I'm visiting my Mom today and I didn't want her sitting as a lonely widow so I accompanied her. It was 10 years ago since I had last visited. I went in my blue jeans and a polo style golf shirt. I got some stares, but most members ignored me anyways. Mom only wanted to stay for sacrament, so it wasn't too bad. This is a non Utah ward so certain things are very different; possibly too relaxed.
1. There's still a lot of members attending, but they are mostly older gray haired ones. They used the overflow and it filled up. I guessed around 100 (spread out).
2. Despite the church's mandate of to limit ward business during SM, there were lots of sustaining of members for callings. Even the high council rep came to do the seminary teachers. Then the bishop got up and issued seminary certificates.
3. Here's a big one. They use 3 priests to bless the sacrament and 8 deacons to pass it. Well, the ward doesn't have enough young men! There were 2 priests and 2 deacons and another one that looked to be a teacher to pass sacrament. The rest looked to be high priests. The use of 8 (one had a cane which looked awkward as hell) is a sure sign that the church is in trouble.
4. The young women had just returned from camp. Each one spoke for 1-2 minutes about feeling the love of Jesus at camp. It sounds like they only moved a bunch of rocks to mark trails as a service project. The rest of the time sounded like a misery ladened cry-fest testimony meeting. Oh the older girls went on a special hike to a waterfall, but they couldn't go swimming because there were rocks in the stream. I kid you not!
5. Just about all the members that I grew up with now sit in the overflow. They don't seem to have any purpose save for two usher positions near the door. They are too old to be of use to the ward.
6. As the bishop made concluding remarks, about 5-6 people rushed out of the SM carrying their little tote bags. I got the impression that these were teachers for primary and sunday school and they were in a hurry to set up their classrooms.
7. During the prayers, I kept my eyes opened and saw a lot of others eyeballs too! Most of the YW that were seated on the stand (talks and a musical number) were looking at me. So were the bishopric and other men.
8. The organist is free to leave the stand to sit with her family. Maybe it's not a rule, but it was a first for me.
9. The priesthood dismiss themselves after administering the sacrament.
10. This one really surprised me. There was not one mention of the word Mormon or President Nelson. Not in talks, testimonies and prayers. Only one scripture was referenced from the BoM (Mosiah). The rest came from the NT.
11. Many older members made an exodus to leave after SM. I saw this first hand as I waited for a dozen cars to leave the parking lot.
Damn! Forgot this one.
About 5 sisters and 3 young women on the stand (two even spoke) wore sleeveless dresses. Talk about porn shoulders!
Also, one sister had a visible tattoo on each arm. I never expected to see that!
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/28/2019 10:03PM by messygoop.
Not porn shoulders! Oh my gosh. Last Utah ward I attended, about 4 years ago, the five year old daughter of a recent convert showed up in a sun dress with exposed shoulders. Several of the "sisters" were rushing around trying to find a sweater for the little girl and it wasn't cold.
Shinehah Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Not porn shoulders! Oh my gosh. > Last Utah ward I attended, about 4 years ago, the > five year old daughter of a recent convert showed > up in a sun dress with exposed shoulders. Several > of the "sisters" were rushing around trying to > find a sweater for the little girl and it wasn't > cold.
What sickos...to consider the shoulders of a FIVE-YEAR-OLD "immodest"! Ugh.
And that's the big change; the youth numbers are dwindling. 25 years ago each class at any given time had 7 or 8. Easily 35-40 youth between the ages of 12 to 18.
Now they are lucky to have 20. They have more young women than men. When I was growing up in the church,we easily had 30 young men and another 30 young women.
PS I have to keep my location a secret to protect my Mom. You should realize that mormons are very good at retaliation. I have previously written about a dispute with a former home teacher. He has since written and published a history of the ward. Not surprisingly, my family was omitted. Mormons play petty games.
GNPE Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > mg: > > had there been any ward consolidations lately? > > > surely 'having to' use the overflow feeds their > egos/sense of being important, successful...
Not that I am aware of. This ward's numbers fluctuate. About 25 years ago, there was a surge of members that moved in from the Bay Area (now you know the state). Many that moved in have since moved out.
According to my Mom, there's still older members living in the area, but no longer attend. I think the overflow is a subtle acknowledgment of where the original members can sit without being told that they are occupying somebody's pew.
One final thought. When this group from the Bay Area first arrived, they were not awarded key ward callings. This did not go unchallenged. A bunch of them went directly to the stake presidency to complain that they didn't have anything meaningful to do in their new ward. Almost overnight, more than half of the existing people were released. My Mom was released as a primary teacher and given the most menial job. She's the ward historian and they won't even buy her pens and tablets to do her calling.
Any time the young women give little talks back to back I swear they each try to out due the other and see who can cry the most believable. All it takes is one to cry during her talk and then they all start crying during the talks that follow. You cant give a talk about a camp out without crying, cmon?
Wards change over time. Many former vibrant, functional wards become composed of what my father called "the newly wed and nearly dead." Older people live in their homes until they move to assisted living or die, and young couples buy their houses. So judging the health of the church from localized demographic shifts is kind if iffy.
I recently had a similar experience—spent several weeks with my widowed Mom and went to church a couple times. It was really eye opening and you might not believe this, but the amount of diversity in my old home Ward was astounding. The church has really died out there, as is common in California, we used to have 2 bustling wards and a Spanish-speaking small ward. Now it’s just one medium sized Ward all together. The Bishop is a very dark Polynesian. There are several Polynesian families, Some African-American families and members and a number of Hispanic. They had a potluck (they called it “linger longer”) the first week and it was the best organized potluck I’ve ever seen. My nephew is in the bishopric and said that feeding the members is a big deal to the bishop. The ward provided the fried chicken and if I had never had Gus’ Fried Chicken in Memphis it would be the best I ever had. The bishop’s son drove over an hour to get it. The RS assigned salads and desserts and then served the people in line so nobody could pile their plates too high. I guess it’s known that’s the rule. You can come back for seconds if there is stuff left. Everyone got plenty. And not everyone was asked to bring food. I must admit I was very impressed.
There were so few people from my childhood left but it was nice to see a few. And everyone was extremely nice. The thing that was most noticeable is that there were many people who are barely making it and I know many are on church welfare. There were people who had tattoos, women in pants, and some who may not have access to washers. But I noticed in the bulletin that the ward has a clothes closet, which is cool. However the real shocker was that some of those people who looked to be on the fringe had an unbelievable knowledge of the New Testament. More than the teacher. So I’m wondering if they were converts. The Sunday School class, which was only one week as I guess they rotate with RS/P’hood, was quite spirited and informative.
Where am I going with this? I guess it’s that maybe Mormonism is really dying outside of Utah, but with dropping the old made up theology and trying to adopt a form of Christianity, it might be turning into a bit more of an autonomous and accepting church in some places. Maybe a church where new people can overlook the vestiges of old crazy stuff to find a place where they can get help and have community. But I’ll admit, this small town Mormon Church was always a bit more on the autonomous side and more likely to do their own thing in certain areas than normal Mormon wards. And still, I’d never go back. But it’s a nicer place to visit.
That's a cool report, Norma. I wouldn't go back either, but I am glad that there are some leaders that have changed their tune a bit. I think the stake president sets the mood. One problem that some wards would have was a race to be the most righteous ward OUTSIDE of Zion (Utah).
Oh, I went to LDS church TWICE on the same day. A member gave my Mom some of her garden vegetables. She forgot to take them with her and when we arrived home, she asked me to go back to retrieve them. [We actually had a few words and she was too embarrassed so her apostate son went back. They were still in the bag on a folding chair in the partitioned overflow.] So I drove back and only one member was in the hallway/foyer. After speaking with him, I found out that there was a liger-longer ward potluck. Funny that my Mom didn't know about it, but then she has previously told me that her veggie platter comes back home with her untouched. The members seem to crave junk food like frosted mini donuts, spaghettio-s and doritos.
Here's my report about a recent Linger Longer potluck after church. I quit about 20 yrs ago, but my wife and youngest son are quite dedicated and active.
They often have the potluck dinner outside at the pavilion next to the church. It's nice with lots of shade and vast numbers of picnic tables and open grassy areas around the place.
One active family (mom & dad & 3 kids) didn't seem to like their church clothes and changed into casual stuff before going to the pavilion potluck. The mom went from the usual dress to jeans & casual shirt and tennis shoes. But here's what surprised me. They brought mits and baseballs and softballs and played catch out in the grass and other people of other families joined in also. It seems like back in the 70s and 80s and 90s, LDS people would have put an end to that sort of casual sporting sabbath activities on the grass next to the church. Now it's 2019: Nobody thought anything was wrong. Much more tolerant these days I guess.
Back in the 70s in KC, I remember that a church right next to the LDS stake center had a small congregation, but made church fun. Nearly every Sunday they'd have a potluck meal and BBQ, and even played volleyball - weather permitting. We always saw that and wished that our church allowed some fun on Sundays.
I was raised in a ward in Southern Cal. and graduated high school in the 80's. The Primary children used to fill up the entire stand when they had their Primary program in sacrament meeting. I would guess at least 60 children, probably closer to 100. A couple of years ago I attended when they had the Primary program and there were only 13 children on the stand. Only one person who was in the YM and YW with me remains in the ward. The others have moved away or become inactive. Most of the adults are now quite old. Much of this change is due to a poor economy in the area and high California taxes, but not all of it. For example, out of the YM and YW my age (my high school class + one year older and one year younger) only one is still active.
I think that’s very common. Even in Utah to an extent. When I was growing up in the 60s/70s we never dreamed we’d ever leave the church. And if we followed the plan (mission and temple marriage to an RM) neither would our kids or grandkids. I can’t think of any of those families from my youth who have not been touched by apostasy.
As reported in various articles, active young single women outnumber young men in many areas of Utah (not BYU obviously) and it's about 60% women, 40% men. This 60/40 problem used to be 52/48 a couple decades ago, but the trend is quite clear: young LDS men are leaving the church and going inactive in large numbers!
This 60/40 problem seems to be mostly a Utah problem, and not necessarily applicable to other states.
A guess: many boys can hardly wait to turn 18 (or possibly 19 or 20 or whatever) so they can cut back on church activity and leave. And of course some boys (with active parents) manage to be somewhat inactive while still in high school.
If this trend continues just a bit more, the ratio will easily hit young women 67% young men 33%. Polygamy will not be making a comeback. You would have to think that many of the women will go inactive if they have to marry a nonmember!
The future: going inactive or cancelling membership will be a perfectly normal thing for vast numbers of LDS youth with LDS parents. Not going on a mission will be perfectly normal. Going on a mission will be an amazing act of faith, and not really an expected thing (except amongst the old white-haired traditionalist hard-core male leaders).
. . . and now here's a report from the 70s when I was going to church in the Kansas City area (very low percentage of Mormons in the area) . . .
Our group of rebellious young men used to set a goal of skipping Sunday School class at least once a month and visiting a nearby donut shop. Sometimes we'd smuggle cake donuts back to church (glazed donuts too messy) and offer to the girls and they were appreciative of our devilish ways and sinful sabbath activities.
"This 60/40 problem seems to be mostly a Utah problem, and not necessarily applicable to other states."
TBM DW remarked to me 4 or 5 years ago that "the mormon church is becoming a church of old ladies." This reflects her experience in the local ward - and it might also reflect her sisters' experiences in their out-of-state wards. (All wards outside of Utah.)