I alluded to this tangentially in my post earlier this week, when I put up my talk from Sunday. (One of my most-viewed Sunday talks ever, might I add. Apparently there are a lot of people who are thinking about that topic!) But I recently received a new calling in church.
For context (and since it’s been a while since I posted about this), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon) is a lay priesthood. What that means is that we don’t have any paid clergy (except at the highest levels of church organization). So local church members end up filling roles in congregations. Organists. Bishops. Teachers. That sort of thing. We call these roles “callings,” and they are switched from time to time, by inspiration. So someone who’s been the Bishop of a ward for five years might switch callings and become the teacher of the seven-year-olds, just like that.
Since I’ve been in Maine, I’ve had several callings. I’ve been a Sunday School teacher, Elders Quorum President, Seminary Teacher, Ward Mission Leader, Teacher Training Facilitator, and more. Back in August, I received word I would be getting a new calling: High Councilor.
What does this mean? It means I’ll be one of a group of people who organize the work of the church in this area (the Bangor Maine Stake). I’ll be assigned a ward (not where I go to church usually) to watch over and help train and visit at least once a month. I’ll be assigned a congregation to deliver a talk to once a month, sometimes as far east as Machias, or as far north as Lincoln. (Does the stake go further north than that? I’m not honestly sure.) Machias is about a 3.5 hour drive, give or take, but I likely won’t be going there very often. I’ll also be assigned some part of the church body to supervise and shepherd along. (ie Young Mens, Primary, Sunday School, etc.)
Honestly, I don’t truly understand all of what I’ll be doing myself just yet. This is a level of church leadership that I’ve formerly only observed from afar, and so I’ll need to figure out some of it as I go along. It’ll certainly be an adventure, and it will be an additional item to devote some of my time to each week. Still, I believe these callings come through inspiration, and so I accepted it, despite having felt like I was already super busy before the call came in.
To become a High Councilor, I had to be ordained a High Priest. (There are several levels of the priesthood in the LDS faith. Deacon, Teacher, Priest, Elder, then High Priest, and a couple beyond there.) The last time I was ordained to a higher level was when I was 19 and became an Elder, almost 20 years ago. Up until that point, it had been a regular occurrence. (I became a Deacon at 12, Teacher at 14, Priest at 16, and Elder at 19, all typical ages for such ordinations.) So being ordained once again reminded me of all those earlier ordinations twenty years ago.
I’m excited to see how this all works. I’m not really worried about the talks, though typically they’re 20 minutes long, which is a hefty talk to prepare each month. Expect to see one of those from me more regularly now. (I think we have October and November off, however. So maybe not another until December?)
Practically, there will be a lot more driving and meetings in my future. I’ll be away quite a few Sundays and sometimes during the week. As always has been my experience in the church, I feel like things seem much more sacred and inspired until you’re suddenly in the room being part of decisions. Then you discover that we’re all doing our best to follow inspiration, just the same as everyone else. But there’ll be more time to talk about that in a later post, no doubt.
In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to work. Thanks for reading, and all prayers and best wishes are greatly appreciated. I’m sure I’ll need them.