New leader for Woodstock congregation

Carter Knapp

The regional leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints announced they have ordained a new bishop for the Woodstock congregation.

Carter L. Knapp will be replacing Judson Rex, who left for a job in Texas, as the bishop of the congregation. In the Mormon faith, a bishop is a lay minister and performs many of the same duties as a pastor of a congregation, which is called a “ward” and is comprised of 200-500 members.

About 9 to 12 wards, amounting to about 3,000 to 5,000 worshipers, are combined together to create a “stake,” which is like a diocese in the Catholic tradition.

Knapp is the director of technology for Realogy Corp., a Fortune 500 real estate company based in New Jersey. Knapp has lived in the Shenandoah Valley for about four years, after moving from Northern Virginia.

Randall Bartlett, the Winchester stake president, said Bartlett brings with him more than 40 years of leadership experience in the Church of Latter-day Saints.

“I think Carter Knapp brings a well-developed closeness to his savior and a love of his fellow man that he will use to help people in the ward and the community come closer to Jesus Christ,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said Knapp’s leadership would be a “move to the next level” for the 330-member ward. There are ongoing budget talks within the church about expanding the ward’s sanctuary to accommodate more members, Bartlett said.

“We’ve seen great progress in the families and individuals interested in the positive things happening in the Church of Jesus Christ,” Bartlett said. “We hope, under Bartlett’s tenure, growth will continue and hopefully we can expand the building.”

Bartlett said bishops come from all walks of life and their professions may vary from construction to retail management.

“We may have a variety of individuals rising to the leadership positions, but what they have in common is that they are good faithful men dedicated to service,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett added, “You can’t have an individual take 20 to 30 hours of their lives a week and dedicate to nothing but service to people within the church and community and not have them be substantively good men.”

A bishop oversees the various leadership roles within the ward, including presidents of the Relief Society, a women volunteer and faith group, the Children’s Primary, a youth group for kids ages 3 to 12, and the lay priesthood. Bartlett said the bishop is “a leader of a set of leaders.”

“The bishop meets with the other leaders in the church to form a council to plan activities and directions of the church,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said unlike mainline protestant faiths, where the pastor is responsible for writing the Sunday sermon, a bishop only addresses his ward from time to time. Instead, Bartlett said the bishop asks members of the congregation to deliver their own, short sermons.

“You might have a 12-year-old young man deliver a five-minute sermon, then followed by a mother who might take 15 minutes to talk about a topic such as faith or repentance, then a another woman or man may give a sermon for 20 minutes towards the end of a regular service,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said this way of delivering a service allows members to take ownership of their spiritual growth.

“The idea is we want to give each member of the congregation an opportunity to grow and progress in their own faith and in the expression of that faith,” Bartlett said.

The Winchester stake includes 10 wards, ranging from Luray to Romney, West Virginia.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com