion and spirituality.  I’m Mormon.  Was raised Mormon.  At 19, I served a 2 year full-time mission to Guatemala and El Salvador.  Married in the temple.  Raised 6 children in the church.  Have actively served in many callings .  I’m still an active Mormon.  But, my faith is transitioning.

For the time being, I plan to discuss changes in my belief, decisions I’ve made, and actions I am in the process of taking.  My faith journey is by no means complete.  Over the past seven months of posting, much mind morphing has materialized.  I’m sure more will be forthcoming.  This faith journey has been exciting and exhilarating . . . at times.  At others, it’s been a source of frequent anger, sadness, loneliness, alienation, frustration, and depression.  My friend who suggested writing was right on.  It has been a great help to vent, think, contemplate and refine through the written word.

Now, off to the blogosphere I go.