Bishop in FBI Training: You Make The Call No. 6

This one comes from a different mystery correspondent:

As Stake President you know that Bishop Dubloseven of the Yuppie 2nd Ward has been in the process of applying to the FBI for the last three years. Just yesterday he informed you that he was offered and accepted the position and training begins in two weeks. There is, of course, no problem with a bishop being in the FBI, rather it is the training that raises conflict.

Headquartered in Quantico, Virginia, the FBI’s new recruits can’t leave the training facility in the first five weeks. Following that is four months of weekend-only leave (the good bishop’s commute home will be a five-hour drive). After training he plans to return and work in the Bureau’s office of his home city.

Bishop Dubloseven has been in the calling for three years and while he’s never felt comfortable, he feels like a 22-month-out missionary who is now just beginning to “get it.” He is fiercely faithful and will humbly do whatever is asked of him (as will his faithful wife who stays at home with their two small children).

As Stake President you can either release him and call a new bishop or not make any changes. Assuming the Lord has answered your petition with the response, “It’s up to you,” what would you do?


  1. Release him.

  2. Release him. I’m surprised there would be any question.

  3. Dear Stake President,

    Why don’t you ask the Bishop? Perhaps the Lord wants a chat with the Bishop? Perhaps the Bishop needs to petition the Lord.


  4. It depends completely on the ability of his counselors and the specific needs of his ward.

    I know a bishop whose wife was being treated for cancer when he was called. Normally, that would seem crazy. The SP allowed him to delegate some responsibilities normally reserved to the Bishop to his counselors and passed on a very clear and direct challenge to the other ward leaders to step up and shoulder their true responsibilities – not to dump them on the Bishop’s lap. The response has been phenomenal. That ward is thriving, and a large part of it has been the response of the members to a bishop they love who is in a difficult situation.

    It certainly isn’t ideal, and it certainly isn’t advisable as a pattern, but I wouldn’t release him automatically simply because of what I know from the post.

  5. i’m, frankly, shocked that someone would be surprised by anything but a release. but perhaps it’s because of my own experiences with mia bishoprics? in our wards with a large military base, it wasn’t uncommon to have a member of the bishopric, the bishop, or even ALL of them gone for a time. there were plenty of other options, should they have been released, but none of them ever were. we went several months with the ENTIRE bishopric deployed, so dubloseven’s situation seems fairly benign.

  6. I would generally say release, although I agree with Ray that there might be good reasons to keep him on. We’ve gone three months without the bishop and it was no big deal, although his counselors would have preferred a release.

  7. In general, I would agree with #4. If his counselors can handle a little extra work and the ward does not suffer unduly in his absence, let him stay. He might need the blessings.

    I can’t offer many details (don’t know any), but the bishop of our ward has been absent from about 1/3 of the meetings of our ward over the past year or so. I am not sure what the nature of his absence is, though since his wife and children are always present, it must be a matter of business. We are fortunate that he has two very able counselors and the ward seems to run smoothly on Sundays in his absence. Not very fair to his counselors, I will admit, but they don’t seem to complain.

  8. Unless God says otherwise, I’d release him. His family will need him on his weekends off.

  9. Ask and then follow the Spirit.

  10. Depends, “It’s up to you” usually comes in different flavors.

    If by that God means “I don’t care either way” (and they are often not the same thing), then I think it would depend to some extent on whether there was anybody else in the ward I though could effectively take his place.

    However, God probably means: “You got to be kidding me, you can’t figure this one out yourself?” and in that case I’m guessing the answer is to release him- or it might be just as obvious from the situation that the answer is to not release him. I think there just isn’t enough information given, all though I’m sure it’s actually available to the stake President.

  11. I know a bishop who was away for two months on research for his work.

    Keep him as bishop.

  12. I don’t see any reason why his absence should have him be released. I’ve had a number of Bishops who leave for the whole summer, on vacation or work or otherwise. The ward runs just fine.

    If he wants to be released, then I don’t see a problem with it.

    The one confounding issue: you say that, after his training, he’ll return to his home city to work: is this (where he’s Bishop) his home city, or do you mean he’s headed back to somewhere else, where he grew up? Because if he’s currently in Connecticut (5 hours from Northern Virginia) and he plans on working in the FBI’s office in Portland (where he grew up), then I have five months to find a replacement. In that case, though, I’d almost certainly keep him (again, unless he asked to be released) until he was about to move.

  13. Eric Russell says:

    “After training he plans to return and work in the Bureau’s office of his home city.”

    Assuming it means where he currently lives, I’m still unsure of this. The FBI website says,

    “New Agents are given the opportunity to rank their desired locations. While consideration is given to these preferences, the first office assignment is based upon the staffing needs of the FBI.”

    Is he sure he’s going to be coming home? Did he work out some kind of drug deal during the application process to guarantee a home office location?

  14. I’m more interested in a bishop having conflicting loyalties if he is employed by law enforcement than I am about him having to miss a month or two of church. the former seems by far the more interesting ethical question.

  15. I am 100% on board with Jami in number 8. If your answer is “it’s up to you,” you should consider his family’s needs before the ward’s. And his family will need him at home when he’s home.

  16. sister blah 2 says:

    The five weeks is no biggie, assuming good counselors and strong rest of the leadership. But 4 months of weekend only after those five weeks of totally gone–sounds like Mrs. Bishop really deserves to have him not at meetings all day Sunday.

  17. FBI Informant says:

    As a former FBI applicant, I can tell you there’s virtually no way he’d end up back at home. Your application is processed through your nearest field office, and your first assignment (by tradition if not by policy) is never to the field office that processed your application. Not to mention in order to advance you need to move around and accept promotions. The job itself would be very “bishop unfriendly” during his first assignment–doing lots of grunt work, surveillance, raids at odd hours, etc.

    Unless the SP feels inspired otherwise, I think a release is appropriate.

  18. Steve Evans says:

    Release him after public excoriation.

  19. What if the bishop wanted to run for political office? If he’s a really great person who would make a great contribution — regardless of party — I would hope he too would be released. If elected, depending on the office, he could be called later as mission president, as were both Wayne Owens and Gunn McKay. Or, as was the case with Orrin Hatch, he could serve as the Gospel Doctrine teacher. The possibilities are endless.

  20. Gee, Kevin, this sounds a lot like my bishop’s situation. You must have been talking to one of the permabloggers on another ‘nacle outpost.

    Since I’ve known the stake president for half my life and our daughters are good friends for life (so far), I’m not going to second guess his decision. Besides, I have to get my taxes done.

  21. Boy, it was late and I can see I wasn’t paying much attention when I wrote 9 so I’ll take another stab at this.

    I don’t recall the spirit ever saying precisely “It’s up to you.” but occasionally he has said to me Player’s choice which I have come to understand means any choice you make will have a negligible out come. It is hard to think of the release of a Bishopric as having a negligible out come with so many people’s lives involved.

    I have also received It’s your choice but the implications of those choices were also made clear. I don’t recall ever being in a situation where the spirit was seeking my mortal wisdom on any issue but sometimes he puts us through the learning experience of studying it out in our minds and then asking him.

    This is a complex question, it effects the families of the current Bishopric, the potential new Bishopric, the rest of the ward’s needs and possibility includes stake implications as well. I can’t imagine the spirit actually deferring a question like this to the wisdom of man.

  22. I had an experience similar to this one. I was a counselor in the EQ presidency, when within a couple of weeks of each other the other counselor moved and the president left for four months of training. I was still able to get everything done, but it would have at least felt easier if there was a president or another counselor.

    It also didn’t make me feel much better when he was released two weeks after he got back.

  23. To answer a question with another question:

    How long did the Lord leave Pres. Hinckley “in charge” while Pres. Kimball and Pres. Benson were effectively incapacitated? Four to six months seems a short time in comparison.

  24. I once sat in the #2 chair to a bishop who was incapacitated for six weeks due to illness. He was not released, and the OJT that experience gave me taught me that I really really really never want to be a Bishop.

  25. Actually Sam MB (#14) makes a very pertinent comment. The CHI states that individual that might have legal obligations due to his occupation to report details of a disciplinary council, like law enforcement, should not participate.

    I understand that law enforcement official are consequently typically not candidates for callings where hearing confession or participating in disciplinary councils are part of the responsibilities.

    I don’t think many people consider this, but a physician is under similar legal obligations in cases like abuse.

  26. Ask Bishop Dubloseven what he would like. If he modestly says “what ever the Lord would like”, call the 1st councilor as acting Bishop for the five or six months and a 3rd councilor if need be. There are precedents for an Acting Bishop and this is not unlike Acting President of the 12. The SP should treat this as part of his succession planning for the ward.

  27. Left Field says:

    Absolutely ask the bishop about it and let him know what you’re thinking. He knows better than anybody how much he’ll be able to do, and what he is capable of. You should of course rely on the Spirit, but there is no requirement that the Spirit work in a vacuum of information. I once had a bishop who was released under vaguely similar circumstances, and we never saw him afterwards. I of course have no idea of all the issues involved, or precisely how the release was handled, but I have to think that better communication might have produced a better result.

  28. For me, one big factor is how many other eligible men there are in the ward that could take this bishop’s place. If this is a ward where there are adequate priesthood holders to fill all leadership callings, and there are several other eligible and available men who could feasibly be called as bishop, then I would probably release the FBI bishop. This mother and young children will be giving up their husband/father a lot over the next few months, and it would be nice if his calling didn’t consume his precious few spare hours each week.

    But in some wards there are very few men who could really serve as bishop. In such a case, I would have to seriously consider the other men’s family/work/personal situations to see if they would be much less stressed than the current bishop.

  29. #17 is right, New Agent Bishop won’t be going home after training (unless he’s applying out of NYC or LA)….upon arrival, he’ll be ranking the 56 field offices and praying he doesn’t draw San Fransisco, where he won’t be able to afford rent. It’s time to release him so he and his family can get their bags packed.

  30. Also, I agree with other commentors here — if the SP feels like the decision is up to him, then he should go ahead and talk openly to the bishop about he matter and seek his input. In my view, there is often no reason why the process for callings and releases should not be more transparent, especially since sometimes the process seems to involve more “perspiration” than “inspiration.”

  31. I have a vague memory of a bishop in central Utah whose counselors ran the ward for a couple years while the bishop was away on a mission. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

  32. From what information was given (understanding that is is a hypothetical situation), there is no reason to release him. That’s why you have counselors, although there are some things a bishop cannot delegate. Remember that on a few occasions the entire Church was run for a year or more by the counselors in the First Presidency.

  33. Spoke to a serving FBI agent friend who is also a member of our Church. He assures me that as a freshly minted G-man, Bishop DoubleOseven will never get to go back and serve in his hometown. Just aint gonna happen. So, Stake Pres should release said Bishop 007, unless, of course, SP wants to tell said Bishop that he shouldnt not accept the job offer from the FBI.

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