Changes in store for Mormon church singles

ABC News 4, Utah/April 15, 2011

Salt Lake City - The LDS church is dismantling all student wards along the Wasatch front, and creating new young single adult wards where singles must attend the ward they are geographically zoned for.

As a young, single Mormon, Neil Opperman, attends one of the newly formed wards in Weber County, and he understands why the church is re-organizing the singles.

"You have these wards that were like vacuums. All the young single adults would flock to them, sucking them in one area, and draining the little areas. Eventually, these YSA wards were dying."

As wards grew to hundreds of attendees, it was easy to lose track of the young single adults who the church says never would settle into one ward where they kept their membership records, instead they would ward hop.

"That's been part of the problem. There hasn't been an ecclesiastical leader they can work with for their spiritual growth. Now, they will have that one option of going to the resident ward or YSA ward," says Kent Richards, Quorum of the Seventy.

The resident ward is known as the family ward, and for singles opting out, they can now only attend a young single adult ward in their geographic boundary. In Opperman's ward, the bishop doesn't allow singles not in his ward to continually show up.

"They don't turn them away, but they come, and eventually he has a sit down with them and says you either have to move your records into this ward or you have to go elsewhere."

They will no longer be allowed to move their records into a ward not in the same boundary as their home address.

"They need to have a relationship with their bishop," says Richards.

He's an ecclesiastical leader who can help them progress spiritually, and by creating larger individual stakes out of the nearly formed wards, the church is hoping to constantly give singles a chance to meet new people.

Church leaders plan to discuss the changes with all affected singles at the end of the month.

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