Ministry Gatherings
When I was a youngster, we called it “Ward Teaching” or, in Cambridge, Branch Teaching. The community grapevine says it used to be “Block Teaching,” before that, perhaps harking back to the days when most communities of Latter-day Saints had been designed on Brigham’s Cartesian model. Back in the Sixties, the Brethren tried to rename it “Priesthoood Watchcare,”" but I don’t recall hearing the term used spontaneously. Most of my life, it’s been “Home Teaching.” When Russell M Nelson became President of the Church, one of his first “adjustments” gave it a new but ancient name: “Ministering.”

My earliest practical training in Priesthood service came in my teen years, as I was assigned to visit every month in the homes of fellow San Bernardino congregants in the company of “senior companions,” including Keith and Kenny Skousen. As a senior companion, I’d take my own young sons along, and sometimes (stretching the rules a bit) even my daughters. In New England, the priesthood tended to be stretched more thinly* than in Utah.

Always tried to carry out this duty responsibly, and had some memorable and rewarding experiences in it. Did report earlier that I’d been briefly assigned to visit Hal Eyring, now of the First Presidency, when we were both students in Cambridge. Can’t claim to have rendered him any particularly signal service, but it makes for a pleasant reminiscence. Thought I’d also mentioned that Bishop Bert van Uitert accused me in public of cheating, as I had the nerve to make friends of my assigned families. Apparently not, though, inasmuch as my computer’s “search” function couldn’t locate the reference.

Also can’t find where I recorded the episode where I went home teaching the night before I left San Bernardino for my first mission. I think Brent may have been my companion. When we knocked on the door of the Mount household, Brother Mount greeted us in great distress, saying that his wife (I no longer recall the given name of either) was dreadfully sick with shingles. That the medicine the doctor gave her helped some; so, she took more, and was now much worse, likely on account of the overdose. We anointed her and prayed over her, as we’ve been instructed to do. Then I left town, only to receive the next day in Salt Lake a long-distance phone call (that was a much bigger deal in those days) from her husband, reporting that she had arisen that morning without symptoms. That was the first time that I was conscious of having conferred a benefit upon anybody in the exercise of my priesthood. The experience sobered me, and since then I’ve been blessed with many similar tender mercies.

And I recall with pleasure and amusement taking a Catholic priest in his Roman collar on a home teaching visit to Tom and Pam Eagar and their kids in Belmont, so that Father George could see how we handled “pastoral visitation”.
*There was a time in the Cambridge Ward that I was assigned to visit eleven households, scattered across three Massachusetts counties.
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