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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The First Presidency Listens - At Least in My Experience (2 for 2)

Sometimes exceptional situations arise in the Church where a member or unit needs to get special approval or an exemption of some kind from the First Presidency. My advice is to just do it (when appropriate!) and trust that they will listen and handle the matter wisely. I've been involved in two such matters, and both received satisfying and even touching responses.

One issue involved a letter asking for help in fixing a complicated membership issue in which a Hmong sister had her name improperly removed from the records of the Church by her father without her knowledge. The matter was promptly resolved and the member was deeply touched to get a personal letter back from President Hinckley.

The other matter involved one of the highlights of my life, one of those almost surreal experiences that for some reason felt like and still feels like one of the most important things I've ever done. Shortly after moving to Wisconsin, I was asked by our Stake President to lead a committee to make a recommendation about the possibility of forming a branch for the valiant members we had on the Oneida Indian Reservation. The proposal would involve consideration of a building for the branch, which would require an appeal to the First Presidency for an exception to normal building policy since there were other buildings within 25 miles, one in Green Bay and one in Appleton. But our little committee, after reviewing the history of the members and how they had been pulled from one ward to another to provide strength for other wards, felt strongly that this was now the time to let them be strong in their own area and have a branch and building that would be theirs.

Before reaching such a conclusion, as we met for our first committee meeting in the town of Oneida in the home of the man who would later be the Branch President, there was an incredible spirit present. It was that strange sense on being at the epicenter of a great and marvelous event, an event that would make a huge difference. The sense of excitement and spiritual significance that we felt during that meeting was out of proportion to the task at hand, but it still stirs me to recall it and brings barely noticeable and manly tears to my eyes. A couple months later, with the approval and support of the Stake for the proposed branch and with the Stake's agreement that a building for the Oneida members would be desirable, I would draft the letter that would ultimately go to the First Presidency for their approval of the exception. The request was considered and a thoughtful affirmation of the request was granted (milestones would need to be met for attendance, of course). The Oneida people rejoiced and stepped up to the challenges they faced. A wonderful, Christlike community of Saints has flourished there. Their small, beautiful building is well used and I believe it has already been expanded once since them to handle the growth in numbers. I am so grateful that the First Presidency listened to the request and made a significant exception to normal policy for a wonderful cause.

3 comments:

snowpunter said...

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Anonymous said...

I've been inactive for several years now, but am having a kind of spiritual reawakening lately. I've heard that people like myself are not allowed to be members of the church, so I avoid even going. It's really been depressing. Any clue what the official church policy regarding trans people is? There are so many of us. :(

Anonymous said...

Anonymous;

Come on back. There never has been or I believe ever will be a policy in excluding anyone. The Savior told the woman, just go and sin no more, or as I interpert it via Pres. Hinkley "Do the very best you can" "None of us is perfect". D&C told us never to deny anyone, because you never know when they will repent & return. How great the Saviors love is for us. The Father saw him afar off and came running. HE is looking for you and me.