Apostle Donald W. Burnett (President of the Apostles)
I was fortunate enough to be born of goodly parents. They saw to it that I had an understanding of God's word and I always found myself in church on Sundays. I was raised in the Baptist faith and had no thought of ever being anything else until an Elder of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints started challenging me with the words from my own Bible. I spent a year trying to disprove his church, and when I could not, I spent the next two years trying to learn everything I could about it.
I joined the Reorganized Church in 1972 in Del City, Oklahoma, a small suburb of Oklahoma City. I found a new family comprised of these church members and made many friends that I still treasure today. On May 5, 1975 I was ordained to the office of Deacon and learned how demanding that office of ministry is as we were in an old building that required much work and attention. But those days of labor were enjoyable because the Lord was with that group of Saints and his blessings upon us were great.
A few years later I took over the Youth Department and the Junior/Senior High Sunday School class. We started with just three young people that were regular attendees and, with great blessings from the Lord, we grew into twenty plus young people each Sunday.
In 1982 I was called to the office of Priest. This was a new experience for me as now I began to go into the homes of the Saints. I found this to be a great joy and learned a lot more about the lives of the Saints and the duties of the priesthood. There is no greater teacher than experience, as well as getting out of your comfort zones. Working one-on-one with the people of the church became, and still is, my most enjoyable form of witnessing for the Lord. Being a convert to the church was a big help in bearing my testimony to those who were looking at our church for their new place to worship, and still it gives me insights in working with potential new converts today.
As the Reorganized Church began its move into accepting mainstream Protestantism, I found I could not go along with the changing of the laws and ordinances that I had come to love. The church was becoming something that I had already left earlier in order to join the true Church of Jesus Christ and I felt that I could not move backward into Protestantism again. On January 1, 1985 I joined a small group of Saints that were meeting in the Seventh Day Adventist Mission Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They had about twenty-five people meeting there and it soon grew into an independent branch having sixty to seventy meeting together on Sunday mornings. The group took the name of - Restoration Branch of Oklahoma City. We stayed in the that location for a few years until we found and purchased a vacant building in very good condition and made some changes in the place to make it our very own.
In 1987 I was called to the office of Elder and in only a couple of years I was elected as the pastor of the OKC Restoration Branch. This brought a whole new meaning to the word "servant." There are no duties like being the shepherd of a branch. You really get to know the lives of the Saints when you serve as their pastor. The responsibility of being a "leader" is one that demands a lot from the individual that fills that role in the church, and I know I would not have been able to answer that calling if it were not for the blessings of the Lord our God and the prayers of the Saints in OKC. Weddings, funerals, and business meetings take a pastor through a wide range of emotions that only the Lord can give solace to.
In late 1998 the Lord made it clear to me that my family was to move to the Center Place. I had no real desire to do so at that time and I could not imagine why the Lord would want me to go to Independence when there was still much work to do in Oklahoma City. The Lord and I had many long talks over this decision, or rather I talked on and on and the Lord just kept saying, " want you to gather to Zion!" As soon as I arrived in Independence, I knew why we were to gather in. The Lord our God was putting his church in order by calling the people to the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! I cannot tell you how blessed I felt to be at the conference that set the church again in order as we have been instructed in Doctrine and Covenants 122:10a, nor can I tell you how unworthy I felt to be in such an overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit. The Remnant Church is, without a doubt in my mind, the continuation of the church set in order on April 6, 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdrey, Peter Whitmer, David Whitmer, Hyrum Page, and Samuel Smith.
At the General Conference in April of 2003, I was called to the office of Seventy and, again, the Lord had changes in mind for me. I learned what it meant to be a traveling minister and found that, no matter where the Lord may send you, if you are with his people, you are in good company. No matter if you are in the south or the north, the children of God have a presence about them. We know, of course, that this is the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and there is no doubt the Lord is working with his church to bring to pass his eternal will for all mankind.
When President Frederick N. Larsen and one of his counselors, Robert Ostrander, came to my home in May of 2008 to share with me of my call to Apostleship, again I did not feel adequate to serve the Lord in this special ministry. I've known all my life, as most men of the priesthood do, that I'm not worthy of the ministry the Lord has called me to serve in. Our Lord does not call men to the priesthood because they are perfect for the job at hand, but rather he calls men, as he tells us in Doctrine and Covenants 1:4e, "that the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple, unto the ends of the world." Since I seem to have those two basic requirements of this admonition the Lord speaks of, I am both honored and fearful of serving the Church of Jesus Christ as one of his Apostles. But with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ, I know we can accomplish the things he asks of us, and working together, we can be the people our Lord can use to bring his Zion to fulfillment. It is my desire to be some small part of the work our Lord has in store for his church to accomplish.
May the Lord bless each and every one of us as we labor in his work to bring to pass his will and his Kingdom here on earth. If we labor in righteousness, the world will know the Lord truly has residence below.
Your friend in Christ.
Donald W. Burnett