This We Don't See

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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mom3
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This We Don't See

Post by mom3 » 21 Dec 2017, 23:13

There are a myriad ways to be frustrated with tithing, but the anonymity of our donations creates a wonderful buffer against something other churches run into.

I volunteer at a shelter. It is housed in a church. With the Pastor's permission we are keeping it open during Christmas day. The rest of the winter is an overnight sleeping shelter only. We scrambled as a team and have it covered.

Tonight an email goes out from the Pastor -"Mr. and Mrs. Jones are hosting their family Christmas party on Christmas Day in such and such a room. Please make sure no one disturbs them."

I happen to know that Mr. & Mrs. Jones are very financially involved in the church. They also sit on the church board and executive committee. They carry a lot of weight. They are nice, friendly, hard working people. They spear head a lot of good things. Their money likely covers a lot of it. I assume other members do, too. Point is, a ward would never get an email "The Romney Family will be using the cultural hall for their family Christmas Party. Please be respectful and don't disturb them."

I know we talk about certain callings going to wealthier members, I can see that point, but their wealth doesn't give them special access or emails regarding them.

I know myself, as a congregant it would annoy me that they get special privileges. It's annoying me now and I am not even a member.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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dande48
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by dande48 » 23 Dec 2017, 01:04

In our Church, don't those with leadership callings (or connections to those with leadership callings) get access to the facilities? We do not house any shelters in our Church (though I wish we did), and so our buildings go unused all but 1 1/2 days a week. The rest of the time it is open to anything from Churchball to family reunions, to wedding receptions. As far as the rich people go, they usually host their Christmas parties at one of their homes.

I wonder if this would be more of an issue, if we did run a 24/7 shelter. But I can't think of an instance where this could transfer over to our Church. After all, the tithing records aren't private to the leadership.
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mom3
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by mom3 » 23 Dec 2017, 22:58

The rest of the time it is open to anything from Churchball to family reunions, to wedding receptions.
Agreed but anyone can book those. Even a sketchy tithe payer can.

Either way an email doesn't go out telling you "Who" is having the party.

I may just be being petty as it's Christmas and I am getting tired.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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willb1993
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by willb1993 » 24 Dec 2017, 02:43

In my experience I have seen cases where the more financially well off members of my stake/ward have received special privileges to a certain extent. While I think our church does a much better job at preventing this on a macro scale, it does occur on the micro level. (stakes, wards). I noticed that growing up in my youth the stake youth council was mostly the rich popular kids. Sure, maybe they gave them these callings because they were well known but still. I was never one of the popular kids, I was mostly an outsider. Another case was that we had one of those fund raisers to fund the youth activities such as girl scouting. (They were allowed to have one a year). And it was like an auction format. However, most of the items were very expensive things. All the way from a boat to one of those really fancy golf carts. I mean, how do you think those who couldn't afford that but wanted to give money on something? Most of the things that were supposed to be auctioned were things like baked goods, homemade items like quilts, blankets and other things. Or services provided by the youth. i.e. 3 lawn mowing or pool clearings. But nonetheless the rich snobs in my ward hijacked it and turned it into a contest of who has can write the check with the most zeros. That golf cart went for $10,000.

My Dad who is has been a stake president for quite sometime has had to kick kids out for playing church ball. He would usually ask them how they got the keys, especially when they were just youth under 18 without an adult. And most of them just narrowed them from someone else. That is a HUGE no no. And guess what? Those kids were rich snobby popular kids. Keep in mind my father is a very nice and chill person for his age. He has more moderate approaches to his calling.

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Re: This We Don't See

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Dec 2017, 13:29

Thanks, mom3, for the reminder that all congregations and religions have issues balancing serving the needy and catering to the wealthy. I have extensive interdenominational experience throughout my life, and this absolutely is one area where the LDS Church does quite well in comparison - despite its own issues.

My wife and I recently attended a Christmas party and awards banquet at the Catholic university where I used to work and she still works. It was held in the brand new banquet/meeting hall, which holds up to 600 people. The president, a Catholic priest (monsignor, technically), mentioned in his speech that he and his extended family were hosting a celebration for his father in that room soon - and he made a special effort to say that he was being charged for it, just like any other group using the room would be. In reality, one of two things happened: 1) his family got a great price, given his position; 2) the cost is being paid the same way his house (not huge, but lavishly furnished) and living expenses are provided, by the university and/or the Catholic Church (compared to the previous president who lived with the other nuns in their monastery). Everyone knows that when they pause to consider it; it simply is not discussed openly - ever.

On the other hand, most Mormon wedding receptions are held in the local church, free of charge, with no preference given to those with money who might otherwise tie up the building for personal parties or family gatherings. All meetings, of any kind, are required to be cleared through the building facilities coordinator, and they are visible to everyone on the ward calendar online. I am not aware of any family parties having been held in any meetinghouse I have attended in a very long time. In fact, when I was over facilities management while serving on the High Council, it was stressed explicitly that such things were forbidden. It also was stressed by my last four Stake Presidents, at least, that no ward was to obtain funds from members for an extravagant ward event - that all official events were to be funded through the regular budget. Individual members might have brought more expensive food, if the event included a potluck dinner element, but that was the extent of it. I also have seen a direct move away from ward auctions as fundraisers that include anything more than food - and I have had multiple BIshops forbid auctions of any kind, specifically to avoid bidding wars by the wealthier members. Instead, they have mentioned the chance to donate privately to the "Other" category and specify the reason for the donation. Finally, the Church stresses that anyone who spends any money on any ward event should be reimbursed for their expenses. Not everyone requests reimbursement, but it is the default policy.

Generally speaking, we do quite well organizationally in this area.
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Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Roy
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by Roy » 25 Dec 2017, 15:14

Curt Sunshine wrote:
24 Dec 2017, 13:29
Thanks, mom3, for the reminder that all congregations and religions have issues balancing serving the needy and catering to the wealthy. I have extensive interdenominational experience throughout my life, and this absolutely is one area where the LDS Church does quite well in comparison - despite its own issues.
As an individual that participates in several churches I have observed some of the good and bad of the way financial things are done. I concur that most churches have difficulty with this balance.

1) Salaries for pastors. This is both good and bad. It is good because it theoretically brings a more dedicated and talented professional that has made ministry their life's work. But it is not a panacea. Struggling churches struggle to pay a pastor or can only pay very meager wages. Also once we establish that individuals deserve to be compensated for their time, where does it stop? Does the music leader or nursery teacher get paid? Does it matter if they are professionals with degrees in early childhood development or music? This is a slippery slope.

2) Auctions. I have seen auctions go crazy at LDS and non-LDS churches. Pies going for over 100 dollars. In the LDS auction it is the fund raiser for girls camp and it is mostly the parents that bid up the items. I do not know how to fix this. Have a maximum bid?

3) Tithing. Some churches have anonymous donations/tithing (Though I imagine that there must be a mechanism to get a receipt for tithing if you want one for tax purposes). I like that because it feels like it is more private between the individual and the Lord. Some have collection plates. Some have the small children come around with collection baskets. The "children's collection" always struck me as a manipulative (and effective) way to do collections. I do not like tithing settlement and have never seen its equivalent in other churches.

4) Private parties. This can be an issue. I know there has been bridal showers and baby showers. I am not certain about the rules. I know one person that was going to have a Tupperware party at the LDS meeting house. The bishop found out and had to put a stop to it. He felt so bad about it that he offered to host it at his house instead. He is a good man. I like that our chapels are available for weddings and funeral gatherings without charge. Also it would be outrageous for and LDS person to receive a fee for officiating at one of these ceremonial life events. I understand some other churches sometimes have fees, offerings, donations to compensate for the pastor's time.

5) I have seen churches that save for particular causes. The church might support various missionaries and those missionaries report on the ministry they are doing. Maybe they are saving for a church van to help transport people to church functions or build a church in Africa or to do microloans in Asia. I actually like this because it helps to feel connected to the money. One can see where the money goes and feel personally connected to the work (incidentally, one of the reasons given for why we no longer have janitors is to give the membership this opportunity to feel connected to the meetinghouse). I understand that the church did something similar when local wards built their own meetinghouses and it had its own problems. I also really like the LDS church Perpetual Education Fund. I just wish that it was a little more transparent. Is there a way to publish the number of graduates from this program? Perhaps a success story or two who was able to succeed through the program? It would feel easier to donate by visualizing the face of a successful program poster child.
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DarkJedi
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by DarkJedi » 25 Dec 2017, 15:48

I can't say that I have seen favoritism to the wealthy in building use in our ward. I have lived here 25 years, same ward, same building. Mind you, we don't have any very wealthy although we do have some very poor. I have seen personal parties on the calendar, most recently a work party for a small employer where the member is a manager and other members work there. It appears to be first come, first served but always trumped by church activities (if any). We used to have a member who would get together with guys from work on Tuesday nights and play basketball. He was the only member and was given a key. That hasn't happened for a few years (since he retired). I am aware that sometimes teens who have a parent with a key will show up for the same purpose.

Let's face it - our ward building is open about 4-5 hours on Sunday and maybe 3 hours Wednesday evening. Add 6 am early morning seminary and you get 5 more hours per week during the school year. So what's that, at most 15 hours a week? I see nothing wrong with members using the building for other (appropriate) things and personally think a benefit of tithing is being able to use the building for my kid's wedding reception or a family get together or just plain recreation sometimes.

Probably the biggest disparity between richer/poorer I see is in callings - especially the bigger ones and more likely on the macro level than the micro level. That is, I have yet to see a poor mission or temple president. And I can't even name a stake president in the time I have been here that was not a lawyer, engineer, university professor or corporate exec.
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AmyJ
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by AmyJ » 26 Dec 2017, 06:55

DarkJedi wrote:
25 Dec 2017, 15:48
Probably the biggest disparity between richer/poorer I see is in callings - especially the bigger ones and more likely on the macro level than the micro level. That is, I have yet to see a poor mission or temple president. And I can't even name a stake president in the time I have been here that was not a lawyer, engineer, university professor or corporate exec.
Our Stake President is a Jr. high school teacher :P
(His family has been in the area for eons though I think.)
One of his counselors is retired, the other works for the local University I believe.

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nibbler
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by nibbler » 30 Dec 2017, 08:04

I've seen our church building reserved for a family birthday before but it's as you say; it's not about how much you've contributed, it's about reserving the chapel, which anyone can do.... theoretically. Still, I get this warm, fuzzy feeling in my bosom when I show up to clean the chapel and there's this huge birthday party going on for the popular family at church, it's invite only, and half the ward was invited but you weren't. It's on those days when you take comfort that whoever it is in there having a good time as you are scrubbing toilets is now one year closer to their grave. :angel: :angel: :angel:
mom3 wrote:
21 Dec 2017, 23:13
I know we talk about certain callings going to wealthier members, I can see that point, but their wealth doesn't give them special access or emails regarding them.
Special access in the LDS church is all about callings. If the wealthier members traditionally get callings like BP, SP, and above then wealth indirectly does give special access. One saving grace is that callings are rotated, the wealthy members that have any degree of decision making power (however incredibly small) will eventually cycle back to the pool of church serfs and another doctor/lawyer/manager will be cycled in. But there are people that will never have their voices heard at church... then below them, the women.
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mom3
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Re: This We Don't See

Post by mom3 » 31 Dec 2017, 00:05

Still, I get this warm, fuzzy feeling in my bosom when I show up to clean the chapel and there's this huge birthday party going on for the popular family at church, it's invite only, and half the ward was invited but you weren't
That hurts way too bad. I have had the not invited to the party thing by members on my block, while the entire ward got to attend. It stunk. Was down right rude. We only live 2 houses away. Awkward. To see it in your building would kill big time.

I haven't seen anything like that during my life in the church. Cliques yes. Wedding reception competitions, yes. But no one having a party or the ward sending out a bulletin announcing who was using it.

Our family has booked the back lawn area's for reunions or group get together's. But if it's booked, we get to find a park.

As to higher up leaders. My husband and I were those for ages and no one asked for the keys for activities.

My present SP is well to do. The previous one managed a slew of AM/PM's. My former Bishop is roofer. The Bishop that followed him, and is now in the Stake Presidency is a high school sports coach. Maybe out here in the mission field we don't have enough "well to doers" to fill the top positions. None of those used the buildings for anything more personal than everyone else.

I guess this just shows my Achilles's heel.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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