Day 19: Giving Thanks for Church Callings to Serve ♥
Two Sunday’s ago I told you about the creation of a new LDS Ward here in Farmington. Last Sunday was our area Stake Conference (a large group meeting of multiple Wards), so today was the first time our new Ward met together. It was an exciting day! There was a lot of anticipation to find out who would be serving in all the various service callings that make up a Latter-day Saint Ward.
As I’ve mentioned, Mormons have a lay ministry (unpaid), made up of all of the congregation members. Everyone has a “calling” (assignment). In addition to the Bishop and his counselors who lead the entire congregation, we have multiple organizations within our Ward congregation which need leadership and staffing. These positions are filled as “callings” made by the Bishop. The Sunday School (children all separated by ages, and adult classes), the Nursery (children ages 18mo-3 years), The Primary (children aged 3 – 11 years), The Young Women & Young Men Groups (aged 12-18), the Priesthood (men’s group) and the Relief Society (women’s group). All of these organizations need Presidents, counselors, teachers, secretaries, and more. Then there are librarians, activity committee planners, ward bullitin and programs, and of course the musical callings – such as pianists and choristers… and more!
You can imagine how very very busy our new Bishop has been over the past two weeks meeting with all of the members of the ward individually, and extending assignments!
Our ward was only holding a 1 hour Sacrament Service meeting this week. The main purpose was to announce all of the callings to serve – having each person stand when their name and calling is read, and then each requiring the congregation’s sustaining vote. This is done by raising our right arms to “sustain” those who were called – which is considered giving them our ‘yes vote’ of confidence, and also symbolic as a promise to help support them.
If desired, we can also raise our hand to “oppose” a particular call (although it is highly unusual, and I’ve only seen this happen in a Ward congregation once in my lifetime).
Today’s callings and sustaining votes took about 30 minutes of our 1 hour meeting time, and everyone received a unanimous vote of support! There was a strong spirit of love and peace in the room. Also, a tremendous feeling of gratitude for each person being so willing to stand up and serve each other in any capacity they have been asked. This is one of the hallmarks of our religion that I love so much.
“The Lord in His infinite wisdom has designed His Church to operate with a lay ministry. That means we have been charged to watch over one another and to serve one another. We are to love one another as our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ love us. Our callings and circumstances change from time to time, providing us with different and unique opportunities to serve and to grow.”
– M. Russell Ballard, O Be Wise, Oct. 2006
After the sustaining votes, our congregation sang a hymn together in preparation for taking the Sacrament. The Elders blessed the sacramental bread and water and it was passed by the Deacons to the congregation. There was a quiet reverence in the room as we reflected on our Savior’s sacrifice for us, and a feeling of tremendous gratitude for our new Ward family.
After the sacrament was completed, the wives of our new Bishop and his two counselors gave brief remarks. Their messages were inspiring!
Here are highlights.
Drenched In Joy
Sister Ord shared a story about a family river rafting trip this summer that went awry. Due to a miscalculation, their raft capsized, her father was swept downstream, and they lost all of their personal belongings and the oars to their raft. The family poured out their hearts in prayer to the Lord, and help arrived. Her father was found – and survived thanks to wearing his life jacket. She used this story as a metaphor for the importance of keeping our spiritual life jackets on through the dangerous rapids of life.
She shared a quote by the late apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
“There are no separate paths back to that heavenly home. Just one straight and narrow way, at the end of which, though we arrive trailing tears, we shall at once be ‘drenched in joy’”
(Ensign, May 1978, pg 11).
The Healing Gift of The Book of Mormon
Sister Runyon shared her love for the Book of Mormon, and her personal witness of the power and truth of this important book of scripture. Our world is full of difficulties, trials and temptations. “Our spirit is getting injured every day, and we need to get back to the basics of care and healing and there’s nothing more basic than turning to the Book of Mormon.” She spoke of the powerful story of Lehi’s Dream in the Book of Mormon, (one of my favorites!) which illustrates the importance of holding on to the word of God when the fog of confusion and fear tries to lead us astray.
“Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland – Safety for the Soul October, 2009
Pray For Ourselves
The Bishop’s wife Sister Sorensen shared two powerful thoughts.
1. “Nothing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is selfish. It’s completely selfless. What has happened here today is a beautiful illustration of that selfless spirit.”
2. When recently sharing a meal with some of our local missionaries, one of the missionaries expressed frustration whenever she heard members saying they are “praying for the missionaries”. She explained that she hoped the members would “pray for themselves” to know how to personally help the missionaries, and to know how the Lord would have them personally serve.
Sister Sorensen invited each of us to pray today for ourselves. To pray to know how we can best help the Bishop, and to receive heavenly guidance in how the Lord wants us to serve our ward, neighbors and family.
When our Bishop stood to give his final remarks the meeting had already exceeded its one hour mark. He was very sensitive to the restlessness of the children and the length of the day. He told us that he would save his prepared remarks for another time.
He expressed his tremendous gratitude for all who had met with him over the past two weeks and eagerly accepted calls to serve. He expressed his love for the Savior, and gratitude that each of us now have the chance to go forward together in His service, saying;
“Lord, I Would Follow Thee”
It was a beautiful Sabbath day. I’m looking forward to being part of this new Ward of the church. I know it is going to be a marvelous experience, and I’m eager to get to know everyone. My heart is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to serve and to be served in the footsteps of our Master, Jesus Christ. – MoSop