Huge number of new LDS stakes and districts being created in 2016

The constant refrain that the Church is not growing or is losing members because of policies that some people don’t like has never been less true than this year.

So far in 2016, the Church has added at least 72 stakes and 20 districts.  The Church is on pace to add more stakes and districts in 2016 than in any other recent year.

More information HERE.

I point this out because critics of the Church love to claim the opposite and will use anecdotal evidence that has nothing to do with the facts.

The usual disclaimer:  the Church is true even if it is not adding new members.  There may come a day when the Church does stop growing because we are by very definition a “peculiar people,” (i.e, different than the trends in the rest of the world).  But that day is not today.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

50 thoughts on “Huge number of new LDS stakes and districts being created in 2016

  1. We are on fire in Africa; the Church’s teachings on sexuality ring true to that continent’s fairly conservative milieu with respect to family structures.

    While the Church isn’t growing quite as far percentage-wise as we were in the 1980s and 1990s, part of the explanation is due to the larger size of the Church. As an organization grows increasingly big, it is more and more difficult to maintain growth rates as a matter of percentages.

    While the *percentages* are down some, we’re still baptizing, on average, roughly the same amount of people every year as we were thirty years ago. Growth in Africa, South America, and Asia continue to more than make up for any departures from Church activity in the United States.

    Steady and constant growth continues to be a huge challenge for the Church to deal with, and that’s a wonderful thing.

  2. Good post, Geoff. And yes, need we ever be surprised that apostates and Evangelical haters lie? Regarding your other point: We know that in the parable of the Ten Virgins, the Ten refer to church members. I would be sad, but not surprised, if we lost the lukewarm five (fuguratively 50%?). Were we to have that many failures-in-the-faith, would that mean the Church is not true or reflect badly on it? Of course not. John 6:65 is instructive: “From that time MANY of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him,” (caps added). Is this sad event a reflection on the Savior? Of course not.
    God bless,

  3. In fast-growing northern Utah County where I live they are building a new stake center just down the street. Rumor is our stake will split once it’s completed. I hope so because though I love going to church, trying to squeeze into our ward building with 600+ fellow saints every Sunday is a challenge.

    It says in the scriptures that a man can’t run faster than he has strength. I think that’s true of the church too. While I’d love to see it grow even faster, I hope that we’re able to keep up with the current expansion in Africa and other parts of the world.

  4. Thanks, Geoff, for this post.

    The lovely thing about Mormon beliefs is that all will be able to rethink their errors prior to Final Judgement. So even those who leave today are not irrevocably lost.

    The nice thing is that no one can credibly claim we are creating more stakes and districts merely as a show of strength.

  5. I think the point critics harp on isn’t that we aren’t growing but that the rate of increase of growth has stalled. It’s harder to tell that from the number of stakes. The church membership statistics will give us a bit better idea of what’s going on. As I’ve mentioned I was concerned that dropping the age of missionaries to 18 might be having a negative impact on growth. However it’s really too early to be able to tell yet.

  6. I think that stake growth is a true measure. You have to have leadership in place, and _depth_ to do that.

    The church retrenched a little by consolidating stakes in South America and the Philippines in the 90’s due to some uncontrolled or ill-managed growth in the 1980’s. And by that I mean mainly that missionaries were baptizing a lot of ill-prepared converts, and wards couldn’t keep up. There was more to it than that, but that’s the quick and diplomatic way of putting it.

    I fully believe church leadership learned from it, and that the missionary system has been corrected and is better managed than before. One piece of evidence is the concept of “centers of strength” that Elder Oaks mentioned at least once in regards to church plans for growth in India, in regards to where and how to send missionaries.

    We’re just 20 years out from the missionary system “adjustments” of the 90’s, and 14 years out from “raising the bar” in 2002, so I believe the institutional memory is still intact.

    Glen D, please choose labels wisely and compassionately, bro. Evangelicals are our closest cousins, doctrinally speaking, in the non-LDS Christian world. They and Pentecostals are practically the only Protestants who actually believe in personal revelation, walking in the Spirit, Gifts of the Spirit, miracles, etc. In my opinion, Satan works hardest on them to keep them blinded because they actually have the very key (belief in personal revelation) to finding out if our foundational truth claims are correct or not.

    I dabbled in Evangelical churches as a teen. They taught me about personal revelation which was essential later when I investigated the Mormons.
    And as an adult I visited a friend’s evangelical church where I was struck by how close their Sunday School teachings were to ours.

    And, every church has their bad examples, even ours.

  7. Membership is growing and additional stakes/wards are needed to accommodate this growth; however, the large and rapid increase in the number of stakes and branches is due to a multi-year study that the church completed last year. The church has been studying stake (both the # of wards and the # of people within the stake) and ward size (assuming average regional activity rates). The results indicated that ~3000 people per stake and 250 – 350 people per ward was the ideal size. For most stakes and wards in North America, this meant more stakes and more wards.

    Ideal had all kinds of meaning, but generally, it meant activity and responsibility. A ward is too big and people end up with no calling or callings that they view as fluff. A ward is too small and people have too many responsibilities.

  8. Clark, the thing that may have changed the converts/missionary figure was the move to the “Centers of Strength” model in high growth 3rd world/2nd world areas of the church, such as S America, Africa, and India.

    This makes the number of prospects/investigators/converts more dependent on members than on full time missionaries. There also has been a lot of decreased emphasis on missionaries obtaining their own contacts via tracting and other methods.

    And at various times and places the Brethren have tightened church-wide, and mission-specific requirements of converts as to number of times they have to attend church, meet with the bishop prior to baptism, actually “enforcing” the old requirements in the DL/ZL interview, etc.

    Therefore the raising of the bar in 2002, the advent of PMG, and the age change of 2012 were also happening with other behind the scenes changes in management and implementation of the missionary/convert system/program.

    So, supposedly, while annual number of converts has been somewhat steady or slowly growing, and converts/missionary have gone down, the retention/activity rate has likely gone up.

    The 2016 “surge” in stakes could actually be the effect of both the subtle public and the behind-the-scene changes of the 1990’s through, say, 2006. The young men who were saved from inactivity due to raising the bar in 2002 could now be serving as EQ presidents, YM presidents, bishops’ counselors, or even as bishops overseas, which all taken together gives the depth of leadership needed in new unit formation.

    It took 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, to prepare those raised-bar better-prepared higher-expectations 8 year olds from baptism to where they could finally go on missions at 18 instead of 19. That 10 year timing between those two major changes is not coincidental in my opinion.

    In 2018 those guys (who were baptised at age 8 in 2002, and were the first 18 year old missionaries in 2012), will be graduating college, and church leadership will be able to see if the younger missionary age “saved” that age cohort from inactivity more than that experienced by those who served at age 19 from 2002 through 2012.

    If my thesis is correct, that post-2012 missionaries have/will have a lower inactivity rate than 2002-2012 missionaries, then around 2024, when that cohort turns 30, and can provide the “depth” of leadership needed, we may see another surge of unit/stake growth.

  9. And by “raise the bar”, I don’t mean just the stricter requirements to enter the MTC, I mean all the changes to the Primary and YM/YW programs made since 2002 to better prepare the youth, and the frequent encouragement by church leaders to parents to be more involved and do a better job of preparing their children for missions.

    One of the changes prior to 2012, as I understand it, was getting the youth to teach their own lessons in Sunday School, as well as a revamping of the youth SS curriculum.

    There were a lot of changes going on simultaneously.

  10. The stake I’m in changed boundaries in January and created 2 new wards. The new stake president said that future stakes will likely be limited to 5 or 6 units and 2500 members. We currently have 9 units and other nearby stakes have more than 6. It is possible that neighboring stakes and our stake change borders and normalize and create a new stake or 2. This is without increasing the number of converts or child baptisms significantly. Limiting stakes to 5 or 6 units and/or 2500 members reduces the organization to manageable proportions. The down-side of the January border changes was the previous Ward Council had not been doing their due diligence verifying member records were up to date. When I was called as ward clerk, we moved out about 200 household records (members that had not lived in those addresses for a while). So now I’m in a very small, aging ward. Fewer than 400 members on the rolls and about 20-30% sacrament attendance. Our primary usually has 7 children attending. Five boys in the YM quora, eight girls in YW. Makes it difficult to get all the callings filled.

  11. I have heard from commenters here and on my Facebook page that supposedly the Church is decreasing the size of stakes. I can only report that in Colorado where I live this is not happening. Stakes are exploding in size, and we added a new stake just a year ago, but that stake is already huge. My stake has about 10 wards/branches (one is a Spanish branch that is semi-active, thus the use of the word “about”). Stake conference is so huge that it fills an entire new stake center (including the Relief Society and primary rooms) and another huge building. There must be about 1800 people attending stake conference for Sunday at 10 a.m. Our stake probably has about 5000 members with no indications of another stake split anytime soon. Somebody also reported that no large stake center buildings are being built anymore, but we just built one a few years ago.

    I would love some confirmation that smaller stakes are happening Church-wide because I see no evidence of it where I live.

  12. Geoff, when my stake was created in March (one of the Arizona stakes), the presiding general authority told the two, now three, stakes (10000 people) exactly what I reported in my above comment.

  13. There are still absolute minimums for wards and stakes, regardless of how many are on the roster, or how many warm bodies show up on Sundays. You have to have so many PH holders and RS sisters who have temple recs and who are known to accept callings. There are certain slots to fill in every ward and in every stake. They literally cannot, or will not, make a new ward or stake without people for those slots, plus a few more for backup to cover move-outs etc. Otherwise, you have a branch in a stake, or branches in districts.

    The church grows by dividing, and there are max and min sizes for units. When a stake reaches, say for instance, 14 units, it might be split into two stakes of 7 units. But then, with two stakes, you don’t have to wait until one reaches 14 units again for another split; when those two stakes reach 12 units each, they could be redrawn into 3 stakes of 8 units each.

    Stake presidents and area authorities can take a lot of things into account. Of course there is guidance from church HQ, but it is bishops, the HC, the SP and the AA who know the specific local needs and situations. They may want small wards and have a separate morning seminary class for each high school, or they may want bigger wards to have a critical mass of youth per ward. (At one time our SP was inspired to try to keep ward boundaries along school district boundaries.)

    A ward may have enough Sunday attendance, but not enough PH holders to split, or to be redrawn to smaller boundaries. Or maybe has enough PH holders, but they aren’t experienced/qualified/old enough yet to hold the important callings. Or maybe there are enough PH leadership for a new ward, but still not enough “depth” yet in the stake to form a new stake and siphon off the 23 or so men it takes to staff stake level callings.

    I know I have received personal revelation about my life and doings and callings, therefore I know that bishops, SPs, AAs, GAs, the Q12 and FP receive revelation. Plus, each of those is a check and balance on the one below. New wards are not formed without the SP, the HC, and probably the AA, concurring. New stakes are not formed without the AA, and probably his supervising GA, concurring. SLC gets the chance to veto Bishops and SPs, from what I hear.

    Maybe rapid growth and building construction overseas has or had necessitated a slowing of building construction in the US, which in turn impacts formation of new wards, which impacts formation of stakes. And maybe the “logjam” is in the process of being removed, therefore some locales see changes, while others have yet to see them.

    It is also possible, and maybe even likely, that tweaks or even entirely new directions/guidelines are coming down from the Lord through his Prophet. If the Lord can tell me how to run my pathetic little life, I’m confidant that He’s also guiding prophets, apostles, GAs, AAs, SPs, and bishops in the big important things.

  14. I can confirm what passthechips has reported as it’s pretty much identical to what we are hearing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It may be a pilot program in a few areas right now but that is the direction that church is going. (Smaller wards and stakes) That and an increased emphasis on fully utilizing existing business before building new ones. Our ward was split a year ago and initially we were getting sacrament attendance of 80. We were a bit worried they had made us too small but we are now up to around 120 per week and we all love our ward. Even the youth, although it helps that we combine seminary with two other wards and the youth in all three wards are very tight. They are going to create a new stake here next week.

  15. Bookslinger, someone mentioned in the comments to that T&S post of mine that at the time they tightened requirements for missionaries around 2002 there was also a demographic shift due to dropping birthrate around 20 years earlier. So there were several factors in the drop then.

    I didn’t mention the dropping efficiency of tracting and similar missionary-centric finding methods in the post although I alluded to it in a few places. But even back when I was on my mission at the end of the 80’s most people we encountered hadn’t really met with missionaries before. While tracting wasn’t terribly effective, it’s wasn’t a lost cause and you could still find solid investigators at times. While I don’t know statistics on it, my impression from discussions is that the low hanging fruit have all either been baptized or lost and those left can’t easily be found that way. So more depends upon members and frankly members have never done good missionary work. (Sadly)

    The point about baptism requirements is a good one and of course changes the raw baptism statistics. Which is partially why I like self-identity statistics. The “official” activity statistics miss a lot that to my eyes are pretty key. I should add I’m not criticizing on that point. I recall doing baptismal interviews on my mission knowing they would soon go inactive but not really having anything I could deny them baptism over. It was a weird feeling as it honestly seemed like it wasn’t helping them and might hurt them.

    Regarding retention/activity I think based upon the official way of doing it I’m sure it has. Not just because of stricter requirements dropping the “baptized and gone within 4 months problem” but just by strong incentives to get people off the records who don’t really consider themselves Mormon. That started in the 80’s. (I remember people in my Ward having to visit people who hadn’t been to church in years to get them to sign documents – due to the way the Church did building funding in those days) Again this is a reason to think ARIS or even Pew probably better represent retention. I’m not sure counting these people baptized, often due to interest in particular missionaries, and then leave without having a real conversion is a good measure of what we mean by retention. To my eyes retention is solidly about people who consider themselves Mormon and whether they remain Mormon.

    Your point about activity rate of returned missionaries is why I suspect they made the changes. I’m just skeptical it’ll work and I fear it’ll have a negative effect on missionary work at the same time. However if that’s the case I bet in a few years the age will change back to 19.

  16. Note that outside of U.S. and Canada, the minimum number of members for a stake (on the membership list, not active) is 1900. Within U.S. and Canada, the minimum is 3000. So stakes outside of U.S. and Canada are often a little bit smaller than what Americans and Canadians may be used to.

    For that reason, I try not to cross-compare stake counts in the U.S./Canada with stakes elsewhere, since numbers-wise it’s a little bit of an applies to oranges situation. The Melchizedek priesthood requirements are the same, though.

  17. I live in AZ and from what I have heard the split in stake’s and wards to make them smaller is a pilot program or at least Arizona is one of the first places doing this. The changes in AZ started in Mesa at the beginning of the year and are moving west as many more stakes have been split and rumors of upcoming splits have been heard. I am hearing the ideal number is about 3,000 members in a stake and ward attendance of about 150. The main reason like mentioned above is to give more people opportunity to serve and also keeps people from falling through the cracks.

    I am not sure how this will move in an area like Utah that may already have no room in buildings and I doubt the church will want to build more if they don’t have to but I think you could see more buildings having 4 wards attending which is something I have seen more of in AZ.

  18. Having smaller wards and stakes is also something the Lord might do to prepare for a large influx of converts. Both to “make room” for the converts, and to train more people who are already in the church for leadership in future wards and stakes.

    When an area is growing in membership, a large fluctuation of ward and stake size is _normal_. Grow to a certain maximum size per ward/stake, split wards/stakes (and/or rearrange boundaries) back to minimum sizes, and then repeat. Ward and stake size is _supposed_ to have a sawtooth pattern over time when active church membership is growing.

    Sidebar: The church does not do “church(ward/branch) planting” in the US. It used to do so overseas in missions, but moved to the “Centers of Strength” model in the early 2000’s.

    Clark: I’ve come to believe that conversions (adult baptisms) in established stakes is more a function of (dependent on) the members, and not the missionaries. IMO, it’s only small and remote branches in mission districts where efforts by individual missionaries become relatively more important. Speaking broadly, that is. I’m sure there are exceptions.

  19. Great point, Leo. And I think the most toxic of the secularists are the Mormon Liberals. We note that the latest institutional casualty is the Neal Maxwell Institute at BYU. In 2012, that cherished entity was hijacked by Mormon Liberals who dumped its founding mission of apologetics and re-wrote its mission statement to redirect its focus to self-serving secular pursuits. A complete betrayal of its namesake.

  20. The plummeting membership numbers for those denominations who have decided to ordain women is a reason I (as a female engineer) have no problem with the LDS Church retaining ecclesiastical leadership in the hands of men.

    It is not that women are inferior. It is that when men think they aren’t superior, many of them decided to take their ball and go elsewhere. It doesn’t serve women for the men to stop playing. I’d much rather have my men in Church than have titular equality and have my men decide they aren’t interested.

    That said, it appears to have been wrong doctrine to consider priesthood power as equivalent to the men who administer. Elder Oaks most recently put the nail in that bit of damaging sophistry, and when Joseph F. Smith originally tried to get his viewpoint accepted during his Presidency, he was voted down by the majority who knew that priesthood power is shared between men and women as we mutually work to build God’s kingdom. Joseph F. Smith felt it was six of one, half dozen of another, but he was incorrect. And his lack of correctness was recognized by his mortal peers. It was only after death had transformed him from a known man to a semi-deified Saint that his influential relatives were able to get his male-centric viewpoint ensconced as “correct.”

    I see the Church as openly working to make the 2 degree shift back to where we always should have been, in the face of the activist zealots who keep demanding a complete about face. The plummeting membership of other denominations who have heeded the zealots keeps me praying that God will continue to guide those who lead the Church to maintain the helm as He wishes.

  21. Meg,

    Would you please provide a source to your Joseph F. Smith anecdote? I’m fairly well read and I have never encountered what you have described. Thank you.

  22. Meg, you wrote:

    “The plummeting membership numbers for those denominations who have decided to ordain women is a reason I (as a female engineer) have no problem with the LDS Church retaining ecclesiastical leadership in the hands of men.

    It is not that women are inferior. It is that when men think they aren’t superior, many of them decided to take their ball and go elsewhere. It doesn’t serve women for the men to stop playing. I’d much rather have my men in Church than have titular equality and have my men decide they aren’t interested.”

    I am not sure what church you are referring to here. There is no such thing as “inferior” and “superior” when it comes to men and women and the priesthood and the LDS church. The prophet is not “superior” to the Sunday school gospel doctrine teacher. The prophet has a *different role.* In the same way, a man is not “superior” to a woman because he has the priesthood. A man has a *different role.* The Savior was superior to us all but allowed himself to be humbled in the most humiliating way to show this very lesson (along with other lessons, of course). The greatest people are the humble servants, not the people who have positions of “superiority.”

  23. Geoff while I completely agree with you I think we have to distinguish between the theology of priesthood and how it is supposed to function and how many (most?) men in the Church treat it. The warning in D&C 121:39 probably is a good basis for how far too many treat authority. Even if they are not blatantly exercising unrighteous dominion they are thinking through a perspective of unrighteous dominion.

    I’ve known many men who, much to my surprise, admitted that they could never seriously date a woman smarter than them or with more success in work. While shocking, I suspect that’s still characteristic of far too many. Likewise many men, even if they understand intellectually that priesthood is ultimately the responsibility to serve humbly (as exemplified by the ordinance of the washing of feet) don’t truly think in that fashion.

    Given such a common fallen notion of priesthood even if only unconsciously many men need that feeling of superiority. They become uncomfortable when women move into roles they once held. Rather than embracing such changes as Meg noted they frequently pull back and do less.

    Indeed given events around Trump I’d say this is a problem for a significant minority of men who feel like they haven’t been caught up in the economic progress of the past 30 years. The reaction ends up inherently tied to feelings of inferiority and superiority not just to women but to different ethnic groups.

  24. Glen, while I personally tend to be more sympathetic to the Interpreter side of the FARMS wars I’m not sure that’s a fair portrayal of the Maxwell Institute side. I have friends in both. I think many of those on the Maxwell side wanted a less confrontational and personal type of apologetic. And there’s definitely something to that. While there was some break down along a very loose liberal/conservative theology perspective, I think that category misleads more than it enlightens in this case.

    Bookslinger, I’ve always thought that was the case. I think that by and large the success of the missionary program is akin to the success of schooling. It depends less on those doing the teaching than how the regular people in their daily lives prepare others. Have good home life with invested parents and kids do better. Have good members sharing the gospel with people they meet and the missionaries do better. Have unengaged parents with a chaotic home life and teachers can’t make up the difference. Have unengaged members afraid to share the gospel and missionaries can’t make up the difference.

    By and large our statistics on missionary work reflect how well missionaries do make up the difference though. So there I think statistics like baptisms per missionary help illuminate that. Much like test scores, even if they miss a lot going on, can help us understand how teachers are doing making up the family gap.

  25. “It is not that women are inferior. It is that when men think they aren’t superior, many of them decided to take their ball and go elsewhere.”

    My gosh, Meg! How did we engineer this specimen of scientificness? Lol

  26. Clark wrote regarding FAIR: ” I think many of those on the Maxwell side wanted a less confrontational and personal type of apologetic.”

    Clark, considering the personalities of the people who ended up working for the MI and how the change was handled, this is simply not credible. The people involved are significantly MORE confrontational, and they proved this by summarily firing their perceived enemies the moment they took power. It’s kind of like Stalin claiming he wanted a “less confrontational and personal” Soviet Union after the latest purge.

  27. “I’ve known many men who, much to my surprise, admitted that they could never seriously date a woman smarter than them or with more success in work.”

    Just wondering, Clark, where in the Church you found such a plethora of emotional pygmies? In long years in the Church I have not encountered them yet.

  28. I have to agree with Glen. My priesthood quorum is filled with 50-60 men who spend all 45 minutes of the lesson falling all over themselves to say how much better and smarter and more qualified their wives are than they are. Every priesthood quorum in my 18 years in the Church has been like that. I have heard the phrase “I married up” said literally hundreds of times in Church.

    Clark, there appears to be a huge disconnect or perception gap between how many people see their church experience and how other people see their church experience. And, I have to say this, many people will take one random comment by one sexist guy and turn it into their entire leitmotif of how Mormon men act, ignoring the hundreds of non-sexist comments by hundreds of non-sexist guys. (I am not saying you are necessarily doing this, but your experience seem so foreign to me we appear to literally be talking about different church organizations).

  29. “. . . those on the Maxwell side wanted a less confrontational and personal type of apologetic. And there’s definitely something to that.”

    Clark, you mention that you tend to lean toward the Interpreter side. That’s difficult for me to believe given that what you thereafter type is post-2012 Maxwell Institute propaganda.
    I believe there are times when a direct approach is appropriate. There are times when it is needful to set and defend boundaries. It is clear to me from the record that the Savior Himself was ‘divisive’ in that very sense. You fault that type of apologetic; I have seen that often from Mormon Liberals and apostates who become indignant when they are called out for their spewings.
    God bless,

  30. Glen, I think an apologetic is important that engages not just with the text but with a concern with the context of the text in its original setting. Right now Maxwell papers don’t do that enough (IMO). I also think apologetics has to engage with what critics are actually writing that again Maxwell doesn’t enough. However simultaneously I think we have to be respectful and careful in our rhetoric in order to avoid getting too close to polemics. While the Interpreter is (IMO) better here than FARMS was, I think the balance remains off.

    One can be direct yet respectful. Sometimes one should focus on personalities but focusing too much on them is taking ones eye off the ball. This ends up failing apologetics because the focus should always be on those struggling. If ones rhetoric makes them less likely to read the apologetics then ones already failed before one gets started. Too much apologetics is primarily about preaching to those already strongly converted who like apologetics rather than using apologetics to help those struggling.

  31. Geoff again it varies regional. I’d also note a distinction between what people say in public and what gets said in smaller groups. Further I’d say there’s a distinction between what people say and what the show. (On both sides)

    Part of the problem is that everyone generalizes from their church experience. However our church experience is always tied to the nature of the wards we’re in as well as the people we actually socialize with in those wards. We then tend to extrapolate to the church as a whole. I’d be the first to admit my own ward is unusual. (We have probably near a dozen BYU professors, my current Bishop is a professor and my last Bishop was a microbiologist working for the BYU library) My ward is a mix between people socially liberal and socially conservative. A person in my prior Bishopric is prominent in the Maxwell Institute. So I’d be the first to acknowledge I should generalize from that ward. Plus I’ll also admit that the days when I attended many different wards are in my past. So perhaps the entire church has changed dramatically in that last decade since I had kids and ceased being a wanderer. I’m just skeptical of most claims given the range of experiences I’ve seen.

  32. Sorry, “I’d be the first to acknowledge I shouldn’t generalize from that ward.”

    Glen, as for where I found such “pygmies” I can but say it was a significant number of my friends living around BYU when I was single.

  33. Clark, reading between the lines in your comment, what you are basically saying is that academics and people at MI are sexist pigs who don’t appreciate their wives and enjoy lording the priesthood over their spouses. I am OK with that. 🙂

  34. ““It is not that women are inferior. It is that when men think they aren’t superior, many of them decided to take their ball and go elsewhere.”

    My gosh, Meg! How did we engineer this specimen of scientificness? Lol”

    Glen, it’s based on the observation that men leave churches that ordain women. It’s an observable statistic: when churches ordain women, and/or otherwise “feminize” their church, their membership and attendance decreases.

    Keep in mind that Meg writes as an engineer. She did not say that _no_ women leave those churches. And she did not say that _all_ men leave those churches.

  35. Just to give an example of where I think the balance at the Maxwell Institute is off, I just went through about a year’s entries at the blog:

    I found tons of emphasis on reading scripture in terms of application to contemporary social issues or theology. I didn’t find a single entry looking at reading passages of scripture in terms of original historic settings (either speculative or actual). The closest was a note about a Nibley chapter in Studies in the Bible and Antiquity. Volume 24 of JBMS has a few good articles such as an analysis of war banners in mesoAmerica and the Book of Mormon. However the next year’s volume 25 simply doesn’t (although a few things pop up in the retrospective of JBMS but its main focus IMO is the new thrust of the Maxwell Institute).

    Again in making that criticism I’m not criticizing the works that Maxwell does publish. Many of them are fantastic. It’s the balance of types of works that I think is off. (Although perhaps the fact the Interpreter is around makes them think they don’t need too — I don’t know)

  36. “However simultaneously I think we have to be respectful and careful in our rhetoric in order to avoid getting too close to polemics. While the Interpreter is (IMO) better here than FARMS was, I think the balance remains off.”

    Keep in mind, the Interpreter is staffed by the very same people who were FARMS. Not sure then how one can be better than the other.
    I do agree with some of what you are saying; I think your cautions are well-said. But though they are good points, I think they are missing the point.

    To be clearer then: Of course we will not want to endeavor to needlessly offend. But to be frank, to accuse the FARMS staff—as you intimate—as engaging in polemics, is just cop-out avoidance. They were calling people out who simply deserved it, and they were using specifics with clarity. I am thinking how the Savior in a few instances, began his censures with words like, “Ye Hypocrites,” and “Ye fools.” These got people’s attention. I think given the tactical subtlety and sophistication of certain unfaithful’s, a sharp directness is at time absolutely appropriate. Further, I think those who cry foul at it are usually themselves the guilty — the Mormon Liberals and apostates.
    Best to you,

  37. “Glen, it’s based on the observation that men leave churches that ordain women. It’s an observable statistic: when churches ordain women, and/or otherwise “feminize” their church, their membership and attendance decreases.”

    Bookslinger, statistics are notoriously abused. For example, does your cited statistic necessarily point to men who need to feel superior? I don’t think so. It’s very possible that the men who leave feel concerned about the takeover of feminist philosophies, and the absense of support for it in the scriptures. I would love to see female apostles in the Church — IF it was the will of God and revealed through his prophetic mouthpiece.

  38. Glen, the correlation is so strong that some degree of causation seems appropriate.

    I don’t have the link handy, but an article and video of the story of one congregation’s effort to get men more involved in a woman-led congregation seems to back Meg’s assertion. The only point I remember was their effort to reduce the frequency of singing feminine hymns and increase the frequency of masculine hymns.

    Most men need to be men. Most healthy men tend to avoid public social situations where it feels like your testosterone level is being drained away.

    One of the surest ways to chase boys and young adult males out of a church is to make it wimpy, effeminate, or overly feminine.

    In our ward, the female voices somewhat outweigh the male voices in hymn singing. But there are enough males voices that I don’t feel out of place singing. Now… On a few occassions, I’ve gone with a Catholic friend to her morning mass when my ward has afternoon meetings. They have an even higher ratio of female to male congregants than we do (though no female priests of course), and their male congregants have an even lower participation rate of hymn singing than we do. Trying to sing along with their congregation hymns seemed too feminine for me. It was uncomfortable, as if I was the only male in an all women choir. During the hymns, their religion just felt too “girly” to me. I _felt_ (what I think was) what so many article writers have described about the “feminization” of churches, and how it is driving men away.

  39. Glen, I think people can change. FARMS in the 90s was a somewhat different place than what came after. I also think the rise of FAIR (admittedly starting at the end of the 90’s) took some of the load FARMS had.

    To the point about polemics, I don’t think it’s hard to find particular works that fit that. Contra the critics of FARMS and the Interpreter I think it always made up a minority of the overall writings. Calling how people is fine when appropriate. I think sometimes it becomes more personal than it needs to. How one calls out matters.

  40. As to the pygmies:

    Clark said “t was a significant number of my friends living around BYU when I was single.”

    That was my experience too. Several (but not all) of my roommates and many of my fellow students when I was single at BYU and Ricks (aka BYU-I) were extremely sexist guys who only wanted a subservient, hot wife.

    Then I got married and was in the BYU married ward, and I stopped running into those guys. It seems the guys who do get married aren’t like that, or the actual act of marriage tempers their foolish adolescent impulses.

  41. In North Texas, they are creating new stakes to get the number of wards per stake down to 6 or 7 (2 years ago, our stake had 15 wards, now it has 10). The first weekend of November, they are taking 3 wards to make 5 (they are creating new wards in the process). Two weekends ago, they took 3 other nearby stakes and created a 4th.

    Not an increase in baptisms, but because of relocation growth, and a change to make managing existing wards easier.

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