As Church assignments have taken him abroad for most of the last decade, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell has seen many countries and people. Although cultures vary and languages differ, he has found one thing remains true: The gospel is a “unifying force” no matter where a person lives.
“Though continents, people and cultures are different, the Church is the same,” Bishop Waddell said. “It’s the Lord’s Church and it is so marvelous to see how the handbook can be applied — even in different cultures — and used by people in different parts of the world. It is wonderful to see how they respond to the gospel.”
Whether it was on assignment as a mission president in Spain, serving as an Area Seventy in California or as a General Authority Seventy in the South America Northwest Area of the Church, Bishop Waddell has seen, time and time again, how the Lord directs His Church.
“Whether its temporal or ecclesiastical, the Lord is involved in the details,” the new second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric said. “Again and again it was reinforced to me the role of the Spirit and the Lord’s role in our lives, and His involvement in the details.”
Bishop Waddell was called to serve as second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric on Oct. 9, 2015, just days after Elder Gary E. Stevenson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In his new assignment, Bishop Waddell joins Bishop Gérald Caussé and Bishop Dean M. Davies, both of whom were serving as counselors in the Presiding Bishopric at the time of Elder Stevenson’s call.
“Even though they had already been together, their reception has been nothing but warm and welcoming, and an immediate acceptance saying ‘you are one of us,’ ” Bishop Waddell said of his colleagues in the bishopric. This call is another opportunity for him to put his trust in the Lord, he said.
Learning to trust in the Lord has been something Bishop Waddell has developed many times in his life, beginning at a young age.
Born in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 28, 1959, to Wayne and Joann Waddell, Bishop Waddell credits his faithful parents — converts to the Church after they were married — and strong Church leaders for helping him develop spiritually (See profile in the May 21, 2011, edition of Church News).
Standing 6’5”, Bishop Waddell excelled at volleyball in his youth and had to decide if he was willing to put his volleyball career on hold to serve a mission. He chose a mission, and was called to the Spain Barcelona Mission where he served from 1978-80. The decision to serve a mission was important in establishing his personal path of discipleship and helped him develop good habits he continues today.
In his most recent assignment as a General Authority Seventy, Bishop Waddell — along with his wife, Sister Carol S. Waddell, and one of their four children — spent four years living in Lima, Peru, while he served as a counselor in the South America Northwest Area presidency. There he was able to serve in an area with 1.4 million members living in five countries, including 225 stakes and 32 missions. His assignment had many responsibilities, with a highlight of that experience being his involvement in calling new stake presidents.
“Of all of the experiences I had, I think one of the most special to me — and sacred perhaps — was being involved in stake reorganizations.”
It was often during brief interviews associated with calling a new stake president that Bishop Waddell felt the Spirit work in a quick and powerful way. He always knew, “without exception, without fail,” who was to receive the calling.
“This is the Lord’s Church,” added Sister Waddell. “Every person on earth can fit in the Lord’s Church.”
His call to serve as a General Authority Seventy provided opportunities and experiences that will be of benefit in his new call to the Presiding Bishopric, he recognizes.
“It was a blessing serving in an area presidency because as an area presidency … you are responsible for all of the ecclesiastical and temporal needs in the area,” he said. “We were involved with humanitarian work, we were involved with the Perpetual Education Fund, we were involved with self-reliant services, we were involved with all of that side of things as well as the ecclesiastical. So that gave me at least a glimpse into coming to the Presiding Bishopric.”
Bishop Waddell sees his call as an opportunity to serve others and participate in an important part of Christ’s work. Whether it is spiritual or temporal, all work is part of helping people return back to the presence of their Father in Heaven.
“If we do everything thinking ultimately of exalting God’s children, whether we are starting from a temporal standpoint or an ecclesiastical standpoint, it still all goes to the same place in the end,” he said. “That’s what we are building towards.”
As he serves in his new calling, Bishop Waddell said he draws from the words President Thomas S. Monson shared with him when he was called to preside over the Spain Barcelona Mission in 2006-2009.
“He said the Lord will qualify those whom He calls, He will strengthen your back to bear the burden He places on it and when you are in His service you are entitled to His help,” Bishop Waddell said. “Those are the three things [President Monson] mentioned so I have never forgotten that, … and I try to apply that every time something new comes along.”
Sister Waddell said the Lord is moving His work forward. “It’s just fun to be on the same team as the Lord — together.”
Learn about Bishop Gérald Caussé, the new Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Learn about Bishop Dean M. Davies, the new first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.