Nursery Leaders Touch Lives by Magnifying Their Callings

Contributed By Laura C. Cannon, Church News contributor

  • 13 January 2014

“Even the newest member of the Church can sense that a call to service should be primarily a matter of the heart. It is by giving our whole hearts to the Master and keeping His commandments that we come to know Him.” —President Henry B. Eyring

Article Highlights

  • Laura Cannon learned what it means to “magnify your calling” from examples of diligent nursery leaders.
  • A nursery leader made a special effort to serve the children even after she was released.

For years I always joked that I would never want to be called to serve as a nursery teacher in the Church, because it seemed like just a lot of babysitting to me. My viewpoint on nursery, and on magnifying one’s calling, changed when my sweet oldest daughter, Emmeline, turned 18 months and entered nursery.

Sister Margo Mitchell and Sister Ann Wiltbank of the Madison 4th Ward, Madison Wisconsin Stake, welcomed Emmeline each week with loving arms, thoughtful lessons, Primary songs, and activities. I noticed that these two angels not only fulfilled their callings, they magnified them. Sister Wiltbank had recently been released as the ward Relief Society president and treated her new calling in nursery with equal diligence. I noticed both sisters would rush from sacrament meeting to the nursery room each week, so as to make it there, with the classroom set up, before the children arrived, and then would greet each child individually. Emmeline and Sister Mitchell specifically developed a loving bond.

Sister Mitchell, who was in her 70s, would sometimes be visiting family out of town and would drive back early Sunday morning or on Saturday to make it in time for church—and for Emmeline. During the week Emmeline talked insistently of Sister Mitchell and of the things she had learned in nursery, and she sang the Primary songs that they sang. Many days she would ask me, “Is it Sunday yet?” Sometimes, when she woke up crying in the night, she would ask for Sister Mitchell. On Sundays, Emmeline would run down the hall and right into Sister Mitchell’s arms.

Midway through the year, our ward boundaries were realigned, and Sister Mitchell was assigned to a different ward. For several weeks afterward, she received permission from the bishop to attend her entire block of meetings in her new ward and then come to our ward for two hours of nursery because she knew Emmeline would be expecting her.

Sister Mitchell’s and Sister Wiltbank’s service to minister to the children remind me of the scripture in Matthew 25:40: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”