On Sunday, January 29, 2023, Spokane Stake President Darrell Moseley reorganized the bishopric of the one of the stake’s oldest wards, the Spokane 1st Ward. Bishop George Frederick [Rick] Whitehead was called and sustained as Bishop, succeeding C. Sean Bates, who had served in the position since 2018. Bishop Whitehead’s counselors were also called, Brother Kandon Kamae as first counselor and Dean Lorimer Jr. as second counselor. As part of the reorganization, Bishop Sean Bates was honorably released, along with his counselors, Tyson Pulsipher and Rick Whitehead.
As part of the reorganization, members of the outgoing and incoming bishoprics shared their testimonies. The congregation also heard from Jennifer Bates and Heather Whitehead, along with concluding remarks by President Moseley.
In his first remarks in this new capacity, Bishop Whitehead noted the ward’s distinction as one of the original wards in the region. He recounted the history in the Book of Mormon wherein Abinadi’s teachings influenced a priest named Alma to repent and to teach others about Jesus Christ. Those who joined him at the Waters of Mormon could be considered the “Waters of Mormon 1st Ward,” as a body of the original followers in those days and in that region, similar to the Spokane 1st Ward. The Waters of Mormon 1st Ward had a unifying experience as they were all baptized in a short period of time. While not all baptized in rapid succession like those at the Waters of Mormon, members of the Spokane 1st Ward draw similar unity through the renewing of their covenants by partaking of the Sacrament. He envisions the ward being bound to our Savior Jesus Christ and to each other, knit together in unity and in love (see Mosiah 18:21).
Rick and Heather Whitehead have been members of the Spokane Stake for nearly 12 years and have four children. Their one son is currently serving a mission for the Church in Monterrey, Mexico with their three daughters living at home. Rick is originally from St. George, Utah and Heather is from Redmond, Washington.
The Spokane 1st Ward was first organized as the Spokane Central Ward in June 1947, and with the Spokane 2nd Ward, is one of the first five wards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organized in the Inland Northwest. It traces its roots to the Spokane Branch, first organized with local leadership in 1916. Learn more about the history the Spokane Stake by viewing the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Fireside.