My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Archive for the tag “LDS”

The Newly Called Alabama Birmingham Mission President: Stanford C. Sainsbury

A photo of Stanford Sainsbury from the Daily Herald upon his retirement in 2012. Photo by Jim Mcauley

A photo of Stanford Sainsbury from the Daily Herald upon his retirement in 2012. Photo by Jim Mcauley

With yesterday’s exciting announcement of 3 new missions being created in the world, the Church also publicly listed nearly all of the 168 new mission presidents who will begin service this summer with their wives.

Here in the great state of Alabama we will be welcoming Stanford C. Sainsbury and his wife Sister Melanee Sainsbury.

Living on a 50 acre farm in West Mountain, Utah (Payson/Spanish Fork Area), President and Sister Sainsbury will be leaving behind their lives and trading in the Rocky Mountains for Appalachian Hills for the next three years. Sainsbury, who turned 60 just last month, with his wife Melanee, are the parents of seven children. President Sainsbury spent his professional life as an employee for the city or Orem, Utah. After graduation from BYU and earning a law degree, Sainsbury spent 10 years as a city prosecutor for Orem city, then deputy city attorney. During that time he became a certified planner. He then spent his final 16 years of employment as the director of development services. He retired in December of 2012 after 29 years of service for the City of Orem.

A graduate of BYU, President Sainsbury served a full-time mission as a young man in Sweden under the direction of President Paul Oscarson. President Oscarson, who was only 29 years of age at the time of his call as mission president, was known for his youth and enthusiasm in the Swedish Mission. Perhaps President Sainsbury will bring some of the same vigor of his full-time mission as a young man to Alabama as the mission president. His wife, Sister Melanee Anderson, is originally from Manassa, Colorado. According to an online profile from President Sainsbury he enjoys “[spending] time visiting children, working in the yard and garden, farming, following BYU sports, spending time in the temple, ward callings, traveling, reading,etc.”

President and Sister Sainsbury have served in a variety of church callings throughout the years, including recently as a ward mission leader for President Sainsbury.

As members of the Church residing in the Alabama Birmingham Mission we will deeply miss President Richard D. Hanks and his beloved wife Elizabeth. However, we recognize that with the hastening of the work comes a hastening of the years, and we are thankful to be have been blessed with the acquaintance of such fine saints here in Dixie. President Sainsbury will have very large shoes to fill, both figuratively and literally, but we have no doubt that with the blessings of the Lord he will do so exceptionally.

President and Sister Sainsbury. (Picture from one of their personal blogs - they also blogged here for a period of time.)

President and Sister Sainsbury. (Picture from one of their personal blogs – they also blogged here for a period of time.)

 

Last Night I Got Engaged

Anna Melissa snapped this double selfie of us to announce to the social media world our joy.

Anna Melissa snapped this double-selfie of us to announce our joy to the social media world.

People keep asking how I ended up popping the question to the beautiful woman who has taken my heart. So I decided that it would be easiest to just share her perspective of last night which she shared on our wedding website at The Knot. (Wedding website? Yeah. I’m a man. Who knew such things existed?!…)

This is Anna Melissa’s perspective of last night:

“In true Stan Way fashion, the proposal was nothing short of completely and utterly sacred.

Stan blind folded me at about 8:30 pm at my house, led me to his car and then drove for about thirty minutes. I had no idea where we were or where we were going. When we stopped he got me out of the car and led me, still blind folded, into a building, through some doors, and up a couple of stairs.

When we stopped Stan then proceeded to propose to me in the most beautiful way I could ever imagine.

We were facing one another holding hands. I was still blind folded. He explained to me that in the perfect world he would have proposed to me in only one place. He then explained the importance of living prophets and priesthood leaders and asked if I knew the significance of rivers and water in the scriptures. He explained that in the scriptures we are taught that proceeding from the throne of God is a river, and that in other places in the scriptures there is described a river flowing forth from the temple towards the east. He said this was symbolic of the word of God flowing unto all the earth and to all of Israel, and that Jesus Christ is that living water. That is why we often see fountains on many of our church’s temple grounds. The river and the fountains represent the Word of God flowing to all humankind. He told me that at the church’s Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, there is a fountain in a garden on the roof of the Conference Center. The fountain is placed directly over the pulpit inside the Conference Center. Stan then said that in a perfect world he would have propsed there on that roof, at that place because it signifies the Word of the Lord flowing to the world. But that since he couldn’t propose to me there he would propose in the next best place.

He then he took off the blind fold and we were standing behind the pulpit of our church’s chapel. He told me that there in that chapel we hear the Word of the Lord every time we are there and that it is there that we sustain our leaders, our prophet, our apostles, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I was hysterical as he got down on one knee, told me that he could never imagine a more perfect woman to be the mother of his children, and then asked me to be by his side throughout eternity and to follow our  Lord in everything that we do.

It was the most beautiful moment of my life, sacred and special. I felt like a princess. The daughter of a King and the fiance of an incredibly faithful man.”

I personally couldn’t be more honored or blessed to have a greater woman in my life. After a long search I’ve finally found the woman with whom I am equally yoked and shares the most important of goals in life with me.

Frankly, I’m giddy with joy, and our wedding day cannot come soon enough!

Anna Melissa's smile and eyes are the most brilliant sparkling things I know. This ring will always look dim compared to them, but it will have to do...

Anna Melissa’s smile and eyes are the most brilliant sparkling things I know. This ring will always look dim compared to them, but it will have to do…

 

The Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah is the world's largest indoor religious auditorium and seats 21,000+ visitors. The roof is cover in over three acres of gardens with a fountain located in the northeast corner of the roof.

The Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah is the world’s largest indoor religious auditorium and seats 21,000+ visitors. The roof is covered in over three acres of gardens with a fountain located in the northeast corner directly above the pulpit in the auditorium below.

 

A closeup of the fountain located on the Conference Center roof. I'll get to take Anna Melissa there someday...

A closeup of the fountain located on the Conference Center roof. I’ll get to take Anna Melissa there someday…

Mormon Apostle Linda Booth Recommends Gay Marriage

Approximately 2,000 people gather in the Auditorium of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri for meetings and worship.

Approximately 2,000 people gather in the Auditorium of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri for meetings and worship last week during the faith’s annual World Conference. – Photo from the Kansas City Star

Each spring the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, invites members and elected church delegates from throughout the world to their headquarters in Independence, Missouri for their annual World Conference. Held in the church’s spacious Auditorium (located next door to their iconic temple which to me looks like a giant ice cream cone), the conference held last week over a six day period attracted about 2,000 people, including about 1,500 church delegates. Considered a time of spiritual rejuvenation, the conference is translated into multiple languages, and in the past few years has been recorded and made available to view online later by followers of the faith.

World Conferences are made up of delegates elected to represent the church’s Mission Centers (roughly equivalent to a Catholic diocese or LDS Stake), meeting together to discuss and vote on the business of the church. Three years ago prior to World Conference, various Mission Centers throughout the church had passed resolutions calling on the church to embrace allowing gay members to be ordained to the priesthood (without any stipulations) and to end discrimination in marriage on the basis of sexual orientation. These resolutions then came before the sessions of the World Conference and were considered according to parliamentary procedures. Unlike General Conference, the semiannual meetings held by the Utah based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these meetings are conducted according Robert’s Rules, with motions, seconding, discussion, questions of privilege, calling the question, and the such. Historically, in the World Conference of 2010, the first business that came before the conference was whether or not to approve a new revelation brought to the church by President Stephen M. Veazey, the church’s leader and prophet. The approval of the World Conference would mean that the revelation (initially referred to as “prophetic counsel”) would be added to the Community of Christ’s Doctrine and Covenants. Like the resolutions referred to the conference by the Mission Centers, the prophetic counsel addressed the issues facing LGBT members of the church. The result of the procedural voting three years ago ended with the church leaders accepting the revelation “as the mind and will of the Lord”, and it was canonized as scripture as Doctrine and Covenants Sections 164 (the most historic change in church history since Section 156 approved in 1984 which allowed women to be ordained to the priesthood). But the steps made three years ago did not officially sanction gay marriages. That happened just a few days ago.

The Missouri Mormons of the Community of Christ are not to be confused with their doctrinally different cousins in Utah though. While this month’s General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City expounded on traditional values and marriage between a man and a woman, last week’s World Conference of the Community of Christ solidified and expounded just how glaringly the differences in practice and doctrine have become in the past 150 years.

Apostle Linda Booth reads the recommendation of the nearly 1,500 delegates to those gathered in Independence, Missouri last week for the annual World Conference of the Community of Christ.

Apostle Linda Booth reads the recommendation of the nearly 1,500 delegates to those gathered in Independence, Missouri last week for the annual World Conference of the Community of Christ.

The specific recommendations of the conference to the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the two highest governing bodies of the church) last week were as follows:

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends the sacrament of marriage be extended, where legal in the USA, to persons of the same sex/gender. Thus the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA on the sacrament of marriage; and

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends that a church-recognized way for two persons of the same sex/gender to publicly express their covenant to each other be made available in places in the USA where marriage is not legal. Thus, the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy for the USA regarding same-sex/gender covenant commitment services where marriage is not legal; and

The 2013 USA National Conference recommends allowing a priesthood call to be processed according to established procedures regardless of sexual orientation, including a person in a monogamous, committed, same-sex/gender relationship (e.g., legal marriage, civil partnership, covenant relationship) in the USA. Thus, the 2013 USA National Conference recommends a change to the current policy on ordination for the USA.

Read by the church’s newly elected president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Apostle Linda Booth, and sustained with a majority vote by the church delegates present, the message was loud and clear: Gay marriage is okay.

Since gay marriage is only authorized in a small number of states in the United States (currently 9 with Rhode Island preparing to be the 10th), and since marriage is a state contract, the Community of Christ appears to be preparing official commitment ceremonies for those couples that reside in states without gay marriage. Also, the Community of Christ will acknowledge monogamous committed relationships as on par with marriage, in matters of priesthood calls, no matter whether they are labeled as legal marriage, civil partnership, or a covenant relationship. In other words, the legal difference between states will not impact how the Community of Christ approaches these relationships.

The Community of Christ in recent years has struggled not just to grow but to maintain their fledgling membership. With approximately 250,000 church members wordwide, the church just last year sold land to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a deal, that according to numerous sources, helped replenish nearly empty church coffers. Meanwhile, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to be among the fastest growing faiths in the United States and has over 14 million members wordwide.

For many members of the Community of Christ last week’s motions and resolutions may be accepted as “the will of the Lord”, and to many in the world the change will likewise be seen as a good and timely action. However, there are also those who are left wondering, “Just how far will a church stray from their original doctrine just to appear popular?”

While some groups of faith may change their beliefs with those of society, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to emphatically declare “that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (See The Family: A Proclamation to the World). The Lord’s commandment to love everyone includes those of the LGBT community, and recently the church came out with an official website, MormonsAndGays.org, which adopts a more conciliatory tone toward gay men and women than many Latter-day Saints have heard in the past. Official Church doctrine has not changed, but with the realization that their are many among the faithful who struggle with same sex attractions, there is an outreach to love and rescue them like never before.

Only time will tell what may become of the Community of Christ with their watershed announcement on gay marriage, but for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nothing has changed, and few expect that it will.

The local NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri lead off their newscast on 21 April 2013 with the Community of Christ's announcement to allow same sex marriage.

The local NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Missouri lead off their newscast on 21 April 2013 with the Community of Christ’s announcement to allow same sex marriages and commitment ceremonies.

The Newly Called Alabama Birmingham Mission President: Richard D. Hanks

Elizabeth W. and Richard D. Hanks. - Photo from LDS Church News.

Elizabeth W. and Richard D. Hanks. – Photo from LDS Church News.

With yesterday’s exciting announcement of 58 new missions being created world-wide, the Church also publicly listed nearly all of the new mission presidents who will begin service this summer with their wives.

Here in the great state of Alabama we will be welcoming Richard Duff Hanks, 52, and his wife Elizabeth Ann Winters Hanks. According the Church News the Hanks have three children, and currently live in the Holladay 8th Ward in the Salt Lake Holladay South Stake.

Prior to being called to serve as president of the Alabama Birmingham Mission Brother Hanks served as Chairman and President of Mindshare Technologies, a leading provider of real-time customer and employee feedback solutions. According to Mindshare’s website their “proprietary survey technology captures the voice of the customer in real-time and immediately transforms it into actionable intelligence through powerful and incisive enterprise reporting.”

Mr. Hanks was also a senior executive of several Fortune 500 companies as well as several start-up ventures. He was a corporate officer at Marriott, an executive with PepsiCo and Price Waterhouse, and CEO of Blue Step, a software start-up. Rich, as he is commonly called by his friends and family, was named “The Leading Sales Innovator in the Lodging Industry,” and Marriott’s sales team was rated one of the top 25 among all companies in the U.S. for four years under his leadership. Rich also led Marriott onto the Internet, prompting Bill Gates to refer to him as an “Important Internet champion” in his book Business “@ the Speed of Thought“.

That’s right, Bill Gates gave a shout out to the guy. So he has to be pretty awesome.

Earlier in his career, Rich was called the “Leader of Hotel Revenue Management and Strategy” for his leadership in hotel pricing and yield management. He is also a CPA. Rich was nominated as Utah Entrepreneur of the Year in 2001, 2007, and 2008.

Richard D. Hanks is the author of “Delivering and Measuring Customer Service” (which you can purchase on Amazon by clicking here), in the past has been a frequent teacher/speaker at trade, academic and professional gatherings, and has been widely quoted in top business journals and trade publications. Brother Hanks was also a lecturer and adjunct professor at Cornell University for 10 years and on the Board of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and his MBA from Northwestern University.

Currently Brother Hanks is a stake institute teacher. He has also served as a stake executive secretary, high councilor, bishop, bishopric counselor, mission preparation teacher, and missionary in the Scotland Edinburgh Mission. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Marion Duff and Maxine Christensen Hanks. Brother Hanks’ father, Elder Marion D. Hanks served in the First Council of the Seventy, as an Assistant to the Twelve (a calling which no longer exists), in the First Quorum of the Seventy, and in the Presidency of the First Quorum of Seventy. Elder Hanks was only 31 years old when first called as a General Authority in 1953, and raised his family, including Brother Hanks, during his many years of full-time service in the Church.

Sister Hanks is a gospel doctrine teacher and former ward Relief Society president and counselor, ward Primary teacher, ward young single adult advisor, and ward Young Women leader and teacher. She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Richard Keith and Mary Nebeker Winters.

Where Will the Next Pope Come From?

In the days since Pope Benedict XVI announced his upcoming resignation the news media, and people in general, have had the opportunity like never before to speculate about who the next Holy Father could be.

This popular fad has not been lost on Latter-day Saint audiences. Last week Peggy Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote an article entitled “Could Mormon Prophet or Dalai Lama Resign Like the Pope?” A few Mormons have speculated that some Church Presidents did “step down” in a way by calling additional counselors in the First Presidency (McKay and Kimball), and the Bloggersphere has been filled with a cacophony of LDS/Catholic parallels. But with a Church President just a few months younger than Benedict himself, we Latter-day Saints can’t help but join in on the speculation of who the next pope might be.

Among my favorite papal speculations came from Omid Safi. Safi, a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined in on the foray of the next holy father by writing earlier this week that we should perhaps all look to a pope that we could all agree on. A pope perhaps like…

Yoda.

That’s right.

Yoda. The intergalactic green guy.

Professor Safi writes,

The focus of the discussion so far has been on the ethnicity of the next Pope, and the potential to expand the reach of the Church in new and exciting directions.

What about changing the nature of the office of the Pope itself?

How about a change to Yoda, to move from an embodiment of authority to one that emphasizes spiritual transmission?    Not one who embodies religious authority, but rather one whose mission is to instruct, to awaken, to help his followers become who and what they are destined to be.

What if the focus was not on a Pope to embody the religious teachings of any one religious tradition, but rather on the interconnectedness of all existence?

What if we had a Yoda Pope to help us see beyond a notion of a personal God (creating God in our own image) to seeing the sacred as the very connection of the whole Universe.

Now granted, I like Yoda as much as the next guy. Pope Yoda would really liven up Easter Mass with a pastel colored light saber, but isn’t Latin already confusing enough without switching around the sentence structure again?

I don’t know, I’m just more of a traditionalist.

When Pope Benedict XVI was elected by the College of Cardinals in early 2005 I was serving my final months as a full-time missionary. With what few news clippings I could get my hands on I quickly became a Ratzinger Man from the start. Traditionalist. Conservative. A scholar. Those were things I felt would help unite us as Christians fighting against the evils of the world.

But this go around?…

I haven’t chosen a man to root for yet. And that’s okay because we still have a few days of Benedict. But which cardinal should I be making a big foam finger for? What Catholic guy is going to look best on t-shirts, mugs, and those handy scented candles that all of the faithful Catholics have? And which guy is going to be cool enough as the pope to tour the Rome Italy Temple open house before the temple is dedicated in a couple of years?

These are all things flying through my Latter-day Saint mind as the conclave approaches.

With that in mind though, here is a nifty little infographic I saw on MSN yesterday. I hope you enjoy it.

And, in case you have any cardinal buddies who still haven’t made up their mind yet, go ahead and mention Cardinal Ouellet’s name to them. I figure the only thing that would be more awesome than Swiss Guards protecting the pope would be Canadian Mounties guarding the pope.

That’s right.

Canadian Mounties.

Not even Pope Yoda with his light saber could top that.

Where Will the Next Pope Come From Infographic Catholic

Don’t Kill The Little Birds

A song from the

A song from yesteryear in Mormon culture.

Tonight I was on the phone with a friend and we somehow ended up talking about how weird Mormon culture can be. My friend brought up the Primary Song “Popcorn Popping” and said matter of factly, “You have to be pretty messed up to write something like that.”

Who am I to question such logic?

But then a boyhood favorite song of President Spencer W. Kimball’s youth came to my mind and my friend and I got to laugh at it too. Said President Kimball of this song:

“I had a sling and I had a flipper. I made them myself, and they worked very well. It was my duty to walk the cows to the pasture a mile away from home. There were large cottonwood trees lining the road, and I remember that it was quite a temptation to shoot the little birds “that sing on bush and tree,” because I was a pretty good shot and I could hit a post at fifty yards’ distance or I could hit the trunk of a tree. But I think perhaps because I sang nearly every Sunday, “Don’t Kill the Little Birds,” I was restrained.”

(See Strengthening the Family – The Basic Unit of the Church; President Spencer W. Kimball Ensign, May 1978, 45.)

What were the words that restrained a boy who would one day be prophet?

Don’t kill the little birds,

That sing on bush and tree,

All thro’ the summer days,

Their sweetest melody.

Don’t shoot the little birds!

The earth is God’s estate,

And he provideth food

For small as well as great. 

Don’t kill the little birds,

Their plumage wings the air,

Their trill at early morn,

Makes mus ev’ry-where.

What tho’ the cherries fall,

Half eaten from the stem? 

And berries disappear,

In garden, field, and glen?

(Deseret Songs, 1909, no. 163.)

We Mormons may be weird, and our culture may be unlike that of the world’s, but I am happy to call myself a Latter-day Saint. Even though we may teach some awfully strange songs to our youth, there is a lesson and a principle there to always be learned.

Expect for in “Popcorn Popping”…

That song is just messed up.

Stan

How Many Feathers Have You Spread?

Before you ever share a “fact” or story you’ve heard from a person about someone else, remember that to bare false witness against another is to break one of the Ten Commandments.

Let us not play fast and loose with another’s reputation, but always remember that the things we hear may not be the full truth, or even a part of the truth.

Stan

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