LDS Church officials announced today that the church is beginning a transition to a privately held corporation in hopes of more efficient and profitable operations.
Church spokesman John LeFever explained, “In today’s world of rising testimony-care costs, we felt that it was in the best interests of the church and its members to privatize. In this way, we can better fulfill the mission of the church while conserving much-needed funds for our larger real-estate ventures.” LeFever cited an explosion in administrative costs, which was diverting needed funds from such important projects as canned-game shooting reserves, resort hotels, and major mall renovations.
Newly ordained apostle Quentin L. Cook will supervise the transition, capitalizing on his experience privatizing unprofitable and inefficient health care systems and hospitals. “It’s a win-win situation,” said LeFever. Elder Cook will oversee the legal and financial issues in transferring church assets to a shell corporation, ‘Deseret Testimony Services,” on whose board he will serve as an officer, with Gordon B. Hinckley serving as chairman. Cook bristled at the suggestion that supervising the transfer of church assets to his own corporation constitutes a conflict of interest. “Look, I’ve done this several times. Do you think I’d have done something like this if I had an ethical problem with it?”
Cook and LeFever insisted that the new corporation would be a boon to church members. “We’re pioneers in this industry,” said a beaming H. David Burton of the Presiding Bishopric. “In its new structure, the church will become what we like to call a ‘Faith Management Organization,’ or FMO for short.”
Burton described how the new organization will work. Members, he said, will select a “primary care bishop,” or PCB, responsible for meeting their spiritual needs. At such times that members need spiritual guidance, they will need to call a toll-free number, wherein trained counselors will assess their needs and determine if a visit to the bishop’s office is warranted. Burton noted that the church will incur great cost savings by having MTC missionaries staff a phone bank as counselors. “Each missionary will receive at least one hour of training before they ever pick up the phone.”
When a bishop’s interview is warranted, members can schedule the visit at one of several FMO clinics, where they will be seen by a staff bishop for a nominal copayment. “The copayment will help us prevent unnecessary spiritual care,” said Burton. “In the spirit of charity, however, the copayment will be determined on a sliding scale, with less-fortunate members paying a smaller amount.” Annual “well-youth” interviews and temple recommend interviews will be conducted free of charge, though a nominal fee will be assessed for referring members to a staff stake president, who is considered a specialist.
Pilot programs in West Valley City and Riverton, Utah, have been quite successful. “Faith-care costs are down significantly in both areas,” said Cook, who boasted of savings so great that large executive bonuses were warranted.
Members are quite happy with the results. LaDawn Jensen of Riverton shared her experience. “I was really depressed and contemplating suicide, but after talking to that nice young elder for a minute, I was convinced I didn’t need to be seen, after all. Can anyone doubt the inspiration behind this new program? I am so thankful for a living prophet!”