Thursday, September 27, 2012

If Mitt Romney Becomes President, He Would Attend LDS Services At The Washington DC Third Ward

In case people have been wondering how and where Mitt Romney would be attending church if elected president, that question has now been answered in part by the Washington Post and Time. Romney would be assigned to the Washington DC Third Ward, within which boundaries the White House lies.

Summary: The Third Ward has a membership of 650 people who hail from nearly two dozen countries. They average 250 members at services every Sunday, and they're one of the faster growing wards, averaging 25 new converts per year. Up to half the congregation is non-white, including a large, Spanish-speaking population and converts from French-speaking Africa, and it also includes a few openly gay leaders. In October, the Third Ward is moving into a chapel closer to the White House; after seven years of lobbying, they received permits to renovate a former Catholic convent on 16th Street. Senator Harry Reid is slated to attend the new building’s dedication on October 28th, and Elder Quentin Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve from Salt Lake City, will preside over the service.

Robert Nelson is the bishop of the Third Ward, and if Romney becomes part of his flock, he said “I’ll just stay out of his way, and I’ll insert myself however he wants me to, and just make sure that I treat him as a member of the congregation, and that I treat him equally with all the rest of our members.” But because of security considerations, the question as to the scope of the Romney's participation in Third Ward activities has been raised. Would Romney, like most other active Mormons, be extended a calling by the bishop? Debbie Marriott Harrison, spokeswoman for the stake that includes the Third Ward, said Romney would likely be excused from a calling, partially because he’d be too busy as president and partially because of security challenges. Every time the Romneys would go to church, a team of Secret Service agents would have to clear the route and the chapel in advance. Furthermore, home teachers assigned to the Romneys couldn't just "drop in" at the White House; they'd have to be vetted and placed on an approved list in advance.

A Romney campaign advisor said that Romney himself hasn’t yet made any decisions about his hypothetical D.C. spiritual life. But it would be unusual for an LDS member to go outside their assigned ward.

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