Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy-Sad News: A New Ward

The first Sunday of the year is always one of my very favorite church meetings. Because it's the first Sunday of the month, it's testimony meeting, which is always a special treat, but it's even better on the first Sunday in January, when dear friends in the ward* have contemplated and reflected on the previous year and their hopes for a new one.

Today, before testimony meeting began, the Stake President* announced to us that because the Oregon City area is growing, our four wards will be divided next week into five wards. What an exciting announcement! Because LDS wards are served by a lay ministry, and our bishops still hold down full-time jobs, the size of a ward is limited to 400-600 members; when the wards get bigger than that, it's usually time to divide!

I've lived in the same house for 30 years, and this will be my fifth ward. Each change has brought the thrill of witnessing growth in the Church in my own community, accompanied by the sadness of losing weekly association with dear brothers and sisters. It's not that anyone moves; we certainly could still see one another, but life gets busy, and it often transpires that we run into each other only a few times a year after the ward divides. And even when we do see one another, it's not the same; we don't share the weekly association of worship, feeling the Spirit in a particular talk, humorous happenings with the little ones, prayers offered for a ward member with struggles, ward activities and lessons and service projects and potluck suppers.

Instead, there will be the sometimes-uncomfortable experience of getting to know new people, learning a new calling,* getting used to a new ward identity.

Oh my - this all sounds so negative! I really don't mean to dwell on the "cons." There are lots of "pros," too. With every ward change, I have gained precious new friends, experienced growth in different callings, been excited to be part of MY new ward. I'm sure that will happen this time, too. I don't have to worry that the preaching will be different in my new ward; the Church uses a standard worldwide curriculum, so the lessons in one ward are the same as the lessons in another. I am thankful to live in a time with a living Prophet and revelation that guides the leaders of the Church, and I am excited to see what next week brings!

*LDS congregations are called "wards."
*Wards are organized into stakes; the local ecclesiastical leader of the stake is called the stake president.
*Since the whole organization is lay ministry, everyone pitches in. We refer to our church assignments as "callings."


Dorothy said...

I feel so "left out"! All of you will be adjusting to the new Ward identity, while Ken and I continue to serve "Out of Stake" with the Young Single Adults. Yes, we have many wonderful acquaintances that cross over all the boundary lines, but I think we will still feel "new" when we finally return.

Carou said...

I love teaching my Temple Preparation class and I have a couple more lessons to teach so today after the announcement I didn't know whether to accelerate my students learning or stay to the schedule. I elected to stay to the schedule...the truths are too special to rush through.

It would be great Kathy if we ended up in the same ward again. I am excited to see where the boundary changes are going to be.

Kathy, are you ready for work tomorrow? Although I fear the grueling schedule that awaits me, I am excited to head back. I probably won't sleep tonight. I don't know why my body does this after long breaks... but my mind just starts racing on all the things I have to get done. I was actually able to quiet my mind over the break which was a great blessing. Living with my grandchildren, I know their mama is very excited to have them head back to school as well. It is fun having them attend the same school where I work. Take care all!

Katie Lewis said...

Whoa whoa. New ward...again. You'll have to let me know where things end up.