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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Should I Say Something to the Bishop? » Should I Say Something to the Bishop?

Should I Say Something to the Bishop?

Don - August 7, 2010

This has been bugging me for several days now. We are having a family reunion and while the whole family is here we are going to bless a baby.

I asked permission of the Bishop (since it won’t be a regular Fast Sunday) he said no problem just let the executive sec. know – which I did.

The Exe. sec. called me to confirm and tell me that the father would need to come early to fill out some paperwork and that those who plan on being in the circle must have a current Temple recommend.

I have one son who is an Elder but is not endowed yet. He has a current limited temple recommend for baptisms only. (In fact I arranged with the temple president to do a special family baptism while everyone is here and this son is obviously included).

Anyway I wanted to make sure there weren’t going to be any embarrassing last minute glitches, so I told the Bishop everyone would have their recommends but one is not endowed. He asked me to get the name of the Ward and the name of the Bishop of my son’s ward so he could give him a call.

I was a bit stunned, but didn’t say anything. Now I kind of wish I had.

Why does my Bishop think he needs to check-up on this son? Isn’t a temple recommend a temple recommend? Since when do Bishops need to check up on Temple recommend holders coming to their ward and why does it take a special call just to stand in a circle with other Mel. Priesthood holder’s for a baby blessing?

If this son is worthy enough to go to the temple and do baptisms then isn’t he worthy enough to stand in the circle?

My son just moved into his current ward about a month ago, his Bishop didn’t issue the recommend and barely knows who he is. And his Bishop was going out of town this week, so my Bishop may not even be able to speak with him.

So should I say something, should I just let the chips fall where they may and hope there’s no problem or what?

53 Comments »

  1. You are not required to have a temple recommend to stand in the circle. This is just a case of bueracracy trying to make sure everyone is M. Priesthood and not taking your word for it. Sad really.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 7, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  2. Ridiculous, strange, and totally not in line with general practice.

    Comment by E — August 7, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  3. They don’t check with the bishops of uncles and grandfathers who show up for baby blessings in fast meetings in the baby’s home ward. And lots of young elders act in their priesthood offices appropriately in the (often) months between being ordained and going to the temple for the first time.

    I think your bishop has made a mistake and that there should be no hesitation about having your son stand in the circle. This isn’t even a question about sustaining your bishop, regardless of whether he is mistaken or not — you have complied with his request in giving him the contact information for your son’s bishop. I don’t think you need to do anything more.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 7, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

  4. I’ve never heard of having to have a temple recommend to stand in a baby blessing circle. Can your ExSec provide where in the handbook it states that?

    I don’t think you need to do anything else.

    Comment by Dan — August 7, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

  5. those who plan on being in the circle must have a current Temple recommend.

    Since when?

    Temple recommends are for attending the temple. They shouldn’t be required for other parts of our religion. There’s no reason to put additional roadblocks in place for people who, for whatever reason, are not endowed or not able or willing to attend the temple.

    Comment by MCQ — August 7, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

  6. Go over his head to the Stake President. Some Bishops have to learn the hard way.

    Comment by Margaret — August 7, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  7. As part of making sure that unknown-to-local-leaders Priesthood Holders are PH holders in good standing, there is a requirement that said PH holders have a note from their local bishop stating that they are worthy to officiate in PH ordinances. (There’s a name for this certificate, but I’m blanking on it now.)

    A current temple recommend is often easier for people to use, since it is often carried around and doesn’t require an additional signature/paperwork from the home bishop.

    Some wards are sticklers for the recommend, others are not. That he’s making a call instead of requiring a piece of paper (did you tell him the unendowed elder had a limited-use recommend, or did you just tell him there was an unendowed elder?) is a compromise that will keep your son from needing to go get written evidence that he’s worthy to participate in the ordinance.

    If you’re still feeling bad about the situation, ask to review the policy as stated in the CHI. He can review it with you and clarify in both his mind and yours the details of the temple recommend requirement.

    Comment by LRC — August 7, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

  8. LRC is correct, your bishop is acting according to the church handbook. the name of the certificate is recommend to perform ordinances, which can be obtained from the bishop for unendowed members to perform an ordinances in another ward, or the two bishops can simply chat briefly. the temple recommend is the way this is done for endowed members since the other would be redundant. I don’t think the limited use specifies priesthood, or perhaps your bishop didn’t understand that he had one.

    the bishop is responsible for making sure ordinances done in his ward are done properly and worthily and he’s simply trying to do that. I’m sure if you talked to him about it he would be happy to explain in more detail.

    Comment by Dustin — August 7, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  9. This is bogus. I think there is some requirement for the person doing the blessing, but definitely not for those in the circle.

    Comment by Rusty — August 7, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

  10. As part of making sure that unknown-to-local-leaders Priesthood Holders are PH holders in good standing, there is a requirement that said PH holders have a note from their local bishop stating that they are worthy to officiate in PH ordinances.

    Come on, isn’t someone going to just quote the section in the Doctrine and Covenants were that is found?

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 7, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

  11. Isn’t there a scripture that says “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission”? (Well there should be…)

    Invite him in to the circle and odds are very high nobody will know or care.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 7, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

  12. Temple recommends are sometimes required for Republicans to get political jobs. No kidding!

    Comment by joe — August 8, 2010 @ 5:49 am

  13. As a woman, I’m a little confused as to why there exist two possible evidences of worthiness, the TR and the other certificate. Do people have to be temple worthy to officiate? And if so, why not just give them a limited use TR to show their worthiness? If they don’t have to be temple worthy, what is the standard of worthiness for officiating?

    Comment by ariel — August 8, 2010 @ 11:44 am

  14. @Ethesis yes, yes I am.
    DC 20:84
    84 All members removing from the church where they reside, if going to a church where they are not known, may take a letter certifying that they are regular members and in good standing, which certificate may be signed by any elder or priest if the member receiving the letter is personally acquainted with the elder or priest, or it may be signed by the teachers or deacons of the church.

    This is the guideline for the practice current in the Church. I remember this coming up on my mission as my recommend expired in Sep that year, but I wouldn’t get a new TR till Oct when I had my exit interview. In the intervening weeks I used my Missionary certificate to prove I was a “member in good standing”. I even baptized a person during that time.

    2 Corinthians 3 shows what Paul thought of this, at least in a specific case:
    1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
    2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
    3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

    He’s saying he doesn’t need the letter cause he’s the guy who preached the Gospel to them in the first place.
    personally, I agree with Matt W in #1, this is a case of too much bureaucracy.

    Comment by Andrew G — August 8, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  15. Andrew ;) — I’m glad you responded even though I mistyped “where” and “were” …

    Who knows why the Bishop is being thorough. Most of the ones I know don’t have the time.

    Perplexes me more than anything else. Locally they often (after everything is long done) go “oops, I should have checked” then /sigh, and go on.

    I agree with Matt W in #1, this is a case of too much bureaucracy — they obviously don’t have enough to do in that ward.

    ;)

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 8, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

  16. The only requirement for participating in the ordinance (whether as voice or merely standing in) is holding the MP. An Aaronic priesthood holder can get a limited use recommend, so that does not suffice as evidence. Hence, the alternative form mentioned above. Maybe the bishop is too bureaucratic for your tastes, but he is not out of line.

    Comment by Last Lemming — August 8, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  17. My 13- and 14-year-old sons each have a limited use temple recommend, as do many other youth, so that item does not provide evidence that the holder is an elder. It isn’t a worthiness issue; it’s a priesthood office issue, and the recommend for baptistry work tells nothing about that. Your son’s bishop, even if they only met last month, can confirm that yes, said person is on the records as an elder in the Melchezidek priesthood.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 9, 2010 @ 5:42 am

  18. From what I was told when recently having an issue with a similar question, you don’t even have to be a member to stand in the circle, just a man. (I’ve seen it done.) You only have to have the Priesthood to actually pronounce the blessing.

    Baby blessings are not ordinances, they are blessings.

    But I could be wrong. After all, I don’t hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.

    Comment by SilverRain — August 9, 2010 @ 7:26 am

  19. I have never not seen them ask for TR’s if you want to stand in the circle at a baby blessing or for a confirmation. It seems like a normal practice to me.

    Your case is a little bit different with the limited use REC. I probably would have stayed quiet on this to avoid the whole situation.

    Non-members are never never permitted in my church exp to stand in the circle in a baby blessing. Silver Rains situation seems very odd to me like somebody did not read the CHI

    Comment by bbell — August 9, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  20. I told the Bishop everyone would have their recommends but one is not endowed.

    I suspect the bishop might think that one guy is some kind of lost sheep; an elder that never made the step of receiving his endowment. Unless you elaborated (on his age, for instance), I could definitely understand him wanting to ensure his worthiness.

    Comment by Thaddeus — August 9, 2010 @ 11:14 am

  21. [...] Who knows? [...]

    Pingback by How many Mormons does it take to bless a baby? | Main Street Plaza — August 9, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

  22. The CHI (2006) states that a temple recommend or a Recommend to Perform an Ordinance form should be shown if you are outside your own ward, but only “to act as voice when naming and blessing a child, baptizing or confirming a person, ordaining a person to a priesthood office, or dedicating a grave….”

    Current practice, also per the CHI (2006) is that only worthy MP holders may participate in naming and blessing children. This is revised from the older occasional practice of including others in the circle, including the mother. The CHI also gently reminds bishops that they should make every reasonable effort to avoid embarassment or offense to individuals or families.

    Comment by zehill — August 9, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  23. They all read the CHI quite carefully, in fact. That is WHY it was allowed.

    Comment by SilverRain — August 9, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

  24. Baby blessings are not ordinances, they are blessings.

    Actually, it is an ordinance, just not a saving (essential) one.

    (I used to think the same thing you did, but then learned otherwise.)

    Lots of references you could check, but here’s an example

    Comment by Michelle — August 9, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  25. Hm. Link didn’t come through:

    http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=74439207f7c20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=0ef9f4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD

    Comment by Michelle — August 9, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  26. It’s kind of “standard procedure,” the bishop of the local ward is the presiding authority and it’s his responsibility to make sure everyone taking part is “kosher” so to speak. Having a current temple recommend or the ordinance authorization form certifies them as eligible to perform ordinances outside of their local area.

    That said, this bishop is a stickler. I’ve never been asked to show my recommend. For my own family events, with one exception no bishop has questioned at all – they know I know the rules and simply assume I won’t invite anyone who shouldn’t be there. The one exception, also a sticker, also never asked to see anyone’s recommend. He simply asked me beforehand if I was comfortable that everyone invited was eligible and left it at that. To follow up directly with people’s bishops (especially when it’s a known family member) is unusual.

    Comment by Arthur — August 9, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

  27. #22 Thanks zehill, I haven’t had access to a CHI for several years now…not in the Bishopric anymore thankgoodness. But I thought I was “right” in my thinking.

    Now I’ll go tell the Bishop to……….we’ll maybe I’ll just let it pass.

    Comment by Don — August 9, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  28. Here’s another link to the description from the Family Guidebook (pg. 19) of the ordinance of naming and blessing children. Considering that the blessing is given by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, it makes sense that those participating need to be worthy holders of that priesthood.

    Also, D&C 20:70 is clear that the children are to be brought to the elders, “who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.”

    I think that the OP’s Bishop was being overcautious, but I understand where he was coming from with his request to speak with the son’s Bishop. Probably a little more red tape than the situation warranted, but I’m not the presiding authority in the ward.

    Comment by Russel.G — August 9, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

  29. It’s kind of “standard procedure,” the bishop of the local ward is the presiding authority and it’s his responsibility to make sure everyone taking part is “kosher” so to speak. Having a current temple recommend or the ordinance authorization form certifies them as eligible to perform ordinances outside of their local area.

    That said, this bishop is a stickler. I’ve never been asked to show my recommend. For my own family events, with one exception no bishop has questioned at all – they know I know the rules and simply expect I won’t invite anyone who shouldn’t be there. The one exception, also a sticker, simply asks beforehand if am was comfortable that everyone invited is eligible and leaves it at that. To follow up directly with people’s bishops (particularly when it’s a known family member) is somewhat unusual.

    That said, it’s taught in quorum meetings that your recommend (or authorization form) is your permission slip, so to speak. Experienced priesthood holders have their recommends on them as a matter of course with the expectation that we might be asked to produce them if an opportunity arises where we’re not known.

    A limited recommend doesn’t mean one has been ordained an Elder. I suspect that’s the difference, especially for a bishop in a ward without a lot of converts and an adult having a limited recommend would be pretty rare. Your bishop is doing it very by the book, but no brother would be surprised or offended at being asked to show his recommend. In your son’s case, if there’s time he can call the bishop and get an authorization form signed to go next to his limited recommend in his wallet, until he’s endowed. That way there’s no ambiguity for the local presiding authority in situations like this.

    Comment by Arthur — August 9, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

  30. Are the worthiness requirements for officiating in ordinances the same worthiness requirements for attending the temple?

    Comment by ariel — August 9, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

  31. Well, neither having access to a CHI, only taking another’s word for what it said, nor having the priesthood myself, everything I say is hearsay. But I was assured that priesthood worthiness nor even membership was necessary to participate in a baby blessing unless you were the one actually pronouncing the blessing itself.

    Comment by SilverRain — August 10, 2010 @ 7:26 am

  32. Arthur (29),

    That said, it’s taught in quorum meetings that your recommend (or authorization form) is your permission slip, so to speak.

    Not in any quorum meetings I’ve ever been to.

    Comment by Sam B. — August 10, 2010 @ 7:52 am

  33. #30 ariel: I don’t know the answer to your question. The only teaching I am aware of states:

    Priesthood holders should know how to perform priesthood ordinances and be worthy to have the guidance of the Holy Ghost in performing them.

    There is not typically an interview of a priesthood holder prior to allowing him to perform an ordinance, such as there is for a temple recommend. Priesthood holders who do not hold a current temple recommend are still allowed to perform priesthood ordinances with no questions asked. Based on that, I would say that the standards are not precisely the same.

    #29 Arthur, no one outside the temple has ever asked me to produce a recommend for any reason other than (only recently) for buying garments. I think I would be somewhat offended if anyone outside the temple did ask to see my TR. I have never understood that a TR has any other purpose than allowing admission to the temple. It doesn’t actually serve as any guarantee of current worthiness, as there is a long time between required interviews.

    Comment by MCQ — August 10, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  34. Non-members are never never permitted in my church exp to stand in the circle in a baby blessing. Silver Rains situation seems very odd to me like somebody did not read the CHI

    While this is currently true, it has not been true in the history of the church. In the past non-member fathers were allowed to stand in the circle. I’m not aware of mothers doing so, and the requirement that all be MP holders was instituted when mothers began clamoring to be included. Damn feminists.


    Are the worthiness requirements for officiating in ordinances the same worthiness requirements for attending the temple?

    In my ward, the answer to that question is yes. My bishop has actively prevented MP holders who do not have TRs from performing ordinances.

    Comment by Kari — August 11, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  35. Kari, I think your bishop is wrong in doing that. I have not seen that happen before. Anyone else had that experience? My understanding is that a TR is not required to perform ordinances, and in fact, it is expressly permitted that priests may baptize. Priests do not hold the MP and cannot therefore hold a TR in most cases. Thus, it would be totally improper for a bishop to require a TR before a priest could baptize.

    Many priests have performed baptisms of younger siblings in my ward. As a missionary, I saw fathers given the Aaronic priesthood directly after their baptism, and then they baptized their families, no TR was involved in any of those instances.

    Wards

    Comment by MCQ — August 11, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  36. In my experience, bishops are anxious to give less active men an opportunity to exercise their priesthood. Even to the point of twisting their arm to participate when they were reluctant.

    Comment by Last Lemming — August 11, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  37. At the end of #35 my comment got cut off. It should say:

    “Wards should be using priesthood ordinances as a way to include as many people as possible, not creating unnecesssary and unauthorized roadblocks for participation.”

    Comment by MCQ — August 11, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

  38. SilverRain, it used to be that non-member fathers could participate, but women used that fact to argue that they should be allowed to participate as well, and the policy was clarified in the CHI. Participants do, in fact, need to be MP holders.

    Comment by Kristine — August 11, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  39. Well, this was last year, so apparently the CHI isn’t always being followed very strictly.

    No real surprise there.

    Comment by SilverRain — August 12, 2010 @ 6:42 am

  40. Yeah, it was changed in one of the early 80s iterations of the then GHI, I’m pretty sure. I like the old practice better, myself–the D&C does say that “parents” are to present the child, and I think there’s room for that “presenting” to include standing in the circle.

    But no one has asked me what I think :)

    Comment by Kristine — August 12, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  41. I personally know two MP holders who are being required to allow other men to baptize their children because they don’t hold/are unworthy of TR’s… I wonder why there isn’t a more clear standard of worthiness for ordinance performers.

    Comment by ariel — August 14, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  42. Not being worthy to hold a temple recommend and simply not holding one are two different things. If a person has confessed sins that make him unworthy to hold a TR, that might also make him unworthy to perform ordinances. A peson in that situation might be on probation or even disfellowshipped and no one would know about it.

    But there is no interview required to baptize your own children, even if you don’t have a temple recommend. So you cannot be prohibited from baptizing your children based simply on the fact that you do not have a temple recommend. Again, the Melchizedek Priesthood is not required to baptize. 16 yr old priests that hold the Aaronic priesthood can (and do) baptize, and they don’t ever have temple recommends.

    Comment by MCQ — August 15, 2010 @ 1:54 am

  43. “Wards should be using priesthood ordinances as a way to include as many people as possible, not creating unnecesssary and unauthorized roadblocks for participation.”

    Seems that there was a talk on this in the last conference (having just listened to it on CD, I’m sure of it).

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 15, 2010 @ 6:20 am

  44. Including an apostle talking about how people should go to their fathers, not general authorities for things like this and how if the one young man’s father had not been an elder, he would have ordained him on the spot so he could ordain his son.

    Interesting perspectives.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — August 15, 2010 @ 6:21 am

  45. In my experience, bishops are anxious to give less active men an opportunity to exercise their priesthood.

    Not all bishops are created equal. That has also been my experience, but every now and then I have also witnessed some do the opposite to “send a message” of “look at what you are missing for being inactive.”

    It all depends on the Bishop.

    Comment by Manuel — August 16, 2010 @ 9:05 am

  46. But there is no interview required to baptize your own children, even if you don’t have a temple recommend. So you cannot be prohibited from baptizing your children based simply on the fact that you do not have a temple recommend. – MCQ #42

    MCQ, I don’t think this statement is wholly correct. While no interview is formally required by church policy, permission still has to be granted by the bishop. (When our son was baptised out of the ward boundaries, we had to get permission from our home bishop and the the bishop in the area where the baptism took place.)

    I know many bishops who would call a brother in and question why he doesn’t have a TR and if he’s worthy to baptize before granting permission. And as I stated, my current bishop feels that if you’re not worthy of a TR, then your not worthy to perform an ordinance that requires his permission.

    Comment by Kari — August 16, 2010 @ 9:54 am

  47. Kari, there are always permissions required to perform ordinances out of ward boundaries, but your bishop is out of line if he is refusing permission to baptize based solely on someone not having a TR. Again, however, that is very different from someone who is not WORTHY of a TR. Those are two very different things.

    And again, baptisms can be performed by Aaronic priesthood members who do not have TRs, so it is not possible to make holding a recommend a prerequisite for performing a baptism.

    Comment by MCQ — August 16, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  48. MCQ, permission has to be granted whether the baptism is local or out of the ward/stake boundaries. The bishop ultimately decides who may or may not perform an ordinance. Unfortunately, there is no clear criteria.

    I guess I don’t fully understand the real world difference of having a TR and “being worthy to have one.” I’ve personally never met a Mormon who was “worthy” to have a TR who didn’t have one. So, when we speak of folks who don’t have a TR, it would seem to me that implicit in that discussion is that there is something that makes them “unworthy.” Maybe it’s because they don’t pay a full tithe. Maybe it’s because they’re not up to date on child support. Maybe they drink coffee. Maybe it’s because they refuse a TR because they have issues with the temple.

    What makes one “worthy” to officiate in the priesthood? Don asks a similar question in his original post. Who gets to decide that question? If one drinks coffee does that preclude him from performing a baptism? How about doubts about the divinity of Christ or the veracity of the official version of the first vision? What about believing that polygamy wasn’t instituted of God?

    What sins are so great as to preclude one from exercising priesthood?

    My opinion, which many may find heretical, is that once one has been given the priesthood, the question of worthiness should be left up to that person. If he feels worthy, he should be allowed. Ultimately the efficacy of a priesthood ordinance doesn’t depend upon the “worthiness” of the person performing the ordinance. If that was so, the sacrament wouldn’t have efficacy 90% of the time. (Hyperbole, I know, but you get my point.)

    Joseph Smith taught that despite being drunk when he uttered the curse on Ham and his lineage, God upheld that curse because he honored Noah’s priesthood. Is that teaching applicable today?

    A real world example: The stake patriarch in the stake of my youth was convicted of child molestation (of his granddaughters). In the investigation it came out that he had molested his own daughters when they were children. When asked about the efficacy of the patriachal blessings he bestowed during the time he was sexually molesting children, members of the stake were told it was unnecessary to receive another patriachal blessing.

    So if God will honor the curse of a drunken man or the patriachal blessing of a child molester, I can’t imagine a sin that would keep Him from honoring any priesthood ordinance, no matter the “worthiness” of the officiator. And requiring a bishop to ask any question other than “Are you worthy?”, “Are you comfortable with God to perform this ordinance?”, or even simply “Do you hold the priesthood required for this ordinance?” seems pointless.

    Comment by Kari — August 18, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

  49. Kari, I agree with that 100%, and I don’t think it’s heretical at all.

    Comment by MCQ — August 18, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

  50. I recommend you try to find any of this in the Bible. Since its not there…it’s all just polluting of what should be a joyous occasion by man’s vain rituals.

    Comment by Tony — August 30, 2010 @ 10:03 am

  51. There are a lot of things that are not in the Bible that many churches do, Tony. Because we don’t adhere to the idea that the Bible is the complete and inerrant word of God, we couldn’t care less whether it’s in the Bible or not.

    The blessing and naming of babies is not an ordinance that is required for salvation, but it’s a nice traditional ritual that many churches do in one form or another, and as rituals go, it’s no more vain than most.

    Comment by MCQ — August 30, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  52. I thought this was in the CHI?

    If one is acting as voice, a temple recommend or special letter is required.

    Otherwise, no.

    Comment by grego — September 5, 2010 @ 2:56 am

  53. My husband is a non-member and I’m LDS. When our daughter was born and blessed he stood in the circle with all the
    other men–no, you do not need a temple recommend.

    Comment by mary — September 12, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

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