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.
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.
 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.