First Person

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

No one escapes a calling at BYU. Former students remember theirs.

Wedding Gift Coordination

By Heidi Leavitt Johnson (BS ’97)
Florence, Ariz.

I had heard before of some of the more unusual callings that BYU singles wards often have—like door greeter—but I was still so surprised by my own calling that at first I thought my bishop must be joking. “Ward wedding gift coordinator?” I repeated in confusion. My bishop smiled and assured me that this was indeed what he was calling me to do, and handed over a large box of new hymnals and a list of ward members with upcoming weddings.

I soon learned that bestowing wedding gifts from the ward was a lot of fun! There was little to do most of the year, and I could always impress my roommates with my knowledge of which guys in our ward were now “off the market.” The busy time came near the end of a semester. While other people were busy cramming for finals, I’d drag my roommates away from their studies to help me wrap as many as 25 hymnbooks and then deliver them around the apartment complex. I served in the calling for two years, and I still look back on it with a smile. It was one of the most enjoyable callings I’ve ever had.

Called to ConductHymnbook Helper

Darren M. Davenport (BS ’90)
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Having returned from a mission in November, I joined my BYU ward in January, when most of the callings were already filled. However, it was a priority to our bishop for everyone to have a calling, and I was soon called to the position of hymnbook coordinator. My entire duty was to get the hymnbooks out of the closet and place them on the seats before church and to return them to the closet afterward. My roommate Kevin, who was in the bishopric, asked me one Sunday how the calling was going. I responded tongue in cheek that it was really taxing me and asked if I could have an assistant. “Darren,” he replied, “if you can find anyone in the ward without a calling, you can have two counselors and a secretary.”

Gospel Doctrine Jitters

Peggy Newman Clark (BS ’60)
Riverton, Utah

As a new freshman, I had never had a real church calling in my home ward and eagerly looked forward to that opportunity in my BYU ward.

When that calling came, alternately co-teaching Gospel Doctrine class with a returned missionary, I felt completely unprepared. As one of the youngest girls in my dorm, and in a ward where the majority of young men were returned missionaries, I wondered why in the world someone so inexperienced as I had been given this calling.

As I stood in front of the class for the first time, I glimpsed over the faces of about 75 of my peers and called on a young man to give the opening prayer. Saying a quick, silent prayer of my own, I took a deep breath and proceeded. Somehow I made it through the lesson, and with a sigh of relief at its conclusion, I called on someone to say the closing prayer.

His response made me realize just how nervous I had actually been. “I never turn down an opportunity to pray,’ he said, “but if it makes any difference, I did say the opening prayer.”

HymnbookCalled to Conduct

Lisa Williams Rentz (BS ’02)
Castle Rock, Colo.

I arrived at the Wilk for church a few minutes before sacrament meeting started. As I was finding a seat, my friend popped out of nowhere with her arm in a sling, desperately pleading with me to take her place leading the music. She quickly gave me a tutorial and pushed me toward the front of the chapel, where I just smiled and waved my arm around trying to find right beat. I must not have done too bad—I received the calling as ward chorister a few days later!

Woman in Charge

Candace Kunch Elder (BA ’81)
Glendora, Calif.

An appointment with the stake president can be a daunting experience. However, my stake president was Rex E. Lee, former BYU president and U.S. solicitor general. He was part of our group of running buddies, so visiting him was always a treat! Once in his office I could tell that he had something important to tell me because of his animated countenance. With a bold smile he extended the calling of ward mission leader to me—a female. He assured me that he and my bishop had fasted and prayed concerning this calling, and that they were certain of the Lord’s choice.

We had one girl in our ward who was a nonmember. I regularly met with her home teacher to discuss the gospel lessons I had taught her so that he could emphasize those key points during his visits. As she progressed in her understanding of the gospel and in her relationship with the Savior, another relationship was slowly developing as well. My future husband was that home teacher, and to this day he is happy to admit that he fell in love with and married his ward mission leader!

Sports Committee Conversion

By Richard S. Piccolo (BSE ’71)
Orem, Utah

I arrived at BYU in September 1968, a nonmember freshman whose entire life experience had been in a suburb of Boston, Mass. My knowledge of Latter-day Saint terminology was limited, but within two weeks of the start of school a counselor in the bishopric met with me about a calling in the ward. He wanted me to serve as an assistant sports director on the activities committee, even though I had no idea what that was and no interest in religion. He explained that this calling had nothing to do with religion or attending church—the only thing I needed to do was help plan sports activities for the ward. He added that the ward included a group of girls that lived in Heritage’s Fox and Felt Halls and that by planning sports I would be able to meet these young women.

I reluctantly accepted. What I did not know was that my sister had talked to the bishop about my love for sports—thus prompting the bishopric to issue me this calling.

The prompting worked. I served for two years on the activities committee. The members of the BYU 3rd Ward patiently fellowshipped me until my testimony of the gospel grew, and on May 17, 1970, I was baptized in the then Jesse Knight Building font. I have since served in many leadership callings in the Church, including bishop, and I am sure that a big part of my conversion started with that invitation to serve as an assistant sports director. My wife and I have had four children graduate from BYU (and two sons-in-law), and two more daughters will enter the Y in 2007.

The Scoutmaster

Ezra W. Richards (BS ’99)
Lakewood, Calif.

When the bishop came by our apartment for the first time, my roommates and I all knew the meet and greets were really tryouts for available callings. During our interviews one of the questions we were asked was, “What calling would you like to have?” I quickly responded with scoutmaster, thinking I’d either make the list of troublemakers or be given something relatively safe, like break-the-fast committee member. To my great surprise I was called to the stake president’s office a few days later and asked to be the elder’s quorum president—a leader of somewhat more mature boys.