With permission I post this letter from our friends . . .
November 2, 2015Dear Family and Friends,
Let us start by expressing our love to all of you and that we are grateful for the friendships and love we have felt and for the influence for good all of you have had on our lives.
We are writing this letter to personally reach out to those we love to give an opportunity to feel from us in our words where we are today.
First and foremost we have a testimony of the Restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, that he saw God the Father and his son Jesus Christ and spoke with them face to face. We know he was called of God as a prophet, seer and revelator at the head of this dispensation. We know he brought forth the Book of Mormon which contains the word of God and the fullness of the gospel. We are grateful for the truths contained in the revelations he received from God, among which are the “Lectures on Faith” (the doctrine) and the covenants which are contained in sections of the D&C which we have today. We also believe the inspired words given in the 13 Articles of Faith.
It has been a blessing to have an account of the restoration printed, known as The Joseph Smith Papers, for us to study, so we can come to a better understanding of the truths restored though Joseph Smith. It is then up to each of us to take that foundation and build upon it individually and move us closer personally to Christ as we then continue to exercise our faith in what we have been given. It is a process.
We are striving to live the gospel and love the foundation the church has given us and our family to progress and move forward on the path that will bring us into the presence of our Savior. We have given our lives to service in the church. We know and can feel of his love for us for the sacrifices we have made. Our testimony of the gospel and the scriptures remains strong.
We have been taught that through the words given by several prophets we have specific warning for our time of the last days. They are Isaiah, Jerimiah, Ezekiel and Daniel to name a few. If they are warnings for us, then we need to read them as warnings for us, the church. In the BoM, the “Gentiles” spoken of are US! We are the ones reading the scriptures restored for our day, they are words for us. We started to read them with this in mind and have come to a new understanding, which has caused us to repent and desire to more closely study and ponder the scriptures that we may understand the warnings written for us and repent of our unbelief to have any hope of avoiding the pitfalls they spoke of. The Book of Mormon and D&C gives us, the church, clear warning of the last days and the state of unbelief and false traditions the church is in. This puts us in a position to be chastened by the Lord and put us under condemnation.
D&C 84:54-57 “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.”
We desire clear and pure testimony as the scriptures lay out from the leaders that we may have hope of the same and gain the blessings the gospel offers. We have a continued foundational belief that the heavens are open to all as Joseph taught, and to have hope of the same through hearing the leaders current, clear and strong testimony as the prophet Joseph gave us, that they, God the Father and Christ are real and we can speak with them face to face as Joseph and they in the scriptures have done.
Joseph had this to say on the matter-
"If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore, if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and a witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet; and any man who says he is a teacher or a preacher of righteousness, and denies the spirit of prophecy, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and by this key false teachers and impostors may be detected." TPJS pg 269
We are trying to change our paradigms and traditions we held as truths and "philosophies of men mingled with scripture", to question all we held previously and to ask, to change our unbelief, to "help thou my unbelief", and better align ourselves with what we feel God wants us to do through the whisperings of the Spirit and not to question Him. Jesus Christ is the only sure foundation we have. He is the only one that will not let us down.
Our path has taken us to the point where we were given a choice to follow our beliefs and understanding of the gospel truths Joseph Smith restored or face a disciplinary counsel and be excommunicated. We chose to follow the inspiration and answers from the spirit we have been given. We are willing to stand alone and ask questions as we study, seek and then take our questions to the Lord. He has given liberally to us as we ask and are patient.
“We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them (even) if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.” – Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, Vol. 14, Num. 38, pp.593-595
It is unfortunate that our testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the BofM and the Restoration are not sufficient. We are not allowed to remain in the church and continue to search for understanding and light that will lead us to Christ without also sustaining Pres. Monson and all apostles as a “Prophet, Seers and Revelators” by only us sustaining to them to such, and assuming they are like unto Joseph and have seen Christ and God the Father. We have been excommunicated for apostasy. We are content and will continue on this path to receive the blessings, Mercy and Grace from Christ through our own individual worship and search of Jesus Christ in the way we feel best, “according to the dictates of our own conscience”.
We know this will come as a shock to you and we regret any sadness or hard feelings this may cause. Please forgive us if this offends you. It is not our purpose to "teach" or convert you to this path. We are not out to recruit, rather to just openly discuss and explain our feelings so no misunderstandings exist between us, that we may in turn still converse freely, openly, and honestly and remain friends and family.
“As a means of coming to truth, people in the Church are encouraged by their leaders to think and find out for themselves. They are encouraged to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to such knowledge of the truth as their own consciences, assisted by the Spirit of God, lead them to discover. Brigham Young said: ‘I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security. … Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 135). In this manner no one need be deceived.” – James E. Faust, “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” Ensign, September 1998
We were meant and designed as spiritual beings to rise up, it's about realigning, rising up and becoming what we previously charted, promised and swore to return to and with integrity and purpose "become" who we are meant to be. The path will be different for each of us. It may not be comfortable.
Each of us, in the way we are directed need to follow what we are given. The Lord needs us to be courageous and valiant even though it may be uncomfortable. Be Strong, Be courageous, and realign our will to His constantly, regardless of what that looks like. We desire to be firm and steadfast in our testimony of Christ and the gospel Joseph Smith restored. In the beginning of the church, it has been taught that the scriptures are our measuring stick for truth. God has allowed things to be magnified; made larger, to see better. Not changed, but magnified, just our sight to be clearer. We know what we need to change and what to repent of and are understanding more. The Lord will align us in the right way, and make adjustments when needed if our hearts stay pure and true. We are standing on the foundation of the scriptures, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Mosiah 5:5 “And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.”
Can we be deceived? Absolutely! We are willing to take that chance. We are following what we have been given and allow you to do the same. It may not look like what we thought it would, or be the same path as most of you. It is our journey and walk with God uniquely tailored for us. We pray for each of us to seek and find Christ in the path He designs for each of us. It is the most important path we can walk in.
Garth and Melonie Turley
PS. This is NOT about Polygamy! We know there have been so many people leave the church only to fall into a group living polygamy. We believe we do not have a correct historical understanding of what Joseph Smith was trying to teach. We are NOT going in that direction, just to clear that up if there was any question!