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Young Single Adult Theory

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1. Young Single Adults (YSA) are needlessly segregated from the rest of their religious culture at the ward level.

Needlessly? I don't see how that is? The point of singles wards is two folds

1. It keeps singles active in the church longer

2. Temple Marriage is higher for those that go to a singles ward.

If those reasons aren't enough, the biggest one is any singles can choose if they want to go to the family ward or not. Now that choice might already be made for them if all the other singles are going to the ward.

2. YSAs are in the process of developing a divine identity.

Very True.

3. This identity is best developed by observing family units that are engaged in living The Proclamation on a weekly basis, and by attending the temple with one’s religious community.

How so? For somebody that doesn't come from an LDS family, there might be some that are being missed. But me watching my neighbor take his 3 kids to church, I'm not sure how that benefits me? If anything, it shows what I want, (to get married and have kids). that happens more often in a YSA ward, then in a family ward.

4. YSAs need to engage with children, teenagers, mothers, fathers, older saints, and all other types of members on a weekly basis to actually partake in a community.

This is kind of two parts. Yes there is Sunday, and then there are activities. The way you make this sound is that YSA are on some Island, and once they run into a "teenage" or "older saint" in the wild, they won't know how to act. I disagree. My YSA stake would be part of the sacrament of an Elderly Care place. The point is, being well rounded comes more then just church. I don't see how seeing old people at church makes me better?

5. YSAs need to witness the arrival of newborns and the passing of the elder saints in their community to help them clearly see their roles in that community.

Again, If I'm on some Island, this might be the case. But YSA know when people die and when new kids are born. Just because we don't have baby blessings, I don't think we are messing out. More, I don't think the "Community" is a substitute for our Family and extend family. We have relatives that die, and family members that have kids. We do have friends out of side of this YSA ward that goes through the same things. Death and birth happens more then just in a Family ward.

6. YSA wards offer a religious community that shields young singles from these real life events. Additionally, these wards are not indicative of the actual LDS community available locally.

How does it shield YSA from this? I don't see it. I haven't seen it in my time in Singles wards.

7. The transition of singles from YSA wards to geographic wards as they reach the age limit of the program is corrosive to their sense of belonging to this church, and hence corrosive to their faith. This uprooting needs to end.

I do agree with this (going through this right now). But the "corrosiveness" isn't because of the single ward. Its because I'm single in a family ward! I guess if I had been going to a Family ward all a long, then I would have just delt with that reality sooner. But its still the situation I'm in. The transition has more to do with not being married, then who is my bishop, and what my calling is going to be. By the time singles are 31, they understand what being LDS is. Its not like they just wake up and the light turns on.

8. The teenage members of the church need to associate the Relief Societies and Elders Quorums in their local wards with people that are closer to their own age. When the 18-25 year olds are absent from weekly meetings, that disconnect can be lethal to their willingness to transition from Young Men’s and Young Women’s.

That could be. I don't know. I don't know how anybody would know this for sure.

9. The Three Fold Mission of the church is best enabled when all of the talented and dynamic members of a given geographic area are pooled together. Hence, all who are disposed to doing missionary work, reactivation, temple work, genealogy, activities, Etc., will be able to better combine their efforts to accomplish the work by simply meeting together.

I disagree. The mission of church works because its the Lord church, not because of the different ages in the church. But more, with a YSA ward, it gives 18-30 years old the chance to serve in callings they wouldn't have other wise. For example I was able to be part of the Elders Quorum Presidency, to be a secretary in the Bishopric. Both of these callings helped me understand, not only how a ward works, how Counselors help the bishop out. But also how the blessings of serving others. I wouldn't get this if I was in some other "Community" being some Scout master. If you want to learn the importance of Home Teaching, be part of those that see the good and bad Home Teaching stats each month. When I'm the one having to Motivate others to do Home Teaching, or to sit in a meeting with the Bishop on how the ward is struggling, it opens your eyes.

I'm guessing you haven't had a good experience in YSA wards. I have seen good and bad wards. I have seen some of the problems with YSA wards. There are also problems of having YSA attend a family ward. But, I feel, when all is said in done, a YSA that goes to a YSA ward with the intent to give it there all in the ward, can be far greater for the person then going to a family ward. My only regret is not going to a YSA ward sooner. Coming back from a mission was tough for me to re-adjust, not to life, but into the next phase of trying to get married. Being in a family ward (and teaching the deacons) if anything I feel like I missed out, because of the Family ward I was in. In some sense there was no pressure for me to even try to get married. Where as in a singles ward, you realize why you are there!

There is even, I guess, a new program started in CA where they form Mid Singles ward at the Stake level. Meaning all the Singles that are over 31 go to Church together. I don't know if I see that catching on. I do wish there was a chance for me to at least try out a Mid Singles ward, but they seem to be a thing of the past.

Edited by tubaloth

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Thank-you for the response, tubaloth.

The point of singles wards is two folds

1. It keeps singles active in the church longer

2. Temple Marriage is higher for those that go to a singles ward.

For point 1, I would ask how can you know this? Is there data showing that more singles stayed active longer before there were singles wards than there were after they became popular? Because if your point is simply about the current program, I don't see how Temple marriages would diminish in the least should YSA wards be dissolved. These people would still meet and date via the vehicles of local FHE, activities, and the Institute program.

If those reasons aren't enough, the biggest one is any singles can choose if they want to go to the family ward or not. Now that choice might already be made for them if all the other singles are going to the ward.

You should probably read the entire essay to see this argument fleshed out.

But me watching my neighbor take his 3 kids to church, I'm not sure how that benefits me?
I don't see how seeing old people at church makes me better?

The point is to build relationships with one's entire religious community, not just the YSA's you encounter at a singles ward. As it stands, many YSAs who aren't locals end up missing out on many in the community simply because of the way our people are subdivided logistically.

But YSA know when people die and when new kids are born.

Perhaps in their own families. But on a geographic ward level? I don't think so. There is no mob of YSAs attending the funerals of local 80-year-olds that they have served with for years and grown to love through church association. Unless the YSAs are local, these people are usually alien to each other.

More, I don't think the "Community" is a substitute for our Family and extend family.

I certainly agree here. However many YSAs are transplants either working or studying far from home, and many also don't necessarily enjoy the blessings of a close family and/or extended family. So the local community available to them through the Church can end up meaning a lot depending on the circumstances.

We have relatives that die, and family members that have kids. We do have friends out of side of this YSA ward that goes through the same things.

"We" who? There are a lot of atypical situations out there. People that come from non- and part-member families, Etc. Witnessing the death and birth across the entire scope of one's religious community is a greater truth than only witnessing it within one's own family.

I do agree with this (going through this right now). But the "corrosiveness" isn't because of the single ward. Its because I'm single in a family ward!

Well, it's not really a "family" ward, is it? All sorts of people go to a geographic ward. Also, I never used the word corrosive in reference to singles wards. It is in reference to a culture of uprooting people from wards because they have reached the age limit of the program. The Mid-singles transition is one of the most difficult transitions of the church, and most testimonies simply do not survive. In my stake in SLC, fewer than 30 of 300 known mid-singles were still active when I lived there two years ago. And here in Seattle it is even worse.

That could be. I don't know. I don't know how anybody would know this for sure.

Just ask the Stake Relief Society president in your area what the percentage is of YW that make the transition into RS. Then when she tells you (it'll be around 50%) ask her why she thinks that is. If your discussion lasts for over 20 minutes, the chances are good that she'll tell you that many of these young women simply can't identify with a Relief Society that is often represented by women that are often 25 - 90 years old. The YSAs are the missing link in this equation.

The mission of church works because its the Lord church, not because of the different ages in the church.

My issue here is with logistics, not with doctrine or authority. The Church has made plenty of changes in the scheme of Sunday worship over the course of its history, and the decision to create a lot of YSA wards 30+ years ago was just another shift that seemed like the right idea at the time. My argument is simply that it no longer best serves a fragmenting LDS community on the whole, and that a movement towards fully integrated geographic wards would be better for the coming generation of young single adults.

But more, with a YSA ward, it gives 18-30 years old the chance to serve in callings they wouldn't have other wise. For example I was able to be part of the Elders Quorum Presidency, to be a secretary in the Bishopric. Both of these callings helped me understand, not only how a ward works, how Counselors help the bishop out. But also how the blessings of serving others. I wouldn't get this if I was in some other "Community" being some Scout master.

While I can see why you believe the way you do, I do not share your experience. I have been in my family ward for a year and am already in the EQ presidency. In truth, there are more callings and opportunities to serve in geographic wards than there are in YSA wards. And it's because there are kids and old people there. In my experience, more than half of the callings handed out in YSA wards are tenuous at best... only a privileged handful of people are given callings with any weight in these units.

If you want to learn the importance of Home Teaching, be part of those that see the good and bad Home Teaching stats each month. When I'm the one having to Motivate others to do Home Teaching, or to sit in a meeting with the Bishop on how the ward is struggling, it opens your eyes.

Trust me, I've been there. I think your arguments would be better served by actually reading past the summary.

I'm guessing you haven't had a good experience in YSA wards.

That'd be wrong. I thought it was a great party, and it lasted for over a decade. But should church really be a glorified social club where Jesus is often a subtext? I feel I would have been far better enriched by building relationships with all kinds of LDS people in that time than just the single people.

My only regret is not going to a YSA ward sooner. Coming back from a mission was tough for me to re-adjust, not to life, but into the next phase of trying to get married. Being in a family ward (and teaching the deacons) if anything I feel like I missed out, because of the Family ward I was in.

It's regrettable that you had to choose between these two worlds in the first place. Teaching deacons is the opposite of a waste of time... but here you feel like you missed out on something. If the other local YSAs had been present in your ward in the first place, then there would have been ward activities for that group and you would have been plugged in to the social scene. But having to choose between families and singles is the wrong way to run things, imo. I see no reason why YSAs (and all members) can't have things both ways.

There is even, I guess, a new program started in CA where they form Mid Singles ward at the Stake level. Meaning all the Singles that are over 31 go to Church together. I don't know if I see that catching on. I do wish there was a chance for me to at least try out a Mid Singles ward, but they seem to be a thing of the past.

They have one here in Seattle, and I attend. It is a regular geographic ward with families and all kinds of folks. The singles all meet together for sunday school, and they have an FHE of their own. But in the end, it still just feels like a cordoning off of those who failed in the system.

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For point 1, I would ask how can you know this? Is there data showing that more singles stayed active longer before there were singles wards than there were after they became popular?

The data is LDS members between 20-25 (I think) that go to singles wards are more active then those that doesn't. I not only had my bishop talk to me about this, but also our stake president in more then one Priesthood Training. Even more about 4-5 years ago, the LDS church even started to given more money to wards (and stakes) for this same age group. (This is about the same time when Instatute became free, where as before you had to pay like 8 or 9 dollars). Meaning even the church was trying to push more money to YSA ages to help the wards keep them active. During this time, there was some greed maybe, where different stakes formed there own YSA ward, for the purpose of getting (and keeping) more of this money at the Stake level.

It shows the church was and is trying to do all it can to keep the YSA age active.

I think its more obvious that if you can keep more YSA active, then more are likely to get married in the temple.

Because if your point is simply about the current program, I don't see how Temple marriages would diminish in the least should YSA wards be dissolved. These people would still meet and date via the vehicles of local FHE, activities, and the Institute program.

I think it goes with out saying that with a YSA ward, more people are likley to meet each other then with out it. Its not to say they can't find that social group with out a YSA ward. It just means that with a YSA ward its built in, its part of I guess as you say the "Cummintity".

You should probably read the entire essay to see this argument fleshed out.

I probably should, but I don't have to the time nor the will power to rebuttal 4 pages of ideas, that I don't completly agree with.

The point is to build relationships with one's entire religious community, not just the YSA's you encounter at a singles ward. As it stands, many YSAs who aren't locals end up missing out on many in the community simply because of the way our people are subdivided logistically.

Yes, I'll agree in a YSA ward, there are probably some in the "community" that they don't get to meet. On the other hand because of the boundries of the YSA ward they are others they do get to meet that they wouldn't have with out a YSA ward. I don't see how you can say that one set of boundries is so much better then another set. Where the line is draw I don't see that matter. The bigger thing is for the YSA to be part of a Community. Does it really matter which communitee they are part of? Yes they might not know there neighbor up the block as well, but they might know another lady better in the next town over. How can we trully weigh this proximation. I don't think we can. One thing we did in my singles ward is Habitat for Humanities. We actually tried to do at a ward level and it became to big for us so we did it at a Stake level. There is no way in the world I would have meet this lady if it wasn't for the YSA ward.

Perhaps in their own families. But on a geographic ward level? I don't think so. There is no mob of YSAs attending the funerals of local 80-year-olds that they have served with for years and grown to love through church association. Unless the YSAs are local, these people are usually alien to each other.

I don't see the reason why YSA need to be going to a lot of Funerals of 80 year old people?

I certainly agree here. However many YSAs are transplants either working or studying far from home, and many also don't necessarily enjoy the blessings of a close family and/or extended family. So the local community available to them through the Church can end up meaning a lot depending on the circumstances.

That can be. But as I have seen the Bishopric really becomes there family. Meaning we would have Family home evening at the different Bishopric members homes. Not given the age of these members some had kids still at home, others didn't but had grand kids around. If idea is we need to expose YSA to the happy Eternal Marrage life, then that happens plenty with how friendly a YSA Bishop gets to be with its members. I guess better way of looking at is is class sized. Having some Bishiop with a full ward, does have to worried about the 80 year old that dies, and the new kid being born. in a YSA ward the bishop can do what one thing, help the YSA. There is more One and one time so to speak. Not only at the ward level, but also the Bishopric's wives are part of it. More then once somebody in the Bishopric would bring there wife and kids to church.

Well, it's not really a "family" ward, is it? All sorts of people go to a geographic ward. Also, I never used the word corrosive in reference to singles wards. It is in reference to a culture of uprooting people from wards because they have reached the age limit of the program. The Mid-singles transition is one of the most difficult transitions of the church, and most testimonies simply do not survive. In my stake in SLC, fewer than 30 of 300 known mid-singles were still active when I lived there two years ago. And here in Seattle it is even worse.

How many of these people that feel away, do you think would have just feel away sooner if they were in a Family ward? I do think this transition is hard. But I don't see eleminationg Singles wards as any real solution to it. The problem is Singles feel out of place in a family ward. Eliminating the Singles ward doesn't fix this problem. Maybe it makes local wards have to face it more.

Just ask the Stake Relief Society president in your area what the percentage is of YW that make the transition into RS. Then when she tells you (it'll be around 50%) ask her why she thinks that is. If your discussion lasts for over 20 minutes, the chances are good that she'll tell you that many of these young women simply can't identify with a Relief Society that is often represented by women that are often 25 - 90 years old. The YSAs are the missing link in this equation.

I agree, thats why going to a YSA ward can bridge this gap. Would I rather go to a ward where the RS president is 45 years old. Or go to a RS president that is 24 years old. Don't you think a 24 year old RS president can relate to new young lady better?

My argument is simply that it no longer best serves a fragmenting LDS community on the whole, and that a movement towards fully integrated geographic wards would be better for the coming generation of young single adults.

I don't know about this. I think each Single adult (30+) should be able to make the choice themselves. I think onces you get to that age, you can make that choice of which you feel is better for you. I just posted something on a Facebook about activties they have in Norther Utah. I asked on the Facebook where do you guys find a ward to go to. (There aren't any Mid Singles ward in Davis or Weber County). I guess a little surprised the first respons was some Lady that said she loves going to her family ward. I found the surprising because it didn't answer the question at all. Thats why I feel a Singles should have the option. Really maybe the key for the Singles to feel good about going to a family ward is when its there choice. The reason I feel lost now is because there isn't any choice for me. Its go to the Family ward, or nothing. So in a sense I feel forced. Where as if I had choice between a singles ward and a Family ward. I probably would go to singles ward for a time, but sooner probably then later I would realize on my own time that is time to go to a family ward.

While I can see why you believe the way you do, I do not share your experience. I have been in my family ward for a year and am already in the EQ presidency. In truth, there are more callings and opportunities to serve in geographic wards than there are in YSA wards. And it's because there are kids and old people there. In my experience, more than half of the callings handed out in YSA wards are tenuous at best... only a privileged handful of people are given callings with any weight in these units.

Of course there are going to be more callings in a Family ward. So now its a matter of I guess quality of the calling. That can be debatable. Is teaching Decaons the same as being part of the Fellowship committie. I don't know if we can completly judge one calling agasint another. Each have there own good and bad parts. I do think there are more opertunites in a Singles ward to serve in I guess head callings. (being a leader of some committee).

But should church really be a glorified social club where Jesus is often a subtext?

I don't see that in my wards that I have been too. Even a YSA ward I was trying to Join (until they figured out my age) had a Speciall Sacrement meeting about the sacrement. Even where they had the talks first, and had the sacrement at the end. These kinds of things I don't think are even tried in a Family ward because some High Priest is probably going to complain. Yes singles wards are a Social Club, thats there point. They want YSA to get to know other YSA in the area, with the spirit.

It's regrettable that you had to choose between these two worlds in the first place. Teaching deacons is the opposite of a waste of time... but here you feel like you missed out on something. If the other local YSAs had been present in your ward in the first place, then there would have been ward activities for that group and you would have been plugged in to the social scene. But having to choose between families and singles is the wrong way to run things, imo. I see no reason why YSAs (and all members) can't have things both ways.

You probably are right. I'm not a social person by any means. I'm not one to go out of my way to find a date or to introduce myself. Thus in my situation you can see how being in a family ward, just plays into my comforit level. If I'm not around Young Ladies, then I don't have to ask any of them out. But more after coming from a mission it was trying to find the new way of life. I feel somewhat because I went to a family ward, I went back to how I acted before when I was in the family ward. I think if I would have went to a Singles ward from the start it would have caused me to in sense deal with it.

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The data is LDS members between 20-25 (I think) that go to singles wards are more active then those that doesn't. I not only had my bishop talk to me about this, but also our stake president in more then one Priesthood Training.

Yes, well, if you had read the essay you would understand the summarized point. Of course they are more active if they attend a singles ward now, because right now that is where most in their peer group are. But if that peer group were attending the geographic ward instead... along with all the families, kids & old folks... would these same people still be inactive? Would the activity percentage increase or decrease?

I happen to think that activity would increase across the board. I think the reason why "family" wards are so boring and lifeless is because most of the people with the most time and vitality are separated from the rest of the herd and given less responsibility. I think young marrieds and older individuals are removed from their natural roles as mentors to young adults because all of the singles have been removed from their community on the ward level. I think having a dozen (or 3, or 4 dozen) young people in their twenties around is exactly what most family wards have been missing for the last three decades.

Even more about 4-5 years ago, the LDS church even started to given more money to wards (and stakes) for this same age group.

Yeah, and the attendant problems you described are no surprise. Any time you split the 99 and start handing out budgets you're going to run into inequalities and greed. This is one reason why the Son prayed to the Father that we would be one as they are... or in other words, in an actual relationship with a common goal.

It shows the church was and is trying to do all it can to keep the YSA age active.

I think it shows that the baby boomers who are currently in all the leadership positions in the church are basically desperate for singles to get married, but they don't know exactly what to do about the fact that, on the whole, they aren't. So they pour more funds into the YSA, institute program, Etc., and try to encourage stakes to have multi-stake activities so that people can get out there and meet. But what they don't realize is that all this shoving isn't helping a generation of young adults that are seeking a divine identity.

And where does that identity come from? It comes from giving one's whole soul to God. It comes from serving each other, and thereby performing our labors unto the Lord. It comes from attending the temple, and not by yourself for some self-centered purpose, but as a community that recognizes the temple as the one thing in this slippery world that has any grip... the one thing that seals us permanently (as a family, not as individuals) to God.

I think that young people who are caught up in such a community are smart enough to see who the other singles are without the aid of singles wards. FHE, activities, and Institute are enough to fulfill the social club role.

I think it goes with out saying that with a YSA ward, more people are likley to meet each other then with out it.

I'm sure that's a common opinion. But I think it insults the intelligence and capability of the people we're talking about. I think being around married people encourages the unmarried to follow suit far better than the comfort of a YSA ward.

I probably should, but I don't have to the time nor the will power to rebuttal 4 pages of ideas, that I don't completly agree with.

Yet you have the time to correspond within an argument for an approximately equal amount of time/energy. I know you aren't intending to insult me my friend, but to be honest, that's a little insulting.

Yes, I'll agree in a YSA ward, there are probably some in the "community" that they don't get to meet.

Not some. Most.

And it's not just about meeting these people. It's about serving with them in callings and as home/visiting teachers. Do you want unmarried women to put marriage and motherhood first in their lives and the world second? Then surround them with mothers and children. Do you want unmarried men to obey Elder Bednar's counsel and stop wasting their lives playing video games? Then surround them with a quorum of experienced priesthood holders who will lead them to the temple and show them what it means to stand in holy places.

Does it really matter which communitee they are part of?

Yeah, it does. Why? Because it is your interaction within a diverse religious community that will show a potential mate a clearer picture of who you are on the inside than what she will see from observing you interact with what is essentially a social club with a built-in popularity contest. There are a thousand other reasons, of course, but that's the first that comes to mind.

I don't see the reason why YSA need to be going to a lot of Funerals of 80 year old people?

I don't know what to say. Old people are an untapped wealth of knowledge and experience. And not just the ones you are related to, either. You can get more substance and knowledge from and 80-year-old in an hour than you could get in 50 hours on Facebook.

Essentially you are saying that there is no real reason why these people should know and love each other. I think most people in our culture feel the same way, and I think it is absolutely sad.

The scriptures say we knew these people before we came here. Joseph Smith said we are sealed to them through covenant. Is it really such a waste of time to interact with them and gain the blessings of their friendship? You know there are millions of them out there, just lonely as can be because their own children and grand children only see them at holiday time. Why not know them? Why not let them have a big effect in your life?

They have endured to the end. Their funerals should be filled to capacity.

But as I have seen the Bishopric really becomes there family.

If a ward is lucky, then the Bishopric & their families will be heavily involved. But even then, having three marriages to observe isn't nearly enough. YSA's should be exposed to a wide range of marriages and family situations. They should be able to see what works in marriages and what doesn't on a ward level. They should observe how different people cope with death and disease.

YSA's would be able to more clearly see the issues in their own relationships if they were surrounded by people who are striving to live The Proclamation.

I've been in a lot of singles wards, and not all Bishoprics are that involved. Not all bishop's wives open their homes to the YSAs. So if it's a matter of luck, then the unlucky get the shaft. Additionally, some of these families have kids and are torn as to whether they should take them to the singles ward or leave them in their local ward. Often times they just call older couples who's kids are already grown, and they release couples once a new baby is born.

YSA's should be surrounded by kids and experienced adults every step of the way as they find mates. Especially if they are far from home, which most of them are. A marriage decision should be an informed decision, and being surrounded by families should be part of that flow of information. The information gathered by observing and interacting with singles only is far from adequate.

Having some Bishiop with a full ward, does have to worried about the 80 year old that dies, and the new kid being born. in a YSA ward the bishop can do what one thing, help the YSA. There is more One and one time so to speak.

Why throw all that responsibility on one person? A local ward has a large group of leaders

who will naturally fulfill the roles of mentors for young people if you simply reunite these separated groups of people. Plus, the YSAs will be recast as mentors and leaders themselves to the YM/YW & children present in the ward.

I do think this transition is hard. But I don't see eleminationg Singles wards as any real solution to it. The problem is Singles feel out of place in a family ward.

The reason they feel out of place is because these wards are called "family wards" in the first place, which is a misnomer. Geographic wards are not intended to serve families only. A widower is not a family. A divorcee is not a family.

But it's not just singles who feel out of place in local wards. Those who lose their family/spouse via divorce, death, Etc., are just as likely to feel out of place. Hence, the term "family ward" should be eradicated from common use. They are just wards.

I agree, thats why going to a YSA ward can bridge this gap. Would I rather go to a ward where the RS president is 45 years old. Or go to a RS president that is 24 years old. Don't you think a 24 year old RS president can relate to new young lady better?

I think either a 45 or 24-year-old Relief Society president can relate to a wide range of sisters. We are talking about Christians here. But I think Singles wards bridge no gaps. These people would still meet and know each other without them. In fact, this is why most singles activities like FHE and institute currently feel like overkill. If all of the social needs are met in church, then what is the point in going to one or two more things during the week? I think most YSAs are sickened by having too many social activities on top of church.

I think each Single adult (30+) should be able to make the choice themselves. I think onces you get to that age, you can make that choice of which you feel is better for you.

Yes, and to stop 35-year-old men from having opportunities to hit on 18-year-old women, the Church decided that people who feel the way you do are wrong. But that's the beauty of having families and old folks around. They make ridiculous acts appear ridiculous. Singles wards, on the other hand, make ridiculous things seem normal.

I asked on the Facebook where do you guys find a ward to go to. (There aren't any Mid Singles ward in Davis or Weber County). I guess a little surprised the first respons was some Lady that said she loves going to her family ward. I found the surprising because it didn't answer the question at all.

I think she had precisely the correct answer. You shouldn't need to ask the question of which ward to attend. Everyone should just attend their local ward, period. We don't go to church to socialize or "feel comfortable". We go there to atone and to serve. We go there to transform like Jonah transformed while inside the whale. Was Jonah willing to go serve and prophesy? Not at first. But he was compelled to humility, and eventually fulfilled his role.

Really maybe the key for the Singles to feel good about going to a family ward is when its there choice. The reason I feel lost now is because there isn't any choice for me. Its go to the Family ward, or nothing. So in a sense I feel forced.

Jonah was forced as well. But you should be glad that your testimony is still relatively in tact. Most unmarried people simply stop attending once they reach the age limit of the YSA program.

But the issue you bring up about belonging is the crux of what I am getting at with all of this. Everyone should have a community of which they fulfill a role and feel a part of. Fragmenting the membership into "family" and "singles" units removes many of those roles, and consequently undermines the sense of belonging for all involved.

So now its a matter of I guess quality of the calling. That can be debatable. Is teaching Decaons the same as being part of the Fellowship committie. I don't know if we can completly judge one calling agasint another.

I agree to an extent, but when there are ten women on the compassionate service committee because there aren't enough callings to hand out, and two of those women pull together three events over the course of a year, then those callings essentially do not exist for the other eight women. I'm sorry, but when people complain about "made-up" callings in singles wards, they aren't kidding. It's no wonder that so many balk at fulfilling them.

YSAs have vast capacity. But the current program seems intent on filling most of those urns with a tea cup's worth of water.

I do think there are more opertunites in a Singles ward to serve in I guess head callings. (being a leader of some committee).

Don't take this the wrong way, but WHO CARES about "leadership" callings?

It is an organization of service and atonement. It has one leader, and that is Christ. Everyone else bends to His will, right? So if you're going to use the argument that YSA wards are great because they provide opportunities for leadership positions, then I say you are privileging the opportunities of the few over the opportunities for the many.

In other words, a YSA ward is set up thusly: 10 people with callings that are "important", 80-150 people who do little more than socialize, and 100+ who are inactive. What an incredible waste of energy and potential! These people would absolutely be far better edified by teaching Deacons, Miamaids, CTR-Bs and Sunbeams. Or adult Sunday School, or Gospel Essentials to married people, bums, widows, divorcees, and old freaks that no longer bathe. These people who are called as "greeters" would be far better utilized visiting inactives and home teaching less-actives. There is so much to do in a local ward and relatively so little to do in a YSA ward, and half of the work force is separated into a social club. I blows my mind that people think this is the right way to utilize the dynamic talent and testimony available.

I don't see that in my wards that I have been too. Even a YSA ward I was trying to Join (until they figured out my age) had a Speciall Sacrement meeting about the sacrement. Even where they had the talks first, and had the sacrement at the end.

That sounds cool. But I think it actually proves my point. The Sacrament should not be a forum for meat-market social clubbing. We already have a vast media system that emphasizes youth, beauty and independence, and we already have night clubs. There's no need to do likewise in church by gathering up all the young available people and shoving all of that awkwardness into a Sacrament situation. Church is about gathering all people, regardless of age or marital status, to atone with the Lord.

But more after coming from a mission it was trying to find the new way of life. I feel somewhat because I went to a family ward, I went back to how I acted before when I was in the family ward. I think if I would have went to a Singles ward from the start it would have caused me to in sense deal with it.

I feel bad for RMs. They come from a life spent serving and thinking of others and are thrust into the miasma of the LDS singles scene. They are suddenly encouraged to serve themselves instead of others. When you consider that, it's not surprising at all that half of them go inactive shortly after coming home. They should come back and be put right into ward missionary service. Their testimonies are strong and sharp... this is an advantage that should be utilized by ward mission leaders. It would likely lead to more baptisms at the local level, and a higher percentage of RMs staying active long after they return.

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As a YSA stake rep I agree.

YSA wards are set up for the purpose to get singles to meet and marry it seems. When you decide to go to the singles ward you are "looking for someone", this changes the focus of the church community unnecessarily.

you can maintain the same ability for singles to meet by just having YSA activities once or twice a month.

YM and YW need YSA role models just as we need married role models for the YSA. Older couples would benefit from YSA's energetic conviction and YSA's would benefit from the wisdom of a more mature perspective.

I'm with you on this one.

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I've never been to a YSA ward, but i heard of it. Where i live we arn't that many young adults in the church so thats probably why. But i would feel really akward if i had to attend in a singles wards only. In my opinion it sounds like putting alot of pressure on young adults to get married. Why not just trust the Lord in how he works, and that we will meet our soulmate one day? Although i don't think its bad getting together sometimes. But i have a feeling that being surrounded by humans in every age groups is very important for our spiritual growth. Many people in the church, older as well as younger, are remarkable examples from sunday to sunday. And being around to see their examples teaches me so many things that i would not like to be without. We need friends as well as a soulmate, and we are all just spirits in a temporary state. The numbers we give ourself as an age here, probably won't mean much in the eternal light of things. Just because im a young adult, doesn't mean that i should only mix and mingle between other young adults. I don't know what package my eternal friends will be in. Nor do i know that with my soulmate. It has to come naturally in my book. But i guess we are all different human beings.

(Mix ang mingle, i think thats the right term?)

Edited by Milluw

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Dunn & Milluw, Thank-you both for your astute thoughts. I'm curious, Dunn, about the part of the country you live in and what the logistics are like.

I attended a wedding reception last night, and there was dancing. My friends and I had a blast dancing with all the little kids, lots of the old folks and just everybody. I couldn't help but think about how boring singles dances are by comparison. Dances used to involve the whole community back in the old days, but now it's just the singles trying hard to look cool and attractive.

In the states, our religious community is divided.

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Obulus-

I'm 22 and have only been involved in the YSA wards for 4 years, but I have to say I draw vastly different conclusions. Not only have I seen and experienced death among the congregants (and one birth), we grew closer in ways that seem to preclude your own conclusions.

How many YSA wards were you ever apart of?

And what is your intent with your work? I see you've devoted many, many hours to this topic.

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I'm 22 and have only been involved in the YSA wards for 4 years, but I have to say I draw vastly different conclusions. Not only have I seen and experienced death among the congregants (and one birth), we grew closer in ways that seem to preclude your own conclusions.

How many YSA wards were you ever apart of?

And what is your intent with your work? I see you've devoted many, many hours to this topic.

Matthew, thank-you for commenting.

I have been in YSA wards & "magnet" wards in Logan (1 year), Orange County, CA (5 years), Seattle (3 years), Provo (2 years) and in Salt Lake (1 year). From the time I was 21 to 31, I remained active and involved in YSA wards. During that time I served in quorum presidencies three times, FHE, executive sec, and in the ward mission. At 31, I went inactive for about a year, but my desire to renew my temple recommend helped to change my attitude. I currently serve in the ward mission of a local ward in SLC.

My main intent is helping the church with retention. I started out hoping to stem the tide of singles that fall into inactivity once they turn 31, but the more I investigate the logistics of the church, the more I realize how linked many of the demographics are to the decision in 1968 to begin fragmenting the community into local wards and YSA wards. It affects all transitions for young people in the church.

Just as an example to illustrate, teens in the Young Women program do not have opening exercises with the Relief Society like you and I did in Priesthood from the time we were 12 (I'm assuming you are a lifer, please forgive me if I am wrong). They also do not participate in Visiting Teaching with the RS, whereas Aaronic Priesthood holders do participate in Home Teaching with the Elders. The result is that half of the Young Women in the church go inactive when they turn 18 and are encouraged to go to Relief Society. If you ever have a discussion with a Stake Relief Society president, it will become clear to you that the reason for the large losses is because these two auxiliaries are separate entities that rarely associate.

In my experience, it is not difficult to switch quorums for guys. Why? Because Young Men meet with men of all ages the entire time they hold the Priesthood. So why then do we not offer the same privilege and benefits to teenage girls? Doesn't this logistical choice instead lead to alienation?

To be clear, I do not blame current leadership for the mess created by past leaders. They have inherited the system in place, and are doing the best they can with it. But I also do not feel the need to remain silent on these issues. My experience has led me to this cultural discussion, and no one else is really addressing it. I am in open discussion on this and other forums, and I invite all dissenting arguments to the contrary.

So far, there have been no strong arguments to that effect. I have sent papers to leadership through local authorities for the past two years with no response, and until I get a definitive answer I see little reason to let it go. On the contrary, I see ample reason to continue as there is a large contingent of singles in their late 20s that are about to go through the transition. Most of them will never make it to their local wards.

In Seattle, there are 500+ midsingles, and fewer than 40 are active. In my stake in SLC, 300 midsingles are on record. About 30 attend. If you want proof, then ask your Stake President for those numbers in your current stake. I'd be interested in any evidence that refutes my own findings.

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Yeah, I know this is a old thread, but I'm feeling feisty tonight.

What's with the antagonism on YSA wards? I'm sorry, but much of the blog posts come off as someone with an ax to grind.

I have a very different view of YSA wards.

First, I'm a bit suspicious about any "stats" about singles in the church. Having been a Membership Clerk, I can tell you that many inactive singles aren't. A sizable percentage went inactive and hooked up with someone. Either married or "playing house". Because they're inactive, no one is updating their membership records, so it still shows as "single".

Secondly, I think a number of "inactives" are simply members who haven't found the exit. I'm sure everyone here can tell me how to join the church, and how to get thrown out of the church. But how many can tell me how to "exit" the church? (Hint: it can't be done verbally) There is a specific procedure. It's written in Handbook 1, but only the Bishopric and Stake Presidencies have access to that manual. Sadly, I think the average member would have a better chance of finding that procedure from a anti-Mormon site then from the church. I find this odd considering that it was Satan's plan that wanted to force all of us back to Heavenly Father, and Jesus was about choice.

So, I believe a number of "inactive singles" are really not single, and may only be members in the church's mind.

I do agree there's issues about transition, but I think you may be missing part of the problem.

In my experience:

- You are what your friends are. The friends you chose are very important. That doesn't just apply to youth.

- Friends naturally fade away at certain points. They get married, they move away, they go to a different school, or they just drift away. At that point, you need to find replacement friends. But where?

The first great transition is once you graduate High School. Chances are you've lost a number of friends, and now you need to find new ones. IMO, the point of the YSA program/wards (although never articulated) it to help you find new member friends. Of course, this happens during the transition from Youth to RS/PH, but the failure may have as much if not more to do with what's happening in the member's "weekday" life as it does with their "Sunday" life. If you go to the zoo, chances are you'll be with other members. If not, well....

I also think there's a great difference between youth programs and YSA programs. In youth, you've got a number of adult leaders planning the events. All the youth leaders, are focused on building the program in their wards. But once graduation hits, many of the highly motivated youth move on to "the zoo", that great black hole of the singles universe (unless you go there yourself, then it becomes a white hole). Some of the former youth left behind are called to other positions, and it frequently seem to be a second, if not third string leaders that are appointed the YSA Male/Female Rep. And after all those adults running the youth program, they now have a couple advisers. Quite the change in the way the program is led. And it tends to reflect in the activities.

Where they once had daily seminary class, those that go one to jobs might have a once-a-week Institute class - IF they're close enough to one.

The youth that stay behind are left needing to find replacement friends. And have many opportunities to find them outside the church. What happens is as a result of these influences along with personal choice.

Ok, enough rambling. I'll sit back and see what I've stirred up.

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Nobody's Fool, thank you for responding.

First of all, I think you are correct to be suspicious of any and all stats. My challenge is for you or anyone to find evidence or stats to the contrary of my own findings. Simply schedule a meeting with either your bishop, stake president, or stake RS president and see what you come up with as far as transition stats for your stake. Then bring it back here to compare. And by all means, feel free to correct me if you find anything I have offered to be extravagantly erroneous. I have issued this challenge before, but so far no one cares enough about the program, or the people at stake, to gather their own data.

Which is fine, of course. Being the only person who gathers data & who actually cracks open history books and graduate studies on the topic gives me an advantage in the argument. But at this point, I'd much rather be getting my can kicked by an expert who has all the facts than win arguments. Internet victories don't necessarily help the Church with retention, and that is my interest here.

I think a number of "inactives" are simply members who haven't found the exit.

I certainly agree. But staying on top of membership records is an issue in almost every ward/branch, YSA or traditional. Pointing to ambiguities created by those who are MIA might be a bit of consolation for a frustrated ward clerk who'd like clearer records, but it is not even the beginning of a solution.

Jesus edict is to leave the 99 and go after the 1. In my experience, YSA wards have got it backwards.

IMO, the point of the YSA program/wards (although never articulated) it to help you find new member friends.

If all the YSAs were attending traditional wards, they would still meet and have activities with all the same people they meet in YSA wards. The social club would shift from Sacrament meeting to FHE, institute, and stake activities... much more appropriate venues than Sacrament meeting. This would simply be a return to the old M-Men and Gleaners program (pre 1970) that successfully married off most of the baby boomers that now run the church.

The reason why we have singles wards at all is because BYU started having student wards, and YSAs not headed to Provo wanted to have a "BYU-like" experience on the local level. But the problem is that student wards were never introduced or revealed by prophets. Student wards were recommended for BYU by then school president Earnest L Wilkinson in 1955 as a logistical solution to the large concentration of singles attending school in "the zoo" as you call it. Before that there were sundry singles branches in various places beginning (according to the Church History Library) in Alamosa, CO in 1929. All of them were experiments by local leaders.

The first time a prophet got involved was in 1955, when David O McKay first rejected the recommendation by Hugh B Brown, but then approved it after hearing the pitch from Wilkinson. Then a few years after, Harold B Lee approved what later turned into the current YSA Program in 1972.

There is literally no need to separate YSAs from the rest of the mormons outside of BYU and BYU-I (and perhaps Hawaii). The UofU, UVU, Weber State, and Utah State are all commuter schools with spread out single students that could readily attend local wards and partake in those communities. We simply do it because a) it is easier logistically, and b) we somehow believe that it actually encourages more marriages.

The youth that stay behind are left needing to find replacement friends. And have many opportunities to find them outside the church. What happens is as a result of these influences along with personal choice.

Yes, I understand the scenario. What I don't understand is the alleged solution:

1. Treat the entire country as if it is all Provo.

2. Abandon these YSAs at the most critical time of their lives to specialized wards that separate them from the rest of what is supposed to be their local religious community (no kids, no grandmas, and essentially no birth/death).

3. Expect them to sink or swim in social clubs populated by a narrow demographic that are all understood to be competing for mates.

4. Remove them from their role as mentors to local children and teens.

5. Supply a limited number of mentors (the bishopric & perhaps one older couple) who are too overburdened to attend to everyone that is active (much less the entire ward list). Do this instead of including them in traditional wards where utilizing local married couples (of all ages) as mentors would make perfect sense.

6. Give a dozen of them challenging callings, but then bore the majority of the ward members to tears with lightweight callings that don't really challenge them. 6a. Expect them to refrain from ward hopping in response.

7. After a decade of YSA life, demand that those who fail to get married by the time they are 31 transition again into traditional wards that separate them from their friends and roots long established in their YSA ward. Watch as they go inactive, and place the blame on them.

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My challenge is for you or anyone to find evidence or stats to the contrary of my own findings.

What findings are those? That there's a transition problem? There certainly is. But I fail to see any stats that convince me that YSA wards are part of the problem.

Let's see if I can re-state my prior point in a better fashion.

1. Youth graduate from High School.

2. Many of their friends move away to collage.

3. The ones most likely to move away is the more ambitious ones that make things happen.

4. Now if you want to blame anything for the transition, you might look at the differences of how the church treats youth and YSA. The oversight in the church changes dramatically:

- Duty to God/Personal Progress program ends

- Mutual activities that are held weekly ends.

- Scouting ends

- Oversight by the Young Men's/Young Women's Presidency ends

- The funding for activities changes.

- They're moved from groups of their peers into the same groups as their parents.

On the YSA side, the Bishop may call a couple of YSA reps and a YSA adviser couple. Most wards are doing good if they can have a monthly FHE.

All this really takes a toll on a newly minted YSA's friend network at precisely the time they've lost some of their friends.

Last but not least, at this point, the members become adults and some leave home. Now they find out if the gospel is really part of themselves or if they were just going along with their parents. Now is the time to see if the youth program really did it's job. Or did it set them up to fail with the withdrawal of attention.

If all the YSAs were attending traditional wards, they would still meet and have activities with all the same people they meet in YSA wards.

Bogus. They would not be seeing the same people. Far too many YSA only goes to their block meetings. If you're not in their ward, you'll never see them.

Yeah, I've heard complaints that the YSA ward was killing the ward YSA. Then our SP dissolved the ward. (This was back 10-15 years go when a infamous letter encouraged the dissolving of singles and language wards.) About the only thing it accomplished is that it shut up the complainers. In the end, it did little for the wards. Even with the return of the YSA from the YSA ward, there simply wasn't "critical mass" to make things fly.

In my observation, I've found the analogy of a charcoal briquette fire to be good. You can't create a fire with just a couple of briquettes. You need a small pile of them. Take a briquette out of the fire and it cools off. Put it back and it goes back to contributing to the fire. Making YSA go back to their conventional wards tends to scatter the fire.

The first time a prophet got involved was in 1955, when David O McKay first rejected the recommendation by Hugh B Brown, but then approved it after hearing the pitch from Wilkinson. Then a few years after, Harold B Lee approved what later turned into the current YSA Program in 1972.

Whatever. But the fact is, it's still in the Handbook that was gone over carefully and revised just this past November. I'm sure the Brethren have looked at this and decided that on a whole, the church is better off with YSA wards.

1. Treat the entire country as if it is all Provo.

2. Abandon these YSAs at the most critical time of their lives to specialized wards that separate them from the rest of what is supposed to be their local religious community (no kids, no grandmas, and essentially no birth/death).

3. Expect them to sink or swim in social clubs populated by a narrow demographic that are all understood to be competing for mates.

Note that attending a YSA ward is optional, not mandatory.

Give a dozen of them challenging callings, but then bore the majority of the ward members to tears with lightweight callings that don't really challenge them. 6a. Expect them to refrain from ward hopping in response.

I've never seen them ward hop due to boring callings. Usually, it's to meet others. I'd also venture to say, that if they did stay in their family wards, the callings they'd get there wouldn't be much better.

After a decade of YSA life, demand that those who fail to get married by the time they are 31 transition again into traditional wards that separate them from their friends and roots long established in their YSA ward. Watch as they go inactive, and place the blame on them.

That's a separate problem, but one not that much different from the youth to YSA in which the first group built up something the second group couldn't sustain.

And in the final analysis - unless I've missed something, it's not your place to be advocating what the church should be doing. It's one thing to hold an opinion, but it's another to be spending so much time and energy in open lobbying. It's one thing to have a hobby, but this one seems to be a utter waste of time.

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Please let me know what you think.

It stinks to be lonely. I know - I used to be lonely, and every time I hear from a complaining unhappy YSA or SA, I'm reminded of how it used to stink.

There's only one way out of lonliness. And really, honestly, truly - a blog griping about how other people aren't serving you sufficiently, ain't it.

That's what I think.

Edited by Loudmouth_Mormon

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But I fail to see any stats that convince me that YSA wards are part of the problem.

If you're just here to argue in the first place, which you first post seems to indicate, then I question if any stat would convince you anyway.

So I'll simply offer a quote from Alvin R Dyer as less tangible evidence of the success of the church's prior program that seemed to provide friends and mates for that generation's YSAs.:

"I served in a bishopric in two wards, and as a bishop where the membership reached 1600 members. This of course was a large ward. We had 114 Aaronic Priesthood boys and nearly 100 girls of the same age. Attendance at sacrament meeting was 56 percent, and we had no marriages outside of the temple in 4 1/2 years, and we lost no boys to the Senior Aaronic Priesthood during that period. Everyone was ordained as he came of age, every young man filled a mission. There was not a single boy who did not fill a mission." (BYU Studies vol. 10, #1, 1969)

So was this just hyperbole by Dyer? Is it because the times were different? Or was there in fact something valuable about the old program which kept the "body of Christ" all together in traditional wards?

Let's see if I can re-state my prior point in a better fashion.

Your points are better stated here, but they actually support my argument. Separating YSAs from the rest of the herd at this critical stage of their lives is a mistake. It does not protect the testimonies of the weak. Instead it exposes the weak to outside influences before many of them are ready to stand on their own.

So your stance seems to be to let the weak fall.

You've mentioned a few times that the ambitious "go-getters" are more successful, and that will certainly always be true. But doesn't reason suggest that a more inclusive, unified religious community will fair better in assisting the less ambitious? Or do you feel fine about them falling through the cracks?

4. Now if you want to blame anything for the transition, you might look at the differences of how the church treats youth and YSA.

Well, that's basically exactly what I am saying. YSAs are comparatively abandoned by the married demographic of our culture. Especially when compared to our youth program. All YSAs should be able to refer to a dozen married couples outside of their own family when they run into real world questions about life and the church. But if they arrive into the YSA program without stable marriages in their own families, who are they supposed to turn to? What about single converts who have no one in their families that are married in the temple? Shall we just throw up our hands and say, "too bad for you", or should we baptize them into traditional wards that are literally filled with examples of The Proclamation right off the bat?

The married membership of our culture could and should be a resource that is readily accessible to all guidance-seeking YSAs in our culture. As it stands, they are needlessly separated from our YSAs on the ward level.

All this really takes a toll on a newly minted YSA's friend network at precisely the time they've lost some of their friends.

So... how does this refute my argument? Is this where I'm supposed to shrug my shoulders and let these people go without entertaining thoughts of a more effective program? No thanks.

Or is what you are really inferring is that single people only need single friends? Please explain.

Bogus. They would not be seeing the same people. Far too many YSA only goes to their block meetings. If you're not in their ward, you'll never see them.

To judge the new set up by the current results is not logical. It's like saying that you don't trust your new iPad because your old laptop crashed.

They would meet all of the same people because singles activities would become vital, whereas now those same activities are overkill because all of these kids' socializing is done at church.

An inclusive set up would change the expectations of all involved. YSAs would expect to meet most other YSAs at FHE, activities & institute instead of their ward. Church would regain it's emphasis on Jesus. It worked for the baby boomers, and I have yet to see an argument as to why it wouldn't work for the current generation.

In fact, it would probably encourage more dating, and thereby result in more marriages. As it stands, dating within one's ward is avoided because of the potential for social fallout after a breakup.

Yeah, I've heard complaints that the YSA ward was killing the ward YSA. Then our SP dissolved the ward. (This was back 10-15 years go when a infamous letter encouraged the dissolving of singles and language wards.) About the only thing it accomplished is that it shut up the complainers. In the end, it did little for the wards. Even with the return of the YSA from the YSA ward, there simply wasn't "critical mass" to make things fly.

The problem with this example is that it only happened in one area/stake. The YSAs involved could simply move to a stake where there was a YSA ward, or attend a singles ward as ward-hoppers elsewhere.

Full inclusion will only work if it is church-wide. The only places with singles wards should be places where the saturation is too high, like the dorms in Provo. And even in Provo, there is no reason to separate married and single students.

In my observation, I've found the analogy of a charcoal briquette fire to be good. You can't create a fire with just a couple of briquettes. You need a small pile of them. Take a briquette out of the fire and it cools off. Put it back and it goes back to contributing to the fire. Making YSA go back to their conventional wards tends to scatter the fire.

Your analogy only works if the rest of the ward members (children, elderly, married folk) are understood as worthless as combustibles. We're talking about the spirit here, right? We're not talking about the natural man.

But you bring up an important point about seeing the full scope of the demographic we are talking about. There is a pervading attitude in our culture that they are only viable in a "family" ward if they are married. And on the other hand, there is an attitude about traditional wards amongst our singles that tends to be dismissive & unfavorable. Meeting together would go far in uniting these alienated groups.

Whatever.

It's in the history books. Check out Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny for the student ward history, and David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism for a better understanding of why Wilkinsen had McKay's ear and why Brown didn't.

I'm sure the Brethren have looked at this and decided that on a whole, the church is better off with YSA wards.

Yeah. Nobody's perfect. The church has had its course corrected in the past, so who knows what the future will hold.

Note that attending a YSA ward is optional, not mandatory.

A distinction that means little on an individual level when the vast majority of your peer group agree to follow suit. No one wants to be separated from their peers. The real question is whether there should be two options in the first place.

I'd also venture to say, that if they did stay in their family wards, the callings they'd get there wouldn't be much better.

Comparatively speaking, traditional wards have far more opportunities to serve because they have more auxiliaries (which would increase even further with the inclusion of YSAs) and a more diverse membership that includes children, teens, and the elderly. Young single adults have the most time, energy, spiritual vitality, and much of it is essentially wasted on an overemphasis on the social aspects of church.

The math seems very simple to me. We preach about marriage, parenting, family and the Proclamation, but we essentially segregate YSAs from all of the examples... we turn those terms into abstractions that are talked about instead of witnessed on a weekly basis.

What benefits are there to separating singles from examples of their goal?

That's a separate problem, but one not that much different from the youth to YSA in which the first group built up something the second group couldn't sustain.

The midsingles transition is not a separate problem. It is directly caused by the YSA program. If there were no YSA wards, there would be no midsingles transition. The result of unifying the body of Christ would be that more midsingles maintain a sense of belonging, and would be retained. Thereby more of them would be married in the temple. Why? Because they would be allowed to keep going to church with their peers.

There isn't a single transition in the church for this age group (18-31) that isn't directly affected by the existence of YSA wards, so I couldn't disagree with you more.

And in the final analysis - unless I've missed something, it's not your place to be advocating what the church should be doing.

This is a logistical issue that affects the retention of millions of LDS people. I'm one of those people just like you, and I see no reason why I shouldn't be heard. If I was arguing a doctrinal issue, I might see your point. But this is not a doctrinal issue. This is simply the set up and execution of church meetings, which has undergone many changes over the course of our history.

If a member sees a problem, has a suggestion for better retention, and a criticism of the current logistics, why exactly should they keep their mouth shut?

Wilkinson wasn't a GA. Yet he is the one who suggested and instituted student wards and stakes at BYU with McKay's permission. This is the same guy who caused a scandal by hiring students to spy on liberal professors at BYU for Ezra Taft Benson's friends at the Birch Society, and who undermined several general authorities by lobbying McKay for more money to build BYU when the church was financially strapped for cash during the building crisis of the '60s.

Now was he wrong for suggesting student wards and stakes? Definitely not. BYU is a special situation, and the concentration of single students is far to high to avoid singles wards. But my point is that you don't have to be a prophet to make a case for different logistical set ups. You only have to be right at the right time.

It's one thing to hold an opinion, but it's another to be spending so much time and energy in open lobbying.

So if I was doing a sub-par job, it'd be fine. Right?

Would blacks have received the Priesthood without the open lobbying of many Mormons, including apostle Hugh B. Brown? We may never know.

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It stinks to be lonely. I know - I used to be lonely, and every time I hear from a complaining unhappy YSA or SA, I'm reminded of how it used to stink.

There's only one way out of lonliness. And really, honestly, truly - a blog griping about how other people aren't serving you sufficiently, ain't it.

That's what I think.

I appreciate your frankness, LM.

If you think that this is about how I didn't get served, you simply didn't read the blog.

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So I'll simply offer a quote from Alvin R Dyer as less tangible evidence of the success of the church's prior program that seemed to provide friends and mates for that generation's YSAs.:

"I served in a bishopric in two wards, and as a bishop where the membership reached 1600 members. This of course was a large ward. We had 114 Aaronic Priesthood boys and nearly 100 girls of the same age. Attendance at sacrament meeting was 56 percent, and we had no marriages outside of the temple in 4 1/2 years, and we lost no boys to the Senior Aaronic Priesthood during that period. Everyone was ordained as he came of age, every young man filled a mission. There was not a single boy who did not fill a mission." (BYU Studies vol. 10, #1, 1969)

That is a seriously big ward. At least 3 times the size of most wards in my area and getting close to half a stake. If you're going to have a ward of that size, who needs stake events?

Since you've done the research, you'll have to tell me why it's so big. Did they do things differently back then or was it because of large families increasing the membership count without increasing the number of "bishopric material" that seems to be the major deciding factor today?

Given the widely varied demographics that you'll find, I'm not sure as there is any "one size fits all" solution to the problem. If a single has the misfortune of living in the boundaries of a "newlywed or nearly dead" ward, what are they supposed to do?

Your points are better stated here, but they actually support my argument. Separating YSAs from the rest of the herd at this critical stage of their lives is a mistake. It does not protect the testimonies of the weak. Instead it exposes the weak to outside influences before many of them are ready to stand on their own.

I'm not sure how you get the idea that a YSA ward exposes the weak more then keeping them in a family ward when their friends have left home. I think exiting the youth program is a bigger shock then entering the YSA program.

Or is what you are really inferring is that single people only need single friends? Please explain.

I won't say that single people "only" need single friends, but the single friends are more important to them. I've seen time and again, when a single person gets married, the friendships with their single friends weakens. The single person then needs to find a new "go do" friend.

They would meet all of the same people because singles activities would become vital, whereas now those same activities are overkill because all of these kids' socializing is done at church.

I guess I didn't make myself clear. I know of singles attending family wards who do not attend anything but their block meetings. They do NOT come out to single events. That why I called that bogus. You will not see them at a stake fireside unless they've been called upon to play the piano or serve refreshments.

The problem with this example is that it only happened in one area/stake. The YSAs involved could simply move to a stake where there was a YSA ward, or attend a singles ward as ward-hoppers elsewhere.

At the time there was no nearby singles wards for them to "ward hop". They would have had to either go back to school to got to the student ward or quit their job and moved out of the area entirely.

Your analogy only works if the rest of the ward members (children, elderly, married folk) are understood as worthless as combustibles.

Close.

We're talking about the spirit here, right?

Nope. Social.

Comparatively speaking, traditional wards have far more opportunities to serve because they have more auxiliaries (which would increase even further with the inclusion of YSAs) and a more diverse membership that includes children, teens, and the elderly.

Most of the callings in the auxiliaries are already filled. And I've already indicated that the number of YSA returning to the family wards wasn't that large. It certainly wouldn't cause a Elders Quorum or Relief Society to split into two.

Young single adults have the most time, energy, spiritual vitality, and much of it is essentially wasted on an overemphasis on the social aspects of church.

Oh, the old "you're single - you have time for this" trip. Trust me. It doesn't go over well.

I see no reason why I shouldn't be heard.

Except the church isn't a democracy, even in non-doctrinal issues.

If a member sees a problem, has a suggestion for better retention, and a criticism of the current logistics, why exactly should they keep their mouth shut?

If you were in a position of power, or being consulted, that would be different.

Would blacks have received the Priesthood without the open lobbying of many Mormons, including apostle Hugh B. Brown? We may never know.

From what I understand, the change had very little to do with what was happening on the home front, but rather the increasing difficulty in dealing with the issues in trying to run the church in heavily black areas of the world. Perhaps one of the stickyer problems is when someone did their genealogy and found they were part black.

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If you're going to have a ward of that size, who needs stake events?

According to the baby boomers I've spoken to (seriously, try it some time), most of their activities were on the stake or multi-stake level. Meaning that these were huge events. Singles wards effectively replaced these activities with what we have now, which eschews more large events for more ward level activities. So it could be argued that current YSAs are exposed to their larger YSA community less than their parents were.

Since you've done the research, you'll have to tell me why it's so big. Did they do things differently back then or was it because of large families increasing the membership count without increasing the number of "bishopric material" that seems to be the major deciding factor today?

I'm not sure why they were more comfortable with larger wards back in the day, but they were. Particularly in UT and CA according to my findings. But I suspect that it may have somewhat to do with Home Teaching, which was a program pushed by Harold B. Lee during the McKay years. The current goals of home teaching (see to the needs of the members, be the eyes/ears of the bishop) were accomplished in a somewhat less formal manner prior to the late '60s. Lee also changed the Sunday School program, and affected all of the auxiliaries with his Correlation efforts. This changed everything related to the 'block'. The current logistics seem to cater to the programs we've adopted in the decades since.

Given the widely varied demographics that you'll find, I'm not sure as there is any "one size fits all" solution to the problem.

Not according to Paul in 1 Cor 12:

21. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.

Which is echoed in D&C 84:110 by the Lord:

110. Also the body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect.”

Everything in scripture that has to do with the body of Christ suggests that we should simply be unified. Jesus even prayed to that effect in the Intercessory Prayer on both hemispheres.

If a single has the misfortune of living in the boundaries of a "newlywed or nearly dead" ward, what are they supposed to do?

Learn the skills necessary to be a socialite. Push yourself so that your culture doesn't feel the need to push for you. If you're a guy, learn how to talk to women. If you're a woman, be open and inviting to men. Learn to utilize these skills at activities, institute, CES firesides, and go on dates instead of what happens currently: the same 50 dudes jockeying for the same 5 girls while 200 others simply watch the drama and gossip about it like it's a reality show. In traditional wards, families are the focus. Thus the Light of Christ is emphasized over the Natural Man. YSA wards are essentially carnal security. These kids don't have to learn these vital skills because they know that even if they play World of Warcraft all week they'll still get to take the Sacrament with 100 members of the opposite sex on Sunday anyway.

Singles certainly have a responsibility to date no matter where they live, but YSA wards don't necessarily encourage dating do they? For many, these wards put too much pressure on these kids. Which is why they generally just 'hang out' while previous generations went on dates. Punk ethic has a lot of sway with the current generation, meaning that they prefer to do the opposite of what they are encouraged to do. To many, YSA wards end up being a thinly veiled coercion by the church, and thus it makes sense that less than half of the available members are served.

I'm not sure how you get the idea that a YSA ward exposes the weak more then keeping them in a family ward when their friends have left home. I think exiting the youth program is a bigger shock then entering the YSA program.

No matter what programs we utilize, people are always more important than processes. And what happens to the YSA? They are effectively segregated from the married population of our culture, the people who would be the best mentors for them. Simultaneously they are separated from teens and kids, those who would naturally look up to them as mentors. Thus YSAs are extracted from their dual role as sheep and shepherds at precisely the time that is most critical to their long term membership in the church. They are called to follow and mentor each other while in implicit competition with each other for mates. It is antithetical. They are encouraged to emphasize the social aspects of church, and many of them after a two-year mission of self-less Christ like work.

Without most of the married folk around to lead them, they are exposed to the mores of the examples available to them in their fields of study, or in media.

A traditional ward would provide YSAs with the best of both worlds: stake activities with the same cohorts plus a diverse religious community that allows them to lead the young & interact with examples of their righteous goals.

Caveat: It only works if there are no YSA wards available.

I won't say that single people "only" need single friends, but the single friends are more important to them. I've seen time and again, when a single person gets married, the friendships with their single friends weakens. The single person then needs to find a new "go do" friend.

I agree that their peers are more important. But they are not the only group of importance. It is the same for every demographic in the church. Old folks mostly stick together but they also need YSAs to complete their own full, diverse religious community. Current logistics leave these two groups segregated and alienated.

As for young married couples, why uproot them from their group of single friends on the ward level? They should simply have the option of staying in the same ward where their roots are established instead of forcing them into the 'newly wed nearly dead' situation.

I guess I didn't make myself clear. I know of singles attending family wards who do not attend anything but their block meetings. They do NOT come out to single events. That why I called that bogus. You will not see them at a stake fireside unless they've been called upon to play the piano or serve refreshments.

There will indeed always be individuals like you describe. The difference in the program I am suggesting is that those who are antisocial in this way would have more peers in their local ward, and thus they would have a better chance at making friends with those who are more proactive and attending activities.

You certainly can't push a rope. But if our communities were simply united instead of the current fragmentation, the expectations of all would be altered dramatically. I think it would be as successful for our current generation as the M-Men & Gleaners program was for the previous generation.

Most of the callings in the auxiliaries are already filled. And I've already indicated that the number of YSA returning to the family wards wasn't that large. It certainly wouldn't cause a Elders Quorum or Relief Society to split into two.

Especially not if some of them were peeved at having their YSA removed in the first place. But really, this is about changing the expectations for the rising generation and having a more inclusive, unified community for them to interact with. Our entire culture would have to be re-trained on how to view YSAs, and it would take time.

If things are "dead" in a local ward, it's because these individuals haven't been trained to lose themselves in service. There is literally mountains of work to do in them, especially with inactives and missionary work.

In truth, many of the married folk who fulfill callings in traditional wards are overburdened because they are trying to raise kids on top of everything else. YSAs would share the workload and lighten the burden for all. Elders quorums may not split, but they would be larger and more capable simply because the available elders in any locale would no longer be fragmented into two separate quorums in two separate wards. The system would be more balanced, and retention in all demographics would be higher.

Oh, the old "you're single - you have time for this" trip. Trust me. It doesn't go over well.

Increased responsibility rarely goes over well. YSA wards are convenient because they aleiviate most YSAs of the heavy responsibilities of local wards. Everyone in both groups has to go to school and work, so we're really talking about the sacrifice of free time that's left over. The difference is that singles fill their time while parents are forced to sacrifice their time to their kids.

Do you know any YSAs that aren't up on their pop culture? That don't have time to surf the net, watch their favorite shows, go to concerts, Etc.? Neither do I. According to the recent Harris poll the demographic we're talking about averages between 14 and 17 hours per week online (scroll to the middle to see the mean). That's outside of traditional entertainment. Around 60 hours per month... plenty of time to see to church duties. The truth is that we give much of our time and life to entertainments that do not fulfill the four purposes of the church.

Divide and conquer is the basic tactic in warfare. We have been needlessly divided into 'family' and 'YSA' factions. Screen interface with media (pornographic or otherwise) is how we will likely be conquered. It's not Orwell's 'big brother' of 1984 that is doing us in. It's the apathetic & pleasure-seeking dystopia of Huxley's Brave New World that is proving to be our undoing.

Except the church isn't a democracy, even in non-doctrinal issues.

Democracies aren't the only governments that allow individuals to have a voice. In fact, I have written papers and submitted them to local leadership on this issue. One got to an area authority just below the Twelve. They had no answer for my critiques, or even my questions. For two years I submitted and re-submitted papers. They came back with nothing.

They didn't tell me to stop or be quiet, either. Until they do, I will continue to educate on the history and discuss the issue. I will be preparing further documents for submission to leadership also. Regardless of what you may think of me, I do not seek to undermine or blame our current leadership. I am trying to help them see something that they can't because they never went through the YSA system themselves.

If you were in a position of power, or being consulted, that would be different.

You're right. It would be different. But for now I'm just an insignificant near-casualty of the system, and I have something to say. If I get exed, so be it. The Lord knows my heart.

From what I understand, the change had very little to do with what was happening on the home front, but rather the increasing difficulty in dealing with the issues in trying to run the church in heavily black areas of the world. Perhaps one of the stickyer problems is when someone did their genealogy and found they were part black.

You should definitely read the history on McKay I suggested so that you can own this stuff a little better and be able to respond adequately to investigators who ask. It was a matter of politics more than logistics. It was Lee and Joseph F. Smith that pressured an enfeebled McKay not to give the priesthood to blacks back when there were 6000 Nigerians begging for missionaries to come baptize them. Lee went so far as to promise one of his relatives that there would never be a black Priesthood holder walking the campus of BYU while he lived. Which turned out to be true, but he was only the prophet for 17 months, and this after Smith died barely 2 1/2 years into his Presidency.

Whoever gave you the tidy version you heard probably didn't tell you that Kimball had Bruce R. McConkie give the press conference that announced the church's change in policy, the same guy who had written Mormon Doctrine and published it without permission of the First Presidency. During the press conference, he apologized for what he wrote on the issue in that book. They also probably skipped the part where Ezra Taft Benson repeatedly accused the Civil Rights Movement of being a front for communist infiltration cells. He did this in multiple General Conferences.

The truth is that our church was simply established within a community that upheld the common racist views of their fellow Americans in the 19th century, and the Lord did the best he could with what he had until Kimball came along in the 20th century and was willing to do what should have been done in the '60s or earlier. It was McKay, after all, that first said that the priesthood issue for blacks was a 'policy' and not a 'doctrine'. He was simply too feeble and convalescent in his final years to stand up to Smith & Lee. As a result, the Nigerians (and everyone else with any common sense) had to wait for an extra decade.

Edited by Obolus

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According to the baby boomers I've spoken to (seriously, try it some time), most of their activities were on the stake or multi-stake level.

Back when we had a single ward, they still were.

Singles wards effectively replaced these activities with what we have now, which eschews more large events for more ward level activities.

Not the ones I've seen. They either opened their activities to the stake, or the stake continued to function and hold events.

And as far as the one ward you cite, it worked then, it worked for that age spread and it worked for that size of a ward. It is not a forgone conclusion that it would work now, for the range in demographics that one finds in different areas and most particularly, it may not work for the smaller wards we have now.

Learn the skills necessary to be a socialite.

Well, that's one possible outcome. Another is to withdraw and seek social gratification elsewhere.

In traditional wards, families are the focus.

Yes, and guess how that makes many singles feel. From your statements, it seems apparent to me that you are not single and you haven't been in quite a while.

If things are "dead" in a local ward, it's because these individuals haven't been trained to lose themselves in service. There is literally mountains of work to do in them, especially with inactives and missionary work.

I meant dead socially. In some wards, there's simply too few singles (and not as a result of singles wards). There isn't enough of a selection to find anyone they connect with as friends. So they go elsewhere for social activities. That large ward you cited worked because someone could find a peer to connect with.

In fact, I have written papers and submitted them to local leadership on this issue. One got to an area authority just below the Twelve. They had no answer for my critiques, or even my questions. For two years I submitted and re-submitted papers. They came back with nothing.

In situations like this, I find the church leaders tend to stay silent rather then allow themselves to get into a discussion.

They didn't tell me to stop or be quiet, either.

I wonder if they've put you on ignore.

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Well, that's one possible outcome. Another is to withdraw and seek social gratification elsewhere.

Such social fragmentation of society is already widespread. The current of the world is towards tribal communities. YSA wards unintentionally follow suit by overemphasizing the social aspect of church and removing local families from view. We should be giving these people more examples of their goal. They should be able to observe far more marriages from the periphery.

You should have more faith in YSAs. They are a capable and talented bunch. Employing a system of "special" wards to gather them up doesn't really speak to their intelligence and capabilities. They know that they are marriageable without a specialized program that relegates them to 'kids table' wards until they are married.

Being single is not a disease. But the current system treats singles as if they are infected with some sort of social leprosy. To whom did Christ go when he walked the earth? Our programs should reflect his example.

Yes, and guess how that makes many singles feel.

The alienation of singles has been caused by the separation into YSA wards, not the emphasis on families in traditional wards. If they were attending with the rest of the Mormons they would be better integrated. The proactive go-getters you cited in earlier posts would lead the way. The curriculum would have to be altered to account for YSAs, but we're not talking about rocket science here. Our culture has been trained for 40 years now to think of this demographic as separate, and they have been trained well. Unifying the herd would mean a huge overhaul on our collective expectations.

But other than slight adjustments in attitudes towards singles, family should absolutely be the primary focus of every ward. Because that's the goal. From the symbols of the sacrament to the order of the New and Everlasting Covenant to genealogy to the Proclamation. This whole thing is about making a family. Not the "ward family", or your group of close friends, or activities. Those things are all fine secondary communities, but YSA wards unfortunately make them the priority by not having enough parents & kids around for YSAs to see.

I certainly don't subscribe to the infrequent guilt trip rants that leaders sometimes employ to coerce singles to date more. But going to church with families should be a part of a YSA's culture and spiritual development every step of the way.

I meant dead socially. In some wards, there's simply too few singles (and not as a result of singles wards). There isn't enough of a selection to find anyone they connect with as friends. So they go elsewhere for social activities. That large ward you cited worked because someone could find a peer to connect with.

A social scene is always where it is. YSAs always find it if they are looking. If it's activities or institute, they will adjust their schedules accordingly. The church could achieve the same social results they currently get by simply having firesides/potlucks/socials every Sunday instead of a specialized sacrament meeting.

Some wards/branches will always have a shortfall of one demographic or another. That's not a good enough reason to divide the herd.

I wonder if they've put you on ignore.

Perhaps they have.

I noticed you ignored the scriptures I cited. I'd like to know your thoughts on them or any others regarding the subject.

Edited by Obolus

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