This morning I attended our regional Public Affairs meeting. (I am the community affairs specialist for my stake.) They hold these meetings quarterly; as a specialist (and not the PA director) I’m invited to two of them a year. Public affairs is a very strong emphasis of the Church in Chicago and a very big deal here. The meeting was presided over by our AA70.
After introductory remarks, the various stake PA directors took turns giving reports. First was a black woman who is in charge in Chicago. She reported on the showing of Nobody Knows and visit of Margaret and Darius, the hosting of an African American genealogy conference at their building, and other events. She was quite humble and acted as though they hadn’t done much, but I was quite impressed by her report.
Other reports followed, each one impressive in its own way. And by the end of this procession of reports, I realized something. Of the eight or so stakes represented, all but one PA director was a woman. Including mine. My church file leader has been a woman for the last three years or so since I’ve had this calling.
This is locally considered a high profile, extremely important calling. And I thought it was interesting that women were dominating it. There was no collusion among the stakes in making these choices; each stake president would have made his own selection. But for some reason women were selected overwhelmingly for these callings.
This may just be a coincidence, but I wonder. These are callings where the distance between the local area and the Church center is relatively small. When Salt Lake wants something done locally (such as the recent distribution of excess canned fruit to local food pantries), these are the people that get called upon. The local stake leaders don’t want to be embarrassed by not performing, because if they fall down in this sphere Salt Lake is going to know all about it and not be happy. And I realize it’s a stereotype to some extent, but if there’s something you really want to absolutely make sure gets accomplished, who you gonna call: EQ or RS? I know my answer to that question.
In my case, our stake is far better off for having this particular sister lead our efforts and not someone like me. She is extremely organized, detail oriented and she pushes to accomplish what needs to be done. In contrast, I’m organized and detail oriented, too, but I’m a typical elder in that I’m a little bit lazy and have a laissez-faire attitude to church service. Our stake leadership was certainly inspired in this choice in our particular case.
I’ve written before about how much I love my ward. Part of that is a function of the greatest diversity I’ve ever experienced in a ward. Even though I live in a white bread suburb, we have a pretty good mix of blacks, Asians and Latinos to go along with the anglos (although we can’t come close to the kind of diversity that exists at the Hyde Park ward on the south side of Chicago!). But there is another kind of diversity here that I have enjoyed and appreciated–the fact that my immediate church leader is a woman. Her file leader is a counselor in our stake presidency, of course; PA is still very much a priesthood driven function. But for whatever reason our local leaders have had the wisdom to place women overwhelmingly in these important callings.
I don’t for one minute doubt the inspiration received from heaven above underlying what otherwise might seem an unusual situation in a local Mormon leadership structure such as this.