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Bishopric

by David C. Bradford

The bishopric, consisting of the bishop and two counselors, is the presiding or governing council in a ward (congregation). These three men oversee all Church programs in the ward. They are assisted in the clerical, financial, and other administrative work by an executive secretary, a ward clerk, and assistant clerks as needed. (See also Presiding Bishopric.)

A bishop is called by the Lord to this office through the stake president, who presents the prospective bishop's name to the General Authorities for clearance and approval. The bishop selects two adult men to serve as his counselors and submits their names to the stake president for approval. Upon approval, the stake presidency presents the names of the complete bishopric in a meeting of ward members for their sustaining vote. The stake president or a visiting General Authority ordains the bishop by the laying-on of hands and sets him and his counselors apart in their positions.

The bishopric selects other men to serve as ward executive secretary, ward clerk, and assistant clerks; they are likewise approved by the stake president and priesthood executive committee, sustained by the members of the ward, and set apart by the stake president or his representative. The bishop and his counselors are ordained high priests (except in student wards, where elders may be called as counselors in the bishopric). All give voluntary, unpaid service.

The bishopric is charged to (1) promote the spiritual and temporal welfare of the members of the ward, with a primary focus on youth; (2) supervise the performance of priesthood ordinances and sacraments; (3) extend callings to members to staff ward organizations; (4) administer the programs of the Church in the ward, conduct meetings and maintain order in the Church organization and structure; (5) manage the financial affairs of the ward (including receiving local donations to the Church and transferring funds to Church headquarters, and supervising all expenditures of Church funds); (6) oversee the care and protection of the ward meetinghouse and other ward physical facilities that the Church owns or leases; (7) carry out Church disciplinary procedures for serious violations of moral law and Church standards; (8) foster a sense of community among ward members, with a special emphasis on fellowshipping new members; and (9) encourage members to perform their religious responsibilities. Bishoprics are requested to do whatever is needed to encourage Church participation and religious activity among all ward members.

The bishopric is responsible for calling and conducting all of the executive meetings of the ward, including a weekly bishopric meeting, a weekly priesthood executive committee meeting, and various meetings to plan and coordinate youth activities and train youth leaders. Bishopric members also divide responsibility and attend the leadership and training meetings of each auxiliary organization they supervise (see Primary; Relief Society; Sunday School; Young Men; Young Women).

After prayerfully considering recommendations from ward organization leaders who request members to serve in teaching, leadership, and other service callings, the bishopric decides whom to call, and issues the invitation to serve. The bishop delegates supervisory responsibility for the various auxiliary organizations, maintenance of membership records, receipting of financial contributions to the Church, and certain matters pertaining to Church education. The bishop cannot delegate such duties as counseling members involved in serious transgressions, convening disciplinary councils, presiding over the priest quorum in the ward, performing civil marriages for members of the ward, and conducting tithing settlement (an annual, personal report by ward members concerning the donations they have made).

The bishopric has the primary responsibility for developmental programs involving the youth in the ward. This entails promoting and attending activities for the youth, interviewing young men and women regularly, and overseeing the work of adults called to assist in teaching or planning activities. Activities are designed to provide youth with opportunities for recreation, service, and the application of religious principles to everyday life. The bishop focuses his efforts on the young men and women aged sixteen through eighteen, and assigns his counselors to work with youth aged twelve through thirteen and fourteen through fifteen. The bishop is to interview all young persons in the ward individually at least once each year (usually near their birthdays), and the counselors are to interview those twelve through sixteen years old at least annually. The bishop is the only member of the bishopric who discusses individual matters of personal worthiness with the youth.

Those who serve in a bishopric are expected to live with honesty, integrity, and devotion to their spiritual commitment. Their example of Christian service is essential to the quality of their influence among all ward members.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page)

Bibliography

Hinckley, Gordon B. "To the Bishops of the Church." Ensign 18 (Nov. 1988):48-51.

Hinckley, Gordon B. "In…Counsellors There Is Safety." Ensign 20 (Nov. 1990):48-51.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Bishopric

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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