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Fireweed16

Inactive outside, active inside.

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My family has been "inactive" for the past year and a half now. We love the gospel we just don't love going to our church ward. We live in a small town filled with my spouses family. My spouse gets anxiety about their image in there family's eyes. Without going to great detail it is extremely hard on our family. When we went to church it was a struggle every Sunday. We eventually stopped going and within 2-3 weeks a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. Fast forward a year and half and we miss going to church however we do not want to attend our home ward.

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Are we able to change wards? Our current bishop is not a very understanding person. 

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I do not know your situation or you individually apart from what you have stated here. Having said that, let's start with two basic rules that I would use were I in this situation:

  1. You should attend Church where you live and within your assigned boundaries. Regardless of how you feel about this general rule, I don't think it is fair to ask your Bishop or the Bishop of the Ward you wish to move into, to do something that is against Church Policy and the Handbook of Instructions (so at least in relation to this, I don't think you can say your Bishop is not a very understanding person), i.e., transfer your records to a ward outside your boundaries. You may choose to attend a different ward and partake of the sacrament, which I suppose is better than nothing, but you won't be able to hold a calling and your bishop won't be able to give you a temple recommend (and thus attend the temple), both of which are vital, in my opinion, to worshipping the Lord. Which leads me to my next point...
  2. We should attend Church, first and foremost, to renew our covenants and to worship God. There may be other reasons we go and other reasons we may not want to, but in a perfect world, these two reasons should trump all others.

Having said all of this, I don't believe it is my job or place to tell you what you should do or if you are an exception to my general rules above. Only you can decide that after a lot of prayer and perhaps counsel with your priesthood leaders. Since you don't feel like you can talk to your Bishop, perhaps talking to you Stake President would be a good idea. He actually has keys for you and could provide some helpful guidance. Practically speaking, however, I would not expect him to move your records to a new ward (but he potentially could). 

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2 hours ago, Fireweed16 said:

My family has been "inactive" for the past year and a half now. We love the gospel we just don't love going to our church ward. We live in a small town filled with my spouses family. My spouse gets anxiety about their image in there family's eyes. Without going to great detail it is extremely hard on our family. When we went to church it was a struggle every Sunday. We eventually stopped going and within 2-3 weeks a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. Fast forward a year and half and we miss going to church however we do not want to attend our home ward.

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Are we able to change wards? Our current bishop is not a very understanding person. 

I haven't read everyone's reply yet...but is there a way to get permission from your stake to attend another ward?  I think boundaries are silly...so check it out.  It would probably help you to see where you stand in church in general in a ward that is set apart from spouse's family.  Good luck!!

Edited to add:  I just saw Mystery Meat's info above...I disagree.   Even though I don't understand your situation totally, if the church wants you as members, any ward should be sufficient ...other than that...I guess you could move??

Edited by Jeanne

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5 hours ago, Fireweed16 said:

My family has been "inactive" for the past year and a half now. We love the gospel we just don't love going to our church ward. We live in a small town filled with my spouses family. My spouse gets anxiety about their image in there family's eyes. Without going to great detail it is extremely hard on our family. When we went to church it was a struggle every Sunday. We eventually stopped going and within 2-3 weeks a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. Fast forward a year and half and we miss going to church however we do not want to attend our home ward.

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Are we able to change wards? Our current bishop is not a very understanding person. 

Talk to your ward’s Bishop or, if that doesn’t work for you, have a discussion with your Stake President and tell whichever of the two you choose about your situation and concerns. If there’s any one place in the world where interpersonal relationship problems, such as yours, have a decent chance of being worked out for the better it’s the Church of Jesus Christ. Don’t allow worry or fear to prevent you from moving forward toward a solution that will enable you and your family to heal and keep your sacred covenants.

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May I be heretical and suggest you attend the different ward once or twice before making any other moves. There might be other issues.

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Hello Fireweed...

I guess I don't quite understand the problem... particularly about "images"... I encourage you to attend your ward for yourselves and nevermind anyone else... by not attending you are cutting off your nose to spite your face... you should not care about anything except your immediate family and keepng your covenants, including renewing them through the sacrament.  I guess the alternative would be to simply attend another ward a couple times a month as "guests."  Again, what is so important about someone's "image" that would cause you to forego your spiritual well being... based on your post, I simply don't understand... 

GG

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12 hours ago, Fireweed16 said:

My family has been "inactive" for the past year and a half now. We love the gospel we just don't love going to our church ward. We live in a small town filled with my spouses family. My spouse gets anxiety about their image in there family's eyes. Without going to great detail it is extremely hard on our family. When we went to church it was a struggle every Sunday. We eventually stopped going and within 2-3 weeks a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. Fast forward a year and half and we miss going to church however we do not want to attend our home ward.

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Are we able to change wards? Our current bishop is not a very understanding person. 

Hello Fireweed, 

I like some of the recommendations you have read here.  During my lifetime my wife and I once found it easier to move to another location in our city instead of live within the boundaries of a ward we did not like.  We moved and it worked out wonderfully. I can relate to your situation to some degree.

If it was me I would visit the ward of your choice.  Pick one that is closest to your home, but different from your home ward.  After you visit do you and your spouse think you can commit to regularly attending church and serving the people there - if your answer is yes then go to your stake president.  Let him know of your concerns, your recent inactivity, your desire to return to church, but the fact that you will not attend church in your ward boundaries.  Let him know you visited this other ward and that you felt at home there.  Ask if you could have your membership records sent to the new ward.  See what he says.

Please  understand it is a pain in the butt - a small one, don't let it bother you or prevent you from attending church - to get this things approved.  However, it has happened countless times in the past and you are not in a unique situation.  

In your new ward focus on serving others; learning the joy of humility and strengthen your desire to serve your Father in Heaven.  At some point in the future, if you feel strong enough and the Spirit is right, consider returning to your old ward by visiting and seeing if it works for you and your family.  There will be many opportunities with family events, etc.  

In the long run our only objective is to accept God's will for our lives and keep our eye single to his glory.  Do that first and let the small stuff fall through the cracks - they just don't matter in the eternal scheme of things.  

God bless you,

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12 hours ago, Fireweed16 said:

My family has been "inactive" for the past year and a half now. We love the gospel we just don't love going to our church ward. We live in a small town filled with my spouses family. My spouse gets anxiety about their image in there family's eyes. Without going to great detail it is extremely hard on our family. When we went to church it was a struggle every Sunday. We eventually stopped going and within 2-3 weeks a huge weight lifted from our shoulders. Fast forward a year and half and we miss going to church however we do not want to attend our home ward.

Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? Are we able to change wards? Our current bishop is not a very understanding person. 

Two situations in my ward that I am aware of that were similar to yours, perhaps. 

There was a family who lived within our ward boundaries, and were members of record in our ward, but they attended church in the husband's mother's ward, in another stake.  So their children got the benefit of Primary, Sunday School, and partaking of the Sacrament. But they held no callings, and were missing out on the personal growth that that would bring.  I don't know why they did it this way, but I think it was just because it was the ward that the husband grew up in and he didn't like to change. I guess finding a house in the old ward was just too much trouble?  Anyway, they eventually after many years they finally started attending in their ward of record, and apparently things went OK for them.  

Another family were long-time members of our ward, very good friends of ours, and very active in Church.  Then something happened with one of their RM sons (I needn't get into a long description of the matter), and the wife got a lot of flack from the other sisters because they expected her to react to the matter in a certain way, and she couldn't.  Their disapproval caused them to stop coming to Church.  They found a way out, however.  Since they both spoke Spanish very well, they finagled getting their membership assigned to the local Spanish language branch.  Problem solved.

Another situation closer to home for me:

My brother was very active in his ward, and was the Young Mens President.  For some reason, my brother thinks it was jealousy, the Bishop wasn't happy about how my brother was carrying out his calling.  He is one of those workaholic types: if you give him a responsibility, he will bury himself in it.  Apparently the YMs really loved him and related to him extremely well.  I don't know exactly what it was, but his Bishop publicly berated him about how he was doing his calling, in front of the entire Ward Council.  There was another aspect of this, as well, since his Bishop worked for the same employer, and he was his Bishop's supervisor in the job.  And then he made a fateful decision.  He stopped coming to Church because he felt ashamed of the public berating, and I think he was worried about the work relationship, too.  The results were that none of his four children came to church either, and they all eventually married out of the Church.  

My advice is, whatever you do, don't allow your comfort to trump your eternal progression.

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