Dear Sister Cahoon,
I have been called as a visiting teaching leader in our ward. Our president has made all the changes without me there and tells me that she is responsible for this and all I have to do is collect the figures and give a short message to the sisters in Relief Society a few times a month. I always thought there was more to this calling. Can you please put my mind at ease. Thank you.
The calling of visiting teaching leader is one of the more flexible callings, and your duties will depend greatly upon the needs and wants of your Relief Society president.
Quoting from the Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2, Section 3, page 199, “The visiting teaching leader…works under the direction of the Relief Society president…(she) helps the Relief Society president coordinate visiting teaching and make sure it is done effectively. If…supervisors have been called, she also coordinates this work with them. She receives monthly report of visits or other contacts that visiting teachers have made. She also may help prepare the monthly visiting teaching report…She ensures all visiting teachers have access to a copy of the visiting teaching messages…she helps the presidency plan an annual visiting teaching workshop.”
On the topic of making visiting teaching assignments, some Relief Society presidents choose to handle this responsibility alone, while others discuss all changes within the presidency, as suggested in the handbook. Others utilize the visiting teaching leader to assist in making changes. Ultimately, it is up to the Relief Society president and Bishop to determine how visiting teaching is to be accomplished in each ward.
Perhaps you have ideas for improving visiting teaching in your ward. I encourage you to prayerfully consider how you might be able to contribute. Then sit down with your Relief Society president and discuss your ideas. There are numerous possibilities: printing up and distributing changes in assignments, creating a monthly flyer devoted to visiting teaching, offering an occasional message on visiting teaching during a church meeting, organizing visiting teaching interviews, organizing the visiting teaching workshop — the list goes on and on.
In many wards, the visiting teaching leader is responsible for a route comprised of sisters who receive a monthly mailing rather than a traditional visit or telephone call. Discuss the names on this list with your Relief Society president, and if necessary, seek counsel from your bishop. With the approval of your leaders, you might try contacting these less-active sisters by phone. Often, a less-active sister is ready to return to church but doesn’t quite know how to do it. Perhaps you could be an instrument in Heavenly Father’s hand in reminding the less-active that they are loved and wanted at church. Again, follow the guidance of your leaders and the Spirit in all that you do.
Perhaps you have information about companionships that raises concerns about the assignments that have been made. Organizing routes is an enormous job, and sometimes there are oversights. Let the Relief Society president know if you see problems in assignments (day/night conflict, two sisters visiting teaching each other, etc.). If a sister brings a concern or complaint about visiting teaching to you, pass it along to the Relief Society president and trust her to determine how to proceed.
Don’t underestimate the importance of compiling the visiting teaching report at the end of each month. While reports are not perfect, they do give indications of whether or not companionships are working and of the general level of dedication of the sisters to fulfilling their visiting teaching assignments. This information is of great value to the leaders who receive it.
I am grateful for your desire to serve! Put your mind at ease, and serve as guided by your Relief Society president and the Spirit. I promise you will be blessed to see tiny miracles as you become better acquainted with the sisters and serve to the best of your ability. Visiting teaching is truly a way for us to do Heavenly Father’s work, and His hand is evident in the great things that come to pass through this inspired program.