A few weeks ago two congregation in my area were combined, boundaries were rearranged, and then split from two into three. Now instead of just Coppell 1 and Coppell 2 wards, we have Coppell 1, 2, & 3. TH and I attend Coppell 3rd ward now, which is actually filled with people we know since we’ve technically lived in the boundaries for wards 1, 2, & 3 within the past year. 🙂 I’ve mentioned before that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is served by a lay ministry, meaning our leadership isn’t compensated for their service. Not only the leaderships but the congregational leader, teachers, librarians, organists, choir members, janitors (haha, there aren’t janitors anymore, only members like myself who are asked to come in and clean the church), temple workers, basically everyone that helps make the Church run. Members are asked to serve in various positions by a leader who extends them something known as a “calling”. Members are free to turn down any calling extended to them and fulfilled voluntarily without monetary compensation. Spiritual compensation from the Lord is all we ask for. 🙂

To better understand callings it’s important to note that we believe all callings are extended based on revelation through the Holy Ghost. It’s always a chain that works down. Beginning with Joseph Smith the Prophet calls the twelve apostles of the latter-days and those men are appointed certain responsibilities. Those men “call” individuals to help them fill those responsibilities, the next group prayerfully considers and calls individuals to help them with their responsibilities, and so on down the line. This pattern continues all the way down to my own congregation. The bishop is called by the stake president, the bishop calls two men from his ward boundaries to be his counselors, and the bishop and counselors begin to pray about and call individuals to fill the many positions a ward needs filled to function properly.

Because the ward we are in was a brand new one, there were many callings to be filled. One important calling in the ward is that of Relief Society (RS) President. (Read more about the Relief Society Organization here.) The RS President is essentially a steward for all of the women in the ward. She knows everyone and is the one to contact when you are in need of help from other women in the ward. When the RS President for my new ward was called she would have prayerfully considered all of the women within ward boundaries and submitted two names to the bishopric to be her counselors. Once those callings were filled, those women in turn would have met together to come up with individuals to call to positions such as Relief Society teachers, pianist, organist, secretary, etc. This same pattern is repeated for the children’s organization (Primary), youth organizations (Young Men and Young Women), men’s organization (Elder’s Quorum), and all others. Those who assume these leadership positions take the responsibility to prayerfully extend callings to fellow ward members seriously. We truly believe that by relying upon the Lord we can extend the right calling to the right person at the right time.

A few weeks after the ward was reorganized TH and I received a phone call from the ward clerk asking us to come in and meet with a member of the bishopric. Because of the recent re-organization we both knew that this meant calling(s) would be extended. We dressed in our Sunday best, walked into the bishop’s office, met with one of his counselor’s, and I received my calling. I was asked if I had a testimony, if I was willing to serve, and the calling was extended. We expected TH to receive his as well, but they weren’t quite ready for that yet. As of this post he still doesn’t have one, although we are both still serving as temple ordinance workers so we are definitely putting in a good amount of time serving in the church!

A few callings I have held in the past include:

Beehive/Mia Maid/Laurel Presidency-Funny names I know, but these are the different groups found within the Young Women program, the organization for girls aged 12-18. They’re divided up into three age groups and at some point when I was between the ages of 12-18 I was called to be in the presidency for the organization in my ward. Responsibilities for callings like this include helping to plan activities, fellowship the other girls in the group, etc.

Visiting Teacher-All women 18 and above in the Church are paired up with another woman called to be a visiting teacher to other women in their ward. This calling involves, at minimum, short home visits or phone calls once a month to share a personal message and get to know each other. Friendships are often formed and often your visiting teacher is one of the first people you think to call when you need help with something. Currently I’m paired up with one person and we are asked to visit with three different women once a month.

Nursery Teacher-Nursery is the place where parents send their 18 month-3 year olds for free babysitting. 🙂 It gives parents a chance to sit in on Sunday School lessons and spend some time focusing on something other than busy, noisy toddlers. Snacks are provided, toys are plentiful, songs are sung, and very basic lessons about Christ are taught. This was one of my favorite callings ever!

Relief Society Teacher-Being a RS teacher was definitely my favorite calling. Every few weeks I stood up in front of the other women in my ward during the 3rd hour of Church and taught them from the current lesson manual for that year. I’m positive I learned more about the gospel than anyone else did during my time teaching.

Compassionate Service Committee-This group in the ward helps arrange meals for sick or pregnant women, childcare for couples that want to visit the temple, coordinating activities to benefit local charities or those in need, etc. This calling really helps you get to know people and their personal situations.

Ward Missionary-This was the calling both TH and I held in our last ward. We worked with new members, attended the Gospel Doctrine class, coordinated the meal calendar that fed the missionaries,  etc.

Temple Ordinance Worker-Since June TH and I have been working in the Dallas temple as ordinance workers. Women with children at home under the age of 18 years old cannot hold the calling of a temple ordinance worker and so my time spent serving in this capacity at the temple each Saturday is drawing to a close. I’m really going to miss it when it’s over and I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity.

And my current calling? (dun dun dun)

Activities Committee Member. Yay! The activities committe is exactly what it sounds like, they plan ward holiday parties, other activities, etc. I’ll be contributing ideas for ways to plan a great party for all ages with a tiny budget, helping to find volunteers to cook/MC/decorate/etc, and helping with setup and take-down. They also asked me to be the official “photographer” for ward activities, which means I”ll be able to take lots of pictures while there without looking crazy and then blog about them after the fact! Our first activity? The ward Christmas party next weekend, featuring french toast smothered in homemade syrup inspired by a Kneaders recipe someone has. Pretty pictures coming to That Wife soon.

20 thoughts on “Callings

  1. I think the system of your church is very interesting. Because if you get called it seems that they give you an opportunity to better serve and help your peers, get to know them and also since you are given different callings through time to better understand the day to day tasks of the church.
    Given the way you present it I’m assuming not everyone gets called in their life. And while I understand that the decision is made through prayers… do you think that the president and counselors look for members who are already active and trying to do more? Or do they get to know everyone and feel everyone’s character and where they would do best? And then use prayer to guide them to make the best choice?

    I’m just curious if they would be choosing someone who is neither withdrawn (it would be a good teaching opportunity), nor overly active and wanting to be…

    Jenna Reply:

    I’m not sure I explained it well, but all active members are extended callings, and they are usually accepted (sometimes someone just doesn’t feel like they can handle what they are being asked to do and they have the option of saying now). Everyone is at least a visting teacher (men are assigned families instead of women and their assignment is called home teaching), but when we move from place to place we expect we will get an additional calling as well. TH was just extended his new calling today.

    Who gets called where is really interesting. Although my calling fits in really well with my talents, and the other members of my congregation know those talents so it makes sense that they would have thought of me when thinking of someone to fill the position, we learned tonight from the bishop that he had never met one of his counselors before, didn’t really know anything about him. He was praying about who he should ask and that man’s name entered his mind, and he felt like it was right to call him as a counselor, not knowing much about his strengths and weaknesses.

    I’ve never been a bishop (women don’t fill such positions in the Church) so I don’t know how often it happens, but I do know that sometimes even inactive members are called to fill certain roles, as a way of fellowshipping them and helping them feel more involved in the work.

    As far as aspiring to callings, I’m not sure anyone would want to do that. They are hard work! Our bishop is a lawyer, and so he basically works morning/noon/night now between his secular job and his spiritual one. We are all grateful for the opportunity to serve, but I’ve never heard anyone express the desire to take on more responsibility in the Church because they desire to “climb the ranks” per se.

    Cécy Reply:

    Thank you for the great explanations. It makes sense that everyone gets a calling. What a great way to get a sense of community and participate and get to know each other.
    Thank you for the story about the bishop too. It shows that callings are a mix of practicality and spirituality.

    Oh I didn’t mean it as climbing the ranks. See I didn’t know that everyone gets a calling so that answered my question anyway on how they choose people to be called because well everyone gets called at some point or an other.

    Oh and by the way congratulations to you and TH (I hope that’s something appropriate to say).

  2. Well, their prayerful contemplation over how you would best serve the Ward certainly seems to be spot on for your current role! DIY crafts, photography, planning on a budget, making people smile with creative special touches… what a perfect spot for you. Congratulations – may this role fulfill you and bring you closer to your community.

  3. Wow, this calling couldn’t possibly be more perfect for you! 🙂 How funny, we got called to be on the activities committee here in Oregon and then after a few weeks they called us to be the co-chairmen over the committee! Oh dear…I hope we’re able to do this calling justice! haha

  4. Isn’t it great how callings come to us just when they are best fit for us? Even when we don’t see how we can accomplish them (not true in your case this time), we learn and become fit for the callings. Enjoy your new assignment!

    To answer someone’s question above, most people are given a church calling or assignment, although they don’t always come immediately upon joining a new ward. TH’s calling will not likely be too long in coming. The church leaders try to follow the guidance of the Spirit and what the Lord wants in issuing an assignment. Likely the Christmas party is a pressing need right now, so that is being done now.

  5. RS teacher is my favorite calling, too, though I also like anything that involves working with children, since I haven’t been blessed with my own yet.

    Random question: Have you ever thought about writing about food storage? I know you and TH live in an apartment and from your pictures, it looks about the same size as the apartment we have, and we have such a hard time finding space for all our food storage. I’d love to hear your solutions for this. I know there are some resources on line, but you always have such a unique and inventive touch to everything, I’d love to see a post on this!

    (long time lurker)

    Jenna Reply:

    Haha, I think the Lord inspired you to write that comment so I would spend some time actually thinking about food storage. It’s a commandment we struggle with because we plan on moving every 2 years and it’s tough to think about storing all of that stuff and then either paying to move it across the country or selling it at a loss. We have a bag flour and some canned goods, a 72 hour kit, etc, but nowhere near what we should have if we are to be obeying like the Lord expects us to. Hopefully this comment and thoughts of writing a post will drive me to make some changes!

    We do have a garage though, which helps a lot with the storage issues. This blogger had a great solution but I can’t find the post on her website: Maybe comment and see if she will point you to her post on food storage?

    natalie Reply:

    Alas, food storage!!

    We’ve been working on ours too. We are buying it slowly, a few meals/products at a time. So far we have 72 hour kits and MREs, basically if there was a disaster we could probably live for a week, which is about as much as I could camp.

    We keep it in a plastic bin, I guess we should get one of those Rubbermaid fireproof ones, but this one could fit under our bed. Luckily we have a closet, but still, living in a little apartment is hard! We have a one bedroom.

    Virginia Reply:

    Thanks for the tip about the other blog!

    I feel a little relieved that I’m not the only one struggling with this! I wasn’t raised LDS, but converted when I met my husband in college, and so sometimes I feel like I’m really lacking some innate knowledge all the other wives have!

    We have a small storage room I want to build shelves for, but I think we could only live for a month on what we have now!

    Kelli Nicole Reply:

    Virginia, I WAS raised LDS, but my family never did food storage as we were barely able to keep food around to feed us as it was (as far as I can tell anyway), so you’re not the only one that has a hard time with it :). I always look at other family’s with amazement. Living for a month on what you have is way better than what I have!

    Katy Reply:

    Hi-I’m the gal Jenna is referring to on – here’s the link/address to the exact post:

    I tried to explain things as well as I could, though I think I tend to ‘talk’ too much!

    Have fun on the Activities Committee and may you always have great turnout to make all that work and effort worth it! I’m a RS teacher right now and love it-I teach lessons selected by the Bishop from the recent General Conference, so I’m happy to get to reread talks or read them for the first time if I missed one.

    Virginia Reply:

    Thanks so much for the link!

  6. I hope I get to be an activities committee member someday! I love to plan parties. It seems like the Lord wants me to be in the Primary for a while longer though. Though it’s not easy for me, it is helping me to develop talents and like you said, I am learning more about the gospel in preparing to teach it. I am thankful for callings.

  7. Activities committee is such a great calling to get to know people. And not a huge time commitment all the time — which is good with the baby. It comes in bursts.

    It was my first calling in my ward right now, and I enjoyed it.

    I’m in Young Womens now, and it is my favorite calling EVER.

  8. Can a calling ever be revoked? Suppose the calling just didn’t fit the person’s talents, and the struggle to serve in this capacity caused more problems for the ward. Or perhaps that person just isn’t taking seriously the task of service.

    Oh and do callings have a set time limit? For example, do you serve for a year, and then reshuffle the cards, so to speak?

    Just curious. :o)

    Jenna Reply:

    If someone is feeling completely overwhelmed in life they can ask to be released, it certainly does happen. But as far as I know a calling would never be “revoked” unless a person was no longer worthy to hold it.

    No set time limit, although if someone is called to be a bishop they can usually expect to hold that calling for about 4 years I believe. People move in and out, new positions need to be filled so people are released and called somewhere else, etc.

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