Remember, the church expends huge amounts of energy trying to convert people to the church and is especially eager to convert intact families. So it is really a calamity when an intact family opts to never darken their halls again. At least you'd think so. I don't think that is reflected in the following which feels a lot more like a polite, "What's your problem? If you figure it out then feel free to come back."
The first item is a photocopied letter with a vertical black line down the left side. Apparently the copier needed servicing and the former members didn't deserve the original. I've taken the liberty of inserting comments throughout.
I have been asked to acknowledge your recent letter in which you request that your family's names be removed from the membership records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [They did no such thing. I read the letter and it wasn't a request; it was a resignation which the law states was effective immediately which makes the following both false and completely irrelevant.]
I have also been asked to inform you that the Church considers such a request to be an ecclesiastical matter that must be handled by local priesthood leaders before being processed by Church employees. [Why? The church employees regularly send unsolicited membership records to the wards and refuses to take them back so why can't they inform the ward that the members have quit and take the records back? The answer: they can and should, but they want to make sure that members aren't quitting to avoid excommunication. However this isn't even a reason anymore because the church has changed its policies and no longer excommunicates people who have quit.] Therefore, your letter and a copy of this reply are being sent to President [stake president] of the [stake] Stake. He will have Bishop [bishop] of the [ward] Ward contact you concerning the fulfillment of your request. [How long before that communication makes it through the ward grape vine?]
In view of the eternal consequences of such an action, the Brethren urge you to reconsider your request and to prayerfully consider the enclosed statement of the First Presidency. [Is that a thinly veiled threat?]
Greg W. Dodge
Manager, Member and Statistical Records
The next enclosure is a glossy white pamphlet with a black and white photo of the Christus statue on the cover.
AN INVITATIONFROM THE FIRST PRESIDENCY
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF
Inside it says.
An Invitation to Come BackIn a separate block quote at the top of the second column is the following statement.
We reach out to members of the Church throughout the world in a spirit of love and brotherhood inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our interest and concern are always with the individual man or woman, boy or girl. Our great responsibility is to see that each is "remembered and nourished by the good word of God" (Moroni 6:4). If any have been offended, we are sorry. Our only desire is to cultivate a spirit of mercy and kindness, of understanding and healing. We seek to follow the example of our Lord, who "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38).
To you who for any reason find yourselves outside the embrace of the Church, we say come back. We invite you to return and partake of the happiness you once knew. You will find many with outstretched arms to welcome you, assist you, and give you comfort.
The Church needs your strength, love, loyalty, and devotion. [The course is fixed and certain by which a person may return to the full blessings of Church membership, and we stand ready to receive all who wish to do so.
The First Presidency
I'd like to parse this, but there's not much to parse. How much time did they take to come up with this? Here you have another complete family quitting the church and this is the divinely inspired last message from the church's prophet? Sorry if you were offended, but we're just trying to do good. I love the touch about partaking of the "happiness you once knew." They're so sure that your experience inside the church was one of happiness, which explains your resignation. And they clearly assume that you are no longer happy since you are quitting.
Come back. Stand with us.
Feast at the table laid before you in
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-
day Saints and strive to follow the
Then there is the rather obvious statement that they need you as a member. That's rather obvious since nearly every good thing that comes out of the church is the result of its unpaid volunteers and almost despite the best efforts of Salt Lake.
I also love the statement about standing ready to receive you back. There is an underlying threat there because the church's handbook of instructions clearly directs that former members are only allowed to be rebaptized into the church after searching interviews. I suspect that a lot of groveling and humble pie would be required before it happened and before you'd be restored to full fellowship in the church.
Finally there is the reference to the feast laid out for us in the church. Funny how I felt starved, not feted, suffocated, not refreshed.
Somehow I just don't think they get it. People don't leave because they are offended, unless you count being offended at being lied to and taken advantage of. They leave because the church has a crappy product and they've finally seen through the lies. Conspicuously absent is any kind of admission or willingness to consider that perhaps the church did something wrong or that the church could improve. No where do they request input from the former member about why they are leaving or how the church could better fulfill their needs or where the church may have gone wrong in accomplishing their mission. The problem is clearly with the former member, not the church.
What in this is supposed to make a disenchanted member reconsider their decision? What are they supposed to prayerfully consider? The emptiness is stunning when you consider that an entire family that had selflessly served the church their entire life is trying to quit.
Personally, I think that they already know why people are quitting and are completely unwilling to do anything about the reasons. Once a person notices that the emperor has no clothes and stops playing along it is futile to get them to pretend again.