Parting Ways with the Church
On the night of Thursday, December 4, 2008, at about 8:20 P.M., Susie and I arrived at the Roseburg Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with two witnesses, Neal and Elee Hadley, members of the Umpqua Valley Worship Group of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), in response to the letters Susie and I had been given informing us of impending consideration of disciplinary action. The Disciplinary Council for myself was scheduled for 8:30 P.M., and the one for Susie was scheduled for 9:30 P.M. Both of us had been charged with apostasy.
We had spent the entire day preparing for this. As we entered the door, we were asked to take a seat in the waiting area outside the High Council Room. Bishop Denton Herlan of the Roseburg Ward (our ward) was there with us in the waiting room. Also there was Bishop Rodney Grizzard, former Bishop of the Melrose ward (who was my first Bishop when I joined the Church), and is currently serving as Stake Executive Secretary.
After a few moments, we were informed that the High Council was ready, and Bishop Herlan and I were asked to enter the room.
Upon entering the High Council Room, every member of the High Council and Stake Presidency, fifteen men in dark suits, rose to their feet. I was taken aback by this, whispered to myself "That was weird," and then said "You're scaring me: Sit down." And, they did. The look on people's faces were mixed of what seemed to be concern and love and respect and confusion. I did not see a lot of "stern" looks, but there were one or two.
President Jon Hopkins asked if I would like to have Susie present throughout the entirety of the proceedings. I said Yes, and they invited her in. I took notice that they did not stand when she entered. She had a seat. I stood, and said:
"I have a couple of things I'd like to say before these proceedings continue any further," and, taking a stack of papers from my pocket, said "My beliefs square up to everything written here, and I would appreciate it if you would read this before placing any judgment upon me for my beliefs or actions." I divided the stack into two, and said "take one, pass them down." I accidentally omitted Bishop Herlan, as he was seated next to me, not in front of me, and upon my request, someone handed one back his direction. I then said, "Don't read these right now. I don't want to distract from what needs to happen here. Next, I would like to introduce to you the witnesses that I have brought with me." President Hopkins said, "At the appropriate point in the proceedings, we will ask them to come in." I responded, "I would really like to introduce them now. They've never been in this Church before, and they are waiting outside, and don't know what is going on at this point." President Hopkins, with a sigh, (seeing that I was persistent) said "Alright, bring them in."
I opened the door, and invited them to come in. Everyone stood upon their entrance.
I'd like to introduce Neal Hadley, and Elee Hadley. They are members of the Umpqua Valley Quaker Worship Group, and Elee has just been appointed... What is it again?" She responded, "The Clerk for the North Pacific Yearly Meeting."
I continued "And, one of the reasons I wanted to introduce them at this time, is so that they could witness me handing this letter to you, Bishop Herlan," upon which I handed him a sealed letter, "and here is a copy for you President Hopkins," and I slid another copy in an envelope across the table. "And, from Susie also", and Susie gave a letter to each of them.
"Should I read it now?" asked Bishop Herlan. "Yes," I said.
They both opened the letters, and after reading what must have been the first paragraph or so, President Hopkins looked up from the letter at me and said,
"Alright. This meeting is adjourned."
I shook hands with Bishop Herlan and High Councilor J. Lee Sharp, who was to our left, and said, "I wish I could shake hands with you all."
President Hopkins said, "You may if you wish." Everyone stood, and I walked around the room, and shook hands with all of them. I cannot remember everyone present, but I will do my best:
1. President Hopkins, President of the Roseburg, Oregon Stake.
2. President Vincent, Counselor in the Stake Presidency.
3. President Singer, Counselor in the Stake Presidency.4. J. Lee Sharp.
5. Jim Oliphant.
6. Bishop Powell.
7. Bishop Read, a former Bishop of Melrose Ward.
8. Dean Vincent.
(I can't remember the rest right now.)
After this, I left the room. Bishop Grizzard was in the waiting area, I shook his hand, and noted how quickly everything was handled, then we left.