Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
174:  Richard Ostler: A Bishop Ministering to the Fringes of the Ward

174: Richard Ostler: A Bishop Ministering to the Fringes of the Ward

Credit: Millennials by Jeff Djevdet @ Flickr

Richard Ostler is a recently released bishop of a Young Single Adult Ward in Magna, Utah.  He reflects on his three years ministering to and seeking to be inclusive of the hundreds of young people who struggled to be fully engaged in the ward.


  1. Andy Anderson

    I loved the podcast, and commend Richard for his thoughtful and Christlike approach to his calling as bishop. I wish all were more like him. I liked his iceberg analogy, and his considered efforts to get at the heart of the issues behind the sin, not just the actual sinful behavior. One thing I tell my primary kids is that sin doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you need to strengthen your faith.

    I love that he (I think he said it, not Gina, but I could have it backwards) said that the temple shouldn’t be a line in the sand to as to whether (paraphrasing here) you fit in to the church, or whether there’s a place for you in it. I wish that were true, but alas, it is a line, not just in the sand but etched permanently in the stone of every member’s psyche. If you don’t have a recommend, you don’t get to participate in the most sacred of familial milestones–marriage. You don’t get to see your loved ones take that step, and everyone in your family gets to see you standing outside the temple while your son or daughter take that most significant step in their life. They get to wonder why you didn’t get in, and they judge you for it. They shouldn’t, but they do, and you can’t say that that isn’t a line, or a chasm, that separates you from the pack, and makes you not fit in.

    Again, thanks for the inspiring words and thoughts! Loved it, as always.

  2. Brett

    Richard sounds like a great guy, who understands what religion SHOULD be about. Unfortunately, his views fit into the Community of Christ, not the LDS church. When I was active, I often found writers like him that presented a view of Mormonism that worked for me and was spiritually uplifted. Problem is that as soon as General Conference (or often just Stake Conference) came around, those ideas would be shot down. For example Russell M Nelson teaching that God’s love is not unconditional. Or more recently the anti-gay policy falsely claimed to be from God that teaches that not all are welcome in the church. And more importantly, the Pharisaic emphasis over the past decade on Obedience and infallibility of leaders. The real problem is that many of the youth he councils may come back to church with high hopes only to be dashed against the rocks by the Pharisaic LDS church that is NOTHING like the views espoused by Richard Osler. And some of those, especially and that are LGBT will be driven to depression or even suicide. So I cannot respect what he is doing, because the church he is returning these “kids” to is a high-demand, low tolerance religion that they will find no place in under the current leadership. Except for his foolish love of the Masonic rituals of the temple, he could do so much more good in the Community of Christ, a church that actually espouses his views and a true form of Christianity (as opposed the the Old Testament pre-Christian religion espoused by the LDS church)

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