Santa Margarita Stake

Meet Your Presidency! Introducing President Kirk D. Hess

This is part of a three part series introducing our stake to the new stake presidency. We begin with our new stake president. 

What is your favorite thing about living in this stake?

This area is beautiful, but what got us here was the idea that we could raise our kids alongside some of the most amazing youth I have met. As the saying goes, “The apple does not fall far from the tree,” and we have some really amazing parents here also. There is a wonderful culture of inclusion here in this stake.


How did you feel when you were called as the stake president?

Presidents Daly, Whitesides, Woffinden . . . these were my heroes while growing up here and to ever think I would occupy a seat where they once sat is profoundly humbling!

What are you most looking forward to in this new calling?

Certainly getting to know our stake family better. Being able to see the hand of the Lord work in people’s lives is so enriching. This is what makes a serving a mission so rich. Seeing people come closer to Christ through consecrated service be it our missionaries or in callings to serve, that selfless service in the kingdom is inspiring.

Favorite scripture:
Right now with this call in mind, I love 2 Timothy 1:7-9:

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."

What do you like to do for fun? 

Anything with my wife and kids. We are an outdoors family so you will often find us rock climbing, rappelling down canyons in Utah, trail running, kayaking, mountain biking.

What is your favorite food?

I love lasagna.

Where did you serve your mission?

Auckland, New Zealand

President Hess would like you to know:

I have a testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel. I love the scriptures. They are the words of eternal life! 

A Christmas Message from our very own President Schoessow

To hold my granddaughter and get to know her.  My daughter and son-in-law had the help of doctors, nurses, extended family and a blurry-eyed grandfather to help usher this baby into the world. I am humbled at the stark contrast of another young couple and the birth of a child more than 2000 years ago.

A Message of Thanksgiving from our very own President Brennan

If I understand my history well enough, the tradition of large groups gathering for a meal and giving thanks to God even predates the 1621 celebration we sometimes refer to as the “First Thanksgiving.”  And some of the traditions or practices we now enjoy probably weren’t part of that 1621 gathering.  For example, there is some question as to whether turkey was on the menu, the Pilgrims probably didn’t dress in black and white (black fabric then being exceptionally expensive), and the fork apparently had not yet been invented.  But we do know, without question, that those Pilgrims gathered to express thanks for the Lord’s bounteous blessings and tender mercies.

We might not have had a national Thanksgiving holiday were it not for Sarah Joseph Hale’s persistent pleas to U.S. presidents over the course of many years to set aside a day of thanks.  The fifth president she importuned, Abraham Lincoln, finally declared in 1863 that the last Thursday in November be set aside to remember a feast celebrated now nearly 400 years ago.  (In doing some reading, I learned that Sarah Joseph Hale is also the author of the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”).  In 1941, Congress officially declared the fourth day of every November to be Thanksgiving.  Sisters (and brethren), Sarah Joseph Hale’s pattern in persistently seeking a good thing is a pattern for all of us!

As Latter-day Saints we, both individually and collectively, have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving day.  As I think of my own prayers this morning, and what I will tell my family around a bounteous table this afternoon, I am grateful for a loving, kind Heavenly Father.  I am thankful for His plan of happiness and His most earnest desire that we, as His children, return at the appointed time to our Heavenly Home.  I am thankful for his first-born Son, the Lord Jesus Chris, who with the Father wants to help us return home and partake of eternal life.  That will be another day of Thanksgiving—but not until you and I have finished our labors here.  I am thankful to be a free man, able to choose for myself and to live and work and worship as I see fit and proper.  I am thankful that all of God’s children have been created equal, and that in this land our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed and protected.  I am grateful for parents who love me, for a kind spouse who stands by me, and for children who—although faced with their own struggles and hardships—enjoy the same opportunities and blessings that I do.  I am thankful to know that for those who do not at least at present enjoy all of the unearned privileges and advantages I have been granted, I can at least play a small part in sharing my bounty with them—and that a perfectly fair and loving Father will grant His blessings to all who truly seek them, in their due time.  As the Prophet explained:  “All of your losses will be made up to you in the resurrection, provided you continue faithful.  By the visions of the Almighty I have seen it.”

I am thankful for my fellow Latter-day Saints, particularly those who live in the Santa Margarita Stake.  I live and worship and serve alongside men and women, and boys and girls, of faith, conviction, hope, and compassion.  So many of my brothers and sisters have helped me along life’s journey, teaching me valuable lessons and filling in the gaps I could not otherwise fill on my own.

This Thanksgiving I thank you, my friends.  And I thank God in Heaven for His bounteous blessings. 

This day I adopt as my testimony that of God’s chosen Apostles:

“Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God.  He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father.  He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world.  His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.  God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”

13 congregations: "I knew every girl by name" - Jean Simpson

If Jean could choose one group of people to give advice to, it would be the young women of the church. She would tell them to “Make goals for yourself at this stage in your life that will bring you true joy, eternal joy. Then pray for the wisdom and strength to make the big and little decisions every day that will keep you on that path. Just know that the Lord knows you and He’s going to help you.”

In scouting Silver Foxes abound but Silver Beavers are a rare breed. Silver Beaver recipients like Clea Lee are downright unheard of.

The Silver Beaver Award was introduced in 1931 and is a council‐level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America.  Recipients of this award are registered Scouters who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council.

The Silver Beaver Award was introduced in 1931 and is a council‐level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America.  Recipients of this award are registered Scouters who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council.

It is quite an honor for a man to receive the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor a Boy Scout Council can bestow.  When a woman is given the award, it is truly noteworthy.  At the recent Orange County Council Annual Recognition Dinner, Clea Lee, of the Santa Margarita Ward, got a well-deserved Silver Beaver.

Clea's involvement in Scouting began when she was called as the den leader for her son Jake, then 9.  Since then, she has given untold hours  as a volunteer to Scouting in many capacities, from Cubmaster, Roundtable Staff, to the Saddleback District Committee, where she is the immediate past District Commissioner. 

Clea completed the challenging Wood Badge Training in 2007, her first camping experience.  Clea’s tiny two person tent barely allowed a place to sleep, let alone change her clothes.  Her colleagues christened it the “Barbie Dream Tent” and presented her with a homemade “first time camping” patch, her favorite award. She says the Wood Badge experience was her most rewarding in Scouting, as she "learned how to problem-solve, communicate better, how to handle change, and to set goals and achieve them step-by-step." Subsequently she was on staff for three courses, including being Senior Patrol Leader.  

Clea served as the Stake Cub Scout Specialist for six years.  She has been a Nursery Leader, Primary Leader, and currently serves as the Ward Young Women's Secretary. Her volunteerism has also taken her into the community, where she has volunteered at St. Vincent's Hospital, Laura's House, Melinda Heights Elementary School, Trabuco Hills High School, and Little Dresses for Africa.

Clea presently serves as Assistant District Commissioner in Saddleback District and Committee Member of Troop 736.  Previously she served as Bear Den Leader and Cubmaster of Pack 736.  

When asked what she would like to tell people about the Boy Scouting program, Clea said,

"The values are the same as the ones we promote in the church, and the young men are given the chance to do a lot of fun things that they might not ordinarily have the chance to do."

Clea lives in Rancho Santa Margarita with her husband, Marc, and children Jake (18) and Zoe (15).  The Lee family likes to take trips together, and have visited Costa Rica, and Paris.  They enjoy watching old "Twilight Zone" movies, going on trail hikes with their dog, Winger, and trying really "adventurous" food.

Congratulations, Clea Lee, on your Silver Beaver Award!

Written by Jean Simpson

How Can You Change the World in 2015?


The Young Women from the Santa Margarita Ward celebrated their ability to change their world. In activities leading up to their New Beginnings they each painted globes and wrote inspirational quote to inspire them. April McCuscker, the Young Women President, challenged the teenage girls and women to open the Personal Progress book. Every goal or value they work on helps them change their world now and forever. She emphasized the fact that this isnt just personal progress, it's Eternal Progress.   


According to April McCuscker,

"This year for New Beginnings, I wanted to really focus on how the girls could change their life through focusing more on the values presented in Personal Progress.  I decided to do a video with the girls answering the question, "How will you change your world in 2015"  During the middle of filming, by our very own laurel Jessica Coleman, I realized that one of the girls wasn't even a member of our ward, let alone a member of the church!  She happened to be a friend of Taryn Dunkley and she loved every minute of it.  I didn't allow anyone to see the video until the evening of New Beginnings, so Taryn invited her friend to come that evening.  After enjoying the video and all that that evening entails, Taryn's dad approached me later and let me know that she loved it so much she wants to come to church.  I would say that these girls are already changing their world...and others."

A Christmas Message from The Stake Presidency

As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

No one thought 24 little children would have enough power ... ...but then it was their turn to sing

The Santa Margarita Stake ( A Christian Church with chapels in Santa Margarita, Lake Forest and Mission Viejo. ) treated a packed audience in it's annual Christmas concert "Sing Noel" on Saturday and Sunday nights l\this past weekend. Please enjoy this stirring rendition of O Holy Night sung by an emsemble choir of over 200 children, teens and adults. Forgive the quality - it's was shot on an iPhone :)