Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dependent Branches and Groups

Something I have neglected to write about in this blog are the existence of what are called dependent branches. In the Church we are familiar with the terms wards and branches. Wards typically have around 100-400 people attend each Sunday and must be a part of a stake (which usually have 5-12 wards or branches). To be a ward, there needs to be a certain number of active members and active Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Branches can be a part of a stake, district, or under the direction of the mission president in the area and usually have fewer than 100 people attend Church meetings on Sundays.

Dependent branches function like groups. They are attached to another branch or ward to which they report to. These dependent branches' locations are not provided on Church websites and are often very dynamic to fit the needs of members in the area which they live. Dependent branches can be found all over the world, even in the United States. For example, I live in the Denver area and before the Monte Vista (Spanish) Ward was created earlier this year in the Denver Colorado North Stake, it meet as a dependent branch to a ward in the stake. As for how dependent branches and groups differ, I do not completely know except groups tend to be smaller and can report directly to a mission or area presidency instead of a branch or ward which the group may be attached to. Dependent branches also have a branch president with two counselors, whereas groups just have a group leader.

Sometimes dependent branches and groups are jokingly referred to as "twigs" by those in the Church since they are very small. I believe all the new branches organized in Hungary in the past year are actually dependent branches since I cannot find any information about them from Church websites. These new Hungarian branches were in cities such as Békéscsaba and Kaposvár and had around 30-40 people attending each Sunday. I recently found out about a dependent branch organized in Butterworth, Malaysia and groups organized in Kosi Bay, South Africa and the western half of the city Douala in Cameroon. Since I am on the topic of Cameroon, a third branch will be created soon in Youande, Cameroon as well.

Lastly, I just wanted to emphasize that dependent branches and groups are very important for the Church's establishment in areas in has not yet existed.

1 comment:

Mike Johnson said...

I am most familiar with groups in the military. For example, when Navy ships deploy, a group leader is called and set apart by the stake president who has jurisdiction over the ship's home port.

I have deployed on aircraft carriers with 10-30 in attendance at the group meeting each week. A typical group meeting last about an hour and includes the sacrament followed by a lesson from the priesthood/relief society manual. When I deployed in 2007, we had a few females in the group that regularly attended.