Every time I moved as a kid it seemed like I had moved into the best ward in the church. Somehow I was also being educated by the best school district in the country. I might also have even been part of the best and most righteous generation. I always laughed at that pretentious nonsense and flattery.
My ward 27 years ago. All the mothers were home, we all did our visiting teaching and watched each other’s kids. We had our own little Shangri-La here. We were fresh and young and we were believers.
Now all but two of the mothers work, full-time. Many have divorced, some have died. Some have left the church, a few have been convicted of crimes. We’ve watched our kids go on missions, leave the church, die, get married and divorced themselves. We are a bunch of old fogeys wearing out after visits from our grandchildren.
Life has been hard on many of us and we show our pain in our wrinkles and poor health. Visiting teaching and home teaching is way down on our list of priorities because we are taking care of grown children and grandchildren and aging, dying parents. Ward attendance is low and there is a general air of contention, born of deep-seated offenses between lifelong friends.
I wouldn’t like to go back to being 27 again, but I sure would like my illusions back. I think this is the hardest time of life, but next, I’ll be old and senile and wa-la! my illusions will return as my memory leaves :).
I know all of you have your favorite wards and you honestly believe them to be the best. But that’s because you haven’t had the privilage of attending or belonging to the Burke Ward in the Annandale Virginia Stake. Our ward is so wonderful that many former residents of the ward continue to attend even though they live outside the ward boundaries (some are outside the stake boundaries). Some of these folks have negotiated a deal with the stake president to allow them to stay (some have emotional ties and some have other reasons) and then there are those who just don’t make a big deal about it when they move and they continue their attendence.
On a more serious note, I have had many conversations with folks who have started their church life in the Burke Ward (they were baptised there) and then had a great let down when they moved to a new ward. This could certainly be explained by the emotional ties to their first experience in the church but I believe there is a genuinely wonderful spirit there. As a self admitted liberal (whatever that means) I have major disagreements with many of my fellow ward members on many issues but we stand together on the issues of the spirit and I have love for every one of them.
The demographics have changed over the past 19 years we have lived there. When my sons were in the youth organization we had more than 20 priests one year. Now we have less than 20 young men. But we have a few retired folks, even more empty nesters and a large number of young families with primary aged children. The good spirit continues regradless of those changes. I invite all to come and experience the best ward in the church.
Silver City (NM) 1st ward. Silver City also happens to be the greatest place on the planet to live.
Comment by endlessnegotiation — July 30, 2007 @ 6:00 am
Sequim isn’t in Seattle. It’s on the Olympic Peninsula. Best place on earth (just no jobs there—it’s a retirement town). It’s where my husband started coming back to church again, and I really doubt it would’ve been as easy for him to do if we’d lived in any other ward. The Spirit was so strong there. It was an amazing ward. I never would’ve guessed a ward full of retirees would be so incredible, but it was. I think because a lot of them went to the temple every week.
As a member of the aforementioned “best ward”, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. Rusty’s post should read: Best Ward in the Church for young, college educated, born in the church, born in the US individuals. If you have kids, its great if their young. Not so much if their youth (In spite of the best YW/YM presidents I’ve ever been around, I think the key element of a great youth program is – well – youth). I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and maybe that was something the post and comments are getting at) but I’ve seen ward’s that were far more diverse and integrated. Don’t get me wrong, I love The PS ward. But then again, I fit into the dominant demographic. I wonder how the others feel.
It’s that long-term perspective that makes one appreciate the stalwart members, the “pillars”, and what constitutes true conversion. It makes me admire those who hold on for the long run. The ones who stick around aren’t always the ones who we thought would.
I used to think I was truely “converted”, but I had my 15 year vacation from the church.
Last year I moved to a different ward across town, one in which I lived 20 years ago. Some of the people are the same, and it even has some members whom I knew 25 years ago when I first joined the church in a ward on the other side of town.
It gives one pause to consider what really matters in life.
BORING! You need to realize there isn’t nuance in EVERYTHING, especially in something like the diversity of church membership. Some things just need to be ranked and this is one of them and Park Slope wins. (besides, what are you, some kind of yuppie-hater?)
I think annegb has a good point…. if you stick around Shangri-la long enough, the shiny gold electroplating starts to wear off and your finger starts turning green from the cheap metal underneath.
Even though our ward isn’t as great as I thought it was when we moved in 7 years ago, I still like it more than I think I’d like most wards. I just know it better now, and it’s not quite as a good a fit for my family at this stage (randy b, hurry up and move your family back ok?)
I wish someone would write a book or regular magazine/e-zine articles on finding the best wards in the church. Not all wards are created equal. Some have a great mix of members, some have loving caring bishops, some have hard-nosed bishops, some have lots of kids, some lots of youth, some no youth/kids=quiet sacrament meetings. Some wards are always struggling to survive, some small wards do great and have great enthusiasm, others will wear a member out with multiple callings. Also, if any of you get this off the ground include housing/employment/school/recreation/etc in the articles or chapters.