Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ten New Stakes to be Created in West Africa during the Remainder of 2017

A recent article on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom site indicates that the Church in West Africa expects to organize 10 new stakes in the Africa West Area before the end of 2017. Earlier this year, missionaries reported that the area presidency indicated that the Church is expected to reach 100 stakes in West Africa in 2018. As there are currently 80 stakes in the Africa West Area, it appears that there will be approximately 90 stakes in the area by the end of the year. So far, the Church has organized five new stakes and four new district in the Africa West Area during 2017 according to my count (see right column of blog for complete listing of new stakes and districts organized during the year) although the recent article on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom site states that there have been 11 new stakes and districts organized during the year thus far.

The following stakes in West Africa appear most likely to divide within the next six months. New stakes created from the division of these stakes may account for some of the 10 new stakes to be created before the end of the year:
  • Aba Nigeria North (11 wards, 2 branches)
  • Aba Nigeria Ogbor Hill (10 wards, 5 branches)
  • Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon North (12 wards)
  • Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire Niangon South (13 wards)
  • Accra Ghana Adenta (11 wards, 5 branches)
  • Freetown Sierra Leone (11 wards, 3 branches)
  • Lomé Togo (14 wards, 3 branches)
The following districts in West Africa appear likely to become stakes within the next 6-12 months:
  • Adzope Cote d'Ivoire (7 branches)
  • Akamkpa Nigeria (9 branches)
  • Asaba Nigeria (7 branches)
  • Bo Sierra Leone East (5 branches)
  • Bo Sierra Leone North (7 branches)
  • Bo Sierra Leone West (7 branches)
  • Daloa Cote d'Ivoire (8 branches)
  • Ekpoma Nigeria (10 branches)
  • Kenema Sierra Leone (8 branches)
  • Ogwashi-Nsukwa Nigeria (12 branches)
  • Paynesville Liberia (11 branches)
  • San-Pedro Cote d'Ivoire (7 branches)

56 comments:

Eduardo Clinch said...

Great to see. I wish we could send more missionaries. Prepare to go. Or do some type of social media or other efforts.

John Pack Lambert said...

I just read an article indicating that there is a Roman Catholic parish in Charlotte, North Carolina with 10,000 registered households. This is several times bigger than any stake. A little hard to get a comparison but clearly bigger.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am expecting the next round of temple announcements to include one for Freetown.

L. Chris Jones said...

Amazing growth in The African Continent. I understand that not only is there high conversion, but real growth with high retention.

Michael Worley said...

I'm betting on Freetown temple being announced in 2019, but I would be thrilled if it was sooner.

James said...

Hello, all! This is great news indeed. I was thrilled to read about it. In terms of future temples in Africa, with the knowledge that the Church has had unprecedented growth on that continent. The growth of the Church in every African nation has me absolutely convinced that among the 85+ temples anticipated to be announced within the next 15 years or so, we are likely to see 7 or 8 of those somewhere in Africa. As for how imminent a temple in Sierra Leone might be, one has been on my personal list for the last year at least. When I have discussed my list with people here, the result has been that many have pointed out flaws in my thinking (which in some cases has proven to be justified) and that some efforts have been made to talk me into other possibilities. Where I have felt secure in my choices, I have defended them. Prior to April General Conference, many commented that my choice of Nairobi Kenya might be more of a long shot. I kept it on my list, and I was grateful the Lord verified that Kenya would get a temple. Since Freetown has been on my list for a while now, I would venture to say that we could see that temple announced within the next year, if not sooner. After all, with 85 or more temples set for announcement within the next 15 years, we may be entering an era when announcements happen at both General Conferences during the year, as well as some in between. With all of that in mind, some "long-shot" announcements may be more imminent than anyone realizes. At least, that's my opinion.

James said...

In the meantime, for any that may have been missing the opportunity to comment on my blog, I have resolved the issues there, and comments are now being allowed again and going through without any problem whatsoever. If any of you want to check out my latest posts and offer any feedback you might have, I welcome that. Thanks.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

James said...

Further study on Sierra Leone and the growth there has verified that two districts have been created there in the last 9 months. At the end of 2016, Sierra Leone reported 17,671 members and 55 congregations. Not sure how that has changed this year. All of this points to the fact that Sierra Leone is one nation that has experienced massive growth, which more or less confirms that Sierra Leone may well get a temple sooner than anyone (perhaps myself included) might think. Hope that helps. I also apologize if anything in my latest comments has cast me in the light of a know-it-all who is more interested in advancing his own opinion than he might be in hearing that of anyone else. I am always edified by the comments I read here, and I hope my comments might, in a small way, uplift and inspire others in the same manner. Thanks again to you all for this wonderful discussion.

Ray said...

Membership in Sierra Leone may top 21,000 at the end of 2017 based on recent growth patterns.

Pascal Friedmann said...

I think Sierra Leone and Liberia will continue to evolve to see growth very similar to that in Cote d'Ivoire over the last few years. This is somewhat surprising as both countries are still relying quite heavily on missionaries from North America. Also, I feel like Centers Of Strength is still more rigidly enforced there, thus barring opportunities for even faster growth. Like Michael, I would be thrilled about a temple there, but I'm not sure if I can see an announcement for at least a few more Conferences.

Kevin Wanderlan said...

So,while it's great this has been happening in Africa, I've got a bit terrified when I saw that Nigeria, with six missions, had a net increase as 54 units while the US with its 124 missions had only a six units increase.

Sure, the Africans are a great and receptive people, we just got there,so it might be a wrong way to compare things, but shouldn't we consider the US in a stagnant case and adress it?

James said...

Kevin, as Matt has observed in several case studies done recently, growth in the US is stagnating, except in the "Mormon corridor" area comprised of Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. And while that issue may need to be addressed somehow (either through unit or mission consolidations, through placing greater emphasis on member missionary work, or through other methods that are determined), it is encouraging in the same breath to acknowledge that the growth manifested elsewhere in the world is evidence that the Church cannot rightly be called a "Utah" or "US Church" anymore. The Church is fulfilling its mission to take the gospel to the world, and while issues that have led to stagnating growth in the US, it is wonderful to see other locations have a chance at significant growth. Whatever might happen, I personally take comfort in the knowledge that the Lord knows how to hasten His work anywhere that needs to happen in the world, and that the Brethren, who act under His inspired direction, will continue to make decisions that will allow the gospel to spread worldwide. That said, I do know that part of the problem of stagnating growth may be member disaffection, and that is one thing that can be worked on. I think that is one of the many reasons general Church leaders have stressed and emphasized more frequently of late that the Church is perfect as an organization, while some of the individuals in it might not be, and that it is important to ensure that every Church leader and member is treating those with whom they interact with the respect and compassion those individuals deserve. I also think that it is important for all of us to realize that we don't know the circumstances, background, or situation of anyone else we come in contact with, which is why it is important to treat everyone with civility, compassion, respect, and empathy. These are just some thoughts based on what I have observed. But I am sure that the Church is keenly aware of how the gospel is spreading or stagnating in various areas, and that the right steps will be taken to remedy such difficulties, however that needs to happen. Hope these musings help, for what they may be worth.

99 said...

Speaking of missions, I'm confused as to why Utah has 9 (normal) missions that any future missionary may be called to, of which 8 are in the immediate area of Salt Lake City. I don't know much about the stats in UT but since it is the heart of the Mormon corridor, I personally don't think the entire state of Utah needs any more than 2 missions (e.g. North and South UT). I'm guessing Utah already sees growth mainly by members relocating from a different state. Is there a reason for having the rather numerous missions in the state?

Michael Worley said...

Utah missions each typically have some of the highest baptismal numbers in the US. Children of newly reactivated parents and people fellowshipped by neighbors are some typical causes of baptisms. Having only two missions would require one President to be responsible for 800 baptisms a month, and the number of missionaries needed to teach those baptisms.

99 said...

Just by impression I'd think the Utahns would be much less dependent on the missionaries than anywhere else, hence self-sufficiency in faith. (e.g. home teachers) Feel free to prove me wrong because I don't live there and I don't know what it's like. But if that WERE the case, two far-fetched examples of what I meant would be: Mission centered in Elko, NV covers northern and central Utah west of Tooele, another in Grand Junction, CO takes the stakes/districts east of the Wasatch Range, then there'd be Salt Lake, Provo, and St. George alone as (normal) missions centered in Utah, in addition to Headquarters and Temple Square. Or, merge Logan and Ogden, Orem and Provo, and all Salt Lake City missions, and realign the missions to split at Bountiful between Ogden/SLC and Sandy between SLC/Provo. Then we'd have 4 (normal) missions centered in Utah, including St. George. But that's just me.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Each Utah mission has elders and sisters that cover multiple wards or even stakes, which makes it hard for normal members to see the full time missionaries much. Even occasional contact is better than nothing, but from what I know these missionaries stay busy. Utah has more non-members and less actives than ever; the opportunities to commit people to covenants is large. One Salt Lake mission covers significant parts of Wyoming. Also, Latinos and other minorities make up large parts of Utah, where new emigres are exposed to the Church for the first time and the need for representatives is real and effective.
And like everywhere, converts joining into the faith may end up moving elsewhere after being grafted into the faith where the LDS influence is so strong.

Christopher said...

Big changes in the Lethbridge Stakes today. Confirmed creation of a Lethbridge YSA Stake later in August and complete boundary and new wards changes to the three existing Lethbridge Stakes. Lethbridge West Stake was dissolved and reformed as Lethbridge North Stake. Many wards dissolved and reformed as new wards, and Coaldale Ward moved to Taber Stake. So including the YSA Stake that will be formed later this summer, Lethbridge Alberta now has 4 Stakes.

twinnumerouno said...

Also ldschurchtemples now shows a new stake in South Africa, the Mdantsane South Africa stake, created 9 July. It looks like it is a division of the East London South Africa stake.

twinnumerouno said...

That should have said ldschurchtemples.com, in case it wasn't clear.

Levi said...

On the discussion of missionary efforts and missionary quantity in Utah.

From what I have observed, the quantities of Missionaries are sent where they are needed. Even though there is a lot of members in Utah, there is a lot of Missionary work to do; that is in part of how many members live there, and the share of less actives and part member families. In communities of approx. 20000 people across the country, the number of members can vary. In Utah you could have 3-5 stakes, Washington one stake, Idaho 2-3 stakes, West Arizona 3-4 wards, East Arizona 3ish stakes, While in South Dakota here you have a Branch maybe a Ward. Higher Membership means more Missionary opportunities and need for missionaries. Home teaching doesn't replace Missionary work, it promotes missionary work and success of missionary work and efforts. And in all honesty, if the Lord sees a Ward or Branch put forth the effort in Home Teaching, he would be more likely to send those that are prepared to receive the Gospel, knowing that they will be taken care of.

That's my thought anyways.

James said...

Another unique element to growth (or the lack thereof) in Utah is the attitude and behavior of certain Church leaders and members. I have heard of (and seen) areas in which missionary work is going very well (with a prime example being how a good friend of my sister during their high school years became interested in and converted to the gospel), and where the efforts of individual wards I have been in have resulted in convert baptisms. However, by the same token, it seems that in some areas of Utah (particularly in those areas that are full of inactive members, or faithful members that, through no fault of their own, have situations that prevent them from consistent Church attendance) where people in such situations could benefit from extra support and encouragement, and instead are met with misunderstanding, a lack of compassion, and are thereby subjected to unjustified conclusions. These are just some observations I have made based on personal experience or things I have heard about. I know that the Lord said in the last days that even those who should be among the elect would be deceived or misguided, but it is tragic to realize how much trouble could be avoided if more care was taken to follow the advice and counsel of the leading Brethren, who have lately emphasized the importance of compassion and understanding for all and how to lead as the Lord would if He were here. When that kind of leadership is in place (and it does thrive in certain areas of Utah that are still growing well), then progress will continue. That's just a thought, FWIW.

james anderson said...

Since 2005, all new meetinghouses come with these pass-along card holders standard, and bishops were also told they could get them for older buildings, but I have only seen them in two meetinghouses that I have been to since out of a couple dozen

https://store.lds.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product3_715839595_10557_3074457345616706203_-1__196439

And this is the extender one can attach to that for the business card sized cards. How it attaches to the wood one is not obvious in the view shown.

https://store.lds.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product3_715839595_10557_3074457345616706203_-1__3074457345616886169

I saw one install in Gilbert AZ when at a funeral luncheon and they had cards in the pockets, for both sizess.

Three years later I find one in Orem, just the wood holder (the paper is optional), it was by the stake offices door, and it was empty with no dropped cards near it. I had a few so I left some.



Mike Johnson said...

Thank you, Christopher for the report from Lethbridge. That area holds a special place in my heart because my grandmother was raised in Raymond.

From the YSALethbridge facebook account:

"Today we received the announcement of the approval of a YSA stake here in Southern Alberta. It is a pretty special event because this is the first YSA stake outside of the United States. This is exciting news for all of us and will bring many opportunities with it!
Today it was also announced that there will be a YSA stake conference held August 27th.
"Under the direction of the first Presidency, we announce the creation of the Lethbridge Alberta YSA Stake. A special meeting will be held at the 10th Ave Chapel in Lethbridge (across from the regional Hospital) on Sunday Aug. 27th at 10:00am. Overflow will be to the Jerry Potts Blvd Chapel on the west side. All young single adults (age 18-30) in Southern Alberta are invited to attend this conference to sustain the creation of this new stake along with its new stake presidency"
All the YSA wards and bishoprics will remain the same as of now. The stake president you had before this announcement will continue to be your stake president until the new YSA stake is established

Mike Johnson said...

If all Southern Alberta YSA are invited the stake should have 7 wards and a branch:

Cardston YSA Ward, Cardston Alberta Stake
Lakeview YSA Ward, Lethbridge Alberta East Stake
London Road YSA Ward, Lethbridge Alberta Stake
Victoria Park YSA Ward, Lethbridge Alberta Stake
University Heights YSA Ward, Lethbridge Alberta West Stake
Westbridge YSA Ward, Lethbridge Alberta West Stake
Westview YSA Ward, Lethbridge Alberta West Stake
Medicine Hat YSA Branch, Medicine Hat Alberta Stake

John Pack Lambert said...

I just read this article http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/faith/lds-church-feels-major-growing-pains-in-happy-valley/article_6123b783-f9e9-512b-84b6-27fdbd8bced6.html about the growth of the population in central Provo and the rising tide of urban Mormons. The high apartment turnovers are challenging. I wonder though if turnover rates will fall off over time. On the other hand when I was at BYU we had wards with over 80% annual turnover.

On the other hand I am wondering why the focused on ward has YSA members when there are so many YSA wards in Provo.

John Pack Lambert said...

The main role of missionaries is to be resources to the church units to which they are assigned. Their main role is teaching, not finding people to teach. For the last 20 years or more the Church leadership has sought to balance the number of church units covered by missionaries as much as possible.

I think there are some very particular things going on. President Nelson has the story of asking the bishop of the ward where his non-church attending parents lived to send someone to teach his parents about the Church. The bishop responded by saying that he didn't have anyone who could do it. With the level of missionaries assigned in Utah, that could no longer happen.

In some parts of Utah less than half the population is LDS. There are lots of chances for people to be introduced to the Church.

Utah also has a very large refugee population.

How much Church growth in Utah is conversions there, how much is natural population growth and how much is members moving from elsewhere is hard to say.

One more observation. It appears that the Church has decided to implement some policies that lead to higher levels of church attendence before splitting units. As the counselor in the stake presidency I was talking to today observed, the goal is not to split wards for splitting wards sake. The goal of the Church is to invite all to come to Christ, through the ordinances of the gospel, both baptism and confirmation and temple ordinances.

Some of the decisions about not building new chapels and letting units grow may boil down to earmarking more funds for temples and less for chapels.

Christopher said...

They announced Cardston and the Lethbridge wards you mention. Medicine Hat was not mentioned. I will know for sure later, but it is fair distance away and I would be surprised if it were included. They also said this will be the first YSA stake outside of US, and after the DC stake recently organized, the first one outside of Utah, Az, ID. I wouldn't be surprised if they made one in Edmonton at some point. There is a strong YSA presence in that city. The idea has been floating around for years, but when Elder Rasband was here in Lethbridge last year's he told them to put together the proposal and submit it and he would personally bring it to the First Presidency.

Christopher said...

Oh and Michael, this week my family and I move to home to Raymond! A grand place to be connected to. We always say our greatest export in the world is church members.

L. Chris Jones said...

Christopher, I think we also have YSA stakes in Buena Vista VA and in HI Are there any other states?

L. Chris Jones said...

Does anybody think there could be a YSA stake in Idaho Falls area? There are about 5 YSA Wards spread through five stakes in Ammon, Idaho Falls, Ucon. We could potentially add three more branches between Firth and Shelley(or make them a district). I wonder if upgrade to a community college in the area will increase the chances.

james anderson said...

I am in central Provo and while the turnover rate is high, it is usually married students who come into the ward, stay for a few years and sometimes a little less, have children, then have to find a larger space or finish and leave for employment reasons in another city.

My stake, just across from the Provo City Center Temple to the north, has a 40 percent turnover rate. And due to a 100-unit apartment complex opened three blocks away, and a couple of other things, that rate could go higher.

I mentioned the pass-along cards earlier, I seem to be one who can unload a few any time I go out to certain things, regularly gave some out by the bar that is just two blocks from that same temple, it is against the law to smoke in the bar so they go outside to take a drag. The other bar, two blocks west of that, one night had a death-metal band playing inside but I STILL got one off outside of that, they were outside having a smoke.

Mike Johnson said...

The is also a New York City YSA Stake (#26 on the list created this year).

There are thus three YSA stakes on the east coast.

Bryan Baird said...

I think the 4th YSA Stake would probably be Boston (for the US east coast)

Christopher Nicholson said...

I was just wondering why there were no YSA stakes in Alberta. Calgary and Edmonton both also have easily enough YSA units to form YSA stakes without taking too many units away from the existing stakes.

James said...

The discussion of unit changes continues to be intriguing to me. Thanks to you all for sharing these insights. It will be interesting to see what might happen with such developments by the end of this year. For myself, I am not sure what Elder Wilson's statement about 85+ temples being announced within the next 15 years might mean in terms of unit growth. It would be awesome if the increased number of temples was in view of a potential significant increase in Church units. As far as YSA stakes, I know that one of the reasons such units are being created more within the US is to give young single adults the chance to mingle with people their own age, in the hopes that this in turn might lead to more socializing and to strong marriages. As far as the reason that YSA stakes are not currently being created in Canada, I am not sure of all the reasons, but that may be due in part to the fact that no Canadian provinces quite have the support and sustainability to operate such stakes. While Canada has seen some significant growth at times, a cursory study of Canadian provinces show that there are several provinces with a very small number of Church units. In Alberta, Calgary, and Edmonton, there may be enough infrastructure to create YSA wards, but perhaps not sufficient strength to maintain stakes. And YSA stakes in Utah were only established in 2010. It took a few years after that for the first YSA stakes to be established outside of Utah. Now they are becoming more common elsewhere in the US, but I am not convinced that there is enough of a demand for YSA stakes outside the US. At least, not yet. But I do see the Church having such plans in the works for the future. Hope that helps. Thanks.

Kevin Wanderlan said...

Thank you all for your answers. I just got a bit shocked seeing the dimension of this stagnation while the US has been the last source of real consistent growth in the developed western world this past decade.

I have mixed feelings about our potential efficiency in the Corridor. I've been wondering if, at least in the long run, we could create a more organic large-scale member missionary system there. Sure, without dismissing full-time missionaries, but over time being less dependent on them. We've seen examples of amazing accomplishments with Africans self declared LDS with no formal MTC training and also among other denominations without such a dominant presence as we have in Utah. I belive we are plenty of old, experienced members able to teach investigators there, or at least an enthusiastic youth.

Sure, it's very easy to just say it, si I hope I wont sound too much "critic" on our missions leaderships or be that foreign "then Utah kids don't know how to be real missionaries" guy. Anyway, I've just been wondering and hope to be enlighten by your comments as usual.

Now, putting the Corridor aside, what about the East? Have got to a point where our long time presence (physical and in the media ) just decreased more and more their receptivity so now we're practically unappealing, our you guys have other opinions?

Sorry if my long texts get confusing,I'm not a fluent english speaker.

James said...

Whether fluent in English or not, you were certainly coherent enough. Let me try to answer your questions. In terms of the stagnation in the US, Matt, as an expert in the field of Church Growth, has done studies on what is causing that stagnation and the factors that might be needed to reverse that. The impetus set by prophets that "every member [should be] a missionary" sometimes gets lost. One of the perils of living in the last days is that we are in the midst of a time when members are getting so caught up in their wealth and in their own lives that they forget the weightier matters of caring for the poor and of being member missionaries. And as sad as that is to acknowledge, the Lord knew it would happen, and it is a sign that the end is drawing near and that those who put aside temporal concerns and continue to reach out to rescue will have a greater chance of still standing at the last day.

As far as creating a more effective member-missionary system in the "Mormon corridor", the infrastructure is there if the leaders and members will only take the opportunity to make it work. The problem is that if people are so hung up on their own problems and their own day-to-day needs and concerns, they are not using the principles, practices, and programs of the Church that could spread the gospel on a larger scale. As to whether anything could be put into place that might be more effective than current methods, that is a possibility. That said, to do so would be within the discretion of the leading Brethren of the Church or to those they delegate that responsibility to, assuming the follow-through is there. And maybe such plans are in the works to fine tune such things. Speaking personally, I am content to do what I can (in terms of being an LDS blogger who shares my faith and what I enjoy about it in an effort to hopefully impact anyone who may follow my blog and gets curious about things I post).

As for what we as members can do, the best thing for any of us is to sustain the leading Brethren and follow their counsel to try and be member missionaries as such opportunities arise. There is a great harvest waiting, and the laborers are comparatively few, but with the Lord on our side, as we act under His direction, we will be able to do whatever He needs us to do. Hope that helps answer your question.

Christopher said...

Edmonton and Calgary both have very strong YSA wards, Edmonton in particular. I think it will happen in the next while. YSA Stakes are kind of a newer idea, so they may be working on making it more common. I don't know. It is no secret that LDS young adults are struggling, and I believe YSA Stakes help fill a need where leaders can focus more on them and also give leadership opportunities to the young singles. Our stake president here in Lethbridge said that he loves the YSA, but with interviews alone they take up a huge amount of his time, and with the family wards it is just so hard to find activities etc. to fill their needs. He had 3 YSA wards in our stake. Today it is just so easy for YSA to fall between the cracks. These stakes can help prevent this from happening as often as it does.

James said...

I agree with your thought above, Christopher, for the most part. I would just add my observation that the only time young single adults do "fall between the cracks", it is not because they are unable to associate with enough people their own age, but largely because most of them do not seem to take responsibility for how their own actions and decisions are affecting whether or not they do "fall through the cracks." Two examples from my own life: My brother started attending the Singles' Ward in my parents stake almost as soon as he turned 18 and was eligible to do so. Because he resented my parents so much for their attempts to, as he put it, "run his life", he started going off the beaten path. Earlier this year, he announced on Facebook his intention to request that his name be removed from the records of the Church. His personal choices that led up to that happening were the result of him "falling through the cracks" in spite of his involvement with young single adults his own age.

As a counterexample, I recount what happened to me. As a physically disabled young man with a lot of health challenges, I was unable to serve a full-time mission away from my family, but I took advantage of two wonderful part-time opportunities. And in my case, one of those led me to my wife, whom I later married in the same temple where I had met her. Throughout my life, I have been fiercely loyal to the gospel and the covenants I have made with the Lord. At the end of my two-year missionary service, I was told by my stake president that if and when I started attending the Singles' Ward would be up to me and up to the Lord. My problem was that when I asked Him about it, because I was more comfortable where I was and since I don't adapt well to change, I had only asked the Lord about going to the Singles' Ward in such a way that I was getting the answer I wanted, not the one I needed. And part of my disabilities involve not handling change very welll. It took a change in my parents' ward bishopric and a chat with our new bishop (who had been called to that assignment while serving as a counselor in the Singles' Ward), as well as fasting, prayer, and temple attendance to get my perspective straightened out. Only then did I accept the offered invitation. The point of this story is to demonstrate that during the time I remained in my parents' ward, I didn't feel deprived in any way from associating with people my own age. In fact, I had experiences as a result of staying where I was as long as I did that would not have happened if I were less diligent. And never at any time did I "fall through the cracks." I made the choice earlier on that I would not be that guy, and I was not.

James said...

So I think it is incorrect to say that it is easy for young single adults to fall through the cracks and that stakes can prevent it. Associating with your fellow YSAs is all well and good as far as it goes, but unless you make the choice to not do things that cause you to fall through the cracks, it doesn't matter if you are in a family or YSA ward.

I do think that part of the problem of modern times is an incorrect understanding of what causes people to fall or not fall through the cracks. While such involvement may help some people in some cases, in the case of my brother and myself, the only difference was that I conscientiously decided to not do anything that would result in my "falling through the cracks" and my brother did not. The Church teaches that personal responsibility for ones own salvation and that of his family is far greater than socializing in the Church. And it seems that I am encountering more and more people that don't get that. I find it hard to believe that at the judgement bar the Lord would be more concerned about where and how often I attended Church than he would be about whether or not my personal life and conduct with those I come in contact with was sufficiently emulating my goal to be like Him. Just wanted to note that, FWIW.

James said...

Just to clarify: Does the social aspect of Church help? Absolutely. When we know and serve among our brothers and sisters, we are blessed to be able to bear one another's burdens. But the Church's mission is not to focus on socialization. Instead, the mission of the Church and the One for whom it is named is the salvation and eternal life of all mankind. At least, it should be. Sometimes all that gets lost in the process. I hope no one takes offense that these comments. The idea that YSAs would not fall through the cracks if there were more YSA wards and stakes is somewhat misguided. Salvation and exaltation is, always has been, and always will be, a personal and family matter. We have been reminded of these principles more frequently in recent general conferences. If anyone believes otherwise, that view is not in harmony with the gospel as the scriptures and the Brethren have preached it. At least, that's what I believe. And I don't think I'm wrong. No offense intended. I just get tired of hearing about how someone "slipping through the cracks" is the fault of someone or something else not within that individual's control. The purpose of the War in Heaven was to preserve agency and personal accountability, and to support the idea of a Savior who would make up the difference for our mistakes when we fall short, as long as we repent and do our best to not repeat our mistakes. Without those principles, the whole fabric of our belief system crumbles. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, but that is the gospel as I understand it.

James said...

As a side note and slight deviation from this conversation, today has seen me do many more blog posts on a variety of subjects. A link to my blog follows. Enjoy!

http://stokessoundsoff.blpgspot.com

That said, back to topic!

Christopher said...

I am not really sure what you mean, James. A YSA stake helps focus on young single adults, too many of whom are leaving the church, and these stakes do help some to not "fall through the cracks" because leaders can focus on their needs more so than in a family ward or regular stake. It is about more effective ministering. I don't think that needs to be a controversial claim. Reaching out more effectively doesn't interfere with agency. Of course it ultimately is up to the individual, but we are called minister as best as we can. A YSA stake in locations where numbers merit it, in my opinion, helps us do that better. That's all I am saying. No worries, James. No offense taken here. Keep up the good work. You are a good man. :)

David Todd said...

I agree with Christopher. While you are exactly right that conversion needs to be a personal choice, those young adults who are making that choice need all of the personal ministering they can receive from leaders who understand their needs and from their peers. YSA stakes help significantly with that. You may have been fortunate to have had a bishop in your family ward that made time to meet with you and help you with what you needed, but sometimes bishops have too much on their plates to deal with large numbers of YSA in addition to the needs of families in the ward.

YSA wards and stakes are designed to help the individuals experience spiritual growth so that they will make the choice to be strong, active members. It is also a great place for young adults to learn to serve in responsibilities that may not be as easily availavle in family wards, such as serving on ward councils.

Eduardo Clinch said...

I attended BYU Singles wards in Utah in the mid '90s and the Bloomington IN singles branch in the late '90s. I also attended the UCLA ward in the early 2000s, which was have married half single.
These were good experiences as far as giving us more chances to help evangelize young people like us. In Indiana we baptized good numbers, many of whom went on full time missions and/or married Church members. Also, maybe the distance from their families allowed some youth (18-30) spread their wings and mature a bit more. Some were branch counselors and other higher callings, which hopefully helped all develop lifelong qualities and skills.
In the DC area there is a mid-singles ward, ages 31-45. This is a new thing to me, because there might be a Single Adult ward that is 46+, not sure.
Later marriage ages and divorce and widowdom have created more of these units than ever, and it hopefully leads to more individual and collective growth in Christ.

Joseph said...

Sunday we had the 1st Counselor in the Denver Temple Presidency at our Ward he gave a training during 2nd hour and answered a few questions. Among the information presented was the fact that while the number of patrons is down 40% since the opening of the Ft. Collins Temple ordinances are only down 12%.

James said...

I hope everyone knows and understands that I meant no disrespect whatsoever. While continuing Church activity is a personal choice, there are some situations where a ward devoted to YSAs are helping such young people to maintain their activity. All I was trying to say is that, in contrasting the differences between my brother and I, attending the Singles' Ward did not prevent his eventually marrying outside the Church and requesting a removal of his records years after he stopped attending Church meetings. By contrast, I was equally active in both my parents' ward and in the Singles' Ward because I chose to be. I have seen the benefits of the Singles' Ward in my own family, as my sister's attendance there led her to the man she would marry about a year later. So I don't deny that the Singles' Ward can be effective in what it does. But I am trying to point out that no one will "slip through the cracks" if his or her heart is in the right place. And I'm also saying that the Singles' Ward may not always be a good fit for everyone. My other sister attended the Singles' Ward for a time, but she soon came back and again attended my parents' ward. Her reason for doing so was that she was waiting for her boyfriend to return from his missionary service. While finding a spouse is not and should not be the only reason for Singles' Ward attendance, it does happen. My point is more that my brother had quite a different attitude about life, the gospel, and wanting to be a part of all of that than my sisters and I did. As a result, my sisters and I have followed the gospel path and have all been married in the temple. My brother met someone hostile towards the Church, and while they were married by the bishop of my parents' ward, that hostility has led to his disaffection and withdrawing his membership. Again, I mean no offense whatsoever. I agree that there are those who need the Singles' Ward. And I needed it for the brief time I was there. I had the opportunity to serve as an assistant ward clerk for the time I spent there. And though I didn't know it when I first came to the Singles' Ward, because I had followed the counsel of the newly called bishop of my parents' ward to consider doing so, my obedience in that case indirectly set off the events that led to me dating and eventually marrying a coworker from one of my temple shifts. So in both of those ways, I was benefited personally. Hope that clarifies things. Thanks for letting me continue to ramble. I do hope no one misunderstood me or took offense at anything I said above. Thanks again.

James said...

To change the subject again, FWIW, I have done several other new blog posts lately on the results of some additional research about temples. Check it out if you'd like to, and if you have any feedback, I would welcome it. Thanks again.

http://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com

James said...

But getting back to responding to comments on this thread, Eduardo, your comment intrigued me. I have heard of "specialty wards" for mid- or late-aged single people, but I don't know how prevalent they might be in Utah State (and particularly Utah County). I'm sure they exist.

I also completely agree that the bishops and other leaders of such wards are uniquely suited to deal with issues unique to such wards. I have first-hand experience with that as well. When my wife and I were preparing for our marriage, we ran into many obstacles that had us worried, concerned, and very troubled. The details of all of that are not important. What touched us most during this time is that our bishops supported us in overcoming these obstacles and in providing much-needed counsel about how to deal with everything. For the last several weeks prior to our wedding, my wife met with her bishop, as I did with mine, on a weekly basis so that we could continue to get that guidance. And those visits paid off. We witnessed quite a few miracles happening, including being able to find our first home (a basement apartment) merely four days prior to our wedding day.

Sorry. My fingers got away with me. Hope that additional comment helped me clarify what I am trying to say. Joseph, thanks for that interesting insight about the Denver temple. That is interesting. And to all of you, thanks for letting me ramble so much. I continue to be inspired through my involvement in these discussions, and hope that my comments, such as they are, will help others to be inspired as well. Thanks again.

John Pack Lambert said...

I doubt the Church will make YSA districts. I xould easily see a YSA stake in the Idaho Falls area.

John Pack Lambert said...

My understanding is Cambridge stake has YSA units from far beyond its boundaries. However there are YSA units in Boston, Hingham and I think Providence stakes and Cambridge stake is still fairly large because Massachusetts North Shore stake was nainly formed from New Hampshire stakes. A year ago there were no YSA stakes outside of the Mormon corridor or heavily Mormon college towns. While DC and NYC YSA stakes may not have more geographical stakes in their boundaries than those in the Mormon corridor they tend to be much larger in area.

John Pack Lambert said...

One issue is that due to various factors many YSAs are highly mobile. If you are in a ward where you have lived a long time then outreach to a YSA often is done well and coordinated. The outreach where populations are new and to those who are mobile often needs to be more focused. Also in both ward and stake stats if your YSA is above a certain percentage it is at times to better meet the needs of tgose who are not YSAs that seperate units are created. If there were no YSA stakes for example and just YSA wards some Provo stakes could have 10 YSA wards and 2 non-YSA wards. This woyld maje doing things such as youth conference in that stake very difficult.

John Pack Lambert said...

Here in Meteo Detroit in the Bloomfield Hills Stake we have a mid-singles group for unmarried people from throughout the stake ages 31-45. The group only does Sunday School as a seperate meeting but we do activities, although what with being engaged and working multiple jobs and getting my teaching certificate I dont make it to many activities.

There aee lots of pluses to the group method. The biggest is that parents can bring their children with them. With so many singke parent coverts and divorcees being among mid-singles this is important. Traditional singles units rarely are set up to accomadate single parents.

John Pack Lambert said...

Do you think there will be a YSA staje formed in metro Denver?

John Pack Lambert said...

When I was at BYU in about 2003 the Church discontinued its one over 30 singles unit in Utah County. About a year or so ago the Church got to either 3 or 4 such units in Utah county.

On the issue of to me the much better mid-singles magnet wards I have little indication how common they are and I know the one in Ann Arbor is meant to just be a magnet ward with no activities or Sunday School class, just letting mid-singles have their records their no matter where they live in the stake.

I get the impression even more prevalent is the creation of seperate mid-singles activities and events. Back when I first aged out of YSA and went to singles evrnts I often felt out of place. I went to one conference where they had a seminar on writing your will. Another time I went to a conference with two women who had both been widows some time. One woman I met at these conferences had grandchildren I knew who were a few years older than me. The Single Adult Coordinating couple in my ward advocated long and hard to convince the stake presidency to start a,mid-singles program.

James said...

John, your continuing comments always inspire me. In interactions with you both here and on Wikipedia, I have come to greatly respect your insights. Some may say your time (and mine as well) could be better spent in doing more important things, but I for one am always inspired to read what you have to say. I always come away from such interactions grateful for the way your comments add to the dialogue, and appreciative of my chance to learn from you.

Speaking of Wikipedia, the reason I haven't done any editing there recently is that the limitations of my current health situation have only left me time and strength to immerse myself in inspirational content, both reading and reporting on Church news and developments. I know that I have traditionally put together a list of changes in area leadership that need to be made each year to Wikipedia's page on LDS general authorities so that the changes can be implemented on August 1, and I have published such a list on my blog. But until things improve with my health, I need to devote what strength I have to things that will inspire me rather than things like Wikipedia that test my patience and peace of mind. So, in that regard, if you are still editing Wikipedia regularly, I wanted to pass along a link to the blog post I wrote about what those changes will involve and entail. Some of those assignments have already taken effect. If you can make those changes in my behalf next week sometime, I'd appreciate it. If not, please let me know, and I will try to do it myself. Thanks again for everything, John!

https://stokessoundsoff.blogspot.com/2017/07/changes-in-area-leadership-reported-in.html?showComment=1500868037723#c6414148941763195138