Monday, March 23, 2015

February Montgomery Zone Conference

Note about the coverage of the February zone conferences...

Our photographer had some other critical responsibilities during the Bessemer and Birmingham Zone Conferences and was not able to capture those on film.  As a result, we're only able to bring you photos from the Tupelo, Montgomery, and Huntsville Zone conferences.  Many apologies!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Senior Spotlight: The Hepworths – serving an extended mission in Camden, AL

Although Elder and Sister Hepworth were originally called to serve a 12 month, Member and Leadership Support (MLS) mission in Camden, AL, they extended their mission another six months in October 2014. 

Why?  “Because we felt we were needed here more than at home,” says Sister Hepworth.

This is not to say that they do not miss their five children and 18 grandchildren mightily, but with technology it seems that all things are possible.  From weekly family blog entries to regularly scheduled Facetime and Skype conversations, they are able to keep up with events at home just as well as if they were back in Centerville, UT. 

 At the close of a mission well-served, The Hepworths can look back to the start of their assignment to serve among the 1,900 people in this rural Alabama town from the beginning: a “self-designed mission” that reflected their own skills and talents as measured against the needs of the small Camden Branch.  Never, in all the callings that they have served in, have they felt as challenged or as fulfilled as they have in the many responsibilities they have undertaken. 

As just one of many instances, Sister Hepworth gave up playing the piano more than 25 years ago, simply because there were so many very gifted pianists in the wards they’d lived in – whether in Utah or in Portland, Oregon.  Yet, upon attending the first Sacrament meeting and finding that the music was provided by a CD Player, she knew immediately that she could no longer hide that particular talent under a bushel.

 Sister Hepworth’s Church service experience was almost precisely mirrored by her opportunities in Camden: as a former Primary President, she was able to help meet the needs of the Branch’s children; as a former Young Women’s President, she could assist in their further development; her service in Stake Relief Society Presidencies helped bring a renewed sense of sisterly kindness, charity and service – not only among the Branch members but others in the community. 

In fact, townspeople of different faiths and experiences have often referred to them as “Our town’s missionaries” when speaking of the Hepworths to visitors.  Small wonder, then, that when three of the Hepworth’s daughters visited recently, they were embraced and “nearly formally adopted” at the close of a three day trip.  The wonderful, plain-spoken and open people of Camden were “amazing” in how quickly they embraced The Hepworths as “immediate family.”  With quiet humor, Sister Hepworth compared the fixation that Relief Society sisters out West sometimes have with ensuring that the table napkins match perfectly to the simple, wonderful and loving character that she found in this little branch - just enjoying each others’ company, while working toward a common good.

Elder Hepworth’s previous Church service similarly prepared him to maximize his impact: everything from early morning Seminary teaching, Young Men President, three different High Councils to five years as a Bishop all gave him experience that would be for others’ good.  Yet, the most impact that their previous service provided to the Branch was their service as Temple Ordinance workers.  A concentration – in cooperation with two-time Branch President McIntosh - on Family History work led to much activity and activation, with one sister having recently completed the indexing of over 22,000 names; for others, it meant considerably increased temple attendance in spite of the 300 miles roundtrip.

At bottom, however, the Camden Branch didn’t grow and prosper the lives of the Saints there because of the Hepworths.  “All we did is help make ideas happen,” says Sister Hepworth.  She was quick to point out how Church members in this tiny branch already were leading the community – everywhere from the five year old who decided to take them to school as “Show and Tell” to the 17 year old President of the Student Body at the Wilkins County High School – who also leads the school’s chapel and prayer session each morning.

The difficulty that the Hepworths will have in early March will be to pull themselves away from these people that they have grown so much to love over the past 18 months; it will be compounded by the attempts by the Branch to keep their arms around them so they can’t leave.