Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How is this supposed to work?

In my new responsibilities as Chartered Organization Representative in my ward, I want to do all I can to strengthen our Scouting program to help our youth. We have several problems I'm trying to figure out how to address (committee support, adult leader commitment and training, etc.), but there's one thing that I am powerless to address. We are a really small ward.

Looking at our youth we currently have one 11 year old scout (with one boy who will turn 11 this month), one 12 year old scout, three active Varsity scouts (one other who occasionally shows up and one we never see), and three active Venturers (and a couple others we never see).

Our cub scouts are few enough in number that our ward actually combines with the adjacent ward for all den/pack meetings.

In other units it's a matter of recruitment. We could hold events to recruit boys to Scouting to raise our numbers. In the LDS church we can have non-church members associated with our units. That is a possibility, but they have to reside in our ward boundaries. Given the demographics of our ward area, I doubt there are more than a handful we don't already know about and haven't been able to reach.

And then there's the problem of leaders. We have been missing a Varsity coach for several months now and our committee chair just moved. To make things worse, we don't have much to pull from for replacements.

Again, it goes back to the demographics of our ward. We currently sit around 25% attendance at sacrament meeting with from 100-120 people in attendance. Our elder's quorum consistently has five or fewer in attendance and two of them will be leaving on missions in two months.

The young men aren't the only one's needing help, either. We are missing secretaries in both our Elder's and Young Men presidencies. Our Sunday school president doesn't have any counselors. We've been out of a ward mission leader for months and can't find enough people to fill our primary classes.

To top it all off, we have received several "threats" from various ward members that they will be moving soon. Included in that number are:
  • 1st counselor in the bishopric (his twin boys are the ones going on missions)
  • 2nd counselor in the young men (his wife is the president of our young women and their two boys are some of our most active)
  • 1st counselor in the Elder's quorum presidency
  • Sunday school president
In our bishopric meetings we often find our conversation turning to "when will they dissolve our ward?" How are we supposed to make it work without people?


  1. I don't know if you've broached it with the SP, but it's worth exploring the idea of combining with adjacent wards. There are provisions in the Green Book for 11YOs to do so; it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to extrapolate that to older boys (and girls, who likely have the same problems as your boys).

    It's about taking care of the best interests of the youth. Flexibility (on the part of rule-makers) is the key.

  2. This is a tough one. We're in a situation, although less severe. Not enough folks, people regularly turning down callings, people moving out, etc.

    While not perfect solutions, our Ward is trying the following:
    - Sacrament meeting topic on the importance of service in the church (addressing folks turning down callings, not doing their best, etc.).
    - Considering combining Pack with adjacent Ward (something you've already done). You can also consider combining 11-year-old patrol with another Ward. Or, in extreme situations, perhaps even combining the entire youth program with another small Ward.
    - Consider giving someone more than 1 calling - especially those directly impacted. Is someone a HP group instructor but also has a son in YM? Consider calling him as a YM secretary in addition to being the Sunday instructor.
    - Do you have folks in the Ward with Stake callings? Plead with the Stake to release them to help fill the current needs of the Ward.

    Good luck! This is a difficult situation. Luckily, it's something that time can often remedy - stay strong and see what happens!

    1. We've already tried several of the things you've suggested. We've had several sacrament meeting talks and Sunday school lessons to address the problems (I'm not sure they had much effect). We have been doubling up on callings in many cases. I'm suggesting to the bishop that parents need to be involved on the committee regardless of other callings. We recently asked the stake to release someone from the high council to be our new YM president. We do have one dad in the stake YM, but he was our ward YM president before the stake took him from us. Three of our dads are already involved (YM president, 2nd counselor, scoutmaster), three of our boys don't have dads, and the only other (active) dad not involved is serving as both ward clerk (no finance or membership clerks to help him...) and EQ instructor.

      The one thing I haven't considered before is combining with another ward. I don't having combined activities on occasion but I'm instinctively resistant to doing it on a permanent (or semi-) basis. I'll have to give it more thought, though.

  3. Wait...........they have to reside in the ward boundaries? I am not questioning but I would love to know where it says that. We have PLENTY of non-LDS boys in my Stake that live outside of the ward boundaries that they Scout in.

    Sounds like you live in a Branch. Maybe it might be fruitful for the Bishop to go to the Stake President or do what our Bishop has done. He has prayed for good members to move into the ward on multiple times. It has worked but I don't know if it really works that way. But those in leadership in our ward are those that have been in the ward for FOREVER except the YM President.

    OK, I know this is going to sound crazy too but maybe you need to be released along with the other Bishopric counselor if he doesn't move so you can serve in a more needed calling. The Bishop can call men who need more mentoring and mentor them plus men like you could mentor them in their callings.

    1. Hmm... I can't find it written. I've always been told that they needed to be in the same ward and it makes sense to me--kind of like that rule that your membership record should be located in the ward you live in. I'll have to do some more looking.