I met some friends in Affirmation and read some excellent pamphlets that Affirmation put out. One was about excommunication, which the pamphlet explained, doesn’t mean the end of the world. There is a road back. That was a great comfort and source of information to me. In Affirmation I met a couple of men who were thinking of starting a study group and meeting to study the Gospel and partake of the Sacrament together in each other’s homes. I thought this might be a good idea, but I wanted to pray about it, so I did.
This is how my prayer was answered. One day I was sitting alone in a gay restaurant in West Hollywood, sipping a beer and checking out a guy as he walked across the room. All of a sudden, the Spirit came over me and confirmed that I should take part with this group. But, think about it! God was sending me a message in the most vivid way possible. According to traditional church teachings, I was in the wrong place, drinking the wrong beverage, and thinking the wrong thoughts. But, the Holy Ghost cut through all that clutter and told me what was really important. All the trivial do’s and don’t’s are not important in the eyes of God. What God is looking for are people who trust Him and obey His voice. This was another lesson learned.
We began meeting as a little group, then suddenly, several of us began receiving revelation, just like Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did in the early days of the church. What’s it like to receive a revelation? First you sense something like a point of tension building and building in your spirit. It’s like a dam ready to burst. You feel like a piece of knowledge or intelligence is about to flood over you. Joseph Smith aptly described it as pure intelligence flowing through you. Another teacher described it as “the flashing forth of intuition”.
Then the light really dawns, are you instantly receive a huge block of understanding, all in an instant. You want to write it down. You want to write while in the Spirit as Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon did while receiving the Vision of the Three Degrees of Glory. During that time, you struggle to get your multi-dimensional holographic down in a one-dimensional stream of words. You struggle to find the right word, or sometime the correct wordage just comes to you. You feel like you are on Cloud 9. You feel like you can ask God any question, and it will be answered before you even finish asking it. You feel like God knows what you are going to ask, and he knows what you are going to ask next, so he just jumps ahead to answer the next question. Unfortunately, the vision eventually closes, though you wish it would last forever. All you can do is exclaim. It’s true! I know for myself, it’s true!
I learned in the church that we are all entitled to revelation and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, concerning our callings and stewardship, regardless if the stewardship is our own life, our family, our church callings, our job, or even a venture such as we felt called to embark upon.
We were first directed to organize ourselves into a body of Priesthood holders, and begin to serve in the various offices, each according to our own talents, desires, and abilities. One of us was a High Priest, a Bishop, and a temple sealer. Others of us were Elders, Seventies, and Aaronic Priesthood holders. Several of us were returned missionaries. You might ask where we got the authority to do this. We were directed to statements from early church leaders who stated that if all the church were out of order, save one elder only, or the church was taken from the earth, save one elder only, or there were a group of saints who wanted to build up the Kingdom, and there was no organized body for them to join, then one elder had the necessary authority to re-establish and set in order the Priesthood and Kingdom of God, when directed by revelation to do so.
This was the very situation that we found ourselves in. We were cut off from the main body of the Priesthood without any way of exercising the Priesthood which we still held, and without any way to fulfill the missions we were foreordained to perform in this life. We had the revelation and the authorization. There was no need to restore any additional authority because we already had all the keys inherent in the Melchizedek Priesthood which we held. We had not one elder. We had three. We chose the man who had been the Bishop and High Priest as our presiding elder, as he was so called by the revelation. He was called to set one of us apart at Presiding Bishop and me as Presiding Patriarch. The settings-apart were for now. We were told that if we were true and faithful, the day would come when we would be ordained to these offices.
After all of this, I was so excited to spread the news in the Mormon Gay community. God had called not one, but two prophets to our community, and he wants to show us how much he loves us. He’s going to let us to continue serving one another in the Priesthood, and in time, receive all the ordinances of His House. This news was not well-received among Affirmation members. Some of them couldn’t believe something like this could happen to one of our own. (“Is this not the son of Joseph the carpenter?”). Others wanted to have nothing to do with religion of any kind. Others were hoping to be reconciled back into the Mormon church and didn’t want to risk belonging to another organization.
I later realized that this group and these revelations weren’t just for gay Mormons, but they were for everybody who had been cast out and made to feel unwelcome in the church for any reason. I thought of the man who held a bridal feast and invited all his wealthy friends, but they refused to come, so he went out into the streets and invited all the poor, the blind, the beggars, and the undesirables to come into the feast. Or, more accurately, those whom society had deemed the “poor”, the “blind”, the “beggars”, and the “undesirables”. The Lord was the rich man throwing the bridal feast. The rich and the haughty were the proud people of the world, who lived in the “great and spacious building”, and who “fought against the 12 apostles of the lamb”. These were they who looked down the poor and humble followers of Christ, trying to make their way through the mists of darkness, following the iron rod, which was the word of God. These are they who would not enter into the Kingdom of God, but stood at the gate blocking entrance for all others who wanted to enter. Those who were considered the poor, the blind, the beggars, and the undesirables were those who were forced to roam the streets, outcast and rejected in the eyes of the rich and the haughty, and who were invited, last of all, to come into the feast.
I wrote a hymn about this.
God doth grant unto all nations and all peoples of the earth
Wisdom, truth, and revelations, showing human souls their worth.
Deep His counsels, though not hidden, speaking wisdom, just and true,
Touching tender hearts when bidden, gently as the heaven’s dew.
“Come”, He calls, “unto My table. See the regal banquet spread.
Come ye rich, ye wise, ye able. Come and share the Master’s bread.
Come and feed upon My Spirit. Come and taste eternal joy.
Word of life, oh come and hear it, and My peace and rest enjoy.”
“Come ye poor.” the Lord entreats us. “Come lost sheep unto my board.”
At the door He stands and greets us as we meet our God and Lord.
We, the poor, have come in meekness, while the Lord most Tenderly
Builds our faith and strength from weakness, and each wandering soul sets free.
Growing up as saints together, sharing love with arms entwined,
Forging bonds which last forever, seeking after our own kind.
Heavenly Father builds His Kingdom, (Why should mankind think it odd?)
Of all nations, tongues, and peoples. Saints unto the Most High God.
Text: John R. Crane
Music: John R. Crane
I went on a trip to Salt Lake City and received a more positive response than I received in LA. Soon we had a family in Los Angeles and a family in Salt Lake City.
While in Salt Lake City, I went to a bar in Salt Lake called the Backstreet. I was surprised. It was full of men who reminded me of myself a couple of years ago. They were obviously all Mormon types — all insecure, scared and nervous, looking over their shoulders to see who would notice them and turn them in to their bishops or BYU Security.
I continued to seek to magnify my calling as a Presiding Patriarch, and Evangelist. Not growing up around patriarchs and hardly knowing what a true evangelist did, I did a lot of studying and praying about these callings. I realized that the people who gathered with us were without families, and we needed to form new families to welcome them in. They were also without relationships, and needed to learn how to form lasting relationships. I saw my work cut out for me. I received many revelations on the science of human relationships with each other and with God. I have written these impressions down over the years and compiled them and put them on my website, http://john144.com.
I was later called to be an Apostle, and I put the same energy into that calling as I did for the office of Patriarch. I guess my dad was right after all, but not in the way he thought. I don’t take any particular glory in either of these offices. I have no desire to rule over or control anybody. They are simply opportunities to serve, and opportunities for God to demonstrate that He can work through us and make us equal to any task he asks of us. It is one thing to have somebody lay his hands on your head and say that you have authority. This does nothing but fulfill the letter of the law. Receiving power to act in the Priesthood, together with the knowledge and understanding of how to act in the Priesthood, comes only from God, and therein lie the keys of the Priesthood. Anybody who claims to hold Priesthood keys, but lacks the knowledge of how to use them, has no keys, and his authority in the Priesthood is in name only.
Please think about this. I’m using myself as an example, but this could be anybody. I was called by God as the Presiding Patriarch of our little Priesthood gathering. In the short time, I was associated with the group, many gay men who were descendants of leading early church leaders dropped by to check us out. We had literal descendants of Hyrum Smith and Wilford Woodruff come see us. I asked God, why he wanted me to serve in this position, when I wasn’t a Smith, or somebody in the so-called “chosen lineage”. The answer I got was short and direct, and should be a lesson to us all: “Because you are filled with the Holy Ghost.” Another lesson learned.
I later found out, when Thom did our family genealogy, that he had an illustrious heritage, coming from both the early leadership of the church, back to the crowned heads of Europe. Not knowing this, I once told him, speaking as a Patriarch, that he had the pure blood of Ephraim. Turns out, he did. I also found out, because of his research, that through my dad’s mother, I had some pretty cool ancestors, too. I am particularly pleased to be a direct descendant of King Olof III of Sweden. He was the king who first allowed Christian missionaries into Sweden. However, the Swedes would have none of this, so they burned down their homes, and chased the Christian missionaries out of the country. Sometimes, I felt we missionaries received the same reception today.