I live in a small town in Colorado with one relatively small chapel. Until this Sunday, the chapel housed two wards, one family ward and one young single adult ward. In the last 15 years, Sacrament meetings in the family ward have grown from about 100 people to about 300 people as new subdivisions have grown like mushrooms in the fields around town.
Our primary has more than 100 kids, and we have more than 30 young men. We knew it was only a matter of time until the ward would change because there are hundreds of other new homes being built in our ward boundaries.
So two Sundays ago a counselor to the bishop announced that the stake would make changes in ward boundaries. The counselor made a joke, “let the speculation begin,” and that is what happened. Every time one ward member talked to another, the question was asked, “what will happen to our ward? Will we ever see our friends again?” Many people literally wept at the idea that their friends would be shipped off to other buildings and they would lose the attachments built up over so many years.
Many readers who live in Utah and Idaho may go through boundary changes all the time, but for those of us who had lived with roughly the same ward boundaries for several decades, the alterations seemed potentially traumatizing.
So on Sunday afternoon the stake presidency presented the new boundaries, and basically our ward is being split in two with some additional people added from two other neighboring wards. Both of the wards will meet in our small chapel, along with the single adults ward. I am not sure how three bishoprics and ward clerks will share three small offices, but I guess they will make it work.
We got a new bishop, a very kind man who just moved into the area. On Sunday night he was introduced to us and we sustained him, and we began to socialize with our new ward members. The stake president joked that we would be known as the “party ward,” and, yes, we were all happy and in a socializing mood. We were very glad we would continue to meet in the same chapel because the other chapels we might have been moved to are pretty far away.
Our new bishop has a huge task in front of him choosing counselors and other leadership from a bunch of people he does not know. I know the Lord is leading this work because there is no other way that the bishop could create ward leadership without His help.
My 14-year-old son was upset that he would be losing so many friends to the other ward, but seminary will continue to meet at the same time for both wards, and he will see his friends in high school. So, overall, things will work out OK. I kept on telling my kids, “change brings opportunity,” (which is one of my mantras), and I may have finally convinced them after a few hours of hearing me trying to mouth reassuring words.
Most people who were worried appear to be at peace with the change now. We have a chance to make new friends and magnify new callings. When you think about it, our church is quite unique in that we insist that people attend certain wards based on geography, but it helps create order where there could be chaos. And the week of drama and speculation were, in retrospect, kind of fun.