Posted by: Lula in London | February 7, 2008

How to Navigate a Single’s Ward

Single’s wards are a strange oddity in the Mormon world. Unlike most wards, there is no Primary, no Young Men’s or Young Women’s classes, but you do have the choice of usually 3 Sunday School classes to choose from. And most of the callings from the Relief Society manual, plus a few more are used up. I for one was given the task of ‘literacy coordinator’ in a university ward. A calling usually reserved for wards where members may not know how to read, or there is a need in the community. I got creative with that one. “If you can’t read this, please give me a call.”

My time in single’s wards was great. I liked being with people in my age group and my stage of life. People could relate to eachother and there were lots of opportunities to meet people at the additional church meetings, made just for wards of this nature: ward prayer, linger longer/break the fast/munch and mingle, and the almost weekly relief society enrichments, stake activities or ward events.

Why the additional meetings? To give the singles a chance to realize the marriage potential in eachother. There aren’t many opportunities to propose during Church, so there are activities to supplement this. This really is the main goal of a single’s ward…besides the whole spiritual strength part.

Ward Prayer
This is when after a few hours of being home from Church, you come back in the evening in your casual clothes and have a brief devotional. This usually includes introducing an apartment of girls and an apartment of boys, singing a hymn, having a prayer and sharing a spiritual thought. The ‘rebel’ people of the ward usually stay home or are on the prowl in their own way. But it can be a good laugh. You get out of this what you put into it.

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Staying after Church and eating free food
Much like they do to lure animals in the wild with raw meat so they can be more easily observed, the bishopric will assign a committee of single people to produce food to lure in the men. Food usually does the trick to help even out the male / female ratio, usually called the Linger Longer or the Munch and Mingle. If it is held on a fast Sunday, it’s called Break the Fast, and can be cruel when you smell potatoes and chili cooking during Sunday School. This can be a good opportunity to meet people. Try and mix up where you sit and don’t stay with the same crowd. It’s also easier to identify the new people in the ward this way, where you can all face eachother instead of see the back of their heads during church. Sometimes the Bishopric will take the opportunity to encourage dating and mention it in a speech while the animals are pacified eating their potato filled with toppings.

To show that the type of bait you use is important, I remember a Linger Longer where their was an assortment of cold cereals for people to eat. No one stayed very long for that. That is what we eat when there isn’t a Linger Longer.

Enrichment
These can vary as much as the personalities of the Relief Society Presidents. Some of them are their mothers in embryo, and will go to extremes to make a wonderful activity, while others are fine with the simple route. I worked with one girl that asked me to see if I could get Sheri Dew to come to a Book of Mormon Symposium (that I would organize and put on myself). I asked her if I should invite Donny Osmond to sing, but she thought it wouldn’t set the right mood. I don’t think she quite got my humor.

I also had another person drop off a block of cheese as long as my arm a few hours before the activity and asked if I could grate it. I accepted the challenge, went down to the cheese factory and traded in the block for a package of shredded cheese. Overall message: don’t wear yourself out for the details.

Stake events
These can vary from dances to relay races, to firesides (talks of a spiritual nature, usually focused on “hey I’ve got an idea! Why don’t you get married?). Sometimes I wonder if they make a deal with newly called Bishops that if all of the singles get married, they are done with their calling. 😉 But there are several events focused on service: putting together hygiene kits, painting toys for children, and decorating boys doors for Valentines.

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“Marriage, Why not?”
This topic is brought up whenever possible but not to a breaking point. Special Sunday School combined Relief Society talks, Sunday firesides and Ward activities. I went to an activity once that was the extreme of this experience, so I’ll share a story:

The fireside was announced as a “special event” with the topic not shared. They knew if people knew what it was about, we’d spot the fake bait and run. It was for the whole Stake to attend. An older couple who had been married for 40 years were the two speakers of the meeting. When they introduced themselves, they were highschool sweethearts, that married within months of the husband returning from his mission. They were now ready to begin their talk on how older singles can find love.

Now, these people were great, well intentioned and worked hard to prepare their message. A lot of it was universal, but it was hard for both parties to relate to eachother. Getting married at 18, you would have never been in a single’s ward, dated much, or had to put up with well intentioned people trying to get you married. After their polite but very directed talks, they opened the dividers behind us and fed us ice cream sandwiches. And then over the microphone told us that these talks and free food weren’t for nothing and asked the women to get on one side and the men on the other. And then commanded us to mix up and introduce ourselves to someone new. In protest most of us turned to our friends and faked not knowing the other until they let us go. Nobody likes being forced to get together. It’s almost like your parents putting you together with a boy you’ve never seen before and saying “Okay make-out now, in front of us.” For those of you who have experienced this, you know it can be at times, awkward.

And a last note, this time on this blog as a whole. This is a light-hearted look at the single situation. It’s meant to put some humor on a sometimes uncomfortable time of life, and maybe shed some light into the corners to help understand it better. It’s strange, but it’s not bad. You can survive anything with a little humor and this is definitely one of those times to use it as much as you can! So, don’t be depressed. With a few more activities and some food you too will find your eternal companion in a matter of weeks. Your married at 18 leaders are sure of it.

Photos: Found on Flickr.com

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Responses

  1. I guess I’m gonna have to be the first to say you are way off base. The primary purpose of singles wards/branches/groups is NOT “to get all those menacing young single adults in the church married”. The dynamic was implemented for the sole purpose of giving a specific age group advanced opportunities for leadership and service in the church that they would likely not have while attending a traditional ward.

    • @ I must obect

      You could not be more wrong in your assesment. If they wanted to give a certain age group leadership opportunities how come they cannot serve as bishops? After you get married how come you can no longer be in a singles ward if its based on age and leadership? They wouldn’t be called “Singles Wards”. They are geared entirely for finding your eternal partner. I attended one briefly in Houston and it was a very mixed experience for me given I did not go on a mission. I might as well have told everyone I was into Satan worship judging by the way I was often treated. It was nice to associate with people my age however.

      • Where is there a single ward in Houston? Does it still exist?

      • Not sure. Did you look on Mormon.org for the listings of wards in each area. Maybe try that.

      • UM you have to be married to be a bishop. That is why single ward members cannot be bishops. Some one could be a branch president if they were in a singles branch and God wanted them to be called. Try reading the scriptures and a manual or two and learn what we actually believe. The girls response is correct. That being said the goal of every ward is to develop eternal families. So in singles wards the way to develop eternal families is by getting people to start them!

      • Dear Ben

        I’m with you on this one…

        If you can’t see what a Singles Ward is for then I’m sorry… Lol

    • Yeah I agree with Ben. Singles ward is to help you find your companion. Thats why they call it “Singles Ward.”

    • I’m with Erica… It isn’t like they call them advanced opportunities for leadership and service wards. My stake actually changed its name to the “pre-marriage stake.” It’s not exactly subtle.

  2. I’m 46 years old and I would like to know where is the closes single ward that I can go.

    Thank you,

    Martha Guevara.

    • Martha…go to http://www.mormon.org. On the top listings there’s a button that says “Visit us” Click on that and then scroll to “Worship with us”. Then just enter your address and it should list all the wards in your area. If there’s not a Single’s Ward geographically close enough to you it may not show up on the listing. But I’m sure you can just contact any of the Bishops or Stake Presidents in your area and they’ll be able to direct you to the Single’s Ward. Good luck!

      • I am new to the church, I was under the impression you could only go to a singles ward if you were under 30…is that correct?

      • Most normal Singles’ Wards allow up to age 31. In some cities like Salt Lake, San Fran, DC, etc. there are mid-singles wards where you can be up to 45. So, it will depend on the area that you are in.

  3. “It’s almost like your parents putting you together with a boy you’ve never seen before and saying, ‘OK, make out now, in front of us”
    Yeah, I’ll never forget my Mom getting me to come home one weekend where she’d invited this loser guy over for Sunday dinner who never looked me in the eye and hardly spoke except for the occasional mumbling about his only hobby being Sunday deer hunting since he’d dropped out of college. My little sister and her fiancee just watched in consternation at this forced arrangement while I just wanted to crawl under the table and die. Needless to say I didn’t make out with him and Mom never forgave me.


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