A Tale of Two Infographics

Here is an infographic the church’s Newsroom put out to explain the structure of our local lay leadership. (sorry for lack of embedding, I don’t want to hotlink their image, and mine is a PDF)

Newsroom Infographic: Lay Leadership in the LDS Church (Update: this has been changed from the original version)

While understanding they were working within very tight space and reader attention constraints, I thought it could be made a little more complete. Now, dear reader, please understand that I am an engineer and thus have aesthetic sense only for things others don’t think even have aesthetics, such as java code and mathematical proofs. I am not a graphic designer, and this isn’t about whose is prettier–I concede that contest from the outset.

Alternate version: Lay Leadership in the LDS Church (updated)

But, beauty flaws aside, I think you will find that there are some striking differences between the two graphics. Not only in terms of quantity of additional detail, but the qualitative general sense one gets from the image overall. In particular, the ratios of blue and pink in each.


UPDATE: Here is a new version with some improvements (or changes, anyway) based on reader comments. In particular, it was noted that it is perhaps unfair not to include the YW class presidencies. While maintaining that in many ways they are not at all analogous to the Aaronic priesthood quorum presidencies, I have to admit there is a reasonable case to be made to include them under auxiliaries. So they are added (albeit small, there just wasn’t space). Also, I deleted the one extra guy I had included in the PEC (I just copied and pasted the High Council, which has 12, and PEC only has 11, sorry).

http://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/layleadership21.pdf

And another update (PEC down to 9, WC down to 10 men from 11): http://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/layleadership22.pdf

And another (reader request to make Aaronic priesthood presidencies small to match YW presidencies). I actually disagree with this change. We may often think of the Aaronic priesthood as a bunch of slovenly boys, but the fact is, structurally, they are a pillar of the church organization. They baptize people into the kingdom of heaven! In a recent conference, Elder Cook called Sacrament Meeting “our most sacred meeting,” and Aaronic priesthood administers all the ordinances in it. Nevertheless, here’s the adjustment: http://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/layleadership3.pdf

Here’s one that points out instances where the same person is represented twice (or more, in case of the poor omnipresent Bishop). I think doing so is fair given the leadership structure, but just to appease the critics (and make the design much, much busier and more confusing), I’ve added arrows indicating that so at least the “overcounting” can’t be said to be done sneakily: http://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/layleadership4.pdf

Comments

  1. StillConfused says:

    Did you notice some of the ladies in pants? Oh yes, we pants wearers unite!!

  2. Yeah, I did notice that! But also notice that that is just for the “random ward members” section, and all the leadership ladies have pants. Come to think of it, I should have “fixed” that in my version.

  3. Yep- all the Leadership ladiez have on skirts.

  4. Nicely done, Cynthia!

  5. Nice work, Cynthia! I love how much more complete your version is. And I particularly like that you added a link to the general leadership–an issue the original graphic carefully sidesteps.

  6. May I suggest that the women all be made larger than the men? With size representing of spirituality? Because even though they may be few in leadership positions, I learned last Mothers Day that they are actually very special and much more spiritual than men. So by making the women in your diagram larger, it would even out the pink and blue a bit better.

  7. I don’t think I have ever seen the leadership illustrated like that before. I would always shake my head when someone mentioned the gender ratio. Now I know better.

  8. Fascinating graphic, Cynthia.

    It almost gives the impression that the only context in which women exercise authority over men in the church is when those men are eleven years old or younger.

  9. Yeah, a ward council with three men and three women, never seen that. In the words of my DH, “If the church wants to represent itself as including men and women equally in leadership, maybe they should just really do it.”

  10. NewlyHousewife says:

    The newsroom inforgraphic did a horrible job showing the relation between each group–mainly the stake vs ward dynamic. On the other hand to prove I’m not favoring yours–since the infographic was after all for the lay positions, it was wrong to include general authorities in it. Did find it interesting newsroom stopped at stake. Does this mean area 70s are compensated for their time?

  11. If this were a game of Risk, the red team would be at the “Screw it; I’m making a stand in Australia” phase.

  12. Vinnie, you hit on what I find most fascinating about the original–if unequal leadership is embarrassing enough to warrant a little deemphasis from the PR/graphics department, maybe we should really think about that.

  13. #11 nominated for Best Comment of the Week.

  14. Left Field says:

    I’m not sure the wording is quite right to say that the RS presidency “ministers to women.” They also minister to men in the area of welfare.

  15. Left Field, I originally had that as “Visit Teaches women” to pair with “Home Teaches all families and all individuals,” but went with “ministers” to match the other auxiliaries. I think the VT/HT contrast is stark enough to warrant the wording. There is a clear pattern of women only being “over” women and children throughout the organization.

  16. Just a minor quibble… if you include the Aaronic priesthood presidencies, you really should include the Young Women’s presidencies, as well.

    And on another, unrelated note, the quote from the Handbook about PEC is one of my pet peeves. How regularly should it meet? And what, exactly are “priesthood matters?” In my ward, the single biggest use of time in PEC is the full-time missionaries giving us a report on every. single. one. of their investigators. Which, theoretically, they did during Ward Missionary Correlation meeting, so why do I need to hear all about it right now? Unless it’s so we can have an excuse to have a full hour-length PEC every other week? (At least we cut it down to that…)

  17. Left Field says:

    I guess to me, “minister to” has a different meaning than to “be over.” I think “minister,” particularly in other religious traditions, suggests giving service to. The RS presidency is certainly not limited to giving service to women. Is the intent here primarily to inform, or to make a point?

  18. You could also state that the priests and teachers have a ministry over other families in the ward, as they participate in home teaching, whereas the young women have no role in the ward beyond dressing modestly so the boys in the ward don’t get impure thoughts.

  19. But Cynthia, a female primary president can be “over” a male primary pianist!

    In very limited contexts, as long as the man’s formal calling himself is to minister to children, a woman can be in charge of him, within that limited set of auxiliary functions.

  20. Cynthia, Left Field has a point. I mean, the RS presidency also ministers to men by making and cleaning up after ward suppers, right? Right? ;^*

  21. Mark Brown says:

    RickH, can you think of ways the YW classes serve the entire ward the way AP quorums do, with administration of the sacrament and participation as junior companions in home teaching? I can’t, and that is why I think the AP presidencies belong in the infographic but not the YW class presidencies.

  22. lindberg says:

    Interesting. Your revision does point out what appears to be some intentional over-emphasis on women in leadership positions.

    However, your graphic also appears to be intentionally over-emphasizing men in leadership positions. For example, you added the AP quorum presidencies, but not the YW class presidencies. Also, you double-count men in both the ward council and PEC (but both your version and the original double-count the women in the ward council, so there is some bias there in both directions). Also, you have more men displayed in both the ward council and PEC than actually belong to those councils.

    I think I agree with the point that I think you’re trying to make, but I think you’d make the point more strongly if your version were less biased.

  23. RickH, the PEC’s role is an interesting issue. According to the Handbook’s full paragraph,

    The PEC meets regularly to consider priesthood matters. Generally, the PEC need not consider matters that will be discussed by the ward council. However, it may be beneficial for the PEC to preview some matters that will be on the ward council’s agenda. For convenience, the PEC could meet just before the ward council meeting.

    I’ve heard many sisters complain that often what happens is that the PEC does follow this Handbook advice of discussing the whole WC agenda during PEC, and moreover comes to a bunch of decisions on everything, and the women are effectively shut out because everything is old news and a done deal by the time WC rolls around.

    That said, I know that there are periodic, fitful efforts at asserting more prominence for WC, I assume in large part to address these gender disparities in input. Increased emphasis on WC, and deemphasis (on the increasingly seemingly appendix-like) PEC, was a major theme of the 2010 Worldwide Leadership Training. So, I see some progress there. Still, the WC is 10 men (11 including the High Council rep for the ward who often attends) to 3 women. And moreover the women present at WC have extremely well-defined and extremely limited jurisdictions (RS women, YW, primary children), compared to a plurality of the men involved– EQP and HPGL (who Home Teach everybody) and the Bishopric (5 men)– who encompass the entire ward in their jurisdictions.

  24. lindberg, see Mark Brown’s comment above ^^^^

  25. #22 – There are a few extra men in PEC (Bishop, 2 counselors, Exec Secretary, Clerk, HP Group leader, EQ pres, YM pres, Ward Mission Leader = 9, by my count, but our full-time missionaries bring it up to 11. So not too far off.)

    I see where you’re going with the double counting, but I’m not sure how else you could depict it. Unless you wanted to take an already-complicated chart and start adding venn diagrams (Bishopric + priesthood leadership = PEC, PEC + 3 women = ward council).

    #21 – yeah, I realized that as soon as I hit post. You’re right.

  26. lindberg says:

    #24 Tracy, if Mark’s argument is that the AP quorum presidencies belong in the blue box and the YW class presidencies outside, I might buy it. But I don’t see any merit to the argument that YW class presidencies don’t belong on the graphic at all.

  27. lindberg, can you name the ward council members and show that I’ve overcounted? That ratio is straight out of the handbook.

    Also, maaaaayyybe you have a point about the YW class presidencies–I could have put them over on the auxiliaries side, under the YW presidency and above the YW in a teenytiny slice–but overall I think you’re wrong.

    The fact is that quorum presidencies have a direct line of actual priesthood authority. (notice I didn’t say “YM class presidencies”, since they aren’t. “Class presidencies,” are something even some Sunday School and Seminary classes have) The Bishop is the president of the Priest’s quorum. He’s not the president of the Laurel class. The Priests, Teachers, and Deacons have actual priesthood duties that are outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants. As the graphic says, they have quorum responsibility to perform crucial sacred ordinances in our Sacrament meetings. Priests can baptize. Because they are a bunch of teen boys, we have perhaps culturally devalued them a little bit, and so they might sometimes seem like they are equivalent to the YW class presidencies, but organizationally this is not the case at all. If you pay really close attention to the way the ward officers are read for sustaining in Ward Conference (it is precisely scripted so this is no accident), you will see that priest/teacher/deacon’s quorums are handled as part of the priesthood chain of command, and are handled very differently from YW class presidencies.

  28. I’m not sure what you mean by putting the arrows coming out of the High Council to the wards, but they do not preside over the wards. They do not represent a layer between the Stake Presidency and the Bishoprics. They assist the ward leadership but do not hold any authority over them.

  29. “And moreover the women present at WC have extremely well-defined and extremely limited jurisdictions (RS women, YW, primary children), compared to a plurality of the men involved– EQP and HPGL (who Home Teach everybody) and the Bishopric (5 men)– who encompass the entire ward in their jurisdictions.”

    Jurisdictions are to be mostly irrelevant in Ward Council. For example, the EQP is not there representing the Elders Quorum but rather as a member of a Council involved to help the members of the ward collectively, regardless of whether or not a member or family being discussed is a member of his “jurisdiction”. This is why in my ward, when an auxiliary president is not available to attend Ward Council, they do not send a counselor in their stead as said counselor is not a member of the Ward Council.

  30. @renovationvoyeur, The arrows (if you look reeeeeally closely) emanate from the large blue box to the wards, not from the HC. Agreed sort of confusing, but it’s not easy to draw lines that go from SP and bypass the middle layer and then go to wards.

    OTOH, I think you’re slightly understating the importance of the HC. If they can excommunicate somebody in my ward, I consider them “over” my ward in some meaningful sense. Unlike the stake auxiliary presidencies, who truly have no authority over anything whatsoever. I think of them as like the Queen in England. Some good advice and cheer from time to time, throws great parties, but no actual institutional authority.

  31. This graphic would look entirely different again in places where there aren’t wards/branches and stakes/districts. There is no pink at all in the leadership of that graphic, even though many of the members in those places are women.

  32. @Tim J, if you read the above-linked notes on the 2010 Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast (notes which I wrote), you can see that I very much see that theme emerging as well—of the WC as a body that has a voice over the whole ward, collectively, as a WC. That was a real emphasis in the training broadcast, that the YW leader can feel free to speak out about an issue being discussed regarding something in priesthood, etc–anyone can talk about anything. But I think in practice we’re not quite there yet. And part of the reason we’re not there is that it’s just really, really, really unnatural to feel like the 3 women present who have really defined/limited jurisdictions do speak with the same general applicability. They simply don’t have it in their “day jobs” so it’s hard to bring it at the council. That’s just sort of an unfortunate logistical fact that isn’t going to go away just because of some trainings.

  33. “I think you’re slightly understating the importance of the HC. If they can excommunicate somebody in my ward, I consider them “over” my ward in some meaningful sense.”

    They hold zero authority with regards to excommunication per Handbook 1:

    “After the stake president reaches a decision and his counselors sustain it, he announces it to the high council and asks them as a group to sustain it. The high council cannot veto the decision; it is binding even if it is not sustained unanimously.”

  34. The infographics make it seem like the relationships are only “minister unto” relationships. You could also add arrows that represent the members’ responsibility to the bishopric and stake presidency. For example, those arrows could include the phrase “access to the temple is only available to those who promise to support the local authorities in their decisions.” This would help non-members understand one important way in which our lay ministry is different from other lay ministries.

  35. To all those who brought their nit-picking A-game: I’d like to see you bring that level of detail analysis intensity to the original. Or maybe just honestly answer this question: which one of the two is more (not perfectly! but more) accurate/complete?

  36. TimJ, you know as well as I that they have a role in disciplinary councils, which is what I was referring to. Of course they can’t go rogue, that goes without saying. Are you arguing that the stake Primary president is just as relevant to excommunications as the high council? Please. Try to treat me as reasonable instead of like you’re going on some technicality-error Easter egg hunt ferpetesake.

  37. @ Cynthia #32, I tend to agree with your comment though I would say it greatly depends on the sisters involved. I have a RS President and Primary President who are more than happy to offer their opinions across the board while my YW President is much more muted. I do agree that the nature of their callings and limited scope of those callings can make participation difficult. I would argue though that this is the case for the SS Pres or WML who are in very narrowly-defined roles.

  38. lindberg says:

    #27 – PEC is bishopric, clerk, exec sec, HPGL, EQP, and WML (9 men). You have 12 on your graphic. Ward Council is the above nine plus the SS pres (10 men) plus RS, YM, and Primary presidents (3 women). You have 11 men, three women. (See the first paragraphs of Handbook 2, sections 4.3 and 4.4.)

    And yes, the AP have responsibilities that the YW don’t, and more general responsibilities. But for all practical purposes, the functions of the AP quorum presidencies are equivalent to the functions of the YM class presidencies. (Except that the YM do a better job of it, in general.)

    And if you want to argue that sustaining in ward conference is an important factor, note that the HP group leadership and EQ quorum presidency aren’t sustained in sacrament meeting either.

    Anyway, I think we’re kind of splitting hairs at this point. The only point I want to make is, I think your graphic would be stronger if it had the correct numbers in the ward council and PEC boxes, and if it included the YW presidencies. I think it would still adequately demonstrate your point, and would be more accurate. I think the point you want to make is strong enough to stand on its own, and you only weaken the argument by intentionally skewing your graphic in the opposite direction.

  39. #36, certainly they have a role but it’s limited to asking questions and offering input. As a young missionary I was asked by my Mission President to participate in a Disciplinary Council once. My participation gave me no such authority over the branch where the council was taking place.

  40. Vinnie (#9): “If the church wants to represent itself as including men and women equally in leadership, maybe they should just really do it.”

    Exactly! This is what confuses me about things like this. If the church is confident that the current set-up with its gender imbalance is divinely approved, why not accurately portray it?

  41. lindberg says:

    #38 Two corrections: I meant to say the *YW* do a better job, in general. And in my last sentence I implied that Cynthia intentionally skewed her graphic; I suspect some of the skew could be simple cut-and-paste. My apologies if I went too far with that sentence.

  42. “Try to treat me as reasonable instead of like you’re going on some technicality-error Easter egg hunt ferpetesake.”

    And here I thought this whole post was about pointing out technicalities.

  43. #27 – PEC is bishopric, clerk, exec sec, HPGL, EQP, and WML (9 men). You have 12 on your graphic. Ward Council is the above nine plus the SS pres (10 men) plus RS, YM, and Primary presidents (3 women). You have 11 men, three women. (See the first paragraphs of Handbook 2, sections 4.3 and 4.4.)

    Actually, there are 11 men in my graphic, not 12. Also, you forgot to count the YM President. Bringing the total to 11 men and three women, which is what I have. [clears throat in self-satisfied manner]

  44. @TimJ, Well, yes, but doing so by giving *more* nuance, not removing nuance and asserting things like High Council has “zero” to do with excommunications.

  45. I said “zero authority” (which is true) and not “zero to do” wrt excommunications. I would maintain there’s a difference per my #39.

  46. Mark Brown says:

    Also, the Young Men’s president attends PEC. And the stake HC rep is often also in attendance.

  47. Mark Brown says:

    Given that the somebody from the high council speaks in the ward at least once a month, whereas we typically hear from the stake female auxiliary leaders once a year at ward conference, I think it is accurate to say that the HC has a lot more influence in the ward.

  48. #37 –

    I have a RS President and Primary President who are more than happy to offer their opinions across the board while my YW President is much more muted. I do agree that the nature of their callings and limited scope of those callings can make participation difficult. I would argue though that this is the case for the SS Pres or WML who are in very narrowly-defined roles.

    But the difference is that the SS Pres and WML are held by men, who *do* have the potential opportunity to serve in callings which are less limited in scope. The only members of the Council who will ever serve in callings with a wider scope are male.

  49. Happy Birthday, lindberg! All your graphic design dreams have now come true!
    http://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/layleadership21.pdf (UPDATE: fixed link)

    There really was no room for the YW class presidencies without a total re-do (sorry, turns out I do need sleep) so to show that one might want to consider them larger, I made a little arrow connecting the quorum presidencies with the YW class presidencies saying “Analogous?” to encourage the reader to ponder that question. I also deleted the extra dude from PEC (copy/paste of pairs, oops). You’re welcome!

  50. #47 – Mark, I think it is highly inaccurate to say that the HC has more influence in the ward than the female auziliary leaders. I have no quibble with the post or the point Cynthia is making, but “influence” in the ward? The ward leaders all have more than the HC, certainly with respect to practical matters relative to most ward members – with exceptions due to personality, not calling, imo.

    Just as an example, my wife had far more influence in our ward when she was the YW President than I did when I was on the High Council. She had real authority, while all I had was a fluctuating ability to influence through counsel.

    Having said that, if you mean, influence over decision making by an inexperienced Bishop, I don’t disagree – generally speaking. If you mean influence over the most members in the most ways with the most effect . . . that’s the female leaders – and I don’t think it’s very close.

  51. Mommie Dearest says:

    #9: “If the church wants to represent itself as including men and women equally in leadership, maybe they should just really do it.” It’s not like they would have a hard time finding women who are good at toeing the party line.

    I found the first graphic to be quite confusing in the way they rearranged what we all recognize to be the priesthood line of authority in ward and stake leadership. Just so there would be more pink above that line. And the ward layout mixes the served in with the servers, presumably to achieve the same goal. If they feel the need to obfuscate this point, why not change to move in that direction?

  52. #48 – Lorian, I think the YW Class Presidencies have more “scope” in their callings, in practice, than the SS President. The SS Pres. can influence more people, in theory, but I don’t know if I’ve seen it work that way in all my years in the Church.

  53. Ray, I agree that a ward YW president has more on-the-ground action going than a HC rep. But Mark was talking about a *stake* YW president. I’m not sure if you meant ward or stake, but I’d argue that stake auxiliary presidents are fairly close to not mattering at all.

  54. Sharee Hughes says:

    My understanding is that the SS President is not a priesthood calling (unless that has changed). I have been in wards where the SS President was a woman. So the graphics maybe should include women in that calling.

  55. Sharee, I know there is some debate on the SS president’s maleness. But I’ve heard enough stories of bishops trying to call a woman to that calling and being shot down for not following The Way It’s Done, that I’m pretty comfortable leaving that blue for now. It can turn into some half-blue/half-pink at a future date when there are more than a tiny number of scattered reports of women in that calling.

  56. Ray, I think you missed my point. ;)

  57. #53 – Yeah, Cynthia, I missed that completely. Sorry, Mark. We agree.

  58. #56 – Lorian, it’s late. I’m really tired. That’s two in a row that I misread – and neither of them was difficult to understand as written.

    I’m headed to bed, where I should be.

  59. #43 Let me try one more time. PEC = bishopric, clerk, exec sec, HPGL, EQP, WML, YM Pres => 9 men.

    Ward council adds SS pres (+1 man), RS, YW, and Primary presidents (3 women) => 10 men, 3 women.

    I had my numbers right, my lists wrong. Looks like I have a problem with enumeration, you with arithmetic. :)

  60. #54, 55. From the current handbook, section 12.2.2: “Members of the ward Sunday School presidency are priesthood holders.” I don’t see any reason the calling as such requires it, but the handbook says so.

  61. Ray – Pat, pat and a big hug. G’night.

  62. Dangit are you telling me I have to edit it *again*. Sigh.

  63. Hm, well lindberg, I’ll give you this—taking the PEC down to 9 does improve the layout by making room for the text description of what they do, therefore allowing the Bishopric more visual prominence that they deserve. [/grudging acknowledgment of your input's value]

    http://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/layleadership22.pdf

  64. Better and better, Cynthia. Or do I mean worse and worse?

  65. All theory aside, in practice no one in the Aaronic Priesthood has anywhere near the influence indicated on that diagram. They do not preside over anyone except themselves.

  66. I agree, Mark D, once you’ve set aside theory. I guess I just have a hard time setting aside the theory that the Aaronic Priesthood (for a while the ONLY priesthood in the church/running the church!) matters or has any meaning.

  67. ….but as long as I’m handing out birthday presents, here’s a new chart for you, Mark D. I made the Aaronic Priesthood the same size as the YW presidencies, though they are still in the blue rectangle of Priesthood line of authority.

    http://bycommonconsent.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/layleadership3.pdf

  68. But Aaronic Priesthood holders can perform important ordinances. It’s not insignificant that a 16-year-old boy can bless and pass the sacrament and baptize. While he might not baptize very many people, he probably provides the sacrament for many, many people. Of course, he doesn’t have any say in who gets baptized or can take the sacrament.

  69. The newsroom infographic is easier to look at, but I agree it doesn’t do anything to spell out the relationships between, or relative influence of the various groups. It is a difficult balance between clear presentation introducing the basic blocks (so that non-members know what we’re talking about), which I think is the purpose of the of the infographic, and going into the nitty gritty detail about how it holds together. Being Engineering/Science educated myself, I can see where you’re coming from Cynthia, but I think your diagram is more one for the handbook (even if we get a graphic designer to work on it). I have a graphic-design trained brother, and would say the infographics are all about presenting the very basic elements in a fun way.
    Having said that, I do agree that it does appear to be skewed to give an impression in favour of balance between the sexes, and I do think PEC should have been included. Putting a PEC box inside the Ward Council box really would not have been too arduous. Let’s hear it for Venn diagrams! (I know someone mentioned them, apologies, but I can’t find your post now.)

  70. I was in a ward one time where there was a male Primary President. Is there a handbook definition that Primary President is female? It isn’t as if there was a shortage of females and this dude was just Shakespeare’d in or anything either.

    Having been a YW Class President twice, and being a counselor in said presidencies twice as well I admit I do take umbrage to the thought of YW Class Presidencies not being “as” important. While we lacked Priesthood Authority, I guarantee that we worked harder than the Young Men every day, and 5 times on Sunday.

  71. Ah, the good ol’ Leninist “Who? Whom?”

  72. The priesthood specification on the SS Pres is a relatively recent change.

  73. I was in a ward one time where there was a male Primary President. Is there a handbook definition that Primary President is female?

    No. All of the callings that women traditionally hold (RS President, YW President, Primary President) can technically be held by men.

    Having been a YW Class President twice, and being a counselor in said presidencies twice as well I admit I do take umbrage to the thought of YW Class Presidencies not being “as” important. While we lacked Priesthood Authority, I guarantee that we worked harder than the Young Men every day, and 5 times on Sunday.

    What exactly do YW class presidents and their counselors do? I attended the LDS church quite a bit during my junior and senior years of high school, and I don’t even remember who the YW class presidents were. Was not told at the time that there was any such thing.

  74. “All of the callings that women traditionally hold (RS President, YW President, Primary President) can technically be held by men.”

    I suppose that depends on how literal you take the handbook:

    “The bishop calls and sets apart a sister to serve as Relief Society president.” (9.2.1)
    “The bishop calls and sets apart a sister to serve as Young Women president.” (10.3.1)
    “The bishop calls and sets apart a sister to serve as Primary president.” (11.2.1)

  75. Which brings up another point. All of the female leaders are chosen by men (with some suggestions from women being considered in some cases). None of the male leaders are chosen by women. And no, sustaining in sacrament meeting is not the same as actually determining and issuing callings.

  76. John Taber says:

    When is the Church going to get away from the idea that a stake is like a diocese? An area would be a better fit number-wise.

  77. John Taber says:

    IIRC, it was the 1980s that the Brethren decreed that Sunday School presidencies were to be all-male, and Primary presidencies all-female. Was it declared recently that Sunday School presidencies had to be all-Melchizedek Priesthood?

  78. “Was it declared recently that Sunday School presidencies had to be all-Melchizedek Priesthood?”

    Don’t want to be known as the “Handbook Guy”, but 12.2.2:

    “Members of the ward Sunday School presidency are priesthood holders. Where possible, the president holds the Melchizedek Priesthood.”

    I think the “where possible” is interesting.

  79. This is an interesting challenge. Ultimately, I’m not sure the additional detail in your version doesn’t add up to additional confusion for a non-LDS viewer. I did note in the Newsroom version one omission that does fit the idea that there was an effort to overemphasize female roles: the omission of the stake Sunday School presidency, which you appropriately correct. I am interested that the Newsroom version (like yours) labels the ward YM presidency as an “auxiliary” presidency. It seems to me that is wrong; the members of that presidency are really just advisers/assistants to the bishopric in the priesthood (not auxiliary) line.

    I am glad to hear from the comments that there are YW class presidencies that perform well – better than the AP quorum presidencies. That has been the exception rather than the rule in my experience, both as a leader and as a parent. The YW presidencies seldom met, and when they did so it was to fulfill fairly specific assignments given by someone else, not to themselves identify needs and plan and implement efforts to meet those needs.

  80. So, Handbook Guy, do you think it is safe to assume they are thinking a grown man who is an Aaronic Priesthood holder would be president, but never a teen boy? Or is that really saying that in a small branch, a 14 year old could preside over the gospel instruction of grown women (who even if willing and able, cannot, no matter how small the branch and dire the circumstances, themselves serve?).

  81. Benjamin says:

    #79, JrL “I am glad to hear from the comments that there are YW class presidencies that perform well – better than the AP quorum presidencies. That has been the exception rather than the rule in my experience, both as a leader and as a parent.”

    My theory is that this probably correlates with the level of training expected of the leaders in the respective youth programs. Assuming a ward has an active scouting program, you have leaders that are being taught about the importance of Patrol Leaders’ Council meetings, and youth-led leadership. I’ve never seen any sort of training like that for young women leaders. In general, I think the Church is inexcusably bad at training adults to work with youth. I’d put that at the top of the list of problems with our youth programs.

  82. Cynthia, HG–Re: sunday school presidents. Surely that is simply a nod to this as a sometimes starter calling for newish members. Many smaller units place new male members of the unit, who start off with the Aaronic priesthood, in that presidency to help them learn the ropes before they graduate to an auxiliary presidency that, you know, does stuff.

    I have never seen a non-adult in a SS presidency, but I have seen units that only had a SS president or just one counselor. I have also been in a SS presidency (I am female) which is totally baffling, because it was at BYU, where there is NOT a lack of men. But hey, they’re lucky they had me because I am the only one who did anything and made sure everyone’s attendance was duly recorded so they could all get their Ecclesiatical Endorsements.

    I find this conversation really fascinating. I think we all feel that we know the ins and outs of an LDS ward really well, and yet we cannot agree on some really simple mechanics here. Also, who really wants to know this much about the ins and outs of a congregation in which they do not participate?

    Plus–all the people in the graphics appear to be fit and stylish–this can’t be an American ward!

  83. Cynthia (#80),
    I think it means that in a small branch, an adult male who has the Aaronic Priesthood but is not qualified for the Melchizedek Priesthood (Word of Wisdom or tithing problem) could serve as Sunday School President. I have never heard of asking a young man to serve in that calling. Even if it is technically, by the Handbook, possible for a teenage boy to be Sunday School President, it is much more likely that a Branch President would ask an adult priesthood holder to take on that calling in addition to those he already has. It is also acceptable for small units to not have a Sunday School President at all.

  84. What ESO and Grant said.

  85. Ms. Jack (73) we did quite a lot of things. Whenever it was our turn to conduct the meeting we had to plan it accordingly, in addition if we were planning mutual we had to plan the activity, plan the refreshments, the opening prayer, the closing prayer. Also, in our ward after all the YW met together we split up into our classes and we had to conduct that meeting as well. We had to plan fundraisers for Girls Camp, navigate the logistics, etc etc… The YM just stood around and/or played basketball all the time. Unless the YW wanted to play volleyball (God forbid WE ever played basketball) then we had to plan the activity. Oh yes, and we also had BYC (Bishops Youth Council) 2 Sundays a month in order to be told to plan and implement more activities. All BYC ever did for me was get the song PYT stuck in my head for a full week.

  86. This has been fascinating to read and look over the graphics. Honestly, I think both graphics are misleading. But it’s because both have an agenda. And I don’t mean that in a negative sense for *either* graphic. The LDS graphic is (IMHO) designed to provide some context for discussion of lay leadership that will come up thanks to the Romney campaign. The second is designed to highlight an imbalance.

    Hence the LDS version ignores the youth leadership roles (YM quorum presidencies/YW class presidencies). The LDS version minimizes the double-counting. I can only see one instance of it (the six auxiliaries presidents also serving on Ward Council and showing up twice on the graphic). There is also one instance of ‘half’-counting… calling the Elders Quorum & High Priest Group Leadership just the Lay Priesthood Presidency. But it is an effective and quick tutorial on who does what and what some of the LDS lingo refers to. Which means it is fulfilling it’s original purpose.

    The second version maximizes the double-counting. To be fair, it does so for both women and men when it can. It even goes so far as to triple-count (i.e. The Bishop shows up three times as do a couple of other men.) But it does add in the other men who do serve on the PEC who did not show up on the LDS graphic (Bishopric secretary, clerk, etc.). And it does a much better job of showing the authoritarian roles they various leadership groups play. Something I don’t believe the LDS graphic ever set out to display. It does highlight the gender imbalance both in terms of numbers and authority. Which means it is fulfilling it’s original purpose.

  87. @JrL ” I did note in the Newsroom version one omission that does fit the idea that there was an effort to overemphasize female roles: the omission of the stake Sunday School presidency, which you appropriately correct.”

    It’s a lot more than one omission. (1) omitted stake SSP, (2) incorrect representation of the WC–showing 3 men and 3 women, when it’s 10 and 3, (3) creating an entirely new label that we never use in church–“lay priesthood presidency” (note singular “presidency”) to make it seem like RS Presidency and EQ/HPG Presidencies/Leaders are equal. That’s just the outright inaccuracies, and doesn’t include little design things like making the HC bodies really small to deemphasize them, making the text boxes blue so all the blue kind of fades into the background and the women are over-emphasized, etc.

  88. in our ward, the rs pres is regulary invited to attend pec (when held…after all the training about ward councils, our state/wards have tended to meld the 2 meeings into one and only hold pec sporadically)

  89. Lon, why do you not consider the Aaronic Priesthood to be part of the lay priesthood in our religion?!

  90. Cynthia,
    Consider this a patriarchal pat on the head.

  91. Mark Brown says:

    RJH,

    So, so true. Aren’t these LDS women wonderful!

  92. I just re-read my comment to make sure, but I never said I don’t consider the Aaronic Priesthood to not be part of the lay priesthood. Though that does bring to something I just realized, the second graphic actually includes one instance of ‘quadruple’-counting. The Bishop actually shows up on that graphic FOUR times (as Bishop, in the PEC, in the WC, and as president of the Priest Qourum.)

    To get back to the point, I don’t think the LDS graphic showed the Aaronic Priesthood because it was trying to show who leads a ward quickly and efficiently. And a non-adult holder of the Aaronic Priesthood doesn’t lead the ward (i.e. make decisions that affect the ward) in any meaningful way. Do they pass the sacrament? Yes, under the direction of the Bishop. The Bishop makes the decision of who does and does not get the sacrament. Do they collect fast offerings? Yes, again under the direction of the Bishop. Same with all responsibilities of the Aaronic Priesthood. They aren’t there for the same reason HT aren’t there. Or primary teachers.

  93. I do believe that the audience intended for these charts would be either people who are not LDS members or perhaps new members. In light of this it might be useful to compare these organizational charts to oranizational charts of other common denominations. Other churches are extremely heterogenous but in an attempt to over-simplify: A small church has a pastor/minister who does everything. A slightly larger church that can afford two or three leaders generally has a music minister and/or a youth minister. As the churches I’m comparing grow in size a women and children minister might be added, activities, sunday school , evangelism (missionary work), etc. A difference between the professional/ paid church workers (including secretaries) and volunteer or lay workers emerges. A few paid people take charge or do the repetitious boring tasks and the people of the lay ministery do most of the work in the trenches. Different names may describe similar functions.

    What is glaringly absent from the LDS chart is what interests me: things like music and activities. Another difference has to do with money. A church community the size of a LDS ward taking in 1 or 2 million dollars in tithing annually might be expected to have enough financial transactions to justify a less transparent CFO position. Another marked difference is the apparent absence or low priority of community outreach programs. Some LDS wards take pretty good care of themselves. But most falter in comparison to making an attempt at the community level of taking some care of those outside of their faith.

    In summation our organizational chart looks streamline, very corporate, inwardly focused, too small and somewhat stark. Not much there to attract a person looking for the social/community/ country club aspects of a church. Perhaps I am just too thick between the ears, but most of the issues raised by this blog seem trivial in comparison. Knats and camels.

    You can select a church near you for comparison but here are three within walking distance of my ward. (Don’t fool yourselves, we are directly competing with them and in this particular instance they are kicking our assses).

    http://dunwoodyumc.org/

    http://www.dbc.org/

    http://www.slpres.org/

  94. it's a series of tubes says:

    And part of the reason we’re not there is that it’s just really, really, really unnatural to feel like the 3 women present who have really defined/limited jurisdictions do speak with the same general applicability.

    Cynthia, I realize that anecdotes are worth little, but my assessment of the ward council in my metro Phoenix area ward is nearly the opposite of this. Perhaps it’s because we have strong women in all three roles; perhaps it’s because the bishop and RS president live next door to each other and work exceptionally well together; perhaps it’s because the contributions and needs of women are emphasized heavily (for example, YW gets nearly 40% of the ward budget).

    Don’t get me wrong – we have more than our fair share of dysfunctionality. But the gender issues you note are minimal for us. Does that make us unnatural? I’m not sure I’m convinced. I certainly don’t think we’re exceptional.

  95. Ugh, re-read my last comment and the first sentence of the second paragraph is unclear. Perhaps a better wording would read…

    “To get back to the point, I don’t think the LDS graphic showed the Aaronic Priesthood because it was trying to quickly and efficiently show who leads a ward.”

  96. I totally get that mine likely shows more detail than makes sense for a quick (non-member) media explainer. And simplification inevitably means introducing errors or being slightly misleading. I get that. I just find it curious that so many of the simplications and graphic design choices just happened to go the direction of deemphasizing male leadership and overemphasizing female leadership (and not a single one I see that goes in the opposite direction).

  97. iasat–anecdotally, I’m sure it’s possible that women exert disproportionate influence in some Ward Councils. The point of this exercise, however, is to analyze the structural realities of the situation, which unquestionably constrain women’s influence by making their participation dependent on the personalities of the individuals involved.

  98. it's a series of tubes says:

    Kristine – a fair point, and one I don’t dispute.

  99. Cynthia and Kristine (#96 and 97) – This is exactly my take on this org chart. I believe its specific intent and purpose to be to deemphasize the heavily male-dominated leadership in the church. By focusing on only lay leadership, it already skews the numbers drastically. Then it further misleads by fudging the balance of male-to-female members on the Ward Council. And finally, as Cynthia pointed out, the layout de-emphasizes the number of male leaders by making some all-male groups like the High Council smaller, and by placing *every* all-male group on the same line with a large blue text-box, so that all-male leader groups can readily be overlooked in favor of more visually interesting male-female, pink-blue combos.

    In fact, if one is just scanning the chart casually, one is most likely to focus on the level of the chart which shows three all-women leadership “bundles” vs. one all-male leadership “bundle” (Primary, YW, RS vs. YM), or on the “balanced”-appearing group at the bottom with it’s “Lay Priesthood Presidency/Relief Society Presidency” implied equality, and the very equitable-looking alternating groups of YM/YW/SS/Primary leadership below them. These are really the only things that “jump out” from the chart without a deeper scan, and they make the entire leadership org chart appear to lean heavily on the women for leadership.

    No, really, the whole thing smells of whitewash and obfuscation to me.

  100. And for anyone who honestly believes that this org chart is about *anything* besides downplaying gender disparity in leadership, I ask you why the entire chart was done in pink and blue?

  101. I assumed it was because men were made of blue clay and women were made of shut up and get back in the kitchen. Is that not right?

  102. I second the nomination for 11 for BCCCOTW, but REALLY need to add a nomination for 101. Yowza!

  103. EOR, I believe that is correct. Or because men are made in the image of God and God is blue. No, wait, that’s Lord Krishna.

  104. > No, wait, that’s Lord Krishna.

    Or Tobias.

  105. Tobias FTW!

  106. Ha! :)

  107. Note that even the photograph at the top of the LDS Newsroom article is a wildly skewed picture of a ward council, with four men and three women in the picture, rather than the eleven men and three women that should actually be in attendance. This caption states “The lay leaders of a Latter-day Saint ward gather to discuss the welfare of the members of their congregation,” but it is clearly not representative of actual ward councils. It appears that one of the main purposes of the entire article–photo, graphic, and all–is to give a false impression of near gender-parity in the leadership of LDS congregations.

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-lay-ministry

  108. Just wanted to say I appreciate the post.

    And I ditto the following comment:

    “If the church wants to represent itself as including men and women equally in leadership, maybe they should just really do it.”

  109. I noticed that too, Grant. And look at their positioning–a woman is seated almost behind the desk, which conveys a sense of territory and authority. Fascinating semiotics study.

  110. Good post to spur a lot of thinking. No doubt your many revisions get closer to the reality, but even that varies from ward to ward. One size does not fit all.

    In our ward, with a somewhat meeting-averse bishop over the last five years, PEC is attended by the RS president in addition to the MP leadership of the ward, and is held once a month for 15 minutes before Ward Council. Our ward council also includes from time to time, the ward employment specialist, the emergency preparedness folks, and in the absence of a ward activities committee, we have two ad hoc ward activity specialists, who attend every time.

    I also found the dicussion about the HC interesting. High council members have no authority or keys, except as delegated for specific purposes by the Stape Presidency.. However, their role leads to great influence in a ward. When I served on the high council, I was assigned to one ward for three years, and met regularly to give advice and counsel to the MP quorums, went to all the PEC and Ward Council meetings, and most bishopric meetings held on Sunday mornings.

    The “portfolio” factor is also important. In addition to the ward I was assigned to, I also supervised the ward financial audits, including instructing the ward clerks on specific practices and policies on a regular basis. That kind of influence impacted wards that had “extra-handbook” budgets through donations and fundraisers for their YM and YW programs. I had a part in limiting weekly boating and wake boarding activities to once or twice a summer instead of once or twice a month, for example. I also sat in on the bishop’s welfare council that met once a month, including all the bishops in the stake. I scheduled DI assignments, and had a role in larger stake wide welfare activities, and attended regional welfare committiee meetings with the Stake President on a quarterly basis.

    Try to capture all of that on your chart.s But in none of those cases, as with participation in a disciplinary council, did I ever have any autonomy to act on my own, make policy decisions, or exercise any idependent leadership.

    Think of it as a Stake Presidency VR avatar, perhaps. Only a simulated and temporary projection of the keys and authority of the Stake President, with no real permanence.

  111. it's a series of tubes says:

    I had a part in limiting weekly boating and wake boarding activities to once or twice a summer instead of once or twice a month, for example.

    Can you clarify as to why you present this as a positive? Not trying to play devil’s advocate, but curious as to why reduced sociality among members, particularly youth, is desirable. Is it wrong to utilize resources available to the ward?

  112. Sorry, tubes, but this is the referee stepping in saying:

    That discussion would be WAY off-topic.

  113. it's a series of tubes says:

    My apologies – I’ll take my yellow card and head to the bench.

  114. Cynthia– I am really grateful for this post. I think your point is spot on.

    I’m also really disappointed that so much “nit-picking” happened on your graphic rather than using your graphic as a platform from which see how the Newroom was perhaps over-simplifying through gender-neutralizing (not only through conveniently leaving out certain male roles, hierarchies of leadership, and even in the graphic design itself).

    It has a similar ring to the comments that followed this post at Patheos about PR spin: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peculiarpeople/2012/04/the-pr-inconvenience-of-mormon-terminology/

    The tone was sort of something like, “Instead of acknowledging the fact of institutional inequality and the obvious ‘edits’ the Newsroom seems to be making to appear more egalitarian than it really is, I’m going to spend a few paragraphs detailing the tiny, tiny details you’re missing. And also, I think that the church is super equal because it feels special to me.”

  115. “And also, my wife would agree with me.”

  116. #115: Ha! Thanks for the support, Pinto. This thread is certainly interesting from some kind of psychological/ethnographic study point of view.

  117. Wow, that thread! Good thing I didn’t see that before conceiving of this post, or I might have been scared off the notion.

  118. I’ve now been wondering if the infographic heralds the demise of PEC…
    A good thing IMO. Comments here about at one extreme decisions being made by PEC being presented to the ward council to implement rather than discuss, effectively sidelining women from the decision-making process and at the other of the RS President always attending PEC (why not the YW President?), are interesting.
    My limited experience of ward councils would suggest that too many people, male and female, have the idea that sustaining their bishop means accepting his every suggestion with a weird fake enthusiasm to make it work (well that’s what it looked like – leaving me as the lone voice of what then appeared to be dissent but wasn’t), rather than discussing the ramifications in depth. But perhaps I only attended those where it had all been decided in PEC first?

  119. I really can’t proofread my own stuff (sigh!)… “rather than” not “rather then”.

  120. Mossbloom says:

    It looks like they added the Stake SS Presidency since yesterday.

  121. #120– fascinating!

  122. Stephanie says:

    Cynthia, the link you added helps illuminate the clear picture. In the church, we have authority and auxiliaries. The infograph doesn’t say “authority” like the website, but indicates it with the blue stake leadership over the stake auxiliaries, and the blue ward leadership over the ward auxiliaries. Yes, women participate in church service (and even in leadership – over other women and children) always under the authority and direction of men.

  123. Stephanie says:

    And the dictionary definition of auxiliary is “A person or thing providing supplementary or additional help and support.”

    Synonyms are: helper – assistant – help – aid – subsidiary – adjunct

    Yes, we have authority and auxiliaries.

  124. RE: Young Men’s presidency as auxilliary… The way I’ve understood it is that the Deacons, Teachers, and Priests are themselves priesthood quorums, and as such, have their own presidencies. The Young Men’s presidency, however, aren’t really part of those quorums, and are really more like an auxilliary, in that they don’t actually “preside” over the young men, they “counsel” them. In theory, anyway.

  125. Stephanie says:

    I think there’s something else to point out that both graphics miss. Elder’s Quorom Presidencies and High Priest Group Leaders actually fall under the direction of the Stake Presidency. They are called to their positions by the Stake Presidency and report to the Stake Presidency. They are not actually auxiliaries like the Relief Society Presidency. They are quoroms of priesthood leadership, or authority.

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