Sunday, March 31, 2013

Family Wards

It's been nearly a year since I attended church at a family ward.  Today, though, I went with my parents to church, and I noticed some things I hadn't paid much attention to before:
  • It's extremely cold.
    In my opinion, all public buildings are cold, but because there are old people and pregnant women aplenty in family wards, I think those buildings are especially cold.  I had to borrow my dad's suit jacket the whole time . . .  So much for putting effort into my outfit; no one could even see it with the jacket on!
  • It's extremely loud.
    Everyone knows young single adult wards are quiet, but not a lot of people realize that branches are also fairly quiet, especially when it's a branch with a dearth of young families.  I spent most of my life attending that kind of branch, so family wards are louder to me than to other people, I think.
  • People are not especially welcoming.
    This makes sense to me.  Most family wards cater to the needs of families with young children because by and large, that's what comprises a ward -- young families.  Parents are so consumed with successfully rearing their children that they become very insular.  This is understandable, of course, but markedly different from the openness and friendliness of young single adult wards, where gregariousness and extraversion seem to be the ideal personality traits.
  • Sunday school lessons are about the basics.
    In a young single adult ward, you can expect that nearly all of the members are there because they really want to be, and not only are these members present, they are remarkably on top of things.  Many are enrolled in school or working full-time and generally seem to be smart as whips.  In family wards -- and especially in family branches -- members are all over the board in terms of their commitment to the gospel and the Church.  Some are there for the welfare program; some are there because they're teenagers and their parents make them go; some are teeny-tiny kids who don't know how to read yet; and some are old and can't hear much or stay awake for very long.  Consequently, lessons are often about the essentials of the gospel.  People in family wards just don't have the time or mental energy to devote to discussing the details of the gospel.  It's an interesting balance to me -- I mean, on one hand, I like sticking to gospel essentials, but on the other, I like lively discussions that deepen my understanding of the gospel and give complexity to my testimony.

In about five months, I'll attend a family ward full-time.  (I should be there right now, actually, but I have my reasons for staying in my local young single adult ward.)  I'm not scared to go.  I may be a bit anxious, as I think it'll be harder to make friends . . .  But mostly I will be sad, I think -- sad at the prospect of finding a place in a world where there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for unmarried folks.  I'll keep you posted, of course, on what happens.

For now, I'll be on the lookout for Sunday-worthy coats and jackets.  :/

Thing I'm thankful for: Cadbury Creme Eggs!


Blogger Gretchen Alice said...

I spent last Sunday at my Utah family ward and this post totally resonated with me. In regards to the lessons, I thought it was weird in my family ward how hardly anybody volunteered to answer the questions asked by the teacher. It was so awkwardly quiet! I love YSA wards because I feel like we generally do a good job of generating discussion.
And while family wards are most definitely louder, I kinda like the noise. It's a cool reminder that people are doing what they're supposed to be doing by multiplying the earth. :)

12:59 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Ah. Well said, Gretchen. Well said. :)

2:43 PM  
Blogger Amy Stone said...

You give me great reason to comment AGAIN! I can't sleep - and again, I'm grateful you have some lovely things to read.
I should blog about my Sundays at BYU-Hawaii because I can't explain well enough in a comment how odd things are.
1) My ward is a zoo. I am in a Married Student Stake - which has some wards that are as quiet as singles wards because the boundaries are composed of mostly studio or one-room apartments. There may be a quiet napping child here or there or perhaps a lone cry during a talk. In December we moved from that type of ward into a full-blown family ward with two-room apartments or larger. That equates to every family having at least one child, but on average I think the adults are out-numbered three to one. Additionally, these children are all primary age and below. Further, most children are five or younger. Result? Circus. Distraction. Shouting. Moaning. Loud doesn't describe the wonderful ruckus that resonates in the chapel every Sunday morning. As a result, we sit near the front so that we avoid most of the distraction and so that we can untangle the broken English of the speakers that come from so many different international backgrounds.
2) Sunday school is surprisingly unenlightening for being a college ward. This is something I've realized since I fist visited and that has been consistent through my different wards I've attended since moving out here. I thought college kids all jump at questions. I expected lessons to be stimulating and edifying. I'm just sort of 'getting through' Sunday school each week. It has converted into an international play ground that convenes each week. London usually plays with her Fijian, Mongolian, Japanese, Malaysian, and Mexican friends for an hour and shares her slobbery toys with the others.
3) R.S. is tiny. Primary siphons away all the sisters to other callings and we usually struggling to have 10 sisters attend. Repeat Sunday School scenario but add a bit more sincerity and a bit more yelling from the play ground needing a nap.
4) Our building is either an ice-box or the AC is broken.
This is long and rambling and really has no point - but I realized I have quite a bit to say about church at a BYU-Hawaii ward. I guess I do have something to blog about :)

1:46 AM  

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