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Bishop to lead behind the scenes

The New Port Richey ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a new bishop, but you won't see him doing much preaching.

"A bishop doesn't make or break a ward; it's the members that truly lead out and make it a success," Bishop David Kanar said.

Kanar explained that his responsibility is to lead the ward behind the scenes. Some of his duties are to meet with his council members and to be available for counseling. He also attends most youth activities.

Kanar converted from another faith to Latter-day Saints as a young adult and held church meetings in the Navy, from which he retired. He has served the church as an executive secretary, first counselor in a bishopric and as high councilman in the St. Petersburg stake (area).

At church services, he leads the Sacrament part (similar to Holy Communion), but as far as the teaching, members do it.

Kanar said he typically selects one youth and one or two adults from the congregation and gives them a topic to research a few weeks in advance. He calls or meets with them periodically to offer guidance and answer questions as they prepare lessons.

The service lasts three hours. After the preaching there is a Sunday school time where the adults and children split up. During the last hour, the men and women divide into groups to discuss issues relevant to them or mission projects.

Rebecca Virginia has been selected to speak at several services. "You have the opportunity to learn more this way than just sitting there," she said.

The church also teaches members to have relationships with all people who are Christlike and to live a life that will prepare them to meet God.

"The church gives us direction on how to live our lives," said Virginia, who is actively involved in the church's singles group for people older than 30.

The Latter-day Saints are known for their emphasis on family life, whether it is a single- or two-parent family. One of the programs they teach is for each family to have a Family Home Night on Mondays. No church meetings or activities are to be held on Mondays so families can spend time together. The church provides a manual to use as a guide for activities and lessons to discuss in a fun, loving way.

One idea is for the family to bake a cake and show how all the ingredients are good by themselves but have to be mixed together to make a cake. The purpose is to show unity in a family and how each member is important.

Virginia said she raised her three children with Family Home Nights, and they have continued the tradition with their children.

Kanar and his wife, Laura, have four children and in addition to Family Home Night they hold a family council meeting, where problems can be addressed and solved. "There is strength in family tradition, and the last thing you want is contention in the family," Kanar said.

Latter-day Saints actively teach that families can be eternal, that special church services can unite a family throughout eternity.

Kanar opens his home for a teen night weekly where kids 14 and older can bring their music, snacks and friends to just "hang out."

"The opportunity to serve the Heavenly Father's children in west Pasco is a rich blessing in my life," Kanar said.

He used a parable and stated, "If you are serving others, ultimately you are serving God."