Accio Jacksons!

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Stake Conference

by Rebecca on 2008-05-06

William and I had the choice opportunity of attending the stake conference of the San Antonio East Stake where a new stake was formed, the Kyle Texas Stake. This is a remarkable time for the members of the Church in this area, and the new stake will present new opportunities for further growth.

A little bit of background. A few months ago, Dad and Mom came to Austin on official business but didnʼt tell us why until we asked pointedly. (Sometimes we just have to be weaselly about getting information!) Dad told us that heʼd been working with the other stake presidents in the Austin and San Antonio areas to present a proposal to Salt Lake about forming a new stake in the Austin-San Antonio area. The idea had come to him after a conversation heʼd had with an Area Authority about all of the small wards and branches in the little towns in between Austin and San Antonio. Since my parents have lived in New Braunfels for almost 30 years, they are well acquainted with the challenges that many of these smaller units face when placed in stakes along with urban units.

When presented with the opportunity of creating a stake composed of these small town wards, Dad ran with it. After several months of wheeling and dealing with the other stake presidents, theyʼd finally come up with a proposal to create a new stake consisting of units from three existing stakes, the San Antonio East Stake, the Austin Oak Hill Stake, and the Austin Stake. (While they were working out the details on this stake, another stake was being created for all of the small towns north of San Antonio and Austin, called the Hill Country Stake. Dad joked that if all of these stake reorganizations had taken place simultaneously, the Church probably wouldʼve had to charter a jet for the Quorum of the Twelve to come down and handle the proceedings!) We got to see the proposal packet before Dad sent it to Salt Lake, and itʼs a small miracle that they were able to get the proposal together at all. It consisted of at least a dozen maps of the current ward and stake boundaries, along with the new proposed boundaries, and a narrative explaining why the changes were needed. It was quite impressive. So, our family knew that changes were imminent, and we were just waiting for Dad to receive official notice from Salt Lake City that the changes were approved.

After several months of waiting, the approval came, and the real preparations could begin. I imagine that some people have a rather naive view of creating a new stake and donʼt realize just how much work is required. Dad likened it to trying to change the sparkplugs on a truck while traveling down the highway at 70 mph. Dad began the process of visiting the different units that were to be in the new stake to interview their priesthood leaders. With units coming from three existing stakes, Dad had the challenge of trying to select counselors from a group of men, most of which heʼd never met before. Also, there were the ongoing activities for the new stake, like Young Womenʼs Camp, which had neither a date, nor a location, nor a budget. In short, there were a lot of positions and projects that could not be completed until the Kyle Stake had actually been organized.

Fast forward to this weekend and the stake conference of the San Antonio East Stake. The presiding authority was Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Presidency of the Seventy. He and Dad spent all day together on Saturday, interviewing men for two new stake presidencies and then beginning the process of training those called. (Dad was being released as stake president of the San Antonio East Stake and called as the stake president of the Kyle Stake.) The Saturday evening adult session was held in the San Antonio East Stake Center, and adult members from all of the affected wards were invited. It was an impressive meeting, and the talks focused on the family and the messages from the Worldwide Leadership Training in February. It was the first of several times this weekend that I was so grateful for my wonderful, loving, and happy family.

Sunday morning, the conference continued at Strahan Coliseum at Texas State University. This venue was the only one in the area large enough to hold all of the members expected to attend. (One of many challenges ahead for this new stake: no stake center yet.) Dad conducted the meeting and did a fantastic job of holding it all together. There was quite a bit of business to be conducted: the formation of the new Kyle stake and the reorganization of the San Antonio East Stake, as well as the sustaining of two new stake presidencies. Seeing the church members offer their sustaining vote to all of these items of business was truly an inspiring sight, especially to those of us who were aware (at least in small part) of the months of preparation, prayer, and effort that went into making these changes happen.

In his remarks, Elder Anderson pointed out that this was a rather unusual stake formation. Typically, stakes are formed by splitting an existing stake or by creating a third stake out of two existing stakes. The Kyle Stake was formed from three existing stakes, and one of those existing stakes was further reorganized by acquiring two wards from other stakes in the San Antonio area. Lots of shifting around!

Dad gave a brief talk, and I wanted to share only one part of his talk here. Iʼll just paraphrase. As I mentioned earlier, my parents have watched the Church in this area struggle and grow in small fits and starts over the last 30 years. Dad quoted from the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5 by placing himself in the role of the servant who asks the Lord, “How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.” He then explained that seeing the formation of this stake, composed of small and simple units, was evidence to him of the Lord of the Vineyardʼs response: “Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.”

Mom also had the opportunity to share her sweet testimony, and I couldnʼt have been prouder of both of my parents. Again, I was most thankful for the good parents that I have and for all of their patient and diligent efforts to create a gospel-centered home. And throughout the weekend, I was able to see just how much the members of the San Antonio East Stake love and sustain my parents. Iʼm glad that other people get to see how awesome they are!

Kyle Texas Stake Presidency