Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is President Paternoster Approved of the Lord?

Since creating this blog I have received a lot of feedback.  While most have been positive there are those who accuse me of being unjust in the way in which I perform my duties.  Some think I am too controlling or restricitive in my counsel and discipline.  The basic question I ask myself (and that you may ask) is whether my actions are approved of the Lord.  The below scenario addresses this issue.

One of my toughest responsibilities in the church has been in deciding whether a couple should be allowed to marry or not.  A few years ago when I was a Bishop a young man came to me asking for a temple recommend as he wanted to get married.  This young man had served an honorable two year mission for the Lord and was from a good family, but I had not seen him at church for a long time.  He said he had been attending his future wife’s ward.  This I found to be unacceptable.  I explained to him that we do not go to church to socialize.  We go to serve the Lord and since members can only receive callings in their own wards we should seldom visit other wards.  I noticed on his records too that he had not paid tithes in a few months.  I asked him to attend his ward, accept a calling and start paying tithes.  In six months we could talk about a temple recommend and marriage.  This was very difficult for the couple and was especially hard on me as the bishop.  Two adults do not have the right to marry just because they fall in love; marriage has to be earned.

Wondering whether my decision was approved of the Lord, I prayed and asked the Lord to tell me whether I had done the right thing. 

The Lord responded in a miraculous and unexpected way.  On November 4th 2007 Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to the young people in a CES fireside that was broadcast throughout the world.  In his address he talked about this same young man mentioned above and my decision to withhold a temple recommend.  Here the Lord was not only endorsing my actions but was answering my prayer. 

For interested readers the talk by Elder Oaks can still be read on the official church website at this URL (scroll to about 3 quarters of the way down into the talk):

For your convenience I will quote below the part of the talk where I am mentioned: “Don’t be in the position of a young man who recently asked for an urgent appointment with his bishop because he wanted to be married in the temple the following week. The bishop said: “Who are you? I have your membership record, and I know your parents, but I haven’t seen you since you came off your mission. I have no record of your paying tithing. I know that you have not been serving the Lord in a calling. I cannot give you a recommend. Come back to your ward. Serve here and pay your tithing here and let your bishop feel your spirit here. Then, in a few months, we can talk about a recommend.” When the temple wedding did not occur on schedule, it was hard for everyone, especially the bishop. But the bishop was right.”

Tears still well in my eyes when I read those words from a prophet of the Lord and know that my service is acceptable unto him.  I pray that I can continue to serve the Lord honorably as a stake president.  To my readers; I want you to know that I appreciate all your love, support and devotion. 

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear President, Even though I don't know you, I have felt constrained by the spirit to write a response to your faithful post. You see, I have succumbed to some of the things being said out there on the internets by those that are working to destroy the work of the Lord. I now see that what I am doing is tearing apart my family and I needed some divine guidance. Your post gave me that inspiration and I think the Lord was guiding me to find your blog and read your faithful words. I think you may be right that I need to go back to church and start paying an honest tithe (I need to start paying 10% of my gross income even though my family struggles to make ends meet and when we were paying our tithing we were going in debt in the amount we were paying in tithing each year, I just need to have faith that things will all work out and that I will be blessed for my faithfulness), I need to do these things so that my family can enjoy all the blessings they have been missing out on because of my unfaithfulness. I now see that I need to go in and talk to my Stake President again, since he is the only one who holds all the keys of presiding authority in my stake.

I have also noticed that your faithful words have seemed to attract some people who linger in forbidden places and write things that are not faith promoting. These people may say they have left the church, but it is apparent they just cannot leave the church alone. They must be lead to your faithful example and are just waiting for an invitation to come back into the fold. Good for you for reaching out and being a faithful example and being blessed to be able to have an influence on those poor lost souls. May God bless you and sustain you to be able to continue the great work you are doing on behalf of the Lord on the earth. Keep up the good work, President!

Love,
A Fellow in need of the healing that only people in your position (and the Lord) can provide...

Stake Pres. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

Wow, that must have been difficult on you, President. But it took a man of Elder Oaks' stature to notice what you were going through and recognise your anguish.

Did you have the opportunity to feel of that young man's spirit?

Porter said...

President, thank you for another faith building article!

I wish my own stake president was as in tune with the lord as you are. In my stake they give out temple recommends like they are candy. They never check the tithing rolls to verify that the individual is a full tithe payer like you did, they just take people at their word! Elder Oaks' guidance makes it clear that answers given in temple recommend interviews should be checked to verify that the answers given are truthful.

So, in addition to checking the tithing records as Elder Oaks suggests, wouldn't also it be appropriate (required?) for the interviewer to check attendance records?

Elder Oaks said you need to check membership records to see if they have held callings, that's a good start. How about also interviewing the spouse and children to see if they are obeying their temple covenants, obeying the law of chastity and especially to find out if they're wearing their garments "day and night"?

And why stop with checking church records? I think it would also be a good idea to Google their name and determine if they are affiliating with any inappropriate groups -- their Facebook page will tell you a lot. I know a woman who holds a temple recommend, but if you look on her Facebook page you will see that she wears immodest clothing all the time!

You should also check court records to verify that in fact they have been honest with their fellow man and haven't been sued? And you could check with the courts to determine if they are current on their child support payments. Its amazing what you can find out about a person on the Internet!

In fact, much of this research can be done in advance of the interview, and you could come "armed" with the truth in case they try to give the wrong answer.

I'm going to forward Elder Oaks' talk to my bishop to set him on the right track. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Porter
You are very astute and I'm sure the stake president will be most grateful for your counsel in how he might fulfil his duties even more conscientiously. I do wonder though if you still leave the members a little too much room for wiggle, after all if he only checks the tithing records, how can he be sure that it's a genuine 10%.

Perhaps members should be asked to bring their pay stubs so they can be reconciled against what has been paid?

Stake Pres. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

I will say this: Your Jesus isn’t mine. I feel so sorry for the members that have to endure living in a stake with such a controlling a$$.

But this blog site is a spoof -- right?

Spider said...

I'm pretty sure that if the good President Paternoster was a real stake president, he would have been released by now.

I do think it would be rather amusing living in his stake though as it would be hard to take anything he said very seriously and would provide plenty of amusement to keep the youth attentive during stake conference

Spider said...

Hmmm president, doesn't the handbook specifically say that the recommend interview is about yes/no answers and that you shouldnt deviate from those.

Oops, forgot, you don't have that handbook do you?

Stake Pres. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you for all that you do. I know that in my ward my bishop's wife, our home teachers, and our visiting teachers all do what they can to make sure each of us if following the commandments and is worthy of having a temple recomend. Each of us can do our part and watch our brothers and sisters. If they have let go of the iron rod, we can each tell the property authorities, our bishops and stake presidents, so that they can help the person get back on track. I for one do my part.
Proud payer of 15% tithing.

Sunshine said...

BORING!

Come on Patternoster, stop tooting your own horn and bring a little righteous smackdown on the liberals.

Vader said...

"While most have been positive there are those who accuse me of being unjust in the way in which I perform my duties"

Not at all.

I just don't think you're a real stake president, which is a very different kind of accusation.

For those not familiar with the Mormon faith who are visiting this site: While the Mormon leaders I've known have mostly been wonderful human beings, I have known some who were occasionally less than wise, or who got tired and grumpy from time to time, or who occasionally were a touch too sure of themselves.

However, I have never met one who was as consummate an a$$ as the fellow writing this blog.

Jeanette said...

I am just wondering in your stake how you handle those who pay their tithing directly to the church. Is there any way for you to verify that those people do in fact pay an appropriate tithe? Do you feel comfortable issuing a temple recommend to such persons?

Stake Pres. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spider said...

President, I do feel you need to call to repentance those who pay their tithing directly to the church because they don't want people in the ward knowing their income. If that isn't pride, really, what is?

Jeanette said...

Maybe it isn't pride. Maybe they're hiding something, like whether or not they pay tithing at all or if they are paying on net income instead of gross income.
After all, if there was nothing to hide, would there truly be a problem with full disclosure of one's finances? I feel certain the Church can empathize with this very issue.

Stake Pres. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Gail Haws said...

President,

I would like to suggest that in addition to doing the research suggested by Brother Porter, you might consider praying about the idea of also asking the little children and dear spouses (husbands or wives) of those seeking recommends whether they are treated kindly and respectfully by their temple-going parent within the hallowed walls of the home.

I'm sure you are as saddened as I am to see some of our people carry recommends while carrying on the most demeaning and manipulative relationships with their family members. This is clearly not in harmony with the question about family relationships.

I pray you are blessed with inspiration and growth in your service.

Thomas Gail Haws said...

President Paternoster,

Are you really on Facebook now? Like, can I friend you?

Stake Pres. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Rock Waterman said...

It would seem to me that if you have anyone in your ward whose ambition is to be a private detective, you could give him a special calling to look into the backgrounds of the other members to make sure they're straigtened up and flying right.

In a church such as ours that has experienced such growth, it's no longer possible for the local leaders to keep proper tabs on the members.

As suggested above, you need pay stubs, bank accounts, and tax records to ensure that a full tithe is being paid.

If there is someone in your ward who works for the TSA, they would be perfect, because they are already accustomed to sticking their hands down other people's pants at the airports.

Jeremy O'Booze said...

I always pay my tithing direct as I am an international investment banker working in London.It would be embarrasing if the people in my ward realised that I make as much money in a week as many of them make in a year. Besides there is this problem of the fact that I am 'non-UK domiciled' which means I pay no tax on the few million £s which arise from offshore trading. In fact last year I actually paid less tax than the cleaner who keeps my office looking spic and span. But I am an honest tithepayer and like Mitt Romney I don't see why any Tom, Dick or Harry of a bishop should know how much I am worth.