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Regarding The New Ysa Wards And Stakes


Acris Venator

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I'm looking for views on the Church's recent move towards YSA wards & stakes, as detailed in this news report.

Here is a related article concerning why young men are delaying marriage.

My new blog post on the change.

BYU is a special place with high concentrations of single students in particular areas surrounding the campus. They need YSA wards.

Question: Does treating the rest of the country like it is BYU unintentionally cause a fragmentation of our religious communities?

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Somehow I just knew you would pipe up again when I listened to President Monson's talk.

To me it does not appear that shifting the BYU population into the normal YSA wards instead of giving them special student wards is just another part of the YSA correlation and expansion that's been happening in the past few years. I know of no other place that has "student wards", and when you combine that with the normal YSA wards in the Provo area, I'm sure you can see where the disparity comes from. Here there is no student ward, those of us who attend the 3 colleges/universities in Norfolk just go to the "normal" YSA branch. It's the same in my hometown. This shift in Provo is just the Church bringing BYU into line with the rest of the world, and the formation of the new YSA stakes is just a result of the sheer numbers that exist in that area.

I didn't see any insights into why young men aren't marrying in that 2nd article, just some suppositions. But once again I see that the focus is solely on the men. Based on my observations, I would really like for someone to take a long, close look at the women, cause as much as the men are known "goof off" and "hang out", I don't see too many women that are in a hurry to get married either, but I have yet to see them get any blame.

So now, let me get to the point (one we've rehashed who knows how many times the last time we butted heads.) The YSA program is ESSENTIAL outside of Utah. As clerk I get to know how many active YSAs there are that come from the family ward I reside in. According to my branch's current records, I am 1/2 active YSAs in the family ward who's boundaries I reside in (and it covers half of the city), and 1 of 3 active at my college. If I was dependent upon a monthly activity to get to know the other YSAs in the stake, I'll NEVER get married because I'll never get to see them often enough to make friends. Because of the program I'm able to get to know many more YSAs than if it didn't exist. In fact, as much as you laud the family wards, more YSAs go inactive from them than any YSA ward/branch.

Heck, when we started up the branch in my hometown one of the first things we did was get a list of all the YSAs in the stake and contact them directly, invite them to attend. One guy who had been inactive for years suddenly started coming, amazed that the Church had set up a program to take care of him and people his age. He had gone inactive because he felt ignored at the family ward. Because of the YSA program he became active again, and is now married (and probably has a kid or 3 by now.) I noticed that once again in your blog you continue to claim that YSAs don't serve. Once again, I call bull.

You need to end this crusade of yours. You're not doing yourself any favors.

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I know of no other place that has "student wards", and when you combine that with the normal YSA wards in the Provo area, I'm sure you can see where the disparity comes from.

This is not new stuff . . . it's been being put into place since last year.

And as for the "no other place" comment, you must not be local/Utah, since there are/have been great big numbers of student wards/stakes in Salt Lake, Ogden, Pocatello and Logan to accommodate the very big numbers of LDS students at universities there.

Indeed, USU and Idaho State have just marginally smaller percentages of LDS students than the parochial stench.

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And as for the "no other place" comment, you must not be local/Utah, since there are/have been great big numbers of student wards/stakes in Salt Lake, Ogden, Pocatello and Logan to accommodate the very big numbers of LDS students at universities there.

Indeed, USU and Idaho State have just marginally smaller percentages of LDS students than the parochial stench.

You're right, and I am aware of that. I do tend to use "Utah" and "Mormon Corridor" interchangeably. I know it's not the most accurate, but most of the time it's a close enough approximation.

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Question: Does treating the rest of the country like it is BYU unintentionally cause a fragmentation of our religious communities?

Overall they seem to work. Ours seems to be having more success with the younger range of this age group in getting them on missions. Also, for older teen couples who have broken the law of chastity and a mission is now out of the question, they can work towards getting to the temple. While I believe it best for them to serve in their home wards, this age group, when not missioned and/or married, does seem to wander aimlessly and lose focus so I think it's helping to ground them.

Unfortunately, singles wards don't seem to help produce many marriages for the rest of them. Most of these singles have significant stumbling blocks in their lives that preclude marriage; some real, some imagined. Hopefully we can help them find solutions to those. I think one of the risks is developing a significant percentage of members who are satisfied with remaining single. We talk a lot about not hurting feelings or being "inclusive", but there has to be some social pressure. That's the way it's always worked and always will.

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i was excited about the article title, then disappointed with the substance. I think the Church should do away with YSA/Student wards completely. I am not too much of a fan of these wards.

18 - 30 will create more problems, the bickering and nay-saying of the older person dating the younger person, the bickering and nay-saying of one person dating another person.

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I don't see too many women that are in a hurry to get married either, but I have yet to see them get any blame.

a few years in ago in at a YSA stake activity, one sister lamented about not being married. She told how a year or two prior, she expressed this lament to her Bishop who responded "What you are you doing to get married". The Bishop then told her she needed to start asking guys out on dates. She followed the advice and after asking for a date or two she stated what a terrible and uncomfortable experience it was for a date. And she would never do it again. I responded "welcome to world of men"; my comment started a small firestorm of which took the "rainbows and sunshine" couple leading the discussing (this couple should not have been leading a discussion) by complete surprise who did not know how to respond to the back and forth among the group, so they just ended the meeting.

Dating in the Church is largely governed by foolish traditions; dating and marriage is the responsibility of both male and female. If a male or female wants to be on a date that male or female should ask someone. When the foolishness of dating is done away with more people will be on dates. And parents who perpetuate the foolishness share in responsibility for their children being single.

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Unfortunately, singles wards don't seem to help produce many marriages for the rest of them. Most of these singles have significant stumbling blocks in their lives that preclude marriage; some real, some imagined. Hopefully we can help them find solutions to those. I think one of the risks is developing a significant percentage of members who are satisfied with remaining single. We talk a lot about not hurting feelings or being "inclusive", but there has to be some social pressure. That's the way it's always worked and always will.

I met a guy recently who is 31, and he dreads going back to a local ward because when he goes back to his home ward he gets all these questions about when he's going to marry. My thought was; That's precisely what a real community is. One where adults learn to negotiate the projections of those who care about the future of the individual and the community. I mean, sure... it's annoying. But it's also part of what makes you stand on your own two feet and become your own person. Societal pressure seems like a useful refiners fire that is relatively absent from YSA wards.

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Somehow I just knew you would pipe up again when I listened to President Monson's talk.

Hey man. Hope you are well, and I hope you know that I consider your viewpoint to be important and valid. I can agree to disagree on the quality of most YSA callings.

I was actually pleased with Pres. Monson's remarks. I felt they were spot on. I feel that too many young people, women included, are waiting too long to marry.

Do YSA wards create too much pressure? I know a lot of kids who avoid dating in their own wards.

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Depends on what you consider pressure. Here in the East we're not treated any differently than any of the family wards so the Church responsibilities are pretty much the same. I suppose the big hamper on filling callings comes from being busy with school and work.

The dating scene arund here is pretty much confined to the individual wards and branches (though in big cities like mine the other branches are close enough that we can get together somewhat regularly). For the most part, if you want to date outside of the branch you can be driving for upwards of an hour or more since we're so spread out.

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i was excited about the article title, then disappointed with the substance. I think the Church should do away with YSA/Student wards completely. I am not too much of a fan of these wards.

18 - 30 will create more problems, the bickering and nay-saying of the older person dating the younger person, the bickering and nay-saying of one person dating another person.

I spent a few years in two student/ysa wards and we never had any real problems with this. Honestly, we all got along very well. Have you had personal experience that makes you think your statements are a problem for a large number of ysa wards or do you just assume such problems would exist for most of them?

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I met a guy recently who is 31, and he dreads going back to a local ward because when he goes back to his home ward he gets all these questions about when he's going to marry. My thought was; That's precisely what a real community is. One where adults learn to negotiate the projections of those who care about the future of the individual and the community. I mean, sure... it's annoying. But it's also part of what makes you stand on your own two feet and become your own person. Societal pressure seems like a useful refiners fire that is relatively absent from YSA wards.

Precisely. We ought not to eliminate pressure and stigma just because it's uncomfortable. It's part of the Gospel that such should exist. We can still rally around and support the person suffering such without removing the pressure that helps one see what is right and wrong and what invites them to change.

2 Nephi 2:13,16

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When the foolishness of dating is done away with more people will be on dates.

A very interesting statement. :blink:

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Something not mentioned yet is how this will affect others outside the "Mormon Corridor". (ghettos? ;) )

In some stakes, moving the stake YSA ward to another new YSA stake may cause some stakes to fall below the minimum number of units necessary to define guidelines of what constitutes a "Stake".

Theoretically, it might be possible that the loss of a small YSA branch of say 50 kids (sorry- I'm old) could cause a Stake to be re-organized and gobbled up by another Stake.

That would be interesting.

But I am sure that such a small branch would benefit astronomically from now allowing those 50 kids to meet others in their new YSA stake, and actually make attendance in that now-small branch worthwhile for many who are in family wards- also depleting the family wards of needed active members.

Very interesting indeed! This could cause huge re-organizations in family stakes as well, if they are close to the tipping point on these demographics.

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Depends on what you consider pressure.

I guess I mean the social scene that YSA wards create. It's almost scary to date someone in your own ward because if you break up the social fallout is severe because relationships take center stage when the ward is only populated by singles. Is it fair to say that avoiding dating in singles wards is antithetical to their existence? If so, then why do so many people do exactly that?

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I guess I mean the social scene that YSA wards create. It's almost scary to date someone in your own ward because if you break up the social fallout is severe because relationships take center stage when the ward is only populated by singles. Is it fair to say that avoiding dating in singles wards is antithetical to their existence? If so, then why do so many people do exactly that?

With one YSA ward here I have seen this happen time and again, people staying together for fear of what the fallout would be like if they split up and couples that did split typically one would just go inactive. In my 3.5 years experience in a YSA ward I have only known two couples that broke up that both stayed active-with one of the participants moving to another province! It would be easier to date someone from another YSA ward but then meeting someone could possibly be a challenge, I don't know! And with one YSA ward it is a challenging to date within the ward because those people are your only options or move away. In Canada, the dating scene is like a wheel with the middle thing being Alberta and all the spokes being all the rest of our cities with just one possibly two YSA wards, but the problem with that though is what you have in Alberta is wards with like 3/4 of the population being girls from all over the place, moving away from here and other places to date and marry but they find others have the same idea-it isn't impossible to marry there but way tougher especially if you are over 25 and guys can take there sweet time because girls are a plenty-it makes me sick to see it all happen

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I spent a few years in two student/ysa wards and we never had any real problems with this. Honestly, we all got along very well. Have you had personal experience that makes you think your statements are a problem for a large number of ysa wards or do you just assume such problems would exist for most of them?

my wife loved her student ward with "Cowboy Joe", but had a not so pleasant with sparky.

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Meh, I think it'd be a good move in Rexburg when it gets up there. As for back home in PA though, we have a YSA Branch, but the attendance is limited by the fact that's a tad off the beaten path for most of us. About two hours for me I think. Our Institute class, activities, and conferences do more for helping people meet each other than the Branch does.

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Tried responding earlier, but the site was giving me problems.

Anyway, I am very grateful for my YSA ward. I've met so many friends I never would have otherwise. Some of my best friends actually. I've had leadership opportunities I never would have had otherwise.

As for marriage, it's not my fault the LDS women haven't been interested. Sometimes I think we have very unreasonable expectations for our significant others. Most I can do is keep working to be better and ask girls out. I can't help it if they aren't interested.

I remember one woman would always complain about how there are no good men around. And then she wondered why none of the guys around her asked her out. I was even thinking of asking her out until then.

Not saying women are the reason we aren't getting married. But there are alot of guys that are making efforts. And others, well, i need to kick their butts.

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I guess I mean the social scene that YSA wards create. It's almost scary to date someone in your own ward because if you break up the social fallout is severe because relationships take center stage when the ward is only populated by singles. Is it fair to say that avoiding dating in singles wards is antithetical to their existence? If so, then why do so many people do exactly that?

We've been over this before Acris. The only relationship that takes center stage in a YSA ward is the members' relationship with the Savior. Everything else is secondary. Yes, YSA wards are meant to allow us YSAs to have a place to gather and have our unique needs tended to, but that is not done at the expense of our worship. Any ward that is not doing so is operating contrary to Church policy and doctrine.

Yes, it is a bit scary to date people in your ward, but dating is always scary. You can never know what will happen. There's the chance that it'll be a disaster, ending any chance at a deeper relationship. There's also the chance that it'll be the beginning of an eternal relationship. You have to roll the dice and see, and as Admiral Adama has said, sometimes you have to roll the hard six.

All the YSA program does is provide a way for those of us who are single a chance to get to know each other. I've told you the numbers for my area. I'll repeat myself again: I am 1 of 2 active YSAs in the family ward who's borders I reside in. Experience has taught me that no bishop would be able to adequately see to my needs as he'll be swamped with all the families vying for his attention. With my school (and probably soon-to-be work) schedule a weekly FHE and/or Institute activity are a maybe at best. I'd be so out of the loop that by the time I found out about major gatherings I'd've already made other plans, assuming I even heard about them at all.

The only real problem I've had with the YSA program is that it is geared to the social people, but that's to be expected. I deal with it as best as I can, and thankfully my branch presidency has been a lot of help in coaxing me out of my shell, little by little.

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The only relationship that takes center stage in a YSA ward is the members' relationship with the Savior.

Well, which Young Single Adults are you talking about exactly? You? I think the above is a dogmatic statement. It may be the intent of leadership, but in truth it only applies to some individuals. Not to the entire demographic.

With my school (and probably soon-to-be work) schedule a weekly FHE and/or Institute activity are a maybe at best. I'd be so out of the loop that by the time I found out about major gatherings I'd've already made other plans, assuming I even heard about them at all.

Perhaps a critical mass on Sundays would still be necessary if YSA wards were expunged. It could be accomplished with a weekly potluck + occasional firesides. Simple stuff. I don't see why it has to be an entire ward.

But in a remote area such as yours, perhaps a magnet family ward would better serve the YSAs than a simple YSA branch. I remember that you have an aversion to callings involving children, but is that true for all the members of your branch? Are there women in your branch who would thrive teaching children or YW, or who would benefit from a more wide ranging Relief Society? Such a ward would allow them to participate with the rest of the community while still letting you meet with all the available singles in the area.

The only real problem I've had with the YSA program is that it is geared to the social people, but that's to be expected. I deal with it as best as I can, and thankfully my branch presidency has been a lot of help in coaxing me out of my shell, little by little.

Team players like yourself who fulfill callings and are obedient are not the problem. You're a blessing to the Church. The problem is those individuals who live in perpetual adolescence and squander the ten years they are allotted in the YSA system partying, NCMOing and playing video games. It is this set that I feel YSA wards enable, and here in Utah it is large. This group doesn't have to date to be surrounded by nubile women on a weekly basis. All they have to do is go to church. Hence, there is no real impetus to date.

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Well, which Young Single Adults are you talking about exactly? You? I think the above is a dogmatic statement. It may be the intent of leadership, but in truth it only applies to some individuals. Not to the entire demographic.

Of course I don't mean that everyone has Christ as the center like they're supposed to. I guess I'm just used to people who know that my use of language comes with an implication that there are exceptions. But despite the picture you paint of the YSAs, I've found that the majority who come to the wards and branches do try to keep Christ at the center.

Perhaps a critical mass on Sundays would still be necessary if YSA wards were expunged. It could be accomplished with a weekly potluck + occasional firesides. Simple stuff. I don't see why it has to be an entire ward.

But in a remote area such as yours, perhaps a magnet family ward would better serve the YSAs than a simple YSA branch. I remember that you have an aversion to callings involving children, but is that true for all the members of your branch? Are there women in your branch who would thrive teaching children or YW, or who would benefit from a more wide ranging Relief Society? Such a ward would allow them to participate with the rest of the community while still letting you meet with all the available singles in the area.

My parent's stake does just that, a YSA designated ward. Before her mission my sister attended it, and one time I visited. It ended up being one of the most uncomfortable experiences I've ever had as a YSA. No more than 10 YSAs attended, and during sacrament we were all sitting together with their leader and Sunday School teacher, a young woman. Sitting next to her was another member of her family who was 8 or 9 and she was doing some singing between talks with her relative. Mid-song I leaned over to my sister and commented on the age difference between their leader and her sister. I then learned that the kid wasn't her sister, but her daughter. So the leader of the YSAs in the YSA designated ward was a MARRIED WOMAN who hadn't attended a YSA ward for 10 years or more. Sunday School itself was worse. All of the YSAs who didn't have a calling (and those who did all had callings in the Primary) were stuffed into 1 room by ourselves. I didn't even make it to Priesthood that day (had to leave early due to a family engagement.)

Long story short, your "magnet ward" is a much more unpleasant experience than a normal YSA ward, and even a family ward. In a normal YSA ward everything's tailored to your needs. In a family ward, you tend to just be lumped in with your family (if you're there with them), or treated like any other single person. In the YSA designated ward we were basically shoved to the side.

Granted, I'm basing it off of 1 experience, but considering that every -designated ward I've ever seen has fallen apart (SA, Spanish, and Deaf being the 3 I've directly dealt with), it seems to me that the "magnet ward" model doesn't work.

Team players like yourself who fulfill callings and are obedient are not the problem. You're a blessing to the Church. The problem is those individuals who live in perpetual adolescence and squander the ten years they are allotted in the YSA system partying, NCMOing and playing video games. It is this set that I feel YSA wards enable, and here in Utah it is large. This group doesn't have to date to be surrounded by nubile women on a weekly basis. All they have to do is go to church. Hence, there is no real impetus to date.

It's been my experience that the YSA system does not enable that kind of attitude. It seems to me that those kinds of people will have that attitude no matter what ward they attend. In fact, I've seen more YSAs rally around those who do slack off and try to get them out of it than any family ward. (By the way, what's NCMO?) And you're right, you could still date without being constantly surrounded by young women, but in an area where worthy sisters are a vast minority, it's a HUGE help.

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I don't understand how the new arrangement will prevent ward hopping, can't they go ward hopping but now in their new stake or another stake of YSA's? In my mind preventing ward hopping I owuld just have the one ward or two wards so you know where they are going, but no one listens to me!

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