Monday, November 30, 2009

Tithing settlement

We had our first tithing settlement session today (Sunday) for 2009, my fourth year as bishop. The clerks and my counselors divide up the sessions to share the load, but I am there for each session, for the entire session. And these come on the tail end of long Sundays (without a break), or after a full day of work on weeknights. It would be reasonable to assume I do not look forward to it, and it is a hard thing to do, physically and emotionally. But this assumption would be wrong. This is one of those counterintuitive things, like paying tithing itself.

Today about an hour or so into the session, one new family in our ward arrived at their appointed time and was pleasantly surprised to be ushered right into my office, that we were running right on time. I could see how his family, with five small children, would be inconvenienced by delays. I run on six minute intervals, so ten families per hour. The family comes in, I briefly review their callings to see if everything is okay, then we review tithing status for each member, I thank the family for their contributions of money and time, thank them for all their service in the ward, and read my annual "tithing scripture" (Ether 12:4 this year) and bear short testimony. I do not engage in additional discussions, but do take notes for any follow up interviews that might be needed. I don't count or reconcile any additional contributions--my counselor and clerks do that (or my "elves", as I refer to them).

Last year we had two Sundays that were snowed out, where church was cancelled (extremely rare here in Oregon). We had the unique experience of doing "house calls" for tithing settlement, so we could salvage as much of the session schedule as we could. What a memorable time that was, driving around with my counselor in deep snow and visiting homes.

I'm sure this is one example where I am strengthened and sustained in my service. I find I am energetic and upbeat the entire session. I am humbled and awed by the good people in my ward, and feel it a unique blessing to sit amongst them in this capacity. After I am released I know this will be one experience I will miss, and will look back on fondly.

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