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The Church's Unpaid Clergy

Personal sacrifice is vital to the religious faith of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members volunteer their time to serve in various positions in tens of thousands of congregations throughout the world. Their service is critical at the local level because the Church has no full-time paid clergy.

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A recent article in the Hattiesburg American profiles one such leader, a bishop in one of 44 Mormon congregations in Mississippi.

Bishop Randall Silas, like other bishops, was selected locally, approved by the First Presidency in Salt Lake City and sustained by his congregation in Hattiesburg.

"Of all that I have to do, the key responsibilities are to love the members and to teach them to love the Lord," Silas said. "My goal is to get the teachings of the Savior into the lives of the people."

Bishops are supported by two assistants and a myriad of administrative and teaching staff. All contribute their time and energy without compensation.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles spoke on the concept of an unpaid volunteer ministry:
"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."

In addition to serving in the Church, bishops have their own careers and families to look after. While there is no stipulated period of service, it is common for a bishop to serve his congregation for about five years, at which time he returns to the body of the congregation or is assigned another responsibility elsewhere such as teaching a youth class, helping others find employment or even directing a choir.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.

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This blog is managed and written by staff of the Public Affairs Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to provide journalists, bloggers, and the public with additional context and information regarding public issues involving the Church. For official news releases and statements from the Church, please also visit the MormonNewsroom.org home page.