1976—High Council
released the whole high council except for Bert van Uitert and called eleven new, younger, less weary brethren, announcing that the High Council was now a training ground for the next generation of bishops, rather than a receptacle and pasture for the last generation’s survivors. I was Number Eleven among the newcomers; Number Twelve (of twelve) in Council seniority.*

In issuing the call, Richard said I’d now be famous. Don’t know about that, but it was a marvelous learning experience. The calling entailed ordination to the office of High Priest, in which Pappy officiated on 14 November.

As liaison between the Stake Presidency and an assigned ward bishopric (sometimes that of my own congregation), I was usually able to attend normal worship meeetings with my family, except for a monthly assignment to speak in another ward as a Stake representative, or, annually, at ward conferences.

We High Councilors** were also responsible to conduct an annual audit of our assigned ward’s finances, a duty for which I possessed neither qualification nor inclination. These days, I understand that these audits are handled by professionally-qualified personnel, in a clear manifestation of the Church’s continual progress and maturation.
Occasionally, the High Council was called upon to function as a Church court to pass judgment on members accused of behavior inconsistent with their membership and its associated commitments. These meetings were our most intense and sometimes painful interactions: I participated once in the excommunication of an old friend, toward whom I felt considerable affection and gratitude. That was a difficult and unpleasant duty, ameliorated by the later realization that he received much love and support from us over the extended time required to win his way back to fellowship.

President Bushman assigned me to specialize in the Stake’s program of missionary work and, in that capacity, to represent the point of view of the missionary program in Council meetings, perhaps in recognition of my experience as an alumnus of the Seventies and Stake Mission Presidencies, and to supervise the Stake Mission. He also found it expedient to pass through me many of his communications with the New England Mission President. Working at Abt Associates on Wheeler Street, about mid-way between the Mission offices, then still housed in the Cambridge Chapel, and the Bushmans’ home on Oak Street in Belmont, I was very conveniently located for this rôle.

*Seniority matters, in a number of procedural contexts, and our seating sequence at the coffin-shaped table in the Weston Stake Center made it explicit.
**Family jargon denominated us, affectionately and not really disrespectfully, “High Scoundrels.”

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