In the Worldwide Church of God, serving was considered very important and a way to receive a good reward in the Kingdom someday; therefore, members were given various “important duties” or jobs to “serve on.” Being taken off these duties was usually quite a blow to one’s ego. Little did we realize that these assigned duties were just an easy way for the ministers to have somebody do the work for them for free. This article will list many of these “important duties.” All titles of duties may not be exact.
“In charge of the cloak room” was what most men got a chance at, especially if they were new members. I’m not sure exactly what they did except hang up coats and make sure someone didn’t steal a coat.
“Child Control” was where small children had to be watched and gotten under control by bringing them straight to their parents if they were caught running around, or doing some other kind of mischief. If the child was too noisy in his seat, the parent was instructed to “take him out.”
“Blinking the lights” to show that services were about to begin was very important. Otherwise people would keep on talking and not sit down on time.
“Attendance Takers” had to walk beside each row of seats, paper and pencil in hand, counting all who were there, and noticing who was absent. Once finished, they would retreat to the back of the hall and compare numbers. If they each had a different head count, they would go through the whole tally again with a more determined look on their faces. If you were absent more than two Sabbaths in a row, the minister called to ask “what the problem was.”
“Setting up and taking down chairs” required one to arrive long before the rest of the members and to stay over an hour after services. It could be annoying if you were visiting with another member and one of these men tried to fold the chair you were sitting on. If members met in a movie theater, they didn’t have this duty.
“Ushers” were very important, especially at the feast, and wore an “Usher” badge. They were always busy during that time making sure the ministers had the front row seats. On Passover they had to make sure that each family (or person) was seated evenly in rows, instead of letting people sit where they wanted to. They also were to arise, military fashion, to usher everyone out, row by row, for the foot washing, and then for dismissal of the service. Otherwise, things wouldn’t be done “decently and in order.” At other times of the year, ushers would bring any late comers to the service up front, close to where the minister was speaking, where they would learn their lesson and not show up late anymore. If anyone was late for Passover, however, they made sure the door was locked and no one could get in. At Bible studies they held the doorknob until the minister had finished with his prayer, then people could get in.
“Tape Library” involved keeping track of, and filing, all the sermonette and sermon tapes. These ladies recorded which member checked out a tape on what date, the title, and if/when they brought it back.
“Sound system/Copying the tapes” was usually assigned to a man with some type of electronic ability. He sat in the back, alone at his table, with a big copying machine, looking very prestigious. He never got to visit with anyone after services, and you weren’t supposed to bother him when he was busy, which looked like most of the time. If the sermon was not to be let out, he let the tape library know that the tape was “unavailable due to difficulties in copying.”
“Parking Crew” told members where to park every Sabbath and every holy day. They usually wore big smiles while they helped people figure out how and where to park their cars (usually where they didn’t want to park them) and even when to step on their brakes. The more rebellious members didn’t pay any attention to them and picked the spot they wanted. These men were responsible for making sure nobody broke into the cars during services. The parking crew had flashlights and wore neon safety vests. They were always waving their flashlights and making exaggerated motions. You had to look out for them, as they would wave their arms around like they were parking a 747 jumbo jet instead of a car, and then point you to the spot where they wanted you to park with their fluorescent flashlight–and they would do it with such authority.
“In charge of making the coffee” was important for all the caffeine addicts. The deaconesses had to make sure she got the minister’s coffee ready, and that it was prepared exactly the way he liked it, as soon as he walked into the hall. In fact, she had to make sure the minister had all of his favorite beverages and breakfast foods when he strolled in. One morning when there wasn’t any orange juice, someone actually ran out to buy some. (This kind of “ox-in-the ditch” situation was okay on the Sabbath, as long as it was needed for the minister.)
“In charge of making sure cold water was provided on the lectern” was handled by the deacons and was very important in case the minister got thirsty while he was giving his sermon. The man who gave the sermonette was not supposed to drink this water, but sometimes he did.
“In charge of lost and found” was the person who kept the lost and found items under lock and key in the back of the hall, behind a closed door, or behind a cupboard door. People had to get permission from this individual in order for him to go unlock the room (or the cupboard) in order for you to retrieve something. No one could just rummage through the box on their own.
“Bathroom Monitors” made sure there was enough toilet paper and paper towels in the bathroom, noted if any of the toilets were plugged up, and watched you wash your hands. They cleaned the facility after everyone left. In the early years they were referred to as the lady “in charge of emptying the paper bag.” If the door was off the hinges (which it was one week), a deacon’s wife was assigned to “guard the door” and let ladies know there was only a curtain. (In some areas this was called being “in charge of the paper bag” in the ladies’ restroom.)
“Nursery Attendant” (or “Mother in Charge”) was responsible for setting up the diaper changing tables (usually on whatever kind of table they could find available) and make sure nursery supplies and diaper wipes didn’t run out. They had to sit in the nursery (or “baby room”) the entire service and couldn’t hear the sermon, unless it was piped in. They were also to make sure the other mothers kept the noise level down so they didn’t disturb the services (which in some cases was way down the hall). Otherwise, a hall monitor would step in.
“Hall Monitor” was a deacon who scrutinized anyone that looked suspicious in the halls. He took note of who was in the hall (when they should have been in services) and made sure they had a good excuse to leave their seats. He made sure nobody loitered in the halls during the service, and saw to it that your child went to the bathroom, didn’t stay too long, and returned to services.
“Working in the kitchen” was a duty for the women who were to prepare the meals on the holy days and during the socials. They usually were very busy, sometimes flustered, and moved fast. There were other duties which were related to the kitchen, such as “cutting the brownies,” “taking the lid off the sandwich containers,” and “laying out the napkins and plastic ware.” Some had the elevated position of instructing women how to “mix punch properly.”
“Concession” duty involved dishing up food to members and their children who came to the sports events on Sunday. People formed a line and told the concession workers what they wanted, who then ladled it on their plates. Other ladies took the money and made change. If there wasn’t enough food and soda left over after they served everyone else, it was just too bad.
“Answering the phone” was only assigned at the Feast of Tabernacles and the women who were on this had to answer all the phone calls that came in during the specific time they were on duty–which was usually at a time that prevented them from eating with their family, or being with their family, especially if it was late at night. A thick instruction book which showed exactly how to answer callers was passed out ahead of time. The list had emergency procedures to follow in case a threat was received, or an unconverted mate called. No one was allowed in this room with the one taking the calls. If you dared to answer some of calls in your own individual way, you might have had more fun with this job.
“Information booth” was for those who were to give out information to those at the feast and to be in charge of the pamphlets on the table. Usually the question answered most frequently was, “Where is the restroom?”
“Typing” was given to those who were to type up the announcements that were given to the speakers at the feast. This job always seemed to be done at the last minute, so if the lady on this duty couldn’t figure out quickly enough how everything on the electric typewriter worked, they took her off from it and stuck her back on “information booth.”
“Security” was for those men who were to “guard” the facility and report to the ministers any suspicious people who looked like they weren’t supposed to be there, or who were stirring up trouble. They had to wear an identification badge that said “Security.” Some men were on this pretty regularly and it required that they had to be there one hour before and after services. Outside the building they were to be on the lookout for “dissidents,” the disfellowshipped, or the “uninvited” who showed up, such as: angry, unconverted mates wanting to barge into services; the newspaper press or police coming to interview or take pictures; someone attempting to come inside with a gun, or someone waving a gun inside the building. A list of “police” procedures were passed out to help know what to do in case of each of these emergencies. (One thought: If we were all Christians, why did we need our own police force anyway?) At the Feast of Tabernacles they also had the very important job of “guarding” Herbert Armstrong and/or Garner Ted Armstrong’s jet plane, if they happened to fly to our site. Of course, the security crew were the ones who picked up all the trash between the seats. The ministers used to ask for people to volunteer to do this, but nobody wanted to be part of the “Trash Pick-up Crew,” so they finally quit asking for volunteers and just made it part of the Security crew’s duty.
“Helping the elderly/handicapped” was a high privilege and consisted of opening the car doors and helping the elderly/handicapped into the building.
“Drivers” were assigned to drive members who had no car and/or couldn’t get to services due to their unconverted mate having the car. They were even assigned to drive elderly members long distances to and from services and late at night for Bible studies. Sometimes they had to drive these people to the feast and back.
“Greeters” had the job of shaking hands with every member and child who came through the door before services. They wore a name badge. They were to make sure they were always smiling and friendly. They also screened certain individuals (uninvited, unconverted, passerby on the street, etc.) so that not just anyone could slip into services. If they didn’t recognize someone, they would ask them questions, and let them know that services were “not open to the public.”
“In charge of the ceiling fans” was necessary to make sure enough air was circulating. However, in some buildings there wasn’t much, if any, fans, because members met in such places as roller skating rinks, basements of Masonic buildings, movie theaters, bridge clubs, etc.)
“In charge of setting and adjusting the thermostat” (for the air conditioning and/or heating) An elder or deacon was in charge of this. Many times it didn’t seem like either system was working very well. The men who had this job gave the impression that they were quite knowledgeable. As a side note, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw a former WCG member a couple of years ago, who had left the WCG and started attending a Christian church. He had always been in charge of the thermostat in our congregation. He didn’t spot me, and I didn’t recognize him at first, but it appeared that he was now working in the building which was connected to his church–and which opens its rooms for the public to meet for various classes. And what was he doing? Adjusting the thermostat.
By D. M. Williams and Lindsey A.
Exit & Support Network™
July 22, 2009
Note: While we may smile or even laugh at some of these “duties” that we thought were so important, it also can be sad to think about how the members were used and exploited when their only desire was to serve God and love their brethren.