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30. Callings in the Church
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“30. Callings in the Church,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).

“30. Callings in the Church,” General Handbook.

30.

Callings in the Church

30.0

Introduction

Heavenly Father gave Jesus Christ a sacred mission to fulfill (see Luke 4:18–19; John 6:38; 3 Nephi 27:14–16). During His ministry, the Savior trusted His disciples with important responsibilities (see Luke 10:1–9). Likewise, the Lord calls men and women to serve in the Church today through inspired invitations from His servants. These opportunities to serve are known as callings.

Callings give members opportunities to feel the joy of serving God by serving His children (see Mosiah 2:17). Callings also help members increase their faith and draw closer to the Lord.

It is not appropriate to aspire to callings in the Church (see Mark 10:42–45; Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–36). Nor do Church members “advance” from one calling to another. After serving in one calling, they should not expect to receive a calling of greater responsibility or prominence. Serving faithfully in a calling is more important than what the calling is. The Lord honors the dedication of all who serve in His Church.

This chapter describes how members are called to serve in the Church and how they are released from their callings. It also includes a Chart of Callings that gives information about issuing specific callings, sustaining members in their callings, and setting them apart (see 30.8).

30.1

Determining Whom to Call

30.1.1

General Guidelines

Those who serve in the Church are called of God (see Hebrews 5:4; Articles of Faith 1:5). Leaders seek the guidance of the Spirit in determining whom to call (see also 4.2.6). They also consider:

  • The member’s worthiness (as determined in an interview).

  • Gifts and abilities the member has, or could develop, to bless others.

  • The member’s personal circumstances, including his or her health and work.

  • The impact the calling may have on the member’s marriage and family.

Each calling should bless the people who are served, the member who serves, and the member’s family. Callings also give members opportunities to grow.

Members are blessed for sacrifices they make to serve in the Church. However, a calling should not place undue burdens on individuals and families. Nor should callings make it difficult for members to fulfill their employment responsibilities.

Generally, each member is called to serve in only one calling at a time, in addition to being a ministering brother or sister. Exceptions should be rare and prayerfully considered. Not every potential position needs to be filled.

When extending a calling to a married member, leaders ensure that the spouse is aware and supportive of the calling. Before extending a calling to a young man or young woman, leaders obtain approval from his or her parents or guardians.

Before a calling is extended, the bishop carefully reviews the person’s membership record to verify that it does not include an annotation or formal membership restrictions. If the calling needs to be extended before the membership record is in the ward, the bishop contacts the member’s previous bishop.

Before a stake leader extends a calling, the person’s bishop is consulted to discuss the member’s worthiness and other circumstances that could influence his or her service (such as those described above).

30.1.2

Callings for New Members

Opportunities to serve help members grow spiritually. Serving together can also help members build close relationships. This is especially important for new members.

Ward leaders give new members opportunities to serve soon after they are baptized and confirmed. New members have a variety of abilities. Leaders prayerfully invite them to serve in ways that will help them grow personally and bless others. Some members are ready for callings right away. Others might prefer temporary assignments that help them prepare to receive callings. See also 23.2 and 23.5.1.

30.1.3

Callings for Those Who Are Not Members

People who are not members of the Church may be called to some positions, such as organist, music director, or a calling to help plan activities. However, they should not be called as teachers, as quorum or organization presidency members, or as Primary music leaders.

A person whose membership has been formally restricted or has been withdrawn may not have a calling (see 32.11.3 and 32.11.4).

30.1.4

Confidentiality

Callings and releases are sacred. Because of this, leaders keep information about proposed callings and releases confidential. Leaders share such information at a time and in a setting that is consistent with its sacred nature.

For example, a person who is being considered for a calling is not notified until the calling is issued. This helps avoid embarrassment if the call is not extended.

Additionally, only those who need to know, such as a spouse and an organization presidency that has responsibility for the position, are informed before the person is presented for a sustaining vote.

30.1.5

Recommendations and Approvals for Callings

The Chart of Callings indicates who may make recommendations for each calling and who gives approval (see 30.8). In some cases, quorum and organization leaders make recommendations to the stake presidency or bishopric. They do so prayerfully, seeking inspiration about whom to recommend. They may also counsel with the bishopric or stake presidency.

Bishops and stake presidents carefully consider each recommendation, recognizing that it has been prayerfully made. The bishopric or stake presidency has final responsibility to receive inspiration about whom to call. When needed, they may request another recommendation.

If a bishop or stake president feels inspired to call someone other than the person who was recommended, that does not mean the recommendation was not inspired. It may be that the bishop or stake president had information that was not available to those who made the recommendation.

30.2

Extending a Calling

Receiving a call to serve should be a meaningful spiritual experience for a member. Callings to serve the Lord are sacred and joyful opportunities. Leaders communicate this by the way they extend a calling. They should not extend callings in a casual manner.

The Chart of Callings indicates who may extend each calling (see 30.8). After receiving the necessary approvals, the authorized leader counsels with the member to understand if the member’s circumstances allow him or her to serve. The leader also seeks to understand if the member is worthy and willing to serve.

When a leader extends a calling, he explains that it has come from the Lord. If needed, he may give the member time to prayerfully consider the calling, seeking his or her own spiritual confirmation.

The leader may also:

  • Explain the purpose, importance, and responsibilities of the calling.

  • Help the member focus primarily on the people he or she will serve. (As applicable, the leader provides a list of these people from Leader and Clerk Resources.)

  • Encourage the member to seek the Spirit of the Lord in fulfilling the calling.

  • Testify that the Lord will help the member and will bless him or her for serving faithfully.

  • Tell the member who will provide training and support for the calling.

  • Tell the member who to report to on his or her efforts.

  • Inform the member of any meetings he or she should attend and any resources that are available.

  • Help the member know approximately how much time commitment the calling requires.

  • Discuss any special concerns or challenges of the calling.

  • Answer questions the member may have.

If the member is married, the leader invites the spouse to be present when the calling is extended.

If the calling includes working with children or youth, the leader explains that the member will need to complete the children and youth protection training. This training is available at ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The member should complete it within one month of being sustained and every three years thereafter.

30.3

Sustaining Members in Callings

Those who are called to most Church positions should receive a sustaining vote before they begin serving (see Doctrine and Covenants 28:13; 42:11). By sustaining those called to serve, members pledge their support and willingness to help.

The Chart of Callings indicates whether a sustaining vote is needed and who participates in it (see 30.8). The leader who oversaw extending the calling, or a priesthood leader he authorizes, presents the person to be sustained.

The person who conducts the sustaining first announces who was released from the position (if applicable). He invites members to give an expression of thanks for the person’s service (see 30.6).

When presenting a person for sustaining, an authorized priesthood leader invites him or her to stand. The leader may use wording like the following:

“[Name] has been called as [position]. Those in favor of sustaining [him or her] may show it by the uplifted hand. [Pause briefly.] Those opposed, if any, may also show it. [Pause briefly.]”

The person who is being presented should participate in the sustaining. If more than one person is being presented, they may be sustained as a group.

If a member in good standing opposes the calling, the presiding leader or another assigned priesthood leader meets with him or her in private after the meeting. The leader seeks to understand why the member is opposed. He asks if the member knows of conduct that could disqualify the person from serving in the position. If the opposing member does not know of such conduct, he or she is encouraged to sustain and support the person in the calling.

Only members in good standing may participate in the sustaining. However, if a nonmember or a member who is not in good standing has concerns about the action, he or she may share them with the bishop or stake president in private after the meeting.

30.4

Setting Apart Members to Serve in Callings

Those who are called to most Church positions should be set apart. The Chart of Callings indicates who may do the setting apart (see 30.8). This generally happens after members are sustained and before they begin serving.

To set apart a member to a calling means to give him or her the authority to act in that calling (see 3.4.3.1). A setting apart also includes a blessing and promises guided by the Spirit. For more information, see 18.11.

30.5

Length of Service

As much as possible, leaders allow members to serve in their callings long enough to establish strong relationships with those they serve. Members may also need time to learn and grow in their responsibilities. This can be especially important for leaders of youth and children as well as presidents of the Relief Society and elders quorum. The ideal length of service for leaders varies, but two to five years are often sufficient.

30.6

Releasing Members from Callings

In most cases, members are released from callings when the Lord inspires their leaders to release them. Some members, like stake and mission presidents, are usually released after an established period of time. A person could also be released for other reasons, such as personal and family circumstances.

When a president or bishop is released, his or her counselors are released automatically. Others in the organization, such as clerks, secretaries, and teachers, are not released automatically.

Releases from Church callings are made by someone with the same level of authority as the person who extended the callings. For example, if a bishopric member extended the calling, a bishopric member extends the release.

Extending a release is an important opportunity for a leader to express gratitude and to acknowledge God’s hand in the member’s service. The leader meets with the member personally to inform him or her of the release before it is announced publicly. He may choose to invite the member to share what he or she has learned by serving in the calling. Only those who need to know are informed of a release before it is announced.

An authorized priesthood leader announces the release in the same setting where the person was sustained. The leader may use words like the following:

“[Name] has been released as [position]. Those who would like to express thanks for [his or her] service may show it by the uplifted hand.”

The leader does not ask for opposing votes.

30.7

Calling, Ordaining, and Setting Apart Bishops

The stake presidency recommends brethren to be called or released as bishops. Recommendations are submitted to the First Presidency through Leader and Clerk Resources (LCR). A member of the stake presidency, a clerk, or the executive secretary may prepare the recommendation. However, only the stake president may submit it.

A bishop’s responsibilities are significant (see 7.1). They require a man of integrity, moral cleanliness, spiritual maturity, and faithfulness to the Savior. The stake presidency seeks confirmation from the Spirit about whom to recommend. When recommending a man to serve as bishop, they carefully consider 1 Timothy 3:2–7. They do not ask for suggestions from ward members. Additional information about the qualifications of a bishop is given in LCR.

Before the stake president can call a new bishop, he must receive written approval of his recommendation from the First Presidency. With this approval, the stake president may ordain and set apart a bishop after ward members have given a sustaining vote. Approval of the First Presidency is also required before a stake president may release a bishop. The stake president may not delegate these responsibilities.

If a man called as bishop is not a high priest, the stake president ensures that he is ordained a high priest before ordaining him a bishop. If the man was ordained a bishop previously, he needs only to be set apart as bishop of the ward.

After the First Presidency has approved the recommendation of a man to serve as bishop, they authorize the stake president to ordain him and set him apart. The stake president:

  1. Calls the man by his full name.

  2. States that he is acting by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

  3. Ordains the man a bishop (unless he was previously ordained).

  4. Sets him apart to preside over the ward and to be the president of the Aaronic Priesthood and the priests quorum, emphasizing his responsibilities for Aaronic Priesthood holders and young women in the ward (see 7.1.2).

  5. Confers on him all the keys, rights, powers, and authority of the office of bishop, referring specifically to the bishop’s duties as a common judge in Israel and as the presiding high priest in the ward (see 7.1.1 and 7.1.3).

  6. Gives words of blessing as the Spirit directs.

  7. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.

An Area Seventy or General Authority may also call, ordain, and set apart a bishop with approval from the First Presidency.

30.8

Chart of Callings

The following chart lists selected ward and stake callings. Other callings and service opportunities are described elsewhere in this handbook.

A ward or stake does not need to fill every calling listed in this chart. Leaders determine which callings to fill based on the needs of the unit and those available to serve.

Note: Sealers in a temple are called under the direction of the President of the Church. For this reason, active sealers should not be called to serve in bishoprics or in branch, district, stake, or mission presidencies.

30.8.1

Ward Callings

Calling

Recommended by

Approved by

Sustained by1

Called and set apart by

Calling

Bishop

Recommended by

Stake presidency, using LCR

Approved by

First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Stake president after receiving approval from the First Presidency (see 30.7)

Calling

Counselors in the bishopric

Recommended by

Bishop

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward clerk (and assistant ward clerks if needed)

Recommended by

Bishopric

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor

Calling

Ward executive secretary (and assistant ward executive secretaries if needed)

Recommended by

Bishopric

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor

Calling

Elders quorum president

Recommended by

Stake presidency (in consultation with the bishop)

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Stake president

Calling

Counselors in the elders quorum presidency

Recommended by

Quorum president (in consultation with the bishop)

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor

Calling

Other elders quorum callings

Recommended by

Quorum presidency

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Quorum members (presented in a quorum meeting by the quorum president or an assigned counselor)

Called and set apart by

Quorum president or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward organization presidents (Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School)

Recommended by

Bishopric

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop

Calling

Counselors in ward organization presidencies

Recommended by

Organization president

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Other ward Relief Society callings

Recommended by

Relief Society presidency

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Relief Society members (presented in a Relief Society meeting by the bishop or an assigned counselor)

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Other ward Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School callings

Recommended by

Organization presidency

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward mission leader (a member of the elders quorum presidency may fill this role; if so, he does not need to be called, sustained, or set apart separately)

Recommended by

Bishopric (in consultation with the elders quorum and Relief Society presidents)

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward missionaries

Recommended by

Bishopric or elders quorum and Relief Society presidents

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward temple and family history leader (a member of the elders quorum presidency may fill this role; if so, he does not need to be called, sustained, or set apart separately)

Recommended by

Bishopric (in consultation with the elders quorum and Relief Society presidents)

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward temple and family history consultants

Recommended by

Bishopric or elders quorum and Relief Society presidents

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Assistants to the priests quorum president

Recommended by

Bishop (as the priests quorum president)

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Quorum members (presented in a quorum meeting by the bishop or an assigned counselor)

Called and set apart by

Bishop

Calling

Teachers and deacons quorum presidents

Recommended by

Bishopric

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Quorum members (presented in a quorum meeting by the bishop or an assigned counselor)

Called and set apart by

Called by the bishop or an assigned counselor; set apart by the bishop

Calling

Counselors in the teachers and deacons quorum presidencies and quorum secretaries

Recommended by

Quorum presidents

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Quorum members (presented in a quorum meeting by the bishop or an assigned counselor)

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Young Women class presidents

Recommended by

Bishopric (in consultation with the Young Women presidency)

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Class members (presented in a Young Women meeting by the bishop or an assigned counselor)

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Counselors in Young Women class presidencies and class secretaries

Recommended by

Class president

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Class members (presented in a Young Women meeting by the bishop or an assigned counselor)

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward welfare and self-reliance specialists if needed

Recommended by

Bishopric

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Ward resource center specialist if needed

Recommended by

Sunday School president

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

Calling

Other ward callings

Recommended by

Bishopric

Approved by

Bishopric

Sustained by1

Ward members

Called and set apart by

Bishop or an assigned counselor

  1. In rare circumstances, a ward member may need to begin service in a calling before he or she can be sustained. When this happens, a member of the bishopric presents the person for a ratifying vote as soon as reasonable. He adapts the process described in 30.3. This includes providing an opportunity for ward members to oppose the action.

30.8.2

Branch Callings

Calling

Recommended by

Approved by

Sustained by

Called and set apart by

Calling

Branch president

Recommended by

Stake, mission, or district presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council or mission presidency

Sustained by

Branch members

Called and set apart by

Stake or mission president (or district president if assigned)

Calling

Counselors in the branch presidency

Recommended by

Branch president

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council or mission presidency (or, when authorized by the mission president, the district presidency)

Sustained by

Branch members

Called and set apart by

Stake, mission, or district president or an assigned counselor

Calling

Branch clerk, assistant clerks, and executive secretary

Recommended by

Branch presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council or mission presidency (or, when authorized by the mission president, the district presidency)

Sustained by

Branch members

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor (for branches in stakes); district president or a priesthood leader he assigns (for branches in missions)

Calling

Elders quorum president

Recommended by

Stake, district, or mission presidency (in consultation with the branch president)

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council or mission presidency (or, when authorized by the mission president, the district presidency)

Sustained by

Branch members

Called and set apart by

Stake or mission president (or, if assigned, the district president)

Calling

Counselors in the elders quorum presidency

Recommended by

Quorum president (in consultation with the branch president)

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council or mission presidency (or, when authorized by the mission president, the district presidency)

Sustained by

Branch members

Called and set apart by

Stake or mission president or an assigned counselor or high councilor (or, if assigned, the district president or another priesthood leader)

Calling

Other branch callings

Recommended by

See 30.8.1, substituting branch president for bishop and branch for ward.

Approved by

See 30.8.1, substituting branch president for bishop and branch for ward.

Sustained by

See 30.8.1, substituting branch president for bishop and branch for ward.

Called and set apart by

See 30.8.1, substituting branch president for bishop and branch for ward.

30.8.3

Stake Callings

Calling

Recommended by

Approved by

Sustained by1

Called and set apart by

Calling

Stake president

Recommended by

An assigned General Authority or Area Seventy

Approved by

An assigned General Authority or Area Seventy

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

An assigned General Authority or Area Seventy

Calling

Counselors in a new stake presidency

Recommended by

Stake president

Approved by

An assigned General Authority or Area Seventy

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

An assigned General Authority or Area Seventy

Calling

New counselor in an existing stake presidency

Recommended by

Stake president, using LCR

Approved by

First Presidency

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president after receiving approval from the First Presidency

Calling

Stake clerk (and assistant stake clerks if needed)

Recommended by

Stake presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor

Calling

Stake executive secretary (and assistant stake executive secretaries if needed)

Recommended by

Stake presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor

Calling

High councilors

Recommended by

Stake presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor

Calling

Stake patriarch, including a patriarch who was already ordained in another stake

Recommended by

Stake presidency, using LCR

Approved by

Quorum of the Twelve

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president after receiving approval from the Quorum of the Twelve; or a member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve

Calling

Stake Relief Society president

Recommended by

Stake presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president

Calling

Stake Young Women and Primary presidents

Recommended by

Stake presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor

Calling

Stake Young Men and Sunday School presidents

Recommended by

The stake presidency calls high councilors to fill these positions

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference (they should be sustained both as high councilors and as presidents of these organizations)

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor (they should be called and set apart both as high councilors and as presidents of these organizations)

Calling

Counselors in stake organization presidencies, secretaries, and others if needed

Recommended by

President of the stake organization (in consultation with the stake presidency or the assigned high councilor)

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor

Calling

Stake auditors

Recommended by

Chairman of the stake audit committee (counselor in the stake presidency)

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Not sustained

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor (the stake president determines whether setting apart is needed)

Calling

Stake seminary and institute teachers and supervisors if needed

Recommended by

Stake presidency (after counseling with the bishop and the seminary and institute representative)

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor

Calling

Stake welfare and self-reliance specialists if needed

Recommended by

Stake presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor

Calling

Other stake callings2

Recommended by

Stake presidency

Approved by

Stake presidency and high council

Sustained by1

Members in stake conference

Called and set apart by

Stake president or an assigned counselor or high councilor

  1. When, as an exception, new stake officers need to begin their service before the next stake conference, they should be sustained in sacrament meetings. These sustainings should be kept to a minimum. A member of the stake presidency or high council presents the sustainings.

    In rare circumstances, a stake member may need to begin service before he or she can be sustained either in a stake conference or in sacrament meetings. When this happens, the person is presented for a ratifying vote as soon as reasonable, adapting the process described in 30.3. This includes providing an opportunity for stake members to oppose the action.

  2. The stake activities committee chair (if needed) and the stake physical facilities representative are assigned by the stake presidency from the high council. They are not called, sustained, or set apart.

30.8.4

District Callings

Calling

Recommended by

Approved by

Sustained by

Called and set apart by

Calling

District president

Recommended by

Mission president

Approved by

Area Presidency

Sustained by

Members in district conference

Called and set apart by

Mission president

Calling

Counselors in the district presidency

Recommended by

District president

Approved by

Mission presidency

Sustained by

Members in district conference

Called and set apart by

Mission president or an assigned counselor

Calling

Other district callings

Recommended by

See 30.8.3, substituting district president for stake president and district for stake.

Approved by

See 30.8.3, substituting district president for stake president and district for stake.

Sustained by

See 30.8.3, substituting district president for stake president and district for stake.

Called and set apart by

See 30.8.3, substituting district president for stake president and district for stake.

30.8.5

Military Service Member Group Callings

Calling

Recommended by

Approved by

Sustained by

Called and set apart by

Calling

Service member group leader

Recommended by

A Latter-day Saint chaplain, the director of Military Relations, or the outgoing group leader

Approved by

Bishop or branch president and the stake or mission president (in the member’s home ward or branch and stake or mission)

Sustained by

Group members

Called and set apart by

Stake president or mission president or a designated representative (may function without being set apart if necessary)

Calling

Assistants to the service member group leader

Recommended by

Group leader

Approved by

Bishop or branch president and the stake or mission president (in the member’s home ward or branch and stake or mission)

Sustained by

Group members

Called and set apart by

Stake president or mission president or a designated representative (may function without being set apart if necessary)