What if they had a ward activity and nobody came?

On the last Sunday in April, one of the counselors in the bishopric asked to meet with both Brother J and me. Whatever could this be about, we wondered—for about three seconds before my husband figured out that it must be about the upcoming Fourth of July Breakfast.

“No,” I said. “NO.”

“But this could be our chance to restore it to its former glory,” my husband said.

“NO.”

As long as we’ve lived here—which I guess is thirteen years now—our ward has provided breakfast for the neighborhood’s annual Fourth of July celebration, which also includes a parade and a modest carnival with bouncy houses, snow cones, a dunking booth, a clown, etc. In the beginning, the ward provided a full breakfast, complete with pancakes, bacon, and eggs in addition to fruit and beverages. As attendance grew (much) higher, we had to jettison the bacon and eggs and just serve pancakes, fruit, and beverages. Then the parks and rec district stopped providing us with tables, so we replaced the pancakes with muffins, bagels, and donuts, making it a “grab-and-go” breakfast. Obviously, the baked goods were much more expensive than pancakes, but what else could they do without tables? But every year I think to myself, “Why the hell am I getting up this early for half a muffin and a Dixie cup of fruit?” Well, why the hell does anyone? But everyone does. Last year, I think, we served this paltry breakfast to 1,200 people. Or maybe it was 1,300. I don’t really remember, just that the number was astonishing. Because seriously, why the hell?

Clearly, I am not the target audience for the annual Fourth of July breakfast and carnival. It combines three of the things I hate most in life: 1) crowds, 2) eating outside, and 3) fun. I assume it is fun because my husband says that I’m the enemy of fun, and I’m an enemy of the Fourth of July breakfast too. Every year I think, can’t we just please skip it this year, but every year we don’t skip it. Every year we go because a) it’s held at the park located fifty feet from our house, b) we’ve always signed up to bring food and beverages or help with setting up, c) our son has played in the band that marches in the parade, and d) it’s tradition. My husband would never dream of skipping the Fourth of July breakfast, but he has dreamed of at least bringing back the pancakes. I have dreamed of leaving town in July, but we always take our vacations in August.

So there we were in the bishop’s office with the first counselor or the second counselor, whatever he was, and it turned out we were not being asked to be on the committee for the Fourth of July breakfast. We were being asked to chair the committee for the Fourth of July breakfast. I don’t remember if I groaned audibly or sighed so audibly that it may as well have been a groan, but I do remember that inside my brain, I was thinking, “NO.” Specifically, “NO NO NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO NEVER NEVER NEVER.” Because I don’t even want to go to the Fourth of July breakfast, let alone be in charge of the Fourth of July breakfast. I don’t want the Fourth of July breakfast to exist or be a thing that I have to support or be in charge of or go to. I just want to sleep in on the Fourth of July and watch 1776 and pray that none of my kids loses a finger or a limb whilst setting off firecrackers in the street with their dad that night. To me, that’s America. America enough, anyway. But I guess I’m in the minority because the Fourth of July breakfast is still a thing that 1,200-1,300 people in our neighborhood of 400 go to every year.

So was my husband willing to chair this Fourth of July breakfast committee? YES. Well, technically, I think he said, “Sure.” (He never likes to appear too eager.) While he was saying, “Sure,” I was shaking my head vigorously from side to side, and as I was shaking my head vigorously from side to side, the counselor turned to me and said, “What about you, Rebecca?”

“What choice do I have?” I asked, rhetorically.

“Well, you can say ‘no,’” the counselor offered.

“You’re your own person,” said the man who, for the twenty years I’ve lived with him, has always said that legally we are the same person.

“What choice do I have,” I repeated—not even a question this time, because I could already see how saying “no” would play out. My husband would still serve on the committee and instead of serving on it officially with him, I’d just be serving on it unofficially because what kind of horrible wife would I be if I didn’t support my husband in his church assignment? So, still shaking my head, I said, “Fine. Whatever.” Which apparently counts as a YES because we then became the chairs of the Fourth of July breakfast committee.

Brother J’s first act was to get permission from the bishop to spend part of the budget on renting tables and chairs so that we’d have an excuse to serve pancakes again. You might be wondering by now why my husband is so hung up on pancakes. Well, it’s not the pancakes themselves so much, but it’s the principle. Brother J believes in the power of the communal meal. He also believes, rightly, that there’s more opportunity for interacting with the community while you’re standing there grilling pancakes for them instead of shoving half a Costco muffin and a Dixie cup of fruit at them. Plus, it’s tradition. I believe all these things myself, in theory, but in practice it’s turned out to be kind of a nightmare.

In practice, we don’t actually have enough gas griddles to cook pancakes for a thousand people. In practice, much of the ward will be out of town during the Fourth of July (COINCIDENCE?), including about a third of our committee. In practice, we need people to donate 30 watermelons and so far we have five. In practice, my husband thinks that he’s married to a woman who has a flair for entertaining and party planning and can pick up the slack on this Fourth of July breakfast thing when he’s stressed and busy at work and has enough to think about with all this table-renting and griddle-begging and Google Doc sign-up sheeting and also has to go to Chicago for a week during prime Fourth of July breakfast planning season. I don’t know why my husband always thinks he’s married to this woman when all evidence indicates that he’s only ever been married to me. For twenty years. During which time I have never shown any sort of capacity for putting together so much as a child’s birthday party, let alone a pancake breakfast for the greater metro area. I don’t know what I could have done differently to convince him of my complete ineptitude when it comes to a) leadership and b) social events. I’m just plumb out of ideas.

So church starts at 11 a.m. I woke up at 5 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep because I’m supposed to hold a committee meeting at our house this afternoon, while my husband is still in Chicago, only no one has responded to my e-mails, and I’m not sure how to accomplish the goals he’s set for this meeting he’s not going to be attending. “Finalize a layout for the tables and grills and identify gaps in resources.” Well, I know the gaps in resources. No one wants to bring watermelons, and no one wants to serve pancakes. Also, there are no more gas griddles and no one wants to bring milk, juice, or bananas. As for the layout…I don’t know. I guess…a U-shape might work? You see what I mean about ineptitude? It would never occur to me to put on a pancake breakfast for a thousand people, so I have no idea how to go about it.

So right now I’m trying to print out the pages of the Google Doc we set up so people could sign up online to bring food or volunteer for a shift because the e-mail linking to the Google Doc and begging (more) people to help (more) that was supposed to go out this week didn’t go out. I sent a draft of the e-mail to the first counselor or second counselor or whoever for bishopric approval on Friday morning, and I reckon they’ll deal with it in ward council this morning, so maybe it will go out today or whatever. I don’t care. At this point I’m like Moroni leading the wicked Nephites into battle in the final chapters of the Book of Mormon–not because the ward is wicked or because I’m particularly like Moroni except in this one respect: I am without hope. I’m trying not to think what I do think, which is that this Fourth of July breakfast is going to be a disaster, because with my husband out of town, I’m the only committee chair available to maintain a positive attitude. It’s hard because my husband is the optimist in this partnership, and I’m really only good at seeing how things can go wrong and very bad at unseeing it.

The good news is that this Fourth of July breakfast may be such a thorough disaster that the ward will give up on the tradition altogether, and next year I can sleep in on the anniversary of our country’s birth and eat yogurt for breakfast and never have to worry about serving on any kind of committee ever again. It’s also possible that I’ll buy a one-way ticket to Canada in the next ten days and no one will ever find me.

Comments

  1. Well done! Hilarious because it is so true! I think all of us have felt this to some degree at one time or another. But seriously, it is activities like this that suck the Christ out of Christian or out of The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS faster than even Friends of Scouting. Why do we even do this stuff?

  2. lehcarjt says:

    Love It! I’ve done a bunch of big church and school meals. The way to run a successful event is to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and then either make adjustments so it can’t happen or have a plan in case it does. (Pessimism is your friend) Also, spreadsheets. Lots and lots of spreadsheets.

    You might think of looking into precooking/freezing some of the pancakes. I’ve never tried it, but someone once told me it works.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  3. I’m so sorry. Time to call your visiting and home teachers and rally the troops? Schedule a massage for July 5 and hope you survive!

  4. The proudest I’ve ever been of my parents was when they laughed at their bishop after he asked them to be in charge of building the ward’s Pioneer Day float.

  5. Pancakes freeze really well, my family reheats them in the toaster, which may not work so well for this event.

    I lay them out in a single layer, cover with freezer paper and do another layer. I’ve frozen them up to 4 deep that way and they all toasted up great, in case anyone is interested.

  6. Our ward doesn’t bother us in July, but in MAY? Memorial Day breakfast is the ‘tradition’, and last year, although the hours advertised for it were 8:30 am to 10:30 am, by roughly 8:45 a.m. all the bacon had disappeared, most of the eggs, the ‘good’ fruit (they provided bananas, grapes and watermelon) and all that was left were over-cooked pancakes (bless the Elders – they TRIED), and some soggy bits of stuff that was watermelon and a brown banana or two. We (my neighbors hustled me into going) came at 9 a.m. and were told “Sorry, I guess we didn’t plan for enough food…” Bah! In my ward, which is new(ish) – it’s four years old roughly, there have been an influx of young families. And one thing that seems to be common among them is the fact that nobody appears to teach a kid what sharing is about, or supervise them. So platesful of bacon was wandering off in the hands of a five year old. C’mon Mom, Pop – your tot is NOT that adorable and is likely to be accidently stabbed for their bacon. By an old(ish) crabby old woman who came out to get some prime BACON dang it! The same with eggs. I say serve a plate to the rabble and maybe the food will stretch better. No big containers of eggs and bacon, because why serve platters to pigs?

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Count me on Team Rebecca.

    I’m a counselor in our ward SS presidency, and i just found out a couple of hours ago that we’re in charge of the Labor Day picnic. I wasn’t aware we even had a Labor Day picnic. But for reasons that remain opaque to me, we can’t actually do it on Labor Day. We need to pick a date, Apparently one possibility is July 24. So we might be doing a Labor Day on July 24. Why, you ask? I have no idea.

  8. Chadwick says:

    Our stake normally makes pancakes for the father son camp out. This year they picked them up from IHOP. Everyone in the stake YM presidency said it was hands down worth it. Is that an option?

    I have t had a July 4th breakfast since I left Utah. I’m sorry you got stuck doing something you don’t enjoy.

  9. When I came to Northern Germany, I remembered something about ward breakfasts in my birth ward, so I thought I’d transplant the idea. We always have ours on Good Friday, which is a holiday here. My husband and I used to organize it ourselves, but for family reasons, we had to give it over to the Relief Society. Now they organize it each year. Everybody signs up to bring something. Germans love their bread rolls, so that’s the big thing here instead of pancakes and bacon. Most people buy them, a few bake. There are usually scrambled eggs and hard boiled eggs. Plenty of bread spreads, cold cuts and cheese slices for the bread rolls. Often a fruit salad, sometimes a quiche. Missionaries and missionary couples sometimes bring American sweet rolls. One year, when I was young and energetic, I made American spud nuts (doughnuts.) I didn’t realize that a recipe that calls for ten cups of flour makes a hundred doughnuts. I spent hours deep-frying and glazing, and then only about a third of them got eaten. We had leftovers coming out our ears! Now I usually make my husband’s favourite muffin recipe so that leftovers are both planned for and greatly appreciated. But we only do this breakfast for our ward members, who are scattered around a large geographical area, and we usually get about 60 people attending.

    When I was typing Easter, I made a Freudian typo and called it “Eatser” Weekend. :-)

  10. When Latter-day Saints see each other only at Church they develop a warped sense of reality and erroneous views of other people. It takes seeing each other camping, on service projects and at BBQ’s, dressed in denim and smelling like bacon or wood smoke, to catch the true spirit of the Mormon community.

    It does take a special spirit and a lot of work and thought to put together and get these types of activities to work. I salute those who do it. Food assignments and delegated responsibility help bring out the troops. I just recommend mass quantities of bacon and link sausage. And have adults man the food tables.

  11. “When Latter-day Saints see each other only at Church they develop a warped sense of reality and erroneous views of other people.” What erroneous views are those? Why is our sense of reality warped? What views should we have — what sense of reality?

  12. Bacon (or any other type of protein) for 1,200-1,400 people is not in the budget. Anyway, we don’t have the griddles.

  13. April 2, 2018 = buy plane tickets for the first week of July anywhere but home.

  14. In our ward, the Elders Quorum is responsible for the planning and execution of the Memorial Day Pancake breakfast. When I was EQP, I had to oversee it for four years. The last year I delegated everything and then we took the kids to Niagra Falls over the long holiday weekend, because there was no way in hell I was going to go another year without sleeping in on my day off. Fleeing the country seemed like the appropriate response to someone else’s stupid tradition.

  15. Just say, over my dead and mangled body, NO. It’s liberating. 🍪👑

  16. Mike W. says:

    About “When Latter-day Saints see each other only at Church they develop a warped sense of reality and erroneous views of other people. It takes seeing each other camping, on service projects and at BBQ’s, dressed in denim and smelling like bacon or wood smoke, to catch the true spirit of the Mormon community.”
    —–
    I think there’s a lot of truth to this. I grew up in a ward that had a Father and Son campout every year. It’s now been 8 or 9 years since I have been in a ward that had the Father and Son campout. And on down the list. The social fabric of the ward I am in doesn’t in anyway compare to the social fabric of the ward I grew up in, where activities were numerous. An annual ward canoe trip, for example. Memorable 4th of July picnics. Back then wards had bigger budgets and members could be asked to pitch in funds for their parts in the activity. Now we are reduced to potluck dinners in the cultural hall, more often than not, with very poor attendance. And nothing memorable about it for the young generation. I tried to revive some of these things in my ward. With some modest success. But honestly, I don’t care to try anymore.

  17. An experienced event planner taught me this: Whatever layout you choose make sure you go with double-sided buffets! You can quickly move more people through your line.

  18. Jason K. says:

    Classic RJ. May the fifth of July arrive soon.

  19. RockiesGma says:

    Glory! 1200 people? Even IHOP doesn’t serve that many on Mother’s Day! What’s the matter with your ward?? I guess “trimming excess” doesn’t apply in your area like has in every State and Stake I’ve lived in for over 40 years now. You must live in Utah where you can get away with truly gluttonous stuff like this. I’m so sorry for your stress and hope the very best for you. Your post was hilarious……and painful. Bless your heart! (Gosh my ward has special gluten free bread for the Sacrament. Hope you don’t have to deal with that issue too. And the sugar-free syrup for the diabetics. And the lactose-free milk for those good folks who are intolerant, don’t you know.)

    Hmmm…now that I ponder on it a bit, I think you should email the ward and say that due to insufficient sign-ups everyone attending is asked to bring their own breakfast and something to share. Bring their own utensils and paper goods. You’ll set up tables and chairs. This way they can bring enough for their hungry bears as well as those things their family actually enjoys. Everyone can visit and mingle with each other, share food. You won’t have too much or too little food, and everyone will be happy! Buy a few red, white and blue balloons since you’re not spending budget money on food–it looks festive. And even the grapenuts and seed eaters will be happy. Good luck Rebecca! My heart goes out to you….💕

  20. Angela C says:

    The problem with being assigned to oversee the activity is then being obligated to go to the activity.

  21. Can you buy the same amount of Costco muffins as they did last year, and plan that the line for the pancakes that are made on the few griddles you have will be so long that most people will opt for the muffin?
    This is not a ward activity, it’s a ward service to the community. Do you have a town facebook group on which you could ask for pancake help?
    Good luck to you all. You’re very brave!

  22. Your situation epitomizes the problem with activities that are perceived to be grass roots and are actually top down tradition. What a nightmare! I feel sorry for your pain.

  23. EnglishTeacher says:

    Sounds like a classic case of “maximum effort, minimal fun.” This is my favorite description of (sadly) too many Mormon activities.

  24. Not long ago, we had an excellent motivational activity – or at least it seemed like it would be, and would have been, given the preparation and knowledge of the presenter… but nobody came. I only know this because I’m not counting three of us, the RS presidency who had to be there. I have seen no sign of remorse from anyone. Maybe LDS culture has changed from the glorious event mentality we used to see. Or maybe we just don’t care about the others around us. I keep thinking of Eugene England’s essay on Why the Church is as True as the Gospel, and what he said about the value of serving others different from ourselves, including those we might heartily dislike.

  25. Mike W. says:

    When I used to be more ambitious, I organized a service activity on a Saturday. EQ to help with Habitat for Humanity. I was the only one who showed up. I find that members vote with their feet.

  26. “In practice, we don’t actually have enough gas griddles to cook pancakes for a thousand people.”

    Sounds like an interesting excuse to buy a 90,000 BTU camp chef and 3 burner griddle!

  27. Old Man says:

    Tobia,
    The false impressions we can get from not associating with other members outside of a formal church setting are many and can be extreme. The variations in the lived LDS experience do not appear readily in a formal church setting, we can then appear to each other as drones in a monolithic block. Many of the joys of LDS living come from the richness derived from unique individuals appreciated by the group. This is why family is important. Tragically, you can have a ward with no real sense of community. Activities build community.

    I am an introvert and (like Rebecca) struggle to attend and lead these types of activities. I used to “vote with my feet” and avoid participation. But I know the community is enriched and regenerated by these recreational activities. I now donate money to the ward so they can more effectively plan and carry out these activities. If I was in Rebecca J’s ward, my Camp Chef and spatula would be at her beck and call, and I would be calling butchers and shopping for some “breakfast protein.”

    Rebecca, best of luck my friend!

  28. Mark B. says:

    If you run off to Canada, you’d probably end up in Calgary and end up spending the rest of your life running the Stampede Breakfast for your ward. Like the 4th of July without flags or firecrackers.

  29. Years ago we were members of a stake that had a tradition of an annual Luau…roasted pig in the ground, the whole deal. Every year the chairman of that year’s Luau committee kept a record of what they had done and what they recommended based on what they had learned that year, for the next committee to refer to..
    Then, one year, there was no more Luau. It turns out that the chairman of the committee had written as their recommendation, “Discontinue the tradition of the annual Luau”.

    I don’t know if that committee listed all their reasons why, but it was certainly a relief.

  30. Would the world end if you called it off? Apparently nobody wants to do this, except for the guy who isn’t in town.

    If I were to venture a guess at how much this will cost, I bet it’s more than the annual budget of most of the other programs in the ward. I’d potluck this b*tch, have a deadline for everyone, and if you can’t get a certain amount of food committed in the next two days, call it off.

    Why don’t they use the money for, I don’t know, paying for Girls Camp?

  31. Hedgehog says:

    Good luck and my heartfelt sympathy! My advice… Buy the pancakes. And serve them cold with fruit salad or heat them on a griddle for those prepared to wait for them to warm through.

    “Because I don’t even want to go to the Fourth of July breakfast, let alone be in charge of the Fourth of July breakfast. I don’t want the Fourth of July breakfast to exist or be a thing that I have to support or be in charge of or go to.”
    Pretty much describes that time I was made RS enrichment person!!! And the way I feel about activities in general….

  32. Elaine Davis says:

    Rebecca, This is hillarious. Well, not really funny as your are in distress. But have hope. Most years there was so much donated food left over that we could have feed another 300. Elaine D

  33. Joshua G H. Smith says:

    “Years ago there was a little rule I made for myself that I think is pretty applicable to everyone. A good reason to have a ward activity or a stake activity is because we need it and it will strengthen our families and individuals. A bad reason to have an activity is because it’s a tradition or there’s a certain holiday we have to celebrate. When we talk about gospel patterns, we know the needs. Let’s plan the activities around those needs, and if something was a wonderful activity last year, it doesn’t mean we need to build it into a tradition.” – Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, February 2008 Worldwide Leadership Training

    Not a fan of ward activities on a holiday. Best wishes for what will probably be a bumpy week for you.

  34. We’re fortunate – we’ll have a pancake breakfast, at the chapel, for our ward. Usual sacrament meeting attendance is +/- 150; there will probably be 30 people there. I have to speak for ten minutes. I’m going to rip a few band-aids off.

    If it were a huge event like you’re describing, you couldn’t get me out of my basement with a backhoe.

  35. Stampede breakfast, here, here! Firecrackers are replaced by cowboy garb. Similar problems though.

  36. throwawayaddy says:

    An idea for you that I’ve done myself to get stuff like this rolling:
    Call local food distributors in your area (the wholesalers that sell to restaurants and grocery stores) and ask them for a donation of either (premade frozen) pancakes, cut/frozen fruit, watermelons, sausage, bacon, or whatever they are able to do. Provide a written list/request in addition to the phone call and explain about the neighborhood 4th of July celebration, and you can provide the Tax ID number of the ward to write off their donation. Also say that you’ll have a sign up at the line saying “brought to you by XYZ Food Distributors (and the LDS 2nd Ward)” or something.
    Maybe you’ll have to call the 2 or 3 competing distributors in your area to get everything you need. Arrange to pick it up and have your committee precook everything that needs it and chill or freeze as needed.

    Then call a medium to large catering company and ask for a donation of the use of warming pans, or just burners and Sterno, and you’ll provide aluminum disposable warming pans, etc. Provide the same info as to the wholesaler. Offer to give them a place on the sign, and a place for them to put business cards or flyers.

    Call a party table/chair service and ask for a donation of X tables for the event. Same song and dance about the event. Offer tax ID and an advertising space. If it doesn’t work, have the ward bring tables and chairs from the chapel.

    Once you have a list of what is donated and what you still need, use the ward funds to purchase the difference. Buy food, pans, Sterno, rent tables, whatever.
    If you can scrounge up a big camp griddle from someone in your stake, keep a some bacon and pancake batter on hand to make cooking smells while all the food is served out of the warming pans.

    Enlist all the Boy Scouts in the Stake to setup/takedown/work the food distribution stations, all in their Class-A uniforms. If your ward’s scout program is dysfunctional, call your local BSA council and get the contact info for a local, large, non-LDS troop. Ask them to please do the setup/takedown/serving if they are not planning anything else for the day; scouts of all flavors need to fulfill service hours for advancement, and working a patriotic event for someone else counts. Ask them to bring their troop flag and stand, and a stack of youth and adult BSA enrollment forms and a clipboard. (Scout committees are supposed to looking for ways to increase enrollment for boys and volunteers. You’re giving them a chance to do so.) As a last resort, as the local missionaries to come staff the tables. Get them aprons from ward members and make them serve in their ties/dresses or at least their tags. They often need service hours, and getting out in the public is their job.

    Re table arrangement: your job isn’t too get people through as fast as possible, it’s to make the breakfast station last for several hours or until the end of the event whichever makes more sense. therefore: (1) A single line for hot food service. (2) A single line (maybe back to back with the hot line for cold food service (get in line 2x if you want bananas AND pancakes). (3) and a long table station for condiments with several instances of each type. (4) Staff all the ables with people who will talk to and chit-chat with the eaters while wearing a smiling face and wishing them a happy 4th.

  37. ” Maybe LDS culture has changed from the glorious event mentality we used to see. Or maybe we just don’t care about the others around us. ”

    Or maybe BevP we’re just exhausted with the ever spiraling out of control demands of our hierarchical leadership. We have just started the self reliance program in our stake, a wonderful idea but yet another major program with the attendant committees, commitments, and endless meetings and reports that will be layered onto what we already have. And I have just found out about a renewed commitment to the the just serve program. Yet another wonderful idea with too much attendant baggage that will also be added to everything else. I have a friend who at a very young age was called to the high council. He once told me that he felt like dozens of people were staying up late every night thinking of yet more and more things that he was supposed to do. As someone here on BCC once commented, church leaders see members time as a limitless and free resource for them to do whatever they want to do. But sooner or later even the most faithful either rebel or collapse.

  38. Anonforthis says:

    My small Mormon-heavy town puts on a huge event every year, with a major parade, free lunch, a park full of booths, entertainment, a race, etc. etc. We get huge crowds–several times as many people as actually live in our town.

    No one except the small team that plans the event has any idea of how much time the team puts into it. My guess is that each team member puts in at least 100 hours each year. The man or woman who oversees the team puts in significantly more time. I’ve been in charge of the parade portion for the last 3 years. It was a thankless, difficult job. It’s entirely volunteer; I never even received a gift card or public thanks for my time. This year I quit, and although I’ll provide some guidance to my replacement, and will be happy to help out on the day of, I’m done with being the guy in charge of the parade. It’s just not worth it. I’ve been volunteering elsewhere instead, and find my current volunteer activities to be a better use of my time.

    If you participate in activities like this, be sure to thank the organizers. They sacrifice a lot of time and often get very little in return.

  39. Not a Cougar says:

    Mike W, your story is all too common. We Mormons talk a big game, but when it comes to service projects like you planned, I personally find that, as a people, we’re no better or worse than most other churches or civic associations (at least the ones that aren’t specifically service project-oriented). Hopefully others’ mileage may vary greatly.

  40. My ward does a July 4 pancake breakfast (organized by the bishopric). No thank you. Hot and humid. Too many people. I will sleep on and then get up to have cold, juicy breakfast and stay inside all day.

    Ditto for the annual stake “pioneer day” celebration.

  41. east of the mississippi says:

    My philosophy is… he who desires to have such an activity… can be the one who organizes and plans it…

  42. So fun to read.

    Here is what I would do.

    If I

  43. The Other Aussie Mormon says:

    Throawayaddy

    You make it sound so simple.

  44. Kelly McKissick says:

    The author and I are one and the same in deed and thought.

  45. We have just started the self reliance program in our stake, a wonderful idea but yet another major program with the attendant committees, commitments, and endless meetings and reports that will be layered onto what we already have.

    I hope this works. I was asked to be a part of the first round of training with an eye to facilitating one of the groups in my stake. They let me know about the first training 2 days in advance, and I did not drop everything I already had planned to attend. I went to the next one, and found that the “teaching” program for the group facilitators concentrated very heavily on following the bullet points in the manual and controlling the conversation carefully so that the schedule (and each step in the meticulously-planned meeting agenda) was followed by the minute. I then discovered in the breakouts that the stake coordinators had already pre-notified the folks that they really wanted to facilitate the groups, so I shrugged and went home.

    A few weeks later that stake coordinator emailed me to ask if I’d be willing to come in for the next round of group establishments. I responded that if they had an assignment for me, I’d be happy to help, but if I was being asked to come in only to find that they’d already made their choices, I’d prefer not to participate. I never heard back from them.

    This is all part of my subtle plan to never be called to a stake position. :)

  46. another anon says:

    It’s still a common thing in the mormon corridor for wards/stakes to put together floats for parades. These are elaborate floats that take tons of hours to put together. Like most anything else in the church, people are given a calling to put these together. A friend of mine was given that calling once–he later said that he spent basically every evening and most of weekend time for weeks on end working on this thing.

    I’m all for civic pride. But why is this ecclesiastical? Helping widows or serving the poor or teaching a class or even (heaven forbid) playing with their kids after work. These things are all obviously Jesus-y. If you want to invoke my baptismal covenants and ask me to do them, ok.

    But putting together a float for a parade (or putting on a breakfast for a community event, or ____)? Good things, all. But there are a lot of good things in the community. Making them callings (and–let’s be honest–effectively removing the concept of choice from people who get the short end of an individualized bishopric interview) seems a little off to me sometimes. Why can’t we just ask for volunteers for this sort of thing and leave it at that?

  47. So, how did it turn out?

  48. Mike W. says:

    I didn’t attend my ward’s 4th breakfast. My wife says they ran out of sausage and bacon. And my young daughter reported taking 5 pieces of bacon for herself.