I am not sure why there is this recurring antagonism towards singles wards. I met my wife (now of 30 years) in a fantastic singles ward, as did my younger brother (in a different singles ward.) In my family ward back then, I felt quite invisible, with activities, lessons, and callings parceled out mostly to married men. Social events always had a family orientation. Look around in your own family ward and see if you can spot the single members off the the side of the action. Yes, they could be more forceful, but a singles ward allows greater activity, acceptance, commonality, and opportunity to serve. They are NOT just a "meet" market, some of the most spiritual and well researched lessons and talks were ones I heard in the singles ward. And finally, there are many single members who, were it not for a singles ward where they feel more welcomed and part of the group, would not attend church at all. So if you attended a singles ward at some time and did not have a good experience, sorry, that happens in family wards as well. If you think that singles wards only have the purpose of meeting "the one", it is you who is missing the opportunity to have a great experience at church on many levels with peers that may become life-long friends. At least that has been my experience.
Dear Sisters, I am now 66 years old and can look back. At age 41, my husband and father three children abandoned us and left the church. Immediately I was classified as "special interest". How did that separation make me special and where was the interest? I joined the Church at age 26 and was warmly welcomed into a large Relief Society in Alaska as a new member--by women of all ages AND I was single! I learned so much from those older and more seasoned women--much wisdom came from them and I listened avidly as women with long family histories in the church spoke and taught. They fed my hungry soul. That said. . .my sons left the church.One of them, an RM, because he was told he now (after returning to his family) had to be in the singles ward. I know there are more causes for inactivity, but this added to it for him. He felt separated from his home ward and ward family. I think singles wards are a wonderful idea, but I also think that people should not be relegated to a place because of marital status. These young folks should be enabled to move across the boundaries and come where they feel at home. Our ward EQ pres had become close friends with my RM, then came the separation, and it was rather "mandatory", so they lost contact. None of us really understood. My husband and I are temple workers and see young and old, alike working and serving in the House of the Lord--a perfect example of no boundaries as we serve others, and most especially the Savior.
I suppose it depends on where you live. In areas where the Church isn't very big, YSA are very important in family wards. We hold leadership callings, and serve and are ministered to as well.
I agree with the fact that when people have families to care about their social circle's expension becomes limited, but I have YSA friends from all parts of France...It is harder to see each other, but like, we also grow from seeing older and more established families who become role models. I remember Elder Marlin K. Jensen saying in a CES Devotionnal that young and old needed each other.
That being said, in a missionary perspective YSA wards can be gold, when rid of "Mormon culture" and focused on the gospel doctrine, as you so plainly explained (heeeey, that's what it is: "ex-plain" = get the plainness out", expose it_nevermind, sorry).
I really don't agree with age limits being on any wards. By saying you are 31 and no longer belong in this ward is not Christ like at all. I know A LOT of people who are inactive because they have been kicked out of wards due to their age or lack of an eternal companion. Maybe we shouldn't have family wards or singles wards and just have.....wards. Where no one is excluded.
Years ago, I was participating in a Stake meeting regarding the organization of a Singles Ward. I thought it would be great as long as it was transitional. Like a college ward. Otherwise I worried about "Perpetual Adolescence". At first it was great..I had 4 of my children attend. Then my fears started to develop. The age limit was 25, then 27, then to what it is now at 31. Please don't think me cruel, but if your 31 years old and the question,"What activity are we having tonight?" comes out of your mouth, you've really got to evaluate where you are in life. Why aren't you well into a career by now? Are you so in love with the social aspects of a single's ward that you can't progress? Let alone the problem of 18 year old girls being hit on by 31 year old single men.
I recognize the great service a single's ward can offer, however, there comes a time when you have to grow up. 31 is way too old, in my opinion. One can be in a normal ward, and participate in plenty of single group activities..Young singles, Mid-singles, Mature singles. Please don't think me insensitive, just a father watching young adults stay young adults really concerns me.
Did you really say "meat market"? Oh let's be so careful in our descriptions. We are children of God.
Mariah, good article. I found that when you got to the last part about "The Most Important Purpose of a Singles' Ward," you described what The Most Important Purpose of a Ward is in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. All wards are to lift us up and help us draw closer to our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I would like to see a follow on to this article in say a year or two when you go back to a conventional ward as a married person and see if things are different than when you were 18 years old or even one who just finished with college.
Mariah - As a Stake Relief Society president who cares deeply for the single sisters and YSA sisters in my stake, this is great insight to why any of us attend church -- to come to have a closer relationship to our Savior. Thank you for your wisdom.
A singles ward (and especially a middle-singles ward) is a place of safety for those who find it hard to be alone in a family church.
Mariah - Thank you for sharing what I believe most Single Adults experience and feel about Singles Wards, but are afraid to talk about it. The purpose of any Ward is to bring us closer to our Savior and to learn His Gospel in order to prepare ourselves to be in His presence again some day. And if we meet someone during the time in the Ward(s) that's great. If not, at least we are all hopefully becoming the person we want to be.
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