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Spotlight: Lake Brandt Ward

Getting To Know Bishop Ben Stay

Posted: Sunday - August 6, 2023

Let's meet Ben Stay, the first bishop of the newly formed Lake Brandt Ward. 

How did you find Jesus in your life?

I grew up a member of the church with family lines back to Orson Pratt and Heber C. Kimball. However, there came a point later in high school and my freshman year of college where I began to strongly question my testimony. I began sincerely reading the Book of Mormon and praying. First I prayed to know if Heavenly Father was there and received confirmation that He was, and He knew what was best for me. Then I prayed and received a witness that Jesus Christ is my Savior. Then I prayed about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I didn't get that answer right away. After a few weeks, I realized I needed to be ready to receive the answer. Since I knew Heavenly Father knew what was best for me, I needed to be ready to go ALL IN following Jesus Christ and His church. Once I felt I was ready for whatever answer, I received this answer, "You always knew that Jesus was in this church!" From the testimony meetings at youth conference, to the fireside chats with friends and leaders, to the service projects, and many other experiences that came to mind, I had felt the Holy Ghost and knew that Jesus Christ was leading this church, and I would be the most happy by giving my heart and soul to this path of discipleship.

How did you meet your wife?

The day after I graduated from high school, my family moved to Northern Virginia for the summer before I started college. I was pretty bitter and upset about leaving my home and friends, but I recall my dad trying to cheer me up by talking about the 1st counselor in the bishopric who was a real life secret agent man and how he had three cute daughters. While I didn't go to Russia on my mission and never became a secret agent man myself, after a mission, my family moving to New England, and running into Rebekah at school in Utah, I married the cutest, hardest working, and most loving of the three daughters (and any daughters) and that bishopric counselor became my father-in-law. While that move for me was trying and difficult, now I can look back on it and see the Lord's hand in my life by helping me to connect with my eternal companion and her wonderful family. That move ended up being one of the best things that happened to me.

What General Conference talk has been on your mind lately and why?

I have recently spent time going back and re-reading and studying President Nelson's talk from the Sunday Morning Session titled "Peacemakers Needed." When I choose to be a peacemaker first and overcome my desires to initially respond harshly or without compassion, I am rewarded with love in my heart and often find I am better able to help the hearts of those around me. Charity is a spiritual gift I need to be constantly seeking.

What is your go-to ice cream flavor and why?

Growing up in Houston, Texas, our 5th grade field trip was to Brenham, Texas headquarters and home of the Blue Bell Ice Cream HQ and factory. Blue Bell Cookies and Cream used to be my favorite until a decade or so ago when I first tried their Cookie Two Step, which is a combination of Cookies and Cream and Cookie Dough Ice Cream...yummm! As their slogan says, "It's the best ice cream in the country!" though nostalgia may have some part to play in my preferences 🙂

How many children do you have?

Rebekah and I have four children.

Where else have you lived and how long have you lived in North Carolina?

Our family spent six wonderful years in the Summit Ward until we moved into our current home almost four years ago. We moved to North Carolina from Northern Virginia, which is where we landed after finishing school in Utah. I grew up in Houston and also spent time living in Indonesia and New England. With hitting the 10 year mark in July, North Carolina is the second longest I've lived anywhere after my 13 years in Houston. I would be very happy if North Carolina takes the #1 spot!