Tag Archives: stake conference

A little more about Elder Larry Echo Hawk

Over the two days of Stake Conference, I had the opportunity to speak to Elder Larry Echo Hawk several times. I was immediately impressed by his humility. If you read about what he has accomplished in his life, he is remarkably humble. He went to law school, was the Attorney General for Idaho, taught at the BYU law school, oversaw BYU’s NCAA participation, and worked in the Obama administration. However even with all that experience, he rarely brought it up.

He is a very quiet/unassuming man. During lunch on Sunday I asked him about his work in the Obama administration and he said that when he was offered the position, he originally wanted to say now. He loved his job and responsibilities at BYU and didn’t want to leave. Whomever it was that offered him the position told him that his country was calling him to service. Elder Echo Hawk’s wife said that you can’t say no to that, but Elder Echo Hawk took about 10 days to finally decide to accept it.

President Eyring is the person who called him to be a General Authority. He found out many months in advance so he had lots of time to work things out. President Eyring told him that they didn’t want the US government mad at them 🙂

Elder Echo Hawk shared some great stores/experiences of learning more about his Pawnee heritage and doing family history research. He is obviously saddened by the way his people were treated long ago, but didn’t seem to harbour any bitter feelings.

I asked if he or his family was part of the Indian Placement Program (or whatever it was called) that the Church was involved with, and he said they were not. I commented about President Kimball’s love of Native Americans, and Elder Echo Hawk said that President Kimball (at that point an Apostle) is the one who performed the sealing for him and his wife.

I have met my fair share of General Authorities in my life, but Elder Echo Hawk certainly had an impact on me. I’m sure part of it was because of the calling I received, but there was just something about him that really impressed me. There is definitely lots there that I can try to emulate.

As a final point, Elder Echo Hawk’s first General Conference address was called “Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel”. He spoke about the Book of Mormon, and shared a great story of when he was a Marine.

My interview with Elder Echo Hawk and our new Stake Presidency

As mentioned before, this past weekend was our Stake Conference. Our previous Stake President, David P Homer, was called to be an Area Seventy (he told us on Sunday that he had been called in November and had to keep it a secret all this time) so we needed a new Stake President. We were originally supposed to have Elder Eduardo Gavarret attend, but apparently he had visa problems, so Elder Larry Echo Hawk was asked Thursday afternoon to fill in. He attended with the already assigned Area Seventy, Elder Jeffery E Olson.
NOTE: I’ll have a posting about Elder Echo Hawk later this week.

My interview was scheduled for 9 am at the Stake Centre. I live about 45 minutes away, and was scheduled to work on Saturday, so I got up early and went to work for 6:45 am and then left just after 8 am to go to the interview. I got there just before 9 and waited/chatted with Elder Homer and the Stake Clerk.

Just as it was with Elder Russell M Nelson and Elder Gary Crittenden 5 years ago, the interview was very short. I was with them for 5 minutes max. They first asked me about men who I thought would be good candidates for the stake presidency and then they asked me some questions. They asked about my wife and my previous callings. I keep typing “they”, but it was actually just Elder Olson doing the talking. Elder Echo Hawk sat there watching and listening.

I then headed back to work and the waiting began. It is a strange process. You want your leaders to know that you are worthy, but we are certainly not looking to get the “job”. I knew the interviews were ending at around noon, so I thought if was getting called to something I’d hear within an hour or two. By the time it was pushing 2 pm I figured that they had chosen other men, and I felt fine with that. Then at about 2:15 I received a call from Elder Homer asking if it were possible for my wife and me to come back to the Stake Centre to meet with Elder Echo Hawk and Elder Olson.

We made arrangements for someone to look after our children and off we went. We got to the Stake Centre at about 3:40. I met with Elder Echo Hawk and my wife met with Elder Olson. I was asked about my worthiness and if there was anything that would lead to members of the stake not sustaining me (I still didn’t know what the position was). My wife was asked the same question, along with questions about how I treat her and our children. After that we were brought back together again and the call was extended. I was called to be the 1st Counselor in the new Stake Presidency. Without hesitation we accepted. I was surprisingly calm about it. I know it will be a lot of work, but I also know how much the Lord blessed me as a bishop, and I know He will do that again.

It was kind of funny during the rest of the afternoon/evening and Sunday morning before the business was done. Several people made a few comments to me wondering what was going to happen. I just had to kind of shrug my shoulders and brush it off. They would find out soon enough.

And so the time for the sustaining arrived, and as I’m sure it usually is, it was unanimous. We were invited to the stand to participate in the rest of the meeting. The outgoing Stake Presidency and their wives were invited to bear their testimonies, and then the incoming Stake Presidency was invited to do the same (unfortunately there wasn’t time for our wives).

After the meeting we were set apart. Elder Echo Hawk set apart the President, I was set apart by Elder Olson, and then Elder Echo Hawk set apart the 2nd Counselor.

Lastly there was a short (about 1 hour) introductory training meeting with our wives to go over the basic responsibilities and how to main balance.

It was a whirlwind of a couple of days! I feel good about things, and think we’ll be able to continue the great work that the previous presidency was able to do.

One thing that really stuck out in my mind over the two days was how many times Elder Echo Hawk and Elder Olson testified that they were there under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve and that the Spirit had definitely witnessed to them what they were supposed to do. A sceptic might say that they have to say that, but it was very sincere, and the Spirit was with them as they said it. As one of the people who was chose, this was definitely very comforting.

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The greatest force for good in the world

As mentioned in my General Conference summaries, our Stake President, David P Homer, was called to be an Area Seventy. Our Stake Conference was already scheduled for the end of this month, so we will be getting a new Stake President. Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the First Quorum of the Seventy will be presiding at the Stake Conference and he will be accompanied by Elder Jeffery E Olson. I figured that since I am no longer in a bishopric that I was “off the radar”, but I received an email earlier this week requesting that I meet with them for a few minutes on the Saturday of Stake Conference. I’m not sure how I can make it work out, as I am scheduled to work that day and the person who I work with is on vacation. Oh well, somehow things will work out.

Anyway, this got me thinking about my short meeting with Elder Nelson when the Stake Presidency was reorganized the last time. I met with him for 5 minutes in the morning of the Saturday of Stake Conference. There was a form I had been given ahead of time that I was to fill out that had questions like the following:

  • Do you believe in God the Eternal Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?
  • Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
  • Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
  • Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
  • Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
  • Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws and commandments of the gospel?
  • Do you live the law of chastity?
  • Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
  • Are you a full-tithe payer?
  • Do you have prayer regularly in your home?
  • Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
  • Do you hold weekly family home evening?
  • Have you ever been divorced?
    If the answer is yes, has it been cleared by appropriate priesthood authorities where required?
    If you have ever been divorced or separated, are you presently fulfilling your obligations for the support and maintenance of your family?
  • Have you ever been subject to Church discipline?
  • If you have received your temple endowment:
    Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple?
    Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?
  • Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?

There were some places to record biographical information (age, wife and children, education, occupation, etc).There was also a chance to leave some comments. I wrote the following:

I love this church, its organization, and its teachings. It has brought such joy into my life and family. I cherish the eternal relationship that I have with my family and am grateful for the priesthood keys that have allowed that to happen.

At the end of my brief interview, Elder Nelson said it was a very nice thought and that “the Church is a great force for good in the world.” He then paused, and corrected himself, “No. It is the greatest force for good in the world.” It was interesting to watch him during this brief exchange. He made an initial comment that was perfectly valid, but then almost looked troubled and corrected what he said. That second line was said with surety, and I believed him. I’m sure there are those who would disagree with the statement, but I too believe that the Church is the greatest force for good in the world!

183rd Annual General Conference – Post-conference notes

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Well, 10 hours are done (10 3/4 hours if you count The World Report). Usually there is a session that I love, and maybe a session that I find kind of dull. For this conference, there wasn’t one particular session that was my favourite. Each session had a speaker or two that I really enjoyed. This probably made it easier for me to stay away; I didn’t fall asleep during any of the sessions 🙂

Online there has been all sorts of buzz about having women pray at General Conference. It wasn’t really something that was on the radar for me, but if it helps some people then it’s all good. I certainly see no reason why women can’t pray or speak in General Conference or any other meeting.

Ultimately probably the most interesting thing for me was that our Stake President was called to be an Area Authority. President David P Homer is a good man. He was serving as a bishop at the same time that I was when Elder Russell M Nelson came to our Stake Conference. I didn’t really know Bishop Homer very well, but my brief interactions with him were positive. Elder Nelson was inspired to call him to be the Stake President, and he has served faithfully for 5 1/2 years. I emailed him yesterday and told him that I was sure he’d inspire many people.

So that’s it. Conference is done. Hopefully we’ve all heard something that is making us think more deeply about our faith and our commitment. I definitely have some things I need to review.


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

183rd Annual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session

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I got home just as the choir was singing to open this session of conference. It was a hectic day at work, but it’s nice to be home now.


President Henry B Eyring conducted

A choir made up of students from Brigham Young University sang Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

Brother Russell T Osguthorpe offered the invocation

The choir sang Did You Think to Pray?

President Dieter F Uchtdorf presented officers for sustaining. There were lots of changes with Area Authorities. The only part that stood out to be with those names was that W T David Murray was released. He was the Area Authority in Southern Ontario. Then our own Stake President (David P Homer) was called to be an Area Authority. We have Stake Conference coming up in a few weeks, so I guess we’re getting a new Stake President!
There was also a new YW Presidency called. Bonnie Lee Green Oscarson, Carol Louise Foley McConkie, and Evelyn Neill Foote Marriott were called

Brother Robert W Cantwell, Managing Director of the Church Audit Report read the audit report for 2012

  • Based upon audits performed, the Church Auditing Department is of the opinion that, in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church have been recorded and administered in accordance with appropriate accounting practices, approved budgets, and Church policies and procedures.

Brother Brook P Hales, Secretary to the First Presidency presented the Statistical Report for 2012

  • 3,005 stakes
  • 347 missions
  • 591 districts
  • 29,014 wards and branches
  • 14,782,473 members
  • 122,273 children of record were baptized
  • 272,330 convert baptisms
  • 58,990 full-time missionaries
  • 22,961 church service missionaries
  • 4 temples dedicated
  • 2 rededicated
  • 140 temples in operation

Elder Richard G Scott

  • The world seems to want us to live a hectic life
  • We need a place of peace, ideally in our own home
  • The Savior is the true source of peace
  • Technology can be a protection if we use it right
  • Having the scriptures in your pocket (on a phone or tablet) won’t protect you, but studying them will
  • A Christ-centerd home will be where covenants are kept and love abounds
  • A good friendship is like asphalt that smooths over the holes and bumps
  • Recognize the good in others

Elder Quentin L Cook

  • He has been reflecting on the doctrine of peace
  • There is a difference between world peace and gospel peace
  • God is not the author of confusion
  • For those who reject God there is no peace
  • The Church is a refuge

The choir and congregation sang Rejoice, The Lord Is King!

Elder Stanley G Ellis

  • We are not spiritual orphans
  • With parents we do not need to be confused
  • One of the problems today is that every man walks in his own way
  • How we raise our children is more important than where we raise our children

Elder John B Dickson

  • Spoke quite a bit about the Church in Africa

Elder David A Bednar

  • Why is the law of chastity so important?
  • Every impulse of the natural man can be overcome through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases in unrighteous indulgence
  • Let virtue garnish they thoughts unceasingly

Elder Russell M Nelson

  • There is great enthusiasm for sharing the gospel
  • The youth need to share it with their friends
  • Apply to the school of your choice before you serve a mission
  • We all need to “catch the wave”
  • Our Living God is a Loving God

The choir sang More Holiness Give Me

Elder J Devn Cornish offered the benediction


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

2012 Canada-wide Stake Conference

On Sunday, May 27, 2012 we had what appears to be a bi-annual Canada-wide Stake Conference. The Saturday portion of Stake Conference was still a local event, but the Sunday morning session was broadcast from one of the studios at the Conference Centre.

In the morning while still at home, my 9-year-old son offered our family prayer, and he prayed that the speakers at the conference wouldn’t be nervous speaking in front of a lot of people. Cool!

Elder William R Walker conducted and President Boyd K Packer presided. They were accompanied by D Todd Christofferson and Sister Carole M Stephens.

A couple of days before the conference I asked my wife which of Elder Ballard or President Monson would be speaking. She said Elder Ballard for sure, but thought both of them would be there, seeing as they have such a connection to Canada. Well, neither of them was there.

Apparently there was something like 47 stakes and 3 districts participating in the conference.

The opening and closing of the conference were done locally.

Here are my notes from the meeting:

Elder William R Walker

  • We need to point our children to the temple
  • In 1912 there were 7,000 members in Canada, most of them from Southern Alberta
  • The Alberta Temple was announced in October 1912 and the ground-breaking ceremony was on July 27, 1913 by Joseph F Smith
  • The temple was dedicated by Heber J Grant in August 1923
  • There are now temples in Cardston, Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Calgary will be open soon, and Winnipeg has been announced
  • There will soon be 9 temples in Canada, the same number of temples that were in all the Church in 1955
  • The temple should be the great symbol of our membership

Sister Carole M Stevens

  • We need to prepare our children for the evil world ahead of them
  • We need to act with faith, not fear
  • Don’t waste time with “I wish I would have…” Start today!

The intermediate/congregational hymn was “How Firm a Foundation

Elder D Todd Christofferson

  • He recounted his connection to Canada
  • Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life is made
  • Why must we be commanded to serve one another?
  • Even though President Monson can’t reach everyone, he still does what he can
  • We are a church of service
  • The most crucial services is in our own home
  • The Savior is the great Exemplar of service

President Boyd K Packer
Note: President Packer did NOT sound good. He was hard to understand, and didn’t seem to be able to remember things. He would try to speak without looking at his notes, but then had to refer back to them

  • He spoke of his experiences of Canada
  • He was President of the New England Mission, and that involved trips to Eastern Canada
  • We have to remember the Gospel is true
  • When we get that feeling in our hearts, we know what we need to know
  • It’s not an easy thing to be a member, but it is easier than anything else if we do what is right
  • Never be ashamed of the Church
  • He blessed us to “take faith”

Canada-wide Stake Conference

I was going through some drafts that I had, and this one stuck out. Apparently 2 years ago we had a Canada-wide Stake Conference that was broadcast from Salt Lake City. Well, here we are 2 years later, and we have one this coming Sunday. I figured that I might as well post the notes that I typed up (but never posted) from the conference from 2 years ago, and then I’ll post the current notes next week. Obviously I paid a lot more attention to the Saturday broadcast than the Sunday one. I was still the bishop of the ward at that time, and the Saturday session essentially took the place of the local Priesthood Leadership session.

Saturday

Elder Pace

  • We can’t receive too much counsel
  • Melchizedek Priesthood quorums are lacking because they are failing to tap into the power of the quorum
  • our leaders try to prime the pump of revelation, but we need to receive the revelation from deity

Elder Ballard

  • Q) how we do combat pornography
  • A) we draw a line in our minds over which we will never step
  • stop, repent, quit, draw the line
  • make a resolve and commitment with the Lord that you will not step over into the devil’s playground
  • pornography will destroy your spirituality
  • if this is an issue, stop it today
  • be careful on other sites as well (like Facebook)
  • stay on the Lord’s side
  • Matthew 25 – do not be a goat

President Uchtdorf

  • he has lived more of his life in districts than in stakes
  • don’t wait to make an impact in the lives of our children
  • in today’s world, don’t trust the compass the world is offering
  • trust the Holy Ghost
  • spoke of compass ambiguity as he traveled in northern Canada (has been to Frobisher Lake and Goose Lake)
  • use the time you have in your calling
  • don’t dare say “if only I was the…”
  • 1 Samuel 10 – the Lord will turn us into another man
  • there is no small calling in the Church

Sunday

  • 111 downlink sites
  • 10 + languages
  • my son asked if there was another episode
  • Elder Pace on both days called Elder Ballard by the name Russell M Ballard
  • President Uchtdorf was very fidgety
  • Truly a united nation of the Church
  • 800+ missionaries
  • President Uchtdorf said that sometimes we have to look for something different to see the true identity. Bald Eagle, golf balls

The rain falls on the just and unjust

I have a Pocket PC device, and I was cleaning it up yesterday, and came across a couple of notes from last November’s Stake Conference. I can’t remember what the talk was about, or who it was that was speaking, but the person had quoted from Matthew 5:44-45:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

The Saviour is telling us to be kind to those who are unkind to us. I’ve always understood the last part of verse 45 to mean that rain is a good thing. We are to do good to others, even as He allows good things to happen (rain falling on crops) to everyone. However, the person who was speaking interpreted that verse to be a negative thing, as in just as rain falls on everyone, we all face tough times.

It just got me thinking about how there are often many ways something can be interpreted, and there is rarely a right answer as to which interpretation is the correct interpretation. This then got me thinking about how we do things in the Church. I’ve read online many times where people lament correlation, and how we have no freedom to do anything. That isn’t true. Sure, the Church Handbook of Instructions gives you guidelines, but I do think you have a lot of leeway in how you implement those guidelines. The problems that arise more often than not are because people think things are “supposed to” be a certain way. When talking to these people, I always think of a line from The Simpsons. The family moved, and Bart was put in an earlier grade than he was in Springfield:

Bart: Look, lady, I’m s’posed to be in the 4th grade
Teacher: Sounds to me like someone’s got a case of the spose’das

In the Church, there seems to be a lot of people who have a case of the spose’das. I don’t know if it is correlation’s fault or not, but too many people think things are supposed to be a certain way. They are always surprised when I nicely explain to them that it may have been like that previously, but now we have more options. Just because something was done before, doesn’t mean we are “s’posed to” do that.

There are very few things that are mandated. It really is one of the beautiful things about the Church. Local leaders extend calls to other leaders, and we all work together to help the work move forward. Sometimes we use the “best practices” of others and sometimes we try new things. We keep using what works, and take a pass on the things that don’t work.

Whether rain is a good thing or a bad thing, I’m glad that I can choose for myself.