Disfellowshipped and struggling


Kim5791

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I have been disfellowshipped for over 2 years now, wow I hadn't even realized that until today.... I have never lost faith in the church, and I continue to live righteously in nearly all aspects of my life, with the exception of one: I have committed the transgression that initially caused my disfellowship repeatedly since my initial disciplinary council. I have felt great shame and disappointment in myself about this, and I would stop if I felt that such an action wouldn't drastically disrupt my life as it exists currently. I will add that my transgression is not illegal nor socially unacceptable.

I need badly to be attending church, I know that nothing will change if I do not start attending church again. I have moved and am no longer in the same ward I was in when I had my disciplinary council. I want to begin attending church, but I am not ready to discuss anything with the bishopric of my new ward (I haven't met them since I've never been, so it's not a matter of being uncomfortable, I'm simply not ready to go back to the issue). I have avoided returning to church because I know that since I'm continuing to commit such a grevious transgression, I don't feel worthy of being there. I am afraid that if I return, I'll be forced to meet with the bishopric, I'll be forced to undergo another disciplinary council, which would result in excommunication. This terrifies me, and has been the motivation behind my not having felt the spirit of the Lord in His house in over a year.

I want so desperately to resume attending meetings, and it's more important now than ever because I'm planning to marry the man I'm dating. He is not a member of the church however, and has had no exposure to it to date. I need to be coming to church, so that he can come and feel the spirit and decide if he wants to join the church. But I'm so scared to go myself that I can't really ask him to go either.

I want to know if I can attend meetings without having to speak to the bishopric about my transgression right now. I have no intention of letting it continue for forever, because I want to feel the blessings of being a member in good standing of the Church again, more than anything. I just am not ready to face it yet, but I know that avoiding going to Church will never bring me closer to facing my problem. Can I go and just attend the meetings, or will I have to talk to someone about my membership status?

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The Bishop may want to speak with you, and you should speak to him, but share what you have just said, that you want to attend but are not ready to deal with whatever it is. Trust me, he'd rather have you there than have you absent.

I had a Stake President tell the Bishops at a Stake Leadership meeting once that if they did not smell cigarette smoke or alcohol on some of their members they were not doing their duty, that the first thing to help someone is to get them coming to Church to feel the Spirit, to study the Gospel and to fellowship.

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Agreed with 727, go to church and be honest, tell them you aren't ready to talk about it, it doesn't have to be a "come into my office" chat. I would suggest start meeting with the missionaries, when you have your little talk with the bishop mention that. This will let your BF know whats going on, it will help you to figure things out. And come on, who doesn't like the missionaries?

Good luck!

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You could just show up for sacrament meeting, keep to yourself, then leave afterwards. Worked for me for awhile. Eventually people began to recognize me and chat; I became pretty friendly with a few of them. When I was finally comfortable enough in the ward to speak with the Bishop about my very serious transgressions, it was less adverserial and much more geared towards helping me past my sins. Yeah, there was some fire and brimstone from the Stake President, and there was a long process of repentance, but having eased into it slowly over a period of time, instead of driving straight into it with a 9 iron, I felt much less.. cornered. I'm the type that puts up his fists and fights when cornered; I'll do anything to win. But the approach was non-confrontational and geared towards reconcilliation instead of punishment, and because of that I never felt like an outsider.

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Go to church and tell the bishop your not worthy right now to take the sacrament and not ready to talk about it but you wont to come to church to get back into the swing of things because you have been less active for a while. There are many reasons why one can't take the sacrament and he will understand completely.

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Guest mormonmusic
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I would attend a different Ward for a while so at least you get the experience of going to Church. If people ask just say you're visiting for a while, or give them some reason that you feel comfortable with. The Bishopric will leave you alone if you don't live in his Ward boundaries. After a while you might get your desire back to deal with the problem, and at that point, you might start attending your own Ward. I don't see any disadvantages to attending a different Ward since as a disfellowshipped member I believe you won't have a calling -- which is one reason to attend your home ward after full blessings are returned. Only your home Ward Bishop can call you to a Ward calling, but it has to be in his geographical boundary -- and that's not an issue since you are disfellowshipped.

Regarding subsequent excommunication; I can't comment on that one as I've never been in leadership when that situation has presented itself. If the sin is of a sexual nature, then getting married might help mitigate the problem, however, that's a personal matter. I do think there would be lenience if you went to the Bishopric with a remorseful heart, but indicated you got married, making physical intimacy no longer a sin. But that's just my opinion if physical intimacy outside of marriage is the problem.

Keep nurturing that desire to be active and connected with the Church again...it's heading you in the right direction.

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Only one reason I would disagree with that. In making your way back to Church, with attending your own ward you can start to develop friendships that could be supportive of you. Going to another ward only prolongs the inevitable in meeting the Bishop that could help you through the repentence process.

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I think you should share your feelings with your significant other. If you don't you are hiding something about yourself from him. If you feel you can't be honest in your relationship, there is a bigger problem there.

Respect him enough to share your feelings. I am confident that he will support you in your decision to return to Church. But you will never know if you don't talk to him.

And if you need to get out of a situation, have the faith to do it. It's easier said than done, I know. But you need to be true to God and to yourself because if you aren't sharing yourself because of fear, no one will ever know the real you. Yeah there might be some pain, but there will be joy as well.

And pray everyday. The Lord will give you courage. Be patient and recognize that the fear you feel is not from God. He will help you.

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What exactly is dis-fellow-shipped? I know of excommunication but this is obviously not that.

–noun

1.

(in some Protestant religions) the status of a member who, because of some serious infraction of church policy, has been denied the church's sacraments and any post of responsibility and is officially shunned by other members.

That is the definition according to dictionary.com Is that the same thing to the LDS?

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Mute's definition of disfellowshipped is just about right. You are still a member of the Church, but your privileges to do anything but attend for yourself are pretty much suspended. It's intended to keep you active in your faith, and to continue to be exposed to the spirit and the supportive family of the Church, while keeping you from committing the disrectful transgression of partaking of Church related responsibilities and privleges (i.e. callings and sacrament) while being unworthy to do so.

To avatar4321, my boyfriend has been very supportive of my need to be attending Church, so much so that he hasn't pressured me because he is familiar with how much pain it's been causing me. He is willing to attend meetings with me, and early in our relationship he did some personal investigation of the Church on his own. I have never hidden anything from him, in a personal or a spiritual nature. We have an open and honest relationship, and I know that he is the kind of man that, if he joined the Church, would eventually make Bishop-material.

My fear of returning to Church is based solely on my own shame. I know that what I'm doing is wrong, and while I haven't made the decision to stop, I think about it all the time and wish desparately that I could find some kind of compromise. But the Lord works in absolutes, you don't get to pick and choose which of His rules you agree with.

My biggest concern outside of all of this is my boyfriend. I do not want to remove myself from the possibility of an eternal marriage, or from being able to attain celestial glory. I have to start exposing him to the Church so that I can learn if he is serious about joining someday, so that I will know if marrying him is the right thing to do. Everything about him as person is amazing, I love him and I know we would make each other happy for years. But years on Earth are immaterial next to eternity with the Lord, and I need to make that distinction now before things become irreparable.

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Mute's definition of disfellowshipped is just about right. You are still a member of the Church, but your privileges to do anything but attend for yourself are pretty much suspended. It's intended to keep you active in your faith, and to continue to be exposed to the spirit and the supportive family of the Church, while keeping you from committing the disrectful transgression of partaking of Church related responsibilities and privleges (i.e. callings and sacrament) while being unworthy to do so.

To avatar4321, my boyfriend has been very supportive of my need to be attending Church, so much so that he hasn't pressured me because he is familiar with how much pain it's been causing me. He is willing to attend meetings with me, and early in our relationship he did some personal investigation of the Church on his own. I have never hidden anything from him, in a personal or a spiritual nature. We have an open and honest relationship, and I know that he is the kind of man that, if he joined the Church, would eventually make Bishop-material.

My fear of returning to Church is based solely on my own shame. I know that what I'm doing is wrong, and while I haven't made the decision to stop, I think about it all the time and wish desparately that I could find some kind of compromise. But the Lord works in absolutes, you don't get to pick and choose which of His rules you agree with.

My biggest concern outside of all of this is my boyfriend. I do not want to remove myself from the possibility of an eternal marriage, or from being able to attain celestial glory. I have to start exposing him to the Church so that I can learn if he is serious about joining someday, so that I will know if marrying him is the right thing to do. Everything about him as person is amazing, I love him and I know we would make each other happy for years. But years on Earth are immaterial next to eternity with the Lord, and I need to make that distinction now before things become irreparable.

It sounds as if you know what you want you just need the faith to do it. It also sounds like you know about the gospel, the plan and believe it. This has got to be hard for you, it's hard kicking against the pricks. I like your plan, you need to get your boyfriend exposed to the gospel. Start going to church, read the scripture daily and pray daily. Other than what the Lord can do to help you through the atonement (and that's allot!) you must get the support from others! Start going, take your boyfriend and find out if he's wanting to be with you for eternity! Your on the right track by asking for advice here, there always has to be a start!

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What exactly is dis-fellow-shipped? I know of excommunication but this is obviously not that.

–noun

1.

(in some Protestant religions) the status of a member who, because of some serious infraction of church policy, has been denied the church's sacraments and any post of responsibility and is officially shunned by other members.

That is the definition according to dictionary.com Is that the same thing to the LDS?

There are a number of possibilities from LDS disciplinary councils (church courts).

1. Excommunication – removal from church records and a nullification of covenant and possible covenant blessings. Restoration requires a “redo” of all ordinances and ordinations.

2. Disfellowship – Considered less than Excommunication. A suspension of priesthood covenants and blessings that can be restored without “redo” ordinances and ordinations.

3. Probation – temporary condition of interruption in covenant and blessings which must result in further “disciplinary” action or restoration of all covenants and blessings when the period of temporary condition concludes.

4. Exoneration or no disciplinary action. No interruption in covenants or covenant blessings.

It is important to realize that any disciplinary action is with the single purpose to assist a person in the realization of the plan of salvation in their life.

The Traveler

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What exactly is dis-fellow-shipped? I know of excommunication but this is obviously not that.

–noun

1.

(in some Protestant religions) the status of a member who, because of some serious infraction of church policy, has been denied the church's sacraments and any post of responsibility and is officially shunned by other members.

That is the definition according to dictionary.com Is that the same thing to the LDS?

This is about right, except the church does not practice shunning, and in fact, the discipline is done privately, and often members are unaware of anything going on. Of course, rumors and gossip exist in the church, just as it does everywhere else, so there may be issues with that, but the church has a policy of not shunning, and in fact, teaches that shunning and gossip are not in line with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's not to say that you shouldn't separate cats and dogs when they are fighting each other.

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From M. Russell Ballard:

The third decision the council may take is to disfellowship the member. Disfellowshipment is usually temporary, though not necessarily brief. Disfellowshipped persons retain membership in the Church. They are encouraged to attend public Church meetings, but are not entitled to offer public prayers or to give talks. They may not hold a Church position, take the sacrament, vote in the sustaining of Church officers, hold a temple recommend, or exercise the priesthood. They may, however, pay tithes and offerings and continue to wear temple garments if endowed.

The one thing not yet mentioned is that these members can continue to wear temple garments if endowed.

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Guest mormonmusic

What exactly is dis-fellow-shipped? I know of excommunication but this is obviously not that.

–noun

1.

(in some Protestant religions) the status of a member who, because of some serious infraction of church policy, has been denied the church's sacraments and any post of responsibility and is officially shunned by other members.

That is the definition according to dictionary.com Is that the same thing to the LDS?

I don't think that definition applies in our Church. Disfellowshipment means you can no longer take the sacrament, speak in Church, or hold a calling. But you can still attend activities, help serve others in service projects, and be otherwise involved as a member. You don't lose your membership, don't have to be rebaptized after the disfellowshipment period is over to become a member. You maintain your membership but in a restricted kind of way until unrestricted membership is granted again.

Shunning of the member isn't part of the concept either. The membership as a whole rarely knows the person is disfellowshipped. The only time this is announced is if the person did something visibly and publicly and everyone knows about it (said an older version of the general handbook). The bishop meets with the person regularly after disfellowshipment to see how they are doing, and often, I've seen extra effort put into fellowshipping the person so they know the people in the Church still love them and want them.

The purpose of disfellowshipment is to help the person see the gravity of what they did, to help them repent, to get the details out to the leadership so any innocent people who might be harmed by the person's action can be protected in the future (if that applies), and to preserve the integrity of the Church by helping its members maintain a certain minimal standard of righteousness.

Shunning the person is entirely out of the scope of the disfellowshipment.

That's my take on it from when I had access to a Handbook of Instructions published by the Church that sets out these guidelines.

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You seem to be still trying to find a way to have both worlds. Instead of looking at that try looking at your situation as a balance sheet. Take four pieces of paper, on 1 title it - Why I can't or don't go to church. On 2 Why I should or want to go to church. 3 The benefit or gain I get from the reasons listed on 1. On page 4 the benefit or gain you would get from page 2.

What ever the transgression there is a payoff for you otherwise you would not still do it. You desire to return so you must feel there is a payoff for that as well. The first two pages give the specific reasons of each choice. The last two pages are the effects of it. Include things like temporary embarrassment for having to see the Bishop etc but include the most likely outcome. (short term trial for long term gain for example.)

Put aside the pages for a week, pray about them, study the scriptures if you still read, then revisit the lists, talk to your boyfriend about them if you have that kind of relationship. Then decide which payoff is more appealing to you. Use a fifth sheet of paper to create simple steps to take more fully the path you desire, if it's to continue the transgression then give up the church and get on with life. Or do it the other way if it's to return to the fold.

I don't mean to suggest it is an easy path no matter which one is chosen, but either is far better then to sit on the fence and put your life on hold creating more guilt and confusion especially when planning a new life. Get it settled now before marriage so you do not bring this burden into your new relationship.

And if you decide to attend church you are under no obligation to talk about your past, or mention you are even a member if you wish at first. The service might draw you closer or further from the church depending on which gets stronger the guilt or the testimony from attending.

Until you do something concrete about this you will remain in a holding pattern, existing not living, you can not start a new married life without resolving this on within yourself. It will simply add to the pressure you feel.

I hope you find the path best for you no matter what it is. You and your future husband deserve it.

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What exactly is dis-fellow-shipped? I know of excommunication but this is obviously not that.

–noun

1.

(in some Protestant religions) the status of a member who, because of some serious infraction of church policy, has been denied the church's sacraments and any post of responsibility and is officially shunned by other members.

That is the definition according to dictionary.com Is that the same thing to the LDS?

No, we do not shun disfellowshipped or excommunicated members. They are denied the sacraments and can not hold callings, or give public prayers IN Church.

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What exactly is dis-fellow-shipped? I know of excommunication but this is obviously not that.

–noun

1.

(in some Protestant religions) the status of a member who, because of some serious infraction of church policy, has been denied the church's sacraments and any post of responsibility and is officially shunned by other members.

That is the definition according to dictionary.com Is that the same thing to the LDS?

You have got the definition right other than the part of being shunned by other members. It is the responsibility of church members to accept without judgment and love all people. This has been a consistent theme of council from church leaders to fellowship our brothers and sisters. According to Ned B. Roueché, "We all have a great responsibility … that includes searching out those that are not with us and extending to them our love and fellowship." (“‘Feed My Sheep’,” Liahona, Nov 2004, 30–31).

Being disfellowshipped in the church simply means that one who has transgressed cannot take the sacrament, hold callings, or offer prayers at church until they have fully repented of their transgression.

:patriot:

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Mute's definition of disfellowshipped is just about right. You are still a member of the Church, but your privileges to do anything but attend for yourself are pretty much suspended. It's intended to keep you active in your faith, and to continue to be exposed to the spirit and the supportive family of the Church, while keeping you from committing the disrectful transgression of partaking of Church related responsibilities and privleges (i.e. callings and sacrament) while being unworthy to do so.

To avatar4321, my boyfriend has been very supportive of my need to be attending Church, so much so that he hasn't pressured me because he is familiar with how much pain it's been causing me. He is willing to attend meetings with me, and early in our relationship he did some personal investigation of the Church on his own. I have never hidden anything from him, in a personal or a spiritual nature. We have an open and honest relationship, and I know that he is the kind of man that, if he joined the Church, would eventually make Bishop-material.

My fear of returning to Church is based solely on my own shame. I know that what I'm doing is wrong, and while I haven't made the decision to stop, I think about it all the time and wish desparately that I could find some kind of compromise. But the Lord works in absolutes, you don't get to pick and choose which of His rules you agree with.

My biggest concern outside of all of this is my boyfriend. I do not want to remove myself from the possibility of an eternal marriage, or from being able to attain celestial glory. I have to start exposing him to the Church so that I can learn if he is serious about joining someday, so that I will know if marrying him is the right thing to do. Everything about him as person is amazing, I love him and I know we would make each other happy for years. But years on Earth are immaterial next to eternity with the Lord, and I need to make that distinction now before things become irreparable.

Dear Kim5797,

My heart goes out to you. We all do things that we are not proud of. My advice to you is to repent of this transgression and put it behind you as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the better you will feel and you will begin to enjoy life and the church again. Believe me...I know. About a year ago I was not living the way I should and was extremely hesitant to speak with my bishop about my issues. I was afraid to speak with the bishop because I thought that he might judge me. Finally one day, I decided to speak with my bishop.

Of course, I was extremely nervous to speak with him. Just before I stepped into his office I was shaky and butterflies were churning in my stomach. I silently prayed for strength and the spirit helped me to calm down. But what surprised me even more was my bishops reaction when I confessed my sins. There was not judgment in his eyes, only love and compassion. He seemed to understand all that I was going through.

After the meeting, I had a feeling of peace come over me that I haven't ever felt before. I felt the spirit again and felt more confidence in myself. To quote Elder Eyring:

The temptation to delay repentance comes not only at the end of the world as suggested by those scriptures. Any choice to delay repentance gives him the chance to steal happiness from one of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father. (“Do Not Delay,” Ensign, Nov 1999, 33

My prayers are with you and good luck.

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  • 5 months later...

We have a member, actually my sister-inlaw who was divorced with three daughters and one son. She married another guy, who her and her husband insially, were introducing to the church. She married him. the marriegs lasted about 2-3 years. She had two more kids with this new person, then separated and divorced. She met this other guy who she had a baby with. She was not married to him. I think she is disfeloshiped but attend the ward with new baby, her kids and her ex husband is in the ward with his kids.

We cannot afford to loose more people. Our ward just gets smaller and smaller. I would hate to see all of them not come because she was not allowed to attend. So she still attends with her daughters "my nieces"

Unfortunately, another ethnic majority is dominating the area and they are of a completely different religion. We have lots ALOT of members in our ward in the last five years because of move outs.

Edited by bcguy
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Guest SisterofJared

Disfellowship is a disciplinary action taken by the church as a call to repentence. They are welcomed at meetings, and encouraged to attend. The disciplinary action is considered an act of love, a court of love, as a reminder to bring their actions back in line with the Lord's teachings. A disfellowshipped member cannot take the sacrament nor speak in meetings for a period of time while they ponder and pray, repenting of the actions that caused them to be disfellowshiped.

You will be welcomed in your ward. Just go, you don't have to say a word about your disfellowshipping to anyone. When the clerk asks your name and address so he can send for your records, tell him. When your records arrive, then will have a little flag attacked that lets the bishop know you were disfellowshipped. If the bishop calls you to go in for an interview, tell him that you are just barely ready to start attending your meetings, but not ready to talk yet. He'll be there when you are ready to talk. No one will say a thing, most will not even notice you're refusing the sacrament. People do that for many reasons.

I want to encourage you to just go. We have a man in our ward who was disfellowshipped for many years. He moved from the ward he was disfellowshipped in, and did not go to church. One day, out of the blue, the bishop called him and told him." I am supposed to be the Lord's shepherd, taking care of his sheep. I have failed in that, and I am calling to ask you to come back to church." The man was surprised and pleased... he started to attend church, and his priesthood blessings were restored.

Just go. Be friendly, know that the bishop will be there for you when you need to talk.

Good luck!

Sister of Jared

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I know I won't be popular for my opinion, and I haven't ready most of the responses, only the initial post by the OP.

1. It's good you have a desire to come back.

2. It's good that you recognize the need to repent

3. It's good that you realize it's going to be a rough road.

4. Sometimes being excommunicated can be a freeing thing, then when you come back and get re-baptized, you'll be completely clean and renewed. BUT if you can avoid that please do. It takes so much longer to come back.

5. If you know the Church is true and you want to come back to Father, WHY would you put yourself through the hell of marrying someone outside of the Temple? I've told many a faithful sister over the years, "It would be better to never marry than to marry outside of the Temple".

That said, there are circumstances where it might be OK... if you've brought a child into the world through fornication or adultery, then a child should have both a father and a mother, legally married. That in my opinion would be the only exception to the advise of #5.

6. If you know you are doing wrong. Just stop. I know, easier said than done.

7. Be honest and just go see your Bishop. Just go to Church all 3 hours every week for the rest of your life. For a time, you won't have a calling, you won't be praying, but you will have the opportunity to feel the spirit.... IF you are turning your life around, living the commandments and striving to be ready to have your fellowship restored. When you are only disfellowshipped, if you strive to live right you can still have the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

8. Sometimes a sin can chain us down. How bad do you want to be rid of it? Decide now that you are willing to follow the Savior at all cost and at every hazard. Tough council, but it can free you in a way you may never realize unless you try. Leave behind associations that chain you down.

God bless you as you move forward. God is love. He only wants the best for you.

Chose today to feel that love and to accept His loving atonement.

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