Since I have lived in Colorado Springs (almost 6 years), I have witnessed a phenomena at Church I hadn’t experienced before while living in San Jose. Ward Splits and Stake realignments.
I lived in San Jose as member of the Church for 21 years. In that time, we did not experience a Ward split. Quite the contrary, we witnessed a shrinking Church population in the Santa Clara Valley. In 1984, We did have the creation of a new San Jose 31st Spanish Branch, but that was really a split off of a dependant Branch attached to our Ward. I even think there was a 32nd unit created as well. But that was the end of it. Since that time, we have seen two stakes dissolved and as well as more than 15 wards and branches. It has been a combination of movement out of the high cost Silicon Valley as well as significant inactivity.
Our current Ward on the other hand, has been split three times since 2003 and we’ve moved from one stake, The Colorado Springs North Stake to the Colorado Springs East Stake. This has occurred for two reasons, Growth in new population and flight from the southern parts of the city to the northern part of the city and county.
Anyway, this past Sunday saw the creation of a new ward out of two existing large wards and the calling of two new Bishops. The best part was that it was a complete surprise to most of us. In fact, I had no idea that it would happen this past week.
We all knew it was coming. We just broke ground on a new chapel east of us and with the expected completion around the end of the year, we all expected the split at that point. So, needless to say, many of us were in shock. One of my Home Teachers was called as the Bishop of the new ward and my team teacher in Gospel Doctrine was called as a counselor in our Ward.
So, how are you supposed to react to this type of thing? During the meetings, we heard both joy and sadness. Joy, because of the continued growth in the Church in our area, but sadness because many of our associations will be diminished. Sure, we can still associate with the members of the new ward, but the fact is, we will see them much less than we did before. Many of those in leadership positions are not in our Ward anymore and so the new Bishopric must staff up our Ward again. And quickly.
Another interesting aspect is that our Ward is in the forest and the population is pretty sparse. We still have some growth areas, but they are very few. The new ward is in an area that is growing like crazy and so we expect another split in the next 2 to 4 years. We go from being one of the largest wards in the Stake to one of the smallest.
What has been your experience with Ward and Stake Splits? I realize it is more common in Utah, Arizona and Idaho. But it is pretty new thing for me to have 3 splits in 6 years.