Best Friends with the Bishop

When our son Marc was very small, the mere mention of the word nursery brought quivering lips and tearful eyes. He did not want to go. As a result we attended the nursery with him for several months. Thanks to a loving nursery leader, Marc came to enjoy the nursery and had a wonderful year.

In December we faced a new, unexpected problem. Now Marc did not want to leave the nursery to attend Primary. We talked positively about growing bigger and going to Primary, but Marc continued to resist.

One Sunday morning our young son announced, “I hafta talk to the bishop.” He insisted we give him the telephone number of the church. I helped him dial the ward executive secretary’s number and listened while he made an appointment. The helpful executive secretary found a bit of time for Marc to meet with the bishop that very evening after our scheduled tithing settlement.

The scene is ever vivid in my mind: Marc sitting across from the bishop, his feet barely reaching the edge of the chair; my stepping out and closing the door because, “This is private, Mom.”

A few moments later the door opened. I was summoned. There sat Marc, with quivering lips and tearful eyes, staring at the floor. This great man, our wise bishop, informed me that he had given Marc a challenge. Marc was to go to Primary each Sunday and, after class, report directly to the bishop’s office. The bishop, for his part, promised he would always be there to meet with him.

I cannot say that Marc always met the challenge with enthusiasm, but it was met. Every Sunday he attended his Primary class and then went to the bishop’s office. We were concerned about this time taken out of the bishop’s busy schedule, but the weekly meetings soon became special to both. Tears were shed when our bishop was released.

The visits changed to weekly calls, and the friendship continued as Marc shared with his former bishop accounts of his losing a tooth, riding a two-wheeler, breaking an arm, seeing his first pumpkin of the season, experiencing his first day at school, and celebrating special holidays. A lasting friendship formed between my son and the bishop.

When this fine bishop passed away, there were quivering lips and tearful eyes all around our house. We all considered him a friend, but to Marc he was the embodiment of the Savior’s counsel to “suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14).

[photo] Photo by Maren Mecham; posed by models

Charlene Murray Farnworth is a Relief Society Spiritual Living teacher in the Park Seville Branch, Orem Utah Park Stake.