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.