Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Second Stake in Cape Verde to be Organized in May

Missionaries serving in the Cape Verde Praia Mission report that church leaders announced a few weeks ago that the Mindelo Cape Verde District would become a stake in May.  The Church has experienced a phenomenal reversal to stagnant growth that occurred for over a decade during the late 1990s and 2000s as evidenced by the organization of eight new wards and branches and the creation of the first stake last April in Praia.  Missionaries report plans to open a currently unreached island - Boa Vista - to proselytism in the near future.  One other district currently operates in Cape Verde on the island of Fogo which, according to missionaries, is also very close to become a stake but has experienced greater inactivity problems than in other areas of the country.  Progress has also continued in Praia since the stake creation as evidenced by the organization of two new wards within the past couple months, increasing the number of units in the stake to eight wards, one branch, and one group.

I am currently writing a case study on these exciting developments that will be posted on in April.


Ray said...

Great news! This also illustrates the principle that Church growth often takes place fastest in island nations (Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, Haiti, Madagascar, and others). Still puzzled why Cape Verde is in the Europe Area when it's right off the west coast of Africa.

Unknown said...

Ray, I assume is because of the language (portugues) and having easy air transport to Portugal. On top of that the countries in Africa near Cape Verde have either very few members of The Church or none.

Matt said...

Interesting point Ray about LDS growth in island nations. I recently completed a case study for on whether island countries experience greater growth than continental countries. Look for it to be posted sometime in April.

As for why the Cape Verde Praia Mission is assigned to the Europe area, keep in mind that the Church has experienced rapid growth in the Africa West Area within the past five years in particular and no other countries with an LDS presence are Portuguese-speaking. Greater resources are available to meet the needs of the Church from Europe than from the Africa West Area.

Matt said...

Interesting point Ray about LDS growth in island nations. I recently completed a case study for on whether island countries experience greater growth than continental countries. Look for it to be posted sometime in April.

As for why the Cape Verde Praia Mission is assigned to the Europe area, keep in mind that the Church has experienced rapid growth in the Africa West Area within the past five years in particular and no other countries with an LDS presence are Portuguese-speaking. Greater resources are available to meet the needs of the Church from Europe than from the Africa West Area.

R. Jofre said...

I noticed branch consolidations in the Coronel Oviedo district and a discontinuation of the Caaguazu district which is adjacent to to the former. Could this be in preparation for a new stake in Paraguay?

Mike Johnson said...

I think this is exciting news.

The first branch was created in 1989 and the second in 1991. By the end of 1993, there were 3 districts with 12 branches. Over the next 5 years, 5 more branches were created.

In 2002, the mission was created.

Other than the creation of an administrative branch in 2009, no new branches were created between 1998 and 2012. In 2012, the first stake was created. 5 units were created in 2012 and 2 more so far this year. 8 of the 25 units are now wards.

So, I understand from a congregation number analysis that the period from 1999 to 2011 inclusive could be considered stagnant.

But, I would submit that most of those 17 branches in 1998 were small. Now many are large enough to become wards and in some cases multiple wards.

So, it appears to me that a foundation for the church was set by 1998 throughout the islands and then it was growth increasing the size of the congregations to the point where stakes and wards are now being formed. I would call that staggering growth and not stagnant growth. Branches of 20 to 50 active members growing into wards of 100+ active members.

Wards and stakes not only have higher numerical standards than branches and districts, but they also required higher levels of faithfulness and experience. We often hear of long temple trips by large numbers of people in outlying areas. These are often part of the preparation for a new stake.

Thus, while it does appear from a strictly congregational count that there was phenomenal growth between 1989 and 1993 and sustained growth through 1998 and then effectively no growth until 2012, where everything seems to be exploding again, I would submit growth had to be occurring throughout the period. Growth that is invisible to a strictly congregational count analysis.

I often use an estimate that a branch is about 1/3 of a ward and a district is about 1/3 of a stake, but even that has a lot of issues and would have missed the growth occurring inside the branches on these islands between 1998 and 2012.

Matt said...

Interesting analysis Mike.

I do think that we should seriously look at how congregational growth has demonstrate a lack of "real" growth for the Church in Cape Verde during the 2000s. The Church reported 19 branches and 3,893 members in 1999 and 18 branches and 7,149 members in 2009. The average number of members per congregation increased from 205 to 414 during this period. I agree that there was some progress increasing the number of members who were returned missionaries (as a result of steady numbers of members serving missions - usually 20-40 per year). This has resulted in the establishment of full-member families as returned missionaries marry within the Church and have children.

There has been disastrous inactivity problems in Cape Verde that began to be rectified following the organization of the Cape Verde Praia Mission in 2002. For example, only about 25% of members on church records were active; comparative to Latin America and significantly lower than most areas of West Africa. Missionaries have reported that branches on Fogo has exhibited the worst activity problems which has continued to delay the organization of a stake. Considering stakes outside the United States require 1,900 nominal members to operate, the Church could have theoretically organized three stakes back in the mid-2000s.

In 2011, a new mission president instituted a program to reactivate Melchizedek Priesthood holders and improve member involvement in missionary work. This has appeared to be a major contributor to the recent surge in growth in Cape Verde as local leadership manpower has substantially increased to permit the organization of stakes and even additional wards within a year after a district becomes a stake (which is very rare).

It would be great if there were some sacrament meeting attendance figures available for the Church in Cape Verde over the past years to see whether your hypothesis on growth is supported. I agree that the branches definitely grew in maturity during the past ten years, but at the same time no congregational growth points to inactivity challenges. However, this is also a good example how at times the Church will delay unit creations for years and suddenly organize large numbers of new units (this has occurred in Papua New Guinea for example). It will be interesting to see how things will look once a new mission president begins service in Cape Verde in 2014. Hopefully we will see remaining unreached islands open to missionary work by then and have the Fogo District become a stake as well. Perhaps we'll see separate districts on Sal and Santo Antao considering each of these islands has two branches now (the Sal Branch was just divided).

Ed Clinch said...

I thought I left a comment earlier but it does not appear...The images can be hard to see in order to prove I am not a robot.

Anyway, my comment was about the potential great missionary growth in Portugeese speaking nations like Angola and Mozambique, plus smaller ones like Sao Tome e Principe and Guinea Bissau.

Plus Spanish speaking Guinea Ecuatorial.

Where do they ge their Elders and Sisters, I wonder? Brazil? US? It would be neat to know. And trained in Sao Paulo or Ghana or London?

Mike Johnson said...

Matt, thanks for the insight. You, of course, have been tracking it and understanding issues during this process. That said, those same issues often tend to happen in the growth from branch to ward.

I was looking at it from a bigger picture. When you have five branches on an island of a few square miles in size, why continue trying to create smaller branches? Why not grow them into wards and form a stake? Which is what they seem to have done.

I would also submit that it takes challenges to create the faith and experience necessary to get to a stake. They rarely just happen by adding new members. Not every place can be the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Christ's first parable as recorded in the Gospels was of the sower--and while it has other applications--it most definitely has applications to missionary work. Some ignore or fight against you. Some join but don't do much. Some join, get excited, and then burn out, get offended, or get embarrassed. Others join and grow into stalwarts. You need to grow the stalwarts in adequate numbers to produce a stake and to produce wards.

There is a reason why the First Presidency and the Twelve approve all Bishops while the Mission Presidency or the Stake Presidency and the High Council (as appropriate) approve Branch Presidents. I am not sure what the reason is per se, but I know there must be a reason. ;>) I think it has a lot to do with ensuring maturity in a ward. And I think that maturity is grown often in dealing with the problems members bring with them.

Perhaps I think this because of class I took years ago where I learned about the four stages of group dynamics--forming (excitement toward a common goal), storming (difficulties and struggles between members over the best way to do something or even over the goals), norming (where the members of the group figure out and learn how to do things), and performing. Too often people want to quit in the storming stage. But, I think most organizations go through these stages or break apart. Marriages often do as well. And I think branches go through them as well. It is a maturing process. So, while I often get frustrated with two of the types of converts Christ talked about, I do recognize that they do contribute to the maturing process for a ward, not just by the numbers, but by forcing the stalwarts to minister to others, whereby helping the stalwarts grow more. Ultimately, all types of converts Christ talked about can grow into stalwarts; those that do, do so by service to others.

(continued due to the 4096 character rule forcing a splitting of this post)

Mike Johnson said...


Yes, you are right that it would be interesting to see Sacrament Meeting attendance over the years for each branch, rather than trying to project it. You might be right that more recent reactivation efforts led to the creation of stakes. But, I think that is part of the maturing process for local leadership anyway.

Going from a small church to a medium-sized church (so I have been informed by protestant pastors) takes a lot of changes in the local church and often drives away strong members when the church was small. The dynamics of the pastor's ability to interact with and minister directly to all of the members and the needs for centralized decision making, functioning through a board of the leaders of each fellowship/ministry, and increasing professionalism make for a traumatic change in a small church growing into a medium-sized church. And I have seen much of what they have told me in LDS congregations as well, even with lay clergy. Then there is another traumatic change going from a medium-sized to a large church somewhere around the 300-400 level in average attendance. In our Church, we are spared this transition, but go through another called splitting a ward--as my ward did this past week. While we talk of "splitting" or "dividing" congregations, I must admit to loving the Protestant equivalent term--"multiplying off a new church."

3000 relatively recent converts is generally not going to make a stake. Countries often get their first stake around the 10,000 member mark. This is in part because few countries are small enough to have a stake function effectively throughout it. But, it often takes getting the three types of members Christ spoke of in the parable and it often takes the stalwarts working with the others, ministering to them, to end up producing the kind of leadership needed for stakes and wards. Each stake and each ward requires about 100 callings to properly function and they often go well above that. Districts and branches can make do with a lot less.

When the stake was created in Ireland, I remember reading that the previous district had been about the same size for years. What was different was the emergence of adequate numbers of leaders to produce a stake and several wards. Stakes and wards are usually larger than districts and branches, but I have seen branches larger than wards meeting in the same building--it was an issue of leadership and not size. One district in Mongolia with 12 branches became a stake with 6 wards and a district of 6 branches. The stake was and still is smaller in membership than the previous district. What changed was leadership--many returned missionaries--that had grown and matured ministering to others.

Matt said...

Interesting points made Mike about how changing dynamics from small congregations to large ones can drive some members away. I have seen this before and it is something interesting to consider when studying church growth and missionary work.

I disagree on the small geographic size of the Cape Verde islands reducing the need and success of establishing more branches. Yes, it is important in the urban areas for the branches to become ward-sized for many reasons relating to leadership development, socialization opportunities for members, and so on. However, there remain many areas of the islands that have small numbers of active members due to long distances to meetinghouses. For example, the Mosteiros Branch has members that live in three different areas of the northern part of Fogo and the two areas where the church meetinghouse is not located in have to travel up to an hour to church due to distances. Depending on whether there is sufficient local priesthood leadership or not, it seems like there are good prospects for opening groups in these two lesser-reached areas.

I agree that there is a major change in local leadership in order for stakes to be organized as it involves local leadership undertaking ALL leadership administration rather than just some administrative responsibilities from the mission president. It is important that local members and leaders are ready as if they are not there is a higher likelihood that the stake will revert back to district status.

My primarily point in regards to stagnant congregational growth and the slowdown in membership growth in Cape Verde centers on how inactivity was a major problem that resulted these trends. I find it particularly uplifting and encouraging that the Church in Cape Verde has come out of this decade-long trend in the past 18 months as evidenced by virtually all measurements of church growth such as increased numbers of convert baptisms, members serving missions, new units getting created, and districts becoming stakes.

Mike Johnson said...

Good points, Matt.

I am not going to argue with any of them.

I do agree that when travel is difficult that additional branches or groups probably should be formed when local leadership allows. I didn't mean to imply that the islands were so sufficiently covered that new branches shouldn't be created.

I will argue with this new form of proving I am not a robot. I can't see to get the "two word" version to work.

Mike Johnson said...

My first area in my mission (Puerto Rico) was about 20 miles from where the branch met. We had a number of members, but only a few active because it was difficult to go to church. We had to go through another area that went to a different branch. Eventually a new branch was formed combining those to areas and it was only 8 miles to get to church.

I always wondered if we had a branch in the town we were in, if more members would have been active. But, there simply wasn't enough priesthood leadership.

Ray said...

Mike, I was having a problem with seeing the two words also but found that a magnifying glass worked for me.

Ray said...

Mike, another new ward showed up in Virginia today. Is it also in the Fredericksburg Stake?

Mike Johnson said...

Accokeek Ward was created from my ward last week. No newer wards in the Fredericksburg Stake.

A bit of a competition, I guess. We had 195 in our ward last week and Accokeek had 197. I guess they split the ward pretty evenly.

Mike Johnson said...

Yes, the new ward is in the Fredericksburg Stake. The King George Branch became the King George Ward.

The stake presidency has been busy. I expected the branch to soon be a ward--it has more households than some of the wards--but I didn't know when it would happen. I figured this past week would be off for anything as the stake president's daughter got married on Saturday.

There were five branches in the stakes covered by the Washington DC South Mission. Two Spanish, one Chinese, one YSA, and one "family branch." Well, the "family branch" has become a "family ward."

Adam said...

Yeah question about that. That stake now has 15 units, 13 wards and two branches (the spanish and YSA.) Everyone thought a split was going to be happening, but then apparently there was a rule or something along those lines came out that they needed a membership of 6,000 before they were gonna split it. They are hovering around 5000 these days. I had never heard of such a rule and was wondering if any of you have ever heard of something similar. Maybe you would know Mike since it sounds like you were in Garrisonville or Rock Hill and may know something about it.

Mike Johnson said...

We are a big stake. I have had a few conversations with members of the stake presidency about whether the stake will soon split. At stake conference the first week of March, it was announced that the stake had 5134 members.

I have not heard of a rule that says a stake needs 6000 members to split. Looking at recent new stakes in the US, it seems we need at least 7 wards to form a new stake.

The natural place to split the stake is along the Rappahannock River. There are now 7 wards north of the river and 6 south. We also have two stake center sized meetinghouses, one north and one south. Both branches cover the entire stake, but meet north of the river where a majority of their members are.

I believe that a Stafford Stake could be formed north of the river (before the split in the ward, just the Garrisonville Ward had about 1/3 of the stake leadership--1 member of the stake presidency, 4 members of the high council, the stake young women's president, an assistant stake clerk, and numerous other stake callings), but I am not sure about the 6 wards south of the river being large enough to form a stake without some additional help.

I had been thinking that once the Fredericksburg (and Woodbridge) stakes are moved into the Richmond Mission in July, that it is possible that the Scotchtown Ward and the Louisa Branch could be transferred from the Richmond Stake as part of a stake, but it appears that the Richmond Stake has lost a ward to the Richmond Chesterfield Stake, making me wonder if such a transfer would be viable for the Richmond Stake.

There are also two wards in Warrenton in the Centerville Stake--a stake with 9 wards and 2 branches. But, that would make it further for them to a stake center.

Of course, the split wouldn't have to be at the river. One or more of the wards north of the river could be in a stake mostly south of the river. Either King George or Hartwood, perhaps.

At the meeting to divide the Garrisonville ward, the stake president indicated that another ward would likely be formed in the next year or two in Stafford County--my guess would be taking in parts of the White Oak, Hartwood, and Accokeek wards--but that is simply a guess and I am not sure where the additional ward would meet. When we have 14 wards and 2 branches, I think we will split as a stake. But, that is just my guess.

Mike Johnson said...

The Lehi Utah Jordan Willows Stake was created on 24 March with the Jordan Willows 1st through 8th wards.

Mike Johnson said...

The Willow Brook Ward of the Pleasant View Utah South Stake was created on 24 March. The stake now has 10 wards:

Colonial Springs
Harrisville 4th and 5th
Misty Meadows
Pleasant View 2nd, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th
Willow Brook

The Union City 3rd (Mandarin) Branch of the Hayward California Stake was created on 24 March. The stake now has 6 wards and 2 branches:

Brookvale Ward
Hayward 1st, 2nd, and 4th wards
Highland YSA Ward
Union City 1st Ward
Alvarado (Spanish) Branch
Union City 3rd (Mandarin) Branch

Matt said...

I am not sure when this became official, but the Church requires new stakes in the United States to have at least 3,000 members (1,900 members outside the United States). This would make sense why there appear to be many stakes on a verge of splitting for a number of years as they must reach 6,000 members before dividing unless units from adjacent stakes are included.

Thanks for the unit updates Mike! I was aware of a Chinese group in Hayward from a personal friend of mine. Great to hear it has become its own branch! I know that leadership development was a bit of a struggle.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks, Matt, for the information on stake splits.

While I like being in a large stake, it is becoming somewhat unwieldy. On the other hand, while creating a new stake would be exciting, I was a little concerned about ending up in a small stake that has difficulties. So, while I can see the wisdom of ensuring a new stake can function effectively and won't just have to be closed in the near future, getting things through the stake now seem to take forever.

Last stake conference had people meeting in 6 of our 7 buildings--about 700 people in the stake center and with proceedings broadcast to the other buildings. They were broadcast into 4 other buildings last fall and into 3 other buildings a year ago.

Mike Johnson said...

The Lancaster Pennsylvania Stake was created on 24 March with the following 7 wards:

Elizabethtown Ward
Ephrata Ward
Lancaster Ward
Lititz Ward
Shewsbury Ward
West York Ward
York Ward

The Hawks Landing 2nd Ward of the Saratoga Springs Utah South Stake was created on 24 March 2013. The stake now has 13 wards:

Fox Hollow Ward
Hawks Landing 1st Ward
Hawks Landing 2nd Ward
Jacobs Ranch 1st Ward
Jacobs Ranch 2nd Ward
Jacobs Ranch 3rd Ward
Lake Mountain 1st Ward
Lake Mountain 2nd Ward
Lake Mountain 3rd Ward
Lake Mountain 4th Ward
Saratoga Springs 6th Ward
Stillwater Ward
Summerhill Ward

The Murfreesboro YSA Branch of the
Murfreesboro Tennessee Stake was created on 24 March 2013. The stake now has 7 wards and 4 branches:

Blackman Ward
Mount Juliet Ward
Murfreesboro Ward
Rock Springs Ward
Shelbyville Ward
Smyrna Ward
Stones River 1st Ward
Buena Vista Branch (Spanish)
Hermitage Branch
Murfreesboro YSA Branch
Stones River 2nd Branch (Spanish)

Mike Johnson said...

With the creation of the Lancaster Pennsylvania Stake, the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission now covers 8 stakes with a total of 53 wards and 17 branches. I am posting them all because I am sure several stakes were impacted.

Altoona Pennsylvania Stake
Altoona Ward
Brookville Ward
Johnstown Ward
State College 2nd Ward
State College 1st Ward
Bedford Branch
Huntingdon Branch
Indiana Branch
Philipsburg Branch
Ridgway Branch
Somerset Branch
University Park Branch (Student)

Chambersburg Pennsylvania Stake
McConnellsburg Branch
New Oxford YSA Branch
Carlisle Ward
Chambersburg 1st Ward
Chambersburg 2nd Ward
Fairview Ward
Gettysburg Ward
Hanover Ward

Harrisburg Pennsylvania Stake
Camp Hill Ward
Harrisburg Ward
Hershey Ward
Lebanon Ward
Lewisberry Ward
New Bloomfield Ward
Millersburg Branch

Jamestown New York Stake
Erie 1st Ward
Erie 2nd Ward
Franklin Ward
Jamestown Ward
Meadville Ward
Olean Ward
Warren Ward

Lancaster Pennsylvania Stake
Elizabethtown Ward
Ephrata Ward
Lancaster Ward
Lititz Ward
Shewsbury Ward
West York Ward
York Ward

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Stake
Monongahela Ward
Oakland YSA Ward
Pittsburgh 1st Ward
Pittsburgh 2nd Ward
Pittsburgh 5th Ward
Pittsburgh 6th Ward
Pittsburgh 7th Ward
Washington Ward
Wheeling Ward
Wintersville Ward
McKeesport Branch
Uniontown Branch
Waynesburg Branch

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania North Stake
Beaver Valley Ward
Butler Ward
Cranberry Ward
Freeport Ward
Greensburg Ward
Pittsburgh 3rd Ward
Pittsburgh 4th Ward
Knox Branch
Slippery Rock Branch

Williamsport Pennsylvania Stake
Berwick Ward
Lewisburg Ward
Sunbury Ward
Towanda Ward
Williamsport Ward
Lock Haven Branch
Mansfield Branch

Mike Johnson said...

One thing the "promotion" from branch to ward of the King George Ward has me thinking about.

I can see clear incentives for mission presidents and districts for districts to mature into stakes. An administrative burden for a mission presidency is relieved and a stake can do a lot of things that a district has to go to the mission presidency to do (new Melchizedek Priesthood, new branch presidents, new branches, and maybe even temple recommends).

But, I am trying to think of the incentive for either a stake or a branch for the branch to become a ward. Almost everything in volume 2 of the handbook (I don't have access to volume 1), indicates that references to bishop, bishopric, and ward also apply to branch president, branch presidency, and branch. Stake presidents propose branch presidents and high councils approve them. Stake presidents propose bishops and the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve approve them. It seems like the administrative burden on a stake to have a bishop appointed (and replaced every five or so years) is much greater than to appoint and replace a branch president. While most branches are much smaller than wards, I have seen branches that are larger than wards. Branches use as much of the ward program as is reasonable for the branch.

So, other than it is kind of neat to be a ward as opposed to a branch, I am wondering what the incentive is to both the branch/ward and stake for the congregation to be a ward?

I mean I got excited when I saw that King George became a ward. I thought that will be great for them. There is a sense of being on par with the other wards. But, having been in wards and branches, large branches don't seem all that different from wards and small branches are quite different, but that has more to do size than anything else.

Now, I know that branch presidencies need only be elders and are not usually made high priests, while bishopric members must be high priests. Wards and stakes result in high priest formation while branches and districts generally do not.

I can't think of anything, but I was wondering if there is anything that making a congregation a ward under a bishop in terms of relieving a stake of some administrative burden or that the ward can do without reference to the stake that a branch can't.

I am wondering what others think on this.

The Chatelain's said...

Does it have anything to do with budgets? I heard an RM claim that a Spaniish branch was hesitant to work to become a ward because their funding would go down. This could mean more dedication to tithing required, because the funding they were worried about losing is ultimately supported by tithe-paying units.
This was the Chamblee branch in Atlanta, the Cunningham branch has been formed since.

Anonymous said...

The formation of a ward provides righteous male leaders the opportunity to advance in the priesthood to become High Priests (Bishopric, high priest group leader, two HPG assistants and a secretary). Branches don't have a high priest group and wards do which provides additional leadership/growth opportunities and potential for extra service to the ward. High priests are invited to the stake high priest quorum meeting held at least annually which provides spiritual training and opportunity to mingle with other stake leaders. Practically speaking, from my experience, stake callings are more likely to come from wards 1) because of the additional priesthood and leadership experience available to draw from and that more of their stalwarts are well known in the stake leadership due to the high priest group leaders priesthood advancement interview, advancement approval votes, the additional people from the ward attending stake leadership meetings due to more people being in roles that are in invited (high priest group leadership) and 2) stake auxiliary and other stake leaders may correctly or incorrectly look to wards to staff stake callings due to the perception that wards are more likely to have experienced available persons. All of the above results in a noticeable boost in strength in the unit in the first year or two after unit advancement that affects the whole ward.

Aaron and Kamyra said...

This branch, ward conversation is interesting. I lived in a branch and was branch president and am in a ward and am bishop now. There is no difference in budgets. All budgets work on the average sacrament attendance across the stake during the reporting month of the quarter. They then add average youth, 8-12 primary children and YSA all averaged. Then the stake gives a percentage of this to the ward and keeps the other part for them selves to run the stake. We get 50% or so but the branches usually, if smaller get about 60-70% of theirs in our stake, this is up to the stake president. So you get so much money for each head in sacrament meeting on the average over the reporting month of the quarter.

Also big difference between branch and ward is leadership and strength. Usually wards will have higher percentage of active MPH, tithing, home teaching and usually send out more missionaries (key indicators). The funny thing is branches can be quite big and still not a ward because they are surrounded by smaller branches otherwise they could all be wards and then there could be a stake. When I was branch president our branch averaged 160-180 attendance, the ward I am bishop of averages 110-130. So big differences, percentage of active members, percentage of active MPH, full tithe payers, current endowed with recommends. In my experience the further you get from the centres of strength, the stakes of Zion less of these key indicators are in an acceptable range.

Mike Johnson said...

Thanks for the comments on ward vs branch.

I agree that wards offer more advancement opportunities to high priest. A branch in a mission or district does not have a high priest group. A branch in a stake may have one depending on the number of priesthood holders available. A high priest group may be created when a branch becomes a ward or it may be created before, because high priests in the stake are part of the stake high priest quorum. I have seen it both ways in branches in stakes.

In some respects, I guess, becoming a ward indicates minimum standards have been met in a variety of metrics. I went through handbook vol 2 and found nothing a bishop/ward could do that a branch president/branch couldn't do unless membership was too small to justify. Vol 1 may have something.

Downtownchrisbrown said...

There are not many differences between bishop and branch president, but there are quite a few differences in what his councilors can do. Branch councilors cannot do temple recommend interviews, there may be other items that cannot be delegated. So it works nicely for a large branch to become a ward to lesson the burden on the Branch President

John Pack Lambert said...

I know in my stake the stake presidency considered changing the YSA unit into a branch so that YSAs could be called as the counselors. Initially they postponed doing it, but considering what our attendance was, I am not really sure how. About a year ago they made it a branch and shortly afterward called a member of the branch as a counselor in the branch presidency. Of course this is the opposite example, by making the unit a branch they needed less help from the stake.

Mike Johnson said...

Has there been a change of policy about YSA as counselors in a bishopric?

I didn't get married until I was 31, so I became quite familiar with singles wards. I knew a lot of counselors in bishoprics who were single.

Mike Johnson said...

The Westfield Ward was created on 31 March. The Lehi Utah Stake now has 10 wards:

Lehi 1st , 2nd, 5th, 6th, 9th, and 10th wards
Spring Creek 1st and 2nd wards
Westfield Ward
Wines Park Ward

The Sal 2nd Branch was created on 31 March. The Mindelo Cape Verde District now has 9 branches:

Mindelo 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th branches
Ponta do Sol Branch
Porto Novo Branch
Sal 1st and 2nd branches

Ray said...

To Mike Johnson:

Thanks for information on these new Church units. The new Cape Verde branch showed up on today's CDOL and I was curious where it was in Cape Verde.

Mike Johnson said...

The Mindelo Cape Verde District is on several islands across the northern group of islands. Sal is the northeast of the major islands. The Sal 2nd Branch covers much of the northern part of the island.

John Pack Lambert said...

I actually knew a counselor in nearby stake's YSA ward who was "single". I put it in quotes because he was engaged to be married in a few months when called. I think our stake president was under the impression counselors in bishoprics should be high priests, and generally did not want to make YSAs high priests. Not that there is any policy against that, so he could have called ward members. Also, I think some YSA wards they do not make the counselors high priests, but the only place I am sure I have seen that was with student married wards. Although in the Ann Arbor stake I don't think they made some of the counselors high priests, but they also had a married student ward (at least until last spring) and I think had a different view on things than in our stake.

James Anderson said...

Actually, this may be common with BYU wards (now Provo YSA wards). There are so many being called to bishoprics and this happens every three years that they change out a bishop in those wards, that they bring in others they know and some of them are never ordained high priests.

Heard someone from the famed Osmonds served in a bishopric who was not made a high priest, only the bishop was. So it's not unheard of at the least.