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Bill “Papa” Lee

Wonderful Sermons ! But what is to be done?

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Our Ward and many others in the South are beginning to have many who are African American, many more who are Hispanic. These members bring wonderful variety to the Church and to our Wards. In our Ward, two (sometimes three) members bring to us, very wonderful speaking skills, born from their background, which is very similar to my own. They have delivered very, “fire and brimstone” type of sermons, that wake people up. In the last few months, I have heard many wonderful sermons. The problem is, these wonderful sermons are delivered every month, on Fast Sunday, “every” Fast Sunday, and these sermons are seldom if ever include “testimonies”, when both sisters speak, no one else has time to speak. If the third, a man (formerly a preacher) then the entire meeting goes over. Two are not new members, one has been a member for 25+ years, and each time the Bishopric gives her instruction, or points out what F&T meetings are for, she try’s to comply. But, she (we) have had four Bishoprics in 5+ years, (due to many Ward boundaries changing) then she and others return to the practice of preaching. One sister, preaches, and then sings to the Ward. Last week members who wanted to bare testimonies, decided they were not going to be forced by time to sit down, so we went over our Sacrament time by 20 minutes. 

These wonderful people are given speaking assignments, sometimes two, three times a year, by the Bishopric in an effort to make them feel a part of the Ward. But they will not relent, and continue to do the same on Fast Sunday’s, as do others. 

So, what is to be done? We continue to have three, no more than five bare their testimonies, but many are frustrated. I never speak, anymore useless asked. I have learned that “there is much more wisdom in listening, rather than speaking”. Any advice? I know t is the Bishop’s responsibility to address this, I am just looking for advice for many who ask me what to do. Having served in many leadership callings, and teacher of man classes, over the decades, so feel comfortable asking me. 

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4 hours ago, Bill “Papa” Lee said:

Our Ward and many others in the South are beginning to have many who are African American, many more who are Hispanic. These members bring wonderful variety to the Church and to our Wards. In our Ward, two (sometimes three) members bring to us, very wonderful speaking skills, born from their background, which is very similar to my own. They have delivered very, “fire and brimstone” type of sermons, that wake people up. In the last few months, I have heard many wonderful sermons. The problem is, these wonderful sermons are delivered every month, on Fast Sunday, “every” Fast Sunday, and these sermons are seldom if ever include “testimonies”, when both sisters speak, no one else has time to speak. If the third, a man (formerly a preacher) then the entire meeting goes over. Two are not new members, one has been a member for 25+ years, and each time the Bishopric gives her instruction, or points out what F&T meetings are for, she try’s to comply. But, she (we) have had four Bishoprics in 5+ years, (due to many Ward boundaries changing) then she and others return to the practice of preaching. One sister, preaches, and then sings to the Ward. Last week members who wanted to bare testimonies, decided they were not going to be forced by time to sit down, so we went over our Sacrament time by 20 minutes. 

These wonderful people are given speaking assignments, sometimes two, three times a year, by the Bishopric in an effort to make them feel a part of the Ward. But they will not relent, and continue to do the same on Fast Sunday’s, as do others. 

So, what is to be done? We continue to have three, no more than five bare their testimonies, but many are frustrated. I never speak, anymore useless asked. I have learned that “there is much more wisdom in listening, rather than speaking”. Any advice? I know t is the Bishop’s responsibility to address this, I am just looking for advice for many who ask me what to do. Having served in many leadership callings, and teacher of man classes, over the decades, so feel comfortable asking me. 

Some stakes are giving instructions and even initiatives to keep testimonies brief and simple. I would advise those asking you to bring it to the bishop's attention to share in his stake bishopric council or with his assigned high council member.

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Posted (edited)

What the members can do is sit at the front and be the first ones to bear testimony so that whomever it is has to be last.   Maybe she needs a whole lot of good examples.

(Removed.)

 

Edited by rpn
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1 hour ago, rpn said:

What the members can do is sit at the front and be the first ones to bear testimony so that whomever it is has to be last.   Maybe she needs a whole lot of good examples.

(Have to tell you though that I wished you hadn't made this about being a person of color --- there are plenty of white people whose practice of testimony giving is different from the ones we see in a typical sacrament meeting.  Sometimes it doesn't hurt white people to experience faith through the eyes of people from different backgrounds.)

 

Culture might have a lot to do with the way someone approaches testimony meeting.  I can see this happening and being hard to correct . 

We have folks who get up there every month like clock work.  It’s.... annoying.  Lack of self awareness is annoying. 

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1 hour ago, rpn said:

What the members can do is sit at the front and be the first ones to bear testimony so that whomever it is has to be last.   Maybe she needs a whole lot of good examples.

(Have to tell you though that I wished you hadn't made this about being a person of color --- there are plenty of white people whose practice of testimony giving is different from the ones we see in a typical sacrament meeting.  Sometimes it doesn't hurt white people to experience faith through the eyes of people from different backgrounds.)

 

I did not make it about color, I was praising their speaking abilities, and noted that I grew up with a very similar background. They give wonderful talks, but I can only address my Ward. Not to mention one of these individuals, attended and was baptized from attending my investigator class, and I baptized another. I also addressed the rich Hispanic influence in our Ward. My opening remark was how happy I am that the Church (the LDS Church) in the South is changing, for the better. Or, at least that is what I thought I conveyed. Nothing in my remarks reflected in any way a prejudice on my part, as I have no such belief. I even pointed out how white members were the cause last Sunday for our Sacrament meeting going 20 minutes longer. The only reason so have approached me, is because two of these members are my friends. I am very pleased to have different backgrounds in my Ward, and others in the Stake, maybe a reread will help you see that I stated this at the outset, or maybe not. 

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2 hours ago, rpn said:

What the members can do is sit at the front and be the first ones to bear testimony so that whomever it is has to be last.   Maybe she needs a whole lot of good examples.

(Have to tell you though that I wished you hadn't made this about being a person of color --- there are plenty of white people whose practice of testimony giving is different from the ones we see in a typical sacrament meeting.  Sometimes it doesn't hurt white people to experience faith through the eyes of people from different backgrounds.)

 

For a shorter response, I never imagined you of missing my point, and suggesting I was acting in an inappropriate way, in deed or in print. Disappointing, to say the least. Wow.

Edited by Bill “Papa” Lee

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Have you personally chatted with any or all of these folks and sounded them out about testimonies etc. . , gently of course , ?  4 bishoprics in 5 years is just nuts and you can tell the brass I said so!!!

 

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Posted (edited)

I wonder if it would help for the bishop to ask members limit their testimonies to three minutes to allow others to strengthen their testimonies by bearing it?  If the same people speak month after month, I wonder if the bishop could give a talk or 5th Sunday lesson encouraging those who have born testimony in the last couple months to allow others to speak this month?

By the way, I saw the opposite of racism in your comment.  I would guess that most US wards are short on diversity and would gratefully welcome people of any racial background.  Beginning sentences with “These wonderful people” should clarify to all your desire to avoid negative racial stereotyping.   

Regardless of race, the issue of monopolizing testimony time should be discussed, in my opinion.

Edited by Meerkat
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10 hours ago, strappinglad said:

Have you personally chatted with any or all of these folks and sounded them out about testimonies etc. . , gently of course , ?  4 bishoprics in 5 years is just nuts and you can tell the brass I said so!!!

 

Agreed. There is value and comfort in consistency. Why should anyone listen to the bishopric when they make a request to keep testimonies short? They'll have a new bishopric in 9 months anyway :) 

 My ward recently had boundaries changed again. That's 4 times in 6 years. Now we're even meeting in a different city/building. 1 building for church on Sunday and a different building for activities throughout the week. We're a visitor in both buildings. The frequency of change tiresome and met with growing skepticism, even amongst the most TBM in my area. It's easy to recognize the gerrymandering for what it is: attempts to "grow" the stake by adding new units. Actually, it's beyond tiresome or even annoying. At some point it becomes thoughtless of the people in favor of growth ambitions.

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13 hours ago, strappinglad said:

Have you personally chatted with any or all of these folks and sounded them out about testimonies etc. . , gently of course , ?  4 bishoprics in 5 years is just nuts and you can tell the brass I said so!!!

 

Just the one’s who are my friends, which is all of them. Not to tell them how wonderful the are when speaking. The five Bishoprics are a result of many Ward boundary changes, also...I don’t call them “the brass”, which is a military and police designation, as I have served in both. I call them, “Bishop”, “President”, or “brother and sister”. What do you call them? Our area is experiencing wonderful growth, so changes are inevitable, which is a good thing. 

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15 hours ago, Bill “Papa” Lee said:

For a shorter response, I never imagined you of missing my point, and suggesting I was acting in an inappropriate way, in deed or in print. Disappointing, to say the least. Wow. 

I thought a lot before writing it.  White folks (and sometimes black folks, or other groups) often have a hard time understanding how things come across to others not of their own group..  "I have black friends."   I really understand that what you wrote may absolutely have nothing to do with racism.  I just wish you'd not put the issues of differences in the same post as a critique of those who act differently.   And now I will remove it if I can.

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21 minutes ago, Bill “Papa” Lee said:

Just the one’s who are my friends, which is all of them. Not to tell them how wonderful the are when speaking. The five Bishoprics are a result of many Ward boundary changes, also...I don’t call them “the brass”, which is a military and police designation, as I have served in both. I call them, “Bishop”, “President”, or “brother and sister”. What do you call them? Our area is experiencing wonderful growth, so changes are inevitable, which is a good thing. 

Homeys

Big wigs

Muck a muck

Brass

Brethren

Big Cheese

Poobah

Doesn't really matter, does it?

 

Change is good, when it's necessary. In my area, leaders more often take the "if you build it, they will come" approach to growth.

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11 hours ago, Meerkat said:

I wonder if it would help for the bishop to ask members limit their testimonies to three minutes to allow others to strengthen their testimonies by bearing it?  If the same people speak month after month, I wonder if the bishop could give a talk or 5th Sunday lesson encouraging those who have born testimony in the last couple months to allow others to speak this month?

By the way, I saw the opposite of racism in your comment.  I would guess that most US wards are short on diversity and would gratefully welcome people of any racial background.  Beginning sentences with “These wonderful people” should clarify to all your desire to avoid negative racial stereotyping.   

Regardless of race, the issue of monopolizing testimony time should be discussed, in my opinion.

Thank you, these are friends of mine. When I taught Gospel Essentials, I would often have many who were African American. They would often bring friends, because as I said, we have very similar backgrounds. We were both raised as Baptist, and my classes reflected what they were familiar with, this (their invitations, not my classes) lead to many baptisms. One joined, before I moved to care for my  Mother, and asked that I baptize her, which I did. One of the other sisters I spoke of  came to bring a meal, when my wife had surgery, she stayed for a long while, because she said, “she feels comfortable around us”. I was once asked, how I felt having so many people of color attending my classes? My reply was simple, “I love it, and nothing would make me happier than to see more”. We as a Church are long overdue for us to put behind us the past, and move into a world where people of color, in almost entirely white congregations is the norm. But, as one person pointed out it is the Bishop’s place to do so, but our Bishop has expressed reservations, for fear it might cause them to leave. Because I am a friend, I get asked...”what is to be done”. So when I asked that question in the OP, is was what to do about this, as well as what should I do when asked. 

As to the suggestion that this is about color, or racism, as I pointed out in a very recent thread, DNA tests have made with a degree of certainty, that everyone I love most in this world are of Black or African decent. Something I already suspected before I even married my wife, and adopted my oldest daughter, her daughter. When I saw the picture of the great x3 grandmother who I was told was 100% Cherokee, I suspected she was not all Cherokee, and how angry her family got when I questioned it, it seemed they protested too much. They were, and still are (all who are remaining, “rabid racist”, thankfully my wife is not, nor ever has been. I currently live in a rural area, where all but two families are African Americans, my wife used to babysit one of her best friends children, their last name was and is (won’t give their name for privacy). When looking for homes, we found one (actually two roads) with their name, this family is and always have been people of great moral standing. I even called a friend who works law-enforcement in this county, who is not always filled with glowing praise for those of a different race, and told him where we bought a house. He said this, “Bill, have no worries, these are people of excellent caliber”, leave it to law-enforcement to use a word like “caliber” to describe someone. Anyway, I am sad I feel the need to defend myself, not sure what I could have said in this thread, or my 12+ of posting that would suggest I have any racist leaning. In fact, it would (I hope) insure otherwise.

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1 hour ago, rpn said:

I thought a lot before writing it.  White folks (and sometimes black folks, or other groups) often have a hard time understanding how things come across to others not of their own group..  "I have black friends."   I really understand that what you wrote may absolutely have nothing to do with racism.  I just wish you'd not put the issues of differences in the same post as a critique of those who act differently.   And now I will remove it if I can.

You know how I feel about you as a poster, I was not angry, just a little confused by it. Still friends I hope? 

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On 5/12/2019 at 8:38 AM, Bill “Papa” Lee said:

Our Ward and many others in the South are beginning to have many who are African American, many more who are Hispanic. These members bring wonderful variety to the Church and to our Wards. In our Ward, two (sometimes three) members bring to us, very wonderful speaking skills, born from their background, which is very similar to my own. They have delivered very, “fire and brimstone” type of sermons, that wake people up. In the last few months, I have heard many wonderful sermons. The problem is, these wonderful sermons are delivered every month, on Fast Sunday, “every” Fast Sunday, and these sermons are seldom if ever include “testimonies”, when both sisters speak, no one else has time to speak. If the third, a man (formerly a preacher) then the entire meeting goes over. Two are not new members, one has been a member for 25+ years, and each time the Bishopric gives her instruction, or points out what F&T meetings are for, she try’s to comply. But, she (we) have had four Bishoprics in 5+ years, (due to many Ward boundaries changing) then she and others return to the practice of preaching. One sister, preaches, and then sings to the Ward. Last week members who wanted to bare testimonies, decided they were not going to be forced by time to sit down, so we went over our Sacrament time by 20 minutes. 

These wonderful people are given speaking assignments, sometimes two, three times a year, by the Bishopric in an effort to make them feel a part of the Ward. But they will not relent, and continue to do the same on Fast Sunday’s, as do others. 

So, what is to be done? We continue to have three, no more than five bare their testimonies, but many are frustrated. I never speak, anymore useless asked. I have learned that “there is much more wisdom in listening, rather than speaking”. Any advice? I know t is the Bishop’s responsibility to address this, I am just looking for advice for many who ask me what to do. Having served in many leadership callings, and teacher of man classes, over the decades, so feel comfortable asking me. 

In my stake our stake president dedicated a whole 5th Sunday meeting to this issue. He gave a "brief, heart-felt testimony" and then had several others do it. The idea was to get rid of "the sermons," the travelogues, the kid's who are really too young to have their own testimony, but just want to be like mom and dad, and the thank you talks, and the rest who use testimony time to give a talk or to try to teach rather than give their testimony. Now at the beginning of every F & T meeting the bishop gets up and reminds the ward to use the time to give a brief, heart-felt testimony in order to give a chance to as many as possible to get up. 

Now when this was first done, I decided to "play devil's advocate" - an unfortunate choice of words - but I think testimonies can be much more effective if some background is given.  Anyway,  I felt I kinda don't want to spend my hour listening to 1-2 minute testimonies. That's me. But I also don't want to listen to the line of 4 year olds, who parrot what their parents whisper in their ears, which we used to have - or travelogues,  mini-sermons, etc. I feel if the bishopric makes a reminder at the beginning of each F&T meeting, then no one will feel singled out while the preaching will dwindle.... it seems to have worked here.

 

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15 hours ago, RevTestament said:

In my stake our stake president dedicated a whole 5th Sunday meeting to this issue. He gave a "brief, heart-felt testimony" and then had several others do it. The idea was to get rid of "the sermons," the travelogues, the kid's who are really too young to have their own testimony, but just want to be like mom and dad, and the thank you talks, and the rest who use testimony time to give a talk or to try to teach rather than give their testimony. Now at the beginning of every F & T meeting the bishop gets up and reminds the ward to use the time to give a brief, heart-felt testimony in order to give a chance to as many as possible to get up. 

Now when this was first done, I decided to "play devil's advocate" - an unfortunate choice of words - but I think testimonies can be much more effective if some background is given.  Anyway,  I felt I kinda don't want to spend my hour listening to 1-2 minute testimonies. That's me. But I also don't want to listen to the line of 4 year olds, who parrot what their parents whisper in their ears, which we used to have - or travelogues,  mini-sermons, etc. I feel if the bishopric makes a reminder at the beginning of each F&T meeting, then no one will feel singled out while the preaching will dwindle.... it seems to have worked here.

 

I do fear that often we are becoming slaves to the clock, especially since Sacrament Meetings have been shorten. 

If you want to discuss F&T meetings start a new thread without singling out racial groups.

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