Youth group for girls meets in person after a year of being virtualMay 20, 2021 10:03AM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart
Members of Job’s Daughters pose in January 2020, after the last in-person Installation of Officers before COVID-19 restricted gatherings. (Photo courtesy Janci Lawes)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
Emma Price was a shy, soft-spoken 10-year-old when she became a “Jobie.” Seven years later, she’s auditioning to be part of the productions company at Hillcrest High School.
“It really did help me,” Price said. “I was a shy person. It’s definitely influenced the way I interact with other people. It’s brought me out of my shell and surrounded me with good people who support me in the things I do.”
Job’s Daughters International is a leadership group for young women ages 10 to 20. One difference from other youth groups is that members come together from different cities. Price is still close friends with another girl who lives in Millcreek and was initiated on the same day.
“I like it because she gets to know girls outside of just our area,” said Kim Price, Emma’s mother. “It’s good to know people outside of your comfort zone.”
There are eight bethels, or local chapters, of Job’s Daughters in Utah. Midvale is the only one between Salt Lake City and Price and includes 18 members from Midvale, West Jordan and Murray but also as far away as Tooele, Orem and Bluffdale.
“You have these younger girls looking up to older girls,” said Janci Lawes, guardian for the Midvale bethel. “The older girls take on leadership roles. The mentorships and friendships that happen with this organization are very exciting to see. A lot of these girls would not have met if not for Job’s.”
Most Job’s Daughters are related to a Master Mason, though a relationship is no longer required for membership. “You’d be surprised the number of people who have relationships to Master Masons and just don’t realize it,” Lawes said.
The Midvale bethel was instituted in 1962 and typically meets at the Midvale Masonic Temple at 7689 S. Center Square. The temple is home to Canyon Lodge #13, a Masonic order chartered in 1907.
Job’s Daughters is built on ceremony, procedure and music, which has made adapting to a pandemic all the more challenging. Lawes became the Midvale bethel’s guardian in June 2020, but has known most of the girls since her own daughter, Kira Lawes, joined in 2015 at age 11.
“The rest of these girls, they’re not even mine and I missed them like they were my own,” Lawes said. “It was good that we could still meet virtually, but it’s not the same. You just can’t sing together virtually.”
The Midvale bethel’s last traditional meeting was the first Saturday in March 2020. A core group of nine girls met virtually twice a month until the third Saturday of March 2021, when they were able to meet in person again. Yet many things are different.
“We’re not allowed to sing in person and the girls can’t wear the regalia because they change in small spaces,” Lawes said. “We’re all looking forward to being back in the robes for our ritual practice.”
This was Lawes’ first time taking on the year-long post of supervising a bethel, but she’s no stranger to the institution.
“I’ve been involved since before I was able to be a Job’s Daughter,” Lawes said. “It runs in my family. My mom was heavily involved and I’ve been around it forever. There’s so much this organization has to offer people. I learned a ton and I’m still friends with people I met during that time, even though we’re spread across the country.”
Still, Lawes was nervous to begin her post during a pandemic.
“Our core girls that continued to stay with us, they have demonstrated more patience than I have,” Lawes said. “I know they have been frustrated, as we all have. But they have not let it get them down. They have continued to participate and stay involved and that says something.”
Some meeting rituals were able to continue virtually.
“Girls all have parts to memorize for regular meetings,” Lawes said. “It’s a great skill and also teaches them how to study. The girls learn to stand up and speak in public. They learn to speak their opinions. Most start out really shy, but the other girls do not let you be shy. They bring you in and bring you out. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Price agreed. “Jobies has helped me memorize things more easily and helped me in speaking in front of people and large groups,” she said.
A number of leadership roles are available to the girls, include the chaplain who leads prayers during meetings, and the recorder, who takes notes during meetings. Lawes’s daughter, Kira, is currently serving as honored queen of Midvale. She, along with four other officers, are elected every six months and have a number of duties like keeping track of finances and organizing several fundraisers each year.
Job’s Daughters also learn lessons in charity. Past service projects include helping out at the Humane Society of Utah and the Utah Food Bank.
Job’s Daughters was founded in 1920 in Omaha, Nebraska on the teachings from the Book of Job in the Old Testament. However, members from all faiths are welcome. The only religious prerequisite is a belief in a supreme being and members of the Midvale bethel represent a diverse array of faiths.
One role of the honored queen is to lead “obligatory Sunday,” where she invites the other members to visit her church. Kira Lawes doesn’t have a specific religion, but wanted to learn about Buddhism during her term. A visit to the Buddhist temple wasn’t possible due to COVID-19, so instead they participated in a virtual event.
Lawes’ advice for girls wanting to join? “Reach out to someone who’s already a Job’s Daughter. If you don’t know anyone, girls can reach out to the bethel closest to them or the state Grand Bethel, who can help them find a good fit.”
Most members are related to a Master Mason, but if no relationship can be found they have the option to be sponsored by an unrelated Mason.
“We’re a lot less formal now than when I was involved,” Lawes said. “And I think that goes with the times. I know that we were less formal when I was a kid than my mom was. Things have to change to keep going. I’m super proud of these girls for sticking with it so our organization stays alive.”