What to Expect When You Are Expecting . . . A Bishopric Call


The oldest Mormon chapel in the world. (Wiki Commons)

So a dear friend of mine[1] just got called to a new bishopric and wants to know the known knowns, the known unknowns, and, of course, the unknown unknowns[2].

He asked me if I’d encountered any discussions of best practices on the topic in my years in the Bloggernacle. I told him that we’d obviously never discuss something so practical when there was speculative bloviating that could be done instead.

I do have one to contribute; I’m pretty sure I stole this from a discussion at BCC. Make sacrament meeting speaking assignments six months in advance. Do not assign topics. Check in with the speaker two weeks before and discuss their outline. Hoped-for outcomes: no more last-minute thrown-together talks, but something the speaker feels deeply about, has something substantial to share about, and has pondered and developed. The two-week check-in gives you a chance to be sure that they haven’t prepared anything wacky, or gently redirect as needed.

Another one: it pains me that we have given up on teacher improvement. This is supposed to be the job of the Sunday School Presidency (don’t get me started on how that prohibits women’s involvement), but I think the cultural norm of SS leadership doing nothing has bled over and so, at least in my experience, there is no teacher improvement.

OK, one more: there’s a lot I could say on the feminist front, but let’s start small and easy: no gendered pattern for who gives opening/closing prayers or the speaker order in sacrament meeting.

So: bishopric members, what do you wish you had known/done/thought when you started out? Everyone: what are some really amazing things your local leaders have done? What are the best practices? What about innovative ideas, small and large, that have made wards run more smoothly?

[1] Usually when someone leads with “a friend of mine wants to know,” they are lying. But in this case, you know I’m not!

[2] Although I have great confidence that, whatever he ends up doing, he will be more successful than Donald Rumsfeld. But let this serve as a reminder to us all to pray for the many local leaders in this church who have scary new callings thrust upon them.

80 comments for “What to Expect When You Are Expecting . . . A Bishopric Call

  1. Bryan Buchanan
    September 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    In a student ward, I had a bishop who was adamant about teaching being priority number one. He told RS, EQ and SS leaders that they could have first crack at people for their organizations and, if necessary, people would be released from other callings. I suggested a friend who I thought would be an engaging teacher and, when it turned out she wasn’t, she was very kindly reassigned within a few weeks. I thought that was a great perspective–for many people, Sunday will be the only contact they have with scriptures/teachings. If the teaching is bland, they certainly won’t be terribly motivated to start engaging in their own study.

  2. September 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    What I came up with in ten minutes, so take it for what it is worth and good luck!

    Read the Handbook and then read it again. You’ll feel like a moron when you find out all the questions you bungled while the answer was already there.

    Pray a lot.

    Just because you are inspired to extend a call doesn’t mean they are/should accept that call. God may just be using you to get them moving again.

    Assign talks by inviting the person to do something and then tell about the experience (keep a journal, invite someone to Church, etc.).

    Make sure the marginal people have the right calling and are invited to do things in church. Few such people will keep coming to church if they have no responsibility. And you’ll really regret it when they slip away.

    Have the right ward clerk.

  3. James Olsen
    September 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    This is a fantastic question, and I wish I had more time to really think through before answering. But here are some immediate off-the-cuff ideas from past observings:

    1. Never call or release someone without notifying them. In addition to calling someone in to call them, call them in to release them and have an open, candid assessment conversation. What’s working and what’s not? What do you wish you’d known in your calling at the start? What do you want to make sure the person replacing you knows? Etc.

    2. Visit the members. It’s amazing how different ward cultures are (I’ve been a zillion of them over the last 15 yrs) in terms of the approachability of the Bishopric. You want to be super approachable. Which only happens when members have informal opportunities to get to know you better. Visit people. Especially when they’ve just moved in, but don’t leave out the old war horses either. And socialize with new and different people at every opportunity.

    3. The same sociality that exists amongst us here will exist among us there – so make sure your ward has good sociality. The biggest bang for your buck in terms of ease and genuine unity/good will building is dinners. Have dinners – make them easy, low-maintenance, and funded to the degree you can (oh, and healthy – poisoning ourselves seems a big and unfortunate part of LDS culture – we delight in spurning the WofW at ward potlucks).

    4. Re-invigorate substantive learning. Have firesides (including adult firesides!), bring in guest speakers from the community, sponsor book clubs and classes, learning workshops (practical skills like how to garden, etc.), always have alternatives to Sunday School, etc.

    5. Do real community service. That is, service that the community needs rather than whatever your members have experience with or something that seems easy and allows us to pat ourselves on the back. At least one major project a year (which is infinitely more than most wards do), and also think about ongoing projects (I know of one ward that had one night each month where families could come and put together the church’s humanitarian relief kits – it doubled as a unity/socializing activity).

    6. Ward temple nights: do more than schedule them. Combine them with a dinner or other activity if you can. Not only do you draw in more numbers, but the spiritual high of the temple continues through the event.

    7. One of dear friends got rid of his bishops desk. I have no idea what his executive secretary ended up doing with it, but it was so refreshing to walk into his office and see a circle of chairs – a council set up – rather than an imposing, inherently separating, authoritarian symbol.

    8. Keep the attitude you’ve got now all the way through. After all your mistakes and learning in the first two years, don’t decide you’ve now got it all figured out and quit listening to people or being willing to experiment.

    Good luck and God speed and all of that. Honestly, my very best wishes to you.

  4. egee
    September 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I sat in on a bishopric meeting in our ward one time (I was subbing for the ward clerk) while they discussed a sister in the ward who had turned down multiple callings. Probably not too unusual, but what struck me was how concerned they were for HER. The discussion wasn’t about the unfilled position nor was there any irritation expressed with her unwillingness to accept. The remarks centered around their desire for her to become less self-involved through service to others. So my suggestion: never lose sight of what your position is really about. Parties, service projects, meetings, musical numbers, staffing are all important but in the end it’s really about people who come in all sorts, shapes, and sizes.

  5. September 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Some quick ideas: Yes, always talk to people before a release and before the calling/sustaining (yes, these details can be missed when one is busy). Talk to everyone you can at church, which might be your usual MO or might be a big change. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t talk to anyone (friends, family, spouse) about what you hear in meetings (confidentiality is not optional). It helps to drink something energetic before sacrament meeting.

  6. Wilfried
    September 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Just this from my long experience (and to nuance some previous comments):

    Don’t scare or exhaust people with callings, activities, meetings… Some may like the responsibility (and need it), but our first aim is that members, even the weak and the struggling ones, like to come to church, without feeling embarrassed or pressured. Drop the “guiltification” in talks and lessons. Avoid citing “heroic” members as examples. Allow people to come just for sacrament meeting if the 3 hour block is the literal stumbling block. Don’t worry about modesty or white shirts. And on an on in the same vein…

  7. Lon
    September 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    This took me six months to learn and was the biggest improvement. Listen first.

    When a situation arises and you’re looking for input, it’s tempting to summarize what the problem is and roll right into sharing your thoughts. Then you ask for input and get… agreement. The council wants to support you. If you want feedback, DO NOT give your opinion first. Ask for theirs. And don’t just throw an open question out. You’ll just get the feedback of the most vocal person in the council. Target the quietest, newest person in the room and ask THEIR opinion. Don’t let others take that time away. Then move around the room to the next person. Finally, you can summarize what you heard. At that point, you’ll have more honest and open feedback and can act on it.

  8. September 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    it pains me that we have given up on teacher improvement. This is supposed to be the job of the Sunday School Presidency (don’t get me started on how that prohibits women’s involvement), but I think the cultural norm of SS leadership doing nothing has bled over and so, at least in my experience, there is no teacher improvement.

    My husband was SS pres a few years ago and we held regular meetings at our home. The lessons he gave were GREAT, if I do say so myself. But only the teachers who were already quite good came out. The ones who needed it most were never, ever available.

    Years ago I was the 1st counselor in RS and called my very best teacher to be the inservice leader. At first she was very hurt, until I was able to help her understand that she had the opportunity to pass on her teaching expertise to the other teachers. She really did a bang up job in the calling and we had very good attendance.

    13 years ago I co-wrote a post that relates indirectly to a bishop’s calling. It still pulls in a fair share of traffic and a few comments, so perhaps it will be helpful: The Special Lives of Bishop’s Wives. (Yes, I know the title is goofy. I didn’t write it!)

  9. Julie M. Smith
    September 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Lon, your comment reminded me of a post I was working on and never posted:

    Imagine that you are a ward Relief Society President and you ask your bishop’s approval for some Relief Society activity. And he looks over your outline and says, “looks good, but let’s not do part 3–I don’t think that’s a good idea.” As a Relief Society President, you may not feel comfortable saying another word about part 3, even if it was really important to you. After all, the bishop has spoken. It is not your place to argue with him. (This is the more orthodox thinking. The less orthodox thinking is that it probably isn’t worth wasting your social capital and/or his time objecting if he has already made up his mind.)

    But perhaps the bishop would not have objected to part 3 if he knew more about why it was planned. Maybe the bishop is used to working in professional settings where ideas are more freely batted around, and so he takes your silence as evidence that part 3 didn’t matter to you anyway.

    Now let’s rewind and imagine that instead of saying “let’s not do part 3–I don’t think that’s a good idea,” the bishop asks, “what’s the reason for including part 3?” Now even the most orthodox (or timid) RS President would feel comfortable explaining the rationale of part 3 to him. The bishop might even gain perspective that will change his conclusion that part 3 wasn’t such a good idea. Or maybe he still won’t go for part 3, but he’ll be in a better position to suggest an acceptable alternative to part 3 now that he knows what need it was intended to fill.

    tl;dr: Leaders: don’t say no before finding out why.

  10. Mark B.
    September 15, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Read D&C 107:27-29 and apply it by analogy to every council meeting you sit in. (And persuade the bishop to believe it too.)

    In ward council, say nothing (and persuade the bishop to say nothing) on any matter being discussed–other than to ask clarifying questions) until everyone in the council has had full opportunity to make proposals and discuss them fully. Too often, if he bishop speaks, the thinking stops–so be sure to let others speak before he does. And don’t forget paragraph 1.

    In bishopric meeting, don’t stop talking. Let the bishop have the benefit of everything you know. Just because the bishop proposes something isn’t reason to simply say “Yes boss.” Again, don’t forget paragraph 1.

    Make teaching and preaching better. Some good suggestions are above. If someone (like your stake president) says that the handbook implies that bishoprics should assign topics, then do it. “The gospel of Jesus Christ” is a good topic to assign every speaker–it’s worked for us for nearly five years.

    Be serious, as Julie said, about teacher improvement. Forget a Sunday School Presidency. Call a President, and a committee. Make the Sunday school president the chairman, ex officio. Then call others, men and women, to serve on it–and to take the task seriously. Use that same committee (or another, if you have enough people) to assist people to become better speakers. (Brief and regular post-mortems, with frank discussion of what went well and what needs improvement, are worth infinitely more than a long, separate meeting about “how to improve teaching (or preaching).”)

  11. jennifer rueben
    September 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    delegate delegate delegate-let the executive secretary take care of the details. your should not be assigning sacrament meeting speakers or dealing with any thing that someone else can do- free yourself up for the responsibilities only you can do . support those you call – acknowledge those who support you especially your family they may not be called by they are chosen and they chose to love and support you.

  12. JamesM
    September 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Take primary callings as seriously as you do organizational presidencies or YM/YW assignments. My last two wards have really struggled to meet the very significant staffing primary staffing requirements, which is often compounded by calling “struggling” members into primary. Primary is an organizational and logistical monster, and your primary president is likely to downplay these challenges. We’d probably be doing fewer back flips to engage completely disinterested 12-18 year olds if we were more committed to Primary.

    Sacrament meeting hymns are the only opportunity every single person in attendance is allowed to be an active participant – they should be treated accordingly.

  13. Chet
    September 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    When extending a calling, make sure the person has a basic idea of what is required, i.e. online training for Scout leaders. Give the individual a basic list of training resources, regardless of the calling.

  14. Kevin Barney
    September 15, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Some fantastic ideas! I’ve never been in a bishopric (and don’t expect ever to be), but I’ve often thought were I in that position I would delegate absolutely all but non-delegable duties (as jennifer rueben suggests) and focus on the people, visiting them (as James Olsen suggests) and building relationships with them. People over programs.

  15. Geoff - Aus
    September 15, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I like most of the ideas above. The handbook says anyone can be invited to Bishopric meetings, so why would you not invite the RS presidency permanently?

    The blog http://www.wheatandtares.org/15105/15-steps-to-fixing-the-faith-crises-crisis/

    Invite everyone in the ward to speak, not just the righteous few.

    Have only the one conducting on the stand. We often have more than 6 suits on the stand. How many suits/high priests does it take to conduct a sacrament meeting?

    The handbook is very specific that some activities require the priesthood, it does not say this is required to conduct a sacrament meeting, it says the bishopric councillors can, but it doesn’t say anyone can’t, could the RS presidency rotate with the Bishopric to conduct sacrament meeting? Why not? Imagine the change of atmosphere if it happened?

    The handbook says a presiding authority should be invited to sit on the stand. Presumably he could refuse. I have 4 daughters and we often have comments about the number of HP it takes to conduct a sacrament meeting.

    Shoot anyone who reads a lesson out of the manual, especially in HP.

  16. James Olsen
    September 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Mark B. #10: that’s brilliant – a committee to work individually with speakers and teachers. I’m imagining pre-lesson or pre-talk resources and consultation style meetings along with the post debrief. That would be hugely nor effective than the group trainings. But you’d have to get good and diplomatic folks.

  17. Old Man
    September 15, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Honestly, my advice to any new Bishopric would be 1) Know and follow the Spirit; 2) Know and love the people; 3) Know and follow the handbooks; and 4) in those very rare occasions when the handbooks and Spirit disagree, follow the Spirit.

  18. September 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Mark B.’s #10 sounds good in theory but in practice would lead to interminable meetings, it seems to me. Don’t know if there’s any way to split that baby.

  19. Heather G.
    September 15, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    James M(#12) could you please expound on your comment regarding the sacrament meeting hymns. As the ward music chair and ward chorister I receive very little direction from the bishopric regarding hymns in sacrament meeting. The topics are posted a couple of months in advance and I try to pick songs that coincide with the topic. If you have been in a bishopric position before and have more input on sacrament meeting hymns and working with the ward music chair, I would appreciate hearing how it worked for you so I could approach our new bishopric with some ideas. I apologize in advance for the thread jack.

  20. Molly Bennion
    September 15, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Your wife will be more understanding of your absences than will your children. Make time for them. They need a father as well as a Bishop. You can miss some Church events to make a ballgame, recital or play. And give your children some room to be themselves, not just “the Bishop’s exemplary kids.”

  21. Terry H
    September 15, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I was in a bishopric of a completely new Ward. We had sacrament meeting one week and then had to have the entire Ward staffed. Our Bishop had some very practical ideas. He ranked our callings in order: (1) Relief Society President (2) Scoutmaster (due to having a truck and other things) (3) Gospel Doctrine Teacher (to minimize people hanging out in the halls & long before Sunday School Presidency) (4) Primary (5) Young Women (6) Elder’s Quorum. Then the others. He also especially cared about the Membership Clerk and then the Financial Clerk. As for the Sunday School Presidency, a good friend of mine was 2d Counselor in the SS. He died in an accident and over a year later, someone else was called to take his place. Another friend of ours laughed and said he was continuing to serve from the other side of the veil.

  22. Terry H
    September 15, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    One more thing NOT to do!!! If you ever have a couple of pennies left over after adding up the tithing receipts, etc., DO NOT put it under Other Donations and call it Pennies From Heaven. Just sayin’

  23. Hedgehog
    September 15, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    James #19, I’ve recently been released as music chair in the ward, but one of the first things I made very clear when called was that I did not want to see hymns cut from the meeting because people were speaking too long, nor did I want us skipping verses. Finally I asked that musical items be in addition to, not replace the intermediate hymn, this meant our musical items were before the first speaker. Those requests were accepted. Congregational singing is a vital part of worship, and too often it is treated as disposable.

  24. Hedgehog
    September 16, 2014 at 12:37 am

    #23 should have been addressed to Heather who was responding to James. Sorry.

  25. Hedgehog
    September 16, 2014 at 2:28 am

    Oh, and my more general comment is when you call someone, let them get on with the job, don’t micromanage. It puts everyone’s backs up to have a bishopric member come and listen to a musical item beforehand to be approved, not to mention putting everyone out trying to get together with said bishopric member. All the musical items passed, but good grief, from the fuss made by the bishopric, you’d have thought each one had the potential to be a performance of the can can from the pulpit. Not even approaching… Good grief!

  26. DCJ
    September 16, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Some thoughts, not presented in order of importance:

    1. Prepare in advance of bishopric meetings so they can be more efficient. If the YW need to fill a calling, talk to the YW president about possible suggestions, e-mail the Bishop in advance of the bishopric meeting regarding the calling need and offer a few names for his consideration. That will allow the discussion in the meeting to be more focused, inspired and efficient.

    2. If there is anything that the Bishop could do, but you could reasonably do for him, offer to do it so he can focus on the things that he alone must do, or so he can spend needed time with his family.

    3. Say hello and shake hands with everyone you see at church. You may be preoccupied with meeting someone or taking care of something, but (fairly or not) people often will feel loved or snubbed by “the Church” based on whether you say hello to them or walk on by.

    4. Express appreciation as frequently as possible for members’ service. Temple recommend interviews provide one such opportunity. Tell members how grateful you are for their contributions and that they are part of your ward. Tell the auxiliary leaders you work with (especially the sisters) what a great job they are doing and how their sacrifices are so valuable. People typically are sacrificing more than we know in order to serve faithfully in their callings.

    5. Express appreciation even more frequently to your wife and children for their sacrifice for your service. Then do it again.

    6. Repeat #5.

    7. Thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve, even when it might be difficult.

    8. Take every opportunity to bear testimony of Christ. Priesthood opening exercises are used for announcements, but testimony more frequently could accompany missionary, home teaching, or other assignments addressed in that meeting. People will feel the Spirit and it will amplify their love for the Lord and their brothers and sisters. It will give them hope and courage in their lives. It will motivate them better than anything else to serve and to do good.

  27. Jared vdH
    September 16, 2014 at 9:53 am

    To all those who suggested reviewing people’s talks ahead of time, either by a member of the bishopric or some kind of committee, how in the world do you not see this devolving into some kind of filter on the speakers? I mean you suggest that not just “the righteous few” should be asked to speak, but if you the forced everybody to put their talks through a committee before they gave the talk, no one’s will accept the invitation to speak. I mean I’m very comfortable giving talks and I seriously doubt anyone would call me unorthodox, but if I had to face the scenario you’re describing I’d never accept a speaking assignment ever again.

  28. Hedgehog
    September 16, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Have to agree with Jared above. Who has time for that? Pre-assessing a musical item is bad enough (surely knowing what the piece is, and who will be singing it is adequate information), but every single talk! Help! Micromanagement. If you want to improve the quality of talks, surely it would be better to hold a workshop for interested parties to attend.

  29. U240
    September 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Shut up and listen more: It will be amazing how many times a person that wants/needs to come in to visit with the Bishop will realize what they need to do or how to solve their problem(s) by just verbalizing to someone.

    Develop a personal ministry outside of your calling

    Follow the Handbook

    Stay close to your Stake President and counsel with him.

    Delegate all you can to your counselors so you can focus on the 7 or so things in the Handbook that only the Bishop can do.

    Visit more. When you are released you will wish you visited more. People in the ward (members and non-members) feel it a privilege to have the Bishop in their home.

  30. JamesM
    September 16, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Heather G. I think coordinating song choices with meeting themes is a great thing. In terms of working with a bishopric, I don’t know that I have any great insights since (as you probably know) so much is personality dependent. My wife and I took turns as music chair and during some of that time I was also clerk/executive secretary. I think it’s ok if the bishopric isn’t super engaged with the music as long as there is a recognition that it’s important. Along those lines, it’s a pet peeve when the bishopric is up there not singing during the hymns. Most people on the stand wouldn’t dream of checking our notes or talking during a prayer…not discreetly, anyway! Hedgehog’s insights (comment 23) are very on point if a bishopric is un-supportive or really doesn’t get it.

    And now that I’m soap-boxing, I also think that including at least one well-known hymn per meeting is a good idea. It’s actually a larger number than you might think…I put it at about 100 of the songs in the hymnal. Doing this invites greater participation for those less musically-inclined.

  31. Mark B.
    September 16, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    @ James Olsen (16). You’re imagining and my experience match up. We have tried to do both the pre-talk or pre-lesson resources/consultation and the post-talk/lesson review.

    @ Adam G. (18). I think unanimity is more important than brevity, but we try to keep items to the scheduled time. If we can’t reach a decision, we put it off for the next meeting. I’ve heard that the 12 do that on occasion too. If it’s good enough for them, it should be for us in the wards and branches.

  32. mwolv
    September 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I’ve always thought it would be great to issue testimony meeting vouchers to ward members at the beginning of the year. Maybe 3 per member. Tell the congregation that you want to hear from everyone more regularly, so they should give considerable forethought about what to share and when. Wonderful side effect: those who tend to get up and babble or share everything but a testimony month after month are limited to 3 pulpit appearances per year. That idea is untested but I think it has excellent potential.

    Two tested ideas that I saw work very well in a recent bishopric:

    1. On 5th Sundays (two or three per year) the bishop arranged for all the adults to have a combined RS/PH session while he met separately with the youth. The youth meeting was an open forum where they could ask any questions they wanted or voice any concerns they had. They were assured (and had sufficient trust in the bishop to accept his assurance) that whatever was discussed in that room would not be discussed outside of that room. It really built a bond between the bishop and the youth.

    2. The bishop made it a priority/goal for the ward to be more involved in the community. (We are far removed from the Intermountain West bubble of Mormondom.) Volunteer at soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, interfaith initiatives, local parades and festivals, etc. In short, get away from the isolationist comfort zone of the LDS cultural hall. It was great. People made new friends, discovered new things about the community they had lived in for years but were too isolated to explore, and it was arguably the best type of missionary tool (without there being a preset missionary focus).

  33. Jared vdH
    September 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    @Mark B (31) – Since you appear to have experienced this in the past how does a pre-talk “consultation” not become an orthodoxy filter or shaming session for the inexperienced speaker? It sounds like a recipe for some very milquetoast and identical sounding talks every week.

  34. James Olsen
    September 16, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Jared vdH et al: This is a fairly simple one in my mind – the point of the consultation has nothing to do with vetting content. Rather, it’s a pedagogical consultation, focused on effective delivery. It’s the sort of thing that’s done constantly in higher education (can’t speak for the rest). I don’t dictate to other professors what they ought to be teaching (I’m usually not qualified!), but I can certainly talk to them about improving pedagogical practices. Mark B. can say how it’s worked for him, but 15-30 minutes is plenty of time for both sessions, and there’s no reason not to run them during SS – again, we’re talking about making this a calling (or part of the SS Presidencies responsibilities).

  35. Mark B.
    September 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Since there are a lot of milquetoast and identical-sounding talks given in a lot of wards across the church, I don’t know what you’re afraid of, Jared vdH.

    And I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out how giving suggestions and resources to help people teach/preach more effectively, and then having post-sermon/lesson follow-ups, don’t become either “orthodoxy filter[s]” or a “shaming session[s.]” Those aren’t problems in the congregation I belong to.

  36. Mark B.
    September 16, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    And James Olson (34) gave the response I should have.

  37. Jared vdH
    September 16, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Glad we have the anecdotal evidence of Mark’s and James’ wards to confirm that this would never be a problem anywhere.

    Oh, wait, aren’t there posts all over the bloggernacle about how Correlation killed a lot of the variety and risk taking of church publications and teaching resources which we are only now starting to come out of?

    How is what you are suggesting not Correlation at the individual ward’s Sacrament Meeting level?

  38. Julie M. Smith
    September 16, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Jared vdH, this is what I envision:

    bishop, six months before: “. . . like for you to speak blah blah blah . . . I will touch base with you a few weeks beforehand.”

    bishop, two weeks before: “So, how is your talk coming? What do you have planned?” (listens) “That sounds fabulous! I love the idea of emphasizing the way that your temple sealing has blessed your life. You’ve probably already thought of this, but we’ve got lots of people in the ward who haven’t been married in the temple–I’m sure you’ll find ways to make your talk relevant and inspiring for them. Well, I can’t wait to hear it–sounds great.”

    So, yeah, if someone says their talk is “Why essential oils are essential to living the Word of Wisdom,” then there can be a smackdown in advance, but for the most part, I don’t see vetting or talks by cmte so much as some encouraging praise (to knock out the terror of speaking) and maybe little marginal warnings gently stated. I do think this is a necessary balance to giving people free reign with the topics.

  39. Jared vdH
    September 16, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Julie (38), while your approach is certainly less invasive, there’s still some considerable risk that the bishopric member who frowns at any musical number outside of the hymn book, young men not wearing perfectly pressed white shirts to pass the sacrament, and young women in flip flops is going to have their initial reaction to anything be “That sounds fabulous!”

  40. Jared vdH
    September 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I mean these are often the types of people who are giving the terrible talks you’re all complaining about! How do you really expect them to be the ones to use proper restraint and encouragement when going over other people’s talks? Do you really expect every ward to call the dynamic young academic or cheery mentor type to this type of calling? No, more often than not it’s going to be the old high priest who can barely stay awake for all three hours of the block.

  41. September 16, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Jared vdH, this is what I envision:

    bishop, six months before: “. . . like for you to speak blah blah blah . . . I will touch base with you a few weeks beforehand.”

    bishop, two weeks before: “So, how is your talk coming? What do you have planned?” (listens) “Yes, we talked about this several months ago.” (listens) “OK, sorry you have a conflict, I’ll see if we can find someone else to do it.”

  42. Mark B.
    September 16, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Jared vdH (does that really stand for what my German radar suggests?):

    Your complaints remind me of the story about the man and the jack.

    Neither James nor I ever suggested that “this” would never be a problem anywhere. But I think you have seriously misunderstood what “this” is. Nobody ever suggested that this committee would “go over” peoples’ talks. As James said, the goal (which I expressed very poorly, evidently) is to help people in the process of preparation and delivery–how to put words together, how to put ideas together, in a way that will be most effective. If that’s any different from the efforts the church has been undertaking (however desultorily) for years in improving teaching, I fail to see how.

    You seem to belong to a church filled with a bunch of vindictive, petty tyrants, who give lousy talks, fall asleep during some or another part of the Sunday meetings, who believe in criticism rather than encouragement and judgment instead of love. To quote a line that would have been much more familiar 20-odd years ago, I am sorry for you.

  43. Ellie
    September 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    The best advice I read (somewhere in the ‘nacle) for preparing talks was to mention Christ, and make it unique to yourself. It keeps focus while preventing a copy-and-paste of a Conference talk.

    My only other insight: I’ve had micromanaging Bishops before, and they’re not fun. Give us a little room to breathe.

  44. Chris Kimball
    September 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    “called to a new bishopric” elides an important distinction. The bishop’s job is really quite different than the counselors’. If the bishop delegates everything he can, the counselors will still have the easier and shorter time of it. A counselor should take on everything possible. A bishop should delegate everything possible.

    Also, one-on-one conversations, bishop with counselor, and bishop with stake president, are really valuable. They ought to be prized and sought after, rather than put off for lack of time as too often happens.

  45. Jared vdH
    September 16, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    It’s Dutch actually. My father and grandparents emigrated to the US in 1960.

  46. Steve Smith
    September 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    What about the unknown knowns?

  47. 0t
    September 19, 2014 at 10:50 am

    The advice on talks seems a little constrained to me…. I don’t see the problem with assigned topics, but I also like it when I don’t have a topic and I personally don’t feel the need to check up on anybody. If you feel that need, you might want to consider why you are asking them to speak in the first place.

    As far as topics: why not assign topics? I have been given many topics that I didn’t like but that I learned from by preparing a talk about them.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the counsel to read the handbook and manual. It’s very helpful. It’s a 2nd-tier scripture, so to speak–inspired advice from the leadership. If they’ve prayed over it, it behooves us to study it.

    Lastly, the best advice I’ve personally received is to be the physician: the active families of the ward generally don’t need to “managed” beyond the required meetings–tithing settlement, recommend interviews, etc. Look for the members/families on the margin, and spend most of your time with the one instead of the ninety and nine. A ward that cares for the weak and marginal is the ward that is most like the Savior and the bishopric should take the lead.

  48. September 19, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Re. Mark’s #10, joining the discussion late as usual: the military has a principle (unfortunately honored more in the breach than in the observance) that in any round-robin offering of opinions, they should be given in reverse order of rank (lowest rank first) so that the young lieutenant can express himself without fear of contradicting what the colonel has just said. It makes a lot of sense for the bishop to shut up until everyone has had a say, if time permits.

    This is, of course, one reason (of many) why I will never be a bishop.

  49. ji
    September 19, 2014 at 5:32 pm



    The above links suggest the Twelve speak in order of seniority, from most senior to most junior. I like that approach — it makes sense to me.

  50. Ben S.
    September 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Huh. That runs counter to several biographies, which strongly suggest or bluntly say that when discussing an issue, they start with the most junior and work up. That way there’s no “yes men” or undue influence from the top down.
    Both examples above are not really difficult topics or controversial issues. It’s unlikely there would be any disagreement among the quorum.

  51. ji
    September 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Yes, I know — but I do like it that way (senior first) — if a bishop or other council leader already has an opinion, why not share it and then ask others for their inputs? That way, others can give their inputs in the context of the bishop’s framing. But if the bishop already has an opinion, and he keeps it private and invites others to share, and then announces the revelation on the matter at the end, well, it sort of proves that the others didn’t have any revelation and, in my mind, stifles future discussions. On the other hand, if the bishop really doesn’t have an opinion, then saying so an asking others for input, starting with the junior, so to speak, is fine with me. But I like to maintain the fiction in my own mind that all council members are equals, with the bishop as first among equals.

  52. ji
    September 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm


    The spirit of revelation does work in council meetings — if the senior starts, and then others add their inputs all the way down to the most junior, and then the senior wraps it up, the spirit of revelation can be manifest to everyone participating.

  53. Rosemary N. Palmer
    September 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    1— Issue all the primary callings in time for the teachers to be prepared for the first sunday in January and continue for the full year (barring some unforseen issue): children need consistency and their teachers need to know that their role is vital. I’d put primary staffing ahead of every other staffing except scoutmasters and YW/YM presidencies. And teachers for youth are critical too and should be in place in Jan and continue through the full year.

    2— Get an email that only the bishop (has access to) (and that can be transferred to the next bishop with a simply password change), so the email address to reach the bishop can be widely known. Sure you will ask members to schedule appointments through the exec secretary, but there will be times when only your ears should even know that you were needed. Set up your phone so people can go directly to a voice mail that only bishop answers. Plenty of hurt has occurred by violations of confidentiality when there is no private way to contact a bishop.

    2A— Teach your ward council, and the missionaries about confidentiality and release anyone immediately (or bar them from the meetings) who violates it. Retrieve any agendas that are distributed, for shredding. Have the names left out of the meeting minutes (maybe assign a pseudonym).

    3— There are events that require the bishop show up promptly to the family/person who experiences them, not to fix anything, but to be shepherd — miscarriages, death of children, child abused/neglected, victims of serious crimes and ones that occur in the home, domestic violence.

    4— Correct from the pulpit all of the racist/sexist/homophobic expressions, and doctrinal miscues in each meeting. Do it kindly, but correct it. Members assume that what is said from the pulpit is accurate and should be emulated when leaders (whether through ignorance or desire not to offend) fail to do so.

    5— Consider whether the handbook requires each of the cultural traditions that are once sided by gender.

    6— Introduce yourself to the leaders of faith congregations near the church building and in the community. Offer invites to have all join in the traditions of FHE and Fasting/donating two meals to fill the communities food/shelter/medical needs coffers. Join other faiths in service that gets ward members out of their own comfort zone and into the community meeting community needs. Create a community garden.

    7— As for the RSP when she comes for approval, ask her if she has prayed about it, whether she is confident she is in line with the Lord. When her answer is yes, tell her you heartily support her. The first time you correct her or any other auxilliary leader will be the last time you have a confident independent auxilliary leader (yes it is okay to ask, “Have you considered X, Y, or Z” After approving. Your approval power is not because the Lord’s going to tell you more or better: it is because every now and again someone will go off the rail. Unless you’ve done the same prayer and fasting the leader has, you cannot fairly say you know the Lord’s will better than she does.

    8— In the same vein, absent some issue that only you know about, ratify in all respects the leaders who will supervise prayerful recommendations for who should fill callings. Women often know things that the men of the ward do not. And the person who will supervise has more invested in making the selection that is consistent with the Lord’s will, than those who are more remote.

    9— Use skype and facetime to avoid travel time. Let the homebound attend sacrament and quorum/RS meetings via technology.

    10 — Make music another way of teaching the same message of the meeting, not what we do at the beginning and end and in the middle by rote.

    11 — Early on in your calling, invite members to provide input on ward traditions that are valued, and ones that minimize or overlook some segment of members and their inclusion, and develop plans for new traditions to replace ones that need to be gone.

    12— Do not assign mothers of young children to primary and nursery callings unless the Lord hits you over the head to tell you that He wants the person to serve there, or the sister has explicitly said she’d like to serve there. The vast majority of women need at least a couple of years after every baby to interact with adults at least for one hour in RS.

    But, alas, a bishop’s counselor can only suggest any of those.

  54. Rosemary N. Palmer
    September 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    13— And I should have mentioned that if all the leadership positions are rotated among the same people, work on increasing bench strength because that is not a healthy congregation. Look specifically at helping others develop capacities to serve and nurture different leaders you pick through the minefield that will happen the first time you do something radical like call someone who is not in that blessed cadre.

  55. Julie M. Smith
    September 20, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Rosemary N. Palmer, lots of good suggestions there. I will especially echo #12.

  56. Kristine
    September 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    I want Rosemary for my bishop!

  57. Kevin Barney
    September 20, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    When asking people to speak, encourage them to practice and time their remarks. It happens almost every week: someone gets up there, is incredibly nervous, doesn’t think she has enough or anything worthy to say, and she ends up speaking for 30 minutes. It’s not intentional, it’s a combination of nerves and inexperience. You would think the person would be happy to finish and sit down, but it just doesn’t happen. If everyone would actually to this it would improve the quality of sacrament meetings immeasruably. http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/02/27/speaking-tip/

  58. September 21, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Great comments, Rosemary! I wonder if general authorities receive suggestions like this or if most faithful members are too afraid to tell them. Have you ever written any of them? If so, did you use your own name? So often as a member (50 years+) I received the message that input from members is not consistent with leaders receiving inspiration; also that input is usually coming from a critical attitude.
    Is it any different now? What if leaders set up their own blogs with questions they ask for input on? What would be wrong with that? There could be rules of respect and reasonable editing. What do you think?

  59. September 21, 2014 at 3:30 am

    When I was a bishop of a Student Ward, I would give this general advice in an email to each person who spoke:

    Remember when you talk that you carry a sacred and important trust—that of speaking in the Lord’s name. To speak in a sacrament meeting after we have partaken of the bread and the water should be seen with great reverence. Things that have a place elsewhere and that may be appropriate in many other settings, may not be fitting in this sacred setting.

    Remember the principle of non-distraction (Elder Oaks).

    Speak by the spirit.

    Stay within time limit.

    Teach the Gospel from the scriptures and the current church leaders. When appropriate, use your own experience. Seek to tie all that you speak about to the atonement of Christ and the basic principles of faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, etc.

    Remember that people need to be taught and edified, not entertained. Some are hurting spiritually and emotionally and need the good word of God. Remember to feed them what will strengthen and will last.

    As the Bishop of the Ward, I call to attention by these words of President Spencer W. Kimball:
    Stake presidents, bishops, and branch presidents, please take a particular interest in improving the quality of teaching in the Church. The Savior has told us to feed his sheep (see John 21:15-17). I fear that all too often many of our members come to church, sit through a class or meeting, and they then return home having been largely uninformed. It is especially unfortunate when this happens at a time when they may be entering a period of stress, temptation, or crisis. We all need to be touched and nurtured by the Spirit, and effective teaching is one of the most important ways this can happen. We often do vigorous enlistment work to get members to come to church but then do not adequately watch over what they receive when they do come.
    – Spencer W. Kimball Conference Report October 1980

    Please prepare then so you can teach by the Spirit and inform.

    Pray for the gift of charity to love those you speak to.

    Bear witness.

    Don’t make fun or speak demeaningly of other religious beliefs or practices.

    [Generally speaking, folks really stepped up and did wonderfully well.]

  60. Julie M. Smith
    September 21, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Keith, great advice and great idea to put it in an email. I’d perhaps add a line: please don’t feel the need to tell us the circumstances surrounding you being asked to speak. Also: any humor (which may not be appropriate in the first place) should only require laughs at your own expense, not at anyone else’s.

  61. Rosemary N. Palmer
    September 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I’ve lived in over twenty wards in six states across the US, and I’ve been giving that kind of feedback whenever I felt inspired to do so, and/or concerned enough to do so. Sometimes I’ve been inspired that the mote was in my eye. I have only once served under a leader who I couldn’t work for because he felt that women belonged in their place. Yes, I’ve had some raging emotional discussions with priesthood leaders (and on other points with auxillary leaders. And in some cases it took quite a few of them. But IME, most leaders are interested in candid feedback. And they will consider such feedback. And such feedback can give them courage to tackle issues that they would have let lay otherwise. Leaders are just like the rest of us who do not know the experiences of others, that we have not shared.

    When we serve in councils or otherwise, sharing our perspective (or in many cases the perspectives of the disenfranchised who cannot speak for themselves) may be the only way a leader can learn how to be a real shepherd.

  62. Mark B.
    September 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    if a bishop or other council leader already has an opinion, why not share it and then ask others for their inputs?

    Because it’s much easier for other council members to speak openly, without restraint, if they don’t feel that they are contradicting the bishop. And if there’s anything bishops or other council leaders need, it’s full and frank discussion of issues before decisions are made.

  63. ji
    September 22, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Mark B. — You’re overlooking my qualification — if the bishop or other council leader already has an opinion — I think there will be full and franker and more honest discussion if everyone else knows where the leader stands and they give their inputs with the benefit of that context. I think it is intellectually dishonest for a leader to allow others to give inputs that he doesn’t intend to accept. To invite the power of revelation, I tend to think my preferred approach will work better. We may differ in this matter.

  64. Mark B.
    September 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    If the leader already intends not to accept input from the council members, then why bother having the meeting at all? It will save everyone the time and trouble of coming to the church for a meeting, and he can simply give his instructions in an email.

    It seems that I wasn’t just making this stuff up. Here’s an excerpt from a Worldwide Training Panel Discussion:

    Elder Bednar: I think we saw a very good example of how a bishop can direct, but not dominate, what takes place in a council. The bishop listened more than he talked. And I, frankly, have seen lots of ward and stake councils where a priesthood leader says, “Here’s the issue; here’s what I think we ought to do. What do you think?” And nobody says anything. Well, no kidding!

    And so what you had was this bishop presenting the issue, framing the issue, asking a thoughtful, inspired question, and then he would listen more than he would talk.

    As Elder Bednar said, if the Bishop says what he thinks at the outset, then often nobody says anything. I don’t remember if he said “Well, duh!” in the live broadcast, but his tone of voice came close. I’d suggest that you read the whole thing.

  65. ji
    September 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks for the link, but I’ll pass — it isn’t necessary that we agree…

  66. ji
    September 22, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    p.s. I do regret hearing and re-hearing the notion that Latter-day Saints in council meetings are so spineless that they always agree with the leader — from my experience, it is not an honest portrayal of reality — yes, we give deference to the leader, and many times we don’t have much of an opinion anyway, but that is different from mindless agreement.

  67. Jared vdH
    September 22, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    ji (65) – Let me just say, I’m glad that you don’t think we all have to agree.

    However your stance that the leader should speak first before allowing others to give input, flies right in the face of how you just treated Elder Bednar’s remarks.

    Regardless of whether or not I agree with you, your argument just grew a lot weaker now that you just seemingly contradicted your words with your actions.

  68. ji
    September 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I don’t see any contradiction, or any kindness or disrespect towards Elder Bednar’s remarks. And by the way, I haven’t insisted that the leader should always speak first. What I said was that if the leader already has an opinion, the power of revelation can work with power if he shares his opinion and invites others to share their thoughts — then, others can share their thoughts with the benefit of the context of the leader’s framing, and inspiration can come to everyone present as the discussion unfolds. Others will differ.

  69. Mark B.
    September 22, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    No, ji, you don’t have to agree with me, and you can ignore Elder Bednar’s counsel. And you can continue to assume a bishop who has already made up his mind before he goes into a council meeting. Which is the faulty premise on which your entire argument rests.

    No wonder Elder Ballard has been saying the same thing for over 20 years–some people just aren’t listening.

  70. ji
    September 23, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Mark B.,

    One last time, if I may be so bold — please don’t twist my words (probably a hope soon to be dashed) — please don’t twist if the leader already has an opinion into a bishop who has already made up his mind before. I am simply allowing that a leader can have an opinion before a council setting, and he can share it in the council setting, and the wondrous process of revelation can work either to confirm or change his opinion in the hearts and minds of all present based on the inputs of others and presence of the Holy Spirit. It appears to me you would seem to deny this possibility. We differ in this.

    Yes, we disagree. But can disagree without you mocking my loyalty to the leaders of the church? And can we disagree without you twisting my words into something I didn’t say, so that you can disagree with it all the more?

    In the example I provided in the link above, the order of speaking was senior first in the Quorum of the Twelve. I wouldn’t want to say that they erred in that meeting.

    Okay, I’m done. You can have the last word.

  71. Rosemary N. Palmer
    September 23, 2014 at 7:55 am

    The Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency uses the same pattern that Elder Bednar describes. The newest apostle always speaks first. The purpose of a council is to reach consensus, meaning each participant has to obtain his own personal revelation about truth. Everyone comes to the discussion with their own experiences and baggage and personality. If the purpose of the discussion is to agree on what the Lord wants done, then you have to allow even the most timid person the space to articulate what their vision is, without being swayed by the others.

  72. Mark B.
    September 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Your qualification, ji, is an exception that swallows the rule. What bishop is there who does not have an opinion on matters affecting the ward? If, following your suggestion, the bishop states his opinion on a matter at the beginning of a discussion, he will effectively end the discussion–and as Elder Bednar suggests, we shouldn’t be surprised at that. It’s not just collective pusillanimity on the part of other council members. We are taught that bishops are entitled to revelation on matters affecting the ward–so we might worry that in objecting to a proposal by the bishop we might “haply be found even to fight against God.”

    The example you cite from Pres. Tanner doesn’t help you. On the question whether the first presidency should be reorganized immediately, the first to speak was Elder Benson, not Pres. Kimball. And it’s not at all clear from Pres. Tanner’s explanation whether Pres. Kimball had expressed any view on that matter before the apostles began their discussion of it.

  73. sch
    September 23, 2014 at 9:49 am

    About Rosemary’s #12:

    I have served in about five or six different bishoprics and I can say, without hesitation, that staffing the nursery is one of the hardest tasks for a bishopric. In my experience, more time was spent on nursery workers and leaders than on almost any other calling: YW President, YM President, even RS President. It seemed that for those latter callings, that the pool of potential people is relatively small, and it doesn’t take long to work through them. Also, the bishop is more likely to have spent time already thinking about those callings and has already a fairly short list.

    But nursery… it is such a headache. Two or more workers, must be the same gender (unless they are married) Can’t be a young mother, maybe shouldn’t be a mother of 5 year-olds, etc. Although I have seen “grandparent” types fill the callings, it is almost always someone who is highly highly qualified. The nursery is nurturing for the children, but not so much for the leaders. It can feel like baby-sitting, and it may be difficult, lonely, and thankless. There are always parents who drop their kids off immediately after sacrament meeting, and then pick their little ones up 10 minutes after church ends, and thus the nursery worker can’t even schmooze in the foyer. It takes a special person who is independent, willing to do anything, and isn’t looking for a lot of nurturing themselves to staff the nursery.

    It’s tough to do. In my opinion, being calling to be in the nursery is a major “compliment” because it suggest that this is a member who is independent, and is able to provide their own spiritual growth.

    A threadjack, I know. But I just had to say it.

  74. Nate Oman
    September 23, 2014 at 10:04 am

    End all meetings on time. End them early if at all possible. No one in the history of the Restoration has ever left the church because a meeting ended early.nn

  75. Naismith
    September 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

    We are in a Spanish magnet ward, so while of course one should speak by the Spirit, hopefully that inspiration will come in time to provide at least an outline of the talk, and all the scriptural references and quotes, in writing to the translators before the meeting begins.

    “Imagine that you are a ward Relief Society President and you ask your bishop’s approval for some Relief Society activity…” I have a hard time imagining that one, actually. Both of the bishops with whom I served did not want to be bothered with such details.

  76. Theresa
    September 23, 2014 at 10:56 am

    If … the bishop states his opinion on a matter at the beginning of a discussion, he will effectively end the discussion. Mark B.

    This isn’t right. This means we have weak ward councils.

  77. sch
    September 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Theresa: have you attending many ward councils?

  78. Mark B.
    September 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    If we have “weak” ward councils, then it’s even more important for the bishop to avoid weighing in with his opinion at the beginning.

    And, consider the composition of a lot of councils: the bishop may well be the most experienced person in the room, and he may be surrounded by people who are new to leadership callings in the church, who don’t understand what their role in those council meetings should be. (In our stake, the same is true for a large percentage of the high council–they’re about the same age as the stake president’s children, and they’ve often had little experience in either ward or stake councils.) Again, it’s all the more reason for the bishop/stake president to hold back his opinion until others have had a chance to speak.

  79. Raymond Takashi Swenson
    September 23, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I would recommend the need to effectively use time in planning meetings. Don’t waste the time of ten other people while having an extended conversation with just one organization president. Get reports individually by telephone, and decide which issues or people need to be discussed in the ward council. Exercise time discipline in council meetings. And make sure that every person in the meeting is given a full opportunity to raise issues they want to be discussed in the full group.

    I served on a district council in Japan for a couple of years. The meetings went very long, and it took us an hour drive each way to get to the meeting from all over the Tokyo area. On one occasion, the district president was called away by a phone call. When he came back fifteen minutes later, we had disposed of 90% of the items on the agenda.

    Every time I have read someone describe meetings held by the First Presidency or the Apostles, and by various General Authority committees, they make decisions quickly. If they need more information, they assign people to follow up and report at the next meeting. On occasion, there will need to be an extended discussion on a matter of fundamental Church policy, but getting the other business out of the way leaves more time for that.

  80. JC
    September 29, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    “Another one: it pains me that we have given up on teacher improvement. This is supposed to be the job of the Sunday School Presidency (don’t get me started on how that prohibits women’s involvement)”

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so this might have been discussed already.

    I agree that teacher improvement is sorely lacking. Also, as far as I understand, the “teacher improvement” course is usually taught by the Sunday School presidency, but it doesn’t have to be that way as it can be directly assigned by the bishopric, as per 5.5.7 in Handbook 2: Administering the Church. That person assigned by the bishopric can indeed be a woman, in case anybody thinks otherwise.

Comments are closed.