Monday, May 30, 2005
LETTER TO THE CHURCH FROM STEPHEN M. VEAZEY
To the Church:
Since the announcement of my call, I have been preparing for the responsibilities inherent in the role of prophet-president of the church, should the World Conference approve my ordination. One of the most pressing considerations has been how to best align the gifts and callings of individuals with the leadership needs of the church. As I have listened carefully to the perspectives and desires of World Church leaders and prayed regularly for guidance, God has graciously blessed me with a growing sense of direction applicable to this transitional time. In response, I am presenting this letter of counsel pertaining to the presiding quorums of the church. I do so with a deep sense of humility and faith, trusting in the One who is always seeking to guide the church. If I am approved by the World Conference, I intend to formally submit this letter to the councils, quorums, and orders, to the World Conference, and to the church following my ordination.
Upon the ordination of a new president of the church, the Quorum of the First Presidency as previously constituted is dissolved. In response, the following counsel is provided:
1. Peter A. Judd, who has served as a World Church minister for thirty-four years, including four years in the Council of Twelve and five years in the First Presidency, is now afforded the honor of retirement from World Church appointment and from the Presidency, as requested by him. His purity of heart, creativity, pastoral spirit, keen mind, and broad range of ministerial gifts have been a blessing to the church throughout the years of his service. The stability and experience he brought in the Presidency during the months following the unexpected resignation of the president of the church have been valuable beyond measure. Likewise, his contributions of writing, worship leadership, resource development, and skillful management throughout his ministerial career will continue to benefit the church into the future. Relieved of the heavy burden of presidential responsibility, he will be free to serve as a high priest and to pursue his continuing interest in various aspects of church life and mission, including ministry with his companion, Kris.
To achieve the reorganization of the Quorum of the First Presidency, the following counsel is given:
2. Kenneth N. Robinson is called to serve as a member of the First Presidency and as a counselor to the president of the church. His spiritual insight, experience, and wisdom arising from many years of ministry as a World Church officer, including nine years in the First Presidency, will be a strength and a blessing in the Presidency during this time of transition and alignment for the future. His responsibilities in the Presidency should be arranged so as to allow him to concentrate his efforts on helping the church understand and pursue its worldwide mission. Particular emphasis should be brought to the call to more fully express the vital relationship between the ministries of the Temple as a vibrant ensign of peace and the essential meaning of the Restoration as healing and redeeming agent in all of the nations and cultures where the church is established.
3. David D. Schaal is called to extend and express his apostleship in service as a member of the First Presidency and as a counselor to the president of the church. His deep devotion to Jesus Christ, his extensive ministerial gifts, and his wide range of experience in pastoral, missionary, and presiding roles in the church will serve him well in this new responsibility. As an advocate for ministry with children, youth, and young adults, he will be a vital asset in the Presidency as attention is given to developing World Church and congregational ministries that will shape the future of the church. His evident sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and his ability to clearly communicate gospel truths to all generations, will be further magnified as he accepts this call.
As indicated in a previous letter of counsel to the church, there are many valid ways to express one’s sense of calling and giftedness over time as needs, opportunities, and circumstances change. Participation in the presiding quorums of the church is not necessarily for the duration of one’s ministerial career. This understanding allows the necessary flexibility from time to time to align individual gifts and interests with new responsibilities that are important in the life of the church. It is with this understanding that the following counsel is given regarding the composition of the Council of Twelve Apostles:
4. Kenneth L. McLaughlin, who has served as an apostle for eleven years, is honorably released from the Council of Twelve, in harmony with his desires, to free him to serve as a high priest and to accept assignments from the First Presidency. In light of his particular gifts and interests, these assignments will be focused on ministerial education and processes related to the development of vital resources and services to support the church’s worldwide mission. In order to maximize his continuing contribution to the church, he will be provided the opportunity to pursue additional theological education, with an emphasis on church mission. Ken is also encouraged to continue to express his gifts of hymn writing and designing worship experiences that will draw people into transformative encounters with God and that will help them better understand the identity and mission of the Community of Christ today.
5. Gail E. Mengel, who has served as an apostle for seven years, is honorably released from the Council of Twelve to allow her to serve as a high priest and to accept ministerial assignments from the First Presidency. Gail’s gifts of tenderness, sensitivity to the Spirit, vibrant witness, and compassion for all of God’s children will continue to be a blessing to all who receive her ministry throughout the world. In response to current opportunities and needs, Gail will also serve as the Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer of the church. In this role, she will be able to devote her energies to her responsibilities as national (U.S.A.) president of Church Women United and especially to supporting the First Presidency as it engages the church in various faith and community organizations where the church is called to express its witness of Zion, the peaceable kingdom.
To fill the vacancies in the Council of Twelve, including those created by the calls of Stephen M. Veazey and David D. Schaal to the First Presidency, the following counsel is offered:
6. Stassi D. Cramm is called from her role as a counselor to the presiding bishop and member of the Presiding Bishopric to serve as an apostle and as a member of the Council of Twelve. Her training and experience in strategic planning and organizational design, coupled with her enthusiasm for relevant church ministry, will stand her in good stead as she accepts and integrates this emerging dimension of calling into her life. She is called to help the church focus its priorities, procedures, and resources so that it can more effectively pursue its mission of sharing the liberating truths of the gospel and promoting communities of peace throughout the world. She is particularly called, as an apostle, to bear enthusiastic and creative witness of the living Christ, the source and center of our faith.
7. Ronald D. Harmon Jr. is called from his current assignment to serve as an apostle and as a member of the Council of Twelve. Ron’s experience as a pastor and his dedication to the renewal of congregational vision and mission will be a blessing in the areas where he will serve. In addition, his leadership development training and experience will enable him to make a vital contribution to the church as it seeks to expand its base of capable leaders, pastors, and priesthood. He may accept this call to be an especial witness of Jesus Christ with the assurance that his place in the Council of Twelve is timely, and that his ministry will truly make a difference in the forward movement of the great and marvelous work of the Restoration, which is his heritage and passion.
8. Rick W. Maupin is called from his current assignment to serve as an apostle and as a member of the Council of Twelve. Rick’s faith journey, which has brought him to membership, ministry, and leadership in the church, provides the foundation for a dynamic witness of response to God’s call, which sometimes comes in unexpected ways. As one who is truly willing to bear the burdens of others, he will continue to be the means through which many will come to a greater experience of the love and purposes of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. While maintaining his sincere attitude of humility and equal regard for others, he should apply himself fully to the call to be an apostle.
9. Susan D. Skoor is called from her current assignment to serve as an apostle and as a member of the Council of Twelve. Susan’s unwavering willingness to respond as a servant minister according to the needs of the church is a testament to her devotion to Christ. Her broad experience in congregational and jurisdictional leadership will be a blessing to the church wherever she provides apostolic leadership. Susan has unusual insight into the ways of Jesus Christ, the compassionate healer and peacemaker. This aspect of her ministry will continue to blossom as she responds to the call to be an apostle who bears the message of peace and salvation to all who will hear.
Additional counsel is given in relation to filling the vacancy in the Presiding Bishopric:
10. R. Paul Davis is called to the office of bishop and to serve as a counselor to the presiding bishop of the church as a member of the Presiding Bishopric. Paul has been prepared for this role through education, employment in the world of business, and field ministry as a mission center president and financial officer. As a result, he has a comprehensive understanding of various dimensions of church life, administration, finance, and leadership. Paul will bring a vital contribution of creative insight, skill, and energy in this new avenue of service during a time when the Presiding Bishopric is being called upon, along with other World Church leaders, to engender greater response among our members to the principles of stewardship and generosity to support our mission.
In addition to the specific counsel offered above, I want to express my deep appreciation for all those who currently serve as World Church officers and ministers. It is my hope and prayer that in the days ahead you will sense with increased clarity your calls to ministry, understanding that it is a sacred privilege to serve God’s children as representatives of Jesus Christ and the Community of Christ in the world today. Continue to magnify your ministry through prayer, study, and unreserved service and you will be blessed with renewed vision, passion, and enthusiasm. Be fully present with our members and others as witnesses of the promises, blessings, and peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even now, I am aware of persons serving as World Church ministers, and in other vocational and educational settings, who are being prepared to accept additional callings and responsibilities in the years ahead as the needs and opportunities before the church shall require.
Stephen M. Veazey
May 25, 2005