About three days ago a long-time friend posted a picture on facebook with the following comment: "This was the chapel behind me during this morning’s opening hymn. Sent it to my brother who lives in Cleveland Mississippi and he sent a similar picture back to me. His primary attendance was actually bigger than the one I played the piano for. Something is wrong when a ward in a busy metropolis is allowed to look like a ward in tiny Mississippi town."
All the pews to one side were empty, and the back few pews only had a few occupants. One response to the post indicated there were fewer than 80 in attendance. The person who originally posted also mentioned that there were only 6 kids in primary.
The particular location is the where the first ward for Austin Texas started; back when I was a kid, it was pretty full with many in attendance from the former US air force base about 7 miles away (where the current Austin airport is presently). Now, 45+ years later that particular location is really struggling (as confirmed by comments from my parents who attend at that location when they are not up in their part-time home in Utah).
I felt happy to hear about the decline, but, at the same time it is always sad to realize that there will always be some level of devotees who attend (such as my friend, and my parents).
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2018 02:37PM by 1997resignee.
I live in the 'burbs (small town north of Austin - Cedar Park) that now has 3 mormon church buildings, one of which is about three quarters of a mile from my home. I'm not sure why Cedar Park needs 3 buildings, but, the locations are near elementary, middle, and high schools. It is certainly more affordable to live in the Austin 'burbs than within Austin itself.
The location near my home has its adherents, but, there still seems to be plenty of parking spots available on Sundays and during the weekdays when there appears to be some function scheduled.
However, the location mentioned above is central to Austin, although it is more on the east and south sides (the poorest areas in town). In my youth, attendance always required use of the overflow area, as well as into the gym ("cultural hall").
I'm 7th of 8 siblings. Of the approximately 24+ nephews and nieces (inclusive of "step nephews/nieces"), only 1 is somewhat active in mormon endeavors; and, he happens to live in Farmington, Utah (just got his driver's license and is still at home with my TBM sister). Of the approximately 21+ great-nephews/nieces, children of my nephews and nieces - none are active or participate in any mormon activities.
So, the instances of mormon buildings in the 'burbs around Austin is driven more by those who move here from mormon strongholds than from those who have remained and "multipled and replenished" (as the saying goes...)
And the ones that do attend don't know why the others don't. They think it is scheduling, offense, not feeling like it, etc. When I was questioning, but faithful, we talked about why people didn't attend. I said that some may feel like we're a cult, even those that used to attend. They may have serious, serious concerns, and we need to know how to address those. They looked at me like I had a third eye. Ultimately they just dismissed it, picked a randome guy who they knew well to fellowship.
In that same ward it was asked in the quorum "who has ever read anti mormon literature." Three out of 20 raised their hands, that's it. They just don't get it.
Guy3 Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > When I was > questioning, but faithful, we talked about why > people didn't attend.
> I said that some may feel > like we're a cult, even those that used to attend. > They may have serious, serious concerns, and we > need to know how to address those. They looked at > me like I had a third eye.
That is what is known as an outbound trajectory, and you were on one / it !!!!
Not sure I follow. I used to call on customers in Cleveland MS. I know that town well. Still have friends there. There are no ward houses in Cleveland. Is your brother sending you pics of a Baptist chapel? Closest ward house to Cleveland is in Swiftwater MS, outside of Greenville and 40+ miles from Cleveland.There's not enough mormons in the Mississippi delta to field a football team. Please clarify. Thanks.
The facebook poster's brother is a civil engineer married to a college professor; I'm not sure what college/university is nearby, but, I suspect he and his wife probably attend a ward/branch closer to where he or his wife work.
He and I are the same age, attended different schools, but were grouped in the same church activities... his dad, however, had a very low opinion of mormon boy scouts, so, he actually earned his Eagle as part of a non-religious affiliated troop.
He also elected to not go on a mission. More than likely, the same bishop that pulled me in and proceeded to insult and chastise me for not immediately putting my papers in at first eligibility did the same to him... I suspect he got the lecture that "god doesn't need you" like I did and he decided to focus on getting educated and earning some good money.
Like me, he had some good scholarship money he intended to put to use. Unfortunately, I eventually relented and ended up turning 21 in the MTC for my 2 years worth of "mission daze" in northern Portugal while the guy I am mentioning finished his engineering degree and found a great job that also paid for his master's degree in engineering.
I'm distantly related to him and hiss sister on my maternal side (same surname as my mother's maiden name). His sister, the facebook poster, is a high school civics teacher and very bright, like her younger brother. Like me, they are multi-generational pioneer stock... I was hoping someday they'd join the growing exodus of apostates like me.
closures can have an impact that is unrelated to general trends overall.
But, if the Church was really thriving, you would see BOTH (1) many examples of dislocation/decline due to changes in the surrounding community, job centers AND (2) opposite examples of rapid growth/burgeoning in wards and stakes in other places.
So far, it seems like the examples of the "Great Dwindling" are many and, at best, the most well-attended wards and stakes are simply treading water and maintaining for the time being.
I don't see many places where wards and stakes are enjoying the level of participation that were taken for granted in the 1970s.
The older wards in an area typically age and shrink. Many of the original residents stay, and are now aging empty nesters. The neighborhood has either gotten more expensive, or rundown. Either way, not that attractive to young families.
This is not to say LDS Inc isn't stagnating, just that the shrinking of a long established ward is not a reliable indicator. That is their normal trajectory unless there is a source of new move-ins.
New neighborhoods seem like they have strong growth because they consist of nothing but new move-ins, mostly young growing families. Forty years later, not so much.
And there was a steady stream of LDS military families moving through.
About half the ward was more or less permanent, while the other half was transient, typically with 3-year postings for the military families being the norm. Interestingly, the number of LDS military families generally averaged out and seemed to stay the same, even though specific families were coming and going.
For an east coast ward and stake, we had a really sizable youth population, which made the activities a lot more enjoyable. Big stake dances. Big home-study seminary program with "Super Saturday" events--usually followed by dances, etc.
I went back and visited a few years ago. The ward generally seemed to have about the same number of people. But the composition was very weird. The core members are the same as they were when I was young and are very old. There are still transient families associated with the military. The youth component is quite small and I feel sorry for them. The rest are an odd assortment of people who the missionaries have brought in. From talking with a few of them, I got the impression that: (a) many of them will not likely stay active, as they don't really seem to know what they've gotten into, (b) some of them are borderline nuts, and (c) some of them appear to be opportunists who see Mormons as easy marks for various scams and "business" opportunities.
> All the pews to one side were empty, and the back > few pews only had a few occupants. One response > to the post indicated there were fewer than 80 in > attendance. The person who originally posted also > mentioned that there were only 6 kids in primary.
Believe it or not, but most wards outside of North America would be happy to have 80 people in attendance week after week.
A life stuck in a cult is a life that has been cheated - a life that could have been so much more fulfilling and deeper on many levels. My folks are stuck in that cheated life. Fortunately, they have had long, good lives; but, I have no doubt they would have had greater enjoyment and happiness had they had the opportunity to live a life free of bad mormon dogma. I know that from first-hand experience and from my experience on the "other side of the fence."
A lifetime devoted to a cult is a lifetime that could have been better lived and more authentically enjoyed. Nobody's happiness is contingent upon association with one particular group or another; but, I am pretty certain that the quality of one's life can be significantly improved by removing oneself from cult-like social groups or religions. I will always be happy for anyone who escapes controlling religions or any controlling social group.
Given that I have a lifetime association with the folks mentioned in this thread, I have seen a lifetime of narrowly restricted options and can see their pent up resentment that directly correlates with, and relates to, being stuck in a bad religion.
I resent the restrictions imposed upon me the first 30 years of my life by mormon doctrine and the expectations of mormon culture (with the emphasis on the first 4 letters on that word - cult). I will always feel some level of sadness for people who are trapped in a joy-sucking, life-wasting, controlling cult that disproportionately takes from an individual in comparison to what it provides the same individual.
It has been nearly 22 years since I formally retired from the cult of mormonism; and, my only regret is that I wasn't lucky enough or courageous enough to think for myself earlier in my youth and young adulthood. The mormon paradigm pounded into me by my multi-generational mormon heritage greatly impaired my critical thinking skills, my self esteem, and my general happiness. The cognitive dissonance and impairment of my emotional and intellectual development due to being thrust deep in mormon beliefs during my youth caused me to "exist" rather than to fully "live" and find the greater joy in life.
I kind of visualize my wasted mormon indoctrinated youth as like the caterpillar phase of my life compared to the butterfly phase of life I began experiencing after learning that all I had been taught about mormonism in my youth was a lie. People stuck in the cult of mormonism are like little fat catepillars who exist to do nothing but consume the same old crap (leaves and in some cases specific weeds), but, they never get to experience the pupa/chrysalis stage that leads to becoming a butterfly which would them allow them to soar and travel for miles and miles like a monarch butterfly. To me, that's a shame.
Life free of the cult always has its surprises and ups and downs; but, my personal satisfaction with life, even during the hard times, is so much greater than it ever could have been while wearing the blinders of mormon belief and expectations.
Life within the cult of mormonism would have been extremely unfulfilling for me; looking back at the depression and alcoholism and despair of my maternal and paternal grandfathers (both the product of a mormon heritage that directed their parents/grandparents to Utah and specific places to live) only reinforces my feeling of sadness just knowing that people are trapped in a bad religion.
I will always feel a twinge of happiness when I hear that someone else has spent the time and effort to research mormon origins and then exercised their own critical thinking skills to exit the bamboozlement.
Bummer to suggest how others should feel or not feel.
I don't care if you or anyone else cringes when I take satisfaction each time I hear someone else has made a researched, rational approach to learning about mormon origins that leads them to the conclusion that what they were taught was blantantly false.
After having lived in Austin, I can say it's got to be the least Mormon-friendly city in Texas and would not be surprised if, after the greater influx of liberal culture, they simply are attending just outside the city or moved.
But I do love a good "there are less Mormons here" story!