If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’re already aware of the periodic “callings” issued to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our local and area congregations are run as lay ministries, meaning all the leaders are volunteers. We believe we’re called through revelation to fill different positions, from ward librarians to Sunday School teachers to nursery leaders and more. These callings aren’t permanent. They typically change every few years. In my twelve years in the Farmington Ward in Maine, I’ve been a Gospel Doctrine teacher, Ward Mission Leader, Elders Quorum President (and Counselor, and Secretary), Deacons Quorum Advisor, Teaching Training Facilitator, and High Councillor. I might be forgetting a few. They rack up, over time.
The church is quite specific about what each calling is responsible for, and we do our best to understand those callings and meet the duties, whatever they may be. You don’t lobby for a calling, however. There’s no application process. No one asks you what you’d like to do. Church leaders pray about open callings, then select who they feel prompted to select. (Which opens up another calling, because that person was doing something before they got the new calling, and so the cycle continues.) (For the record: Gospel Doctrine teacher was great, but being the Ward Librarian would be absolutely peachy. Just in case any church leaders are wondering somewhere down the road . . . 🙂
Anyway. For the last two years and change, I’ve been on the High Council. Sunday, I started a new calling as Stake Executive Secretary. What does this mean? Latter-day Saints are arranged at the local level into Wards or Branches (a smaller-sized congregation). A collection of Wards and Branches make up a Stake. I live in the Farmington Ward of the Bangor Maine Stake, which consists of twelve Wards or Branches, spanning most of the northern half of Maine. (The very top of Maine actually is part of the Saint John New Brunswick Stake, so I guess you’d need a passport to serve in the stake up there?)
There is a Stake Presidency in charge of supervising the various training and direction of all those different units. It has a President and two Counselors. It also has a Stake Clerk (in charge of records for the presidency, essentially), and a Stake Executive Secretary (in charge of scheduling for the presidency, arranging for agendas, etc.) The latter is what I’ll be up to now.
What does this mean on a practical level for me? I’m not entirely sure. It’s a new calling for me. I’ve never been an executive secretary at a Stake or Ward level before. I have a general idea of what they do, since I’ve interacted with people who were serving in that calling over the years, but it’s one thing to have a vague idea, and another to actually be in the calling. I know I’ll be attending Stake Presidency meeting each week (typically via teleconference, thankfully), arranging interviews for the Stake President and his counselors, working out the logistics for stake meetings, training ward executive secretaries, and things along those lines. I won’t be speaking in churches across the stake each month any more, so I should be in my home ward more often, which will be nice.
It’s a change up, and there will be a learning curve involved, but I do believe these callings are inspired, and thus I believe whatever is heading my way through this calling is something that’s divinely inspired. That goes a long way to help deal with whatever stressful things may arise.
In any case, I enjoyed my time on the High Council. I got to know many more people across the stake, and I actually enjoyed speaking quite a bit. (Though there were definitely weeks when I wished I didn’t have to write a 4,000 word talk that week . . .) I look forward to this new calling and whatever lies in store for me there. In the meantime, if you need to arrange an interview with a member of the Stake Presidency, I’m your huckleberry.