Introduction to Military Relations

Organization and Priesthood Leader Responsibilities


The Serving Your Country video emphasizes the importance of remaining strong in the gospel while serving your country. The Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled video is especially helpful to those who have or will serve their country during periods of war and armed conflicts. It helps military members and their families find comfort and peace through the testimonies of those who have been through similar experiences.

 

 

 

 

As with most Church programs, priesthood leaders at both the ward and stake level have certain responsibilities relating to members serving in the military.

Organizational Diagram
Stake Presidency

A member of the stake presidency is responsible for military relations within the stake and has the following duties:

Oversees Pre-Military Service Church Orientation in the stake.

  • Offers the Church orientation course—before basic training—to all members who are entering military service.
  • Orders available resource materials (such as Serving Your Country video, Serving your Country brochure, Military Scripture Set, and LDS identification tag) from the distribution center and makes them available to orientation instructors (see Guidelines for Pre-Military Service Church Orientation).
  • Calls a person with recent military experience to conduct the orientation. Each ward could have orientation instructors if the situation warrants it.

Calls a military relations committee chairman and others as needed.

  • If there is a military installation within the stake boundaries, calls a military relations committee chairman and others as needed to serve as advisers on military matters.
  • Where possible, calls a senior officer or Latter-day Saint chaplain to serve as the chairman.
  • A military member serving on the stake high council could also serve as the chairman.

Together with the military relations committee chairman, develops a working relationship with the senior chaplain at each military installation in the stake.

  • Gives the chaplain the names and telephone numbers of stake and ward leaders so he can provide this information to newly arriving Church members and use it if there is an emergency, such as illness or death of a member at the installation.

Organizes and oversees service member groups for Church members restricted to base.

  • If military members are restricted to the base because of training requirements and cannot attend the local ward, the stake presidency should organize and oversee service member groups at the military installations in the stake (see Guidelines for Calling Service Member Group Leaders). In organizing and overseeing such groups, the stake presidency should:
    • Call, set apart, and instruct group leaders and their assistants (see Service Member Group Leader Responsibilities).
    • Give each group leader a certificate of appointment and a letter that outlines his responsibilities and authorizes him to preside over the group and conduct meetings.

Note: The stake president may align the service member group under the ward that has responsibility for the members of the Church living on the military installation.

Establishes branches as needed.

  • If there will be a long-term requirement to hold Church services on base for members who are restricted to base, such as new recruits attending basic or advanced training, then stake presidencies should consider forming a branch.

Establishes a Church orientation program for members attending basic training.

  • If basic training is conducted at a military installation, the stake presidency will establish a Church orientation program for new trainees. This is especially important for those who did not receive the Pre-Military Service Church Orientation in their home stake.
  • The orientation instructor can use the same resource materials (Serving Your Country video, Serving your Country brochure, Military Scripture Set, and LDS identification tag) that are available for the Pre-Military Service Church Orientation.
  • The instructor should have recent military experience and be familiar with the current military training environment, and the orientation class can be held in conjunction with the Sunday Church services for the trainees.

Calls service member group leaders for deploying military members.

Interviews Latter-day Saint chaplains annually.

  • A member of the stake presidency conducts an annual interview with Latter-day Saint chaplains and spouses who reside in their stake, even if the military installation where the chaplain is assigned is in another stake.

Certificate of Appointment

The stake presidency should give each newly set apart group leader a certificate of appointment and a letter that outlines his responsibilities and authorizes him to preside over the group and conduct meetings. Click here to view a sample, wallet-size certificate of appointment in PDF format.

Letter from Stake President

The stake presidency should give each newly set apart group leader a certificate of appointment and a letter that outlines his responsibilities and authorizes him to preside over the group and conduct meetings. The letter should be similar to the following sample letter.

(Print on stake letterhead)

(Date)

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that (name of group leader) is an ordained Elder and appointed to be the denomination lay-leader for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assigned to (name of military unit or deployed location). He is authorized to work with the command and unit chaplains in meeting the religious needs of service members.

As a representative of the Church, he is encouraged to seek out Church members and invite them to scheduled Sunday services, group meetings, and activities. He is to perform responsibilities associated with being an ecclesiastical leader: providing religious services and instruction to those in attendance, supervising preparation and administration of the sacrament (communion), and counseling members.

We are grateful for and appreciate the command’s support in meeting the spiritual and religious needs of our armed service members. If you have any questions, please contact me at (phone number and e-mail address).

Sincerely,

(Signature)

(Name of Stake President)

 

Cc: Military Relations Division
50 East North Temple, Room 2050
Salt Lake City, UT 84150


Military Relations Committee Chairman

Serves as liaison with senior chaplain and commanders.

  • Develops a working relationship with the senior chaplain and military commanders.
  • Gives the chaplain the names and telephone numbers of stake and ward leaders so he can provide this information to newly arriving Church members and use it if there is an emergency, such as illness or death of a member at the installation.

As assigned, oversees Pre-Military Service Church Orientation.

  • If assigned by the stake presidency, the committee chairman oversees the Pre-Military Service Church Orientation program for the stake. Working with the stake executive secretary, he identifies to the instructor those members in the stake who have joined the military and need to attend the orientation.

Advises stake presidency on military matters.

  • The committee chairman reports to the stake presidency and high council on military matters affecting Church members.
  • If it is likely that Church members will deploy overseas for military operations or extended training exercises where they will be unable to attend the local ward, the committee chairman makes recommendations to the stake president on worthy priesthood holders who could serve as service member group leaders and ensures that group leaders are called, set apart, and trained before they deploy.
  • Coordinates with the stake clerk to order group leader kits and Church materials for the newly called group leaders.
Pre-Military Service Church Orientation Instructor

The instructor conducts Pre-Military Service Church Orientation for each member of the stake who has joined the military. The orientation should be held before the individual departs for basic training. Under the direction of the bishop, ward executive secretaries should notify the stake executive secretary to schedule the orientation for members in their ward. If the situation warrants, an orientation instructor for each ward may be called.

Stake Executive Secretary

The executive secretary advises the stake presidency of members who are entering military service. He also coordinates, under the direction of the stake presidency, Pre-Military Service Church Orientation in the stake.

Mission President

If the military installation is in a mission rather than a stake, the mission president fulfills the responsibilities that are outlined for stake presidencies. As needed, he may delegate these responsibilities to his counselors or to district presidents.

Bishopric

Bishoprics are responsible for Church members who are assigned to military installations within the boundaries of their ward. A member of the bishopric should fulfill the following responsibilities:

Interviews ward members before they leave for military service.

  • Counsels them to obey the commandments of God and participate actively in the Church wherever they are stationed.
  • Gives them a Military Scripture Set and an LDS identification tag.
  • If appropriate, invites them to speak in sacrament meeting.

Encourages worthy members to receive their patriarchal blessing before reporting for active duty. If this is not possible, see Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops (2010), section 16.12.3, for further guidance.

Coordinates Pre-Military Service Church Orientation with the stake.

  • Encourages each member who is entering military service to attend a Pre-Military Service Church Orientation meeting. This can be coordinated through the stake executive secretary and the orientation instructor. If a ward has its own instructor, the instructor will need to coordinate with the stake to obtain the resource materials for use in the orientation.

Helps military members identify the Church unit nearest to their duty station.

  • When a member enters the military or is transferred to a new location, a member of the bishopric helps him or her identify the Church unit nearest the new duty station. The Church's Directory of General Authorities and Officers lists the Church unit that is responsible for members at United States military installations throughout the world.

Assists with correspondence, Church publications, and membership records.

  • Corresponds frequently with each ward member who is attending basic and advanced training and asks the family's home teachers to do the same.
  • Encourages families to ensure that their family members in the military receive the Ensign or Liahona and the Church News.
  • Once military members complete their training and are assigned to a permanent base, their membership records should be forwarded to their new ward.

Provides the chaplain information about the ward meeting schedule.

  • Because each bishop is responsible for Church members who are assigned to military installations within the boundaries of his ward, a member of the bishopric should notify the senior chaplain of the ward's meeting schedule, meeting locations, and contact person so the chaplain can give this information to Church members at the installation.

Oversees service member groups meeting on military installations.

  • If a service member group has been established within the ward boundary for those restricted to base, the stake president may assign the bishop to oversee the service member group leader, ensuring that Church services are provided for all trainees.
Ward Executive Secretary

Informs the stake executive secretary when members plan to enter the military and coordinates Pre-Military Service Church Orientation.