Women At Church stories are submitted by church members and shared anonymously.
When I became bishop of my ward about three years ago, one of the thoughts that stuck in my mind was a quote of President Hinckley’s: “If the women of this Church will be united and speak with one voice, their strength will be incalculable.” (I can’t recall exactly where this came from, but I wrote it in my journal way back in 2004, so I think it must have come from one of those worldwide leadership training meetings. It may have come from General Conference though, I can’t remember exactly where).
Also, about that same time, I had conversations with our ward’s Relief Society president about how to unify and solidify our Women. Since speaking with one voice = incalculable strength, the question was “How do we get the women of our ward to speak with One Voice?” One way to make that happen was to get as many of them in the same place at the same time, as often as possible, especially the leaders.
So we instituted two things: 1) full presidency Personal Priesthood Interviews (PPIs) once per quarter; and 2) Womens’ Council.
1) Whenever I conduct (February, May, August, November), we hold PPIs with the entire Bishopric AND the Entire Presidencies and Boards. Thus, 4 x per year, we get a chance to see the entire Primary, Young Women and Relief Society Presidencies, along with their counselors, advisors and board members.
a. All of the ladies serving in these Presidencies and boards are invited to join the PPI, and as part of that PPI, we request their counsel, guidance, thoughts, opinions, and ask them if they need/want Priesthood blessings;
b. We operate on the Principal Of Three (3) so we typically ask the Presidency what the 3 biggest challenges/concerns are and how we as a Bishopric can help;
c. We ask what we can do to resolve the 3 major issues facing each auxiliary;
d. We elicit thoughts on 3 individuals who need assistance or guidance;
e. We report on items and individuals discussed at previous meetings;
f. We give estimates as to when we may have responses on items/individuals discusses;
g. From the Bishopric’s standpoint, these PPIs have been largely successful at building trust between our Bishopric and each Presidency, and allow us a window into how well each Presidency is functioning.
2) Each Second Sunday, we hold Women’s Council, again with the entire Primary, Young Women, Relief Society Presidency and Board invited to attend. We substituted Womens’ Council for one PEC each month.
a. At this meeting, our goal is to make sure that each of the Womens’ Auxiliaries are on the same page in terms of ALL calendar items and activities, and that there’s a synchronization between the Relief Society and the Young Women in particular, and that the Relief Society is assisting with Primary staffing shortfalls where necessary (e.g. last month we needed bodies in Primary to substitute and that was coordinated in Womens’ Council meeting very smoothly).
b. From the Bishopric’s standpoint, this Council allows our Women to schedule and coordinate their functions and activities in a way that frankly, takes a ton of pressure off the Bishopric. It’s amazing how a simple coordination council meeting solves problems and resolves issues before they become issues. It’s really quite remarkable. There are so many visits that get made and service that is given as a result of this meeting that it’s really difficult to quantify all that they do to move the Work forward, but it happens.