Thursday, October 23, 2008

Post 28 - My Dad, A Humble Man and Bishop

To Access This Blog's Index, Please Scroll Down To the Fifth Paragraph From the End of This


These are my parents, Philip John Birch and Virginia Jensen Birch.

My very first blog was about them and particularly about my father's conversion to the LDS Church.

The following has been copied from that blog post. You are welcome to go down to the very beginning of my posts and read all that I wrote then. You will have to click on several different links labled "older posts" to do that. What you will now read is what I consider the most important part of what is in that first blog post.

Here is my excerpt: "From September 1929, basically, non-denominational Phil Birch (born in 1907) was steadily dating Virginia Jensen (born in 1904). Her parents and all of their family members were converted to the LDS Church in Denmark who then immigrated to Utah where her parents married.

"Virginia was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. After her mother died giving birth to a still-born baby, Virginia moved with her father and her three sisters to Sacramento, California where her father had been employed as a manager of a lumber yard.

"Phil was employed as an Southern Pacific Railroad crew dispatcher and Virginia as a telephone operator for that railroad. That is where they met.

"The following was written by Phil later in his life in his personal family history. 'They kept company, going steady. However, I (Phil) was unhappy because her Mormon Church activity meant so much to her.

'She gave me a Book of Mormon and told me the gold plate story about the Book of Mormon. I laughed and told her that it was a fairy tale and I didn't believe it.

"With tears in her eyes she asked me if I believed the story of Moses and the opening of the Red Sea and I answered, 'Yes.' I guess I learned that Bible story in the Christian Science Church. With tears in her eyes, she then said, 'why not modern miracles?"

"I read the Book of Mormon through, attended Sunday-School and other LDS Church meetings with Virginia, but was not converted. Also I KNEW that my mom would be unhappy if I did not try to join the Masonic Order at 21 years of age. Also I knew my mom, my sister, and my step-dad might not forgive me."

"At that time Art and Mom were not married, they were keeping company. On September 23, 1929, they were married in Reno and Virginia and Phil were married by Virginia's father, the LDS Church's Sutter Branch President, in their home at 1821 Q Street, Sacramento, California."

"Virginia gave up temple marriage for me and I knew the only way I would ever be happy would for "Virgie" to be happy. I also knew she would be unhappy if her church life was curtailed. I voluntarily told her I would never hold her back in her church work and activities, also that if she could get by with a 10% tithing cut, I could also, but I did not know how."

"She quit her telephone operator job September 25, 1929 and we were married on payday, September 26, 1929. We, or she, paid our tithing out of both checks and I have done so ever since."

"Early in July of 1930, or perhaps the last of June 1930, I woke up in the very early dark morning and it seemed like a voice had said out loud, 'Phil, you know the Gospel is true. Why are you not baptized?' I got out of bed and tried in vain to find the person whose voice I had heard. Virginia was sound asleep so I went back to bed and as I was 2/3 asleep and 1/3 awake I heard the same words again. I got up and when Virginia woke up I told her I would be baptized but I did not tell her this story."

"At any rate, on July 5, 1930, I was baptized and confirmed a member of the LDS Church and very soon I had the Aaronic Priesthood conferred on me and was ordained to the office of a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

"I have forgotten to mention that in September, 1932, Phil and Virginia, went to Salt Lake City and were sealed in eternal marriage in the Salt Lake Temple. Our seven month old son, Neil, was sealed to us."

"I was baptized on July 5, 1930, and on account of the depression, was moved in 1933 by the railroad. For almost two years I was away from Church activity in Dunsmuir, California."

"With the event of the '3 pint 1 beer' I drank a big bottle once in awhile with my old boyhood and railroad friend, Malbrook C. In 1934 when we arrived in Roseville to work there, that friend wrote me that he was coming to visit us. I went out and bought a big bottle of wine for him. This was to be social."

"However, something happened that changed me and our life."
"I was working midnight to 8:00 a.m. with days off in the middle of the week. I attended Sunday-School but Virgie always had to coax me to go there instead of going to bed."

'This Sunday morning, after quitting work, I said to Virginia, 'Let's go to Sunday School,' but she was staying home because Larry was sick. I surprised her and myself by asking her if I could take Neil to Sunday-School."

"It just so happened that it was the day the new LDS Sacramento Stake presidency had chosen to come to the Roseville Branch and organize it into a ward with Lorenzo R. as bishop."

"I do not remember what the speakers said, but I do know the Word of Wisdom (the LDS Church's revelation regarding the use of alcohol, tea, and coffee being not approved by the Lord, Jesus Christ) was not mentioned."

"I was impressed by the Spirit and with the sincerity of all who spoke. I went home and asked Virginia where my bottle of wine was and she told me. I guess I scared her because she thought I was going to drink it."

"Instead, I poured it down the sink, saying 'if those men can keep the commandments, so can I'. From then until now I have not taken or tasted or missed alcohol and from then on I had a desire to attend all church meetings and to keep the commandments."

"However, I was still working on Sundays because my railroad seniority would not allow me to have Sunday off. From that meeting until now I could and can say, 'I KNOW THE GOSPEL IS TRUE.' Before, it was a strong belief."

"With all my heart I know the restored Gospel is here with God's authority delegated to man to act in His name - the Priesthood."
Now here is Phil Birch's oldest son, Neil, back again to help you learn some things that may help you better understand the Lord's true religion better.

While I was in Finland serving my first mission there, my father was called by the Lord (through his properly called and set-apart authorities) to serve as bishop of the Roseville Ward. He had been a counselor in the bishopric for much of the time since they moved back to Roseville from Dunsmuir, California (which is near Mount Shasta in Northern California.)

It was a new and interesting experience being a son of our LDS ward's bishop. I enjoyed watching him do his bishop's job. I want to tell you about one particular circumstance where I learned something important about how the Lord guides his humble servants here on earth.

It was on a weekday evening and I was home from work. My father, who had just arrived home from his work, received a phone call from one of our ward youth leaders who told him, the ward bishop, that some of the youth of our ward were making strong complaints about how they were being treated by their youth leaders. This was at our weekly Mutual Improvement Association (M.I.A.) meeting that was taking place right then at our church building located about a quarter of a mile from our house.
Sometime after the initial call he received a second call from the same adult youth leader who told him that things had quieted down and that Dad's help wasn't needed.

I heard what my father had been saying over the phone. Then he was off of the phone and was telling me that he was told that things were OK now. Then all of a sudden he turned to me and said, "I need to get down to the church right now!"

As it turned out, just as he turned the corner near the church, (he walked fast) he saw some of the youth of the ward walking away from the Church and coming in his direction, heading toward the home of one of the youth who lived nearby, with determined looks on their faces.

My dad, a ward bishop who is entitled to the use of the power of Prophecy and Revelation that has been mentioned in recent blogs, arrived at just the right moment. He was able to get them to go over to the side of the road and tell him about their concerns.

It didn't take them long to talk things out and with the loving counsel of their inspired ward bishop, they were persuaded to go back into the church and talk things out with the adult youth leaders.

How can the Lord's work be done in His church if there is not the Gift of the Holy Ghost (which both the youth and their bishop possessed) to guide people through potentially serious problems.

The Prophet Daniel Interprets Nebuchadnezzar's Dream in which a stone, cut out of a mountain without hands rolls forth and demolishes all other kingdoms. -by Grant Romney Clawson
Without the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is conferred upon all members of the LDS Church when they are baptized (at age eight for youth) how could the Lord guide His Church here on earth? As I re-read (in my father's family history above) his testimony about the Priesthood of God being so important to him, I can't help realizing that with over 13 million members and rapidly growing to over 14 million members in this Church today, that through the gift of Prophecy and Revelation (The Testimony of Jesus) and the gift of the Holy Ghost which is very closely related to that, the Lord guides His Church on a daily and even on a moment to moment basis.

In my blog post, Part 23 we learned about the remarkable prophecy made in King Nebuchadnezzar's dream about the stone, cut out of the mountain without hands, rolling down the mountain and growing in size until it struck the image that represents the kingdoms and empires of the world and then rolling on and growing until it fills the whole earth.

In that same blog post it was shown that the Lord Jesus Christ, with the help of an angel, prepared the way for the coming forth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through His young prophet, Joseph Smith.

In blog post 27 it was shown that the ancient prophet of God, Joseph, Who Was Sold Into Egypt, knew about the key role that Joseph Smith, Jr, would play in the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his descendants and to the rest of the House of Israel.
Why should the Lord have revealed that to Joseph Who Was Sold Into Egypt? Because it had to do with the spiritual welfare of his own posterity, his family!

Family is an eternal value! Because of the atonement and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we and our families can go on together after death forever through the blessings that come from the ordinances of God's holy temples. In a blog down the road some I will discuss the blessings that come to families through temple ordinances.

Having been an active member of this Church throughout my life, I have often seen clear evidences of God leading His Church, even in the smallest details, such as demonstrated in the account above regarding the Roseville Ward bishop, Phil Birch, being led to help some of his ward's youth avoid making some big mistakes that could have perhaps led some of them to leave the protection and preparation for life and eternity the Lord's church provides them.

Oh, I have one other memory of what my father told me about that he often did when he served as a bishop. He told me that whenever he felt inadequate, and that was often, when counseling ward members who had personal or family problems, including even marriage problems (he had never been to college at all but he did graduate from high school), he would often call up in his mind various Book of Mormon prophets, such as Nephi, Alma the Younger, and perhaps Mormon and Moroni, and imagine them being with him there as friends and colleagues. He told me he really could feel their support. It helped him to counsel by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is good evidence that the Book of Mormon was a very important source of strength to my father, Philip John Birch. I sure love him and my dear mother, Virginia Jensen Birch, who first introduced her future husband to the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Oh, one more thing about my father's counseling as a bishop. He was released, after four years of serving as bishop of the Roseville Ward because the S.P. Railroad transferred him to the Sacramento Depot. That transfer made my parents decide to sell their home in Roseville where they had raised their first two boys. Their third son, Bruce moved with them to North Sacramento.

There were some ward members including several married couples who had been waiting for Dad, as their bishop, to counsel them regarding marital and other serious difficulties. Ward members had come to recognize Bishop Birch as an effective counselor. Dad's replacement as bishop was a wonderful man. I got to know him later. If I understand correctly, ward members really came trust their new bishop also.
However, because of the strong pleas of several ward members who had been waiting to be counseled by Bishop Phil Birch, the stake leaders requested my Dad to continue counseling those specific ward members he had been counseling and several others who had been waiting for him to counsel them.

In that capacity he was necessary for Dad to work very closely with the new bishop who had just recently moved into the ward. He and Dad became close friends.
After that list of ward members had been taken care of, Dad no longer assisted the new bishop by counseling ward members. The people Dad had been counseling had even travelled about thirty miles round-trip for that counseling, but they evidently thought it worth their while.

It was not my father's idea to continue counseling ward members after his release. It was the decision of the stake presidency. At that time Roseville and North Sacramento were both still in the Sacramento stake.

I give credit to the special Gift of the Spirit that LDS bishops are blessed with that brought about that special success during that interlude in his life of church service. I have to give some credit to Dad's practice of calling upon the help of specific Book of Mormon prophets mentally to feel the support he needed from the Lord.

TO ACCESS NEIL BIRCH'S BLOG INDEX: To Either Read the Full Index Item Which Refers To This Blog Post, (Or To Search The Index For Any Other Blog Post You Desire To Access), After You Have Read All of This Paragraph, Please Scroll Back Up And Click on the Following: Birch, Philip and Virginia, Neil Birch and His Brothers', Larry and Bruce, Parents. - Post 28. When The Picture of Our Savior, Jesus Christ Sitting Next To a Little Boy Comes Onto Your Screen, Please Scroll Down In The Index To Your Target Item Or Use the Alphabetical Scrolling Device (When It Has Been Installed).

"Have You Really Read the Book of Mormon?" Legal /Statement. Thank you for visiting. The author retains intellectual property and creative licensing rights. Permission to use or reprint must be given in writing. © Est.2008 Neil Birch Legal /Statement.


I deeply appreciate your readership and hope you found very beneficial, that which was presented to you in this blog post.

If you have any questions about what you have read or viewed in this post or in any previous posts of mine, or if you even have a curiosity about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and or its teachings, please e-mail me. I'm Neil and my e-mail address is: If you contact me I'll get back to you just as soon as possible.

I invite you to let your friends and relatives know about this blog if you think they would be interested in it. Please be advised that I also have an additional blog. It is in Spanish:Its content is translated from the English in this blog.

Neil Birch

This website is not owned by or affiliated with the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church.

No comments: