Following our meeting with our stake presidency my wife and I determined that we needed to make a statement of how we were proceeding in our worship, so I sent the following text to my Bishop and Stake President:
"Prez Barker and Bishop Walch, this is Jon Durfee and family. You told us to stop doing ordinances or all who are baptized members would be ex'ed. We as a family intend to continue to follow the doctrine of Christ as found in the scriptures including the ordinances that we may obtain the power to see His face and live. (D&C 84). If you must take action: "That thou doest, do quickly"."
This is the reply from the stake president:
"Doesn't read like a removal letter! . I did get some guidance from Salt Lake about children. The thought there was a that it did not make sense to have disciplinary Council for them. It seems like we could handle those as informal probation matters, taking away any recommends for the 12 year old and ups might have and restricting use of the priesthood. If they want to request a name removal as to the children, they can do that. That was the thought from the staff person in Salt Lake.
I will be visiting with Elder Greer and Elder Corbridge this week. Until then , other than having to address the removal letter from the (name withheld), let's just stand still.
You are doing a terrific job!" President Barker
Are you confused? So was I! Was he really praising me for "doing a good job"? What's this about a removal letter? Was he expecting me to submit one? And what's this about "guidance from Salt Lake"? I thought these excommunications were only from the local stakes and were local matters!? Are the leaders in Salt Lake lying to the public on this policy? If it's local, and not central, why would he need "guidance" from the higher ups? He is "standing still" until he "visits with elder's Greer and Corbridge (later) this week? If he stands still until he receives instruction on how to proceed, who is really responsible for any and all action taken against me and my family?
It's like he was talking to someone else! Then came the next text:
"The message I sent was intended only for Bishop Walch. If it also went to the Durfee's, as it now occurs to me it may have, that was not intended. It should be returned." President Barker
Oh. Ok. I'll just return a text message? How do you do that? Too late! The damage is done! Apparently at least three quorums are involved in our excommunication! Incredible!
Here is my reply:
"Thanks President. You're doing a bang up job yourself. My text was not meant as a removal letter. I have no intention of leaving the church. It is MY church as much as yours or the prophets. Have you ever noticed it's called the:
1. Church of Jesus Christ. It's His, and
2. Of Latter Day Saints. It's His and the Saints. I'm a Latter Day Saint. You may remove my name from the corporate church but I will always be a saint as long as I am Christ's. You can't ever remove that as you are not involved in that relationship. That's between Christ and me.
Thanks for letting me know you are receiving instruction from above in direct violation of church public and official policy. This is a local matter and you do have the right "equal in authority to the twelve". You can choose, but it looks as though you've abdicated your responsibility. Apparently this isn't your choice though, as it appears to be in the hands of the 70's. I wonder who may be instructing them? God bless you for your kindness. Please allow me to worship according to my own conscience and worship in private."
"Brother Durfee, thank you for your note back. Again, I apologize that that text went to you.that was an error. I was not aware you had my number and thought the text had been forwarded from Bishop Walch and I was replying to him. As I also mentioned before, I am very happy to meet with you again in person if you would like. Just let me know." Sincerely, President Barker
The reason he didn't think I had his number was I asked for it and he refused to give it to me. I got the number from someone else and texted him and the bishop, the first text quoted above. Because he was denying me direct access to him he assumed the bishop had forwarded him my text and he replied. The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed! Had he not abused me by denying me his number he would never have been so careless with his response.
"If you believe we need to speak that's fine with me. That's up to you. I love discussing the gospel of Christ. The question is will you listen? I don't feel like you are listening to me or my concerns. You have some standard that I do not see in scripture. You use a different standard of a handbook written by men. The scripture is clear: follow only Christ. "Do as I do" He says. I have done as He did. I have done so in private as I do not think I have the right to tell the leaders how to run things. They have the keys and sit in the seats of Joseph. I do not question the right of these men or the church. But I do believe I have the right to pursue God privately and still maintain my rights to GODS temple if I am worthy, which I am. Please, I will accept censure if I'm out of line with scripture, but let me worship at least as Alma, Joseph and all the prophets and people of God have. The only way I can obtain the power of godliness according to D&C 84 is to perform unchanged ordinances. I understand the church does not seek this. I respect theirs and your right to not do so. I do not preach against them or their doctrine. I just seek the face of God as commanded. Thanks for whatever you decide. Your decision either way is met with love and non judgement. I do not judge you or any who may vote to cast out. I forgive you, for you know not what you do. God Bless you!!!" (D&C 84:19-27)
Brother John, thanks for your note. I will get back with you as I would like to visit again. Next Sunday is likely the best day. I will text with a time. Sincerely, President Barker
"Some evening this week would work for me. What is it we are going to visit about? If you are going to restore my full rights then I'd like that. If it's more about "current doctrine" from the handbook in direct conflict to the scriptures it's not going to be helpful to either one of us. You believe God has given His authority to men, passing priesthood from one man to another, (which Nephi condemns, 2Nephi 28:5). I believe one must be "called of God", directly by those who are in authority or in other words His own voice. (Gen 14, JST) "that it may be conferred upon us it is true" by other men, that is simply an invitation to go to God with confidence. Joseph taught, "All the prophets received the priesthood directly from God." But again, I don't believe I have the right to tell the leaders how to go about their job. They sit in the seats of authority. I do not question that. My conclusions are not about judging the church or men, it's about pursuing God privately as scripture directs. I sustain Prez. Monson in his calling. I sustain you. But when you seek to control, compel or dominate me, by using church discipline as a weapon to get me "in line with current doctrine", or deny me access to God by denying my right to do ordinances, then amen to your authority as it pertains to my private devotions and reaching out to God.