9.5 Visiting Teaching
Visiting teaching gives women the opportunity to watch over, strengthen, and teach one another. Through visiting teaching, the Relief Society president helps the bishop identify and resolve short-term and long-term needs of sisters and their families.
Members of the Relief Society presidency instruct visiting teachers on ways to care for, watch over, remember, and strengthen one another. Presidency members can give this instruction in a Sunday meeting or in another Relief Society meeting.
Visiting teachers are not sustained or set apart.
Responsibilities of Visiting Teachers
Visiting teachers sincerely come to know and love each sister, help her strengthen her faith, and give service. They seek personal inspiration to know how to respond to the spiritual and temporal needs of each sister they are assigned to visit.
Taking into account each sister’s individual needs and circumstances, visiting teachers have regular contact (monthly if possible) with those they are assigned. When a personal visit is not possible, visiting teachers may use phone calls, letters, e-mail, or other means to watch over and strengthen sisters.
When appropriate, visiting teachers share a gospel message. These messages may be from the monthly visiting teaching message printed in the Ensign or Liahona magazine and the scriptures.
Visiting teachers give compassionate service during times of illness, death, and other special circumstances. They assist the Relief Society president in coordinating short-term and long-term assistance when invited.
Organizing Visiting Teaching
The structure of visiting teaching in the ward is determined by the bishop and Relief Society presidency after prayerful consideration of local needs and circumstances. Where possible, the presidency assigns sisters into companionships of two. Because visiting teaching focuses on individual sisters, Relief Society leaders do not organize women in groups for the purpose of visiting teaching.
In organizing visiting teaching, members of the Relief Society presidency prayerfully discuss the needs of individuals and families. They
In addition to assigning faithful visiting teachers, they work with the ward mission leader to ensure that each newly baptized and confirmed sister is taught the five missionary lessons again (see 5.2).
Based on these discussions, they assign visiting teachers to each sister in the ward. They obtain the bishop’s approval for each assignment.
With approval from the bishop in exceptional cases, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders may assign a husband and wife as a companionship where visits by a couple are needed. Couples report these visits as home teaching and visiting teaching. Normally, young parents are not given such an assignment because it takes them away from their children.
Adapting Visiting Teaching to Local Needs
In a ward with limited resources, leaders may adapt visiting teaching to ensure that sisters with the greatest needs always receive a monthly visit.
With approval from the bishop, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders and Relief Society leaders may temporarily assign only home teachers or only visiting teachers to certain families. In some cases, leaders may assign home teachers to visit a family one month and assign visiting teachers to visit Relief Society members in that family the next month.
With approval from the mission president, leaders may consider asking full-time sister missionaries to help with visiting teaching on a limited basis. The mission president communicates this approval to the stake president, who informs bishops. When such approval is given, full-time missionaries are assigned primarily to visit new members, part-member families, and less-active members.
Reporting Visiting Teaching
The Relief Society presidency or those who are called to assist them receive monthly reports from visiting teachers. The visiting teachers report any special needs of the sisters they visit and any service rendered. In addition, presidency members meet with visiting teachers regularly to discuss sisters’ spiritual and temporal welfare and to make plans to help those in need. Confidential information should be reported only to the Relief Society president, who reports it to the bishop.
The Relief Society president gives the bishop a monthly visiting teaching report. Each report includes a list of those who were not contacted. If a sister and her family have urgent needs, the Relief Society president reports this information to the bishop immediately.