Volume 19, Number 2, Man/Jun/Jul/Aug 2018 Issue No 75
In late February, the Aaronic priesthood, along with the Bishopric and several branch presidents, gathered for our annual assembly. Just before Thanksgiving, the Bishopric had come to the Aaronic quorum presidents with the idea of having the Aaronic men plan and lead the assembly from their own ranks. Volunteers were recruited in the November quorum meetings, and we then set about planning a weekend of classes and fellowship with home ministry as the central theme.
Home ministry is a core part of the Aaronic ministry. We did not want to just teach on the subject; we also wanted to give the men practical experience. From the earliest outlines of a schedule, we intended to spend Saturday afternoon giving both the experienced and the inexperienced the chance to grow and learn in a hands-on manner. Calls went out, and several of the local saints eagerly responded to the opportunity to have the priesthood in their home and facilitate this endeavor.
Following the guidance in Doctrine and Covenants R-154:4b that "...established family altars must be in place," we made family altars the focus topic for our visits and geared our classes and discussion in that direction. To kick the classes off, Priest Ben Tims led the presentation and discussion on the origins, purpose, and importance of home ministry, dubbed "Home Ministry 101." This class was held Friday night, taking the bulk of the evening to just begin scratching the surface of the depth and breadth of this ministry. It was followed by a short worship service.
Saturday morning, we dove back into our classes, focusing the first session solely on the intended visit topic of family altars. Priest Joshua Turner led this class, then proceeded straight into the next session to cover specific home ministry skills, including ministry to the bereaved and stewardship topics. Having had little break between the two marathon sessions, the assembly broke from their classwork for a gathering with President Frederick N. Larsen, who gave guidance and counsel on various aspects of our ministry as Aaronic priesthood.
Following a brief break for lunch, classes resumed with a two-part session revolving around conducting home ministry itself. Brothers Tims and Turner covered setting up visits, entering the homes, decorum, and interacting with the saints. This then segued into Bishops Richard Paris and Andrew Romer presenting on communication styles, including skits directed by the feedback of the attendees, to help them better understand how their new knowledge would play out in a practical sense.
Armed with the knowledge of the various classes, the men were then paired off for the main, most important part of the weekend: going out into the homes. They built their ministry outlines, followed up with the prearranged homes to be visited to make sure things were still on, and then set out to conduct their ministry. Following their ministry, they returned to report on what they had learned and share advice they had for their brethren.
It was incredibly gratifying to hear from the returning priesthood that every home visited already had a family altar. More gratifying still was the warm and encouraging reception each of the men had received from the saints and the newfound or renewed enthusiasm they had for this aspect of their ministry. This vigor of both the priesthood and membership was then carried into the Center Place-wide service held on Sunday where home ministry participants (priesthood and families) related their testimonies of the joy, blessing, and inspiration of the weekend's activities.
One weekend was too short a time for all the fellowship and learning we desired to experience, but it is still not an experience we would trade for the world. The Aaronic priesthood now stand taller and stronger, ready to bring our ministry to the homes of the saints, recognizing the call in Doctrine and Covenants Section R-156:3a that "The time is even more urgent than ever before for the quorums and orders to more fully magnify their callings." We humbly ask the saints' continued prayers and support as we endeavor to do just that.