LDS Public Affairs

This past Sunday, I received and accepted a new calling: Secretary to the (horrible acronym warning) NYMMPAC, which stands for New York Metro Multistake Public Affairs Council.  It covers 3 Coordinating Councils, or 13 Stakes and 131 units.

Generally speaking, the idea of church public affairs makes me a little queasy.  In an ideal world, the good works of the church should speak for themselves and we should have no need to influence public opinion of us.  That said, I think the public affairs groups aren't there solely to bring about good press—the director emphasized to me that "public affairs" is really an unfortunate name, since there's much more to it than that.  But, prior to this, my perception of Public Affairs was the folks who force members to wear yellow Helping Hands vests and do photographed service activities.  Or, more recently, PA was represented by the token woman that introduced the Apostles for the press release on religious freedom.

So why did I accept the calling?  Part of it was certainly ego.  But another big part of why I accepted is that I was recommended for the position because of my strong opinions.  This means that they knew what they were getting, and I had license to be myself.  I also warned them that I have a blog.

I have a friend at church who is on the NYMMPAC, and she and I have had regular hallway discussions on church issues (in lieu of attending Sunday School).  She acknowledges that some aspects of Public Affairs and popular LDS culture need to be improved, and has been working to make things better.  The idealistic optimist in me says: now I can be a part of that effort!

While I do need to keep some things confidential, I hope to keep a record of some of my public affairs experiences, to improve transparency, define the role of public affairs a little more concretely, and to prevent me from drinking too much cultural kool-aid.

Update: Since writing this post, lots of people have told me about great PA experiences, like:
Folks have also pointed out that PA is one of the few areas in the church hierarchy where women have impactful roles.  Now I'm feeling pumped.

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