Thursday, October 29, 2015

Please Don't Rain on Our Prade

By Rodger Dean Duncan

Baylor's first homecoming parade, 1909.
Homecoming Weekend is one of the year's biggest events at Baylor University. In fact, Baylor claims to have been in the homecoming business longer than any other university ... more than 100 years.

Baylor's first homecoming in 1909 was a pretty big deal even by today's standards. It was nearly 40 blocks long. The colorful extravaganza featured bands, horse-drawn carriages and wagons, student and civic organizations, and a stream of dignitaries. That first homecoming parade was led by a towering drum major who, it was reported, was "six feet six in his stocking feet and without his bearskin cap."

Baylor Homecoming's Pigskin Revue, 2015.
Unfortunately, the weather put a serious damper on this year's festivities. As Hurricane Patricia roared across Texas, the Waco area was slammed with torrential rain and thunderstorms. Due to the danger of lightning, Saturday morning's big parade was cancelled. This was a big disappointment for many thousands of alumni who had converged on Waco for homecoming weekend. But the cancellation may have been even more disappointing to the student groups who had invested weeks of work and reportedly up to $15,000 on each of the parade floats they had prepared to showcase.

But there was plenty of opportunity for indoor fun. Rean and I attended Pigskin Revue. This is the annual homecoming tradition showcasing the winning acts from the previous spring's All University Sing competition. The performances are musical, Broadway-style acts prepared and performed by campus organizations, complete with costumes, elaborate backdrops and props, and complex choreography.

My date for Baylor Homecoming weekend. And forever.
When I was a Baylor student I participated in All University Sing. My group did a take-off on the heartwarming Fiddler on the Roof, which had just opened on Broadway. It was a lot of work, but fun. The campus performances in those days had a sort of Doris Day or Julie Andrews quality. Some of the 2015 acts, especially the dance moves (even by performers dressed as nuns), are more reminiscent of Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga. I miss Doris and Julie.

Although we won't be in Waco as full-time missionaries, we will likely come for Baylor Homecoming next year. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of my graduation.

Search and Rescue

When the Waco Stake first established a Young Single Adult Branch 13 months ago, the move was met with much excitement by single Church members in the age 18-31 range. For the first time ever in the Waco area, they would have their own congregation with a focus on activities especially suited to their interests.

Elder Max Murdock (center), tutors YSA Branch President David Hodson
and Branch Clerk Tom Morley on creative uses of membership databases.
Seasoned priesthood leaders were called to the branch presidency. Then members of the YSA congregation were given the opportunity to serve in Relief Society and priesthood callings that most of them had never before had. 

Service, it's been said, is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth. YSA members are stepping up to the calls to serve, and missionary work is going very well in the branch. But there's still plenty of opportunity for outreach to single stake members who could be attending the branch.

Elder Murdock demonstrates how to reconfigure membership
records to produce helpful color-coded reports that facilitate
finding and activation work. 
Today in the Waco Stake there are about 650 members who fall into the 18-31 age range. Only about 25% have chosen to attend the YSA Branch. The others fall into four categories: (1) those who simply prefer to attend a traditional family ward, (2) those who are temporarily out of the area serving missions, serving in the military, or attending school, (3) those who have chosen to be inactive, and (4) those who are otherwise unaccounted for because they no longer live in the Waco Stake but did not leave forwarding addresses.

The goal is first to account for all members on the records, then to ensure that those who wish to be active are given every opportunity to participate fully. You might call the effort Search and Rescue. 

Getting the records "cleaned up" is not just a matter of administrative neatness, although there's much to be said for that. It's primarily about ensuring that Church members are afforded the appropriate "customer service" associated with their membership.

To help the YSA Branch leaders with this, Rean and I enlisted the help of Elder Max Murdock. Max and his wife Shirley are from our home stake in Independence Missouri. They, too, serve as full-time missionaries in the Texas Fort Worth Mission. They are assigned to work with single adult wards in Arlington and Denton, about two hours north of Waco. 

Max is a whiz with all things computer related, especially the ins and outs of using the Church's massive database on members. Last week Max came down to Waco and spent an evening tutoring  the YSA Branch presidency. They were very appreciative of his help, and we're confident their new-found skills will pay rich dividends in finding and activation work here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Friends, Gratitude, Gifts

By Rodger Dean Duncan

A Visit With Amber

From previous posts you'll recall that in February and March we taught the missionary lessons to Amber Cook. She was baptized on March 28. Amber is a Baylor University graduate and was teaching at nearby Midway High School. She recently moved to Austin for a graduate program at the University of Texas.

The lovely Amber is like a granddaughter to us.
We treasure our friendship with Amber and stay in touch with her. In fact, this past week we drove down to Austin for a visit. We went to lunch on Wednesday, then on Thursday we toured the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum with her on the UT campus. The LBJ Library is right next to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. We wanted to see that, too, but didn't have time. Dolph, a former Texas governor, was a fine man. I got to know him well when I traveled extensively with him during the 1968 gubernatorial campaign. (I was a political writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.)

Amber is doing exceptionally well. She's active in her university student ward and attends the LDS Institute there. Her testimony of the restored gospel is very solid. It's always a pleasure to be with her.

With friends at Cave Henricks and Shelton Interactive. They
inquired about Kermit, who's in many of our blog photos.
Unfortunately, Kermit did not make the trip with us. As an
apology, he asked to be inserted here.
Our Bookish Friends

While we were in Austin we stopped by for a brief visit with my friends at Cave Henricks Communications and Shelton Interactive. These folks are world-class media relations experts who specialize in promoting business books and other nonfiction titles. They've helped many authors reach bestseller status, and they're the ones who helped promote my most recent book CHANGE-friendly LEADERSHIP. In addition to being top pros, they are really outstanding people. I'm impressed by their Christian values and excellent work ethic. I like them very much.

Zone Council, Transfers

We recently had another Waco Zone Council. These are typically just before transfers, which means some of our missionaries will be transferred to other areas of the mission, and some have completed their missions and are returning home. Either way, it's a time of mixed emotions for us. We are proud of "our" young missionaries and wish them well on the next phase of their life journeys. And we are saddened to see them leave. We cannot say enough about the amazing devotion of these young people.

Kermit enjoyed the Baylor-West Virginia game. The Bears
scored 60+ points again.
Another Fireside, More Teaching

We did another fireside on Sunday evening. This one was for the Single Adults in the Waco Stake.

Rean gave a wonderful talk on gratitude, referencing a General Conference address by Dieter Uchtdorf (April 2014) and a 1989 talk by Henry Eyring. I spoke about using heaven-sent gifts. As the springboard of my talk, I used the Apostle Paul's declaration from the 4th chapter of Philippians: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." We love meeting with the saints of the Waco Stake, and really appreciate the stake presidency and bishops for giving us so many opportunities to serve.

This coming week will bring more teaching, plus preparation for future events. Time is flying. We'll return to Liberty in only 56 days. How can that be possible?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Us

By Rodger Dean Duncan

October 1967
Today is our 48th wedding anniversary. Yowza!

On this day in 1967 we were certainly not thinking about missions. In fact, on this day only two years ago we weren't thinking about a mission. But we are so very grateful that we made ourselves available for service. This experience has been (and still is) a lifetime highlight.

So how did we celebrate our big day? We visited our friendly chiropractor. Went grocery shopping. Then drove over to the stake center to visit with our (younger) missionary friends on their P-Day (P is for preparation). Rean took snacks (as she does virtually every week), and we took photos (with Kermit, of course) of all the missionaries who are being transferred. This evening we will drive down to Temple to enjoy a family home evening with a group of our good friends. We really know how to party, don't we?

P-Day with Kermit and friends
Over the years, we have celebrated our anniversary in a wide range of ways. Two especially memorable anniversaries were sharing dinner with our son Baylor at a fine restaurant in Prague (Czech Republic), and eating dinner in the cafeteria of North Kansas City Hospital. The latter was because our first grandson, Duncan, was born on our 35th anniversary. After enjoying our first face-to-face with him in the maternity ward, we decided to celebrate the day in the hospital cafeteria.

We love October 12.


Last night we did a fireside for leaders of three congregations in Temple, Texas, about 45 minutes south of here. The chapel was nearly full and I was asked to speak for 90 minutes. The requested topic was leadership as a covenant, not just as an assignment. As always, I told a lot of stories to illustrate key points. Some of what I covered included stewardship delegation, use of SMART Goals, use of mind mapping, appropriate collaboration as a ward council, how to manage ward "culture," how to foster commitment to purpose, and other issues related to effective leadership. The feedback was very positive (we've received more than a dozen emails just this morning), and the stake president said the training was especially helpful. We regard that effort as one of those "this is why we were called to serve in Waco" moments.

Stake Conference

This past weekend was also stake conference. On Saturday, I was asked to speak at stake priesthood leadership meeting. Then in the afternoon, Rean and I did a Train-the-Trainer session for all the people who will lead break-out sessions of the December 5 LeaderSHOP we're spearheading for about 450 leaders in the stake. It was a very productive day.

On Saturday night, President and Sister Ames, and their son Jacob, spent the night with us at our apartment. A good time was had by all.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Missionary Work is All About Multiplication

By Rodger Dean Duncan

Four years ago this week I had an "unscheduled outage"  major heart surgery to replace three blocked arteries. Mercifully, I did not have a heart attack. My heart is very healthy and strong. But without the surgery, which was not at all planned, I likely wouldn't be here today.

It was during recuperation from surgery that I wrote CHANGE-friendly LEADERSHIP. I'd thought about the book for years, but my heavy consulting load kept me away from the keyboard. Several weeks of post-surgery travel restriction provided just the pump primer (no pun intended) to get the book project on a path to completion.

It's always a pleasure to spend a couple of days with a roomful of nice
people. These leaders from Baylor Scott & White are very sharp.
What Rean and I didn't know at the time is that (a) the book would turn out to be very popular, and (b) it would be an excellent tool for our missionary work. (At that time a full-time mission wasn't even on our radar.)

This past week I did another pro bono leadership workshop based on the content of the book. This workshop was for leaders of Baylor Scott & White, the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in Texas. It includes 49 hospitals, more than 800 patient care sites, 5,800 physicians and 38,000 employees. These folks have more than 5.3 million patient encounters each year. So helping them improve their effectiveness can have far-reaching implications.

Missionary work is all about multiplication, touching the lives of relatively small numbers of people who then "pass along" what they've learned to many, many more. We readily acknowledge that our ever-generous God has given us a multitude of gifts. We're now trying to share those gifts in ways that will bless others among His children. ("Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." - Matthew 25:40)

Brian O'Grady is a Baylor Scott & White vice president. We
loved spending an evening with him and his beautiful family.
A delicious dinner was hosted by our dear friends David and
Sheryl Gleason.
I loved doing the workshop, and took every opportunity to mention how the leadership principles I teach are gospel-based. The two-day workshop enabled me to make some good friends for the Church. In fact, on Friday evening Rean and I had dinner with one of the Baylor Scott & White vice presidents and his beautiful family. We think there's a chance they will attend a fireside we're doing next Sunday evening.

Elder Rasband, Elder Stevenson,
and Elder Renlund.
New Apostles!

At this weekend's General Conference, we were pleased to sustain three new apostles in our Church. Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, and Elder Dale G. Renlund were called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to fill vacancies resulting from the recent deaths of Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry and Richard G. Scott. It is such a comfort to know that the Lord's true Church has been restored to the earth, along with the authentic priesthood. No politicking, no jockeying for position, no self-promotion. These men, all with marvelous secular credentials, will set aside all worldly pursuits and devote the rest of their lives to the Lord's work.

Waco's original LDS Chapel where I attended
church during all my years at Baylor University.
Bishop Hoppie is on the far right.
Down Memory Lane

Our Missionary District Meeting this week was held at the old Latter-day Saint chapel on Viking Drive in Waco. I say "old" because it is now the oldest LDS building in Waco. But it is not the first. As mentioned in one of our early blog posts, Waco's first LDS building was dedicated about a decade before I enrolled at Baylor University here in 1962. That structure is now home to the Boys and Girls Club of Waco.

While at the Viking Building this week we noticed a display case containing historical documents related to the dedication of the original LDS chapel here. It seems a bit like ancient history now, but I recognized some of the people in the photos. One was Roy Durlin Hoppie who served as my bishop during all four of my years at Baylor. I had been a member of the Church for only five weeks when I first arrived at Baylor. Bishop Hoppie was a marvelous coach and mentor to me and taught me some critically important principles and practices that have served me well for the past fifty-plus years.

5 Leadership Lessons from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir 

More than a year ago I wrote a piece for Forbes magazine entitled "5 Leadership Lessons from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir." It's still getting online views, especially around General Conference time. Click here to see it.