How Picky Are You When the Pickings Are Slim?

I recently visited a neighboring country where the church has a presence substantial enough to warrant a temple but where human resources are nonetheless stretched thin.

At least that was the impression I had after meeting a family friend who had been called to the stake presidency several months earlier but had only just been released from the bishopric. I mean, he’s the kind of person any organization would be happy to make good use of—friendly, generous, capable and committed—so I could readily imagine why he had been covering multiple bases for the church. 

Then again, I cover multiple bases for the church too, despite lacking many of the qualities of this family friend. In my estimation, my primary virtue is that I show up more often than not. And in a congregation where the arrival or departure of just a family or two can dramatically expand or shrink the calling pool, people who show up tend to receive multiple callings.  

What I aspire to in life.

Visitors to sacrament meeting probably wouldn’t notice anything amiss—Sundays here look like Sundays pretty much anywhere else in the world—but finding enough people to fill the roster of ward callings is a perpetual challenge. As a result, boundary policing is less rigorous, and people get to do things here that they might not in a ward with a deeper bench. Mostly I count this as a good thing.

When I attended a student ward, for example, the congregation was full of priesthood holders who could pass the sacrament. Once I was asked to do so and happily obliged. Just as I took my place in the front row the bishop called me up to the stand. “I can’t have you pass the sacrament without a white shirt.” Duly chastened I rejoined the congregation and someone else took my place.

That’s never happened to me here. Women wear pants, men take off their jackets—the rare ones that even have one on—without waiting for the presiding authority to do so, and members from around the world wear their traditional dress without anyone batting an eye. I like this pragmatic approach to the dress code and think it is a fine match for the informal nature of the services we put on, characterized as they are by distractions for young and old during even our most reverent Sunday moments.

But not everyone agrees that wearing whatever you like to church is a good thing. There was a kerfluffle at ward council once when a missionary asked the bishop to do something about the priest who had blessed the sacrament while wearing a black tie—“Black is for funerals!” We have also had lessons where some members insisted that white shirts and ties are the “gold standard” of dress and grooming, even if they wouldn’t turn someone away for not meeting that standard. So while the boundary might be porous, there does seem to be a desire that some kind of standard be in place.

Which brings me to something more important than dress—namely, callings. As I said above, in my ward, people get to do things that they probably wouldn’t in a ward with a deeper bench (speaking for myself at least). Again, I tend to think that this is mostly a good thing, with people who may not be natural leaders, say, receiving leadership callings. My sense is that most people are willing to sustain those who simply lack some or all of the habits of highly effective people.

But what about those who lack some or all of the traditional markers of commitment to the church? What kind of callings could you imagine someone holding who wasn’t, say, endowed? How about the unmarried or those who are not sealed to a spouse? What about someone who doesn’t hold a temple recommend or pay a full tithe? Could you imagine someone like that in a leadership calling (and what counts as leadership)? In my experience, ticking all those boxes narrows the pool down to a handful of the usual suspects, all of whom already have a calling or two. What do you do when you’ve run out of temple recommend holders but still have, say, an Elders Quorum to staff? Call someone who shows up or add it to another’s plate?

I guess this post is about where we draw the line in our calculation of the characteristics required for service in the church. Would you be disappointed if someone you knew to be less than fully committed to the program of the church were “promoted” to a leadership position? Or are you guided by D&C 4, content that those with a desire to serve are called to the work? Personally, I take kind of a “There but for the grace of God go I” approach to those who serve in a lay ministry in any position, but I’d be interested to hear how you approach the human resources challenges that arise when callings to be filled outstrip the obvious candidates.


  1. Great post Peter. That white shirt 1950s American Encyclopedia salesman tradition — is rubbish. Love the photo of you in my backyard. CQ.

  2. Thanks, it’s time to come back!

  3. Deep South says:

    We’re a smaller ward. I’ve held a youth presidency calling without a temple recommend. I’ve been asked to be in another presidency without a temple recommend, and declined. Our ward had another member serve long-term in a youth presidency without a temple recommend, and that member is now president of an organization, still without a recommend. In both cases the members are previously endowed, married in temple, etc, but just haven’t seen a need to set foot in a temple for 5-10 years.
    A few years ago the YW presidency was suddenly released once they were all working full time, outside the home, establishing careers related to their graduate degrees, with baby/toddler children in daycare (when they were called none were working full time). I guess that was where the line was crossed. None of the current presidency work full time. Or have graduate degrees.

  4. There’s an important distinction you sort of glide over between having the markers of commitment, and actually being fully committed. And you don’t give enough credit to the importance of showing up consistently. If people are fully committed and can be counted on to show up, they can serve in just about any capacity, no matter how they prefer to dress. If they aren’t able to attend regularly, or if they aren’t really committed to the church, there are still some possible callings, but it’s a much shorter list. I wouldn’t take your experience in student wards as a rule. Even along the Wasatch, filling callings with the people you actually have can still be an issue.

  5. nobody, really says:

    We’ve got weeks where every priesthood holder at church is either on the stand, blessing the sacrament, or passing the sacrament. We’ve got people in leadership positions who either are or who have recently been “shakin’ up”. Auxiliaries might have a president only, no counselors. We’ve discussed this situation at length, and the message we choose to send is “we need you, and serious sins don’t excuse you of that need”. Some of the old-school pearl clutchers get bent out of shape, but they acknowledge that they aren’t themselves in a position to take on two or three more callings.

  6. I didn’t mean to downplay showing up; at the end of the day I think it’s what matters most because without setting foot in the door, none of your other qualities matter much to the congregation. A light under a bushel, and all that.

  7. never forget says:

    Where is the picture from? Just a general river/lake and state/country. I’d like to visit.

  8. Cynthia H says:

    Just last week my bishop asked if I would serve as primary pianist. I said I would but that I would prefer to not play a few songs like Book of Mormon Stories and Follow the Prophet (because I believe we should follow Jesus and be guided by the prophet). My bishop said they would go in another direction. When he stood on Sunday in fast and testimony meeting and bore testimony of how we need all kinds of people at church no matter what their beliefs I couldn’t help but laugh at the hypocrisy of his words. If that were the case he would have let me work with the primary presidency and chorister to come up with suitable replacements for the aforementioned songs. I am in a suburb of Salt Lake.

  9. Never forget, that’s the Traunstein rising above the Traunsee in Austria, the northern end of the lake district known locally as the Salzkammergut.

  10. Let me know if you visit never forget. You will get cookies and a ride up there.

  11. never forget says:

    Wonderful, putting it down for a visit spring 2021!

  12. In my small ward our recently released RS president was married to a wonderful, supportive man who is not a member of our church (they’re still married; she just has a new calling). Our ward and stake YWs presidents are also married to men not of our faith (which may give one of our past stake presidents indigestion, but oh well). Our stake RS president is an amazing woman in her early 30s who has never been married. Our EQ president is on his second marriage. We’re lucky if we have two deacons to pass the sacrament on any given Sunday (along with men of all ages filling in) and I’m excited when we have a new convert pass, often in jeans, and definitely lacking a tie. I don’t want anyone to be too jealous as we do still have people who judge people’s appearances and circumstances. But I’m so grateful for current leadership who embrace those who are dedicated and willing to serve regardless of whether they fit the mold of ages past.

  13. recovering-clerk says:

    This is one of the reasons I did not renew my recommend 18 months ago. I had declined being the ward clerk again after a boundary change, which nobody ever followed up on why I had to decline. I had been a ward/branch clerk or secretary for over fifteen years, it was the only calling I had since being dunked. I am content to be parked in the land of misfit toys, also known as our Sunday School presidency. I cannot help but still think I am an ‘A’ lister as nobody has reached out to us about why we haven’t renewed and are no longer full tithe payers even when I show up at my intermountain ward in my clan tartan.

    I know that I am now skewing the ‘key metrics’ for the unit and regret the load this shifts to others, but until those who were inspired to lead can work past the institutional biases we risk becoming an exclusive sect.

    Never the less, three more years until we spin the Bishop wheel, who knows what that will bring.

  14. Not a Cougar says:

    Cynthia, I don’t see hypocrisy in your bishop’s actions. You indicated a limit on what you would be willing to do within the calling, and the bishop appears to believe that the calling requires (or may require in the future) actions that fall outside what you are willing to do. That is hardly hypocrisy. We can argue about whether the bishop’s view of what is necessary to perform the calling is truly accurate, but better that than call you to the position and then demand you perform actions you are uncomfortable and unwilling to perform.

  15. Jack Hughes says:

    I’ve been in small wards like this, where underrated people without the traditional “qualifications” were sometimes put in leadership positions, mainly because there was no one else willing to do it. More often than not, they rose to the occasion and pleasantly surprised me with their performance.

    My current ward has a different problem. Many of the important callings are filled by people who tend to have conservative black-and-white fundamentalist leanings. The more nuanced believers who serve with them get burned out from having to deal with them and ask to be released. This leaves the rigid members running everything, and the whole ward suffers as a result.

    Another problem that was not addressed by the OP is that of local church leadership dynasties. My current bishop is the son of the local temple president, who also has 2 other adult sons in the area who are bishops. I’ve heard of European countries in which most bishops and stake presidents all belong to the same extended family. I would much rather see struggling converts and lapsed recommend holders making valiant attempts to serve in leadership callings than have those callings filled by people who’s primary qualification is their last name.

  16. Not a Cougar says:

    Jack you would have hated Church leadership for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. Nepotism was rampant, though we did get J. Golden Kimball as a 70 out of it, so I’m mollified somewhat. It’s as if they took their cue from European royalty.

  17. People talk about thinking outside the box. I like that we’re talking about extending callings outside the box. I remember once in a past ward a convert of two or three months was called to be the Relief Society president; she had a couple of counselors to shepherd her through those things like temple matters, and between the three of them they did a great job. I once had a branch president who’d been baptized pretty much by accident and never went to church again, until he was called to lead that branch, which he did in cowboy boots and hat. (Yeah, the hat came off for meetings.) That branch was a tremendous church experience for me. It doesn’t always happen, but it seems that for the most part when people really feel needed and necessary, they rise to the occasion.

  18. nobody, really says:

    I was in a recent training session with a GA. Somebody brought up the issue of their small unit spending all of their time giving rides – picking up youth for mutual, rides to and from church, and they spend so much time giving rides they don’t plan for good content programs. The GA response was “call someone to be the ride coordinator”.

    There’s this implicit assumption that if you extend a calling to someone, they will show up and do it. That’s quite a leap of logic. Just putting someone in the RS Presidency doesn’t mean that they will show up on Sunday. Calling someone to be the clerk doesn’t mean he won’t leave right after sacrament meeting. Even that former Bishop sitting on the back row can decide not to attend, even if he is teaching Gospel Doctrine that day. Giving someone a responsibility doesn’t mean they will choose to be responsible.

  19. Taiwan Missionary says:

    I guess the White Shirt Legend still lives on in the Church, despite Dallin Oaks having explicitly stated that it is not to be a requirement for passing the sacrament. Cultural norms are hard to change, and our need for markers and boundaries, our need to say to another, you do not qualify, that need seems to stay pretty strong. In a perverse way, the White Shirt Insistence is a sign of the strength of the Church in a particular area. There are enough active members and priesthood holders that local leaders feel they can afford to exclude people because of minor things.

    Another surface boundary marker is facial hair, the insistence on shaving off mustaches, goatees, and beards, by those called to hold leadership positions. When I lived in Maryland, “traditional” members had largely moved to the outer suburbs, and the facial hair restrictions were rigorously enforced there. The Church in the inner suburbs became populated by immigrants and less-traditional members; for example, there was a French-speaking ward Bear D.C. composed mostly of Francophone Africans. That part of the Church had Bishops with beards; local Church leaders had more trouble finding people for positions, and were less picky.

    My favorite story is about a man I know in the Seattle area. He told me his Stake President called him to be Bishop, and told him he had to get rid of his beard. He replied, “I am sure that there are many men in the ward more qualified than I am to be Bishop.” His point was that there weren’t many others, and his SP knew it. He kept his beard as he served as Bishop and that was the end of it.

    Someday we are going to be able to past these surface boundary markers. The thing is, I personally like white shirts and don’t like facial hair, but it is time we get past these markers. Christ made a point of ministering to the excluded, those who were not normally inside the group.

    I have had a Bishop, later our Stake President, who made a point of calling people to positions who were not always obvious fits, who were not part of ward and stake elites. This would upset some ward and stake stalwarts. He replied that these people needed the chance to serve and shine in prominent positions, too. When warned of possible failure, he replied that he was okay with that. I really appreciated that.

  20. Taiwan Missionary: Oaks quoted the white shirt request (quoting Holland) in a talk in 2008: He said: “Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a valuable teaching on this subject in general conference 13 years ago. Since most of our current deacons were not even born when these words were last spoken here, I repeat them for their benefit and that of their parents and teachers: “May I suggest that wherever possible a white shirt be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the sacrament.”

    By far the best wards I’ve been in (and branches), including the one I grew up in, had shallow bench strength, and far more diversity in who was called to run the ward. Being in a “strong” Mormon area is kind of the worst as a result. I couldn’t agree more with Jack Hughes, and the dynastic leadership is a huge problem.

  21. east of the mississippi says:

    The slimmer the pickings… the less pickier you can be about those who serve.

    And does anybody ever look at that sea of white shirts and ties… and not think… we do look like a cult.

  22. I live ‘behind the Zion Curtain’ in Utah and have my whole life. I’ve found that common sense is the most important trait anyone can have, whatever position they may be called to. Nit-picking over the color of a man’s tie seems lacking in that; as who really gives a fig what color the tie is, as long as the Elder or Brother is wearing one? In certain other states casual dress is the standard, with blue jeans and bolo tie being acceptable for Sacrament or Fast & Testimony meeting. More formal settings (such as working in the Temple) might deserve a higher standard to be held, but who decides? I was inactive for a great many years due to perceived idiocy and questioning on my part of members in high places (i.e. not fully supporting the Bishopric or leaders). I’ve recently begun to stop paying full tithe and my Temple Recommend as a result will not be renewed. I personally don’t think Jesus nor God cares what we wear to church, as long as we follow the commandments and have faith and respect for them in our hearts. We’re often told the mortal body is clay and it’s the inner soul that’s important. If that’s so, why censure the member who isn’t dressed exactly as some other member might think is appropriate? As long as the clothing is clean and modest. I had an inactive friend who had no dresses, for example, and her Bishop cautioned her about attending sacrament meeting in a pants suit. She became fully inactive. That’s just stupid on that Bishop’s part and damaging as well. Close minded people should NOT be called as leaders nor serve as such, but then I guess that’s judging them, just like they judge others. Judging is never acceptable in my standards.

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    I grew up in a small branch, so I still sort of have that branch sensibility about orthodoxy markers. On any given Sunday I might wear a white shirt, or a striped shirt, or a blue shirt, or maybe even pink. I might wear a tie, or I might go without. I might wear a sport coat or a sweater, or maybe not.I’m happy to do a calling, but if you don’t like the way I dress while doing it, you’re free to release me. I would actually prefer not to have a calling and to just sit passively in our worship services, so releasing me would be doing me a favor.

  24. I was once in a ward that was neither deep with proactive members, but wasn’t that slim either. Kind of on the border. The Bishop however, directed the energy of those pro-active, usually leaders, to mostly non-leadership callings. That did leave him though without a High Priest Group Leader, so the HPGL that was called didn’t have a temple recommend (his councilors did though). The HPGL was active, and I don’t know why he didn’t have a recommend, but I think everyone was okay with it.

  25. Taiwan Missionary says:

    Angela C:

    Thanks for taking the time to research Dallin Oaks’ statement on white shirts, which I obviously did not do, last night, when I wrote my comment, and for correcting the wrong impression I gave. Perhaps my faulty memory took the “whenever possible” loophole. and exaggerated it. Wishful thinking on my part?

    Oh, well. Perhaps someday we will be blessed with a Church leader who says, “while we should dress nicely, the spirit with which we take the Sacrament is far more important than the color of the shirt we wear.”

  26. I attend a branch that is quite small. The size varies a bit, and when we drop below a critical threshold, they call people from neighboring units to staff roles. It will typically be as a member of the branch presidency, though, because I suspect it would be hard to get someone to agree to travel every (other) week to our unit to be a SS teacher. Offer them a bit of “prestige”, though, and they will make the trip.

  27. I've said this before says:

    I can barely imagine this problem. My ward has more than 500 adults. We have an apostle, some seventies, General Board members (current and past), General Authorities emeritus, and an overabundance of returned mission presidents and temple presidents, with their similarly experienced wives. An unconscionable number of ward members work at or are retired from Church Office Building employment. Our music people are mostly TabCaTS or professional Church music people. There is a vast gulf between numbers of available hands and the miniscule number of non-made-up callings. Most of us have no opportunity to do anything but clean toilets on Saturday.

    Taking your ward and mine as extremes, I suppose we can say that “on average” nobody is overworked and everybody is wanted.

  28. We have a small ward, with slim pickings, but I love it. We are very diverse, we all seem to get along, no one is too cliquey. We have several sisters with nonmember or inactive husbands and even a couple of men with nonmember or inactive wives. All of those have been called to about anything except maybe Bishop. Currently the gospel doctrine teacher, the RS pres, and the seminary teacher all have nonmember husbands. Those ladies have also served in YW. I suspect our bishop is happy to call anyone to amything, if they will just show up.

    As for the white shirt thing; Recently, a newly ordained deacon passed the sacrament in a white shirt, tie and shorts. And a ponytail. His family barely scrapes by, and he is growing like a weed, so that was the best he had. I was happy to see him get lots of pats on the back, etc. He is an exceptional kid, and we love him.

    The black tie thing is just ridiculous. And my hubby doesnt even own a sports jacket or suit jacket or whatever. He wears a white shirt though, and usually a silly tie. And hes been in the bishopric. My dau in law wears pants frequently becuase my monkey autistic grkids are difficult and its easier if she doesnt have to worry about flashing anyone. I am mostly old school, though my mom thinks its horrible that I dont wear hose.

    As everyone flees Cali’s high taxes and prices, we are excited when anyone new comes, dont care what they are wearing, lol.

    Ok, that was long. Sorry, lol

  29. it's a series of tubes says:

    “on average” nobody is overworked and everybody is wanted.

    As is the case with averages in general, such a statement would mask the truth that many, many are overworked and many, many feel unwanted.

  30. I live in a western US ward that is not particularly small, and generally does not have a difficult time staffing the various callings. We don’t have a huge overabundance of talent, but we have enough capable and committed people. That said, we have lots of signs of less-than-orthodox leadership. Our bishop and both counselors have beards, and have since they were called. One of the counselors regularly wears a non-white shirt, and the other is very liberal, both politically and religiously. We have multiple non-members with callings and have had non-members speak in sacrament meeting on several occasions. Quite a few of the women in the ward wear pants on a regular basis. The list could go on. It’s really a wonderful ward–it feels open and welcoming in a way that I have rarely experienced in the church.

  31. Bill Lund says:

    I find that the further away you get from Utah, the more open people are to various dress at church. In Germany there was a sister you spoke at sacrament meeting who was wearing pants (gasp!). In London many people were dressed in clean, pleasant clothes, but not the “gold standard.” (By the way, have we forgotten the Zoramites?) In my home ward in the bosom of Utah I wear whatever dress shirt is next. One half of them are white, and the other half are white with a blue stripe. I hope to show people that there is more than one way to dress for church.

  32. Coast Girl says:

    I held leadership positions in my branch without a temple recommend (I’m a woman). We have serious staffing issues, and yet my husband (who rarely ever attended, although a member) was asked to give the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting, which he accepted (to my surprise) and then was told he couldn’t because he “wasn’t wearing a tie.” FYI, this was within a year or so of having 2 participating members being put in prison (one for murder, the other for child abuse). Dress markers aren’t the most reliable judge of character, in fact, they make it a lot easier to disguise real malice.😞

  33. In a previous ward, that had many members who were struggling spiritually, physically, mentally, or a variety of the three, my husband was extended the calling to be in a bishopric by the stake presidency. He needed to consider his willingness and ability to accept it and told them he would get back with them. Within the week, they had rescinded the calling, called him to repentance (for whatever was going on in his life that stopped him from an immediate yes answer) and told the new bishop he had said “no”. Even though his eventual answer had been yes.

    It was the beginning of the end for us. We have since moved to a new state and a new ward. I’m the only person in the family that has a calling. I haven’t attended SS in over a year and RS in 6 months. And only infrequently make it to SM. But they have me locked into an “activities” calling. I quit this week. I don’t know if they have taken me seriously yet.

  34. The late Clayton Christensen wrote a great article (Ensign Feb 2007) about being innovative when extending Church callings.

    I’ve said this (3:03 pm) – your comment resonates with me – I feel like the disbanding of High Priest groups was great for everywhere except Utah, where I now live, and the EQ roster is enormous. We are crammed in the back part of the gym and no one notices when I decide to go watch sports.

    When I lived in the Northeast US 1999-2005 we met together as HP and EQ. I also lived in Texas which felt “just right” although we weren’t always two-deep for YM activities. In my Utah ward now we are about five-deep (for each quorum) in leaders.

  35. Great OP and great comments! In honor of the late Clayton Christensen, may I recommend his BYU-I May 20, 2010 forum address. In it, he recounts several examples of unqualified, unworthy, sometimes inactive people being called to serve and having their lives and the lives of those they served changed for generations to come. I no longer attend the church, but listening to this devotional address makes me realize that God’s hand is (sometimes) in this work

  36. Seventy and feeling it says:

    My dad in the thirties, was living with my mom and older siblings out in the hinterland of a branch in eastern Oregon. They were unable to attend church often, and my dad relapsed to smoking, drinking coffee and liquor with his neighbors, although he was endowed and sealed to my mom a year after their marriage. The stake president called him to lead a new Sunday School group being organized in the local area. He was one of the few who held the priesthood. My dad rose to the occasion, quit his habits, and did the job. It was was the only formal church job I knew of that he ever held, but from that point on, he was a faithful home teacher and a high priest all the years I remember growing up , attended church every Sunday, and spent the last four years of his life doing six endowments a day in the temple.
    My mom was pretty much the same, although she submitted hundreds of names to the temple for temple work from middle age on. To their thirty-five grandchildren and over a 100 great grandchildren, they are considered stalwart examples of faithfulness that they all look back on and lean on. I do also. I’ve served in just about every calling possible in the church for a woman, and spend most every Sunday in church all my life. I had many more opportunities to develop skllls and talents than my parents ever had, that have made me one of what one might call a typical ward leader, but I’m certain their place in the hereafter is more exalted than mine will ever be. I have been grateful to serve, but I am so very grateful for others to be given chances to grow. I’m so happy to support whoever gets called, no matter their current level of “appropriateness”. We chose to retire away from Utah and now live in a struggling, small ward in the northwest. We love the diversity in social class and ethnicity. Most ward members are grateful for all who attend, and/or serve no matter what they wear. I’m with Elder Todd Christofferson, who just recently stated that the new handbook will show that there is a place for everyone who chooses to come join us in Christ’s kingdom. So glad I get to participate in the continual restoration of the church and pray I can stay faithful until I am “safely dead” like I heard Marion G. Romney once say.

  37. Midwestern Member says:

    I live in a small ward in the Midwest. We are the smallest ward with the largest boundaries in our stake and our members have major obstacles in their lives which keep them from being self reliant. We are also in a very old ward which limits our ability to function. I’m the RS President. In our ward, I’m just happy when people show up. One of my counselors does not have a temple recommend and wears pants to church. I don’t care. She’s sincere, loves the sisters, and while rough around the edges, she is willing to pitch in when I ask. My other counselor doesn’t have a car (like many members in our ward), but she is good a problem solving and finds ways to church. If I were waiting for someone to meet the ideal requirements for a counselor, I would never get a counselor. For the record, I wear pants to church in the winter because I’m not going to freeze to death just for the sake of being culturally appropriate.

    Our stake has called two couples to serve in our ward because we can no longer fill the callings with the people we have— but they won’t change the boundaries.

  38. Thank you all for sharing your experiences. This has been an insightful exchange, and I feel like I’m the better for it.

  39. Well at some point the wards shrink to branches or get folded into another ward. At some point if you have effective leadership you’re potentially harming people who would otherwise have the support of a reorganized ward.

    The answer is…Missionary work is the life blood of the church and the few wards or branches organized themselves around true missionary work all the fellowshiping it entails don’t have these problems for long. The active members flourish, the new converts stay, and many on the margins return. It can happen, but only where there’s real sustained unity of purpose action, not just goodwill.

    Those who like to make excuses that, “this time and place is a different exception” are more often than not wrong.

  40. Should read: if you “don’t” have effective leadership

  41. anon for this one says:

    recovering clerk: Be careful my friend. In my ward several years ago, one of my neighbors was called to be 2d Counselor in the SS Presidency. The previous counselor had died in a tragic accident a year earlier and the position had not been filled for over a year after his death.

  42. Avid reader says:

    Little background. Newly married, later in life.
    Spouse traditional, culturally Mormony Mormon.
    I am outspoken outlier, decidedly not orthodox, don’t apologize for it, I like Jesus, I don’t think he gives a shit about white shirts, pants on women, or that I choose to say no to most callings.

    Husband would love to have calling. But he’s been overlooked, despite the fact he is the poster boy for the party line.

    Maybe cause our ward is packed with party liners. Maybe bc we are newly married and God told the bishopric to ignore us. Either way, it’s great. We know this little break gives us time to figure out who we are together before we move to another ward where we know we will serve like hell.

    Cause that’s who we are.

  43. Geoff-Aus says:

    I live in a ward in a conservative part of Australia. We have about 30% Polynesians. I am one of the few who don’t wear white shirts. We have about 100 active.
    Often we have deacons, and priests wearing white shirts, with lap laps, and thongs(flip flops). Today we had 2 wearing lap laps, and another deacon with a beard (didn’t look much over 14)
    10 years ago a bishop refused me a TR because I didn’t agree that “obedience is the first law of heaven”, the SP overruled him but since then I have not given a talk or had a calling that did not have cleaning in the name.

  44. After I found out that the woman who got pregnant while sleeping with my then husband was later called to serve as Primary president during their marriage, I realized the church has no standards whatsoever for leadership. Why would being single cause anyone to pause when being an unrepentant adulterer does not.

  45. Our ward Sunday School President is a wonderful unendowed 20-year-old young man who for personal reasons has chosen not to serve a mission. He comes every Sunday in his white shirt and ponytail down his back. He does a fabulous job. Several ladies in our ward wear pants. One brother wears a kilt and his cute 3 year old son wears one now as well. We also have a lovely married lesbian couple who attends our ward. They are unable to be baptized so not on the church records but we definitely consider them part of the ward and love them as such. Obviously, I’m in a more liberal ward than some, but after 28 years in Utah I absolutely love it!

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