“The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.” ~Mark Twain
Jay Griffith facilitates and manages ThinkAgain and FaithAgain—organizing, arranging presenters and venues, sending notification emails, and creating and maintaining the websites. Below, in his own words, are how these communities came to be in Jay’s best, albeit imperfect recollection.
“In early 2009 I was introduced to Mitchell Spence due to similar callings he and I had in separate Stakes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mitchell and I became friends and he invited me to attend a discussion group that he and his wife, Tiffany Ivins, hosted called Think Again. Tiffany had helped start a similar discussion group while at graduate school back east. At the time Think Again was being managed by Carri Hulet.
In late Spring of 2013, Allison Pond, who was facilitating Think Again, asked if I would take over due to a promotion at Deseret News. At that time ThinkAgain was being hosted by Mark and Dawn Elizabeth England. Mark being the son of the still remarkable Latter-Day Saint teacher, activist, and writer. Eugene England.
In June of that year I arranged for a ThinkAgain discussion on Navigating Mormon History and Faith Crises. It was a topic that I was attracted to for personal reasons as well as an increasing awareness of how many I saw who were struggling to stay engaged in the church. I asked two friends of mine to lead the discussion, Jim McConkie, nephew of Bruce R. McConkie, and Andrea Maxfield, long time personal assistant to then, Assistant Church Historian, Richard E. Turley, Jr.. It was a remarkable evening.
Most remarkable though was how many came—about 80—a much larger attendance than a typical ThinkAgain of 20 or less. Afterward, Elizabeth England suggested that it would be good to host a separate monthly group to explore challenging topics related to the Mormon Faith. She said that she and Mark had talked about starting a Mormon faith discussion group. I agreed but initially didn’t want to facilitate both groups. After failing to get anyone to manage it, I took it on and turned to the well-known and appreciated podcaster Dan Wotherspoon for presenter suggestions and connecting with them.
Both groups have become a passion and I’ve grown to love and appreciate so many of the people who I’ve had the privilege of traveling this journey of curiosity with. I feel fortunate to meet and bring diverse and similar people together in a physical and virtual space to enjoy enriching conversations about challenging concepts. ThinkAgain and FaithAgain are part of my continuing education and my spiritual, social, and intellectual growth. And part of my contribution in trying to create a healthy community.
Since the divorce of the Englands in 2018, Ed and Kristen Rogers Iverson, have generously become the current go-to home for our monthly gatherings. Although during the pandemic, we became nearly all virtual for 2 years.
I am grateful to Mark and Dawn Elizabeth Davis for their past and current support of both groups. Mark England, with his welcoming introductions to FaithAgain, helped create a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere and Elizabeth created wonderful and memorable dinners for those presenting. And at the end of each event, the England’s shared their marvelous Dolcetti Gelato from their shop.
My gratitude goes out to those mentioned above as well as to the unmentioned. (Like my supportive spouse, Jane.) And to others who host our discussions on occasions. I greatly appreciate the many exceptional people who have been willing to lead the discussions and do so without remuneration. And I’m especially grateful to those who so often attend, participate, and share a desire to explore and challenge themselves.
At the end of 2017 I combined the separate websites of Think Again and Faith Again into one and gave them an “identity.” This made sense not only for management purposes, but also because historically, the secular and the spiritual/religious have not always played well together. I hope by sitting in the same space while exploring our questions that we will find connecting threads of thought, trust, and respect for each other and those who see things differently than us.
Beginning in 2019, I had each group meet every other month rather than monthly. This still provided an interesting conversation once a month, split between the religious and the secular while giving members more time to focus and prepare for each topic.”
Presenters come from both within the group and from without. If you would like to present on a topic or know someone who would be good for us to engage with, then please contact Jay at [email protected].