Edward Partridge, the first bishop in the Church, was called to serve in Independence, Missouri. Since Independence was over 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from Kirtland, there was also a need for a bishop in the Kirtland area. In section 72 the Lord called Newel K. Whitney to serve as the second bishop in the Church and to officiate over the Church in the Kirtland area (see vv. 1–8). The Lord then outlined some responsibilities of a bishop (see vv. 9–26).
President Gordon B. Hinckley gave further instructions on the duties of bishops today:
“I carry in my heart a deep appreciation for our bishops. I am profoundly grateful for the revelation of the Almighty under which this office was created and functions. …
“… We expect you to stand as the presiding high priest of the ward, a counselor to the people, a defender and helper of those in trouble, a comfort to those in sorrow, a supplier to those in need. We expect you to stand as a guardian and protector of the doctrine that is taught in your ward, of the quality of the teaching, of the filling of the many offices which are necessary. …
“… You are to see that none goes hungry or without clothing or shelter. You must know the circumstances of all over whom you preside.
“You must be a comforter and a guide to your people. Your door must be ever open to any cries of distress. Your back must be strong in sharing their burdens. You must reach out in love even to the wrongdoer” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 69, 71; or Ensign, May 1999, 52–53).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 151–53.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 72:3–4. We are required to give an account of our stewardship both in this life and the next.
Ask students: What are the first two great commandments? If the students do not know the answer, have them read Matthew 22:36–40. Write on the board Love God and Love Neighbor. Ask students if they can think of a way to keep both of these commandments at the same time (see Matthew 25:40; Mosiah 2:17). Have a few students share an example of a time someone served them. Invite them to consider how that service showed love to God. Read Doctrine and Covenants 72:3–4 and ask:
When will the Lord judge how you have done in fulfilling your responsibilities?
Who do we account to “in time,” or in this life? (see v. 5).
Who will we account to “in eternity,” or in the next life? (see John 5:22).
What blessing comes in the next life to those who are faithful and wise in mortality?
Have students write on a piece of paper changes they would like to make to be better prepared when they give an accounting of their stewardship.
Doctrine and Covenants 72. Bishops are responsible for judging the worthiness of members, managing financial contributions, and caring for the poor.
Share the statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley from the introduction to section 72 above. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 72:3–5, 10–11, 16–19. Tell students: Someone in the ward needs a temple recommend. Who should they see about it? (The bishop; see vv. 3–5. Note that bishops’ counselors can renew recommends.) Invite students to write similar situations in which a bishop could help. Have them share some of the examples they wrote. Ask:
How has your bishop blessed your life?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:36. How is sustaining the bishop like sustaining the Lord?
What are some ways we can better sustain our bishops?