The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints organizes its members into congregations, or "wards," which are determined by the geographic location of the members' homes. A "bishopric," which consists of a bishop and two counselors, presides over each of these wards. A ward executive secretary serves as an assistant to this bishopric.
Leadership positions in the LDS church are not paid; therefore, practically all leaders juggle full-time jobs with their church responsibilities. The bishop is responsible for the well-being of the entire ward; therefore, he spends the majority of his church time dealing directly with members. As a result, the ward executive secretary carries the responsibility of helping manage the bishop's time. This role is similar to that of an executive assistant in a corporate setting.
Church leaders appoint members to all LDS leadership roles, or "callings." For this particular calling, it is the bishop who appoints the executive secretary. In addition, only male members of the church may serve in the bishopric, so a male member also fills the executive secretary position.
Meetings and Appointments
A primary duty of the executive secretary is maintaining the bishop's calendar. This includes scheduling meetings with ward members who have requested a meeting or whom the bishop has a requested to meet with. Scheduling and coordinating group meetings, as well as helping set agendas, also is a main responsibility. Practically all meetings are in reference to serving ward members, whether individuals or groups, such as youth, women or even the ward as a whole.
Coordinating with Other Leaders
The ward executive secretary also communicates with other leaders in the ward and the stake, which consists of several area wards. Ward leadership includes presidencies for specific groups, including Relief Society (women) and Primary (children). The secretary shares information with these groups, coordinates among them and helps find opportunities for these groups to work together in serving members. The executive secretary keeps in contact with the stake leadership in high-level matters.
An LDS ward executive secretary does carry many responsibilities; however, the underlying obligation is to serve the members of his ward. The bishop and his counselors try to accommodate all needs, and the secretary is often the first point of contact for many ward members who need counsel or assistance. His unofficial job often is to listen, be compassionate, and take these members' concerns to the bishopric so these leaders are prepared with the information they need to do their jobs effectively.