Jan. 11th, 2016

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I was surprised by how many people wanted to know about our new bishop! I'll probably f-lock this after a week or so, for what I think should be obvious reasons. Also, I tried to give some background on LDS structure/theology/terminology, but I've also elided in a bunch of places to make this a more-or-less manageable length; please ask questions if there's anything that you'd like more information about.

First, let me give some background: an LDS ward (congregation) is headed by a bishop, aided by two counselors. The bishop is in the same role as a pastor or minister in a more conventional Christian church, in terms of being the head of pastoral care of the ward, although he does not generally give sermons. (LDS chapel services feature talks given by members of the congregation.) All these positions are lay positions; they are unpaid, and performed by these men (they're always men) in addition to whatever jobs they may have. The bishop is "called" (appointed) by the next level up in the hierarchy, the stake presidency (again, a leader with two counselors; a stake is a collection of wards). It is a rotating position, as all ward-level positions are; the same man who is a bishop today might be a nursery leader next week, or a chorister. (In practice this does not happen all that often, but it does happen.) The bishop position, in particular, lasts approximately five years, give or take a year or two.

There have been plenty of cases of bad bishops, but I've been lucky enough never to have personally experienced one. All the ones I've known have been legitimately invested in helping their people. None of my bishops have given me grief about my, let's say, complicated relationship with faith (which is something I understand has happened to other people); in fact, they've all been really understanding about it.

Our previous and current bishops. )

I now find that I want to talk about something I have kind of avoided mentioning, which is the recent LDS Handbook changes. Cut for length and discussion of a policy I find offensive. )

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