Thanks for Your Service, Don’t Let the Door Hit Ya Where the Good Lord Split Ya

August 14, 2005    By: Kristen J @ 8:11 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

About a week ago I made a comment on Nine Moons about how I was ousted from my calling due to scandal. I thought people would ask me what the scandal was but to my great disappointment no one did. Not one! Maybe you’re just too polite, or too busy, or just not interested.

If someone else on the bloggernacle mentioned scandal I probably wouldn’t ask, but I would definitely speculate. Did she oppose the calling of Sister Vanderhoof to the enrichment committee because said sister works full-time and wears mini skirts? Did she bare her testimony about how she was sure that Sister Wookyfuzz must have been under demonic possession when she went in for a tummy tuck and breast augmentation? What on earth could have caused Kristen J to be thrown out on her proverbial behind?

Alright, alright, you don’t have to ask me any more, I’ll tell you….

I was the second counselor in the Relief Society presidency and in charge of enrichment. One Sabbath morn at a presidency meeting I was talking about how I was nervous because I needed to talk to my 8 year old about the birds and the bees. Someone in the meeting thought that it would make a great enrichment class, “Talking to Your Kids about Sex”. “Ok,” I said. “Let me see if I can find a teacher.”

I began the hunt for an instructor and everyone I asked said no. Eventually one of the sisters in the ward said that her mother was a marriage and family therapist who specialized in couple’s intimacy and she would be more than happy to come from out of state and teach the class for us. My president made the comment, “Hey, forget the class on talking to your kids, we should have her to talk to the sisters about issues in marital intimacy. Don’t worry Kristen; I’ll take care of the class.”

My president then got permission from the bishop to do this and we thought everything was a go. Well at a ward council meeting one of the sisters went on and on about how inappropriate she thought this enrichment meeting was. She didn’t want some “heathen” sex therapist telling her or any of the other sisters to go home and have sex with their husbands (my own hubby thought that would be a fabulous message to send the sisters home with)!

Ok, ok, stop the press, now the meeting isn’t approved and we have to think about the appropriateness of the meeting and see if it was fit for the sisters to participate in. Now the whole r/s presidency was feeling pretty T/Oed about the situation. How dare this sister stick her nose where it didn’t belong!

To make a long story short the meeting was approved and we even had a couple’s night with the therapist the next night. I thought it went fine; there wasn’t anything earth shaking and most of the information was plain common sense. I guess not everyone felt that way though and there were a few controversial moments that sparked some debate between leadership for the next few days.

Eventually it died down, or so I thought. I went on vacation with my family and one day when I checked my messages I learned through a member of the bishopric that I had been released from my calling, “Thanks for you service,” they said. Not only had the whole relief society presidency been dismissed but so had the presidency of the sister who was offended at the thought of talking about sex at enrichment night.

Frankly it’s been a struggle to not be royally offended by the whole situation. Going to church has been a trial for me since I got back from my family vacation. Not only do I feel like “persona non grata” with the bishopric but our ward meets really late in the day and I have a 1 year old who thinks it’s her job to screech at the top of her lungs if she isn’t being walked around the building during the entire block of church. Oh, on top of all that 98% of the teachers and speakers in our ward are incredibly snoozerific too. (Oh, if you’re in my ward and you’re reading this, I didn’t mean you.)

You don’t have to worry I won’t go inactive but any suggestions to help me turn church into more of a blessing and less of a burden would be appreciated

34 Comments »

  1. Yeah, write a funny post about it and give your post a hilarious title.

    And when your done doing that, read my recent post on talking to the owner when you are annoyed with management (which I happen to know you haven’t read yet… ;-))

    Comment by Geoff J — August 14, 2005 @ 8:26 pm

  2. Ok, I didn’t read THAT one, but I do read most of your posts. I did just read it though and it was very good.

    Now, what do I do about the screeching 1 year old?

    Comment by Kristen J — August 14, 2005 @ 8:30 pm

  3. “Not only had the whole relief society presidency been dismissed but so had the presidency of the sister who was offended at the thought of talking about sex at enrichment night.”

    Huh? You mean the Primary Presidency?

    Comment by Clark — August 14, 2005 @ 10:29 pm

  4. Releasing someone via a phone message is a strange way to handle things. Have you talked to anyone in the bishopric regarding the situation?

    Comment by Justin — August 15, 2005 @ 7:15 am

  5. Clark-No, not the primary presidency but another auxillary where women are in charge.

    Justin-I guess they really wanted to do the releasings the weekend I was gone and since they didn’t know how to get a hold of me they decided that a message would be ok. If they had asked the r/s president she could have given them my cell phone number.

    I just keep telling myself that they’re a pretty new and green bishopric who is still learning and I don’t want to run in to the office and rant and rave about it like some psycho. Instead I decided to rant about it at New Cool Thang. I don’t know, maybe that’s worse.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 15, 2005 @ 7:26 am

  6. I figured you were joking about the scandal. You gotta admit, this makes for a pretty good story. One you can tell your grandkids about!

    As for making church more enjoyable, try praying for those involved in the whole deal. Sincerely.

    And try taking your 1yo into the nursery for awhile. I’m the nursery leader in my ward and I love it when people bring slightly too-young kids in. They’re always the easiest ones in there. (But we have a small nursery–rarely more than 8 kids, ever.)

    Comment by Susan M — August 15, 2005 @ 7:57 am

  7. Kristen,
    It’s probably best you didn’t go rant to the green bishopric, they are still probably trying to figure out what they’re doing. When Geoff was newly in the bishopric I’m sure he wasn’t so comfortable and didn’t know exactly what he was doing at the beginning. That being said, I think it would be wholly appropriate to sit down with one of them and explain to them your concerns/thoughts about how the whole situation was handled. I question all of my decisions I make at church and hope that if they weren’t tactful, weren’t appropriate, weren’t correct then I’d hope someone would rationally talk with me about it.

    It is too bad all of that happened though. It sounds like it would have been a good evening. I guess if you think you’re intimacy is fabulous there would be no reason to show up, therefore no reason to be offended.

    Comment by Rusty — August 15, 2005 @ 7:59 am

  8. Thanks for the response, Kristen. I suppose I am left wondering: what did you (and the other presidency members) do wrong, or what did you do to warrant being released? Sounds like the event was approved, some members didn’t like it, they complained to the bishopric, and the controversy was “solved” by cleaning house. D&C 42:88-92 and Matthew 18:15 seem to be a better way to go.

    Comment by Justin — August 15, 2005 @ 8:02 am

  9. Justin- I think that the 2 presidents got into a rather large power struggle over the whole issue, I tried to condense it a little in my post (they really dislike each other I think) and I think the bishop decided to clean house. If you release the presidents the whole presidency gets released automatically.

    I just feel pretty creeped out by the whole issue.

    Susan- I have done it in the past with my other kids but in this ward we have 3 huge nurseries and parents are always getting told to get out because there isn’t any room. I wish they’d just call me in to nursery and put us all out of our misery! By the way, “The Mermaid Chair” was an excellent book.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 15, 2005 @ 8:12 am

  10. That’s the second thing I’ve read about Nine Moons lately. I will have to check that out. If I had read it, though, I would have definitely have asked.

    I’ve been to meetings where they talked about sex with therapists. I don’t see what’s the big deal. I’m on your side, hon. I was the homemaking counselor, what a yuck calling.

    This, too, shall pass. Screw ‘em.

    Comment by annegb — August 15, 2005 @ 8:22 am

  11. Got it. Thanks for your replies.

    Comment by Justin — August 15, 2005 @ 8:33 am

  12. Justin said: “Releasing someone via a phone message is a strange way to handle things.”

    Now I’m wondering how it’s usually–or ideally–done. I can only think of one calling I’ve actually been released from by a bishopric member–last week, in the hall right before I was going in to play for Primary, a red-faced counsellor told me I’d been released. Fine by me, though a little awkward.

    Other than that, I’ve only been released from callings when I move out of the ward–I assume they finally released me! I’ve been in wards where they ask for a show of thanks in Sac. mtg weeks after someone has moved out.

    Comment by Ashley — August 15, 2005 @ 9:09 am

  13. When I’ve served in Bishoprics we were asked to meet with the person, one on one and thank them for their service and tell them they would be released. Usually we had another calling to make to them at that time, but not always. At the very worst we would call them about a release.

    You were only released because the presidency was disolved. The president is the one that should have a problem if there is one. You were released because of her. If they only wanted you out because of your idea you would have been gone. They obviously wanted to “clean” things up, both presidents…it wasn’t directed at you.

    I got released from Gospel Doctrine teacher…I can’t help but wonder if part of it was because I tend to be a bit of a rebel….don’t always stick right exactly with the lesson…type of teacher. Oh well, the gospel is still true.

    The problem with your 1 year old….wait until she’s 2! What happened to the Cherrio bribe?

    Comment by don — August 15, 2005 @ 9:44 am

  14. They just released our Gosp. Doc. teacher too. He was excellent but not exactly mainstream. We’ve decided that the goal of this bishopric is to put in people as vanilla as possible in any significant callings. Like you said, the gospel is true.

    My 1 year old loves cherios, loves to fling them as far as she can in all directions!

    I’m thinking that I’m going to sit in the back row during Sacrament meeting, let the baby crawl to the front (which she loves)and have the 8 year old retrieve her right before she hits the podium. She should be able to do that about 10 times a meeting. What do you think? ;-)

    Comment by Kristen J — August 15, 2005 @ 9:56 am

  15. I used to live in a stake where the stake pres. was sometimes referred to as “General ____”. He was a hard charging kind of guy who got things done, but his social graces left something to be desired. One Sunday during ward conference, in a misguided attempt to describe the bishop as a humble and kind man, he said,”he may not be the most able, or the most articulate or the most intellectual…”
    You might wonder why I can remember this comment word-for-word, and that would be because the bishop was my husband. It took me a year to stop ducking the SP in the church hallways so I didn’t have to shake his hand. Finally, I ran across a quote that was referring to mission presidents, but seemed to apply. It said something like- Some leaders are sent to help us and some are sent to test us.
    I think most bishops, especially new ones, can safely be given a little slack. I can think of quite a few times my husband probably offended people, in spite of his best efforts. Some of his mistakes happened because he is a convert and didn’t know all the Mormon cultural stuff.
    One more thing to keep in mind is that if we are parents, our kids will learn from our attitude about our leaders. Some day the bishop may be the only person who can help a miserable teenager out of a mess, but if that teenager thinks of his bishop as an incompetent dolt, he or she may not turn to the one person with the keys to help.

    Comment by C Jones — August 15, 2005 @ 10:01 am

  16. I seem to have to amend every comment I ever post! My last paragraph (one more thing…) was meant strictly in general and not as any kind of personal reflection on anyone posting or commenting.

    Comment by C Jones — August 15, 2005 @ 10:16 am

  17. c jones- I love your comments they are always very insightful. You are right, even if I do have some less than happy feelings for some leadership it would be wise to not involve any impressionable minds in my feelings.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 15, 2005 @ 11:10 am

  18. Kristen, Thank you! Thank you! I had not read the post at nine moons and probably would have asked….

    I am glad you posted your story here. Now I know how to get out of a RS presidency calling in the future. The bloggernacle can be very informative at times! ;-)

    Comment by chronicler — August 15, 2005 @ 1:34 pm

  19. All I have to say is that this is a small price to pay for 2.5 hr church. :)

    It simply blows my mind how bent out of shape people can get. What is it with people.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 15, 2005 @ 2:50 pm

  20. Seems to me that we could use a little more of “men, this is what your wives want–women, this is what your husbands want.”

    I may be mistaken, but sometimes I sense an undercurrent of condemning men for their sexuality. Do the women ever talk about p0rn? Not that I can tell–it’s just the men that get lectured. If sexuality is actually a good thing when kept within the Lord’s bounds, seems to me that we ought to embrace it a little more. Tactfully and in the right setting, of course.

    (Why is it that people who think a planned activity is a terrible idea feel an obligation to show up anyway? Can’t they sit one out instead of ruining it for others?)

    Comment by Jared — August 15, 2005 @ 8:58 pm

  21. Wrong Jared. I;ve given the p0rn talk twice in RS. It was really fun, to say the least.

    Comment by chronicler — August 15, 2005 @ 9:10 pm

  22. We do get the porn lecture every so often in RS just not nearly so much as men.

    Jared-I totally agree with you here. In this day and age of pornorama I think it’s important to talk about sexuality with the saints. We had some pretty funny moments during both evenings and I think some enlightening moments too.

    Here’s a comment one of the sisters made, “It takes a lot more energy to think of excuses and ways to get out of having sex with your husband than to just do it and make it a positive experience for both of you.” I could see a lot of women nodding and having “lightbulb moments” when they heard that comment.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 15, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

  23. Our ward had a similarly controversial enrichment night. (Warning: third-hand report follows. Take with a pound of salt). One of the members of the ward is a psychiatrist and was asked to make a presentation on mental health at an enrichment night meeting. Apparently, the entire talk quickly devolved into a debate over the propriety of using medication to manage depression and other mental health problems. He was given a chance the next month to make the presentation that he had originally scheduled.

    No one was released over the incident, as far as I know. It served as an illustration to me of how some topics can be difficult to talk about in settings where there is a general audience.

    As for being offended, I’ve got some thoughts on that, but I haven’t quite written them up yet.

    Sounds like a great enrichment meeting idea though. Don’t let this experience keep you from doing other interesting things in the future.

    Comment by Bryce I — August 15, 2005 @ 11:47 pm

  24. The whole issue of how callings and releases are done would make for a good post. A relative of mine was recently extended a calling in a 15-second hallway conversation. For a variety of reasons this was a serious problem. First, the person was being extended the new calling in addition to an older calling that the person was being asked to still maintain. Second, the description of the calling’s responsibilities was inaccurate and insufficient. Third, the person being called had a host of other responsibilities and pressures that needed to be acknowledged and weighed into consideration.

    Yes, sometimes a bishopbric would like to get a calling and sustaining handled ASAP … but it is vital when handling callings and releases to consider the feelings or potential feelings of the person being addressed. A bishopbric simply cannot know for sure how a calling or a release will impact a person (or even a group of people) without sitting down with a brother or sister and fully talking to them about their expectations.

    Sometimes as ward members we don’t really appreciate how much work a particular person will put into what might seem to be a fairly easy calling. Perhaps the calling is in fact a huge challenge for that person and it only appears easy because the person is so well-prepared. Or we might think that a person who has performed a certain calling for an extended period of time has got it all figured out and that they can handle additional responsibility.

    Comment by danithew — August 16, 2005 @ 5:05 am

  25. Thanks danithew-I think that is one of my biggest problems with the situation. Enrichment is a crappy calling. Basically you have to throw a huge party for the women in the ward every single month and then some of the women feel it is their duty to tell you how you can “improve” next time. I did this virtually by myself for 6 months because most of the people on my committee were “out of town”. Then the way I was released kind of felt like a slap in the face I guess.

    I think too that if I was given another calling right away I would feel better about things. Now I feel like I’m too hot to touch. Geoff says if I do want another calling, which I’m not so sure, then I should stop shooting daggers out of my eyes everytime I see someone in the bishopric.

    I guess I need to grow up about all of this and move on!

    Comment by Kristen J — August 16, 2005 @ 7:42 am

  26. 1. Kristen J (#22) — very funny.

    2. Is it just possible that you’re reading more into the release than there is? My limited experience has been that with presidents, especially YW and RS, the bishopric puts many weeks into a decision to release and to call. Perhaps the release and new call were already in the works and just happened to fall in the wake of the enrichment clash.

    3. I’ve found it has been much more fun to call than to release. For some reason the sisters often cry when they are released (maybe I’ve just been doing it poorly — one sister once commented that meeting with me always made her cry, but then she said crying does no good with the Bishop, so maybe I’m being manipulated) — brethren just click their heels and hope there’s no new calling coming. Usually a personal release is the mode — but I have had to extend a thanks and release to a sister who was out of town by leaving a telephone message — and felt awful doing it, but there wasn’t any other way that I was aware of at the time.

    Comment by Zerin Hood — August 16, 2005 @ 12:38 pm

  27. You know, there are enough puritanical Mormons that I really wonder how we still manage to procreate at rates higher than those of the general populace.

    Comment by The Only True and Living Nathan — August 16, 2005 @ 2:19 pm

  28. Zerin-There is no way I’m reading more into this than there is. It’s pretty clear the mind of the bishopric. This enrichment night was a very dividing issue in the ward and it was probably stressful for the bishopric to deal with.

    I’m really not that sad about the actual releasing. Like annegb said, “Enrichment is a yucky calling.” I guess I feel like I worked so hard on this @#$%! calling and then treated with major disrespect in the releasing and treatment after the fact.

    Oh, I have never cried to the bishopric when I’ve been released from a calling.

    Nathan-too true!

    Comment by Kristen J — August 16, 2005 @ 3:37 pm

  29. Sunday I taught the RS lesson on “Experiencing Happiness in Marriage.” As I prepared the lesson I thought it might be good to lightly touch on intimacy. To ruffle as few feathers as possible I went with a couple of quotes by Spencer W. Kimball:

    “The Bible celebrates sex and its proper use, presenting it as God-created, God-ordained, God-blessed. It makes it plain that God himself implanted the physical magnetism between the sexes for two reasons: for the propagation of the human race, and for the expression of the kind of love between man and wife that makes for true oneness. His command to the first man and woman to be ‘one flesh’ was as important as his command to ‘be fruitful and multiply.’”

    President Spencer W. Kimball noted that even in our own church, “if you study the divorces, as we have had to do in these past years, you will find there are one, two, three, four reasons. Generally sex is the first. They did not get along sexually. They may not say that in court. They may not even tell that to their attorneys, but that is the reason.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 312.)

    I felt comortable with the idea until I was actually teaching, when I got nervous and read the quotes without making eye contact with the sisters and with little of my own commentary. The women seemed tense and I quickly moved on.

    I guess RS is just not the place for sexuality unless we are condmening it in the form of p0rnography. But it should be-everyone would be “Experiencing Happiness in Marriage,” more often.

    Comment by Katie — August 16, 2005 @ 4:41 pm

  30. Kristen, your #25 comment is the reason I made my first comment. I have spent too many nights planning an “enrichment” night only to have sisters complain in the spot that they weren’t being served. It is the hardest job in the ward I believe. Don’t get me started on the division of RS duties on homemaking leader vs homemaking counselor vs education counselor. Arrgh!

    Also, with regard to callings and releases being extended: my husband was called to the bishopric 3 minutes before sacrament meeting once. Then when we were given this new calling the people in the job before us were released in the meeting we were sustained in without being told it was going to happen. Akward social situation there, thanks alot SP!

    Comment by chronicler — August 16, 2005 @ 7:56 pm

  31. Oh, after this calling I totally know what you mean chronicler. I was always looking at the education counselor and wanting to make her head the clean-up committee or something. The division there is bizarre!

    Oh callings and releasings, what a strange thing. I suppose we all have to go through a few awkward ones in our lives.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 16, 2005 @ 9:35 pm

  32. Speaking of RS…we must be pretty liberal in ours! We had that marriage lesson too on Sunday. At the end of the lesson the teacher says that she has three women who have prepared some things to say about keeping marriages alive. The first and second ones get up and say all the normal things about going on dates, and being nice to each other. The last one gets up and says that since her husband is in the military and is gone for deployments for months at a time she likes to write letters to him and keep connections to him that way. Then she says, “And when he gets home I like to do something EXTRA special for him…” giggles, and then says, “Let’s just say it involves a trenchcoat!” Most of the women were cracking up, but I’m sure it offended some. Then tonight we had enrichment and it was about cooking. A question was asked about whether we knew how to break apart garlic or something and she says, “Yeah, like I know how to do that! My talents lie with trenchcoats!” She’s a spicy one!

    Comment by Jamie J — August 16, 2005 @ 9:43 pm

  33. Okay, I know this thread is done, but I just wanted to point out that in the old days, people were called to do things during meetings, with no warning whatsoever. Things like going on really long missions to foreign countries, requiring men to leave wives and children at home. And going to start new communities in Idaho or southern Utah or whatever. At least the whole family could go then.

    Of course it’s ideal nowadays to have some warning about being released, but I’m not sure it’s required. Anyway, it sounds like your bishopric is kinda new at things, and I imagine that being the bishop must be one of the hardest callings in the church, even when you’ve done it for a while. So you might want to go easy on them. Also, like someone else said, you should probably assume that it was the presidents who were being released, not you.

    I like the image of you shooting daggers from your eyes at the bishopric. They’re probably scared of you! Hee hee.

    This is kind of a different topic, but several years ago while I was sitting in some church meeting being annoyed by some boring or not-intelligent-enough teacher, it suddenly occurred to me that the people who “make it” to the celestial kingdom aren’t all going to be the people that I like the most. There are going to be lots of different kinds of people there, with all kinds of opinions and mannerisms that I find annoying, and I’d better learn to get along with all kinds, or I might not be there. A thought that has sometimes helped me put up with crap at church or elsewhere.

    Comment by Erin J. — August 19, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  34. Make an appointment and talk to the Bishop, or talk with the counselor that released you. Put it on the line. Ask them to be honest and up front. If they are NOT honest and up front let them know you are disappointed. Walk out. End the interview.

    Tell them you had hoped for more honesty from the Leadership.

    Comment by Dale — August 19, 2005 @ 12:45 pm

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