Church leader steps down amid scandal

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2004

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) The president of the Community of Christ, a denomination with 250,000 members worldwide formerly called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has resigned.

He said his ''inappropriate choices'' have made it impossible for him to lead.

W. Grant McMurray an-nounced last week that he was stepping down as head of the denomination, which is the smaller of the two main denominations that trace their origins to Joseph Smith.

The larger branch is the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

McMurray, 57, did not provide specifics about what actions led to his resignation. He cited a struggle over several years ''with personal and family issues that have impacted my ability to function unreservedly in my office and calling.''

''I have done my very best to fulfill my responsibilities in accordance with the needs of the church and believe that God has gracefully blessed me in this effort,'' McMurray wrote. ''However, along the way I have made some inappropriate choices, and the circumstances of my life are now such that I cannot continue to effectively lead the church.''

McMurray also said he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

He described the disease as being in ''an early stage and very treatable,'' but added that he must devote more attention to his physical health.

Church tradition provides a departing president the right to designate a successor, but McMurray declined. Two members of the church's First Presidency, Peter A. Judd and Kenneth N. Robinson, will lead the church until a leader is chosen.

The next Community of Christ World Conference is not scheduled until 2006, but church leaders said a conference might be called sooner because of the resignation.

McMurray, a native of Canada who moved to Independence as a teenager, spent 33 years as a full-time minister of the church and was ordained as president in April 1996.

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