Today congregations throughout Northern Virginia were told their boundaries would be changing effective 11/27/2016. Each congregation was only provided information for their own ward. It isn’t yet clear to members how the overarching shifts affect the five existing stakes reportedly altered in this large change, although we are given to understand that each of the dozens of congregations will be changing boundaries.
Change is upsetting. I am surprised to see how much sorrow today’s announcement is evoking. In the case of my ward, all who were in the ward previously will still be in the same stake. The new ward that absorbs the neighborhoods that were previously to our east will even meet in the same building (starting at 1100 to our 0900). So we’ll still even see each other in the halls and at Stake activities.
This caused me to reflect on Nauvoo in 1841-1842, a time when I believe Joseph Smith became aware of gross iniquities among the early Saints. I have struggled to explain to myself and others why these terrible iniquities were not openly corrected, why charity was the initial response to the seductions and promiscuity.
But today, I am newly reminded of how dear our status quo is. We fight being torn from our loved family and friends, even when it is for an ostensibly rational and good purpose, such as maintaining wards at a manageable ~450 members and stakes at a manageable ~6 wards. Yet there were tears and a few angry texts in response to today’s announcement.
How much more would Joseph have wished to keep the status quo if he believed it would be possible for people to repent with no one the wiser? Repentant seducers could be spared humiliation. Repentant women could be spared scorn. Those children engendered by the seductions could be given honorable parentage. Other children could grow to maturity without ever needing to know the terrible deeds committed by their parents and siblings.
If only Joseph’s attempt to keep the status quo hadn’t so completely obfuscated our understanding of Nauvoo events, a misunderstanding of which still has the power to wound. But today I completely understand why Joseph acted as he did, to preserve the good names of many, though they had erred.
In the meantime, the Northern Virginia Saints will adapt to their new boundaries. Old friends will remain cherished and new friends will be made. The heartache will fade as time passes (and necessary exemptions are secured in a few cases). In time we will have a new status quo. Our hearts will again be knit with those we worship with on a weekly basis. And we will know that all this change and drama was simply because the Church in our area is growing, and when we grow, we must occasionally realign borders.