Sunday, September 5, 2010

A New Stake Presidency

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is unique in its belief that the church is directed by modern revelation, that the will of the Lord is made known to man through the Holy Ghost to Priesthood leaders in how and who is to direct the church. We were able to witness such an event in the calling of the new Stake President for the Carson City Nevada Stake last Sunday. It is also interesting to note and to experience how the Spirit of the Lord moves amongst the local leaders at the time. We knew about the conference and that President Brewer would be released several weeks before the conference. The week of the conference we had a lot of stuff going on. Our youngest Daughter Thea was set to go back to school in San Francisco and Marla and I wanted to go with her and help her move into her new dorm. Our oldest daughter Jesse was due to have a baby (C section) on Monday following the conference. Marla was planning on being with her and helping for a couple of weeks. It would have been very easy to have been out of town at the time of the conference. Marla was in charge of all the music for the conference and I sort of didn't want to miss the event and even though I did not have any impressions that I would be the one called as the new Stake President I had the impression that I should be there. On Monday I got a haircut. We took Thea on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday I went to the Temple and on Sunday afternoon Marla flew to Phoenix. Elder Bruce D Porter of the First Quorum of the Seventy presided at the conference. In his conference talk he discribed the process of selecting a new Stake President. He and another general authority arrived on Friday night. On Saturday morning they began interviewing all of the stake leaders. They started with the the existing Stake Presidency, Bishops, and the High Council. Each member being interviewed completed a questionnaire where they described there own background, profession, family, health, temple recommend status, and a brief summary of church service experience. The questionnaire also asked if they had ever been divorced. On the questionnaire they were told to be prepared to name 2-3 men that they thought would be qualified to be the next Stake President. (The questionnaire also stated that it was inappropriate to name themselves.)

I had been thinking a lot about the process all week. I thought that with my experience as a former Bishop and other church leadership positions, that I might be on a few lists of contenders for the new Stake Presidency. I have always wanted to be worthy and able to do any task asked of me by the Church. The Stake Presidency is a really big job and it last for nine or ten years. So it wasn't really anything I was wishing for. While pondering all of this in the Celestial Room of the Reno Temple on Friday night I had the distinct impression that I would not be called as the Stake President but that in the Lord's eyes I was worthy and able to have been called. This was both a relief and a sweet blessing, the kind that comes while serving in the temple. Joseph Smith taught in the Lectures on Faith that one must know if " the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation." I had received for the moment that reassurance. Feelings of the spirit are hard to explain. They are spiritual and our experience and language revolves around the physical. But they are no less undeniable. Joseph Smith explained it as pure intelligence flowing into our minds from a source not of our own. I have felt this before as a Bishop in considering individuals for callings and I have felt it lately as a Sunday School teacher in trying to find ways to bring the Old Testament to life for the Gospel Doctrine class. I have experienced other sacred answers to questions while in the temple.

I went home that night with a feeling of peace and contentment. On Saturday morning Marla and I went to the stake choir practice and on return home I checked the answering machine (something I rarely do) and I had a call from Brother Croxall the Stake Executive Secretary asking if I could come in for an interview with Elder Porter of the Seventy. My heart skipped a beat but then I figured that they were still in the interviewing process otherwise they would have asked for Marla to come as well. I was very grateful that I had the presence of mind to shower and shave in the morning that Saturday instead of in the afternoon after all my Saturday chores like I usually do. I learned later that after interviewing all the Bishops and High Council the Brethren still did not have any impressions as to who the new Stake President should be so they asked for more brethren to interview. ( The B list) I also learned that I was the last one to be interviewed. In my interview, they asked me about my experience as a Bishop and wanted to be quite precise as to how long ago it had been since I was called as a Bishop. They found it curious that I would have served in two bishoprics since being released. I tried to briefly explain our situation in the Spanish Branch. They asked about my children and marriage. I chose to spend more time talking about my marriage to Marla because that is a very bright spot in my life. They asked me about who I thought would be a good choice and I named David Hawes , Doug Peterson and Eric Sturges. I noticed that they had a sheet of paper with many names on it and they put a check mark next to the names as I called them out. They thanked me and home I went.

On Sunday in conference Elder Porter described what happened next. He and the other general authority confirred on the many names they had, they knelt in prayer, the spoke some more but with no answers. He stated what I stated in my interview with him that there were probably many men in our Stake that were able and qualified. Elder Porter said he wanted to take a walk and think, he no more than got out the door of the Stake Center and down the walk a little ways and that pure intelligence came pouring in and he knew who the new Stake President should be. They called David Hawes as President, Doug Peterson and First Counselor and Mark Wolz as Second Counselor.

It was a marvelous experience to witness and play a small part on the sidelines and feel the workings of the spirit in my life at the same time. It is wonderful to be able to witness the process of modern revelation from God on our little local level. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get to Phoenix and see that new grand daughter.


Jared said...

I just wanted to thank you for your post. I found it while researching the calling of stake presidents. Our stake presidency is being changed this weekend. I am a young (mid-thirties with 2 young children) high councilman and have an interview with our visiting authorities on Saturday. Interesting questionnaire, isn't it?

I've struggled mightily with the responsibility of recommending 2-3 names of men who I think could best fill this assignment. There are many who would do a wonderful job - but I wish to recommend those whom the Lord would want me to recommend.

Unlike you, I feel quite unqualified to serve in a stake presidency. I've never served in a bishopric. I'm not well-to-do, very well spoken, a scriptorian, or even very humble, but have a desire to serve wherever the Lord wants me. I'm in the heart of Utah where there are many well-qualified, worthy men that could serve. Still, as it has with several previous callings, the spirit is suggesting that I am to be called. It's hard to explain, yet even as I type this, I know that I'll be in the new presidency - and at the same time, would not be at all surprised if I am not.

Whether these impressions are intended to humble me or prepare me (or both), I do not know, but I'm pretty well scared to death of the prospects and excited at the same time.

We go to the temple tomorrow and hopefully, like you, I'll know a bit better then what the Lord has in store. It's so comforting to know that He is running the show.

Jared said...

As a quick update, I, thankfully, was not called. Three highly capable men were called and I'm excited to have the opportunity to serve with them on the high council. While my anxiety continued until my interview (which was very short and instructive), I received a confirmation at that time that I would not be called to the stake presidency. But it brought a lot of comfort to know that I was willing and capable of serving if I had been called.

Brad said...

It was great reading your story, Jeff. I greatly respect you and wish the the best of luck from American Fork, UT.--Brad M.