Reflection on the Past Two Years: Simplification

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Just over two years ago I was set apart as one of the 20,000+ bishops in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This has been the most challenging and one of the most rewarding callings I’ve had. If I was in charge, I’d choose to serve as a nursery leader or the ward organist. Primary pianist would be great too. I choose to serve where called even if it takes me out of my comfort zone.

These past two years have offered unique challenges. Two weeks after I was set apart, I had to deal with hurricane cleanup efforts. Last year I dealt with more. Thankfully damage was relatively minor within my ward boundaries but a lot of efforts were made coordinating cleanup within and without our boundaries.

There have been so many other experiences — many wonderful, some unpleasant. In order to protect confidences, I will not write about any of these without using broad generalities. There have been funerals, marriages, divorces, baptisms, ending of church membership, and the ministering of angels. The greatest joy comes from meeting with so many wonderful people who love Jesus Christ and who are striving with quiet faith to return to our Heavenly Father.

Shortly after President Monson died and President Nelson was sustained as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was talking with an elderly neighbor. He was impressed with our church having a new president who was more than 90 years old. He asked if there would be any big changes at church. I replied that it was always a possibility but we’d just have to wait and see. I thought there probably wouldn’t been many changes for at least some months. My neighbor’s question about changes stuck with me in light of all the changes we’ve seen in 2018.

It was an interesting experience to be serving as bishop during the time when the church (mostly) put all high priests into consolidated elder’s quorums. This simplified the organizational structure of the church and made the lives of bishops a little easier because it reduced the number vital of callings within the ward. This streamlining of church organization removed the imbalance between the Relief Society and the priesthood quorums. It also countered the general process within the world to add organizational complexity to support the growing numbers and complexities of modern society. At a time when most businesses expand and most governments expand, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints simplified.

In concert with the streamlining of the elder’s quorum were policy changes to allow greater responsibilities for the Relief Society Presidency and Elder’s Quorum Presidency within each unit. Missionary work, temple and family history work, and many of the other adult-centric functions are now largely handled by the Relief Society and Elder’s Quorum. Bishops, of course, still have ultimate responsibility within the ward but these changes help bishops focus even more on the youth. This focus on the youth will be more realized as the church implements its simplified but more coordinated youth program in 2020. Cutting out the involvement with the Boy Scout organization simplifies ward organizations but also allows for greater parity between young women and young men and the U.S./Canada congregations and the rest of the world. There’s much we don’t yet know about those changes so I’ll leave that topic for now.

Yesterday at the Saturday morning session of conference additional changes were announced. Church was changing from a 3 hour block of meetings to a 2 hour block of meetings. This wasn’t a reduction in church services, just a reduction in formal church services. The hope is that families and individuals would use the additional time to study the gospel at home. Some people will not replace the extra hour with anything gospel-related but many will. It will be a great blessing to families and individuals. Church members will be given more opportunities to govern themselves after learning correct principles.

There will be additional streamlining. The hymnbook and primary songbook are being redone to remove some/many of the less frequently sung songs. The church also wants the same hymnbook and primary songbook in all languages. I do not know the timeframe for these changes but it follows the same process of simplifying. All this streamlining is done to increase faith in Jesus Christ and strengthen individuals and families.

The Lord’s Pattern of Leadership

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In 2010 in a forum intended for individuals who work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Bednar spoke on leadership: “Just think about any responsibility you’ve ever had as a leader in the Church. Were you well prepared before you were called? No. Did you know what you were doing when you were called? No. So the Lord, by inspiration through those who are in authority, calls us to do things that we’ve never done, that we’re not prepared to do, and that we struggle with on the front end especially, learning what we’re to do.

“Well, my phrasing for that is what happens as soon as you begin to have any idea of what you’re doing and gain any measure of confidence, you’re released and you’re clueless again in some new responsibility.

“And there’s a reason for that. As long as we’re clueless we’re dependent upon heaven. As soon as we think we know what we’re doing then we tend to rely more on the arm of the flesh. In the Church every single one of us has been in the position where heaven took a chance on us. We didn’t know what to do, we certainly were not experienced, we were worthy and willing, but heaven took a chance.

“Truthfully, when we then are the one in the chair to receive inspiration for someone else, aren’t we less willing to take a chance on other people? We want folks who have the requisite skill and capacity, and we want everything to run smooth and so we use the same 10 people who at some point in time were given an opportunity, developed the skill and the capacity and the confidence, and we want to look good so we just keep moving them around in the different auxiliaries. The great enjoyment comes when someone who’s really clueless gains confidence in capacity. Thats fun….

“Not too long ago I was visiting with President Packer, and he made just a very interesting observation. He said, ‘David, serving in this responsibility, the longer you serve, the less able you feel.’ If you think about a person who would serve as a stake president, for example, nine years, the first three years you’re pretty much totally clueless, so you’re safe because you’re dependent on heaven.

“The second three years you might begin to see repeating kinds of challenges and cases and you’re still clueless, but you’re not totally clueless so you feel reasonably comfortable. The danger comes in the last three years that you might ever begin to think ‘I know what I’m doing.’ I would suggest ‘Yeah, I know what I’m doing’ is an absence of humility. Because even though this is the 93rd time you’ve seen a case like this, you have no idea what you’re gonna do. As long as that’s your approach. New person, new circumstance, and yes you benefited from the previous 93, but this is a soul where they deserve your very best, and you can’t just apply everything from the past to this particular one.

“So the great danger comes after we have gained experience that we might begin to think we really know what we’re doing.” (A Conversation on Leadership¹; emphasis added).

So if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and feel like you’re in over your head, that’s exactly where you need to be!

Notes

1. While the document is hosted and accessible freely online by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its use is “intended for use only by the Church workforce”, which is why I did not provide a direct link. Interested parties can perform a web search for the document and find a PDF of it. I’ve seen the PDF go on and off line over the years so it might be removed from general accessibility at some point

Children of the Apostles – Updated Analysis

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About five years ago I wrote a post looking at how many children the apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have. With the recent deaths of three apostles and the calling of three more in the past week, it’s time to update my analyses.

Before I start I want to clarify that the number of children people have is not necessarily the number of children they want to have. I don’t want to downplay the heartache many feel at not being able to have (more) children due to health issues or other life circumstances. I pass no judgements on the number of children anyone has and ask that any who read this follow likewise. I’ll never forget a comment Truman Madsen made that when he was younger he and his wife would sometimes hear people ask behind their backs, “I wonder why the Madsens only have three children.” His poignant comment was, “We wonder too.” With this post I’m simply providing an analysis of things as they are.

Here are the numbers (Apostles are sorted according to seniority with number of children, current ages (as of 10/04/2015) and their ages when called as apostles):

Apostle Children Current Age Age When Called
Monson 3 88 36
Nelson 10 91 59
Oaks 6 83 52
Ballard 7 86 56
Hales 2 83 61
Holland 3 74 53
Eyring 6 82 61
Uchtdorf 2 74 63
Bednar 3 63 52
Cook 3 75 67
Christofferson 5 70 63
Andersen 4 64 57
Rasband 5 64 64
Stevenson 4 60 60
Renlund 1 62 62
For those whose eyes glaze over at tables of numbers, here is a column graph of the apostles and the number of their children.
children_of_apostle_bar_graph
The data are roughly normally distributed (skewness = 1.02, kurtosis = 1.34) so assumptions of normality are not violated and we can use parametric analyses. There is a moderate correlation between number of children and current age (Pearson r = 0.50, p = 0.057) but no correlation between number of children and age when called (r = 0.008). What does this mean? The older men tend to have more children than younger ones but the relationship is not associated with their calling as an apostle (it’s just an age association and not an age*apostle association). However, the correlation is largely driven by Pres. Nelson (10 children) – the oldest apostle – and Elder Renlund (1 child) – one of the youngest apostles. If they are removed from the analysis, there is no age/children relationship (r = 0.18). We cannot really exclude those two as outliers because I’ve sampled the entire population of apostles and such an exclusion would be misleading even if Pres. Nelson and Elder Renlund have a large influence on the relationship.
How much of the number of children does age explains? Age explains 25% of the variance in number of children (R = 0.501, F = 4.363, p = 0.057), which is a moderate amount but it is obvious that age alone cannot account for the difference in number of children. There are other potentially testable factors (e.g., number of children in the apostles’ nuclear families, age at marriage, income, etc.) and untestable factors (e.g., personal choice or how many they physically could have) that might explain the difference but those are not addressed here.
What about seniority, which is correlated with age, but is a different matter? I created two groups within the Apostles based on seniority (those called before 2000 and those after 2000); the 7 most senior (through Pres. Eyring) were one group and the 8 left were the other group (beginning with Pres. Uchtdorf). This group split is essentially a median split of seniority. A t-test revealed that there was not a significant difference in the number of children between groups (mean for group 1 = 5.29 (median = 6), mean for group 2 = 3.38 (median = 3.5), t = 1.70, p = 0.11, but the difference was a fairly large effect). This shows that the more senior apostles do, on average, have more children than the less senior ones but this difference is primarily driven by Pres. Nelson and Elder Renlund (this group difference is not significant with them removed from the analysis: p = 0.40).

pre_post_2000_apostles_children

Now for something tangentially related. How old were the apostles when called? The figure below shows current age (blue) and age when called (red).

age_apostles

What is interesting is that there is a trend towards a difference in age when called between the two groups (p = 0.07) with the more senior group called at slightly younger ages (mean = 54) than the less senior group (mean = 61). Pres. Monson, of course, is a strong driver of this difference (with him removed, p = 0.116) because he was ordained an apostle at age 36, which is incredibly young (he’s the outlier in the box plot below).

age_at_calling_apostles

Does any of this really mean anything? No. The Lord calls those He foreordained to the scared apostleship and who are ready to accept the calling, regardless of the number of children they have. However, it is interesting that younger apostles tend to have fewer children, which parallels but does not match the general trends in the world.

Power of an Apostle – Elder Richard G. Scott

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With the passing of Elder Richard G. Scott this past week, I had an opportunity to reflect on how his teachings inspired me over the years. One experience in particular had a profound impact on me and many others.

While I served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Seattle, Washington area, Elder Scott visited our mission. I’ll share the experience as written in my missionary journal with additional commentary as necessary.

Friday, Oct. 15

Elder Richard G. Scott: With him are Elder Hammond of the area presidency and Elder Hammond’s second councilor. I got to shake [Elder Scott’s] hand and tell him my name and where I am from. [Elder Scott did this for every missionary there in the meeting. He wanted to shake everyone’s hands, look in their eyes, and then base his remarks on the impressions he received. It was a remarkable experience; I felt him understand who I was through the Spirit. There was such great power in his gaze that I knew he knew my soul.]

[He taught – these are summaries and not necessarily exact quotes]: “Set aside concerns and be led by the Lord. When there is an interchange of teaching, those teaching and those listening better can feel the Spirit. You hear and write down [i.e., take notes of the promptings from the Spirit]. You learn by what you feel and what you see.”

How you can learn by what you can observe [i.e., we can learn from people by watching them]:

  • Elder Kimball was teaching and set a handkerchief down and then the cup, so not to damage the finish – [Elder Scott learned] the power (value) of tithing and respect for the Lord’s property.
  • Pres. Packer holds his scriptures to his heart [when carrying them].

It is vitally important that we know the Bible, it is filled with truth. D&C 50:21-22. We do not all learn the same thing [the Holy Ghost teaches us what we need to learn]. A missionary has two parts – spiritual [power] and technical [knowledge and skills]. They are interrelated and cannot be separated. You can have a powerful testimony of truth but if you don’t know how to share it, the Lord cannot do His work.

[Other observations and encouragements]

  • You need to always keep growing.
  • Make the decision once, then use your energy to keep doing it.
  • Set goals.
  • Study doctrine.
  • Study the Savior and His life. He is the greatest motivator. The greatest motivation for enduring growth and most certain avenue for true happiness results when Father in Heaven and the Savior are at the head [center of our lives] and their teachings are the guide for our decisions.

[At this point in the meeting, Elder Scott took a break from teaching and had my mission president and his wife teach as well as those in the area presidency. Then Elder Scott taught again.]

9:30 yesterday – in temple during their meeting, he called Elder Hammond. There was a change in plans and Elder Hammond instantly accepted [i.e., attending and speaking at this meeting was a last minute change for Elder Hammond]. Be willingly obedient to the Lord.

Make sure you have a companionship inventory weekly.

Who I am [as a full time missionary]:

  • I have been called of Christ through His prophet by revelation to be a missionary to teach and testify of Christ.
  • I have been commissioned to bring souls to Christ through baptism and place them on the path to Celestial glory.
  • I have the right to be inspired what to do and have power to do it.
  • I am an authorized servant of Jesus Christ.

[About my mission president]: Pres. Larson is growing to fill his mantle. [We can ask ourselves] “Am I filling my mantle?”

  • People see the mantle [of a missionary]. Do not worry about the limits of the mantle. The Lord called you, He will prepare a way.
  • Must be clean and willing.
  • You can’t do it by yourself or all at once.
  • Remember who you are and never go back to where you were.
  • Keep growing.
  • How to gain confidence as a missionary: Nobody knows how much confidence you have, take all you want.
  • Know that there is a God in Heaven and your call is inspired.
  • Believe that the Lord will guide you and will build you.
  • Just decide to do it.
  • You cannot walk with one foot in the kingdom and one in the world.
  • Satan tries to get us on a path that is close to the Lord’s, then we justify a bit more and then we are way off [over time].
  • Do not let things come into your ears, mind, or eyes that will desensitize you [to the Spirit].
  • Draw your boundaries.

How to be led by the Spirit:

  • D&C 8:2-3, Enos 1:3 – starts with feeling or impression
  • Enos 1:4 – ponder, read, think, and pray
  • Enos 1:5 – your life changes

In order to be led more powerfully by the Spirit I must:

  • Exercise faith in Christ
  • Be diligent in keeping the commandments
  • Helamen 10:3 – ponder the things of the Lord
  • Serve and work
  • Without wearying, declare the word of God
  • Seek the Lord’s will
  • Do not fear
  • Prepare

I was touched greatly by the meeting. The thing that impressed me the most was having Elder Scott look into my eyes and know that he knew me as the Savior does. Then, Elder Scott took the impressions he received about my needs and the needs of all there to guide his remarks. It was a special experience.

Must-read: Joseph the Seer

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just published an article (will appear in the October 2015 Ensign) on Joseph Smith, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the role of seers and seer stones: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2015/10/joseph-the-seer?lang=eng

I believe that this article is a must-read for members of the church or for those interested in Mormon history. I’m grateful for the continued work the church does into releasing copies of primary historical sources, doing so according to high historical standards for preservation and research. While none of the information in the above article is new, having current scholarship presented in a straightforward and concise manner is helpful.

Also of note in the article is a photograph of one of Joseph Smith’s seer stones (not the ones included with the gold plates), which the church has in its possession. It’s a rock and has no power beyond the power and inspiration given to the seer using it.

Patriarchs: Conduits of Revelation

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One of my favorite parts of my patriarchal blessing is where the patriarch slips from addressing me directly (“You have…” or “I bless you…”) to referring to me in the third person (“Jared…and his…”). It’s just a half sentence that is third person instead of first but it’s one of the highlights of my blessing.

Why?

It’s an instance when I can see the direct revelation from the Lord to the patriarch. Instead of hearing the words of the conduit of revelation that half sentence of third person narrative is a glimpse at the Source of all light and knowledge. It serves as a witness to me that the Lord knows and loves me. It serves as a witness that the patriarch spoke for God. This small narrative ‘mistake’ was a steady hand on the tiller of the ship Adolescence during a turbulent storm. It still provides comfort.

Patriarchal blessings are beautiful expressions of God’s love for us. If you have not received one, work towards receiving that special blessing. If you have received one, take to to re-read it so that you might be more mindful of God’s love for you and of His hand in your life.

Improving Gospel Teaching

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When I was young my parents would ask after church something like this: “What was your Sunday School lesson on today?” or “What did you learn about in primary/priesthood?” Many times my response was non-existent (if I wasn’t feeling particularly chatty) or as insightful as “I don’t know [remember].” There were numerous times I honestly could not remember what my lessons were about.

Fast forward many years. Just over a year ago I was teaching Nursery (one of my favorite callings ever). The Nursery manual is built around repetition, which is the only way we really learn anything. Key concepts from the lessons are reinforced over and over in the brief span of lesson time and 1 – 3 year old attentions. There is a lesson, there are songs, and there are coloring activities. I’d also try to show video clips whenever relevant. This is a form of multi-modal teaching – different ways to teach the same point with each child hopefully responding to one or more of the methods. If a child doesn’t like singing, maybe she will like the video clip or coloring. What this type of teaching does is improve the possibility that learning will occur. To supplement this, I would also ask at random throughout the time after the lesson what the lesson was about. This allows the children to try to recall the information at random times and variable spans of time, which increases learning. This is a type of variable interval reinforcement.

Yesterday I substituted teaching my daughter’s primary class. We had a nice Sacrament Meeting with the mission president and his wife speaking along with our stake president. The topic was – no surprise – missionary work. When I asked the children in class (right after Sacrament Meeting) what the talks were about, the children could not remember. This was expected because one of the children had slept through part of Sacrament Meeting and others were busy doing what little children do – coloring or playing with small toys. I wanted them to remember or learn something from Sacrament Meeting so we took 10-15 minutes to do a reinforcement activity – the ever popular (and not politically correct) Hang Man. It took a while for the kids to guess the words because of their ages but the activity was worth it because after that they remembered that Sacrament Meeting was about missionary work. I asked them a few more times after that in order to boost their memory (because they would have to retrieve the memory after a variable interval). We also sang a couple songs (or at least I did), watched a couple video clips, looked at pictures, colored pictures, and talked. Again, this is multi-modal learning and really benefits learning as long as all activities are directly related in theme. Stories also help a lot, particularly if they come from class members.

As for our lesson in class, I had them boil the lesson down to one word – love. Pulling out a key concept is important to help memory. For little children it needs to be short – love or missionary work or happiness or family. Older children, teenagers, and adults might be able to remember more but consolidation of lesson material into 3-7 words as a summary benefits memory. This means that if you have a lesson on kings of Israel or Abraham or Alma, whatever you as teacher want the class to remember about the lesson should be able to be stated in 3-7 words (and probably less than 5 realistically). So, for example: “Abrahamic Covenant” or “Wickedness never was unhappiness” or “The righteous still suffer” and so forth. This could be written on the board or on a handout and stated repeatedly (but at random intervals). Teachers can also ask the class members to summarize what the lesson is about in their own words with the encouragement that it be under 7 words. This requires thought and consolidation.

I’ll have more to write about gospel teaching and learning, particularly as the church moves forward in redoing more lesson manuals (to follow the pattern of the relatively new pattern of instructing the youth, “Come, Follow Me.”). For now, I think we could boost retention of lesson materials (particularly with children) by making sure we consolidate what our lessons are about into no more than a few words.

Contentions in the Church

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After signs and wonders of Christ’s birth were seen in the Americas, a great work of conversion occurred. Nephi kept busy teaching and baptizing. This inevitably resulted in increased peace in the land. Peace, unfortunately, rarely lasts long. In 3 Nephi 1:24-25 we read:

“24 And there were no contentions, save it were a few that began to preach, endeavoring to prove by the scriptures that it was no more expedient to observe the law of Moses. Now in this thing they did err, having not understood the scriptures.

“25 But it came to pass that they soon became converted, and were convinced of the error which they were in, for it was made known unto them that the law was not yet fulfilled, and that it must be fulfilled in every whit; yea, the word came unto them that it must be fulfilled; yea, that one jot or tittle should not pass away till it should all be fulfilled; therefore in this same year were they brought to a knowledge of their error and did confess their faults.”

These verses remind me of the movement pressing for the ordination of women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve written of this movement previously: Response to Ordain Women.

There are some within the Church who are following the pattern of contention described in the scriptures. They are at best premature and at worst completely off the mark. “Now in this thing they did err, having not understood the scriptures [and the teachings of the prophets].” We would all be wise to follow the prophet and avoid contention.

Hastening the Work of Salvation: High Council

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Members of the High Council have the responsibility to help strengthen and train leaders and members of the Elders quorum and High Priest group in the ward or branch in which they are assigned. Part of this responsibility lies in helping hasten the work of salvation by encouraging those who bear the priesthood to strengthen their brethren, particularly those who have left the gospel fold or become casual in their attendance and testimonies. The Church has a series of videos focused on how various church leaders play a role in hastening the work of salvation. Here is a brief video about the role that high councilors play.

Here’s the link to the video (I’d embed it but it kept auto-playing and until that is fixed, I’ll just link to the video).

The Church also has a short document describing the responsibilities high councilors over missionary work in a stake have regarding hastening the work of salvation. This is found here (as a PDF): http://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/english/wwlt/hasten/hastening-the-work-high-councilor-eng.pdf?lang=eng

Reanalysis: How Many Children do the Seventy Have?

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This post is an update of my previous analysis of the number of children of the seventy. The following table includes all 69 members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy (as of 10/04/2013) sorted by age, youngest to oldest. You can click on a name to be taken to a short biographical sketch for each member of the Seventy.

Seventy # Children
Michael John U. Teh 3
Edward Dube 4
Carlos A. Godoy 4
José A. Teixeira 3
Patrick Kearon 4
Scott D. Whiting 5
Anthony D. Perkins 6
Kevin R. Duncan 5
5
W. Christopher Waddell 4
Arnulfo Valenzuela 3
Ulisses Soares 3
Michael T. Ringwood 5
Jose L. Alonso 2
Paul B. Pieper 6
Marcus B. Nash 5
James J. Hamula 6
Kevin W. Pearson 6
Yoon Hwan Choi 3
Carl B. Cook 5
Craig C. Christensen 4
Erich W. Kopischke 7
Eduardo Gavarret 3
David S. Baxter 4
Rafael E. Pino 3
Jorge F. Zeballos 5
Paul V. Johnson 9
Shayne M. Bowen 7
Brent H. Nielson 6
Ian S. Ardern 4
S. Gifford Nielsen 6
Benjamin De Hoyos 6
Gerrit W. Gong 4
Juan A. Uceda 5
Kazuhiko Yamashita 6
Lynn G. Robbins 7
Christoffel Golden Jr. 4
Walter F. González 4
Bruce D. Porter 4
Dale G. Renlund 1
Joseph W. Sitati 5
LeGrand R. Curtis Jr. 5
Ronald A. Rasband 5
David F. Evans 8
Robert C. Gay 7
L. Whitney Clayton 7
Richard J. Maynes 4
Enrique R. Falabella 5
Donald L. Hallstrom 4
Claudio R. M. Costa 4
Steven E. Snow 4
Lawrence E. Corbridge 5
C. Scott Grow 8
Claudio D. Zivic 5
Allan F. Packer 8
Mervyn B. Arnold 6
Craig A. Cardon 8
Larry Echo Hawk 6
W. Craig Zwick 4
Stanley G. Ellis 9
Francisco J. Viñas 3
Daniel L. Johnson 6
Tad R. Callister 6
Don R. Clarke 6
Carlos H. Amado 5
William R. Walker 5
John B. Dickson 8
Paul E. Koelliker 7
F. Michael Watson 12

In order to start breaking down these data I think it is important to investigate some basic information about the numbers. First, the range of children is 1-12, meaning the fewest number of children is 1 and the most is 12. The total number of children of the 69 members of the Presidency of the Seventy and First Quorum of the Seventy is 361. This gives a mean number of children as 5.23 (s.d. = 1.85) with a median of 5 and a mode (most common number) of 5. Because all these values are basically the same, it is a good indicator that the distribution of the data is roughly normal. A quick calculation of the skewness and kurtosis reveals that this is the case: skewness = 0.80, kurtosis = 1.71. The data are “normal” enough to warrant further parametric analyses.

For those who prefer graphical representations here’s a bar chart (click on it for a larger image) sorted differently than the table above with most senior Seventy (not necessarily the oldest) at the bottom. A number of children X seniority trend does not seem obvious.

Children of 1st Quorum of Seventy Sorted by Reverse Seniority

Now, sorting the Seventy by age yields a graph with what looks like an age X children interaction but before I start that analysis, I need to provide a little background information.

Children of Seventy Sorted by Age

There appear to be about two outliers (one Seventy with 1 child and one with 12 children). However, I will include them in the analyses because I have sampled the entire population of living, non-emeritus members of the First Quorum of the Seventy (and Presidency of the Seventy, who were all members of the First Quorum of Seventy before their calls to the Presidency) so removing a couple Seventy (3% of the sample) just because they might be outliers would be misleading about the distribution of the actual population (i.e., the sample is the entire population).

Now back to the bar graph of the number of children of the Seventy when the Seventy are sorted by age. Now it looks like there might be a difference in the number of children between the oldest and youngest Seventies. When I correlated year born with year called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, there was – no surprise – a significant (nonparametric) correlation (rho = 0.317, p=.008). This was run as nonparametric due to non-normality of distributions of year called. Because there is not a perfect correlation, the change to sorting by age rather than seniority seemed to make a qualitative difference. Now is there a quantitative difference in number of children between the oldest and youngest Seventies?

There is a significant correlation between age and number of children (r = 0.44, p < 0.001). That’s quite a bit higher a correlation coefficient compared to the one I found a few years ago with my original analysis (r = 0.27). Here’s a scatter plot of age X # of children with the trend line shown.

children_seventy_age_scatter

Now I’ll create two groups using a median current age split. The median current age is 60 years old. With this split there are 33 Seventies in the younger group and 36 in the older group (there was an even number of 60 year old Seventies so I put half into each group). Running an independent samples t-test yields a significant result (mean of younger group = 4.73, mean of older group = 5.69; t=-2.23, p = 0.03). Again, age seems to be a factor in the number of children that the Seventies have. When correlating number of children with how many years the Seventies have been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, there is a nonsignificant result (r = 0.02, p = 0.89). Therefore we can with some certainty rule out seniority (this just means age does not really enter in to when men are called into the First Quorum of the Seventy).

Now is it just age? When we enter whether or not the member of the First Quorum of the Seventy was born in the U.S. (29/69 were born outside the U.S.), we see a significant group difference in number of children (t = -4.24, p < 0.001) with those born outside the U.S. having fewer children (mean = 4.24, s.d. = 1.19) than those who were born in the U.S. (mean = 5.95, s.d. 1.92). So the U.S. average is nearly 6 and the non-U.S. average is just over 4. Those born outside the U.S. are significantly younger than those born within the U.S. (t = -2.01, p = 0.05) with non-U.S. mean = 58.72 (s.d. = 5.52) and U.S. mean = 61.28 (s.d. = 4.96).

To remove the effect of place of origin by splitting the Seventies into non-U.S. born and U.S. born I’ll run correlational analyses to see if the age X children relationship still exists. Within the non-U.S. born group it does (r = 0.42, p = 0.03). The same is true within the U.S.-born group (r = 0.39, p = 0.01). So age really has a significant relationship with number of children both within and without the U.S. (these results differ significantly from my analyses 3.5 years ago).

What does this all mean? It means that as time goes by, younger members of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy are having fewer children (but they still have almost 5 children apiece). There is also the effect of whether or not a Seventy was born in the U.S. since those who were not born in the U.S. have fewer children than those born within the U.S. In any case, age seems to be the driving factor at this point (meaning younger have fewer children). This means within the leadership of the Church we see a similar downward trend in the number of children over time (but the Seventy still have many more children than is the norm in the world).