Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Calling

"Give them a calling and get them involved" must be one slogan appropriate for how my church operates.

Mormons all around the world meet in local units not unlike Anglican geographically-based parishes.  The units, including all auxiliaries, accounting, member welfare and non-member humanitarian aid, facilities management, and ecclesiastical counseling are performed by member-volunteers.  We have a lay clergy and a lay membership.  It means (hypothetically) everyone in a parish (ward) has a "calling."

I, as all other active Mormons, have held numerous callings throughout my life.  Recently, these have mostly focused on teaching adults the gospel from the LDS Standard Works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price) and teaching the wee little members how to sing.

However, I knew that change was in the works.  I was pulled aside by a member of my stake presidency (a stake comprises 5-10 local units) a couple of months ago and was asked about my welfare.  Although this was done as nonchalant as possible, I suspected something was up.  This was confirmed last week when I was again pulled aside and asked point blank how long my husband and I planned to stay in London.

To back up a bit, my husband uprooted his career and moved here so I could pursue one and possibly two degrees at Oxford.  Whether I will continue schooling here is now on the table for discussion.  However, I told my husband that if he moved to England for me, I would follow him and his career wherever it lead for the next 10 years.  I intend to honor that promise.  I think the stake was worried that, as I might not continue my education here (who needs a third graduate degree, anyway? :-)), our tenure in England would abruptly come to an end.  On the contrary.  My husband luckily landed a job that he enjoys and that provides for us.  Thus we are here, I told the counselor in the stake presidency, regardless of what I decide to do with my time, for at least another 2-3 years.

The pained look on this brother's face relaxed somewhat as he proceeded to tell me that, given my past experience in Public Relations and heading up a non-profit in the states (they had done their research) the stake presidency felt to extend the call of Stake Public Affairs Director to me, and asked that I discuss it with my husband and get back to them.

Now, my father has been Stake Public Affairs Director in my home stake of Edgemont North in Provo, Utah.  It wasn't that demanding of a calling, nor high profile.  Something about this being the most central stake for London and the Olympics coming in 2012 makes this call, I think, a little different.  I considered the implications for my career and education with my husband should this calling approach a part-time job or even full-time job as the Olympics draw near.  After discussion and a bit of prayer, we determined I could take this calling on, and I emailed my consent to the stake presidency.

Today I was sustained in my ward - or my calling was essentially put to a vote by the members of my ward and, I suspect, will be put to a vote over the entire stake.  Once that process is complete, I will be "set apart" and receive a blessing and direction for this calling by the laying on of hands by members of the stake presidency or their advisory committee, called the stake high council.  I suppose that will take place next week.

I still don't know what I'm in for.  As I interacted with other members of the ward and they responded to the call, I've been told rumors of our building being turned into a visitor's centre and hosting general authorities (or presiding leadership for the worldwide church), all of which would somehow be my responsibility.  I doubt there will be any glamour to the position, but I have willing hands and have committed to give this my all.  I'll need to move quickly, however.  I found out today that volunteer applications for the Olympics are due in a month...

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