Handbook 2, Chapter 4: Ward Council

August 6, 2011 | 32 comments
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0-a-handbook-2-120x155_000_CoverIn the last post on the Handbook, I noted that Church leadership seems to me to have emphasized collaborative leadership in recent decades. For the issues that face most Church members on a weekly basis, the Ward Council is where that collaborative leadership actually happens.

But as I look at what the handbook says, it often seems like there is some distance between it and what happens in wards and branches, or at least in some of the wards I’ve seen. But I suspect that wards and branches that actually read the handbook may be better.

Perhaps more importantly, there are concepts in this chapter that are significant and important. Here are those I thought were interesting and my comments on them:

  1. The initial section makes several interesting statements. For example, it implies that the has four levels, general, area, stake and ward. However, I think this may be somewhat simplistic, since missions don’t quite fit on any area — mission branches are at the ward level and mission districts at the stake level, but missions are not at the area level.
  2. The first section also indicates that councils operate at each level in the Church. At the ward level there are three: the bishopric, the priesthood executive committee and the ward council. As I understand it at the stake level there is a stake priesthood executive committee, the stake council, a stake Aaronic Priesthood-Young Women committee, the stake young single adult committee, and the stake single adult committee. Above that things are quite murky (at least to me). On the general level, I know that there is a council on the disposition of the tithes, a missionary committee and several others. I wonder if there is a complete list somewhere.
  3. I found another interesting statement in the first statement of section 4.2, which discusses the bishopric. The bishopric, it says, has responsibility for “all ward members, organizations and activities.” Do these three encompass all the objects of responsibility?
  4. In section 4.2 it also says, “the bishop does not share information that he should keep confidential.” This, of course, begs the question what information should he keep confidential? There is probably a whole blog post in this question, but off the top of my head it seems like much of what is confidential depends on the cultural environment. What is confidential in one culture isn’t necessarily confidential in another.
  5. In the discussion of the priesthood executive committee, the handbook tries to distinguish between that committee and the ward council, saying that the priesthood executive committee considers priesthood matters. So what matters are priesthood matters and what are not? I’m not at all clear about what the boundary is!
  6. In sub-section 4.5.1 the handbook talks about how ward council members “stay informed” about members, including those with “special challenges” (kind of an obtuse euphemism!). But given the earlier emphasis on privacy, I have to wonder where the balance is between “staying informed” and individual and family privacy.
  7. The last section looks at what happens in ward council meetings, starting with some general principles for the meetings. One of these is the idea that the meeting “spends minimal time on calendaring, activity planning, and other administrative business.” I assume this is prescriptive, and not descriptive?
  8. These principles also include the statement that “Both men and women should feel that their comments are valued as full participants.” This has been, I believe, a fairly common complaint from women—that their participation isn’t valued the same as men.
  9. Overall, these principles suggest that the bishop should be seeking “spiritual confirmation and unity” in decisions, but that once a bishop has made the decision, council members should support it “in a spirit of unity and harmony.”
  10. Sub-section 4.6.2 includes a sample agenda for ward council meetings which focuses on individual and family progression. The next sub-section goes on to say “The council’s focus is on helping people, not administering programs.” I think that could be a very useful quote.
  11. The handbook also addresses another common complaint, the burden on council members, saying “Each member’s first priority is to his or her family. The ward council ensures and appropriate balance between the member’s family obligations and his or her responsibilities in the Church.”

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32 Responses to Handbook 2, Chapter 4: Ward Council

  1. Jax on August 6, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I would think that ‘priesthood matters’ would include priesthood ordinations (especially for prospective Elders and how to help them progress from Aaronic to Mel. priesthoods), the training of youth quorum leaders, and the carrying out of priesthood duties (Sacrament, HT, Blessings, etc). I’m sure others could add more.

    I’ve never been a part of one that really focused on these things very well, mostly they seemed like the pre-ward council council.

  2. Dave on August 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Nice discussion, Kent. I think the new emphasis on the Ward Council, with less emphasis on the PEC, is a positive move. The primary reason for the change seems to be to get more input and participation from women. There was a lot of redundancy in the prior model, with the same three or four items often discussed first in Bishopric meeting, then again in the PEC, then a third time (with the decisions already made) with the Ward Council.

    I understand why calendaring and programs are downgraded in favor of more discussion of families and individuals. But without some calendaring, the activities of each auxiliary often conflict. Calendaring was the chance for whoever runs the ward to do a little coordinating and managing. No calendaring often means no coordination, with each auxiliary doing its own thing. If coordination isn’t done in Ward Council, it generally isn’t done at all.

    And programs are supposed to be the vehicle through which the needs of some (most?) ward members are met. So I think discussing programs ought to be a part of Ward Council discussions as well as families and individuals.

  3. KLC on August 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    An emphasis on people clashes head on with concerns about privacy. Privacy rarely comes out on top. The ward councils I’ve served on have spent far too much time talking about the private lives and challenges of ward members, which in any other setting would be called gossip.

  4. Ray on August 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I like the concept of not spending council time calendaring. With the technology available to us now, it is a total waste of time not to use it to do the calendaring. If you notice, the actual wording is “minimal time” – not “no time”. I think “minimal time” is the perfect wording.

    As to the idea that Ward Council shouldn’t include discussions of private lives and challenges, that’s just . . . impossible . . . given the purpose of councils. I agree totally that in any other setting, much of what is discussed would be gossip. So what? It can be gossip in Ward Council, as well – but it doesn’t have to be if it’s handled properly. I’d rather too much be discussed in Ward Council than too little – as long as it’s done in the right spirit and confidentiality is honored once the meeting ends.

  5. SusanS on August 6, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Agreeing with KLC. I think that gossip is one of the most serious problems in our church and I find that most people don’t really understand what gossiping is. I find most people think of it as spreading malicious rumors, and not as simply sharing information that is very personal or that was confided to them in private.

    I visit teach an inactive family who left the church because of members in their branch saying some very unkind things about a very difficult family situation. When I first visited, this sister opened her history to me in full, which is an incredibly brave thing to do to a stranger. Given the sensitive nature of the information, I called my R.S. Pres. directly, and told her the whole story. My idea being that the bishop should know what the history is and make inspired decisions in placing home teachers, encouraging fellowshipping, etc. A few months later and my original companion moved and I was reassigned to a new one. After a visit, I told her that the family had had some trouble in their last ward and weren’t active but that I didn’t feel like I should tell her about the history without the sister’s permission; that I would rather she tell her new visiting teacher her history herself. Imagine my surprise and shock when she said that she had already heard about their history during a Primary Presidency meeting. Granted, I don’t know how much was shared, but I’m pretty horrified to think that such a delicate and sensitive matter as theirs could have been discussed openly in the ward council. I’m very, very concerned that if this family found out that their personal family difficulties have been broadcast through a neighborhood of people they don’t really know that they will have no interest in returning to church.

    The whole experience has taught me a couple of things: (1) I should have asked the sister if I could share her family history with the local bishop. There was no abuse going on, so there was no immediate moral dilemma. Despite my good intentions, I was the first to gossip. And (2), be very careful about what private information you share and with whom.

  6. KLC on August 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Ray, note that I said the councils I’ve served on have spent too much time talking about people’s private lives, I didn’t say they should spend no time at all doing that.

    I guess I left unspoken that I believe that for the most part the only real purpose of a ward council is the mundane calendaring, scheduling and administering of programs. So yes, it is possible to have a council and not invade people’s privacy, you just respect the privacy of every member except under extraordinary circumstances that require it to be otherwise. I think talking about people’s problems and challenges should be the exception and not the rule. A council can meet the needs of people, not by talking about them but by doing the mundane work of creating a ward organization that serves them.

  7. Ray on August 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    “I guess I left unspoken that I believe that for the most part the only real purpose of a ward council is the mundane calendaring, scheduling and administering of programs.”

    and that is where we disagree.

  8. KLC on August 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    It’s very seductive to say that we eschew the mundane in favor of the higher law of caring for people but too frequently caring for people means sticking our noses where they don’t belong. We can care for people by making sure the ward runs and its programs run and that they meet the needs of the members. If sacrament meeting is spiritually fulfilling by having well prepared, thoughtful talks and music, if classes are spiritually nurturing by having thoughtful, well prepared lessons that educate and edify, if YM and YW provide reasons for the youth to stay engaged in church rather than drift away, if Primary is providing a foundation of knowledge for children than we have mostly won the battle. And none of those things require a roomful of people talking about the problems and personal challenges of brother smith and sister jones. Those things require for the most part concentrating on the mundane administration that we can easily dismiss in favor of the juicier tidbits of people’s lives that frequently pass for caring in council meetings. So yes, I guess that’s where we disagree.

  9. Kent Larsen on August 6, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    KLC, I’m afraid I agree with Ray, at least to a degree. Local ward leadership does have an OBLIGATION to worry about the lives of individual members. BUT, I also recognize that privacy is a big part of this issue. SusanS’s (5) experience is instructive, and may represent going too far in sharing personal details.

    FWIW, I brought this issue up in the op precisely because I see some benefit in trying to get an idea of where the line is between needed discussion in ward council and gossip. While the handbook does mention the issue, it does not give any further direction. Perhaps it is simply not possible to give further direction.

    It seems to me that a lot of this is based on culture. Let me give an example. When I visit the Church in Utah or interact with members who grew up in Utah, I’m often surprised to see them ask frequently and bluntly about pregnancy. Who is pregnant, when they are due, etc., seem to be frequent topics. In contrast, I grew up in Maryland, my wife in Baton Rouge,and we live in New York, and in those places this is not something that is asked that frequently. I think among many people this is seen as a private issue. When someone who is pregnant wants others to know, either they will announce it or tell friends that it is public information and it will spread. Of course, eventually pregnancy is obvious (usually), but in the first few months not everyone wants to make a big deal of it.

    The difference seems to be a perception of whether or not a pregnancy is private or not. At least among happily married people, it seems to be much more public in Utah than it is where we live now in New York City.

    The problem for a bishop and a ward council then becomes one of what information should be kept private. Clearly on the margins there are going to be mistakes. And therefore, sensitivity to what each individual might consider private is preferred.

  10. KLC on August 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I used to feel the same way but now I honestly believe that my biggest and greatest obligation as a ward leader is to make the ward a functioning and inviting place so that when people make the personal decision to become more active or to realign their lives through baptism we are prepared to not only receive them but to offer them something of value that makes them want to change their lives.

    I’ve spent untold hours in ward councils and PECs worrying and fretting and making plans and goals to try and override the agency of adults who had chosen a different path for their lives. It makes us feel good to be concerned about people but it accomplishes little and can be the source of much harm. It seems to be the married LDS adult equivalent of the missionary practice of setting baptism goals.

  11. Drew on August 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Unfortunately, I feel that the Ward Councils I’ve been a part of tend to stray more toward Gossip Councils, under the guise of Ward Councils. That certainly isn’t their intended purpose, I know, but the flesh is weak. Involving more people in the affairs of ward members, while providing some benefits, certainly does have its drawbacks.

  12. ji on August 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I am somewhat sympathetic to KLC’s postings. To me, it is far better to talk TO someone than to talk ABOUT someone. Sometimes, we talk a lot ABOUT someone but no one ever talks TO him or her.

    Yes, please “make the ward a functioning and inviting place so that when people make the personal decision to become more active or to realign their lives through baptism we are prepared to not only receive them but to offer them something of value that makes them want to change their lives.” And please, if someone has some thoughts about helping someone else, please talk TO that person, not ABOUT him or her.

  13. Ray on August 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    “I used to feel the same way but now I honestly believe that my biggest and greatest obligation as a ward leader is to make the ward a functioning and inviting place so that when people make the personal decision to become more active or to realign their lives through baptism we are prepared to not only receive them but to offer them something of value that makes them want to change their lives.”

    Fwiw, I don’t disagree with that at all – and I agree totally with ji’s #12. I’ve said much the same thing as both comments multiple times, including recently in a Stake Leadership Meeting. I just think there is a real need to talk about people and their lives in Ward Council. The issue for me is MUCH more confidentiality and respect than not talking about people.

  14. queuno on August 7, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Just like youth programs are to support the families, I think that gossipy ward councils should serve to support the family first, with their permission.

    I’ve been burned before. Something I said once to an EQ president so that he could understand the background behind something, got discussed in a ward council. I didn’t have a problem to solve — I didn’t consider the situation a problem. I didn’t need people I rarely spoke with that had no stewardship over the situation discussing the situation. Ray and Kent believe it’s an obligation to report “things” — but not if the family doesn’t want it discussed (morality/abuse issues excepted).

    This hasn’t happened to me, but for heaven’s sake, I’ve heard people’s financial decisions discussed in meetings because they couldn’t afford to send their kids to friggin’ EFY! I know of families who dropped from 2 cars to 1 car, and that necessitated an occasional need for carpooling or rides to youth meetings — and that became a discussion in a ward council.

    My take on it is that (a) if you’re in a ward council and you’ve heard a *rumor* about something, it shouldn’t be discussed in ward council unless it has been verified by someone firsthand, and (b) that the firsthand knowledge results in approval to discuss it with the ward council. Don’t assume it’s valid.

    I know lots of families who would never dare tell the ward leaders about a problem, because they’ve been burned.

    I think sometimes we feel we need to have reasons to have meetings. It’s OK to have ward council meetings that last 15 minutes.

  15. Bob on August 7, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Kent,
    I am enjoying you write on this. I am not on a Ward council. But it sounds like they could use some high-tech when it comes to “mundane calendaring, scheduling and administering of programs”(?)
    I have spent a lot of time in group meetings. A tool often used for confidentiality was the “Caucus”. “Brother Jones, I need to speak to you along on something that only concerns us”. That was always accepted by the larger group as OK.

  16. anonlds on August 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I speak as an active temple recommend holder who is somewhat on the fringe of the ward. I think perception is as big of an issue as actual gossip. When someone does some kind act, I often wonder things like if it was because they talked about me in ward council and someone was assigned to be my friend, or felt guilty because something was mentioned about me and so they want to “help” me. People want to feel like they fit in. Not knowing who has an assignment to help you fit in, makes it much more difficult to actually fit in. Authenticity is an important part of fitting in. That is something the LDS culture is really lacking in and things like ward councils are a big part of hindering that.

  17. Drew on August 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    The problem is where do you draw the line on how much information to share. Anyone in church leadership can justify their decision to share sensitive information with others by saying that the other leaders need to know that information in order to better serve that particular individual. In other words, they share sensitive information for the benefit of the individual. That’s how they justify it. It doesn’t make it right, however, regardless of their intentions. Whose decision should that be? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the vast majority of people would share far less information with church leaders if they knew how freely it is often shared within leadership circles.

    Making collaborative leadership more prominent, IMO could be a mistake if they want it to be less administrative and more “personal”. Some leaders, perhaps, feel okay sharing information as long as they preface it with, “this doesn’t leave this room”. It’s one thing to mention that someone is “struggling”, it’s another to share all of the details with what they’re struggling with, which happens often, in my experience.

    Sharing more information also, in my opinion, does the struggling individual/family and auxiliary leaders more of a disservice as it takes much of the need away from certain auxiliary leaders (primary, relief society, elders, etc.) from truly getting to know the individual and learning of their needs directly, from firsthand experience and from the mouth of the individual, as well as personally through the spirit.

  18. Kent Larsen on August 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Bob (15): “it sounds like they could use some high-tech when it comes to “mundane calendaring, scheduling and administering of programs”(?)”

    As far as calendaring goes, wards and stakes in the US and Canada do have a tool — the calendar on the unit website provided by the Church. I do NOT think it is perfect, but it does work, meets the basics needed, and should help minimize problems IF everyone uses it. Unfortunately many people don’t, and I’d bet the average member doesn’t really use it.

    [FWIW, I feed all my ward and stake events directly into my google calendar. It does help me feel like I know what is going on.]

  19. Ray on August 7, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I agree totally that sensitive or private info should be shared only with permission. I’m just saying that we can’t help people who are struggling in some way if nobody knows they are struggling in some way – and too many people don’t want anyone to know that they are struggling in some way. There’s a real problem with that, as well.

    Yes, it’s a delicate line – but I’d rather we try to walk it than not.

    Having said that, if our HT and VT occurred as it should, this wouldn’t be an issue – and that might be a totally different discussion.

  20. BevP on August 8, 2011 at 2:55 am

    Well said, Ray!! If the HT and VT occurred as it should, the HTs and VTs actually coming to know and cherish the souls in their/our care, a lot of things wouldn’t come up at all beyond that, and a lot of people would feel the warmth of the Savior’s love through the hands and minds of those who represent Him in these vital assignments. August’s VT message is brilliant – and the brethren could benefit by reading it too. If there are those we find it hard to imaging loving, we can ask God what He loves about them, I guarantee He’ll show us if we look.

  21. Kent Larsen on August 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

    So, then what things are or should be confidential?

  22. Stephen Hardy on August 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I am not sure HT/VTers help with the issue of confidentiality at all. If they are doing their job, then they may report their findings to the RSP or to their priesthood leaders, who then may report it to their priesthood leaders (usually the bishop) who then might bright up the issues at Ward Council. In othjer words, effective HTing and VTing does nothing about the “gossip” as desribed here, and may actually increase it.

    Kent: what is confidential? The kinds of problems that I am talking about here include the following, all of which have been discussed in PECs and WCs that I have attended:

    1 An illness
    2 A mental illness
    3 A loss of job
    4 A problem with drug use, or other WoW problems.
    5 Legal problems including immigration issues, and occasionally more serious crimes.
    6 Severe debt
    7 A dysfunctional family
    8 An unexpected death
    9 An expected death
    10 Children of any age (from young children to 50 years old and older)with any of the above

    I have served on a number of bishoprics. One bishop whom I admired greatly believed that the WC could not function well if they were not informed. They were repeatedly reminded of their sacred obligation to confidentiality. Occasionally we would find ourselves in the ironic position of dicussing at WC how to respond to the fact that the ward member didn’t want their problem discussed at ward council.

    He was replaced by another bishop (who kept me as a counselor) who believed in much stricter confidentiality, and didn’t want any such personal issues discussed in WC. I equally admired this bishop.

    I was vaguely aware that both bishops were dealing with more serious and personal problems which were not for WC discussion as well.

    My conlcusions, briefly:
    1. Different styles work for different leaders.
    2. The constant across the two leaders was a sincere love of the members and a desire to use the ward to help families from falling apart.
    3. Because both bishop were equally “effective”, as far as I could tell, I personally would err on the side of Bishop number 2, while maintaining my respect for Bishop #1.

  23. Stephen Hardy on August 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    By the way, re-reading my post: I don’t consider immigration issues to be “crimes”. Carefull… we don’t want to go there today.

  24. Kent Larsen on August 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Stephen, so pregnancy is not on your list of confidential issues? [See my comments in 9].

  25. ruper on August 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    KLC
    Any ward which is more focused on administering policies and creating well run programs is not following the savior properly. This has been said for decades at least. The savior may have staffed positions but it would be a grave misreading of his life to see that as his focus or emphasis. His emphasis was always on the one. So should ours. Ward counsel is uniquely situated to do this as each member has individuals they can all reach out to and uplift. If anyone feels they don’t need help they need to check their pride or ask the savior to save his grace for someone else.

  26. Stephen Hardy on August 10, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Kent: oops, went away for a few days there: I consider pregnancy as a medical problem. By the way, I wasn’t really listing those things as confidential: but they may be confidential. These are things which I have seen discussed in our WCs and I am sure have produced cring-worthy moments.

  27. Ray on August 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I don’t like calling dropping, so I won’t do it explicitly. I only will say, Stephen, that I’m not talking from a theoretical position. I’ve served in the Church for multiple decades, and my view also is colored by my experiences, as are yours.

    To address your examples of issues:

    1 An illness

    Some should be discussed in WC; others shouldn’t. Part of the distinction is the actual person or family. Whether or not to share “something” about the situation should be a matter of contemplation and prayer.

    2 A mental illness

    Some should be discussed in WC; others shouldn’t. Part of the distinction is the actual person or family. (I say that as someone whose mother is schizophrenic – controlled over the years by medication.) Whether or not to share “something” about the situation should be a matter of contemplation and prayer.

    3 A loss of job

    Some should be discussed in WC; others shouldn’t. Part of the distinction is the actual person or family. Whether or not to share “something” about the situation should be a matter of contemplation and prayer.

    4 A problem with drug use, or other WoW problems.

    Should not be discussed in WC, as a general rule.

    5 Legal problems including immigration issues, and occasionally more serious crimes.

    Should not be discussed in WC. Some information must be discussed with individual leaders in some situations, where restrictions are needed, but only enough to make the leaders aware of the restrictions.

    6 Severe debt

    Should not be discussed in WC.

    7 A dysfunctional family

    Some should be discussed in WC; others shouldn’t. Part of the distinction is the actual person or family. Whether or not to share “something” about the situation should be a matter of contemplation and prayer.

    8 An unexpected death

    Some should be discussed in WC; others shouldn’t. Part of the distinction is the actual person or family. Whether or not to share “something” about the situation should be a matter of contemplation and prayer.

    9 Children of any age (from young children to 50 years old and older)with any of the above

    Some should be discussed in WC; others shouldn’t. Part of the distinction is the actual person or family. Whether or not to share “something” about the situation should be a matter of contemplation and prayer.

    I don’t mean to be flippant in the way I just responded, but part of the inspiration that is available to a Bishop is to discern when it is appropriate to share some things and not share others. I would prefer NO sharing over an open mouth policy – absolutely. I just don’t believe either extreme is the ideal – as I think either extreme will end up causing more harm in the long run than a sincere effort to walk a fine balance and ascertain through the spirit what should be shared and what should not. That approach still will have its pitfalls, but, ime, they aren’t as numerous as implementing an extreme, one-size-fits-all **policy**.

  28. ji on August 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    As a home teacher, I might look at my calling differently than other home teachers. For the purposes of this posting, I do not believe that I am the eyes and ears of the bishop (I think this is a Mormon culturalism). If I find a family who is hungry, I hope I will give them some food from my pantry to help them. And if they need help from the bishop’s storehouse, I hope I will recommend to the head of the family that he or she approach the bishop him- or herself. I want to protect the dignity of the families I serve, and to teach correct principles. If I leave the family hungry and “report” the matter to my priesthood quorum leader who then “reports” the matter to the bishop, well, let’s just say that I do not see this as the best approach.

    If we have a ward council meeting where someone’s circumstances are discussed but no concrete action or assignment is taken, then we run the risk of gossip. Let’s not talk about anything unless we intend to address or remedy it. And where any matter can be discussed as an aside by two or a few people instead of in the open meeting, do it.

    And let’s not talk about anything unless it was previously put on the ward council agenda. Let’s forever banish the practice of going around the room. I like the idea of any ward council member who wants to raise any matter to share the matter with the bishop or secretary first so they can decide whether or not to put the matter on the agenda.

    Ray is right — there can be no one-size-fits-all policy on what to or not to discuss.

    Even though I shared my thoughts some stridently, I do believe that most or maybe even all ward council members are good people who try to do good.

  29. Athena on August 11, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Stephen 22, Ray 27 – I think contemplation and prayer are necessary but not always sufficient to decide whether to share information in WC. As a general rule, if I were bishop I wouldn’t share most of what you have listed with anybody, let alone the WC, without permission of the person/people in question. If people on the WC already know about a situation, then whether to discuss it in WC is a different issue, nevertheless still sensitive. As a VT I promise those I visit complete confidentiality (no revealing information to my husband, her husband, friends, RS president, bishop, or anyone else) unless I have explicit permission to do so or the situation involves child abuse or imminent danger to someone, in which case I’d notify the proper civil authorities, not just Church authorities. I think it’s important to establish confidentiality rules with people upfront. If you intend to report the person’s problems to the bishop, they should know this so they can make an informed decision about what they want to discuss with you. Sometimes people have wanted me to put the RS president or bishop in the loop, but often not. I keep my word.

  30. Ray on August 11, 2011 at 8:28 am

    “If you intend to report the person’s problems to the bishop, they should know this so they can make an informed decision about what they want to discuss with you.”

    Absolutely, Athena – and I agree that Bishops should ask members if it’s OK to sahre in WC. Even if they say it is OK, not everything should be shared. That’s another area where contemplation, prayer and a leaning toward charity come into play.

    I just don’t like blanket policies that are the same for everyone and all situations. That’s all.

  31. Athena on August 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Ray, thanks for the clarification. I agree with you.

  32. Beth on August 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I’m an RS pres of 3 years. I have heard way too many confidential matters discussed in ward council. How I can lovingly encourage my bishopric to not bring up confidential matters? They discuss details of illnesses, unemployment, family conflicts, and reasons why people don’t come to church. WC members do not need to know these things. One sister asked me to please not mention that her teenage daughter is having a back surgery because she doesn’t want the whole ward to know, but I bet someone will find out and it will find its way to ward council. I’m seriously in need of help. Ideas?
    One good note: a family asked me to find help for setting up a new computer so they could do church service work. I brought it up in WC, the priesthood leaders assigned that task out, and the family was contacted that day. Perfect use of ward council!
    My ward does use some time planning activities. Now that ward activities are in the hands of the ward organizations, we need some time to work out details and support each other.