A few items of ward business

The past day or two has seen a tremendous amount of attention focused on an individual member of the LDS Church. Most of the discussion has been over at Big Brown, where the headline reads “An openly gay man in the bishopric,” in reference to the content of a webpage for Mitch Mayne, who is a member of the LDS Church in the San Francisco California Stake.

While there were certainly a number of well-wishes and congratulations issued from the commenters at T&S yesterday, there was also a fair amount of confusion, curiosity, skepticism and uncertainty over some aspects of the webpage. Given the nature of the announcement, as well as some of the smaller details, this uncertainty was understandable, even if some of the resultant negative speculation was regrettable. Today, BCC has confirmed with Church Headquarters in SLC, who received confirmation from local leaders in the Bay Ward, that Brother Mayne was, in fact, sustained to a new calling. However, that calling is Executive Secretary. As any seasoned executive secretary knows (being one myself), the executive secretary is not a member of the Bishopric.[1]

There are certainly similarities (lots of extra Sunday meetings together, being the most obvious one), so it’s easy to see how, on the surface, one might make this mistake. However, the distinction between working with the Bishopric closely and serving in the Bishopric is a meaningful one, and one that deserves attention. Members of the Bishopric conduct temple recommend interviews; executive secretaries arrange for those interviews to take place. Members of the Bishopric extend, release from, and set people apart into, callings; executive secretaries send lots of text messages and emails, and make lots of phone calls. Members of the Bishopric are ordained High Priests; executive secretaries do paperwork for those who are about to be ordained High Priests. Most importantly, there is a significant difference in the way the body of the ward views members of the Bishopric, their ministry in the ward, and their conduct both inside and outside of religious settings.

That Brother Mayne was not actually called to serve in the Bishopric is no more a commentary on his worthiness than my non-membership in my ward’s Bishopric is a commentary on my worthiness. I would assume that, like me, he was interviewed and found worthy of serving as an executive secretary, and I wish him the best.

______________________________________
[1] In keeping with the instructions printed in Handbook 1, I won’t copy the text here, but will only say that Section 2 in the handbook states definitively that executive secretaries and ward clerks are not members of the Bishopric.[1.1]
[1.1] While it is only stated explicitly in Handbook 1, which is not available to everyone, the same nuance is easily seen in Book 2, which is available to all members of the Church. The easiest way to see the distinction is to review any of the instructions regarding leadership meeting attendance, and note how the Bishopric, Clerks and ES are always listed separately.

Comments

  1. observer fka eric s says:

    Excellent. I wonder how many calls the Bay Ward Bishop has received from SLC over the last 48 hours over what was probably a very innocent mischaracterization. Wonder if we’ll see a retraction/clarification piece . . . wherever or whomever it comes from?

  2. Wonder if we’ll see a retraction/clarification piece . . . wherever or whomever it comes from?

    I think it would be great if T&S were to amend the headline over there, but that’s not my call.

  3. Well this is a fiery topic if I’ve ever seen one. Wishing all commenters (and any in the spotlight) the best.

  4. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    When I was called to be the Ward Clerk, the member of the Stake Presidency (a seasoned holder of the Priesthood) told me that I WAS being called to be a member of the bishopric, which was news to me at the time. This pre-dated the new handbook and I will take your word for what is stated in Section 2.1. Nevertheless, old habits die hard and if he was told that, as Exective Secretary, he was going to be a member of the bishopric, I wouldn’t doubt that it happened that way. I certainly wish him well in whatever his call is.

  5. Rigel,
    It was incorrect under the old handbook, too. This is one of those things that is often confused–I know that virtually every EQ/RS Secretary on the planet is encouraged at the time of the call with words like, “Don’t feel like you’re just a secretary–you’re really a 3rd counselor.” That is to say, many leaders (wisely) solicit input from as many voices as possible when making decisions. Nevertheless, the actual definitions of the callings are not ambiguous at all.

  6. Soooo, I assume that this good man is still accurately described as openly gay. If so, aren’t we slitting hairs ust a little here? Am I wrong or is it still is it still significant that an openly gay member of the Church was called as an Exec. Sec.? Seems kinda significant to me, but maybe there have been a lot of openly gay members in that calling. Any info on that?

  7. Can we also state members of the Bishopbric are known even among the least active, where the executive secretary is unbeknown to half the ward? I don’t think we list the calling and the one fulfilling it on the back of the Sunday schedule pamphlet here, do other wards?

  8. Because of the way dude wrote about it on his blog I suspected that he might, in fact, have only been called as executive secretary. Thanks for researching this.

  9. MCQ,
    Certainly different people will have different views on whether this is hair-splitting or not. I don’t think it is–I think that failing to make the distinction changes the situation considerably: An openly gay man is serving in a calling in the Church vs. An openly gay man is an ecclesiastical leader in the Church? Huge difference to me.

    In terms of priesthood leadership or authority, I’m no more a member of the Bishopric than President Monson’s secretary is a member of the First Presidency.

  10. Nick Literski says:

    During the time I served as stake executive secretary (2004-6), the stake president made numerous remarks which suggested that I was “part of the stake presidency.” I always took that as more a reflection of the fact that I was privy to the details of all their presidency meetings—that I was part of their “inner circle,” so to speak. In truth, my input was frequently, graciously, invited by the stake president during their discussions. Still, I understood “my place.”

  11. I don’t think we list the calling and the one fulfilling it on the back of the Sunday schedule pamphlet here, do other wards?

    I’d be shocked if you didn’t. My name is actually the only name on our program, because anyone wanting an appointment with the Bishop contacts me.

  12. Yeah, I get that and I’m already past it, Scott. I’m wndering whether it is a significant thing that an openly gay man was called as Exec. Sec. That’s the critical part of my comment (maybe I should have left out the part about splitting hairs). Does anyone know if there have been other gay men called to be exec. sec. before?

  13. Exactly, Nick–I’m in the same place. My Bishop, in every discussion, solicits input from every person in the room–counselors, clerk, me, RS President–and then, after discussion has ended, again looks at everyone again for “thumbs up” on every decision before moving on. Nevertheless, I rarely, if ever, speak up first without being asked for input.

  14. In other words, if this is a very significant thing, I would really like to focus on that, not the fact that he is not technically a “member of the bishopric.”

  15. Oh. Great. Way to ruin all the fun with your “facts” and “truth”. You make me sick sometimes Scott.

  16. To join the less relevant discussion: I’m under the impression that exec. sec. sits in on all bishopric meetings, including bishop’s courts, and subject to the bishop’s discretion, gives advice and counsel in all of those meetings. Correct?

  17. I get you, MCQ. I think there are probably very, very few openly gay executive secretaries–only because there aren’t a ton of openly gay active members, and since there is only one ES per ward…not strong odds. Change the question to closeted gay members, and the world changes dramatically, I think.

  18. I think an executive secretary is just as important as an EQP or HPGL. Certainly more important than a Sunday School President (no offense to those like me who’ve served as Sunday School President, but seeing that my last ward didn’t have one, they’re not exactly essential). Executive secretaries may not have the same leadership responsibilities as a bishopric counselor, but they’re privy to everything discussed in Bishopric meetings (and I assume often give input during those meetings).

    I’m not sure this changes the main message here–an openly gay man being called to serve in a position of great responsibility within his ward. A great chance to demonstrate that being gay, in and by itself, is no sin; the bloggernacle may already know that, but plenty of other members still have to learn it.

  19. MCQ–I was just going to address #16 (and will add it to the post later):

    Executive Secretaries DO NOT sit in discplinary councils. Clerks do–with Bishopric members, but ES do not. The ONLY way there is an exception here is if the ES is also an ordained High Priest, and one of the Bishopric members is absent, and the Bishop asks the ES to stand in. (That is, if a Counselor is absent, another HP from the ward is selected. If the ES is an HP, then he would be eligible–by virtue of his HP-ness, not his ES-ness.)

  20. Nick Literski says:

    MCQ, maybe it’s some mysterious eternal thing for gay men to become executive secretaries–grin! The stake president I served with spoke once in a high council meeting about how when he was a bishop, he had a gay executive secretary (this as part of him rebuking a couple high council members who were making some nasty anti-gay comments in the meeting). I couldn’t help but think, “Wow—you know how to pick us, don’t you???” It was about a year later that I came out to him, and he was actually quite supportive.

  21. Dang. MCQ beat me to it.

  22. I was just released as the ward clerk. The only two people in the ward who have served continuously in their current position are the bishop and the choir director. I have outlasted five counselors, two executive secretaries, and the current counselors and executive secretary were called in May. Given the time, experience, and (I like to think) quality of my input, many of the comments and suggestions I gave to the bishopric and other ward leaders were given a lot of weight. Yet, I can’t remember a single moment in which there was ever any confusion over whether I was a member of the bishopric. Everything I recommended was subject to approval, even though very few of my recommendations met that fate. No matter how good, insightful, or inspired people thought my recommendations might be, it was always clear that my comments were not sufficient to justify action without first obtaining approval from the bishop or a counselor*.

    *And rightfully so, for the clerk and executive secretary aren’t the ones on the hook when things go wrong.

  23. Scott, #13 “Nevertheless, I rarely, if ever, speak up first without being asked for input.”

    After about a year, I stopped caring about being asked and just started speaking up. My arrogance leads me to believe that my willingness to speak up (especially in opposition to what I felt were bad ideas) was appreciated (except for one counselor, with whom I seemed to be locked into culture wars).

  24. Knowing that he was simply called as an executive secretary makes the whole “open letter” thing even more bizarre. It seems to me that if I were interested in advancing the relationship between the church and LGBT members/nonmembers, then I probably wouldn’t be so eager to post some inflated announcement on a website full of bare-chested romance novel-esque photos of myself.

    Something about this strikes me as awfully self-promoting― not furthering any cause save fame.

  25. Am I the only one that thinks it is extremely odd? I’m thinking he was called to the actual bishopric, SLC got wind of it, and cover up plan was put into action.

  26. So you just picked up the BCC Hotline and someone at Church Headquarters answered? Very impressive. In fairness, Kaimi’s apparent misstatement at T&S was based on a public misstatement by Bro. Mayne, one that went uncorrected by his local leaders and by senior leaders at Church HQ (at least until they decided to put the word out via BCC).

  27. #25 – I hope that was an attempt at a joke.

  28. Steve Evans says:

    Dave, you have to know the secret password*.

    Hint: it’s please.

  29. Steve Evans says:

    P.S. Bob, you are an idiot.

  30. Awesome, the conspiracy theorists are starting to come out now. (Thanks for that, Bob).

    Scott: do you have a cite for this:
    “Executive Secretaries DO NOT sit in discplinary councils. Clerks do–with Bishopric members, but ES do not. The ONLY way there is an exception here is if the ES is also an ordained High Priest, and one of the Bishopric members is absent, and the Bishop asks the ES to stand in. (That is, if a Counselor is absent, another HP from the ward is selected. If the ES is an HP, then he would be eligible–by virtue of his HP-ness, not his ES-ness.)”

    The reason I ask, (and I’m really not trying to start an argument on this point, I’m just wanting to understand the issue) is that in my ward it has been (at least in the recent past) exactly the opposite. Exec. Sec. sits in on disciplinary councils and Ward Clerk does not. I recognize that it may be because the Exec Sec was a HP, but he clearly was not filling in for an absent counselor, he was there with the bishop and both counselors as part of every disciplinary council or other bishopric meeting that I ever saw. Was that incorrect procedure, or did the procedure change recently?

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    If it matters, I have it from a completely different source that Scott is correct.

  32. This is admittedly tangential, but your footnote piqued my curiosity–Does the Handbook actually state that (even small) portions may not be reproduced?

  33. @ Bob. Your thinking is mistaken. From the beginning he was called to be executive secretary. There was no “cover up plan.” Brother Mayne from the beginning indicated that his calling was executive secretary when asked to speak in another ward.
    ^Fact^
    My speculation: Perhaps there was some confusion on his part (as there has been elsewhere in these comments and on the web) about the official role of executive secretary as it relates to the bishopric.
    I wish Brother Mayne the best in his new calling.

  34. While I understand the distinction between Exec Sec and Bishopric member is important, it doesn’t take away from the fact that an openly gay may who *publicly supports his past homosexual relationship and declares he is not opposed to a future homosexual relationship* has been called to any significant calling in a ward is still pretty striking. It is his refusal to play into the “gay is a defect” and “gays must be celibate for life” narratives while being given a core calling that is newsworthy. My sense is that in over 90% of wards that a gay man with his stated beliefs would be judged unworthy of a temple recommend or even to take the sacrament much less worthy of a significant calling such as Exec Sec. In theory, many would accept an openly gay man who was repentant of a past homosexual relationship and was committed to avoiding any future such relationships in such a role but I bet you would be hard pressed to find one. However, Mitch Mayne is certainly not this.

  35. MCQ (#30), I believe it’s chapter 6 in Handbook 1. I can’t confirm that as I now only have access to Book 2. But I can confirm that it is the clerk who takes minutes in disciplinary councils.

    Another check we could run–when I was the clerk, I was able to request disciplinary council minutes through the leader tools on lds.org. Now, having an assignment as assistant clerk (I needed access to certain things to be able to finish a couple assignments after my release), I can no longer request those minutes. Scott, as executive secretary, can you request disciplinary council minutes?

  36. Steve Evans says:

    rah, the celibacy policy is alive and well. Rest assured that if bro. Mayne were to become sexually active, he would almost certainly be released from his calling and be subject to church discipline.

  37. Yeah, I think it’s important not to get too hung up on bureaucratic distinctions. The fact that this is possible, that we can even talk about an openly (and happily, unrepentantly) gay man being in any significant calling at all (besides ward organist–not that there’s anything wrong with that!) is huge and hopeful.

    It’s not surprising that the apparent publicity campaign rubs people the wrong way; it’s definitely outside the cultural norm for response to prominent callings. In this case, though, I think it makes sense for us to get past that understandable initial reaction; it’s important for people outside of his ward to know about Brother Maynes’ service. There are lots of gay people out there who need to know that there is a place for them in the church, even if it is still a difficult and contested place.

  38. Scott, A former ward of mine had a gay clerk. The bishopric knew this about him, but it was not widely known in the ward. He was a great guy and a great clerk.

  39. @ Steve # 36

    rah, the celibacy policy is alive and well. Rest assured that if bro. Mayne were to become sexually active, he would almost certainly be released from his calling and be subject to church discipline.

    What if the issue were sympathy toward “apostate” groups, which is also a Temple recommend question–and not a sexually active gay lifestyle? If one were interviewed for Executive Secretary, who had affiliation with apostate groups in the past, “repented” sufficiently to be considered worthy for this stake calling, but at the same time refused to agree that in the future he would not return to his former apostate affiliations–same result. Let him continue in that particular sensitive calling until that time?

  40. @ Steve 36

    and be subject to church discipline.

    And a follow up question: Based on Mitch’s website postings, it appears fairly clear that within the last year or so, not only was he sexually active, but was so in a gay relationship. I’m curious whether there was any church action for that. He mentions none in any of his comments.

  41. Guy–it’s bad form to speculate on someone else’s worthiness, and on what local disciplinary action should or shouldn’t be taken. I realize this is a tricky conversation to have without doing that, but I think we’re up to the challenge.

  42. Kristine: I’ll agree that you’re not speculating about another’s worthiness if you’ll cut me the same slack. My question, which I think is valid, based on Mitch’s own writings was simply whether there had been any prior discipline—not that he necessarily warranted it. That call, I will readily admit is above my pay grade. But, to ignore the fact that certain conduct within the Church has been grounds for discipline in certain cases
    is a matter of historical fact. i won’t question your motives, if you won’t question mine: Deal?

  43. Semantics. Everything in the church is dependent on MLS and the local ward websites. In both of those cases, clerks and secretaries are listed as part of the Bishopric organization. At ward conference, they are sustained with the bishopric organization. However, clerks and secretaries are not part of the three-man BISHOPRIC (bishops and counselors).

    It’s a bit capricious, but it wouldn’t technically incorrect for the exec secy to label himself a member of the bishopric, no matter what the handbook says.

    What’s in MLS counts.

  44. @ Steve Evans & @MCQ

    You may think I’m an idiot, but church history is full of “conspiracy”.

    @Dan. Thanks for responding respectfully to my comment. With that information, it seems as if it may not be a cover up after all.

  45. #44: *Bob*,
    Please let people know you are not the usual Bob on this Blog. I can make my own silly statements.

  46. “So you just picked up the BCC Hotline and someone at Church Headquarters answered?”

    Dang it. I thought only FPR had such a hotline. Of course, it is usually them ringing us for Biblical interpretation.

  47. I’m not the usual Bob on this blog. I don’t get obsessed over intellectually mind-numbing conversations about what a given line of the church handbook of instruction means. If I wanted to do that I’d still go to church every Sunday. The bcc community prides itself on taking an “intellectual” approach to the gospel. All I see as I occasionally read the comments here is a bunch of people programmed to think inside the box. The few times that I have decided to put a comment out there i have been immediately attacked by “the regulars” as a wacko.

  48. MCQ,
    Yes, it’s Handbook 1, and I could get you the cites but I’m wont to post them all here, as the book states that doing so is not appropriate. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but that’s just the sort of anal-retentive rule-keeper I am. However, I’ll explain the reasoning for the clerk being present:

    Clerks and Bishopric members are the ONLY people in the ward who have access to membership records. The ONLY reason that clerks are involved in DCs is that they involve membership records–the clerk has to file lots and lots of paperwork for DCs and (in few cases) make notes on records. ES’s don’t have access to those items, and therefore serve no purpose.

    I believe that your ward (and probably many other wards) have strayed from this instruction, but that is nevertheless the way it should be per the handbook. Feel free to email me privately if you want to talk some more specifics.

  49. sorry if I was disrespectful Bob, but if you make a wacko comment you are liable to be viwed as a wacko. Funny how that works.

  50. #36

    Steve,

    I have no doubt if he started a sexually active homosexual relationship again his status would change, something MM seems to nod to on his website. I don’t like the “apostate” group analogy (it wasn’t Steve’s). Lets stay even more local. Take a heterosexual elder who had a live in girlfriend in the recent past, broke off that relationship, and is currently celibate. However, he openly and publicly says that he doesn’t regret his past arrangement and is actually quite open to a similar relationship in the future if the right girl comes along. In fact, he implies that such relationships while not sanctioned currently by the church in his mind aren’t immoral. That is the situation here only underlying the whole thing is the persistent question of where the line is for being, identifying or acting on homosexual feelings is for different church member statuses. Frankly, i know of members being denied temple recommends, sacrament rights etc for far, far less and I would still wager that few wards/stakes in the country would feel comfortable with extending the calling of Exec Sec in either the hetero or homo versions. The statement here seems to be that these public attitudes about his homosexuality aren’t disqualifying him from the standing necessary to serve in this calling. That seems more important to me than niggling over if he is officially a bishopric member or not. I am happy with calling the Exec Sec a central ward calling and wishing the MM and the ward the best.

  51. [LOUD WHISTLE SOUND]
    Timeout, folks!

    Let’s everyone chill out a bit and calm down. There are some interesting things to discuss here, but I’m not interested in any way in getting into a fight in this thread. If you have something useful or not-crazy to say, then please do so. Otherwise, take it to FPR.

  52. Fair enough. I just don’t think it’s that out of line given what we know about church history. But, I guess it doesn’t matter given @Dan has provided me with evidence suggesting my idea is probably not right.

  53. Thanks Scott. That helps. I think practices that vary from the handbook may be more widespread than I previously thought.

  54. #46 FTW

  55. Yeah. keep it boring and pragmatic or go somewhere else.

  56. People who attended the Sacrament meeting report that Brother Mayne was introduced by a bishopric member before his talk, with a statement like “Mitch is going to be leaving our ward, for a new calling he’ll talk about now.” Brother Mayne then gave his talk, repeatedly mentioning his Bishopric calling. No reported correction statements were made at the time. That would suggest that Brother Mayne’s local leaders consider his calling a Bishopric calling (not surprising; comments here demonstrate that this is an extremely common understanding).

    Of course, as Scott has noted, there is a clear rule statement that an Executive Secretary isn’t really a Bisopric member; but the particular details of that rule can apparently be found only in the sealed 116 pages of the Handbook.

  57. Scott is right about clerks being DCs. Additionally, their sole role is to take minutes, not participate in the discussion.

    What exactly does it mean to be “openly gay?” Because we had a gay EQ president for years here in Brooklyn. He wasn’t in the closet, anyone close to him knew (and most everyone else speculated) but he wasn’t announcing it to anyone either. I think the idea was that his sexuality is as private as a straight person’s is.

  58. Kaimi,
    It says it explicitly in Book 1, but it’s also fairly plainly seen in Book 2. Take any section from Book 2–say, the Ward Council chapters, for example–and you’ll find consistent statements like, “The following individuals attend Ward Council: Bishoprics, HPGL, EQP, RSP, Ward Clerks, and Executive Secretaries.” Also, the fact that ES’s aren’t ordained High Priests is kinda obvious if you bother to find out. I don’t know if you’re just trying to make this confusion the Church’s fault, but the bottom line is that I’ve known this little nuance since long before I had ever even heard of a Handbook–simply by paying attention and asking questions now and then about how things are done.

    It’s not a hidden mystery.

  59. Can somebody explain why his blog says he is in the bishopric then and goes on and on about it and then has a tag for Press? I hate to say it, but it seems that maybe he is exaggerating and hoping to get some publicity and/or press over this???

  60. Sharon,
    His reasons are his own. I could only speculate, and I’m not willing to assign any malice or intentional deception here.

  61. Observer fka eric s says:

    Bob et al, if the past 24 hours has shown anything at all it has shown that innacurracies, cover ups, and/or omitted material information in the age of the internet does not last long. And Im fairly confident that the chutch is well aware of that trend.

  62. He could have just said that he was made an Executive Secretary, thus avoiding any ambiguity.

  63. There are a lot of closeted gay Mormons in bishoprics. For example, here is the blog of one such person. Here is the blog of an LDS bishop who eventually came out.

    What’s unusual about this case is the openness, not the sexual orientation.

  64. [deleted by admin] says:

    [removed by admin at commenter's request]

  65. I think we get that MoHo, see Scott’s comment #17 above, for example.

  66. Troll for today says:

    It doesn’t take a Urim and Thummin to tell that this is going to end very, very badly. Using the event of your calling to announce that you’ve been having gay sex recently and likely will again? Come on, folks. And he was holding callings while he was in an actively sexual gay relationship? I’ll be surprised if even the Stake President avoids the ax on this one. I can hear the engines on the helicopters at church headquarters spinning up as I type.

  67. “Will you identify the person with whom you spoke and the department in which they work?”

    That sounds like a great idea. If you have brain damage.

  68. MCQ: Why should this be shrouded in such secrecy?

  69. “Were I a member of the Bay Ward in San Francisco, and had I known of Mitch’s writings, particularly the overt politicization of his Church calling, I would have been hard pressed to have raised my hand in sustaining support. Not because he was unworthy (not my call), or even that he was gay–but because of what he had written, and how it was presented to the world at large.”

    So his worthiness is not your call but his politics are? That’s not consistent with my understanding of the parameters of our sustaining of church leaders.

  70. Guy:
    “Why should this be shrouded in such secrecy?”

    It shouldn’t. Unless BCC wants to use that contact ever again. (HINT)

  71. observer fka eric s says:

    Guy – I’m sure the info above will soon be corroborated somehow by other sources who are right now, I imagine, discussing how best to respond to all of this for the good of all those involved (and rightly so). This is just chapter 1. If Scott were to disclose that stuff, there may be a breach of trust and we would learn less going forward on future rows. Indeed, at the risk of losing trust, I’m pretty amazed that he disclosed his source so candidly (hat tip). The dood abides. Let it ride.

  72. MikeInWeHo says:

    @36 I dunno, Steve. I have met a few gay members here in CA who aren’t celibate, have callings and TRs, and report their bishopric and friends at church are aware of the situation. It’s not inconceivable to me that an unwritten don’t ask/don’t tell policy exists in some areas. Like bbell says, a slow-motion schism. Of course, I would add that none of these guys were advertising their status all over the Internet like Mayne is.

  73. His mingling of politics with his calling is a personal issue with which people will have to come to grips. It’s outside the “worthiness” issue. It doesn’t matter to me that you and I may have different understandings of the parameters of sustaining Church leaders. I speak only for myself, and don’t pretend otherwise. All I’m saying is in this particular circumstance, with this particular individual, and this particular calling–yes, I have a problem,

  74. Bystander says:

    What a little tempest here. Now, if it had been a lesbian being called to be an Executive Secretary (or clerk, or Sunday School president), that would have been worth the fury. or not.

  75. Cynthia L. says:

    Guy, the cached post/talk that you linked to is heartfelt and inspiring. It evidenced years of careful service and attention to others and deep testimony and love of the gospel. If literally the only thing you took away from that sermon is a couple technically incorrect references to being in a “Bishopric” (even though the quibbles are true), then I just feel sorry for you.

    It could be, perhaps, that your shoes are too tight? Or maybe that your heart is two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, your heart or your shoes, … I encourage you to get over it. Scott has made the technical correction. It seems extraordinarily likely that the calling was presented to Brother Mayne by those calling him as a “Bishopric” calling because they wanted to have a somewhat different de facto role than most ESs. It sounds like, from the talk, they envisioned him doing a lot of hands-on reactivation work. In any case, while I am glad for Scott’s gumshoe work on this and setting the record straight (so to speak) on the details, I still think there’s something very wrong–on a human level–with not taking Scott’s information and moving on with a “and good for him” attitude.

  76. Cynthia L. says:

    “His mingling of politics with his calling”

    Guy, in the talk, he describes the intentions of the higher-ups who called him were that they wanted him to do exactly that. Or, put more charitably than “politics,” their purpose in calling him was precisely that he act as a lighthouse to lost souls who have gone inactive and need a beacon they can relate to, in order to draw them back to the fold and feast at the gospel table. Lighthouses don’t work if they’re not as visible as possible.

  77. Why announce it? Why claim the title of Bishopric member?

    I’m not Mitch, but let me make a few suggestions:

    1. Why announce that he was in a Bishopric? Probably because he thought that he was in a Bishopric! As we’ve seen in this thread, it’s a very common belief. Scott notes that “this is one of those things that is often confused.” Multiple commenters note that they were told that the ES is part of the Bishopric. Scott notes that the only outright clarification is found in a book that Mitch isn’t allowed to read. (A seasoned secretary knows otherwise, as Scott notes — but Mitch isn’t a seasoned secretary!) And finally, Mitch’s ward leaders sat approvingly while he announced his Bishopric position.

    He probably thought that he was in a Bishopric.

    (Is there any possible reason to announce it, knowing that he *isn’t* in a Bishopric? Because he *wants* to be publicly embarassed with a high profile misstatement?)

    2. Why use the vague term “Bishopric member” rather than say “Executive Secretary”? Probably because, like everyone else on the planet, Mitch wanted his friends and family to be proud of him. People regularly give their positions the best possible characterization. This is known as life.

    In retrospect, it was not a good idea, given the problems with the underlying factual belief. But if Mitch though that an ES was an official Bishopric member, and he was excited about his calling, and he wanted his friends and family to be proud of his calling — well then, it’s human nature to say, “I’m in the Bishopric.”

    And to reiterate — he announced this from the pulpit in his ward, and no one has reported anyone saying anything to him at the time to suggest that it wasn’t an accurate statement.

    3. Why put up a webpage? Well, let’s see. Mitch has been blogging about LDS / LGBT issues for a year. He’s passionate about trying to reconcile the two communities, since he sees himself as a member of both.

    He’s aware that there have been 5,000 press stories on LDS / LGBT issues in the past two years. He thinks that his calling is an important step towards greater acceptance of LGBT people in the LDS community, and he really wants to tell his gay friends — look, the Mormons don’t hate you.

    I mean, this is what he says directly in his talk:

    San Francisco is perhaps a bit of a microcosm of gay culture and population, and within the ward districts there are a disproportionate amount of single, endowed, individuals who do not attend church. Many of them honorably served missions. Their families are members. Many of these members identify as gay or lesbian, and as such struggle to find their place within our faith.

    One of the charges that I will take on, is to help reach out to these members. In addition to the other duties of my calling, I want to help these brothers and sisters understand that there is a home for them within our flanks, if they so choose.

    Knowing that the press is extremely interested in LDS / LGBT issues, he made it easy for them to find him, so that he could more easily announce to inactive gay kids in San Francisco that it’s okay to go to church. He wanted to be a missionary to the gays. He writes:

    I genuinely can’t think of an activity that has as broad a spectrum of mutual benefits as reactivating members of our faith. For our ward, there is an influx of new energy, spirit, and talent. For us as individuals, we gain new friends and new fellows on our spiritual path, and we have the opportunity to broaden our own spiritual horizons through the testimony of others. For those who return, there is often renewed spiritual growth. I’m hard pressed to think of a downside of reactivation for anyone involved.

    We aren’t the audience for his website, folks. It’s targeted at inactive gay kids. And Mitch’s honesty with his identity is a crucial part of that outreach. A too-perfect webpage (“I once had a few gay thoughts, but I quickly repented”) would be entirely ineffective in the outreach to which he was called.

    Mitch Mayne has spent hours putting together a website specifically intended to bring less-active members back to church. How many of you can say the same?

  78. “Now, if it had been a lesbian being called to be an Executive Secretary (or clerk, or Sunday School president), that would have been worth the fury.”

    Let’s pretend that’s the case and start over.

  79. Actually, I’m wondering now how many out and proud lesbians have been called as RS presidents. I bet that’s almost as rare.

  80. Cynthia L. says:

    Ah, thank you, Kaimi, for the more thorough (and less grammatically awkward) version of what I was trying to say. :)

  81. Steve Evans says:

    Kaimi, your explanations and justifications are nice and all, but I’m sure they aren’t nearly as interesting or as accurate as Mitch’s own would be.

  82. “Mitch Mayne has spent hours putting together a website specifically intended to bring less-active members back to church. How many of you can say the same?”

    Love it. How do you like him now Guy?

  83. “I’m sure they aren’t nearly as interesting or as accurate as Mitch’s own would be.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure Steve. Kaimi’s pretty good, and Mitch did actually say “there is a home for them within our flanks.”

    Outreach indeed.

  84. Can we get back to talking about lesbians now?

  85. It’s striking the degree to which Mitch’s statement that people here seem to find most objectionable is also the ideal outreach statement, anticipating and responding to what has to be a top concern among inactive gay church members.

    Concern: I’m interested in the idea of coming back to church, but I’m not sure that I’m ready right now to make a binding promise never to be gay again.

    Response: That’s okay. Take it one day at a time. Come back to church.

    Perfect.

    Seriously, everything about the webpage is designed to be non-threatening outreach to the tentative gay church member who is, to borrow a phrase, Mormon-curious. And it’s a fantastic project. I just hope that the Mormon Busybody League hasn’t derailed it over the past two days with friendly fire. And I hope we can all step back and let him be a missionary already.

  86. Mommie Dearest says:

    “His mingling of politics with his calling…”

    I don’t see much difference between this individual example and the conservative curmudgeons who occasionally serve in nearly every calling that exists in a ward. When I see a fellow member mixing it up politically at church, or on their web page, particularly if I don’t agree with their politics, my usual m.o. is to cut them all the slack they require of me and get on with achieving unity with them over whatever gospel-based beliefs we DO agree upon.

  87. KerBearRN says:

    Thank you Kaimi. I came to the same conclusions. For years we’ve been telling our LGBT brothers and sisters that they are “wrong”. I believe the time has come for us to find a place for them. Wouldn’t it be better for them to feel safe and loved with us than safe and loved in a different faith? If church REALLY is a hospital for sinners, I think we need to be less picky about which sinners are allowed. I grieve for the loss of so many of our brothers and sisters because we haven’t found a place for them. We need them, we are missing out on so much; and they need us, as brothers and sisters in the gospel who can respond to their spiritual needs. Let the Lord decide how it all turns out in the end.

  88. Ah, thank you, Kaimi, for the more thorough (and less grammatically awkward) version of what I was trying to say. :)

    Actually I was thinking, Cynthia makes me look like an amateur. She can say in a paragraph what takes me a page. :)

  89. Amen, KerBearRN. And thanks for the support as well, MCQ.

  90. I still think there’s something very wrong–on a human level–with not taking Scott’s information and moving on with a “and good for him” attitude.

    Exactly right, SB2. As I wrote to conclude the OP:

    That Brother Mayne was not actually called to serve in the Bishopric is no more a commentary on his worthiness than my non-membership in my ward’s Bishopric is a commentary on my worthiness. I would assume that, like me, he was interviewed and found worthy of serving as an executive secretary, and I wish him the best.

  91. I have seen people use the term “bishopric” in the more expansive sense, but that usage is not only almost unheard of among the membership at large, it is pretty clearly contradicted by both scripture and policy. For example:

    The bishopric is the presidency of this priesthood, and holds the keys or authority of the same. (D&C 107:15)

    Do clerks and secretaries hold the rights of presidency, priesthood keys, or priesthood authority? If the bishop and his two counselors are absent, who presides at a meeting? Not the ward clerk, nor the executive secretary. The scriptures further establish that bishops have two counsellors, not three, four, or five.

    And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors, two of the elders, or high priests, such as he shall appoint or has appointed and set apart for that purpose. (D&C 42:31)

    These two counsellors are empowered to accept tithing. According to current policy clerks and secretaries cannot even do that, let alone conduct temple recommend interviews, preside in virtually any meeting, represent the bishopric in a non-technical capacity, and so on.

  92. Kaimi,

    We aren’t the audience for his website, folks. It’s targeted at inactive gay kids.

    I just hope that the Mormon Busybody League hasn’t derailed it over the past two days with friendly fire.

    I agree with both statements entirely, and I hope you’ll forgive me for being a bit cheeky, but I’m a bit confused as to why you’re saying these things to us now, instead of two days ago to yourself before posting about something that a) wasn’t intended for us, and b) would send the Mormon Busybody League into overdrive.[1]

    I wrote this post because there was a lot of speculation about something that was no one’s business, frankly, with the hope of closing the door on the Mormon Busybody League.

    [1] You’ve been around the Bloggernacle block enough times to know what happens when you post something like this…

  93. I was called as a Stake Clerk and my SP knows I’m gay. There are more of us serving than you would imagine. I also know a gay member of a Bishopric (2nd counselor), a number of gay men who have been on the High Council, and a friend of mine knows a counselor in a Stake Presidency who is gay. There are also quite a few full time missionaries who are gay and who are completely “out” to their priesthood leaders. Obviously, being gay has nothing to do with worthiness or suitability to serve. Keeping the commandments, having a testimony, temple covenants (in some cases), and sustaining Priesthood authority are the only requirements.

  94. I am the EQ secretary, and I constantly battle with the president and the bishop saying that I’m a member of the presidency.

    The last time the bishop tried to claim that in a meeting, I said “Look. Do you guys all know who Dieter Uchtdorf is?” Of course they all did. “How about James E. Faust”? Duh. “Well, how many of you know who Brook Hales is?” Not a soul. I told them that Brook Hales was the secretary to the First Presidency for a long time, until just recently. I said “the reason you know the first two is because they were members of the First PRESIDENCY. Nobody ever called Brook Hales a members of the first presidency.” Nobody could argue with that.

  95. Also, I might add that my ward’s previous executive secretary, right here in downtwown SLC, was an openly gay man. This was about 3 or 4 years ago. He’s still one of the most active members of our ward, and he wears his orientation on his sleeve. (I don’t think anybody considered him a member of the bishopric, BTW.)

  96. Just wanted to say I’m one of Kaimi’s verification contacts in Mitch’s (now previous) ward. He has been serving as one of the Sunday School instructors for one of the teen-aged classes (I forget which- I’m in the nursery). It was pretty well-known in the ward that he is gay, as he’s been involved with some of the stakes post-Prop 8 LGBT/Mormon relations nights and spoke at Sunstone West this past year on a panel about being gay and Mormon, so it wasn’t really a “coming out.” Well, it was in a way because I’m sure some people didn’t know, especially new move-ins, but he has been open about being gay. He’s also a great speaker and I think will be a great asset to the Bay ward. We will miss him, though.

  97. I think that maybe this might be news to be discussed if Mitch were *married* to another man. Otherwise, who really cares? If he is abiding by the rules that the church places on gay members (or as they like to say SSA) than he can serve in any calling without it being a big deal. I don’t understand the rush to publicize this as something groundbreaking. It simply *is not* groundbreaking. In fact, I can’t believe we are even talking about it. I can’t believe I am talking about it. Sigh.

  98. Wow. This is sick and appalling, and here’s why.

  99. Bishopric, in this context, is a made-up non-scriptural Mormon word used loosely by many people and only explicitly defined in a secret handbook. It is very important to object when someone’s usage of the term slightly differs from yours. The church doesn’t seem to care much (or they would have defined the word explicitly for lay members) so we should be grateful to those who pick up the slack by policing the matter on the internet.

    Here are some even more important questions that we should not forget to ask:

    1. Is the Beehive class secretary a member of the Beehive class presidency?

    2. Just how much cooler is a first counselor than a second counselor?

    3. Is Heavenly Mother a member of the Godhead?

    4. If Scott B. were to overcome his “I rarely speak unless explicitly asked to speak” shyness in bishopric meetings, would his ward be better off or worse off?

    5. Is misusing the word bishopric a bigger sin than having a gay partner?

    6. Isn’t it weird that in some circumstances you can also be ordained a counselor without being a high priest, and that you can sometimes be ordained a high priest before becoming executive secretary?

    7. Are all executive secretaries as self-loathing and oppressed as Dobby the house elf? If not, how can we make sure they are?

    8. Should “Do you have the vague impression that executive secretaries are part of the bishopric?” be added to the list of temple recommend interview questions? Should an affirmative answer result in excommunication or merely recommend denial?

    9. Can we invent yet another word (“bishophood”, say) that refers to the group of people who have to attend every single bishopric meeting? Has the fact that so many people think executive secretaries are members of the bishopric delayed the invention of such a word?

    10. Why does the executive secretary always end up doing all the time-consuming work? Would it really kill the other bishophood members to help out with those myriad weekly phone calls and emails now and then? Independent question: should executive secretaries who have this thought be required to beat themselves like Dobby the house elf?

  100. Michael,

    You really need to get your facts straight. Homosexuality is not a sin. Nor is it a choice. Homosexual ACTS are a sin. As long as one does not engage in homosexual acts they are as worthy as anyone else to serve in the Church. There is NO limitation or restriction on which callings they may hold. Please reference The General Handbook of Instructions, Book 1, Section 17.3.6 “Homosexual Behavior and Same Gender Attraction”; and the LDS pamphlet “God Loveth His Children”.

    And I would stop judging Mitch and let his local Priesthood leaders take care of the worthiness part. That’s a private matter none of us have a right to jump into.

    [editor's update: michael's comment is in moderation and may not reappear. Suffice it to say it was a link to a longish screed on michael's own blog.]

  101. Michael (#98)

    I was preparing a long and detailed post explaining why your line of thought is absurd, but then I read some of your other blog posts and realized that the world is already creating too much of a carbon footprint around this kind of uneducated drivel.

    Tim (#99)

    Very entertaining list of questions, but not really relevant to this issue. Thanks for the chuckles nonetheless.

  102. #100: You clearly only read what you wanted in that post. I wrote about a man who admitted to homosexual ACTS, and even if he did repent of those acts, his own website carries his words: he won’t commit to celibacy. Thus, his repentance, if it happened at all, is clearly insincere.

    You’re right that his repentance is between he and his priesthood leaders, but he has OPENLY admitted that he’s gay and that he’ll make no commitment to stop.

  103. Consider this:

    If Natalie Portman were to show up on my doorstep in 12 months wearing a french maid outfit, I’d probably sleep with her. Does that admission make me unworthy to hold any callings at the present time?

  104. Michael Crook,

    Your opinions on the sinfulness or non-sinfulness of past homosexual behavior are too nuanced for this uneducated crowd.

    Please go away now. Thanks.

  105. I suppose it’s too much to ask for people to actually sustain and uphold Church doctrine and standards. *shakes head* Is the whole world turning gay and gay-friendly?

  106. @103: No, your sin would at worst be a violation of the Law of Chastity, resolved by disfellowshipment if you went through with it. A completely different thing.

  107. I don’t think it’s different at all. You claim that this man can’t hold a calling because he doesn’t rule out the possibility of committing further sin in the future. I’m also openly saying that I’ll sleep with Natalie Portman when she shows up on my doorstep…clearly a violation of my marriage covenants.

    Why is it that we can pass judgment on his worthiness to hold a calling now but can wait to pass judgment on my worthiness until I actually commit a sin?

  108. Michael Crook says:

    Ahh, because he OPENLY admits to having been in a HOMOSEXUAL relationship. That, combined with his arrogant refusal to abandon the sin, is the problem here.

  109. Tim (99),
    Thanks for you awesome comment.

    Bishopric, in this context, is a made-up non-scriptural Mormon word used loosely by many people and only explicitly defined in a secret handbook.

    0 for 2, buddy. See #91 above, as well as footnote 1.1 to the OP and comment #58. Also, think about it for maybe 4 seconds instead of just 2.

    Re your points 1 & 2–these are excellent, excellent, questions, and I hope you felt the buzz of having landed two zingers in a row that you absolutely deserve to feel right now. Well done, thou good and faithful commenter!

    Re your point 3–you’d have to ask John C. I’m an economist, not a theologian.

    Re your point 4–I prefer quality to quantity. I pick my battles, because I have strong opinions and don’t want to impose my views on everyone in every little thing.

    Re your point 5–who said misusing the word bishopric is a sin? This comment seems to relate to the idea that this post is criticizing Br. Mayne. It’s not–it’s simply clarifying some of the speculation in the T&S comments. I have no beef with Br. Mayne. Do you?

    Re your point 6–The only time that a counselor can not be ordained a high priest is in a singles ward. Even then, virtually all of them are still ordained HPs, but they continue to attend EQ after a release. Not really weird, is it? And being ordained HP before becoming an ES–why would that be weird? Most people who serve as Bishops, HPGLs, or any other HP calling aren’t ever called as ESs. Orthogonality!

    Re point 7–Yes. All of us. Br. Mayne is _totally_ Dobby the House Elf, I’m sure.

    Re point 8–isn’t this one kind of the same as #5? You’re losing originality points now, Tim.

    Re point 9–Good idea. Perhaps “Ward Council” or maybe “PEC” or something like that. It’s funny that some people seem to think that there is a lot of confusion over this–there just isn’t.

    Re point 10–Nice double-up on the Dobby references. Did you use an actual summoning charm to get these insults (accio Harry Potter book!)? NEWAY, are you bad at teh maths or something? Do you really think it takes me more time to make a phone call and ask for someone to meet with the Bishop than it takes for the Bishop to actually meet and counsel with that person?

    Any more riveting questions, Tim?

  110. Michael Crook–

    I’ll repeat myself: Please go away now.

  111. Michael Crook says:

    Well, Scott, I’ll repeat myself, because HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN, and it’s my opinion anyone who condones it in any way should be excommunicated.

  112. Benjamin,
    You too–knock it off. You keep feeding trolls, so you’re becoming one yourself.

  113. I’m still not seeing it, Michael. I admit to having been in and openly heterosexual relationship, and have admitted that I am willing to do so in the future. But right now, I’m living a chaste life. So am I unworthy to serve in a bishopric now?

  114. Michael Crook,
    Seriously–can we just skip to the part where you get ticked at me for editing all of your comments, accuse me (accurately!) of censorship, declare us all to be minions of Satan, and stomp off to your own blog?

    Really, it’d save me a lot of time, and your keyboard a lot of unneccessary pounding.

  115. Ack! Simultaneous postings. Consider me knocked off.

  116. I don’t see an arrogant refusal to abandon sin. I see someone who has sinned before and is perhaps being honest in his fear that he may fall to temptation again. He clearly states he was willing to comply with Church standards to qualify himself for the postion, and obviously his Prieshood leaders felt he was worthy.

    So once again, lets not judge others where we have no business judging. I think there’s a scripture that says something like that, isn’t there?

  117. Michael Crook says:

    Scott, just let it ride, and save us both a lot of fuss, yeah? I’m not angry at all..you, however, seem to be getting hot under the collar.

  118. Michael Crook,
    Feel free to keep posting comments. I’ll keep editing all your links so that they refer to Internet memes. It’s all good!

  119. Works for me. Maybe you’re just repressing some homosexual tendencies, and you’re afraid of the truth. I can think of no other reason for you to have such hatred in your heart.

  120. We’re nearing the Event Horizon, folks! Brother Crook has reached the “I’m gonna accuse someone else of being gay!” stage of troll-dom!

  121. Michael Crook says:

    You’re just repressing some homosexual tendencies, and you’re afraid of the truth. I can think of no other reason for you to have such hatred in your heart.

  122. Michael Crook says:

    Oh, I’m not accusing, I’m pointing out facts. After all, if you were straight, you’d stand in solidarity with me. That you disagree proves you’re either homo, or a sympathizer.

  123. Michael Crook says:

    Oh and Scott? As long as you condone homos, you’re no brother of mine.

  124. It’s getting closer! He’s passing the “Make duplicate comments as quickly as possible!” phase….

  125. Michael Crook says:

    You’re paranoid and hateful so! It’s amusing.

  126. At long last, we’ve reached the final stage of trolldom: Epic Irony!

  127. ZOMG, Scott, did you realize you were chatting with the actual former President of the 2 Unlimited fan club?!!! I’m serious! Check it out: http://www.theutfc.com/

  128. Cynthia,
    Surely you jest. There is simply no WAY that the critically-acclaimed author of “True Mormonism #1: 16 And Pregnant” is ALSO the actual former President of the 2 Unlimited fan club!!!1!

    I simply Do. Not. Believe. You.

  129. It’s really interesting to me how events such as the calling of Bro Mayne to ES can so easily be distorted, even unintentionally. Part of it is just how we use words differently, and part of it is how we tend to emphasize things that match our own particular point of view, but the effect can be confusing, and it’s not just the inaccuracy of calling the ES a member of the bishopric.

    I was listening to Joanna Brooks on Talk of the Nation, and she said “The church is evolving in some way as well, while most Mormons do maintain a view that homosexual activity in itself is sinful, there are also signs towards greater reconciliation, understanding, and growth in the way we handle gay issues as they relate to our LGBT brothers and sisters. An openly gay Mormon man, for example, was just called to a leadership position in a congregation in San Francisco, and for progressives like me, that’s a really wonderful and hopeful sign.” (note, my transcript matches the audio better than the official version).

    There’s nothing inaccurate in what Joanna said, but listeners could easily get the impression that the church’s stand on homosexual sex was equivocal and that it had sanctioned a practicing homosexual lay minister, and those impressions would be incorrect. Joanna clearly has personal agendas (both to help mainstream society accept Mormons and to integrate progressives better into the church), but I doubt she had any intention to misinform. But her choice of words and emphasis might tempt a more conservative member to see the worst in her.

    While I completely disagree that we shouldn’t judge Bro Mayne’s self-presentation style (I absolutely think the flock needs to be wary of wolves in its midst, and I don’t think we need to follow our leaders blindly in this more than anything else), I think we need to be very careful that our judgment truly is righteous judgment and not misunderstanding. With what judgment we judge, so will we be judged.

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