Recently a proposal was forwarded to me, and I like it! I am reminded of an excerpt from a blog post written by Denver Snuffer back in 2010. The thought of generating the Lord's choice by casting lots, might be too unpredictable for some, but this process is recognized in scripture.
There is another method that we haven’t tried, so far as I know. That would be to use “lots” to choose from every male in the church. This method was used to fill Judas’ vacancy in the original Twelve in Jerusalem. (Acts 1: 21-26.) The description there is ambiguous, but was intended to be random, unpredictable and not just a vote. It was a recognized way to choose someone. (See, e.g., 1 Ne. 3: 11.) It has been used to sort through the entire nation of Israel when all twelve tribes were assembled. Someone had stolen an idol, resulting in the withdrawal of the Lord’s Spirit from them in battle. The result was defeat for Israel and the death of many men. They needed to find the one who committed the offense. So they had to choose from the entire gathering of all twelve tribes. Beginning at the tribe level, they sorted through to find the right tribe (Judah). Then proceeded to sort through the tribe to locate the larger family involved (Zarhites). Then went through the family to find the individual involved (Achan). The whole thing is in the scriptures. (Joshua 7: 13-23.)
Such a system was uncontrolled by man, done by lot, completely random, but produced the right person. Left to God, it obtained God’s answer. Did with the sons of Lehi, and with the vacancy in the Twelve in the Book of Acts, too. There is no reason why such a system wouldn’t generate the Lord’s choice today. (Denver Snuffer Blog May 21, 2010) [emphasis added]
The inheritances in Zion will be arranged by lot.
And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God; D&C 85:7
I see intelligence in what is being proposed. The one modification I would make is: When the lots are chosen, it is done in a public meeting. Also, it doesn't matter if a name is suggested twenty times or one time, every suggested name is only represented once. The list of names in the drawing are open for all to see, then the list is cut apart, put into a bowl, and drawn out while those interested in the process are allowed to observe. This keeps the entire process transparent. Alternates are drawn because some might respectfully decline the invitation after being chosen: first alternate, second alternate, and third alternate, etc. Here is the proposal. If you like it you can add your name to the list of those who endorse this proposal by emailing Jim O’Rullian (email@example.com).
A COMMITTEE FOR OBTAINING THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE
A mechanism is needed in situations where the Lord requires that something be accomplished by the mutual agreement, collective voice, common consent, or majority of His people. Such a mechanism must be transparent, inclusive, and ensure that all have an equal voice in the process, thus permitting all to be accountable for their decisions in such matters. This proposal outlines a process for creating a temporary or provisional committee to oversee such a mechanism and discusses their responsibilities as well as the extremely limited scope and duration of their stewardship. Depending on the specific nature of what is requested or required by the Lord, the primary function of this committee would be to facilitate a process for 1) obtaining the voice of the people and 2) adopting or otherwise implementing the outcome according to the Lord’s command.
BACKGROUND AND PROPOSAL
During this past year, the scripture committee has served as a single point of contact enabling the work required to complete the scripture project. This has included managing the flow of information to geographically-separated fellowships and individuals, and allowed the voice of the people to be gathered on occasion, counted, reported, and honored with respect to the scriptures. As the scriptures are published and the primary work of that committee is now drawing to a close, we believe it appropriate and timely to come together to establish a new committee, by the voice of the people, to act as facilitators for the body of Christ in situations where the Lord requests or requires something be accomplished by us all, whether it be by mutual agreement, collective voice, common consent, majority vote, 100% agreement, or some other criteria.
The overarching purpose of the proposed committee would be to serve as a central body that helps us to work together to fulfill assignments and commandments from the Lord when He requires that the voice of His people be involved. The proposed committee would be responsible for organizing the means by which proposals and differing perspectives would be collected and facilitate a means by which deliberations about such proposals or perspectives, as well as the nature of the assignments or commandments given by the Lord, could occur in an equitable, transparent, and fair manner so that all would have the opportunity to critically review, comment, and respectfully discuss the issues before us. The proposed committee would also develop a fair and transparent system for assessing the voice of the people on various proposals or perspectives. The proposed committee would then report the outcome to the general body in a timely, clear, and efficient manner. In some cases, the proposed committee may need to present the outcome to an authorized servant of God who can then present it to the Lord, or this committee may need to help facilitate the adoption or implementation of an outcome in a setting such as a general conference or through another mechanism. Part of the responsibility of the new committee may be to request that an authorized servant inquire of the Lord for clarification surrounding what is being asked or intended in certain assignments or commandments, or for help in developing a process (eg, what is meant by “mutual agreement”?). Additionally, an authorized servant would also be able to call upon this committee as needed in situations where the Lord has requested or required that the voice of the people be sought.
In essence, any time an assignment or commandment from the Lord is given to His covenant people, which includes ascertaining the voice of the people, the proposed committee would be activated and responsible for suitably informing the people of the assignment or commandment that requires resolution, for soliciting and receiving votes or input, and for disseminating the results. Thus, the proposed committee would only be activated on occasions where the Lord has assigned or commanded something be accomplished by the voice of His people and requires us to work together to develop a solution or outcome. Therefore, the purview of the proposed committee would not include the promotion or facilitating of proposals by individuals or fellowships acting on personal or collective revelation to complete a commandment to them or their interpretation of a commandment to the larger body. Nor would the purview of the proposed committee include serving as a mechanism to resolve issues among individuals or to approve or correlate beliefs. Individuals or fellowships wishing to put something up for consideration for the larger body of believers would need to develop their own mechanisms for doing so and for obtaining common consent.
Thus, the scope of responsibility of the proposed committee would be extremely limited as would their term of service. The proposed committee would not be part of or form any sort of hierarchy, or be in a position of authority above any other individual or fellowship. The proposed committee would have no power or ability to impose anything upon any individual, fellowship, or an authorized servant. On the contrary, the individuals who serve on the proposed committee would function as servants of all. The proposed committee would have no decision-making power aside from their primary responsibility of facilitating and managing a transparent and inclusive decision-making process that will accurately and honestly gather the voice of the people on specific matters as requested or required by the Lord, thus safeguarding and protecting equality among us. (LE D&C 26:2; Mosiah 29:26). Any who join in such an effort would have to set aside any preferences or biases they have for any given proposal and focus instead on the mechanism to obtain the voice of the people on matters required by the Lord. In order to prevent institutionalism and promote equality among us, we propose that the members of this committee serve for no more than one consecutive year. As a result, there may be entire years in which the services of this committee are not activated or needed. Thus, we view the proposed committee as having a very limited role on very limited occasions.
WE PROPOSE that this new committee be constituted by the vote and voice of the people according to the following guidelines:
- Each covenant holder would have the opportunity to recommend the names of no more than three adults, excluding themselves, with one coming from their home fellowship, if possible.
- Recommendations should be based on character and disposition, rather than personal representation (bias). Thus, consider the following list of attributes for those who would serve on this committee:
- Meek disposition
- Temperate and dispassionate
- Firm mind, godly walk
- Dependable and full of integrity
- Reasoned, logical, and principled intellect
- Unassuming and not easily provoked
- From the list of those recommended for service, lots will be cast and 7 people chosen to serve for a period of one year. Other than those who have accepted the invitation to serve, the names of individuals recommended will not be made public at any time. Individuals drawn for inclusion on the proposed committee would have the option to decline participation.
- Once selected, the committee would self-organize and determine the best way to move forward in situations where an assignment or commandment from the Lord has been given that requires the voice of the people to be determined.
- At the conclusion of the committee’s one-year term of service, the process for selecting a new committee would be repeated. There would be no carry-over of any individuals or requirement to adhere to any precedents or practices set by prior committees (other than those agreed to by the body of believers in the establishment of this committee).
- In order to initiate this process, we suggest that the scripture committee use the above guidelines to bring together the first committee, given their already established connection to the body of believers as well as their experience in collecting information online. The scripture committee can then step aside and allow the selected committee to move forward.
By utilizing the above suggested process for establishing a committee to obtain the voice of the people, we believe individuals and families who have entered into the covenant of the Lord may have a greater degree of trust and confidence in those willing to serve in this capacity because selection is not based on notoriety, popularity, or manipulation. It is our belief that the proposed committee will become a trusted and respected source to which we can look for an accurate, reliable, and timely flow of information on matters that pertain to the entire body of Christ.
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS
In some cases, the specific process by which a decision should be made by the voice of the people may be clearly made known, either by the Lord or as instructed through an authorized servant, but in other cases it may not be made known or it may be subject to differing interpretations. Although the noble efforts of many individuals have led to the development of several proposed versions of a Guide & Standard, adopting a final version has remained elusive, primarily due to disagreements about what the Lord’s criteria are for mutual agreement. There is no resolution on the horizon that will satisfy all. We believe that the Lord will provide further light and knowledge on what is meant by “mutual agreement” if we humbly present our dispute to Him. Since March 2017, our understanding about what has been commanded and the process by which we should accomplish this task has evolved. It is perhaps time to put the past behind us, learn from it, and move forward as best we can. Therefore, it is our belief that the committee described in this proposal could serve as a solution to the situation in which we find ourselves.
Therefore, if enacted, the first order of business for this committee would be to develop a mechanism by which the voice of the people can be obtained to determine how we will conduct our business on this assignment by “mutual agreement”. For example, do the people desire to adhere to a 51% majority, or a more stringent 75% majority requirement as modeled in the amending of the Constitution, or even 100% complete agreement? If it is decided by the voice of the people that it requires, say, a two-thirds majority to be considered “the voice of the people” or “mutual agreement”, then we would be looking for a two-thirds majority of the people to be in agreement on this issue. Then, the committee can apply the determined approach to obtain the voice of the people on several of the options and versions of the Guide & Standard in order to adopt a final version by mutual agreement. This could even include allowing the body of believers to choose which version they will use as a base version and how they will go about revising it to reach a final Guide & Standard, which would then be submitted to the people for their voice before adoption; various inclusive and transparent means of developing such a document have already been developed. This would only be a starting point for final acceptance and adoption of the document. Once the voice of the people has been determined on the matter, it can be presented to the Lord and/or He could be further petitioned for His counsel and instruction to fully settle the matter.
We have outlined a proposed process, via a temporary committee that is limited in their stewardship, which can assist us in working together to fulfill the commandments and assignments of the Lord, when the voice of the people is to be included. The proposed committee will only be established by the voice of the people. It will not exist independent of the voice of God's people. We believe it wisdom that this committee be established at this time for the purposes of moving forward the work of the Lord in these last days. We also believe that this committee can help facilitate a limited yet necessary degree of order and efficiency now and in the future as we strive to fulfil the covenants and responsibilities placed upon us by the Lord.
Those few individuals who have written this proposal for the establishment of a new committee have no expectation to participate as members of that committee and have no self-interest in its establishment other than to ensure an orderly mechanism is established among the people of God to continue His work.
We fully support the scripture committee’s ongoing efforts to finalize and publish scriptures for this people. We anticipate they will continue to act in their sphere, fulfilling all obligations they have to this people and to the Lord with regards to the scripture project. We are grateful for their work, but think it would be unfair to impose upon them the ongoing obligation to act in this capacity for future projects and proposals.
HOW TO MOVE FORWARD
We would like to determine how many individuals are in favor of this proposal. You can request to have your name added to this proposal by emailing Jim O’Rullian (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name. You can also choose to endorse this proposal anonymously. Please submit your name by 10/10/2017. If you have better ideas or suggestions for improving this proposal, please also let us know.
If there is sufficient support for this proposal, we will ask the scripture committee to consider putting this proposal up for voting. For lack of a better process at this point, and to move forward, we suggest that the outcome of this voting be determined by simple majority as described in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 29:26). If the proposal garners majority support at that point, we propose moving forward with the scripture committee facilitating the process of collecting nominations to establish this new committee by 10/17/2017, with the intention that the new committee would begin service by 11/1/2017.
We desire to be united as a community of equals, seeking to be of one heart and one mind. We want to work together and get as many individuals as possible on board with a process that will help us move forward in situations where the voice of the people is required by the Lord. Our sincerest desire is that we can work together in greater harmony, becoming one in the process, and fulfill the Lord’s commandments to us as a people.
Very respectfully yours,
James (Jamison) Fargo
Alan Van Leer
John and Kay Webster