First and foremost, I need to tell you something that has been on my mind and is long overdue. With the recent media coverage of the Bishops interview questions and the news around it I just have one thing to say-
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule every Sunday to ask how I was doing, and not just me but everyone you came in contact with. Thank you for not pridefully asking to be called as the Bishop, but voluntarily and humbly accepted that you would put your feelings and concerns and worries aside to watch over the ward and everyone around it.
Thank you for spending hours on end praying for, meditating over, fasting for, and serving us members. We only saw your service on Sundays but your entire week was filled with church duties.
Whether it was receiving a phone call at 11 pm from a downtrodden member who needed a priesthood blessing, or conducting a funeral for a young couple who lost a child, or giving marital advice to a disheveled and crumbling marriage for a disagreeable husband and wife, or working through a job search for a recently laid off single mother trying to make ends meet, you watched over the ward with charity and love.
Thank you for teaching the gospel in such a way that each and every person in the congregation was able to understand no matter where they were at spiritually speaking. Thank you for giving hope to the youth of the church. You were a beacon of light to so many who didn’t have a father figure to look up to.
Thank you for taking criticism from disgruntled and angry members with grace and dignity. Always putting a smile on your face even when members disagreed with you or treated you unfairly. You kept your cool when you were being belittled and publicly scrutinized without any cause. It takes a true, honorable man to do that.
Thank you to your wives who set the example of what it means to be a true Christian. You women sacrificed so much and never asked for recognition even though you worked just as hard or sometimes even more than your counterparts. You always found ways to serve the ward even though you and your husband rarely ever had time to yourselves.
For me specifically, thank you for listening to me tell you my doubts and fears and concerns about the gospel, about my future, about my schooling, and about my health struggles. There were times in my life I wanted to abandon God and leave the church I grew up in, but because of you and your close association with the spirit, you knew when I needed help and you lifted me up, so I stayed. I won’t be able to repay you for your nuggets of wisdom, your listening ear, or for your meekness in your every day interactions.
I never once felt uncomfortable in our interviews and conversations with each other. Worthiness questions when I was baptized, recieved the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, my mission interviews, temple reccomend interviews, never felt inappropriate or too personal. I never felt like I was being violated or manipulated or coerced in any way or in any sense of the word. Your questions regarding chastity were not out of line or unnecessary.
To the contrary they were very necessary. Removing chastity questions from the interviews would have done the opposite of protecting me growing up. It helped me stay on the strait and narrow path toward the Savior. Sure, I made mistakes along the way but you were there to guide me back and always welcomed me with open arms.
Thank you for being a righteous judge in Israel and for your understanding of the power of the Atonement with regards to the repentance process. You helped me realize who I was as a son of God. You got me out of depression, anger, discouragement, always knowing the right thing to say at the exact time I needed it the most.
Thank you for your powerful testimony of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Thank you for teaching the truths of the Restored gospel and bearing a solid witness that Christ did in fact visit the young Joseph Smith to restore the church to its fullness. Thank you for always following the counsel of the Stake President and the Prophet.
Are there Bishops out there who don’t follow procedures as they should? There may be, and they should be dealt with accordingly. But for the most part, Latter-Day Saint Bishops are good, righteous, upstanding men.
Are they perfect? Of course not. But they, along with their wives didn’t ask for their callings as leaders of the ward. Hundreds of hours are spent on their own time (with no pay) to make sure others needs are met. That is a rarity, especially in the world today.
So to you I say again, with all the love I have-