ISSUES OF FAITH: What is a bishop?

CURRENTLY, I AM the bishop in the Mount Pleasant ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

You might ask, “What is a bishop and what does a bishop do?” I am still trying to learn it all, but maybe I can answer some questions!

Maybe it’s unique to our faith, but bishops, whose function is similar to a pastor in other faiths, are not required to get a theological degree before being ordained.

The local unit, called a “ward,” is run completely by a lay ministry. A member is called from the congregation to serve as a bishop. They are ordained and then have the authority to serve in that ecclesiastical position as the presiding high priest.

Above and beyond that, there is no formal training and no pay.

While at times it might feel like a full-time job, bishops keep their regular employment and donate their time.

At the end of their term, which might be for five years, they are released and another member from the congregation will be called as bishop to take their place.

A bishop has to learn his duty pretty quickly. Some of my responsibilities as bishop include coordinating missionary work, as well as temple and family history efforts.

I oversee records, finances and the use of the meetinghouse.

A bishop presides over meetings, including Sunday sacrament meetings. He is the president of the Aaronic priesthood. He is a shepherd to guide the rising generation.

As such, Tuesday nights I am with the youth at their weekly activity.

Also, as a bishop, I have a divine mandate to seek out and care for those with temporal needs.

I meet with ward members seeking spiritual guidance, who have weighty personal problems or who have committed serious sins.

As a common judge in Israel, I help them draw on the healing power of Jesus Christ and counsel them during the repentance process.

The bishop helps members live the gospel and strengthen their faith in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ.

He teaches them to pray and study the scriptures.

A bishop may receive revelation for those in his care. As I have pondered and prayed, the Lord has guided me on what to say when speaking with an individual or what to teach to the entire congregation.

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught bishops, “You are called to represent the Savior. Your voice to testify becomes the same as His voice, your hands to lift the same as His hands.”

It is humbling to serve as a bishop.

I must rely on the Lord as my partner. He magnifies my efforts and accomplishes things that I cannot do alone.

Despite all of the weighty responsibilities, my own family is to be my first priority. I do not schedule anything on Monday evenings so I can be with my family that night.

I don’t do it all alone. I have two wonderful counselors, a clerk and an executive secretary, as well as a ward council.

My first Sunday meeting starts at 6:30 a.m. I marvel at all the good work that happens.

I love this passage in the Book of Mormon. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God,” (Mosiah 2:17).

I know that it pleases God as we consecrate our time to serve His children.

Some might question the need for church.

However, I see all the good that church does for our ward members and for our community.

His Church is one way He blesses His children.

At the end of my service as bishop, I hope that the members of our congregation will know that I love them.

I feel God’s love for each individual whom I serve. I know that they are beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

He knows each of us and loves us.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles. His email is jasonbring@gmail.com.

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