Going Callingless

A few months ago I made a decision. I will not be accepting any more church callings. I am currently Executive Secretary, and my plan was to continue until the Bishop was released, and then not accept any new callings. His five-year anniversary is coming up this fall, so I assumed it would happen then. But our stake was reorganized on Sunday, and he was called into the new stake presidency as a counselor, so that accelerated things a bit. Below is the text I sent him after the conference on Sunday:

“[Name], congratulations on the new calling!

I haven’t talked to you about this, but it has been my intention to ride with you until you are released as Bishop, and then I need to be released at the same time. I will not be accepting any more church callings due to my physical limitations (very poor vision due to glaucoma and poor hearing). I will be happy to give a prayer or to give the occasional talk (as long as I have enough lead time to memorize any text I want to use without having to read over the pulpit). 

My vision in my left eye is blurry; that’s mostly a helper eye. My vision in my right eye is poor. I can only read by removing my glasses and sticking the text about three inches from my right eye.

I realize that not having a calling may seem unusual in our do it yourself church. But that is the price of my continued active engagement.”

The Bishop was understanding and a good sport about it. It’s not a done deal yet but that is what’s going to happen.

Callings are important in the Church from two directions. First, as a lay church, we need people to fulfill callings to get all the work done. Second, active engagement tends to have the effect of tying people to the institution.

But there also has to be room for some people like myself to just be parishioners without having a calling.

I of course have held callings my entire life. I once had a bishop who tried to groom me for leadership, so he called me as an EQP and then as Executive Secretary. (The leadership bit didn’t really take.) But most of my callings in the church have been teaching: four tours of duty in GD, a long stint as the stake institute teacher, EQ instructor, youth SS teacher, etc. One might think that I could still teach even with my limited physical abilities. But the last couple of times I subbed I had real problems. One sister was making a long comment, and she spoke so quickly and softly that I couldn’t understand a single word she was saying. I panicked trying to figure out how to finesse my response when she stopped speaking. I think I said something general and moved on, but that made me realize I have no business standing in front of a church classroom anymore.

It has been hard to acclimate to my physical limitations. I’m tall and trim (6’5”, 225), I work out, I still have brown in my hair. But there are some things I just can’t do well anymore. Jana recently recommended a TV series on Netflix about an Orthodox Jewish family, which sounded right up my alley, so I gave it a try. I didn’t last five minutes because it was in Hebrew with subtitles, and the subtitles were too fast for me and kept appearing on different parts of the screen. I just have to accept that I’m getting older and there is stuff I can no longer do. And one of those things I can no longer do is hold a calling. I realize it’s not in the church model for people to be only passive parishioners. But if you want me to keep coming to church, you’re going to have to accept me that way.

Comments

  1. Damon Murphy says:

    Shtisel is great on Netflix, but best when viewed with the subtitles. Might be a challenge. But – it’s fantastic. I also think your no calling stance is solid, particularly in the short term. You might want to leave the door cracked long term, based on your own future preferences. Good luck.

  2. east of the mississippi says:

    You’ve served well… and have the right to say no more… at least for now. Oh I wish I had the conviction to take the same stance… it would be nice to be a consumer and not a provider… at least for a little while.

  3. You would be perfect as an official for men’s church basketball. (-:

  4. John Mansfield says:

    This highlights that 90+% of callings within the church come down to two things: lead or teach. “Doing something” responsibilities, such as working the bishops’ storehouse, are few. The best of us serve others using more than words through what we now call ministering assignments or on their own initiative. O that I were more like them.

  5. A truly lay clergy with very few long-term callings is in my opinion one of the most inspired elements of the institutional Church. When today’s Primary teacher can be tomorrow’s Bishop and today’s Bishop tomorrow’s Primary teacher, we show that the only power in Church leadership is the power to serve.

    But, unfortunately, we can’t seem to completely get away from elements of corporate hierarchy, as Kevin notes with the bishop who “tried to groom [him] for leadership.” Bishops usually have been counselors or at least executive secretaries, ward clerks, and/or elders’ quorum presidents. (And indeed there is so much that a bishop has to do with so little training that it’s hard to see how someone could take up that mantle without prior experience!) At the end of their service, they rarely go to Primary or youth Sunday school but usually to the high council or to some “important” stake calling. Other members, meantime, seem to become “destined” to lifelong non-leadership service. In some wards, there’s a notable absence of converts in leadership roles. Or a few members may seem to always be rotated through the “major” callings.

  6. With recent developments, the number of callings have been significantly reduced. No more YM’s Presidency, no HP Group leaders and teachers, fewer teachers in RS, SS, YW, etc. This has caused a calling crunch in our ward, as many people can’t adjust to being “just a member.”

    Also we have a large group of “older” Elders who want to be ordained High Priests, but such ordinations have not occurred for five or six years in our area unless justified by a leadership calling. So we have older Elders sitting on the sidelines, unable to participate when their sons and nephews are ordained High Priests for leadership callings in Bishoprics or High Council. Several of these fully active and faithful Elders have asked to be ordained as High Priests so they can stand in the circle when their sons are ordained, but the answer was a firm “no.” This is certainly a new form of hierarchy!

  7. John Taber says:

    I’ve wondered off and on, with all the changes President Nelson has made, whether we’re going to go to smaller wards in North America. Currently wards elsewhere have to have 150 members, but English-speaking conventional wards in North America (and French-speaking wards in Quebec) have to have 300. I haven’t kept up with all the changes in the Handbook, but they seem to be leaning more and more toward provisions for short-staffed units.

    I only seem to have a calling because my stake president likes having me around – he released me as stake membership clerk after sixteen years (with three different stake presidents), then turned around a few months later and called me as stake financial clerk.

  8. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    “But there also has to be room for some people like myself to just be parishioners without having a calling.” I think this is a real problem for many Church leaders. The thinking, directly from SLC, is that callings help people remain active, or that they can be used to activate those who do not regularly engage. In addition to getting the work done, callings are tools. We don’t like parishioners. They’re viewed as passive consumers rather than active participants, and we like to think of a Ward as a community of people who contribute to a common cause. Of course, I have no doubt that you, Kevin, will remain engaged and actively contribute to your Ward, in many ways. But we’re not trained to appreciate contributions that don’t fit neatly within a calling and treat those we view as not contributing as freeloaders. I’m of the mind that 80% of what happens in Church callings is simply unnecessary busy-work. If we did away with that busy-work most of us would be mere parishioners (like in other Churches). But would we all fall away and stop attending, or being ‘active’. I suspect that there are many who would get a lot more out of their worship if they were able to simply consume.

  9. John Mansfield says:

    ” I suspect that there are many who would get a lot more out of their worship if they were able to simply consume.”

    A couple decades back I was in a ward that due to low numbers of youth changed to one of those combined schedules with another ward: both wards doing second and third hours of meetings at the same time, one ward doing sacrament meeting before those two shared hours, and the other ward doing so after. My ward was the one holding sacrament meeting at the end. It was such a lovely change; instead of half the people in the room thinking at some level about what they would be doing soon for Primary/Sunday School/Relief Society/Young Women’s/Priesthood, instead we were all just there sharing that hour in the chapel. Holding meetings one after another in our post-1980 fashion is efficient, but there was something to allowing each meeting to be its own thing with some breathing space around it.

  10. I’m sorry to read about the vision issues. There is no finer Gospel Doctrine teacher in the entire church.

  11. Kevin, I’m curious if you also included ministering assignments (I still refer to it as home teachers and visiting teachers) in your no more church callings email. I have looked for the “opt out” box on that for years. I have had awful experiences with VT–both visiting/ministering and being visited/ministered to–in several wards I’ve lived in, and after a horrible experience a couple of years ago that became my final straw, I told the RS President (who was actually part of the horrible experience) to remove me from the ministering list. I wanted no part of it anymore. My husband and I then served a mission in a foreign country for 18 months, and now that we are home, with a new RS, I just learned two women (sigh…it will be a challenge especially as last October one sent me a note with a little warning of my potential evilness because of the Biden/Harris sign on my front lawn) are assigned to me and I assume I’ll be assigned ministering duties as well. I do not want to begin this again.

    Sorry if this isn’t on topic, but I think it is? Church callings, ministering assignments–what to do?

  12. Very sorry to hear about these physical difficulties, Kevin.

    I know you didn’t write this post for the purpose of eliciting sympathy, but I am sympathetic. You’ve been a source of inspiration and courage to me and many others over the years. (And knowing you’ve had sight issues, I’m now even more in awe of your output both as an attorney as a religious scholar.)

    Yes, you deserve to have room to “just be a parishioner” in your real life ward, but I hope somehow you are able to stay involved in your “online ward” here.

  13. Kerry Westover says:

    Kevin,

    My wife and I served as church coordinators at a senior care home and no resident had any calling. They came to worship and if able to give prayers or lead music or bear their testimony they did so. Usually members from several wards gave talks, musical numbers, planned and conducted the meetings. Ministering was done by the same wards members. The residents enjoyed the services but were not required to participate or hold callings of any sort. Many had served faithfully much of their lives in various callings from primary teachers to mission presidents, etc. I believe that there are times in our lives when we just need to be members without callings or church assignments. This may be due to issues whether physical, mental, emotional or even spiritual where being an attending only member would be appropriate. Shouldn’t be only when you are in a care center or home bound. Your situation with your eyes and hearing issues would be one of those times. You have served faithfully over the years and should not feel any guilt or remorse for asking to be calling-less. God loves us and knows our situation and needs. Sometimes we need a rest. Sometimes we need to let our leaders know our feelings and concerns. Not all callings in the Church are guided by inspiration, sometimes it is more desperation. Sometimes “No” to a calling is the right thing. Besides your contributions to this websites are a form of ministering to those of us who read it. I admire and support your letter to your former Bishop. They need to know your concerns. May God Bless You! Many thanks!

  14. Then there are those of us who would dearly love, just once, having a calling that made use of our particular talents, but are unable to because there *are* no callings in some wards — mine — between leadership and toilet cleaning. I know the floors need to be swept, and Humanitarian Services needs hands to stuff toiletries into baggies for emergency kits … but I don’t believe God gave me the gifts he gave me for them to go entirely unused by the Church for an entire lifetime. The cultural and recreational activities that used to allow ward members to shine, and contribute, have all been stripped away with recent decisions to run a bare-bones Church into oblivion. All that’s left is to sit in the pews listening to talks and lessons geared to a younger and more married demographic, and make tithing payments.

    I’m sorry for your physical limitations, Kevin. I’ve faced some which I have tried to hide so that bishops can’t use them as excuses not to call me to do anything but vacuum. It doesn’t matter.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments!

    Valerie, I meant to mention that I will also opt out of being a ministering brother. They can put me in their system if they like, but I won’t actually do anything.

    And I’m not going anywhere as far as the blog goes.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Ardis, I’m always mystified by your experience in the heart of Salt Lake. Why you’re local leaders are not all over your knowledge, competence and willingness is hard for me to fathom. But then I’ve always lived far from Zion, where leaders can only dream of someone with your skills.

  17. Wondering says:

    Kevin, Thank you so much for your contributions here.
    Ardis, I’m with you in not believing God us gifts for them to go entirely unused in building His kingdom, but, as much as I have wished they could be used in the Church, I’ve had to conclude that there are ways to use such gifts elsewhere but still in His service. I think you have found some.

    Just last Sunday I had a lengthy conversation with a friend/fellow ward member on our ward’s abandonment of activities for adults, as well as the “decisions to run a bare-bones Church into oblivion.” Bishops could probably change that locally, if they would. In the meantime, the ward is less and less a community because we do not do things together that would build bonds of friendship. I continue to mourn with those that mourn the loss of that community.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    I grew up in the church the most wonderful way possible—in a small branch that was basically an extended family. We did everything together. At the time I sometimes lamented our relatively small size, but in retrospect I can’t imagine a better way to grow up in the Church.

  19. Anon this time says:

    I have a special needs child who requires so much attention that I have not been able to attend church for some time (even before covid)—I stay home with him and let the rest of the family attend.

    In the time since this situation began, I have made clear to leadership that I do not have the capacity or desire to hold a calling. Leadership still tries about once a year, and then I have to remind them. Last time they were tone deaf enough to call me to a position working with children my son’s age—in other words, planning activities that my son wouldn’t be able to participate in. I turned it down more gracefully than I could have, points for me!

    Would love to be a fly on a wall and know leadership’s motivations. I suspect it’s utter desperation at this point. I hope it doesn’t come from a place of “concern.”

  20. Kevin, I am sorry to learn of your increasing physical limitations. You have given extraordinary service to the many who benefitted from your lessons and insights, including me. One of the great losses for me of our moving out of the Ward was losing the weekly connection and drinking from your deep well of knowledge even though we still would encounter each other during Stake events or when I came back to visit.

    You have taught me so much about what it means to serve in truly meaningful ways and how we should approach care for others as well as ourselves as true disciples of Jesus Christ.

    I look forward to next time we can talk in person.

  21. How have your limitations affected your law practice?

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Alain.

    Jimbob I’ve got 2 1/2 years to get to Medicare so I’m hanging in until then. I used to do most of my own work, but now I’m overseeing a team so I am able to limp along. If we were civilized and had universal health care I would retire right. Ow.

  23. Michinita says:

    My grandmother stopped attending RS because they called her to lead the music and her wrist pain made that impossible. I wish she would have felt comfortable turning down the calling instead.

    My children’s favorite primary teacher was a nonogenarian. He didn’t teach, but was the second adult in the room. In their words, “He’s so nice and he loves us!”

    I’m with Ardis and Wondering in wishing the church would use my God given gifts, but it seems to only want my husband’s contributions.

  24. Geoff-Aus says:

    I have not had a calling for 10 years. A bishop refused to give me a TR because I was not anti gay marriage, he was overruled by the SP but since that time I have not had a calling or taught a lesson. Revenge?

    2 And they all spake, save it were three, saying: We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom.
    3 And he said unto them: Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are seventy and two years old ye shall come unto me in my kingdom; and with me ye shall find rest.

    I am now 72, the age at which Christ released Apostles, and happy not to have a calling.

    Kevin, It sounds like you need whatever the first presidency are on that they can do conferences, when they are 20 years past their use by date.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Ha, yes Geoff-Aus, I could use some of President Nelson’s vitamin pills!

  26. I’m in a similar situation, I’m bowing out after these latest callings. I’m tired of not being led, I’m tired of not understanding what’s going on, basically I’m tired of being a widget to be moved around at a whim. I’m tired of being ‘acted on’ rather than being able to ‘act’.

  27. Patrick Faulk says:

    Kevin, sorry to hear about your challenges. I’ve been a beneficiary of your insight and wisdom for…can it be nearly thirty years? All the way back to the CompuServe 1st Ward. I hope to see you remain online for many years to come!

  28. I don’t know how common or uncommon this is, but it’s something we need to respect. The Church is voluntary, and there seem to be quite a few who forget that, but also, it doesn’t mean someone is disengaged or on the path to hell just because they don’t have a calling! Our last ward had a LOT of retirees in it, and there was an issue in that a large percentage had said they could no longer accept callings due to similar reasons stated here. Others were simply traveling a lot in their golden years, or snowbirds, or otherwise just not always around to do regular weekly callings.

    There was some lamenting that it was hard to fill callings, but I also noticed that they had way way way too many callings. You don’t need 4 RS teachers (a different one every week). You don’t need 3 gospel doctrine teachers. Do you really need 3 adult leaders for every YW age division? I grew up in a small branch that was like a family, and there was a lot of doubling up on callings, but it wasn’t really that onerous because there were fewer people anyway. I think Nelson’s and other recent reforms have actually removed quite a bit of the make-work that we have had in the past by changing YM leadership, ditching the BSA, cutting to two hour church, and allowing / encouraging merging of classes where necessary. The two-deep teacher rule does add some need, but again, these can be relatively low-level commitments and classes can be merged if needed.

    Sorry about your health issues! You are the only one who can say what your role should be. I would hope your leaders will understand and support you.

  29. jasmiiiin says:

    Some years ago I lived in a ward in Provo and one of the councilors asked my husband and I to meet with him about a calling after services on a Sunday.

    We went and he asked me to be a young women’s leader, and he specifically mentioned that I was to go with the girls on their various summer camps.

    My husband worked full time and our child was not even a year old, I know girls camps aren’t typically ‘high-adventure’ kind of stuff, but organizing and carrying out camping trips with a one year old in tow isn’t very feasible and didn’t make any sense to me. I flatly turned him down, to his face, he was a bit flustered and tried to convince me it could work, my husband sided with me and supported my refusal. The councilor was flustered but still polite and we ended the meeting. It was the only calling I’ve ever turned down (so far).

  30. I’m one of those people who came out of a small branch where everyone felt needed whose members became my extended family. After a couple of moves and a boundary change, I found myself in a ward that matches what Ardis describes. I did try. I made dinner for the missionaries every month, I went to RS activities (although not all), I signed up on the list of willing Primary substitutes, but still have no calling. Too old? Too unmarried? Whatever. It’s been over a year now. That’s a mixed blessing; I realize there are many who might envy me that distinction, but it does make you feel kind of invisible. Anyway, Kevin, it sounds like you’ve earned your retirement. Enjoy responsibility-free Sundays!

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks Cate, I appreciate the good thoughts!

  32. I “had to” be released from my calling (YW Pres) when my husband was called as Bishop 2 months ago. I don’t think I’ll be accepting a calling anytime soon because I can no longer believe they’re inspired. (The YW deserve more stability and continuity than 10 months of pandemic-only leaders; I was keeping the seat warm, at best.)
    And this decision will surely be increasingly controversial in the ward, but I don’t feel I can have integrity and accept a calling.
    I’m in solidarity with those making the difficult decision to opt out, whatever our reasons.

  33. Natalie Brown says:

    Kevin, I have appreciated your insights so much over the years, and I am sorry to hear of these challenges. I am glad you are putting your needs first and wish you all the best.

  34. Rather different perspective here. (Sorry that I’m not a BCC regular; I came sideways into this topic after being directed here by Googling something else).

    Anyway, I am intelligent enough but have what used to be called Asperger’s syndrome; the DSM-V now just categorizes this as being on the fringe of the autistic spectrum. I also have ADD. As those of you with psychological knowledge might suspect, my mission was pure torture. For those of you unfamiliar with what this combination of mental hard-wiring entails, here’s a quick precis:
    1) ADD makes it extremely hard to obey rules, especially when younger.
    2) Being on the autistic spectrum makes you obsessive about doing your absolute best to obey those very rules, especially when you believe those rules are important.
    3) Being on the autistic spectrum usually makes it much more difficult than normal to deal with other people. You prefer a lot more alone-time than normal folks.
    Now, a mission has lots of rules (when I was on mine, our “white bible” actually listed not just 24 but a full 25 hours of rules per day that we were supposed to obey). And you are told that those rules have been handed down by God himself (‘cuz by the mouth of Himself or His servants, it is the same). So the rules were ultra-important. And to top it all off, even on P-day, you’re never alone. Of course the whole name of the game is to interact in a very sales-aggressive manner with others, intruding into their lives when often they don’t want that intrusion–and that sort of endeavor is anathema to someone on the autistic spectrum.

    I hope that gives you an idea of how horrific an experience the combination of these factors makes a mission for a young, naive, conscientious Church kid with my type of brain. I served in the era when you didn’t come home early for anything except severe moral transgression, so that simply wasn’t an option. And because of my Asperger’s, being a flaky missionary who didn’t care wasn’t an option either. You can guess the rest. For about fifteen years after I returned, the worst nightmares I had, which would cause me to wake up bolt upright in bed with my heart pounding, were dreams in which I was back in the field with something like an entire year to go. With time those nightmares finally ceased, but up until very recently I was still wracked with anxiety over our leaders’ regular admonition–repeated at least once every three to four years in general conference–never to refuse callings. I knew that if I were ever called to leadership, or really anything that had me dealing with less-actives (having to deal with people and worse, intrude in their lives where I wasn’t wanted), I would have to refuse because I simply could never do anything like that again. But of course that would put me under God’s condemnation because, after all, our apostles regularly tell us that we are not justified in refusing callings.

    So what to do? I hit upon the solution of taking low-paying jobs that had me work on Sundays. That way I could still be considered active and get a temple recommend but wasn’t morally culpable for not attending church; and of course when you don’t attend church, you don’t get callings. But obviously this is not a very forthright solution.

    I’ve gotten out from under all this only very recently. After a long, long struggle, in 2018 I finally finished a 19-year-long Ph.D. in history from a top university (Washington University in St. Louis; if you’ve never heard of it, well, it really is pretty good, regularly placing just below the Ivies in the annual U.S. News & World Report overall rankings, usually landing somewhere between number 11 and number 14). Because my degree took so long, no university or even community college will hire me to teach, so I’m still stuck at a minimum-wage job–I can in fact teach college fairly well with the aid of carefully organized lectures, because a class is not an individual person, so somehow I can deal OK with a class whereas individuals are much more uncomfortable. But that turned out to matter very little, as I learned too late that my ADD was a real detriment to completing book-length academic writing projects efficiently. I should have used my time for something else–but people with Asperger’s are also extremely stubborn and persistent, so I kept at it until I was done. Anyhow, although the time was wasted in most respects, my training in history at the highest professional level at least gave me one gift: I found out about all of the unsettling aspects of church history which make one realize that the sanitized Sunday-meeting correlated narrative is false in many respects. (The Gospel Topics essays are minuscule efforts that barely scratch the surface.) This doesn’t mean that the Church itself is false, but it does strongly imply (nod to RachL here) that the prophet and apostles are not inspired all, or even most, of the time. And if that is true for our top leaders, so much the more for the locals. That in turn means that my own relationship with the Savior and my sense of what is right for me in my life are a good deal more important than the finger-waggings we get at General Conference or any calling my bishop might want to give me.

    I didn’t put all this together until my dissertation was finally defended and I had some time to relax and think. The realization didn’t come easy: it militates against a lifetime of Church teaching. Indeed, the Church’s heavy and constant refrain of follow-the-prophet (with the usual implication that we are to do it blindly and without question, despite the lip service about getting a “confirmation” of his words) almost amounts to a mild form of brainwashing which I found difficult to break. But it’s now done, and I no longer worry about refusing callings. So far, that’s no reason to deny someone a recommend. If it becomes one, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when it happens. Anyhow, Brother Barney, I’m 100% with you. If for some reason performing callings isn’t good for you, then it’s just not. Period.

  35. And good for you, Mikel. As someone married to a spouse with ADD and on the spectrum, I applaud your efforts to complete your education and to deal with church assignments.

    Kevin, I wish you well. I enjoy your posts and am with you in facing the effects of aging.

    Ardis, I admire your work. I’m sorry so much goes unappreciated. I’ve been in a situation that echo’s yours. Your talents and knowledge and willingness to share are so important–thanks for sharing them.

  36. When I was 14 years old, the Holy Ghost strongly witnessed to me one Sunday that in the pre-mortal world I had committed to finding my ancestors and doing their temple work. While not a calling I would have chosen at the time, I have over a lifetime become skilled at the research and deeply appreciative of the privilege of serving these people.
    I have not had a church calling in probably 10 years but consider myself very active in the Church. I am directly participating in the work of salvation as I prepare at least five names a day for temple work. I help friends expand their trees and create groups on relativefinder.org so people can more easily explore their family trees and teach their children about history in ways that connect to them.
    And as anyone who does genealogy or temple work can attest, it is good to serve people who if they reject your service, you do not know it, at least at this time. In my mind, they are always grateful for my work and I am always grateful to have accepted this calling so very long ago. With another 99 billion people to be added into the tree, the field really is white and ready to harvest.

  37. Kevin Barney says:

    MikeL, thanks for the window into your experience. (I have a brother on the spectrum so your experience made sense to me.) I survived my mission largely by being somewhat cavalier about all the rules; I can’t imagine trying to navigate it without that ability.

  38. Newcomer says:

    ML back with different name. For privacy reasons, I emailed admin to change my name on my previous post & the university details (shouldn’t have posted that) but no response, and as of today it obviously hasn’t been done. I think they’re ignoring me. If anyone has any clout with administrators, could I plead for some help on this?

    Anyhow, Susan and Kevin, thx for your thumbs-up. Really appreciated. And Terry, your solution sounds nice. That’s one way I could indeed see myself serving, especially given my historical training…if I can ever get to a point where I have a job that actually pays a reasonable at-least-lower-middle-class amount of money. Until then, it’s going to be an uphill struggle, and no matter what I don’t ever see myself in a situation where I’ll be able to retire (hopefully I’ll pass on before that becomes an issue), so for right now my spare time has to be dedicated to other endeavors.

  39. Newcomer says:

    Oh yeah, and to Susan and Ardis and the others, especially women, who haven’t been used to your capacity—frankly I don’t understand why local leaders wouldn’t be falling all over themselves to take advantage of talented people who actively wish to serve. My understanding has usually been the opposite: it’s hard to fully staff a ward with solid, capable people no matter what their gender. But then, I’ve never lived in Utah, and about half my life has been spent not merely outside Utah but quite far away from the Wasatch Front, so this may be a Mormon-belt-only phenomenon. However, it could also be a patriarchalist phenomenon that a male like me just doesn’t confront.

    Whatever the case, I applaud your willingness to give your time. That desire is so utterly alien to me that you folks frankly seem superhuman.

  40. Molly Bennion says:

    I am sorry to hear of your challenges, Kevin, and have nothing but respect for your decision. As long as I’ve known you, I’ve stopped and read when I’ve seen your name on a piece. Your research and writing have been influential to me and so many others. All the best, particularly in finding the latest and best health care to address vision and hearing. My husband is very hearing impaired; I know new developments improve options regularly.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    Molly, thanks so much for the kind thoughts. Much appreciated.