On April 6, 1860, the prophet Joseph Smith Jr.’s widow and eldest son traveled from Nauvoo to Amboy, Illinois, to attend the general conference of a ‘new organization’ of Midwestern Latter Day Saints. Emma and Joseph Smith III were accepted as members on the strength of their original baptisms, and Joseph was then ordained prophet and president of what became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as Community of Christ. The majority of Midwestern Mormons, divided from 1844-1860 by schism after schism, now began to come back into communion together, in the most successful regathering of disparate groups within Mormonism to date.
To mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of this important event, the John Whitmer Historical Association will hold its September 23-26, 2010, conference near Amboy, Illinois.
The program committee would like to extend an invitation for proposals for papers, panels, and whole sessions about the history of “Emma’s church” (as Community of Christ President Stephen M. Veazey has recently described it). The committee would like to gather every facet of RLDS history: institutional, social, economic, theological, women’s perspectives, minority perspectives, center vs. periphery, the international church, schisms, and more.
Even if you’ve never taken the time to learn much about Community of Christ history, this anniversary is the year to start. A potential inroad would be expanding your own research focus with a comparative study. For example, if you’ve studied the role of the LDS Relief Society in the women’s suffrage movement, this might be fruitfully supplemented by an examination of contemporary RLDS women’s auxiliaries.
As always, proposals papers regarding any aspect of Mormon and Restoration history are also welcome.
Please send your brief proposals, with a 1-page accompanying vita, to proposals@JWHA.info. The proposal deadline is Feb. 28, 2010.
At the recent JWHA conference in Independence, Mike and I retired as executive directors of JWHA, but I was then elected president-elect. As a result, I am program chair for the Sesquicentennial conference, the first time I’ve actually chaired a program committee. So, I’d also like to make a personal plug here. I’d love for you all to participate with this conference: send us a proposal and mark your calendars.