Clerk or Executive Secretary - Who Ranks higher?

Use this forum to discuss issues that are not found in any of the other clerk and stake technology specialist forums.
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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:35 pm

lajackson, that form is the third place where the list seems to be at odds to how we display them in our tool sets (MLS, online, mobile), I'm not too concerned with where one is in the order, but why it's different, in my little brain I find it interesting, yes my wife wonders about me too.. just like those reading this.

In the Handbook the Stake Clerk is set apart by the Stake President, the ExecSec can be set apart by a counselor --> How many callings are SP only? At the ward level, the SP or counselors can set apart a Ward Clerk, but the Ward ExecSec can be set apart by a High Councilman. The Clerk attends Disciplinary councils, the ExecSec does not, the Clerk handles the confidential records for members of the ward, on and on.

I tend to believe that the ExecSec is typically more visible to either a ward or a stake, and agree that they communicate regularly with members and the Bishopric. I totally get that from a Visibility perspective the tools have the order correct, but is it correct in terms of the hierarchy? We do believe in the 'order of things', and in this particular case, it seems reversed.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:20 pm

I love order in the Church, but I'm somewhat amazed at the amount of attention this insignificant topic is receiving. I would simply quote President Gordon B. Hinckley (This Is the Work of the Master)...

We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others. To each of us in our respective responsibilities the Lord has said: “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).
... and close with the words of the Savior (Luke 9:48):
...whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

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Postby jaj78 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:10 am

aebrown hits the point. Hierarchy is a construct that mostly satisfies pride, though we do have to have an organized structure. In the end, God is not a respecter of persons, even within His own organization. So there's not much need to create a boat, just to discover opportunities to rock the boat.

Recently, our stake president counseled with our bishopric and told us that they had a recent discovery that the stake high council does not have "seniority" the way the Quorum of the Twelve does. He said the tradition probably started in an effort to model the High Council after the Apostles, though the directive can't be found anywhere. The same goes with 1st/2nd counselors. The implication of seniority or authority seems to be only a tradition or construct to know how to refer to each counselor when divvying up labor.

The way I see it, the Clerk is the Bishop's right-hand-man with regards to ordinances, finances, callings, and confidential paperwork. The Exec. Sec is the Bishop's right-hand-man with regards to schedules, appointments, agendas, and being the "point of entry" for ward members to meet with the Bishopric. The counselors are the right-hand-men with regards to auxiliaries, ministering, and any time the Bishop needs someone to act on his behalf (where authorized).

There is access that clerks have that Counselors don't to confidential information and forms. There is a reliance on the Ex. Sec. that the Bishop doesn't place on anyone else.

Everyone has a place, I'm not too keen on considering those places above/beneath one another.

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Postby johnshaw » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:05 am

aebrown, jaj78, very well stated, I hope that everyone that comes to this board, particularly those in the callings that would routinely bring them here, has this as the default assumption, that God is not a respecter of persons. It would be my sincere desire to discuss the organizational choices, design decisions, printed list orders as items that can be discussed with assuming that it must be for reasons of pride or a desire to be seen as more important that someone else. This post was started to point out only that organizationally there seems to be a different structure among the various ways we display these lists of positions or callings. The list in the handbook is different than the online list or MLS. without regard to authority, In my observation, if we can be consistent across all platforms, printed text, electronic recording, etc... then that state is preferable than a state where there is inconsistency. That does bring up, what is the authoritative source that we would keep all other lists in consistent with...... Is it a high priority to go out and drop everything to mandate conformity and consistency, unlikely and actually not preferred with the current workload I see.

jaj78, Here in the Timeline of MLS the update to version 3.2 in June of 2010 the list of HC were changed as you mention above
Listing of High Councilors. In stake MLS, the Organizations menu has an option called High Council. This option lists high council members in alphabetical order only. This order cannot be changed. Members of the high council should not be listed by seniority of service. Only Apostles serve by seniority.

This is the only place that I've seen the information that you mentioned above.

As a note to the discussion. I did a little clean-up in MLS yesterday along with some changes in our stake as new callings were updated. It appears that the order in MLS is what the online Directory uses as its order. In our other callings section, I changed the order of callings and grouped PFR, Public Affairs, Auditors, Seminary Teachers, etc... where prior the list was intermixed. The online tool this morning reflected the order in MLS they were moved to yesterday. So, one answer to my questions seems to be that those that have access to MLS, affect the way that items are grouped in MLS and thus will be reflected in the online tools.

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Postby jonesrk » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:50 am

JohnShaw wrote:As a note to the discussion. I did a little clean-up in MLS yesterday along with some changes in our stake as new callings were updated. It appears that the order in MLS is what the online Directory uses as its order. In our other callings section, I changed the order of callings and grouped PFR, Public Affairs, Auditors, Seminary Teachers, etc... where prior the list was intermixed. The online tool this morning reflected the order in MLS they were moved to yesterday. So, one answer to my questions seems to be that those that have access to MLS, affect the way that items are grouped in MLS and thus will be reflected in the online tools.

I don't think your MLS sorting affected the online directory. The calling display order in the online directory is currently by the order CDOL sends to it. CDOL orders by position type, so all the same position types (for standard positions) will always be grouped together there.
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johnshaw
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Postby johnshaw » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:23 pm

JonesRK, thanks for clarifying that... it seemed oddly coincidental... does that mean it is alphabetical in some way? or are you referring specifically to the other positions.

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Postby darkstar64 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:26 pm

In my ward, I serve as both Ward Clerk and Membership Clerk (we have a small ward, and many who do attend are elderly with severe health problems that limit what they can do). I've always felt my responsibility is to make the bishopric's job, especially the Bishop's job, easier. This includes the Executive Secretary. I understand what the OP is saying, when I was a "normal" member, I never truly understood what the function of the ward clerk's job was and maybe that is how it should be. On the other hand, when I became Ward Clerk, I quickly came to the realization that although the general membership may not understand the WC's function, the bishopric and other leadership certainly understand the pivotal role of the WC and appreciate it.

In many ways, the WC's job can seem like a thankless job, but I know what blessings I've received.

One last comment, if I had a choice between what calling I would rather have, Bishop or WC, WC is easily the calling I would choose. I know Bishop's are blessed tremendously for their efforts, but the time and stress of their callings greatly outweigh mine. Which again leads me to what I said earlier, my job is to make the Bishop's job easier.

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Postby jonesrk » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:51 pm

JohnShaw wrote:JonesRK, thanks for clarifying that... it seemed oddly coincidental... does that mean it is alphabetical in some way? or are you referring specifically to the other positions.

No it is not alphabetical. The standard position types are sorted in the admin section of CDOL and that sorting drives the order of the actual positions displayed.
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genman
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Postby genman » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:09 am

failproof wrote: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.

I suspect you are right. The Clerk I think was really the only secretary of the bishopric, originally. The only reason there is even a ward executive secretary now is probably just a practical one, that the amount of work and record keeping and all that is needed in that role just placed too much all on the Ward Clerk to handle. The existence of the ward executive secretary is probably just a practical necessity. Even after spinning off the scheduling etc roles to an executive secretary, the Ward Clerk still needs 2 or 3 assistants to help with ward record keeping.

One way of looking at the division of responsibility between Exec Sec and Ward Clerk in supporting the bishopric: The Exec Sec is focused on the future: e.g. appointments, agendas. The Clerk is focused on the past: e.g. recording decisions made, keeping records after the fact.

I wonder, though, if even the existence of the ward executive secretary calling should be revisited. With modern technology, appointment scheduling and meeting agenda preparation and even record keeping are becoming so easy that the Ward Clerk really could handle it all now, if he had the right skill set and if he was fully engaged as he should be. The ward executive secretary is kind of a 5th wheel anyway, literally.

For the practical matter of why Executive Secretary is often listed prominently on the Ward Bulletin, I suspect that is because that is who members contact to get an appointment with a member of the bishopric. The Clerk and the Membership Clerk is also listed in our bulletin for making changes to their address etc.

For whatever reason, the Executive Secretary seems to have a larger workload than the Ward Clerk, but maybe that is just because there is a wide misconception by some Ward Clerks on what they can/should be doing to magnify their calling. Or maybe I am wrong about that. If the executive secretary role goes away, the ward clerk will by necessity be a much more vital role in the bishopric and in the ward.

Clearly the Clerk is the more intrinsically important calling. The Handbook makes that clear. A high counselor can issue the call and set apart an exec sec, but a Clerk is set apart only by a member of the stake presidency. And the Ward Clerk I believe requires the setting apart by the Stake President himself. The scriptures even mention the calling of "Clerk" more than once (e.g. 57:9, 85:1, etc). There is no mention in the scriptures of the ward executive secretary. Doesn't mean the executive secretary is not a real calling. The scriptures don't specifically mention the Primary President either, even though that is a real calling in the ward. Nevertheless, there is a special mention of the calling of "Clerk" and the importance of record keeping in the scriptures. No Clerk should feel like his calling in unimportant.

So if you had to pick an "order of importance", then clearly the Ward Clerk (and even the assistant clerks) would be above Executive Secretary. Although, not sure the value in overly focusing on who is "ahead" of the other. It could just engender prideful feelings in comparing yourself to others and perceived slights. We are all working together, each magnifying our own calling to the best of our abilities.

Having said that, this whole question goes away when the ward executive secretary role goes away and is swallowed back up in the role of the Ward Clerk, if and when that happens.

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Postby lajackson » Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:26 pm

Handbook 1: 13.4.2 and 13.4.4 have lengthy descriptions of the responsibility a ward clerk and a ward executive secretary have, respectively. The ward clerk's is slightly longer.

The Handbook also explains that the ward clerk normally is set apart by a member of the stake presidency, while assistant clerks and the executive secretary are set apart by a member of the stake presidency or an assigned high councilor.


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