When I first saw this photo, I spotted my great-grandparents right away. They are on the far right – Claude & Blanche Ellis. But I didn’t recognize anyone else. I’m glad Great-Grandma Ellis added this note – “Ben Lomond Stake High Priest Pres. and Secy.”. That probably didn’t clear anything up for most of my readers though. 😉
My great-grandparents and I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In our church, we all serve in what we refer to as callings. Those callings change regularly so we each have different opportunities to learn and grow in different ways. There are callings for all sorts of things – teaching young children in their Primary class, leading the music in Sacrament Meeting, working with Cub Scouts during the week, and on and on it goes.
My Great-Grandpa Ellis must have been serving as the Secretary to the Stake High Priest Presidency. That isn’t a calling anymore so I’m not entirely sure what he would have been doing. But I can add a few insights.
Our church is organized into “Wards” and “Stakes”. Wards are the local congregation organized by geographic boundaries – this is the group of people who attend church together every week. Stakes are the next larger unit and contain a number of Wards. There is no set number of Wards in a Stake. In my current Stake, we have 9 Wards and 1 Branch (A small group, smaller than a Ward. Our Branch consists of elderly church members who live in an assisted living facility). About 13 years ago, the Stake we lived in had 20 Wards. That is the largest Stake I have ever heard of and the smallest I have ever heard of had 6 wards.
High Priests are an office in the Priesthood. The Priesthood is the power and authority of God, the power by which He created and governs the heavens and the earth. You can learn more about the priesthood here. And if you are the kind of person who learns through stories – here is a video that shares the true story of one young man who used the Priesthood to help another young man.
So back to the photo. This photo includes four men who served together in a Presidency as their church calling. They also included their wives in the photo. If you are wondering if it was common practice to take a photo with those you serve with – it is not. This is the first I have ever seen. But it inspired me to take my own photo last summer when some changes were made to my presidency.
At the time I was serving as the Stake Primary President. That means that I was responsible for all children ages 18 months to 11 years old in my Stake and their leaders and teachers. For two wonderful years, I served with three women whom I dearly love. Then the boundaries of our Stake changed and two of those women were no longer in our Stake. At our last Presidency meeting right after the change, I asked if they would be willing to take a quick photo together. I’m so glad we did! I’m thankful that this photo with my great-grandparents inspired me to preserve a bit of my story by taking a photo with my awesome presidency.
We learned so much together during our two years and I love this photo! My first counselor and I were still in our Stake after the boundary change and we continued to serve with two other, equally wonderful, women in our Presidency. Then about six months later, my first counselor and I were released and we passed the baton to the next presidency.
Back to that old photo up there. Great-Grandma Ellis labeled the photo this way: Front, l-r: Mrs. Berryessa, Inez Spackman, Laura Fox, Blanche Ellis; Back, l-r: Mr. Berryessa, Parley Spackman, O.J. Fox, Claude Ellis.
I’m guessing that she could no longer recall the first names of the Berryessas when she created this album. I bet she would totally dig this whole Google-thing we have going on today. Thankfully, they were pretty easy to find on FamilySearch. I think I found everyone and got this photo attached properly. Feel free to check my work!
This photo comes from the thirty-seventh page of the album. Here are pages thirty-six and thirty-seven to give context for this photo:
This post is part of a series sharing this wonderful old family photo album. You can learn more about the album here.