Representatives of two polygamous groups in southern Utah held a historic meeting Tuesday triggered by statements that characterized them as "rivals" squaring off over a disputed piece of property.
The Centennial Park Action Committee spent about five hours with Willie Jessop, spokeman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at his office in Hildale, touching on past and current issues involving the two groups.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to set the record straight after an attorney for the FLDS referred to Centennial Park as a "rival" polygamous group during a recent radio interview.
"We are not in a rivalry," said Susie Timpson of the Centennial Park Action Committee. "I don't want there to be a deep schism driven by" the current controversy involving the United Effort Plan Trust.
The Centennial Park community formed in the mid-1980s following a leadership rift and property dispute in the fundamentalist Mormon group based in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. Most residents of Centennial Park, located about 3 miles south of the Utah stateline, now belong to The Work of Jesus Christ.
The two groups have followed separate religious and cultural paths since that split.
The latest controversy arose after the court-appointed fiduciary overseeing the UEP Trust offered to sell Berry Knoll Farm, adjacent to Centennial Park, to a developer who lives in that community.
The farm holds economic, historical and religious significance for the both communities and the FLDS have objected to the sale of the trust property.
The potential buyer has since said he does not want to be drawn into the dispute over the farm, and Timpson echoed that Tuesday.
"I don't think we should be put in the midddle of it," she said.