Ward Activities Chairperson

The member of the bishopric (congregational leaders) came to my house wearing a suit. I’d already changed out of my church clothes for the day, but I welcomed him into our front room, which I’d hurried to pick up in the five minutes since he’d called to ask if he could stop by. Even as I’d scurried to pick up, part of my brain had cried “Incoming!” Every Mormon knows that when a member of the bishopric stops by in this way, they are doing so to issue a calling. In Mormon vernacular a “calling” is an assignment or job performed for the church. Most members will have at least one such assignment at all times. I enjoy the assignments I am given. They always enrich my life, even if they also make it more complicated. So I already knew I intended to agree, but I had no idea what I would be agreeing to do. Some assignments are much larger than others.

Fortunately the small-talk went quickly. “We want you to be the Ward Activities Chairperson.” He said seriously.
I smiled and said “Okay.”

The Ward Activities Chairperson is responsible for all the social activities which involve the entire congregation. It means being in charge of the Halloween carnival, the Christmas party, the annual swim party, and any other holiday or potluck which includes everyone. I will have a committee to help, but I am the one who is responsible to pull things through and make sure the events work. Before the bishopric member even left, my brain was spinning plans about how to do this new job. It was delighted to have an exciting new organizational challenge. I planned and scribbled notes for about thirty minutes.

Then I sat down and cried for a little bit. I have all the tools and skills necessary to do this calling well. I like organizing. I’m not afraid to talk to people and ask them to undertake assignments. I know how to network and find people with the necessary skills. I’ve run large events before. But I was hoping to reduce the number of large events I am responsible for, to simplify my life.

The cry did not last long. I moved quickly into the learning phase, discovering the requirements and boundaries of the job. Today I began to build the network I’m going to need, because the social activities are not just parties, they have a larger purpose. They must increase connections and build community within the congregation. It is my job to provide the medium through which connections are made and friendships formed. Sometimes this means I will need to pull people out of their comfort zones and ask them to work together. Other times I need to make events as comfortable as possible so that people are not afraid to attend. It is an interesting, exciting, and daunting challenge.

My governing principle needs to be matching the right person to the right assignment. What is onerous to one person will be fun to another. If I can spread the assignments out in manageable chunks and give people jobs they enjoy, then the events will come together. Even better, more people will attend because they are emotionally invested in the event. At least that is the theory. I’ve got three weeks until the Ward Swim Party. During those same three weeks I’ll be preparing for book shipping, a family reunion, a book shipping event, and a writer’s retreat. I’ll apply my theories to later events, for this one I’ll just scramble to make it work.