Fairfax resident Steve Forsyth has recently been called by church authorities to serve as the bishop of the local Franklin Ward (congregation) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). He replaces Scott Wheatley, president of Executive Settlements in Centreville, who served as bishop for six years.
Forsyth and his wife Marilynn have lived in Fairfax since 2001. They have two sons, two daughters, and three grandchildren. Both his BA and his law degree are from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Forsyth is the chief attorney for ExxonMobil, where he has worked for 30 years. Before moving to Northern Virginia, he and his family have lived in Texas and Malaysia. And like many young Mormons, he served a two-year mission prior to completing his undergraduate degree, which was in economics. In his case, his mission was in Indonesia during the early ‘70s.
Mormons use the term bishop to refer to each local congregation’s minister or pastor. The Franklin Ward, which conducts its services at 2727 Centreville Road in the Oak Hill area of Herndon, is one of more than 60 local congregations in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, comprising eight regional stakes (similar to dioceses), with each stake having from six to 12 wards.
Mormon bishops do not get paid, and keep their full-time employment during their period of service. In fact, there are no paid ecclesiastical positions in the Mormon Church. All church positions, from bishop to choir director, from organist to Sunday School teacher, are all filled by unpaid member volunteers.
Like ministers in most Christian congregations, Mormon bishops serve as the spiritual leader of their congregation, which is typically made up of from 200-600 local members.
The Franklin Ward holds its weekly worship services from 9 a.m.-noon every Sunday, and visitors are welcome. One other congregation also meets in the same building each Sunday: the Chantilly Ward, which meets from 1-4 p.m.