Saturday, August 27, 2016

New Stakes Created in Arizona, Brazil, Idaho, and Virginia

Arizona
Two new stakes were organized in Arizona on August 21st.

The Phoenix Arizona South Mountain Stake was created from a division of the Phoenix Arizona Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Aguila (Spanish), Gila River, Laveen, Montana Del Sur (Spanish), South Mountain, Trailside, and Vineyard Wards. The Phoenix Arizona Stake was also realigned with the neighboring Phoenix Arizona West Maricopa and the Glendale Arizona Stakes.

The San Tan Valley Arizona North Stake was organized from a division of the Queen Creek Arizona North Stake. The new stake includes the following six wards: the Cambria, Ironwood Crossing 1st, Ironwood Crossing 2nd, Ironwood Crossing 3rd, Ironwood, and Vineyard Wards.

There are now 108 stakes in Arizona.

Reports I have received from local church leaders and regional church leadership indicate that the North America Southwest Area has been successful with increasing the activity rate of many congregations in the area. Statistical analysis has been utilized to determine what congregation size (e.g. number of active members) is most likely to yield the highest member activity rates in the area. As a result, many new wards have been organized to help achieve this "ideal" number of active members per ward (not too many or too few active members per congregation). Similar analyses have also appeared to be implemented to determine the ideal number of congregations per stake. It appears that this tactic may be implemented in additional areas in North America to help improve activity rates and member participation.

Brazil
A new stake was created in Brazil on August 21st. The São Luís Brazil East Stake was organized from a division of the São Luís Brazil Stake. The new stake includes the following five wards: the Cidade Operária, Cohatrac, Jardim Tropical, Maiobão, and Pioneiros Wards. With 1.4 million inhabitants, São Luís was previously the only city in Brazil with more than one million inhabitants and only one stake. The original São Luís Brazil Stake was organized in 1995. There are now two stakes in São Luís and three stakes in Maranhão State.

There are now 262 stakes and 38 districts in Brazil.

Idaho
A new stake was created in Idaho on August 21st. The Meridian Idaho Linder Stake was organized from a division of the Meridian Idaho North, Meridian Idaho Paramount, and the Star Idaho Stakes. The new stake includes the following seven wards: the Ashbury, Crosby Park, Kingsley Park, Lochsa Falls, Paramount, Silverleaf, and Verona Wards.

There are now 127 stakes in Idaho.

Virginia
A new stake was created in Virginia on August 21st. The Stafford Virginia Stake was created from a division of the Fredericksburg Virginia Stake. The new stake includes the following seven wards and one branch: the Accokeek, Aquia, Garrisonville, Hartwood, King George, Rock Hill, and White Oak Wards, and the Stafford Branch (Spanish).

There are now 21 stakes in Virginia.

65 comments:

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ScottS said...

Wow! What is going on in this comment thread?

John Pack Lambert said...

Arizona seems to have seen some of the most significant stake growth in the United States over the last two years.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Same question. Sorry to see...

Matt said...

I have begun to moderate comments due to issues with excessive or inappropriate comments.

Robert Ruff said...

Thanks Matt.
I was getting readers cramp

John Pack Lambert said...

For those who might want to see a much improved (although probably still excessively long) explantion of what I was trying to say in my previous posts, you can go to the links on my blog (which I had forgotten existed until earlier today.) I figured out the focus, which is 8 Mile not being a divider being a mark of the building of Zion.

Any word on more of the anticipated stakes in the Africa West area being organized?

Cory Collet said...

Speaking of growth in Idaho, i wouldn't be surprised to see the Middleton Idaho Stake split soon, or perhapd even a Fruitland Idaho Stake. I served in the Idaho Nampa mission and those were always the two towns we would hear about getting stakes. Growth is important in that area, so that the Meridian Idaho Temple can be filled. That was heavily emphasized in our mission.

ScottS said...

You (and other readers of your blog) seem to have good access to when new stakes are created. Is there a way to find out who the Stake Presidents of the new stakes are?

Ryan Lindgren said...

So what is the ideal number of active members for a ward?

David Todd said...

The best way that I have found is to search for posts on Facebook regarding the specific stakes that are split or formed and look to see if anyone in attendance posted the new presidencies. But, I'm definitely not an expert, so others may have better ways of knowing.

Michael said...

Without offering a lot of explanation, I can answer the above two questions.

ScottS: CDOL
Ryan: approx. 150

Matt said...

Michael-

Yes, the "ideal" number of active members for a regular ward in the western United States is approximately 150.

It will be interesting to see if this same statistical approach is implemented elsewhere in the world. It seems that the "ideal" number of active members in West African wards is 100.

Any thoughts for other areas of the world? I would argue that 100 active members per ward is probably most appropriate number for most areas of the world.

Cory Ward said...

I would agree that the ideal is 100 to 150 in Mexico as well. From my mission experience I felt like the branches struggled because they were too low in numbers and growth, so the members still stayed strong but it was easier to have contention and harder to attract new people. Some larger wards that I served in were on the verge of splitting, and I saw that many people could slip through the cracks and be unnoticed when they came to church. The large wards, had good leadership, but their ability to coordinate and have ward council wasn't great because of the sheer number of less active members and sometimes 3 companionships of missionaries dividing the leaders' time and energy. But overall I think the wards grow well when they have 80 - 150 active members.

I learned that the primary reason for splitting the Provo YSA stakes was to ease the burden on the stake presidencies when helping students (especially Freshman) prepare for missions. The New stakes will reduce the stakes with high amounts of freshman to 7 wards.

Christopher said...

I like the idea of 80-150 members per ward. In our ward, and I know we are not among the largest, we have over 450 members, the majority of whom are active. It just gets too hard to keep track of everyone. We have a lot of married students as well, with a high turnover, and keeping everyone active and engaged with callings is not easy. It is harder to have unity and fellowship when it gets that size. I hope this can be a trend to break up the larger wards and stakes in the church to ease burdens of leaders and perhaps see more ward activation and outreach as well.

Alex Compton said...

In Malaysia, at 100-120 we started to look to split. Once we hit triple digit attendance, we would see a lot of treadmilling. About 80-100 tended to be the sweet spot.

Mike Johnson said...

150 active members feels small to me. But that is probably typical. That probably depends on the number of children. YSA wards need a minimum of 125 active members to be a ward (50 to be a branch).

Now, we should not confuse active members with the average sacrament meeting attendance, which will almost always be lower (and sometimes quite a bit lower) than the number of active members.

Since the division of our ward a few years ago, we have averaged about 175 or so in sacrament meeting and it continues to feel small.

To be a ward, the congregation needs to:

1. be in a stake
2. have at least 15 active full tithe paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders
3. at least 150 total members outside of North America or minority languages inside of North America or at least 300 total members inside of North America.

In my stake, we have fairly high activity rates and the 7 "family wards" inside the stake could likely become 10-12 wards if the criteria for outside of North America were used.

Mike Johnson said...

Before our ward was split, we had about 480 members and average sacrament attendance around 320. It was uncomfortable, yet exciting. We filled the chapel, the cultural hall, and the font room. Sacrament meeting was routinely listened to by people in other rooms as well.

At that time, I began a study of church sizes in the protestant world to see if I could learn any insights. I found over and over again the definition of "medium-sized church" of 250-500 members or 100-300 in average attendance. I looked at the congruence of the protestant "medium-sized church" and the LDS ward in size at least in North America. And you see lots of arguments between small and large churches. Of course, a paid clergy is a big difference with an LDS congregation. But, there were a lot of comparisons--in the small church, there is an expectation to be able to meet with the pastor and little concern about the quality of the preaching. For the large church, with a lot of other pastors between the senior pastor and the members, there is no expectation of being able to meet the pastor, but the quality of his/her preaching is essential to the membership. Small church advocates claim small churches are best because they are tight-knit, no everybody, and people rarely get lost. Large church advocates claim they are better because of the quality of the preaching and well organized boards in the church. But, I found very little on the medium church.

One author, who had been a pastor in several churches of several sizes over his career, described each size level (house, small, medium, large, mega) in some detail and the organization found in the medium sized church was similar to the structure in an LDS ward--two to three pastors in charge (perhaps analogous to the bishopric), plus lay leaders for men's, women's, and teenagers, children's organization and outreach directors for evangelization and service. This sounded like a ward council. He also stated that medium sized churches are inherently unstable. He claimed that either they would grow to a large church or would reduce to a small church. I found his analysis fascinating and wondered how LDS differences in this sized congregation would have an impact. Medium-sized churches have the problem of starting to be too large for people to know everybody and too small build a program.

When I look at denominations that put the sizes of their congregations on the web (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, some United Methodist churches, and others), we see the vast majority as small--less than 100 members or less than 75 in average attendance, very few medium-sized churches, and several large or mega churches.

So, I ask myself, why would the Church use a template as the basic congregational form that seems to fit this "unstable" medium-sized church? We don't have large or mega church sized congregations (mega church > 7000 members on record or 2000 in average attendance). When we start to get into large church sizes for a ward, the ward gets split. The split puts the resulting congregations close to the boundary between small and medium churches.

BYULAW said...

I really like the statistical analysis approach to congregation size. My ward split two years ago and now is approaching 600 members again. Both before and after the split the activity rate hovered around 80%. What surprises me is the reluctance or hesitance to split wards in moderately fast growing areas. It seems that at least in my area they would rather error on the congregation being too big than on it being too small and providing room for expansion. When they last split the ward they announced that no more splits would occur for at least two years because it was a hassle and a lot of work to assess where to put the boundaries. But they left the wards closest to the new developments large, which I didn't understand.

John Pack Lambert said...

My ward had an area seventy speak in sacrament meeting today. I do not think I have seen this happen before.

In some cases local media will run articles that mention who stake presidents are. The Church news does eventually publish listings of all new stake presidencies (but not changes that do not involve a new stake president), but these average about 3 weeks after, but on occasion are several months after.

Cody Byers said...
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Christopher said...

So are ward splits based more on total active members or average sacrament attendance? I guess it is probably a combination of these. I am just trying to get a feel for the trend of how wards split, and if it is changing or not. To me, it seems like it should be based more on total active membership in the ward, rather than averages, since total members are who we are looking out for, trying to get to know, give callings to, perform other pastoral duties, etc. In our ward we have about a third of the membership miss at least once a month because they are newly married couples and go visit in-laws for Sunday, go to mission homecomings, etc. But they are still very much a part of the ward. It gets overwhelming with the numbers. 150-200 active (not just average on a Sunday) seems more manageable than the 400 or so that we have. But it is complicated, I know, and every ward is different. I am not looking for an exact formula. I was just wondering if there is a foreseeable change in trend, moving away from large wards and stakes.

The Opinion said...

Today my old stake, the Raleigh South Stake, created 2 new wards, the Lake Wheeler and Sunset Lake ward. This brings the total of wards to 9 for the newly formed stake. They are also trying to create a spanish branch for the stake as well.

The stake they split off from, the Apex stake, is trying to create another ward also but they can't because the don't have a building for it to meet in. The place the new ward would meet in is taken by a ward in the Raleigh south stake. The stake presidents have been told only one building is going to be built in the area. Both Apex and Raleigh South are trying to state their case for the building.

Thanks for the info on the statistical approach the church is doing to determine the ward size. Really fascinating.

The Opinion said...
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Mike Johnson said...

Christopher, I gave the criteria for a ward--per Handbook 1--above. It isn't about either total active members or sacrament meeting attendance. It is about total membership and the number of active full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders. High total membership and high numbers of active full-tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders likely means both high numbers of total active members and high average sacrament attendance.

Bryce .Gillespie said...

I read that the Casper Wyoming stack will start construction of a new meeting house tomorrow, witch makes me thank that stack could splat soon, with 12 words and 1 branch.

Christopher said...

Gotcha. Thanks.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Ward numbers can depend on a stake culture, it seems. In Ashburn Stake many people move in and out constantly, so the wards tend to have high numbers, and the membership seems to remain high. Sterling Park Ward seems to have the lowest attendance, maybe they average around 150 per Sunday, I am not sure. But I think most wards have over two hundred per week.
There is a Spanish group in Goose Creek ward of Leesburg that is trying to grow, I hear they need more priesthood strength.

phxmars said...

From the letter that was read during our stake reorganization (all the wards were affected save one), there was an implied emphasis that they were rebalancing the wards and making them smaller. My ward was the smallest, but the most active, and we added about 50 people to average sacrament attendance being 150. That seems to be what they were aiming for across the stake. We now have 10 wards.

The realignment of stakes in SW Phoenix tells me that 6-7 wards in a stake with about 150 people each is the magic number the SW Area is shooting for. I agree that every ward is quite different (esp highly transient wards), but from those two observations, I would guess 150 as stated above and 6-7 wards per stake as the statistical magic spot we are looking at here in AZ (part of the SW area)

Bryan Baird said...

3 stakes could also be organized in Virginia in the near future
Warrenton Virgibia
Leesburg Virginia
Alexandria Virginia

Bryan Baird said...

Two wards in Maryland could also get ready to split
Jones Falls Ward-Baltimore Maryland Stake and Lexington Park Ward-Suitland Maryland Stake. Of course if LP Ward splits Southern Maryland could probably get its own stake the wards being
Lexington Park
Patuxent
Calvert
Bay side
(New ward in future)

Bryan Baird said...

They are usually printed in the church newspaper

Bryan Baird said...

They are usually printed in the church newspaper

Eduardo Clinch said...
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Eduardo Clinch said...

Even though Centreville Stake comes between Warrenton and Leesburg, both could benefit as new stakes with part of those stake units in between. How many units would Alexandria end up with?
The new Stafford Stake south of Woodbridge is a great new development for the state. We need more growth now that Philly pulled members from the DC temple