Episode 161: Oxford’s the Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal — Part 2: The reverberations of interfaith friendships with David W. Checketts and Deb Checketts, former mission leaders in England

Church News podcast discussion continues with the Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal on interfaith friendship and community building

Last week’s Church News podcast was the first in a two-part series featuring the Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal, an Anglican priest and theologian specializing in Christian church history at Oxford’s Pembroke College.

This episode continues interviews with Rev. Teal in his office and on campus at Oxford University. He is joined for segments of the podcast by David W. Checketts and his wife, Deb Checketts, leaders of the England London mission from 2018 to 2021. They continue a discussion on interfaith friendship and community building.

Part 1 of the podcast featured Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal and Elder Matthew S. Holland, a General Authority Seventy; with Sheri Dew as guest host.

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Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: In some churches, repentance has got the umbrella of misery about it. But I think within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s actually a great glory and joy. Some philosophers have said that quintessential to being human is the capacity to change your mind. And that’s really important because it’s about the power of growing in your agency and in your understanding of faith. So I would just say grateful for the fact that other people have noticed that something has changed in my — both personality and in the way I express faith and in the way I, hopefully, invite people to travel the journey of faith with more enthusiasm, with more wit, with a more tender invitation. And I’ve learned that from the Church, from its day-to-day members, that in fact, it is right and good to really make that change.


Sarah Jane Weaver: This is Sarah Jane Weaver, executive editor of the Church News, welcoming you to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Last week’s Church News podcast was the first in a two-part series featuring Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal, an Anglican priest and theologian specializing in Christian church history at Oxford’s Pembroke College. This episode continues interviews with Rev. Teal in his office and on campus at Oxford University. He is joined for segments of the podcast by President David Checketts and his wife, Sister Deborah Checketts, leaders of the England London Mission from 2018 to 2021. They each teach us a little more about interfaith friendship and community building.


Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: Well, I’m a chaplain of the college, which is one of the fellows. Fellows are people who are tenured to a college and technically are the custodians of that place. So they are usually academics, although there are some fellows who are responsible for the financial life of a college. I’m the pastor of the community, the ordinary pastor for everybody who lives and works here, regardless of their faith. And as such, my job is not only to minister, to listen and to help when I can, but also to be an advocate for people of faith, to help people and support them throughout their difficulties. And throughout there, trying to establish processes and procedures in the university which welcome and support and protect people of religious affiliation, whatever that is.

I’m also a teacher in the university, a student of early Christianity, in particular, having published on the period of early Christianity up to about 451. That sounds very specific to say up to about, but it’s around that time. But my more recent interests, I’m also interested in modern systematic theology, but particularly now to do with the doctrine/life of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And the importance of studying The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became clear to me.

This was not just a sort of passing, fleeting encounter, but there was something compelling about, “Well, I need to understand this community and its beliefs,” not least just as a scholar of religion — because it’s one of the fastest-growing religions in the world — but because of its truthfulness and because of the claims of the Church to be the restored Church of Jesus Christ here on earth. So I thought it was important to try to deeply understand, and that’s begun a sort of, hopefully, a lifelong adventure of understanding and exploration of the Church.

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal and Elder Matthew Holland laugh during and interview inside a room with benches and framed picture of Christ in the background.
Rev.Dr. Andrew Teal and Elder Matthew Holland, General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, laugh during an interview at Pembroke College in Oxford, England, on Thursday, July 6, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Sarah Jane Weaver: Beginning in 2017, the Rev. Teal met Elder Matthew S. Holland, who knocked on his door at Oxford. Their story is detailed in last week’s podcast. But here, he shares again his first impressions of Elder Holland.


Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: It was just nice to meet somebody who was seeking out the chaplain. I didn’t know who he was at all. He was just here for his sabbatical placement, and then we began to meet quite regularly, get to know each other quite profoundly. And so the initial sort of sense was, “It’s really nice to have somebody, a person of faith, who’s willing to share and explore,” and then that sort of gathered momentum.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Elder Matthew Holland introduced the Rev. Teal to his father, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: The first meeting I had with Elder Holland was at a meeting about the Yazidis, down in — I think it was the reformed club in London. I’d never been there before. It’s quite grand. We had lunch there, and it was really nice to meet Elder and Sister Holland Sr. And then the idea grew that we actually could do something together here. Not just have a forum where we would have speakers from some of the main Christian traditions present; we would have former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; Francis Young, prominent Methodist; Lord David Alton, one of the senior Catholic laymen in the country; Elder Holland. And also as guests, we had Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, who was an archbishop of the Orthodox Church, and lots of other people were around.

So that was a big event. But it was one event among many. Elder Holland and I spoke together within the university, at the university church, exploring the possibility of looking at theological differences together, doing dialogue, and that was a very moving and very powerful bonding experience for both of us, I think. And there were many other things that happened during those days. And then, afterwards, Elder Holland said, “I’d like you to come over to general conference and to meet people,” and that’s how it sort of spiraled. So I’ve been to general conference several times now, and it’s a really important part of my own personal journey and discipleship, but it’s also important to do that to refresh and to inspire my academic interests.


Sarah Jane Weaver: From those associations, he started to become familiar with the theology and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: I think initially, I found some aspects of it puzzling as a person who had been steeped in Western and Eastern but traditional Christianities. I did my doctoral thesis on St. Athanasius of Alexandria, who — one of his famous sayings is, “For He became human in order that we might become divine.” And other early Christians also had this sense of “Salvation isn’t a gong or a reward, but it’s about recovering who we really are.” So, another early father, St. Irene, said, “He became what He was not in order that we might become what He is.” And so there’s always been that sense in which, within understanding the nature of Christian salvation, it’s not just about achievement or something extrinsic, but it’s like coming back to ourselves and knowing ourselves for the first time.

So there’s that sense in which that was interesting. The whole emphasis on mattering was helpful for me. They were puzzled about that, you know, in a sense, God having a body, exactly what that might mean. So initially, there were loads and loads of questions and interest. And I think the important thing was to face all that with openness and to start having conversations. And it was that sense in which people often think of, or caricature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a sort of — if they don’t know it, at least — a sort of humorless sect.

And when I found people in the Church, I realized that that was not right on either event. What struck me was actually there is so much wit and wisdom, self-awareness in the community. And I think part of that is that it is such a close community of families. And I found that really, really surprising. I thought it was going to be very serious and actually found it was deeply joyful.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Soon, the Rev. Teal also came to know President David Checketts and his wife, Sister Deborah Checketts, who were serving as mission leaders of the England London Mission. In Oxford, the Rev. Teal and President Checketts had an opportunity to talk about their meeting and their friendship.


Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: I think they came along to the Inspiring Service event that was here, and then we had a bit of a conversation afterwards. He asked me if I would speak to the missionaries, all of them gathered together. So we did. We got them all here. And I think they’ve been here twice. Once they went to the local ward and, in a sense, had sessions and talking and listening. And without preparing everything as a sort of two-hour lecture, it was just important to be able to say, “Look, you’ve traveled here, and what have you found that’s peculiar about this culture?” and helping to understand one another. That was what that was about. And then the Checketts and I became really close friends. We did a lot of things together. We’re still doing stuff together here. And it’s a friendship, again, another friendship which I couldn’t be without.


David W. Checketts: First of all, I think it was a pure gift from heaven to meet Rev. Teal and then to meet his family. It was — we constantly refer to it as the miracle of our mission. We were asked to attend, here in Oxford, something called the “Inspiring Service,” which we found out later, Rev. Teal had put together. It involved religious leaders from all over England and including leaders of the Church. 

And so we came up to hear a panel, including Rev. Teal and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. And we came up to be with them, to listen and to meet these other religious leaders, as we spoke about how unifying together, we could inspire service in all of our members and people throughout the country to actually serve each other, love each other, in the most Christian of ways, the most Christlike of ways. And that was the night we met him, and then followed up later and asked him if we could bring our mission leaders up to Pembroke Chapel, which happened not quite a year later.

Reverend Dr. Andrew Teal walks with David and Deb Checketts at Pembroke College in Oxford, England, on Friday, July 7, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: The Inspiring Service thing was one of the most important and thrilling things, I think, that has happened in my time of 20 years here. We had the former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; the senior lay Roman Catholic, Lord David Alton. We had Francis Young, who is a Methodist scholar and very senior, sort of — people describe her as the dowager empress of Methodism, which is funny. Obviously, Elder Holland, and it was altogether a meeting which actually drew us out from some of the self-obsessions that we know as a university and as individuals, to say, “Well, actually, what is the greatest good for which we work together?” And at the end of that evening, I just — I was just overwhelmed by the notion of friendship. Friendship was the way to do it. Only friends will know how to do this.

And so we have to really invest in that. And we met, and then you got in touch and said, “Well, can we bring our missionaries?” and I’ve reflected a bit on that. But, you know, I am astounded that young people leaving school, before or after a bit of university, are willing to lay aside years of their lives to come to serve, to lay aside the opportunity of making money, and in fact, to raise the money to do that, because of the love that they have for a nation that’s not their own. And I found that incredible. I always try to say to missionaries, “Thank you. Thank you for coming here.”


Sarah Jane Weaver: Sister Checketts also recalled the influence the Rev. Teal had on her and her missionaries.

Deborah L. Checketts: So, we had a purpose, you know, that we would stand up and say, but at the very beginning, we’d say, “In the England London Mission, we follow Christ.” And Dave said, “Who better to expose our missionaries to than this lovely, lovely reverend who follows Christ? He speaks of Christ. He teaches of Christ.” And so, that our missionaries may know.


Sarah Jane Weaver: President Checketts brought some of his missionaries to Oxford, knowing that everyone had something they could learn from Rev. Teal.

David W. Checketts: I think it was a gift from heaven, as they say. I not only turned the floor over to him, I asked him to teach our missionaries how to approach people, especially the English. I said, “We have not figured out how to talk to English people, or the people here. We baptize and bring into the Church many immigrants, but the English, we can’t find our way. Would you counsel them about how you would approach them if you were them?” And he taught for two hours. And it was the start of something so beautiful, in terms of the relationship between the mission and Rev. Teal that has continued into our mission reunions.

He spoke in our “Why I Believe” fireside, the first one during COVID, that we actually recorded and then launched on Facebook Live. It was seen in 47 countries and 50,000 people, 50,000 views. And he was the concluding speaker. And it was easy to do because — well, I think of it this way: I’m not trying to put him on the same level as the Savior. But the scripture says, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The love that Rev. Teal showed from the beginning — the arms outstretched, the support, the admiration he gave to the elders and sisters, the way he treated them with such respect, and his own witness and testimony of the Restoration — all of these things strengthened our missionaries so very much. It was so impactful and will be, forever and ever.


Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: After Inspiring Service, I decided I wanted to get to know the local community more. I eventually was invited over to general conference. I’ve been there three times. But it was good to go to the local ward, and that’s what I started to do. So on a Sunday morning, I celebrate a sung Gregorian Mass at a convent, of which I’m the warden. And then I go to Oxford 1st Ward for the two-hour meeting. And then in the evening, come here and do Choral Evensong. So it’s like a sort of strange day. But the one thing, if you’re preaching and celebrating, the going to a ward is beautiful, because you’re on the receiving end of ministry and care.

And that meant that I got to know missionaries quite well. And they — we always eat together. Mostly, I’ll try and cook, and I don’t do green Jell-O, but we do do funeral potatoes. And the kids, my family love funeral potatoes. It’s the greatest — it’s the secret card in the mission pack. But it’s good to be able to do that and to get to know not only missionaries, but also their families, get in touch sometimes. And that’s not betraying any trust; I have the same discipline as I would if a parent got in touch with a student here. You don’t reveal anything to them, but you are trying to be supportive, encouraging, and you give feedback which is true and which just tries to hold up this, you know, your child — “We are so proud and so grateful that your son or daughter is ministering here to this great effect.”

The Rev. Teal smiles as he is hooded with a red hood representing the honorary doctorate by President Worthen and President Reese during commencement.
Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal has an honorary degree conferred upon him by Brigham Young University President Kevin J Worthen, left, and then academic vice president C. Shane Reese, who is now BYU president, during the university’s commencement at the Marriott Center in Provo on Thursday, April 27, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News


Sarah Jane Weaver: In 2021, the Rev. Teal went on sabbatical to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he planned to write about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from an outsider’s perspective. Instead, he embarked on an unexpected journey.


Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: Well, it was an unexpected journey. I was going over there to hopefully do some research and to write a book trying to explain or explore, particularly for nonmembers of the Church, the significance of belonging to this people who found in Joseph Smith initially, and then in their community that continued to grow after his martyrdom, something core to what it means to be human. So I wanted to do an outsider’s view of why the Church is important and what its history is. It was going to be a two-volume thing: the outcast, which is to look at Joseph Smith Jr. and his life from an outsider’s point of view, and then the outcast’s outcasts, the ones who found in him a meaningfulness and a purpose and the truth of the restored gospel.

So it was going to be that initially, but of course, what happened when I got there, I had an accident where I got burned feet, and that meant spending three and a half weeks in the intensive care unit of the burn unit at the U. I got an avocado which was too hard and went and put it on a table thinking outside, if I put it in the sunshine — it was really hot. It was August in Utah, and I think it was 100-and-something-teen degrees. And I walked out, without anything on my feet, onto tiles, which I was told later were heat-retardant tiles. So in order to stop the heat going through a flat roof into our department below, they put these tiles on which soak up the heat, and when you put your feet into them, they discharge that heat, so it was at a massive temperature.

So the next day, I went to a hospital that cut off the soles of my feet, as though it were, and then I then went to the U burn unit. And then they admitted me because it was much more serious than they thought it was. And the burn had gone into the fleshy tissue of the foot, hence the amputations eventually of some toes. And then after that, doing one or two things, but not being able to do much at all; I couldn’t get to libraries or do the things that a scholar should do. Instead, I was able to prepare for something called a forum, which is where you speak to a massive amount of people both present and also through media, like yourself, and to speak in Salt Lake City with Elder Holland Sr.

And after that, I was flown straight back on the 12th of November as a medical emergency and then had to have amputations of toes and things. So it kept going on. And I wouldn’t have expected that that would have been a meaningful sabbatical. That was not what I wanted to do. Perhaps I needed three and a half weeks on my back, but it wasn’t what I anticipated and certainly wouldn’t have been on my bucket list, as it were. But I feel that perhaps in a way that I still don’t understand, more was achieved by that than any of the activities that I had planned. And hopefully, with God’s good grace, more will be fruitful from that than any of the stuff that had I, at that point, gone in and tried to write something with a particular view in mind.

So it was an opportunity to have a different sort of sabbatical, where I had to stop from some sort of working and writing and doing stuff and actually start to absorb and listen and be necessarily a patient.

Pembroke College in Oxford on Thursday, July 6, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


David W. Checketts: Well, an important part of his story and our story is that when he did go to a sabbatical at BYU, there was a terrible accident where his feet were badly burned. He was released and literally came to our mission reunion dressed as a reverend would, but his feet wrapped in white bandages and a pair of sandals. And he rose and spoke to our missionaries with such power. And he told them the story of how three different returned missionaries had actually attended him at the University of Utah Burn Center. And I’ll let him share, if he’d like, what he shared with them, but it was an unforgettable message.

It was not a normal mission reunion with a little food and a chance to say hello; it was absolutely inspirational, which, for us, meant everything, because our whole desire is to keep them strong, keep them engaged. And Rev. Teal painted a beautiful, beautiful picture of staying with it, of staying on the pathway of faith. And he had witnessed it himself and therefore could teach it with such great power.


Deborah L. Checketts: One of the things that I remember between the little devotional and dinner, he said to us, “Who’s struggling? I’m sure someone’s come home and struggled.” And we pointed out a couple that we were concerned about, and he went and talked to them before he even ate. I mean, that’s the kind of person we’re talking about. The talk was beautiful, but he’s way more than talk. It was really lovely to watch a true minister.


Sarah Jane Weaver: During their conversation at Oxford University, the Rev. Teal and the Checketts also talked about how to help young people engage in religion.

Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: Well, one of the horrible facts of life here in the U.K. is that if you’re over 75, you probably identify — well, 30% of people will identify as Church of England. That’s quite a big number. But if you’re aged between 17 and 25, less than 1% will identify as Church of England. And I’m not — I don’t think we should be fundamentalist about statistics. But what they do show is that cultural attachment to religion is gone. So the cultural attributes of, you know, people will not argue, or, you know, “Oh, that person’s a Catholic. I’m not going to speak to them.” So that’s all eroded. But what’s — it’s not left, It’s not — it’s thrown away the bathwater, but actually thrown away the baby too. And I think this is why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes the imperative of mission.

Mission is the way which puts Christ at the center, not our cultural, favorite things. You know, I do love the funeral potatoes, but it’s not an item of faith. But to put Christ as the One who reaches to the very depths — you cannot get lower — in whatever life has thrown at you, the infinite Atonement, which will lift everything up. And you cannot, however much you achieve, you cannot without grace and Christ. I’m not saying you all shouldn’t strive and use your agency for the common good; absolutely should. But in a sense, there is a way in which the ministry of the Savior puts faith at the center, not churchianity.


Sarah Jane Weaver: The Checketts also shared what they have learned from the Rev. Teal.

Deborah L. Checketts: I love the way he listens. I’ve learned how to listen better. I’m not very good at it still, but I’ve learned how to listen and respect not only him and other religions, but I saw a woman sitting on the train the other day, yesterday. She was in a wheelchair, and I went and sat by her. She was from the Church of England. And I told her where I was raised. She said, “Oh, you must be Mormon.”

David W. Checketts: She was 98.

Deborah L. Checketts: She’s 98 years old, traveling by herself.

David W. Checketts: On a train.

Deborah L. Checketts: Yes. And because of you, I went and sat by her. And she told me her story. She’d been volunteering in Poland and had gotten hit by a car. She had been in a wheelchair for many, many years. And she was just a lovely lady. She goes, “I don’t know what you Mormons believe. But I believe that this was meant to happen to me, because it’s made me a better person.” I said, “Sister, we’re talking the same language.” I didn’t say that, but it gave us that commonality. But I don’t think I would have done that if I hadn’t had this experience. I feel like I can approach people and hear their story.

Double decker busses pass Big Ben in London on Friday, July 7, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


David W. Checketts: Well, as a mission president, I think he helped me change just about everything. First of all, he taught me the absolute importance of speaking regularly about the Restoration. And he said over and over to our missionaries, “We did not need a reformation. We needed a Restoration.” So the way that he taught the doctrine of the Restoration, of Joseph Smith, the need for a prophet, the understanding that he had of our scripture, our — I say “our scripture”; of modern scripture. And then the way that he endured these health issues that have come along, this is postmission, and the deeper understanding that he has sought of his own life and his own mission as a result of these things. All of this has led us to a place where we so cherish him, and he just cherishes our missionaries and is open to them and inviting and sweet.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Then the Rev. Teal talked about the term “interfaith” and of people of faith working together.

Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: So there’s a Lutheran-Reformed bishop of Stockholm, Krister Stendahl, who said that there are several rules about interfaith; one of them is that if you want to know what I believe, don’t ask my enemies, but ask me. And I will — another thing is that you’ve got to share honestly and truthfully when you know and when you don’t know. That’s really important. And I guess that’s sort of not posturing, being open, being faithful, to being wrong, you know, to travel with people whom you learn to trust, and say, “You know what? I’ve never understood this,” or “I don’t get why this is so important.”

And I find what happens then is you don’t create a third thing. You don’t get Muslims and Christians talking to each other and create “Muslimianity,” or whatever it might be. But the Muslim becomes a more true Muslim through dialogue, and the Christian becomes a truer Christian through dialogue. You don’t mix it up. It’s not a blend or a hybrid. I think that’s something that the weekly Institute is particularly good at sort of holding up, that we want to listen to and have conversations and dialogues with people.

When I was there, it was the very entertaining and brilliant rabbi from the Sephardic community, whose synagogue has been burned in a hate crime and whom The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supported in its rebuilding. And he came and shared, and it was fun, and he didn’t stop being a rabbi, or he didn’t stop having a Jewish faith. But he invited us to travel with him for a little while to understand the jokes, to understand the culture of Judaism, of Sephardic Judaism, but to do so in a way that was including and engaging, and he came and did it at BYU. And, you know, and I think that’s the spirit that I find in missionaries, for example; they come and are willing to speak about their faith and to be accountable for it.

Six crests, both circular and shield-shaped, are displayed in a window looking out to a building at Pembroke College.
Crests are displayed at Pembroke College in Oxford, England, on Friday, July 7, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Sarah Jane Weaver: The Rev. Teal also spoke about the interfaith efforts that led him to true friendship with Elder Matthew Holland and the Checketts.

Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: I’ve been here a while at the college, nearly 20 years; 19 years. And when I was here a while ago, about 12 years ago, there was a member of the hall staff called — I won’t say his name — who was having their first child. And he was very concerned about the difficulties of labor for his wife. So he would come into chapel, and we’d pray together and talk together. We became good friends. Then he’s left, and he’s got another career now. But immediately after, I — I have a detached retina in one of my eyes, and hopefully that’s recovering — but really early on, about three days afterwards, he phoned up and said, “Can you come and be with us, pray with us, bless our house?”

And he’s a very faithful Muslim, so you go into his house, and you have a picture of Makkah, and parts of the Quran on the walls rather than pictures, but I thought, “I can’t get there.” So he came and got me. And I thought, “What an immense trusting thing it is to have done for him to have asked a Christian minister, knowing full well that he is Christian, but to come and to pray and to listen and to counsel. And I found that immensely — well, unexpected honor, that people of faith, he doesn’t stop being a Muslim, actually reached out and asked for help and prayer. And I think that, in a nutshell, is what interfaith stuff’s really about. I trust him to be a Muslim, and that means it’s a position I need not hold. And he trusts me to be a Christian minister. And it’s not what he believes. But when push comes to shove, when the need, the human need, is there, we are there for each other, and we will pray with each other.


And I think that’s partly, that’s been really deeply nurtured by my relationship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because — I think a lot of people might say, “Oh, well, if you think you’re a restored Church, what about us unrestored? Are we on the tip now in the dustbin?” But no, not at all. I think there’s a sense in which there’s — it’s that honorable recognition that we are different, but we’re not always going to be different. And God’s goodness and patience and kindness is such that it will transform all of our little petty squabbles and differences and difficulties, not by compromising it, but by enabling us to learn to sacrifice ourself; our self-righteousness, our self-assuredness.

One of the nuns who died quite recently, the end of her life — she was very formidable. She was a wonderful woman, very strong woman of faith. At the end of her life, she said, “You know, I have a regret. I feel I felt I needed to be right more strongly than I needed to love. And that was wrong.” And at her deathbed. And that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. Not only, too, for her to come to terms with it, but to share with me that she shared that journey of the importance of loving rather than of being in the right; in the right crowd, in the right posse. And I’m deeply grateful for her.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Concluding this special two-part Church News podcast, the Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal shares what he knows now after his association and friendships and collaboration with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Rev. Dr. Andrew Teal: In some churches, repentance has got the umbrella of misery about it. But I think within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s actually a great glory and joy. Some philosophers have said that quintessential to being human is the capacity to change your mind. And that’s really important because it’s about the power of one’s growing in your agency and in your understanding of faith. So that’s one of the regions. The other one would just be the deep friendship and generosity and kindness of this community.

I think I would say, to quote Simon & Garfunkel, that “After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.” There is a sense in which we sometimes think, “Oh, we’ve really changed,” and we have, but there is that continuing sense of self, which I profoundly believe to be eternal. “Before I formed [you] in the [womb], I knew [you]” (Jeremiah 1:5), so there’s a sense in which the human being — if you want to know what a human being is, we look to Jesus Christ. And Athanasius of Alexandria said, “If you want to answer Jesus Christ’s question, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (see Matthew 16:15), you look to eternity.” You don’t look to just His birth or just His teaching or just His healings or just His death or just His Resurrection. You look to — you have to say, “This is the Eternal Son of the Father.” You have to look to eternity to understand the Son, and the same is true, I think, for all of us, that there is that sense of heavenly perspective, divine perspective, that comes.

The sunsets on the River Thaymes and Parliament and Big Ben in London on Saturday, July 8, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


I would just say grateful for the fact that other people have noticed that something has changed in my — both personality and in the way I express faith and in the way I, hopefully, invite people to travel the journey of faith with more enthusiasm, with more wit, with a more tender invitation. And I’ve learned that from the Church, from its people, that I’ve mentioned, but also from its day-to-day members of our ward, the changing missionaries from, you know, week to week. That’s what I’ve learned from them, that in fact, it is right and good to really make that change and to keep on changing. That’s the other side.

You know, what does it mean to believe in progressive revelation? Well, it means in a funny sort of way that it means to have scripture with the back cover removed, because in a sense, we will yet learn more things. It may well be that in D&C, you’re going to get more chapters. And that’s a good thing. This is not a dead, static stuff. Our faith isn’t about archaeology, finding out what happened 2,000 years ago, but looking to the latter days; I think that’s in the title of this community. That’s the Golden Age, not what’s happened, but what is yet to come.

And on the journeys to that, there’s going to be changes and movement. And goodness knows when, you know, when that’s going to be, but when it does come, there will be that sense of utter fulfillment, I’m absolutely convinced. Everything that seeks to destroy human dignity and each human soul, that will be lost forever. Everything else will be brought to great fulfillment. And that’s why I love seeing the sign outside our ward, the Church, those who are called apart of Jesus Christ, it puts Him at the center of Latter-day Saints. It points us to the end, the end of all things, rather than us trying to hang on to our own advantages now. And the end will mean that we relinquish everything, but what a glory that will be.


Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News executive editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast so it can be accessible to more people. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests; my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen; and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channels or with other news and updates on the Church on

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