Mac’s Message #41: The Role of the Stake Presidency and High Council Representatives

Mac McIntire

Mac McIntire

If you have been reading my blog messages over the past few weeks you should see the hierarchical structure that inspired men of the Lord have put in place to support you in your Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood callings.

The Scoutmaster, the Varsity Coach, and the Venturing Advisor and their assistants support the boys. The Scouting committee, the bishopric, COR, and stake Young Men presidency support the adult leaders. The stake presidency and high council representatives support the stake Young Men presidency and the bishoprics in the stake.

The stake president ought to be the “chief Scout executive” for the stake. As such, he needs to have a clear vision of what Scouting can do to strengthen the young men within the stake boundaries. He—and  his counselors—should lead the way by setting an example of Scouting leadership for the stake Young Men presidency, bishoprics, ward Young Men presidencies, and adult Scouting leaders throughout the stake.

The stake presidency should be trained in Scouting. Hopefully they have attended the Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting at Philmont and are Wood Badge trained. If so, they would wear their Scouting uniform proudly and set an example for the adult Scouting leaders in their stake. They also would be actively involved in the BSA local council and the stake president would regularly attend the local council’s LDS-BSA relationships committee meetings (see upcoming Mac’s Message #43).

“The stake presidency may assign high councilors who have assignments relating to the Aaronic Priesthood and Primary to meet as an Aaronic Priesthood committee to discuss Scouting-related matters (see Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 15.3.2). These high councilors register with the BSA as assistant district commissioners. They receive appropriate BSA training, participate in the monthly district commissioner meetings, and work closely with the district commissioner and unit commissioners in their stake” (LDS Scouting Handbook, 3.2). 

Please note that the high council representatives register with the BSA as assistant district commissioners (ADCs). An ADC oversees the unit commissioners, who, you may recall from last week’s message, typically are members of the stake Young Men presidency and stake Primary presidency. As “overseers,” the high council representatives assist the stake presidency in training the stake Young Men presidency and bishoprics on how to achieve the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood through quorum and Scouting activities.

Ideally the high council representatives should be Philmont and Wood Badge trained, but at the very least should complete leader position-specific training as soon as possible after being called. Training for ADCs includes both Commissioner Basic Training (for unit commissioners) and District Commissioner and ADC Basic Training. As ADCs should also be active in council and district activities. The high council representatives should participate in district meetings and roundtables. These priesthood leaders help the stake presidency set the expectations for Scouting in the stake, teach leaders how to properly implement the Scouting program, and hold leaders accountable for faithfully fulfilling their Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood stewardship responsibilities. 

As with all who are called to priesthood leadership positions over the Lord’s Young Men, hopefully the stake presidency and high council representatives have a fervent, personal testimony of Scouting in the Church. Hopefully they are pillars of strength and examples of righteous leadership in a program of the Church that is often weak. Most important, hopefully they have a clear vision of what Scouting can do to accomplish the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. For “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).


Take a Moment to Reflect

  • Is the stake president acting like a “chief Scout executive” for the stake?
  • Have the stake presidency and high council representatives attended the LDS Priesthood Leadership Conference at Philmont and are they Wood Badge trained?
  • Does the stake presidency have a vision for Scouting in the stake?
  • Are the high council representatives serving as assistant district commissioners and have they been properly trained in their ADC role?
  • Are the stake presidency and high council representatives providing the training needed, including Little Philmont experiences, to properly support the Scouting and Aaronic Priesthood leaders in the stake?


Turn Your Reflection Into Action

  • What will you start doing, stop doing, or do better as a result of your reflection?


“Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live . . . . Behold, I have given [the stake president] for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people” (Isaiah 55:3-4).


-Mac McIntire is a dedicated Scouter who has blessed many lives through his service and acute understanding of the Scouting program. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.

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  1. Years ago I was stunned when a new bishop, who had been very active coaching little league sports, rather innocently said that he didn’t know that Scouting was the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood and that he couldn’t see why having his own sons involved in Scouting would be better than having them be active in community athletic programs.

    A number of years later I watched that man, then a stake president, passionately lead his stake’s Scouting leaders in a well planned Little Philmont event. What a difference Woodbadge and Philmont made in the life of this leader, and by extension in the lives of Scouting leaders and Aaronic Priesthood holders in his stake.

    Stake presidencies are tasked with doing a lot of things on top of their regular careers and family responsibilities. It’s not easy to set aside time to attend Woodbadge, to work their tickets, to go to Philmont, and to do all of the things they should do in Scouting while simultaneously handling all of their other responsibilities. But many youth and adults are blessed when stake presidencies make these valuable sacrifices.

  2. Robert Leonard says:

    Scott Hinrichs, Fantastic comment!

    I really enjoy and look forward to these posts. I share these messages not only with our LDS unit leadership but also with our District and Council commissioners and highly encourage all to do the same.

    The past few postings are especially relevant as the LDS BSA Handbook was updated last month and puts a renewed emphasis on Commissioner service and our responsibility as Priesthood holders.

    I really like the following for the Primary. And appreciate Stan’s messages for our Eleven Year Old’s.
    The stake Primary presidency may register with the BSA as unit commissioners, or the stake presidency may designate other members of the stake to serve as unit commissioners under the direction of the stake Primary presidency.

    Scouting is changing, our YM are being influenced in ways we never could have imagined. We also need to look at how we are presenting the program and keep our training updated.

    Thanks Mac!

  3. Marla Thomas says:

    I can remember the night in 2002 that my sage old bishop felt inspired to invite me (a female) to be the unit commissioner for the four ward scouting units in our ward. I jumped at the chance because I loved Boy Scouting (really any scouting — I had been a Girl Scout leader for many years too!). But, my excitement was more based on my testimony of what can happen for a young man when raised in a fun environment of good, positive wholesome values as presented through the “outing” in scouting and enhanced by gospel precepts in preparation and partnership with priesthood responsibilities. The goal making part of the advancement process was appealing too.

    In 2002 I had finished the Cub Scouting phase with my second son who was 10 years younger than my first son. It had been a grand learning environment and “refiner’s fire” through those years of scouting (both Boy and Varsity) and the transition from Exploring into Venturing for the older Young Men while the church sports program changed, also. But, my enthusiasm was and is still high. Now my grandson’s are just beginning their cub scout years! How much fun!

    Commissioning can help to keep one young, alive and aware. It is a way to be helpful and to be a guide in order to lead people to the answers. I am very thankful for the inspiration that my bishop had in 2002. Many members think it was me and my own enthusiasm that brought me to the role of commissioner. Maybe they think I am doing something that I shouldn’t be doing; but, I enjoy it and will probably volunteer to commission a non-LDS unit if I am asked to stop doing the LDS units in my ward (which my Stake President currently approves). It seems now that there is more concrete direction in the LDS Scouting Handbook of May 2015 regarding commissioners and their roles. But, remember, that it will be by inspiration if you are asked through the LDS lines of authority and it is your duty to be prayerful and magnify that calling to the best of your ability. That will be your personal responsibility. Proceed with faith and the spirit and you will be led and blessed to fill the measure of your creation.

    1. Mac McIntire says:

      Marla: Thanks for another inspirational message. I always enjoy your comments. And thanks for your commissioner service. I received my Doctorate of Commissioner Science in 2013. Who would have thought that not very many years ago I hated Scouting. I guess I have come a long way since then.

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