Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to get people's attention at church

Today we had a shake-up at church. (And yes, I did have to look up whether "shake-up" is hyphenated or one word or two words. Now I know.)

Sacrament meeting started (the main congregational meeting) and the time for ward business came (when changes in people's callings, or assignments in the ward, are sometimes announced). Mike happened to be conducting the meeting today. He started reading a list of people who had been released from their previous callings. He read about 6 names, then paused. Then he read 3 or 4 more names. Then he read more names. Partway through, he had to turn to page 2 of his list, and as he lifted it, we could see that there were 4 or 5 pages stapled together.

If you're familiar with the LDS Church, you know what was happening. The presidencies of several organizations within the ward were being changed, and that meant other callings had to be changed, so a lot of shuffling was going on, worked out during the past few weeks with the bishopric's inspiration and logistics.

After the first group of names was read, you could feel moderate interest from maybe half the congregation. As the second group was read, you could hear people stopping their side conversations and tuning in to what was happening. When Mike turned the page and we saw the size of the list, the room became very quiet. It was a classic LDS moment. Even the people whose callings were changing (and therefore knew part of what was going to happen) were hanging on every word, wanting to know who else was going to be called to do what.

Finally the releasings were done (about 20 total) and Mike paused to savor the moment. (Or maybe he was just catching his breath.) Then he started to announce the new callings. The silence continued until he was done -- except for when he accidentally announced that "Sister ___ has been called as the Young Men president" when he meant Young Women president. Everyone laughed as he corrected himself. I told him later that it's good to break the tension and he couldn't have planned it better.

We ended up with a new Relief Society presidency (the adult women's organization), a new Young Women presidency (over the girls age 12 to 18), a new Young Men presidency (over the boys age 12 to 18), and various other new teachers and leaders. Some callings are still empty because the shuffling isn't quite finished yet.

I was able to watch people's reactions during the releasings because my calling was changing too, so I had a heads-up. (Yes, I looked that word up too. I just can't stop myself.) I was released as Sunday School teacher for the 16-18 year old class and pianist for Relief Society, and called as the Personal Progress leader in the Young Women organization. I will be helping the girls to work on the goal-setting program they're encouraged to complete by age 18. I don't know much about the calling yet, but I'm sure I will learn! I like shake-ups now and then: a change of calling can be nice, and learning new things is good. And it was a lot of fun to watch.

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