Friday, September 28, 2012

No paid clergy? Really? (Friday Favorites)

One aspect that makes my Church unique is that we operate entirely without a paid ministry.  We rotate those who are in charge of each assignments every few years and people are asked to serve in various assignments.  At our local level, that means that the bishop of a ward (our term for congregation) might be of any profession as a day job but serves countless unpaid hours in the evenings and on weekends helping coordinate the other service in the ward.  My own "jobs" (we call them callings) have included nursery leader, Relief Society president, Primary teacher, Sunday School teacher, teacher improvement coordinator, Public Affairs director, and more.
To read more about it, this post is a great introduction to the way it works.  I love how well he describes our cooperative culture.

Some of my favorite parts of his words:

To anyone who really knows Mormon organization, it's almost laughably absurd. For us, one of the distinctive traits of Mormonism isn't "male authoritarianism" it's the absence of a permanent distinct between clergy and regular members. "Not just a member" means almost nothing to Mormons, because every member--male and female--is supposed to have some sort of formal church position/assignment--which we refer to as a "calling"--at any given time. It's not shepherds and sheep: we, like sheep, all go astray, and so we all chip in to the work of shepherding: in different ways at different times throughout our lives.

Calling Romney a "high church official" is equally laughable, because his current callings are probably just "home teacher," meaning he's supposed to visit three or four families once a month to share an inspirational message and see if they're OK, and possibly something low-pressure like "assistant family history consultant," which would primarily involve helping kids work with their grandparents to do genealogy on a computer.

Behold the menace of Romney's crushing male authority.

Because in a competitive culture, where promotions are a reward for an individual job well done, moving someone from the "top" to the "bottom" would be a terrible insult.

But, my dear brothers and sisters of the press, Jesus was famously tricky on the subject of "top" and "bottom." He said you're really only a big deal if you know how to be as small as a little kid. He said that in the kingdom of God, first is last and last comes first. He said that in the temple, a widow's $290 weekly paycheck is worth more than $20 million. And Mormonism has fully embraced that particular aspect of Jesus' strangeness. My grandfather was a stake president for several years--and then one day, he was thanked for his service and asked to accept a new assignment working with a handful of 11-year-old scouts. But it didn't bother him, and similar changes don't bother most Mormons, because we genuinely believe that all the work matters to God. How "high" or "low" a church assignment is doesn't matter--what matters is putting your heart, mind, and soul into it.

1 comment:

Aflyonmyhomeschoolwall said...

I wonder what Romney's home teaching families think of him . . . do they like his visits? ;)


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