Good morning friends and family. My name is Chris VanCampen, and I am here to give you a short but exciting update on what’s the latest with the Restoration Archive Project. I am very excited to be here in Arizona for what promises to be a very historic event. Historic, in that history will be made, but also historic, in that a very careful history of the proceedings here will be kept and preserved for both our, and future, generations.
Why is it important to keep a history? I was thinking about this recently, and it occurred to me that we are literally making history every day. In much the same way we read writings and accounts of people alive at the time of the original restoration by Joseph Smith, future generations will read our writings, experiences and conferences. Today we read Times and Seasons and many other writings generated by early Mormons. In the future people will read, or listen to, or watch, audio video and written recordings of our transactions in our episode of restoration. And how important are the historical records of these proceedings?
In the recently completed “Teachings and Commandments,” or what we old timers affectionately refer to as “The Doctrine and Covenants,” in Section 51 (128 of LDS version), we find our answer. In that section, which is a letter written by Joseph Smith and read to the Saints on 11 September 1842, Joseph tells the saints that a recorder must be appointed, so “that he might make a record of a truth before the Lord.” Joseph then details how a single person cannot be present at all times in all places, and therefore he gives instructions on how the early saints should “crowd-source” their history, so that the recorder may make a record of all proceedings, and present a book to the Lord to be housed in the Temple.
The same thing is happening in our day. Although we make no pretense that we have been called by any sort of heavenly manifestation as an official “recorder” of any church or organization in our day, the participants in our Restoration Archive Project have individually and collectively felt inspired that gathering all records pertaining to the restoration in our day, in a fair, impartial and accurate manner, is vitally important to ourselves and those who come in the future. If we are successful in building a Zion, a record of that success will be necessary for the process to be duplicated. If we are not, then those who come after will want to know what successes, and mistakes, led to that result. In either event, those who forget their own history are doomed to repeat it.
I want to let you all know how exciting this process is for us. Since we are “crowd-sourcing” the history of this movement, much like Brother Joseph called for, we get to see what marvelous things are happening across the movement. I am grateful and excited to share the progress that is being made with all of you. We hope that by doing so, you might be encouraged at the many great and wonderful things that are happening, and receive witness of the importance and necessity of this movement. We hope that it will inspire renewed desire to associate with each other, to fellowship more often with each other, and to take courage in the presence of the Hand of the Lord in this work.
We are informed that there have been “thousands” of baptisms and rebaptisms. How amazing it is to know that this saving ordinance is available to all comers, without concern for creed color or religious background. We have seen a series of talks, given by Denver Snuffer, across the country regarding the Christian Reformation, and these have been recorded and documented. Modern technology has enabled the development of several websites so that people in all nations of the world can participate and partake of the restoration movement equally. The Scriptures.info site is up to date with the most recent version of the restoration scriptures, along with glossary and other search tools. The Restoration Archives website continues to expand with a searchable library of everything Denver Snuffer, and very soon, as much Joseph Smith material as we can legally and humanly include there. The baptism registry is running, as is the fellowship finder and the request baptism sites. Dozens of blogs by some very bright minds are available to restorationists. Denver Snuffer’s website itself has undergone a major overhaul, is more easily accessed and now features a weekly podcast, comprised of both review of existing material, and occasionally new information as well. You can subscribe to this podcast by visiting denversnuffer.com.
There have been reports of miraculous things taking place in far off lands – people receiving baptism, tithing support, and receiving actual copies of scriptures in Asia, Europe and Africa. By these very small drops can large ripples occur, and these events may lead to larger things somewhere down the road.
We have seen and heard of the miraculous preservation of life, and of the protection of restoration archival materials.
Another very exciting development is this: translation efforts of the various books, talks, and documents pertaining to the restoration movement have sprouted up here and there across our body of fellowship. Although the Restoration Archive Project is neither managing or initiating these projects, we are doing what we can to facilitate them, and to bring people together to collaborate on them. We know of projects involving the ten talks and “A Man Without Doubt” and “The Second Comforter” in Spanish, with other efforts being made in German, French, Portuguese, Danish and Japanese. When these translations are complete, we will be very happy to house them at the Restoration Archives website for all to access online, worldwide.
To that end, on behalf of all those involved with the various translation projects, we hereby issue a call for volunteers to assist with these projects. If you have native- or translation- level ability in Spanish, German, French or Portuguese, these projects will readily accept your offer of assistance. If you feel that nudge that you should begin a project in some other language, we are happy to assist in any way we can. Please reach out to us via the contact us page on restorationarchives.com and we’ll put you in touch with the right folks. Self starting is the way things get done in this movement! Don’t hesitate to self start, and let us know how we can assist you!
As I mentioned, the Joseph Smith section of the Restoration Archive library is in process of being organized, and the first of this information has now been available on the Library section of the Restoration Archive website. It has been organized so that what we call “first tier material” will be that created by Joseph himself, with second tier being notetakers, scribes, those to whom Joseph dictated directly. Third tier will be that of first person eyewitness accounts of speeches, talks or events, and fourth tier will be material that doesn’t meet any of those criteria that still warrants inclusion in the archive. This structure and organization has launched within the past week, and we invite your feedback and suggestions on how that system might be improved.
In the Denver Snuffer section of the library, almost everything that we are aware of its existence has been gathered there for you to access and study. Currently, there is an effort underway to create a true transcript of the actual ten talks as delivered at the various venues. These are, or will be, housed on the library page, and will be searchable as well. This will be a most valuable study aid. It is important to note that these actual transcripts will be verbatim of what was delivered at the venue, but they are not the same as what we call an “expanded transcript” in which Denver has taken what was said, and added notes, scriptures, footnotes or other references, and both of these differ still from the long-form Thesis or Paper that Denver would have drafted in its original form, and then taken his presentation from this long paper. Where all three exist, all three are made available on the library page.
All of the general conference websites to date are housed in the archive website, and you are welcome to review talks, recordings and photographs from these events.
Previously announced work with regard to creation of hard bound volumes with archive quality paper of vital works, along with metal plate engravings, is still proceeding.
We have added a blog page to the Restoration Archive website, where we can keep you up to date on new developments. We also issue calls for assistance there, and I would take this opportunity to renew those calls for help now.
First, we are aware that Denver Snuffer gave at least one, and probably two, presentations at an event called “Portland Oregon Symposium” in October 2010. We have received submission of some notes by a person who was in attendance, but we’d like to have corroborating information. If you happened to be at that conference, and have notes, or even a recording, we would request that you submit that information so that it may be made a part of the archive.
Second, we encourage you to go to our website and submit documents of any sort that you feel are important to this great work we are engaged in.
We are engaged in a mighty work. A battle for the souls of our families and our brethren. It is our aim to faithfully and impartially record all that happens during this might work. Believe it or not, brothers and sisters, all that you say and do is important to this record. Much like the Sons of Mosiah, Alma the Younger, and even Paul, the record of our journey, both for good and for bad, is informative and educational for our generation and those to come. We hope you will not be shy in participating in this movement, and in this historical project. An actual record of the history of this movement, which is reliable and sourced directly from its participants, is something that is missing from the original LDS church. Things might have turned out very differently if a reliable history had been kept, and preserved. Let us not be doomed by a failure to learn from that example.
Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not go backward. Courage, brethren! And on to the victory. Let your hearts rejoice and be exceeding glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the mountains shout for joy and all ye valleys cry aloud, and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King.