The Third Counselor
I once served on my ward Sunday School presidency. Unlike most auxiliary presidencies in the church, the Sunday School presidency has often been a mixed gender group, usually consisting of a male president, two male counselors, and a female secretary. I was that female secretary.
I arrived at my first presidency meeting prepared to fulfill my secretarial duties. I interpreted these duties as taking notes. At first, I tried not to overstep the bounds of my secretarial calling. I was not called to counsel, so I tried to keep my mouth shut. That was difficult because the president kept asking me for my opinion.
I eventually came to the realization that this Sunday School president didn’t care about notes. He wanted counsel about how to best serve the people in his stewardship, half of which were women. Naturally, he wanted a woman’s perspective on how well Sunday School classes were meeting the needs of the women who attended them.
I’ve looked back on that experience and wondered, was my Sunday School president typical? Did the female secretary usually serve as a third counselor with a more feminine viewpoint? The most hopeful part of me would speculate about whether a rising generation of young Sunday School presidents like that would someday lament the lack of feminine input in their bishoprics and high councils and even in their Quorums of the Seventy or of the Twelve and things might change.
My hopes were dashed when I read this:
If needed, the bishopric may call a brother to serve as ward Sunday School secretary.
Church Handbook of Instruction (CHI), 12.2.4. 2010 Edition. Emphasis added.
The 1998 Edition of the CHI had stated:
If needed, the bishopric may call a ward Sunday School secretary to assist the Sunday School presidency.
The newer edition of the CHI has been out since 2010 but until I read this particular passage, I had no idea that two years ago my vagina had disqualified me from yet another church calling. This new information has set my mind onto a completely different speculative path; how many other callings that were previously gender neutral have been or will be declared male-only?