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New Ward - New $$?


Koneko

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Hello there. I haven't posted in quite some time so please excuse my dropping in out of no where. I am having some issues with my new ward and I remembered reading more than a few threads here with people who were struggling with similar or related. I'm hoping to get some insights, as I'm a bit at a loss for what to do. My husband and I just moved to a new ward. We move around quite more frequently than we'd like, so we aren't strangers to starting over and meeting all new people with different perspectives and subcultures. But this new ward has me to the point where I'm seriously considering whether this church is true. I know with a deepness of personal revelation that the gospel itself is true and has improved my life and family relationships immensely. I have also experienced such fufillment in the Temple that I do not question it is of God. I enjoy family history and feeling a deep and spiritual connection to my ancestors in the work I do there. In fact, if it weren't for my Temple recommend I would probably stop attending this particular ward all together.

So here's my beef. This ward is so unwelcoming! Our first sacrament meeting, we came in and there was about one person stationed in each row holding down each bench for their own family's seating. This has always been a bit of a pet peeve for me, but I've never seen it on such a scale. We notice one man who was hovering between two pews, so I approached him and ask him if he was saving the ones on the right or if we could sit there. Before I could finish half my question, a few of his older children ran and pushed past us to pile into the seats. The man, to his credit, looked somewhat embarrassed and offered to move his family to the other pew he was hovering over. By that time his family looked quite entrenched, so we thanked him but declined and moved to the back where some of the hard standalone seats were open. We were there about 5 minutes when a man came up and asked us if we could move down the row to make room for his family. I looked behind and us and noticed no shortage of empty seats, but nodded politely and moved down. When his family came over, there were only 3 of them, which could have fit fine on the other side of us, so I'm really unsure why he needed those particular seats. My husband and I joked quietly that one more polite gesture and we'd be listening to sacrament meeting in the car.

I must admit that the demeanor of the ward bothers me immensely. It's in an area of town where many wealthy business men and women and their families live. The Sunday dress is excessive - I mean jewelery on the men's ties, diamond earrings on the women, and designer suits and dresses. Outside in the front lobby are large pie charts indicating the wards charity progress. It all feels so corporate and impersonal. The talks given by members included one ladies testimony about how righteous her family was and how much wealth and success the lord had blessed them with because of their piety. This came complete with a pioneer story about a girl who's father was sent on a mission down south, and lost all of her clothes. It all worked out ok though, because in the end the lord rewarded her faith by giving her a husband who was Utah's first millionaire and could afford all the clothes she wanted. I've heard more than a few talks too, including the Bishops, that include a whole lot of pioneer name dropping about their ancestors taking direct marching orders from Brigham Young and so on. After a few weeks, no one had approached us, so we decided it was time to go introduce ourselves to the Bishop and at least pay tithing and get our records transferred. We said hello to the Bishop, and I must say he seemed downright disinterested in meeting us. He pointed out a few people that lived near us, and checked to make sure that 'We'd be staying for the whole block', then excused himself. We caught up to him later to pay tithing, at which time he pushed again to make certain we'd be staying for the full 3 hours. I asked my husband what the heck that was all about, since I've never had that response before, and he told me that tithing gets redistributed based on how many members in the ward attend all three meetings. I had never heard that before and it left me with such a used feeling. Believe me when I say that the last thing that ward needed is more money, imho. Anyhow...I'm not sure what to do. I really don't want to go back. I'd like to think it's just unfamiliarity with a new ward and new people, but I've moved alot and never really felt like this. I'm a convert and have been lucky enough to have simply amazing Bishoprics and wards in the past 4 years or so that I've been in the church. My husband kept telling me they aren't all like that but...it's hard to face that reality. Can I drive to another ward in a neighboring town - does anyone do that? Any insights, strategies, or coping mechanisms welcome.

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Hello there. I haven't posted in quite some time so please excuse my dropping in out of no where. I am having some issues with my new ward and I remembered reading more than a few threads here with people who were struggling with similar or related. I'm hoping to get some insights, as I'm a bit at a loss for what to do. My husband and I just moved to a new ward. We move around quite more frequently than we'd like, so we aren't strangers to starting over and meeting all new people with different perspectives and subcultures. But this new ward has me to the point where I'm seriously considering whether this church is true. I know with a deepness of personal revelation that the gospel itself is true and has improved my life and family relationships immensely. I have also experienced such fufillment in the Temple that I do not question it is of God. I enjoy family history and feeling a deep and spiritual connection to my ancestors in the work I do there. In fact, if it weren't for my Temple recommend I would probably stop attending this particular ward all together.

So here's my beef. This ward is so unwelcoming! Our first sacrament meeting, we came in and there was about one person stationed in each row holding down each bench for their own family's seating. This has always been a bit of a pet peeve for me, but I've never seen it on such a scale. We notice one man who was hovering between two pews, so I approached him and ask him if he was saving the ones on the right or if we could sit there. Before I could finish half my question, a few of his older children ran and pushed past us to pile into the seats. The man, to his credit, looked somewhat embarrassed and offered to move his family to the other pew he was hovering over. By that time his family looked quite entrenched, so we thanked him but declined and moved to the back where some of the hard standalone seats were open. We were there about 5 minutes when a man came up and asked us if we could move down the row to make room for his family. I looked behind and us and noticed no shortage of empty seats, but nodded politely and moved down. When his family came over, there were only 3 of them, which could have fit fine on the other side of us, so I'm really unsure why he needed those particular seats. My husband and I joked quietly that one more polite gesture and we'd be listening to sacrament meeting in the car.

I must admit that the demeanor of the ward bothers me immensely. It's in an area of town where many wealthy business men and women and their families live. The Sunday dress is excessive - I mean jewelery on the men's ties, diamond earrings on the women, and designer suits and dresses. Outside in the front lobby are large pie charts indicating the wards charity progress. It all feels so corporate and impersonal. The talks given by members included one ladies testimony about how righteous her family was and how much wealth and success the lord had blessed them with because of their piety. This came complete with a pioneer story about a girl who's father was sent on a mission down south, and lost all of her clothes. It all worked out ok though, because in the end the lord rewarded her faith by giving her a husband who was Utah's first millionaire and could afford all the clothes she wanted. I've heard more than a few talks too, including the Bishops, that include a whole lot of pioneer name dropping about their ancestors taking direct marching orders from Brigham Young and so on. After a few weeks, no one had approached us, so we decided it was time to go introduce ourselves to the Bishop and at least pay tithing and get our records transferred. We said hello to the Bishop, and I must say he seemed downright disinterested in meeting us. He pointed out a few people that lived near us, and checked to make sure that 'We'd be staying for the whole block', then excused himself. We caught up to him later to pay tithing, at which time he pushed again to make certain we'd be staying for the full 3 hours. I asked my husband what the heck that was all about, since I've never had that response before, and he told me that tithing gets redistributed based on how many members in the ward attend all three meetings. I had never heard that before and it left me with such a used feeling. Believe me when I say that the last thing that ward needed is more money, imho. Anyhow...I'm not sure what to do. I really don't want to go back. I'd like to think it's just unfamiliarity with a new ward and new people, but I've moved alot and never really felt like this. I'm a convert and have been lucky enough to have simply amazing Bishoprics and wards in the past 4 years or so that I've been in the church. My husband kept telling me they aren't all like that but...it's hard to face that reality. Can I drive to another ward in a neighboring town - does anyone do that? Any insights, strategies, or coping mechanisms welcome.

I am really sorry to hear about that. I have experienced something similar but not to that scale. I heard a story once about this guy who moved with his family into a ward and few if any talked to them. Someone casually asked what he did for work and he said he works for the Garbage company. He got a calling in the primary. Many months later the Home Teachers came out to visit the family and the house was an immaculate Palace and the HT were totally blown away and they said, "what do you do for the Garbage Company?" and the Guy said,"I own it" And suprise suprise he got a calling in the Bishopric. See if changing their perceptions somehow about will help anything. I am not saying do it to get callings or anything but... also you worship God and not them, seek friends outside the church social scene

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I have been there.

We move around a lot too, and have always had really good experiences being new in a ward, except for one move to a ward in Pocatello Idaho. This ward was really big, so maybe that was part of the problem, but it was the most unwelcoming ward i've ever been in. We were in the ward 6 weeks before i even know who the bishop was, and the only reason he decided to speak to us at that point was to tell us we had been attending the wrong ward. I was never SO glad to escape any ward as i was to get out of that one. No one talked to us. I made it a point to talk to a sister sitting next to me one sunday and found out she was new to the ward as well and was desperate for friendship. She was much younger than me (a newlywed) and when she found out that i was leaving to go to the 'right' ward, she cried. I felt really bad but didn't have a clue what to do to help her.

Honestly, if my testimony wasn't as secure as it was, i would have become inactive having to go to that ward. Hopefully, it was some kind of weird fluke and it's not really how it came across.

I'm so sorry that you have to deal with a ward that seems unfriendly and materialistic. My only words of wisdom are to pray that your testimony will not be shaken, and to give it time to see if there is more depth under the surface that hasn't come out yet.

It's a hard spot to be in. It's a helpless feeling, i know.

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Hello Koneko...

First, let me say I'm sorry your ward is the way it is... this is so foreign to me because my small ward, as I state here often, is wonderful. Friendly, welcoming, members of humble earnings (Lincoln City, OR is a resort town of about 8,000 on the central Oregon coast, relying on tourism and service type jobs in hotels/restaurants/shops/markets etc). Different even from Portland or Salem. In other words, no real high paying type companies here... but people do fairly well, however many struggle somewhat.

Perhaps that makes a difference in outlook and attitudes. All I know is that our visitors love our ward and return again and again... in fact, over July 4th weekend we had just over 500 in attendance. We regularly ask visiting Aaronic priesthood boys to help pass sacrament... visiting sisters to play piano in Rel Soc, etc.

Now, as to your problem... please don't allow the attitudes of your ward members to cause you to doubt the truthfulness of the "Church." Remember those things dear to you that you described. These are the foundation and backbone... I've heard of wards like yours, but there are just as many like mine. Perhaps in time you'll feel more at home and make a few friends to help feel more comfortable. Surely there are some who are more "real" that you can relate to.

Please don't stop attending... That would hurt only you... if it were me, I'd say phooey on those who behave as you describe, and I'd just draw closer to Heavenly Father and the Savior. If there is another ward nearby, I think I'd attend there occasionally. At any rate, I encourage you to continue to keep your faith, walk in the Spirit, and hopefully there is a temple nearby that you can attend regularly... but don't let your ward members dictate your spiritual well being. Good luck.

from the beach... GG

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... also you worship God and not them, seek friends outside the church social scene

That's not too much of a problem, as not growing up in the church, most of my friends are non LDS anyhow. I guess it's more that I usually use my 'church time' to re-center for the week to come, and to find role models and examples and testimonies that inspire me. I suppose it is those things I will have to look to find outside now.

No one talked to us. I made it a point to talk to a sister sitting next to me one sunday and found out she was new to the ward as well and was desperate for friendship.

My husband has been encouraging me to try to take the initiative and single handedly make the ward welcoming by doing it myself. I'm pretty shy and introverted and not used to taking the lead on these things, but I'm beginning to wonder if Heavenly Father isn't testing me in some way to see if I strengthen my own testimony instead of relying on the spiritual leadership of others.

If there is another ward nearby, I think I'd attend there occasionally. At any rate, I encourage you to continue to keep your faith, walk in the Spirit, and hopefully there is a temple nearby that you can attend regularly... but don't let your ward members dictate your spiritual well being. Good luck.

Great advice. I'm pretty sure I can't get away with just picking another ward to attend, but I suppose no one can stop me from vacationing from time to time. And the Temple will help I'm sure, perhaps I'll even get there more frequently to recharge the batteries.

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That's not too much of a problem, as not growing up in the church, most of my friends are non LDS anyhow. I guess it's more that I usually use my 'church time' to re-center for the week to come, and to find role models and examples and testimonies that inspire me. I suppose it is those things I will have to look to find outside now.

My husband has been encouraging me to try to take the initiative and single handedly make the ward welcoming by doing it myself. I'm pretty shy and introverted and not used to taking the lead on these things, but I'm beginning to wonder if Heavenly Father isn't testing me in some way to see if I strengthen my own testimony instead of relying on the spiritual leadership of others.

Great advice. I'm pretty sure I can't get away with just picking another ward to attend, but I suppose no one can stop me from vacationing from time to time. And the Temple will help I'm sure, perhaps I'll even get there more frequently to recharge the batteries.

if you are interested, I am also an introvert (some may disagree!) but there is a book called, The Introverted Church by Adam McHugh

http://www.introvertedchurch.com/

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I'm pretty shy and introverted and not used to taking the lead on these things, but I'm beginning to wonder if Heavenly Father isn't testing me in some way to see if I strengthen my own testimony instead of relying on the spiritual leadership of others.

I would say you might be correct. I think a great test of a testimony is moving to a new ward, which will have new attitudes and such.

As for attending another ward... what I am gong to type I believe is true and is meant slightly in jest:

Pay your tithing to the Bishop in the ward you live in.

I am not positive how it works for sisters in the Church, but I was told that as a Priesthood holder I must attend my own ward meetings to be able to answer "Yes" on the Temple Recommend question about attending meetings. So if you Temple Recommend is upto date, then you don't need to worry about where you attend, well at least till a month or two before you recommend needs renewing.

To officially change wards takes approval from the SP, to change Stakes I have been takes approval of the 1st Presidency.

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Any insights, strategies, or coping mechanisms welcome.

First of all, I want to tell you that I move a lot too. I think its a good think that you are wanting to try and find an answer. I've been in some very wealthy wards in the past. Sometimes I think I was put there to be an example. In one very, very welthy ward, we had a professional basketball player, a CFO of a major hotel chain, and several of the biggest lawyers in our city. When I moved in, people naturally asked us where we lived ... our answer was the apartment complex over on so and so street. HAHA! They would look at me and say, oh, WE dont have ANY apartments in our ward! I would just laugh! But they never did! Then, on the other hand, there was one ward that I tried and tried to deal with, and after many months, I just couldnt. I ended up going to another ward. Church HQ did approve that and my records did move. The new ward after that was amazing.

The Ward I am in now is also quite weathy. Our bishop, however, constantly reminds everyone to reach out to their neighbors. Its a perfect message because he isnt saying, reach out to the poor, or give more, he's simply saying reach out. I saw this when i moved in. When I drove up with my U-haul, there they were, ready to help me move. And, while I absolutely love my apartment, Im sure the people helping me move, who mostly have homes well over 5000 square feet and worth over a million, were right there moving in boxes into my 40 year old apartment of 1300 square feet. I know it was difficult for them, but they did it anyways. They endured the lovely old musty smell that they encountered when they entered the main door to the complex, and the smell from Mrs X's apartment as they moved boxes past her door, and up to mine. And they did it with a smile. The bishop's message works well. I've never seen a more wealthy ward, who also gives so much. One member must have opened up his home 3 times last week to over 100 people providing a social gather after a funeral, a meeting for relief society, and more - all meetings included food and drink. The ward paid for nothing!

One of the things I have noticed in some select wards, that sometimes people get so entrenched in the ward politics, that they have too much influence on the bishop and his decisions. Its like they are the legacy bishop or something! That can be a dangerous thing when it comes to following inspiration. In fact I just talked to one of my favorite ex-bishops last night. He had mentioned that the ward boundaries had been re-drawn and everyone was coming over to his house crying and sobbing about the changes. And I mentioned to him that one of the benefits of doing so is to break up ward politics. I also complimented him on always following the Lord in his decisions. Which was something that he remembered.

So, my thoughts are simple. Try it for a while longer and see if it gets better. The best wards that I have been to seemed to have a negative first impression. But eventually, if you feel your testimony is affected, I would definately consider another ward. And, you could always say that you changed because you had a hard time finding seating all the time! I had a ward where the Gospel Doctrine was that way. I could never find a seat so I read scriptures in the hallway. I always wondered why they didnt open up more classrooms. But in your case, when they dont have enough seating in sacrement, thats probably more serious. Afterall, thats where we renew our baptismal covenants. It seems counterproductive to me not to have enough seating. At some point the ward will need to be split.

Good luck, I hope things work out. Again, its admirable that you are trying so hard to find the answer.

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I have lived in a variety of wards/branches both in the US and abroad. The branch in Mexico was not wealthy and many of the priesthood had to work on Sundays. Many did not have the clothing one is used to seeing for sacrament. One might even judge the dress was inappropriate due to income levels. I have also been in affluent wards where the dress of some might judged inappropriate due to income levels. The saving of seats is also a pet peeve of mine. People do like to sit with their families and sometimes come to the chapel at different times due to callings. One might judge this to be inappropriate since free range pews are much preferred over the domesticated and controlled pews.

There are many ways in which we could judge wards and the people who attend them. But I do not believe that is the purpose of wards. I don't necessarily go to a ward to find the pews and sometimes I sit on the hard chairs. As the years have passed I have learned that two important points upon which I usually focus. As I sit before sacrament and begin contemplating my life, and how it works with the atonement, with the grateful thoughts towards Christ and feeling His love, the hard chair seems less harsh in my life, the way people dress seems significantly less important, and the taking of sacrament becomes an ever more serious matter to me.

The second important aspect is what I do in the ward. There are people I have felt very close to over the years, bishops, stake presidents, church leaders in different positions, non leaders who were both wise and thoughtful. I have also served people who I do not think I will ever connect with on a personal level. Something that makes it difficult to feel that closeness I have felt with others. Yet I still choose to serve them and make it a point to serve them more than those I feel close to, a unique challenge sometimes.

Our church is unique in that it is both God centered and self centered. We all worship outwardly and serve others because we have some limited knowledge and limited appreciation of what the atonement means. But we also focus inward and let ourselves feel, not so much on our surroundings or those around us, but on how we can serve the Lord. I see these as the two of the important reasons to attend sacrament, and they override all other considerations. It is an opportunity to hone in on the purpose of why we are there on Sunday's. Does the rest really matter at that point?

Mosiah 2: 17 - 25

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Any insights, strategies, or coping mechanisms welcome.

Koneko, there's nothing better than being in a great ward with lots of friendly, humble people. But it's also true that it can be pretty awful to be in a not so great ward.

Some people have an attitude towards the Church that allows them survive in any ward, but if that is not the case for you, and you feel like you've attended long enough to have given it a fair shot, then there is no shame in going to another Ward.

It's generally frowned upon to attend a ward other than the one for which you are geographically assigned, but I've seen several cases where families were given permission to attend different wards (and in one case, even a different Stake). But this only happened because of one common thread: those families threatened to stop going to Church if they couldn't attend the ward of their choice.

So you've got to figure out if you can handle your current Ward, and if the answer is "no", then you need to find a ward you do like. If you are a renter, then you can also start planning to move into the ward at some future point to make it official. But don't stop going to Church just because you accidentally moved into a neighborhood with a ward that you don't like. That's weak sauce.

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Heya, it took me a bit to re-find where this thread jumped too. I had no idea there was actual recourse for changing wards. I'm going to try to tough it out but it's nice to know it's a possibility if I'm not able find my peace and start losing my testimony. Hopefully I'll find some kindred spirits soon, or maybe I'll learn to meditate through sacrament. Thanks for the links, advice, shared experiences, and objectivity - they help more than you'd know. I'm pumped up to try again at least. :)

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There ARE alternate explanations for the bishop's comments than wanting your bodies for budget (and since the budget is distributed based on attendance at sacrament, if your 2/3 hours were not that, it couldn't have been budget issues anyway). One would be that most of the members of your ward DONT stay for all the meetings and he is worried about that. Another would be that if you stayed through all the meetings, maybe he could find time to talk with you a little more after church. If I were in your place (particularly if I was thinking of going to another ward anyway), I would get to church early and sit in whatever pew I wanted, and if anyone asked me to move, I would say, "My name is ________, I'm new here. Does the bishop assign seats in this ward? You are welcome to set next to us." And the next week I would sit somewhere else and I'd do the same in SS and RS. That would do two things. One would be for you to get the names of various ward members (all of whom will know who you are) so you can invite them for cake and milk "so they can tell you about the ward customs and how a person fits into them", and the second would be that you might prompt people to re-think the "this is my seat" habit they apparently have mustered.

And pray and fast that you can see them as the Lord sees them.

And go see the bishop (call the exec sec and ask for an appointment) and tell him you must have caught him at a bad time, and you want to tell him about yourselves and ask him how you can fit in a ward where they keep a chart of charitable service like it is a United Way campaign. (Aside from the alms before men problem, setting goals and reminding ourselves of that CAN be a good way of reaching the goals. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to see how this plays out since it may be better than you are currently fearing.)

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We move around a lot too, and have always had really good experiences being new in a ward, except for one move to a ward in Pocatello Idaho. This ward was really big, so maybe that was part of the problem, but it was the most unwelcoming ward i've ever been in. We were in the ward 6 weeks before i even know who the bishop was, and the only reason he decided to speak to us at that point was to tell us we had been attending the wrong ward. I was never SO glad to escape any ward as i was to get out of that one. No one talked to us. I made it a point to talk to a sister sitting next to me one sunday and found out she was new to the ward as well and was desperate for friendship. She was much younger than me (a newlywed) and when she found out that i was leaving to go to the 'right' ward, she cried. I felt really bad but didn't have a clue what to do to help her.

Don't say that bluebell! I'm moving my family there in four months to start grad school.

We have a very "clickish" ward currently, which is comprised entirely of young married couples (all under the age of 30) with about half of the families having young children. Since they recently redrew our ward boundaries, everyone seems to stay close to everyone from the old ward while failing to engage those from the new ward. We have a 50% turnover every semester, so I'm not complaining.

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Don't say that bluebell! I'm moving my family there in four months to start grad school.

We have a very "clickish" ward currently, which is comprised entirely of young married couples (all under the age of 30) with about half of the families having young children. Since they recently redrew our ward boundaries, everyone seems to stay close to everyone from the old ward while failing to engage those from the new ward. We have a 50% turnover every semester, so I'm not complaining.

If it makes you feel better, our 'second' ward was awesome. Incredibly small for some reason but we loved it and they were instantly welcoming. We actually lived in married student housing (which was such a nightmare in it's own right) and had a choice on whether or not to go to the univeristy ward or to a family ward-with one kid in nursery and one in primary, the family ward seemed like it would be the best fit. However, we didn't know that the ward bounderies that we lived in was not the family ward we were supposed to go to. For some reason, they had students living on campus set to go to a ward much farther away. Kind of confusing but we had no complaints.

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One other thing I would like to mention ... that sometimes our example is exactly what the lord wants us to be. Further, sometimes its more than that. Sometimes, after we have done all we can, its the notice to the stake that a member wishes to move to another ward that puts the focus where it needs to be. We as members looking from afar, never really know what the Lord is doing, or the mission he has called you to. But you can always find out what he wants you do to, and he will always tell you if you ask. Knowing that your trial is part of a master plan will help you get through it.

D&C 31: 10. Behold, I say unto you that you shall be a physician unto the church, but not unto the world, for they will not receive you.

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I have only ever lived in one ward so I don't have the same experiences as you. That being said, both my husband and I go out of the way to talk to any new face we see in our ward. When we are on vacation, we often go and introduce ourselves to the people at the ward we are attending for that Sunday.

Anyway I do hope that you find someone in one of your classes to introduce yourself to.

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The story is told of an old greeter at Sacrament meeting in an LDS Ward. It goes something like this...

A new move-in came walking into the meeting. The greeter shook the person's hand and welcomed them to the Ward. The person asked the greeter what this ward was like. The greeter replied by asking "What was your old Ward like?" To which the person replied, "Oh, it was a terrible Ward. The people weren't friendly, they were pretentious, and uncaring." "Well"...said the greeter..."this Ward is exactly like that.

A few minutes later, another new move-in came walking into the meeting. The greeter shook the person's hand and welcomed them to the Ward. The person asked the greeter what this ward was like. The greeter replied by asking "What was your old Ward like?" To which the person replied, "Oh, it was the best Ward I have ever been in. the people are friendly, decent, and charitable. "Well"...said the greeter..."this Ward is exactly like that.

I guess the moral of the story is that our Wards are often what we make of them.

My suggestion is that if you find that you are not syncing with a particular Ward, become your own solution. Pray, serve, make friends with those most like you. Apply more than a dollop of forgiveness, patience, and tolerance. Find the sweet spots where you can fit in and be happy.

Good luck with the transition.

Six

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some wards are just unfriendly, that is the way it is.

We could not wait to move from Brigham Ward. Some pretty rotten undercurrents that made it very uncomfortable. People at each others throats, and publicly. Some nice folks, but most of them were newer. The 'old members' would not accept callings because as one said when asked 'I've served my time'. Sure made it difficult when we were there. When Thiokol changed ownership we were able to move and I was never so glad to leave as that whole area.

Edited by Nemesis
Took out identifing info to protect the innocent
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