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The ask: specifically, what goes into redrawing boundaries, other than prayer?

Seems like critical mass of ward members and balancing of welfare needs, primarily. 

Remember, good information leads to good inspiration. Though high school boundaries (and thus non-online seminary classes) don't' seem to be a consideration.  My son will be starting seminary in a class that has  no other youth from our ward in it, due to high school boundaries.

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Friends of mine in the Greater Denver area recently had their ward and stake dissolved/absorbed by the three neighboring stakes.

The ward they'd attended for 40 years or so had a lot of welfare needs / bishop's storehouse needs (majority of the cases in the stake were from that ward) and had a large group of inactive and less active members - example: some active members had 10-15 hometeaching families / ministering families. For clarity, I'll call this the "needy ward."

No exceptions were made to those who requested to attend the ward that had the majority of "needy ward" members in it.

Temple recommends were going to not be issued if members continued attending the ward which absorbed most of the "needy ward" members.

My friends are now in a predominantly suburban ward with much less welfare need and more balance - though in their older age, the loss of existing social relationships is difficult.

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A long time ago in a farming community in Utah, my family and I were in three wards in 2 years while never moving.

Some said it was the high count of Primary age kids that caused the boundary update.

Some said it was the higher welfare needs of part of the neighborhood that needed to be balanced amongst wards.

Either way, as a newly-wed couple, starting out and having known some of the people in the area from high school, loosing these relationships was challenging.

And, yes, my friends in Denver and in the farming area are able to remain friends and see each other; the challenge arises in finding the time after the kids, callings, commute, work, date night, FHE, etc.

 

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Posted (edited)

There's an older guy in my ward who has quite a bit of experience on various redrawing efforts.  And I've been close to 3-4 different bishoprics and stake leaders as it's happened, and listened to them talk.  From what I can gather, quite a bit goes into it.

Bottoms up: Once you get regularly above or below a certain number of active attendees, you start betting with each other on when the next ward realignment will happen.  If people start going inactive because they've got a dozen children and no active youth programs in the ward, then odds are on something happening sooner rather than later.   If your bishop moves, that's another indication something might happen sooner. To the lay-observer, the realignment makes about 75% sense, and 25% "what on earth were they thinking".  But suddenly all the auxiliaries are active again.  The other ward always sucks at something.  Their librarians lose projectors and break the printer.  Their young women leave lipstick on the walls.  Always something. 

Tops down: Long range planning based on population/demographic shift estimates feed into land purchases by the church.  Purchased land, plus those estimates becoming reality, become buildings.  Branches, phase I, then II, then III buildings.  Area authorities look at overall area changes, and work with the stakes to plan out what stakes should look like.  They juggle existing buildings, parking and classroom capacity, new construction, and changing boundary lines. Yes, they understand where 'the leadership' lives, meaning, who are the active/willing/able families who will be the Bishopric/YM/YW/RS/EQ leaders.  They come up with their best proposal, and a few alternatives, and they send it up to the brethren.  Who send it back down with some changes that don't make immediate sense, but come to over time. 

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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36 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

There's an older guy in my ward who has quite a bit of experience on various redrawing efforts.  And I've been close to 3-4 different bishoprics and stake leaders as it's happened, and listened to them talk.  From what I can gather, quite a bit goes into it.

I agree with this... a friend of mine was on the high council and the boundary committee.  It was a lot of work and a tough job where someone is bound to be unhappy with your decisions.

 

36 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Bottoms up: Once you get regularly above or below a certain number of active attendees, you start betting with each other on when the next ward realignment will happen.  If people start going inactive because they've got a dozen children and no active youth programs in the ward, then odds are on something happening sooner rather than later.   If your bishop moves, that's another indication something might happen sooner. To the lay-observer, the realignment makes about 75% sense, and 25% "what on earth were they thinking".  But suddenly all the auxiliaries are active again.  The other ward always sucks at something.  Their librarians lose projectors and break the printer.  Their young women leave lipstick on the walls.  Always something. 

Tops down: Long range planning based on population/demographic shift estimates feed into land purchases by the church.  Purchased land, plus those estimates becoming reality, become buildings.  Branches, phase I, then II, then III buildings.  Area authorities look at overall area changes, and work with the stakes to plan out what stakes should look like.  They juggle existing buildings, parking and classroom capacity, new construction, and changing boundary lines. Yes, they understand where 'the leadership' lives, meaning, who are the active/willing/able families who will be the Bishopric/YM/YW/RS/EQ leaders.  They come up with their best proposal, and a few alternatives, and they send it up to the brethren.  Who send it back down with some changes that don't make immediate sense, but come to over time. 

I haven't seen much evidence of the "tops down" long range planning in my area.  A couple years ago they realigned stake boundaries. One of the stakes created in this process has 8 wards and only one small building within its boundaries.  So, a majority of the stake members travel outside stake boundaries each Sunday and Tuesday/Wednesday for meetings.  Admittedly, it's a geographically small stake so traveling outside the boundaries is not a great sacrifice.  But it seems that the strategy here is to let boundaries land where they may and wait to build ward/stake meetinghouses after all other options have been exhausted.

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I understand all of the stakes east of us and many west of us were realigned a couple of years ago. I really expected that to happen to our stake.

One of our wards is huge. Another quite large. 3 are very small.

It was amazing to me as a Just Service specialist speaking in the largest and smallest Sunday schools seeing the adults and youth of the larger ward filling the chapel, overflows and I think part of the large cultural hall.  In the small ward the adults and youth all fit in the RS room.  

The smallest even requested help or realignment etc. The stake told them no on realignment, but we had a stake fast for them. I don't know what has happened since then. 

Our stake is only 3 square miles with 3 buildings so distance is not a thing.

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2 hours ago, rockpond said:

As @MustardSeed wrote, I believe they do look at the number of worthy priesthood holders and making sure that there is sufficient leadership potential.  I also believe that they look at youth numbers to try to keep that somewhat balanced from ward to ward within a stake.

I'm always sad when a ward changes because I know it will mean seeing less of certain friends.  But then I remind myself that without the boundary changes, I wouldn't have met and become friends with [insert long list of wonderful people].  In the past three years my house has been in three wards and two stakes.  I think that is probably an above average amount of change.

On the flip side... I do wish that we would let school boundaries weigh heavily on ward/stake boundary decisions.  I've mentioned before that the stake we are now in has only a small handful of kids that attend the schools my kids are assigned to per our location in the school district.  This has made it pretty tough on my kids as they often end up feeling ostracized at church.

Our ward boundaries were in somewhat of a conflict with school district boundaries, and that happened with my kids, too.  The problem was, the two different high schools were in hot competition with each other, and yes, ostracized.  I wish the youth leaders would recognize this and do something about it, like making a point of the fact that school and church were separate but equal. Sure, Rah Rah at football games, but at church we are all brothers and sisters.  Would possibly have helped a couple of my kids stay active.

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14 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Our ward boundaries were in somewhat of a conflict with school district boundaries, and that happened with my kids, too.  The problem was, the two different high schools were in hot competition with each other, and yes, ostracized.  I wish the youth leaders would recognize this and do something about it, like making a point of the fact that school and church were separate but equal. Sure, Rah Rah at football games, but at church we are all brothers and sisters.  Would possibly have helped a couple of my kids stay active.

pep_rally.png

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20 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Our ward boundaries were in somewhat of a conflict with school district boundaries, and that happened with my kids, too.  The problem was, the two different high schools were in hot competition with each other, and yes, ostracized.  I wish the youth leaders would recognize this and do something about it, like making a point of the fact that school and church were separate but equal. Sure, Rah Rah at football games, but at church we are all brothers and sisters.  Would possibly have helped a couple of my kids stay active.

I don't think the kids in our ward are doing anything maliciously.  It's just that they have this joint high school experience everyday that unites them.  And, my son isn't a part of it.  He is the only kid in our stake that is in his grade at his high school.

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1 hour ago, rockpond said:

I don't think the kids in our ward are doing anything maliciously.  It's just that they have this joint high school experience everyday that unites them.  And, my son isn't a part of it.  He is the only kid in our stake that is in his grade at his high school.

I think in the United States, high school boundaries are a big thing. When making changes to boundaries, the youth should be looked at very closely. 

It is harder to be in an area with more youth but then feel ostracized than being in an area with few youth that seek each other out. 

Ive had both and being in a ward with few youth when the other wards had a lot was much worse then being few in a Stake with large geographic boundaries.

It’s the “alone in a crowd” problem.

I also believe youth with friends at church probably have a statistically higher percentage of staying active.

I’ve had some kids who were ignored by the kids at their high school who were in different wards. That was really bad. (Overall snobbery area.)

These are serious issues and sometimes I feel leadership poo poohs the concerns. When my ward had a toxic youth program, only 1 child came out of it active.

Does your child attend a separate seminary too? We had this happen in my ward but we had open enrollment. The one high schooler who would attend a different high school was able to enroll in the high school with the other kids.

 

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6 minutes ago, bsjkki said:

Does your child attend a separate seminary too? We had this happen in my ward but we had open enrollment. The one high schooler who would attend a different high school was able to enroll in the high school with the other kids.

We have released-time seminary here (Colorado) so my kids have to attend seminary with the kids from their high school.  While there would be benefits to attending seminary with the kids from our ward/stake, the nice thing about the current setup is that it has enabled my sons to meet the LDS kids from the other stake.  It's just unfortunate that they go to seminary with kids from one stake but then go to church and activities with kids from another stake.  It's made them acquaintances with many (LDS) but friends with few and feeling somewhat on the outside in both places.

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13 hours ago, rockpond said:

I don't think the kids in our ward are doing anything maliciously.  It's just that they have this joint high school experience everyday that unites them.  And, my son isn't a part of it.  He is the only kid in our stake that is in his grade at his high school.

Neither was it malicious in our case. It was just that the majority of the youth went to HS A and a few went to HS B.  They were a little like two cliques, and there was some social separation there due to differences in economic status.  We had a few millionaires and some "sub-millionaires" in the ward, whose children all attended HS A, and I have to say that while the adults with that status were not at all puffed up, but were egalitarian and spiritual men and women who provided a great deal of effective leadership in the stake and ward, yet sometimes their children could be less humble than their parents.  

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On 7/25/2019 at 10:41 AM, MustardSeed said:

Worthy priesthood holders and leadership potential. 

full tithe paying being a part of the worhty M. Preisthood holders, right?

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6 hours ago, nuclearfuels said:

full tithe paying being a part of the worhty M. Preisthood holders, right?

Yes it is judged on tithe paying Melchizedek priesthood holders.

We just discussed this recently in HC- I could look up my notes but as I recall it takes 15 tithe paying MPH and their families to form a "unit" - that would be a branch,  Anything smaller than that would simply be a few families meeting together, probably at someone's home.   The requirements for a ward as I recall then are higher of course. 

Each unit is supposed to be able to be self-sustaining financially meaning that the offerings in should not be less than the needs of those receiving assistance.   If they are out of balance, then the funds come from the Stake, and if the Stake goes broke, funds are sent from the church as a whole.  But being self-sustaining is obviously an important goal, so boundaries may be adjusted to accommodate.

I can't imagine why members would want to make their own stakes "insolvent" because they miss their friends.  It takes a lot of thought and prayer to make boundary decisions.  There is of necessity a lot of gerrymandering in areas where there are not many members to make it all work.   I have seen jogs in boundary lines fairly obviously drawn to make sure that one or two families are included in one ward rather than another to make the financial and key calling burdens work out. 

Wards need funds to help families and folks active enough to perform all the key callings.  That should be obvious.

In my opinion members should be aware that these considerations are more important than their social needs and staying with their friends.   We are all members of the Church and should not be so clannish that we cannot make new friends with fellow members and render service wherever we are.

It's like deciding who ministers to whom.  Do you pick based on being next door or who has common interests and can communicate well?

Everyone wants to stay close to home, but we really should be thinking about our level of sacrifice compared to Christ's sacrifice.

Do we want to be Christlike and miss our favorite TV show or is that show really more important that making a small sacrifice?

How selfish are we really?   Is this a social club or an attempt to create a community worthy of the name "Saints"?

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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Posted (edited)

For adults I agree with the ‘suck it up’ attitude. Not so much for kids. I think school boundaries should be heavily weighted though given there may be several schools in the area, that might be hard. 

My ward in CA had three high schools, my closest school friend was from another ward of though. However, even if all the ward girls went to the same high school I doubt I would have been good friends with any of them.  Wasn’t treated as an outsider, just didn’t fit. 

My son had a huge peer group for being out of Utah...13 boys. None of his best friends at church went to the same schools. Wasn’t a problem for him. Daughter had several church friends in her class which I was so grateful for as she was shyer than I was (and when we moved she wasn’t able to feel comfortable enough to socialize unfortunately, she was already withdrawing though due to her diabetes plus sleep disorder so not sure it would have been better for her if we stayed). 

Edited by Calm
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12 hours ago, Calm said:

I think school boundaries should be heavily weighted though given there may be several schools in the area, that might be hard. 

We have about 5 CITIES or portions thereof within our STAKE boundaries and about 750,000 people, near as I can estimate by looking up the city populations etc.  I have no clue how many high schools that is not to mention middle schools etc.

The population of the entire city of Salt Lake is about 200,000.

It gets complicated real quick.  ;)

 

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17 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Yes it is judged on tithe paying Melchizedek priesthood holders.

We just discussed this recently in HC- I could look up my notes but as I recall it takes 15 tithe paying MPH and their families to form a "unit" - that would be a branch,  Anything smaller than that would simply be a few families meeting together, probably at someone's home.   The requirements for a ward as I recall then are higher of course. 

Each unit is supposed to be able to be self-sustaining financially meaning that the offerings in should not be less than the needs of those receiving assistance.   If they are out of balance, then the funds come from the Stake, and if the Stake goes broke, funds are sent from the church as a whole.  But being self-sustaining is obviously an important goal, so boundaries may be adjusted to accommodate.

I can't imagine why members would want to make their own stakes "insolvent" because they miss their friends.  It takes a lot of thought and prayer to make boundary decisions.  There is of necessity a lot of gerrymandering in areas where there are not many members to make it all work.   I have seen jogs in boundary lines fairly obviously drawn to make sure that one or two families are included in one ward rather than another to make the financial and key calling burdens work out. 

Wards need funds to help families and folks active enough to perform all the key callings.  That should be obvious.

In my opinion members should be aware that these considerations are more important than their social needs and staying with their friends.   We are all members of the Church and should not be so clannish that we cannot make new friends with fellow members and render service wherever we are.

It's like deciding who ministers to whom.  Do you pick based on being next door or who has common interests and can communicate well?

Everyone wants to stay close to home, but we really should be thinking about our level of sacrifice compared to Christ's sacrifice.

Do we want to be Christlike and miss our favorite TV show or is that show really more important that making a small sacrifice?

How selfish are we really?   Is this a social club or an attempt to create a community worthy of the name "Saints"?

 

Yes-

We are every negative projection you listed, since perhaps we grew close to those we served with for decades - possibly under General Conference motivations/carrots/sticks/threats of being held partially accountable for their lack of faith or possible falling away should we not have done our due diligence.

Back when some auxiliary youth groups were combined - in the "Agent ward" program, some of the youth from one ward asked if they could have activities with just the youth from their own ward, and were chided the same way you've attempted to do here.

I'm not mad at you; just encourage you to use other methods of persuasion - all the "should's" in the world don't replace memories and friendships

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16 minutes ago, nuclearfuels said:

Yes-

We are every negative projection you listed, since perhaps we grew close to those we served with for decades - possibly under General Conference motivations/carrots/sticks/threats of being held partially accountable for their lack of faith or possible falling away should we not have done our due diligence.

Back when some auxiliary youth groups were combined - in the "Agent ward" program, some of the youth from one ward asked if they could have activities with just the youth from their own ward, and were chided the same way you've attempted to do here.

I'm not mad at you; just encourage you to use other methods of persuasion - all the "should's" in the world don't replace memories and friendships

Sorry if that was offensive, I thought I was including myself in the reprimands by using the word "we".

We recently had some changes in our Stake that have made my life more difficult but I guess I was trying to reprimand myself and it sounded as though I was going after others.

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