PEC is Dead; Long Live the Councils

When President Nelson announced the end of “priesthood executive committee” (PEC) meetings in Priesthood Session on Saturday night, many people wondered – is this a de facto increase in women’s role in leadership?

In recent years, the Church has increased his emphasis on “councils.”   Ward councils, teaching councils, mission councils, various program councils at Church headquarters – these councils have all worked to invite further participation from women. President Oscaron’s wonderful parting talk on Saturday emphasized this point, pointing out the multitude of ways that young women could assist in furthering ward council goals. While I still wish women could lead some of these councils, their increasing participation is cause for celebration.

It’s only been three days, but today I saw the first concrete evidence that the abolishment of PEC, more than merely deleting redundant meetings, may significantly increase the leadership voices of women in practice.

Why? Because it isn’t just ward PECs that are affected, its stake priesthood meetings as well. The standard 4-6pm priesthood leadership session appears to now be open to all stake leaders as a matter of course.

I live in the D.C. Metro area, and today I saw this flier being circulated from the nearby Baltimore Stake about their upcoming stake conference.

baltimore stake

I really can’t overstate how big of a deal that is. I know to many these twice-yearly afternoon stake leadership sessions are just another eye-rolling meeting. To others, it may be a point of confusing curiosity – wait? Weren’t all stake leaders always included?

No. No they were not. In fact, the non-inclusion of all stake leaders has been a point of particular contention in the recent past. A handful of years ago in one stake I lived in, the stake presidency decided to make just this change – they started inviting women to leadership sessions as a matter of course. But one year a visiting general authority came to stake conference, saw the scheduled inclusion of women leaders, and ordered my stake to reverse it and un-invite women. Including women was, after all, against “policy.”

My (former) stake isn’t even the only one where I’ve heard of that happening.  [1]

Now that stake’s policies seem to be the new policy of the entire Church. Hallelujah!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the successes of the rest of this flier as well. Look at the evening adult session! Six highlighted talks – featuring three men and three women. (My only quibble with those listed talks is that I suspect some of those sisters are in leadership callings as well, so I wish they had “President” next to their names too.)

Then look at the talks themselves! The titles signal that that leaders will speaking thoughtfully on difficult topics. “Spiritual Pain,” “On Reason and Faith,” “Acceptance and Non-Judgment,” “Imperfect Servants” – that’s an incredible line-up. And they’ve added that they’re providing a space to fellowship each other and discuss the thoughtful talks with an intentional linger-longer afterwards.

Just reading the program has elevated my spirits. I’m seriously tempted to drive an hour north and crash. Only half-jestingly, if a program alone can inspire me to attend more church meetings, truly the day of miracles has not ceased.

Women included in leadership meetings. Women included equally in talks. Women and men addressing serious spiritual concerns and seeking to make room for everyone in the Church. Let this be a model for all stakes. This General Conference’s changes to church programs, along with the implementations I’ve seen this week thus far, fill me with hope.

* * *

[1] Some of those stakes responded by creating yet another “general” leadership meeting.  With the elimination of stake PEC meetings, this should help reduce those “extra” leadership meetings as well.

Comments

  1. I am going to address the Stake Conference line up. A tide is underway. This past January our Saturday evening session was dominated by women speakers. Only 2 men spoke, the Stake President and a visiting Pastor from a neighboring church. None of us women were presidents. But we rocked the evening.

    I think it’s a good trend that’s building.

  2. Called as a bishop five years ago, one of the first things I did was to remove PEC. It didn’t make sense to me to not have the representation of sixty percent of our ward in a planning meeting.

  3. Sister Trusty…..awesome name!

  4. SandyfromSandy says:

    Good call “Bishop Doug”.

  5. never forget says:

    You realize ‘Sister Trusty’ is just going to be a male presenter from SLC with a big felt board and velcro characters doing a presentation on defending the family right?

  6. Elder Ballard really got the ball rolling on pushing the ward council as the governing body of the ward, and once the church adopted that, it was sort of unsustainable in the long run to keep having both PEC and ward council. But once he started pushing the importance of gender-integrated counciling as necessary to exercise priesthood authority and to receive revelation, and once that was expressly adopted into Handbook 2, that was the beginning of the end of PEC, and it was only a matter of time.

    So I see this as not just a very positive development, but the end of a 25 year trend. This is the church becoming more true to the principles it has been gradually beginning to espouse for a long time now.

  7. Probably I have lived in some of the most progressive areas in the U.S., but this doesn’t look new or revolutionary to me. Maybe labels but not practice. For such wards and branches, stakes and districts, I expect a “validated!” reaction. Now I’m curious how these changes will be received and implemented in places where leaders like the old ways, where real discussion and decision making is still limited to one, three or four, or a half-dozen men?

  8. PEC ceased to be a thing in our ward several years ago, and even before that, the RS President was usually invited. So my question as a former high council member, will the weekly HC meetings still only include the stake presidency and HC members? We had a stake meeting quarterly that included the auxiliary presidencies in place of our regular HC meeting. It will be interesting to see how this officially gets done.

  9. Hedgehog says:

    kevinf, my husband currently serves as a high councillor. They’ve had a stake “PEC” once a month, and a stake council (with auxilliaries) meeting once a month. At a stake level it looks like the change simply means renaming the PEC the high council meeting (which is what it used called way back when my father was on the high council). Stake PEC has never mirrored ward PEC in composition.

  10. I am in the Baltimore Stake, the change actually came about 2 weeks before general conference. It doesn’t mean I don’t love it.

  11. Sorry. Jumped down to make a comment before reading in full. The three sisters have the following callings: stake choir director, YW camp director, counselor in ward RS. Interestingly, as a member of this stake, I have not seen this flyer.

  12. “The standard 4-6pm priesthood leadership session appears to now be open to all stake leaders as a matter of course.”

    Really? Is this church wide? Where’s it written?Because I just got the invite for our stake conference here in Brazil and yup…the 4 pm session is just for priesthood leadership. :(

  13. We’ve never called it Stake PEC in our stake as far back as I can remember.

    It’s true that even when it was sometimes called stake PEC, the stake high council has never really been comparable to ward PEC. Fort one thing, the high council has much more of a scriptural foundation.

  14. In our stake it’s being called the Ward council leadership meeting. A member of each presidency that attends Ward or stake council are invited.

  15. Papa johnson says:

    Cat
    This past January our Saturday evening session was dominated by women speakers.

    This statement proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that feminists do not want equality they want supremacy.

  16. LatamGirl says:

    “Cat
    This past January our Saturday evening session was dominated by women speakers.

    This statement proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that feminists do not want equality they want supremacy.”

    Papa John how does this statement price anything? It’s just a statement of what happened, not of intent. Here’s a similar statement describing nearly every other Saturday evening session of stake conference I’ve attended in my life: “This past (insert month) our Saturday evening session was dominated by men speakers.” Would you then say that men want to dominate?

  17. LatamGirl says:

    *prove, not price (I wish I could edit my posted comments.)

  18. Aussie Mormon says:

    “(I wish I could edit my posted comments.)”
    A lot of us do :)

  19. Aussie Mormon says:

    Wish we could edit our comments, not that you could edit yours.

    (*wishing he could edit his comments*)

  20. Papa Johnson, someone – can’t remember who – once said that when you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

    If you were serious, you’ve just proven his point.

  21. Michael H. says:

    Amen, Kate.

    I wish Las Vegas were one of those more progressive areas, like Washington DC. My particular stake is full of very sweet, very well-intended people; but at the ward and stake levels, it’s always been staunchly patriarchal and Stepford-Wifey. One bright spot in our ward: PEC was only once a month, and the RS president was always a required presence. Stake conference is this coming weekend (yes, for some reason, our stake conferences immediately follow general conferences about half the time here), so we’ll see what kinds of changes will be implemented. And it’ll be interesting to see if half of OUR speakers are women. I’ll cross my fingers, but I won’t hold my breath.

  22. Papa johnson says:

    dental hygienist school and nursing school are super majority female. Yet you don’t hear a peep from feminists that this has to be corrected.
    But the fact that engineering and science and technology are male-dominated that has to be changed.
    Once again proving my point feminists don’t want equality they want Supremacy.

  23. Carolyn says:

    Actually, Papa Johnson, plenty of feminists write about unequal fields for a variety of reasons, including how it harms men to NOT be characterized as caregiving or nurturing.

  24. This doesn’t seem to be a general change. From ministering.lds.org:
    “The existing stake meetings explained in Handbook 2, section 18.3 continue with the following adjustments:
    Stake priesthood executive committee meetings are called “high council meetings.”
    An annual meeting of all ordained high priests in the stake is no longer held. However, the stake presidency holds an annual meeting of the stake high priests quorum.”
    HB2 18.3 does mention the Stake Priesthood Leadership Meeting (18.3.3), so it seems that there has been no official change to it.

    That is, of course, a missed opportunity to increase in women’s role in leadership

  25. HokieKate says:

    I’m mostly surprised that a stake publishes a program for stake conference. If I’d seen something like this for my stake conference last month maybe I’d have attended.

  26. Update: after we got the stake conference invite saying the 4-6 session was still only for priesthood leaders, I asked our bishop if, in light of recent changes, the entire ward council would be invited. I was told that, no, just priesthood. I said, “well, I bet down the road they’ll change it.” Yesterday I got the new invitation for this Saturday…for the presidencies (minus the secretaries) of the ward councils. FTW

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