Episode 119: Inside Church Headquarters — The Presiding Bishopric and their role to provide temporal support to the divine mission of the Church
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell and Bishop L. Todd Budge answer the question, ‘What does the Presiding Bishopric do?’
Episode 119: Inside Church Headquarters — The Presiding Bishopric and their role to provide temporal support to the divine mission of the Church
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell and Bishop L. Todd Budge answer the question, ‘What does the Presiding Bishopric do?’
The Church News recently launched a new Inside Church Headquarters series focusing on the work of the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Under the direction of the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric manages the temporal affairs of the Church, including, among many responsibilities, the building and maintenance of meetinghouses and temples, the distribution of humanitarian aid, and the production and distribution of gospel resources such as scriptures and hymnbooks.
This episode of the Church News podcast includes excerpts from recent interviews with members of the Presiding Bishopric. As part of those interviews, Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé, and his counselors — Bishop W. Christopher Waddell and Bishop L. Todd Budge — answer the critical question, “What does the Presiding Bishopric do?” as they support the temporal, and thus spiritual, affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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Bishop Gérald Caussé: The role of the bishopric is an essential role to provide support to the work of salvation and exaltation, to support the divine mission of the Church. The Church is a global organization. It is present in dozens of countries all around the world. And each of these countries have members of the Church that live in different environments with different cultures, languages. So one big part of our responsibility is to adapt to the local environment of members. Members should not have to adapt to whatever the Church does in Salt Lake City. Our role is to adapt to them, to bring the resources of the Church — materials, everything that is needed in the Church — we bring whatever they need to live the gospel of Jesus Christ in their own language and their own culture.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church News recently launched a new Inside Church Headquarters series focusing on the Presiding Bishopric. Members of the Presiding Bishopric work under the direction of the First Presidency to manage the temporal affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes the building and maintenance of meeting houses and temples, the distribution of humanitarian aid and the production and distribution of gospel resources such as scriptures and hymnbooks, among many other things. In recent weeks and months, the Church News has conducted multiple interviews with members of the Presiding Bishopric. In those interviews, Bishop Gérald Caussé and his counselors, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell and Bishop L. Todd Budge, have talked about the role and purpose of the Presiding Bishopric in the Church of Jesus Christ.
In an early interview with the Presiding Bishopric, the three sat together in a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse. There, as they looked over the pews where members meet each week, Bishop Caussé spoke about the important role they play in the Church.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: The role of the bishopric is an essential role to provide support to the work of salvation and exaltation, to support the divine mission of the Church. It hasn’t changed much since 1831 when Edward Partridge, the first bishop, was called by Joseph Smith. He received two main responsibilities. I would like to call them scriptural responsibilities that are contained in Doctrine and Covenants. The first one is to administer the temporal affairs of the Church. And the second one is to care for the needy, to seek out the person in need and to care for them. And these responsibilities are, today, still true. The Church is in a different size, different scale. But we still do the same thing — administer the temporal affairs and care for the needy.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Budge explained that each member of the Presiding Bishopric is ordained as a bishop. The work they carry out comes through the Aaronic Priesthood.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: Yeah and these responsibilities are carried out through the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, as opposed to the First Presidency and the ecclesiastical side of the Church operated under the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, but we operate under the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood.
Sarah Jane Weaver: All three members of the Presiding Bishopric served as General Authority Seventies before their current assignments. Bishop Waddell explained the work they do now prepares the way for things that are spiritual in the Church.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: Our role is to prepare the way, as John the Baptist did for the Savior preparing the way for His ministry and mission and His first arrival. Our role is to prepare the way for the work of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the work of salvation and exaltation. The question you asked is one that I think I most frequently get asked at a stake conference assignment, because people just don’t know what the bishopric does. And when we share a little bit about our role with the temporal affairs of the Church and preparing the way, it kind of opens the door a little bit and it’s interesting for people to find out.
Sarah Jane Weaver: In their work and with their responsibilities, Bishop Caussé says they report directly to the First Presidency.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: Maybe another aspect of our responsibilities is that we report to the First Presidency directly, which fills us with great humility every time we meet with them. But we meet with the First Presidency, typically, at least once every week. And we report to them. We present recommendations to them. We receive their counsel. And so they are very active in directing our work. And it’s a great blessing to be reporting to the Prophet, to prophets, seers and revelators and to meet with them on a regular basis.
Sarah Jane Weaver: In addition to having responsibilities for the temporal affairs of the Church, members of the Presiding Bishopric also serve on general Church councils. Bishop Waddell explains:
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: Each member of the Presiding Bishopric is actually assigned to a different council. And so we have Bishop Budge, for example, on the Missionary Executive Council, Bishop Caussé serves on the Priesthood and Family Executive Council. And at the moment, I’m serving on the Temple and Family History Executive Committee. Then, in addition, we also have a committee where the entire bishopric acts as the chair, and that would be the Welfare and SElf-Reliance Executive Committee. So looking at all those different committees and councils, we’re involved with them with sisters, also from the general leadership of the Church, as well as other general authorities and members of the Twelve.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Everything the Presiding Bishopric accomplishes, comes because they are unified, said Bishop Budge.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: And that we feel a great sense of unity, don’t we, with the various councils with the ecclesiastical leaders, with the Twelve and others who we work with. There’s real wisdom in the organization at the Church. There’s a great balance of power, if you will, a great way of working together in unity and harmony. We’re all focused, even though we kind of talked about the ecclesiastical responsibilities and the temporal responsibilities, they really are one. We have the same purpose and that’s to do the work of salvation and exaltation and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Sarah Jane Weaver: As the Church has grown internationally, the roles and responsibilities of the Presiding Bishopric have taken on a more global feel.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: So in each of the International areas of the Church, but also in the areas in the United States and Canada, there is a director for temporal affairs. His responsibility is to take care of the temporal affairs of a given area under the direction of the area presidency, but they also report to the Presiding Bishopric. And so, we meet with them on a regular basis and that enables us to have a global responsibility.
If you come to our office, on a typical day, there’s a great chance that we’ll be having a meeting, by Zoom or something, with one of our directors for temporal affairs from some country in the world, maybe Brazil, maybe Africa, and we’ll review temporal affair issues and we also meet on a regular basis with area presidencies. It’s very important for us to be really unified, as we just said, with them.
Our role is really, as we said, to prepare the way to be supportive, to bring all the resources, the tools, the processes, whatever is needed, to support the work of salvation and exaltation. We are not an end in ourselves. Our work has no purpose unless it is to support the work of salvation and exaltation. I think it would be easy to describe our role and responsibilities as those of executive directors of big international firms, because there are a lot of things that we do in our daily routine that are what most executive directors of international firms do. So we do budgets, we do strategies, we administer information systems, communication systems, we grow real estate assets and those kinds of things.
But it is not any organization. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. It’s a very unique organization. And so the Lord said in Doctrine and Covenants, that things should be done in His own way. And so every day, we try our best to do things in His way, which is to do everything we do in a spirit of prayer. We always start with prayer together. We go to the temple often together — to pray together, to seek the will of the Lord — trying always to make sure that we respond to the direction of prophets, seers and revelators. And so our work is similar to the work that can be found in many secular organizations. And sometimes it’s totally different. It’s totally different. The three of us have had business experience. We have expertise in managing big organizations. But what we found in the Church is totally different in the approach. It is all, as an ultimate purpose, to support the divine work of the Lord.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Budge explained that members of the Presiding Bishopric were prepared for the service they are offering now by their professional careers.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: One thing that we talked about is that we’ve all had responsibilities in the world and there’s a different kind of stress here. It’s not as stressful, as perhaps our other jobs were, because you always know that this is the Lord’s work and He’s in charge and we feel His hand and our work every single day. And we know that He’s there and that He’s supporting us and helping us. And so that we’re able to do things beyond our own natural abilities and it’s very comforting to know.
I think one other thing that is different is we spend a lot of time, as we mentioned, in councils and we counsel together. And the purpose of a council in the Church is different than what I saw in business. In business, you’re either trying to persuade somebody to your point of view, everyone has their own agenda or perspective, you’re trying to build consensus, if you will, trying to build agreement. But in the Lord’s kingdom, the purpose of a council isn’t to build consensus. It’s to understand the will of the Lord and to seek revelation. And so we spend a lot of time doing that together on our knees praying and seeking to know what the Lord’s will is, and none of us have our own agendas. And so it builds a real strong sense of unity and shared purpose together.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And Bishop Waddell detailed the things for which members of the Presiding Bishopric have responsibility.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: The role of the bishopric, we have responsibility for Church finances, Church investments and properties. Responsibility for the building and maintenance of chapels, meetinghouses, the design, and construction and maintenance of temples, providing all the materials that people will use, hymn books and scriptures and all the physical things that people will touch, as well as things online. And so information, communication services, just, all those things that would be of the world, temporal, that aren’t ecclesiastical, but they assist in accomplishing the purpose of the Church, which is to gather Israel and prepare the world for the return of the Savior.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And Bishop Caussé explained that nothing is temporal to the Lord.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: And we know that nothing is temporal to the Lord. Everything is spiritual. The Church is a global organization. It is present in dozens of countries all around the world. And each of these countries have members of the Church that live in different environments with different cultures, languages. So one big part of our responsibility is to adapt to the local environment of members. Members should not have to adapt to whatever the Church does in Salt Lake City. Our role is to adapt to them, to bring the resources of the Church, materials, everything that is needed to, to the Church. I remember myself, as I grew up in France, as a young man, I took a lot of things for granted – that I had a meetinghouse, that I had my Book of Mormon in French, I had a Liahona that we received by mail every month and those kinds of things. I was not aware of the organization it takes and the preparation it takes and all the people working behind the scenes to make this happen. And so that makes me, now, much more grateful. But of course, the Church is what the members do every day. And so wherever they live, it is important that we bring whatever they need to live the gospel of Jesus Christ close to them in their own language and their own culture.
Sarah Jane Weaver: As the Presiding Bishopric looks at meeting the needs of members across the world, Bishop Budge explains that the Church is so much more than Church buildings.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: Bishop Caussé often reminds us that we are not the Church. Headquarters is not the Church. The Church is made up of millions of members across the world that live in wards and stakes, and we’re here to serve them. And that’s, I think, very important for us to keep in mind as we serve, that the Church really isn’t an organization, if you will. It’s millions of faithful members all across the world who are striving to follow Jesus Christ and come unto Him.
I didn’t realize when I joined the bishopric, is that, you know, it’s not three men and you take one plus one plus one and you get the combined abilities of three people, but that we work in unity together. And by working together in unity, we accomplish more than the sum of the three parts, if you will. You know, when I first came to the bishopric, I thought we would divide the world into thirds or something and take responsibilities and divide them up amongst us, but we don’t do it that way. We do everything together in unity as a presidency, as a bishopric. And I’ve learned that there’s great power in councils, there’s great power and the unity that comes as we work together with a common objective and a common purpose. And so that’s been instructive for me. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be a very efficient way to work. But my experience has been that, together, working together on these issues, that we are more powerful than if we were to separate them and do it on our own.
Sarah Jane Weaver: An important responsibility of the Presiding Bishopric, said Bishop Caussé, is to help the Church serve those in need.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: Helping others and reaching out to the people in need is really at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We wouldn’t be the Church of Jesus Christ if we did not strive to follow His example every day. And one of the things that He showed us to do is love our neighbor as ourselves. He taught us about the two great commandments to love God and love our neighbor. These are our brothers and sisters all around the world, and so it is a very integral part of the mission of the Church to find those who are in need. And we read in the scriptures that we need to take care of the widows and the fatherless and the people who are thirsty and hungry, and we have received that invitation from the Lord. And it is our commitment every day to do it.
And a lot of people ask this question, “What is the difference between welfare and humanitarian?” We do all of it. Typically, when we talk about welfare services of the Church, it is intended to bless the members of the Church, to bless those who are need within the membership of the Church, helping them find resources to meet the basic necessities they have in their life.
And in this you will find fast offerings and the self-reliance services of the Church. You will find the production capacity and distribution of food and commodities to the people in need, the bishops’ storehouses — all of this is welfare.
And humanitarian is really what we try to do for the whole world. We don’t want to focus our help only on members of the Church, but we want to reach out to all our brothers and sisters regardless of religion, their identity and nationalities. And so we have a lot of projects. It could be providing food, water. It could be providing mobility services for the people. Disaster relief is one of the big things that we do with all members of the Church. It is really reaching out to all our brothers and sisters.
Sarah Jane Weaver: All the Church’s humanitarian and welfare efforts, says Bishop Waddell, are to help improve the lives of people.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: One aspect about welfare is that sometimes when people think of welfare in society, it’s a handout. And the Church’s view of welfare is very different. It’s not the handout, it’s the hand up, it’s trying to lift. Now, we recognize there may be situations where there’s an immediate need where someone needs food, they’re going to be kicked out, they need help with the rent or something like that. But we really try to help them, to lift, and so we have services where we can assist them in finding employment, improving their employment skills and helping develop a self-reliance plan, so that they can step up themselves. And we assist them in doing that. And that’s part of the welfare aspect, as well. And also, as Bishop Budge was mentioning, about helping both, that line is real thin, and not real solid. In just last year alone, with the production of the Church and all the food that was produced from the farms and things, there was approximately 90 to 95 million pounds of produce and products that were delivered to food pantries and others. More than half went to those who are not members of the Church and the other half, roughly, to members of the Church. And so again, this goes to everyone to assist everyone.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And Bishop Caussé said that as needs increase around the world, so do the Church’s efforts to help meet those needs.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: If we look at the whole budget for welfare and humanitarian, this is increasing almost every year. But the humanitarian part, which is directed to all the world, has increased tenfold in the past 10 years. I remember arriving in the bishopric 10 years ago when it was a small portion. But it’s now a very major portion of what we do. And so the question is, “How are we accomplishing this?” There are many ways, but I would cite only two.
The first one is collaboration with great organizations, global organizations, national organizations, governments. We have developed relationships with a network of organizations, good organizations that we can trust in every part of the world. So this enables us to reach up to a higher scale. A second thing I would like to say is, this work is not directed from Salt Lake City. We have in every area of the Church teams that work under the direction of the area presidencies. And we have developed those local relationships. So we can be as close as possible to the field that we can understand a need. And so we’ve worked a lot with the area presidencies to determine objectives, priorities, what are the main needs, the countries that need it most.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Waddell emphasizes that it’s not an easy task to meet the needs of a global and growing Church.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: In addition, every area in the world, and so we’re talking about areas in Africa, in Europe, in Asia in Latin America, every area has a five-year humanitarian plan. And they work with us as a bishopric. We work closely with them individually and as a group. And that plan will be based on what the needs are in that part of the world. And so it may be education needs, it may be food security needs, it maybe water needs, whatever the case might be, it’s going to be unique. But each area does that based on what the needs are and they know better than we do at headquarters. I think that’s the point. And so then we work together to meet the needs that are real everywhere around the world.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Members of the Church of Jesus Christ also expand the reach of the Church’s humanitarian efforts, says Bishop Budge.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: Yeah, another way that we’re expanding the reach is just through the growth of the membership of the Church throughout the world. Our members give so many hours of volunteer service and humanitarian service throughout the world. I think last year was 6.8 million hours of donated time by the members of the Church. Another way that we do it is through JustServe. It’s a program that matches volunteers with organizations that need assistance. And these activities are not just for Church organizations, for any type of charitable organization that needs volunteers. And volunteers not just of our faith, but of all faiths are able to work together, side by side to provide service.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Caussé reminds us that principles guide the work of everything done in the Church of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: The principles that guide our welfare work are very important, and humanitarian work, as well. The principles are the principles of the gospel. This is our foundation. First, we want to reach out to the most vulnerable populations that people that really are in need anywhere in the world, regardless of their nationalities, their race or their faith. It is important to be in every place where there is a great need. There are countries where we don’t have a lot of members, yet we are there, working in collaboration with other humanitarian organizations to help the people.
So the second principle, maybe, I would like to talk about is the principle of self-reliance. Every one of the humanitarian projects that we conduct, have a self-reliance goal. It’s never about having the people become dependent on the Church, on our help. It is about helping them exercise their agency. For us, self-reliance is a principle of salvation that’s a spiritual principle. And so we need to be considerate and respectful of the agency of everyone. And so every time that’s the question we ask, “How are we helping people help themselves?”
Sarah Jane Weaver: And Bishop Waddell adds, that everything done in the Church is really about blessing the lives of people.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: You know, the Savior did what He did, to bless lives and to set an example for us. You know, He tells us, “Do the things you’ve seen me do.” And so as a Church, we’re doing that, as well. The Church will do things, because we want to bless lives, but also serve as an example for all of us as members of the Church to reach out to bless our neighbor. You know, when the Savior, He spoke about the parable of the lost sheep, or the parable of the prodigal son, He wasn’t just speaking to a church organization, He was talking to all of us individually to strive to be more like Him, to reach out, to bless. And so as we see needs, to act upon those needs, and to bless people around us to get involved and recognize that we’re all brothers and sisters, we’re all God’s children. And so we need to watch out for each other.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Caussé says so much of the work the Presiding Bishopric does, is really about providing opportunities for members to live the gospel.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: Practicing our religion is not an individual thing. It has to be family, but it has to be ward. It has to be community. So it’s not on our own that we are doing all of this. We try to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. And so I think a big part of what the Church does is providing opportunities for its members to live the gospel. And so this is one of the ways that we can involve members in following the example of the Savior.
I want to add something I think is very important to all of us, every member of the Church, because it is about our own life as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the law of the fast. It is really the core of every welfare system of the Church. It starts with the law of the fast, which is that every member of the Church will fast for 24 hours once a month. And then will give as much as we can to the bishop, who will take care of the people that are needy within the boundaries of the ward. And the surplus is sent to stake and then to the Church. And it will be used in other countries and maybe continents. But this is something that is unifying members of the Church throughout the world.
The bishop has a very important role to play, but especially, also, the Relief Society president and also the elders quorum president. They are working closely with the bishop to determine who needs to be helped and then managing the whole process. So that process may end up in the bishops’ storehouse, which is good. I believe it is better than any food pantry. Of course, we love food pantries, but there’s a ministering service that is offered to those people through the welfare system of the Church that is not found necessarily in other organizations. And sometimes you will end up in a grocery store in some other countries where we don’t have bishops’ storehouses, but it is a ministering endeavor every time.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Budge also spoke about the importance of living the law of the fast.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: And what’s interesting about fast offerings is that we collect fast offerings in each of the wards. They’ll donate to give money to the bishop. And some people think, “Well, that’s all that the bishop has as a resource is what he collects from the members of his ward.” But actually the fast offerings are all pooled together, so it becomes one fast offering fund. And then bishops are allowed to draw on that fund to bless the members of their wards. So bishops, they’re not worried about, “Do I have a deficit?” Or “Am I collecting enough?” There is sufficient for everyone’s needs.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Waddell added that the Lord instituted the law the fast to bless the lives of His children.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: You know, and speaking about the law of fast, it’s wonderful to speak about that. Thank you for bringing that up. In the scriptures it speaks to the law of the fast and it has the two aspects. It’s the fast, abstaining from food and drink for a period of time, 24 hours, and there are health reasons for that, as well. But and then the donation, as well. And in Isaiah, in particular, it speaks about the law of the fast and the great blessings that are associated to those who live that law. You know, in the Church handbook of instructions, it’s interesting. It says that the Lord instituted a law of the fast to bless His people and to bless those in need. And so the blessings are dual. There are those who participate in the law of the fast, who fast and offer a donation to assist, and those who are the recipients of that assistance. So there’re the dual blessings with the law the fast.
Sarah Jane Weaver: In recent years, under the direction of President Russell M. Nelson, we have also seen an increase in temple building.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: We stand in a beautiful location here with the Layton Utah Temple that is just behind us. It is a magnificent structure. As you can tell, the crews are still working on it, working landscaping, the interior finishings, but it should be ready for next year, sometime next year. It will be a beacon in this community. It will be a great blessing for the members of the Church and the community all around. There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s a wonderful time to be involved in these construction projects, particularly under the direction of President Nelson.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And Bishop Waddell, followed by Bishop Budge, both talk about how they are building so many temples at this important time in history.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: Not every building, not every temple, now, is custom designed like they were in the past. So we have some beautiful designs that have been authorized by the First Presidency that we refer to as core designs, depending on the size of the temple. And that size is based on the number of members around the world and where temples are being built. But because of those core designs, the design to construct a temple has been shortened from about 18 months, down about six or seven months. And so it’s much faster to get a temple into the construction process, which saves money and, obviously, time. And so that’s one of the great blessings that we have in those designs.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: The floor plans are the same, but you wouldn’t know it when you look at the temples. Each temple is unique in the exterior finishes, the interior finishes, and we construct the temple so that we use local materials, materials that are indigenous to the area and architectural themes that are consistent with the culture and the people of the area. So each temple is unique and very beautiful.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: And so part of the process, then, is that under the direction of the First Presidency, the Temple Department will make suggestions based on number of membership, or membership, statistics and growth. And they will take that back and the First Presidency will then make that final determination, “Yes, that’s the right location.” And then from the Bishopric’s standpoint, we help find the specific site within that framework, that location. And so, then working together, the First Presidency will then announce. And once they’ve determined the location, we find a site, then a temple is announced at general conference. And we see that President Nelson’s been very busy. He’s given us job security with the temples that have been announced and we’re just very grateful for the direction from the First Presidency and that relationship with the Temple Department.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: President Nelson wants temple worship to become a normal part of our worship, not something that we do once a year or every six months, but something that we do on a much more regular basis. In his general conference address, President Nelson talked about spiritual momentum. And he said one of the things that will help us build spiritual momentum is to get on the covenant path and stay there. And of course, the covenant path goes right through the temple. Our first covenant is baptism, but then we make additional covenants in the temple. So, President Nelson wants us to have temples that are more accessible to the Saints so that they can “strengthen their spiritual foundation,” as he said, and he mentioned that as we keep our temple covenants, we are strengthened with God’s power. And to me, when I think of temples, it’s about power. It’s about God’s power and receiving that power in our lives every day.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Still, Bishop Waddell reminds us that while the Church is building so many temples, it is not really about the temples themselves.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: Because we’re involved in the construction of the temples, obviously, that’s a little bit of our focus on having a beautiful building. But we also recognize that it’s not the building that’s most significant. It’s what takes place inside the temple. And, you know, sometimes there are people that ask, even sometimes members of the Church, but oftentimes, those who are not members of the Church will ask, “Well, why are you putting so much money, you’re building these temples when there are other things in the world that you could do with it?” Well, it’s not a one-or-the-other. The Church does do quite a bit of work, and obviously, with humanitarian and welfare work, but they’re two separate things. It’s not one or the other. The temple, for us, is so significant, because of what takes place in the temple, where we make those covenants and then need to keep those covenants. We’re just grateful to be able to be involved in the construction, so we can provide the resource for members in the Church for a place to come and to worship.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Caussé also talked about ordinances and covenants.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: Of course, as a bishopric, we focus a lot on the design of temples, on their physical aspects. But as we said, that’s not the most important part. And we have to keep this in mind. We try to have a temple as beautiful and dignified as possible. But the important part is what happens inside the temple when it is dedicated, the ordinances, the covenants of the people. So we want to create a setting and working under the direction of that First presidency for that, but the setting is not as important as the ordinance, of course.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And Bishop Budge reminds us of President Nelson’s counsel that it is hard to build a temple-worthy people.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: In fact, President Nelson said, we’re finding it’s more difficult, I mean, it’s easier to construct temples than it is to build a temple-worthy people. And so that’s really the main objective, is to help build a Zion people, to help build a people who are prepared for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Bishop Waddell says we go to the temple to become more like the Savior.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: You know, much of the instruction that takes place in the temple is symbolic, through symbolism. And there’s something that is not symbolic about the temple, specifically, maybe more than one, but one specific, above the doorframe of the temple it says, “House of the Lord.” And we believe firmly that that is not symbolic. It truly is His house. We go there to draw closer to our Father in Heaven, the Savior and to become more like Him.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: In addition to saying, “The House of the Lord,” it says, “Holiness to the Lord.” They are truly holy places.
Sarah Jane Weaver: According to Bishop Caussé, the construction of every temple really is a miracle.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: I think there are so many instances that the three of us could say, “We can testify it is a miracle.” We see miracles happening all the time with finding sites for temples in the way that we obtain permission to build, the way it has been built. And I had many experiences in my life when I stood in front of the temple, knowing the whole story of how the temple was built. I had a prayer of gratitude in my heart, saying, “The Lord made it happen.” And nobody really can say around us, you know, we meet with workers that build the temple, the architects and so forth. But none of us can say we did it, because we all know the Lord did it. It fills us with a lot of humility.
Sarah Jane Weaver: One of my favorite parts of the Inside Church Headquarters series on the Presiding Bishopric was not only coming to understand the role and responsibilities of the Presiding Bishopric, or even coming to understand the temporal affairs of the Church, but it was having the opportunity to hear the Presiding Bishopric share their testimonies of this work and of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re going to end this podcast today with each of them sharing their testimonies about what they know now, after serving in the Presiding Bishopric. We start with Bishop Budge, then go to Bishop Waddell, and conclude this podcast with the words and testimony of Bishop Gérald Caussé.
Bishop L. Todd Budge: Well, thank you for this opportunity to share my testimony and what I’ve learned since joining the bishopric. I’m the newest member of the bishopric, but it’s been such a humbling experience and a faith-building experience for me to participate in the councils of the Church and to see firsthand that prophets, seers and revelators are humble, good men who have no other purpose than to serve the Lord. They’re great examples. I think President Nelson is one of the most Christ-like people I’ve ever met. When you’re in his presence, you feel of his love and you feel of his goodness. And it just reassures me that the finances of the Church are administered through revelation, through prophets, seers and revelators, and that the members can be well assured that their tithes and offerings are being administered with the greatest care. I have a testimony that the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that He stands at the head of this Church and that He is involved in the daily affairs of the administration of His kingdom here on the earth.
Bishop W. Christopher Waddell: I’ve been serving in the bishopric [for seven years]. And like most people, I had no idea, the role, the extent of what the Presiding Bishopric did. I knew there was a Presiding Bishopric, but didn’t have much of an understanding of what they did and I’m still learning. It’s still a process in many ways. But one of the things I’ve learned that has really stood out to me is that although we are responsible for the temporal affairs of the Church and preparing the way that the scripture comes back to all things are spiritual to the Lord — never has He given a temporal commandment. All things are spiritual. And I have seen that for us to be able to accomplish — and we’re doing our best. We are human and doing our best. And we have our flaws and we have our talents and abilities as well. But for us to do what the Lord wants us to do, we have to rely on Him.
And so prayer and seeking inspiration and that unity that comes from that and going to the temple and really seeking out that will of the Lord is essential for us to be able to do what the Lord would have us do in caring for those in need around the world and in providing the resources that the Lord needs, that the leaders of the Church need to be able to accomplish the mission of the Church, which is to prepare the world for the return to the Savior. It also has been remarkable to see the influence of the First Presidency and the Twelve and see the prophetic direction on the use of these resources, and how humbling it is to be able to use them and see the hand of the Lord as we participate in this work. It’s been a remarkable thing to see and experience.
Bishop Gérald Caussé: I feel so blessed to be associated with these two men who are really men of God. They have no personal agenda. They only want to serve the Lord and their fellow man or woman. And we feel the unity of our bishopric every, every day. I thank the Lord. It is such a great privilege to be serving in this capacity and to be able to associate with prophets, seers and revelators, but also with every person on earth, possibly. We travel the world and I’m always humbled by the faithful members we meet in every country on every continent.
The Church is all about people. It’s not about the organization itself. It could be described as a big organization, a mighty organization, but it’s a support system. The gospel is really in the life of the people. It is about someone being baptized. It’s about a young man receiving the priesthood or a young woman going to the temple for the first time and being baptized [for] one of her ancestors. It’s about families gathering together, congregations gathering together and partaking of the sacrament every Sunday.
This is simple. The Church, the gospel, is a simple thing. And so sometimes we have a complex organization to support it, because the world is complex. But at the end of the day, it is about the simple, simple things of life — the reason why we are here and where we are going, and how we can return to our Heavenly Father and receive all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. So I’m grateful for the simplicity of the gospel. I testify it is true, that the Lord has restored His Church upon the earth, that it is our privilege and great honor to be members of this Church and to work in our capacities, whatever our callings, responsibilities are. I am grateful for God, for Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer. God loves us. And I say this — we say this collectively — in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast, and if you enjoyed the messages we shared today please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer KellieAnn Halvorsen and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on TheChurchNews.com.