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During the October 2016 General Conference, Elder Ballard made the following remarks:

Quote

One of the most heart-wrenching stories in scripture occurred when “many of [the Lord’s] disciples” found it hard to accept His teachings and doctrine, and they “went back, and walked no more with him.

As these disciples left, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?”

Peter responded:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

...

If any one of you is faltering in your faith, I ask you the same question that Peter asked: “To whom shall [you] go?” If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? 

Elder Ballard was, to some extent, asking these as rhetorical questions.  They were meant to provoke introspection within the individual.

However, as this is a message board, I would like to re-frame Elder Ballard's questions and use them to initiate an actual discussion.  This message board has participants who are frustrated/irritated with the Church, or who are estranged from it in some material sense, or who have actually left it.  I would like to hear from these folks. 

I will clarify here that this is not intended to be an attempt to dissuade you from your current position.  Rather, I would like to better understand your perspective and plans regarding a community that can replace Mormonism and is "better" than Mormonism.  One that meets or exceeds your standards and expectations.  Or is this an unfair/unreasonable inquiry?  Mormonism is a fairly high-demand community.  In stepping back from it, is there really a need to replace it with any comparable system of social interaction?

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

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As I'm sure you're aware, there will be as many answers as there are people. Different people have different needs and interests but I'm going to generalize in a HUGE way.

Some will simply swap one religion for another; switching from Mormonism to Methodism for example. These people likely find a different church to have greater value in their lives. They may want to keep spirituality in their lives and enjoy the fulfillment they receive from a faith community.

Others will have a mish-mash of various beliefs and practices, believing that there isn't a one-size-fits all church out there that is the One and Only church. They may attend a variety of churches, or sometimes, no church. Without the one true church narrative many will take the good things they find in various faith traditions, literature etc, to create an amalgam for their spiritual lives.

Others will opt out of religious affiliation all together, opting instead for a more secularized approach to life. Instead of finding community in a church they find other place, whether it be through community involvement, clubs, sports, activities etc to find people with whom they can relate and share interests. For them, it's likely more about the experience of living than any eternal truth claims or even plans for the next life.

In short, there are many places people can go and many things they can do. Elder Ballard's talk, though I'm sure it was well intentioned, shows that he doesn't comprehend the possibility of a happy life outside of the church, yet billions have lives outside. His Good Ship Zion analogy proves that he sees the ship as the only option, otherwise people will perish and be miserable, but it doesn't appear to me that the world works that way. So people will continue to love their families, enjoy activities and socialization. They'll just do it in a way that the church isn't the epicenter of their entire lives.

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5 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

As I'm sure you're aware, there will be as many answers as there are people. Different people have different needs and interests but I'm going to generalize in a HUGE way.

Some will simply swap one religion for another; switching from Mormonism to Methodism for example. These people likely find a different church to have greater value in their lives. They may want to keep spirituality in their lives and enjoy the fulfillment they receive from a faith community.

Others will have a mish-mash of various beliefs and practices, believing that there isn't a one-size-fits all church out there that is the One and Only church. They may attend a variety of churches, or sometimes, no church. Without the one true church narrative many will take the good things they find in various faith traditions, literature etc, to create an amalgam for their spiritual lives.

Others will opt out of religious affiliation all together, opting instead for a more secularized approach to life. Instead of finding community in a church they find other place, whether it be through community involvement, clubs, sports, activities etc to find people with whom they can relate and share interests. For them, it's likely more about the experience of living than any eternal truth claims or even plans for the next life.

In short, there are many places people can go and many things they can do. Elder Ballard's talk, though I'm sure it was well intentioned, shows that he doesn't comprehend the possibility of a happy life outside of the church, yet billions have lives outside. His Good Ship Zion analogy proves that he sees the ship as the only option, otherwise people will perish and be miserable, but it doesn't appear to me that the world works that way. So people will continue to love their families, enjoy activities and socialization. They'll just do it in a way that the church isn't the epicenter of their entire lives.

Yep. Where should we go? Anywhere that works better for you than Mormonism.

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

During the October 2016 General Conference, Elder Ballard made the following remarks:

Elder Ballard was, to some extent, asking these as rhetorical questions.  They were meant to provoke introspection within the individual.

However, as this is a message board, I would like to re-frame Elder Ballard's questions and use them to initiate an actual discussion.  This message board has participants who are frustrated/irritated with the Church, or who are estranged from it in some material sense, or who have actually left it.  I would like to hear from these folks. 

I will clarify here that this is not intended to be an attempt to dissuade you from your current position.  Rather, I would like to better understand your perspective and plans regarding a community that can replace Mormonism and is "better" than Mormonism.  One that meets or exceeds your standards and expectations.  Or is this an unfair/unreasonable inquiry?  Mormonism is a fairly high-demand community.  In stepping back from it, is there really a need to replace it with any comparable system of social interaction?

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

-Smac

This comes from John's gospel, and reflects a later perspective that includes the time period that the author wrote these words.  This was a time period that scholars have identified as where the followers of Jesus began to split from the broader Jewish community.  I think thats important context, also remembering all the other anti Jewish content in the gospel of John, there was definitely a theme happening there.  

As for following Jesus.  I personally think that following Jesus doesn't necessarily mean belonging to a club, or attending meetings held by an institution.  The earliest followers of Jesus were a small minority that was heavily persecuted.  The following of Jesus that I think is most important is found in the fruits of our actions, not in an association with a group.  How do we treat others, how do we serve, how do we live.  These are the ways that matter most in how we follow Jesus from my perspective.  

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40 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

As I'm sure you're aware, there will be as many answers as there are people. Different people have different needs and interests but I'm going to generalize in a HUGE way.

Some will simply swap one religion for another; switching from Mormonism to Methodism for example. These people likely find a different church to have greater value in their lives. They may want to keep spirituality in their lives and enjoy the fulfillment they receive from a faith community.

Others will have a mish-mash of various beliefs and practices, believing that there isn't a one-size-fits all church out there that is the One and Only church. They may attend a variety of churches, or sometimes, no church. Without the one true church narrative many will take the good things they find in various faith traditions, literature etc, to create an amalgam for their spiritual lives.

Others will opt out of religious affiliation all together, opting instead for a more secularized approach to life. Instead of finding community in a church they find other place, whether it be through community involvement, clubs, sports, activities etc to find people with whom they can relate and share interests. For them, it's likely more about the experience of living than any eternal truth claims or even plans for the next life.

In short, there are many places people can go and many things they can do. Elder Ballard's talk, though I'm sure it was well intentioned, shows that he doesn't comprehend the possibility of a happy life outside of the church, yet billions have lives outside. His Good Ship Zion analogy proves that he sees the ship as the only option, otherwise people will perish and be miserable, but it doesn't appear to me that the world works that way. So people will continue to love their families, enjoy activities and socialization. They'll just do it in a way that the church isn't the epicenter of their entire lives.

I was thinking of this today, before the post, because I keep wanting that community that I once had in the church. Or I miss those instant relationships when put in callings etc. But you know what? Those relationships haven't passed the test of them being strong enough to last past the calling or visiting teaching phase. It may be me but I'm thinking this happens alot with others as well. 

Two of my sisters have been inactive for years, probably since young adulthood and they are heavily involved with their community, so that's where they get their socializing. It seems to me that the church puts some emphasis on social gatherings but it seems to be more of a chore, like the scheduled, same old same old gatherings. But do miss the wonderful days of noncorrelated gatherings, like road shows, stake plays, cake walks, cupcake sells, the list goes on. Of course I know road shows were planned, but it seemed we did some very non spiritual ones too, that probably wouldn't fly now.  

Now it's same things every year, but I'm probably stepping on feet here. And it seems the church needs to loosen up. Or again I'm stepping on feet. 

I've yet to try another faith's group - too scared. But you know of which you speak, that 99% of the world's population do know where they are going to go, and many that leave the church do too, and a lot post on other boards that it can be nature, mountains, lakes, beaches, etc. ;)

Edited by Tacenda
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37 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Yep. Where should we go? Anywhere that works better for you than Mormonism.

This is true in so many ways...where will you go?  Walking on Sundays is it's own testimony.  While everyone is in church, perhaps in separate classes, I pass families with strollers walking ot the park..next door are families packing picnic stuff to go to the river park..all laughing...loving and spending time together.  So...I don't know....there is something spiritual to me about the closeness of families and good memories.  I can't see that in repititious classes that keep saying...love your family...and yet there is no time to do that...to really make memories outside the walls of church.  All kinds of service to do as families..and as individual members of that family.  That, to me, is all about God, service and love in a home.

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If you only have faith in a religious organization then Elder Ballard has a point.  If your faith and spirituality is tied to Christ, then whether you are a part of Mormonism is really irrelevant.  I still hold many of the core spiritual beliefs that Mormonism taught me.  But what did I actually give up by walking away from the church? The church felt like me choosing to be with someone that I love and am devoted to made it necessary for me to hand them back my membership.  How could I possibly want to stay in an organization that had that kind of view towards the choices I made.  So I didn't walk away from the church as much as the church pulled away from me.  But what did the church actually take from me other than my continued participation in their organization?  I simply found communities that were ok with those choices I have made and participate in activities and charitable organizations that care more about who I am than who they are.  The world does not have a shortage of organizations that are doing good and helping in the work that Christ showed us.  

As far as my relationship with Christ, it has done nothing but deepen.  Reliance on Christ Himself for me turned out to be a much more sure path than reliance on men.  Yeah, it is that simple.

My advice to anyone who feels that they can no longer be a part of the Mormon community?  Find something that you are passionate about.  Get involved in that community and serve the best you can.  For me it has been working with the elderly.  The personal rewards is just as great as working with the youth while serving in various callings in the church.  Continue to study.  Continue to pray.  Continue to have a relationship with Christ.  I think you will find a very rich and fulfilling life out there.  Mormonism is not the only path towards God.  If If it was, then 99.9% if mankind would be lost and have no way of connecting to anything spiritual or fulfilling in this life.  I think few, even Elder Ballard, would have a hard time supporting that belief.  I get that Mormonism works for most members.  So stick with it.  There is no  reason for you to abandon the church.  But for those who are unable, for whatever reason to be a part of the Mormon community, then there are other options. 

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5 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

This comes from John's gospel, and reflects a later perspective that includes the time period that the author wrote these words.  This was a time period that scholars have identified as where the followers of Jesus began to split from the broader Jewish community.  I think thats important context, also remembering all the other anti Jewish content in the gospel of John, there was definitely a theme happening there.  

Okay.  How and what does this context clarify?

5 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

As for following Jesus.  I personally think that following Jesus doesn't necessarily mean belonging to a club, or attending meetings held by an institution. 

Okay.

5 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The earliest followers of Jesus were a small minority that was heavily persecuted. 

But they were still a community, right?

5 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

The following of Jesus that I think is most important is found in the fruits of our actions, not in an association with a group. 

Individual faith and conduct are indeed very important.  Do you find their importance to be exclusive?  That we should focus on these to the exclusion of joining and contributing to a community?

5 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

How do we treat others, how do we serve, how do we live.  These are the ways that matter most in how we follow Jesus from my perspective.  

I agree.  Conversion of the individual is vital.  I guess we differ in terms of what we do after that.  For me, the concept of "community" is shot through the Restored Gospel.  Marriage creates a community of two, and usually more than that once children come along.  And then there is extended family.  Siblings.  Grandparents and ancestors.  Grandchildren and descendants.  

And then there are prophet-leaders throughout the Bible.  The patriarchs.  The Tribes of Israel.  And then Christ came and founded His Church, which by definition is a community.  He "chose twelve" to lead it, and then "appointed other seventy" to help the Twelve.  Paul spoke of "one Lord, one faith," of individuals becoming parts of the "body of Christ," of us reaching "unity of the faith."

The intended end-result of all of these things is Zion.  A community.

How the individual changes himself to "follow Jesus" is of paramount importance.  I quite agree with you there.  But for me, there's a "And then what?" that follows.  Jesus told Peter: "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."  Individual conversion is, for me, the beginning of the process.  We then go forward by building a community.

Community-building is, for me, a fundamental part of the Gospel.  I have known many good and decent people leave the LDS Church, for varying reasons.  I guess I'm curious as to whether they likewise think that community-building is important and, if so, how they propose to go about doing it once they have left the LDS Church behind.

Thanks,

-Smac

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36 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

This is true in so many ways...where will you go?  Walking on Sundays is it's own testimony.  While everyone is in church, perhaps in separate classes, I pass families with strollers walking ot the park..next door are families packing picnic stuff to go to the river park..all laughing...loving and spending time together.  So...I don't know....there is something spiritual to me about the closeness of families and good memories.  I can't see that in repititious classes that keep saying...love your family...and yet there is no time to do that...to really make memories outside the walls of church.  All kinds of service to do as families..and as individual members of that family.  That, to me, is all about God, service and love in a home.

My experience since a faith crisis, is that I can't sit in church for very long. I don't feel the spirit like before, maybe because of my paradigms changing, but I do feel the spirit outside of it still. My sister who rarely steps foot in a church, has a Cross that lays down or sideways, that she wears and she is much closer to the divine than me, they speak all the time together. :) I don't know what a church can do that we can't do for ourselves, other than find service opportunities I guess. That's a big plus and to see others and become a family, but at times I've seen it become disfunctional. I see that you still believe in the Saviour/God, so just because you're not in church it hasn't changed anything. 

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

Yep. Where should we go? Anywhere that works better for you than Mormonism.

The “sleeping in and playing mobile games on my tablet in my warm bed” works better for me then six hours of meetings every Sunday but I am convinced that it “working for me” is not the primary objective.

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4 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

The “sleeping in and playing mobile games on my tablet in my warm bed” works better for me then six hours of meetings every Sunday but I am convinced that it “working for me” is not the primary objective.

Depends on what you mean by “working for me.” 

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33 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Okay.  How and what does this context clarify?

I thought I explained this.  The author of John was experiencing a break between the followers of Jesus and the rest of the Jewish religionists.  I think that context helps explain an emphasis on following Jesus and that being an important and unique identity to have.  

35 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Individual faith and conduct are indeed very important.  Do you find their importance to be exclusive?  That we should focus on these to the exclusion of joining and contributing to a community?

I think groups can accomplish great things, but association with a group is not an end in itself.  

37 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I agree.  Conversion of the individual is vital.  I guess we differ in terms of what we do after that.  For me, the concept of "community" is shot through the Restored Gospel.  Marriage creates a community of two, and usually more than that once children come along.  And then there is extended family.  Siblings.  Grandparents and ancestors.  Grandchildren and descendants.  

And then there are prophet-leaders throughout the Bible.  The patriarchs.  The Tribes of Israel.  And then Christ came and founded His Church, which by definition is a community.  He "chose twelve" to lead it, and then "appointed other seventy" to help the Twelve.  Paul spoke of "one Lord, one faith," of individuals becoming parts of the "body of Christ," of us reaching "unity of the faith."

The intended end-result of all of these things is Zion.  A community.

How the individual changes himself to "follow Jesus" is of paramount importance.  I quite agree with you there.  But for me, there's a "And then what?" that follows.  Jesus told Peter: "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."  Individual conversion is, for me, the beginning of the process.  We then go forward by building a community.

Community-building is, for me, a fundamental part of the Gospel.  I have known many good and decent people leave the LDS Church, for varying reasons.  I guess I'm curious as to whether they likewise think that community-building is important and, if so, how they propose to go about doing it once they have left the LDS Church behind.

I pretty much agree with everything here, and think really good things come from our associations in groups, however people want to define those groups.  I guess I was thinking Elder Ballard was misusing this quote to support his stay in the boat, exclusive church authority mantra.  

I think finding a community for those that leave organized religion, is a challenge for many people, and I'd love to see more work done on this for secular communities, as well as more inclusion in the Mormon community for those of us who want to continue to associate and like many things about Mormonism, but don't have the strict orthodox beliefs anymore.  

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10 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I thought I explained this.  The author of John was experiencing a break between the followers of Jesus and the rest of the Jewish religionists. 

Hmm.  I've never understood John 6 that way.  The narrative speaks of a break between the followers of Jesus who stopped following him and those who continued to follow him:

Quote

66 ¶ From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

"The rest of the Jewish religionists" weren't part of the community in question (the followers of Jesus).  That's how I read it, anyway.

10 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I think that context helps explain an emphasis on following Jesus and that being an important and unique identity to have.  

Okay.  But this thread is about the community of those who follow Jesus.  John 6 speaks of some who left the community ("many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him") and some stayed with the community ("Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life").

10 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I think groups can accomplish great things, but association with a group is not an end in itself.  

Okay.  I can respect that perspective.  

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, The Nehor said:

There has been a demand for churches without religion with mediocre results. I expect a call for the LDS faith without the Mormonism would be equally dead.

That's been my perspective as well.  Still, I'm curious to see what, if any, alternative communities have been found by those who leave the LDS Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

As I'm sure you're aware, there will be as many answers as there are people. Different people have different needs and interests but I'm going to generalize in a HUGE way.

Some will simply swap one religion for another; switching from Mormonism to Methodism for example. These people likely find a different church to have greater value in their lives. They may want to keep spirituality in their lives and enjoy the fulfillment they receive from a faith community.

Others will have a mish-mash of various beliefs and practices, believing that there isn't a one-size-fits all church out there that is the One and Only church. They may attend a variety of churches, or sometimes, no church. Without the one true church narrative many will take the good things they find in various faith traditions, literature etc, to create an amalgam for their spiritual lives.

Others will opt out of religious affiliation all together, opting instead for a more secularized approach to life. Instead of finding community in a church they find other place, whether it be through community involvement, clubs, sports, activities etc to find people with whom they can relate and share interests. For them, it's likely more about the experience of living than any eternal truth claims or even plans for the next life.

In short, there are many places people can go and many things they can do. Elder Ballard's talk, though I'm sure it was well intentioned, shows that he doesn't comprehend the possibility of a happy life outside of the church, yet billions have lives outside. His Good Ship Zion analogy proves that he sees the ship as the only option, otherwise people will perish and be miserable, but it doesn't appear to me that the world works that way. So people will continue to love their families, enjoy activities and socialization. They'll just do it in a way that the church isn't the epicenter of their entire lives.

I think Elder Ballard had the same sort of assumptions about the "community" of today (the LDS Church) that Christ had about the "community" of His day in John 6.  His analogy was not about how "people will perish and be miserable."  Clearly there are many people with rich and fulfilling lives who are not LDS.  But from an eschatalogical point of view, Peter's response in John 6 remains potent:

Quote

66 ¶ From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Elder Ballard, I think, believes that there are some exlusivistic truth claims in the LDS Church ("the words of eternal life"), which contemplates "a happy life" as you put it, but also much, much more than that.

Nevertheless, thank you for your thoughts.  I'd like to see some specific examples of alternative communities.  1 Cor. 2:9 states: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."  D&C 59:24 states: "But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come."

For me, the LDS Church describes a path toward these things.  Having been on this path for most of my life, I feel much "peace in this world."  But part of that peace is a belief that live continues after death, and - as Maximus from Gladiator so aptly put it - "What we do in life echoes in eternity."

I think this is why the LDS concept of "community" is taken so seriously.  You are quite correct when you say that "there are many places people can go and many things they can do."  But do any of these places retain the dimension added by the truth claims of the LDS Church?  

Many communities are indeed interchangeably good and useful.  I just wonder which ones in particular are being adopted as communities alternative to the LDS Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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13 minutes ago, smac97 said:

That's been my perspective as well.  Still, I'm curious to see what, if any, alternative communities have been found by those who leave the LDS Church.

Thanks,

-Smac

Well, if I ever leave I am going to become a hermetic sorcerer performing depraved rituals in service of my god Azathoth.

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I have no plans for leaving the church but I have thought about what I would do if I did.

Spiritually I really don't see anything else that will give me anything. If I left the church I would probably go without a testimony in Christ, because nothing else makes more sense to me than what we believe. I would continue to believe in God. So I wouldn't go to another faith based organization. 

Outside of church my life is already full of family, friends and community so socially I don't think I would miss much. 

Basically, I go to church for what it does for me spiritually in this life and the next one. If I left the church then I would also feel it couldn't give me anything spiritually and if that were the case I don't think I could find it anywhere else.  

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My friend left the Church , in terms of most activity but attends every now and again, baptisms and baby blessings, ocassional activity etc. They say that as long as you have a good job then what do you need any help with anything? the end result of church activity is a good life, well if you have that then what do you need a Church for? if you need sorted out then see a trained therapist, the Church refers to them anyways so why go see an untrained Bishop?

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13 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I remember cringing when I heard that talk, and thinking of the saying among lawyers of "never asking a question that you don't know the answer to" (in the context of questioning in court).

Because in certain ex-mormon circles, the question "where will you go" has been met with a torrent of pictures being posted on Sunday mornings of people enjoying other activities (or no activities at all).  And it's even been noted that if you want to be friends with the Mormons in your ward boundaries, you can still talk to them and see them (assuming they'll still talk to you).  And if you want to attend ward picnics and holiday parties, you can still go.  But trust me, people who have left the Church have found tons of places to go and they don't regret it a bit.

That's just me explaining what I've seen.  In my life, I still enjoy Church and don't feel like I'm missing out on anything by attending.  I spend a lot of time as a soccer referee on Saturdays and I enjoy it immensely, and miss out on quite a few opportunities (and some cash) because I don't referee on Sundays, but I don't ever wish I wasn't at Church.  And while my referee friends and the comradery is different than what I find at Church, I have no doubt that if I did choose to spend the day at the fields instead of at Church, I wouldn't feel lonely or pine for my fellow ward members.

In thinking about it a little more, I should acknowledge that my wife is a big part of it.  I enjoy attending Church with her.  If she read the CES letter tomorrow and said she was never going to Church again, I don't know how often I would go alone.

But if you're looking for the short answer of where people can find communities that are as good or better than what they can find in a typical LDS ward, this is probably it.

Going back to church the last few weeks has reminded me that there's very little I have missed about attending meetings. I'm with you that the most positive thing about it is being with my wife. Even at the most boring, the meeting is better because I'm holding hands with the woman I love. I'm not so sure that Sunday meetings do much in the way of building communities, as you don't get much of a chance to really talk to anyone, except before, between, and after meetings.

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