The Passing of the Tourch - A Bishop Called, A Bishop Released

Today the Bishop/Pastor of my Ward/local congregation was honorably released from his calling. He had served as a Bishop for three years. He is an amazing man who shared great wisdom and knowledge with me about faith, time priorities, prayer, family home evening, and service.

An interesting aspect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is its lay clergy, or in other words, its unpaid volunteer leaders. You see, Mormons don't politic for religious office, there is no vote, no bargaining for positions, not even any need to earn a theology degree; instead, Mormons believe in what Paul of the Bible stated, "No man taketh this honor [the calling of a High Priest] unto himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron." (Hebrews 5:4)

So how was Aaron called?

Well, Moses was invited up to the mount to talk with God. While conversing with God, Moses learns the specifications of the tabernacle in Exodus Chapters 25 through 27 - that is a lot of detail. And then in Exodus Chapter 28, while Moses is still conversing with God, Moses receives a revelation about who should be in charge of the house of worship. Exodus 28:1 says, "And take thou unto thee Aaron they brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office...". Aaron then was called to serve in the priest's office by inspiration and revelation by the head of the Church, namely Moses.

Mormons believe their leaders carefully fast and pray and seek out God to determine who the next Bishop/High Priest will be.

But how was Aaron officially given the office of High Priest?

Moses was commanded to make Aaron some garments and clothes, and then in verse 41 of Chapter 28, Moses takes Aaron and his sons and shall "anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office". In Mormonism, Moses will be placing his hands on Aaron's head and setting him apart (anointing and consecrating him) as the new Bishop/High Priest.

Having just witnessed one of the most divisive political campaigns in recent memory, I am awed at the simple, orderly, transfer of leadership from one Bishop to the next. No politicking, no back room deals, no name calling, no feisty debates, but a simple orderly transfer of the congregation from one Bishop to another.

Bishops usually serve from five to seven years in the Mormon Church; they are not paid nor compensated by man for their work. These good Bishops donate their Sunday's and one or two nights a week to caring for their flock. It's amazing that Mormon Bishops do just as much or more than full-time pastors of other faiths. It says a lot about someone by what they get paid for their religious services.

What is a Bishop?

Local Administration

Wards and Branches. Members of the Church are organized into congregations that meet together frequently for spiritual and social enrichment. Large congregations are called wards. Each ward is presided over by a bishop, assisted by two counselors. Small congregations are called branches. Each branch is presided over by a branch president, assisted by two counselors. A branch may be organized when at least two member families live in an area and one of the members is a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder or a worthy priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. A stake, mission, or district presidency organizes and supervises the branch. A branch can develop into a ward if it is located within a stake.

Each ward or branch comprises a specific geographic area. Different organizations in the ward or branch contribute to the Lord's work: high priests groups; elders quorums; the Relief Society, for women ages 18 years and older; Aaronic Priesthood quorums, for young men ages 12 through 17; the Young Women program, for young women ages 12 through 17; Primary, for children ages 18 months to 11 years; and the Sunday School, for all Church members ages 12 and older. Each of these organizations fulfills important roles in teaching the gospel, giving service, and supporting parents in their sacred duty to help their children become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. These organizations also work together to help members share the gospel with others.

Stakes, Missions, and Districts. Most geographic areas where the Church is organized are divided into stakes. The term stake comes from the prophet Isaiah, who prophesied that the latter-day Church would be like a tent, held secure by stakes (see Isaiah 33:20; 54:2). There are usually 5 to 12 wards and branches in a stake. Each stake is presided over by a stake president, assisted by two counselors. Stake presidents report to and receive direction from the Presidency of the Seventy or the Area Presidency.

A mission is a unit of the Church that normally covers an area much larger than that covered by a stake. Each mission is presided over by a mission president, assisted by two counselors. Mission presidents are directly accountable to General Authorities.

Just as a branch is a smaller version of a ward, a district is a smaller version of a stake. A district is organized when there are a sufficient number of branches located in an area, permitting easy communication and convenient travel to district meetings. A district president is called to preside over it, with the help of two counselors. The district president reports to the mission presidency. A district can develop into a stake.

Programs for Single Members. Many Church members have never married or are divorced or widowed. These members comprise two groups: young single adults (ages 18 through 30) and single adults (ages 31 and older).

There is not a Churchwide program for young single adults and single adults. Instead, when enough single members live in an area, local priesthood leaders are encouraged to call single-member representatives, who work under their direction. Single-member representatives plan activities such as dances, service projects, and firesides. These activities give single members opportunities to meet with and strengthen one another. Single members are also encouraged to meet regularly with their priesthood leaders to discuss their needs and their opportunities for spiritual growth and service.

See True to the Faith (2004), 34–37


Anonymous said...

Excellent points! I love the perspective that you maintain when you say that Bishops are not payed by Man. God does give the grace of his Son Jesus Christ to these men to help them with the responsibilities that they must fulfill. What a great blessing for these good men. Laying up a treasure in heaven is the best payment that once can ever recieve as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

A Bishop called, A bishoop released .Is best explained from Moses to Joshua .Who Joshua was Moses successor.And brought the people into the promised land.
The reflection of Aaron.Was called by God to be a spokesman for Moses .Exodus 4:10.Moses questioons his ability to speak.
Exodus4:16 So He shall be yuor spokesman to the people.and he himself shall be as a mouth for you.AND YOU SHALL BE TO HIM AS GOD. yes it does say Moses is to be as God to Aaron.Aaron was to be a spokesman to the pharoh by Moses.Aaron spoke and warned the pharoh.
This is the same meaning as the postion of Jesus.
Deuteronomy18:18 .I will raise up a prophet(Jesus) from among their people.and will put my words in His mouth.and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.

Fleeting_Thoughts said...

Thank you prophetess theresa lockwood. That's a good comparision between Moses and Aaron. It illustrates the meaning of Prophet "A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed." (American Heritage Dictionary)