My sister and I have ongoing conversations about big ward/little ward, in-Utah/outside-of-Utah church experiences. You’ve probably held similar conversations with friends and family.
Our conclusion? There are pluses and minuses everywhere.
My sister lives in San Diego in what they think is a large ward, but it’s small enough that all the Young Women meet in one class and everyone takes turns serving in time-consuming callings. Ward members treat each other like family and gather for every holiday and birthday.
I live in a massive, stereotypical Utah ward (which I believe are now quite rare). We arrive fifteen minutes early to get a spot on the soft benches, there are never enough callings to go around (so we make up fun ones like ‘Ward Poet’) and several people go a year or two between callings. Playing the organ in sacrament meeting is done on a monthly rotation and all our classes are team taught. Past mission presidents serve in Cub Scouts, a General Primary President takes roll in the Nursery and (my kids’ favorite) David Archuletta’s voice coach is the Primary Chorister (seriously, he’s so awesome. Plays everything by ear and changes key to fit their mood).
My children are taught by humble and talented leaders and I have pretty much the best visiting teachers in the world. It’s a pretty sweet gig. I know I am useful in my own small way; I try hard to lend smiles and offer encouragement in the hallways before retreating to my beloved Nursery calling.
This April I visited a beautiful little ward in Budapest, Hungary. They are a vibrant, delightful ward who embraces everyone as family. They eagerly asked my husband and I, “Are you moving here?” And I wish we could. My boys would double their Aaronic Priesthood– blessing and serving the sacrament– whereas in my home ward they often aren’t needed.
My oldest son, who just returned from a mission in Italy, vows he will never live in Utah once he has a family, “You can’t imagine, Mom, how much vitality one active family lends to a ward.”
It’s an interesting concept, and was referred to by Elder Stanley Ellis in April Conference,
“In the early years of the Church, President Brigham Young and others would call members to go to a certain place to build up the Church there. The irony is that even now we have faithful Church members everywhere who would go anywhere the prophet asked them to go. Do we really expect President Monson to individually tell more than 14 million of us where our family is needed? The Lord’s way is that we hearken to our leaders’ teachings, understand correct principles, and govern ourselves.”
What do you think? What kind of ward do you live in? What do you see as the pluses and minuses of big/small wards? How do you bloom where you are planted? And would you consider moving just to serve a congregation who needs you?