SUZANNE'S TESTIMONY

The process of my leaving the Mormon Church was that my late husband, Steve, and I were in marriage counseling and beginning to be able to think for ourselves. At the time I was the ward public relations person and also the ward newsletter editor. I decided to read the New Testament without preconceptions, and the writings of Paul, especially Romans, impressed me with its message about faith being accounted to Abraham as righteousness. I said to my husband at the time that if the NT said what I thought it did, the Mormons were wrong.

My husband had been having problems with driving under power lines. He would stop in front of them and just shake. In counseling, he and the counselor figured out that the power lines symbolized Mormon Church authority to him. He began questioning that authority and his reaction to the power lines subsided. However, when he wrote a letter to the bishop questioning some aspects of church doctrine, the bishop reacted in an angry, threatened manner and refused to deal with the questions that had been asked.

We decided we had had enough of the Mormon Church, and that we could not believe it any more. We wrote letters telling why we were leaving. Among the scriptural reasons given were the fact that Jesus said that when he came again it would be as lightning and be seen from the east to the west, and not be in a temple as claimed by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Also, there were verses in 1 Timothy and Titus cited against genealogies.

In the process of leaving, we were told that we had to write a letter to church headquarters in order to keep our children, who were then teenagers and pre-teen, from getting a summons to a church court. We did this and protested the action. We had to attend a church court as my husband was an elder and this also was distasteful to us. We have a copy of the letter from our stake president stating the results of the court being that our names were to be taken from the records of the church, and expressing his regret.

It was after we made our decision to leave that we started researching Mormonism in a more objective fashion than we ever had. We read "No Man Knows My History" by Fawn Brodie and "Joseph Smith, the First Mormon" by Donna Hill. We were impressed that Fawn Brodie had started out to write a book favorable to Joseph Smith but the evidence induced her to do otherwise. Her book is well-documented and thorough. Donna Hill took advantage of archives of church historical records that had been opened up to researchers; they were closed some time after her book was published. She also presented well-documented evidence that the official Mormon Church line was not historically accurate.

About the same time we left, another friend also left, and then not long afterward a family of eleven left. There was also a couple in Portland, which is about 30 miles away. This was in 1984. As far as I know, all asked to have their names removed from the records of the church.

After leaving the church, it took a while to begin thinking for myself, after so many years of having other people think for me and tell me what to do. I went through a period of time when I rebelled against any organized religion, even the Mennonite Church I attend, as relatively un-organized as it is. But I continued to pray and believe in Jesus, although I felt that my prayers weren't answered at the time. (It took me a long time to learn that God may have a different time frame for answering prayers than I have.)

Several years ago, I started to read the scriptures every day in a One-Year Bible format, which contains selections each day from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. I had tried to read my scriptures every day before, especially as a Mormon, but had failed. I continued reading the Bible faithfully for several months and was then invited by a friend to go to Bible Study Fellowship. Spiritually, I was ready, where if I had not been reading the scriptures, I would not have been. Bible Study Fellowship and the intense Bible study there prepared me for my husband's death from leukemia in the summer of 1995, and for taking over his business. I was asked to co-edit the church newsletter a few months after Steve's death, and have continued to attend BSF.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of committed Bible study. I am grateful for the way such study led me to a greater faith in Jesus and a conviction of his finished work on the cross.

Suzanne