Sunday, September 21, 2008

Changes at Church

This weekend is our stake conference. Last stake conference our stake and another stake were split to create a third stake. That left our stake with very uneven wards. Some, like ours were bursting at the seems. Others were struggling to fill callings. So last night changes in boundaries were announced for every ward in our stake except one. 

The changes were drastic for our ward, and today I am sad. About 60% of our ward and a small section of another ward were made into a new ward. Another 25% of our ward was put into three other wards. That left our little community and one community next to us and some condos to be in our ward. To compensate for all the people lost, the stake has added a new section homes that are just around the mountain. 

We kept the same ward name and bishop. But have lost pretty much every other presidency. My kids will not have anyone left from their primary classes. I teach the 14 and 15 year old girls. We have lost all the other leaders in the young women's and all the 14 and 15 year old girls. 

Even though the name of the ward and the bishop is the same, this is going to feel more like a "new" ward than the new ward across the street. I am sad to be in a different ward from so many many wonderful friends. While I am sure I will stay friends with many of them, it just is different when you don't see each other on Sundays.

As for all the new people to meet, normally, I would be very excited about this. I am a people person. I love meeting new people. In college I moved almost every semester so I could meet new people and have new roommates to love. I still keep in touch with many of my former roommates. 

But my life is not totally normal anymore, and I am not fully normal again yet. We are not even fully to that "new" normal yet. Meeting new people right now often means dropping the bomb on them. It is really one of the dreaded moments for us, when we have to inform someone about the fact that we actually do have one more child and she recently passed away. It makes for a very awkward moment. They don't know what to say and neither do we after such a devastating disclosure. 

Life is full of changes and many of them make us sad and uncomfortable. But they always make us grow. I do look forward to the growth if not the growing pains.


vocalise said...

Oh geez, totally understand. I have faith, however, that the Spirit will guide all of is evident that you seek it, and will follow where it leads. Bless your hearts.

Heidi said...

Oh, Stephanie, I am so sorry. Even under "normal" circumstances that is difficult, so I can't imagine what it would be like for you now. And you're right, what do either of you say in a situation when you disclose such tragic news? I will be praying for you and your family as you adjust to this.

Sue said...

I always find these ward boundary realignments difficult because it means saying good-bye to people I'm used to being with every week as ward members and not just friends. This is definitely another loss to be mourned, and my heart goes out to you. (Seems like double whammies like that happen a lot in life. I guess when we get a chance to grow, the Lord lets us grow more than even seems feasible sometimes.) It also has to be hard to make such a change when your support system at the ward level has been so wonderful to you and your family. It's good to be known and understood when you're in need of service, at least I've always appreciated that when it's been possible. So the whole scenario does seem especially difficult right now, that's for sure. Having said that, you are right...There are always things to be learned and new friendships to be made. It will definitely take some courage (which you obviously have in ample supply) for you to let yourself and your situation be known so you can continue to receive the support you need from your ward. We don't usually begin relationships on such an intimate note, so it will be a strange feeling, I'm sure. One thing I was thinking is that it might be helpful to try to reframe your feeling of "dropping a bomb" on people to just "telling them your truth." Life is replete with happy and sad events, and you've just been through arguably the saddest. But...that's life, right? Real things happen, hard things, and there's nothing wrong with handing them a little piece of reality. After all, you're living a big piece of reality yourself. I just hope you can try not to feel responsible for their feelings. If hearing that someone lost a child is too difficult for them, then maybe they need to know you and learn from you. I certainly have learned from you, and I am grateful.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know more about your church and what wards are? I have never heard of this before and am curious. :)

Liz's Blog said...

You are is full of changes...some good, some bad, some hard and some easy...I know from my life, most changes end up making grow in ways I never knew I could. Even though we have lost most of our ward, I am excited to meet our new ward family! From what I understand, we are still in the same ward so always remember you have someone there to give you a hug, a smile, to help you through a rough moment....I'm here for you matter what.

Steph, I am grateful that I have been in your ward, and that I am still in your ward, I am grateful for your example and for your friendship.

Emily said...

It feels a little awkward for me to "come out of the closet" but I'm sure you've been introduced to many blog followers at this point! I just had to let you know that I'm a part of your new ward...we're that group from around the mountain. We're sad, too, because we lost a good chunk of our ward on the other side of the freeway. Anyway, I wanted you to know that someone over here (and a few other friends of mine in the ward) already know your story. I've been touched time after time with your insights and testimony and will be so glad to meet you. If there is anything I can do for you that might somehow help in your transition, please let me know.
And please don't be afraid of me...stalking isn't something I do on a regular basis! :)

Harris Family said...

Having the gospel in our lives helps us in ways that without it, we would be on our own. You are not alone in this challenge, but have many new brothers and sisters that will come into your life to help you and bless you. I know you already know this since you are an amazingly strong person. The awkwardness of those conversations will be difficult, but will bless you as you as you become closer to the people in your ward. Finding new friends at this point in your life may be a blessing.

Jonathan Waite said...

Dear anonymous, problem with many Mormon-written blogs is we use Mormonspeak. So in order to decipher some, here goes:
Ward = congregation
Bishop = pastor/reverend/leader of a congretation
Stake = Group of Wards, kind of a mini-diocese
Young Women's = ward organization for girls aged 12-18
Young Men's = ward organization for boys aged 12-18
Primary = Childrens organization aged 18 months to 12
There's much more, but i think those were the terms she used

Mormons go to the ward they are geographically assigned to, NOT the one they could arbitrarily choose. Why is that you might ask?? There are many things we do in our church that involve leaving our "comfort zone". While none of these is compulsory, we are many times asked to serve, volunteer time, talents and yes even cold hard $$ to help out serving others. Instead of a paid ministry, all are expected to pitch in and help out in the cause. And yes, even frequent our geographically bound ward we are assigned to. The end result: instead of choosing human nature with the path of least resistance and perpetual mediocrity, opportunities arise which push and pull at us, some ways good and some ways uncomfortably. However, ALL are given the chance to improve their lot through forgetting themselves in the service of others. Not that we are all "assimilated into the Borg" -- individuality does flourish. But a greater good arises from sacrificing selfish wants for charitable service. Sorry for the treatise -- sometimes i just get going...
For more information:

Noorda Notebook said...


i know. i'm so sad too. could we lose any more people? it really will feel like a new ward. i didn't expect THAT many changes.

Stephanie said...


I am sad too, not to see many friends each Sunday; We'll just have to make up for it during the week! But like you said Steph, I look forward to the growth if not the growing pains!

You have dealt with much harder circumstances with grace and I'm sure you will have the strength to make this transition.

Robin said...

Thanks Johnathon - There are many of us affected by the changes of this weekend, but your explanation was amazingly articulate. I loved it, and it was so clear to see that the Lord organized His church in a way that would benefit its growth and our own personal growth. It almost makes the change feel like a challenge or the beginning of a new adventure. We will all be fine. As Sister Pearce said in her talk yesterday at TOFW, "when it's all said and done we will look back and say, 'oh, I was in the right place at the right time'".
So true. Thanks Johnaton

Michele said...

Hi Stephanie.
When our daughter with Down Syndrome was born, my husband got up in sacrament meeting at the first opportunity and told everyone all at once. That really helped, because by the time I brought her to church the first time most everyone already knew. You might consider bearing your testimony next fast meeting if you feel comfortable doing that. There were still the awkward months of people not knowing what to say to me, but I found that people generally took their cues from how I acted and how I felt about my situation. There will always be someone who doesn't know yet or understand how you feel. It will be a lifelong challenge, but one that comes with countless opportunities to make a positive impression.
I hope you find wonderful new friends in your "new" ward.
Love, Michele Wilcut

Anonymous said...

I know how your feel. Sorry, to hear about ward changes. Our ward (a single adult ward) currently just changed bishoprics last Sunday. I wasn't able to attend but found out later that night. I really enjoyed that bishopric and grew to love them even though I was only in the ward a year. I don't care for change that well, but I just have to tell myself to have enough faith that the change will be okay.
Today, though, when I went to my ward with the new bishopric it was interesting. I had a hard time not seeing the former bishopric and their wives. I have been thinking about changing wards to another ward (another young single adult) but don't know yet. Is there any advice or something you could tell me in my situation?
I really enjoy reading your blog, even if your husband types something. You have such a strong testimony and strong faith. I know that you will grow with your new ward members. You will contribute in ways to those members. I wish you the best of luck with this change.

Cathy said...

That is rough... I'll keep you in my prayers. Just think of all the wonderful friends you'll have in the Celestial Kingdom! ;)

Hoskins Family said...

Ward splits come with so many emotions. Sadness about not seeing ward friends every Sunday, ward functions and such. Excitment at meeting new friends. Serving in new callings.
What ever Ward you are in, I know the R.S. President is the most happy...You are the BEST visiting teacher I have ever known. You are so fabulous at all the callings you do! I always feel sad when my kids lose their primary teachers, the really do always love them.
Hope things will go smoothly for you all next week.

Mythreesons said...

I second Catherine. I expected changes but was shocked at how many changes took place. I guess I'm kind of excited for the changes and know that I'll still see you guys. But your perspective is unique... I can't imagine how hard it is to drop that bombshell on people... it's always my first question for new people. Maybe I need to rethink that. And to Jon... it's funny because just tonight Jared started whining that we should be able to pick and choose our congreagations like everyone else (I promise he was being sarcastic) and I was trying to explain to him exactly what you so eloquently wrote. Thanks for giving me the words. And at least you don't have to make the 20 mile drive to your new wardhouse at 9 in the morning, right? It could always be worse...;)

Cory, Jessica and Kate Summerhays! said...

Our ward just split as well and this is the 2nd time in 2 years! It is really hard to get to know people and finally feel like you have settled in and feel loved and then it splits so I totally feel ya. I am sure you will continue to keep your old friends and make new ones. You can never have too many friends! What stake are you guys in? Anyways, hang in there and keep writing because your family is amazing and so inspiring!

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Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

I clicked over from LDS Women Bloggers. I love your header. Very creative blog.

I read about your daughter who drowned. As a mom who also lost a young child (2 yr old) years ago I sympathize with what you must be going through. But circumstances are different and we all deal with sorrows differently so I won't pretend and say I understand and try to say wise things. But my heart goes out to you and I hope you find comfort and solace always.

Laura said...

I HATE change...
I just don't deal well with it...but you made a very good point. With change comes growth. Even though I have always known that it somehow seems different coming from you. :)

BTW, Thanks Jonathon for informing us about the Mormon terminology. I was always a bit curious about some of those terms myself.

Mandi said...

Good Luck, That is always hard. you will be blessed and hopefully those around you will be sensitive to what's going on.

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Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment on the poll - if you were to write a book I would definitely buy it. Honestly, even if it was an exact duplicate of your blog...I would still buy it.

I'm not religious and don't share your views when it comes to that. I don't really have views either way on the subject. Regardless of that, you are the picture of a wonderful person. Not superwoman or some untouchable, but a real, genuine person. You have many great thoughts and lessons that everyone can learn from.

Leslie said...

Sorry this ended up being pretty long ...

I'm a fairly new convert to the church and still stick to my quiet Catholic roots, still not really used to the loudness in church, all the socializing before meetings, etc. and have only been through one ward change before this one where 2 wards were split to make a 3rd, but we all still met in the same building. It wasn't too jarring. And, Lloyd's ex was zoned for the same ward which may our jaws drop at the "luck" of that one, but I was going to go where the Lord told me to go. Of course she asked for a variance and stayed in her old ward. Tender mercies. :-)

So this is my first big change in wards (we're in the new ward that was made) and I'm really trying to take it in stride, but I have observed over the years how others have reacted to changes still somewhat in awe because I don't really "get it" myself, but I think I am starting to. I'm still in the "one foot in front of the other" mode, but seeing and hearing others' reactions to the changes this time is really hitting home from my son's uber diligent Cub Scout leader's disappointment that her new ward doesn't have many youth (and me wondering how my son will get through Cub Scouts with his slacker mom b/c his leader kept me on track!), another sister that had attended our ward because it felt at home but will now return to her true ward after shedding many tears, and now with your post realizing those "left behind" are going to feel the effects a little differently -- a gutting of the community that once was the MCH ward.

You guys were the first ones Lloyd thought of when he saw the new boundaries, said he was really going to miss Jonathan (he was a little teary), and made his way over to make small talk with him after the adult session, but of course being a guy he didn't express it in the same terms, he had to make jokes about it and talk about his prediction Jason Morris would be our new bishop. @@@ (that's me rolling my eyes that he uttered his prediction out loud -- embarrassing!).

So I think I'm going to be officially bummed with you. I had expected changes but not to the extent it was. It really sent our ward family in so many directions.

I am trying to keep in mind that if we could spread the good news of the gospel rapidly, that ward splits and changes would become more common place. That doesn't make it easy, though.

I'll miss you guys, too. You'll continue to be often in our thoughts. I guess this is a good time to share with you that my 9yo daughter has pretty much owned Camille's memorial program since I brought it home that day, for a time carrying it around in a view binder she liked to use and then she put it on a table in our family room. She made a World Trade Center out of popsicle sticks at day camp this summer and put Camille's picture on top of it and it's been that way every since. The picture's a little dark, but hopefully you can see:

Our schedules are so busy with sports and church activities, homework, etc., but this change is making me seriously consider going to watch SYTYCD at your house -- and I never even watch the show!



Stephanie said...

Thanks Leslie. Loved the photo. We would love to have you join us for SYTYCD next season.


Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Can you just swap to the ward you want to go to? With everything you have going on I wouldnt want to leave my friends :( I'm sorry to hear about this!

The Morris Fam said...

lots of mixed feelings over this way too! thank heavens for blogs and sytycd and other get togethers. i liked the comment that michelle made about telling the story up front to everyone to avoid repeating sooo painfully often. there's a good chance many many have already heard also. your family's experience has touched oh so many lives for the better! i hope the adjustments aren't too difficult and happen quickly...for all those involved. sigh....:)

Kunz Family said...

I know how hard this must be for you. I am gun shy of meeting new people, even seeing "old" people that I have known a long time, but don't actually know my story. Many lots of awkward moments. I wish I could tell you it would be easy, but I can only say I wish I were there to do it with you.

Hoeft Family said...

I am still in the McC ward and I agree the changes are difficult to swallow. My kids are all bummed to be separated from their church friends. We have been through several of these changes in the last several years because of the growth. The distance to the chapel (Amador) is surprising too. But, maybe this will give all of us a better chance to get to know everyone. I guess growth is one of the better dilemmas that we can have. :)

Heather H said...

Oh man I hate it when wards get spilt. Since we live in a brand new neighborhood we have experienced this three times in the almost three years we have lived here and are getting ready for yet another spilt by the new year. I hate loosing the friends that we are used to seeing every week, my kids teachers, and getting new callings. Big hugs to you!! I cant even imagine how hard it will be for you, the idea of sharing your story at testimony meeting is a good one if that isnt too painful for you.