We can all help unify our wards and communities.
In the first few months after being called as a bishop, I was surprised when three sets of parents in my ward each approached me in private to let me know that they had a child who identified as gay or transgender. In each case, the parents expressed sincere love for their child coupled with various levels of concern that their child would not fit in the ward community.
Eventually, other families also shared similar information with me, and I realized that even though I wasn’t too familiar with these experiences, as a bishop I had the privilege of helping all of my ward members build a more unified community, no matter what they were experiencing.
I quickly realized that to be a more effective bishop, I needed to be willing to try to understand the experiences of members who identify as LGBT and their families. So, through heartfelt and open conversations, trial and error, a lot of study, and relying on the Lord for understanding, I learned a lot about how I could provide greater support to members in these circumstances as they strive to come unto Christ.
My eyes were opened to the need for unity and understanding, and I learned a few lessons that helped me as a bishop set a more inclusive tone with regard to all of our LGBT brothers and sisters. I hope that as leaders and others read what I learned, they will find some helpful ideas for their own situations.
The author goes on to share lessons that have helped him provide greater support to members in these circumstances and equip other members of his congregation with greater compassion for and understanding of others. The four principles he shares are “Follow the Living Apostles,” “Choose Faith over Fear,” “Utilize Simple Practices—for Leaders,” and “Continuing to Learn and Love.” Read more about each of these principles in the October 2021 Liahona Magazine or on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.