In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the first words a new member may learn is calling. A calling is an official request for a member to serve in a particular position or responsibility within his/her ward (congregation) or stake (group of congregations). In the April 1997 General Conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley, said to the members of the Church:
“With the ever-increasing number of needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Converts and Young Men,” Ensign, May 1997).”
Therefore, it is not uncommon for a newly baptized member of the Church to receive a calling soon after his/her baptism. A new member can expect that their calling will be low key while they learn and grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ and doctrines of the Church.
About 2-3 months after my baptism, I was invited into my Bishop‘s office where he talked to me about teaching in the Primary (children’s program), and I accepted the calling to teach the 4- and 5-year-old children each Sunday. My knowledge of the doctrine and culture of the Church was ample for the responsibility and I enjoyed being with the children.
When a member of the Church is invited to accept a calling, the invitation is extended by the Bishop or one of his Counselors (assistants). Typically the member is called into the Bishop’s office where the Bishop or one of his Counselors will talk to them about the calling and the responsibilities of the position. He will then invite them to accept the calling. They can either accept it, decline, or request time to think and pray about it before accepting or declining the calling.
If the member accepts the calling, their name is then read over pulpit to the general membership of the Church in his ward. The members are asked to raise their right hands to sustain (support) the person in that calling or to say that they will not sustain the member. If he is sustained, the newly called member is then invited into the Bishop’s office again to be set apart for the calling. To be set apart means that the Bishop or one of his Counselors lay their hands on the head of the person being set apart and give a blessing and guidance to them for the responsibilities required in the calling for which they have accepted and been sustained.
The time a member is responsible for a calling will vary by the calling. Some are understood to be a pre-determined length of time, but most are up to the individual and Church leaders. It is common for a person to be released from a calling and immediately called to another within the Church. It is also okay to request a release.
In my time as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have served in a variety of callings. Currently I am the Primary teacher for the 3- and 4-year-old class. I have been in this calling for 10 months. Previously I was the 3rd Sunday teacher in the Relief Society. I held that calling for over two years.