Changes to PEC coming?

Today I witnessed another significant moment – I received an invitation to participate as a member of the Missionary Executive Council. I am honored. This is one of three key councils of the Church, each led by members of the Twelve. Sister Linda Burton will now serve on the Priesthood and Family Executive Council and Sister Rosemary Wixom will be on the Temple and Family History Executive Council.

And with that President Oscarson’s Facebook announcement lit up the internet as news of this historic event spread. I’m delighted. Women’s voices as a permanent part of these general executive councils is obviously needed. Yay!

sith_1430

But my next question is this, does this open up the way from women becoming a permanent addition to the ward and stake priesthood executive committee that happen throughout the world?

Looking at the Handbook of Instructions about the “Priesthood Executive Committee” one finds this definition:

“The ward priesthood executive committee (PEC) includes the bishopric, ward clerk, ward executive secretary, high priests group leader, elders quorum president, ward mission leader, and Young Men president.

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.

As needed, the bishop may invite the Relief Society president to attend some ward PEC meetings to discuss confidential welfare matters and to coordinate home teaching and visiting teaching assignments.”

Elder Ballard, in his famous talk “Counseling with our Councils,” expanded this definition: “First is the priesthood executive committee. It consists of the bishopric, high priests group leader, elders quorum president, ward mission leader, Young Men president, ward executive secretary, and ward clerk. This committee meets weekly under the direction of the bishop to consider ward priesthood programs, including temple and family history, missionary, welfare, home teaching, and member activation.”

See the correlation (with my helpful bolding) with the general councils?

And then looking at the Handbook of Instructions about “Meetings in the Church” one finds this about ward meetings:

Ward priesthood executive committee meeting

Consider priesthood matters. As needed, preview matters that will be on the ward council’s agenda, discuss confidential welfare matters, and coordinate home teaching and visiting teaching assignments.

Bishopric, ward clerk, ward executive secretary, high priests group leader, elders quorum president, ward mission leader, and Young Men president; the Relief Society president may be invited to attend as needed to discuss confidential welfare matters and to coordinate home teaching and visiting teaching assignments

Regularly

And this about stake meetings:

Stake priesthood executive committee meeting (high council meeting)

Receive instruction, give reports, conduct business, and counsel together.

Stake presidency, high council, stake clerk, stake executive secretary, and others as invited

Twice monthly, where feasible

Does the local PEC need to first be renamed to the PEFC before women become a permanent fixture at these meetings? Does that then overlap with ward or stake council meetings?

What do you think?

I turn back Elder Ballard, who said over 20 years ago, “When stake presidents and bishops allow the priesthood and auxiliary leaders whom the Lord has called to serve with them to become part of a problem-solving team, wonderful things begin to happen. Their participation broadens the base of experience and understanding, leading to better solutions. You bishops energize your ward leaders by giving them a chance to offer suggestions and to be heard. You prepare future leaders by allowing them to participate and learn. You can lift much of the load from your shoulders through this kind of involvement. People who feel ownership of a problem are more willing to help find a solution, greatly improving the possibility of success.”

So with the general leaders as the model, it’s time to have women leaders as permanent members of PEC on both the ward and stake level.

Comments

  1. When the 2010 handbook came out, and the training emphasized the ward council many started to question whether PEC was even needed. I was a stake clerk at the time and made it a practice to ask every Bishop in our stake whether he was even holding PEC’s and why? I could NEVER get a good answer on why something was an item on PEC rather than Ward Council after pushing back on their responses a bit.

    With this announcement, Ward PEC, IMHO, is a doomed entity.

  2. Except that ward councils were recently designated with planning sacrament meetings, so their purview was enlarged. But I understand that there is a lot of overlap.

  3. Add me as one who questions whether PEC should even exist given increased emphasis on ward councils, why one more redundant meeting? My bishop apparently agrees, we don’t do it in our ward.

  4. What I’d really like to see is this trickle down to women being a fixture on ward and stake PEC that then allows them to be a fixture on disciplinary councils.

  5. I’d like to comment on your perfect choice of picture. It’s perfect.

  6. Doing away entirely with PEC works for me, but your suggestion to have women on them locally and to have women be part of disciplinary councils would be wonderful. What I don’t want is a continuation of the wishy-washy middle ground that we currently have because even though women are often invited to PEC in the US and a few other parts of the world, I feel they aren’t involved at all in most of the world. Let’s make it clear that women should be move involved in local leadership in a meaningful way- not just when it involves women and children if the priesthood leader decides to ask.

  7. I’m the bishop of our ward (1.5 years) and I think we had PEC one time at the beginning of my service. That’s how long it took me to realize there was no need for it any longer and we now only hold ward council (referring to leadership meetings involving ward auxiliaries).

  8. As a member of the high council, I think it makes total sense for the stake Primary, Young Women and Relief Society presidents to be in our meetings.

  9. Our PEC meetings include the Relief Society president or one of her counselors. It tends to be the meeting where we discuss the needs of individuals and families. Big emphasis on “What’s the next ordinance?”, and that is usually the Sacrament. YM leadership is included, but not YW. I used to think that was a mistake, but now I understand a bit better that they often receive assignments to take the sacrament to somebody at home or in the hospital.

  10. I have so many questions about this news.
    1. Indeed, will wards and stakes start having PFEC with women leaders? On one hand, great; on the other, why bother as it duplicates ward and stake council?
    2. Why did the news come via facebook? Is it the only news avenue open to Sisters Burton, Wixom, and Oscarson? Where is the LDS Public Affairs Department? Was this in fact a surprise to Elder Oaks? (See his post on facebook https://www.facebook.com/lds.dallin.h.oaks?fref=ts)
    3. Why did they name it Priesthood and Family Executive Council? Women now represent the family? Don’t LDS men head their families? Women as part of the family are now on a par with priesthood? Why couldn’t it be just Executive Council?

  11. We don’t have PEC meetings in our ward. Ward council meetings have entirely taken the place of PEC meetings. This has been true since 2010. Our stake, however, still holds Executive Committee meetings (just stake presidency and high council).

  12. Our ward’s PEC is held every other week, with ward council on the alternating weeks. I have been invited to attend PEC only once a month. I tell my husband and children I’m attending my Princess Executive Council meeting. My children think that’s the real name. Maybe it will have a new name now? The week I am there the focus is on VTing & welfare issues. I like PEC better because we can talk much more frankly. One time during ward council, the bishop started to talk about a welfare family forgetting which meeting he was in. The shocked looks on the faces of those not in PEC made me laugh. He quickly apologized. My one complaint is in PEC I am the only one in a dress and heels trying to kneel down for prayer and attempting to get up somewhat gracefully.

  13. PEC has long been a mystery to me. When I had served as an executive secretary, we would hold PEC every week, and ward council twice a month. On the ward council weeks, PEC would be a half hour before WC, and we would end up discussing the same items in both meetings. I pointed this agenda issue out to the bishop, but no one was willing to not have PEC at that time (25 years ago). A move from Utah, and I became bishop, we regularly invited the RS president to PEC, but she wouldn’t always come, and never held PEC and WC on the same weeks. Under our current bishop, PEC is once a month, and WC is also once a month, held every other week, but includes the same people in both meetings, ie RS, YW, Primary. PEC exists in our ward in name only, as it looks and feels just like WC.

    I sense a new edition of the handbook in the next few months.

  14. Yes, I’ve long thought Women leaders should attend PEC. It irks me when I ask about something/someone in Ward Council and I get the answer, “Oh, yeah, we discussed that in PEC.” Really??? Why wasn’t I part of that discussion.

  15. Stake Council is only held quarterly… 4 meetings a year which is why having the stake women leaders at Stake PEC much better.

  16. Scott Roskelley says:

    It’s great to hear that the daughters of Heavenly Mother can now be included in council meetings! Now that a woman will finally have representation on the Temple council I look forward to including our mother in heaven in the endowment ceremony. As of right now she is not involved in the creation of the earth, the creation of the bodies for Adam and Eve, or in the plan of salvation. Eliza R. Snow said that our “eternal Mother [is] the partner with the Father in the creation of worlds.” Elder M. Russell Ballard said that, “we are part of a divine plan designed
    by Heavenly Parents who love us.” Elder Theodore M. Burton testified that this is “their goal, their work, and their glory.” which means that she is a divine being bringing forth immortality and eternal life.

  17. eponymous says:

    To Beth,

    It’s not clear whether there was a deliberate strategy for Women leaders to directly communicate the news on their own through Facebook with supporting communication from Elder Oaks but the Newsroom seems to present it as if it organically was done that way. If so, way to go direct to the people with a personal voice rather than relying on a Public Affairs handled communication. That’s a fantastic approach.

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/women-church-leaders-appointed-to-leadership-councils

  18. Perhaps due to lack of leadership callings (for myself or in my family growing up), I honestly did not know until now what “PEC” meant and why it was all over the ward calendar online. Good to know.

  19. Alpineglow says:

    For what it’s worth, in every singles ward I have been in (a lot), the RS President was a de facto permanent member of PEC.

  20. Our ward has PEC once a month and Ward Council twice a month. PEC always includes the Relief Society President and is significantly shorter than Ward Council. We discuss home and visiting teaching assignments and welfare needs. When something else comes up, we will be asked to hold it until Ward Council.

    In our old ward, my wife was RS President and only rarely invited to PEC. If, during Ward Council she got the “it was decided in PEC” line, she politely, but oh-so-very firmly told the brother that he could take care of it himself and that it was no longer her concern.

  21. Good post. Having women be permanent members be part of PEC is long overdue.

    I think PEC is still necessary because of some confidential information (financial issues, family problems, health issues, etc.) that should be discussed.There are just too many people in ward council to assume items discussed will remain confidential.

  22. I’m the bishop of my ward and the first thing I did when I was called two-plus years ago was to never hold PEC again. 51–53% of my ward members are female; why would I hold a meeting to discuss their needs without their representation? Looking forward to seeing “Priesthood and Family Executive Council” or “Ward Council” replace PEC in the next version of the CHI.

  23. D,

    When there are confidential issues (someone loses a job, marital problems, financial troubles, etc.) and you need help, do you discuss the matter with the entire ward council? Or do you have a separate meeting with the Relief Society President and bishopric and just not call it PEC?

  24. EmJen. I don’t think this will include disciplinary councils any time soon. Those are priesthood functions by the Bishopric, or the Stake Presidency and High Council. All of those positions are administrative offices as defined in the Doctrine & Covenants and are reserved for High Priests. The clerks keeping the minutes and records do not have to be high priests. There is something to be said for involving women in the procedures, especially when the subjects are women, but how to work that is something that individuals Bishops and Stake Presidents would have to work out although I believe its possible for there to be a role without it being that of the priesthood holders.

  25. When called as relief society president in our ward I informed the bishop that I would be very happy to attend PEC when required and after a quizzical look from him I referred him to the handbook. After months of no invitation I reminded him of my offer and he said that things were rarely discussed in PEC that would involve me. To which I returned his quizzical look. In ward council A few months later I remarked that I could see changes coming and that RS presidents would be required to attend PEC. The HPGL replied ‘never’. I remember thinking – if you boys can’t share your toys then someday you will be made to.
    I smiled today.

  26. If women will serve on “the three general priesthood councils,” as Elder Oaks referred to them, it makes sense that women will be called to area, stake, and local priesthood councils as well. This is very good.

  27. I haven’t been in a PEC since the new handbook came out, but prior to that my experience was that PEC was ward council without women. Same topics, same agenda, same everything. It never made sense to me except to give the men the feeling of being in an exclusive club.

  28. Is it possible that we have Kate Kelly and others that have advocated for gender equality in the church to thank for these very positive changes?

    I think so. Too bad the leaders of the church can’t lead on these types issues. And too bad the leadership disciplines the people that advocate for the change they eventually accept (now or sometime in the future.)

  29. The RS President is a permanent member of our ward’s PEC, which meets monthly. This is absolutely vital because this is where we discuss welfare issues.

  30. Geoff - Aus says:

    There is nothing I can see in the handbook preventing the female auxiliary leaders from attending Bishopric, at the Bishops invitation (permanently), or for that matter conducting Sacrament meeting ( it just says the councillors can, and doesn’t say the priesthood is required to do it like it does on other matters)
    Could then invite other priesthood in for PEC, and only have 2 meetings.
    I can’t remember what the exclusions are for discipline but wouldn’t most ward level be for women, so should include women?

  31. I think one important function for PEC is to get EQ pres. and HP group leader together, so that they can solve issues in organizing home teaching. It would be so much easier if only one organization was responsible for that.

  32. Jack Hughes says:

    The handbook says PEC is for “considering priesthood matters”. But what exactly does that mean? Which brand of olive oil is best for consecrating? The environmental impact of paper vs. plastic sacrament cups?

  33. After input from the ward counsel, our Bishop cancelled PEC and we have ward counsel twice a month instead. As the RS president, this means I no longer attend a ward counsel meeting and realize that I have been left out of a major part of the conversation which happened at PEC. We have been doing this for several years and I almost forgot that not everyone was already doing this. Under the permission of the Stake President and Bishop, I was allowed to work with a sister who was moving toward rebaptism. I met with her regularly and went to every interview she had until her baptism. Much better process for a sister who has lost confidence in the patriarchal order of the church and is uncomfortable meeting with men about such personal matters. What a great experience for all of us who were apart of this process, especially as she is now serving as my counselor. I’ve had to push our leadership a little, but they have been receptive and open. Who would have thought this could happen in a very traditional Ward in the Midwest.

  34. Anon this thread says:

    Niklas. I agree with you. The HP and Elders should meet and work together. There isn’t a specific ban on doing that. I have seen the Minutes from the Quorum of the Twelve discussion on that between two (now deceased) Apostles. I was struck by the tone and frankness of the discussion. They had done research and the matter was thoroughly argued with one taking one position (against) and the other for. At the end of the day, the President of the 12 held that since the 12 wasn’t unanimous, they wouldn’t present it to the joint council (12 and FP). I know of a Stake that did that for a while until instructed not to. Its a shame really. The Elders have the enthusiasm and strength and the High Priests usually have the experience and the time in the gospel to benefit each other.

  35. I sat on both ward council and PEC from 2011-2014 both of which were twice a month (alternating Sundays). A good portion of ward council was an inevitable rehash of the prior week’s PEC meeting because (duh!) none of the female leadership was present for it. It was painful. I never really did figure out what exactly should only be discussed in PEC.

    In my opinion, PEC should just go away. The ward council can cover anything PEC would have covered. If there’s a particularly sensitive topic to discuss, a subset of ward council could be convened on a “need to know” basis. Would it result in less meetings? Probably not. I expect there will be a weekly meeting regardless of what it’s called. But at least you’ll get rid of some of the redundancy.

  36. lastlemming says:

    Ward-level PEC is doomed. In our ward, the few items that “can’t be handled in Ward Council” can just as easily be handled by email. So we hold a perfunctory PEC twice a month just so we can tell the stake we are doing it, and hold a serious ward council three times a month. We’ve come a long way since the calendaring chaos that was ward council meetings in the 80s.

    And as long as we’re rumor-mongering, I have it on reasonably good authority that an apostle who Ziff has labelled as having a better-than-50% chance of becoming President of the Church is in favor of merging the elders and high priests at the ward level. The elder’s quorum would be the surviving body, so as a HP group leader, I’m praying hard for this to happen.

  37. anon this thread says:

    lastlemming, the apostle against in my last example recently (very) passed. The other died decades ago. I believe it worked well in the Stake that tried it. It’s certainly worth doing again.

  38. eponymous says:

    PEC is not a useless meeting and has very specific opportunities for coordinating specific activities that are the responsibility of the Ward Leadership are being moved forward but do not require wasting the time of the rest of the Ward Council or are sufficiently sensitive to try to limit the number involved. Here’s how we structured PEC and we met three times a month with the RS President attending regularly – meaning every meeting:

    1. Discuss Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching Assignments across the two quorums and the RS – what’s working and what’s not and what needs should we discuss in Ward Council.
    2. Prospective Elders and their families – what are the specific assignments and how can we better support them, help them move forward? Once actions were identified we would take them to the larger Ward Council for further input.
    3. Ward Welfare needs – sensitive issues that are better discussed in a smaller group rather than across the entire Ward Council. All other needs are discussed in Ward Council.

    It was a 30 minute fast moving meeting with very specific agenda items and leaders coming with an expectation to identify actions that needed to be taken and assign responsibility.

    PEC gave very specific focus to these three areas and we saw fantastic results from doing so.

    It’s possible you could cover all of this in Ward Council but I’ve never seen this done without Sunday School, YW, Primary wondering why they have to or whether they should sit through those discussions.

  39. To further Beth’s point, one wonders if the addition of “and Family” to the name is really necessary, as we’ve been taught that women exercise priesthood authority pursuant to their callings.

  40. In reply to Eponymous above, in our PEC-free ward, welfare items are usually discussed on the phone between the people who need to know and give input. These are usually only the RS president and bishop, sometimes a quorum leader or home teacher. As a counselor, I only know about welfare when it involves cutting a check when it’s my turn to do finances after church or when the bishop is out of town and I need to meet and assess).

    Coordinating home and visiting teaching between HP, EQ, and RS is done in an occasional meeting of those presidencies, sometimes attended by a member of the bishopric. More often, someone who was at the meeting will email the bishop after the meeting for his input on what they decided.

    We feel the prospective elder discussion needs to be the full ward council because we want everyone’s input into helping the family progress, especially youth and primary leaders if the prospective elder has children. But the broader issue is that members of the ward council aren’t there simply as representatives of their own auxiliary but as council members who give input on everything discussed, thus allowing decisions to come from a broader view.

  41. I haven’t heard anything from Oscarson that would want me to have her represent anyone in any meeting. She thrives on presenting an idea as if no one thought of it, things just happen by general goodness. She’s seems to be a careful, studied idiot.

  42. Eponymous and Willie,

    Both of your wards appear to devote a lot of attention to Prospective Elders (1/3 of E’s PEC time or meetings). What about the probably equally as large cohort of females of the same ages? Do they merit their own attention from your PECs or Ward Councils? It seems the adult sisters who also need to progress only get attention if they are attached to a prospective elder? I don’t mean to pick on you two because I don’t think your omission of adult women from leadership attention is hardly unique to your wards. I’ve seen it in almost all of the wards where I’ve lived as an adult (+\- 6). The prospective elders and other boys/men gets lots of attention; the less active sisters are almost non-existent in PEC or Ward council discussions or focus. As the father of three daughters I hope more priesthood leaders lose this huge blindspot in their ministries.

  43. eponymous says:

    anon,

    As a father of daughters I don’t disagree with your concern but let’s be clear that we are not ignoring less active sisters. In our Ward we spend an extensive amount of time discussing those sisters in the Home and Visiting Teaching PEC meeting (they tend to be our primary focus since they have greater needs) as well as in Ward Council. They are not getting short shrift.

    As for the emphasis in one PEC meeting a month discussing Prospective Elders I’ll respond because there is a reasonable answer to your question. The focus is on prospective Elders for three reasons:

    1. We’re commanded to put our attention toward that group. See Section 7.6 of Handbook 2 as a baseline for that discussion. Over the last 10 years there has been consistent and extensive training from Church Leaders including Senior Apostles visiting the Stakes and calling on Bishoprics, Quorum and Group Leaders to put attention toward fellowshipping prospective Elders. There is even a report that must be filed on a monthly basis indicating what work is being pursued with prospective Elders and how they are progressing.

    https://www.lds.org/service/leadership/elders?lang=eng#one-by-one
    http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/magazines/ensign-june-2012/2012-06-08-the-honor-and-order-of-the-priesthood-eng.pdf

    2. If the father is active there is a greater probability that the wife and children will be. Look around any typical congregation and ask yourself how often you see a man who comes to Church without his wife and how often you see the opposite. There are a number of sisters I know who have fallen away from activity specifically because their husband exerted influence on them not to attend. I know fewer men with whom it was their wife who pulled them away. The husband father influence happens especially among certain cultures where there still remains a more patriarchal power structure.

    3. The Church needs priesthood to function. Look at one of the key questions asked in establishing a “twig” a Branch and a Ward and the number of faithful Melchizedek priesthood holders is important. Yes we could solve that problem by broadening responsibility to women and a transition is slowly, ever slowly, moving in that direction. But for now, priesthood holders are critical.

  44. Anon, sorry I’m late replying. I wrote of prospective elders in response to Eponymous’s three reasons for having PEC meetings. It isn’t true in our ward that “adult sisters who also need to progress only get attention if they are attached to a prospective elder.” We visit them, we pray for them, we talk about their needs and how we can try to meet them.

    But in certain reports we regularly have to provide to the stake and area leadership, we need to report specific progress metrics with respect to prospective elders that we don’t report for female members in need to ministering. Fortunately that need to report effects our agendas and our ministry to prospective elders, and that is of course the point. Unfortunately, the reports sometimes cause us to minister more to prospective elders than to sisters in our ward. I disagree with Eponymous above when he suggests that we should focus more effort of the spiritual well-being of men than women. Doing so is a sin, and we in our ward have need to repent.

  45. When I was bishop way back in 2001-2006, I always had the RS Pres attend PEC. The SP found out and made a stink, but then backed off and told me to read the handbook, and do what was best for my ward. I could not even think of having a meeting without have representation for 60% of the ward!

  46. I’ve been a bishop for almost 3 years now and before served as an Elders Quorum President. It never made sense to me to attend PEC meeting without any sisters in the meetings. So one of the first things I did when I became a bishop was to make a default rule that the RSP and at least one of her counselors attend all PEC meetings which we hold not every month but occasionally. It also makes no sense to me to have more meetings before or after church when many of the leaders have families with small kids. So we now hold our PEC meetings during sunday school under the name of ‘Gospel Principle for Leaderships.’ The lesson usually lasts 5 minutes then we connect it to our PEC agenda.’ In our ward council meetings, we also have a default rule that the RS, YW, and Primary presidents have the last word on any conflicting decisions with the RS having the very last say. When the sisters are happy, everybody is happy. When the sisters aren’t happy nobody is happy:). I’m happy to read here that other bishops are doing the same thing…

  47. VegaSaint says:

    PEC is nothing more than a chance to air all the “problems” of people in the word as perceived by the committee. I was 28 years old the first time i sat in one of these and I couldn’t believe the way this group of men were talking about private matters of others, e.g., “we need to help brother so-and-so, i saw him at Vons and he was at the video poker machine” or “I have a feeling that sister so-and-so is addicted to painkillers, I saw her the other day at Costco and she seemed pretty out of it.” – And everyone just sits there and nods their heads like this is acceptable behavior and not just a way to feel better about their own fapping/nography issues, which aren’t always so telling.

  48. @vegasaint

    I’m sure the PEC in your WARD (spell check next time) was just looking out for the best interest of those individuals. God has said that he will only deliver his message through man and that man must convey this message or the sin lie on his head.

  49. VegaSaint says:

    willie – why don’t you go back to Orem or provo or where ever that psycho babble bull came from. I feel for you man, you are the type that comes to my vegas WARD on the first sunday of the month and says something like, “i didn’t even know there were mormon’s in las vegas”

    Secondly, how flawed is your reasoning?, let me count the ways… God does want man to deliver his message of peace and love by doing unto others what he would do unto them. Don’t tell me that Jesus would sit in a PEC meeting today and say “Jeez guys, Brother Jensen cheated on his wife, he told me in an interview, can we all do a special prayer for him?”

    If the church is going to survive the next 50 years it needs to quit the holier than thou act that many church leaders play and begin to just show love. Show love to the poor dude who comes to church but doesn’t dress in a whiteshirt and tie, not just to Brother Rasmussen, the periodontist who makes half-a-million/year.