Notes from the Worldwide Training Broadcast

Yesterday morning I attended the worldwide training broadcast announcing and distributing the new edition of the General Handbook of Instructions. Below are some notes and thoughts I had from the meeting. For those also in attendance, please add your own highlights in the comments. Everyone can watch an archive of the broadcast (I expect that will be a routine instruction to newly called presidencies for some time).

The introductory talks emphasized the need for strict adherence to the handbook.

  • President Monson listed several unapproved innovations by “well-meaning leaders” he’d heard of, including: decorating the Sacrament table with lit candles, facing the blessee’s chair towards the temple during an ordination as opposed to facing the congregation, cutting Sunday School from the 3-hr block, changing the length of Sunday meetings, and doing all visiting teaching in one large group (some of these ideas sound pretty tempting to me!).
  • President Monson also mentioned that the First Presidency too frequently is asked to intervene in situations gone seriously awry due to failure to follow the handbook. He mentioned in particular excommunications gone awry in some way (ex: excommunications of Elders at the ward level being procedurally incorrect–should be stake level).
  • Elder Oaks said–write this one down, folks!!–“In order to accomplish these vital ecclesiastical responsibilities, these priesthood leaders will have to delegate extensively and may need to reduce some temporal service demands, such as helping members move.” …and there was much rejoicing in certain corners of the bloggernacle.
  • The main purposes of the new handbook, according to Elder Oaks’ talk, are (1) to move the ward leadership further from worrying about activities and programs, and closer towards worrying about ministering, spiritual health, and individuals and families, and (2) to reduce the burden on bishops, and transfer it to the ward council as a group. Both worthy goals, to be sure, though in the meeting I found myself wondering if we’ll ever have non-super-busy bishops. Delegation is tough to pull off and entails so much work in itself. I do really like the idea of putting more emphasis on the ward council, not least because it includes women’s voices in decision-making. This benefit was also very much in the minds of leaders–more on that later.
  • Elder Cook’s talk brought attendees into the text of the handbook, instructing us to turn to specified sections throughout the book and read. It was quite an odyssey, skipping around back and forth to nine different locations.
  • More good news! “PEC meetings in most areas will probably be decreased in length of time” and “the welfare meeting will no longer be held.” –Elder Cook.

I thought the most interesting part was a (quite long) role-playing segment they did where a group of people modeled a well-functioning ward council.

  • The Bishop spoke very little. He mostly just directed the meeting (“The next thing on our agenda is…”), and initiated discussion by asking a question. I liked how several times he offered some kind of initial framing by explaining the problem in terms of a specific goal, or asked a more specific or probing question than, “So, uh, what do you think?” For example, instead of saying, “Green family, what’s up with them?” he would say “How can we spiritually enrich the Green family?” (I’m making up that quotes since I didn’t write them down, but that was the pattern was to lead the meeting with questions he had clearly put thought into beforehand.)
  • There was one exchange where it was suggested that the YM visit a new member’s car repair shop as a career night activity (and as a way to help the new member feel more integrated with the ward). The YW president interjected, “Don’t forget about the YW!” and expressed that they would want to come too, and could also benefit from knowing basics of car functioning and repair.
  • There was a repeated, very explicit emphasis on keeping all the business of the Ward Council private and confidential, and it was noted that not all information about individuals was even appropriate to bring up at Ward Council (at the very end, for example, the RS President asks to speak with the Bishop after the meeting about some private matters regarding one family).
  • Brother Reyes’ note-taking FTW! (The Ward Clerk’s job was mainly to say frequently throughout the meeting, “yep, I’m writing that down” and then flash a gigantic smile–it kind of became a running joke. He stole the show.)

Following the model Ward Council, a panel including Elder Ballard, Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, President Beck and Elder Gonzales (Presidency of the Seventy), who were tasked with giving a debriefing of what we’d just seen in the model Ward Council.

  • I especially appreciated President Beck’s comments on the panel. She was assertive and insightful, and a main thing I took away from this segment was feeling very good about her representing women in important church meetings revelatory experiences (more on that in a minute) that are, numbers-wise, dominated by men.
  • Something that came up in the introductory talks was that, as the Ward Council body moves to the center of ward leadership and functioning, women’s voices being welcome and heeded is very important. Elder Ballard reiterated this in the panel. It was good to see President Beck on this panel giving an example of that.
  • President Beck was upfront in addressing the elephant in the room–that the model Ward Council role-playing thing was a little “too perfect” and that many watching might be asking themselves if their councils could (or even should) ever really look exactly like that. This was a refreshingly real and honest thing to acknowledge, and then she went on to point to particular patterns that we should be taking from the example, if not every detail, and that we shouldn’t worry about not being perfect in the skill of “Counciling” right away–line upon line.
  • President Beck brought everything back to Jesus Christ with a lovely concluding comment about how this new handbook, and the way of holding Ward Council that we’d just witnessed, are focused on “counting” things that the Lord would count. He isn’t concerned about numbers or programs or buildings or schedules, but loving, comforting, lifting and enriching people.
  • Several people on the panel pointed out how a strength of the model Ward Council was that everyone was speaking freely, and that the Bishop wasn’t overbearing. Elder Bednar said that he’d been in Ward Councils where the Bishop would introduce a problem, say, “Here’s what I think…,” then ask, “What do you think?” This would result in silence from the group. Elder Bednar was blunt in saying that leaders should expect poor participation when they first impose their own opinion, instead of asking a question. (He might have said, “Well, duh!” or something like that. Update: it was “Well, no kidding.”)
  • Councils, and being on a council as a particular skill that needed to be developed, are important themes throughout. The principles demonstrated in the model Ward Council are also to be applied in presidency meetings (YM, YW, Primary, etc).
  • President Packer gave a closing talk after the conclusion of the panel. He simultaneously emphasized the importance of strict compliance with the handbook, while also repeating (3 times!) a scripture saying that, “notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit.” (D&C 46:2) I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this, especially since it was emphasized several times earlier in the broadcast that compliance was the rule. One thing the new handbook does is give many suggestions for adaptations for units with special circumstances (small, geographically large). So, in that way, flexibility and adaptation are in keeping with themes of the day. However, other speakers noted that only those adaptations specifically suggested in the handbook should be considered, and it wasn’t open to arbitrary changes.

My thoughts:

I was very interested in a potential radical change in our conception of revelation and stewardship that came up throughout the broadcast, but was stated most explicitly by Elder Bednar in the panel. He articulated a philosophy of revelation for the ward that can come from the bottom up, rather than just the top down. He suggested that we not call council meetings (including, say, Primary presidency meetings) “meetings” but instead call them “revelatory experiences.” He went on to say that revelation for the whole ward could be received by any member of the ward council, as long as the bishop acknowledges or signs off on it. The idea of any member of the ward council being able to speak freely on any topic–not just their own jurisdiction–came up several times in the introductory talks and was modeled extensively in the skit. So receiving revelation for the ward becomes a group experience where any council member can be the conduit, as long as the bishop gives an ok. A pattern where the bishop introduces a question, several council members give ideas (revelation?), then the bishop just comes in at the end to say “sounds good,” was repeated again and again in the skit.

As an educator by profession, I found the pedagogy of the broadcast to be fascinating, and very well done. The idea of having a role-playing model of proper ward council functioning was unconventional but I thought very effective. Since two major themes of the whole meeting were a decentralization of power from the bishop to the ward council, and how to function as an effective council, it was also interesting to see this not only modeled in the model skit, but in the subsequent analysis of the model skit by the panel instead of just one person. This included modeling the inclusion of women’s voices as equals in a council setting in that panel.

Comments

  1. More coverage of this elsewhere:

    Times & Seasons
    Mormanity
    Things of my Soul
    Beginnings New

  2. “President Monson listed several unapproved innovations ‘well-meaning leaders; he’d heard of, including…cutting Sunday School from the 3-hr block…”

    Darn, I was hoping that this one was for real. Guess that means I actually do have to go to Sunday School today.

  3. More evidence that the bretheren read BCC: Ahem.

  4. “There was a repeated, very explicit emphasis on keeping all the business of the Ward Council private and confidential, and it was noted that not all information about individuals was even appropriate to bring up at Ward Council”

    Hallelujah! I don’t know how big a problem this is generally, but I have sat in Ward Council meetings where the conversation about individual ward members (not present) has become uncomfortably gossipy. I’m glad to see this addressed forthrightly.

  5. Sounds like some good changes. I was on a ward council that functioned like that (with the Bishop talking little), and it was very effective.

    But where’s the part about woman giving prayers in General Conference?

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    That was an outstanding synopsis, Cynthia. From one who wasn’t present, thank you.

  7. I’ve only gotten through the first bit of the post, and don’t qualify to comment yet since I couldn’t make it to the broadcast yesterday and haven’t seen it yet, but I just decided right here and now that I am going to make my children (at least the older ones) watch the broadcast with my husband and me so they know how the church operates. (Or how it should operate.)

  8. Thanks for sharing this — very nice summary!

    I agree — good leadership does not follow a top-down model, but empowers all levels to step up and be creative and involved and take ownership for each piece of the stewardship pie.

  9. “In order to accomplish these vital ecclesiastical responsibilities, these priesthood leaders will have to delegate extensively and may need to reduce some temporal service demands, such as helping members move.” …and there was much rejoicing in certain corners of the bloggernacle.

    Hallelujah, again! Now we can finally return to the true gospel of letting the full-time missionaries handle all the moves. This had been strongly discouraged in the Seattle area, leading me to wonder: What’s the point of being Mormon if I don’t have access to free moving services?

  10. My impressions as someone outside the US in a small ward with attendance around 50 or 60:
    1) My bishop was very excited about the demo ward council showing how to lead with a lighter touch and how to elicit ideas and contributions together in a council. In our country this kind of cooperative meeting between equals is not the norm in organizations. I think it will bring a new attitude to several people.
    2) The emphasis on small units is important. The church seems to recognize that small units are not necessarily in a short transition to bigness, and the small units deserve more detailed guidance in terms of implementing partial church programs.
    3) In the demo ward council, I appreciated the way the bishop avoided discussing people’s problems. I have been in far too many ward councils where the public analysis of someone’s problem made me uncomfortable. They did an excellent job of briefly stating the problem and sparing the person’s dignity by focusing on actions the ward could take. Confidentiality is not enough—the discussion itself needs to preserve the dignity of the person ostensibly being helped.
    4) Watching Elder Cook in translation could only make me think of Dick Cheney snapping at reporters. He seemed to be biting each phrase off with a snarl. Communications specialists will undoubtedly be working with him.

  11. Natalie B. says:

    Where did they cut Sunday School?!?!?

  12. Great write up, it seems there is a lot to be excited about here. The idea of putting more emphasis on ward council where women are represented seems like a great way to move in the direction of gender equality.

  13. This post apparently violates 21.1.39. I call you to repentance.

  14. Our BC has historically been more of a calendaring activity. I am expected to attend even though none of my callings (I have 3) would be considered leadership callings. The Activities person and her mother also attend, along with the Temple Coordinators. I didn’t go to today’s BC meeting. I really don’t think I should be there when individual families are discussed. If anyone asks why I missed, I will tell them that. Since we are such a small unit, BC basically ends up with one person from each active family participating. No privacy in that.

  15. Oh, and they collected our old handbooks today but no one said a word about new ones, online or otherwise.

  16. Cynthia L. says:

    n[r]2, you will be happy to know that it was heavily emphasized in the training yesterday that the number of callings is supposed to be limited to one per person, no matter what that means for the ward organization (maybe the unit can’t fully implement all programs):

    Elder Oaks:

    The general principle, stated in section 2.2, is that “the programs and activities of the Church [are intended to] support and strengthen individuals and families.” Following that principle, we suggest that in issuing callings, bishops and branch presidents remember that their native urge to have all positions filled and all programs carried out is less important than the well-being of the families involved. We consider it desirable that members have no more than one major calling, especially where both parents of minor children have a major calling.

    And Elder Cook:

    As an example, let’s review specifically section 17.2.1, titled “Family Circumstances”: Add a Note

    “When extending callings, scheduling leadership meetings, and planning activities, leaders consider the family circumstances of members. Church service and participation always entail a measure of sacrifice. However, strong families are vital to the Church, and members should not be asked to make excessive family sacrifices to serve or to support programs or activities.”

  17. Oh I forgot to mention! RIP Ward Activities Committee! Activities are supposed to be handled by the ward council, or calling individual(s) to a special assignment for a particular activity only.

    I foresee scrambling for the newly available people for staffing other orgs–if you are an auxiliary president–get on that fast before they’re gone!

  18. A proper understanding of public prayer in the church was set back yet again by that bishop in the role-play asking someone to “give us” an opening prayer. How long, O Lord!

    And about half of the people watching it with me nearly choked when the bishop asked for a status update on the Manson Family. We were all relieved when it turns out it was the Madsen Family after all.

    Finally, I thought I was going to hear an apostle say “Well, duh!” but Elder Bednar was able to restrain himself and say “Well, no kidding” instead.

  19. Ah, thanks for the correction, Mark B! I knew it was something blunt but couldn’t remember the exact words.

  20. It looks like jeans over at Beginnings New was also struck by the new model of revelation in wards. I actually like her explanation better than mine above. Here’s what she says:

    In the panel, Elder Bednar emphasized that point again several times – that everyone in the council should be empowered to speak by the Spirit, that ALL were COLLECTIVELY voice to the will of the Lord, which emerged only through the PROCESS of discussion. In other words, that so-called meetings are (another of the many) mechanisms or methods for the Spirit to reveal God’s will in a ward. When people counsel together & no one person dominates (because dominion makes the Spirit depart – D&C 121:36-37), the spirit of revelation can flow “without regard to person” and anyone–male or female–could be the conduit for its voice.

  21. Another update: I’d forgotten about this, but in re-reading the transcript, I really liked this from President Packer:

    As the Church has grown in size, it always seems to grow in complexity. There are so many programs and procedures that need to pull together in harmony. We all wish for patterns of administration that mirror the simplicity of the gospel.

    Many years ago, President J. Reuben Clark Jr., speaking for the First Presidency, made an inspired statement warning that too much regimentation in the Church would have the effect of nullifying revelation: “The work of the Church, in all fields, is standing in grave danger of being regimented down to the minutest detail. The result of that will be that not only will all initiative be crushed out but that all opportunity for the working of the spirit will be eliminated. The Church has not been built on that principle”

    There was something sweet and tender there, in a meeting that was about a lot of details and procedures. It echoed some of the same sentiments as President Beck’s closing remarks on Christ.

  22. I really enjoyed the meeting yesterday. A couple of points that really stood out to me:

    -The emphasis on reducing the burdens placed on bishops. As a former bishop’s wife still suffering from PTSD, I am hoping that this message will be repeated and disseminated to the general church membership.

    -The idea that the bishop can delegate nearly all duties, except those pertaining to worthiness/being a common judge in Israel. The specific example of counseling being a delegable duty really struck me. Perhaps we could move toward greater flexibility in having RS and/or YW presidents involved in the counseling of women and girls who would feel more comfortable with a woman than with the bishop? This could be really wonderful for individuals struggling with female-specific concerns (i.e. abuse, infertility, mothering). But I haven’t read the specific section of the handbook that covers this so maybe this is just wishful thinking.

    -The idea that, just like the RS, the EQ is going to focus on more spiritual matters. If we can no longer hide behind crafts and frou-frou, then the guys can’t hide behind moving couches as a way to justify our existence as a church organization.

    -Greater leniency for non-TR holding fathers to give baby blessings, baptize, etc. I personally think this change has a lot to do with the porn epidemic. So many men have been impacted by it, and the harm to the family may have been worsened by barring fathers from these family-focused ordinances.

  23. sigh. a mere 3 months too late for our former bishop. this does strengthen my testimony that the lord hears the cries of his people :)

  24. Mark B, our audience had a little buzz over the Madsen family, since we have two of them in our stake. Fortunately for them, the example was fairly complementary.

  25. I also enjoyed the meeting, and appreciate this great summary.

    The teaching about councils is not particularly new (except Elder Bednar’s great analysis about revelation in the ward; I really appreciated that!), as Elder Ballard had plowed this ground over 10 years ago. But it’s great to have it reinforced and taught again in this way.

    I appreciated Sister Beck’s comment that our working in councils is counter-cultural nearly everywhere in the world. I think that’s true, and it’s one reason why this training will need to be repeated again in the future.

  26. 26, When I go to that address, I just get an “invalid page” error.

  27. Mostimportantly says:

    11- About 5 years ago in my ward in Utah County, Sunday School was not cut, but its time was reduced, as was Priesthood/RS so that the total Sunday Meeting time was 2 hours. No one seemed to know for sure why this was done. I heard explanations both of meeting house overcrowding and of our ward being a “guinea pig” to see if this should become standard practice. After just a year, we were back to the 3 hour block. It was devastating. That was the best church year of my life. The gnashing of teeth from all the ward members when it was announced that we were going back to 3 hours…. well, it was just very sad.
    In all seriousness, the two hour block was awesome. We were much better able to focus on the meat of lessons since we had so much to cover in less time. Also much better for primary children.

  28. Great summary, Cynthia. I didn’t have the energy to post such an extensive description, so I just went with my favorite quotes, instead.

    This training session was the best I have attended of any sort – and not just in the Church. I was stunned by the organizational changes – and love every one of them. I also was struck by the clear statements that we need the women’s input every bit as much as the men’s – and that this need was one of the driving forces for making Ward Council the primary council. I never thought I’d see the day when PEC was relegated to secondary status (with the statement that the length will be greatly reduced and might even be for a few minutes prior to Ward Council) – and I absolutely love that change.

    Pres. Beck’s summary about counting as the Lord counts and Pres. Packer’s concluding remarks blew me away. I absolutely LOVE it when Pres. Packer gives the sort of message he gave, especially since it shows a side of him that many people don’t get to see and destroys the simplistic caricature of him that is so prevalent in the minds of many. He is a very complex person, and his words in this session probably will be my lasting memory of him.

  29. Am I the only one that hated the mock ward council? That thing went on forever (much like real ward councils). Every time the Relief Society President fumbled her lines I cringed. As the Stake technology specialist I was forced to watch the whole thing twice because the SP wanted a copy taped as well as broadcast to other buildings.Then came to find out this morning its available on lds.org. I guess the punishment fit the crime.

    I read the whole handbook online today. I’m glad they have it online, where everybody can read book 2. Definitely a step in the right direction.

  30. Probably not, Steve, but I loved it – the stilted delivery of the RS Pres. notwithstanding. There were lots of very valuable things presented in it, imo – and the following up panel discussion with Elders Ballard, Holland, Bednar and Gonzales and Pres. Beck was wonderful, with some of the best quotes of the entire “revelatory experience”. We wouldn’t have had that panel discussion without the model Ward Council.

  31. Steve G, I don’t completely disagree with any of your thoughts about the mock council. But I thought the amateur campiness was glorious in its own way. Maybe it just takes a pedagogy geek like me to appreciate it.

    I’m just bummed out that, as the secretary of an auxiliary, I didn’t get my own book. I was told my attendance at the meeting was mandatory, but then, NO BOOK FOR YOU! Weak. (Actually, I prefer online to dead tree anyway.)

  32. Me too, Cynthia! I thought I would get one…so I’m glad it’s online. Glad I slept in and then watched it online as I wouldn’t get the book anyway! Secretaries rule!

  33. I thought the framework fo the mock ward council was good. Within that framework was some excellent examples of a Bishop conducting a meeting and creating a forum for people to speak freely and across roles. It was cringeworthy though. “We just love the new converts” quote from the RS President was too much for me!

    I am slightly confused though. We are told that safety exists in the handbook and not to deviate it from it but at the same time it is flexible and discretion should be used. This could be open to all kinds of different interpretations for leaders to get their own agendas raised who claim to be following the “spirit”

  34. Re: I liked the sentiment of E. Bednar’s idea, even if the exact phrasing was a little hyperbolic. The issue I have is that as a Ward Council we discussed this issue about a year ago and the ward members did not think we should go down that route. Instead they wanted meetings to be meetings, where we formally made plans and assignments. There was little interest in trying to create an environment where people would have spiritual experiences in the council through dialogue. Admittedly this is probably an issue in my ward only but it was interesting to see E. Bednar discuss this publically here.

  35. I think these changes will be…interesting, but I guess I just don’t trust my ward members to implement these changes. Is that rude? Yeah, I guess so. It just seems that if, for example, the spiritual welfare of needy families is now not the Bishop’s concern but instead some council’s concern that every individual member of the council can shrug their shoulders, assume someone else has got it covered (I’m sure their home teachers have got it, wouldn’t the RS president know?, I bet the Primary president is on it, won’t the VTers do that?, etc etc) and basically have a family out there, not having their welfare really considered by anybody? No?

    And I, for one, have never known a not-busy Primary, YW, or RS president. That they should now take on some of the duties the bishop used to do makes me wonder what they will drop to make room for it. It seems that they will now spend more time in Ward Council meetings, more time in presidency meetings (which are already quite long, in my experience), and maybe more duties to implement ward activities (and I predict there will now be many fewer of those, since the people on the council already feel amply church activated and it is the families not in the leadership circles who really seem to want/benefit from those activities).

    Where is the handbook online? And what are the second tier of Church programs that are now just for the wards big enough to comfortably support them?

  36. If you guys don’t mind a complete hijacking of the comments, I’d like to ask a question. After reading the handbooks in their entirety and attending the broadcast, I cannot seem to figure out an answer to the following question:

    What is the purpose of PEC?

    I’ve long wondered what the purpose is, since in every ward I’ve ever attended PEC has been exactly like Welfare Meeting has been exactly like Ward Council. But with the instruction received on Saturday that we not discuss things in PEC that can be discussed in Ward Council, I really have no idea what the purpose of that committee is now. Any ideas?

  37. It's Not Me says:

    #36 – If that happens in your ward then the bishop is dropping the ball. He still has to direct things, orchestrate followup, etc. He should be saying, “The Smith family has problems. I sure hope you guys can solve it. Good luck.” Bishop should ensure discussion takes place, express that there will be followup at the next meeting, then follow up at the next meeting.

    I guess if your bishop is weak that might be an issue.

  38. PEC – discuss quorum level things (ordaining people to quorums, advancement to MP). Discuss home teaching assignments (as a responsibility of the priesthood) or VT if the RS pres is there. Perhaps other sensitive matters that don’t need to be brought before the entire council.

  39. As the wife of a bishop, all I can say is HALLELUJAH!

  40. It's Not Me says:

    #37 – For one thing home teaching could be discussed and coordinated, as well as calendar items (especially for the Young Men). Also, ward activities (now that there is no committee).

  41. It's Not Me says:

    #38 – Correction: The bishop SHOULDN’T be saying that.

  42. #39 — I’m not sure ordinations are really a committee thing. The bishop determines if a person is worthy to be ordained to an office in the Aaronic Priesthood, and the stake president to the Melchizedek Priesthood. So the only topic to discuss is how to help prepare a person for ordination. But I don’t see why that discussion should exclude the ward council.

    As for other sensitive matters, again, I don’t know what sensitive matter I would feel comfortable talking about in PEC but not in ward council.

    #41 — I’d imagine calendaring would be addressed in the same way as in ward council. pass out the dates as we know them, and let people chime in if they have something to add. But ideally, all of the calendaring should be done outside of the meetings. And I really wouldn’t want to discuss ward activities in PEC. Discussing activities without the input of the sisters seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

    Home teaching and visiting teaching make sense to me. In fact, that’d be a great time and way for the quorums and groups to make their monthly report about who has and hasn’t been visited. Relief Society could do the same thing and then the why’s and action plans for those families could be discussed.

  43. Left Field says:

    When I was in the elders’ quorum presidency, helping people move was one of my absolute favorite things. It was a valuable service, it was fairly easy to arrange, and the goals and procedures were clearly defined. And besides, I picked up some pretty good furniture for my apartment from among things that wouldn’t fit on the truck.

    It appears that stake priesthood meetings have been reduced from semiannual to annual.

  44. Benjamin, that’s not a hijack–I was really wondering that myself but forgot to put it in my notes. Thanks for bringing that up. (See, we’re like a council in the comments! heh)

  45. My thoughts on PEC:

    2 meetings per month. One on missionary work to which the sisters are invited. Missionary can come in Ward Council but it seemed that the focus was different from what our PEC discussions are like. Second PEC upon prospective elders and developing Priesthood. These are key indicators of Church activity and strength and therefore I suspect that we are intended to work on that in a specific way that does not involve all auxiliaries.

    Just a thought.

  46. Left Field #44: My husband shares your love of the EQ moving company. He feels it’s a great way to get the men together, while performing service for others.

    It’s always seemed pretty odd to me, though. I mean, why did the church designate moving as the responsibility of the EQ? Why not plumbing, or yard care, or roofing? It just seemed arbitrary. I have no problem with the idea that going forward, only those individuals who are truly “in need” receive EQ moving assistance, much in the same way that plumbing, yard care, and roofing is done on a need-only basis now.

  47. I think someone asked the question in the comments, but towards the end of the handbook, in a section about prayers in church, it clearly states that men and women can offer both opening and closing prayers in all meetings without any other qualifiers. To celebrate, our sacrament featured two sisters as the primary speakers, and two sisters giving the opening and closing prayers.

  48. This whole EQ moving Company thing…

    what will be interesting to watch will be the busy bodies in ward council meeting determining who is needy enough for moving help, and who should be smitten because they pay for satellite (or who knows what else holier than though item) and should be able to do the move themselves. Unfortunately, I have little faith that this will result in much besides relieved EQ members for having to help out with fewer moves and an irked family now and again that throws their hands up in the air and seeks christian fellowship in another congregation that doesn’t convene a council to determine one’s ‘worthiness’ for moving assistance.

  49. SingleintheCity says:

    The disbanding of the Activities Committee is going to be really rough in singles wards. We have 1-2 activities a month, how will they happen if there is no leadership? I think it’s going to have an opposite effect than was intended; our bishopric will be busy “delegating” to different groups running each activity. What a mess! In other fun news for the singles ward, there is no longer linger longers or break the fast dinners after church. They aren’t in line with keeping the Sabbath day holy. Also, there is no longer “Family Home Evening” groups. Now they will be referred to as “Home Evening” groups. This is supposed to give us motivation to find our own families. I’m mostly concerned that “HE” isn’t a great acronym.

  50. Julie M. Smith says:

    “In other fun news for the singles ward, there is no longer linger longers or break the fast dinners after church. ”

    Where are you getting this from? I must have missed it.

  51. If that is true it is very disheartening. I am personally not really a huge fan of “linger longers” but I can see that such an occasional communal meal on the Sabbath together with the ward after the conclusion of the block of meetings is a fundamental part of what church is or should be about.

  52. I can’t recall anything about ending linger longers. I wouldn’t object to some discussion about [what I feel is] inappropriate about break the fast dinners. Just seems to me that breaking your fast should be a personal and not communal thing. I don’t mind the communal meal on fast Sunday, but don’t like the message of a communal breaking of the fast.

  53. SingleintheCity, I think disbanding the activities committee is going to be really rough in all wards, not just the singles. I can see the ideological appeal of correlating this rogue committee into the grand ward council but I think it fails in translating to the real world.

    First, does anyone in the ward council really need another responsibility to take up their spare time? A small core of people do the majority of the work in most wards, this only concentrates more work on that core. Will this change result in better ward activities or will it mean that ward activities will now fall into the cracks because no one on the ward council has the time to make them frequent and well done? I’m guessing it’s going to be the latter since as was pointed out previously, the current members of that committee will be given new callings, making ward activities a secondary responsibility for everyone in the ward.

    Second, every ward has members who can’t or won’t take on the responsibility of a weekly calling like teaching or leadership but who do want to contribute. The activities committee was one place where they could have a meaningful calling. The new handbook does say that people can be tasked to help out for specific activities but not permanently. Being asked to help out is an assignment not a calling. I think there is a difference there that is important for helping people feel a real part of a ward and for helping them grow into other callings.

  54. It has been my observations that the various organizations end up coming up with the activity and either doing it on their own or asking the activity committee to do it. I remember as an EQ pres, I thought I was the activity leader for the Elders sometime.

    Outside of a few big holidays, I haven’t been in many wards with frequent activities. And if there are frequent activities, then they probably should be under the direction of those organizations. All this means is that the leaders in those orgs should delegate responsibility to someone for a specific activity.

    Easier said than done. And I think that comes to how we (I) usually lazily approach the issue of delegating. Sitting someone down for a brief interview, and discussing the important principles behind the activity, getting their input and having them committed to organizing an activity and then announcing it in opening exercises the next meeting and turning a couple minutes over to them is probably going to be successful. Just asking them in the hallway after to church to handle the ward summer picnic before heading out the door probably won’t.

  55. The displeasure over eliminating the activities committee surprises me. I didn’t think it was that big a deal. I talked to our soon-to-be-former activities chairperson yesterday to get an idea of what she had done to prepare for next year’s activities. While we talked, I mentioned that the bishopric had felt a little awkward about telling her that her responsibilities had been discontinued. She responded by saying that it was a fantastic idea, and a way to really get the ward council to own the ward activities.

    We’ve not discussed much about how to implement the changes, but some of the ideas I’ve come up with to discuss are:

    1) Assign each activity to an quorum or auxiliary. This does not mean it should be planned and executed by that auxiliary’s leadership, but that the leadership should assign some of its members to plan and execute the activity while reporting back to the presidency.

    2) Assign small groups of members not on the ward council to some of the larger activities (for example, a temporary committee of 3 – 4 people to plan the ward’s campout)

    3) Ask 2 – 3 members not on the ward council to meet and discuss activity ideas for an upcoming year. This reserves the ward council time for the matters they should be discussing, and only spending minimal time suggesting changes to activity ideas that are generated externally.

  56. Thanks for the great info Cynthia!

    I really don’t see the harm in shortening the block to 2 hours and I see many benefits to it.

    It seems like we could get better at disseminating “calendar” type announcements through electronic means and/or a well organized “ward bulletin” (hard copy). Between Sacrament meeting and priesthood opening exercises we spent at least 20 minutes on that.

    Would anyone really suffer spiritual damage if we had one less talk in Sacrament meeting and then merged our Sunday School study of the scriptures in with the priesthood/RS/YM/YW lessons?

  57. SingleintheCity says:

    No more break the fasts and linger longers may be a local thing. It came from our area 70. He is interpreting “focus on the spiritual things” as getting rid of these Sunday activities. Honestly, break the fast is the only Sunday that many people stay for the whole block. I know there are a few people who only show up on fast Sunday. It’s a missionary tool and a way to have a communal meal as a ward family.

  58. If it’s coming from the Area Seventy, and the activities genuinely improve the spiritual quality of your ward, then I’d recommend that your bishop tell the Seventy to shove it (he may want to use nicer words) and point out that the only restriction the handbooks place on timing of activities is that they shouldn’t be held on Monday evenings.

    But I still stand with my objection of the term “break the fast” when applied communally :)

  59. Benjamin, are you by chance not on the ward council? I don’t know any members of the ward council (I was previously on one and am currently married to someone on one) who don’t already have more than enough to do without adding ward activities to their responsibilities. Everyone in my ward has always pitched in and helped make the activities happen but there is a big difference between being asked by someone to help out by setting up tables or cleaning up and being put in charge of the whole thing.

  60. Single in the City — you really should bring this up with your bishop to pass up the line to that Area 70. The thing is, in the Church right now almost everyone else is doing everything they can to help single young adults want to stay in the Church and keep it relevant to them. It sounds like what this Area 70 has done goes in exactly the opposite direction. I am guessing he would have some superiors greatly displeased with him if his new austerity policies contribute to more single young adults feeling out of place or unwelcome coming to Church, or further relegates Church to irrelevance in their lives.

  61. I clicked on the Post button too soon. To me this change seems more driven by a desire for ideological purity, correlating more things into the ward council, than by a desire to make things work better. I could see disbanding the activities committee but keeping the activites chair as a calling who is part of the ward council as needed. The leaves someone in charge who is ultimately responsible for creating and coordinating activities. I just can’t see any benefit to adding those responsibilities to a council that already has plenty to do.

  62. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    I am just glad that they put in writing that cremation is fine, although “not encouraged.” Plots are too expensive, and I’m leaving my kids or survivors the $$$ it would have otherwise cost in a plot to travel to various locations to spread my ashes (which will presumptively reconstitute) and have fun remembering me as I float away.

  63. Eric, watch out for blowback–learn from Walter and Donny.

  64. KLC,

    I’m the clerk in my ward. I’m well aware of the responsibilities given to those on the ward council. Which is why I stated earlier that responsibilities for planning an activity should be delegated to someone in the auxiliary/quorum. The presidency shouldn’t do it. They should find someone who can.

    The idea of delegating assignments doesn’t just apply to the bishop. Auxiliary and quorum/group leadership should be passing responsibilities down to the members of those organizations. Ideally, the most frequent decision a leader makes is the decision of who should carry out a task, not how it should be carried out.

  65. #65 – Exactly. There is NOTHING in the training that suggests the Ward Council members have to do what is planned. In fact, delegation at all levels in all councils was stressed.

    Perhaps disbanding the Activities Committee also will faciliate activities that actually are service-oriented and not just fun times for the members. I would stand and cheer if that happened. The world needs us out in it, not sitting at tables in the cultural hall playing games and eating fattening food.

  66. I was once in a ward where there wasn’t a functioning activities committee. The bishopric frequently asked specific members to coordinate activities — one and done. Those were some of the most creative, memorable activities I can remember in any ward.

    The one-off aspect was a key part. One person had one chance to do one thing, and it seemed to bring out the creative in everyone. It was also a great thing to give to newly activated members or newer members, because they suddenly had to get to know a lot of people to pull it off — and the bishopric member for the assignment was the person who kept checking in. It didn’t “feel” like a calling, but had all the associated benefits for the individual, and the activities were far more creative and fun than otherwise.

    I was put in charge of one of those activities a few months after moving into that ward. I got a lot of compliments for how it went off. Unfortunately, that may have been a factor in their calling me into the bishopric two months later, so maybe I should have slacked off.

    Once we had an official activities committee in place, the activities went back to the reliable “dinner and inadequate entertainment” routine.

    Count me as a believer in the “no activities committee” group!

  67. Benjamin, I realized after posting that my comments could appear to be condescending, I only meant that I was speaking from personal experience, not trying to imply any lack of experience on your part.

    But your followup is intriguing:

    “…responsibilities for planning an activity should be delegated to someone in the auxiliary/quorum.” Like a committee?

    “The presidency shouldn’t do it. They should find someone who can.” Like a committee?

    Auxiliary and quorum/group leadership should be passing responsibilities down to the members of those organizations.” Like a committee?

    I’m all for delegation. Previously the responsibility was delegated to a standing committee and committee chair, now already busy people in RS/EQ/HP/YW/YM/Primary have to go through the delegation process, expending time and mental energy for every activity throughtout the year. Is that an improvement?

  68. This might be a funny question… but does anyone in possession of a new handbook know if the church changed it’s position with respect to vasectomies?

    In the previous handbook, surgical sterilization (including vasectomy) was “strongly discouraged”. But, I can’t even count the number of friends and family who are faithful members of the church and have had vasectomies.

    I think that most of us feel that we’ve come to a joint decision between husband/wife, and the Lord that our family is complete. Then, we look at the simple pros/cons of the range of birth control methods and choose the one that makes the most sense for our family.

    So, just wondering if the handbook has made any allowances for that.

  69. Brett, it still tells us that surgical contraception is strongly discouraged, and should be considered prayerfully and in consultation with the bishop.

  70. Great recap of the meeting! I’m encouraged by some of these changes. It’s like someone is reading the ‘nacle and taking some of the suggestions to heart . . . Or else, as it says in Ecclesiastes, there’s nothing new under the sun.

    As to the vasectomy question, having it in the CHI is irrelevant because it would never occur to most people to ask their bishop about such a thing in the first place.

  71. “There was a repeated, very explicit emphasis on keeping all the business of the Ward Council private and confidential, and it was noted that not all information about individuals was even appropriate to bring up at Ward Council”

    This unfortunately represented a missed opportunity to turn a common catchphrase and say “What goes happens in Ward Council STAYS in Ward Council” . . .

  72. I agree — good leadership does not follow a top-down model, but empowers all levels to step up and be creative and involved and take ownership for each piece of the stewardship pie.

    Interestingly enough, for those who haven’t read it, this is one of the driving principles of capitalism that Adam Smith cites in Wealth of Nations. The idea that the worker is better suited to innovate – dealing with his/her particular cog – than the manager.

  73. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    After thinking through the Vasectomy section of the new book, I have a new theory on “how the Lord works in mysterious ways.” Bear with me for a second, here goes: The whole prop 8 campaign is simply a rouse to excite public debate and attention over the liberalization of “marriage” and other consensual adult relationships. In a bizarre twist of ironic backlash and reverse psychology, society will fight so hard to liberalize these relationships that it will find itself suddenly advocating for various non-traditional relationships including pa pa pa . . . polygamous-type relationships. And how will the saints be ready for that time if their vas deferens are snipped up? That’s what I saw in that section anyway . . .

  74. I have been on the PEC and Ward Council more time during the last 30 years than I have been off. These are my reflections on the “new” matters:

    1. I am somewhat surprised that the type of meeting portrayed by the council modeling and the talks of Elders Oaks and Cook is being spoken of in these posts as new and different. Perceptive bishops have been conducting meetings in this manner for years. Less confident bishops will likely continue in the old ways despite the new handbook and training. I do applaud more ward council and less PEC. However the handbook has always said “at least monthly” with regard to Ward Council, and the length of the PEC and Welfare Meetings has never been specified. It seems to me the most inspired bishops have already been structuring their meetings along the lines of what is now spelled out.

    2. I am a little perplexed about the example chosen for reduction in temporal service. As HPGL, I rarely see moving projects as a temporal matters. We actively seek out opportunities to join the Elders in these activities. To serve less actives and investigators, they are wonderful opportunities to demonstrate the love of fellow saints and fellow children of God. When serving actives, they promote a wonderful spiritual feeling of quorum brotherhood. Though my old muscles ache, the service opportunities don’t feel temporal to me.

    3. The effectiveness of the counciling or counseling that goes on in a council is inversely proportional to the size of the council. That’s why bishoprics, especially when its just the three, do the best job of true group discussion and decision making; and the least effective job is done at a high council meeting, in my experience. The addition of the voice of the sisters is a real plus, but tends to be offset by the increase in the number of voices, (and disparate viewpoints) that must be heard and digested. A group the size of that model ward council, in real life can never hear every voice without enormous expenditures of time and tears. The scripted meeting was to the point and efficient. Even if you can keep a real ward council away from calendaring, you can’t keep it focused; its just too big.

    w

  75. Latter-day Guy says:

    The addition of the voice of the sisters is a real plus, but tends to be offset by the increase in the number of voices, (and disparate viewpoints) that must be heard and digested.

    If differing viewpoints have a negative impact on a council’s effectiveness, then why have a council at all? Surely the most effective “council” (by that measure) would be one decider and a roomful of “yes men persons” (à la Chris Farley channeling Newt Gingrich).

  76. Observer (f.k.a. Eric. S.) says:

    76 – LD Guy – I don’t think 75 was saying that “different” viewpoints is necessarily the issue. I think the concern relates more to the increased volume and number of viewpoints that are solicited for thought and comment. You ask why have a council at all? The point of having a council is to solicit different viewpoints, hear them, consider them, and then execute after considering them. Usually, “2 brains work better than one.” But that theory may have diminishing returns when you start adding too many brains, which has it’s own saying: “too many cooks in the kitchen.” The process takes a lot longer where you add more viewpoints and voices.

  77. Latter-day Guy says:

    All I’m saying is that I want Chris Farley for a bishop.

  78. 35, re ” I liked the sentiment of E. Bednar’s idea, even if the exact phrasing was a little hyperbolic.”

    If not “revelatory experience”, how about plain old “Vision”?

    “Bye, dear, I’m off to experience the weekly ward vision. See you in an hour.”

  79. KLC (#68)

    “I’m all for delegation. Previously the responsibility was delegated to a standing committee and committee chair, now already busy people in RS/EQ/HP/YW/YM/Primary have to go through the delegation process, expending time and mental energy for every activity throughtout the year. Is that an improvement?”

    Yes!

    As has already been pointed out, a temporary committee focused on one or two activities at a time would be great for ward activities. And despite having nightmares of figuring out how to structure the budget, I’m excited to implement it.

  80. Observer wrote: “In a bizarre twist of ironic backlash and reverse psychology, society will fight so hard to liberalize these relationships that it will find itself suddenly advocating for various non-traditional relationships including pa pa pa . . . polygamous-type relationships. And how will the saints be ready for that time if their vas deferens are snipped up? That’s what I saw in that section anyway.”

    Hmmm… If a vasectomy will get me out of taking on additional wives then snip away!

  81. “And despite having nightmares of figuring out how to structure the budget, I’m excited to implement it.”

    My guess is that the money currently allocated to activities committees will be divided among the YM, the YW, and the Bishopric’s “administrative” budget (church-speak for discretionary spending). All of the auxiliaries already have money for activities, but it seems as if the youth programs are the ones that need the most. The administrative budget will allow the bishopric to guarantee costs for activities that are not being sponsored by a particular auxiliary will be covered.

    In regards to the activities for singles’ wards, I think that there will still be an activities committee, due to the sheer number of activities that are carried out. Of course, in my singles ward, the majority of activities were informal. Guys would host a game night at their place, and invite everyone. Girls would host a movie night. Folks would just get together to hang out at the Institute building (where we met for church and FHE). I’ll have to ask my friend who was the activities committee chair in the university ward what she thinks will happen.

  82. It's Not Me says:

    Being in a family ward with a married ward in our building, we did not like the married ward’s tradition of breaking the fast together because it meant that on fast Sunday we had to smell wonderful food throughout our meetings. It was a bit annoying, frankly.

  83. To #83. I would suggest that the ‘family ward’ also have a “breaking the fast together”. In the wards in which I have lived, one of the major problems is that “no good deed goes unpunished”. There is always someone who complains about things instead of volunteering to help. We should assume that our fellow saints want to do things right and thus look for ways to help them.

  84. Our small ward that has done activities like this (each auxilary picks an activity to sponsor), has an activity budget still…the auxilary uses money from that budget for the activity. Despite other problems with this ward they were as a whole very frugal…so it worked well.

  85. > Being in a family ward with a married ward in our building

    Sorry I can’t figure out if you meant singles ward instead of married ward, or if this is some new kind of ward that I haven’t heard of.

    Either way, BOOOOOO on the idea of not letting singles wards have linger longers!! Those were the lynchpin, the glue, the keystone if you will, of the entire fellowshiping and missionary effort of our singles ward. I wish our ward now had them, although I can see how having kids changes the ratio of food donaters to eaters in a way that becomes unsustainable.

  86. Cynthia,
    Linger Longers suck. They’re only a microstep above camp food, which is only a microstep above starvation.

  87. Scott, camp food done right is the best…
    dutch oven potatoes w/ cheese and bacon
    dutch oven buttermilk biscuits
    dutch oven lamb or chicken
    dutch oven cobbler
    Need I say more?
    A blessing on the food will take care of haemochromatosis.

  88. Oh, Scott. You need to come camping with my scouts. We roasted a turkey in our hand made oven using wood-burned coals, with sides of dressing, potatoes with bacon and cheese, biscuits, corn, pumpkin pie, and black forest chocolate cherry cake all cooked in dutch ovens. The meal left me thinking why we don’t cook like this at home.

    But when I think about the food we eat when we go backpacking….I see what you mean.

  89. Costco sells backpacking food now! I really, really feel sorry for the food stylist/photographer they hired for those photos. Making Mountain House look good to anyone who isn’t 50 miles from civilization and almost starving is an impossible task.

  90. I eat ramen and jerky when I backpack. . . . I eat ramen and jerky when I’m not backpacking . . . . I kinda like ramen and jerky.

    As for camp food, I went on a guy’s trip two years ago with some close friends. We cooked roast beef, potatoes, carrots, with some bacon for flavor/tenderness. The next night we did “hobo” dinners garnished with bacon and (wait for it . . . ) eggs. It was fantastic.
    At the very least when camping I’m roasting Bratwurst over the fire.
    I think I do some of my favorite cooking while camping.

    However, back to the point, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Linger Longer.

  91. I have only eaten ramen twice in my life, and both times it was prepared and served by someone else.

    More importantly, singles can get together after church whenever the heck they feel like it. Married folks can, too. Linger Longers and Break the Fasts do not have to be church-sanctioned in order to happen.

  92. Alex, wouldn’t private linger-longers lose nearly all the fellowshipping and missionary benefits?

  93. “More importantly, singles can get together after church whenever the heck they feel like it. Married folks can, too. Linger Longers and Break the Fasts do not have to be church-sanctioned in order to happen.”

    In a singles ward, the advantage of a ward-sponsored or -organized Linger Longer is that the shy people, or those who don’t fit in, will be more likely to be included. Not every single is an extrovert, or would feel going to an apparently private gathering to which he or she has not been specifically invited.

  94. .. would feel comfortable going to an apparently private gathering to which he/or she has not been specifically invited.

  95. #75 – The addition of the voices of the sisters isn’t offset by ANYTHING. Without the sisters, it’s just PEC. Give me Ward Council over PEC as the primary council in the ward every day and twice on Sunday – figuratively, of course, as to the frequency of the revelatory experiences.

  96. It's Not Me says:

    #86 – What I meant was a “young married ward.” Also affectionately known as the Peter Pan Ward, because they refuse to grow up, have children, hold church callings, etc. It was actually disbanded a while back and the couples were sent back to regular wards.

  97. Cynthia L. says:

    Huh. I’ve never heard of that. I can see it being nice to socially interact with similarly situated couples. But a ward with no primary, no YM, no YW, no scouts, and only one or two SS classes only needs like 10 people total to staff it. What does everyone else do?

  98. What does everyone else do?
    There was a young married ward associated with the institute where we went to school. It was optional to attend, and my husband and I decided against it.
    I was friends with a lady on the compassionate service committee. She was in charge of making sure everyone got a baby shower (ie, if a family member wasn’t going to throw one for you, then she was supposed to make it happen). The ward had about 10 babies born per month, and she was worn ragged. I imagine other people had plenty to do as well.
    They also had a nursery (or two, or ten), but once your kid turned three you had to start going to a regular ward.

  99. It's Not Me says:

    I probably spoke a bit harshly about the young marrieds ward. I guess the thing that really got to us is that they would try to recruit young couples who moved into our ward boundaries when we need those couples to serve in our ward.

  100. 99… your description sounds like a frightening experience for anyone to have to endure… either as a ward member, or one tasked with all the ‘be a friend’ responsibilities…

  101. I am wondering if anyone knows much about the Mission President’s and Temple President’s Handbooks. Are there any “higher” administrative handbooks out there?

  102. Cynthia L. says:

    Tom, in the meeting they said that Bishops, Stake Presidents, Mission and Temple Presidents all get Book 1. (The discussion in the meeting primarily focused on Book 2, which a lot of people in each ward get–Primary presidency, YM presidency, etc). So, it doesn’t sound like there is any “higher” book other than the one your Bishop has.

  103. Cynthia, I understand that as Mission and Temple Presidents will get Book 1 in addition to the Mission President’s and Temple President’s Handbooks, respectively. This is based on the fact that in the section “Appendix: List of Items Referenced” there is a book “Mission President’s Handbook (36203)”. I believe there is a Temple President’s Handbook as well. I was wondering if anyone know about the book 36203. Also, is there a Area Authority or GA Handbook?

  104. I heard (translation: would like to start a rumor) that there is a Apostolic Handbook of Instructions. The AHI, much like the “white bible” of missionaries, is small, white, and fits in the front pocket of an oxford shirt.
    In it you can find the ordinance prayers to call forth to resurrection and dedicate temples; healing prayers to raise from the dead; best practice for walking on water; and a delightful chocolate cake recipe.
    On page 12 it reads “When travelling, Apostles are counseled to sleep in the same room, but never in the same bed as each other.”
    You can find it on Wikileaks.

  105. There is also a Handbook for Patriarchs “Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs”

  106. I saw my mission president’s handbook once but didn’t really see anything inside

  107. when i got married my husband and i visited my mom and dad who were serving as mission president and wife in the pacific as part of our honeymoon. i remember while we were there that my husband asked if he could see my dad’s mp handbook but my dad declined saying it wasn’t appropriate. i don’t believe there is really much in it, but i’ve been curious ever since.

  108. I’m totally going to make a handbook for all the Primary Secretaries out there. And we won’t let anyone else look at it. It will talk about super secret stuff specific to our job, like whether ✘ or ✓ is the One True Way of marking someone present on the attendance sheets.

  109. In a previous ward I was the activities chair and committee. Just me. It worked out great. I planned the activities for the whole year, so we didn’t waste time in ward council trying to decide what the next activity would be. I worked with the ward council to recruit people to help at each activity. The EQ and YW each took one activity, and each of the different groups took parts of several other activities. It was one of the best callings I’ve had, and helped me to see that you don’t need a standing committe to pull it off.

  110. $104$ I’ve asked and there is not such a book for Temple Presidents. I’ve also looked online for the Mission President’s book couldn’t find it anywhere. Can anyone else help?

  111. Homer….the Handbook for Temple Presidents does exist. I’ve seen it. I was once invited to have a meeting with the 1st counselor of my temple to discuss some questions I had. He pulled out this book and helped me answer some of my questions. I was told it remains in a safe when not being used.

  112. Also, I know there is a Mission President’s book but I have never seen it.

  113. I did a little googling and found the Mission President’s Handbook online. I bet the Patriarch’s Guide is out there but I doubt the Temple President’s Handbook is.

  114. ben f.: do you want to share?

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