Tag Archives: quorum

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Priesthood Session

183rd_seminannual_general_conference_header_screenshot

So, here I am with my father, sitting in our family room. This is weird! But I think I like it. The pizza and wings have been ordered and should be here mid-session. Like I mentioned earlier, I think we’ll do this in April as well, and then head back to the Church for when my oldest son joins us next October.

I wonder how many women are watching…


President Henry B Eyring conducted

The choir made up of Aaronic Priesthood holders from the Murray, Utah area sang Sing Praise to Him

Elder Paul E Koelliker offered the invocation

The choir sang Like Ten Thousand Legions Marching

Elder L Tom Perry

  • Memorizing the Articles of Faith is just a bunch of words unless we understand the doctrine in each of them
  • He reviewed each of them briefly
  • Priesthood is a vital source of power and will last beyond the veil
  • A church that doesn’t teach truth is like a phone without a battery

Bishop Gérald Caussé

  • A promise has been made to everyone in the Church… we are no more strangers, but fellow citizens
  • We may feel like outsiders in the world
  • Jesus went beyond the obligation of hospitality and tolerance
  • All received an equal part of his teachings and ministry
  • Fellowshipping is an important priesthood responsibility
  • Reach to anyone who appears at the door of your meetings

Elder Randy D Funk

  •  He was a mission president in India
  • Told a story about a missionary who couldn’t understand much English at all, but became a great missionary
  • If you are humble, you will want to be obedient
  • Look at what good can come from breaking things…
  • You break ground to plant something
  • You break wheat to make bread
  • You break bread to partake of the Sacrament

The choir and congregation sang Do What Is Right

President Dieter F Uchtdorf

  • Told a story about falling while skiing. He couldn’t get up, and his grandson came and said “You can get up now!”
  • No one likes to fail, but we don’t become champions without first falling down first
  • We need to repent
  • If see goals as only the leaders goal, we won’t be successful, but as we make it our goal, we will accomplish it in a goal that will bless others and ourselves
  • Rise up and be men of God
  • “You should hear President Monson pray for you”
  • Your paths will at times be difficult
  • Rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Savior and Redeemer
  • No matter how many times you have slipped and fallen, rise up, stand tall, and walk in the light of the restored gospel

President Henry B Eyring

  • All of us are blessed with responsibility for others
  • Shares a story about an EQ President getting a last-minute call to help someone move
  • Remember, we should be the Samaritan, not the Levite
  • You can’t know all of your quorum members well, but the Lord does
  • Don’t be hardened to the pains of others

President Thomas S Monson

  • Christ is the perfect shepherd
  • Home teaching is inspired, a response to modern revelation
  • It is our duty to bring the gospel to every home and every heart
  • Learn about each family member
  • Home teaching is more than a mechanical visit once a month
  • We teach, inspire, and motivate and bring to activity the sons and daughters of God
  • “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend” – Abraham Lincoln
  • A friend is more concerned about helping people, then getting credit
  • If you have become complacent in your home teaching, there is no time like the present to rededicate yourself to fulfilling your home teaching duties

The choir sang God of Our fathers, Whose Almighty Hand

Elder Walter F. González offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

When numbers acquire the significant of language

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a baseball fan. When the book Moneyball came out in 2003, I read it shortly afterward (I haven’t seen the movie yet). Basically, Moneyball is about how the Oakland A’s, a small-market team, used statistics to acquire the right players and build a winning team. At the time I was the Elders Quorum President, and about a year later I became the Bishop of our ward. I couldn’t help but compare some of the thought processes in the book with the Mormon “obsession” with statistics (home teaching percentage, quarterly report stats, etc.)

One part of the book stuck out to me the most:

Bill James did not like the statistic in baseball called error. If you weren’t even close to the ball, it didn’t have a name, but if you had done something, and tried, they called it an error.

The statistics were not merely inadequate; they lied. And the lies they told led people who ran major league baseball teams to misjudge their players, and mismanage their games. James later reduced his complaint to a sentence: fielding statistics made sense only as numbers, not as language. Language, not numbers, is what interested him. Words, and the meaning they were designed to convey.

When the numbers acquire the significance of language,” he later wrote, “they acquire the power to do all of the things which language can do: to become fiction and drama and poetry. …And it is not just baseball that these numbers, through a fractured mirror, describe. It is character. It is psychology, it is history, it is power, it is grace, glory, consistency, sacrifice, courage, it is success and failure, it is frustration and bad luck, it is ambition, it is overreaching, it is discipline. And it is victory and defeat, which is all that the idiot sub-conscious really understands.” What to most people was a dull record of ephemeral events without deep meaning or lasting value was for James a safe deposit box containing life’s secrets.

Lewis, Michael. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 2003. 67-68.

It really is one of the problems with statistics. They can mean anything you want them to mean or they can mean nothing. I particularly like the beginning of the last paragraph. When numbers acquire the significance of language, they acquire the power to do all the things which language can do. Seeing some numbers on a quarterly report never made me want to do better. It was always the discussion of what those numbers represented that helped us understand the work that needed to be done.

Here is a simple example. For the longest time we’ve had a significantly larger group of Young Men than Young Women in our ward. Let’s say that in Q1 we had 22 Young Men attend church and 6 YW attend church. Let’s now say that in Q2 we had 21 Young Men attend church (5% drop in attendance) and 5 YW attend church (17% drop). More than once I had a concern expressed to me because of the “big” drop in our YW attendance. If that person who didn’t come in Q2 now comes out in Q3, there will be a large increase in attendance, and there will be comments about how wonderful the work is going.

I think that we need to do a better job in the Church (or at least in the wards I’ve been in) of putting the numbers in perspective and remembering what they really represent.

Let me be clear here, I think that the biggest problem is that we don’t have a better way to look at our progress. I don’t think the leaders were caring more about percentages than people. It’s just that the quarterly report is the only report they had. Without knowing the circumstances in every auxiliary in every ward, it is almost impossible for stake leaders to truly know what is going on.

I guess we need a Mormon Bill James who can get past the stats that “lie” and help us find the “success and failure… frustration and bad luck… ambition… discipline”.

What do you do with a bishop, when he stops being a bishop?

I’m sure almost everyone has seen White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen. In short, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are in the army serving under General Tom Waverly. General Waverly retires. After the war, Bing and Danny become a top song-and-dance act. At one point they find out that the General needs help and they put on a show for him with all their army buddies from before. One of the songs that is sung starts with:

What can you do with a general
When he stops being a general?
Oh, what can you do with a general who retires?

It may sound strange, but that is the song that kept playing over and over in my head the week I was released as bishop. Yes, after serving as bishop of my ward for 6 years, 2 months, 16 days, I was released. It happened a year ago today, but I’m just getting around to writing about it. I figured I’d share some of my thoughts and feelings about my time as bishop.

First off, let me tell you that I am still active, and I still love the Church. Hopefully no one is disappointed by this. There was nothing that I faced that made me question my faith. The ward is generally intact, and if anything might be a bit stronger than it was. I would have served for years less or years more if that is what was needed of me. However, with that being said, it was still very hard to be released. It had nothing to do with losing the authority and everything to do with losing the privilege of helping people one-on-one. Yes, I’m still a husband, father, friend and home teacher, but this is not what I’m talking about. Members generally love and respect their bishop. I felt this from week one. The week before I was just some guy was serving as the Elders Quorum President. The following week I was the bishop and the members immediately trusted me. They came in and confided some of their most difficult problems. They looked for counsel. They cried tears of sorrow and tears of joy. I felt like a better man literally every week I went to church. That’s what I miss. I’m now just a guy again. I help when I can, but now another man has that privilege of those experiences. I have righteous envy.

I also miss how serving as bishop helped my family. It seems counter-intuitive, but during my time as bishop we had more order in our family, and possibly more time together. I know, I know… it seems backwards. However, when I was bishop our life seemed to have more structure, which allowed us to have more time together. I was busy for 9 hours or so each Sunday, every Wednesday night, and often another evening or two each week. Yet somehow through all of that, I don’t feel that my time with my family suffered. Now that I am no longer bishop, my wife is the YW President, my responsibilities at work have increased, and the kids are getting busier. It seems that time is flying by way too quickly. We don’t have the same structure and our time together is suffering. I know that we were blessed when I was bishop so that our time together didn’t suffer. In a way, I think this is part of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood where it says that when priesthood holders are faithful in the priesthood and magnify our callings, they “are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies”(D&C 84: 33).

Lastly, I miss just being involved. It isn’t that no one cares about me, but things are happening and I don’t know about it. It seems funny to write that. It sounds like I’m gossipy or nosey. That, of course, isn’t it. When you are bishop, you’d get to see the big picture. You have a vision of what needs to be done, and you can plan for it. I’m the type of person that thinks the more you know, the more you can do. In a way, this ties in with my first point. If you don’t know things, it is hard to help.

With all of these things (and more) that I miss, there are obviously things I don’t miss. I’m quite happy to go to church at 9 am (instead of 6 am). I’m quite happy to attend limited meetings. There were obviously hard things to deal with, and in a way it is a relief to be free from some of those burdens.

So, it’s been a year now. Shortly after being released I was called to be a Stake Institute Teacher. I teach a weekly Institute class to the college-aged young adults (18-30). The class is held every Wednesday in my home and we usually have 15-20 people attend. I love it! I haven’t studied the scriptures so thoroughly in a long time. Hopefully I’m helping these young adults appreciate the scriptures more. I’m definitely learning a lot.

My wife was an unbelievable support while I was bishop. Due to my responsibilities and our young family, her church callings were a little “easier” that what she is capable of having. Now she’s the YW President, and doing a great job with the small group of girls she has to work with.

All three of my kids are under 10. It seems that they’ve survived some of my absences. Now that I am no longer bishop, I can be more involved as they grow into pre-teen and teen years.

As I said in the beginning, I love the Church. There is a woman in our ward who likes to say, “It’s a good life” I totally agree. With all of the frustrations I may have had wit the bureaucracy and other things. I still firmly believe that the church is led by good men and women who are trying to serve “with full purpose of heart” (2 Nephi 31: 13). I’ve found that any failings we may experiences are usually because we are not united. If we sustain one another and accept each other in our weaknesses, we’ll be much better off. I was by no means perfect in my service, but I hope that I did something to help the work of the Lord move forward.

Leadership Training Conference with Elder Ballard

This past Saturday I attended a Priesthood Leadership Conference held at the Brampton Ontario Stake Centre (beside the Toronto Temple). It was presided over by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy traveled with him. Our Area Authority, W. T. David Murray was also there. The whole meeting lasted 4 1/2 hours (including a 1/2 lunch break). Even though an apostle was going to be there, I have to admit the thought of driving an hour and a half to go to another meeting wasn’t very appealing. It turned out to be a fantastic meeting. I am so glad I went.

Here are a few random notes:

  • Elder Ballard sounded good, and looked about the same as he does in General Conference
  • The technology setup was neat. When I heard this was going to be for all of Eastern Canada, I assumed it would be done via satellite, but it was done via a webcast. Through the whole meeting there was a screen up that showed people in Ottawa, Sudbury, Montreal, and in a few places in the Maritime provinces.
  • Rather than having them up at the pulpit, the first couple rows of pews were removed and a stage was setup. There was a long table with three chairs setup at the front of the room where they sat. It gave a more intimate feeling to the meeting. I was in the third row, about 20 feet away.
  • Throughout the meeting, you certainly could feel the humility of each of the men
  • Elder Ballard wore a Canada flag pin
  • Elder Ballard spoke of several problems, and each time told us to “Fix it!”
  • As a side note, after sitting through 4 hours of meetings, it occurred to me that pornography wasn’t mentioned once

We were never asked not to share our notes, so I’ll share a few highlights , but not everything (I had 6 pages of notes!)

—————–

Elder Clayton showed us this picture and we discussed what we saw.

The picture shows a pearl in a nice box. We discussed what the pearl and the box might be. Some people said it could be a man. The pearl is the heart. Others said it could be the Church (box) and the doctrine (the pearl). Elder Clayton then read from a talk by President Packer at the dedication of the Conference Center. President Packer shared a parable:

A merchant man seeking precious jewels found at last the perfect pearl. He had the finest craftsman carve a superb jewel box and line it with blue velvet. He put his pearl of great price on display so others could share his treasure. He watched as people came to see it. Soon he turned away in sorrow. It was the box they admired, not the pearl.
Boyd K. Packer, “The Cloven Tongues of Fire,” Ensign, May 2000, 7

Of course there is no right or wrong answer, but the point they were trying to make is that the pearl is the one thing that you need to do, whatever that may be. Don’t be distracted by the other things. We need to focus on the important thing(s).

—————–

Elder Ballard told us about some training that President Monson had done with all of the General Authorities. He spoke on the topic of “The Rescue”. He showed us this picture:

This is a painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner. It shows a boat in danger off in the distance, and they’ve set off a flare. There is another boat going out to rescue them. There are also people on the shore. Regardless of what the artist was showing, there are some clear gospel parallels. There are people in desperate need that we need to rescue. Sometimes it is hard or even dangerous, but there are people counting on us.

—————–

Elder Ballard said he and President Monson have known each other since 1951. President Monson used to work for Deseret News and Elder Ballard worked at his father’s car lot. President Monson used to come around and pick up the classified ads.

—————–

Elder Murray (I think it was him) shared the store of Clinton T. Duffy. I believe this was from a talk called Judge Righteously by Bishop Keith McMullin, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric at LDS Business College Devotional on September 15, 2009.

“…famed prison warden Clinton T. Duffy, who became the warden at California’s San Quentin Prison in 1940. When he was appointed, he began one of the most dramatic housecleaning jobs in penal history. He fired the brutish captain of guards and six of his lieutenants. He closed up a dungeon of airless, lightless, unfurnished, iron-door [clad] stone cells into which convicts were thrown as punishment for even the most trivial offenses. At the time he became warden, men were being fed from buckets. He installed a cafeteria and hired a dietitian. To the horror of his staff, he strolled, unarmed, into the prison yard and chatted with convicts. To their infinite surprise, he strolled out again. He established a broad program of vocational training. He was the first warden to let prisoners listen to radios in their cells. He encouraged athletics, inaugurated a prison newspaper to which he contributed a regular column and established the first prison chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. In cleaning up San Quentin, he became one of the best-known, most admired prison administrators in U.S. penal history. But the most eloquent acclaim came from inside the walls, from the prisoners themselves, who truly respected him.
“A critic who knew of Warden Duffy’s efforts to rehabilitate the men said to him, ‘Don’t you know that leopards can’t change their spots?’
Responded Warden Duffy, ‘You should know that I don’t work with leopards. I work with men, and men change every day.’”

Great line there at the end!

—————–

As part of his concluding testimony, Elder Ballard shared “The Oak Tree” poem by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr:

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew