While most local positions in the church are selected by a bishop or Stake President who is familiar with and know the person they are calling, it is quite different for selecting and calling a new Stake President.  This is due to the fact the the person that is making the calling is not local, but a General Authority or Area Authority.   So basically they are coming in “cold” to the situation, and have about 6 hours to make the decision. The below is from personal experience and from talking with others that have gone through the selection process and been selected as Stake Presidents.

First the timing.  When I was bishop, my Stake President told me that the timing of a bishops release is made with inspiration [1], while the timing of a Stake President’s release is made by a computer in Salt Lake City.  A Stake President serves for nine years, and a few months before the nine month anniversary the Stake President is informed that he will be released, and a date is set for a visiting authority to come to a Stake Conference.

On the Saturday before the release, the visiting authority interviews a list of men that the outgoing Stake President has given him.  On the list are all the sitting bishops, all the high council, the outgoing SP counselors, and anybody else the SP thinks should be interviewed, such as former bishops.

I was a bishop when this happened in my stake, and everybody interviewed was asked by the stake Executive Secretary to fill out a sheet of paper with name, how long in their current calling, other callings they had held, occupation, and number of children. The next part was interesting. They asked everybody to write down three men who they thought could be the next Stake President.  This is in stark contrast to directions given to Stake Presidents when selecting a Bishop.  They are instructed not to interview ward members when looking for a new bishop. [2].

The general authority then does the interviews between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm on Saturday before the conference.  My time with the GA lasted about  seven minutes, about two more than it should have.  I’m generally very outgoing, but my plan (for obvious reasons) was to lay low in this interview, and not stand out. That did not go as planned.  The visiting 70 had a new Area Authority with him that he was training. Turns out the Area Authority knew my father! My dad has a unique first name, which is my middle name. So when the Area Authority looked at my data sheet, he blurted out ” Are you (dads name) son?” I said yes, and then the Area Authority proceeded to explain to the 70 what a great guy my father was and that he was a bishop in the Area he was just called from. He then asked personal questions about my family, my father who he had not seen in several months, etc.  So much for laying low!

The 70 then asked me why I selected the three men that I did to be the next Stake President. He then thanked me and I left the room, to be replaced by another bishop in line.  After all the interviews are conducted, and the outgoing Stake President is interviewed and he gives his recommendation, and the visiting authority make the selection. Now I don’t know if he tallies up the recommendations on a paper, and then selects the one with the most votes.  My guess is he then uses the votes as a guide to pray about.  (BTW, I hit the trifecta on my picks! The three men I selected where called as SP and counselors, in the order I put them on the paper!)

When the visiting authority makes his selection, he asks the Stake Exec Sec to call the man and his wife to come to the church that afternoon, before the Priesthood Leadership meeting which is usually at 4:00 pm.  He is called, and if he accepts, he is told to go into an adjacent room alone and pray about who he wants as councilors.  These men selected as councilors are then intercepted before they enter the Priesthood leadership meeting, and are issued the call while the outgoing SP is conducted the leadership meeting.  A good friend of mine was called as a counselor like this, but he declined (topic for another day), so the newly called SP had to come up with another name.

No women were involved in this process, except then the new SP was called with his wife by his side.  Do you think that the Stake RS, Primary, and YW Presidency could be interviewed for this selection, even if they couldn’t be selected, to just give their opinions? Maybe the wives of all the Bishops should be interviewed also?

Have any of you out there been interviewed during the Stake President section process?  Was it different than what I experienced?


[1] Bishops are called for 5-7 years.  Releasing a bishop before the five years except for him moving out of the area requires an explanation to Salt Lake. I was released on my five year anniversary (they couldn’t wait to get rid of me!)

[2] I saw this on the instruction sheet for the form that Stake Presidents fill out when submitting names to the First Presidency for new bishops.  This is all done online now.