Too many callings for too few sisters?

Our ward is going through an interesting phenomenon that may or may not be unique: we have too many callings and not enough sisters. My wife serves in the Relief Society presidency, and the bishopric cannot find sisters to help her out with a half-dozen or so callings that must be filled. The apparent reason: all of the women are serving in young women’s, on the activity committee and, most importantly, primary.

Is this a result of new Church rules that discourage men from teaching primary classes alone?

Our ward does not have an apparent lack of men to fill callings. In young men’s, where I serve, we have six active leaders and only five or six active young men. I don’t see any problems with the EQ or HP. The bishopric is well-stocked.

But the women seem pretty overwhelmed. We have eight or nine primary classes, all taught by women. Then we have a large young women’s group. And of course relief society, which (in my wife’s opinion) has a severe lack of women serving.

My wife is thinking of asking the bishopric to have two men serve together as teachers for some of the primary classes. Perhaps this would solve the apparent “no men teaching primary alone” rule and free up some women for the relief society.

My ward is somewhat unique in that we have roughly the same number of active men as women (I have been in wards where there are twice as many active women as men). I’m wondering if any other wards are having problems with too many callings for too few sisters.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

21 thoughts on “Too many callings for too few sisters?

  1. Our Ward does have men companionships teaching primary, so it totally is an option. In fact one of the nursery classes is all men teachers. As far as other things go, if people don’t want to help our or serve in callings then things should be left to not get done. Perhaps that would help people understand that we all need to pitch in at the ward level. The other thing is, perhaps this could be a chance to trim away the excess. Sometimes I feel like we have too much going on in RS, and in other areas of the ward.

  2. Our ward has men serving in Primary. IMHO the Cub Scout program should be run by men. Every ward has boys who are without a dad. Priesthood holders, as mentors, in a young boy’s life is essential. I agree with J Anderson, sometimes it becomes necessary to reduce church activities.

  3. I am in a small ward in Arizona as numbers have gone done in the past couple of years. I have only been in this ward 4 months. There is a very small young men group. They all meet together. I thik there are maybe four of them. I think they only have about 3-4 adult leaders. One of the bishopric members told me that he does not want to overwhelm the young men with way too many adult leaders. On the other hand, the young women have 12-15.

    I am in the primary. I team teach with another brother. However, I think all of the other classes have 2 teachers (two brethern or a husband and wife team). If another male teacher is gone, you are supposed to keep the door open.

    I was a primary teacher 20 years ago before I served a mission. During that time, all the classes had one teacher. My first 6 months, I worked with another sister in the ward as I had just graduated from high school.

    I know that where ever there are smaller numbers of faithful members, members have multiple callings. I saw this when I served a mission in Chile.

    A large ward does not mean that there are more callings. I was in a ward in Snowflake, AZ where there were probbaly 500-550 members. Normal Sacrament meeting attendance was high with 350-400 on a good Sunday. It was one of the largest wards in the stake. The stake there had 8 conventional wards and a single’s branch for a population of 5000. Many members of that ward did not have a calling while some had 2 or 3 callings. If they liked you in a calling, that did not mean you would be released from that when called to another assignment.

    I think a ward can be either too small or too big. The key is ward unity. If a ward is too big, it is difficult to get to know your fellow ward members. Since it may be the size of several wards, less people will have the opportunity to serve. If it is too small, then there won’t be enough callings because the ward is not developed enough with membership to have a full-fledged program. A small ward not be ununified. The unit’s goal needs to be unity and service.

    Sometimes the lack of people serving is that they do not want to or have circumstances that will not enable them to do so. I guess it is a case by case situation, but overall, every attending member should be able to do something. About 30 years ago my mother became the ward librarian. Other people had refused the assignment.

    I remember President Hinckley saying that a new member needs three things: a friend, a calling, and being nourished by the good word. I believe that applies to everybody. We all need to feel wanted. We all need an assignment in our ward/ branch if we have been in the church for a month or 50 years.

    Some areas can have too much going on. If you have so many small callings that can be combined, it will take more energy to make sure it is running than having fewer people doing the job. You can have 20 people doing the job that you can do with 8 or 10. I was in a singles ward where the relief society president talked about having less ‘fluff’.

    I feel that everybody should be in a ward that will allow them to serve if they want to so serve.

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  5. We have the opposite problem — no Primary or YW program, so there are too few callings open to women. We have huge activities and compassionate service committees, we have this, that, and every other kind of “specialist” designations in RS to give even pretend jobs to women, and until last month every RS teaching calling was split so that teachers taught only every second month. (The stake president recently had half of the RS teachers — including me — released so that those callings can be more substantial than teaching only 4 or 5 times a year.) Very few women in our ward have meaningful callings. We’d love your problem, and some of us (maybe not many, but some) would gladly volunteer to fill two or more slots.

  6. My wards always have men teaching the primary. They have two male teachers for those classes. Works great. My husband taught primary for a few years. (For a couple months my entire family went to primary together…our three kids and my husband and I as the pianist).
    We even have a couple classes with two female teachers but it is because of difficult kids.
    Men can be ward choristers. Primary choristers (our ward has had two). They can be primary pianists and ward organists.
    If you are staffing the whole primary with women no wonder you have problems.

  7. For your wife: When calling two men to teach you have two main options. Call them as co-teachers and have them take turns with the lesson. Or call them as one teacher and one assistant. The assistant is there only to show up for class as an extra help….but doesn’t necessarily have to be there for sharing time, but then the assistant can teach if the main teacher is out of town and then the Presidency gets someone (often last minute after sacrament meeting) to fill in as the 2nd teacher.
    Our 11 year old scout leader is usually called/told to be the assistant primary teacher for those boys on Sunday. Our 10 and 11 year old boys always have male teachers in Primary.

  8. Besides being an 11 year old assistant teacher, my husband has been the main teacher for 5 year olds and 7 year olds. He may not have planned elaborate lessons, but he helped keep some wild boys inline and he would bring a game to play when the lesson was done which I thought was great (I feel so sorry for kids trying to sit still and pay attention for 3 hours without any fun).

  9. Our ward out windows in the classroom doors so that men could teach without a companion.

  10. As the high priest’s group leader in our ward, I see things somewhat differently. We home teach perhaps two dozen sisters who would be delighted to serve, but have no callings. At the same time, the Primary, the Young Womens and the Relief Society all complain that they cannot get any help and that callings go unfilled.

    The primary president told me in ward council that “every primary teacher must be 100 percent reliable.” That cuts out sisters who struggle a bit with activity or are occasionally on call for work.

    The Young Women’s President says that, to serve in young womens, sisters must be good role models. Apparently the sisters that I am concerned about do not meet that criteria.

    The Relief Society tells me that they want stable, experienced sisters who are mature in the gospel.

    I would like to see these auxiliaries be a bit more willing to train, encourage, and mentor sisters who are semi-active, inexperienced, or just shy. In our ward, at least, if we would work with the imperfect people we have, we could easily fill all our callings.

  11. Good comment George. I think it is RS that needs to bend. RS is where women need to gain practice in service. Manning Primary is stressful enough without having undependable teachers. I do not know what YW considers to be a “good role model”. You may be right; they may be too picky. The girls need exposure to working women, single sisters etc.., but leaders who are undependable damage the program and consequently the kids.

  12. Who the Lord calls, He qualifies.

    Also: I remember driving by a Christian church once and the sign said, “No perfect people allowed.”

  13. Our ward has several sets of team teachers in Primary. My husband team teaches with another man. They have quite a small class, and one of the kids is the son of the other teacher. The boy is autistic, and usually if Dad isn’t there, the son doesn’t come either. So then often they’ll either put another teacher in with my husband, or just have the other active child go to a different class. I believe they have a couple of children who are somewhat inactive so they never do know when they will show up. Besides my husband’s class, there are at least two or three other classes that are team taught by brethren. It seems to work well for our ward, at least.

  14. Paula, it will be interesting to see how things work out in our ward but it’s good to see other wards have men teaching primary.

  15. JA Benson said: “I do not know what YW considers to be a ‘good role model'”

    I’ve heard that in a number of wards, the Young Women leaders and teachers have to be married women, never divorced.

    I personally find this short-sighted. In our ward, we have two divorced sisters working in the Young Women program. They bring a wealth of experience and faith to the program. I have absolutely no qualms that my daughter’s understanding of the doctrine and importance of eternal marriage will be compromised by interacting with these two sisters.

  16. I suppose a mixed gender presidency would be against some rule somewhere.

    It is. Not because it’s mixed gender — your ward couldn’t have an entirely male Primary presidency, either — but because the Primary presidency is reserved for women every bit as much as the Sunday School presidency is reserved for men. They made this announcement in the 1970s, a year or two after the block meeting schedule first made it feasible for men to teach in Primary (for a hundred years, it had been a women’s only organization, beyond some occasional assistance with the Trail Blazers). Some wards were calling male presidencies and this announcement directed them to be released.

    Here’s a 1980 quotation of that earlier announcement (item 9 in the first article).

  17. Well our ward has too few members for the callings because the danged stake keeps poaching them.

  18. Thank you Ardis for clarifying/correcting my opinion.

    Researcher- You are right. YW need to learn life’s lessons from a diversity of women. Our ward’s YW program has a divorced sister, and a single sister serving the girls. I appreciate the influence these dear women have on my daughter.

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