When a bishop wakes up in the morning, there is no telling what can happen that day — especially on Sunday. We preach preparedness in the Church, and that goes for being a leader as well. Saving a handful of telephone numbers in your phone might just save you in a moment of urgency. We asked hundreds of leaders which phone numbers they recommend a bishop, or any leader, save in his phone. Here are the most important:
Church Headquarters (801-240-1000)
Calling Church Headquarters can get you access to any department of the Church. The kind people at the switchboard treat a bishop like royalty when he calls. The switchboard staffers are always so courteous and willing to help you get to the right place. If there is a church department in Salt Lake City you need to talk to, this number will get you there. You’ll need it more than you might think, so save it in your phone and have it ready.
A related number to have handy is the LDS Help Line (855-537-4357) which is especially useful for “technical” questions.
Non-Emergency Police Department
If you have been in the Church long enough, you know that anything can happen during the three-hour block on Sunday. For emergency situations, you probably have the Police Department Emergency number memorized. But there will be situations where you need some backup from the local police that doesn’t involve an emergency. There might be someone suspicious who wanders into the building. There might be a local conflict that spills over onto church property. Or, there might even be someone angered by a bishop’s welfare decision and refuses to leave (this happened in my ward). Whatever it is, it’s always nice to have the Non-Emergency Police Department phone number just a few clicks away.
As a bishop you will gain a new perspective on the realities of mental illness. I never anticipated having to be so educated on how to organize assistance for someone contemplating suicide. No leader wants to live with the burden of realizing there might have been more he could have done to save someone suffering from mental illness.
Do a Google search for the Crisis Line in your area (here it is for Utah) and save it in your phone. You will be glad you have it when you need it. I’d even suggest giving the Crisis Line a call and asking some questions about how you can help as a religious leader, and further understand their processes if you face someone contemplating suicide.
24-Hour Welfare Help Line
For wards with sticky welfare situations, the 24-Hour Welfare Help Line can help you make a better decision with unique welfare situations. The staff can also help you avoid welfare fraud if you have an individual requesting welfare assistance from you and other bishops in the area.
Be sure to review the guidelines for the Welfare Help Line before calling.
From time to time, a bishop may receive a phone call or a knock on his office door from an individual in need who doesn’t live within the ward boundaries. Chapter 5 of Handbook 1 will give you great guidance on how to help these individuals through the local transient bishop. This might be a set-apart bishop at your local bishop’s storehouse or it might be an assigned bishop in your stake. Contact your stake president to know for sure.
When you have someone in need you will be glad to have the information at your fingertips so the individual can get help as soon as possible.
What other phone numbers have you found most helpful during your time as a church leader?