Ward Council Model

Elder L. Tom Perry: Next, brothers and sisters, we have invited a group of currently serving members of ward councils to model for us some examples of how a ward council can effectively work together to meet the needs of their members and accomplish the purposes of the Church.

Bishop Richards: Brothers and sisters, welcome to this week’s ward council meeting. We, as a bishopric, appreciate you being here and on time. We’d like to start our meeting today by calling on Sister Jones, our Primary president, who will give us an opening prayer.

Sister Jones prays.

Bishop Richards: Thank you, Sister Jones, I appreciate that. Now, Brother James has distributed to you the ward calendar that has our dates between now and the end of the year. And I appreciate you coordinating with him so that we don’t have to spend much time in the meeting today going over that. So I’d ask you to quickly look over the calendar and tell me if there are any corrections or changes that you would like to make.

Does it look good? Then we’ll accept it as our calendar between now and the end of the year and we’ll move forward with it.

Brothers and sisters, before we start our discussions today, I just wanted to remind you that my impression has been, having watched us as a ward council, that we make better decisions when we all participate, regardless of what the topic is or our particular calling in the ward. So please, in our discussions today, feel free to contribute and make an expression as you feel moved upon by the Spirit.

As you remember, we started a discussion about the general level of spirituality and the commitment level of our youth. And as we discussed it last week, we found that our seminary attendance was down a little, and there was a general sense in the ward council that perhaps our youth are struggling with their testimonies a bit and with living some of the standards. And so we decided that we would ponder and pray about it this week and come back prepared to counsel together.

And so I hope you’ve had a chance to do that. So let me just ask this question and throw it out to the group: What are some things that we can do to increase the spirituality of the youth in our ward?

Sister Bennion, Relief Society president: As a mother of teenage daughters, I worry about that too. I wonder if the parents realize some of the challenges their teenage children are facing. We could plan a fifth-Sunday joint priesthood and Relief Society meeting and address this topic.

Bishop, if you led the discussion and you shared the ideas from this ward council today, you could get the parents participating and get their perspective of their teenagers. And then with the ideas that we glean, I’m sure we could make up a plan to strengthen our teenagers and increase their spirituality as well as ours.

Bishop Richards: I appreciate that.

Brother Glouzer, high priests group leader: Bishop, in addition to meeting with the parents, I think it would be very important to meet with the youth. I’m speaking now as a father, as opposed to a group leader, but my children love the Sunday night devotional meetings that you have. They like meeting with you in a personal setting, and we haven’t had one of those for a while. So may I suggest that we think about scheduling one of those where you can talk about standards, modesty, dating, studying the scriptures. I think that would help a lot.

Sister Jones: I had the same thought this week. I know my children love coming to the devotionals, and they love it when there’s time for questions and answers with you, Bishop. They love your input.

Bishop Richards: Well, brethren, I guess we’re on, and Brother Reyes, our ward clerk, I’m hoping you’re making some notes here so we can remember these commitments and assignments that we’re putting together.

And Brother James, why don’t you do this: If you would, look and find the next available fifth-Sunday that has not already been planned and schedule this joint meeting. And then, find us a Sunday evening that we can have a devotional, and bring that to our bishopric meeting, and we’ll make a decision.

Brother James, ward executive secretary: All right.

Sister Todd, Young Women president: Bishop, may I suggest that we include in that discussion the benefits and the blessings of both the Duty to God program and the Personal Progress for our young women. I think if the parents are involved once again, then we’ll have a lot more success with our youth.

Brother Weber, Young Men president: Bishop, with regard to the young men, there is such a need to reinforce the need to live virtuous lives and to learn and understand their priesthood duties.

Brother Briggs, second counselor in the bishopric: I think it would make a huge difference if we could get the parents to accept the responsibility, to take the lead in these two programs with their youth. In fact, I think the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is the perfect foundation for a discussion on testimony and on standards.

Brother Smith, ward mission leader: These are wonderful ideas, Bishop. I also feel strongly about missionary work and the special spirit that it brings. This spirit also resonates with our youth. What if we invited the full-time missionaries to come teach a combined youth meeting where they could talk about their mission as well as simple ways that the youth can share the gospel with their friends?

Brother James: Bishop, and brothers and sisters, next week we have a bishopric youth committee meeting. Perhaps the bishopric can bring this up with the committee before we make final plans.

Bishop Richards: Let’s do that. Brother Reyes, why don’t you go through now and remind us, from your notes as the clerk, what decisions we’ve made here and any follow-up items we need to keep track of.

Brother Reyes, ward clerk: Yes, Bishop. Here are the notes I’m made so far: Brother James will check the calendar for available dates for a Sunday devotional and a fifth-Sunday joint priesthood and Relief Society meeting. Also, Brother Smith will coordinate with the missionaries to see if they can participate in the Sunday devotional or a combined youth meeting on the first Sunday of the month. The bishopric will discuss the idea with the bishopric youth committee. And I’ve also made some notes for you, Bishop, on the Duty to God and Personal Progress programs.

Bishop Richards: That’s wonderful. Thank you very much. That’s a good start. Let’s come back in two weeks with a plan and an agenda and something that we’re ready to move forward and implement.

Now our second item on the agenda today follows a discussion that Sister Todd, as the Young Women president, had with her presidency. And it had to do with the issue of reverence—reverence in our sacrament meetings, reverence in the chapel, and reverence in our homes. And so I thought it would be a good idea for us to discuss that as a follow-up, because last week, if you remember, we decided that we would ponder and pray about it before we continued that discussion.

So during the week, I asked Brother Glouzer, our high priests group leader, if he would find a scripture that might serve as a guide and a basis for our discussion today. Brother Glouzer, what did you find?

Brother Glouzer: Bishop, I really enjoyed studying the topic of reverence this week, and I learned that reverence is a profound respect and love and gratitude for our Father in Heaven and for all the blessings that He has given us.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we learn that reverence is a very important quality of those that attain the celestial kingdom. So if we come to our meetings in the spirit of reverence, we’re coming there to learn about our Father in Heaven and how we can become more like Him, and it’s the spirit of reverence that leads to revelation, which leads to personal growth and development.

Bishop Richards: Thank you, Brother Glouzer, I think that’s a wonderful scripture that you found. So, brothers and sisters, with that as a background, let’s talk for a moment and express the feelings of your heart. What do you think we could do to increase the reverence in our ward and in our homes?

Brother Maeda, Sunday School president: Bishop, I think from a Sunday School perspective, we’ve noticed, over the last couple of months some of our teachers making last-minute preparations and then hurrying off to class and sometimes even showing up a little bit late. And that’s got to have an impact on the reverence in the classroom.

So with your permission, we’d like to work with the teachers and emphasize to them that they have a wonderful teaching opportunity, but they can’t do it unless they’re well prepared and unless they really bring a good spirit of reverence to the classroom.

Bishop Richards: I appreciate that, Brother Maeda. Why don’t you move forward and do that.

Brother Maeda: Thank you.

Sister Bennion: Brother Maeda, we’re going to take that challenge as a Relief Society presidency. We are going to encourage our teachers to have their lesson preparation complete the night before so that they can attend Sunday School. But maybe the solution for the reverence problem begins with us.

Perhaps we need to be the example and set it by arriving to church five to ten minutes early with our families and listen to the beautiful organ music. The prelude music sets the tone for the meeting and prepares us to partake of the sacrament and to be spiritually fed by instruction.

Brother Briggs: Bishop, maybe if we, as a bishopric, set the example, and we’re on the stand five minutes early and enjoy that prelude music ourselves, that might be a good thing to do.

Bishop Richards: It’s a wonderful temptation for me to spend that time shaking people’s hands, but I think you’re right. We need to be on the stand and set that example.

Sister Todd: You know, it needs to start in the home. And so I think if we really want to have this increased level of reverence for our whole ward, we’ve got to let the heads of homes know, the mothers and the fathers, and tell them what our goals are as a ward. And, if we can have greater reverence with our family home evening and in our family prayers—I think when it starts at home, it will likely extend once we walk into the church.

Brother Weber: Bishop, I know where we can improve with the Aaronic Priesthood as well. For example, I think the teachers could get there early to have the sacrament prepared so that they too can listen to the prelude music and not be disrupting the congregation.

Also, I think it would be helpful to have the deacons and the priests in their seats ready to bless and to pass the sacrament before the meeting begins.

Bishop Richards: I think that’s a good point, but I do have to commend you, Brother Weber, as the Young Men president. I think, in general, our young men are very reverent about the way they bless and administer the sacrament.

Sister Jones: I think the Primary children do a great job walking in each Sunday and sitting reverently. Last week I watched the Wallace boys all walk in with their arms folded and they sat and listened to sacrament meeting so reverently. I was so impressed. They are a great example for all of us.

Bishop Richards: They are. Brothers and sisters, any other thoughts?

Brother Duvall, first counselor in the bishopric: Bishop, I’m conducting a sacrament meeting next month. How would you feel if we devoted the topic of that meeting to how reverence can bless our lives?

Bishop Richards: I think that’s a great idea. Let’s plan to do that. Now, we’re not going to solve the issue of reverence here in the ward council today. So I would recommend that you go back and discuss it with your leadership groups in your leadership meetings. And Brother Reyes has been continuing to take notes here, which is good. If you come up with other ideas, please share them with Brother Reyes. He will get them on his master list. And then, Brother James, in another two weeks, let’s schedule this on our agenda.

Now, looking at our agenda, we have a couple of follow-up items from last week that we’d like to take care of.

Sister Bennion: Bishop, I had that assignment to follow up on our rescuing efforts with the Wood family. Our visiting teachers have been able to go in and give a spiritual message to Sister Wood.

She is a delightful lady. They confided with me last week that Sister Wood and the children would love to come to sacrament meeting, but that her husband works long hours during the week and his only time to be with his family is on Sunday. And he would prefer that they would stay at home with him.

Brother Wessonskoe, elders quorum president: Bishop, the home teachers were not able to make an appointment with the Wood family. However, Brother Kelly in the ward is a friend and neighbor of the family and he told me that he invited Brother Wood to attend the upcoming elders quorum social this month, and he accepted the invitation.

Brother Kelly also told me that Brother Wood doesn’t seem to be hostile to the Church. He’s just overwhelmed with work right now.

Bishop Richards: That’s very valuable insight. I think we need to keep the efforts for home teaching going. And the Primary as well could reach out and make sure that the children are involved in the activities.

Brother Wessonskoe: Bishop, I feel that if Brother Wood can be taught by the home teachers in his home, and if doctrines can be set in his heart deeply, that his priorities will change and that he will want to come to church.

Bishop Richards: I think that’s a wonderful perspective, Brother Wessonskoe. I appreciate that very much. I think the key is going to be these home teachers and their effectiveness. Thank you.

Let’s look at our agenda as well now. The Madsen family—several of you reported last week that there had been some sickness in the home and, in fact, Sister Madsen had actually spent some time in the hospital. What have you found out from your respective organizations regarding the family?

Brother Glouzer: Bishop, I dropped by the Madsen home, and she is home from the hospital. The illness was not serious at all. She’s back with the family, and the kids are all doing great this week. So I think they’re back to normal.

Bishop Richards: Wonderful.

Sister Jones: And we invited the oldest child to the Primary activity, and he came and had a really great time with the other children.

Sister Bennion: We took them a few meals, Bishop, and the children were delighted with the hot meal, and Sister Madsen was so delighted not to have prepared it. My first counselor made a personal visit, and all is going to be well.

Bishop Richards: That’s good news. Thank you very much for those reports.

Now our agenda calls for some follow-up as well on some items that Brother James has been tracking for us—some individual families and some people. We can’t discuss all of them today because the list is too long. So we, as a bishopric, have made a priority of a few.

First, we’d like to mention the Green family. How excited we are that after six months of working with them, we’ve now seen them at church for the past four weeks in a row, which is wonderful.

Brother and Sister Green have accepted a calling in the Church, which is great, and they’re even starting to have discussions now and sending some signals that they’d be interested in learning more about the blessings of the temple and how it can help their family.

Brother Maeda: Well, Bishop, on that note, maybe it would be helpful if we invite them to attend the temple preparation class in Sunday School.

Bishop Richards: That’s a good idea. Brother Duvall, you know the Greens pretty well. Would you have a discussion with them both, and if it feels right, would you extend to them the invitation to participate in that temple preparation class?

Brother Duvall: Bishop, I’d love to have that discussion with them. Thank you.

Brother Wessonskoe: We’ll stay very close to them as they prepare to attend the temple as a family.

Bishop Richards: We really appreciate all the organizations of the ward in helping to make a significant impact in the lives of the Green family. Thanks very much.

The next family is the Aoki family, who are investigating the Church. I talked to Brother Smith earlier in the week, who is our ward mission leader, who said that next Sunday could be the first week we actually see the Aokis at church.

Brother Smith: We sure hope so, Bishop.

Bishop Richards: That’s wonderful. Now, if I remember right, they have two children in the Primary, and they have one young man about …

Brother Smith: Fourteen years old.

Bishop Richards: About teacher age.

Sister Jones: Will the children be coming to Primary?

Brother Smith: I’m not sure, but if they do, having someone there from the Primary to greet and escort them to the class would help a lot.

Sister Jones: OK.

Brother Briggs: We should do the same thing for the young man—and with his parents, for that matter. Why don’t we have each member of the ward council go out of your way and meet them—learn their names and get to know them a little bit. That would really be meaningful to them. Who have we invited to host them for the lessons?

Brother Smith: Brother Briggs, the Broadbents have had them and the full-time missionaries in their home. But according to our progress record, we have six investigators that currently do not have families participating with the full-time missionaries. Can we ask the high priests and the elders quorum to each invite three families to participate in the teaching of these investigators?

Bishop Richards: Brethren, how do you feel about that invitation? Can you accept it as an assignment?

Brother Glouzer: Our family can take one of those families, and I’ll find two others.

Brother Wessonskoe: We’ll be happy to help as well.

Bishop Richards: Will you coordinate, Brother Smith, with the missionaries at that weekly missionary coordination meeting to ensure that we get the families assigned?

Brother Smith: Certainly.

Bishop Richards: And then will you let the bishopric know—in fact, why don’t you let Brother Briggs know—who has been assigned, so that we can extend a special invitation to those families and encourage them to really catch the missionary spirit that is very powerful in the ward when our members get involved.

Our next family is the newly-baptized Garcia family. We’re excited about having them as members of the ward. And I’ve noticed that they’ve been to the ward now for the past several weeks, and I thought it would be valuable for us to discuss as a ward council just how we think they are progressing.

Brother James: Well, Bishop, I realize that they’re doing rather well in the ward. But I did have some concerns that perhaps they could use a little more fellowshipping.

Brother Reyes: I actually checked our records this morning, Bishop, and I didn’t notice any home teachers assigned to them yet.

Brother Wessonskoe: Actually, Brother Reyes, we have assigned two very strong home teachers to the family, which is something we always do with new converts. I’ll get you those names after the meeting, if that’s OK, so you can put them on your records.

However, as Brother James said, I also saw that they were a little bit isolated at church. I think they just haven’t really made any friends in the ward yet.

Sister Jones: You know, Sister Bennion, I was thinking along with Sister Garcia’s visiting teachers, what if we asked two other sisters to be friends with Sister Garcia. And maybe that would make her feel more connected with the members of the ward.

Sister Bennion: Oh, I love that idea. We love new converts, and we will just be so happy, as sisters, to put our arms around her and welcome Sister Garcia. As a presidency, we’ll also consider those two or three sisters to get to know her and befriend her and help her feel part of the ward. I’ll also assign one of them to make sure that they invite her to the midweek activity in two weeks.

Bishop Richards: Good.

Brother Weber: Bishop, their two sons have been coming to priesthood meeting, but they haven’t made it to any Mutual activities. So this week, the young men have planned an activity especially for them. We’re actually going to go to the park and play soccer. We’ve invited them. They’re planning to come, so we’re excited about that.

Bishop Richards: That’s a great idea, thank you. Now it seems to me, if I remember right, Brother Garcia owns an auto repair business. I wonder if there’s a way of connecting our young men with Brother Garcia.

Brother Weber: Oh, that’s a great idea. Maybe we could have him host or help us participate in a career night down at the shop. In fact, I think it would be fun if the young men were able to go down there and take a tour of his shop and maybe see what he does for a living and see how cars are repaired.

Sister Todd: Wait, Brother Weber. Don’t forget the girls on this one. What if we made it a combined activity and the young men and the young women went. I think it would be helpful for every young woman to know how to change a tire or know a little something about a car.

Brother Weber: They should know those things.

Brother Wessonskoe: Bishop, we’ll make sure that the entire family is also invited to the elders quorum social later this month.

Bishop Richards: Thank you.

Brother Briggs: Bishop, I’ve gotten to know the Garcia family. They’re a wonderful family, and I know once they feel the love and affection and support of the members of the ward council, and when we give them a calling, they’re going to become very strong members of the Church.

Bishop Richards: It’ll be exciting. Now, Brother Reyes has continued to make some notes. So after the meeting, I’d suggest you compare your notes with his, because we’ve had some good ideas here and some assignments made. We want to make sure that the follow-up actually happens. And again though, these are just a few ideas. I think the real key is going to be, in your leadership meetings, having discussions about how we can make the Garcia family feel a part of the ward and become fully integrated and feel the spirit of what we have to offer as friends and as neighbors. So thank you very much.

Now, we have on our list as well several families that we’ve been reaching out to and trying to rescue. We only have time today to talk about the Young family. And I’ve been thinking about them. You know, it was up to about a year ago, they used to be in church every Sunday without fail. And now we begin to see a slow drift in their activity level.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to bump into Brother Young, and I thought I heard, in what he had to say, a desire to get his family and himself back on track. I even sensed that the blessings of the temple could be something that would inspire him and get him ignited again about his enthusiasm regarding the Church. And so I ask this question: What is it as a ward council that we might be able to do to help Brother Young and to make his family feel more comfortable about returning to us?

Sister Jones: You know, Bishop, they have two children in Primary. Why don’t we, as a Primary, come up with an idea to help them return to church?

Sister Todd: You know, I can help with that. I live very close to the Young family, and they are a fabulous family. I think those children know me well enough from the neighborhood, they’d feel comfortable. I live so close, I can drive by and pick them up anytime.

Bishop Richards: You know, starting with those little girls is probably a very good idea. Now their boy, who’s in high school, I think—I understand he’s not doing too well.

Brother Glouzer: Bishop, my first assistant’s son is just an excellent student. He’s a top-notch scholar, and I bet he would be willing to help as well.

Bishop Richards: Wonderful. Will you check on that and report back to the council the next time we meet?

Brother Glouzer: I will.

Bishop Richards: Thanks, Brother Glouzer.

Brother Maeda: Bishop, does anyone know if he’s been invited to attend seminary?

Brother Duvall: Let me check on that, Bishop. I think it’s important that he have that experience.

Bishop Richards: I think that’s a good idea.

Sister Bennion: You know, I would also like to help as well. We are having a Relief Society activity in two weeks, and I would like to personally invite Sister Young and pick her up, if I may.

You know, Bishop, I don’t know if you’re aware that our husbands work together, and John and Brother Young have had some wonderful gospel conversations during lunch. John is amazed at Brother Young’s understanding of the scriptures, dating back to when he was a missionary. Maybe he needs an opportunity to serve. Perhaps be a teacher.

Bishop Richards: You know, brethren, maybe that’s something as a bishopric we could consider. The idea of a teaching assignment may be a key. So let’s think about it, and we’ll pray and we’ll ponder, and if we can find the right opportunity, we will move forward as a bishopric and extend a call. Thank you very much.

But I think, again, the more discussion we can have in our individual leadership meetings, the more we will find opportunities to encourage the Youngs. I believe that when we seek the Spirit, Heavenly Father will touch our hearts, and we will get the Young family back into full activity. I have a testimony of that in my heart as I’ve listened to Brother Young express, in his own way, his testimony.

So thanks again for all the efforts. And, Brother Reyes, let’s make sure we get this list of ideas distributed this next week, OK?

Brother Reyes: Will do.

Bishop Richards: Thank you very much. Now, one of the other names today that we wanted to discuss is Sister Turner. I understand that Sister Turner’s visiting teachers have been there and reported back that her little house is not in very good repair. I think it’s been hard, since Brother Turner has passed away, for her to keep up on that house.

As you know, now the ward council replaces the discussions that we would normally have in the ward welfare committee. And so Sister Turner has given me permission to talk about her needs with the ward council to see what it is we could do. What thoughts do you have?

Sister Todd: You know, I think the young women can be of service there. Just a few weeks ago we were able to help another sister in the ward do some cleaning and painting around her house. We could certainly do the same. In fact, the young women would love to get to know Sister Turner and do that for her.

Brother Weber: Maybe we could make it a combined activity and include the young men.

Sister Todd: Well, if you let us come to the repair shop, we’ll let you come pull weeds with us.

Brother Weber: It’s a deal.

Bishop Richards: All right. That’s good.

I think her biggest problem that was reported to me was she has a leaking roof.

Brother Glouzer: Bishop, I’m not sure anyone in the high priests group understands roofing, but I could check on that and let you know.

Brother Wessonskoe: Brother Brooks, in the elders quorum, might be able to be of service. We’ve been looking for ways to help him be a little more active in the quorum and better understand the duties of the priesthood. And I think an opportunity to serve would be very helpful for him.

Until just a couple of years ago, Brother Brooks was a full-time roofer. And it’s my understanding that a couple of younger men in the ward worked for him part time. I’ll be sure to ask him if he’d help.

Bishop Richards: Good, and will you coordinate that with Brother Glouzer, because Sister Turner is assigned to the high priests group for home teaching. So, Brother Glouzer, could we ask you to take that assignment and oversee what we might be able to do with Sister Turner and her home?

I think the keys are these: Let’s use as many of the ward organizations as we can and voluntary labor. Will you put together a plan and then report back to the council and let’s see what we are able to do for her.

Brother Glouzer: Yeah, we’d love to organize a coordinated effort, and we’ll get back to you next time we meet.

Sister Bennion: Bishop, did you know that Sister Sayers fell and broke her leg? It was a nasty fall, but she has lots of family around that are helping her. But I think she would appreciate if the priesthood came and gave her the sacrament.

Bishop Richards: Brother Weber, could you take that assignment? Let’s get two young men over there and administer the sacrament to her.

Brother Weber: Yes, we’ll do that.

Bishop Richards: Good.

Sister Bennion: Oh, Bishop, I do have two confidential matters that I need to share with you after the meeting. Could I meet with you for about five minutes?

Bishop Richards: I’d be glad to do that.

Sister Bennion: OK. Thanks.

Bishop Richards: Brothers and sisters, this concludes our meeting today. I would just remind you of two things. Number one, the confidentiality of what we’ve spoken about, particularly as it relates to individuals and families. They are sacred to our Father in Heaven, and what we say here should remain sacred.

And as a bishopric, we just want to extend to you our great love and appreciation for what you do in serving the members of the ward, in your willingness to speak here, in love and in openness, and in concern, to bless the lives of our ward members.

Now, Brother James, will you give us a closing prayer for our meeting? Thank you.