For the first time in my time in the Church I will be experiencing the unique Mormon ritual of changing ward boundaries. I know that other churches have different methods of distributing their members, but no one seems to be as “strict” about it as we are.
I live in an area where there are three cities fairly close together with a fourth about half an hour away. The various boundaries were set 20 years ago and haven’t changed since. As demographics have shifted some wards have grown and some have shrunk, and so the existing boundaries lead to an imbalance of membership.
About halfway through my time as bishop we were looking at some boundary changes but nothing ever came of it. At the time it seemed that the wards were doing ok. The boundary work we were doing was just to clean things up. There were going to be very few members affected by the changes. However these days it seems that a couple of the wards are having a very hard time getting people out. Another ward is definitely smaller than they used to be. I’m pretty sure that the ward I am in is the biggest ward in the area (not that I have much to do with that fact). I have absolutely no inside information, but I suspect that my current ward will be hardest hit by this.
So this coming Sunday all of the area wards will be meeting together and sustaining whatever changes are announced. They are expecting around 500 people and we’ll be having the Sacrament. The YM from two of the wards will be taking care of that. I’ve never been to such a large Sacrament Meeting, so it will be interesting. I don’t think this is a normal part of these meetings, but with General Conference earlier this month and Stake Conference at the end of the month, the Stake President was concerned that we’d only be taking the Sacrament once this month.
On the one hand, who cares where we go to Church? What does that have to do with my testimony and desires of my heart? We talk about ward families, but we wouldn’t just ship off our brother or sister in our real family to be part of another family (at least not by choice). On the other hand it shouldn’t matter where we attend. The Church is the same. We’ll make new friends and stay in touch with the friends that are changing wards. We should be willing to go where we are needed, and build up the kingdom where we are.
The only tough part for me will be not seeing some of my good friends as often as we did. We can obviously still be friends, but when most of our time together was spent at Church and Church activities, it just won’t be the same. We’ll just have to try harder to stay close.
I assume that where we live I will still be in my current ward, but depending on what the needs are in other wards they could shift a border and we’d end up going somewhere else. I guess we’ll find out soon enough…
Note: I’ve never been to one of these big meetings where changes like this are made, so I’ll report back on it next week.