That is how it can be done if your ward Relief Society has an email group in place. It can be used for Relief Society announcements, baptisms, compassionate service, temple assignments, change of plans with a current activity or for emergencies. It is the best thing since sliced bread.
In my ward I am the moderator for our ward Relief Society email group. It isn’t an official calling, it is just something that was started to help better serve the ward. We use YahooGroups, but there is also GoogleGroups. It has been a great tool in our ward for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost is the compassionate service that is taken care of in our ward in a matter of hours. For example, in our ward, someone passed away this past summer. We used the email group to not only announce the passing but to get the food assignments organized and fulfilled in a matter of hours instead of waiting until the coming Sunday and pass around the sign-up sheet. It nearly eliminates the need for phone calls too. There are many people who don’t have email and would like to serve. We know who those are in the ward and make sure they are offered by a phone call if they can contribute. You can even put the list of those people and their numbers in a thread. All in all, most families in the ward have email.
It can take some convincing of sisters to use this new tool and possibly your bishop, which is what it took in our ward. Once we had some bylaws (see below) put in place, which are sent out quarterly (and to new group members) as a reminder and have a willing moderator to take charge, it’s truly wonderful. Several things I need to stress: you should get your bishop’s approval before attempting this on your own. Explain the benefits and that it won’t just run on its own that there will be a moderator. This is also NOT endorsed by the church. We just happen to be sisters that belong to the same ward, with the same interests and beliefs, that belong to the email group who serve each other.
YahooGroups has many options to enhance or restrict its members. You can control who is moderated individually to approve ‘their’ messages before they go to the email group, sometimes this is just necessary. And the members do not know they are ‘being watched’, it’s completely confidential. All messages are also archived to view online as a forum, accessible outside your email. So you’ll need to ensure that its set to private and that the moderator reviews each request to join, and only approves members of your Relief Society.
Where I live in the Southern California mountains, our ward has had to evacuate twice since 2003 due to fires. We used the email group to ‘chat with each other’ while we were off the mountain since you are able to check email anywhere. We knew who stayed and who left and we were able to stay in touch. There was some comfort in that during a stressful time that we knew what was going on with members of our ward family.
I mentioned bylaws earlier. This is extremely important. Here is a sample of what our ward’s email bylaws are:
Please refrain from sending the following to the Relief Society Group email:
- No email ‘forwarding’, spam, petitions or chain letters
- No virus warnings
- No solicitation of business
- No politics
- No posting of ‘service needs’. Notify the RS Presidency & they will take care of that (see below).
We do this because we want to keep this group streamlined for items pertaining to the ward and sisters of the ward. Most ‘warning’ emails you get are usually hoaxes and can be verified for personal use on www.snopes.com. If you or those you visit teach need assistance—and that can be anything from meals brought in, help moving, assistance with loved ones or help of any kind, these requests need to go through our Relief Society Presidency. This organization has been established to make those kinds of decisions. We aren’t saying those requests won’t be put on the email list, but they need to come from the Relief Society Presidency or with their permission. When those requests are made on the email list without their knowledge, they are instantly pulled out of the loop. The Relief Society has resources that can better any situation that we aren’t even aware of and some of those requests may not even need to be made on the email list.
This has been a great blessing for our ward as we can assist members in such a smaller amount of time. Sometimes service needs to be rendered NOW and not wait until Sunday for a sign-up sheet. With more and more members in leadership positions who work full-time, this helps reduce phone calls to better serve the members. An email list can also be set up with the men in High Priests and Elders Quorum.
Do you have anything similar in your ward like ‘phone trees’, email groups or do you still use the old-fashioned paper sign-up sheets?