Today at church I knew right away it wasn't going to be our usual first-Sunday-of-the-month testimony meeting when I saw a full chapel and members of the High Council on the stand. I wasn't ready for a new bishopric to be called though.
Our bishop was the first one for our ward when our little branch became an official ward 5 years ago. I had known this man out of church when I got involved with Relay for Life and he was the Chairman of the event. I have always admired him and he is one of the kindest most thoughtful souls I think I've ever known. When he was called as Bishop I wasn't surprised.
They say the bishop is the father of the ward and he truly was. He was such an example to all (still is), and so warm and caring. One of his favorite things was to ditch his regular meeting on Sunday and come into Primary to hang out with the kids. We could always count on him to come to the kids' activity days and play games with them too.
I think someone serving as bishop for 5 years is probably a bit unusual, but in a ward as small as ours, we all serve in our callings a long time just do to a lack of people to take our place. For our bishop though, he had to step down due to health reasons and that's really why no one was prepared, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house today. Our bishop was recently diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and even though he's undergoing treatment, there is no cure.
The man called to be our new bishop was a complete surprise to me, but as one of the High Counselors explained, a lot of prayer goes into choosing just he right person and it has to be sent to Salt Lake City for approval and even then it's not a done deal. So even though this new bishop has only been in our ward for a mere 5 months, and he was the perfect Uncle Fester at the church Halloween party, I know that there is a reason he was chosen.
Yes, it was a sad day to see the man we all looked up to and knew we could count on, have to step away from his duties, and I think we're all praying for a miracle for him.
If you're not familiar with the LDS church, we have a lay clergy, meaning serving in the church is not a profession. No one recieves pay for being bishop or doing any other callings. Members take on these demanding positions in addition to their regular jobs and responsibilities.