Merrimack Stake
dunnph1.jpg
President Paul Dunn
We moved less than ten miles north, but by crossing Route 128,* we left behind our familiar, mature Cambridge Ward and Boston Stake environment and adopted a substantially different Church home: the Billerica Ward of the Merrimack Stake. While Boston had had its stake since 1963, the Merrimack Stake had been organized only nine months before we moved there, near the end of Boyd Packer’s tenure as New England Mission President. packebk1.jpg
President Boyd Packer
President Packer had cherished a goal of transforming all the districts in the mission (over which the Mission President retained ecclesiastical authority and responsibility) into stakes which would report directly to Salt Lake. He succeeded in Maine: the same month Mammy died, just before the Packers went home, the Church organized the Maine stake, headquartered in Augusta. New Hampshire and Vermont got their new stakes under his successor, our old friend, Paul Dunn.

To assure to the new Merrimack Stake the leadership it would need, its boundary was drawn so as to dip into northern Massachusetts, all the way to Route 128. The Billerica Ward was strong: although located at its new stake’s southern periphery, it did indeed provide more than its share of leadership to the superordinate organization, in those early years. I recall noting that the majority of the twelve members of the Merrimack Stake High Council, while we lived there, came from Billerica and a couple of other wards in northern Massachusetts.
The missionaries adored President Dunn. Not just because, when entering the Callahan Tunnel to Logan Airport, he would ride shotgun, lower the passenger window, and flip the quarter OVER the car into the little toll basket. They say he never missed. He was a cool guy.
Somebody seems to have heard about my background in what we called the “Ed Biz,” and I spent a while as Billerica Ward Teacher Development Director,** with responsibility to provide support and in-service training to folks with instructional callings in the ward. My traveling duties then ran less arduous than Valerie’s, entailing only monthly meetings at the stake center in Manchester. Later, in keeping with my ordination as a Seventy, I became Ward Mission Leader and a member of the seven-man Presidency of the Seventies’ Quorum. That gave me traveling responsibilities throughout the Stake, but mostly on Sunday. A challenging but familiar assignment.
*Most of it has since been incorporated into Interstate 95.
**I think that’s what they called it; next time, in Arlington around 1998, it had evolved to “Coordinator.”
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