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 , 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. .
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?
 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!)
 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.
I have been through this several times. I have been a Counselor and a Stake President. The process you described is similar except that in my situation The “bio” sheets on each of the Bishops, High Council members was sent to the visiting authority severral days in advance. I have been a Stake President in 2 different stakes due to boundary changes and it was this way both times with 2 different GA’s.
My experience was that the GA that was tasked with the assignment was just trying to get a feel for the Stake. Any of the men involved most likely would have been fine SP’s. Some maybe better than others, but all could have led the Stake.
I do think getting the Stake YW, RS and Primary input would be a good idea. Those sisters travel the Stake and work closely with all the men typicallly interviewed. I think that counsel would be very valuable. They definitely see a side that the Stake President does not see in those men.
Just my thoughts.
Interesting. I had heard some of these details before. Why should this be such a secret?
Yes. They should interview the women stake officers, and perhaps ward and branch RS presidents who will have had experience working with the men they are interviewing.
Just a few weeks ago, a ward member related that one of their family members was called as a stake president, and rather than being sent alone to come up with names for counsellors as related in the OP, was sent with his wife for them to come up with names together.
If they included a few women in the interviews, they might have prevented the choosing of stake president Clayton Hildreth in Idaho, early 2000’s.
One of my Stake Presidents talked about how he and his wife were instructed to go into another room to pray about who he should pick as counselors. He spoke of how she helped him get inspiration.
I don’t know how often this occurs today, but this small step to include women should be made universal
Yes, this is the process. I’ve experienced the exact same process three times in two different stakes (California and East Coast). I was told by the GA as an aside it’s a good thing it is not a democracy or I would have been “voted in”. From what I have seen, wen it comes right down to it, the GA relies heavily on the out going stake president to simply recommend who it should be.
What MTodd described was true with me as well in my 2 times as SP. The GA’s (1st time was a 70 and my 2nd time was a member of the Twelve) both asked my wife and I to go to a room and counsel together about it. They both said “she knows you better than anybody so she knows what kind of personality would work well with you and not.” It was invaluable and her input and counsel was one of the best things I have experienced in the Church. We went on a mission after I was released and working daily with her as a partner was a great thing. Best experience of my life and made our relationship even stronger than it already was. When we came home our callings separated us and I am still not used to it.
However the process is done, there could be multiple ways for it to be done, I believe that heavens inspiration is present. Why? Because I’ve seen inspiration so many times in my own life, why wouldn’t it be available to church leaders as they go about the business of the church.
That really is the bottom line, if we are getting inspiration and guidance in our own lives we will not doubt it in church leader and others.
This is what my dad saw back in the 80’s when he was on the high council.
I do not recall a new SP that did not have one of the callings mentioned. A new move in around here was called onto the high council very quickly. The long tenured SP probably had this process in mind and had him in mind as a potential successor.
I have been involved in this process a few times (once on the high council, once as a bishop, and once when I was a counselor in SP). I am currently serving as stake president. In each case is was more or less the same process as described above. A few variations though that I have seen:
When I was called I had my initial short interview. Later that afternoon I was called and asked to bring my wife to a second interview (they warn everyone to be ready for this possibility). The second interview was longer and more thorough. They then (one 70 and one presidency of the 70 member) interviewed my wife (without me). They then interviewed us both. I was then called. My wife was told she was being called to be my counselor for a day, and then we were both asked to go pray and counsel together about who should be my two counselors (I have generally followed this process when calling bishops–asking them to pray and counsel together with their wives).
In each of the 3 experiences I had, the visiting authorities interviewed the standard list but also others. They pulled in other people (some of the names that people mentioned throughout the day). I know of some experiences of a few stake presidents who were called outside this process (GA sees the man at the leadership meeting after not having called someone in the above process–that is the man etc.).
On a side note, when I have called bishops (or recommended their name to the 1st presidency to be more accurate), after my counselors and I believe we have identified the man, I have spoken and counseled with my stake relief society president to get her thoughts. It has been very valuable because in each case she has know so much more about the family situation than I did. I tell her she is my 3rd counselor, and she is incredible.
Wow. I had no idea there were stake presidents reading this blog. That is great.
I was thinking the same thing Zach. Mike, we welcome you!
I invited my recently released stake president to attend Mormon History Association meetings last year, and then he informed me he used to be a Sunstone reader! I invited him to Sunstone, but he declined. There are some pretty cool stake presidents out there!
It appears that if you don’t get called as bishop your progress is damned.
I was familiar with the general outline of how this happens, but this had more detail, which I appreciated. One thing that was new to me was the idea of encouraging the wife to be involved in counseling her husband on the counselor picks. Very heartening.
I’m a currently serving bishop and have been through this interview process for stake president. This post is accurate but I’d add one thing – on the information / bio sheet that I filled out I also included a photograph of me and my wife. Presumably this isn’t nefarious, but including a photograph with a resume or job application is not something we do in the professional world. My guess is that the photograph is meant to remind the visiting GA which person and answers were which.
Also during my interview with the GA he asked me for three names of a neighboring stake which was also being reorganized the same weekend. I was completely unprepared for that question because I had only considered men in my own stake.
In case anyone is interested some of the questions I was asked by the visiting GA included: are all my children active and what do they think about my service as bishop, questions about my professional life (my employer had recently been in the news for negative reasons), how good my Spanish is, and whether I view porn. The interview lasted about 8 minutes when it was only scheduled for 6.
Jared, it is well established doctrine that in order to receive accurate inspiration you must put in the study first. If I am getting inspiration it is because I have put in the time and effort. That doesn’t automatically follow that the leaders are always doing the same.
Lily, so how would you know when leaders are inspired or not?
I have the gift of the Holy Ghost and a brain in my head which allows me to discern which principles are eternal, core doctrines and which are policies and cultural ideas. The assumption that that all leaders are always working under revelation is silly.