Church acquires new stake president - Rawson answers church calling
By Travis N. Gillespie
Published: Friday, September 21, 2007 2:32 PM CDT
President Brian Rawson
Two weeks ago saw a major change in leadership
for area members of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints.
Brian Rawson, of Wichita, was called to serve as President of the Derby Stake of the Church, replacing long-serving Dr. Brent Nelsen, of Derby, in the office.
A gstakeh in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - whose members are also known as gMormonsh - is a geographic area that encompasses a number of gwards,h or congregations, which in turn are usually presided over by Bishops.
Non-members of the Church might be surprised to
realize how many of their neighbors are probably
Mormons - President Rawsonfs stake covers four
congregations based in Derby, one in Bel Aire,
Emporia, and Andover, a branch in El Dorado, a young
single adult group, plus two Spanish speaking
branches. All thatfs just the Derby Stake, which
numbers about 3,500 gSaints,h Mormonfs name for
themselves. Therefs another stake of the Church in
Rawson, a father of four married to what he describes as gan amazing woman,h has filled a number of positions during his years in church service, most recently as a counselor to the former Stake President. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has an entirely lay clergy, so unlike leaders in other denominations, President Rawson has a professional career as well as an ecclesiastical one.
Rawson is a businessman. He spent nearly ten years as an executive at Coleman, leaving the company two years ago for self-employment and a start-up Internet company.
When asked if he felt intimidated by his calling
as a Stake President, Rawson said he did not.
gI felt humbled and thankful for the opportunity to serve,h he said. gIfve learned that when you do your very best, God makes up the rest. This is HIS work. I trust Him.h
Rawsonfs predecessor, Dr. Brent Nelsen, a prominent Derby Dentist, served as the stakefs leader since its organization 9 1/2 years ago. Nelsen retired as the Medical Group Commander at McConnell AFB in 1999, after 27 years of service.
gThe office of the Stake President requires a man
of leadership,h Nelsen said. gHe must learn to
delegate. It requires the ability to kindly make
assignments and to follow up. President Rawson has
these skills and talents.h
President Rawsonfs primary goal as the leader of the Derby Stake, he says, is to reach out to the community.
gI have a sense of urgency in helping the people in our communities understand our faith. Therefs so much misinformation and disinformation out there,h Rawson said.
Itfs true that all the recent spotlights on the
Church have stirred up public opinion polls on the
matter, most of which conclude that people donft
know much about one of the fastest growing churches,
both nationally and internationally.
gI wish people who honestly wanted to know about Mormons would ask a Mormon,h he said. gYou don't ask someone who lives in Wichita what it's like to live in Derby, you ask someone who lives in Derby. You go and see for yourself!
gYou know who knows most about what Mormons believe? Mormons,h he continued. gIf someone asks, they will find that we have a bold and important claim and mission: Truth has been restored. We invite all to come unto Christ—and be healed.h
The Churchfs recent outreach in the media seems
to be aimed at that sentiment.
Ads directing listeners to the website www.mormon.org to learn for themselves about gtruth restoredh are ubiquitous in radio and TV spots, and white-shirted young missionaries are, as always, proselyting door-to-door in an effort to find anyone who will listen to their message.
gWe believe the callings we receive to serve in the Church are from God,h President Rawson said. gI willingly serve because I believe with all my heart that I am called to do so. I will gladly wear out my life serving in whatever capacity I can.h