Amy Estep is a Pastor and High Priest serving a Community of Christ congregation in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
I really wish you would have been here on Easter. I’d be more or less giving the same message in the sermon as this interview! Haha.
I grew up RLDS. My mother was a multigenerational member. When we met my father, he converted, and by the time I came along he had already been an ordained member for some time. I have never been the questioning type. Of course, I have had questions, but never in a testimony shaking way. In my early youth, I largely took my belief in Jesus Christ for granted.
My faith in Jesus Christ became real to me through the experience that shaped my testimony. As a seventh grade student, I was aware of what a testimony was but couldn’t pin it down to detail. I knew one thing for certain: I didn’t have one but both needed and desperately wanted one. One day, I found myself riding the school bus home and was suddenly overcome with the urgent need to pray. I began to cry and pray for my father.
When my mother picks me up from my bus stop, she calmly tells me that my father had been in a car accident only moments earlier. His accident would have been at the same time I was actively praying for him. After talking about that with my father, he related a similar earthshaking experience: surrounded by driving rain and the sound of crashing metal, he heard a voice telling him to get out of his car. When he and the police examined the wreckage of his vehicle, the driver’s seat was through the passenger window.
I’ve never thought of leaving my Restoration heritage. Like I said, I have certainly had questions but none that have shaken me enough to consider leaving. I love the Community of Christ. Truth be told, I have only recently understood the full impact of the First Vision, Joseph Smith, and the early Restoration.
I am extraordinarily passionate about what the Restoration stands for. Our Enduring Principles, Basic Beliefs, and main mission to share Christ with others are all driving forces in my life. Our Church may be sometimes behind the time in our collective progression, but I am very glad for the place we have arrived at today.
As a kid, I remember hearing about Zion. Things were different growing up in the time in Church history that I did. I was taught that Zion was equivalent to the Promised Land. It was peace on Earth, perfection, this beautiful place.
As I have grown older, I feel like Zion is not so broad as to cover the whole Earth but can be manifested individually in our lives. We all can grow Zion wherever we are at with whatever we have access to. While these days in the Community of Christ we don’t necessarily present things in a “this is how you get to Zion” sort of way, the pursuit of simple principles such as the abolition of poverty serve to create Zionic conditions. By pursuing these missions, we will build Zion just by simply doing.
Many of our visions of Zion and communities of Zionic expression may be different from one another, but we can certainly live to live in harmony with one another.
Ahmed Nait-Djoudi is a faithful Muslim and self-employed citizen of Algeria. He has studied at Université Mouloud Mammeri de Tizi Ouzou. Fluent in Arabic, German, English, and Algerian, he resides in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria.