With Prairie Village city administrator departing for hometown, his church needs a new leader, too

Quinn Bennion's final day as bishop of his church on Holmes was Sunday.
Quinn Bennion’s final day as bishop of his church on Holmes was Sunday.

Being a city administrator is no easy job. There are budgets to nail down. Codes to make sure are enforced. Streets that must get swept. And, to be sure, not a small number of disgruntled residents to assuage.

For the past several years, City Administrator Quinn Bennion has not only kept Prairie Village’s operations running smoothly, but also served as the top leader of his church. With Bennion’s departure next month to become the city manager in his Utah hometown, both Prairie Village and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Holmes will need new leaders.

In the Latter Day Saints organization, there is no professional clergy. The president of an LDS stake, usually made up of around 10 wards, or congregations, will appoint a member of a congregation as bishop — the top spiritual and temporal leader for an individual church — to serve for four to seven years. Each bishop is assisted by two counselors, who share some of the duties of running the congregation.

Bennion was asked to take up the bishop role at his congregation four years ago.

“You don’t aspire to that call, or want it necessarily, because it comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of burden,” Bennion said. “But when you are asked to do that, you step up to that and receive a lot of strength from others and do you best.”

Since becoming bishop, Bennion has spent hours of his weekends and evenings on congregation activities. As bishop, he was in charge of not only leading the weekly service for the 200 or so members who attend on Sundays, but also assessing needs for financial or emotional support for congregation members. He spent nearly all day every Sunday at the church, as well as every Wednesday evening. As bishop, he’s been in charge of conducting every wedding and funeral service in the congregation.

With the family set to depart for Utah in the coming weeks, his friends and fellow congregants say his loss will be hard to take.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Heather Wimmer, a close friend of the Bennions who lives in Prairie Village and whose family has attended the church for years. “We adore [the Bennion family]. And having a bishop leave is a big deal. There’s a lot of turmoil involved in that. He’s been a really close part of a lot of people’s lives.”

Bennion concedes that the schedule has been taxing. Balancing his demanding job with the city with his volunteer commitment to the church (bishops receive no compensation for their work) and raising four children was not easy. But, looking back, he says, it’s been a growing opportunity.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to serve with others and learn from other people — both with their challenges and their successes,” he said. “[With the city and the church] I’ve had these to two communities that I’ve gotten to be a part of and help build, and it’s really been a fulfilling life here.”