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Museum concludes WWI programs with Community of Christ speaker

April 16th, 2018

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Kauffman Museum’s final program connected to its special exhibit on pacifism in World War I takes place Jan. 7.

Andrew Bolton will present “Is Community of Christ becoming Anabaptist?” at 3 p.m. in the museum auditorium. The Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program is free and open to the public.

Community of Christ, known from 1872 until 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), has its international headquarters in Independence, Missouri.

The RLDS has a common early history with the Mormons, from 1830-44. However, after the assassination of Joseph Smith Jr., the group that became the RLDS stood against polygamy, authoritarian leadership and the militarism of the early Latter Day Saints movement.

“If Mormon Nauvoo, Illinois, is the equivalent of Anabaptist Muenster, Westphalia, then is Joseph Smith III, leader of the early RLDS church, the equivalent of Menno Simons?” Bolton wonders.

“Today, Community of Christ has embraced a clear peace mission. What are the influences that have continued this shift to a peace mission? Is Community of Christ repentantly becoming an Anabaptist religious tradition?”

Bolton first discovered historic Anabaptism in 1984 while studying for a master’s degree in religion, and he was hooked. Upon returning to his native England, Bolton met Alan Kreider and other Mennonites at the London Mennonite Centre.

Kreider introduced Bolton to James Juhnke, Bethel professor emeritus of history, 20 years ago, “and that began a fruitful friendship,” Bolton says.

From 1998-2010, Bolton coordinated peace and justice ministries for Community of Christ worldwide, and from 2007-16, the work of Community of Christ in Asia (200 congregations in nine countries).

Bolton was one of the organizers of the recent symposium “Remembering Muted Voices: Conscience, Dissent, Resistance and Civil Liberties in World War I through Today,” at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

The symposium included the Kauffman Museum traveling exhibit “Voices of Conscience: Peace Witness in the Great War,” which will be at Kauffman Museum until Jan. 21, before beginning a travel schedule through 2018.

Bolton has published a number of papers on parallels between Community of Christ and Anabaptism. His latest research is on an RLDS conscientious objector in World War I.

Kauffman Museum maintains its normal hours through the holidays: Tues.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., closed Monday. Admission to the current special exhibits “Voices of Conscience: Peace Witness in the Great War” and “Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West,” as well as the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. The museum store is open the same hours as the museum (no admission charge for just visiting the store).

For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website, www.bethelks.edu/kauffman/, or Facebook page.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.