When members of San Francisco’s LDS Bay Ward want to meet with the bishop, they’ll call Mitch Mayne. When they want to schedule a wedding or a reunion at the Mormon meetinghouse, they’ll turn to Mayne. When the bishop convenes a ward council, Mayne will be there.
On Sunday, Mayne was installed in a highly visible role as the bishop’s "executive secretary," assisting the local LDS leader in virtually every task.
Mayne is openly gay — a fact that has created a buzz up and down the Mormon Internet world.
He is not the first self-identified gay member to hold a key leadership position within the LDS Church’s all-volunteer clergy and staffing. A Seattle ward (congregation), for example, reportedly had a gay counselor to the bishop and in Oakland, Calif., a gay man is on the stake’s high council and is a temple worker.
But Mayne may be the first local LDS leader to announce his orientation over the pulpit. He also was chosen specifically to help build bridges between the Bay Area’s Mormon and gay communities, a gap that was widenedby the LDS Church’s overt support of Proposition 8, defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
"I was pretty shocked when the bishop [Don Fletcher] asked me," Mayne said this week. "I never expected to be in a leadership role. It is humbling, daunting and a little scary."
Expectations are high for what Mayne can achieve as an example and as a peacemaker.
"A lot of trust has been placed on me," he said. "It’s important for me to live up to that trust."