So, I’ve recently realized that sometimes you readers don’t really know what I’m talking about when I throw out various Church words. Am I really doing my job if I link to a Wiki, or other page and expect you to find out for yourselves? Nope. *Sigh* I guess I need to shed some light on what the heck is going on. Here are some term and phrases that you have either heard, or can expect to hear on this blog from time to time.
Ward – A ward is basically another way of saying Church Congregation. Our ward is made up of people from our home town and four or five other, smaller, towns. I believe our congregation is between 300-400, with right around 225-250 making it to Church every Sunday. The reason ours is like this is because we don’t live in an area that is very heavily populated with members. There are wards back in Utah and Idaho that encompass just a few city blocks. This is because of the population of members. Each ward has a Bishop and two Counselors. Each week, unless it’s the first Sunday, one of the Bishopric takes turns asking various members to give “talks” during the next weeks service. The Bishop, and his Counselors, are not paid. The first Sunday of each month, like today, is dedicated as “Fast Sunday“. On these Sundays the members fast, for a reason (rain was the biggest reason this month) and at Church the time is turned over to the membership for the bearing of testimonies. This means that anyone in the crowd is allowed to walk up to the podium and profess his or her belief in the Church, Gospel, Prophet, and so on. Still with me?
Stake – A stake is a tasty piece of….oops, wrong one. A stake is a group of wards. In other denominations this would be known as a deanery or a diocese. Our Stake Center is in Joplin, Missouri. Many of you might remember the news of a tornado that took out much of this city, just over a year ago. One of the buildings that was demolished was the Stake Center. The Joplin Stake includes 12 wards, most from South West Missouri, but a few from Kansas and Oklahoma also.
General Conference – Twice a year, each October and April, we have what is called General Conference. Other Church’s have General Conference, but this is how ours works. On Saturday and Sunday we hear sermons from all the various General Authorities. Side note: a General Authority is a member of certain leadership organizations who are given administrative and ecclesiastical authority over the church. A general authority’s jurisdiction is church-wide, in contrast to the responsibilities of a local authority or an area authority, which relate to a particular area, unit, or department of the church. However, not all church leaders with church-wide jurisdiction in the church are considered general authorities. As of April 2010, the number of general authorities was 109. Terms that can be considered General Authority are Church President (First Presidency), 12 Apostles and member of the Seventy. Alright, back on track. Each session last two hours, and there are two of them each on Saturday and Sunday. On the Saturday, after the other two sessions, there is a Priesthood session that is held at the Church. It is televised through the Church’s satellite. I believe there is a meeting for the sisters that comes a week in advance that is televised on the Church’s TV channel, and website. We also have Stake Conference and Ward Conference. Stake Conference consist of the same thing except we hear from our Stake Leadership, and the same with Ward Conference.
Missionaries – Full time Missionaries are the guys you see riding around on the bicycles, wearing white shirts, ties and name badges. (We don’t need no stinking badges, but they do.) They are also known as Elders or Sisters. These young men and women pay for their missions out-of-pocket, for two years. They are regulated to a set of rules that will best help them serve these missions. They have a set time line for waking up, falling asleep, exercising, study, companionship study, planning the day and week, and studying the language of the country they are in, if needed. I’ve been told that I need to mention something about NON-STOP Proselyting. (This is another way of saying that they go out and teach all day, everyday.) We need remember that these are typically 19-22 year old (potentially up to 26) dudes. They have a strong hold on the Gospel, but keeping in mind their age we can remember that they are just “kids” and often need our help too. An Apostle once said “putting to 19-year-olds in an apartment, with a car, by themselves and expecting them to follow the rules is borderline stupidity.” But it still works. I’ve seen about six different sets of missionaries so far, and they all have been able to prosper “in the field”.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; ~ Ephesians 4: 11-14
6 Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.7 And he spake also concerning a prophet who should come before the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord— ~ 1 Nephi 10: 6-7