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Ken Jensen Excommunication

Not a short story fiction:

Jan 6 Got Called in to talk to SP and was given Notice of Disciplinary Council

Jan 11, 7pm  Pre-Council meeting with stake president

He brought Michelle and I into his office for a little warm up.  He went over the purpose of the council…which included  the phrase “to save souls.”  He mentioned that we should get this done “so that you can do what you want to achieve”—I corrected him and said that I am not trying to achieve anything except do what I felt Jesus Christ wanted of me and to be open about what I am doing.  It is now up for him to react or not.  He said that in the council  he did not want to talk about or discuss doctrine, scriptures, or anything of the like.  He said it was not a “forum.” 

After giving a little more intro he asked if we had any questions.  Michelle brought up the letter that mentioned that I had been doing things “unbecoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  She did not agree with that description of acting in a manner “unbecoming…”  Michelle said we have the scriptures to guide us and to live by…which is exactly what we had been doing—but he has some other secret book (handbook) which he is using to judge us and rule by.  He said that it is his job to “enforce” and that he is bound by what the handbook says…Michelle said that he is not bound and that he is free to choose for himself and that he ought to “man up.”

With that, Michelle having told him to “man up,” he immediately excused Michelle from the meeting.  Michelle asked, “you’re afraid that a woman is going to take over a meeting of 15 men?”  As Michelle was leaving she said – oh yes, you need to get back to “saving souls.”  As he closed the door behind Michelle, the stake president’s hand was shaking visibly—I suppose that after having been told and shown, Abinadi-style, the inconsistency of his actions, he was shaken.

After she left, the SP then told me that he did not like the “spirit of contention” that she brought, and he hoped that I could tell the difference...(away with her! For she is mad!  What have we to do with this damsel?)  I did not agree it was the spirit of contention, and I said about her comments that indeed it “cuts to the very center.” She did not speak with raised voice, nor with anger, nor with any indignation, nor with anything but truth.  It was true and he was not used to people telling it to him straight, I suppose.  He then had me wait a bit until he prepped the High Council.  I went back to the hallway to be with Michelle.

From there we waited for them to start with their prayer and to get rolling as Michelle and I sat out in the waiting area listening to primary music and hymns playing on the CD player in the corner for about ten minutes

First I went in alone, and Michelle was to come in at some point in the process to be a “witness.”  I had requested that she be there the whole time but the SP insisted only for the short allowed time.  I thought it was weird that she missed most of the talk/discussion but was supposed to come in just for short little window and still have any context in which to speak or even know what to say.

Upon entering the room, there was a looooooong straight table with 6 High councilors on each side and the stake presidency, 3 abreast, on the far end of the long table.  The stake president did most of the talking from his spot way at the other end of the table (it was far enough away, giving the feeling of distance and superiority and due process and whatever else court rooms are supposed to be—and also far enough that when Michelle came in she could not even tell who was talking since her eyes are slightly bad—probably 25 feet away).  They were all standing up when I entered and it was quite intimidating with as tall and/or wide as they all were.  Of course, they all had their most somber faces…a look of pity from most.  A few looked me as if trying to figure out how someone could be so deceived.  And some and from some not sure what this “confused guy” was gonna say or do.  Their decision was clearly already made and they were simply going to go through the motions.  There was no chance of it turning out anything but pre-determined  outcome.

SP First had me introduce myself to the High Council and to give some background.  After giving a very brief review of myself, I started about 4 years ago coming across on the book “Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil” and thought the title of the book was interesting enough—it sounded so “templey”-- that it would be a good birthday gift for Michelle.  Denver Snuffer was the author.  She read it and liked and so I got some of his other books too.   All of the books were very full of light and truth and very helpful.  It was not until the last book that he wrote that the church decided that they did not think it was “flattering enough.” And so then, soon enough there was pressure from COB to the Snuffer SP to excommunicate Snuffer.  The existing SP knew Snuffer well and would not do it.  Whether that SP’s 10-year time was up, or if they expedited his departure, he was released. Elder Russell Nelson came out to organize new stake and gave orders to the new SP to excommunicate Snuffer.  (My SP knows Denver’s SP) so Truman Hunt (new Denver SP) took about 18 months to finally get to the point of doing the deed.

Meanwhile I had come to learn and love the message Denver was delivering.  By then I had not only read the book (Passing the Heavenly Gift) that he was ex’ed for, but had ready most if not all of his other 8 books, along with keeping up with new thoughts on the blog (and catching up on old blog posts).  I mentioned at some point that Snuffer does not matter… “he is just some chump,” I said.  (I suppose that even when Alma had separated from King Noah, the people continued to refer to Abinadi from time to time as the authorized deliverer of a message from God, mentioning his name—not that he was anything special except being thankful to him for what he did in the Lord’s name.)

I then talked about how the Snuffer excommunication put me suddenly and immediately into the camp from being a completely faithful and “temple-worthy” member of the church to being unworthy of a temple recommend.  The questions on the recommend specifically ask about your sympathy or relation with “apostate groups.”  I had come to appreciate the light and truth that was delivered from Snuffer—and if he was “apostate” then it brought the condition of the church itself into question in my eyes.

I said that I had hoped that it was a simple misunderstanding and that once the First Presidency had reviewed the case they would surely reverse the decision.  Once the First Presidency denied the appeal and had put their own “amen” to the proceedings, there was still room that it still was all a mistake.  So I then wrote a letter directly to each member of the 1st Presidency to ask and make sure that the proceedings were not simply rubber-stamped, but that they personally oversaw the action.   I was saddened and disappointed to receive the reply from Pres Monson’s secretary that the 1st Presidency had “personally” and “carefully” and “prayerfully” reviewed the matter surrounding “Brother Snuffer.”

That was the worst news I was hoping not to get.  That is when the conundrum began in earnest.  I had my own personal witness and testimony of things, and that I was believing and acting on in faith.  I had seen and felt fruits. But now my lifelong IDOL (the Church) was being shattered before my eyes.  Their fruit being manifest in what I perceived clearly as unrighteous dominion.  This was in December 2013.

That is when I began months of heart-breaking reform of my own.  When conference finally rolled around again in April 2014, I could not and would not sustain the leadership of the church, especially to include the Big 15.  That day I emailed my Bishop Bytheway to let him know that since he was not at my house to see it, I had voted “not in favor” of sustaining the brethren.

We subsequently had a couple chats in his office before a new bishop was called and then we had a few more talks in his office.  He had asked me not to talk of these things with ward members…I referred to Acts 4-5 and also the movie “How Rare a Possession” to say that:  I would not necessarily refrain, for “It is better for me to obey God than to obey man.”  (from the movie it shows the ministers telling Vicenzo to quit talking about “that book” and that he should “burn the book”—to the dismay of the council he refused.)

I then related how the EQ Pres had visited me in late November 2014 and removed me from home teaching assignment.  And then 6 days later, the bishop came up to me at the ward Christmas party and said that he did not want me to participate in fast and testimony meeting.  Since I had been removed from home teaching and had also been asked to not participate in normal church activities, I said:  If you’re going to restrict me from home teaching and insist that I not participate in church like a normal member would, “Let’s make it official then.”  He agreed.  I did not participate in fast and testimony and waited for the other shoe to drop.

A month went by and still nothing. So on Jan 6 I did not participate in fast and testimony again, but I also sent an email to the bishop, high councilor , and SP stating that since I had been informally disciplined already, I was awaiting the official action as promised by the bishop a month earlier.

Two days later I received the letter inviting me to Disciplinary council on the following Sunday Jan 11…..

I concluded my introduction to the High Council, “And so, here we are.”

SP thanked me for covering everything so completely and then gave some introductions to the charges and then went thru the emails and communications one by one to lay down the case of the things that they thought would show apostasy according the to the secret formula in the handbook.  With each point he asked if I had done the thing that he was getting at.  Of course I did, it was already crystal clear.

The things that were elaborated:
Being baptized again
Baptizing others
Advocating baptism for others
Preaching and teaching to other ward members/ stake members
Believing and/or telling others (not sure which) that the First Presidency (their idol) and the 12 had lost the right to claim priesthood authority

Turned time to high councilors to ask questions.  There were 6 appointed for my behalf and 6 appointed to operate in behalf of church (not sure there was really any difference between the 2 groups though) Some of the questions that I can recall:

            “How many people did you communicate with?”  I suppose this was to determine to what extent I had “proselyted” to the ward/stake.  The answer was about 30-50 ward members directly or indirectly…along with lots of family.

            “Common consent and how it applies to me?”—while referencing the talk by Russell Nelson, who referenced D&C (42?).  He was trying to say that I had no common consent to be saying anything to anyone.  I said that I did have common consent when I was ordained all the way from deacon to elder… and that D&C 20 tells us that the “duty” of every deacon, teacher, priest, and elder is to “teach, preach, exhort, and to baptize”—which is exactly what I was doing.  And I had common consent to do that…. But I did not have common consent to pick new high councilors, pick new SS teachers, or to decide how tithing is spent...that is left to others who do have the common consent to do those things. 

            “Did you do confirmations?”  I suppose this was to prove or show if I was joining another church or something.  I said no confirmation or laying on hands…and also said I could elaborate more with them if they desired …I think I might have already sent the articles about laying on hands to them in email.

            Somebody had called it a “new” way to baptize and I corrected them to say it was not “new” but that it was simply the way the Lord did it and instituted it in 3 Nephi 11.

            Somebody asked about condemning people or something.  I said that I am not interested in condemning anyone.  Condemning others is a very scary business in which I do not want to do.

            I talked a little about Aaronic Priesthood.  The Aaronic priesthood would never leave the earth.  We still have it (independent of the Church—the Priesthood preceded the Church, not the other way around) We have it and having that priesthood is enough to have the ministering of angels.  As we learn in the temple, we await true ministers (ministering angels) to come and prepare us to converse with the Lord Himself through the veil.

            I mentioned John the Baptist coming the wrest the keys from the Jews.  (The same way the Jews remained as a people and a sort of institution even until today, John is the one who came and wrested the keys from them—even if they did not recognize him as having done so.  John prepared the world for the coming of the Savior at that time…once again the world is being prepared for the Savior to arrive.  In a similar manner, I  mentioned Alma separating from King Noah, and although the king and his court did not recognize what was going on, the Lord did.

There were a few other questions I don’t remember right now.  I think at this point they asked for me for any last statements.  I had plenty i could have said, but to honor the SP request not to elaborate on scriptures, etc.  I simply exhorted them to finally look closely at the material I had given them already... which only some of them merely perused lightly.

At this point Michelle was finally allowed to enter the room to give her testimony… like I said it was kind of disjointed after not allowing her to see or hear any of the rest.

She said something like this:

“I am confused about why we are here.  The scriptures teach us to do missionary work—to warn your neighbor when you are warned.  The scriptures teach us that we are to preach, teach, and baptize unto repentance. The scriptures teach us to be baptized for the remission of sins….Yet these are the great offenses that are supposedly “unbecoming a member of the LDS church??”  She said something more like, “If anything,  Ken has been a better person, a more loving husband and father, and improved in most ways in the last year because of what you are saying is unbecoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  The SP was anxious to have her conclude because I think he realized the irony of it all.  But then after the short little witness, had us both leave.

Dismissed me from the room so that SP and counselors could retire to pray and deliberate.  Waited outside in the area talking about what had happened with Michelle for about 40-45 minutes before I finally took Michelle home instead of sitting around there indefinitely.  By the time I had gotten back they had finished and I was bidden to enter the room again for the verdict.

SP “smoothly” talked about how hard it was, etc.  Finally came to verdict of being excommunicated.  Went down a list of things to do and not do—no church talks or prayers or sacrament or participation (attendance is allowed, but only attendance) No garments. But anytime I wanted to come back, they would always welcome me.

SP gave a final testimony, but was especially sure to include and emphasize the detail about having “a living prophet on the earth today…..even, Thomas S Monson.”  I kid you not….he said “…even, Thomas S Monson.”   It was almost like Elder Delaney that fake GA site.  It seems that he also said “mighty prophet”—but that is not clear enough in my mind to say for certain… maybe it was because he said it in the mightiest voice he could muster.

SP said he wanted to give me a final handshake…I said, “come on, let’s make it a hug.”  So starting with him a final hug, after which I went around to all in the room and bid them adieu and gave them all a hug goodbye.

To conclude:
High Councilor’s closing prayer included the perplexing statement “thankful for the revelation we have witnessed today.”

After being dismissed and before leaving the room I said, “God bless you guys.” 

I then went home.

I am now wearing "Tabasco" boxers I got from Target.