Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specialty Wards

Typically, the only way Mormons can move Wards is to physically move a block or more down the street (or farther, for non-Utahans). Well, let's face it, not everyone loves the Ward their currently assigned to and might enjoy the freedom of attending a Ward that speaks more to their lifestyle. Currently, you'd have to be deaf, Spanish-speaking, or single to opt-out of your assigned Ward and attend another Ward. I'd like to suggest that we could broaden our Church's appeal by offering more specialized Wards and boost our now-decreasing new convert rate in the U.S. A few Specialty Wards that I've thought of are:

Entrepreneur's Ward (a.k.a MLM-Ward) - Love to chat-up all your Ward members about your latest foray into the elusively-lucrative home business world of ridiculously-priced berry juice? Do you believe that MLM's are God's divine plan for stay-at-home Mom's to make extra money, at the expense of your friends and neighbors? This Ward is for you! Sunday School lessons could be designed around current marketing trends of little-known Polynesian berries and the nutritional values of different herbal cocktails.

Fundamentalist Ward - Membership requirements might include a concealed weapons permit or Ham radio operators license. Lessons would alternate between emergency preparedness, the divine mission of the Republican Party, and discussions about the time on Kolob relative to the Earth.

Full-size Van or Suburban Ward - Minimum 7 kids - Should be a real popular option in Utah Valley! Senior citizens would also be encouraged to attend this Ward to balance out the teaching needs in the four Primaries.

Happy Ward - A Ward where single, male florists and home decorators might feel at home.

Polynesian Wards - Free from ethnic requirements, it would be more of a Polynesian-culture ward. Men can wear comfortable lava-lavas in the summer and shirts without a tie, plus there's a big potluck BBQ each Sunday after services. The only down-side is all the speakers expecting a returned, 'Aloha!' at the beginning of each talk.

Late Arrival Wards - Although, I suppose the meetings might never start, or have to be reduced to just 1 1/2 hours, since people would show up late, knowing that the meetings are starting late, at least those that make it to Church on time can have some peace.

PDoA Ward - In addition to mother/nursing rooms, there would be a few rooms with army-style cots for those who can't wait three hours between conjugal visits and 'laying on of hands'

Personally, I'd like to be the Bishop of the RV Ward. Membership requirements would include owning an RV or travel trailer, a minimum of two off-road vehicles, and at least one watercraft.

Any other suggestions to add, before this inspiration is passed up to The Brethren?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Practicing the Law of Consecration

With the bad economic times that we're experiencing, I've had several inquiries concerning the Law of Consecration and the United Order. I've always lumped the United Order in with polygamy as odd practices of the early Church that no one was really excited about bringing back. Although, there's always been this lingering idea that at some point both might be put back into active use.

So, while we're waiting for the call to pack up and head east to Missouri, I thought it wouldn't hurt to at least get a taste of practicing the Law of Consecration (we're going to hold off on polygamy for now). In the true spirit of the United Order, those that have been blessed in abundance can share their blessings with those that have not been righteous enough to have received the same bounteous blessings.

Starting Memorial Day weekend (May 22nd), the practice of the Law will begin with the availability of the following:

  • Four 2008 Skidoo jet skis - Arrange pick up times with Brother or Sister Morgan
  • One 2007 ski boat and trailer - Coordinate with the Hunsaker's - truck not provided.
  • RV and two dirt bikes (250cc) - Schedule with Brother Mortensen - don't forget to top off the gas before returning!
  • Town home in St. George - Just give the Peterson's a call to book your time

  • That should be a good start. If any of you have other suggestions for items that you'd like to see added to the practice, just let me know. I'm looking forward to a summer of increased brotherly love, communality , and great tans. We'll discontinue the practicing of the Law of Consecration after Labor Day weekend (September 7th).

    Always Thinking of You,

    Bishop Mike T. Young

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Monthly Message, or Massage?

    I have to give props to Brother Hicks - being a newer member of the Church isn't always easy. There are so many concepts to learn and he's trying his best to fulfill all of his commitments. As a High Priest, he was asked to home teach a couple of older single Sisters. However, there seems to have been a misunderstanding in this responsibility.

    Brother Hicks came well-prepared for the visits with baby oil and a couple of towels. After a friendly introduction, he got right to business delivering the monthly massage, much to the initial surprise and shock of the Sisters. Not to mention his young companion, Bobby Miller. Brother Hicks just figured that the surprises resulted from lack of consistent visits in the past, and assured the Sisters that he was prepared and willing to deliver every month.

    Now, when I first heard about this, I was struck with fear that these Sisters would not be coming back to Church, or they would file formal charges against Brother Hicks - but it's been the exact opposite. Not only have the Sisters expressed their thanks for their new Home Teacher's enthusiasm, but I've now had four other single Sisters (and two not-so-single Sisters) request Brother Hicks as their Home Teacher.

    Brother Harris, on the other hand, requested to not have Brother Hicks visit him anymore.

    Keep up the good work, Brother Hicks!

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Sins of Omission

    I've been asked several times in my still-short tenure as Bishop about sins of omission. These sins are typically less grievous than sins of commission, but can be serious just the same. Remember, "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for the good people to do nothing." So, you can sin doing the wrong thing. You can sin by doing the right thing at the wrong time. Or, you can sin by doing nothing at all. Basically, most people can safely assume that they're sinning in some form about 90% of the time (99% of the time for senior executives at AIG). However, these sins do not generally need to be confessed.

    Here are a few examples to serve as a guide:

  • Forgot to have daily family scripture study, forgot daily family prayer, didn't have weekly FHE, didn't pay tithing, forgot to keep the Sabbath day holy, didn't love thy neighbor - sins of omission
  • Didn't home teach or visit teach for a month - on the line, after three months it definitely becomes a sin of omission
  • Failing to visit the sick and elderly - Yup - sins of omission, unless the elderly smell like mildew
  • Hiding from Brother Hams after sacrament meeting to avoid his hugging - not a sin of omission
  • Knocking doors lightly as a missionary hoping the inhabitants don't hear - maybe a sin of omission
  • Not passing out a Book of Mormon to the traveler sitting peacefully beside you on a airplane listening to an iPod - not a sin
  • Monday, April 20, 2009

    Get to know the Ward Newbies

    Please join me in raising the right hand of fellowship to the Nelson family! They’ve moved to our Ward from Ephraim after an outbreak of the avian tape worm wreaked havoc on their turkey farm. John Nelson and his wife Eileen are parents to Samuel, Salomon, Sariah, Sampson, Sarah, Saul, Sadie, and Sage.

    Ummm, perhaps someone could quietly hint to Brother Nelson that the Earth is now sufficiently replenished? Any more multiplying should be limited to their pets.

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    New Nursery Equipment!

    I’ll admit to a reality – when selecting members for Ward Nursery Leaders, we take what we can get. We start with high-hopes, but after the normal turn-downs, we end up with people who just cave to the pressure of authority. Typically, the percentage of members turning down this calling is about 4x that of the second least-popular calling of the Ward: Gospel Doctrine teacher.

    With the unpopularity of the Nursery in mind, I’ve received approval from the Stake to install some new playground equipment right in the Nursery room. Moms, instead of trying to perform stealth get-aways, only to hear your child screaming when they turn around and don’t see you there – they’ll run to the Nursery! You have to admit - every once in a while, the Spirit helps me come up with a really great idea.

    To help pay for the nursery equipment Brother Grissel has offered to donate his time performing lip waxings (Sisters only) for only $10 ($25 for Sister Canter). Additionally, Sister Grissel will be teaching a class this Tuesday night at 7pm at the Church on creative jello sculptures – just $15!

    Friday, April 17, 2009

    Fundamentalist Self-Check

    Within the diverse LDS culture there are varying degrees of beliefs and practices. One classification that Mormons can fall under is, 'fundamentalist.' While it may be that this classification normally infers some multi-wife practices, that's not the only way to reach this level of 'commitment.'

    So, for those of you wondering whether, or not, you might be viewed by Gentiles as a fundamentalist, I decided to create the following self-check list of items. Generally, if you can answer to the affirmative on greater than three of the following, chances are, you'd be considered a fundamentalist (among other things) by those that know you:

  • You actually use the word, 'Gentile,' under any circumstance other than reading directly from the Bible.
  • When reading last summer about the raid on the FLDS compound in Texas, did you find yourself thinking, "Those poor men. Why can't the government just get off their backs and leave them alone!"
  • Do you have a five year supply of food, water, fuel, and ammo in a backyard bunker?
  • Do you have a license to operate a HAM radio? 1/2 pt. if you even know what a HAM radio is.
  • Do you have a concealed-weapons permit, or even believe it's a right to carry a handgun to Church?
  • Does your van still sport the bumper sticker, "Bo Gritz - God, Guns, and Gritz!"
  • As a Scout Master, did you feel that the Wilderness Survival merit badge should include a 10-day survival trial by the Scout, instead of just one night?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping at night at the thought of your graduating child attending the increasingly-liberal BYU, instead of continuing their home schooling?
  • You'd rather talk about a New World Order than listen to New Order
  • Do you refuse to engage in loud laughter and look down your nose at those who do?
  • You sincerely believe that no man has yet to walk on the moon and no man shall ever do so.
  • Postum and hot chocolate are against the word of wisdom because they are "hot drinks."
  • And the big one - You're convinced that Polygamy will indeed make a glorious comeback, and you've already picked out a few eligible young ladies to proposition?

  • Do you have any further additions to the list? Please share in the comments!

    Your always loving,

    Bishop Mike T. Young

    Ward YM/YW Activities Calendar

    I know the youth will be as excited as I am when they see these fantastic upcoming activities! Ah, to be a youth again...

    Tuesday, April 28th
    Deacons - Rock climbing at The Quarry - Don't forget permission slips!
    Teachers - Ice fishing at Scofield Reservoir - leaving at 3pm- need permission slips
    Priests - Night skiing at Brighton - Also need permission slips

    Young Women - Combined activity: Quilt tying basics taught by Sister Lowe (a great skill to have in such tough times!)

    Tuesday, May 5th
    Deacons - Marksmanship at the Provo indoor gun club - Don't forget permission slips
    Teachers - Swimming merit badge at the Springville pool
    Priests - Indoor Laser Tag in Provo - Need to bring those permission slips again

    Young Women - Combined for guest speaker Sister Carter from the SF 388th Ward, "Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts Unceasingly"

    I can just feel the excited anticipation in the air. The only downside of having so many great activities is trying to decide which group to spend my valuable time with.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Food Storage Update

    Well, this past Monday I took my own advice and headed to Costco with my wife for FHE. To my shock (and initial horror), we found a kind, older Sister dishing up SPAM for a sample. And if you're thinking that she must have been one lonely sample lady with no takers, you'd be sadly mistaken. The table was packed with SPAM fans. They couldn't get that steaming, greasy mystery-meat into their mouths fast enough!

    Then the inspiration hit me: food storage, baby! I once heard that the only things that would survive a nuclear blast are cockroaches and SPAM. This sounds perfect for some emergency food, and upon carefully inspecting the label I knew this was truly a whispering of the Spirit.

    In one teeny-tiny can of SPAM, you have all of the daily caloric needs of a fully-grown adult. And as a bonus, you get enough sodium for an entire week. Low cost, high caloric and fat content, in a sealed metal can - it might as well of had a glowing halo around it. So, build your storage up now before the FDA steps in!

    Just watching the sample lady preparing that juicy SPAM brought back memories of my childhood. Those luscious lumps of pink meat getting shaken out of the can accompanied by that sucking sound as all the SPAM jelly is displaced. We'd cut that tender pile of goodness into 1-inch think slabs and fry those little babies up. Mmmmm... SPAM memories.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Relief Society Homemaker Kits - now only $1,110

    Sister Morgan has come up with a unique kit that can be a solid starting-point for all LDS households, and saves the Sister's the time of putting it together themselves. Plus, Sister Morgan has been blessed with lots of money, and thus has very good taste. The kits include:

  • One of the new black & white temple pictures of the temple you were married in, or the one you would like to be sealed in, or the Salt Lake temple if neither of the first two apply.
  • One 12 inch marble Christus statue
  • Three Willow Tree statues. One of a family praying, one of a mother holding a child, and one of a mother with eight kids taking a Xanax (a new limited-edition statue)
  • Hilarious joke painting of Mark Twain being baptized by Brigham Young, while Tom, Huck and Jim stand around them. You just have to see it.
  • Three old, unique, black & white pioneer pictures that you can claim were your ancestors walking across the plains
  • Two needle-points of Jesus - one around a group of kids and the other carrying a sheep

    Money-back guarantee if you don't feel the spirit upon entering the front room!
  • New Ward Callings

    Please join me in congratulating the following on their new callings:

    Sister Hicks – Primary male-teacher supervisor. Watches for closed doors when men are teaching, or kids in a ‘time-out’ on a male teacher’s lap. Remember – two men minimum per class, and doors open!

    Brother Bertle – tends the Nursery’s pet turtle. Sometimes I kill myself.

    Brother Noggin – Ward shotgun safety instructor

    Sister Noggin – Ward deer meat specialist

    Brother Hicks – Napping High Priest nudger

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    TK Smoothie

    We had a lively discussion in Sunday School today about the Kingdoms. Much of the discussion centered around what conditions one could expect in the different Kingdoms of Heaven. I got the distinct feeling that Brother Marks is shooting for the Telestial Kingdom, since it's rumored not to be that bad after all, and not require so much effort in this life.

    In Mormonism, we have an expanded picture of life that extends before this mortal life and then on into the eternities. However, when you really dig into this, it turns out that we have very few details on what to expect after this life, and the details we do have come mostly from talks given almost 175 years ago. And to say that our expectations of 'Heaven,' have changed quite a bit since then is a gross understatement.

    Despite all the speculation, one detail that we know for sure: unless you make it to the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, there will be no eternal sex. Basically, you'd be turned into a Telestial/Terrestrial Kingdom Smoothie (TK Smoothie). I like to imagine these lesser-Kingdoms as the Barbie & Ken Kingdoms. Everyone walking around looking beautiful and perfect for eternity, but having a smooth under-carriage like Barbie or Ken.

    Most of us would think, "I've got to make it into the CK to keep my package intact," but, after some serious studying and pondering, I have some reservations about the Highest-of-Highs.

    First and foremost is the elephant-in-the-room issue: Polygamy. All of the information we have about a genitalia-enabled afterlife comes from the early prophets. And they clearly tied entry into the highest degree in the CK to the practice of polygamy. If you ever want to push a hot-button at Ward Temple Night, bring up this topic. So, to keep the privates intact, there's going to be lots of sharing going on. While the early leaders of the Church were really keen on the idea of multiple wives and herds of children, it's hard to find many supporters of this today in Relief Society. And as for the men that are for it, most really creep me out.

    Secondly, the only purpose mentioned for keeping the family jewels is, 'eternal progression.' This means that men and their 1,000+ wives can't just find a quiet nook in Heaven to build their own Playboy mansion (any takers, Sisters?). There has to be kids involved, and we're not just talking a few, but billions. Billions, upon billions. Upon more billions. Eternal billions. More than McDonald's has served, and Madoff has stolen, billions. And who gets to tend all these billions of children? Maybe Angelina and Brad, but I digress...

    The bottom line is, I'm not convinced that a TK Smoothie isn't the way to go. Even as such a loving Bishop, I hate visiting the Nursery. When little Tommy Milsap wet his pants while sitting on my lap last month, it took everything I had not to bless that child with the laying-on-of-hands. And I'm supposed to be excited about an eternity spent having endless children?

    Can there be a classification for, 'Celestial Grandparents,' for those of us who are finished raising kids, want only one spouse, would prefer keeping what we currently have in the nether-area, but wouldn't mind just occasional visits to our children and grandchildren who decide that eternal child bearing/rearing is for them, and then coming back to the peace and quiet of our own, private Celestial-abode?

    We're long-overdue for a refresher doctrine covering the afterlife. If 10% gets you polygamy and endless children, I bet a 15% option just to opt-out of these while being able to live in the CK and visit loved ones would be really popular these days.

    Am I alone in my concerns? I have to raise this one with The Brethren, for sure. Does anyone know if they have anonymous suggestion boxes?

    Bishop Young

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    FHE Idea - Costco!

    Here's an idea that I had while building my two-year supply of tater-tots and Diet Coke: Costco could serve as a great host for a family night.

    You could (at least in Utah) head first to the book section and pick up a great new book by a General Authority, like, 'Saying it Like It Is,' by Sheri Dew. Then, migrate to the home and garden area where the family can gather around one of the patio furniture tables on display for the reading time.

    Moving next to the cheap keyboard displays, you can sing a quick little Primary song without drawing too much attention, except from the child stalkers.

    Next, swing by the games aisle to let the kids get a good look at what they won't be getting for Christmas.

    And finally - snack time! The variety of snack offered by Costco is fantastic! I've also found that if you make a slow 30-minute track around all the snack servers, that you can go around at least 2-3 times before they start to recognize you.

    There you have it! A fun-filled FHE night at Costco that requires zero prep work.

    You're welcome!

    Bishop Young

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Feel the Inspiration

    One of my favorite pastimes as a Bishop is pondering, whether at home, or in Sacrament meeting. My wife tries to call it 'napping,' but it's definitely pondering. It just so happens that pondering is more effective for me with my eyes closed.

    Well, one of the inspirations that hit me during a long pondering session was a way to increase spirituality among the Ward leaders. I've long drawn inspiration from my Grandfather Jacob. He was not only a Bishop and Stake President, but the founder of the first men's softball league in Spanish Fork - a true visionary.

    To feel inspired by Grandpa Jacob, I only need to look upon his urn sitting on my fireplace mantle. Just knowing that a piece of him (actually all pieces) are there fills me with inspiration. (Sister Stone called as the Ward baked goods and pickle-canning advisor? Yep! - It was Grandpa Jacob.) So, I've decided to share Grandpa (literally) with the Ward leaders!

    Starting this Sunday, Grandpa Jacob will be making the rounds to each leader's house for one week. He can be placed in a prominent position within the front room where his influence might be best felt and pondered upon. Then each week, the recipient can return-and-report.

    If this idea creeps you out, we can substitute the urn with a picture of Grandpa Jacob, but I can't guarantee the same level of inspiration.

    Just a quick note - no séances or Ouija boards should be used to try and directly communicate with Grandpa. Rubbing the urn is acceptable, as is including it in your family prayer circle.

    Feel the inspiration!
    Bishop Young

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    Economic Relief

    Due to the rapidly-deteriorating economy, I thought we should be creative and facilitate some intra-Ward opportunities for those in need of some extra cash. So, I've spent a lot of time developing what I feel is a fair price sheet for some of the common items that we're asked to do as members, but would really rather not do - and in some cases would pay to have someone else receive these 'blessings.'

    Feel free to haggle (or Indian leg wrestle) for better pricing:

    Write normal sacrament talk ------- $30
    Write funny sacrament talk --------- $40
    Give the talk for you ------------------ $60

    Home Teaching visit ------------------ $10/family
    Visiting Teaching visit ---------------- $10/visit
    VT Phone Call -------------------------- $5/call
    VT Email -------------------------------- $2/email

    Write SS/EQ/RS Lesson ------------- $15/lesson
    Teach SS/EQ/RS Lesson ------------ $25/lesson
    Teach Primary Class (2 hr) ---------- $15

    Attend Bishopric Meeting ----------- $15
    Attend PEC Meeting ------------------ $12
    Attend Ward Council Meeting ------ $10 ($12 before 9am)
    Attend Ward Welfare Meeting ------ $14 ($16 before 9am)
    Attend Stake Planning/Prep Mtg --- $40

    Attend Temple Recommend Interview ---- $30, plus $10 per confessed sin
    Give Temple Recommend Interview (Bishops only) - $20, plus $20 per confessed sin unless it's interesting

    Visit loved ones ------------------------ $30/hr non-elderly, $60/hr elderly

    Overhead in CTR Class

    As the Bishop, I get the opportunity to visit Primary classes whenever I feel like it (no, Sister Richard, the coincidence that this always falls on the day you're teaching Sunday School is just a coincidence). I choose regularly to attend the younger children's classes, since that where all the good info is shared by the kids. Here's a sampling of this week's remarks by these little angels:

    Bobby T.: My Dad has a beard growing on his back
    Mia S.: My Mom has a beard growing on her face

    Samuel Y: When I'm bad, my Mommy has to take a drink of the special medicine on the top shelf. It's only for Mommies and Daddies.

    Kari L: My Mommy's boyfriend is sometimes at our house very early in the morning and makes us pancakes

    Tommy N: I saw the tooth fairy last night, and he wears garments just like my Dad

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    General Conference Jitters

    In approaching another Conference weekend where a new apostle will be named, is it just me that gets nervous about possibly receiving 'The Call'? My palms are getting sweaty just typing this.

    Would I go with Mike T. Young? Perhaps pull an J. Golden Kimball with M. Terrance Young, or maybe just MT Young?

    Well, I guess we'll see what happens in a few days. Anyone care to take bets at 1:8 odds?

    Nuts, that probably just lowered my chances.



    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    Spring is in the air

    Unfortunately, Spring is only in the air if you live in Southern California or Florida. In Utah, we're having blizzards and road closures. We probably could use the snow for water this summer, but couldn't the Lord send the snow between December - February? April and May should be rain-only, and then limited to two days per week.

    Let's start a Ward fast for no snow! I think the Pioneers did this a few times. Sure, it didn't work out to well for the Donners, or Willie handcart companies, but I'm sure there were success stories that we can cherry-pick as inspiration. Let's start today! The no-to-snow fast!