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January 25-26, 2019 — Jonathan Stapley

Jonathan StapleyThe history of Latter-day Saint ordinances is fascinating, and thanks to the excellent work of Jonathan Stapley, has recently become much more accessible.  In early 2018, Oxford University Press published Stapley’s landmark work The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology.

Recent Miller Eccles Study Group Texas presenter Jill Mulvay Derr praised the book:

“This imaginative and impeccably documented inquiry into the Mormon ordering of cosmos and community probes the connection between liturgical and ecclesiastical structures and casts new light on both.  Drawing upon his prodigious research in personal narratives and institutional sources that span decades of Mormon history, Stapley demonstrates how successive changes in Mormon rituals have affected the beliefs and experiences of ordinary women and men.  The book’s detailed and even-handed treatment of such complicated and contested issues as shifting conceptualizations of priesthood and women’s longtime participation in healing rituals makes it a fascinating read, a valuable reference, and a helpful bridge between the Mormonism of the present and its all-too-distant past.”

We hope you’ll join us to learn more about The Power of Godliness.

STUDY GROUP DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, January 25, 7 pm (McKinney)

**NEW LOCATION**
Playful Corp. (Office Building)
300 E. Davis Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, January 26, 7 pm (Arlington)

Baird Residence
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE STUDY GROUP TOPIC:

“Women, Liturgy, Authority”

Mormon conceptions of priesthood, gender, and authority are of intense social interest, but have proved challenging to understand for both scholars and believers alike.  In this presentation, Stapley will share several key findings from his book that connects the present to the past in comprehensible ways.  From the priesthood language of the Nauvoo Temple to the diverse liturgy of the church, Stapley will discuss the ways in which members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints order their universe.

The Power of Godliness Cover

THE SPEAKER:

Jonathan Stapley is an award-winning historian, scientist, and Chief Technology Officer of a company he founded.  Oxford University Press published his volume, The Power of Godliness in early 2018.  Stapley received his Ph.D. from Purdue University and has been active in the field of Mormon History for over a decade.  He also writes for the academic history Juvenile Instructor blog, and at By Common Consent, a Mormon blog.

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October 19-21, 2018 — Jenny Reeder

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Jenny Reeder at study group meetings in McKinney on Friday, October 19, 2018, and in Arlington on Saturday, October 20, 2018, and at a fireside in Arlington on Sunday, October 21, 2018. Her study group topic was To Expound Scripture and Exhort the Church: Women Behind the Pulpit. Her fireside topic was Fire In My Bones: Women’s Stories from the Church Historian’s Press.

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Jenny Reeder speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group participants at a study group meeting in McKinney, Texas, on October 19, 2018.

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Jenny Reeder speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in Arlington, Texas, on October 20, 2018.

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Jenny Reeder’s presentation included highlights from the sermons included in “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-Day Saint Women” published by The Church Historian’s Press.

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Miller Eccles Study Group Texas participants enjoy Jenny Reeder’s Presentation in Arlington Texas, on October 20, 2018.

October 19-21, 2018 — Jenny Reeder

Jenny Reeder

In the few months since its 2017 publication, At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses of Latter-day Saint Women has assumed a significant role in the recovery and access to Mormon women’s discourse.  A publication of The Church Historian’s Press, At the Pulpit is available in print, for free online, and in the LDS Library app.  In an effort to reach a larger portion of the Church’s worldwide membership, the book has even been translated into Spanish and Portuguese.

Kathleeen Flake praised At the Pulpit: “After years of basso profundo comes another sound out of the Mormon tradition, the voice of women preaching.”

David E. Holland said, “We owe much to the editors for this rich collection of materials. Their thoughtful choice of artifacts–ranging from sermons to prayers to charismatic hymnody–give us a vivid historical study of Latter-day Saint discourse…. We owe an even greater debt, however, to the women whose declarations of belief and whose engagements with theology appear here. They represent nearly two centuries of Mormon women’s determination to examine and express their faith.”

Please join us for a wonderful evening (or two!) as Jenny Reeder tells the story of Mormon women At the Pulpit.

STUDY GROUP DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, October 19, 7 pm (McKinney)
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, October 20, 7 pm (Arlington)
Baird Residence
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

FIRESIDE DATE AND LOCATION:

Sunday, October 21, 7 pm
Arlington Stake Center
3809 Curt Drive
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE STUDY GROUP TOPIC:

“To Expound Scripture and Exhort the Church: Women Behind the Pulpit”

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” (1 Cor. 14:34).

In early July 1830, Emma Hale Smith received a revelation dictated through her husband, Joseph Smith, about her role in the new Church of Christ.  Drawing on New Testament language, he described the office of her specific assignment as an “elect lady . . .  to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.”  Smith concluded the directive with a more general invitation: “this is my voice unto all.” (D&C 25:3, 16).

From that time, Mormon women developed a robust tradition of public speaking.  Amid the contentious atmosphere of American religious women both speaking and being silenced, Mormon women spoke. Their words strengthened each other, influenced the larger Latter-day Saint community, and forged collaborative relationships with others in both religious and civic associations.

In this presentation, Jenny Reeder will talk about the charge to speak; the process of selecting sermons and writing the book; and the role of women in contributing to Latter-day Saint discourse.

THE FIRESIDE TOPIC:

“Fire In My Bones: Women’s Stories from the Church Historian’s Press”

Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt was baptized in 1837. She and her husband settled in Mayfield, ten miles from Kirtland.  There, she later recorded, “I wanted very much to get the good will of my neighbors,” for she yearned to expound–to clear out of obscurity and to explain the truth of the gospel.  Leavitt visited local taverns or inns, speaking earnestly to anyone who would listen.  “I had some [thing] of more importance that was shut up like fire in my bones,” she wrote. At a visit to a sick neighbor, where a large group had gathered, Leavitt desired to exhort–to give strength and courage.  She remembered, “The Lord gave me great liberty of speech.”

Women have been and continue to be a key part of the Restoration.  They spoke, testified, expounded and exhorted. Their stories and experiences provide both scholarly information and devotional inspiration, demonstrating their institutional authority and how they lived their religion.  The well-being of women is crucial to the success of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We read their stories to know we are not alone.

Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt

THE SPEAKER:

Jenny Reeder is the 19th-century women’s history specialist at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Department.  She currently works on the web team, where she has authored several History Topics essays to accompany Saints, vols. 1 and 2. She has edited two books: At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women with Kate Holbrook at the Church Historian’s Press, and Witness of Women: Firsthand Experiences and Testimonies of the Restoration with Janiece Johnson at Deseret Book.  Jenny has written chapters in edited collections such as Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources (Oxford Press, 2018), Immediate Present (Mormon Arts Center, 2017), Women and Mormonism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (University of Utah, 2016), and Women of Faith in the Latter Days, vol. 1 & 2 (Deseret Book, 2011 & 2012).  Jenny earned a PhD in American History at George Mason University, emphasizing women’s history, religious history, memory, and material culture. She has an MA from New York University in history, archival management, and documentary editing.  She speaks at Time Out for Women.

July 20-22, 2018 — Amy Tanner Thiriot

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Amy Tanner Thiriot at study group meetings in McKinney on Friday, July 20, 2018, and in Arlington on Saturday, July 21, 2018, and at a fireside in Arlington on Sunday, July 22, 2018. Her study group topic was “Go Down Moses: The Black Mormon Pioneer Experience”. Her fireside topic was “In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions: The Black Mormon Pioneer Experience”.

Amy Tanner Thiriot speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendees at a study group meeting in McKinney on July 20, 2018.

Amy Tanner Thiriot during her presentation in McKinney on July 20, 2018.

Amy Tanner Thiriot visits with study group attendees following her presentation in McKinney on July 20, 2018.

Amy Tanner Thiriot begins her remarks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in Arlington on July 21, 2018.

Amy Tanner Thiriot displays an image of Jane Manning James while speaking to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendees in Arlington on July 21, 2018.

July 20-22, 2018 — Amy Tanner Thiriot

Amy ThiriotYou may have heard about Jane Manning James and her desire to receive the blessings of the temple.  If you’ve been reading the most current historical research, you might even be familiar with the story of Green Flake.  But can you name any of our other black pioneers?  Amy Tanner Thiriot can name several.  That’s why Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome Amy Tanner Thiriot as our July 2018 speaker.

In his introduction of Thiriot at a recent presentation at the Church History Museum, former Miller Eccles Study Group Texas speaker Paul Reeve described Thiriot as a “thorough and meticulous researcher.”  Robert Burch, president of the Utah chapter of the Afro-American Historical Society, said, “Amy finds stuff that nobody would even recognize. I guess she just has a nose for it.”

Coming soon on the heels of the Church-sponsored celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1978 revelation ending the priesthood and temple restriction affecting Church members of African descent, there’s no better time to learn more about our black pioneers.  So, we hope you’ll join us for a pioneer day commemoration event like none you have participated in before.

STUDY GROUP DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, July 20, 7 pm (McKinney)
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, July 21, 7 pm (Arlington)
Baird Residence
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

FIRESIDE DATE AND LOCATION:

Sunday, July 22, 7 pm
Arlington Stake Center
3809 Curt Drive
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE STUDY GROUP TOPIC:

“Go Down Moses: The Black Mormon Pioneer Experience”

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have become familiar with the names of Jane Manning James, Green Flake, and a few other early free or enslaved black members of the Church but might not be aware of the extent of black history in the Church. Join us as historian Amy Tanner Thiriot shares the stories of many early black Latter-day Saints, and also shares some of the stories behind the stories.  Why were Jane Manning James and her family arrested in Illinois? How did Texas converts and their slaves help settle early Utah?  How does the story of a Texas slave patrol tie into the story of the 1978 revelation on the Priesthood?  What role did free and enslaved African Americans play in the settlement of Utah and the American West?  What do the lives of the early black members of the Church tell us about the history of America and Mormonism? How were their stories forgotten—or in some cases erased—and how can we remember them now?

Jane James CHL

Jane James. Courtesy Church History Library.

THE FIRESIDE TOPIC:

“In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions: The Black Mormon Pioneer Experience”

The first black members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were a vital part of the early history of the Church. They served missions and shared the gospel. As the Church moved west, they helped build Nauvoo and Winter Quarters and drove wagons across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.  Once in Utah, they helped rescue the stranded handcart companies, built roads and communities, and raised families in the Mormon settlements in the West.  Many of them experienced great tragedies and losses, but they lived lives of service and built a strong heritage of faith for their descendants and the Church.  Join us for an evening of inspiring stories of early Latter-day Saints including Green Flake, Jane Manning James, Venus Redd, Samuel and Amanda Chambers, Thomas Bankhead Coleman, and many others.

Green Flake 1897-05-31 Salt Lake Tribune

Green Flake. Courtesy Salt Lake Tribune Archives.

Many Mansions

From Green Flake’s Headstone.

THE SPEAKER:

Independent family and community historian Amy Tanner Thiriot specializes in the stories of the lesser-known early members of the LDS Church.  Her ongoing series, “The Eminent Women of the St. George Temple” at Keepapitchin: The Mormon History Blog, prompted her work on the stories of the little-known black pioneers.  She recently finished a manuscript about the experiences of the enslaved African American pioneers of Utah Territory.  She blogs at TheAncestorFilesand Genealogy’s Star.  Thiriot lives in Pennsylvania with her husband David. They are the parents of five children.  She served in the Germany Düsseldorf Mission and currently serves as ward organist and director of the local Family History Center.

May 18-19, 2018 — Jana Riess

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Jana Riess at study group meetings in McKinney on Friday, May 18, 2018, and in Arlington on Saturday, May 19, 2018.  Her topic was “Millennial Mormons: The Rising Generation of Latter-day Saints”.

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Adam Miller introduces Jana Riess at a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas meeting in McKinney, Texas, on May 18, 2018.

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Jana Riess speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in McKinney, Texas, on May 18, 2018.

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Jana Riess visits with a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendee after her presentation in McKinney, Texas, on May 18, 2018.

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Janae Riess speaks at a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas meeting in Arlington, Texas, on May 19, 2018.

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Jana Riess explains findings from her research at a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas meeting in Arlington, Texas, on May 19, 2018.

May 18-19, 2018 — Jana Riess

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome Dr. Jana Riess as our May 2018 speaker. Jana is the author of a forthcoming book titled Millennial Mormons: The Rising Generation of Latter-day Saints (Oxford University Press, 2019), which is based on extensive surveying conducted by Jana and Benjamin Knoll.

You’re likely familiar with Jana’s writing for Religion News Service and her frequent media appearances where she provides commentary on issues relevant to current-day Mormonism and its culture.  We hope you’ll join us as she describes how demographic changes are likely to influence the future of Mormonism.

STUDY GROUP DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, May 18, 7 pm (McKinney)
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, May 19, 7 pm (Arlington)
Baird Residence
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE STUDY GROUP TOPIC:

“Millennial Mormons: The Rising Generation of Latter-day Saints”

How do young adult Mormons — the “Millennials” — differ politically from older Mormons, and how do they relate to authority?  Research from the Next Mormons Survey (2016) indicates that young Mormons are less likely to vote Republican or adopt conservative positions than older Mormons, but more likely to do so than non-Mormons their own age.  They also show a somewhat weakened relationship to institutional authority and obedience than older Mormons but are more responsive to authority than non-Mormon Millennials.  Jana will discuss how Mormon Millennials are caught between competing ideals and what that means for the future practice of Mormonism.  They’re part of a generation that is the least religious in modern recorded history, but they’re part of a religion that is demanding and rigorous.  How they will reconcile these competing ideals tells us a good deal about where Mormonism might be heading into the 21st century.

THE SPEAKER:

Before writing Millennial Mormons, Jana Riess authored a number of books, including Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor, which was selected as one of the top ten religion books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly.  Her most recent book is The Prayer Wheel: A Daily Guide to Renewing Your Faith with a Rediscovered Spiritual Practice.  She is a senior columnist for Religion News Service and is often quoted in national news and magazine articles on Mormon issues.  Although she was never able to climb the rope in gym class, she has a Doctorate in American religious history from Columbia University.

Jana lives in Cincinnati with her husband and daughter, who are both Episcopalians, and together they navigate the waters of being a Mormopalian family.  This means that they light Advent candles early and often, but hide any evidence that wine is ever used in cooking.  Jana is obsessed with travel and also loves reading, yoga, dogs, and did we mention travel?  She is a Relief Society teacher in her ward and a stake Self-Reliance facilitator in the Cincinnati Ohio Stake.

February 16-17, 2018 — Tom Christofferson

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Tom Christofferson at study group meetings in McKinney on Friday, February 16, 2018, and in Arlington on Saturday, February 17, 2018.  His topic was “That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith & Family”.

Katy Bettner introduces Tom Christofferson at a meeting of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in McKinney on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in McKinney on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson visits with attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a meeting in McKinney on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson autographs a copy of his book at a meeting of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in McKinney, on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington, Texas, on February 17, 2018.

Tom Christofferson speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in Arlington, Texas, on February 17, 2018.

February 16-17, 2018 — Tom Christofferson

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome Tom Christofferson as our February 2018 speaker.

In a recent book review, former Miller Eccles Study Group Texas speaker Julie Smith wrote:

“…I absolutely positively did not think that Deseret Book would ever publish anything including these sentences: ‘Being gay is one of the great blessings of my life’ and ‘If you are the parent of a gay child who decides to marry a same-sex partner, I encourage you to be there, to participate fully and with happiness for their happiness.’

But here we are.

Tom Christofferson has written a book called That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith and Family, and Deseret Book has published it. The book will have an added measure of moral authority with many members of the church because Christofferson’s brother, D. Todd Christofferson, is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and much of the book concerns the reaction of the extended Christofferson family to Tom’s coming out, asking to be excommunicated, and then living for decades with a male partner….

The book is largely a memoir, with a few sections devoted to spiritual lessons that Tom has learned. The power of the latter sections is such that I hope that even people with minimal interest in LGBTQ issues would read the book.

Tom’s journey back to the church is a fascinating one: it involved a ward who welcomed him—and his partner—with open arms. Tom argues against the idea that shunning is somehow necessary to remind gays of the commandments and points out that, when he was ready to return to full activity, he did not have to overcome the additional barriers of bitterness and pride that family or ward ostracism would have created.”

Please join us for what will surely be one of MESGTX’s most enlightening and uplifting meetings.

STUDY GROUP DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, February 16, 7 pm (McKinney)
*PLEASE NOTE NEW VENUE*
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, February 17, 7 pm (Arlington)
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

FIRESIDE DATE AND LOCATION:

Sunday, February 18, 7 pm
McKinney Stake Center
2801 Eldorado Pkwy
McKinney, Texas 75070

THE STUDY GROUP TOPIC:

“That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith & Family”

In this presentation, Tom Christofferson will share perspectives gained from his life’s journey as a gay man who left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later returned to it. After having asked to be excommunicated from the faith he was raised in, Tom spent two decades in a loving relationship with a committed partner. Over time and enjoying a very happy life, Tom increasingly felt a desire for increased spirituality, until he found himself one night sitting in his car in front of a bishop’s house preparing for a discussion that would, over the next seven years, change his life.  Tom will share lessons that he, his family, and his fellow Saints learned while trying to love as God loves.  For anyone who has wondered how to keep moving forward in the face of difficult decisions and feelings of ambiguity; for anyone who needs to better understand the redeeming power of our Savior, Jesus Christ; for anyone who seeks to love more fully; Tom’s presentation will offer reassurance of God’s love for all of His children.

THE FIRESIDE TOPIC:

“Bread of Life, Living Water”

In this devotional presentation, Tom Christofferson will discuss how the challenges of our lives lead us to greater understanding of the Savior’s healing love.

THE SPEAKER:

Tom Christofferson has spent his career in investment management and asset servicing, living in the United States and Europe.  He has served as a director on corporate and nonprofit boards and was a founding board member of Encircle, a group providing resources to LGTBQ individuals and their families in Provo, Utah.  Tom is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and serves as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his Salt Lake City ward.

October 13-14, 2017 — Steve Peck

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Steve Peck at study group meetings in McKinney on Friday, October 13, 2017, and in Arlington on Saturday, October 14, 2017.  His topic was “Making a place for evolution in Mormonism: Why it matters”.

Steve Peck speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendees in McKinney on October 13, 2017.

Steve Peck visits with attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas after he concluded his presentation in McKinney on October 13, 2017.

Steve Peck speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington on October 14, 2017.

Steve Peck displays a quote by Russell M. Nelson at a Miller Eccles Texas Study Group Texas presentation in Arlington on October 14, 2017.

Steve Peck speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington on October 14, 2017.

Steve Peck signs a book for a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendee in Arlington on October 14, 2017.