Ask Angela: My LDS singles ward is one big mutual activity

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  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Sept. 12, 2014 3:41 p.m.

    This sounds pretty much like just how things are in the singles ward. In Mormon culture it is customary for people to get married between the ages of 18 and 25, so the ward and all its activities are targeted towards people in that age group. I don't have any experience with Mutual, but for me it felt like being back in high school again, a lot of the time. It can be a very ostracizing experience for older people and a testimony-destroyer if one doesn't keep the focus on what genuinely matters. I'm glad to have gotten out of there when I did.

  • thisoldfitguy Anthem, AZ
    Sept. 6, 2014 2:05 p.m.

    Be thankful that you have a ward/part of the country where there are singles who attend. Out here in Az. you will get asked to leave church (yes, in the middle of the block) if you attend a ward that is not where your records are. Frankly, I simply don't need the church to define my social life. And if church singles activities get cut back as it is rumored they will be, then so be it. Lessons simply can't fit everyone's needs ... I rely on my own studying for most of what I get out of 2nd and 3rd hour anyway, but I have the blessing of teaching HP. Good luck.

  • chinamom Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 17, 2014 8:40 p.m.

    Since I was 28 when I got married (about 27 years ago), I understand how this member feels. I have to question the location of the Ward. Is it part of a University? It used to be when you turned 26 you joined a Ward congregation that was established specifically for older YSA's. So, perhaps this member should inquire about transferring (with permission) to a Ward in the area that has older Singles. My Singles Ward was not part of a University system, and so was full of YSA's who were graduated and working. It was WONDERFUL to worship with people who were "moving on" in their lives. I also attended my "family Ward" for a period of time, but they immediately put me in the Primary "because the Mom's deserve a break from being with their kids all week" (no lie! That is what they told me when they extended the call). After a year of serving in Primary and attending the YSA Sact. mtg, I transferred over to the Stake YSA Ward. LOVED.IT.

  • Go Utes Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2014 3:35 p.m.

    Go to a family ward. Let go of your fear of not getting married and go to a family ward. You can still date. You can still even attend YSA activities if you wish. Speaking from experience, you will have a much richer church experience and still have opportunities for marriage, etc. even while attending a family ward. As soon as you let go of the idea that you need the YSA ward, great opportunities in the church will open up for you.

  • Heart and Mind BUENA VISTA, VA
    Aug. 13, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    Michael H, has found joy in "Replacing three + hours a week of my life with outdoor activities or reading." I also love those activities and work them into my schedule as well doing my church worship as God has directed. The difference is I have not seen a commandment from the God that I love that I should spend three hours outside INSTEAD OF going to Church. Who are we to substitute our version of worship, in place of how God says he wants it performed?

  • Aggie5 Kuna, ID
    Aug. 12, 2014 5:19 p.m.

    I met my wife when I was 27, in a singles ward.
    Maybe try and find a better place in that ward. Maybe a source for more mature knowledge.
    Family wards seem like a dead end for a 27 year old single.
    In regards to the folks supporting comments like, don't go then. Comments on here isn't popularity contest. Everyone needs The Lord. Even young folks.

  • Pooh Bear Saint Louis, MO
    Aug. 12, 2014 4:25 p.m.

    I was the president for a YSA branch a few years back. My observation when I was called mirrored the things mentioned in the article - the unit appeared to be in place almost exclusively for the purpose of having activities and trying to get people married.

    Our approach as a presidency was that we were a unit of the Church and felt we should function as such. We nevered used the term "singles" or "young people" or "kids." We got into the annual time rotation with the other wards in the building. We had a year as the agent unit for the building with all that that entailed.

    My biased opinion was that we did very well in meeting the members' needs, especially their spiritual needs, as a result. It takes time and a lot of conversation, especially with the other members of the stake, but it is well worth the effort.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 12, 2014 12:53 p.m.

    To "TheProudDuck" yes, they were. Alma the Younger, once the messenger came remembered what he had been taught, then prayed, then received enlightenment. Saul/Paul had a similar experience. Both, when confronted with the truth of their actions began to pray and seek spiritual enlightenment. Neither received spiritual enlightenment until AFTER they began to pray for it.

    There you go, spiritual preparation proceeds enlightenment.

    Do you want to try again?

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Aug. 12, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    "Just look at the scriptures, even when the best message has been given it is only the people that are spiritually prepared that get the enlightenment.

    Please name an instance when somebody wasn't prepared spiritually was able to receive spiritual enlightenment regardless of the material presented."

    Were Saul, aka Paul, and Alma the Younger "spiritually prepared"?

    I'm not a fan of the "It's always your fault" school of thought.

  • Ben H Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 12, 2014 11:28 a.m.

    Even though the singles ward is supposed to be for adults as old as 30, it may be time to graduate from the singles ward and move back to the local family ward. I think that some people are ready to take this step earlier than others.

  • @Charles not from utah, 00
    Aug. 12, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    " In this ward, however, all the activities, lessons and talks feel like they are created for a much younger age group. Most of our ward gatherings feel like mutual activities."

    What does this actually mean? Where are the examples?

    ALL are created for a much younger age group? Really? What is the age of the younger age group you refer to?

    I know people who speak like you and I consider them as my "too serious about life" friends. They don't know how to have a good time and be goofy. They are above it all.

    I have felt the Spirit while teaching in Nursery, Gospel Doctrine, HP group, Sacrament Meeting, etc....I started crying the first time I ever heard the song, If the Savior Stood Beside Me...while I was subbing in Primary.

    As for a more mature gospel discussion, there is nothing wrong with you offering your comments in any class you are in. But please don't be one of those who thinks we should ponder and opine on the mysteries of the gospel where no one has an answer.

    1st world issues we have here, I guess.

  • Russ Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 12, 2014 8:12 a.m.

    Just because you only attend your 3 hour block of meetings on Sunday does not mean you must make that same group your only social group during the week. Attend your meetings, participate in lessons and then spend your free time with friends from work, your extended family if they are around or by yourself in private religious reflection and activities. It is difficult to feel like the odd person out, but there are things you can do to grow your spiritual and temporal lives. Good luck and may the Lord bless you.

  • Sandee Spencer Longwood, FL
    Aug. 12, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    I would recommend you attend Institute. I have found the comments and insights shared there to be a big step above your average Family ward Sunday school class. Students come prepared, eager to learn, wiling to participate, thinking deeply and sharing generously. Honestly it's like a spiritual banquet.

    As for the more recreational activities of your YSA ward if you would like to see something more significant why not volunteer to help. I bet they'd be open to ideas for meaningful service projects and more mature uplifting activities.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Aug. 12, 2014 6:01 a.m.

    This letter illustrates the problem, I think, that the church's youth programs have in general. Too often we give feel the need to entertain the youth into activity. Ultimate like the letter-writer, this becomes inadequate and unappealing. The lack of entertainment as one grows older and more mature leaves the individual feeling like church is no longer for them, or they've out-grown it.

    A lot of singles wards attempt to perpetuate the youth activity experience by fun and exciting activities, but the weight of personal responsibility and the real world will eventually either cause members to stand on their own spiritual legs or walk away... looking for a thrill that's beyond God's ability to give them.

    At some point one must stop looking for a free hand out (like those followers of Christ who sought Him only for free loaves and fishes) and become a wellspring of living waters... willing to bear one another's burdens even if they aren't intellectually stimulating, or personally entertaining. This can happen in ANY ward, regardless of the demographic. The sooner the better. Good luck!

  • U-tar Woodland Hills, UT
    Aug. 12, 2014 12:45 a.m.

    Cheer up people, life ain't that bad.

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 11:00 p.m.

    Llew40 does lead into an interesting point. I think one of the best things that a single person can do is leave Utah if possible. It's different "out there" and you will find older men who are single and are not total "all stars". I have multiple college degree and am working towards a PhD. I also have never owned a gaming system, am not gay, am not addicted to anything (and never have been). And i'm single. But my school of choice right now is in Pullman, Washington, not Utah.

  • Treezoo Casper, WY
    Aug. 11, 2014 10:35 p.m.

    I know this all too well, and I'm only 24. My ward while I was at Weber State actually compelled me to go to FHE, but back in Casper it feels so juvenile. There's just a huge difference in the types of activities in some wards.

    Also, to Birdy, this isn't about not going to church at all and not participating in sacrament, callings, etc. It's specifically about other activities like FHE and Friday nights.

  • aaronjmsb Denton, TX
    Aug. 11, 2014 10:20 p.m.

    As a 27-year-old who has often felt the exact same way, I understand the concern. I have spent a lot of time feeling like I am one of the oldest in the ward with almost nothing in common with anyone else. I have a college degree in a Biblical Studies related field so I completely understand the desire for more intellectually stimulating gospel discussions when the majority of my various singles wards have been comprised of college sophomores, freshmen, or even younger people. But I found a lot of peace and happiness when I came to the realization that I was being totally selfish. My focus was entirely on what I expected to get out of church worship and activities. So I decided to stop thinking about myself and instead about how I could contribute and how I could help uplift and inspire others. And before I knew it, the age differences disappeared from my mind and I found that my immature singles ward was actually filled with wonderful, talented, deep-thinking people. And I have had a lot of fun in the process trying things I previously thought were beneath me. My advice: contribute and be humble.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    Aug. 11, 2014 9:33 p.m.

    cjb and others decide that if you don't like your ward, go to another one. A YSA ward is not a requirement for anyone to join or go to. It is an option open to YSA but not a requirement. they if they wish may stay in their home ward but there are drawbacks to both as mentioned above and secondly feeling a bit overwhelmed with the fact you are considerably younger than most adults in your ward. You are married so it puts you in a bad spot. Many activities seem too immature but guess what most YSA are doing in College. Partying and basically misbehaving. What does that add up to, very immature and destroys the spirit?

    So the solution is up to you the person. What attitude you take to each meeting is based on that. If even High Priest Quorums are a problem then it is the attitude of the individual, not the individuals in the class. If you don't go spiritually prepared then you will probably never be satisfied. Nothing is perfect in this world except the Church organization. It is perfect but operated by imperfect people. Except it and move forward.

  • Llew40 Sandy, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 9:13 p.m.

    Though I'm 39 and "honorably released" from my YSA ward almost a decade ago, as a single woman in the church I wish I could say it gets easier but it doesn't. What this writer is saying is that an LDS singles ward is one big meat market with no dating or courtship that leads to temple marriage because there just aren't enough worthy priesthood holders to go around. The scars from hitting each other over the head with our trays of freshly baked cookies in order to snag one of those righteous elders with more than "some college" not addicted to porn or gay and capable of seeing beyond his X-box to support his future family, make being single in this church very discouraging. I moved into the family ward my married sister attends so I'd have someone to sit with in sacrament meeting. That helped but...the loneliness of rejection and failure to catch a husband never goes away. It is our burden to bear and I wish single women in the church had the same network of support and encouragement as certain other LDS groups hogging the limelight over marriage and priesthood rights.

  • JinaYi87 Norman, OK
    Aug. 11, 2014 5:57 p.m.

    Unfortunately there are far too many who go to church just for the social aspect, the "Greetings in the marketplace" dare I say.

    Like Vladhagen says, I would totally recommend feeling zero obligation to attend anything outside of the 3 hour block. You clearly desire to attend church, so this should not be an issue. But again, do not be guilt tripped into going to some puerile (Great word Vladhagen!) activity. Make your own self better. Be an active Christian. Participate in personal worship. Let them do as they please. All you can do is become better yourself. No one besides you can take you there.

  • DanRay Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 5:40 p.m.

    I found the same things when I got in my upper 20s, I left the singles ward when I was 27 and it was the right time for me. There is a reason you leave after 30, its not for you anymore, and for some, that time comes sooner.

  • SylC1971 Sierra Madre, CA
    Aug. 11, 2014 5:05 p.m.

    I know how she feels. I am older than her; I go to a family ward. It's a bit sad that there aren't available men my age. I understand why it might make people not want to go to church, but I enjoy going. It's about a sense of community.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 4:23 p.m.

    For those of you who solve the "problem" by not going-yes, you have gained 3 hours per week of time, but if you are a Church member, you are choosing to forego partaking of the sacrament, renewing your covenants, and hopefully enjoying the peace of forgiveness. Is your alternative worth it?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 4:19 p.m.

    You are not happy in your ward because the maturity level of those there is different than yours, you are at a different level. yet you are 'supposed' to go to the one where you live.

    Tell me, what will doing what you are supposed to do, + $5 get you?

    If you want to try a different ward, try a different ward.

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    I think that the entire Church has a problem with thinking the gospel can be fully explained in elementary and puerile terms. As a Church body, we are massively undereducated in the scriptures. Only personal study can overcome this. So study well "Gettin Old," because this juvenile understanding of the gospel may never change in the Church as a whole.

    However, as a single person who is "getting old" in a YSA ward I say I must concur with the writer here in some regard. The activities have become ridiculously juvenile at times. With the gamut of "FHE" and slip n slides, I feel like I am playing with a bunch of kids. Wait, I am. I have been pretty much totally inactive in any "FHE," "Ward Prayer," or ward activities for a year now. And I have never felt better. Use the time to instead go to the temple, write a personal history, study the scriptures, visit you own actual family (grandparents, parents, siblings...)

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Aug. 11, 2014 4:05 p.m.

    "Why let intellect trump spirit?"

    Better yet, why not have both?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 11, 2014 3:54 p.m.

    To "TheProudDuck" no, I wouldn't say sometimes. All the time your ability to receive enlightenment depends on your preparedness to receive. Just look at the scriptures, even when the best message has been given it is only the people that are spiritually prepared that get the enlightenment.

    Please name an instance when somebody wasn't prepared spiritually was able to receive spiritual enlightenment regardless of the material presented.

  • jbluther Providence, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 3:41 p.m.

    Service! Stop talking about following the Savior and get to work. Please encourage those that plan activities to add genuine service activities to the mix. Then you'll have a lot more for ward members to talk about and discuss during lessons.

  • bericjohnson1 Springfield, VA
    Aug. 11, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    To those who say stop going to church is the solution, I counter that going to church brings me great spiritual and social fulfillment.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 11, 2014 3:27 p.m.

    To "JDL" actually she did say they were not up to her level. She said that the lessons felt like everything was "like they are created for a much younger age group. Most of our ward gatherings feel like mutual activities. I'd like to attend my assigned ward, but I'm 27 years old and I need to worship in a more mature and intellectually stimulating way."

    That sure sounds like everything is not up to her desired level. The sting is necessary people need to hear the truth using clear language. Many people within the church do not realize the damage they do to themselves by ignoring the simple truths that can be found in even the most mundane a simplistic lessons. Some of the greatest spiritual lessons come from Primary where you never get "to worship in a more mature and intellectually stimulating way." What will happen to her in 15 years when she is one of the older ladies in RS, and a 23 year old is teaching, will she want that person released so that she can have a more intellectual and mature lesson?

    Why let intellect trump spirit?

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Aug. 11, 2014 2:58 p.m.

    "However, the problem with being uplifted at church doesn't reside in the material that is presented, but in your preparedness to receive enlightenment. "

    Insert the word "sometimes" after the word "church," and you have a reasonable point.

  • JDL Magna, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 2:24 p.m.

    Too often in some wards, the YM and YW have been entertained to death and they expect it to continue in the YSA ward and sometimes it does continue for various reasons.

    My advise to Gettin old is to visit with your bishop and or counselors and or the RS president and in a kind way, express your feelings. Let them know how you feel but be prepared to not see much change in the very short term but with planning and prayer and positive action, the expectations of most of the YSA's and the leaders in the ward will be raised.

    Good luck to you and the whole ward.

  • Michael Hunt Murray, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 2:20 p.m.

    I concur with CWJ. Replacing three + hours a week of my life with outdoor activities or reading has been simply invaluable. The author is of course welcome to continue seeking what she won't find, but kicking against the pricks certainly a tired animal makes.

  • JDL Magna, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 2:11 p.m.


    Gettin old never said anything about the activities and lessens not being up to her level, you assumed that is what was meant but I read it completely different. Your reply has a sting that is not necessary.

    I am a 59 year old clerk assigned to a YSA ward and I understand the feelings very well. The age disparity is very wide and the maturity disparity is often wider. I also have a 32 year old Un-married daughter who faithfully served in a YSA ward but often felt the same way Gettin old feels. She now attends a family ward and serves in YW.

    The problem as you so coarsely state being that of Gettin old is not at all true. I have often felt the same way in my HP quorum.

    I believe, for the most part, the tone of a ward is set by the bishop and the expectations he has of the ward members and how they buy into those expectations. There are members, such as Gettin old who have expectations of the leadership of the ward and rightly so. It goes both ways.

  • CWJ Layton, UT
    Aug. 11, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    Here's a simple solution. Just don't go. Problem solved. Works great for me.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    Aug. 11, 2014 1:10 p.m.

    I wish wish you the best, but your assessment of your YSA Ward may either be subjective to your perception or may be true if those who plan your activities are younger. Our YSA Ward has the most impressive activities, devotionals, classes, and council (leaders). My experience, as the bishop, is among the most humbling experiences of my life. These young people have energy of youth, but the maturity of adults. Service projects, game nights, excursions, temple trips, movie nights,are always accompanied by incredible devotionals that that far exceed what you would get in seminary. The age mix results in the younger ones growing up fast. No more 2 1/2 minute talks, or reading a clever quote. We have deep discussions, provocative comments, and sincere reflection on great principles. You can be the person that elevates every event you mention. Best of luck to you.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 11, 2014 12:59 p.m.

    To "Gettin’ old I guess" the problem is not with the ward. The problem is with you. You said that the lessons and activities are not up to your level. I hate to tell you this, but in the future you may be called to be in the Primary, where the lessons and activities will never be the level you are looking for. However, the problem with being uplifted at church doesn't reside in the material that is presented, but in your preparedness to receive enlightenment. In Primary you can gain great spiritual insights if you are prepared for them. In the activities, it isn't about how they can entertain you, but how you can contribute to the activities.

    If you want to make your time more enjoyable at the YSA ward, come to the lessons spiritually prepared, ask questions and actively participate. I have seen terrible lessons turned around by a few good comments. In the activities go with the goal of meeting new people, don't worry about what is planned. You can have fun even if the activity is just sitting around with paper and crayons. It is all in YOUR attitude.