Guest Post: Being Released from my Calling Because of the Pandemic
Guest Post by Piper Anderson
I was released as Young Womens president, because I found myself in a sort of catch-22 caused by Covid-19.
I have believed for decades that young women should be doing activities that are on-par in cost and time investment with activities the boys do. I’ve been lucky during my time as young women president to have bishops that agreed with me on that subject so we’ve been able to do lots of good exciting things.
The primary trouble I faced most often was my own lacking experience. Having never done high adventure activities myself as a youth, figuring out how to do those things was a barrier we had to overcome in providing those activities to the girls.
However, this year we’re in a global pandemic and my bishop and I no longer saw eye to eye. He felt that the youth needed more activities, bigger activities, and zero online activities.
He doesn’t see the pandemic as a big threat and, admittedly, lots of teens are currently starved for interaction. Zoom fatigue is real, and it is hard to generate engaging activities done at home over a video call. He felt that the ‘home-centered, church-supported’ catchphrase was missing the ‘church support’ without substantial, in-person activities.
On the other hand, I do see the pandemic as a big threat. I thought the ‘church support’ could be provided to the youth with care packages, personalized attention, facilitating online interaction, and *maybe* a few carefully planned outdoor activities while case numbers were low.
This diverging worldview is how I ended up being responsible for the girls playing Scattergories over Zoom while the boys went on campouts, go-karting and similar activities. If I could have changed his mind I would have.
There were a few activities where I sent my less-cautious counselors to run activities without me, but I still felt awful about it. Here I was making plans and sending out emails encouraging parents to send their daughters to activities that I personally refused to attend because I didn’t think they were safe enough.
My options were to have the big activities and expose myself and the girls I loved to unacceptable levels of risk, or to insist on low-risk activities and be the cause of the exact sort of sexist imbalance that nearly drove me out of the church as a young adult.
I dropped all this on the Bishop’s lap a few months ago. He asked if I was requesting a release. I explained that I didn’t want to be released, but wanted to make sure he understood the way I saw things and the sort of conflict I was dealing with. I left it up to him. I was close to having been in the calling for the traditional three years, and planning for next year’s activities and Girls Camp was starting soon, so I was unsurprised when he opted to release me.
I moped for a week or so when he let me know his decision, but was surprised how much it stung when it actually happened a few weeks later.
I really loved that calling, and I hate how it ended.