Saturday, November 13, 2010

San Bernardino Sun Profiles The Deer Creek YSA (Young Singles) LDS Ward In Rancho Cucamonga, California

On November 12th, 2010, the San Bernardino Sun published a good profile about one of the specialized wards or congregations in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the YSA or Young Singles ward. Specifically, they focus upon the Deer Creek YSA Ward, one of 10 wards in the Rancho Cucamonga California Stake.

But first, some more background on YSA. YSA is an acronym for Young Single Adults. The age range is 18-30 years old. Single wards have been organized to provide more leadership opportunities for singles and increased social experiences within the Church setting. This encourages more singles to find opposite-sex partners and to marry within the Church. In general, single ward members must reside within the geographic stake boundaries and be a young single adult (ages eighteen to thirty). In areas with significant college student populations, membership may be limited to students. With the exception of the bishop, who is married, positions in the ward are normally staffed by the single adult members. Membership in a singles ward is strictly voluntary; a singles ward member may transfer membership back to the standard ward serving his or her geographical area at any time.

The Deer Creek YSA Ward, consisting of around 200 members, meets at 6541 Woodruff Place in Rancho Cucamonga each Sunday from 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. Unlike other wards in the stake, Deer Creek does not have to share its building with any other ward. Most of the single young adults are working their way through college. Depending upon personal worthiness, most members are given assignments or special responsibilities, commonly referred to as "callings". But not all callings require a member to be temple-worthy; that is, to qualify for a temple recommend. Only Melchizedek Priesthood callings to serve in a quorum presidency generally require temple worthiness in addition to basic membership worthiness. In addition to Sunday meetings, the young singles will also group together for Family Home Evenings, and periodically engage in service projects. Young single adults tend to be capable of doing more service projects than typical congregations because of a lack of conflicting obligations to career and family.

One typical ward member, 29-year-old Valerie Kendall, who is a Master's student at Western University, commented for the story. She said, "It is a place where singles can feel a sense of belonging while building strong, lasting friendships. It also gives them the opportunity to hold positions of leadership they may not otherwise have the opportunity for." The ward's bishop, Douglas Johnson, also held forth, saying "This group relates very well with each other. As they come together they grow stronger as a unit, which makes them individually strong. I can focus 100 percent of my time on them, where bishops who work with congregations of all ages are required to spread their time over several areas".

Three times weekly, the General Authorities also post what are called "Young Single Adult Gems", designed to be inspirational quotes to build unity and a sense of purpose with uplifting messages directed to tomorrow's leaders.

An unidentified Church member who is a former bishop at a different YSA ward presents a detailed critique of the YSA ward concept HERE; it's faith-promoting but not cheerleading. There is constructive criticism.

The San Bernardino Sun story also leads to a related Topix discussion forum thread. Registration not required to post. I encourage any LDS members reading this post to go there and post thanks to the Sun for writing an accurate and detailed story about the Church's YSA program.

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