Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Church Callings and Assignments

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are given callings in different organizations to help our particular Stake, Ward or Branch where we live. Unlike assignments, such as being a home teacher, "callings" are when you are set apart by the laying on of hands and given a specific calling. So I decided to stop and think about all of the various callings and assignments I have had through the years.

RICHMOND WARD (1986-1993)
Growing up in the church, the first official calling that comes to mind was extended when I turned 12. I served as president of the Deacon's Quorum in the Richmond Ward of the Concord Stake. I also served as president of the Teacher's Quorum and assistant in the Priest's Quorum of the Richmond Ward prior to leaving on a mission.

From the time I was a Deacon I remember home teaching with my dad. In particular, I remember home teaching Dean and Ann Jensen. Dean was an older guy and he was the chorister during priesthood meeting. He loved singing as a barbershop quartet, and often Ron Hunt, Dean and I would join our voices to sing one of the men's arrangements, such as Brightly Beams and/or other arrangements. Those home teaching visits would take up at least an hour or so. Dean and Ann would talk to my dad about their trips and so forth. I had the head / neck bob in full effect on occasion, and probably even fell full on asleep with snoring. Who knows? But ... I remember faithfully home teaching the Jensens.

There was one other elderly sister with emphysema who we would go and visit. She never was out of the bed she was in when we visited, to my knowledge. But we visited her often enough. My dad was definitely a great home teacher to the families he was responsible for. I remember at the time that I would join him often enough, but there was probably some resistance on occasion because I knew I would be in for a long afternoon. From my vantage point now, I have more of an appreciation of what was happening.

I suppose I should also mention that I was called and set apart to be a full-time missionary as a member of the Richmond Ward before I went to Philadelphia.

HILLTOP WARD (1993-1997)
Upon returning home from missionary service, I believe my first calling was to be a Gospel Doctrine teacher in the Sunday School organization. I don't remember everything about the calling, but I do remember the new chapel and ward and some new faces while serving there. It was short-lived though, because I was also back and forth to Rexburg, ID, for college.

RICKS COLLEGE (1993, 1996-97)
At Ricks, I do not recall any specific assignments to teach or serve in any presidencies. I vaguely recall having assignments to play the piano, or possibly being called to the be accompanist for Sacrament Meeting when the ward I was in was meeting in the Hart Auditorium at the time. Nothing stands out though in terms of significant church callings while I attended Ricks College. I also completed home teaching assignments.

I began attending the University Ward and had assignments to play the piano for Sacrament, Priesthood, and other meetings I attended. That may have been a calling for me to play for Sacrament. I was going to be in the Elder's Quorum presidency there, but then I wound up leaving the Ward to pursue a relationship which proved to be a disaster.

HAYWARD 1st Ward (2000-2007)
My records transferred to Hayward prior to my marriage in December of 2000, my service as a member of the First Ward began. Callings I had in Hayward included teaching Primary. I remember preparing Mitchell Stanford for missionary service. He's long since completed a mission. I also served in the Young Men's presidency in Hayward and spent many a week at mutual completing various activities, such as an etiquette dinner.

I was a home teacher and companions with Robby Partridge. We home taught the Roehner family, I recall. I also worked with Greg Brown at the time I was in Hayward. We had some good conversations at mutual on occasion.

Then I remember going into the Ward Mission organization under the direction of Glenn Beecroft. He typically had meetings or gatherings at his home on a weekly basis, which included food and non-members and socializing. I attended correlation meetings pretty regularly. That was my first experience as a Ward Missionary.

I believe that I played the piano during Priesthood Meeting each Sunday and I sang in the Ward Choir. I also served as a home teacher. I remember making a few visits with Vance Rasmussen while he was the EQ President, and after Kari and I had moved over to Highland Blvd.

For a short while I was a counselor in the Elder's Quorum presidency with Jonathan Monte as president. Then, Kyle Goodman was called to the EQ presidency and I was out. It was around this time that our home was recovering from the New Year's Eve flood and the rats and what have you, that in the Spring of 2007, we moved to Castro Valley.

CASTRO VALLEY 2nd WARD & 1st WARD (2007-present)
Originally, there were two wards in Castro Valley. For a short time, I served in the Young Men's presidency with Ed Jensen and I forget who else. Maybe Dave Salisbury. Not sure. That didn't last too long.

Then, I was called to be a Sunday School teacher for the 12-13 year-olds. I had Grace Hancock, Josh Perry, Amanda, and so forth. I really enjoyed the calling and preparing lessons each week for Sunday School. Great experience.

I was then called as a counselor in the Elder's Quorum presidency with a guy who's name I cannot remember, but he was only briefly our EQ president in the 2nd Ward. Then, President Teuscher met with me and I was called to serve as the Elder's Quorum president. I chose Chuck Michaux to serve as a counselor. As EQ president, I remember that our Wards were then combined into the C.V. 1st Ward and I was no longer in that calling. It went to David Swenson.

From there, I was called in by the Stake and extended a calling as Membership Clerk. This was truly the first calling where I felt the weight of responsibility. I learned the Church software system, kept a VERY organized list of membership records, and worked closely with families to make sure they had information they needed for child of record baptisms, baby blessings, etc. I also submitted updates regularly to Salt Lake City. This was an involved and time consuming calling but one that I really enjoyed. I credit Dan Termini for training me very thoroughly on the church software.

I also have served with various companions as a home teacher in Castro Valley. Also, I have been playing piano in Priesthood Meeting, for several years with Doyle West, the conductor. Rest in peace. I continue to play in priesthood meeting. Also, I sing in our Ward Choir from time to time, and stake choirs. I got an assignment to lead a Stake Choir for the Saturday Evening Adult Session (School Thy Feelings) and recommended a song for a Stake Conference General Session (again Brightly Beams).

I was then called to served as Executive Secretary to the Bishop after Membership Clerk. This seemed very similar in terms of time consumption. I worked with Bishop Passadore, Dan Hoover, Stan Stadelman, Chuck White, and did a little training with Brian Strodtbeck, who replaced me as Membership Clerk. The Bishopric meetings seemed to take a lot of time each week, I recall. 10:45pm; 11pm.

After Executive Secretary I was called in a much different direction: Seminary Teacher. I taught the D&C and Book of Mormon as a Seminary Teacher. I taught for two years. Loved, loved, loved teaching seminary. I was a team teacher with Chris Termini. Excellent calling. In-service trainings and scripture chases and mainly, just preparing and teaching the lessons was the most fun in this calling.

At the end of the year after finishing teaching the D&C, I was called in to the Bishop's office and extended a calling to serve as Ward Mission Leader. That was in the summer of 2015. I am presently still serving in the same calling.

I have always enjoyed the various responsibilities and interrelationships in the church callings I've been given. I have gained an appreciation for what it means to be a part of a voluntary army, if you will. There is no glory in these callings or assignments. Personally, I do them to the best of my ability - or "magnify" them - because I have always felt like it was the right thing to do. If you're going to do something, do it well, basically. It is also something that makes membership in the church more enjoyable for me.

I look forward to future callings and opportunities to serve where and when I am called, and I encourage others to do the same.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Book of Mormon 365 - Mosiah 29:33-47

In tonight's reading of The Book of Mormon we read about the ending of the kingdom of Mosiah, the son of Benjamin, and the beginning of the reign of the judges. And we learn that in transitioning to more of a democratic society from a monarchy, the burden falls upon the people. In verse 34, we read the words of King Mosiah: "that every man might bear his part."

Alma, the son of Alma who was in King Noah's court, was selected as the "first Chief Judge" and "high priest" which basically means this was the government of God. Elder Bruce R. McConkie writes, "He gave direction in all things both civil and ecclesiastical; there was no separation of church and state." (New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 35)

King Mosiah and Alma the Elder passed away at the end of Mosiah 29 and a new era in The Book of Mormon is underway where the state has now basically adopted the Church for its governing laws. It's a promising situation because it makes me think of the Millenium when the Savior will reign on the Earth and we will live in peace and harmony. However, it also causes me concern, because we see how societies around the world have enforced religious beliefs as the rule of law to the dismay and death and destruction of large numbers of people.

What will ultimately  happen to the Nephites and Lamanites now that we are in the reign of the judges? Looking forward to the next book in The Book of Mormon. We begin The Book of Alma tomorrow.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Book of Mormon 365. Mosiah 20:12-21:8

We are just a little bit late to the 365 challenge for reading The Book of Mormon, but our bishopric challenged the ward to commit to reading the scriptures this year and so ... better late than never. Today during testimony meeting, several people bore their testimony about reading the scriptures and participating in this initiative from the bishopric which was announced at Ward Conference in January. So, we missed 121 days which covered 1 Nephi 1 through Mosiah 20:11. Now we have 244 days to go and we started as a family tonight on verse 12 of Mosiah 20.

My goal on this blog will be to share out any insight from the kids or Kari or me each day as we read. I may also summarize and reflect on the verses we have read.

Basically, this passage tonight seemed to focus on a huge misunderstanding between King Limhi and the Lamanites. Several of the Lamanite daughters were abducted into the wilderness by the priests of King Noah (Limhi's dad) and the Lamanites assumed Limhi had something to do with this. They came to battle.

But, Limhi was a righteous king who knew full well of the wickedness of his father's ways. Once his men had captured the leader of the Lamanites, instead of just killing him, he asked to see the man. That's when he discovered the situation about the abduction, and he realized that slaying this man would simply escalate the situation and prolong the conflict that already existed between the two sides. In fact, he let the man and his troops retreat with a promise to get to the bottom of what had happened and to continue to serve the Lamanites as basically a fulfillment of the prophecy made by Abinadi to King Noah from the Lord.

As it happens, the Lamanites continued to antagonize Limhi and his people by smiting them on their cheek and instigating violence. They tolerated the abuse as long as they could stand it before it became too much and finally Limhi, in chapter 21, gave permission for his men to organize themselves to retaliate.

So, they went off to challenge the Lamanites and the scripture records, "the Lamanites did beat them, and drove them back, and slew many of them." (v. 8)

I guess what I take away from this on one hand is the idea that sometimes we are in bondage and must simply accept the consequences of our actions. We don't necessarily have to like the consequences, but the Lord is going to carry out His will. It will be interesting to see what Limhi decides to do next.