By Elaine Garrison
No matter where he is or where he travels, Joey Williams says he has a desire to communicate.
So, his new position as Temple hospitality and Formation Ministries specialist at the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA, might be the perfect fit.
The gregarious, lifelong Community of Christ member is known widely as the face of the “Temple Tuesday” videos. For several months on social media during the pandemic, the videos were popular takes on Williams’s thoughts, describing the aspects and symbols of the Temple. And, while Williams is a world traveler, he grew up only a few blocks away.
It seemed “I had access to everything going on [at the Temple and Auditorium].” He rode his bicycle to World Conferences, participated in talent shows, sang his favorite hymns, and watched as important legislation was introduced.
There’s something resident in who we are that is found all over the world. That begins with hospitality.
A stint working in France and later in French Polynesia showed him the path that became his careers—earning a master’s degree in Romance languages and teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In late-1990s Germany he rediscovered and recommitted to his faith. He became a translator and served the church for seven years in that slot.
“There’s something resident in who we are that is found all over the world. That begins with hospitality,” he said. The church in French Polynesia taught him what that concept truly means.
As the pandemic closed travel and many parts of life, Williams found himself stuck in the United States, between visas, unable to get back to his ministry and home in Europe.
His duties as presiding officer of the Eurasia Mission Field were moved to Zoom.
“I had to get everyone online…get everything up and running” in several languages and time zones. Some structure for online worship already existed, so Williams and members magnified those processes—which magnified his work, as well. Among other things that meant three sermons on some Sundays in different languages—and a struggle for work/life balance.
As plans to reopen the Temple in Independence took shape, church leaders needed a person to lead the missional and hospitality presence. And to train a group of volunteers who welcome guests when they come to the Temple for tours. At the same time, an assist was needed to support Formation resources and experiences in the Multi-Nations fields.
Williams will continue his role with the Eurasia Mission Field during a period of transition and has become a liaison with the Council of Twelve Apostles’ Multi-Nations Team. He’s overseeing translation of Sharing in Community of Christ to Dutch, Lingala, Tagalog, Tahitian, Portuguese, and Italian. The booklet describes the faith and function of Community of Christ and often is one of the first things offered to seekers.
He currently is supporting the Multi-Nations apostles in organizing conversations and discussions about nonviolence in preparation for World Conference 2023.
Visiting the Temple in Independence
If you plan to tour the Temple in Independence, Missouri, USA, contact Joey Williams two weeks in advance. Self-guided tours, which will begin June 1, are free for church members and $10.00 for each nonmember.
The Temple will be open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tours will take about an hour and will be self-guided (bring your own device and headphones to listen to the audio information). A personal guide can be requested for $50.00 more per group of 50. Organ tours and demonstrations with a staff organist can be scheduled for $75.00. Volunteer tour companions will be present at different points throughout the tour. The Temple’s museum will be open, and Herald House will have a shop in the back of the museum.
For more information or to schedule a tour, fill out a form. The specific form link is on the rail at the right.
GET TO KNOW
Congregation: Leicester, England
Job: Temple hospitality and Formation Ministries specialist