Callings: Worldwide Service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Callings make up the Church. Stakes, wards, Primaries, Relief Societies, and missions are all made up of people performing their callings. The church couldn’t function without people serving in these capacities. The fact that a major amount of the work in the church is done by volunteers is a unique part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To explore members and the relationship to their callings is to explore the very fabric of what it is to be a Mormon.
Church callings have a powerful effect on people. Many people talk about how their church callings teach them about patience and how to work. It teaches people about self-sacrifice. There is such passion. There is such sacrifice to work so hard on something that only helps others. To perform one’s simple calling is to do the ultimate act of self-sacrifice. There are of course many different types of callings ranging from centerpiece committee to Prophet, Seer and Revelator. But all callings are viewed as equal in the eyes of God.
In the Doctrine and Covenants 84:108–110 Jesus tells the apostles of the importance of all callings in the church.
Behold, this is the way that mine apostles, in ancient days, built up my church unto me. Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling; and let not the head say unto the feet it hath no need of the feet; for without the feet how shall the body be able to stand? Also the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.
All callings are valued and all callings are important. It is imperative that people do their callings so that “all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.”
To do this exploration of people and their church callings I did two things: I interviewed people about their callings and I photographed them fulfilling their callings. To guide my photography of a religion I used medieval tapestries and stained glass as references. I love the quiet piety of those 15th century works. As in medieval art, I tried to use gesture as much as facial expressions to show connection and feeling between the people in the photographs. In the interviews you can see the complexities of their callings and their lives. You can see the role the church plays in each person’s life.
Over the course of seven years Callings was photographed in Ghana, Sweden, Scotland, Mexico, Utah, New York, California, France and Cambodia. The experience was intense. It was almost surreal to fly from country to country to see and talk to so many dedicated and kind members about their church. Some of the finest people in this world are members of the church. I hope that the photographs and interviews encapsulate some of that feeling and experience.