I’m considering a move to Utah, but I’ve not heard the most positive things about Utah singles wards. I have grown up in a small branch just outside of Washington, D.C., where I know everyone and everyone knows me. I like getting asked to serve in fun (and sometimes random!) ways every Sunday. I feel like, career-wise, moving to Salt Lake City is a good choice for me, but I’m not thrilled about joining a ward where they don’t need me. So are the rumors true? Will I just get lost in the crowd out there? Don’t want to make a mistake.
East Coast Boy
Dear East Coast Boy,
I made a similar move a few years ago, and going from Washington, D.C., to Utah can definitely be an adjustment. You’ll find yourself mysteriously winded after climbing five steps; you’ll go through lotion like it’s water, and you’ll finally be forced to choose a side in the Utah vs. Brigham Young University rivalry. At least, that has been my experience!
As for the wards, yes, that may be an adjustment, too, especially if you’ve spent most of your life in a small branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anytime you walk into a branch, it seems as if everyone looks at you with these “Yes! Finally someone who can help us with X” faces, and it’s a great feeling to feel needed and instantly able to contribute.
In a larger Mormon singles ward it may not seem like it, but the same thing is true. You may feel the callings are staffed to the brim, everyone has a million friends and you’re just a nameless guy in a tie; but if you look beneath the surface, you’ll find at least 25 people who immediately need a friend, a blessing, a neighbor or even just a hello. The trouble is, because there are so many people, it’s hard for others to know you’re willing to lend a helping hand unless you speak up.
So when you arrive at your new congregation, introduce yourself to the bishop. Tell him you’re new and looking to serve. Contribute to your class discussions and introduce yourself to the new people you sit with in sacrament meeting. Volunteer to do little things that help make the meetings run more smoothly (i.e. “Can someone please say the prayer?” “Yeah, I’ll do it" – East Coast Boy).
These are always good things to do at church, but repeat these steps for at least the first few weeks in your new ward as you establish yourself as someone with a deep desire to be active.
You can experiment with larger singles wards before you leave D.C. if you really want to get a feel for what it might be like out in Utah. Since you’re in the D.C. area, go visit one of the larger singles wards. You can find a meetinghouse (I’m thinking D.C. 2nd Ward, Colonial 1st or 2nd Wards, or the Langley Ward, specifically) here.
Remember, more people mean more opportunities to serve, especially if you’re willing.
Readers: Have you ever made a move like the one described in this article? Were you nervous? What about his issue specifically? How do you find ways to serve at church when it may seem your help isn’t needed?
Angela Trusty is a young single adult advice columnist for the Deseret News and Washington Times communities. Twitter: angelatrusty Email: firstname.lastname@example.org