When Glen and LeRae Hoggan of Salt Lake City, Utah, retired in 1987, they began preparing to serve a mission. They planned to wait until their fourteen-year-old son got older before they submitted their requests. Meanwhile, they read a flyer about Church service opportunities, service that can be performed while living at home. They were thrilled to begin Church service at once!
Like the Hoggans, others may want to serve but circumstances such as health problems, financial restrictions, dependents, or other reasons may be keeping them from seriously considering a full-time proselyting mission. Fortunately, there are other ways to serve. Church service offers a wide variety of activities and time requirements to accommodate all who have a desire to serve the Lord and their brothers and sisters.
The Hoggans are now serving in their sixth Church service calling. They received their first call to Temple Square. They served a second time on Temple Square and then went on to serve in the Church Finance and Records Department, the Church Human Resources Department, and finally as directors of the Church service program—all in Salt Lake City.
“It is great to be able to work together and gain a greater appreciation for the truthfulness of the gospel and the organization of the Church,” Sister Hoggan says. When their son, now nineteen, put in his mission application, his parents also put in their applications to serve. They are now serving as administrators at the Fiji LDS Technical College.
Halfway around the world in Sydney, Australia, Peter Gilbert Mutton and his wife, Denise Mutton, are staunch supporters of Church service opportunities. The couple first heard about them from their stake president and now serve full-time in the Pacific Area office (only two miles from their home), tracking “lost” members of the Church.
“This is an ideal opportunity for local couples and others,” observes Sister Mutton. “The working conditions are excellent, and we experience great joy in finding information about members whose addresses or phone numbers have been lost. And then we get to go home in the evening.”
The Muttons point out that through their work in locating members, they have both gained a much greater appreciation of the need to visit and fellowship members.
With the expansion of the Church throughout the world, Church service workers play an important role by either directing various programs worldwide or being part of the team that keeps the programs going. The Church service program capitalizes on the unique skills of members with all kinds of specialties from medicine to agriculture, teaching, administration, business, data entry, and other skills and interests.
Church service opportunities offer often-needed flexibility. Workers can serve full-time or part-time, with the vast majority serving part-time. In 1992, 110,317 members gave of their time to the Church service program. Of that number, 1,646 served full-time.
Valene Hubbard served as a full-time family history worker in Salt Lake City, a ninety-minute bus ride from her home in Provo. She helped prepare vital statistic records in the Family Records Extraction Program.
“I worked with records from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois,” she says. “I really enjoyed my work. I made some choice friends there.”
Besides assisting with family history, Church service workers help in many other capacities: for example, hosting in visitors’ centers, serving in administrative positions, working with statistical records, and teaching English. Horace and Jean Coltran from Burley, Idaho, worked with college teachers in Mexico teaching them English so they could study in the United States.
“Church service workers are often people who have had significant experience in a certain field or people whose circumstances prevent them from serving away from home,” says Glen Hoggan. But a willing heart and an interest in and a testimony of furthering the Lord’s work are the most important qualifications.
There are service opportunities to fit almost any skill and interest. Many programs include training to teach skills that people don’t already have. “Church service workers will not be asked to do anything they are unable to do or that they are not first trained to do,” Glen explains.
The requirements for Church service are similar to those of a full-time mission: applicants must be worthy to hold a temple recommend, be physically capable of performing the duties of their call, be able to support themselves financially, and be free of obligations that would decrease devotion to the call.
“And Church service is fun,” Glen adds. “Those who serve will grow, they will have spiritual experiences—and, yes, they will also have fun.”
There are two ways to become a Church service worker. Through their bishops, individuals can request a call, sometimes even specifying a desired location. Or a person can wait for the bishop to extend a call. All efforts are made to match potential workers with service and areas according to their skills, abilities, and interests.
A friend encouraged Paul and Beth Butterfield to request to serve in Zimbabwe. Both Paul and Beth had been involved in adult continuing education, and Beth was active in community service.
“At first we said no, not now,” recalls Sister Butterfield. “We were not quite ready. But from the moment we left our friend’s office, our minds cleared and we knew we were going to Zimbabwe.”
During the year they spent in the African country, the Butterfields taught English, started several seminary and institute programs, and organized the first “Super Saturday” activities for the youth in their area. When they learned they would be serving the second year in Budapest, Hungary, Beth says, “Although we were happy to serve in Hungary, we had learned to love Zimbabwe. We gained so much more than we could ever have given.”
After visiting some friends serving as Church service workers in the Family History Department, Gerald and Karen Robertson from Albuquerque, New Mexico, knew what they wanted to do. Their interest was sparked, and they requested the opportunity to serve in the Family History Department. The Robertsons’ original call was for eighteen months, but they extended it for an additional three months.
“Our testimonies have been strengthened because of our service to others,” the Robertsons say. “We had wonderful experiences and learned much about relating with people.”
Church service offers many testimony-building experiences and blessings. Arizonans Gean Robert Larson and his wife, Joyce, served in Bolivia with the Benson Institute. The couple taught people how to improve their lives through better housing and food-growing processes. Sister Larson explained that getting close to the Bolivian people and feeling of their testimonies strengthened her own testimony.
“The members walk for miles to go to church,” Sister Larson recalls. “One sister brought her husband, who has physical disabilities and is blind, with her to church every Sunday. They never missed. To see their testimonies so strong—and in such difficult circumstances—was really a testimony builder.”
The Robertsons count among the greatest blessings received through their service the example and pattern established for their grandchildren. “When we were set apart, the stake president mentioned that our calling would help set the tone for our grandchildren to become missionaries,” Brother Robertson says.
Although Church service workers do not proselyte, there are often opportunities to lay the foundations for baptisms and reactivation. Raymond and Evelyn Ritchie of Temple View, New Zealand, serve as coordinators of seminaries and institutes in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“We’ve had six baptisms in seminary and one in institute in eight months,” Raymond says. Several conversions occurred when members brought friends to seminary. Four baptisms in one family resulted after the Ritchies gave the family a seminary manual and promised to visit again in a month. “Three weeks later the mother and three of the children were baptized,” the Ritchies recall.
Although proselyting missions are a high priority of the Church, Church service callings do offer another opportunity to serve the Lord and our brothers and sisters throughout the world. And there are a growing number of Church service workers taking advantage of the opportunity to serve the Lord with all their “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2) and enjoying the blessings that come from that service.
“Church service benefits the individual more than anything,” Sister Hoggan says. “We’ve seen changes in people. We’ve seen them grow when they receive this opportunity to serve when they couldn’t have otherwise. When you serve your Father in Heaven you become closer to him and you learn to know him better. Serving has strengthened my testimony of this great church we belong to.”
Church service workers serve around the world in the following Church departments or areas:
Church Educational System
Family History Department
Finance and Records (member locator section)
LDS Business College
Missionary Training Centers
Museum of Church History and Art
Nauvoo Pageant in Nauvoo, Illinois
Priesthood, Primary, and Young Women (Priesthood Department divisions)
Temple (laundry, kitchen, and other nonordinance areas)
If you’re interested in learning more about Church service opportunities, write or call the Church Service Office, Human Resource Department, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, or telephone 801-240-4914 or 801-240-2484.
Local bishops or branch presidents have the necessary Church service recommendation forms.