Tag Archives: stake president

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.

picture_1

A report on the boundary changes

As I mentioned last week, there was a special meeting planned for this past Sunday where 4 wards would learn about some boundary changes. Our Stake President had decided that since we had General Conference and Stake Conference in the month, he wanted the Sacrament administered to (or is it for?) the members. We had 19 YM (Priests, Teachers and Deacons and a couple of adults) help do this. They passed the Sacrament to close to 400 people. It worked out well and a lot of people were appreciative that they had that opportunity.

Before getting to the changes, let me share one other thing with you… My father emailed a childhood friend who now lives in Utah (he has for decades). My dad said that they were making some changes, and this friend emailed back to say that in the last 10 years he’s been in 10 different stakes even though he hasn’t moved, and that he is now back in the original ward/stake that he was in before all of this started. The bottom line is this was a big deal for many members around here as it is the first time changes have been made in 20 years, but in some parts of the world this happens almost regularly.

So, the meeting ran like a regular sacrament meeting. The boundary changes were taken care of during the business portion near the beginning of the meeting. A counselor in the Stake Presidency announced the boundaries and then the members of the newly realigned ward were asked to sustain the changes. Opportunity was given to oppose, but no one did.

The changes were less drastic than I thought they might be. Our ward only lost a few members and didn’t gain any from any other wards. We’ll miss the members we lost greatly, but they will be well cared for in the new ward.

There were then a couple of youth speakers and all of the Bishops also had a chance to share their testimony. The Stake President was then the concluding speaker. The whole meeting lasted about  1 1/2 hours.

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!

On the wrong (or right) side of the tracks

tracks

For the first time in my time in the Church I will be experiencing the unique Mormon ritual of changing ward boundaries. I know that other churches have different methods of distributing their members, but no one seems to be as “strict” about it as we are.

I live in an area where there are three cities fairly close together with a fourth about half an hour away. The various boundaries were set 20 years ago and haven’t changed since. As demographics have shifted some wards have grown and some have shrunk, and so the existing boundaries lead to an imbalance of membership.

About halfway through my time as bishop we were looking at some boundary changes but nothing ever came of it. At the time it seemed that the wards were doing ok. The boundary work we were doing was just to clean things up. There were going to be very few members affected by the changes. However these days it seems that a couple of the wards are having a very hard time getting people out. Another ward is definitely smaller than they used to be. I’m pretty sure that the ward I am in is the biggest ward in the area  (not that I have much to do with that fact). I have absolutely no inside information, but I suspect that my current ward will be hardest hit by this.

So this coming Sunday all of the area wards will be meeting together and sustaining whatever changes are announced. They are expecting around 500 people and we’ll be having the Sacrament. The YM from two of the wards will be taking care of that. I’ve never been to such a large Sacrament Meeting, so it will be interesting. I don’t think this is a normal part of these meetings, but with General Conference earlier this month and Stake Conference at the end of the month, the Stake President was concerned that we’d only be taking the Sacrament once this month.

On the one hand, who cares where we go to Church? What does that have to do with my testimony and desires of my heart? We talk about ward families, but we wouldn’t just ship off our brother or sister in our real family to be part of another family (at least not by choice). On the other hand it shouldn’t matter where we attend. The Church is the same. We’ll make new friends and stay in touch with the friends that are changing wards. We should be willing to go where we are needed, and build up the kingdom where we are.

The only tough part for me will be not seeing some of my good friends as often as we did. We can obviously still be friends, but when most of our time together was spent at Church and Church activities, it just won’t be the same. We’ll just have to try harder to stay close.

I assume that where we live I will still be in my current ward, but depending on what the needs are in other wards they could shift a border and we’d end up going somewhere else. I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

Note: I’ve never been to one of these big meetings where changes like this are made, so I’ll report back on it next week.

183rd Annual General Conference – Post-conference notes

183rd_annual_general_conference_screenshot

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

183rd_annual_general_conference_screenshot

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:

My funny kids

On Sunday we had our Ward Conference, so the Stake Presidency, along with many other stake leaders, were there. My oldest son (10-years-old) asked me after Church if I knew the Stake President. I said yes, and he said the next time I am bishop I need to ask him for his autograph. I asked why, and he said, “because he’s the stake president!”

Funny stuff! The first thing is the “next time you’re the bishop” like he just assumed it would happen. The other thing is that he thinks the Stake President is “famous” enough to get his autograph.

I sent an email to the Stake President to let him know that, and he thought it was pretty funny. He said that years ago someone had asked him to get a General Authority to sign something (he didn’t say what it was), and the GA told him that President Hinckley had asked them not to sign things since they aren’t rock stars.

The other funny thing was on Monday at Family Home Evening. My 4-year-old daughter was in charge of the lesson so we told her to get The Friend magazine and pick something. She saw a story with a picture of Jesus and she wanted to read that. I helped her with the lesson and asked a few questions about Jesus. I started off by asking where Jesus was born. My oldest son said Jerusalem. I told him it was a very close answer, but there was specific place the scriptures mention. After a few seconds my daughter blurted out, “Agrabah!” (For those that don’t know, that where Disney’s Aladdin took place). Perhaps that is why there was a party in Agrabah 🙂

Diversity, tolerance, and choice

I attended our Stake General Priesthood Meeting on Sunday Night. There were several speakers, with the Stake President being the concluding speaker. He spoke about a number of topics, and at one point he talked about how some of the school districts in the area will be modifying their curriculum to teach more about same-gender marriages. He was very careful in saying that we don’t persecute people, but that we also need to stand up for what is right. He shared a quote from a General Conference talk that Boyd K. Packer gave a few years ago. I like it.

…words can be used as weapons against you. If they throw the word diversity at you, grab hold of it and say, “I am already diverse, and I intend to stay diverse.” If the word is tolerance, grab that one, too, saying, “I expect you to be tolerant of my lifestyle—obedience, integrity, abstinence, repentance.” If the word is choice, tell them you choose good, old-fashioned morality. You choose to be a worthy husband or wife, a worthy parent.

The whole Church may stand alone in defense of these standards. But we are not the first. Moroni, the last of his people, said: “I even remain alone. … I fulfil the commandment of my father.” Do not be afraid.

Boyd K. Packer, “‘The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected’,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 24

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”

We received a memo from the First Presidency in January saying that there was going to be some new welfare training material arriving soon. The memo instructed stake presidents to gather applicable leaders in the stake and to review the material. Well, the materials arrived, and on Sunday afternoon I headed to the stake centre for some training.

Leading up the meeting, I wondered what could possibly be different. Now I know… not much. The principles of self-reliance are consistent, and the training was actually a DVD with talks by Elder Robert D. Hales, Sister Julie B. Beck, Bishop H. David Burton, and President Thomas S. Monson. They didn’t really go into any detail of how to handle situations. They just emphasized those time-tested principles. Without going into it too much, here are a few thoughts that I had:

  • Elder Hales said that it takes great faith to say “I can’t afford that”.
  • A couple of speakers talked about downsizing your life to fit within your budget restraints. This includes moving if necessary.
  • Sister Beck brought up the phrase “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” and how we would all be better off if we followed it.
  • A couple of speakers talked about the importance of using a budget
  • Bishop Burton mentioned that there is no requirement for wards or stakes to have their expenses and contributions remain in balance. Note: Perhaps it is just wording, but this seems to be different that it used to be (our stake president agrees that it is different). Before, if a ward or stake were to go “into the red” in their fast offering funds, then it needed approval. The implication was that this should not be. At the very least, it appears that the Brethren understand that in this economic time, more units will be using more fast offering funds than they collect.
  • President Monson emphasized that no member of the church who has served in a welfare project ever forgets or regrets the experience of helping provide for those in need. This is very true!

Note: I left the house at 6:20 am Sunday morning to go to my administration meetings, attended Church, had meetings after Church, drove to the stake centre for the training, and ended up getting home at 6:30 pm. What a long day!