This is my first opportunity to write a Pastor’s Pen article, so I would like to take a minute to introduce myself.
My wife and I grew up in Wyoming and never thought we would leave. We have five wonderful children.
About two years ago, a series of events were put in motion and we found ourselves looking for alternate employment. A recruiter asked if I had ever thought about moving to Kearney. I told her I didn’t think I would ever leave Wyoming but if the fit was right, it would be silly not to consider it.
As a young boy, I had lived in Fremont and Omaha, and I had fond memories of the few years we had spent in Nebraska. After several interviews and a really good job offer, I accepted the position as the senior vice president and branch manager at Farmers & Merchants Bank. We started the process of moving the family.
As with anything new, my wife and I were concerned about how our five children would adjust to the new community. We got the boys involved in baseball right away, and they have really enjoyed that. My daughter is more social and has a bunch of “best friends” with whom she likes doing things. The baby has not yet figured out that Nebraska is any different and will probably never know any difference except for the 700-mile-drive to the ranch where my wife grew up. It’s a little taxing on the 2-year-old.
I have been reminded of how religious Nebraskans are. I did not remember that while I lived in Fremont, but you all are seriously committed to God, and I sure appreciate that.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no paid clergy. A couple of months ago, I was asked to give up my duties as the leader of the Young Men’s group and become the bishop of our Ward. This was a shock to both my wife and myself. While there are probably people better qualified for this role, it is my turn to serve for a time.
I was made bishop just in time for the Kearney flooding. It was amazing to me how the community stepped up and helped out their neighbors. I would call church families to find out if everyone was OK. It was common for the voice on the other end of the line to say their neighbors had already checked on them and they were doing fine. Some people had water damage, but everyone was safe and able to work through most of the issues pretty quickly.
When Jesus Christ said the second great commandment is to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” I believe that He was talking to all people. I am happy to know that the people of Kearney heard that request. In light of recent events, it is important for all of us to strive to be better neighbors than we already are.
I do believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be God’s church on the earth today, but I am happy to know that regardless of religion, the people of Kearney are following the words of Jesus Christ. I am happy to be raising my five children in a community where Christ’s words are not simply known and understood, but more importantly, they are followed. Thank you, Kearney.
Nick Baird is bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.