Excommunication

By | June 25, 2014

It was late. I pulled up in front of my home, exhausted from the events of the evening. I was drained, both physically and emotionally. I summoned what little strength I had left, picked up my scriptures, climbed out of the car, and walked toward the front door.

As I walked into the house, I glanced to my right and saw my wife. Despite the hour, she met my glance with a look of concern. I reached for her, pulling her close and holding her for longer than normal. As I buried my head in the familiar curve of her neck, I thanked God for the blessings He portioned to me, most of all for the supportive companion He had allowed to share my life.

The gratitude, however, was punctuated with sadness. Mixed feelings, at best. The reason for my exhaustion was that I had just come from the bishop’s office, where I had presided over a disciplinary council that had resulted in a beautiful young lady being excommunicated from the Church. She had lost her membership due to her choices.

The council had been expected for weeks. Private counseling sessions had been held with the sister and the procedures explained. Possible outcomes were discussed, but no particular outcome was a foregone conclusion. The evening was preceded by 24 hours of fasting and prayer on my part; fulfilling the commission of “common judge” required insights and strengths beyond my own. I tried to do everything I could to be what God wanted me to be in exercising that commission.

If I had to characterize my attitude going into the council, it would be somber. Or, perhaps, serious. I knew what was coming, as I had participated in dozens of such councils before. I arrived early and cleared the desk of everything except my scriptures. I removed all chairs from the room except one for each participant—me, my two counselors, the clerk, and the sister. I didn’t want there to be any distractions from the purpose for the evening. There were no trappings of office or position, as there might be in the chambers of an earthly judge.

I met with my counselors about a quarter hour before the appointed start time. We knelt and pleaded for the Lord’s Spirit to attend the evening’s events. We needed it; I needed it. But most of all, the sister we would be meeting with would need it.

My counselors knew nothing about why the council was being held. After the prayer I explained for whom the disciplinary council was convened. This was the first time they heard that the council was for this particular sister. They knew her, as they had seen her at church meetings and events from time to time. But they had no idea I had been counseling her or what her actions were that made the evening’s council necessary.

I didn’t go into exquisite detail with them, even though I was intimately aware of the details. They didn’t need to know, and to burden them with those details would have brought unnecessary sorrow into their lives. I provided just enough information to illustrate why the disciplinary council had been called and what we would be discussing that evening. I then pulled out the Church’s handbook of instructions and reviewed the procedures that we would follow in the council.

The appointed hour arrived. I asked my counselors and the clerk to stand as I went out the door to invite the sister into the room. She came in; I know she had to be scared. My heart went out to her. I felt a wave of sorrow that her actions had made this council necessary. I did my best to make her feel welcome. I wanted her to know, above everything else, that I loved her.

Love, however, doesn’t spare one the consequences of actions nor remove the need for repentance in the wake of those actions. (Even now, as I write this years later, there are tears as I remember the feelings of that particular day. They were feelings I had experienced many times before and that I would feel many times in subsequent years.)

I invited everyone to kneel a second time as we asked the Lord to be with us. The sister offered the prayer. It was a beautiful, honest, simple prayer. She asked for the Lord to not only bless her, but to bless me, as bishop. I was touched. I appreciated her desires for me.

I then explained the procedures of the council to the sister. She had heard them before; I’d shared them with her as we approached this date. My counselors had heard them before, just a few minutes earlier. But it was important that everyone knew, once again, how the evening would unfold.

I then explained, in a very generic way, why we were convened this particular evening: “conduct unbecoming a member of the Church.” It is a “placeholder,” if you will, designed to indicate that wrongdoing had occurred, but not provide specifics as to the actual wrongs. After the explanation, I invited the sister to share with those present what had brought her to this point. What had happened in her life—and what were her choices—that had resulted in this council?

sorrow04She provided the details. It wasn’t “blow by blow,” so to speak; that wasn’t necessary. She did, however, provide enough detail that those present could understand the gravity of the actions. There were tears shed by the sister, as one would expect—it is hard to openly discuss things you did that you know are wrong. There were also tears shed by one of my counselors; hearing of these actions was hard for him. I experienced more sorrow as my heart went out to him.

In those few instances where the details provided by the sister were unclear or lacking, my counselors or myself asked respectful questions. We loved this sister. Our purpose wasn’t to embarrass, harass, shame, or “guilt” her. There was no condemnation occurring. There was only explanation by the sister, in her own words.

Most of the questions that my counselors asked were about the sister’s feelings. What did she feel about the actions she had chosen? How did she feel those actions had affected others? How widely known were her actions? How had they affected her marriage? Her children? What were her feelings about the Lord? Did she understand repentance? How had her prayers been going? Did she feel like God heard her?

In a secular setting—perhaps a courtroom drama on television—one might envision a witness being cross-examined and put on the spot. Questions are asked to “trip up” the witness. Voices are raised as attorneys try to score points with the jury. Objections are made and the judge weighs in to keep the trial on track.

Such a scene is antithetical to what occurs in a disciplinary council. There is no desire to hurt anyone. The only desire is to understand the Lord’s will. Intrinsic to that is understanding the relationship of the sister to the Lord—what state it had been in, what state it was in, and what state the sister wanted it to be in.

When enough details had been shared and all questions had been posed and answered, I asked the sister to wait in the foyer as we tried to understand what the Lord wanted done. We stood, and I walked her to a comfortable chair in the foyer. I was concerned that she was alone—not because of safety, but because I know that in emotional times it is important to have the support of a loved one. (In my experience, some choose to have someone with them and others don’t. This sister didn’t.)

I walked back into the office and shut the door. It was not a time for discussion yet, it was a time for prayer. I offered it. I stretched out my soul, seeking God’s will. Please, Father, pour out your Spirit. Please, Father, show us Your desires. Please, Father, help us to know Thy will. Please, Father, bless this sister. Please, Father, help us. Please, Father, let us know what will best help this sister to return to Thee. Please, Father. Please.

It was my turn to cry. I felt the weight of the responsibility press down upon me. I believe the Lord when He said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I know God supports bishops, for I have felt that support. I cannot imagine shouldering the weight, the responsibility, without that support.

I arose from my knees, as did my counselors. I asked them what their feelings and impressions were. I first asked my first counselor and then my second. I asked them what outcome they felt was appropriate given the circumstances and the needs of this sister. They shared freely with me, and I mulled over their comments. I appreciated these men so much, especially at times like these. In my heart I prayed for God’s blessings to be with them for their dedication, devotion, and love.

We knelt again. We prayed again. We implored again. My first counselor prayed, then my second counselor. I prayed third. After the prayer we remained on our knees as I listened for the still, small voice. I thought about each possible outcome for the council. I thought about the needs of this sister. One outcome drifted to the surface, taking primacy over the other possibilities: Excommunication.

No! Such a drastic step; could this be what the Lord wanted? I had to be sure. My counselors were still kneeling, as was I. All was quiet in the room, but my heart was racing. I knew my counselors were silently praying for me. I loved these men so much.

I wrestled before the Lord. Was this His desire? It must not be what I wanted, but what He wanted. I had to be sure. I had to be sure.

And then He spoke peace to my soul. He let me know in a way I cannot fully express that this outcome was His will. He loved this sister. He let me see that love. I loved this sister. I loved the Lord. I can do hard things with His love and support, and so could this sister. I knew what the Lord wanted done.

I looked up. My counselors were still kneeling, waiting on me. I quietly announced what the Lord wanted done. I asked them, individually, if they could sustain that decision. They could; they did. We rose from the floor and again took our chairs.

A different feeling now permeated the room. The decision was made, and now we needed to know what counsel the Lord would have us give to this dear sister as we delivered the decision. We discussed it for a while and made a few notes. These would be expressed to her and would end up in a formal “decision letter” after the council.

I then stood and went out into the foyer to invite the sister to again meet with us. She came in; I know she had to be scared. My heart, again, went out to her.

Once we were all seated, I announced that decision: “It is the decision of the council that you be excommunicated from the Church.” She was not entirely surprised, but that didn’t stop the tears from coming. The words sounded so final. I knew, in theory, that they didn’t need to be, but I also knew, in practice, that they often were. Not everyone who is excommunicated from the Church returns, even though the path is always open and the door is never shut.

I expressed sorrow at the decision. I expressed love for the sister. I told her what the effects would be—that she could no longer offer prayers in Church meetings or hold a calling, she could not attend the temple, she should not wear temple garments, she could not donate tithes or offerings. I told her she was welcome to worship with us, and invited her to do whatever was necessary in her life to return, once again, to membership through baptism.

I then shared with her the few items of counsel I had put together with my counselors. I again expressed love for her and my faith in her ability to do the Lord’s will in her life. I assured her that she would not be “left alone” by me or the Lord, that as long as she lived in the area we would stand ready to help her in any way that we could.

I invited my counselors, in turn, to share any thoughts that were on their minds. They expressed their love for the sister. They were sincere and caring. I invited the sister to share her thoughts and feelings. She was humble and accepting. She indicated that she wanted to make her way back. We encouraged her to do so.

The council closed with prayer. We stood and my counselors shook this dear sister’s hand. I hugged her. Oh, how I wanted her to return! Oh, how I prayed for the Lord to bless this sister!

Everyone left after straightening the office. Goodbyes were said in the parking lot. I started the car, turned on the lights, and was the last to pull out of the lot. Before I got home I pulled over once and prayed and cried and prayed. I fully understood Nephi’s comment:

For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry. And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. (2 Nephi 33:3-4)

Disciplinary councils are hard. Very hard. However, they serve a very important place in the economy of the Lord’s Kingdom. I cannot fully express the Spirit that attends such councils. It is not what the world presumes or supposes.

My heart goes out to all bishops who must preside over such councils.

 

================

Edited (July 1) to add: I participated in an interview for the FairMormon podcast about this article, my experiences, and some wider-ranging thoughts about Church discipline.

 

27 thoughts on “Excommunication

  1. Iggy Montana

    Thank you for this. I had the opportunity to sit in on two such councils while in a Bishopric. You’ve conveyed exactly the feelings and Spirit involved in the process and situation. Someone who has not participated cannot fully understand the feelings. There is no vengeance, no anger, no sense of spiritual bloodthirstyness on the part of those sitting in the disciplinary council. In real life, I’m an attorney; I have been for nearly twenty years. I have never felt a similar feeling in a secular court and vice versa. Those who portray it as it has been repeatedly portrayed in the media speak either from a position of being uninformed or vindictive.

  2. John B

    Thank you for putting into words how I felt on more occasions than I like to think while serving as a Bishop.

  3. Formerly Excommunicated Member

    As a person that has gone through a disciplinary that resulted in my excommunication I can testify that what the Priesthood holders above have said. There is no room for vengeance, anger, self-righteousness or superiority in this process. Though I can’t comment on what happened before I came in the room or while I was out of the room awaiting their decision I can testify that I felt nothing but their love & concern for me and that my Heavenly Father was guiding this process. It was explained to me that in my circumstances at the time every day I woke up I was in violation of the baptismal & temple covenants that I had willingly made with my Heavenly Father. The excommunication process in essence puts those covenants on a self while I work at getting my life back to a point that I would be ready to live up to those covenants again. I have since been re-baptized & had my temple blessings restored. In hind site being excommunicated was a gift because it allowed me the time to get my life in order. When I was re-baptized I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my past sin was wiped clean. Had I only been disfellowshipped the adversary would have always been able to try & convince me that I was not worth & that my Heavenly Father no longer loved me because of the mistakes I have made. This was not the case because in order to be re-baptized I had to get approval from the First Presidency. I am blessed now to once again have my membership back & it has shown my children that no matter what our Heavenly Father always wants his children to return.

  4. Kim R Robinson

    Thank you for you heart felt message and pouring out of this process.; revelation from the Lord is real.

    I also appreciate and am thankful for the comments from “Formerly Excommunicated Member” – that those who go through this process can feel the love and support from those who are in the councils as well as from our Heavenly Father and our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

  5. Drew Armstrong

    I went through one of these. It did not result in my excommunication. It was a very good experience and it was hard. My leaders handled it well. That does not change my skepticism regarding all disciplinary councils. I am certain they are not always handled appropriately… I would guess that most of the time they are and nearly all of the time the intent and desire is there.

  6. amos

    A vivid descrption of brutal emotional abuse. Sad.

      1. why?

        What exactly is vulgar and sad? Are you saying that no one has the right to question anyone about their actions? From this description it seems painful but not at all “brutal emotional abuse” or “vulgar.” Assuming it’s an accurate description, which several people have backed up here, I don’t see where you get your opinions.

    1. Kiwi57

      “Brutal emotional abuse?”

      You must have lived a very sheltered life.

      And did you even read the article? There was a lot of emotion, but there was nothing “brutal,” and no “abuse” took place.

  7. RJ

    I have finished listening to the podcast you participated in on Fair Mormon (30 June 2014). I have to say that your description of what the Bishop and the member go through in a court action are extremely accurate. As one who had gone through probation and ignored the warnings and pursued my choice of actions, that ultimately led to a Stake court of discipline, I have lots of empathy as to what the leadership of the ward and stake have to endure. I too lost my membership and stayed away from the church for over twenty years. As I began the process of meeting with my Stake President, I could feel his anguish. I apologized to him for having put him in a situation that he had nothing to do with. Through his guidance and love I have rejoined the church. I cannot say enough about my current relationship with my Bishop and stake President. Thank you for bringing clarity and understanding to those who know little about this ‘action of love.’

  8. jr

    It too bad that not all disciplinary councils are handeled as well as the one told by and experienced by Allen.

    If only all Bishops and their counselors were as loving and concerned.
    I know of a disciplinary council that was totally opposite of the one in the story.

    I do wonder why one Bishopric in one ward can interpret the church handbook about what would constitute disfellowship or excommunication, and a Bishopric in another ward interprets the same thing totally opposite, and totally different conclusions are reached.
    There is too much inconsistency in these matters. For example, some get exed for doing whatever and another person who did the exact same thing or worse, does not get exed.

    1. B. Rubalcava

      This is not a secular court, where there are laws written and for this felony, correspond this punishment. Yes, it is true, sometimes for the apparent same wrongdoing, the result is one and in another case the result is different. The reason or reasons are many, among others, the way the person is approaching the council, and the fruits of repentance; the Lord knows the person better than himself, and consequently would reveal to the judge, different outcomes. I can tell you, Bishops and Stake Presidents generally speaking are ones of the best men on earth. I have worked with many of them, and they are examples of love and understanding. Of course they are not perfect, but if they kneel down and ask for guidance , they will get it. There are exceptions, unfortunately, but that’s what it is exceptions, and for sure the Lord will correct any thing which has not been done in accord with His will, in His due time.

  9. Crix

    This essay reflected the feelings of the members of the Pristhood, for whom this experience must be extremely difficult. To me, Excommunication means the opportunity to completely clear the sin from the record and to begin again with a clean slate. It is difficult for all, but there are blessings to be had through this action. The sin is completely gone. It is helpful and brings us closer to our Saviour.

  10. Wilma Aebischer

    This has brought tears. I know how hard this has to be on the Priesthood Leaders who have to make this decision. Having served in the church in many stake and Ward callings effecting women of the church, I realize that sometimes those of us that are leaders, but not priesthood holders, have no idea what a heartbreaking experience this is for those involved. Only do we as sisters know, when we personally know the person that is being excommunicated.

    I have also lived in a ward for many years, and have seen a number of Priesthood holders that have strayed in their ways, and have been excommunicated, This was a sad day for our entire ward, when this seemed to have happened three at a time. These men were all members of the Bishopric, so it effected our entire ward. However, some of them have returned to church membership, and we are all grateful for that.

  11. Brett Allen

    Wonderful article! My experiences have been very similar in over twenty disciplinary councils due to various Church callings. The real and genuine concern for the individual and the desire to make sure that the action taken is absolutely in line with the Lord’s will is ALWAYS present.

    Those that denigrate and slander Bishops and Stake Presidents who are responsible, because of their calling, to hold disciplinary councils, have either zero experience with such councils, have listened to outrageous stories from others, or are sadly bitter or angry about choices in their own lives.

    “Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.” (Please see the rest of Elder Hollands talk in the April 2014 General Confidence).

    Disciplinary councils are needed but are a heavy burden to those leaders that must convene them, so that others can repent and again feel the joy that comes from an unspotted discipleship.

  12. Iggy Idaho

    I am commenting as an individual who was excommunicated 15 years ago. My court was conducted by my stake president and high council, with my bishop attending. It seemed somewhat ironic that so much of my life had been a lie and once I had determined that there would be no more lies or deceit, the recuperation of telling the truth was significant. I had a testimony of the church, but in hindsight, I was not converted. Nor did I have a legitimate relationship with my Father In Heaven and Savior.

    My stake president was so angry with me that most everything that followed reflected his disappointment and angst. When I received my written notice of excommunication, there was no invitation to return to the fold. A brother or brothers who were participants in the excommunication must have shared information with their associates or spouses. . . word of my excommunication and associated details spread through our community like wild fire. When I approached my stake president about the issue he merely stated, “What do you expect?” That was pretty well the last conversation I had with him. He made it very clear that where I was no longer a member, his loyalties were to my soon-to-be former wife.

    If anyone is reading my post and thinking. . . Right on Brother! Don’t. Christ’s injunction is for all of us to forgive everyone and leave the judging process to Him. Anyone who bears ill feelings towards anyone else is in peril. If anything is keeping someone from having a great relationship with the Lord, they are depriving themselves of a life of love and peace.

    1. Allen Post author

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience, Iggy. It sounds like you have “moved past” the treatment you received, which speaks well for you. I agree with your comments about our need to forgive others—even those who “despitefully use” us. Even though it is the hardest thing we may ever be called upon to do (and endure), there is (as you say) a life of love and peace on the other side.

      -Allen

  13. Iggy Idaho

    Allen,
    If I understand your comment correctly, you are stating that we can have love and peace on the other side. If by the “other side” you are referring to post mortality; I have ought with that. When the Savior was born the choir of angels proclaimed Peace on Earth, good will to men. Peace on Earth is both a noun and a verb. It refers to Christ, and is another title for Him. It is also a verb in the sense that we can have peace (here on the earth) if we align our lives with Him.

    My heart goes out to anyone who is “X”ed and to those who are in the position where they have to stand as judges. No matter which side of the process one stands, it is difficult. In spite of our actions, our worth never changes in the sight of God.

    1. Allen Post author

      Sorry; my bad. (I apologize for being ambiguous.) By “on the other side” I meant on the other side of the ordeal. The love and peace can be ours in this life *and* the next.

      -Allen

      1. Iggy Idaho

        Amen. Please that we are in agreement. . .

  14. Doug

    Thanks for this article. With recent news of a high-profile excommunication, I think it is important to tell the other side of the story. I’ve sat on numerous disciplinary councils as a counsellor or clerk, although never as the presiding officer (thankfully), and never been on one where excommunication was the outcome, yet even so, your first paragraph described exactly the feelings. It is a particularly draining experience.

    Perhaps as a counsellor or clerk it is a little different than it is for the Bishop. In the lead up to the DC, the Bishop knows the person, the conduct, and has sat in counsel with them generally for many hours before it gets to the DC. As a counsellor or clerk, just as you described, in most cases I didn’t know the person or the misconduct until immediately prior. The only exceptions to that was one case where one DC implicated another person, and the DC’s where previous restrictions were lifted. But for the most part, in the week leading up to the DC, all I knew was that there was going to be one. Usually though, as we’d start the meeting, the person and conduct would be revealed prior to the Bishop telling us. In some cases that was quite disconcerting – here was a member that you’d served with, issued callings to, done TR interviews with, and suddenly you learn of serious misconduct. It’s a strange feeling – in some aspects you feel disappointed and let down, but at the same time there is an overwhelming feeling of love toward the person, which makes you just want to reach out to them and do whatever you can to help them.

    The proceedings in the ones I’ve been involved with happened pretty much just as you described. The focus is not on what has happened, but on ascertaining where the person is at with their relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ, and their repentance. Probably the only difference that I’ve experienced is that instead of the Bishop telling us what he felt the decision was, each Bishop/Branch President that I’ve served with, asked us as counsellors (and even when I was a clerk one asked me) what we felt the outcome should be, before he pronounced the final outcome. In every single case, while praying over it, the outcome has been revealed clearly and we have all been in 100% agreeance.

    It’s probably unfortunate, but I’d definitely say that those moments spent in disciplinary councils were the times when I felt the revelatory influence of the Holy Ghost the strongest and clearest. Even though it wasn’t my role to be the judge in Israel, they were instances where the principle of “two or more witnesses” applied – we were witnesses to the fact that the Bishop/Branch Pres was pronouncing Heavenly Father’s will and acting in his capacity as judge in Israel. It is perhaps also unfortunate that very few members experience a disciplinary council. Until you have sat in one, I don’t think it is possible to properly understand how they work, nor to fully appreciate their beauty as an expression of Heavenly Father & Christ’s love for us, as they help us go through the repentance process. They give a tiny glimpse to the emotions the saviour must feel as he observes our failings, but at the same time loves us so much and just wants to us to return.

  15. Stevie B

    I’ve sat on one council as a clerk and the feelings and respect for the member were definitely pointed towards helping and not condemning.

    My brother in law was also excommunicated and returned. I know very little details about it as my sister and mom were very mum. It took a number of years for him to be rebaptized. Oh what joy we felt when we found out he would be baptizing his daughter after being unable to baptize two of his sons.

    Why must a member confess their actions to a council of men? Some ask. I believe it’s part of the injunction to bear one another’s burdens that they may be made light. My brother in law apparently kept the details of his mistake hidden for many, many years. Having been through this process he is free. His wife and others bore his burden with him and loved him through the years of non fellowship. He felt the bitter pain that alma and others have felt because they lack the gift of the Holy Ghost. They are left to themselves for a time cast out from gods presence. But after true repentance they begin to feel the lords forgiveness and when the time for rebaptism comes they know they are fully forgiven, fully restored. And not because the bishop forgives him, that’s just an ancillary benefit. It’s because The Lord forgives them and when that blessing comes to restore precious gifts and covenants it’s a poignant experience.

    My brother in law had the chance to go back to the temple and have his younger children surround him at the altar and be sealed to him. These kids were not born into the covenant because of his excommunication. But to have them sealed to him and then feel The Lord pouring out his atoning forgiveness on my brother in law is a marvelous thing to imagine.

  16. Michael Surkan

    What I don’t understand is the need for excommunication in the first place? I could perhaps understand not wanting to have “dangerous” criminals in a congregation for safety reasons. No one wants to have to be watching their back with a known murderer or rapist in their midst.

    But the vast majority of excommunications are for things like infidelity and apostasy (i.e. believing in false doctrine). What good does that do either the person being excommunicated or the congregation as a whole?

    If the person in question really is committing sin then God will deal with it in the after life. An excommunication is neither here nor there regarding their salvation.

    I can even understand telling a heretic member that they won’t be permitted to speak in church or teach lessons due to the fact they are teachings things that the church doesn’t believe in. But why actually “excommunicate” them? I just don’t get it.

    Take the case of Kate Kelly. Excommunicating her isn’t doing anything to help her. Neither is it doing anything to help the LDS church. If anything, Kate’s excommunication magnified her message and led to a massive growth in church members who are sympathetic to her cause.

    The Catholic church seems to have a much more realistic view of excommunication. They don’t excommunicate activists who lobby for acceptance of gay marriage, women in the priesthood, or birth control. This doesn’t mean the catholic church accepts these heresies, it’s just that they are mature enough that doctrinal criticism from within the fold doesn’t result in the church going ballistic.

    Why can’t the Mormon church take this kind of view? Just letting a heretic remain in the church doesn’t in any way indicate an endorsement of those dissident views. Better, it takes some of the poison out of these heresies by keeping it all within the community where there are true members who will fellowship the heretics with love.

    1. Brett Allen

      Serious sins call for serious measures such as excommunication. This is done so that someone can truly humble themselves and repent fully and completely and return to the fold with clean hands. If no action is taken it absolutely, “indicates an endorsement of dissident views (or actions).” Just as it happens when our local, state or Federal laws are broken and there aren’t any consequences. No one takes them seriously or obeys them. With all the fines and other punishments, look how many continue to drink and drive or the millions that simply speed.

      For example something as everyday and simple as a soccer game, since that is now so much in the news. All it would take is one person on the field with “dissident” ideas and actions, such as using their hands, running with the ball or tackling as in American football, and it would make the whole game impossible to play.

      We of course continue to fellowship and love those that have sinned and been disciplined.

  17. Jeremy V.

    Thank you for sharing this experience. It is helpful to have some insight into a process that few members of the church hear about or know the process carried out. I feel for any bishops, stake presidents, counselors, and/or high priests that are called upon to serve on disciplinary councils, and honor and respect their service and seeking of the Lord’s will through the Spirit. Nevertheless, I find it interesting that while men brought before a disciplinary council have the Stake Presidency and 12 high counselors present – with the high counselors drawing lots to decide which half speaks on the church’s behalf and which half speaks on the behalf of the person being disciplined, while women are brought before their bishop and his counselors – which don’t similarly argue on behalf of the church’s behalf and the women’s behalf.

    1. Allen Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Jeremy.

      Just a point of clarification: A stake disciplinary council is typically only held for a Melchezidek priesthood holder, and then *only* if the likely outcome is excommunication. In all other instances, (including Melchezidek priesthood holders where the council isn’t likely to end in excommunication), the council is held at a ward level.

      -Allen

Comments are closed.