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Clerk or Executive Secretary - Who Ranks higher?
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:35 am
I had an interesting discovery over the weekend while doing a bit of research about callings/sustaining/setting-apart, etc... Validating a process implemented in my stake.
In the online tools, mobile apps, and MLS a Bishopric, Branch Presidency, and Stake Presidency are all listed in the following order:
President or Bishop
My question is why is the Executive Secretary listed 'above' the clerk in our lists, a clear decision had to be made because it is not alphabetical. I would suggest that this decision gives the illusion that the Executive Secretary is in some way 'higher' on the pecking order than the clerk, whether intentional or not. However, When reading through the Handbook 2 in the calling chart, callings are explained in the following order:
President or Bishop
What say ye? Is there a conflict between the two messages, even if it is subtle? Why choose to list them differently in a handbook and the MLS/mobile/online tools?
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:15 am
I think you might be reading into this a little bit much. I don't view either of these callings as having any "rank"; they both serve under the direction and authority of the bishopric. That said, if you research the handbooks regarding procedures for calling a clerk, you will see that his duties require that his call receive more attention than that of the executive secretary.
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:52 am
I agree with MLH that neither the clerk or secretary have any rank, they each have important but separate responsibilities to support the Bishop and counselors that have nothing to do with leadership. Neither calling has inspirational rights or duties to guide and direct an auxiliary, quorum or class. If the Bishop/Branch Pres and both counselors are out of town on a Sunday, neither the clerk or secretary would conduct meetings. Meetings would be conducted by the HP Group Leader, his assistants, EQ Pres, his counselors, or the YM Pres, in that order. In the unlikely event they're all out of town, any HP or Elder designated by the Bishop would conduct -- which may well be the Clerk or Secretary but they wouldn't be chosen on the basis of any rank.
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:40 am
mattprasmussen wrote:If the Bishop/Branch Pres and both counselors are out of town on a Sunday, neither the clerk or secretary would conduct meetings. Meetings would be conducted by the HP Group Leader, his assistants, EQ Pres, his counselors, or the YM Pres, in that order. In the unlikely event they're all out of town, any HP or Elder designated by the Bishop would conduct -- which may well be the Clerk or Secretary but they wouldn't be chosen on the basis of any rank.
I refer you to Handbook II section 18.2, second paragraph. If the bishopric is absent, the stake president designates a priesthood holder to preside. Usually the HPGL, but not necessarily. I expect in most cases a member of the stake presidency would attend to preside.
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:55 am
Let's be clear... I had no question, nor did I assume that a clerk or an ExecSec would preside in any way in the event of a nuclear holocaust taking out the presidency or bishopric.
There was clearly a decision made to 'Advertise' the ExecSec 'next-in-line' to members of the church in directories in MLS, online tools, and mobile apps. My reasoning here, the reasoning I'm using to make the assumption has 2 pieces of evidence. 1st, the handbooks in the 'Chart-of-Callings' list clerks and assistant clerks ahead of the Executive Secretary. 2nd, the title Clerk is alphabetically ahead of ExecSec. To me, that indicates a real decision was made to put the ExecSec next in the list.
Let me add something else in the mix, I have seen MANY programs in the church having visited wards in many places.. I've seen lists of the 'bishopric' or ward leadership on the back of many of these programs... In ward leadership lists The Bishopric is always mentioned, the execsec is probably the next often mentioned followed by any number of people from the ward council. The clerk is absent in many of these areas, and is NEVER listed without the ExecSec listed, but I've seen many times where the Bishopric is defined as the Bishop, 1st, 2nd, execsec and no listing of clerks.... does that matter?
Here is another observation, when I'm out traveling with the Stake Presidency, when people ask me why or what I'm doing there in their ward, they typically don't say, oh, are you the clerk? No, they say, so are you the Executive Secretary? I've never been asked if I was the clerk, but I've been asked about being an ExecSec A TON!
Why might this have happened?
In my stake, I'm trying to raise the awareness of what a clerk does, why it matters, and why it is helpful to maintain the records of your family, keep them updated, etc... I find it diffucult when people act with confusion if the Clerk stops by... It is pretty easy to change once you start working with members, but there is a natural and immediate push-back when a clerk comes and asks information about a family, but if an ExecSec walks up and does the same thing, there is a more natural acceptance of them.
Again, this may just be something in my stake that I'm aware of and feeling to better market our group, but I was curious if others have similar observations. It gets very hard sometimes to motiviate a clerk when their/our role is often so behind the scenes and often there isn't an immediate 'spiritual' uplift... for instance...
Yeah, I just spent 2 hours making sure all our preferred names are set correctly. I just spent 4 hours fixing the ward missionary account situation left behind by another clerk.....
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:11 pm
I imagine one reason the executive secretary is listed with bishoprics or stake presidencies and is a more recognised position in association with ward or stake leaders is because he is (or should be) the man members contact to speak with the bishopric or stake presidency. I know many units, including my own, that don't publish contact details for the bishopric or stake presidency but rather funnel all communication through the executive secretary.
This does not diminish the value or importance of the role of a clerk at all. As others have mentioned, there is a great deal of trust placed on a clerk and in many respects, he is second only to the bishop or stake president. We have been blessed with two wonderful clerks who have served with our stake presidency and each one has brought great strength and spirituality to their own work as well as the work of the presidency. Our first clerk, a young father, shared some thoughts about a year into his call that really impressed me. He said that although much of his work was administrative, he had received great spiritual blessings in the course of his service. He then proceeded to describe how his testimony had been strengthened by witnessing the tithing faithfulness of members, and the generosity of their other contributions even when circumstances made it difficult to contribute; and how he was inspired by the increasing numbers of members striving to hold a current Temple recommend. He spoke of greater insight in his personal scripture study as a result of his service, and of a deepening desire to live up to the Lord's expectations of him. He now serves as a counsellor in a bishopric.
Our current clerk is much older than the first one and has had a wealth of life experience - incidentally, he was released from the bishopric our first clerk was called to! Although the clerk is not officially a member of the presidency, we value his counsel as a fully participating member of our meetings. Rather than consider his calling just administrative, he uses the insights he gets as he reviews finance and membership records to suggest trends and issues or recommend courses of action. He has also become a trusted source of help and inspiration for ward clerks in our stake.
Perhaps the value we place on the clerks and executive secretaries in our wards and stake is because our units are so small and we rely on every faithful member to carry out the work of the church. In any case, I suggest a wise leader would make every effort to make members serving in any position feel important and valued, and help them to understand and feel the spiritual "why" and weight of their call. For what it's worth, I know that the work you do as a clerk, regardless of how menial and unrewarding it may seem at times, is of great value not only in maintaining a house of order and helping to facilitate soul-saving ministering, but also in helping to build, strengthen and perfect your own character.
Best wishes to you in your service!
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:23 pm
lionelwalters wrote:I know many units, including my own, that don't publish contact details for the bishopric or stake presidency but rather funnel all communication through the executive secretary.
On the other hand, most members don't need to talk to a clerk unless they are requesting their records or need a reimbursement.
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:42 pm
And if you are interested in a different order or presentation, look at the List of Officers Sustained, where the stake presidency or bishopric are sustained, followed by the Clerk, the Executive Secretary, and then the Assistant Clerks.
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:46 pm
Perhaps another reason a secretary might often get included as an unofficial part of a bishopric or stake presidency is that a secretary calling is more universal to presidencies in general, including Elders Quorum, High Priests Group, Relief Society, Young Men Presidency, Young Women Presidency, etc., etc., etc, none of which normally have clerks in their organization.
Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:46 am
This is an interesting thread.
I never considered a "pecking order" for clerk vs. exec. sec. And I think with respect to their duties, there is really a grey area between what only an exec. sec. can do and what only a clerk can do - as defined by the bishop. Having said that, I do think it would be strange if only the clerk and not the exec. sec. scheduled appts with the bishop.
If a bishop is delegating what he can, I would imagine that if we listed them in order of the amount of work they do, the order would be reversed.
One reason why the exec. sec. is always listed ahead of the clerk may be because it "sounds" more prestigious. Also, if asst. clerks are listed, it would make more sense to group them with the clerk - it just looks better. I never really understood why the clerk is listed before the exec. sec. and then the asst clerks in the sustaining form.
Regardless, for consistency and the reasons I stated, I would always list the exec. sec. before the clerk - and I've been a clerk or asst clerk several times and never an exec. sec. However, I would always make a point to include the clerk in any bishopric list.