Church service is a way of life in the Burton family. H. David Burton remembers both his father and grandfather serving in the Church. Also, his great-great-grandfather, Robert Taylor Burton, was a member of the Presiding Bishopric. Now, newly called as first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop Burton is carrying on the family tradition and following in his great-great-grandfather’s footsteps.
“There are really only two priorities in my life,” Bishop Burton explains. “My family and the Church. That pretty much summarizes everything that goes on in my life.”
H. David Burton, born 25 April 1938 in Salt Lake City, met his future wife, Barbara Matheson, in eighth grade. They married in September 1960 after he served in the Southern Australia Mission. They have five children and six grandchildren.
Bishop Burton graduated from the University of Utah. He has worked for the state tax commission and for Kennecott Copper. Except for a short time spent in Michigan while Brother Burton finished a master’s degree, the Burton family has lived in the Salt Lake Valley.
In 1977, Bishop Burton took a job as the Church’s assistant budget officer. A year and a half later, he accepted a job as secretary to the Presiding Bishopric and has been there ever since.
“My mission was probably the single greatest factor in strengthening my testimony,” says Bishop Burton. “I was thrust into a senior companionship role after only eight weeks, and it was one of those sink-or-swim kind of things. We swam, though just barely at times.
“It was there that I learned that bearing testimony is the most important aspect of missionary work. You bear testimony and let the Spirit convert.”
Bishop Burton has continued to rely on the Spirit as he has served as Gospel Doctrine teacher, temple sealer, bishop, and high councilor. The Spirit has also guided him in his work as secretary to the Presiding Bishopric.
As a stake president, he often counseled his stake members to stay close to the Spirit and attend the temple. “The temple is one of the great secrets in keeping marriages together, building testimonies, and keeping your faith strong,” he says.