We have ward conference coming up soon. I cannot sustain our Relief Society President but I sustain the rest of the Relief Society Presidency. What happens when I don’t raise my hand to sustain her?
If all you do is abstain from sustaining, the votes will be seen as unanimous and the conference will move forward as planned. If, however, you decide that you will oppose the sustaining, something else happens.
From the transcript of the October 1980 conference:
“It is proposed that we sustain President Spencer W. Kimball as prophet, seer, and revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All in favor, please manifest it. Contrary, by the same sign.
“[A call of “no” from several in the congregation]
“Elder McConkie: President Romney, it appears that there are three negative votes. This is to advise those so voting that they may meet with Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the Council of the Twelve following this session. Thank you.
“President Romney: Thank you.”
Similarly, should you choose to oppose the sustaining, you will be invited to meet with a member of the bishopric after the meeting to voice your concerns in private. Appropriate action will then be taken based on the information you share. For instance, if you know of some grievous sin committed by the president, the bishop can convene a disciplinary council. Conversely, the bishop may already be aware of the information and have knowledge that you do not (of her repentance, or that rumors are unfounded), in which case you will be thanked for sharing and nothing further will be done. If there is something of a less grievous nature but which still needs to be addressed, this knowledge can be used to instruct and train the president. Finally, if the reasons for opposing are wholly yours – that is, the president rubs you the wrong way, or the two of you just don’t get along – then the bishop may take the time to give you some much needed counsel.
Regardless, if you feel that you can’t sustain a leader, you don’t need to wait for a formal setting to voice it. Ask to speak with your bishop (or even your Relief Society president) to either aid your president or to seek counsel.