Starbuck new bishop of local LDS Church

The bishopric of the Flat Rock Ward (congregation) of the Columbus Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was reorganized last month, the local Church announced. The bishopric typically changes every five years.

Aaron Starbuck, 37, is the new bishop. Starbuck and his wife, Monae, are the parents of six children. He’s a family practice physician in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Benning.

“I thought he’d be good at understanding the needs of the members. He’s a very loving and kind person,” said Greg Stewart, the current president of the Columbus Stake — a geographical grouping of LDS churches. Because Starbuck has been deployed to Iraq, that will make him uniquely suited to understanding other military families in the congregation, Stewart added.

Jeff Fraser, 42, was called as the first counselor in the bishopric. Fraser and his wife, Stephanie, have five children. He’s a physical therapist.

John Evans, 38, is the second counselor in the bishopric. Evans and his wife, Tami, have four children; and he’s a Columbus banker.

Members of the LDS Church are called Mormons. The faith is based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The local congregational leader for Latter-day Saints is the bishop (or branch president, for smaller congregations). A bishop holds the priesthood and is ordained to the office of bishop by a more senior Church leader. He earns his own living and receives no pay for his service in the Church. After his period of service, it’s common for a bishop to return to the body of the congregation or get assigned another responsibility outside it.

Other priesthood holders support the bishop in his duties, including two counselors or advisers. In addition, the bishop receives help from a ward council consisting of the men and women who hold distinct responsibilities for all members of the flock.

Certain duties in the congregation require a holder of the priesthood to perform them, such as blessing the sacramental emblems of the body (bread) and blood (water) of Christ, formally bestowing a blessing on the sick or baptizing another member into the faith.

Only male members can hold the priesthood in the LDS Church.

However, responsibilities such as preaching a sermon to the congregation or offering formal prayers in meetings on behalf of the congregation do not require the priesthood, and are shared equally between men and women.

There a sense of rank within the priesthood. Almost all men who are active in the Church hold the office of either elder or high priest. These men meet in groups known as quorums for weekly class instruction and are organized to collectively meet certain needs, such as caring for the poor.

The congregations are grouped into an organizational unit called a stake, which are overseen by a stake president. He, along with his counselors, makes the determination that a reorganization should take place. The stake president recommends a man to be called to serve as a bishop.

That recommendation is forwarded to the Office of the First Presidency of the Church in Salt Lake City, the headquarters of the Church. They approve, or decline, the recommendation and authorize the stake president to issue a call to the individual to serve as the bishop. The stake president extends the call. After a bishop is called, his name is presented for sustaining vote to the congregation over which he will preside. Then he is ordained to the office of bishop, if he’s not already ordained.

Allison Kennedy, reporter, can be reached at 706-576-6237.

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