I know some of you were interested in the first impressions from the first time we attended our ward here in Oklahoma City. Here are a couple.
Testimony Meeting was interesting. Mostly, they were the typical ‘thankimony’ but they were good heartfelt ones. There was plenty of empty time where we all sat there pondering the life of Abraham Lincoln, or Jefferson Davis depending on which side you fall. The main theme of the testimony, if there was one, was family history. Which struck me as a bit unusual from my experience. Amanda and I were happy to note that our most recent callings were both filled today with new members in this ward. Meaning, we probably won’t have to worry about those callings again, at least for a good while to come.
Sunday School was most interesting. Having spent far too long as a Stake Sunday School President, I am very analytical of what goes on in the teaching of a ward. Here were just a few quick observations. I tried to review the lesson at least generally so I knew what would be discussed. The teacher took the liberty of introducing the lesson and then went off about a talk in which talked quite a bit about the atonement. He did the big no no of straying from the outline of the lesson, thereby discouraging those who prepared, and in a sense making himself totally in control of the lesson.
Next, if we look beyond his high esteem of himself, he spent most of the time on a talk given by President Bednar in 2001. While it is a good, genuine talk, even published by BYU; it does not fall under the heading of a church publication. Only official church publications are to be used in Sunday School. Here we have a talk printed from BYU speeches of the year, and by a man who is not a general authority of the church (at the time). He should have just pulled out the old Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R McConkie, it falls under the same category. I know there is much good doctrine in there, but also a few unofficial doctrines. It still isn’t published by the church, and therefore out of the question for use in Sunday School.
Even better, the talk has a couple of points which have been clarified by General Authorities before and since. Not at all that President Bednar was wrong, but a main reference of his talk comes from President David O McKay. The quote he uses has been clarified by other General Authorities, namely Dallin H Oaks. If the church had put this talk into correlation and official publications, I am sure it would have included some of these other clarifications. For example, the quote by President McKay goes something like we make bad men good, and good men better. In 1998 as a missionary we were very seriously taught from a talk by Elder Oaks that we are not here to make bad men good, or even good men better, we are here to make men Gods. If you just want to make bad men good, and good men better, go to another church. Don’t waste our time. However, we have the Priesthood and the ordinances which make manifest godliness. Anyhow, this point isn’t so much important as the first two, it really is getting down to semantics and intent of the talks. Nevertheless, I was pretty upset to have prepared for a lesson that was never given. The teacher went off on some talk he had impress him once at complete disregard for correlation or standard procedure of the church. Most of the lesson was no less true, but it make a talking head of the teacher and removed the nourishing of one another.
Priesthood went very well. People were very friendly and I feel very welcome into the quorums. I look forward to getting to know more and serving therein. We have a member of the Stake Presidency in the ward, as well as a Patriarch. The CES Institute Director for the area is also in the ward and he committed me to Institute, of which I was happy to oblige. Most interestingly, we then went to a combined High Priest and Elder Quorum lesson on of all things, Family History. From what I gather from the lesson, this ward is pretty active when it comes to family history. The temple and family history center appear to be very active. I am glad to hear these things and look forward to being one of the humble herd following along.
As the church often works, we found out today of a dental hygienist in the ward. Amanda visited with her for a while and it has really given us some hope for the prospects of her employment in the area. Moreover, this good lady has a brother in law who will be in my law school class! Meaning, I know now I am not the only LDS student in my class. I probably have a study buddy now! We have been fasting today that Amanda’s prospects and employment opportunities will be open, forthcoming, and available. That door swung open to a degree today. Hopefully this path will work out for our long term benefit while we are here.
I started up on the family history for the man I do the work for professionally yesterday. It will be good to have a little income to help us out while we wait for employment and licensing for Amanda. Things will go well in the Quail Creek Ward from all outlooks. As long as we don’t end up having a run in with with Gospel Doctrine Teacher like in the Provo 1st Ward!