HOW TO USE THIS BLOG: Since this blog covers various Ward Mission subjects, I've made it easier to find exactly what you're looking for by grouping posts together by topic. On the right side of this page (above the photo of the shaking hands), you'll find the list of topics you can click on to find the information you're looking for

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Time change!

If you're in a Ward that shares a church building with another Ward and you'll be changing meeting times at the beginning of the year, don't forget to notify your recent converts and anyone who has recently returned to activity about the time change!

Even if the time change is announced at church, there may be those who have been out of town or sick who didn't get the message. And then there are also those who may just plain forget! Lets help our brothers and sisters avoid the inconvenience, confusion, and embarrassment of showing up at the wrong time next Sunday!

A phone call, email, personal visit, postcard, or newsletter that mentions the time change could be very helpful!

Convert baptism program template

My husband was recently called to serve as Ward mission leader and next weekend will be the first convert baptisms since he was called. In our Ward, the full-time missionaries work with the convert to come up with suggestions for the baptismal program and the final program is planned by the Bishop. Then, the Ward mission leader (or his wife!) prints up the programs. Since this is his first time being responsible for printing the program, I searched online for a template that we could use to make the set-up easier. I could have made my own template to use, but I knew that would take me a while.

I wasn't able to find a convert baptism program template anywhere, but I did find a baptism program that was created for use at a child of record baptism, which is easily adapted by making a few changes (for example, I deleted the part about the 'Welcome from the Primary' and added a section for a presentation by the full-time missionaries that we normally have while the convert is changing clothes).

Here is the template I used:

Click here for BAPTISM PROGRAM TEMPLATE ON "MORMON SHARE" WEBSITE

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New posts?

Sorry for the lack of new posts in the past few months, I've just had a new baby (#3!) and things have been kind of crazy! In other news, my husband has recently been called as Ward mission leader! We're having lots of fun!

Watch for new posts coming soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Member Progress Tracking

One of the official forms that the Church has to help with tracking new member progress is the "New and Returning Member Progress" form. "The bishop regularly reviews this form in ward council meetings to discuss the progress of each new or returning member. The ward council uses the form to plan specific ways to teach and strengthen new members from the time of their baptism and confirmation until they receive the temple endowment. The ward council also uses portions of this form in planning how to teach and strengthen returning members"
This form is explained further and is available on www.lds.org here

I thought it would be helpful to have something similar for Ward Missionaries to keep track of new convert progress. It has some of the same information as the official form, but I've excluded some of the information that isn't applicable for our purposes. I also added spaces for including additional information (such as what their calling is, which new member discussions have been taught, which additional principles have been explained by Ward Missionaries - family home evening, family prayer, accepting and serving in callings, etc.-, when member has received their Patriarchal blessing, etc.

There is also a place on the form I've made to put a photo of the new member (if appropriate and agreeable to the new member). I thought that this would be helpful because sometimes Ward members or newer full-time missionaries won't recognize the name of a new member being discussed and showing them a photo can help jog their memory. I try to be present at all convert baptisms and take a photo of the new member with the Elders before the service starts. I give the new member and the Elders copies of the photos and then I have one to use for our Ward Missionary records as well.

The form I made is just a word document. I'm still trying to figure out how to attach a word doc to this blog, so in the meantime here is here text:


NAME ____________________________
BAPTISM DATE__________

MEMBER SPOUSE? Y N N/A __________________
CHILDREN: ________________________________________
ADDRESS: ___________________________________
PHONE NUMBER:___________________________

HOME TEACHERS________________________________
VISITING TEACHERS_________________________________
CHURCH CALLING____________________________________

NEW MEMBER DISCUSSIONS 1 2 3 4 5

EXTRA TOPICS COVERED DURING NMD VISITS:
FAMILY/PERSONAL PRAYER_________________
PERSONAL SCRIPTURE STUDY_________________
FAMILY HOME EVENING_________________
HOME TEACHING AND VISITING TEACHING_________________
PRIESTHOOD BLESSINGS_________________
PATRIARCHAL BLESSINGS_________________
ACCEPTING AND SERVING IN CALLINGS_________________
CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS/AUXILLIARIES_________________
PREPARING TO ATTEND THE TEMPLE_________________
OTHER:____________________________________________________

RECIEVED AARONIC PRIESTHOOD______________
RECIEVED MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD______________
PATRIARCHAL BLESSING____________________
PARTICIPATED IN BAPTISMS FOR THE DEAD_________________
TEMPLE PREPARATION CLASS____________________
RECIEVED PERSONAL ENDOWMENTS _________________
SEALED TO FAMILY_______________________

This form is meant to make things easier for Ward Missionaries, especially those who are involved in teaching new member discussions. I can see at a glance what topics need to be covered and what the next "step" is for each individual.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

General Conference Reminders for New Members

General Conference is coming up in a few weeks! If you've ever forgotten it was Conference Weekend, you know there is nothing worse than showing up for church on time at your regular Ward building and seeing an empty parking lot!

For long-time members, General Conference isn't anything unusual, but for investigators and recent converts, General Conference is a new concept. While we may all know where to go (and when) the first weekend of April and October (or at least how to look it up), new members may not have a clue.

Here are some ideas to help you make sure that everyone you're working with has the opportunity to watch General Conference (and NOT show up for Church at the regular place/time):
  • Announce (and explain) General Conference in Gospel Essentials Sunday School class for at least 2 weeks prior to Conference. Even if you explain it once, not everyone may be paying attention and there may be some people missing from class the first time. Be sure to emphasize that there will not be any regular Church meetings on Conference Sunday - the Conference broadcasts will replace regular Church meetings on this Sunday.
  • Provide a handout* (sample shown below) that has a basic explanation of General Conference and the dates/times/viewing options appropriate for your area. Hand these out in Sunday School and before/after Sacrament meeting during the 2 weeks before Conference, so you can catch as many people as possible. I usually make extras of these handouts and give them to our full-time missionaries so they have something to give to investigators who may be interested in attending.
  • If you send out a new member newsletter, include the explanation of General Conference and the dates/times/viewing options for your area, etc. Again, be sure to emphasize that there will not be any regular Church meetings on Conference Sunday - the Conference broadcasts will replace the regular Church meetings on this Sunday. Yes, its repeating yourself, but this is often misunderstood by new members.
  • Consider asking Ward leaders (if appropriate) to announce General Conference times/viewing options (in Relief Society, Priesthood, etc). Some Wards do this, others do not.
  • Reminder phone calls (or emails) - as a last minute reminder, it doesn't hurt to give a quick call or email on Friday to remind investigators/new members that its Conference weekend.
  • If possible, consider inviting some investigators or new members to your home to view Conference with your family (or to attend Conference with you at a Church building providing the broadcast)
You don't have to use all of these methods, of course, but I feel like the more reminders, the better. This may seem like overkill, but I'd rather repeat myself 4 times than have someone tell me later that they showed up for Church and nobody was there and/or they missed General Conference because they didn't know about it.


*My handouts usually look something like this (times and viewing options will vary by region, this is just shown for example):

General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
October 2nd and 3rd

General Conference is held twice a year and is broadcast from Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City to members all over the world. Speakers will include the Prophet (President of the Church), members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and other Church Leaders. Since each of the 4 sessions of the Conference will feature different speakers and different topics, members normally watch all 4 sessions.

DATES/TIMES:
Saturday the 2nd- morning session 9:00-11:00am
and afternoon session 1:00-3:00pm
Sunday the 3rd- morning session 9:00-11:00am
and afternoon session 1:00-3:00pm

VIEWING OPTIONS:
AT HOME: If you get BYU-Channel or local access Channel __, you can view all 4 Conference broadcasts at home on your tv.
AT CHURCH: All 4 Conference broadcasts are shown on a large movie screen in the chapel at the Stake Center (located at _________). Sunday-clothing is appropriate if you attend in the chapel.
ONLINE: All 4 Conference broadcasts can be viewed at the Church's official website, www.lds.org


Please mark your calenders - there are no regular Church meetings this weekend - instead, everyone will be attending Conference broadcasts (either at home or at the Stake Center Building)




See you at Conference!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Using Preach My Gospel


The September 2010 Ensign magazine has an article called, "Using Preach My Gospel to Teach New Members". Its the story of a particular new member and the couple assigned to teach her the new member lessons and their positive experience in using Preach My Gospel.

If you are involved with teaching the new member discussions/lessons, you've probably noticed that there isn't any specific instruction on how to do them, other than, "After baptism, new members are taught the first four lessons again, as well as “Laws and Ordinances (the 5th discussion/lesson). Ward leaders determine whether ward missionaries or full-time missionaries lead out in ensuring that these lessons are taught and how long full-time missionaries are involved" (Preach My Gospel, page 29)

In the "olden days" before Preach My Gospel (when I was a recent convert and later a full-time missionary), there was a separate set of discussions that further explained programs of the Church like visiting teaching/home teaching, accepting and serving in callings, family home evening, preparing to attend the temple, etc. and other things that new members need to know. Even though these things aren't discussed in as much detail in the regular set of lessons in Preach My Gospel that we use now, they are still important parts of teaching new members about membership in the Church, so we try to make sure that these sorts of things are explained well, either during new member discussions or Sunday School, etc.

Since the new members are at least somewhat familiar with the concepts taught in the first 4 discussions, we don't approach it as if they are hearing them for the first time. I like to use Preach My Gospel lessons as a jumping off point for each of the new member discussions we teach. The depth we go into depends on the situation and the specific new member. You can usually tell how much detail you need to go into by asking questions about the topic, like, "Why do you think baptism is so important?" or "What were your feelings when the Elders taught you about the Word of Wisdom?" Their answers can give you an idea of their level of understanding.

We try to go into more specific detail about how those principles apply to our lives as members of the Church. For example, the 3rd discussion is "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" (which covers faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end), so we normally focus on how members of the Church make and keep covenants (like baptism) and that the Sacrament is very important because it helps us to repent and renew our covenants each week. These are probably things that they still remember from their original discussions, but it doesn't hurt to reinforce these concepts.

Last week we had a brand new member over for her first "new member discussion". We invited her and her children over for Family Home Evening, and also invited the full-time missionaries over (to help with the transition). The first discussion is about the Restoration, so our FHE lesson was about Joseph Smith's First Vision and why it is important to us today. We did the whole thing regular FHE style, with pictures and a song, treats, etc. Afterward, I gave the new member a FHE resource book and explained a little bit about more about the FHE
program (why we do it, different ways it can be done, etc).

I think it was really successful because we incorporated the doctrine, but also had the family in our home and also modeled a FHE for them at the same time. This format may not work for every situation, but we can find ways to make the new member discussions helpful and informative for any new member. Preach My Gospel gives us the freedom to do that!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baptism Service Refreshments


The Relief Society Presidency in our Ward does an excellent job of coordinating refreshments for convert baptisms - and they've had a LOT of refreshments to coordinate over the past few months, so they're really appreciated.

I think its great that the Presidency takes care of that aspect of the baptism service because that means right there we've got at least one (usually 2 or 3) representative of the R.S. Presidency there to show their support. Plus, if they have called 3 or 4 sisters from the Ward to contribute cookies, those sisters are likely to stay for the baptism as well. We've had some concerns about low baptism attendance in the past, but no more! We were packed full at our last few services and that is a great thing.

Besides, just about everybody likes treats, so having refreshments afterward makes a great opportunity for Ward members to visit with the new member (and any relatives or friends that they have invited).

I usually try to contribute something for the refreshment table also, though I'm not much of a baker....This weekend we had 5 convert baptisms at one baptism service, so in honor of the very special occaision I put in an extra effort and made temple-themed cupcake brownies (white-chocolate candy shaped like the Portland temple on a brownie in a white cupcake liner). I was a little worried that people might think it was tacky or inappropriate to put a temple on a brownie, but I got the idea from my friend Sue (who used these same kinds of candy molds to make treats for her 8 year old son's baptism) and I thought it was really cute, so I went ahead and did it. I figured it might also be a conversation starter if a visitor was curious about what the building was, too.

I guess they must have gone over well, because by the time my husband got over to the refreshment table to try one, they were already gone!

(Just FYI in case you're looking for a temple candy mold - I had difficulty finding them- I bought my temple candy molds from this website (click on the underlined words to go to the site). I'm not affiliated with that company or anything, its just the site I used for my personal purchase. Each mold makes 12 candies. I bought 2 molds so I could make 24 at once, but you could always just reuse one mold as many times as you want).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ideas for Increasing New Member Fellowshipping

"Among those converts who fall away, the attrition (loss) is steepest in the two months after baptism. When a convert is baptized, there is no time to lose. Fellowshipping efforts must begin well before baptism and must increase in intensity in the months following baptism" ("The Role of Members in Conversion" By Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, March 2003)

Unfortunately, it seems as if the opposite thing is often happening with new members. We tend to think that the most important fellowshipping happens before baptism, and then sharply drops off afterward. While the new member will (hopefully) have visits from home teachers (and visiting teachers) once a month like the rest of us do, that just isn't enough contact for a brand new member.

Members often mistakenly think that the full-time missionaries will cover this need as they continue with their regular and frequent visits to the new convert. Individual missionaries eventually move on to new areas, and for those that stay in the area, its appropriate to eventually wean away from frequent visits to new members. In some cases, it can be a very swift transition that leaves the new member feeling confused and abandoned. I have heard too many people comment that they felt as if they were "dropped" after their baptism. I know that this is not intended by the ward members and full-time missionaries...Instead, we may just expect the new member to be totally integrated into our "culture" when they are baptized and that they should naturally adjust to the change.

This is the area where ward members (and specifically ward missionaries) need to do a MUCH better job. When I read Elder Oaks' advice that member fellowshipping should "increase in intensity" after baptism, it made me consider my own efforts. For example, if I personally have one or two contacts a week with an investigator before their baptism (by phone, at church, in person, or online, etc), I can consider how I might increase that effort after baptism. An extra phone call or visit would be all that it would take to double my contact with that person.

"Our experience has shown that members can have a powerful influence in this process (when they model) gospel living..." One idea that our family came up with that goes along with this principle is inviting new members to come to our home for a Family Home Evening. This combines the concept of fellowshipping with the modeling gospel living that Elder Oaks mentioned.

I first considered inviting investigators for FHE immediately after they had set a date for baptism, but when I remembered that "fellowshipping efforts must...increase in intensity in the months following baptism" I decided that it might be even better to have new members over for FHE the week following their baptism.

Since we have investigator several families in our Ward scheduled for baptism over the next week, I'll be contacting each of them this week (before any of the baptisms) and inviting them for FHE next week. Since some of these people have unusual work/school schedules (and our family has an unusual schedule as well), I've explained that we can have them over on a different weekday afternoon or evening (instead of Monday) if necessary. So, we may end up having 2 or 3 different FHEs in the same week, but you can't have too many FHEs, right?

I figure that if our family makes this a regular practice it will be an easy way for us to make a few extra contacts with each person (call or personal invite and then the actual FHE itself). Wouldn't it be great if we could also encourage other ward members to do the same? I think there are a lot of members who would like to help with new member fellowshipping, but just aren't sure what to do. Can you imagine what a great influence it would be for new members to go to 4 or 5 different members homes for FHE and other social visits during their first few months as new members?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ward Missionaries at Back to School Sales!

If you're interested in providing some low-cost distractions* for the children of investigators who may be caught under-prepared to entertain them during Sacrament meeting (and other Sunday Church meetings), back-to-school time is ideal... Most stores that sell school supplies have "loss leaders" (several ridiculously low priced items that they advertise to get your attention!). Crayons, colored pencils, and wire-bound lined paper are usually priced very low. All of these things are great for keeping young children busy - and hey, if you're going to buy them, you might as well buy them while they're very cheap! I stocked up on packs of crayons for 20 cents each, boxes of colored pencils for 89 cents, and wire-bound notebook paper for 15 cents each.

If you make "Welcome to the Ward" Packets**, plain-colored pee-chee style folders can be found for low-prices at this time of year also (I found them for 15 cents each - they are close to $1 each the rest of the year).

Don't wait too long to shop, though- retailers usually raise school supply prices back to normal the week or two before school actually starts...

*For more ideas, see the post from July entitled "Entertaining visiting children / Sacrament meeting" under the topic "Fellowshipping (at Church)" at the right side of the page.

**For information on "Welcome to the Ward Packets," see the "Welcome Packets" section at the right side of the page.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Explaining VISITS to New Members

One of the adjustments that new members make is getting to know our "lingo" and understanding all of the terms that we use. While visiting a new member (of 2 months) the other day, I asked her if she knew who her home teachers are. She said that she did, but when I asked her specifically who they are, she told me the names of two women. This is a very common mistake, so I wasn't very surprised (many new members unknowingly use the terms 'home teaching' and 'visiting teaching' interchangeably). I explained the home and visiting teaching programs to her again (her home teachers are men, her visiting teachers are women, etc).

What did surprise me was that another new member (of about 8 months) who also happened to be there during the visit, looked very surprised and said, "OH! So that's why those men have been visiting us every month!" She went on to tell us how these "two nice men from Church" had called every month to schedule a visit and had always come and given a gospel message, but she and her husband didn't know why - they just thought the two men were being friendly! "I didn't know they were our home teachers!" I had to laugh, but it also made me think that our new members still need MORE information about whats going on. We may know what visiting and home teaching are, but that doesn't mean they totally understand it.

As Ward Missionaries we explain these concepts to the new members (during personal visits and occasionally during Gospel Essentials lessons). I also include a page in the "Welcome Packet" for new members that explains what home teaching and visiting teaching is and another page that explains what the New Member Discussions are. Now, the information is being provided, but it doesn't seem like its being made clear enough. So, I came up with a sort of "cheat sheet" that explains the 4 types of regular visits that they should be receiving (complete with pictures to help make the distinction easier!). See text below:

Now that I'm an official member of the Ward,
who will be
contacting me to schedule
visits to my home? (and why?)


"Visiting Teachers"


Two women are assigned by the Relief Society to visit each woman in the Ward with a brief gospel message every month. If you are an adult woman, you will be contacted by your new Visiting Teachers soon.






"Home Teachers"


Two men are assigned by the Elders-Quorum (or High Priests Group) to visit each family with a brief gospel message every month. You will be contacted by your new Home Teachers soon.





"Full-time Missionaries"

The full-time Missionaries (the "Elders'') may continue to visit new members and give short gospel messages from time to time as their schedules permit



"Ward Missionaries"

The Ward Missionaries (INSERT NAMES HERE) will visit new members (once a month or so) and give a series of 5 brief lessons called the "New Member Discussions"* (INSERT REAL PHOTO(S) OF YOUR WARD MISSIONARIES OVER <-- HERE)


To conform to the blog format I had to make some changes to the document to show you here, but the basic idea is the same. Its just a brief one-page summary of each of the groups that will be contacting the new members for regular visits. I hope this will help take away some of the confusion.... I'm planning to make these available to future new members, as well as recent converts who might still be having difficulty making sense of all these programs!


*As I've mentioned before, the arrangement that we have in our Ward is that Ward Missionaries are responsible for teaching the New Member Discussions. In other Wards, you may have a different system (the Elders or Home Teachers may teach the New Member Discussions, or a combination of people might be responsible). Consult your Ward Mission Leader for more info.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Get to know new members - the game!


Tonight we had a Relief Society BBQ/Picnic - and the Relief Society Presidency came up with a really cute idea for helping everyone get to know our newer members. They had 6 or 7 of the newest sisters fill out a questionnaire (either ahead of time, or at the activity) with interesting information about themselves (favorite food, first car, last movie they saw, etc).

After everyone had eaten, they asked each of the new sisters to sit in a row up front and as a member of the Presidency read off the trivia facts, everyone else (in the "audience") tried to guess which piece of information went with each person. It was a really good idea because it helped everyone get to know the names of the new members and we also learned a few things about them. All of this without the new members feeling too "on the spot" (because they didn't really have to "do" anything but sit there, so it was low-stress!)

This idea could be adapted to just about any casual Ward or auxilliary activity!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Welcome packet for convert child



Today we have a convert baptism of a child (8 years old), so I adapted our usual "Welcome to the Ward" packet to be a little more kid-appropriate. The usual handouts and information are included (see the "Welcome Packet" section for more info), but I made a few changes/additions:
  • More coloring/activity pages (found here)
  • "My Gospel Standards" print-out (found on the Idea Door website, here)
  • Sacrament prayer card*
  • "My Baptism Covenants" print-out (found on the Idea Door website, here)
  • Several age-appropriate "Mormonad" poster cards
  • Picture of Christ with children
*I printed out the Sacrament prayers (printable version found at the Idea Door, here), and glued them onto colorful paper. Then I glued the two prayers back to back, to make a sort of two-sided bookmark. I also attached a little paper piece of bread and a water cup that I made out of scraps of scrapbooking paper to make it easier to tell which side is which. You can see the one I made on the left side of the picture of the inside of the folder (shown above).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Helping new members understand "callings"

For many new members of the Church, the idea of holding a position or "calling" can be a very intimidating thing. The last thing that we want is to have new converts running for the door after the closing hymn so they can avoid a potential "Can I meet with you for a moment?" encounter with the Bishopric... What can Ward missionaries do to help our new members feel comfortable with accepting callings?

Something that we have done is bring up the subject of callings when we're visiting a new convert for one of the early new-member discussions*. This gives us a good opportunity to resolve any concerns that the new member may have. We give brief summary of what a calling is (this a term that we use frequently, but most non-members are unfamiliar with, so it doesn't hurt to explain), explain how callings are extended (and how we are sustained), and why we as members serve in the Church.

I've found there are four general concerns that new members have about accepting callings:

#1- I don't have the gospel knowledge/experience
This is a very common concern. New members are used to dealing with full-time missionaries that can usually answer virtually any question without breaking a sweat. And when they come to Church they see men and women speaking or giving lessons who have had years and years of speaking/teaching experience. How can someone who was just baptized last week be expected to have the gospel knowledge and ability of a missionary or a lifelong member? Well, of course they aren't expected to have those abilities, which is why a brand new convert isn't usually called to teach Gospel Doctrine. Bishoprics are very aware of the limitations that a convert will have as they are learning the basics. There are many callings that are appropriate for new members that don't require an extensive gospel education. Even a calling as a teacher isn't necessarily going to require a mastery of the scriptures... For example, some new converts that I've known have been called as Primary teachers. This provides an opportunity for the new member to learn through teaching, line upon line, and to a (hopefully) less-intimidating young audience.

#2- I don't know enough about the organization/calling
Even long-time members could feel a little panicked at being called to a position in an area/auxilliary that they aren't very familiar with, so this is easy to relate to. A new member may not realize that they will have training and leadership support for their calling. No matter what the calling, there is someone to offer support and answer questions. For example, if a new member were called to be a visiting teaching supervisor, they would receive instruction and support from the visiting teaching leader and the Relief Society President. It would be really helpful for new members to know that they will have this support and that there are also support materials (instruction manuals) and other resources that can help as well.

#3- I might be asked to do something I just can't do
It can help to explain that callings for all members (including new converts) are chosen carefully by our leaders who are guided through revelation (meaning that we may be asked to do something that stretches us and increases our talents/abilities, but we're generally not asked to do something beyond what we can handle). I've used the example that I can't play the piano at all, so I probably won't be asked to serve as the ward pianist - its just literally beyond what I am able to do. On the other hand, as we serve in positions we start to gain skills and become more familiar with how things run, which can give us that background (and confidence) we need to serve in future callings that may require a greater knowledge or skill. Most callings will "stretch" us beyond our comfort zone in some way. I don't believe in turning down callings because they are intimidating. However, I do feel that its appropriate to tell new members that if they are extended a calling that they feel uneasy about, it's okay to talk to the Bishopric member about our questions or concerns. My husband and I learned this the hard way when we were in a new Ward and called to a husband/wife team calling that required regular weeknight meetings. Not wanting to question the call (though we'd never spoken with the Bishopric before that night and they didn't know our circumstances), we accepted the callings (without voicing our concern that every single meeting conflicted with my husband's work schedule). A lot of complications could have been avoided if we would have expressed our scheduling conflict when the calls were extended. So, its important for new members to know that its okay to have questions or concerns - its better to resolve them before agreeing to the calling than to wait until the situation becomes frustrating or overwhelming. This will also give the Bishopric member an opportunity to reassure the new member and help resolve concerns about lack of experience, etc.

#4- I'm just too shy to teach
This concern is a little more difficult to resolve, since you can't really tell a person to just stop being shy... I find that many new members are afraid to be asked to teach because they have never been a fan of public speaking or they are just generally shy (and this may be made worse if they are also concerned about lack of experience/knowledge). Most new members won't be asked to teach right away, but some will. In this case, refer back to #1 , #2, & #3 - explaining how callings are administered and that they will receive support from leadership can really help put a shy new member at ease.


*In our Ward, the Ward missionaries present the new-member discussions to the new converts and we try to incorporate the visiting/home teachers when possible. Generally, the Ward Mission Leader determines how the new-member discussions are handled, so your Ward may have a different arrangement (for example, in some Wards the full-time missionaries teach the new-member discussions, in other Wards the full-time missionaries and Ward missionaries teach these discussions together). Consult your Ward Mission Leader.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The importance of Church activities for investigators

We make an effort to make sure that our newer members attend Church activities as often as possible. Being a member of the Church is more than just attending meetings on the Sabbath - the gospel and the Kingdom of God on Earth (the Church) becomes part of our daily lives. For new members, attending social activities outside of Sunday services/classes is an important part of integrating into Church culture and feeling part of the Ward/Stake family.

In a slightly different way, the same concepts apply to our non-member investigator friends. When they come to activities (like Ward parties, for example) they meet more Ward members (including Ward leaders) and can develop relationships with people they have already met.

In addition, they may be able to overcome any previous misconceptions that they've had about what Church members are like. When investigators only have contact with the missionaries outside of Church and then only see Church members when they're dressed up for Sunday meetings, they may wonder - Do members of our Church always dress up? Are women are expected to wear dresses all the time? Activities are a great way to show that we do wear jeans and we're generally pretty fun people!

Ward missionaries, Ward leaders, and other Ward members can encourage investigators to attend activities by #1- making sure they know about upcoming activities (when, where, etc) #2 offering a ride (if appropriate) #3- offering follow-up reminders (fliers or verbal reminders) in classes or personal phone calls.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July/August Newsletter Ideas

Last month I did a post on sending out a "New Member News" newsletter specifically for new converts and investigators preparing for baptism. Basically, I try to include any information they might need to know for the upcoming month or so. For example, in March and September I include information about the upcoming General Conferences (what is Conference, where/when you can view it, what to expect, etc).

For July/August newsletters, I recommend the following topics:


  • Pioneers (brief history of the Pioneers - we have a lot lessons/talks/hymns about Pioneers during this time of year, so I try to explain why)
  • Pioneer Day (why we celebrate it and info about any related Ward/Stake activities)
  • Other Ward/Stake Activities (be sure to give all possible information about time, date, location, appropriate dress, anything they need to bring, etc)
  • Gospel Essentials (Sunday School) Lesson Schedule
  • Welcome to New Members &/or Info About Upcoming Baptisms
  • Ward Missionary/Ward Mission Leader Contact Information

Even if you don't go with a formal newsletter format, it is great to make this type of information available to all of your new members.... by handout, Sunday School announcements, phone calls, etc. Most activities will be announced in one way or another at Church, but it doesn't hurt to give a little extra effort to make sure that our new members have all of the information they need.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fellowshipping New Converts - 13 Easy Ideas That Any Member Can Use!

President Gordon B. Hinckley placed a heavy emphasis on convert retention for many years. He repeatedly taught that the involvement of ward members is vitally important to helping a converts remain active in the Church after baptism. Full-time missionaries come and go, but ward members (especially ward missionaries) are a constant that converts should be able to rely on for continuing encouragement, support, and friendship.

"I am hopeful that a great effort will go forward throughout the Church, throughout the world, to retain every convert who comes into the Church. This is serious business. There is no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. The two must be inseparable. You have people in your wards who can be friends to every convert. They can listen to them, guide them, answer their questions, and be there to help in all circumstances and in all conditions" (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionar Service," Ensign, Nov 1997)

We know that we should be doing something to help our new converts remain active, but what exactly are we supposed to do?

Imagine learning that a long-time friend from your high school (who you haven't seen in many years) will soon be moving into your town. Think of the ways that you might offer to help and how you could help make your friend's family feel welcome. What would you do for your friend? Help them move into their new house? Bring them dinner or treats? Maybe you could show them around town - take them to the school their children will be attending, tell them which grocery stores are best, or help them find the nearest branch of the bank they will use? Would you be willing to introduce them to people in the neighborhood or maybe host a "welcome" BBQ for them? Even after the initial move-in, you would probably continue to check on them from time to time, to see how they were handling unpacking and offering additional help, if needed. None of these things would seem out of the ordinary for one friend to do for another.

The same principles can be applied when member missionaries help new converts make their transition into active membership in the ward. Similar to the scenario of having a high school friend move into the area, we can help the new member get "settled" in their Church "home" by showing kindness, helping them learn the ropes, and introducing them to other members in the ward. Like any friend, we simply want to help them "get settled."

Here are 13 examples of low-stress ways that any member can help a convert feel welcome in the "Ward Family"
:
  • Attend convert baptisms and congratulate the new member(s)
  • Offer a ride to a Church activity
  • Ask them to help with planning a Church project or activity
  • Make sure that they know about upcoming ward/stake meetings & activities
  • Invite them over for dinner and/or Family Home Evening
  • Make sure they understand a unique term/concept that comes up in announcements or during a class (like "Girls Camp" or "Food Storage")
  • Learn the names of everyone in their family and greet them by name
  • If they miss Church, give them a call to see if everything is okay
  • Send them a birthday card
  • Contact the ward missionaries or full-time missionaries and ask if you can come with them when they have a "new member discussion"
  • Say hello to them at Church
  • Sit with them in class or at an activity
  • Take them a loaf of bread or cookies to say, "welcome to the ward"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Entertaining visiting children / Sacrament meeting


It is always a good thing when investigators to bring their children to Church. However, many kids aren't used to sitting quietly for that long, especially without entertainment! I've found that most parents who just beginning to attend Church are usually unprepared to keep them in their seat for over an hour.

We can help make attending Church a pleasant experience for new families, but one thing that is never pleasant is having half the ward staring at you because your children are racing each other up and down the aisles. I've been caught under-prepared for this situation a few times. I always wish that I could help in some way, but there is only so much doodling a child can do on the back of one Sacrament program, then things start to get ugly again!

There are small things that any of us can do to help in a situation like this by coming to Church armed with a few extra items that are low-cost and easy to obtain (you may already have some of these around the house). The following ideas probably won't work with every age group (like infants or pre-teens), but should definitely help keep the 2-10 age crowd occupied for a little while without distracting too much from the spirit of the meeting.

Bring one (or more) of the following:
  • Coloring book (preferably gender-neutral, or a variety)
  • Pad of plain paper
  • Activity pages and/or coloring pages from the Friend magazine*
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Stickers
You don't need to haul in a ton of supplies in every week - I usually just keep a few coloring/activity pages and some crayons on hand in my bag or notebook. I also have an extra stash in my car (just in case it looks like I'm going to need it - I definitely won't have time to run home if a new investigator family shows up with five kids!). This is just a small thing, but it can make a big difference in making Sacrament meeting more peaceful for our investigator families.

*I prefer to use Church/gospel-related pages (like the one shown above) that support the purpose of Sacrament meeting (instead of something like a "Transformers" coloring book). You can print these pages at home for FREE from the Church website's Friend magazine printable "activity archive" section (click here to link to the page) or a non-official church site like ldscoloringpages.net - both have pages arranged by topic, so you can choose a variety of pictures and activities that you think would be appropriate. I usually choose general topics like "Service," "Family," or "Christ" instead of more in-depth subjects like "The Word of Wisdom" or "Joseph Smith receives the Priesthood" (which may be less familiar to a new family).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Member News(letter)


OK, so its not really a formal "newsletter", but last year I started sending out the Sunday School lesson schedule once a month (or so) to our Ward's recent converts. I wanted to make sure that they knew which lesson we were on, in case they missed a Sunday or wanted to study the topic before class). If they had missed a Sunday and I had leftover handouts from class, I would include one of those handouts as well. Eventually, I also started adding information about upcoming activities and things like that. I wondered if people would think it was strange that I was sending them random things, so I started calling it the "New Member News". Its really just a one-page printout with information that might be useful to new members*, but I thought calling it a newsletter seemed less "random". I also added a list of the Ward Missionaries (names and phone numbers) in case they have any questions.

Finally, if I have any space left on the page (which I usually do), I try to include a quote from the Ensign, or a short article that explains a term of "Latter-day Saint Lingo". This month I included a little article about Family Home Evening - what it is, how to do it, resources to help, etc. I figure that while I'm at it, the more information I can provide, the better.

Like I said, my initial intent was just to provide information about Sunday School lessons, but now I feel like its a valuable tool that allows me to make another "contact" with each person/family outside of Church.

*In addition to new converts, I also sometimes send the newsletter to investigators as well, depending on the circumstances.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Encouraging Sunday School Attendance

As part of our callings, the Ward Missionaries in our Ward take turns teaching the Gospel Essentials Sunday School class. I always try to make sure that new members know that they need to attend the class for at least one year, and normally we have a pretty good attendance (we have 13+ new members and usually a handful of investigators). Lately (the last few months), I've noticed that quite a few people have gotten into the habit of coming to Sacrament meeting and then not staying for the rest of the meetings. I've been pondering how we can encourage people to stay for the 2nd two hours (especially Sunday School), and here are a few ideas I've come up with:
  • Send out an upcoming lesson schedule (I put this in the monthly new member newsletter), just to keep it on their minds during the week
  • Call on Saturdays and ask members (who should be attending the class) to give prayers or do some other sort of simple assignment
  • Greet new members at the door (before Sacrament) and give them a "Today in Sunday School" handout
I'm trying the "Today in Sunday School" handout for the first time this Sunday - I've just made a little printed handout that says, "Today's lesson in Gospel Essentials Sunday School class is 'The Sacrament' - Here are some of the topics we will cover: What are the 2 main purposes of the Sacrament? Does it matter which hand you use to take the Sacrament? What steps should I take to prepare before taking the Sacrament? Do young children take the Sacrament?"

The thinking behind this is that the handout will #1- remind the person about the class (making it less convenient to feel casual about "skipping out" early) #2- provide some interesting questions that might peak their interest about the topic (like if a person had never considered the significance of using their right hand or whether or not young children should take the Sacrament, they might be more inclined to attend out of curiousity).

Hopefully these ideas will help! If you have any tips to share, please let us know!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dividing our time - Pie Chart Planning

We had an excellent quarterly training meeting the other day and it got me thinking about how I balance my time in this calling. I know I spend a lot more time on it than many (including my husband), since I'm a stay-at-home mom and have more time for planning lessons and phone calls. It doesn't seem like much, but the little things add up. I was curious to see how my time is usually spent, to see if I should make adjustments. I made a (free) pie chart at Math Warehouse (click on the underlined words to be taken to the site) - it was really easy.

I figured out (approximately) how much time I spend on each aspect of Ward Missionary work (for example, since my husband has a strange work schedule, I usually only end up going to teach a discussion with the full-time missionaries only about once every other week, so I entered an average of 1/2 hour per week in that category).

Here's my break down:
Teaching New Member Discussions (2 hrs/wk)
Teaching with the F/T Missionaries (.5 hrs/wk)
Teaching/Preparing Gospel Essentials Class (2 hrs/wk)
Extra contact (calls, visits) with New Members / Less-Active / Investigators (2 hrs/wk)

Fellowshipping (activities outside of Church) (1 hr/wk)
Planning Meetings (1 hr/wk)


My husband's break down would look more like this:
Teaching New Member Discussions (1 hr/wk)
Teaching with the F/T Missionaries (.5 hr/wk)
Extra contact (calls, visits) with New Members/Less-Active / Investigators (1 hr/wk)

Fellowshipping (outside of Church) (2 hrs/wk)
Planning Meetings (1 hr/wk)

I think a pie chart could a helpful tool for a Ward Missionary (or in any calling) because it gives you a visual that shows where you are spending your time and how that relates to your goals.... If your goal is to focus on fellowshipping, but you spend 90% of your time in planning meetings, your might want to make an adjustment to your schedule!

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Welcome to the Church" Ensign Special Edition

While searching the internet for other Ward Mission related websites, I was reading an older article on another site that mentioned the October 2006 issue of the Ensign, which was a special edition called "Welcome to the Church" that was specifically geared for new converts. I noticed that you could purchase copies of that issue on the Church Distribution site for a very reasonable price ($1.50), so I busily began calculating how many issues I'd want - lets see, one each for all of the converts over the past year or so (12+), plus I'll need some a lot more copies for upcoming baptisms, and then a whole bunch more for future converts... It started to add up quickly, and since I do these packets as sort of a personal project and don't use any Church budget, I started to reconsider...

After a little more digging, I found that you can download entire issues of the Ensign on the Church website, way back to 2001. Here is the location where you can find this: http://www.lds.org/gospellibrary/pdfmagazine/0,7
779,592-6-1,00.html (or click on the photo of the magazine below).


You can actually print out the entire issue if you want, but I read through and selected two articles that I thought would be most helpful to our new members, then I printed them out in color (black and white is okay, too, I just happened to have a new color cartridge so I went for it!). I selected "New Members, New Traditions" by Elder F. Melvin Hammond (which covers some of the basics of what is expected of members, like church AND class attendance, tithing, singing hymns, preparing to attend the temple, family prayer, family home evening, etc) and "What I Wish Every New Member Knew - and Every Longtime Member Remembered" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (which covers topics like service, keeping covenants, fellowship, and leaving the past behind).

I will be including these articles in "Welcome" Packets from now on and also distributing them to recent converts if appropriate.

For more information on our "Welcome to the Ward" Packets for new converts and what is included, see the topic section labeled "WELCOME PACKET" on the right side of this page, above the picture of people shaking hands.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Member Discussions & HT/VT

The following is the text for a sheet we include in the "Welcome to the Ward" packet we give to new converts. There was some recent confusion among new members in our Ward about the difference between Home Teaching/Visiting Teaching and the New Member Discussions, so we thought it would be helpful to include all of this information for the new member's reference. Please feel free to use any of this text in your own "Welcome Packet"!:


"New-Member Discussions"
When you're first learning about the Church, the full-time missionaries (the Elders) present a series of lessons called "The Discussions". These "Discussions" cover the basic gospel beliefs that you need to know to prepare for baptism. Completing the series of "Discussions" is required for anyone who wants to be baptized and become a member of the Lord's Church.

After your baptism, "Ward missionaries" will begin visiting your family and teaching a series of presentations called the "New Member Discussions". Ward missionaries are local Ward members who have been asked to serve in a "calling" as Ward missionaries (they help the Elders find and teach people, teach the Gospel Essentials Sunday School class, and help new members to get to know people, etc)

The "New Member Discussions" are normally taught once a month or so. There are a series of these 5 presentations altogether. These discussions explain how we can apply gospel principles in our daily lives as members of the Church. We get into more detail about topics like serving in Church callings, how the Priesthood blesses our lives, ways to strengthen families, and preparing to attend the temple.

You will be contacted soon by (insert names of Ward missionaries here) (who are currently serving as Ward missionaries in our Ward) to set up an appointment for your first "New Member Discussion". If you have any questions, please let any of us know!

"Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching"
You will also be contacted by Home Teachers (and possibly Visiting Teachers) from the Ward who will arrange times to visit your home. The Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching programs are some ways that help us keep our baptismal covenant to "comfort those who stand in need of comfort" and "bear one another's burdens":

"Home Teaching": is a worldwide program of the Church. Men are organized (by the Elders Quorum) into pairs and assigned to visit several specific families on a monthly basis. Home Teachers give a short gospel-related message and get to know the family. If there is any need or urgent situation within the family, they can contact their Home Teachers for help. Every household is assigned a set of Home Teachers and generally every man serves as a Home Teacher. If you have been baptized and aren't sure who you family's Home Teachers are yet, you can contact the Elders Quorum President (insert name of EQ President here).

"Visiting Teaching": is a worldwide program of the Relief Society (the Church's womens organization). Its purpose is to help women serve one another, develop friendships, and to provide support to one another. Women are assigned (by the Relief Society) as pairs and assigned to visit several women in the Ward on a monthly basis. (Home teachers visit the entire family, Visiting Teachers are women visiting other women. A family with an adult woman will have both Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers, with two separate visits). Visiting Teachers share a short gospel message and get to know the women that they visit. If the woman being visited has a specific need, she can let her Visiting Teachers know. Every woman is assigned a set of Visiting Teachers and in general, every woman serves as a Visiting Teacher. If you're a woman whose been baptized and you're not sure who your Visiting Teachers are yet, you can contact the Relief Society President (insert name of RS President here).


For more information on our "Welcome to the Ward" Packets for new converts and what is included, see the topic section labeled "WELCOME PACKET" on the right side of this page, above the picture of people shaking hands.

Ward Website Instructions for Converts

The following is the text for a page we attach to the Ward Directory print-out we include in the "Welcome to the Ward" packets for new converts. It describes how to register for the Ward Website, which gives the new member access to current Ward/Stake Directory, Ward/Stake calendar, etc. Feel free to use the text for your own "Welcome packets"!:

"We've printed you a copy of the current ward phone/address directory (attached) from the Ward's website. You may have already received a copy of the Stake's printed directory that is given out once a year, but the print version quickly out of date (as people move in or out of the Ward or change phone numbers, etc). The most current version of the directory is available online at the Ward's website...this directory is constantly updated as there are changes throughout the year.

How can you access the Ward's website & phone/address directory?
If you have internet, you can register for the Ward's official website at the Church's main website www.lds.org (under the tab "About the Church" you'll see a section called "Stake and Ward Websites"...clicking on this will take you to the log-in registration page). The Church maintains a seperate website for each Ward. You will be automatically registered for the Ward where you live.

To insure personal privacy, the phone/address directory is not accessible to the public, it is accessible only to official Ward members. Members are required to provide two pieces of identifying information to register (their Membership Record Number - also called MRN#- and their birth date). You may be able to find your MRN# on official Church documents (end-of-year tithing statement print-out, baptism certificate, etc). If you don't have it, you can ask the Ward Clerk to look it up in the computer for you (just ask anyone in the small office next to the Bishop's office on Sunday for help). Once you've registered, you can access the Ward's website (including the calendar of activities, directory, etc) any time. You can also print a new copy of the phone directory from the website anytime you want!"


For more information on our "Welcome to the Ward" Packets for new converts and what is included, see the topic section labeled "WELCOME PACKET" on the right side of this page, above the picture of people shaking hands.

Latter-day Saint "LINGO" glossary

The following is the "Latter-day Saint Lingo" sheet that I include in our "Welcome to the Ward" packet for new converts. Every week at the end of Gospel Essentials class, I choose a term or phrase of "Latter-day Saint Lingo"- a term that we use in the Church that may be unfamiliar to new members and explain it for them. This list is a compilation of some of those terms. I've taken some of these definitions from the Church website and adapted them for class purposes, but many are my own. Please feel free to use this text, but please note that this is meant as a casual reference and is not an official statement of terms from the Church:

Latter-day Saint "LINGO" -a glossary of terms

A helpful guide to some of the phrases frequently used by members of the Church

Apostle: The Church today has apostles just as it did in the time of Jesus. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles serve in the calling for the rest of their life and are “special witnesses” of Jesus Christ to the world. When an apostle dies, a new apostle is called to take his place with the Twelve.

Articles of Faith: Thirteen statements (written by Joseph Smith) explaining some of the basic beliefs of the LDS Church.

Auxiliaries: Different organizational groups within a ward. Auxiliaries are: Primary, Young Women's, Young Men's/Aaronic Priesthood, Relief Society, Melchizedek Priesthood and Sunday school. This term isn't used very often, but you may hear an announcement about a leadership meeting for auxiliary leaders.

Bishop: Similar to what other Churches may call a Pastor or Minister, but Bishops are not paid for their work. The Bishop who presides over a ward, along with two counselors who assist him. Bishops are sometimes referred to as the "Father of the ward" because they look over and care for the congregation. Bishops continue to have their regular career and family duties in addition to their responsibilities as a Bishop. A Bishop normally serves for several years (usually about 5 years) and then a new Bishop is called as his replacement. Bishops are called by Bishop and their last name (instead of Brother) out of respect for their calling.

Branch: A branch is a congregation with fewer members than a regular ward. Usually branches are found in smaller communities with small populations. Once the congregation's attendance increases to the level of a ward, it is reorganized as a ward. Instead of a Bishop, a branch is presided over by a Branch President (very similar to a Bishop, but specifically for branches).

Brother & Sister: It is a custom to refer to adults as "Brother" or "Sister" in the church. Usually this is followed by the last name (Sister Jones) but you may also occasionally hear this with a first name instead (Sister Jane). Or sometimes you will hear simply "Brother" or "Sister" (say, if you don't know a person's name and you're trying to pass him in the doorway, you might say, "Excuse me, Brother..."). Using the terms Brother and Sister is not a requirement, and in most cases its fine to refer to people by their first name only*. Brother and Sister are used most often during Church meetings and classes, and other more formal occasions (like an interview with the Bishop). This is meant to remind us that we are all brothers and sisters in the gospel. (*exceptions would be men or women who are serving in leadership positions like the Bishop or Relief Society President, etc. Out of respect, we normally refer to these people by their title and last name at church, even if they are personal friends).

Calling: To have a calling means that one member of the Bishopric has asked you personally to take on an assignment or responsibility. The Bishopric prayerfully decides who will serve in each position that needs to be filled. The types of callings are varied, but in general involve teaching, leading, or supporting the ward in other ways. Serving in callings can help us develop skills and talents. All callings are voluntary and come with specific blessings. In general, most members of the ward serve in some type of calling - there is plenty to do! Callings are considered to be sacred opportunities to serve in God's kingdom on earth, help others, and develop our personal talents/skills.

Convert: Someone who was not raised as a church member, but later joined the church. Usually people are considered to be a "new convert" (or "new member") for the first year or so, and may be considered a "fairly recent convert" for several years after their baptism. (Sometimes you may hear people say that every person is a convert because even if you were raised in the church you still have to gain your own testimony and be "converted" at some point)

Covenant: A two-way binding contract between God and a person (or group). Those who keep their part of a covenant with God receive the fulfillment of promised blessings. A covenant is different than most regular contracts or agreements because it is eternal in nature, God always sets the terms of the covenant - we are invited to take part (or we may choose to decline) if we choose.

Deseret Industries (or D.I.): Church-operated non-profit thrift store (the closest one to Longview is in Portland). Most items are resold to the community in the thrift store, some donated items (clothing, etc) may also be used locally or internationally for humanitarian projects. Proceeds from sales go towards helping the needy. From time to time, a Deseret Industries truck is brought up to Longview and parked in one of the church parking lots to accept local donations. (Since many church members donate items to D.I., it is a good place to shop for church clothes, books by LDS authors, LDS-themed toys, etc.)

Elder: This title is used in several ways. Full-time volunteer missionaries (if they're men) are always called by the title Elder (along with their last name) during their entire mission (women missionaries are called by Sister and their last name). For missionaries, this is meant as a reminder (to themselves and others) that they are on a sacred mission at all times during their term of service. Elder is also used as a title for general authorities (unless they are a member of the First Presidency, then they are referred to as President). For example, a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles goes by the title Elder. Elder is also the name for a level of the priesthood (Elder is the priesthood office that most adult men hold, though they aren't called "Elder" as a title because of it). Sounds complicated, but you'll get the hang of it!

Endowment: An essential ordinance that is only performed in the temple. Each adult can be eligible to receive their personal temple endowment after they have been a church member for at least one year. As with other ordinances (like baptism), the endowment involves making covenants to follow God and keep his commandments. In return, we receive special blessings.

Ensign Magazine: (correct pronunciation is En-Sign). A monthly magazine published by the Church containing Church news, events, articles and policy announcements. General Conference talks are printed in the Ensign in the May and November issues each year. Subscriptions to the Ensign are available at a low cost (around $10 a year) because they are sold "at cost" (publishing costs, etc, not for a profit).

Family Home Evening: Church-wide program that promotes family togetherness and gospel teaching by setting aside one night a week (usually Monday) for a special family night at home. Most families have a program that includes a lesson, activity, treats, etc. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the program, no matter what their circumstances. Something as simple as personal scripture study or watching a movie with your spouse can be a "family home evening." Single people and couples with grown children sometimes meet together for potlucks or a group activity.

Fast and Testimony Meeting: A special church meeting held during Sacrament meeting on the first Sunday of each month (known as "Fast Sunday"). Members in the congregation can take the stand and share their positive feelings and gratitude for the gospel truths. Additional time for testimonies may be given at the end of 3rd hour classes. If you want to share (or "bear") your testimony, keep in mind that this is meant to be brief (1-2 minutes). Some members become accustomed to sharing long stories, personal family history, or using the opportunity to express love for ward members, but these things are generally discouraged because they take up time that could be used for testimony by other members. Essentially, a true testimony is brief and focus on stating a personal belief in gospel truths (such as Jesus Christ and the restoration of the Church). On Fast Sunday, most members fast (abstain from food and drink for two meals) and donate money that they would have spent on those meals to help the needy (this is called a "fast offering" and is included on the regular tithing slip).

Fireside: A special meeting, in addition to the usual Sunday meetings, usually held on Sunday evenings (sometimes in a chapel, sometimes in a home). There is usually a special speaker, followed by refreshments. Announcements about firesides will explain who is invited (youth, adults, etc). Sunday clothing is appropriate, regardless of location.

First Presidency: The directing authority for the Church on the earth, on behalf of Jesus Christ; comprised of the Prophet (the President of the Church) and his two Counselors. The prophet and his Counselors are usually referred to by the title "President" and either their full name or just their last name (ie President Monson, or President Thomas S. Monson)

Food Storage: A way of helping your family become self-reliant. This means storing extra food basics (canned food, etc), gardening/ growing food, and emergency preparation supplies. Everyone is encouraged to thoughtfully prepare for the unexpected (natural disasters, unemployment, storms, etc) as well as they are able. Having an emergency kit with supplies for 72-hours and enough of a food supply for at least 2 months is highly encouraged.

General Authorities: A term for any of the senior leaders of the Church, members of the governing bodies of the Church worldwide. These include the First Presidency (the Prophet and his two counselors), the Quorum of the Twelve (Apostles), and the Quorum of the Seventy. They are administrative authorities, called by the Prophet to preach the Gospel and direct Church affairs around the world.

General Conference: A twice-annual conference (April and October) broadcast from Salt Lake City. Members throughout the world watch via satellite, television, video, etc. These meetings are for official instruction, announcements and teachings given by the Prophet, General Authorities and other leaders. These conferences are held on the first full weekend of April and October, with 2 sessions on both Saturday and Sunday (all different talks, no repeats). General Conference replaces all other regular Sunday church meetings. Times and places that the broadcast can be viewed are announced at church.

Gospel: The general name given to the teachings of Jesus Christ. This includes the plan of salvation, the scriptures and teachings of the Church, enabling all to return to our Heavenly Father.

High Priest: One of the ordained offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the higher order of the priesthood, with administrative responsibilities in addition to spiritual ones.

Home Teacher: Two Priesthood holders assigned in pairs to specific families in the ward. Each set of Home Teachers are expected to share a monthly message (found in the Ensign Magazine) and generally assist, help strengthen and be-friend their assigned families. All families in the ward should have someone assigned to Home Teach them monthly.

Investigator: An investigator is a non-member who is meeting with the missionaries to learn more about the church.

Latter Days: The time in which we now live; the last period of time leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Less-active/Inactive: A person who isn't regularly attending church or participating in the church programs for a length of time is considered to be "less-active". A person who is completely uninvolved with the church and does not attend church at all is considered "inactive". Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably. The term "less-active" was suggested several years ago as a less harsh sounding and preferred term, since we don't always know the reason a person stops attending church and being referred to as "inactive" might be considered offensive to people who are not attending because of health reasons, etc. The concern for less-active (on completely inactive) members is based in the idea that active members and leaders should reach out to these members and help them return to full activity and the blessings involved with living the gospel.

Member: A member is a baptized member of the Church, whether they are actively involved with the church or not.

Mission: A period of volunteer service, usually ranging from six to 24 months (depending on the type of mission), when Church members devote themselves part-time or full-time to proselytizing, humanitarian assistance or other service. This is considered sacred service and is completely voluntary. There are many different types of missions available locally, nationwide, and worldwide for young single men/women and for retired single people and couples.

Mormon: Nickname for the church, in reference to the Book of Mormon. We prefer to be called Latter-day Saints (sometimes shortened to LDS), or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon is also the name of ancient prophet, who organized the collection of ancient records contained in the Book of Mormon.

Mormon Standard Time: This is a (joke!) reference to members being consistently late for meetings and activities. Usually used to emphasize a prompt starting time, "12:30pm Sharp - Not Mormon Standard Time!"

Patriarchal Blessing: A special one-time blessing that is given to church members (usually teenage or adult) by a specially called Patriarch, who (through revelation) gives advice and counsel meant to help guide the member throughout the course of their life. This blessing is recorded (tape recorder) and the member is given a typed copy of their blessing to keep. Members who would like to receive their own Patriarchal Blessing should ask their Bishop for an appointment.

Preside: To watch over and be responsible for.

Priesthood: The authority to act in the name of God. Through priesthood responsibilities (such as performing ordinances like the Sacrament and baptism) boys and men learn to give Christ-like service to their families, community, and the church. Ordinances must be performed by one who has the authority to perform them in order for them to be binding the eyes of God. Being a priesthood holder is considered a sacred responsibility, priesthood holders receive no payment. It is only possible to use the priesthood to bless the lives of others. Priesthood holders are held to a high standard of personal integrity and are expected to lead by example. This is an important element in teaching boys and men to be righteous husbands and fathers.

Priesthood, Aaronic: The Aaronic Priesthood functions under the direction of the Melchizedek Priesthood and is of lesser power and authority than the priesthood of Melchizedek.

Priesthood, Melchizedek: Melchizedek Priesthood are the offices of elder, seventy, high priest, patriarch, apostle, and president…this priesthood must be present and functional whenever the kingdom of God is upon the earth in its fullness, since it is an essential part of the Lord's church.

Primary: An organization of the Church set up for children, held during the 2nd and 3rd hours of church. Nursery class is for ages 18 months - 3 years. Other Primary classes are for children ages 3-12.

Quorum: An organized group of Priesthood holders e.g. Aaronic Priesthood, Deacons, Teachers, Priests, Elders, High Priests.

Restoration: The period of time in which the entire Gospel was restored to the earth. This includes the authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ (the Priesthood's), the Book of Mormon and other truths were revealed to Joseph Smith and other witnesses.

Relief Society: The women's organization of the church. Originally organized as a service-organization, the Relief Society program now includes Sunday instruction, activities, education, service, leadership opportunities, visiting teaching, and much more. The Relief Society is made up of every adult woman in the church and is one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world, claiming more than 6 million members in over 170 countries.

Sealing: A Temple ordinance, which unites a family (past and present) in an eternal bond. Couples are sealed together forever as a part of the marriage ceremony, and any future children born to the couple following the sealing are considered to be "born under the covenant". Couples who are already married outside of the temple can go to the temple to be sealed together (with their children) as a family in the temple.

Stake: A collection of wards and branches to make up one section of a region. Named a "stake" as a metaphor of each area keeping the LDS Church working as a whole. The wooden pegs (stakes) that hold up a large tent. Each peg/stake that is firmly in the ground keeps the tent held up in place. A Stake President and his counselors preside over this group of wards and branches.

Standard Works: The four volumes of scripture officially accepted by the LDS Church. These are; King James Version of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Talk: A speech given in Sacrament meeting. The Bishopric asks most ward members to speak (or "give a talk") in Sacrament Meeting from time to time. This gives everyone an opportunity to have practice speaking and allows Ward members to hear from a variety of speakers and learn from their unique perspective every week. A gospel topic is always given to the speaker and they have plenty of time to prepare.

Temple: A holy sanctuary built for the purpose of performing sacred ordinances and ceremonies such as marriages for eternity. Temples, of which there are more than 120 throughout the world, are not the same as chapels or meetinghouses that are used for Sunday worship. They are sacred, holy places and anyone who would like to enter the temple is required to meet high standards of personal righteousness and worthiness. Even though there are many temples, they are all usually referred to as "the temple".

Temple Recommend: Anyone who would like to go to the temple needs to have a temple recommend card. To get one, you complete an interview with your Bishop and then a second interview with a member of the Stake Presidency. Each interview involves questions regarding your personal testimony of the gospel, adherence to gospel principles and keeping of baptism covenants, activity in the church, etc. If it is determined that you are eligible to attend the temple, you will be given a signed temple recommend, which shows the temple staff that you are recommended for entrance to the temple. There are several types of recommends- a limited recommend is given for members who would like to do proxy baptisms at the temple (this type requires only one interview with the Bishop). This limited recommend is available for members (teen and adult) any time after their own baptism. A regular (full) temple recommend is for adults who have been members of the church for at least one year, and allows for entrance to the main sections of the temple (and the ordinances that are performed there, such as sealings and endowments).

Temporal: Physical or earthly

Testimony: A personal knowledge or feeling that the gospel teachings of the Church are true

Visiting Teachers: Two Relief Society sisters assigned in pairs to certain sisters in the ward. Each set of Visiting Teachers share a monthly message (found in the Ensign Magazine) and generally assist, help strengthen and be-friend their assigned sisters. All Relief Society sisters should have someone assigned to Visit Teach them monthly.

Young Men: Youth program for boys aged 12 to 18 (Aaronic Priesthood holders). Classes are divided by age; Deacons (ages 12 & 13), Teachers (ages 14 & 15, Priests (ages 16 & 17). The Aaronic Priesthood / Young Men work toward completing their Duty to God Award before progressing to an Elder and holding the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Young Women:Youth program for girls aged 12 to 18. Classes are divided by age; Beehive (ages 12 & 13), Mia Maid (ages 14 &15), Laurel (ages 16 &17). The Young Women work toward completing their Personal Progress Award before leaving to join the adult women in Relief Society at age 18yrs.


For more information on our "Welcome to the Ward" Packets for new converts and what is included, see the topic section labeled "WELCOME PACKET" on the right side of this page, above the picture of people shaking hands.