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

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.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Welcome Packet - Updated Again!

We've had several more convert baptisms in our Ward since I last posted about our "Welcome" packets! I've been thinking about how we, as Ward members, can help investigators make the transition from being taught by the Elders to being active Ward members. Anything we can do to build a relationship prior to baptism is a positive thing. It occurred to me last week that it would probably be more effective to give these "Welcome" packets out ahead of time, instead of waiting until the actual baptism. Besides giving the person/family additional information that will help them learn more about the Church, it also gives me an excuse to make another visit to the family (especially if I haven't been one of the members/Ward missionaries attending the discussions with the Elders).

I've recently updated our "Welcome to the Ward" Packets to include some new information. I remembered to take pictures before handing them out this time, so you can get a better idea of what we're doing:I'm using inexpensive (less than 30 cents each) solid-colored pee-chee-like folders that you can get at any store with a school/office supply aisle. We have two ladies being baptized this week, so I've used purple this time and I was a little more generous with the flowers/hearts than I would be for a folder I'd make specifically for a man, so consider this a "feminine" version! The "Welcome to the Ward" label is a printed on a label sticker (name-tag size) and I've added some embossed paper flowers that I made around the edges (though you could use stickers or a more decorative label).


This is what the packet looks like inside. I include a card with a handwritten personal welcome from the Ward Missionaries. I've flipped it over in the photo above so that the convert's name isn't showing, but you get the idea!

I make the cards, but I'm crafty and have time to do that, a store-bought card would be just as nice! I think a handwritten note is important so it seems personal, since most of the packet is just print-outs.

Another sticker-label, this one I put inside - I also added a punched-out heart for a more personal look."Upcoming Activites" (NEW!): This is something that we've added because its always good to make sure that new members have a good amount of information about activities (so they'll be more likely to attend!). I make sure to include extra information that sometimes isn't included in advertising posters or announcements (like who specifically is invited, whether it is casual or Sunday dress, etc). We've also included a section called "What does it cost?" because I've had several newer members ask me about the cost of attending Ward dinners, etc. lately. I realized that we long-time members just assume that everyone knows that there isn't a charge, but if you're coming from a church where they use activities as fundraisers, thats a big change! (Nobody wants to bring their family to a Spaghetti Feed and be surprised to find out that they're charging $10 a plate!). I explain a little about how each Ward & auxillary has an annual budget and that is where the funding for activities comes from. I also explain that there may be rare instances where there is an optional cost (such as craft classes with a cost for supplies at a Super-Saturday type activity), but that an optional cost like that is always advertised ahead of time. (Text of the "What will it cost" section will be included in the "Welcome Packet" section at right)

"Tips for Feeling At Home in Any Ward" (see text posted in the "Welcome Packet" section at right)
"LDS Lingo- A Glossary of Terms Frequently Used by Church Members" (text will be posted in the "Welcome Packet" section at the right)
"New Member Discussions/Home and Visiting Teaching" (NEW!): This was created in response
to some misunderstandings that some of our recent converts have had during the past year-

#1- We normally like to start the New Member Discussions fairly soon after baptism, but we had one family tell us that they didn't "need" the NMDs because they were still being visited by the
Elders occaisionally, and if they had any questions they would ask their member friend. I was shocked that they felt that the New Member Discussions were optional. I made sure that we personally visited them and all of the other new members ASAP after that, and let them know that the NMDs were part of their learning experience as new converts and that the Bishop wanted to make sure that they received all of the NMDs during the first year as part of their preparation to prepare to attend the temple. That cleared up the misunderstanding nicely, but now I know that it is something that we need to mention to all new members. In addition to having a Ward missionary personally contact the new member and explain the NMDs to them, I also explain in this sheet what Ward Missionaries are, what the NMDs are, and that one of us will be contacting them to schedule NMDs once a month or so (beginning after their baptism), so that it (hopefully!) won't come as a surprise!

#2- We had one new convert very confused about the difference between being a Ward Missionary and being a Visiting/Home Teacher. I had already explained it to her, but I think the terms we use are easily confused (I've heard many new converts refer to either Home Teachers or Visiting Teachers as "Home-Visiting Teachers" as if they were the same program) . This was probably made worse by the fact that I showed up for her first NMD with her Visiting Teachers. Not long after that, she was asked to be a Visiting Teacher herself and she paniced, mistakingly thinking that she would have to teach NMD's. I figured that it couldn't hurt to include a written explanation of what exactly Visiting Teaching and Home Teaching are, who will be contacting them for visits (a set of Home Teachers for each family and a set of Visiting Teachers for each adult woman), what those visits will be like, etc. (Text of this New Member Discussion/Home & Visiting Teaching document will be included in the "Welcome Packet" section at right)
Some of the handouts/pamphlets/documents that I include (all ordered free of charge from Church Distribution): Church magazine subscription info, Family Guidebook, Pure Religion (info about humanitarian aid), Family Proclamation, The Living Christ, Relief Society Declaration, etc...

NOT SHOWN: Current Ward directory (printed from the Ward Website) with attached instructions for registering for the Ward Website (text for instructions will be included in the "Welcome Packet" section at right)

NOT SHOWN: List of frequently used phone numbers (Ward and Stake leaders, the Temple, Deseret Industries, etc) and websites (www.lds.org, providentliving.org, familysearch.org)

NOT SHOWN: A copy of our most recent "New Member Newsletter" (there will be a separate post about our New Member Newsletter, coming soon!). I make sure that everybody gets a copy of the most recent newsletter as soon as there is a baptism date set, but I figure it doesn't hurt to include an extra copy...

ALSO NOT SHOWN: For families with young children, I try to include something fun, like coloring pages that I've printed out from the Primary section of the Church website and Articles of Faith cards with a picture of Jesus (these cards are available to purchase at a small cost from Church Distribution).

So, overall, the cost to us as Ward Missionaries is minimal - the folder, the cost of the ink/paper used in printing the documents, the cost of the labels, a card, etc. Decorations like stickers, etc are optional, of course. I think the opportunity to visit each new convert and provide them with information that they can read through in their free time is very valuable!


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.