Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Bishop

Today my ward went through a bishopric change. For those of you not of my faith, my church defines bishop and bishopric as,
"A bishop is the leader of a local congregation (known as a ward) with duties similar to those of a pastor, priest or rabbi. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this position is unpaid. 
"Each bishop is assisted by two counselors. Together, this bishopric oversees the spiritual and social needs of their ward members. The bishop helps each member of his congregation in their efforts to follow Jesus Christ. In addition to spiritual matters, a bishop helps members who are struggling financially or in other ways to become self-reliant through welfare assistance. A bishop also oversees practical matters such as records, reports, finances and the meetinghouse where members meet. 
"Bishops typically serve for about five years. Bishops report to stake presidents, and these local leaders have a significant amount of local autonomy to make decisions regarding the members in their wards and stakes."
This most recent bishopric change means that my little family has had four bishops over the past year! You see, before we moved from Texas, our previous ward went through a bishopric change as well.

As I enjoyed watching this important ward change take place, my mind drifted through memories of my family's many bishops over the past 16-and-a-half years. My heart swelled with remembrances of dear bishops who have influenced my family members' lives for the better.

This post is dedicated to the 12 incredible bishops who faithfully served, and continually watched over my little family, no matter what city or state we lived in.

*I admit, I don't remember two of our bishops' names, for we were only in their wards for a few months. That said, I absolutely remember their constant care and concern. :) Also, not every paragraph of my letter applies to every bishop we've had - some parts were specifically applicable to just one or two bishops, but my gratitude for each of our bishops is exactly the same.

Dear Bishop __________, 
I want to thank you for your selfless service to the Lord, and to our ward. 
You gave so much of yourself to help the members of our congregation! You sacrificed your free time, and time with your loved ones.
You put your interests on hold, so you could be interested in us
You endured eye rolling, crying from children and adults, phone calls in the middle of the night, personal crises of every variety, turned-down callings, whispering and gossip, head-strong teenagers with attitude, torturous confessions, bad etiquette, and many other things I don't have a clue about. 
You smiled endlessly at us, worried about us, and prayed on our behalf more times than you can count. 
You gave great advice! 
You gave us topics to speak about in church that were interesting and helpful to our families.
You laughed at yourself when things didn't turn out as you planned. 
Your never-ending energy was amazing, but I must admit I appreciated it when you seemed tired on the stand, for it showed that you're human...just like us. ;) 
I'm still astounded at how you called Greg and I to the perfect-for-us callings. How did you know that those callings were precisely what we would need at that stage in our lives? How did you know that what we learned from those callings would benefit us for years to come?
Actually, I already know the answer to my previous questions: you lived your life so you were ready and able to understand the inspiration and revelation you received from the Holy Ghost. Thank you for acting on those holy promptings. 
You helped us have the desire to become better people.
Your positive attitude was infectious! I appreciate that you always had time for one more sincere handshake, one more joke, one more story, one more phone call. I hope you saw how the children of our ward admired and looked up to you!
The way you gave hope to the hopeless brought tears to my eyes...
I will ever be awestruck at the answers you gave to me through marvelous priesthood blessings. It's evident you were absolutely in-tune with the Spirit, for there is no way you could have known what was going to happen to my family so many years in advance...there's just no way! I will be forever grateful for your words because they positively affected my life more than you'll ever know.
It was a privilege to watch you grow in your testimony, and as a man. You taught us many gospel truths, and emulated our Savior to the very best of your ability. 
Yes, dear bishop, thank you, thank you for your selfless service. Your loving influence will be felt for generations to come! 
With great love and appreciation,
Sister Peterson

All of that said, I can't wait to see what our new bishop does for our ward! :) That's not meant to pressure him, but I know he is truly called of the Lord - just like it's happened in every other ward my family has lived in. I firmly believe our new bishop is supposed to lead our congregation at this time in our lives.

I'm truly thankful for my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It's joyous days like today that show me just how true my church really is. It's amazing and heartwarming to see how the Lord can take what seem like ordinary men and turn them into spiritual giants.

I'm also convinced - more than ever - just how much we all need each other. Relationships with our family members, friends, ward members, and neighbors, and faithfully returning home to our Heavenly Father, is what this life is all about. We are so blessed to be in each others' lives! We need to try our very best to be there for each other, just like our Heavenly Father and our Savior would want. :)

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