Saturday, March 5, 2016

In the long run, all is well: A case study in LDS Church Growth (Glendale, California)

Being from California, I am not ignorant of the trends that make it difficult to raise a family in California if you are debt-avoidant and socially conservative (spend five minutes on Zillow and if you doubt this assertion).  But I also served a mission in California, so I am acutely aware that God loves the people of California greatly.

So when my stake at the time, the La Crescenta California Stake, was combined with its neighbor to the south, the Glendale California Stake, many assumed it was a result of the socioeconomic conditions which disfavored families from moving to the Glendale area.  They were probably right, at least to some degree (Spanish speakers in Glendale attend a different stake, and I don't know how big/small those wards are, though I once heard that they were big from one source).

When the two stakes were combined in 2006, the Glendale Stake had 5 units (four family wards and a singles' ward), that were quickly combined to be 3 units (two family wards and a singles' ward).  This was sad, but it reflected the size of the LDS Church in the Glendale stake.

Here is the miracle: since these stakes were combined in 2006, the Glendale area has added two new units-- a Filipino ward and a Single Adult ward, bringing the Glendale area back to the original 5 units it had prior to the stakes combining, and presumably reflecting a larger presence of the LDS Church in Glendale.  This doesn't mean Glendale will get a stake again--LDS Church leadership generally splits stakes when they have 11-14 units and given the history involved I suspect the leaders will want to wait for any proposed split to yield 7 units in one or both stakes, which may not be forthcoming.

But this growth does mean the church in Glendale is stronger than it was.

It may seem like a small thing-- two new wards in a decade-- but to me it these new wards a reminder that God loves his children.  While world conditions may seem to disfavor religious observance through organized religion, and many stereotype California as being very secular and not socioeconomically friendly to families, God is still finding a way to bring thousands of Californians to him via his restored church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It is indeed true that:

The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.-- Joseph Smith

As always, these thoughts are my own, are intended to help, but do not reflect the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thanks for reading,

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