Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The family's other big news

You need a little background in religion for this post to make sense.

Item #1: we belong to a church with lay clergy. That means if a church job must be done, an assignment is extended, and a volunteer ends up doing the job for a while. All leadership positions on the local level are volunteer positions. The typical bishop is a guy in a business suit with a day job. In all positions, someone takes their turn for a while, and then the job is passed on to the next sucker volunteer.

There is a lot of social pressure to accept assignments that are asked of you in this church, and almost all members have an assignment at any given time. For example, my current assignment is Sunday school teacher. We are working through the New Testament, and I teach my take on the scripture, with heavy bias from a church-sanctioned manual. Manual is important when the teacher is a volunteer, and hasn't actually had any Bible classes, unless you count the ones I took mornings as a teenager.

But this post isn't about me.

Item #2: The typical bishop is a guy in a business suit. I already said that. He is typically middle aged, white male, clean shaven, short haircut, wear a tie to work kind of guy. The guy over the bishop is called a stake president. And he is even more likely to fit the above description. And the guy over the stake president was pulled from the ranks of the stake presidents. With a few exceptions, they're a pretty homogeneous bunch.

Now, let's put Item #1 and Item #2 together. How does a leader guy in my church pick out other leader guys? (and gals)? Well, I think there may be some prayer and soul searching involved, but typically he just looks around the room on a given Sunday and tries to determine which members of the congregation would be likely to keep the ball in the air.

Person who gets a relatively important assignment should have some important personality traits: Likely to show up on Sunday, not likely to declare himself the new prophet and lead half the congregation astray, and it would be convenient if they don't have many opinions too far off from those of the business suits up a level or two. Avoid contention and all that.

It's easy to spot the people who are likely to show up on Sunday: they show up every Sunday. Spotting those who will go apostate may be a little trickier, although it's a skill that probably can be developed with practice. But those controversial opinions can hide under many skins. So, if you are a business suit, looking for a leader type, what do you look for?

Typically, clean shaven, white male, short haircut, conservative suit type of guys.

Tim only satisfies one of those four traits. In all the congregations we have belonged to in the past, Tim has been totally immune to time-consuming church assignments. And me too, by association, even though I never shave but still can't grow a beard.

Until now.

For Tim, that is, not me growing the beard. Still no success there.

Anyway, Tim has been very recently assigned the job of Elder's quorum president. Which sounds a lot like he'll supervise a parliament full of stooped over gray haired men. But actually most of them in our congregation are middle aged. The stoopy guys are called High Priests and they offer the best stories in Sunday School. I love our stoopy old men.

I do love Tim, too, and wish him luck with the new assignment. He gets to do things like clear snow if it should happen to fall on a Saturday, set up chairs if it should happen to be January or April, and attend meetings meetings meetings.

Last week, Tim dressed up all nice and neat for the first time as Elder's quorum president. Long hair, beard, blue button up shirt, white tie with lots of little red U's on it.

We wish you luck, Tim.


Andrea said...

Way to go, Tim! I love the visual, Ute's tie and all. I'm glad to see them call someone who doesn't fit "the mold". It's good for all of us here in mormon land to shake things up now and then and I'm sure Tim is more than qualified to handle the calling.

Thora said...

I love the visual too. One of the counselors in the elder's quorum just called has almost a "beard of the month" - he has prodigously fast growing facial hair, and it seems to be always styled in different variations on beards/goatees, (and they are long ones, too!). Which is more interesting, because his actually head is shaved completely bald. But it's true, most in leadership positions are fairly homogenous - not necessarily a bad thing (I'm required to say this, as a white girl from Utah), but it's always good to remember the actual important requirements. (Unless Tim has secret meetings in your basement with radicals....)

Chad Anselmo said...

My condolences, I'm 16 months into that same calling. Lately I've been venturing farther and farther away from the path to see how far one can go before getting released. Of course our bishopric finds my snarky comments in ward council "refreshing" and "challenging"... oh well, hope your better at this than me.

Malcolm Purcell said...

Say what??????????????
Congratulations (I think)

Letterpress said...

Yay! Tim will shake them all up and in turn, get shaken. But the gospel's still true and I, for one, am thrilled for everyone concerned. Congrats to Tim! (I doubt I'll this announcement of his on FB.)


Tiffany said...

I loved this post so much.

I made up a word for such occasions: congratudolences. I think it fits.