An open letter to all my Latter-Day Saint Bishops

Dear Bishop(s),

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.

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-

Thank you.

22 thoughts on “An open letter to all my Latter-Day Saint Bishops

  1. I, too, have had overwhelmingly positive experiences with loving bishops. But those of us who’ve had good experiences shouldn’t invalidate or ignore the very-real pain and trauma of people who have experienced abuse at the hand of their bishops and stake presidents. We shouldnt expect them to be loving and appreciative of an abusive leader. Just because they are a minority, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. We can’t just ignore abuse by pointing out how statistically improbable it is. When abuse is reported, we should hold abusers accountable and try to identify ways of minimizing future abuses. Nobody is asking good bishops to change anything. We love and appreciate them. Good bishops aren’t the target of activism attempts. What can/should we do about the bad ones? Surely something.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I have had many righteous and good Bishops over almost 40 years. I thank them all…all very holy men. Thank you for your volunteer service to the community and world..but mostly to GOD.

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  3. Our bishops are really such a testimony that this is the Lords church. I agree with everything you said, and feel the same way, because I have experienced a relationship with bishop also. In the Lords church, a joy is found doing hard work, because He can make more out of us than we can alone. Those bishops , like our prophet, don’t stand between us and God, but work at our side to help us return to God. Mary Brown

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  4. Agreed, our bishops sacrifice hours of time in service every week and should be the focus of our prayers and care instead of criticism. May God bless all the bishops who serve so faithfully in the service of God and their fellow men.

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    • Nobody is criticizing the faithful, trustworthy bishops here. The criticism is aimed at abusive leaders and the institutional practices that allowed them to abuse victims unchecked. Good bishops are a blessing to us all.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Then the critics should keep their criticism private, directed to the specific bishops involved, or their stake presidents.

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  5. so I almost did not read this because of the picture attached to it, Just saying that to me is not representative of the article. I agreed with the ideas presented in the blog but it was touch and go if I was going to read it, only opened it because of who had posted it

    Liked by 1 person

    • You shouldn’t be afraid to read articles that might make you uncomfortable. Sometimes we need to be uncomfortable so we can learn. I think people are missing the point with Sam Young, he just wants to protect children. I agree most bishops are honorable good men who wouldn’t hurt anyone. There are those that aren’t honorable and put our children at risk. No other organization that I know of allows grown men to be alone with children. There is no need for one on one interviews with youth.

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  6. I do have to say thank you to all my bishops I’ve had since I became a member of the Mormon Church. I have had lots of trials and ups and downs almost all my life. I came to know and trust my bishops, because they heard me something that I never had. My bishops were and are true men representing our Father In Heaven. I am greatful because they made me see the truth and the golpel, also my husband as a returned missionary taught me to forgive who hurt me, we were able to get sealed in The Manti Temple. Thank you so much for all the help and counselling I received from my bishops. God Bless Them 💞

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  7. Most members of the Church are grateful for the service of volunteer Bishops and other Churfh leaders. Most are good people trying to help as they are directed to do.

    I as a prerson with significant experience coordinating teams of professionals in investigating and treating child abuse, ask for and hope Bishops to not be placed in the situations they are bearing criminal and civil liability for mistakes in understanding and failing to report abuse with little training and asking them to meet one-on-one to discern sexual matters in the lives of children and adults.

    Numerous accounts have been documented where church leaders have not reported abuse and have misunderstood accounts of abuse as sin and not referred victims to professional therapists to help heal and cases of abuse to law enforcement and protective services. So many members also share accounts of shaming and damaging teachings about sexuality from often well meaning church leaders.

    We can have dialogue with those who feel hurt by problematic practices and who advocate for more robust child protection policies in line with the Church’s aspirations in “How the Church Approaches Abuse” (Mormon Newsroom) without devaluation of the selfless service of our bishops.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is a powerful massage ,bishops ,Branch president of Lds church are the most honest people on the Earth ,their examples had help me to be a better person .You’re right the only words we have for them,is to give them thanks for all their service . Lds ideology is an ideology to do good to all men and woman every where , both here and beyond the veil

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  9. What makes me sad is that most people think it’s all Bishops who are abusive, when in fact, it’s that one or two who do damage to all the good ones. I have seen some horrible comments written by people that I love blaming the church for everything! I have a hard time with it, because in all my years I’ve never experienced an inappropriate interview! It breaks my heart that those who are breaking the commandments and viciously hurting children can do such a horrible thing and even sleep at night! But they are NOT the norm! The church has always preached against such disgusting practices!
    If everyone could just listen to the prophets and to the actual teachings of the gospel as outlined in church literature, they could clearly see that being in church and living gospel teachings is the only way to keep our children safe!
    We live in a violent, disturbed world, but there are still wonderful, loving, giving men and women called to serve and give their whole life to the gospel. So please don’t judge the church by the evil that exists in the world!

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  10. I don’t see my comment. So interesting. I wonder why my post pointing out I had an extremely different experience with all my bishops has been completely erased.. This is why people ARE speaking out about bishops being abusive or abuse enablers. And then there’s people like you who try to silence people like me who actually have been deeply hurt by the systemic blind eye our church turns to abuse. Erasing voices that have experienced abuse is enabling that blind eye.
    If there was a problem, why would you want to sweep all that under the rug? Are you an abuser too? Or do you just like helping abusers hide their bad behavior? Do you know why these people who experience this abuse usually leave? Its often because of the staggering lack of compassion they feel from fellow congregants like that who try to shut them up and pretend like the abuse never happened. Instead of trying to help those in need – are you the kind of person who hears someone crying for help and shoves their heads under the water?
    Nothing more damaging than people like that who do everything they can to silence victims all the while shouting “Everything is totes great in Zion!”
    It’s not. It’s really not.

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    • I am fully aware of the misuse of authority in the church. It has affected a good number of people. I am not trying to erase what they experienced or went through. My post was merely expressing gratitude to my leaders. More specifically my father who was a faithful Bishop for years. That’s not to discredit what others have experienced by any means. My intention wasnt to belittle the bad experiences, only to share the good.

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      • Ok. That’s great. My dad was a bishop for years as well. He’s a great guy. As are many of the bishops who did these things to me. And to a multitude of others. If someone were to tell me that even my Dad, a nice guy, did any one of those things I would STILL let that story be told. And I would sit with them. In compassion. And I would say- Our institutional church has many flaws. Our leaders are flawed. We should come up with a safety net system and procedures that prevent things like this from happening. We should train our bishops more. We should set up a system that helps bishops not to make mistakes that ruin lives. Bishops who ruin lives shouldn’t be made bishops again unless they realize the gravity of the mistakes they made, and made restitution, and have committed to change.

        I wouldn’t silence victims and drown them out (by only publishing the good and silencing the bad) and minimize their pain by ignoring it. There are those who want to say “My experience was different” . There are how many members of the church? And if you say most bishops are good decent men who haven’t screwed up I wonder why you would be opposed to someone sharing a different experience. Unless your goal is to silence anyone who didn’t have a great experience. I am left wondering why you’d want to silence anyone who would disagree? If the majority agrees with you, why are you silencing a minority? Why would you want to cause them more pain?

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      • I agree there needs to be changes made with regards to interviews and how they are done. A step in that direction was to allow another adult in the interviews so the youth felt more comfortable if need be. Bishops do get trained on how to conduct themselves as priesthood leaders. They may not get specific training but they are counseled. Sharing my good experiences wasnt intended to silence the bad, just sharing my thoughts about my leaders. I would never try to silence anyone who had a bad experience in the church. I come from a family who had a brother who had a severe drug addiction, a sister who had to deal with a verbally abusive and alcoholic husband, another brother suffered from depression and with each case on how to help them, some leaders were great and others not so much. I understand the minority as far as those who struggle in the church and those who feel like their voices arent heard.

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    • I have had many experiences with bishops over the last 30 years, some good, some bad. Many times i have been angry for several months or years over something the bishop said to me. And i didnt say a word, i just let it fester. BUT, when i went to them upset about what they had said, or what a former bishop had said, we sat down and prayed together and i was able to heal from that pain. Many times it was a misunderstanding on my part. Most recently i was harboring hurt because 13 years ago i was a pregnant 17 year old , i felt ostracized by my ward and bishop. And i talked to my current bishop about it, and i let him know that if there was EVER another girl in this situation to let me know so i could let them know how much God still loves them and support them through whatever choice they made. Well a few months later, that same bishop let us as a ward know that a 16 year old in our ward was pregnant. He let us all know that we should show an outpouring of love for her. Instead of feeling ostracized this girl was surrounded in love by myself and others. We can make change not by being held back by the past but rather by releasing the pain of the past, by prayerfully discussing things with a bishop or other ward member who has hurt you, by forgiving others, NOT for them but for us personally. When i held the anger and resentment inside it hurt ME more than anyone else. When i forgave and worked towards healing from that, i was at peace, a burden had been lifted.

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