Virtually every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is given an opportunity to offer service in their local congregation, a geographically designated group called a ward or branch (based on local population). Several wards and branches combine to form a stake (a broader geographical boundary) and an additional layer of administrative responsibility. In a church with lay leadership, the work of the individual congregations depends wholly on the volunteer efforts of the local members.
Members are invited or “called” by the leadership of the ward or stake to serve in a specific responsibility. Each call is perceived to come by inspiration of the leaders and offers the individual the right to accept or decline the service option. Most callings or assignments are accepted, sometimes with an extra measure of faith to be able to fulfill the needs of callings that may or may not lie within one’s skills or experience. The term of service is usually indefinite; some responsibilities extend for a number of years while others last only months.
Wards have an average membership of around 400 people, with about 200 people needed to maintain the ward organization. Branches of the Church have a smaller population and a reduced need for volunteer leaders. The bishop serves as the head of each ward, along with a pair of counselors, an executive secretary and clerks for finances and membership. Other men head up the priesthood quorums of various ages, while women lead in the Relief Society, the Young Women and the Primary. In addition to their Sunday callings, most adults also serve as home and visiting teachers, a task that encourages a monthly visit and the delivery of a spiritual message to assigned members of the ward. Some people spend 3-4 hours a week on their Church responsibilities, while some with greater responsibilities spend as much as 20-30 hours a week. Such service blends in to the personal daily time commitments to family, work and community responsibilities.
Church members in various parts of the world share their feelings and experiences about their service in the Church: Jon Grant is a 30-year-old bishop, father of three and radiation oncology resident in Houston, Texas; Sue Perkins is the mother of four teenagers, a nurse and a Primary teacher who’s focused on youngsters with special needs; Diane Brear is a South African secretary and a specialist in family history; and Floyd Rose is the father of four adult children, a computer specialist and a branch president in a California Spanish-speaking branch. Ruben Bica is the father of two, a painter, and serves as Elder’s Quorum president in a small branch in Uruguay; Dan Kim hails from South Korea but resides in Cambridge, England, as a full-time graduate student and prior leader of the Young Men’s organization; Judy Ko, a single mother of two and owner of her own trading company, serves as an adult Sunday School teacher in her Hong Kong ward.
Read the invidual stories of each of these dedicated Latter-day Saints.