How Mormon Lay Leadership Works

For the last nine years, Tawa resident George Harvey has served as Wellington Stake President in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A stake president is a Mormon lay minister overseeing a number of congregations.

This meant he was responsible for the spiritual and temporal welfare of Church members in five Mormon wards (congregations) across Wellington — in Tawa, Petone, Wainuiomata, and two in Wellington.   

Some of his duties were to oversee ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ community service projects, as well as emergency preparedness and family history programs in the Wellington area.  He also counselled with other lay leaders from throughout Wellington, assisting them in their service to others.

A big part of his ministry was meeting with youth, adults, couples and families, providing encouragement based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.

This volunteer workload took him 10-20 hours per week, which was on top of his full-time job, family responsibilities and other commitments.  

Such has been Mr. Harvey’s community outreach over the years he was the recent recipient of a Tawa Community Civic Award presented by Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.  

The award acknowledges his many years of church and community service. His wife Elaine is well known for her work with Civil Defence and is also the Church’s Emergency Response liaison for the lower North Island.

In August Mr. Harvey completed his service as stake president.  Nine years is a normal length of time for a Latter-day Saint leader to serve in such a position, with most serving for eight to ten years.  

Another Wellington man, Peter Thomson, was asked to serve as the new stake president, succeeding Mr. Harvey.  For Mormons, such opportunities do not come about through appointments or elections, but are inspired ‘calls to serve’ from God.  As such, Peter Thomson accepted the ‘call to serve’ without hesitation, as did George Harvey nine years earlier.

Mr. Thomson, a resident of Newlands, is known to many in the community for a ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ project which he organised earlier this year to restore Nga Hau e Wha o Paparangi Papkainga in Newlands, planting at Seton Nossiter Park and work at The Jay Street Community Gardens. He is a senior civil servant.

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